THOUGHTS ON THE MARTIN TRAPPS
SETTING THE STAGE-ORANGE CO., VA FRONTIER AREA
In Orange County, Virginia, is found the first reference to a
Martin Trapp in 1739 in the area of Orange County that later became Culpepper
County in 1748/9. Orange County was established in 1734 from Spotsylvania County
which was established in 1720/1 from Essex, King and Queen and King William.
Just northeast of Essex County is Northumberland County, Virginia
Ulysses P. Joyner1 describes Orange County as nestles
among the rolling foothills of the Blue Ridge in the northern piedmont section
of Virginia. Within the borders the transition is made from Tidewater to
Mountain, symbolic of the transitional role played by the county in the life of
Daphne Gentry2 describes the area as "By 1720 treaties had made the
piedmont region relatively safe from Indians and ready for settlement. When
Spotsylvania and Brunswick counties were created in 1720, they embraced all of
the Piedmont except a broad belt between the James and North Anna rivers. Anyone
taking a grant in these frontier areas within ten years was
to have his land with cost or quitrents. To encourage settlement in the frontier
areas new seating requirements were that for every 10 pounds spent on
improvements 50 acres would be secure from lapse. However, as the region was
remote, its attraction for many settlers was lessened. This policy was
financially beneficial to the speculator and detrimental to the immigrant."
Land in both Spotsylvania and Orange were primarily taken up in large tracts. In
the first 18 land patents in Orange County through 1722 the smallest was 274
acres and there were tracts of 2474 acres, 3229
acres,.4020 acres, 5000 acres, 5000 acres, 6720 acres, 10,000 acres, 10,000
acres, 10,000 acres, 12,000 acres, 15000 acres, 24,000 acres, 28,000 acres. As
can be seen from these figures over two thirds of the land through 1722 that was
patented in Orange County was in large tracts. To
comply with seating requirement these landowners had to get people to move onto
the land and make improvements. They would be looking for individuals that had
been in the colony and had some experience with frontier life to built a cabin
and clear trees for fields.
It is obvious that at the time Martin Trapp was in Orange
County that it was a frontier area. It also appears that probably his family had
been in Virginia for some time and had experience in the new world. Therefore he
probably came from an older area of the Virginia Colony.
There are no known Orange Co., VA tithables lists in existence
for 1740, 1741, 1742, 1743, 1744, 1745 and 1746. We know from Court Orders of
Orange County that Martin was there in November 1740 and may have been there in
the years 1741-1746.
THE GERMAN TRADITION
The first Martin Trapp is found on the 1739 tithables list of
Orange Co., VA. A few years ago I discussed with Barbara Vines Little, who
published the Orange Co., VA tithables list and editor of Magazine of Virginia
Genealogy, if it was possible for Martin Trapp to be German. This was based on
the family tradition in Trapp families of DeKalb Co., TN that John Trapp, born
1809, spoke German and very poor English. Ms. Little says she doubts that Martin
Trapp was German as the people, on what she called the A list of tithables taken
by James Pickett, were from the eastern area of Virginia. I followed up with a
letter to Germanna Society that was formed for the Spotsylvania County Germanna
Colony settlers. They had no record of Martin Trapp being a member of the
Germanna Colony. My own personal opinion was I had strong
doubts about John Trapp mainly just speaking German. There was however the
possibility as the Inabnit/Atnip family. that was in Sinking Valley, Pulaski
Co., KY with the Trapps, McGinnis, Hayes, Clark, etc, did descend from a Swiss
German speaking individual. Joseph, John and Jacob Inabnits grandfather,
Hiltbrand Atnip,was that German speaking ancestor. It is possible that Joseph,
John and Jacob Inabnit all also spoke German.
It appears that this Martin Trapp may have just moved to the
Orange Co., VA area in 1739, and just became old enough to be a tithable or was
out on his own and listed as a tithable for someone else in Orange County prior
to 1739. At this period of time a white male became a tithable at age 16 so we
know for certain that Martin Trapp was at least 16 and born therefore by 1723 if
not earlier. Based on his appearing under his own name I would guess that he was
probably at least 21 years old and therefore born about 1718. At the time Martin
appeared on the tithables list there was only the 1735, 1736, 1737, and 1738
tithable lists for Orange Co., VA.
Based on the theory that Martin Trapp and others on the 1739
tithables list3 were from earlier counties in Virginia. I have did a
little research on Martin’s neighbors on the list. John Gath, Ann Stogdill’s
Quarter, Wm offil, Jonas Archer, Walter Vaughan, John Rogers, Walter Lenord,
Thos Brown, Wm Loggins, Jonathan Gibsons Quarter, Martin Trapp, John Bush, John
Forrester, Wm Williamson, John Farrow, and Moses Battley’s Quarter were on the
Orange Co., VA tithables list for the first time in 1739. Martin’s close
neighbors were Jonathan Gibson’s Quarter and John Bush. Peggy Shomo Joyner who
has published the land entries, survey and misc records of Northern Neck
Proprietary states that Quarter after an individuals name seems to mean that the
individual owned the land but lived in another county. Therefore it appears that
Martin’s close neighbor Jonathan Gibson did not live on
the land he owned and probably Martin may have lived on his land as there is no
record of Martin ever owning land in Orange Co., VA. There are several
references to Jonathan Gibson Jr in the Spotsylvania Co., VA Court Orders from 1
Nov 1726 to 6 Aug 1729, and there are references to Jonathan Gibson in both
Stafford and King George Counties, VA. In Spotsylvania County by 7 Oct 1730 is
Mosley Battaley, John Bush, and Wm Offiil . Also in Spotsylvania County were
Browns, Lenords, Rogers and Vaughns by 7 Oct 1730. John Farrow also appeared to
have connections with Stafford County, and John Bush had connections to
Lancaster Co., VA. Both King George and Stafford have roots back to Westmoreland
County, and Lancaster has roots to Northumberland and York. Ann Stogdill was in
Essex County with her husband Philip in 1723-1726, and her
maiden name was Clowson and she was granddaughter of Robert Armstrong.
Martin’s neighbors that had previously been on the Orange
County tax list were Tho.
Stanton, Tho. & David Zachary, Jas Stevens, David, Leonard
Wm Phillips, John Zachary, Robert Morgan and Benj Cave. Ann Stogdill’s sister
was Elizabeth Hannah Zachre married to John Zachre. This John Zachre may be the
John Zachary on 1739 Orange County tax list with possible connections to Tho.
& David Zachary on the list. John and Elizabeth Zachre were in Essex Co., VA
in 1723. Tho. Stanton was in Spotsylvania County in 1726-1728. David &
William Phillips were in Spotsylvania County in 1729-1730.
Leonard Phillips was later in Albemarle Co., VA. There were Morgans in
Spotsylvania County in 1729-1730.
On 27 November 1740 Martin Trapp was paid 140 pounds of tobacco
for one wolfshead. Some Trapp researchers have said that this wolfshead was a
barrel, and therefore connected to Martha’s Vineyard Trapps as they were
barrel makers. This does not take into account a most important factor and that
is the area that Martin was in at this time. Definitely Orange County was a
frontier area and as such there were wild animals and among those animals were
wolves. On the frontier wolves were the most dreaded of animals as they killed
the farmers livestock including cattle, hogs and sheep. Therefore pioneer county
courts would place a bounty on wolves. If an individual killed a wolf he was
paid for doing so by the county court. The individual had
to prove he had killed a wolf. This Martin Trapp did by presenting the wolfshead
to the county court and collected his bounty.
I have seen numerous cases in court records of Kentucky,
Tennessee and Virginia of courts paying the bounty on wolves. In Sussex Co., DE
in early 1700’s apparently crows and squirrels were a menace and Sussex County
had a squirrels and crows list which detailed the number of each for which a
bounty was paid.
FRONTIER INFLUENCE ON TRAPPS
We have seen that the first Martin Trapp lived on the frontier in
Orange County. One of the characteristics of the frontier is the poor record
keeping so we have few records of Martin. The frontier settler was a very
special individual and in the Virginia Colony it had taken about a hundred years
to develop these individuals. What was required was a man that could take an ax,
gun and a few other tools and built his home, grow his crops and make his own
shoes.. It took a woman that could using a pot or two provide food for her
family over an open fire or fireplace and able to make all the clothing for her
family. To live on the frontier or the edge of the frontier required individuals
that were self sufficient and could provide for themselves their ever need.
Certainly Martin Trapp in Lincoln Co., VA (KY) was on the
frontier at an early date as his land entry showed him in Lincoln County in
1783. Kentucky in 1783 was still subject to Indian attack. The tax certificate
that Martin presented to Lincoln Co., KY court shows that he performed duty on
the frontier probably in a militia unit. He may have been in
Kentucky as early as 1781 as the petition he signed to Virginia General Assembly
was referred to Court of Justice on 30 May 1782 which means it had to be signed,
carried to Virginia to General Assembly and then referred to Court of Justices.
Willias Green, Clerk, exhibited the following certificates for services
rendered on the frontiers of Kentucky, towit, (in various amounts), James Mason,
Stephen Huston, Edmond Hgan, Martin McCormick, William Peters, Thomas Harrison,
Daniel Forsythe, Samuel Blackford, Martin Trapp, Robert Collier,
Sylevester Munrony, and Joseph Brunk, and made oath that they were in possession
on Nov 1, 1799, and that they never were to his knowledge paid to any Sheriff in
discharge of taxes, Ordered Certified. Court 11 Apr 1803. p 77
Lincoln Co., KY Order Book 6 in Bettie Cummings Cook CG Lincoln County Kentucky
Records Volume III, 1990, Cook Publications, 3318 Wimberg Ave., Evansville, IN
47720, p 292.
The Trapps showed characteristic of a frontier family as they were constantly
moving to new areas where population was small. The court records that exist
show they moving to Madison Co., KY back to Lincoln Co., KY to Pulaski Co., KY to White Co., TN
and some to Missouri.
TRUSTEE FOR MARTIN TRAPP
1773-8 Mar-Jno. Swanson to Thos Banks, Deed of Trust-5 shillings 11 acres
adjoining Turkie Mts, which Swanson & Valentine Cox brought of Thos. Reid,
trustee of Martin Trapp, all working "tooles" carpenter’s and joiner’s
of Swanson. Rev Fulton p p 146. If trustee mentioned individual in debt. If dead
would be Admin-Trustee similiar to receiver.
The following shows that Martin had sold this land to Cox and Swanson. Also
the tools were those of Swanson.
1771-Trapp, Martin & wife Mary Sept sell 111A on North branch of Buffalo
in Amherst Co., VA to Valentine Cox & Jno Swanson bordered by Jas Williamson
, Jno Rowzie & Carter. Mary releases dower. Rev Fulton p 132.
That Martin was in debt is evidenced by the following:
1769-1 May-Trapp, Martin-sued for debt in Amherst Co., VA by Henry Key.
Amherst Court Order Book 1766-1769, p 481.
p. 513 3 July 1769- Martin Trapp sued for debt in Amherst Co., VA by Henry
VIRGINIA LAND GRANT IN TENNESSEE FOR JOHN
This seems a recent development since the advent of internet.
Needless to say John Trapp could not have received a land grant from Virginia in
Tennessee as North Carolina controlled the land in the present State of
Tennessee. Even after North Carolina gave the rights to land of its western
territory to United States; North Carolina still retained the right to issue
grants to its Revolutionary War veterans even after Tennessee became a State in
April 1796. John Trapp Sr did receive one land grant in which he was the assigne
of John Harper. Harper had the rights to receive a land grant and John Trapp
purchased that right from Harper.
ASSOCIATIONS IN PULASKI COUNTY, KENTUCKY
Several families that lived on Holmes Creek in DeKalb County,
Tennessee, were all at one time in Sinking Valley of Pulaski County, Kentucky.
Sinking Valley is in northeast Pulaski County. The families that were all in
this valley at the same time were Trapps, Alexander McGinnis, born in Halifax
Co., VA, Thomas Clark, and Isaac Hays all by 1799. Later the Inabnit family
would be in Sinking Valley and became the Atnip family on Holmes Creek. Also in
Pulaski County in 1799 was Moliston Pettyjohn born in Sussex County, Delaware,
and would settle on Mine Lick Creek in DeKalb County at an early date. One
common factor among these families seem to be a devotion to the Baptist faith.
There was at least one early Baptist minister in Clark and Trapp families.
Another interesting and intriguing association is that of
David Herron and Trapps. David does not appear to have been in Pulaski County
although there were Herrins, Herron, Herring there. In his Revolutionary War
Pension application, pension S4337, in 1833 in White Co., TN, states "he
was born in 1730 in either Albemarle or Orange he does not recollect precisely
which he thinks it was Orange County, Virginia in the year 1730 to the best of
his knowledge and belief." "He was living in Albemarle County,
Virginia each time when called into service." "Since the revolutionary
war he married and moved (1805) to White County Tennessee
where he has resided for twenty five years." He signed with his mark. What
makes David Herron so intriguing is that he lived in Orange and Albemarle
Counties where Martin Trapp also lived. Plus in 1817 land grant on Mine Lick
Creek, in White Co., TN (present day DeKalb Co., TN, the survey for this land
grant shows that the 10 acres of land was below where Martin Trapp used to live.
In 1739 there is listed on the Orange Co., VA tithables list in Thos Callaway’s,
Constable, List is a Wm Herren.4 This is the only time William Herren
appeared on the list. David Herron also moved to White Co., TN (1805) as did
some of the Trapps.
MARTIN TRAPP OF NORTH CAROLINA
Some researchers have thought that the Martin Trapp of
Kentucky was the same as the Martin Trapp in North Carolina. They could not be
the same person as Martin Trapp of NC was serving in Continental Line at the
same time as Martin Trapp of KY was making a land entry in Lincoln Co., VA.
Martin Trapp, pvt, 10th Regiment NC Continental Line,
Armstrong’s Company enlisted 1781 mustered April 1782 deserted 10 Dec 1782
joined 14 Dec 1782 and deserted 28 May 1783. Colonial and State Records of North
Carolina, Volume 16 page 1174.
1783-6 Mar-Trapp, Martin assee of William & Jesse
Richardson assee of Edward West Assee of William Smith Enters 50A land upon a
military warrant #958 lying on the North Fork above William Richardsons land
begin at the Old Lick in the bank of the Creek running North side of Creek 40P
down South side of Creek Lincoln Co., VA(KY) Entries 1-1779-1783 FHL microfilm
0272974-Wm Richardson had survey 2-4-83 on Dix River.
It can be seen from the above that Martin Trapp of NC only served 14 months of
service before he deserted for the second time. Yet the land grant he received
in present day Tennessee was for 84 months of service. It is obvious that a
political figure involved in the North Carolina Great Land Grab fraud was the
one that benefitted from this grant. It would seem doubtful that a deserter
would even receive a land grant. What is interesting also about this grant
to Martin Trapp is that the Entry Taker for North Carolina Colonel Armstrong the
regimental commander of the 10th NC Continental Line Regiment. Armstrong
was one of the primary leader in the great land fraud. Thomas B. Jones in
an article, "The Public Lands of Tennessee" for Tennessee Historical
Quarterly, wrote : In 1783 a land bill was presented to the North Carolina
Assembly ostensibly for the purpose of discharging debts to the army which had
been incurred during the prosecution of the war. The number of areas which
could be purchased in one tract was raised from the 1777 limit of 640 acres to
5,000 and there was no restraint placed on a surveyor to prevent him from
piecing together several entries in one large survey. The land office was
located at Hillsborough, a location which greatly aided the speculators by
virtue of its proximity. As a final precaution, John Armstrong was
appointed entry-taker for the Hillsborough office. Commenting on
this selection, Blount (William Blount) wrote to a fellow speculator: :The
Entry Taker is Colonel John Armstrong, a man with wohose appointment I am well
pleased." Thoughout his term of employment, Armstrong gave Blount
very little cause to revise his judgment, althought at a later date, others in
North Carolina screamed for his blood because of his corrupt dealings on behalf
of the speculators.
WHERE DID MARTIN TRAPP SR COME FROM
This is obviously the million dollar question, and I do not have
the answer. Based on what we do know I think a through search needs to be made
in the eastern counties of Virginia. There were Trapps in Northumberland County,
Virginia. Also Vincent Trapp, born in 1740, a Revolutionary War Pensioner was
from Rappahannock County, Virginia, and married Susannah Gamble in Albemarle
County, Virginia, in 1782. Culpeper County, Virginia was formed from northern
part of Orange County, Virginia. As shown by the following there were Trapps or
a Trapp in Culpeper:
1780-Trapp, John-Sept-for 4 days driving cattle-Virginia Publick Claims-Culpeper
Co., VA-for Revolutionary War- Janice L. Abercrombie & Richard
Slatten.Iberian Publishing Company, Athens, GA.
The publishers, John Vogt and T. William Keathley, Jr, in note to Virginia
Publick Claims state: Together, they represent a panorama of the average
Virginia citizenry circ 1780-1782, and include many of the craftsmen and farmer
class who are all but forgotten in other official records.
Another area to explore is Maryland as many left that area to settle in
Virginia. We should also consider that the name may not have always been spelled
1. Joyner, Jr, Ulysses P., "The First Settlers of Orange
County, Virginia", Gateway Press, Inc, Baltimore, 1987 p xi.
2. Hudgins, Denis, Editor, "Cavaliers and Pioneers", Volume Four
1732-1741, Virginia Genealogical Society, Richmond, 1994.pages ix, x, xi.
3. Little, Barbara Vines, "Orange County, Virginia Tithables
1734-1782, Part One, Dominion Market Research Corp, Orange, VA, 1988, p
4. Ibid page 15.
1. Arnow, Harriette Simpson, "Sidetime on the Cumberland", The
University Press of Kentucky, 1983.
2. Arnow, Harriette Simpson, "Flowering of the Cumberland", The
University Press of Kentucky, 1984.
The above two books should be required reading for anyone doing research on
Upper Cumberland of Kentucky (Pulaski Co.) or Upper Cumberland of Tennessee.
3. Dick, Everett, "The Dixie Frontier-A Social History",
University of Oklahoma Press, Norman and London, 1993.
4. Holden, Donna Jean & Robert John, "The Hunting Pioneers
1720-1840". Heritage Books, Inc., Bowie, MD, 2000.
5.. Kincaid, Robert L., "The Wilderness Road", Lincoln Memorial
University Press, Harrogate, TN, 1955.
6. Rice, Otis K., "Frontier Kentucky ", The University Press of
7. Rouse, Parke Jr., "The Great Wagon Road", The Dietz Press,
Richmond, VA, 1992.
8. Every, Dale Van, "Forth to the Wilderness 1754-1774", William
Morrow & Co, New York, 1961.
9. Every, Dale Van, "Ark of Empire 1784-1803", William Morrow
& Co, 1963.