Their Story…

TheStationCampRising between Blackwater Creek and Wallen’s Creek, Powell mountain guards over the lands where my people have lived for more than 200 years.  They were among the first pioneers and settlers in this area, including long hunters such as Elisha Wallen, Abraham Bledsoe, William Roberts, and Big Bill Baker.  They came in search of game and settled here due to abundant natural resources such as salt and lead.

Adjacent to the Cumberland Gap, this area was the first gateway to the West.  Many settlers of the states of Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas first came through here.  They followed the hunting paths made by the native Amerindians, who were simply following the paths made by their game.  These paths ran along creeks and rivers and through valleys and eventually became the highways that wind through Kentucky, East Tennesse and Southwest Virginia.  These include the “Wilderness Road” (US Highway 25), the “Daniel Boone Trail Highway” (US Highway 58), and the “Great Indian War Path” (US Highway 11).

ColdGrayFogDawnAlthough most of my ancestors’ stories began at Plymouth Rock, they chose to settle in the Appalachian mountains here in Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee.  On their journey Westward, they helped to pioneer Rhode Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia,  North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and Missouri.  They were primarily Scots-Irish immigrants, and brought with them a stubborn, can-do attitude.

I can say that the heritage that I received from them is as follows:  Appreciation for hard work, stubbornness, independence, love of the outdoors, pride, patriotism, a fighting spirit, and a love for God and His Word.

My parents, Foyster and Evelyn (Baker) Roberts are the seventh generation of their families to live in this beautiful area.   Their home resides on AJ Osborne Highway in East Blackwater, Virginia, facing Powell Mountain.  Many times they have told me the stories of our families and this area.  I hope to share those stories with you.

I want to thank Olonie (“O.C.”) Helton, David Baker (my uncle), Joe Wallen (my distant relative in Tennessee), and Rudy Roberts (my distant relative in Oklahoma) for the valuable research that they shared with me.  I also want to thank Foyster and Evelyn Roberts (my parents), Ed and Nola Roberts (my uncle and aunt), Paul Roberts (my uncle), and Claude Baker (my grandfather) for the priceless family stories that they shared with me through the years.  Sadly, some of these folks have passed on.  But I look forward to seeing them and the rest of my family again when the Lord returns.

I also want to thank my lovely wife, Tracy (Patton) Roberts, for introducing me to WordPress.

I hope that this website is a blessing to you.  Thanks for stopping by.

Jeffery M. Roberts

40 Responses to “Their Story…”

  1. Debra Baker Conner says:

    Dear Cousin Jeff,

    OH MY! I’ve already made a couple of separate comments on this site. This is DE-LOVELY & the BOMB-DIGGIDY-BOMB! What a blessing you are! God will bless you & yours for taking so much time & energy to create this! Have you shared with others in our families? I found out about it through a Facebook friend just this morning, 01/26/2011!! (Would have loved to hear about it from you, my dear Jeffro! Yep, that’s the straight-forward-ness in the both of us, huh?) At any rate … I’m glad I found out about it.

    Again, thanks – SO MUCH! It would be great to have a family/familes reunion one of these days … this side of Heaven! The pics you posted bring back SO many fond memories.

    Love & Prayers … Always,
    Debra Faye Baker Conner :o) xoxo

  2. Debra Baker Conner says:



    Love … xoxo
    Debra Baker Conner 🙂

  3. eleanor rogers edmondson says:

    My ancestor, Doswell Rogers b. 1736, traveled thru present-day Lee and Scott Cos. VA with the Roberts and Wallens. (Statement made by him in Lee Co. VA on a deposition he gave in 1812.) However, by the time they entered this area they were actually looking for land to settle and were no longer after skins. As they went along they named the creeks. The Rogers, Roberts, and Wallens intermarried for generations. They first met in Halifax/Pittsylvania Co. VA.

  4. forrest Plumstead says:

    I have traced, my family all the way from J.E. Roberts, Mathew, Nathan, then Cornelius, some speculate that James was his dad but, no know one says for sure. thanks for the site very informative.

  5. Phillip Roberts says:

    Jeff, enjoyed your website and the pictures. We are cousins, both desc of Wm and Catherine Roberts. The pic of Ed Roberts, your uncle, brought back memories as i used to stop and visit with him and Nola at the store. I grew up in Lee Co until up in my teen years and we moved to NC. Would go back home often and sometimes go thru Blackwater. Ed and Nola shared a lot of old family stories with me and pictures.

  6. Stephen T. Childress says:

    Tracing my Genealogy: Grandparent- William Thomas Childress-Mary Douglas Hemphill
    Great Grand parent Benjamin F. Fuller – Laura A. Beall [Note: A could stand for abbott]Great Great Grand parent Peterson(peter) C. Beall [Note: C could stand for Clinton]- Mary Ann Grady
    Great Great Great Grand parent Tipton Grady-Susan Roberts
    Great Great Great Great Grand parent Daniel Roberts-Elizabeth Keyser
    Great Great Great Great Great Grand Parents of Daniel Roberts[Cornelius Roberts-Mary E. Benton]
    Great Great Great Great Great Grand Parents of Elizabeth Keyser[Joseph Kenton Keyser-Susannah Stacy]
    Great Great Great Great Great Great Grand Parents of Cornelius Roberts[James Roberts born 1724 Deal,Kent, England and married Elizabeth Mumbray on December 27, 1748. James Roberts died in 1753.
    Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Grand Parents of James Roberts[Richard Roberts born 1692 Deal, Kent, England married Catherine Beech date???
    Richard Roberts died 1747 in Deal,Kent, England.
    Note this: Catherine Beech died 1793 in Deal, Kent, England and if birth and death dates are correct that would have made her 98 years old

  7. Garin S. Bledsoe says:

    Hello Cousin!!!

    My GGGGrandfather was Sampson Bledsoe. I have a lot of info to share with you about the Bledsoe’s.

    GGGrandfather – Winder Bledsoe
    Great Grandfarther – Milam Bledsoe
    Grandfather – Glenn C. Bledsoe
    Father – Glenn G. Bledsoe

    • Jennifer Bledsoe Sorensen says:

      Hi, Garin. Winder Bledsoe was also my great, great, great grandfather. My lineage is:
      Winder, Wright, Oren, Oris, Richard. I would love to hear from you and learn more about the Bledsoe family. Thanks!

    • windell Larue says:

      My Bledsoe line is GGGGThomas,GGGAbraham,GGallen,Gjames M. and my grandmother Amanda Bledsoe.GGGgrandmother was Millicent Wallen.

  8. Leigh Cooper Mangrum says:

    johnsons of blackwater & colliers. Is there kin through your line to “Fred Roberts” of Church Hill Tn. My aunt maye lived there in a trailer house at Fred and his wife Maysie home place in church hill after she left big stone gap. She was my great aunt, being sister to my grandmother Bessie ‘collier’ johnson. Maye was a Tompkins by marriage. ?? having been trying to trace the colliers and the johnsons but hard tracking in this little known part of VA. Thanks!

  9. I am the grandson of Oscar Baker, married to Eva Lawing Baker

  10. I would love to come up to the Tennesse area and visit

  11. Zara Mercer says:

    Hi , is this group of Roberts any kin to Aaron Roberts born 1772 in South Carolina marries a Betsy but last name is unknown to me they had at least one son John H Roberts.

  12. Bill Walling says:

    I’m kin to the (longhunter Elisha)

  13. Ron Stroud says:

    My grandmother was Mattie Stacy daughter of Elizabeth Wallen who was the daughter of Joseph Wallen and Susan Roberts…she married George Lawson also whose family go back to the 1700s in Blackwater area.

  14. Ann Harrington says:

    Do you have a Roland Baker born abt. 1809 in your family tree? xxx Ann

  15. Ron Stroud says:

    Sorry to say I don’t…but wish I had more infor. on Great Grandmother Elizabeth Wallen who married a Stacy and later married Harvey Johnson…need help..thanks, ron

  16. eleanor rogers edmondson says:

    Your selection of using crossroads as a source for Doswell Rogers genealogy is iffy. The site has numerous mistakes which you may not be aware of. Statements like Doswell served with George Washington, etc. are not factual and can be disproved from documentation which has be collected from archives, state libraries, and courthouses for the last 45 years.

  17. Daniel Bledsoe says:

    My father was Isaac Franklin Bledsoe, Sr. His father was Isaac Wesley Bledsoe and his mother was Sarilda Wallen Bledsoe. I know Delmer Wallen did extensive genealogical research into the family, but I was curious if anyone here had any other information. It is my understanding that my ancestors were long hunters also.

  18. Thomas Roberts says:

    I just discovered your website, it is 2:00 am and time for bed but I plan to review closer tomorrow. My grandparents were from Blackwater and Jonesville, my daddy was born in Jonesville and went to about the 3rd grade before the family moved to SC where he and his five brothers and three sisters worked in textiles. I see a couple of names on your website that I know I am related to. Ed Roberts, Phillip Roberts, Ebert the school teacher. I hope to find information on Joel Roberts who married Lovenia Joiner and lived around Jonesville and Pennington Gap

    i also have Baker blood because of my mother was a Baker.

  19. Cheryl Calhoun says:

    Love your site. I am also a descendant of William “Big Sandy” Wallen. Would love to talk to you about our shared family.

  20. Jeff, We may be on some sites together but I could not find an email for you. I just found that I have 7 matches to Cornelius Roberts on Atdna. This is a little of a surprise since I do not have direct Roberts but this indicates that I might match here. I am a Blevins descendant and one of the matches is a Blevins but the others are not and the majority were Johnson and the common denominator is Quaker. There is a strong possibility of Swift and Frost also, We are just starting today and you seem to have a good grasp on the Longhunter connections and this area. I know I have a Skaggs with possible Meredith dna connection, I am a Vaughn so sorting this out is going to be fun. I would prefer to do this by email as we are forming a small study group and I thought you might be interested. I was also wondering if you had done any DNA testing?

    • Jeff Roberts says:

      Hi Vivian. Yes, I would be interested. My email address is

      I have not done DNA testing yet. I saw that a distant cousin’s results included middle-eastern descent(including Turkey) as well as northern European descent.

  21. zack tonker says:

    I’m an 80 yr, old gentleman, the last in my family.My grandmother was chany roberts

    daughter of claiborne and atheline stapleton roberts. I just started looking for

    some info. for my grandson, I saw your postings online. As my ancestors were from

    the Blackwater area I thought you might be of their line.

    many thanks

  22. Karhy James says:

    I am related ro Robert, Rogers. Wallens. Blevind.etc Thank you so much. k Ja,es

  23. Karhy James says:

    sorry slight typos. i.e. Blevins, Roberts, Rogers, Elsha Wallen. riddles, Collins, Sextons and Gibsons

  24. Donna Yates Anderson says:

    Would love help connecting Stephen Yates Sr to father John Yates III.
    Any information would be of great help. Thank you.

  25. Clarence Roberts says:

    Hi I’m Clarence Roberts
    decedent of Cornelius Roberts. son Isaac. my Grandfather William Harvey Roberts married Missouri Baker, the bakers left Kent England 100 year before Cornelius they both lived her in Grayson county Virginia, late 1700’s about 100’s years later they met in WV and were married
    so I too have bakers in my family

  26. Betsy Dill says:

    I am a decendent of Cornielous Neal Roberts through his daughter Amillia/Milly Roberts. After Neals death, Mary Benton Roberts married Rev. John Frost. John Frost 1st wife was Frances Collingsworth, they had a son named Edward Frost. Amillia (daughter of Neal and Mary Roberts) married her step brother Edward Frost son of Rev John and Frances Frost)
    Children of Edward Frost and wife Amilia Roberts Frost are:
    Frances Frost born 1792
    Hannah Frost born 1793
    Martha Frost born 1795
    William R Frost born 1796
    Snowing Frost born 1798
    Susannah Frost born 1800
    Edward (Ned) Frost born 1804 in Anderson Co Tn. 1st wife Elizabeth Rogers in 1833 Tallagega Al. 2nd wife Jane Jenkins Feb. 21 1838 Morgan Co Alabama the later moved to Walker County Alabama.

  27. Mark Tally says:

    I’m a decendant of Mourninging Robert’s. She married Jacob Tally. Many Tallys and Robert’s migrated together to Jackson County Tennessee, then to Alabama, and on to Texas. In fact, some Roberts and Tally men were in the first 300 people to accept land claims from Mexico through the settlement program set up by Sam Houston. I am one of the Tallys from Texas. My father came to Winston-Salem after ww2. I live in Statesville and hike and camp all through the My. Rogers area. Would enjoy talking family on my next visit.

  28. Joe Royston says:

    Eliasha Wallen was was mt 5th great grandfather. My family on the Royston side and Carder side have strong roots in upper East Tennessee.

  29. Ashley Bledsoe Napier says:

    I am related to the Bledsoe Long Hunters. Abraham is my 6th ggfather. And his grandson (also Abraham) my 4th great grand married the daughter of James Carr Wallen. This is my paternal side. I also have Wallen on my maternal side. I’d love to find more information about both sides if anyone is interested in connecting with me.

  30. Ashley Bledsoe Napier says:

    Have several Bledsoe and Wallen ancestors
    Anyone infested in connecting ?

  31. Jim MIller says:

    The Lee County Historical Marker in your article is adjacent to The Surgener Cemetery on Hwy. 70 at the Virgina-Tennessee state line in Blackwater. My grandmother Loydie Surgener Miller and 5 of her children are buried in this cemetery. Her father was Abraham Russell “Abe” Surgener and her mother, Sarah Calladona Pridemore Surgener. There are 3 Roberts here as well, as I understand they are related to my GGrandfather, his sister Sarah Elizabeth Surgener’s first husband was Andrew Jackson Roberts.

  32. Jim Miller says:

    My paternal line is also decedents of Elijah Wallen, my 3rd GGrandmother is Martha Jane Walling. The Wallen/Walling name is found spelled alternative in both forms.

  33. Michele Wallen Schurk says:

    I have been struggling for years to determine the Wallen Family lineage, I’m hoping someone can assist. I have lineage going back to Ralph Wallen (1557 – 1643), but members of my family indicate my documentation is incorrect. Do you have anyone that can help me?

  34. Pat Wolfe says:

    Jeff Roberts, question for you: My sons come down thru Elbert Roberts and Nancy Ann Willis. Then to Nancy Ann Roberts/ William J Quillan/ My MIL always said she (Nell Lillian Quillan) had Cherokee blood in her and so did my ex husband. Have you found any Native American Blood through your line? I have had DNA on both my sons and it is no help. Any assistance you can provide would be appreciated.

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