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John Caldwell

John Caldwell, the immigrating ancestor of the Caldwell family in Boyle County, was born 9 January 1683 in Lifford Parish, Ballyoogan, County Donegal, Ireland.  His ancestry can be traced back at least five generations to Alexander Caldwell, who immigrated from Scotland to Ireland before 1600.   The immigrant John married Margarette Phillips and they are the parents of Margaret Amey Caldwell, wife of James Mitchell, Sr. mentioned in another section of this program.  John and Margarette Phillips Caldwell eventually made their home in the Cub Creek area of Lunenburg County, Virginia, where John, his son David, and grandson Robert were ruling elders in the Cub Creek Presbyterian Church. [Cub Creek Presbyterian Church and Congregation 1738-1838, Elizabeth Venable Gaines, page 33]  John Caldwell of Scotch ancestry, but of Irish birth emigrated from Antrim, Ireland around 1727, and settled first at Chestnut Level, Lancaster Co., PA and later removed to Charlotte County, Virginia. 

The seven children of John and Margarette Phillips Caldwell were:

  1. Captain William Caldwell, born in Ireland and died at Cub Creek, Lunenburg County, Virginia.  Captain William married Rebecca Walkup Parks in Ireland and served as a major in the French and Indian War.  He was a large land owner and planter in the Lunenburg County, Virginia area.
  2. Thomas Caldwell, born 1706 in Ireland, died at Cub Creek, now Charlotte County, Virginia, in March 1765.  Thomas married Mary Jane Parks in Ireland.
  3. David Caldwell, born in 1709 in County Donegal, Ireland, and died in Cub Creek.  David married Mary Dudgeon about 1736 in Mercer County, Kentucky, the daughter of John Dudgeon and Catherine Caldwell.  His wife died about 1820 at Caldwell’s Station, Mercer County, Kentucky.  David’s will set aside 10 acres for use of a Presbyterian Meeting House called “Meeting House Land” which became the site of the Cub Creek Presbyterian Church.  This was the first Presbyterian congregation in Virginia south of the James River.  After David died his wife moved with her children to Kentucky.  Part of her family settled in Adair County, KY.
  4. Margaret Amey Caldwell – her story is told in the Mitchell section of this program
  5. John Caldwell, Jr. was born in Ireland and died in Tennessee.  He married Margaret Eleanor Ewing and after her death in 1745 married Jane Kennedy. 
  6.  Robert Caldwell, born in 1731 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, died in July 1806 in Mercer County, Kentucky.  This Robert was the founder of Caldwell’s Station on Town Fork of Salt River, between Perryville Road and Lebanon Road about 5 miles from Danville in Mercer County (now Boyle) in Kentucky.  He married Mary Logan, daughter of David Logan and Martha Dudgeon.  Robert and Samuel McDowell represented the Concord (Danville) Presbyterian Church at the very first Presbyterian Conference in Kentucky, held at Cane Run Meeting House near Harrodsburg on 12 July 1785. 
  7. Reverend James Caldwell served as a Chaplain in the New Jersey Brigade and was known as the “Fighting Parson”.  He actively secured rations and supplies for the troops and was made Deputy Quartermaster General in the Quartermaster Corps.  In 1780 his church and home were burned by Tories.  His wife went to Connecticut Farms, New Jersey, but was shot and killed with her baby in her arms through the window by German mercenaries.   James Caldwell was shot in Elizabethport, NJ by James Morgan in a dispute over a package that Morgan wanted to examine.  Morgan was convicted of Caldwell’s murder in January 1782.

John's granddaughter, Martha Caldwell married Patrick Calhoun and was the mother of John Caldwell Calhoun, the leading statesman and well-known Senator from the South." [Historical and Biographical Sketch of the Caldwell Family, Page 20-21]  Other prominent descendants are General Samuel Caldwell, Colonel of Kentucky Troops in 1812, attorney, and first clerk of Logan County, Russellville, KY; Elias Boudinot Caldwell, clerk of the US Supreme Court for 25 years; a number of ministers and several wives of governors. 

It is through the influence of the Caldwells and some of the other families who lived in the Cub Creek area of Virginia that Dr. David Rice came to the Danville area to be the pastor of the Presbyterian Church.  According to Calvin Morgan Fackler’s book A Chronicle of The Old First Presbyterian Church, Danville, Kentucky, Rice had been in the Cub Creek area serving as a pastor there from 1767-1771.  James Mitchell, Rice’s son-in-law had already come to Kentucky first; he may have come to reaffirm for David Rice the credit of establishing a Presbyterian Church here.  Documents show that this meeting house, built on the town square, was the first in the west.


Submitted by Carolyn B. Crabtree

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