The first settlers of Virginia Ridge in Daviess County came to stay. This was during the time immediately after the “Mormon War” of 1838, a time when Daviess County most certainly was in the national news. A few families came here directly from the Greenbrier Valley of western Virginia. They came to Virginia Ridge, purchasing government land when it was opened for sale in 1842. Owen Ellis (1793-1871) was a leader, bringing a wife and sister and 17 children. He was the only one to purchase land on Virginia Ridge, or anywhere nearby, as early as 1842.
Owen Ellis of Daviess County descended from Owen and Christina Ellis. They moved from Augustua County, Virginia, to Wolf Creek on the Greenbreir about 1785. In Monroe County, VA, about 1812, two Ellis brothers, Owen and John, married Elizabeth and Eleanor Eagen, daughters of John and Elizabeth Eagen. These brothers were hunting and fishing in northern Ray County, MO, when Daviess County was legally formed in 1836.
The first map of Virginia Ridge shows where Owen Ellis choose to live. The only other settler in 1839 was Matthew and Magdeline Patton, also from Virginia. They built a mill about a mile northwest on Big Creek. Owen Ellis purchased a quarter section in September, 1842. In 1843 he purchased the quarter section south of him for his son, John E., and other nearby land for his sons, Philip, Harvey and Henry.
Back at Kelley’s Creek in Monroe County, VA, Joseph and Polly Taylor Gwinn had four daughters who also came to Virginia Ridge. In 1843, James Jarrett Graham and Martha (Gwinn) Graham purchased the quarter section north of Owen Ellis; John Jr. Meadows and Nancy (Gwinn) Meadows purchased the next quarter section north. Samuel Gwinn and Sarah (Gwinn) Gwinn purchased 80 acres east of the Ellises.
Levi Morris Jarrett and Paulina (Gwinn) Jarrett came later to purchase land to the east. Joseph McClung married Elizabeth Eillis in 1800 and their son, Alexander, and daughter, Elizabeth McClung, purchased the half section onf the north edge of new Pattonsburg from the government in 1843. Andrew and Susan Graham Jarrett purchased a quarter section east of John Meadows. Other land nearby was purchased by William and Cathrine Johnson Graham. and Matthew Patton also purchased his spot in 1843.
Owen Ellis’ daughter, Hannah, married James Auldridge and they purchased land to the northwest of Owens’ land in 1851. Owen Ellis’ daughter, Virginia, had married Thomas Caraway from Virginia in 1841, and he owned land to the northwest of the McClungs in later years. Owens’ daughter, Elizabeth, married John M. Miller in 1845. Owen Ellis’ son, Elijah, came in from Ohio to buy land in Salem Township, to the east. They were Elijah and Grace Canada Ellis. The lineage continues for 50 years.
Owen Ellis built a chapel and started a cemetery about 1845 on his land. The cemetery was in use until 1925. Bethel Church and Cemetery were a little to the east, and Virginia Ridge School was nearer to the east of Owen.
These were Protestant families who settled wester Augusta County, VA, between 1745 and 1770 for religious freedom. They were mostly stockmen who lived in the valleys of Calfpasture, Cowpasture and Bullpasture Rivers on the west side of the Blue Ridge Mountains. They crossed the Alleghany Mountains near White Sulpur Springs after the Indian wars were over, and were looking for new grasslands as well as wildlife to hunt and fish.
The families were intermarried in Virginia, and continued to intermarry on Virginia Ridge around the Virginia Ridge School until the school closed in 1949. These pioneers have their passing marked by stones in the Ellis and Bethel Cemeteries.
Written by David Stark, Gallatin