Colonel James Kincaid Of Greenbrier County

Colonel James Kincaid and Phebe Kincaid

of Virginia

Our Kincaid Family Tartan...

Click the Tartan for the Anthem of Scotland

Ah, Kincaid!

Kincaid House, Stirlingshire, Scotland

Note: The following is drawn from many sources. I do not have space or time to list them all. Please be assured that every attempt has been made to use only accurate information. However, there may be some inaccuracies such as are inherent in historical information. Remember that we learned many inaccurate "facts" in school history classes which, to our surprise, were later revised. If you have a need for a list of my sources, please email me, William Kincaid, and I can help you. P.S. I've heard it said that Scots have been known for fighting and building, and are good at both. Interestingly, as I have found more and more information on my ancestors, I see that they have lived up to that stereotype quite well, and always by necessity. From their hurried emigration out of Scotland in 1746 to World War II, the Kincaids were forced by circumstances to fight for their families, homes and country. I have been fortunate enough to have never been required to do the same. Hopefully, future generations will have more time to build, in peace. This page is meant as a starting point for future discussions, so enjoy, and I hope to hear from you.

First American Generation...

This line of the historic Kincaid Family traces back to Samuel Kincaid, brother to John (Laird of Kincaid during the mid 1700's). The Kincaids lived in an area of the Scottish Central Lowlands near the Campsie Fells. This area is not far from Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Stirling. The Kincaid family home (now the Kincaid House Hotel) is located in Milton of Campsie, Scotland.

Samuel Kincaid (my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather) was a son of Alexander Kincaid, and my first ancestor to leave Scotland. When Samuel Kincaid came to the Colonies, he and his brothers were atypical of the Scots and Scotch-Irish who were flocking to the Colonies. Most all of the Scots who migrated to this country were Lowland Scots who came to the Colonies via Ireland. They were Presbyterians who had been urged by King James and successors to populate Ulster in order to "civilize" it. The largely Catholic Highlanders, on the other hand, were left out of this influx into Ireland. The Lowland Scots had lived in Ulster for several generations until the early 1700's when a reduction in the taxes on livestock touched off a movement to convert many small farms to large sheep ranches. When the long leases (up to 31 years) began expiring around this time, the landlords raised the rents far more drastically than could be paid with any crop, and drove the farmers out of business. The unneeded farmers were thus "encouraged" to migrate to the American Colonies. They arrived here mostly penniless, looking for a new start and fertile lands that they could own.

However, the Kincaid family was of the gentry, and the head of the family in Scotland was, and had been for many generations, the laird of the family lands. This does not mean that they were nobility, for they were not titled. Although if one were to see the family traced back five or six centuries to their reportedly Norman roots, one would see some nobles among the family tree, the Kincaids were merely a well-to-do family which had been quite fortunate in their financial dealings. They were not by any means of noble birth. Being the Laird of Kincaid merely meant that the Laird had the right to solicit peasant farmers to raise crops and livestock on the land, while collecting substantial rents and fees from them. In the event of war with another local laird or with another nation, the tenants would be expected to double as soldiers, while in exchange, any slight against a tenant would be avenged by the Laird as if it were against his own family. Being in a lucrative position in this system meant they likely had no financial hardship to propel them into emigrating. Instead, the Kincaids probably came here for political reasons.

Samuel Kincaid and three of his brothers were said to be supporters of the cause of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, who wished to place his father on the throne of the combined nations of Scotland and England. Charles and many others wished this as Charles' father would rightfully have been the King by lineage, if the Hanover line had not replaced the Stuarts on the throne of the combined nations of England and Scotland.

Bonny Prince Charlie

There were four rebellions from 1708 through 1746. Samuel and his three brothers became involved in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745-1746, and fought a rear guard action under command of Cluny MacPherson with Bonny Prince Charles and his Highlander army at Culloden. The battle was lost, Charles retreated to obscurity for the rest of his life, and the Kincaids escaped to Virginia after the rebellion was crushed by the Duke of Cumberland with the help of his English and Scottish troops.

They settled near a place once called Beverly Manor, which was in those days on the frontier. The area today is not far from the town of Covington, Virginia. Within a short time, the French and Indian War began making life difficult along the edge of the wilderness. This war has been eclipsed somewhat in history classes by the Revolution, but it also was quite bloody and fought across a large area of the Colonies. The Kincaids defended themsleves and were part of the British militias that defended the frontier against the French and their cohort Netive Americans. Samuel’s brother George was killed in an Indian raid and George's wife and children carried off to the Shawnee town at Miami, Ohio. During this time, numerous other Indian raids were carried out with corresponding retaliation by the colonists. (Margaret Renick, who later became my great-great-great-great-grandmother, was one of these captives. Her father Robert was killed and she was taken captive, with other family members, for an incredible eight years.) Eventually, the power of the tribes was broken and peace was established.

Samuel and his surviving sons also fought in the Revolutionary War against the English. Samuel was then in his 60’s, and fought under command of his friend Captain John Wilson. Samuel was wounded in the leg at Pittsburg... a wound that never quite healed according to old stories (although that sounds somewhat romanticized, considering the non-existent medical knowledge of the time, his wound probably didn't heal, and he was probably lucky just to be alive!).

Second American Generation...

Samuel's son, Samuel II, was my great-great-great-great-grandfather. He moved the family to Greenbrier County in 1780. The area was recently opened for settlement, and Samuel II obtained a large tract of land and built a spacious hotel and some guest cabins on it. A pass near the hotel was used to drive cattle into Ohio, and prosperous cattle traders frequented the popular hotel. Samuel left the hotel to his son, James.

Third American Generation

My great-great-great grandfather Colonel James Kincaid married Phebe Kincaid, his first cousin. (May I point out that this was a common practice at this time, and nobody thought anything of it. If it were not socially acceptable, the Kincaids would not have allowed it to proceed. Recent studies have shown that there is no genetic reason for cousins not to marry, and that previous concerns over defects in offspring were scientifically unfounded.)

James served in the 79th Virginia Militia as an Infantry Captain during the War of 1812. Service records show he did active service during February and March of 1815, and possibly other undocumented periods. As a militia unit, the soldiers would have been called up as needed and allowed to return to their homes when a need was not anticipated. This means the soldiers would have served intermittently.

For some reason, even though his rank was Captain, James is referred to consistently as "Colonel James Kincaid" in many records and local histories. I do not know why he was called Colonel, but it is a handy way to tell him apart from the other James Kincaids in Virginia at the time. There is at least one inaccurate book which states that he served in the Mexican American War. If one were to check the dates one would easily see that if he ever served in this particular War, he did so only posthumously. Col. James died in 1838, in his fifties. This was only a couple years after the Alamo, and a full eight years before the Mexican-American War. It is my opinion that he was called Colonel more for his bearing and local influence than for any actual military title.

Looking at all the records I could find, I've not yet verified what the Kincaids did for a living on their property. The early 1800's were not like the present age of specialization that we live in today, and some families of that time may not have been so easy to categorize as a result. I think that the Kincaids were traditionally cattle and/or horse breeders, and had only 15 or 20 slaves in the early days when they owned vast tracts of Greenbrier County land. I don't know what purpose to which they put their land, but speculate that they may have had cattle and horses on it along with general agriculture due to the large number of horses that show up with the Kincaids in the Federal censuses. Greenbrier County is beautiful country for horses and cattle, and has long been known for its magnificent horses for many years (such as Traveller, the faithful steed of General Robert E. Lee).

James accumulated his property in various ways. James acquired land in large lots at several points in his life and became a major landholder in Greenbrier as a result. For example, in one case a debtor deeded 3000 acres to James as payment for what he owed. Possibly some came from military service as the Federal Government paid its soldiers with land back then. A portion of the land was set aside for the family business enterprise which Col. James inherited from his father Samuel. Col. James Kincaid operated the Kincaid hotel in Neola WV, which was reportedly of a caliber equivalent to the Greenbrier resort today. He rented rooms in the hotel to cattle traders who were herding their cattle over the mountains to the Ohio River, and was in a good position to sell them his cattle and horses. This was a much more practical occupation for a hotel owner than dirt farming. Even though they did not own many slaves, two of Col. James and Phebe’s children were killed by their slaves, apparently poisoned. I leave open the possibility that the accusers of the slaves may have been mistaken. The deaths of these children may have actually been due to other, natural causes (food poisoning, toxic plant poisoning, some unknown disease, etc.). Perhaps the slaves were held in suspicion due to some perceived or real animosity between the slaves and their masters, and blamed for the deaths of the children. Certainly early 19th Century medicine was in no state to be able to tell with certainty. Who knows, maybe the slaves were innocent.

Present day historians judge slaveholders as "good" or "bad" by whether they served to perpetuate slavery, or served to work against it. The historians use criteria such as whether or not the masters beat their slaves; whether or not they broke up slave families; and whether or not they ever set the slaves free, during their lives or perhaps in a will. This makes it possible to look at the slaveholders from more of an eighteenth century perspective rather than our naive, 20-20 hindsighted 1990's morality. I wonder how James would fare in these tests, possibly not too well.

Noting that James did not set his slaves free in his will, but passed them on to his children, I speculate as to the treatment of the slaves. The slaves were named some rather condescending names by their masters, and James Kincaid and family were reputed by their neighbors to be "conceited". Perhaps this was a sign of a lack of compassion towards the enslaved people they owned. In his will, he left part of his land and slaves to his seven-year-old son William, my great-great-grandfather.

The will was contested by William's older sister, and the property and slaves were distributed in the traditional manner. The ownership of the main portion of the estate with the house was evidently transferred to one of the daughters and her husband, Archibald McCallister. The widow Phebe Kincaid continued to graciously entertain guests at the Hotel for the rest of her life, until her death in 1856. It was said that any relative, however distant, need never expect to pay a penny for their accomodations.

As an epilogue to the story of Col. James, I was contacted in the late 1990's by a descendant of Cook, one of the slaves named in James' will. This dear, cultured lady, who also happens to be an attorney, shared with me some of the post-slavery life of Cook. After being freed by the Civil War, Cook chose the last name Littleton and married a woman who had been a slave on a neighboring property (which I believe to possibly be the plantation of Thomas Addison Bell, also in my family tree). Their descendants now number in the hundreds, many of whom are well-educated, and some are highly successful professionals. The story of their family story is a testament to the tenacity of the human spirit.

Fourth American Generation...

James and Phebe Kincaid's son William Renick Kincaid, my great-great-grandfather, (1831-1884) lived for a time with his older brother Alexander Clarke Kincaid in Pocahontas County, WV. Records show that in 1850, he was working as a clerk in a mercantile store which was jointly owned by Alexander Kincaid and his brother-in-law, Michael Gillilan (husband of their sister Francis Jane Kincaid).

William Renick Kincaid married Mary Ann Nelson Bell (1832-1903) in 1851. I have no clue as to when and how they met, but Mary Ann's father was Thomas Addison Bell, a wealthy slaveholder who owned large tracts of land in Greenbrier County. Thomas Addison Bell had a large farm with many slaves, next to a farm owned by William's uncle Samuel. Perhaps William and Mary Ann met while William visited his uncle, or at the store, or possibly at the local Presbyterian church. Mary Ann Nelson (Bell) Kincaid, my great-great-grandmother, was one of the “Stone Church” Bells of the Shenandoah Valley. She is the grand-daughter of Joseph Bell Sr. and Mary Ann (Nelson) Bell. William Renick Kincaid and Mary Ann settled northeast of Lewisburg at Neola on William’s inherited portion of the Kincaid land. They possibly lived in an old log cabin once on the land near the Kincaid cemetery, in recent years torn down.

Although he grew up in a house where slaves were kept, my great-great-grandfather apparently was the first of the American Kincaids to not participate in slavery. He inherited a slave or two at age 7 when his father James died, but the slave censuses for their town do not mention him as a slaveowner. Later, the Civil War erupted and made slave ownership a risky investment. I do not think he ever owned a slave before the War. After the Civil War began, the Kincaids' lives changed radically.

The Secession Flag of the Confederate States of America
Click the Flag to hear a tune

William and Mary Ann moved in 1862 to a plantation 4 miles west of Lewisburg called “The Meadows”. The two story red brick house is still standing, and is owned by the Tuckwiler family, another old Lewisburg family. It was built on 500 acres of lush pasture land. Today the property has been whittled down to about 150 acres.

The area in and around Lewisburg was unfortunately the scene of several battles which brought Union and Rebel troops into the peaceful town and surrounding farms. It is said that the invading Yankee troops were pitiless in their "foraging" efforts in Lewisburg, even stealing the elderly local preacher's beloved horse.

William did not immediately participate in the battles which flared up around his hometown. He stayed out of the War for several years. Finally, on November 25, 1863 William R. Kincaid joined the Confederate 14th Virginia Cavalry at age 34. This happened around the time of yet another Yankee raid in the area, where the blue-coats' commanders reported "confiscating" tons of agricultural products, hundreds of farm animals, horses, and wagons. This transpired around the autumn of 1863, when the local harvests of wheat and corn had been stored for future sale. In a way, the Yankees forced many uncommitted people to pick a side when blue-suited Union troops remorselessly stole their entire annual harvests, animals necessary to plant new crops, and the very means of survival of these subsistence farmers. William was involved in the War for about one and one half years.

One of the most notable actions of the 14th Virginia Cavalry during my great great grandfather's time with the unit was the "Burning of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania" on July 30, 1864. The 14th Virginia and three other regiments (totalling about 1000 soldiers) went to Chambersburg to commit what many see as the most reckless and daring act of the War. The Confederates sent a delegation to the City Council to demand retribution for Northern devastation of Southern civilian property. They demanded $150,000 in gold or $500,000 in Union paper currency. After the City Council bluntly refused this demand, the Confederates immediately began to set the town afire.

They ignited every other house. Terrified residents ran from their burning homes into the streets. The only warning that most of them received was the sounds made as the ragged Confederates kicked in doors and slopped pitch and kerosene into the front hallways of their homes. In total, eleven entire blocks of Chambersburg were decimated.

The exact role of William Kincaid in the Burning of Chambersburg is unknown at present. Most of the soldiers torched the town, but a small number kept watch around the outskirts of Chambersburg. William could have been anywhere during this tragedy. He finished out the War with the 14th Virginia and was loyal until the end.

William Kincaid was among the few remaining members of the 14th that straggled to the town of Appomattox Court House the morning of April 9, 1865. This was the time and place where Robert E. Lee looked at his starving, poorly equipped troops after weeks of skirmishing retreats, and finally, sadly, admitted defeat. However, the 14th did not give up without one last fight. The 14th Virginia Cavalry launched a final raid at Appomattox, capturing two Yankee cannons. During this raid, the flag bearer of the 14th was killed and the Battle Flag of the 14th was captured. The last battle of the Army of Northern Virginia was this last engagement, the Last Charge of the 14th Virginia Cavalry Regiment. The little known event lost any sense of glory in the shadow of the Appomattox Courthouse surrender, and has almost been forgotten since then.

At the time of the Surrender, some of the Cavalry and Artillery units were at Appomattox Station or the rear at Appomattox Court House, and either managed to escape (as mentioned in the actual surrender agreement) or returned to surrender a little later at Appomattox. These troops were allowed to leave without the same formalities as the main body of CSA soldiers at Appomattox, so they received their paroles in different locations. By his roster records, William R. Kincaid was paroled at Lewisburg, WV on April 25, 1865. My great great grandfather went home without his parole and got it at Lewisburg, probably when he found he needed it to live.

The National Flag of the Confederate States of America
Click the Flag to hear a tune that was played by Abraham Lincoln's request at his inaugaration. It was one of his favorites.

After the War, the Governor of West Virginia signed a bill into law which was later judged unconstitutional. This law deprived former Rebels of the right to vote and several other rights. Not only was there discrimination against the rebels, which was contrary to what President Lincoln had fought for before his death, but also times were very hard for farmers. The economy of the country had been devastated,and it was the worst in the South. In 1866, W.R. and Mary Ann sold the Meadows and moved back to Virginia to a small farm south of Rocky Mount in Franklin County. Four years later, in 1870, they sold their land and moved to Covington Virginia, where they lived with daughter Sarah Caroline Kincaid and son Harvey Handley Kincaid. Financial problems soon beset them and many other Southern farmers. Luckily, Thomas Addison Bell was able to assist them to some extent. The family stayed in Covington for many years afterwards.

Covington Virginia is very near the place where the first Kincaids in America had lived over 100 years before. When William's grandfather left the area in 1780, some of his close relatives stayed behind. The settlement just north of Covington was locally called Kincaid, Virginia.

This small village, which had a Kincaid sawmill, a "clubhouse" and some other businesses, is still marked on local maps, but all I have seen of it are some old photos (such as the one on this page). Thomas Addison Bell Kincaid, my great-grandfather, apparently never went back to the land near the Kincaid homesteads with his parents. Instead, when the family moved from Franklin County in 1870, he moved to Huntington, West Virginia to "seek his fortune". After the deaths of William Renick and Mary Ann Bell Kincaid in 1884 and 1903 respectively, they were buried in Cedar Hill cemetery in Covington, Virginia. The plot is also the site of the graves of their daughter Sarah Caroline (Kincaid) Hawkins McCallister; and their son Harvey H. Kincaid, who drowned along with Sarah's first husband (and second cousin) J. M. Hawkins in the Jackson River in an 1886 boating accident on Jackson's River. She remarried about four years later to her first cousin, James Renick McCallister. His wife had died two years earlier.

(Photo of James Renick McCallister and Sarah Caroline (Kincaid) McCallister)

James looks rather uncomfortable in the preceding photo, probably due to the suit he had to wear. He is a big man for his time, about 5' 10", with large strong looking hands that look like they had to work hard for a living. You will note the sad look on the face of Sarah in the circa 1890 photo. She had enough tragedy in the five previous years to last a lifetime.

Her second husband and first cousin James Renick McCallister was born on September 20, 1839 in Greenbrier County, (West) Virginia, on the estate of his recently deceased grandfather, Col. James Kincaid. This estate had become the McCallister "home place" after the death of Col. James Kincaid. James Renick McCallister was named after Col. James and after Phebe Kincaid's "Renick" side. He served in the 60th Virginia Infantry, and was captured in March 1865 by Union troops under General Sheridan (a name which survives in infamy along with that of General W. T. Sherman). He was kept in Fort Delaware, MD which was called the "Andersonville of the North" for the terrible conditions under which the prisoners were kept. He was released two months after the end of the War. The life of James is interesting enough that it deserves a separate web page, so that is a project for future consideration.

Fifth American Generation...

William Renick Kincaid's surviving son Thomas Addison Bell Kincaid, my great-grandfather, (1854-1939) became a prominent citizen and builder in Huntington WV. Many of T.A.B.'s buildings still stand, notably the First Presbyterian Church on Fifth St. The "River & Rail" microbrewery is in one of T.A.B.'s buildings and is worth a stop for lunch or dinner. T.A.B. went his own way at a young age, and I have no idea if he stayed in touch with his relatives. His sister, Sarah Caroline McCallister, was mentioned in his obituary. T.A.B. was married to Mary M. Johnston who died of Bright's Disease in July 1914 in Huntington. Mary and T.A.B. were active in the Huntington social circles. I know very little about her, other than her lengthy "society" obituary in the Huntington paper, and am still looking for information. She was born in Pulaski County Virginia in 1857 or thereabouts, and lived through her youth with the family of her uncle James Hoback.

Thomas Addison Bell Kincaid

Sixth American Generation...

One of T.A.B.'s sons, Robert Renick Kincaid, died in 1925 when a gas leak caused an explosion. According to the newspaper account, the gas ignited when someone entered the room where Robert was sleeping, ostensibly to rescue him, and turned on a light switch. Robert did not survive for long after the explosion.

Another of T.A.B.'s sons, Frank Millender Kincaid, was a talented mechanical engineer and an avid gardener. Interestingly, he married Marion Hawkins, daughter of Sarah Caroline Kincaid and her first husband James Hawkins. Yes, first cousins again. He lived in Ypsilanti Michigan, and later in Chicago Illinois. In the late 1940’s, he worked for the now famous Tucker Automobile company, helping design the ill-fated "car of the future" of which 50 prototypes were hand built but which was never put into mass production. (Generally, a car company will have a few prototypes of a new car built before production begins. Tucker had fifty prototype cars, each one hand built one at a time, and each one a little different than the one before it. The parts are not all interchangable on the cars which are left today, even though the cars all look very much the same. You kind of have to wonder why 50 prototypes were built by hand, but then again the deal with the US Government that gave them their building only required Tucker to build 50 cars! I think they built the cars in the knowledge that 50 was all they would ever make.)

Frank related to his nephew (my father) that he felt that there was something suspicious about the continued production of prototypes, without any purchases of assembly line equipment. He decided Tucker lacked the resources to actually manufacture cars, so he left the company before the eventual crash and SEC hearings that followed. He got out while he still could, before he lost his job involuntarily.

T.A.B's eldest son William H. Kincaid, my grandfather, was a car dealer who traded in Hupmobile, Hudson and Ford. His "Motor Transport Company" was one of the first auto dealers in West Virginia. At first, he was partnered with Ike Handley. A 1915 newspaper article described William H. Kincaid as a true automotive pioneer in Huntington, having been the first person to make the drive from Huntington WV to Columbus OH in 1904 in a primitive car. He also brought the first motorcycle to Huntington about that time. The motorcycle started a long-standing Kincaid motorcycling tradition which continues to this day. His wife Leona Webb Kincaid had one of the first (possibly only) electric cars in town, a Pope. The Pope was junked when the expensive, old fashioned batteries failed. Leona was also said to have had a steam powered car. William H. Kincaid joined the YMCA Ambulance Corps in 1917 and went to France. At his age (34 years old) this was about the only opportunity open to him for service in World War I. He returned to his wife and three daughters in 1918.

Seventh American Generation...

William H. Kincaid's son, my father William G. Kincaid (1922-1996), was a lifelong car and motorcycle enthusiast who also played a mean jazz trumpet. At the age of nine he motorized a wagon to make his own little car, which he drove around Huntington. He received a parking ticket once for leaving it in a space without paying the meter. As a young man, he had a great interest in flying. His pilot's license (for single engine planes) is dated 1939, when he was only 17 years old. W.G.K. worked for a time repossessing cars, and many years later still could start just about any car without a key. He served in the US Army Air Corps in World War II as a Gunnery Instructor in Florida, then later in Foggia, Italy, assigned as a Master Gunnery Sergeant in a B-17. He had a long career in the truck and auto business after the War, and was a genuine character. He really loved those big semi trucks and knew everything about them that there was to know. He was truly a guy who could fix anything, and did.

Eighth American Generation...

That would be me. However, I am not the subject of this web page.

Thanks for seeing this page through to the end! You have been very patient.

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