George Musick, Sr. “The Pioneer”
For many years, there has been a legend or tradition which is still extant in some Musick families. It is called the “waif” story. The story says that there was a small boy who had been found and adopted by a family in Wales. He only knew that his Christian name was George. He was intelligent and fond of music, so they called him George Music(K). When he grew up to manhood, he came to America and settled in the Eastern portion of Virginia, about the middle of the 17th century. This George Musick, so the story goes, was the progenitor of the Musick family in the United States.
The late Grover C. Musick wrote several years ago: “From many years of research, I am convinced the ‘waif’ story is not true. Several old legal records prove that the earliest immigrants of the Musick family in Virginia came to our shores before the middle of the 17th century and that the first one to arrive was not a George Musick."
From the records of the Council and General Court of Virginia, 1622-1629, the original of which is now in the Library of Congress, reads as follows: “A Court at James City, Virginia the 8th daie of April A Domi 1629 present at this Court a controversie, between Musick and Williams and Richard Bennett......was concerning the granting of a lease of certaine land in Warrosquoaike, Isle of Wight County and for that there was not witness to prove anything on eyther part the court hath referred the examinacon of the contest to Capt. Basse and hath returned the same to the Governor and Councell and the Court heare holden.”
The Richard Bennett mentioned in the “controversie,” in the preceding paragraph, was later Governor of the Virginia Colony and an ancestor of my husband, Richard P. Morrison, Sr.
A George Musick (which George we are not sure) was granted a patent on July 11, 1719 for 250 acres of land in King William Co., VA as follows: Part 3, page 430. Patent 20 Nugent, Page 365, to George Musick for 25 shillings by King George, II. (signed A. Spottswood, Governor of Virginia.)
On July 10, 1745, a George Musick,
(apparently “The Pioneer”) obtained a land grant for
93 acres in Spottsylvania Co., Virginia, according to Spottsylvania Co., VA records by Crozier. This grant was by Land Patent No. 23 (or patent 23) 1743-1745.
Again on July 10, 1745, George Musick and John Graves obtained 520 acres of land in Spottsylvania, Co., VA for 55 shillings from King George II (Signed: Wm Gooch, Governor of Virginia.) These and other court records indicate that George Musick was a man of means. He was a large landholder, having obtained three large tracts of land from King George, II. He and his family were well respected.
George Musick, Sr.’s wife’s Christian name was Ann, but her surname has yet to be determined. She signed her dower on Oct. 3, 1732, when George, her husband, sold 50 acres of land to Henry Elliot. There has been some speculation that Ann’s surname was Allen, because of the frequency Allen was used in association with the Musick name, in Spottsylvania Co., VA court records.
It is possible that George Musick, Sr. was a direct descendant of the Musick who was residing in James City, VA in 1629, or he could have been a direct descendant of the John Musick, who was listed as a passenger on the ship, “Amtie.” It is more probable, however, that George Musick, Sr. was a descendant of the George Musick who came directly from Great Britain with Robert Cooper and Roger Green on the ship commanded by Lawrence Smith, sometime before 1657. The latter George Musick settled in Gloucester Co., VA.
Most of the Musick History begins with George Musick, Sr., dubbed “The Pioneer.” As far as we know, he was born in Spottsylvania Co., VA and lived there all his life. We do not know the year of his birth, but an approximate year has been given as 1664, which made him 90 years of age at his death.
The Musicks are of German-English
descent and not Welsh, as believed by those holding to the waif story.
The German spelling of the name was “Musick or Muzick.” The family
supposedly came from Germany to England at about the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066. Some Muscik families claim to be of Danish, Polish or other descents. The first three Musicks residing in Virginia in 1629, 1636, and 1657, respectively, all came from England. There are Musicks residing in England today.
From Will Book B, Part I, Page
181, Spottsylvania Co., Va Court Records, we learn that George Musick,
Sr. and his wife, Ann, were the parents of six sons: Abraham; Ambrose;
Daniel; Electious (Elexious); Ephraim, George Jr.; and three daughters:
Agnes; Elizabeth; and Kezia. Ann and the children were living when George
died. The will is excerpted below.
At a court held for Spottsylvania
County on Tuesday March ye 5th 1754, the last will and
Testament of George Musick, Dec’d, being Exhibited and sworn to in Court by Ann Musick and Electious Musick Executors therein named and was proved by the oaths of Henry Chiles, Henry Marsh and Hezekiah Chiles witnesses thereto and ordered to be recorded.
Teste: W. Waller Cl. Cr Teste: Margarite M. Cook, Deputy Clerk, a true copy
The date of Ann Musick’s death is not known. Moreover, there are no proven dates of
birth for any of George Musick’s children, but through marriage dates and legal transactions, the approximate dates for birth and death have been fixed. Of George Musick, Sr.’s daughters, Agnes married a Mr. Lynes; Elizabeth married Wm. Trustey and Kezia remained single.
The LDS Ancestral file (TM) ver
416F Descendancy Chart: birth for both George and his
wife was given as abt. 1690.
Ephraim Musick, Sr. was born in Spottsylvania Co., VA about 1724 and died in
Albemarle Co., VA about 1806. He married Isabella Roy, daughter of James and Elizabeth Roy
of Spottsylvania Co., VA He was a prosperous farmer, who owned slaves and large tracts of land.
His home was on the Mechums River, near the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, about 13
miles West of Charlottesville, Albemarle Co., VA. Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home, could
be seen from his home.
The Albemarle County Court House
Records at Charlottesville, Virginia, Deed Book 10,
page 40, Deed Book 9, page 34 and Deed Book 11, page 257, show that Ephraim Musick bought
and sold 559 acres of land on Mechums River and its tributary, Licking Hole Creek between 1778
and 1797. Ephraim was the only son of George Musick, Sr. who lived throughout his lifetime in
Virginia. He was probably buried on his farm. He was a member of the Episcopal Church until
well along into his elderly years, when he became a member of the Baptist Church.
Issue of: 2 Ephraim Musick and
3. Abraham Musick was born in
Spottsylvania Co., VA about 1746 and died in St. Louis,
MO in 1832. He married his first cousin, Terrell Musick, a daughter of Abraham, Sr. and Sarah
Lewis Musick in 1768. While living in Rutherford Co., NC, he served as a soldier-spy on the NC
frontiers during the Revolutionary War. He also served in the same war as a bugler in the Battle
of Kings Mountain in (NW) SC in 1780. (References: History of Missouri, Vol. II, pages 18-86,
by Houck; History of Missouri, page 108, by Steven; and The History of Lincoln Co., Missouri,
pages 267, 503, and 504 by Goodspeed.)
3. John Musick was born in Spottsylvania
Co., VA about 1753 and died about 1844 in
Logan Co., IL, married Mary Berry of Orange Co.,VA on July 22, 1776 according to Marriage
Register No. 17, Orange Co., VA. She was born about 1760. Her father moved to Lexington,
KY. John moved from Virginia to Kentucky about 1789 and they moved later to Illinois. John
was a soldier in Capt. Burneley’s Co., part of Taylor’s Virginia Regiment, during the
Revolutionary War. All of his army service was in Virginia. (References: Historical Register of
Virginians in the Revolution, page 576, by John H. Gwathmey, and Revolutionary War Records,
Vol. I, page 254, by Brumbaugh. The late Elzoe P.C. Weissgerber, author of The Musick Story,
was a descendant of this John Musick.
Issue: 4. Asa; 4. Jesse; 4. Robert
3. Thomas Roy Musick (Rev.) was
born in Spottsylvania Co.,VA on October 27, 1756
and died in St. Louis Co., MO on December 2,1842. He married Mary Neville of NC. It is stated
by some, that the descendants of this family married into the Hatfields & McCoys of the famous
West Virginia feud fame.
3. Ephraim Musick, Jr. married Winnie Gillispe of Albemarle Co., VA. They later moved to Madison Co., KY in either 1804 or 1805. They had a large number of grandchildren from their offspring.
“The Kaintuck Wagon Road and the trails through Cumberland and Pound gaps were well-defined highroads when James Musick decided to move his family from the vicinity of Washington County, Virginia to Floyd County, Kentucky. Washington County was divided over a period of time into Russell, Smythe, Lee, Scott, Buchannan, Wise and Dickenson counties - it is not clear what part was the location of this family.) However the journey was made, by wagon or horseback, it must have been a weary trek for the forty-year old wife and nine children, ranging from the twenty-two year old daughter to the year-old baby son; yet come they did around 1849 or 50.
We can imagine that their journey was made easier by the hospitality of the occasional cabin along the way where they may have received food and shelter. But the people back then were used to depending upon themselves; therefore, it is likely that the Musicks had set out well-prepared for the trip. (This name is found on all records spelled Musick, but descendants have dropped the final -k from the name.)
James Musick had been born in North Carolina around the year 1806. Since the push of the population was westward, James Musick emigrated into south-western Virginia. Here, in this area, he was married to Mariah Shell. Some transcribers give her name Martha, obviously an error. Mariah (pronounced, then, Mariar) was born in Tennessee around 1810. Their first child was born in Tennessee around 1828 - Mary A, The next eight children were born in Washington County, Virginia; two others after their arrival in Kentucky.
Besides Mary A., these children were: John-b. 1832 Andrew-b. circa 1834 Newton-b. circa 1844 Louisa-b. circa 1845 Milton-b. circa 1848, the last of the children born in Virginia. After the arrival of the family in Kentucky, another daughter and son were born. Emmaline-born 1852 James K.-born 1857 Abraham wed Batha (Rachel) Collins on July 3, 1857.
To the census taker James Musick gave his occupation as ‘Blacksmith.’ It seems that all the men in the Musick family were skillful at such tasks as smithing, milling, stonemasonry, carpentry. James Musick was said to be something of a gunsmith and was supposed to have kept the best gun in the community.
In order to raise a little money, one practice of the time was that a man would sell a set number of chances on a beef and then “rifle off” the beef with a shooting match. All chances were sold prior to the day the match was to be held. Each chance or shot sold for perhaps twenty-five cents and was for one quarter of the animal.
The first round of shooting was for the choice of the quarters of beef. The second round was for the second choice and so on until the entire animal was accounted for. If a man had paid for several chances, and after the first round of shooting, he saw that he had been beaten, he could use another of his shots to try again to win or he could wait and try for the next quarter coming up. Jim Musick’s gun was always on loan to one of the neighbors unless he or some of his sons were involved in the shooting match.
James Musick walked with a slight limp which in no way seemed to hinder him. He was known to strip up his britches legs and show horribly scarred calves and thighs on either leg.
This is the story that James told. “While living in Virginia, he often hunted with a companion. One day in early winter while in the woods, they approached a cliff, and in a crevice in the rock they noticed hair where an animal had rubbed against the sides of the walls. Examining it closely, Jim said, “Bear!” He’s holed up in there’, sleepin’ the sleep of the jest! I’ll get ‘im!”
Taking his gun, Jim ventured into the crack in the rock and after a few feet discovered he was entering a cave. Feeling around in the dark, he touched the sleeping animal. Scratching and rubbing it's flank, Jim worked his way to the animal’s head. The bear merely gave a grunting sound and barely seemed to be breathing. But suddenly, Jim encountered the head of a second bear!
Returning to the outside, Jim explained the situation to his companion. “Thar’s two uv’em. Now we’ll both crawl in. I’ll take one head and you take t’other. We’ll set our gun muzzles in their yers an’ I’ll say, ‘Ready? Fire!’ we’ll both shoot at the same time an’ git ‘em both. There’s no danger. Jest scratch yourn along the flank and rub ‘im around the yer a little, an’ he’ll jist sleep right on.”
The other hunter agreed to the plan. Into the crevice of the rock they crawled, Jim Musick in the lead. As agreed, one took the one on the right t’other on the left. By touch, Jim located his bear and set the muzzle of his gun in place. “You found his yer?” he asked in a low voice.
“Yeah,” the other hunter answered.
“A’right, set yer muzzle.”
“She’s sot,” came the reply.
“Fire! and Musick squeezed off a shot that in the confines of the cave was deafening, but not so much so that he failed to realize that no second shot had sounded.
All in one instant of time, he saw his “chichkened out” (author’s expression) companion darken the hole as he scrambled for the outside and sensed the coming to life of the bear whose winter’s sleep was not so profound as to ignore what had taken place.
James Musick was a large man, tall and powerful of muscle. The bear seized him just as he entered the slit. Musick told: “I’d reach jist as fer as I could and dig my fingers in an’ pull myself. I felt ‘im strip off my huntin’ britches an’ knowed my laigs was bein’ tore to pieces, but I kep’ a-reachin’ an’ a pullin’. The crack was so nar’ he never could get a hug around my laigs nor reach me with his teeth to do no good. Ever’ time I’d pull, I’d feel his claws grit bone. When I busted out into the daylight, I’d broke ‘is holt. The first thing my eyes lit on was the gun that feller had drapped when he left the hole. I grabbed it an’ got off a shot before that bear got use’ to the light in his eyes. That was the last I remembered fer awhile.”
Meanwhile the other hunter returned to the settlement and told the people that a bear had killed Jim Musick. A party went out and found the mangled man and the dead bear. Not knowing the full story, they were astonished when Jim begged for a loaded gun to take a whack at the fellow he had been huntin’ with.
He urged the men to go into the cave and get the second bear and his gun, but the sight of Jim’s wounds was deterrent enough and no one would venture in. The dead bear and the wounded man were dealt with according to the practices of the time - the bear was skinned and Jim carried back to his own cabin for Mariah to doctor as well as she knew how.
Eventually, soaked with the grease of the bear and ‘wropped’ with strips of the bearskin, Jim’s legs responded to Mariah’s treatment. Jim got able to stir about, still swearing vengeance against the man who had deserted him.
Spring came. “With the help of one of his sons, Jim made his way back to the cave, crawled in and retrieved his rifle. The carcass of the bear was too far gone to salvage. Jim said that the months in the cave had ruined the rifle and he traded it off, but since wished he’d kept it.”
As for his threat against the other fellow, Musick said: “When I seed the spring come ag’in an’ ever’thing a-gittin’ green an’ new after that awful winter, an’ I could crawl outside an’ git me a place in the sun an’ watch them big white-billed peckerwoods a-maulin’ on the dead trees out in the clearin’ an’ hear squirrels ever’ now an’ then ‘Whee’ over in the cove, then I was so glad jist to be alive that I said, “God hates a coward! An’ if God hated ‘im why ort I to’ - but I’d druther never lay eyes on ‘im!”
Another friend said, “You’ve learnt your lesson, ain’t ye, Jim? Ye’ll never go in after another denned-up bear, will ye?”
Musick glowered from under shaggy eyebrows, “Yes, by darn’, I will! But never with no other dam’ feller to foul me up, I won’t!”
If anyone knows the author of this article and the exact name of the piece it came from, I would love to know so that I can give proper credit.
James Musick settled in the head of Greasy Creek in Johnson County, at one time owning the whole area of Bear Branch besides other land. By the year 1900, all of the offspring of James and Mariah Shell Musick had moved to other areas with the exception of their sons, Newton, and Milton, who evidently fell heir to the holdings of their father.
The following information was
found in the 1880 Census of Johnson County, KY.
Issue of: 5. James Musick and
Issue: 7. Abraham, born abt 1861;
From oral tradition and Wise County, VA marriage records Abraham Musick, born about 1836 and died before May 15, 1914, married Rachel Collins, born about 1842, Wise Co., VA, daughter of Will Collins and Maca or Macha Cunningham. Macha had been born about 1826. Her parents were William Cunningham, born about 1777 in Virginia and Rachel born about 1791. 7. Rachel F. Musick, daughter of Abraham and Rachel Collins Musick was born on August 03, 1858. Mary Collins, Rachel’s sister was supposedly orphaned and went to live with Abraham and Rachel. Mary Collins bore Abraham a daughter named Mary Arminta Musick on October 20, 1865. Mary Collins never married.
Gladys Shuff, of Raliegh, NC, daughter of Morgan Hager, grandaughter of Mary Arminta Musick Hager, mailed a letter to me in July of 1984 and from which, I received the closest to first-hand knowledge of my great-great grandmother. The information came from Gladys’ mother who had gotten it from Mary Arminta, herself.
“Abraham was a blacksmith, and had a violent temper. He once threw an axe at a man, missed him and the axe hit a tree, buried in so deeply they never did get it out. Abraham would rush out of his shop, yell at Mary, ‘Mary, I want, I want - Oh damn-it-to-hell, you know what I want!’ and poor Mary, scared half out of her wits, would gather up everything she could find and take it to him, hoping one would be what he wanted.”
“Once Abraham left, with a black woman, a year, came back and Mary took him in. The kindest thing to say, I suppose, is that he was a colorful character.”
Gladys said that Granny Hager always said she was a ‘quarter-strain’ Indian-Cherokee. With newer information, I believe that the Collins family were members of a group of dark-skinned people called Melungeons. I wonder if the black woman Abe left with could perhaps have been a Melungeon woman whose skin was darker than most. Further information on the Melungeons will be forthcoming when I have definitely connected them to a specific Melungeon Collins family. The Melungeons are a fascinating people, neither black, nor white, nor Indian.
My memories of Mary Arminta Musick Hager can be found under the Hager section of this website.
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