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Friday, July 8, 2011


Those of us who are descended from Alexander West I are only assuming, based on handed-down family history, that we are descended from him.  Unless someone has additional information which provides primary documentation, we are basing our connection to him on the oral family history of which only two individuals, of whom I am aware, have recorded for posterity.  I am extremely grateful to these two, John Foster West and Irene Hendrix Basey, who recorded family history that had been passed down to them.  Both of these individuals also referenced our forefather, John West (son of Alexander West I), about whom we also know so little. Without their efforts, we would not have anything on which to base our heritage prior to John Balus West.
John Foster West (descended from Alexander West I through John West, John Balus West, John Witherspoon West, and John Wilson West), a noted author and professor at Appalachian State University, wrote an article, “History of West Family Is Given,” which appeared in the November 8, 1976, issue of the Journal-Patriot of North Wilkesboro, North Carolina.  He described Alexander West I as being “the deep taproot of many who still live in Wilkes, Caldwell, and Watauga counties as well as across the nation.”  He also described John West who moved to South Carolina shortly after his marriage to Margaret “Peggy” Witherspoon.  He related the story of “Miss Peggy,” as he said she was affectionately called, returning to Wilkes with her children after John’s early death to live in the “area where her father-in-law, Alexander West I, lived.”  Furthermore, in another newspaper article, “West Writes About Revolutionary War Relative,” for which the publication source and date are unknown, John Foster West identifies himself as being the sixth generation from Alexander West I.  In this article he described his great, great grandfather, Alexander West II, who fought in the American Revolution, and he identified him as the son of Alexander West I and the brother of John West.  Unfortunately, Alexander West II’s Revolutionary War Pension papers indicate that no names of parents were given.  John Foster West passed away in 2008.
In the 1982 publication of The Heritage of Wilkes County, Irene Hendrix Basey, who is descended from Alexander West I through John West, John Balus West, and Franklin West, published an article, “The West Family,” in which she named Alexander West I as “the earliest known ancestor of the West families of Wilkes County.”   Likewise, she described John West’s family, telling how his widow, Margaret, returned to Wilkes after his death “to live near her relatives in the same general neighborhood where Alexander West I had lived prior to his settlement on Upper Little River.”  Irene Hendrix Basey’s daughter has posted Mrs. Basey’s family tree, Basey Family, on  I had tried for a year to locate Mrs. Basey and certainly appreciate Irene’s daughter recently helping me make the connection and sharing information with me.  What would we do without those dear souls who are willing to help and to share information!

Many thanks to 2nd cousin, DFK, and 4th cousins LBD and JJL for sharing information.
Even though, we are basing our knowledge of our ancestors on “assumptions,” I believe that these assumptions are valid for several reasons.  Recorded oral history has validity and value and should be respected. Naming patterns in families reflect the recurring use of the name Alexander in their descendants.  After Alexander West I, we find his son Alexander West II, who named a son Alexander West III.  John Balus West, the grandson of Alexander West I, named a son Alexander Balus West.  John Balus West also had a great grandson named Alexander T. West.  Furthermore, I suspect that two of the sons of Thomas Harvey West (son of Alexander Balus West/Nancy Land) and America Ann McNeil West may have had Alexander in their names.  These sons, A. Judson West and Willard A. West, died at early ages with A. Judson living only approximately two months and Willard A. most likely living only about two years.  In addition, Solomon West, who may have been a brother of Alexander West I, named his son Alexander West.
Obviously, we who are descended from “The Wests of Wilkes” are in need of primary sources with which to document our heritage.  Obviously, I have reached, as genealogist say, “a brick wall” in my search for our ancestors.  I have researched land, census, birth, marriage, will, and probate records in the county court houses and libraries of Orange, Surry, Wilkes, and Burke.  I have also researched at the State Library of North Carolina in Raleigh and the State Library of Virginia in Richmond.  Through this blog, I have hopes that I may reach someone who has greater knowledge than I do about the West ancestors, particularly, John West and his father, Alexander West I.
My intentions are to keep my posts short, but I have just gotten carried away with this and the previous one.

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