William Lanham, Pioneer Saddle Maker


of Prince Georges County, Maryland and Monongalia County, (West)Virginia

William Lanham was born on February 4, 1753 to John and Catherine Lanham. The Lanham family lived in Prince Georges County, Maryland and there are records to indicate that William was born in King George's Parish. On August 29, 1774 William married Catherine Ferguson the 18 year old daughter of John Ferguson and Bathsheba Griffith also of Prince Georges County. Catherine was the oldest child of John and Bathsheba and was born in 1756 in Prince Georges County.

The Lanham family dates back to 1678 in Prince Georges County when John Lanham first arrived on the Ship Dover from London along with 33 other passengers. John Lanham was indentured to Benjamin Rorer. According to county documents, John was born circa 1660 and died in 1751. He had two wives, Dorothy and Elizabeth. A son, William born circa 1700 to John and Dorothy Lanham. He married Alice Tolburt and they were probably the parents of John Lanham and the grandparents of William. The only other known sibling of William Lanham is his sister Drusilla.

There is no record as to whether William Lanham fought in the Revolutionary War. He was 26 years old when the fighting began and he and his wife, Catherine were living in Prince George Parish of Prince Georges County, Maryland. This is the same parish where Catherine's parents, John and Bathsheba Ferguson, lived.

There are records of only three children born to the Lanhams. Sometime before 1790, William and Catherine headed west, moving their family to Monongalia County, Virginia which today is Morgantown, West Virginia. Catherine's parents, the Ferguson's also moved to Morgantown and were property owners by 1786. There seems to be some question as to whether Vilender Lanham was born in Maryland or Virginia. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the Lanham's were in the process of moving west during her birth.

William Lanham owned property and slaves in Monongalia County. He was a saddler by trade and also farmed. The first record of the family in Morgantown is dated July 25, 1790. Bishop Francis Asbury, the great Methodist circuit rider, paid his third visit to Morgantown and spent the night at the home of "William Lenham sadlor."

There are numerous records of William and Catherine Lanham in Monongalia County beginning in 1800. William is part of the early tax records dating 1801, 1802, 1804 and 1805. In the federal census of 1810, William, Catherine, Vilender and Mary plus 3 slaves are listed. By 1820, Vilender has married, so only William, Catherine, Mary and 5 slaves are listed. William is engaged in agriculture as his business.

In 1799, William served as a jailer for 50 cents a day in Morgantown. During the early 1800's, William served on a variety of grand juries in Monongalia County and was asked to testify for many court cases. He was also asked to help survey some of the early roads that were laid from Morgantown. From 1800-1807 there are annual court documents regarding the Ferguson estate, for which William Lanham was an executor. Catherine Lanham also has some records in the county court. In 1803 she had a peace bond sworn out against her by George R. Tingle and in 1806 Catherine was asked to testify that she delivered of Sarah Foster, widow, a male bastard child and in 1811, listed as “Cathy Lanham” she was summoned to testify at court.

It is interesting to note that William Lanham sold 134 acres on July 28, 1818 to another ancestor, William Frum for $269.00. Also of interest are the other Lanham families (Clement, Archibald, Thomas) living in Monongalia County in the late 1790's and early 1800's. There are no records indicating that they are related, but one has to wonder if the male Lanham's might not be son's of William and Catherine. There is a widow, Lucy Ann Lanham, born in Maryland in 1767, who could be the sister-in-law of William Lanham.

William Lanham died in 1830. His will is dated November, 1830 and he wanted his property divided between Charles Morgan and his wife Catherine. His son-in-law, Asby Pool also received a parcel of land in the South Park area of Morgantown. The exact date of Catherine Ferguson Lanham's death is unknown, but since she is not part of the 1840 federal census, one would have to assume that she died between 1831-1840.

Known children of William Lanham and Catherine Ferguson:

  1. VILENDER LANHAM born 1785 died circa 1830 in Monongalia County married Rev. ASBY POOL.

  2. Alexander Ferguson Lanham born 177? died in (West) Virginia prior to 1830. County records show that Alexander purchased 100 acres in Dunkard Creek in Monongalia County in 1794. There are a few court records for him in 1807. Alexander F. Lanham has delinquent tax records for property owned in Alexander Brandon’s District in 1809 and 1810. His estate was in the Court of Chancery at Clarksburg, (West) Virginia in 1830 and he willed his property to Charles Morgan, the brother of Henry Somerville Morgan, his sister, Mary’s, husband.

  3. Mary Lanham born August 23, 1803 in Monongalia County, (West) Virginia died June 23, 1889 married Henry Somerville Morgan about 1824. Henry Somerville Morgan was the grandson of David Morgan the celebrated Indian fighter. He was a tanner and the family lived in the Paw Paw District of Marion County in Rivesville. Henry and Mary raised eight children: Louise M. Morgan born about 1825 married John C. Gallahue and had one son, Harry; Charles R. born in October 23, 1823 married Harriet Fairfax and had one child, May who married C.W. Wolfe; William Lanham Morgan born January 6, 1831 a physician; Edward Livingston Morgan born about 1833 married Susan Ellen Barnes and Eliza Weltz; Stephen A. Morgan born about 1835 married Louise Huffman and had Stephana and Otilla; Sarah K. Morgan born about 1839; and Henry H. B. Morgan, a minister, born July 3, 1847 married Myrtle Merrill and had Lily Sarah who married W. W. Davis and Eva Myrtle who married R.A. Watts.

    Henry died September 26, 1873 and Mary died on June 23, 1886.

Thank you to Robert Poole Wilkins for sharing his Lanham research.

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