Michael Traughber (c1767 – 1826)


Note: There were two Michael Traughbers who were first cousins, one the son of Adam and the other the son of William.   We know from York County Orphans Court records that Michael of Adam was under 14 years of age as late as August 1771 but was 15 years old by 29 December 1772, so he must have been born in 1757.   We also have some indication that he was deceased by 1793.   The Michael Traughber from whom I am descended was age 53 when he gave a deposition in late1820, thus was born about 1767, a good ten years later.  While we have no direct evidence that this was Michael of William, this circumstantial evidence seems quite strong.

Michael Traughber may have been apprenticed as a teenager, since his father William Traughber was not taxed on any sons aged 16 or over in 1782, 1783, or 1784, and was apparently taxed only on his son Jacob in 1785 and 1786.   By 1787 he had two unnamed males between 16 and 21, and in 1788 he had three.   The 1788 militia vouchers of Captain George Huston’s company in Rockingham County put names to those three taxable sons: William Troubaugh, sons Jacob, Michael and William C., which apparently listed the three sons over 16 in birth order. His taxable males declined beginning in 1789 suggesting that two sons, probably Jacob and Michael, had left the area for Lincoln County, North Carolina.

His First Marriage to Catherine Weaver

Michael appears only once more in the surviving records of Rockingham and Augusta counties. Sometime in 1792 he married Catherine Weaver in Rockingham County, with Charles Weaver surety.1  Michael seems to have moved to Lincoln County, North Carolina shortly thereafter. He witnessed a purchase of land there by Jacob Traughber on 10 January 17932 and bought a negro wench named Betsy from George Weaver on 3 October 1793. The marriage evidently didn’t last long, as on 15 August 1795 Catherine “Trorbauch” swore out a writ of arrest in Lincoln County against Michael for trespass.

Michael and Catherine were evidently either separated or never legitimately married, as Catherine seems to be the same person who married Jacob Smiltzer (Smelser) on 16 March 1797 in Augusta County, Virginia.3   Conrad Blum made oath that “Katy Trorobough” was married before and was over 21, and the record as abstracted by Chalkey says she was the “daughter of Michael Trorobaugh, deceased”.   Subsequent events make it clear that she was not the daughter of the immigrant Michael Trarbach, for that person was unmarried and crippled adult in 1772 and would have been over 60 by 1797 and 90 in 1826.  More plausibly this was a fiction concocted for the Rockingham authorities to obtain a marriage bond, since it appears this is our same Catherine.

At that time (and for several decades thereafter) neither Virginia nor North Carolina had a judicial process for granting a divorce.  Divorces were legally possible only through a special act of the state legislature, and even then were of the a mensa et thoro variety — what we would call a legal separation that did not permit the parties to marry someone else.   A couple that wished to separate and remarry were forced to concoct a story that the local authorities could believe.

Catherine’s Claim Against the Estate

On 4 December 1826, Catherine Smelser and Charles Weaver, both of Shenandoah County, Virginia, sold “all their right, title and claim to the estate of Michael Troughber” to Michael’s widow and his ten children in Logan County in exchange for $50 together with “a bond that was last executed by Gordon Weaver” for £70.4   Gordon Weaver was perhaps her father, as a Gordon Weaver was a neighbor of Conrad Plum in Rockingham tax lists during the 1780s and 1790s.

There is no plausible explanation for Catherine Smelser’s interest in the estate unless she was a first wife (or his actual, legal wife). She was certainly the right age to have been Michael’s first wife.   After marrying Jacob Smelser, Catherine had five children born between 1797 and 1810 according to the 1810 Rockingham census. It is possible that Charles Weaver was her son by Michael Traughber, and  took his mother’s maiden name.  Charles appears to have been born around 1792-4 and was likely the male aged 16-26 in Smelser’s 1810 household; he headed his own household nearby in 1820. (He was aged 53, perhaps understated, in the 1850 census of Page County, Virginia with a birthplace of North Carolina.)  Both Jacob Smelser and Charles Weaver were later located in the part of Shenandoah County that later became Page County. In 1820 Jacob and Catherine Smelser conveyed land to Charles Weaver, who was enumerated near them on the census.5  Catherine left a will in 1840 in Page County, which unfortunately does not explain the relationship.6

He Marries Again to Elizabeth

Michael may have married his second wife Elizabeth, surname unknown, in Lincoln County, North Carolina – a county that has no surviving marriage records.  Whether she was the mother of all the children is unknown, but it certainly seems likely as the first child was born in 1795. He must have almost immediately left North Carolina after the marriage.

First of the Family in Kentucky

Michael Traughber was the first of his family to move to Kentucky, arriving fifteen years before his father and younger brothers. He does not appear on the 1795 tax list, but he surveyed 200 acres there on 23 July 1796.7   On 27 March 1797 he was Michael Traughbough “of Logan County” when he bought 50 acres in Logan County “south of a remarkable salt peter cave” from James Dromgoole, the founder of Dromgoole’s Station on the site of the present town of Adairville.8  The cave was Cook’s Cave (now called Savage Cave) and the land was roughly a mile east of the present town of Adairville and perhaps a few hundred yards above the Tennessee state line.   On 13 October 1807 he surveyed another 207 acres for a grant in the same vicinity, on Woolsey’s Creek.9   The following day he surveyed another 31 acres bordering the Tennessee state line.10    Altogether he received five Kentucky land grants in Logan County, beginning on 11 November 1798.11  The survey book for Logan County shows six surveys, the first dated 28 July 1796 for 200 acres.12   He appears very frequently in the deed books of Logan County, amassing a large quantity of land in relatively small components. When he died, he owned roughly 1,300 acres that were distributed among his heirs.

There is no surviving 1790 or 1800 census for this area. The first available census is for 1810, in which Michael “Trauber” and wife are both 26-45, with 2 males under 10, 2 males 10-16, 3 females under 10, and one female 10-16. (One of the boys aged 10-16 apparently died before his father.) There was one slave, perhaps the girl Betsy.

Michael Traughber had acquired quite a bit of land on and just above the state line with Tennessee and near a small settlement called Dromgoole’s Station.   Michael Traughber and Gen. Robert Ewing laid out the town of Adairville at Dromgoole’s Station on 10 November 1818.13 Michael Traughber did not live to see the town incorporated fifteen years later, but he owned a small tract straddling the road south of Adairville as well as two unimproved lots in town. He made his home on a tract of over 1000 acres just south and east of Adairville above the Tennessee state line.

His Estate Records

A family record of some sort, which I have not seen, gives his date of death as 16 October 1826. He was certainly deceased by 11 November 1826 when his personal estate was inventoried.14    A few weeks later, on 4 December 1826, Catharine Smelser and Charles Weaver deeded their interest in the estate of Michael Traughber to Elizabeth and the children (see above).15  The inventory and estate sale were both recorded at the same time on 5 March 1827.16  The inventory showed that Michael Traughber was a reasonably well-to-do farmer; it listed 19 cattle, 6 horses, 13 hogs, 5 sheep and 40 geese, a very large quantity of tools and farm implements, and a “large Dutch Bible” together with another Bible, and a book on “The Life of Washington”.   The list of furniture shows a large family – it included 16 chairs, five feather beds and a dozen each of knives, forks, and spoons.

A division of his real property was made on 4 April 1827, from which we can identify the ten children who survived him.17  The division was recorded two years later on 18 April 1829, distributing a total of 1,300 acres to the widow and ten children. Each child received a tract of land of equal value plus a 10% interest in a separate 100-acre parcel on Clifty Creek. Elizabeth Traughber, the widow, received a dower tract of 126 acres. There was also a 193-acre grant, apparently overlooked in the division, which was separately sold by the heirs.

The widow Elizabeth Traughber is in the 1830 census of adjacent Robertson County, Tennessee, aged 50-60, with three children still at home whose ages nicely fit those of David, Nancy, and Penelope. She died later that year, as her inventory and appraisal were made on 16 September 1830 and recorded on 3 January 1831.18

 His Ten Children

Apart from the likelihood that he was the father of Charles Weaver, he had ten children in Kentucky.  All were apparently by his second wife Elizabeth.

  1. Elizabeth Traughber (19 July 1795 – 26 February 1875) She was “Elizabeth Keller, formerly Elizabeth Trobough, who married Michael Keller” in the 4 April 1827 land division in which they received 100 acres of her father’s home plantation and a 10% share of the Clifty Creek parcel. Betsy Keller and husband Michael Keller were among the heirs of Michael Traughber who sold the 193-acre plot on 10 April 1834 and again when they sold an 8-acre plot on 15 December 1836. She remained in Logan County where Michael Keller appears in the 1830, 1840, and 1850 censuses. Michael Keller died in 1858, leaving quite a large estate. When George B. Hite settled his estate in 1863 the balance was $10,706.19  Elizabeth appears as head of household in 1860 and 1870.  The censuses list her place of birth as “unknown” in 1850, North Carolina in 1860, and Kentucky in 1870.   The death register entry for “Betsy” Keller gives her place of birth as Kentucky and cause of death as pneumonia.
  2. William Traughber (29 March 1798 – February 1850) See separate page.
  3. Daniel Traughber (18 May 1800 – 16 December 1887)  He and his wife Mary sold the land he inherited from his father on 18 January 1833 as residents of Montgomery County, Kentucky.20  He apparently followed his brother Henry to Macon County, Illinois, recording a land claim there on 10 August 1838.21  According to one local history he arrived in November 1836.22  However, the 1880 History of Macon County puts his arrival at 1837 or 1838 and says he moved to Fredonia (Wilson County), Kansas in 1872.23    This same source reports he had three marriages: first, to Mary Banks, by whom he had four children: Elizabeth, Gabrella, Henry, and one unnamed; second to Elizabeth Foster, by whom he had Cyrus; and third, to Eliza Smalley, by whom he had Mary Ann, Daniel, and Harris. The history of the Mt. Zion Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Macon County gives his arrival there as 1836 and states he was minister of that congregation from 1837 through 1861. His second marriage, on 23 October 1846, was to Elizabeth Foster, the daughter of fellow minister David Foster.

    I have a short letter from Daniel Traughber written to his niece Mary E. Baird in 1875 after returning from a visit with her in Dallas, Texas. (See Baird files for transcript of letter.) Daniel is in the 1850 census of Macon County with his second wife and the first four children named above, the eldest of whom was age 14. The unnamed child of his first marriage was apparently dead.

    About twenty letters from this family exist in a Macon County collection of historical documents. The earliest is a letter from Mary H. Banks Traughber, Daniel’s first wife, to her mother Elizabeth P. Banks dated 11 June 1833. Most of the other letters were written during and shortly after the Civil War by Daniel Traughber’s children.24

  4. Henry Traughber (9 January 1803 – 3 October 1892) He sold 150 acres as legatee of Michael Traughber on 10 April 1829.25  He must have almost immediately removed to Illinois, for he entered a claim for 80 acres in Macon County, Illinois on 4 June 1829 and was “of Macon County” on 3 May 1831 when he received the grant.26  A history of Macon County indicates he was in the state by November 1825 and settled in Macon County in 1829, and that he married Nancy Smith.27   As a Macon County resident he gave a power of attorney to his brother William Traughber to sell his inherited land on 19 June 1834.28   On 17 December 1836 he sold his brother William his interest in the dower land.29   He remained in Macon County for the rest of his life. The 1850 census shows him as age 47 with wife Nancy and four children. The same history of Macon County gives his children as Robert, David, A. C(hapman?), Caroline, and two others identified only by initials. The 1880 census of Macon County shows Henry Traughber, age 79, living next door to a son. I have two old letters written by Henry Traughber, of Mt. Zion in Macon County, in 1876 and 1884 to the children of his niece, Mary E. Baird. (See Baird files for transcript of letters.) The 1884 letter says all his brothers and sisters are dead except Penelope, Nancy, and Catherine. He wasn’t sure about his sister Sally
  5. Mary Traughber (14 March 1805 – 25 May 1879) She is referred to in the Logan County records as “Polly” and in Illinois records as “Mary”. She married Jonathan Rohrer by license dated 14 March 1825, though it was not returned until 1826.30  The Rohrers were perhaps the first of the family to move to Illinois. According to a biographical statement of a son, Albert Rohrer, his parents moved to Illinois in the fall of 1827.31  The obituary of another son, Wilburn Rohrer, also states that his father came to Morgan County in 1827. Indeed, Jonathan Rohrer recorded the first of several land claims in Morgan County, Illinois on 1 January 1828.32  Mary and Jonathan were residing in Morgan County, Illinois on 6 October 1836 when they sold their interest in Elizabeth Traughber’s dower land to William Traughber.Jonathon Rohrer is in the 1850 census of Morgan County, age 49, with wife Mary, age 46, who was born in Kentucky. Children in the household were Elizabeth, Albert, William, Wilburn, John, Mary, and Louisa. These were apparently all their children, as Wilburn’s obituary says there were four sons and three daughters and the biographical statement of another son confirms it. The referenced 1906 biographical statement states that the couple had seven children but lists only six: Elizabeth Rohrer (wife of M. S. Kennedy), Albert Rohrer, Milton S. Rohrer, John Wesley Rohrer (deceased), Mary C. Rohrer (widow of Bartley G. Pugh), and Louisa Rohrer (wife of William Fletcher). Wilburn Rohrer was omitted from the list. The biographical statement also states that Jonathan Rohrer died on 17 February 1879 and Mary died just three months later on 25 May 1879.
  6. Sarah Traughber (3 September 1807 – ?) Known as Sally, she married James Moutry (Moutray) in Logan County by license dated 20 January 1820, returned the same day.33   On 10 September 1830 “James Mootry and Sally his wife, late Sally Trobough” sold her inherited land to John Roberts.34   From the birthplaces of their children, they appear to have briefly resided in Illinois before returning to Kentucky by about 1835 and then removing to Missouri.   By 1840 they were enumerated in Buchanan County, Missouri. They are in the 1850 census of DeKalb County, Missouri (Sally age 43) with seven children, and the 1860 and 1870 censuses of Buchanan County (Sally enumerated as a youthful 50 in both censuses).
  7. Catherine Traughber (15 December 1809 – 26 March 1887) Catherine was unmarried on 18 April 1829 when she received 86 acres in the division of her father’s estate.35   A few months later on 8 August 1829 she married Warren Mimms Pitts.  Catherine is in Warren Pitt’s household in 1830, just two names away from her mother, who had only two females remaining at home. On 10 April 1834 Warren M. Pitts and Catherine his wife, along with the other heirs, sold their interests in one of her father’s parcels.36  Warren Pitts appears in the 1830 and 1840 censuses of Logan County, Kentucky but had moved to Johnson County, Missouri by the time of the 1850 census. He and Catherine subsequently appear in Johnson County censuses 1860 through 1880. Warren Pitts was a Methodist minister whose death, on 12 February 1885, was reported in the Nashville Christian Advocate. In an 1884 letter her brother Henry Traughber wrote “Caty Pits is a living in Missouri”.   Indeed, she died in Johnson County, Missouri three years later and is buried in the Blackwater Chapel Cemetery.
  8. David Traughber (25 or 22 March 1812 – 1884)  He and his wife Emmy Ann sold the 113 inherited acres “where he now lives” on 12 March 1836.37  He evidently also went to Macon County, Illinois where he is in the 1850 census near his brother Daniel and sister Penelope. David is age 38, with wife “Emza A.” and six children.
  9. Nancy Traughber (29 September 1816 – ?)  She was unmarried on 18 April 1829 when she received 69 acres and two lots in Adairville in the division of her father’s estate.38   By 10 April 1834, when she and her siblings sold their interests in one of her father’s parcels, she was the wife of John Pence.39  Nancy and John Pence subsequently sold additional interests in portions of her father’s estate in 1834 and then her own inheritance in 1838.40   The couple were not further traced. However, an 1884 letter by her brother Henry Traughber mentions that “sister Nancy Pits [sic] is living in Kansas”.
  10. Penelope Traughber (8 October 1818 – 8 September 1885) She received 90 acres in the 1829 division of her father’s land.41   She was apparently still in Logan County and unmarried on 10 April 1834 when Penny Traughber was among the heirs of Michael Traughber selling land.42  Penelope joined her brothers in Macon County, Illinois, where she married another early settler of Mt. Zion Township, Henry J. Hodge, on 1 November 1836. A month later, on 15 December 1836, Henry Hodge and Penelope his wife were among the heirs of Michael Traughber when they sold interests in one of her father’s parcels.43   According to a biographical statement by their only child, Henry D. M. Hodge, Henry Hodge died 30 August 1838 and Penelope “became the wife of Martin Blaney of Morgan County, Illinois…” 44  Indeed, she married Martin Blaney by license dated 12 September 1839 in Morgan County.   Two months later, on 9 November 1839, Martin and Penelope Blainey of Morgan County sold their interest in her mother’s dower land to her brother William Traughber.45

    Penelope and her new husband moved back to Macon County in time to appear in the 1840 census. In this and subsequent Macon County censuses, they appear to be living within a few houses of her brother Daniel Traughber.   Martin and Penelope appear in Macon County’s 1850 and 1860 censuses, then Penelope appears as head of household in 1870 and 1880.46  The censuses enumerate children named Elizabeth C. Blaney, Margaret J. Blaney, Mary C. Blaney, Morrison J. Blaney, Alice Blaney, and James Blaney as well as her Hodge son.  The same biography of Henry D. M. Hodge lists seven children by the marriage to Martin Blaney, apparently out of birth sequence: Jane, Mary, James, Catherine, Morrison J., Alison, and an unnamed infant.   Penelope was living on her own in 1880 with a grandson, William, in the household. An 1884 letter by her brother Henry Traughber mentions that “sister Penelope is living in Mt. Zion”. Henry D. M. Hodge’s statement says his mother died in Mt. Zion on 8 September 1885.47


  1. Rockingham County Marriages, 1778-1850, John Vogt & T. William Kethley, Jr. (Iberian Publishing, 1984) The marriage is taken from Rev. John Brown’s journal and the exact date is unreadable. []
  2. Lincoln County Deed Book 16, p359.  He signed as Michael “Drerbach”. []
  3. The Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia: 1745 to 1800, Lyman Chalkley, Vol. II, p328. []
  4. Logan County Deed Book O, p208. []
  5. Page County Deed Book A, p224 references the sale. []
  6. Page County Will Book B, p148. []
  7. Logan County Index to Surveys 1796-1840, Survey #145. []
  8. Logan County Deed Book A-1, p96. []
  9. Logan County Index to Surveys 1796-1840, #261. Kentucky Land Grants Book 5, page 344. []
  10. Logan County Index to Surveys 1796-1840, #266. Kentucky Land Grants Book 5, page 348. []
  11. The Kentucky Land Grants, W. R. Jillson (Genealogical Publishing Co., reprinted 1971).   The five grants are recorded in Book 5, p343, 344, and 348, Book 17, p63, and Book 19, 221. []
  12. Logan County Index to Surveys 1796-1840. This shows a total of six surveys for Michael Traughber, of which five resulted in grants. []
  13. Robert M. Rennick, Kentucky Place Names (University of Kentucky Press, 1987), page 1. []
  14. Logan County Will Book C, pages 383-385. []
  15. Logan County Deed Book O, page 208. []
  16. Logan County Will Book C, pages 383-389. []
  17. Logan County Will Book C, page 399. []
  18. Logan County Will Book D. page 384. []
  19. Logan County Will Book J, pages 493-5. []
  20. Logan County Deed Book R, page 341. []
  21. See BLM Website, certificate #5421 []
  22. []
  23. History of Macon County, Illinois, (Brink, McDonough & Co., 1880; reprinted by The Decatur Genealogical Society, 1972), p230. []
  24. Copies of these letters obtained in 2002 from the Brent Wielt, Historic Sites Manager, Macon County Conservation District. []
  25. Logan County Deed Book P, p360. []
  26. See BLM Website, certificate #261 []
  27. History of Macon County, Illinois, (see footnote above), p259. []
  28. Logan County Deed Book U, p71. []
  29. Logan County Deed Book U, p507. []
  30. Logan County Marriages, Book 1, p51. []
  31. Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Morgan County (Munsell Publishing Co., 1906), page 929. []
  32. See BLM Website, certificate #873 and #874. []
  33. Logan County Marriage Book 1, page 51. []
  34. Logan County Deed Book Q, page 305. []
  35. Logan County Deed Book P, pages 404-413. []
  36. Logan County Deed Book T, page 45. []
  37. Logan County Deed Book U, page 268. []
  38. Logan County Deed Book P, pages 404-413. []
  39. Logan County Deed Book T, page 45. []
  40. Logan County Deed Book U, page 516 and Book V, page 484. []
  41. Logan County Deed Book P, pp404-413. []
  42. Logan County Deed Book T, page 45. []
  43. Logan County Deed Book U, p516. []
  44. Past and Present of the City of Decatur and Macon County, Illinois (Chicago: S. J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1903), p635-636.  This is a biographical statement by the son Henry D. M. Hodge. []
  45. Logan County Deed Book W, p440. []
  46. The surname is clearly “Blaney” in all of these records. However, the 1850 census entry for this family is indexed by at least one service as “Blakey” , causing some confusion among family genealogists. []
  47. Past and Present of the City of Decatur and Macon County, Illinois (Chicago: S. J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1903), p636. []