Home Feature Articles Thomas Lanham, Pioneer at Fort Boonesborough, Kentucky

Thomas Lanham, Pioneer at Fort Boonesborough, Kentucky

Print Friendly
Share Button

By: Clifford W. Lanham

Thomas Lanham most likely was a typical young man of his time.  Like many young men of 1776, he felt he had a calling to serve his colony, Maryland.  There was an air of English resentment throughout the colonies.  A strong desire to be free from the shackles of English rule was felt in most of the colonies.RB_973.3_S884s_44a_DM

At a public muster in the spring in of 1776, Thomas, age nineteen, together with six or eight other young men, enlisted as a private in the Maryland Line.   His enlistment site was about six miles from Bladensburg on the main road from Bladensburg to Baltimore.   This probably was Vansville, which is today’s Beltsville, Maryland, on Route #1 between Washington D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland.  Thomas served under Captain Rezin Beal, the company commander. Beal later rose to the rank general.  Captain Beal is buried at St. Johns Church in Beltsville.

Before we progress any further, let’s back up and see just who Thomas Lanham was.

THOMAS LANHAM was born in Prince George County, in the Colony of Maryland in 1757, son of Stephen and Leah (maiden name unknown) Lanham.  Thomas married PATIENCE SAPPINGTON[ii][iii], who was born about 1760, in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, a daughter of John and Margaret Sappington.  Before his marriage and at the beginning of the Revolutionary War (1776-1783), Thomas lived with his parents on the plantation called “Mizpah.”[iv] This plantation was located in Prince George County and part in Montgomery County, just northeast of present day Washington D.C.

Shortly after enlisting, Thomas and his company, marched into Port Tobacco, Maryland, on the Potomac River. The company was stationed here for about eighteen months. A smallpox outbreak spread through the troops and Thomas was infected.  This outbreak happened about one year after the troops arrived at Port Tobacco. According to rumor, Lord Dunmore had sent a man infected with the disease among the troops to spread it.  Thomas Lanham’s company marched from Port Tobacco in late 1778, leaving behind only those too sick to accompany them.  Thomas Lanham was one who remained.  After leaving the hospital, Thomas went to the home of the Lucket family who nursed him until his parents came and carried him back to their home at Mizpah.  On account of this illness he was never called back into service.[v]

Sometime after returning to his family in Prince George County, Maryland, approximately 1779, Thomas moved to an area near Wheeling, West Virginia.  Virginia and Pennsylvania both claimed the area, known at the time as “The Disputed Territory”.  With the Revolutionary War raging, colonial troops were fighting the British on the Eastern seaboard.  The frontal assault type of warfare back east was not present on the frontier.  Warfare on the frontier consisted of small unit fights and bloody ambush actions.  The Ohio Area warfare was fought against the British troops and their Indian allies. Engagements were quick, furious and very bloody.  Thomas Lanham did not mention in his Revolutionary War pension claim that he also served in the Western Frontier Militia while in the Ohio area.  He served in the Western Frontier Militia Company, as a 7th Class under command of Capt. Edmund Baxter.[vi]  Other members of this company were the Sappington boys:  Hartley, John Jr. and James Sappington, brothers of Thomas’s future wife, Patience Sappington, and daughter of John Sappington Sr. and wife Margaret.  Other kinsmen were the Baxter’s, Fowlers and Hoy.

Capt. Edmund Baxter, whose 1781-82 militia company of Weirton, West Virginia- Burgettstown, Pennsylvania is in the Pennsylvania Archives.  This document is mislabeled as a Chester County unit.  Thomas’ name is spelled Lannum below John Sappington’s name as a 7th Class.  This company had service in the Moravian Massacre.  Interestingly, John Sappington Sr. was also in the company and led militia members of the Logan Massacre of 1774.[vii][viii]

The Sappington Family was an adventurous clan of frontiersman and participated in a number of Indian battles from 1774 through the 1780s in Weirton, West Virginia area and over to Boonesborough, Kentucky.  The elder John Sappington (1726) went to the Boonesborough area (Madison Co., Kentucky) as early as 1778, where he is listed among those at George Boone’s Station, near Foxtown, now Whitehall, approximately six miles west of Fort Boonesborough which was established by Daniel Boone in 1775.  John Sappington and wife, Margaret, had five sons and at least one daughter Patience.[ix]  John Sappington[x], father of Patience, had a fortified home about one and half miles (1.5miles) from the mouth of Harmon Creek in Weirton, West Virginia, which was referred to as the Sappington Fort.  It appears that this block house was located on or near a stream named after the Sappington’s, as Sappington Run.  Son John Jr.[xi] married Jemina Fowler and had a farm down on the Cross Creek, six miles below John Sr.’s place near Sappington Run.   Weirton, West Virginia is located twenty-three miles north of Wheeling, West Virginia.  Weirton has the Harmon Creek running through town and emptying into the Ohio River.

At least fifteen of the seventy three men on the rolls of Capt. Edmond Baxter’s Militia Company ended up in Kentucky and many resided in Madison County, Kentucky.  Some of Thomas Lanham’s  future  relatives and neighbors would be Sappingtons, Baxters, Fowlers, McQueeens, Kennedys, and Selby.  Joshua McQueen and wife Margaret Baxter McQueen, moved to Hoy’s Station in Madison County, Kentucky about 1785, and settled alongside the families of Hoy, Crews, Sappington, Brown, Harris, LANHAM and Blackwell.  Hoy Station was located on the dividing ridge between the Otter Creek and Tates Creek about nine (9) miles from Boonesborough.  McQueen thinks the Sappingtons and Lanham had been in this area hunting as far back as 1780, per notes in the Draper manuscripts.[xii]

The exact marriage date and place of marriage of Thomas Lanham and Patience Sappington has not been determined. It is probable that the marriage occurred between 1780 and 1785 but the record from the frontier area has not been found.

Thomas Lanham, Stephen Lanham( 1760)[xiii], a brother of Thomas, Charles Selby who married Leah Lanham {daughter of Stephen Lanham (1726) in Prince Georges Co., Maryland}, the Baxters, Fowlers, Kennedys and other related families immigrated  from Prince George County, MD., through the Wheeling, West Virginia area to Madison County, Kentucky probably about 1780 through 1787.  The first Madison County, Kentucky recorded document found concerning Thomas was the Madison County tax records in 1787.[xiv]  The tax record reflect Thomas Lanham 16 July with  three (3) horses and four (4) cows.

The same tax records also reflect Sappington’s taxes of:

  • James Sappington   —  16 July     3 horses and 5 cows.
  • John Sr.                  —   19 July     6 horses and 4 cows
  • John Jr.
Hinds Creek and the Kentucky River

Hinds Creek and the Kentucky River

Thomas appears in Madison County tax records: 1788, 1791, (1792 Land), 1793, 1794, 1795, (Stephen and Thomas Lanham in 1796) and up to 1799.  Interestingly, we do not find Thomas purchasing major property until 1796.  Thomas purchased 290 acres, 27 July 1796,[xv] from Jacob Starnes and wife Elizabeth.  This land lay in Madison County and on the south side of the Kentucky River, about six miles from Fort Boonesborough. The land is on the Dividing Ridge between Hinds and Jack Creek.  See map of Hinds and Jacks Creek.  (The property survey Books  spell Hinds Creek with a  “ds”, yet the County waterways map and other documents of Madison spell the creek as Hines Creek.)

Thomas’ brother, Stephen Lanham (1760) and the Sappington’s had purchased land along Otter Creek by late 1790s.  However, the younger Sappingtons had moved on to the Missouri area by the early 1800s.   By 1807, only James Sappington, brother of Patience was left residing in Madison County, Kentucky.  Stephen Lanham is said to be buried at his farm on Otter Creek.

Thomas Lanham and John Sappington are both listed on the Historical Markers located at Fort  Boonesborough, listing its early settlers and pioneers.  Most of these early pioneers resided at the fort or near the fort.  See photo’s of Fort Boonesborough Monument adjacent to its main gate.

Thomas Lanham listed on Fort Boonesborough monument

Thomas Lanham listed on Fort Boonesborough monument


When Thomas made claim for his Revolutionary pension, he stated that he had resided in Madison “nearly fifty years.”[xvi]  Therefore he went to Kentucky about 1786, making him about twenty- six years old at the time.   This date tracks well with the 1787, tax records mentioned previously.  Conversely, McQueen stated Thomas was at Hoy Station in 1785.  A one-year difference does exist; however, the closeness of these dates confirms Thomas’ early recorded arrival in the Kentucky area.


Like most of the early settlers, Thomas spent time as an Indian fighter, landowner, farmer, surveyor, militia member and family man.  Thomas and Patience per L.P. Goodknight research papers and other sources, including my Fathers’ data were said to have at least seventeen children.

There are numerous dates and events recorded in the Madison County recorders.  A few for illustration are:

  • 1787:  Madison County tax records, 16 July, show he was taxed for three horses and four cows.[xvii]  Thomas could have been married at this time.  Most families had cows for family support.
  • 1796:   In 1796, Thomas bought 290 acres of land on Hines Creek in Madison Co.[xviii]
  • 1809:   Thomas purchases 50 acres from Anderson Searcy on Jacks Creek.[xix]
  • 1815:   In 1815 Thomas bought thirty-nine acres on Jacks Creek.[xx]
  • 1836:   Thomas purchases land, one hundred acres, from C. M. Clay, Kentucky River.[xxi]
  • 1796-1840:  Thomas Lanham during this period of time was a landowner, farmer, surveyor, militia member, and family man within Madison County, Kentucky.

The 1810 Madison County, Kentucky census listed Thomas Lanham household as follows:[xxii]

  • 1 male over 45 years
  • 1 female over 45 years
  • 1 female 26-45 years
  • 2 males 16-26 years
  • 1 male 10-16 years
  • 3 females 10-16 years
  • 2 males under 10 years
  • 2 females under 10 years
  • NO Slaves
1810 Federal Census showing Lanham Family

1810 Federal Census showing Lanham Family

Thomas Lanham is also found in the 1820 and 1830 Madison County census listings.

Thomas Lanham’s Indian experience seems to be clouded by time on the part of Thomas.  Yet from other sources below, we find that Thomas alone with John Sappington did have contact with the Indians in the Kentucky area.  In an interview with Dr. John Sappington, “a doctor of horses”, (son of James Sappington, son of John Sr. 1726) he made a surprising, almost an unbelievable statement about Thomas Lanham. He recounted the capture of his uncle, John Sappington by Indians with Thomas Lanham, George Brown, Jos. Durbin, and four others. Patience was out digging ginseng which Dr. Knight of Madison Co. Kentucky was buying for a good price to ship to China, he declared that even though Thomas Lanham was one of that party and though he was forted up and in battles, and spent so much of his life trying to avoid the Indians; yet he never saw one!” This interview was at their home in Montgomery Co. Kentucky in 1845.[xxiii]

Another view point concerning Thomas Lanham and again pulled from the Draper Papers (MMS12,CC190) is as follows:

“The residents of Hoy’s Station, which was described as being on the dividing ridge between Tates and Otter Creeks, were the founder Major William Hoy, who was killed, and his wife; Jonas Hoy, son of William, who was captured by Indians; Jack Calloway who was taken prisoner with Jonas Hoy; the daughter of William Hoy who was married to Jno. Newland; Rowland Hoy who was killed; old man Crook (Crooks) who was killed; Jonathan Crook (Crooks); Daniel Williams; Ven (?) Williams; George Brown; Jos. Durbin; Thos. Lanham; John Sappington whose first wife was a sister of James Hoy; and Mr. and Mrs. Calloway, she being the mother of Major William Hoy, with her second husband. It is likely that Jonathan Crook was John Crook, son of Ozias, since there is no other indication that a Jonathan Crook was an early settler in the area, nor was that name known to have been used in this generation of the Crook family. The published list did not give the particulars of the several stated deaths, but the term killed suggests that the persons were victims of Indian attacks. Old man Crooks may have been John Crook, the father of Absalom and Ozias Crook, although it is not known for certain that he moved from Virginia with them. A differing abstract of this account also has been published.”


Family tradition states that Patience Sappington and her widowed mother lived with her brother, James Sappington, on Otter Creek, in Madison County, Kentucky after the death of their father, John Sappington, Sr., circa 1799-1800.[xxiv]   The assumption is Patience married Thomas Lanham, circa 1778-1780, in Harmon Creek area, Ohio County, West Virginia.  However, as of 2013, no record of marriage or place of marriage has been found.  Remember both families were together at or near Weirton, West Virginia in the early 1780s.  On 8 June, 1836, Thomas Lanham, in deposition, said he was about seventy-nine of age, and was born about 1757, on this father’s farm that lay on the county line, partly in Prince George County and partly in Montgomery County. Maryland.  This extraction exists in the Revolutionary War Pension application of Thomas (S30 5 34)[xxv]

Stephen Lanham, brother of Thomas, made deposition 4 June 1836, at his own home in Madison County, Kentucky  that he was born 1760, same location as Thomas Lanham.  Stephen’s Certificate S30,902 was issued 10 December 1836, Act 7 June 1832 at $36.66 per year from 4 March 1831.

Per L.P. Goodknight’s Research Manuscript, Lanham Pioneers and Patriots [xxvi] there was much litigation of ownership of land alone the Hines Creek, Madison County, Kentucky.  We must remember in the early days of the migration into Kentucky, surveyors were careless about marking boundaries.  Searches of previous surveys may or may not have been found and over lapping of surveys was not uncommon.

For Kentucky to become a state, Virginia had to send a Land Commission to Kentucky to help sort out land and title disputes.  Even as late as 1806- 1817, Green Clay, complainant, and Thomas Lanham, defendant, were in litigation over boundaries of land lying south side of the Kentucky River  about six miles from Boonesborough, known as Hinds Bent, which Lanham bought  in 1796.  Litigation was concluded in June 1812, when cost was equally divided between the two men.[xxvii]  See map of survey area of Hinds and Jacks Creek.  Documentation exists in drawings of their claims and the present day land that is Boone’s Trace subdivision, Madison County, Kentucky, where the lots sell for $40-50,000 each (2006).   The present day homes along Hines Creek are valued up to half a million dollars in 2006.  Eastern Kentucky University Library has a copy of this lawsuit.  At one time Thomas owned about 400 acres of land along Hines and Jacks Creeks, perhaps a comfortable amount of wealth at that time.

Since Patience Lanham is not mentioned in Thomas’s will (Thomas died in 1840)[xxviii] it can be assumed that Patience died circa 1836 – 38.  THOMAS LANHAM ‘s will:  book G Page 253, Madison Co., Kentucky is executed 26 March 1840[xxix].  After 40 years, Thomas Lanham cleared his right and title to the land in Madison Co. Kentucky  which he paid for in 1796 and later.

Thomas and Patience (Sappington) Lanham had at least sixteen children:  ten sons and six daughters.

Clifford LanhamAbout the Author:  Clifford W. Lanham is a direct descendent from Thomas Lanham (1757) by way of son Sylvester (1790).  Cliff’s Father, O.S. Lanham(1917) had started the Lanham search back in the early 1970’s and Cliff has picked up the mantel and added to his Father’s manuscript and now has a 300 plus page book on OUR LANHAM FAMILY, dated 15 March 2006. OUR LANHAM FAMILY Book dates the Lanham’s back to Roger Lanham (abt1560).  Copies of OUR LANHAM FAMILY ( plus O.S. Lanham’s manuscripts) are on file at Kentucky Historical Society and Library.

Clifford has lead an interesting an exciting life.  He spent some twenty-six years in the U.S.Army, entering as a private and retiring as a Lt. Colonel. He then opened an operated a commercial printing company for ten years.  Selling the business he moved into education and taught chemistry and physics for fifteen years in Virginia Beach Public School System, VA.  Finally retiring in 2003, he and his wife Cindy built a home in Madison, Alabama and have resided in Madison since.  Cliff also spent thirty nine years in the Boy Scout program as an adult leader.

Since retiring he has continued to research the LANHAM line and has expanded his Dad’s work, by adding considerable data on Thomas Lanham’s (1757) seventeen children; as well as, other Lanham relatives from 1560 to present.


Stephen Lanham ( Lenham) was born 22 May 1726, St. John’s Piscataway Parish, Prince George County, Maryland, page 250 and 272.

[ii] Patience Sappington, born abt 1760, perhaps Anne Arundel, Maryland, ( brothers, James ( 1754), and Hartley ( 27 April 1757) Sappington born in Anne Arundel County.  Hartley’s BIBLE, Family Record reflects the above dates and lists Patience, but no other data on Patience!

[iii]  Patience Sappington marriage to Thomas Lanham, Lillian Prewitt Goodknight,  Lanham Pioneers and Patriots Manuscript, (Pasadena, Calif., 1962),  93.

[iv] Mizpah, property of Stephen Lanham (1726), 229 acres, Liber BS &GS # 25 Folio, Commissioner Land Office, Annapolis, Maryland, 1764.

[v] Lillian Prewitt Goodknight Lanham Pioneers and Patriots Manuscript, (Pasadena, Calif. 1962), 80-84.  Thomas S. Bronston and James Dejarnett sworn and subscribed  documentation of Thomas Lanham’s request for pension are on pages 82-85, dated 25 June 1836.  O.S. Lanham, Some Family Records of Our LANHAM FAMILY Manuscript,( Dothan, Al. 1985), 26 -29.

[vi] The Pennsylvania Archives, Fifth Series, Vol. V, p 281-2.  This unit was erroneously labeled a “County of Chester” unit.

[vii]   Willis De Hass, History of the Early Settlement and Indian Wars of the Western Virginia(Philadelphia, H.Hoblitzell,1851), 142-149.

[viii] Michael Edward Nogay, Every Home A Fort, Every Man A Warrior (Tri-State Publishing Co, Steubenville, Ohio, 2009),p 57 and 62..  Data extracted from Draper manuscripts and R.G. Thwaites, The Documentary History of   Dunmore War 1774, in 1905.

[ix] Goodknight, Lanham Pioneers,  86.;Hartley Sappington Bible, Family Record; www.archives.com/ Sappington

[x] Nogay, Every Home a Fort, 62; Abstract of Deed Book 1, 1777-1789, Ohio County, WVA, p 9a, 6 Nov 1780, sold400 acres on Harmon Creek to John Henderson.

[xi] John Jr( Jon) and wife Jeminia (Gemima) had land six miles south on Cross Creek.  This 300 acres was sold to Nicholas Davis, Deed Book 1, 1777-1789, p. 80, Ohio Co. WVA.

[xii]Mabel Clara Weaks, Calendar of Kentucky Papers of the Draper Collection of Manuscripts (Madison Society 1925), 500,

[xiii]  Stephen Lanham (1760) brother to Thomas, Disposition of Hon. James Simpson, Judge Circuit Court, County of Madison, Kentucky, investigating Revolutionary. War Pension.  Stephen was born in Prince George County, MD 1760.

[xiv] Madison County tax records of 1787, Madison County, Kentucky.  16July, 19July.

[xv] Thomas, purchase of 290 acres in Madison County, Madison County Deed Book D, p 60.

[xvi] Goodknight, Lanham Pioneers,1, His Revolutionary War testimony taken and recorded on 13 June 1836, recorded by David Irvine, Clerk of Madison County Circuit Clerk. ( Rev.War Pension Claim S 30 534)

[xvii] Madison County tax records, 1787.

[xviii] Madison County Deed Book D, 60.

[xix] Madison County Deed Book, G, 93.

[xx]  Madison County Deed Book K, 531

[xxi] Madison County Deed Book,  X,   31

[xxii] Thomas Lanham, Madison County Census of 1810, p239; 1820,p 146-6; 1830,p139.

[xxiii]Thomas Lanham as an Indian fighter, Draper MMS 12 CC 190, State Historical Society, Madison Wisconsin, and  L.P.Goodknight, Lanham Pioneers and Patriot ,1962,  93,94.

[xxiv] Ibid, Goodknight, page 98.

[xxv] Revolutionary War Pension Application: Lanham, Thomas ( S30,534),War Department Pension Office 24 September 1836.  Thomas’s claim was accepted provided there was no entitlement to bounty land under the Laws of Maryland. Certificate of Pension issued 10 December 1836.

[xxvi] Goodknight,  98,99,100.

[xxvii] Green and Lanham litigation, Madison Co. Circuit Order Book B, p.447 to 465; Circuit documents bundles 78,

box 39; bundles 99, box 48; bundle 128, box 64.  Goodknight, Lanham Pioneer,  98,99,100.

[xxviii] Thomas will, 1840, Madison County, KY. Court Documents, will Book G, 272,274.  Thomas’ will was produced  in court on 8 April 1840, and attested to by David Irvine.  J.B.Arnett, Clerk, Madison County attested to the will as posted in will Book G,  253.

[xxix] Thomas’ will, Madison County will Book G. 253.

After realizing what occurred free sample merely need to bear in mind that the that nothing will change.

Share Button


  1. wrote on September 10th, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    Dorothy Williams Kendrick

    Hello Mr. Landheim, I ran across a document on ancestry.com indicating that my Thomas Landharn took over legal custody of my great grandmother Eveline Wilkerson and her sister Lucinda, after the death of their father, John Wilkerson. This was in a document called Madison County KY Court October Term 1822. I feel certain that 1822 does not refer to the year., as my great grandmother would not have been born then. I am curious to know whether you have come across any information explaining the relationship betwen Thomas Lanham and the Wilkerson girls.

Add a comment

Time limit exceeded. Please complete the captcha once again.