Dye Family History

Read Stringtown, West Virginia: A Brief History of a Pre-World War II Rural Community.

See Ross W. Dye’s Foreword to this History.

Dye Family History:
From England to Colonial Virginia and Roane County, WV

by Ross W. Dye, Grandson of John Morgan Dye and Florinda Farnsworth Smith

The Dyes in England

Dye as a surname is derived from Dionysus, the god of fertility and wine in Greek and Roman religion. The house of Dye is known to have existed in England in the 14th century. Records in Yorkshire reveal that the name of Dye was known there in 1373 in the General armory of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales by Sir John Bernard Burks, G. B., L.L.D., Ulster King of arms. The Dye coat of arms is described as follows: “Ar. a fesse sa. in chief three mullets of the second. Crest on a ducal coronat or swan with wings endorsed ducally gorged.”

Ancestry of John Morgan Dye

The Dyes of Virginia came from England in the early part of the 17th century. Robert Dye was born in England and settled in Accomack County, Virginia, and the first land he owned was in Accomack County. He sold this tract November 4, 1637 and moved to Northampton County where he died in 1680 at the age of 74.

Daniel Dye, son of Robert Dye, was born in Northampton County in 1640. He married Martha Erevens. Martha was born in 1640 and died in 1700. Daniel lived until 1707. Among their children was John Dye, born in 1675.

John Dye, son of Daniel Dye, married Mary Thompson. John died in 1749 and Mary, born in 1679, died in 1759. They were the parents of Vincent Dye.

Vincent Dye was born in 1715, and died in 1796. He married Sarah Artepe, who was born in 1727, and died in 1810.

William Dye, son of Vincent Dye, was born in 1747, and died in 1815. He married Sally Day, born in 1747, and died in 1810. According to the Historical Register of Virginians in the Revolution, William Dye was a veteran of the Revolutionary War. William and Sally reared a family of nine children in Halifax County, Virginia.

Abraham Dye, son of William and Sally Dye, was born in Halifax County, Virginia in 1770. Abraham married Nancy Henderson and moved to the new lands in the western part of North Carolina. In North Carolina, four sons were born to them: Robert in 1792, John in 1795, Pier in 1800, and Thomas in 1804. After the birth of Thomas, Abraham and Nancy moved to what is now Russell County, Virginia, to acquire new land. Here were born to them Abraham in 1805 and Bramen in 1810. Abraham Sr. died in 1837. Nancy was born in 1772, and died in 1830.

Robert Dye, son of Abraham and Nancy, was born in North Carolina in 1792. At the age of 12, he came with his parents to Russell County, Virginia. He married Mary Elkins, who was also born in 1792. Robert lived until 1857, being preceded in death by Mary in 1856. To Robert and Mary Dye were born several children, but the names of only the last three are known. The three youngest children were John F. born in 1834, Abraham born in 1836, and Sarah E. born in 1839.

Abraham Dye, son of Robert and Mary Dye, was born January 30, 1836 in Russell County, Virginia. His wife, Louisa Hascue, was born August 20, 1835. Before the Civil War, Abraham and Louisa were married in Russell County and moved to what is now Roane County, West Virginia. Roane County was formed from Kanawha County in 1860. They made the trip in a wagon and settled on a tract of land along the Pocatalico River near Looneyville, West Virginia. Here, Abraham built a log cabin and began clearing the land. Later, a large house was built on the same place. Aunt Ruby Dye Sergent has a picture of the little log cabin. To Abraham and Louisa Dye were born: James Madison, John Morgan, Nancy, Creed, and Emma. Great-uncle Creed lived on the old Dye place until his death in 1945. He sometimes came to visit Grandpa in a buggy when I was a boy. Lousia Hascue passed away September 23, 1898, and Abraham Dye lived until December 6, 1910. They are buried in the Looneyville cemetery.

John Morgan Dye was born July 29, 1863 on the Abraham Dye farm on the Pocatalico. This was thirty-nine days after West Virginia became a separate state, and Grandpa often said, “I am as old as West Virginia.” John Morgan Dye married Florinda Farnsworth Smith, daughter of Jonathan Smith and Lydia Stump.

Ancestry of Florinda Farnsworth Smith

The Smiths in our family were early English settlers in Virginia. James Smith of Hampshire County, Virginia is our earliest known ancestor in this branch of the family.

Aaron Smith, son of James Smith, married Sarah Allen and settled on Simpson Creek in Harrison County in 1772. To them were born twelve children including Israel Smith. Israel Smith was born in 1798.

Israel Smith, son of Aaron Smith and Sarah Allen, married Elizabeth Smith. To them was born Jonathan Smith, my great-grandfather. Elizabeth was born January 25, 1805, and died June 9, 1883, having been preceded in death by her husband in 1862. They are buried in the Looneyville cemetery about two miles from where Jonathan Smith lived at the time of his father’s death.

Jonathan Smith, son of Israel and Elizabeth Smith, was born in Barbour County, Virginia (now West Virginia) August 8, 1829. Jonathan Smith was a Baptist minister licensed to preach by the Bethlehem Church, August 16, 1851. He was ordained in July, 1854 at Flat Fork Church. He preached at Johnson Creek, Mt. Moriah, Blue Creek, Flat Fork, Harmony, Spencer, Barneswood, Ripley, Buckhannon, Elizabeth, and Clarksburg. He served in the Baptist Church as Superintendent of State Missions 1872-1874, and he was President of the General Association in 1893.

For several years, Jonathan lived at what is known as the Lamb place in what is now Roane County, which he owned and where he built a large house in which Florinda, his daughter, lived as a girl. This same house became the home of Romeo Napoleon Dye and his wife Olive. My mother Olive and I and my brothers continued to live in this house until 1939 when it was razed to make room for a new house.

During the Civil War, at the Lamb place Jonathan Smith had a saddle horse which he used to ride to preach. The home guards were going through the country looting farms, and Jonathan hid his horse in a thicket behind the barn. However, his smokehouse was not so well protected and the home guards took off with his meat.

Jonathan Smith was also a surveyor, school teacher, and a farmer. He was well-educated, and was considered to be well-to-do for that day. When each of his children married, he gave them a piece of land. His last home was at Clendenin, West Virginia, where he died May 28, 1913. His wife, Lydia Stump, lived until May 1, 1922. She spent her last years with her son, Henry Smith, at Parkersburg, West Virginia. She is buried beside her beloved Jonathan at Clendenin.

Our connection to Stumptown and George Washington

The Stump family came from Germany to England. Shortly after their marriage, Michael Stump I and his wife, Catherine, came to settle on land obtained from Lord Fairfax, namely lots two, three, twelve, and thirteen on the South Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac. George Washington, who was then a young surveyor, surveyed this land for him. At one time, George Washington and Lord Fairfax were guests at the Stump home for several days. Michael Stump I and Catherine were parents of Michael II, Catherine, Magdaline, Leonard, and George. Most of the children of Michael Stump I are recorded in the Census of Virginia in 1790 as heads of households in Hampshire County, and Michael Stump II took the 1790 census in Hampshire County.

Michael Stump II, son of Michael Stump I, was born in 1744 in the Virginia home of his parents. He and his brother, Major George Stump, were officers in Washington’s army during the Revolutionary War. At one time, Michael Stump II commanded the Hardy County militia. Michael Stump II married Sarah Hughes, daughter of Thomas Hughes. Michael II attained his majority in 1765 and celebrated the event by conveyancy by deed to lot two, containing 400 acres. Michael II died in 1799. Sarah Hughes, wife of Michael Stump II, was born in 1743, and died in 1812. Born to Michael Stump II and his wife were Michael III, Leonard, Jesse, Catherine, and Sarah.

Michael Stump III was born February 27, 1766 in what was Hampshire County, Virginia. At the age of thirteen, he went squirrel hunting with George Washington and Major George Stump. Early in life he learned to love the wilderness and the adventure as well as the possibilities of the frontier. He purchased a tract of land on Hackers Creek in Harrison County, Virginia, where he built a cabin and took his bride, Magdaline Richards. They were married February 10, 1786 by Preacher J.W. Loveborough. Magdaline Richards was the daughter of John Richards and Sarah Ellsworth. John Richards was a veteran of the Revolutionary War. Soon after their marriage, Michael III decided to take his bride back to his old home on the South Branch of the Potomac because of the renewal of Indian hostilities in Harrison County. About the turn of the century, Michael III began to yearn for the wilderness because an influx of settlers made him feel crowded on South Branch. He moved his family in 1804 to Steer Creek in Harrison County, an isolated place where the woodland foliage was a little more dense, the deep blue pools more adequately stocked with fish, the deer, bears, wolves, and panthers less compliant. Soon after his arrival, he and his son Jacob killed a buffalo to provide the family with meat. To Michael Stump III and Magdaline Richards were born Michael IV, Sarah, Jacob, Magdaline, Absalom, John, George, Elizabeth, Jennia, Temperance, and Jesse. Michael III died March 27, 1834. His wife, Magdaline Richards, was born December 9, 1764, and died June 11, 1832. Michael Stump III and his wife are buried near their old home on an eminence overlooking the Steer Creek Valley near Stumptown, West Virginia. His descendants placed at his grave a monument made in the shape of a stump with the design of a gun and an ax to represent the pioneer and the hunter.

At the time Michael Stump III moved to Steer Creek on May 6, 1804, the county was thinly settled and Clarksburg was the county seat of Harrison County, which at that time included the Steer Creek area. This location is now known as Stumptown, and according to the West Virginia Department of Archives and History, it was named for Michael Stump, who was the first settler. Harrison County was later divided and these new counties were divided again. What is now known as Stumptown is in Gilmer County, West Virginia. It is a small village and a post office. Gilmer County was formed in 1845 and among the first justices holding commissions from the Governor of Virginia was the son of Michael Stump III, Michael Stump IV.

George Stump, son of Michael Stump III and Magdaline Richards, was born in Hampshire County, Virginia in 1797. He was seven years of age when the family moved to what is now Stumptown, West Virginia. He married Nancy Bennett and made his home in Stumptown until his death a few years later. Both George and Nancy died, leaving their daughter Lydia an orphan.

Lydia Stump was born at Stumptown, West Virginia (then Virginia) July 8, 1834. She married Jonathan Smith. To Jonathan Smith and Lydia Stump were born Napoleon, Lemuel, Lothrop, Henry, Florinda, and May. Lemuel was with Theodore Roosevelt at San Juan. Florinda Farnsworth Smith married John Morgan Dye.

John Morgan Dye and Florinda Farnsworth Smith

John Morgan Dye and Florinda Farnsworth Smith were the parents of nine children–Lothrop Fulton, Jonathan Smith, Oral Wayne, Cyril Winton, Pearl, Romeo Napoleon, Ruby, and Oshial. An infant daughter, Inez, died in 1894 and is buried in the Looneyville cemetery.

John and Florinda first lived in a house on what was known as Taylor Ridge, a farm adjacent to the Lamb place in Roane County. This house burned and they moved into a log house which stood on the place by the Pocatalico two miles below the Abraham Dye place, where Grandpa and Grandma Dye lived until their deaths. This place had belonged to a family by the name of Welch. Jonathan Smith bought it and gave it to his daughter Florinda and her husband John Morgan Dye. This old log two-story house had a cellar behind it where it was alleged that the body of a peddlar who was supposed to have been murdered by Mr. Welch was buried. Grandma went into the smokehouse to get meat for breakfast one snowy morning and fell into the partly filled cellar. She found no ghost! Later, Grandpa had the old log house razed and built a new house. John Morgan Dye passed away February 6, 1945. Florinda Farnsworth Smith was born October 11, 1866, and died February 11, 1940. They rest side by side in the Summerfield cemetery at Stringtown.
(The Summerfield/Dye cemetery in Stringtown.)

Some of my fondest memories of childhood are of my Grandpa and Grandma Dye. Among my most cherished possessions are a locket watch given me by Grandma when I was fifteen and a wrist watch given me by Grandpa when I was nineteen. The watch which Grandpa gave me was old at the time and the years have only enhanced it. I expect to wear the watch Grandpa gave me the rest of my life.
(Tombstones of John Morgan Dye and Florinda Farnsworth Smith, Summerfield/Dye cemetery, Stringtown.)

Romeo Napoleon Dye was born November 4, 1900 at the John Morgan Dye home in Roane County, West Virginia. Olive Evelina Elliott became his wife and to them were born Ross, Romeo (who always went by Chub), and William (Bill). Romeo Napoleon Dye passed away July 31, 1929 and is buried near the graves of his father and mother in the old Summerfield cemetery.
(Tombstone of Romeo Napoleon Dye, Summerfield/Dye cemetery, Stringtown.)

Some of the details about my father and mother are set out in Part II of this paper in which I discussed my maternal ancestors. Being only four years of age when my father died, my memory of him is scanty. I recall going fishing with him once. I remember a squirrel hunt, some of the time he came home from work and played with me, and a number of other things that were unusually meaningful to me at the time. The Christmas before he died is fairly vivid in my mind, and also the day my brother Bill was born. Of course, the funeral is also quite clear in my memory, but I will not repeat anything further about my parents here.
(Footstone to the grave of Romeo Napoleon Dye.)

Ross W. Dye
December 2, 1964

Notes from Suzanne, daughter of Ross Dye

Part II, with more details about Stringtown, and Romeo and Olive Dye, coming….as soon as I can wrestle it out of my parents!

Read an Interview with Ross Dye, Grandson of John Morgan Dye.

Keep up with our new Old Stringtown farm every day on the farmhouse blog. Our new farm is across the river from John Morgan Dye’s old farm and the Summerfield/Dye cemetery is across the road from us. Abraham Dye’s house still stands and is about two miles away. The old “Lamb place” is even closer and I know just where Jonathan Smith hid his horse from the soldiers….

Go to:

Stringtown, West Virginia: A Brief History of a Pre-World War II Rural Community

Ross W. Dye’s Foreword to this History.