Monday, August 1, 2011
The West Patriarchs: 1st in a Series, Alexander West I
So little is known about Alexander West I, the progenitor of this West lineage. So many questions are unanswered: Where did he come from? Who were his parents? Who was his wife? How many children did he have? Who were they?
So many theories exist about him.
Some think that he came from Virginia – a possibility. Some think he was descended from the royal line of Wests in Jamestown including the De La Warr Wests from England; however, no documented connection can be made, and the DNA test dispels this assumption. I was convinced that he was a brother of the Solomon and Isaac West, who are very well documented in the research; I was surprised when the DNA test proves this is not true. Some on-line genealogist link Alexander West I to wives who were actually married to other men named Alexander West who lived and died in Accomack and whose ages and children don’t match up with this Alexander – another “dead end.” Where do we go from here? I do not know but only hope that someone “out there” has an answer or some clues.
What do we know? Let’s explore what we do know.
We know that Alexander West I owned land in Orange County, North Carolina, sometime between 1752 and 1768 and he was a resident of Orange County in 1754 and 1755. Two of his children (Alexander II and John) were born in Orange County. Two, evidence-laden facts allude to him and a John West as owning adjacent land in Orange County and to a John West, Sr. as granting him land in Orange County. Alexander's son, John West, wasn’t born until about 1760. Could this John West have been the father of Alexander West I?
In 1775, he appeared in the tax list in Surry County. The area was likely the same land in Surry that later became Wilkes in 1777. From that time until the 1790 census, his name appears in Wilkes County land transactions, land surveys, and tax lists in the areas of Glady Branch and on the Yadkin River. Alex West Senior, as he was frequently referenced, appears in the 1790 Burke County census. By studying the ages of the other members of the household, this individual was probably Alexander West I who was living with his son, Alexander West II, and his family. Since he did not appear in the 1800 census, he apparently died in Burke County sometime after the 1790 census but before the 1800 census.
Can we assume that Alexander West II and John West were his sons?
Since Alexander II was most likely named for his father, we can assume that he was the son of Alexander West I. The fact that two Alexanders are noted in several documents lends credence to one being the father and the other the son. When examining the evidence regarding his apparent son, John West, other than recorded oral family history, very little documentation is available to make a connection between Alexander West I and John West. The fact that the name “Alexander” was carried on in the lineage, with John West ‘s son and daughter-in-law, John Balus West and Mary Ann Swanson, naming a son Alexander Balus West, indicates that Alexander Balus West was likely named after his great grandfather, Alexander West I.
What about other children?
Some researchers indicate that Alexander West I had a son Isaac and one William. At this time, I haven’t found any evidence of these sons. In fact, some on-line researchers seem to think that the Isaac West, who was a brother of Solomon West, was the son of Alexander West I; again, any connection to the family of the brothers, Solomon and Isaac West, is rejected by the DNA. Some researchers indicate that Alexander West I had some daughters, but, yet again, at this time, no evidence has been found to support this claim.
The Final Analysis
Because so little evidence exists, conclusions must be made “by reading between the lines” of the documentation that is available. Therefore, I think we can conclude that Alexander West I lived in Orange and Surry (later Wilkes) Counties, that he died in Burke between 1790 and 1800, and that he had two sons, Alexander West II and John West. Other than these conclusions, I cannot make other assumptions based on the information I have discovered. In time, more information may be found which will prove or disprove other suppositions that abound.
As you, my readers, may quickly recognize, I am extremely frustrated with the dilemma presented by Alexander West I. Please help! I covet any ideas.