368. Stephen Laurence Compton
Genealogy of the Island Creek Comptons and Links to Other Families
This is a personal history of the Island Creek, Kentucky Comptons, which began as a surf of Internet resources, and which has ended (to the extent these things ever end) with fieldwork--visits to county seats and surrounding environs in Virginia, Kentucky, West Virginia and Maryland, incuding courthouses, cemeteries, the heads of Eastern Kentucky hollers, as well as libraries from the Russell County Virginia Library to the Daughters of the American Revolution library at Constitution Hall and the Library of Congress.
My name is Stephen L. Compton. I was born November 14, 1947 in Pikeville, Kentucky. the son of Roy E. Compton, son of Grover C. Compton, son of James Buchanan Compton, son of William F. Compton, who came to Island Creek, outside of Pikeville, Kentucky, sometime prior to February 1849 from Southwestern Virginia. To this day, there is a tributary of the left fork of Island Creek, called the Billy Compton Branch. I have a "farm map" from the 1970's obtained from my uncle Earl Bevins, of the Island Creek area, a portion of which is reproduced herein. A couple of years after the sudden and untimely death of my mother Ellena Turner Compton of a heart attack in April, 1957, I left Pikeville in the fall of 1959 with my father for the Florida panhandle, where I lived in the vicinity (excepting a year in Vietnam in 1970-71) until 1973, when my first wife Linda and I, with daughter Ellena Carole (born September 26, 1969), relocated to the Memphis, Tennessee area, where I have been for the most part ever since. In 1980 Linda and I divorced, and I remarried in 1982 to Nancy Dickson Compton. Ellena married Adam Smith in August 1998.
I believe I have established a reasonable record to run 29 generations of Comptons, back to Alwyne the Anglo-Saxon of Warwickshire in the 11th Century, and have marked my direct line accordingly at critical junctures. Of course, there are questions and issues that have arisen at certain junctures during the course of this inquiry. The principal issues are the parentage of William F. Compton and the lineage of another, 17th Century William in New Jersey, who I believe, with good evidence, to have been the son of a New York William. I mention these two in particular because the lack of definite proof has created controversy among those who have researched it. (See Comptonology, V. 1, No. 1, p. 3 for the first in a series of comments on this subject). In any event, one cannot come away without a tremendous respect for one's ancestors, the challenges and the migrations they undertook while making their mark in both Europe and America.
The following pedigree has been derived from an excerpt of William Bingham Compton, The History of Compton Wyngates, London, 1930 (obtained from Catherine Thorsen of Colorado); William Marquis of Northamption [notated in pencil in the original in the Library of Congress as William George Spencer Scott Compton], Compton Wynyates, Humphreys Pub. (London), 1904 (cited as Wynyates); Delton Blalock, British and American Comptons, 1984; a genealogy by James H. L. Lawler on the Internet (which makes the American William I connection with the English line); and, Comptonology [a journal edited by C.V. Compton which ran from the late 1930's through the early 1950's], inter alia V.1, No. 1; p. 74, V. 4, No. 1, p. 148, V. 4, No. 7, pp. 179-80. [A note on Comptonology: Early in the journal, Compton went to a sequential page numbering sequence, thus some citations may be to the page only.]
Comptons are an ancient family, traceable to the Anglo-Saxon Alwyne, circa (ca.) 1042, a contemporary to King Edward the Confessor, in the times before surnames. "Compton" means a settlement (town) in or on a hill. Alwyne's son Turchill (or Turchid), Saxon Earl of Warwick at the time of the Norman conquest (1066), did not assist the English King Harold (contrary to his father, who "fought valiantly" against the invading forces according to Comptonology), thereby earning the gratitude of William the Conqueror. (See also Wynyates for a narrative of this early history. Lord Compton cites Collins, whom I have been unable to locate.) He was therefore allowed to retain his lordship and many landholdings, and an inspection of the Domesday Book is replete with Compton estates. Turchill became one of the early English to have a surname "de Eardene" (presumably from his residence at Arden). His son Osbert had several sons, including Philip (ca. 1200), who were the first in the line to take the surname de Compton. Philip was followed in the line by Thomas, Philip, Robert, Robert, Thomas, Edmund, William, Robert, Edmund, William (where the Wm. Bingham Compton document ends, ca. 1482), son Compton (possibly Peter, b. ca. 1500), Henry, William, Spencer, to our first American William, b. 1622 in Gravesend, New York. The researcher can compare the Bingham Compton document to Wyngates and observe the close (but not completely consistent) parallels in the genealogies.
There is an ancestral (portions dating back to the 12th century) castle in Warwick, England, called Compton Wynyates [sometimes referred to as Wyngates], or "Compton in the Hole" (for its topography), which has been modified over the years and circumstances. The castle is the principal subject of Compton Wynyates.
Early American Comptons (up to John I)
The Gravesend, New York, William lived with the Dutch and was referred to as Weilleum. Gravesend was an early English settlement in an area in modern Brooklyn adjacent to Coney Island. It is a mere hop, skip and a jump to Sandy Hook, New Jersey and Monmouth County. (Sandy Hook is also known as one of the haunts of Captain Kidd.) William was one of the 39 original settlers of Gravesend, became a leading citizen and was appointed constable in 1677. Both the elder and the son William, who migrated to New Jersey appear in the early records (See inter alia, Stillwell, Historical and Genealogical Miscellany, New York and New Jersey, 1930, Blalock, Comptonology, V. 1, No. 1, p. 1; see also History of Monmouth County 1664-1920, Lewis Hist. Publ. Co., pp. 321 et seq.; Mandeville, The Story of Middletown, Christ Church (pub.), 1927, pp. 36 et seq., and others. Comptonology and Blalock, among others, then opine that his son, William, married Mary Bowne, daughter of Captain John Bowne and Mary Haverland [whose descendants also reportedly include Daniel Boone], and went with a number of others in 1666 to Monmouth County, New Jersey, and were among the founders of Middletown. In December 1667, the records indicate William was was identified with lot 15 in the town itself, and lot 14 in the "Poplar field [sic]". (Aside: Mary's sister Sarah's descendants include Abraham Lincoln, see Blalock, also Comptonology, V. 1, No. 4, p. 17). It is reported both Comptons and Bownes were Baptists and left to escape religious persecution, but the political and land patent conflicts between the Dutch and British between 1650-1670, which ultimately resulted in New Netherlands being titled to the British and becoming New York around 1670, were undoubtedly the principal cause for this particular migration. We do know they founded a church. It is reported that there was an earlier migration of the Bownes and Comptons from Massachusetts, probably for religious reasons (as "accursed Baptists"), but the documentation is scant. William and Mary had ten children. William died ca. 1709 (Comptonology, V. 2, No. 6, pp. 28-29). One of his sons, Richard, married Prudence (Providence) Isselstyne [or Usselton] (of Dutch extraction), and had a son (among other children, Isselstyne, the father of John I, who in turn married a Lydia Carhart and after her death Margaret Raemer, a German lady. Richard was born December 1673. He and Prudence had seven children. It is from this theory that this genealogy is based. In Whitehead (ed.), New Jersey Colonial Documents, v. 2, 1687-1703, p. 397, Comptonology, Blalock (pp. 2-3), Richard signed a petition to the King to appoint a suitable person as Governor, 17 July 1701. It is relevant to note that the next signature on the document is that of William Bowne, thus reinforcing the Dutch (and New York) circumstantial evidence supporting the New York identity of William. (See also Comptonology, V. 1, No. 1, p. 1; Comptonology, V. 2, No. 7, p. 31; Comptonology, V. 3, No. 9, p. 121; Comptonology, V. 4, No. 3, p. 161). Richard died prior to 1711 (Comptonology, V. 2, No. 9, p. 42.)
Others believe the William here is the son of John Compton of Roxbury Massachusetts and Kent County England. There is some discussion of this in Comptonology, v. 1, No. 1, pp. 2-3. There is certainly a William of Middlesex County with a family with issue including an eventual John, but the William of Monmouth (New York) has the virtue of the multiple Dutch and Bowne historical connections. We also believe with Comptonology (Comptonology, V. 1, No. 3, p. 1) that the Middlesex Comptons eventually migrated through Maryland to Virginia. My research, particularly a copy of an old family Bible and an accompanying analysis, at the Maryland state archives, indicates this branch migrated to Culpeper County Virginia, and includes Zachariah, although I have not thoroughly researched it.
John Compton I, generation 1 below, is one of three sons (including Ezekial and Abraham) of Isselstyne Compton, who married Aaltjie Blaaw (aka "Orchie Blue" in Hopewell NJ in 1720. (See Blalock for additional details). John first married Lydia Carhart and had a daughter Amy, and possibly others. After Lydia died, John married Margaret Raemer ca. 1755 (Comptonology, V. 2, No. 7, p. 31, whose family had left Germany in 1735, also to escape religious persecution. John Compton left New Jersey with Abraham Compton (relation uncertain, if any), and arrived in Augusta County Virginia by 1772. John and Abraham continued to migrate, and John bought land in Botetort County in 1775. Abraham served in the Revolutionary War, and was reportedly killed, (see Blalock) but compare the DAR Patriot Index, Centennial Ed., Pt. 1, p.634, which shows an Abraham b. ca. 1747 NJ, died in 1779 in VA, married to Mary Compton. In any event, John was killed by a falling tree limb in 1778. He and Margaret Raemer had eight issue, per Blalock, see infra. (Blalock says John Jr. went to Missouri, but the DAR Index and other records contradict this).
Methodology and Acknowledgments
I started with a typewritten recap of the family Bible from my sister Janene, which got me back to Billy. I must next acknowledge all my Internet contacts as a group, which opened up the Compton genealogical record for me, and who provided me with invaluable assistance. Information I accumulated online provided the basic theoretical infrastructure to make my fieldwork the most productive. Among many others, these names include cousin Jim Farrar, Margueritte Ratliff (from whom I got an in-depth Compton genealogy), Susan Herron, Catherine Thorsen, and Larry Kent Compton. Through the Internet, I also located Delton Blalock and obtained his book, as well as William H. Compton, where I obtained Comptonology. I also have gotten help from my close relatives, including Milton and Florence Compton, their son and my cousin Edward Arnold Compton, and Delphine and Earl Bevins. Other contacts have included Audrey LaMothe of Prestonsburg, cousin Deanna Cerderia Howard of John's Creek and Iva Compton of Island Creek.
Stephen L. Compton