Friday, December 15, 2017


In professional genealogy terms, the identity of William Rider of Bath County, Virginia, is not yet "proved".  I've been working on this post for nearly a year.  Moving back beyond 1746 is quite a job.  Acknowledging that it may take more onsite research than is possible now, this is a summary of what has been learned.  

I am confident that this is the line of our direct ancestors from our grandfather to the Riders of Bath County, Virginia:

Frank T. Ryder             1889-1956   Gandfather
Fred Ryder                   1861-1923   Great-Grandfather
Azariah Rider               1836-1895  2x Great-Grandfather
Thomas J. Rider           1812-1888  3x Great-Grandfather
James Rider                 1777-1828  4x Great-Grandfather

 These are the Riders explored here: 

William Rider/Ryder     1746-1819  5x Great-Grandfather  (Uncertainty is birth date)
William Rider                1714-          6x Great-Grandfather
William Rider, Sr.          unknown

For many reasons including fires and war, vital records of Virginia are hard to find.  Early on, I received valuable information from the Bath County, Virginia Historical Society. I looked at many online vital records available for immigration, birth, marriage and death for Virginia. Good information is available in monographs and late 19th and early 20th century published county histories, some available through Google Play Books. 

In place of proved records, I depend on Gordon J. Ryder, who self-published The Rider-Ryder Family from Virginia in 1993.  This hardcover book is out of print and available in a limited number of libraries.  You may be able to get a library near you to obtain an inter-library loan.  For 12 years full time in retirement, Gordon traced his Ryder "best guess" for our family line to a William Rider of Abingdon, Gloucester County, Virginia.  He worked for several government agencies and was a published engineer and a careful detailer.  For a relatively small volume, Gordon packed an incredible amount of information into his book.  It is unfortunate that he did not include specific sources but he had a story to tell, and he told that well.  Gordon's family did not respond to inquiries about his work papers.

At the publication of this book, after his extensive search for records, Gordon was unable to determine more about the Bath County William except that there were Rider records for three generations of William Riders in the parish church in Abingdon, Gloucester, Virginia.  This area, the Tidewater, is east of Richmond, between the York River and Mobjack Bay on Chesapeake Bay.  Gordon obtained the following information from Abingdon parish registers held by the Gloucester Public Library:

"Baptismal dates for the children of  William Rider:

Ursula, daughter of William Rider, January 15, 1701
Thomas, daughter of William Rider, January 31, 1702
Jane, daughter of William Rider, April 27, 1707
Mary, daughter of William Rider, May 1, 1709
William, son of William Rider, Sr., January 3, 1714

"Later records listed sons and daughters of William and Ann Rider, as follows:

James, baptized March 13, 1736
John, baptized July 9, 1738
Ann, baptized June 14, 1741
Hannah, born April 30, 1744
Ursula, born Xber 24, 1745
William, born March 15, 1746
Frances, born June 18, 1750, baptized same day
Nancy, born February 21, 1751
Solomon, born August 3, 1754, baptized September 15

"Also in this register are the following entries:

Thomas, departed this life in January, 1761
Ursula Rider married James Crittenden January19, 1737"

Gordon Ryder does not discuss that first William Rider listed, the father of the nine children.  Based on the birth date of his first daughter in the register, he would have been living in the area by 1700. Gordon Ryder believed that William Rider, born March 15, 1746, son of William and Ann Rider in Abingdon, Gloucester, Virginia was the William Rider who finalized his land purchase in Bath County, Virginia, in 1789.  Gordon Ryder listed the birth dates of these children of  William's but did not describe the records to document them other than the registers he viewed.   There are several 17th century Riders listed in passenger list sources but it is not possible to connect them. 

By about 1780, William was probably living in the August/Bath/Highland Counties area of Virginia.  In addition to Tidewater Virginians and Marylanders, the western Virginia  was heavily settled by Scotch-Irish (and German) immigrants considerably before the Revolution.  Shortly after the American Revolution, our 5x great-grandfather William and his family were among them. 

Although many Virginia Rider/Ryders dispersed long ago, some are still living in Bath County and surrounding counties.  When I reached out to the Bath County Historical Society, a volunteer told me there are still lots of Ryders in the area!
  After locating Azariah, Thomas J., James and   William there, for orientation I looked for historic and more contemporary topographical maps of Bath County, Virginia. 

This cutout of a beautiful 1755 Virginia map in the Library of Congress shows an area that was then Augusta County but later became Bath County, Virginia.  There were rather frequent divisions of this area into different counties, and no history of that will be used here but Gordon Ryder described it in some detail, as did several of the histories listed as sources. 

The red line is The Great Wagon Road that stretched from Philadelphia well into Georgia which you can read about in The Great Wagon Road by Parke Rouse, Jr. 

The map (and others) in the Library of Congress digital collection and is labeled as follows: 

A Map of the most Inhabited part of VIRGINIA containing the whole PROVINCE of Maryland with Part of PENSILVANIA, NEW JERSEY and NORTH CAROLINA Drawn by Joshua Fry &Peter Jefferson in 1751.

To the Right Honorable George Dunk Earl of Halifax First Lord Commissioner and to the Rest of the right Honourable and Honourable Commisioners for TRADE and PLANTATIONS

This Map is most humbly Inscribed to their Lordships by their Lordship’s Most Obedient & devoted humble servant Tho.s Jefferys. 

Circled white area approximate at area of Rider/Ryder lands

Permanent Link to full map:  Fry-Jefferson 1755 map - Library of Congress

Other Sources of Family History on Riders of Virginia

There is another authored family history. The record of the Rider family:  chiefly descendants of John Rider, born about 1755, died 1855, written in 1911 by Sarah Rider Bond. This short monograph is available in Salt Lake City and some Virginia libraries [Note:  I had difficulty getting the Family History Library online version to open on an ipad (IOS 11 or Windows 10 computer) and obtained it in .pdf with assistance from a librarian at the NYPL Milstein Division, NYPL] .  The summary states: 

"John Rider (ca. 1775-1855), direct descendant of three Rider brothers who were among the first emigrants from England to New England, settled along the eastern shore of Maryland in the early part of the eighteenth century.  Descendants lived in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, Oregon and elsewhere". 

This is from Sarah Rider Bond's introduction:

"According to authentic statements, three brothers of the Rider family sailed from England and landed on American soil with the first settlers of New England. From best information, one of the direct descendants of this family, John Rider, settled on the eastern shore of Maryland during the first part of the eighteenth century. This man had the distinction of living in three centuries, having been born in the late years of the seventeenth century, about 1698, lived through the eighteenth, and died in the early years of the nineteenth century, at somewhat over a hundred years of age. From best information, George Rider, a member of John Rider's family, settled in the south-eastern part of Pennsylvania. Two members, evidently of this family, name William J. Rider and Thomas (J.) Rider, went west and settled in Illinois, about sixty miles, north of Chicago. William J. was a Methodist preacher.

I worked to compare Sarah Rider Bond's version to Gordon Ryder's.

The children of William Rider of Bath County, Virginia, according to Gordon Ryder were:

Alexander Rider, born about 1768
Richard  Rider, born 1770
John William Rider, born June 4, 1771, in Barbour County, Va. [His first son was George]
James Rider, born March 1777
Elizabeth Rider,  born about 1777
Sarah Rider, born after 1778 
Thomas, born about 1782 

Because first names are used so often in the family and records are so few, it is difficult to determine the exact succession of fathers and children in Sarah Rider Bond's story.   It is clear that the John Rider identified by Sarah Rider Bond is not the same John Rider born June 4, 1771, listed below by Gordon Ryder.  John, son of William of Bath County did have a son George but he dates do not match.  It is possible that Sarah had skipped a generation or so. 

Gordon Ryder added another brief note about oral history and notes provided by those he interviewed:

"Oliver Ryder, who lives in Mountain Grove, Virginia, had a set of notes given to him by his mother in which she listed names and other information concerning his ancestors. These notes stated that his great-grandfather Richard Ryder, son of William, came to Augusta County from Spotsylvania County."  
As you can see from the map slice below, Spotsylvania County is generally on the way west to Bath County.  Perhaps the family members migrated over the span of a few years and one final move from Gloucester County west to Bath was through Spotsylvania County, Virginia.  More on their migration later but this map slice shows the relationship: 

This is one record that may connect Sarah Rider Bond's and Gordon Ryder's stories.  According to Records of Colonial Gloucester County Virginia, Volumes I and II compiled by Polly Cary Mason in 1946 and 1948.    In 1770, one William Rider and one Abraham Rider were taxed in Abingdon, Gloucester, Virginia, but they were not taxed in 1780.   James Rider was taxed in both years. The "*" (asterisk) before the surname indicates the individual was taxed both years and the "/" indicates taxed only in 1770.  

It is possible that the Riders were in other businesses such as fishing or shipping and perhaps they had property or business across the Chesapeake region. It does not appear from this record that these Riders were land owners in Gloucester as there is nothing listed in the "Acres" column.  The three names appear in the following Tax List of Gloucester County, Virginia, 1770-1782:

Searchable version at
Visited 28 Nov 2017

This does not "prove" the relationship to our 5x great-grandfather William Rider had to others who lived in the area prior to 1780, and none of these three are named John.  There were other Riders in several communities in near-by Maryland and Virginia and also in the Highlands area, some before William arrived about 1780.  It may be that there is no connection but, after long explanation and research, Gordon Ryder stated that in his opinion this is William, later of Bath County, Virginia. 

The Virginia Rider Lands

A History of Highland County, Virginia by Oren F. Morton speaks of Willliam's lands in Bath County.  The acres near the community of Valley Center were probably more suitable for logging than farm land.   "Before the crown government passed away in 1775, all the more desirable lands in  Highland had passed into individual or corporate ownership.  Thenceforward, the second class and the cull lands were gradually absorbed, it being a long while before the entire area had come under private ownership".  

Oren F. Morton's Annals of Bath County entries note:

"Rider, William - 1780 - BC (Back Creek), n. Valley Center - same locality, [p. 252 the Google Play eBook]

Joseph Addison Waddell's  Annals of Augusta County notes:
"Rider, William: 176-1780-BC (Back Creek)-P (patented)-1789"  [p. 173 Google Play eBook]

William acquired 176 acres of land in 1780.  According to Joseph Addison Waddell, William finalized the "patent" or ownership of that land title and/or another parcel by 1789 (probably meant completed payment as required to the Virginia governor). 

William's First Wife and Mother of James Rider 

The first wife and/or mother of William's children has not been discussed anywhere.  His first wife or wives apparently did not survive to move to Bath County or died shortly after, but some of his children were born and/or lived in that area during the 1780's. 

Mary Brisco(e) was his second wife, married in Bath, Virginia in 1786 according to Oren F. Morton and a copy of the marriage bond. As you can see, the marriage bond indicates she was a "widdow" , implying this was not her maiden name.  If not for that notation "widdow", it would otherwise be possible to think that area resident Isaac Brisco, who did have a sister named Mary, was signing for his sister. Perhaps someday other documentation will be found. 
This copy used with permission of an member; source:   Augusta County Genealogical Society

The Appalachians

Watch Appalachian Settlers and Their Dwellings YouTube video by Edmond Marchietti in August, 2012, to envision the environment of this mountainous region: 

Gordon Ryder and Oren F. Morton stated that James (1777-1828) our  4x-great-grandfather  acquired other land beyond what his father owned.   Another son, John, acquired almost 1,780 acres.  In his introduction, Gordon Ryder stated: “William died intestate in 1819. It is presumed Mary lived until about 1825, since the property was not divided among his children until 1826.” 

The quality of land may have motivated them to move beyond Virginia to Illinois and Iowa.  A separate Long Since Dispersed post The Journeys of the Rider/Ryders from Virginia to Illinois about the exploration for the Illinois lands.  By the mid-1840's, after William's death (approximately 1819), many of William's surviving grandsons and nephews had indeed moved away.   His son, our 4x great-grandfather, James Rider did not survive Virginia but several sons were among those who moved to McHenry County, Illinois.  By 1845, our 3x great-grandfather Thomas J. (1782-1880) and his son, our 2x great-grandfather Azariah (1836-1895) and much of his family had moved on.  The other son William J. Rider, mentioned by Sarah Rider Bond, also moved to that area.  

Pioneer Families in McHenry County, Illinois

A number of Rider cousins left Bath County and explored lands far west. First, brief notes about the wives of William of Bath County and the the explorers. Our 3x great-grandfather James Rider married Sarah Chestnut, daughter of Sophia Chestnut Bourk, widow of William Chestnut who died in 1762.  Sophia's marriage to Mr. Bourk, probably already her second, was apparently also deceased at that time, and has not been researched.  I have not yet researched William Chestnut.  However, the sale of Rider lands before the moves to Illinois were made to several Chestnuts. 

Our 2 x great-grandfather Thomas J. Rider first married Sarah McCourt and I have not yet obtained her date of death.    Thomas married a second time to Sarah Townsend.  There were at least three Townsends living in the Augusta/Highland/Bath Counties. Townsends listed on p. 120 in the Google Play Books version of Oren F. Morton' Annals of Bath County:

Townsend, Ezekial, named Sarah Townsend's father by Gordon Ryder.
Townsend, Robert
Townsend, Solomon 

After many families from this community moved to McHenry County, Illinois, it is observed that some Townsends were listed on closely adjacent lands to Thomas J. Rider in the 1850 census.  

Under the definition of the McHenry County Genealogical Society, Thomas J. and William J. were considered Early Settlers.
Getting To Virginia and Ryder Run

The area's remoteness raises the question of how settlers traveled there. It is likely that  travelers from the Chesapeake Bay rode west to meet the Great Wagon Road (generally now Interstate 81) and at a mountain gap, they moved north and west. 

In 1911, Oren F Morton in A History of Highland County, Virginia wrote:  

"Pioneer travel never climbed a steep, rocky ridge when it was possible to find a grade line along even a crooked watercourse.  So in moving westward into Bath and Highland the settlers did not go over the rugged Shenandoah Mountain, but flanked it by way of Panther Gap, some 30 miles southwest of Staunton.

"Highland was settled in precisely the way we might expect.  Scotch-Irish landseekers came through Panther Gap and along the upper James (River), and moved up the valleys of the Cowpasture (River) and Jackson's River, until they reached the laurel thickets along the cross-ridges separating the waters of the James from those of the Potomac."

Gordon Ryder described the route he envisioned: "The land routes were near the break in the watersheds of the major streams and rivers, thus eliminating the need to use ferries to cross the many tributary streams.  One major route to the Shenandoah  Valley was from the Tidewater area of eastern Virginia to Spotsylvania, then west to Staunton in Augusta, County, Virginia.  There was a branch which ran from the present day Orange, Virginia to the mountain pass near Harrodsburg, Virginia." 

Today, the closest interstate highway to their lands is I-64 in western Virginia.  I'm sure there are also many combinations of routes from I-81 exits to Mountain Grove or Staunton, Virginia but in either direction, Big Back Creek Road/highway 600 actually leads to an unimproved road labeled Ryder Run.  The following cutout is a magnification of the map which clearly shows Ryder Run. The second picture is the map key for the smaller Google topographical maps below. 


Historic sites Map, Bath County, Virginia -Mountain Grove Area

Key Legend for Topographic Maps

Google Maps continue to show Ryder Run.

Driving tours of the area are marked by historical markers. There are little interesting stories for at least two marker spots - Mountain Grove (near the turning off spot for the road to Ryer Run) and Early Courthouses (Willam Rider was on the first Grand Jury called in the newly created Bath County in 1791).  If you ever get there, be sure to post a travelogue on Long Since Dispersed! for Bath County, Virginia



Augusta County Genealogical Society 20 S New St, Staunton, VA 24401 Phone: (540) 885-1991  Copy of marriage bond provided with permission from private member who obtained the copy from this society.  Obtained  by me December 11, 2017. Virginia Tax Lists, Gloucester County.   Accessed November 28, 2017

Bond, Sarah Rider.  The record of the Rider family:  chiefly descendants of John Rider, born about 1755, died 1855,  is a monograph available in digital copy in the Family History Library and (so theoretically at The record of the Rider family chiefly descendants of John Rider, bornabout 1755, died 1855. In the near future, it may be necessary to have a Family Search account: at Call No. 929.273 A1 no. 4399)[Note:  I had difficulty getting the Family History Library version to open on an Ipad (IOS 11 or Windows 10 computer and obtained it in .pdf from that site with assistance from a librarian on a library computer at the NYPL Milstein Division, NYPL]

Chalkey, Lyman F., The Scotch-Irish Settlement of Virginia, Extracted from the Original Court Records of Augusta County 1745-1800.   [Or,  USGenWeb Project, copyrighted 1996, 1997, 1998]  Google Play Books free ebook

Library of Congress digital map  collection 1755 map of Virginia.   Permalink:  Accessed November 28, 2017

Mason, Polly Cary.  Compiler Records of Colonial Gloucester County Virginia, Volumes I and II, Colonial Gloucester County, Virginia, Tax List of 1770-1792, 1946-48 and reprinted 2007, ISBN 9780806347202, 146 & 150 pages  []

McAllister, Jean Graham  A Brief History of Bath County, Virginia, The McClure Co., Inc. Staunton, Va.  Dec 31, 1920,  23 Pages.

McHenry County Historical Society, 6422 Main Street, P.O. Box 434, Union, IL 60180,Phone: (815) 923-2267

McHenry County Genealogical Society, P.O. Box 184, Crystal Lake, IL 60039-0184, (815) 687-0436

Morton, Oren F., B.L. A History of Highland Virginia   Ruebush-Elkins Co., Dayton, Va., The Stone Printing and Manufacturing Co, Roanoke, Va.  1911 A Google Play Books free ebook.

Morton, Oren F., B.Lit., Annals of Augusta County, Virginia,  Staunton, Virginia, The McClure Co., Inc. 1917.  Google Play Books,  a free Ebook.

Rouse, Parke, Jr., The Great Wagon Road from Philadelphia to the South, How Scotch-Irish and Germans Settled the Uplands, 1915, republished 1995 by The Dietz Press, 1004 N. Thompson Street, Suite 103, Richmond, Virginia 23230, ISBN 0-87517-065, 271 pages [Note:  I accessed this hardcover book in the Main Branch of the Asheville, North Carolina, Library, but if it is not available in your library system, it is available inexpensively on Amazon Books as of 8 Dec 2017]

Ryder, Gordon J. The Rider-Ryder Family From Virginia, 1993, Gateway Press succeeded by Bay-Books Family History Publishers.  ISBN xvi, 349p, ill 24 cm. [This hard copy and copyrighted monograph or compilation authored by Gordon J. Ryder is available at the Milstein Division of the New York Public Library and 10 other World Cat libraries listed at:  The Rider-Ryder Family From Virginia].

The Virginia Historical Markers Guide, Bath County, Virginia 

Waddell, Joseph Addison.  Annals of Augusta County, Virginia.  [Full title:  Annals of Augusta County, Virginia, With Reminiscences Illustrative of the Vicissitudes of Its Pioneer Settlers ; Biographical Sketches of Citizens Locally Prominent, and of Those who Have Founded Families in the Southern and Western States ; a Diary of the War, 1861-'5, and a Chapter on Reconstruction]  W.M. Ellis Jones Book And Job Printer, Richmond, 1886. 362 pages. Google Play Books free Ebook.


Please read this post in connection with the Long Since Dispersed post Finding The Ryders of Ryder Run.  The sources and links included there are all associated with the people and places of this story. 

In 1837, our 3x great-grandfather, Thomas J. Rider, joined a group of Rider relatives who made additional trips starting in Bath County, Virginia, to scout for agricultural land in areas that were rapidly opening for settlement in new states and in territories about to become states.  They found lands in several different places and most who left Bath County had moved before the 1850 census. 

Gordon Ryder, the engineer, genealogist and author of The Rider/Ryder Family of Virginia, interviewed hundreds of people with the name Rider and Ryder over 12 years.  He visited Bath County, Virginia and many other communities, libraries, museums, county governments, genealogy and history centers, wrote and received many letters, made many phone calls, placed ads in local community papers and ultimately wrote of the information he gathered during that time.  Everyone he interviewed is listed as an appendix in his monograph.  Scores of descendants are listed and provided with genealogy details. 

At considerable length,  and with extended explanation, Gordon Ryder wrote about William Rider, his family, their life in Bath County, Virginia, and the travels and relocation of some of them to McHenry County, Illinois. 

Martha Theressa “Ressie” Ryder Hine was one of those he interviewed.  She told Gordon Ryder "she was living two miles north of the original Rider land grant."  During the course of our visit she showed me a six-page article, “My father’s travels”, which had been written by her grandfather Aaron Ryder.

"This was a story of Aaron’s father and his quest for good farm land in states to the west.  The story relates that William J., in the company of four cousins, went west in search of good, level farm land."

Aaron did not name the cousins, but Gordon Ryder determined through deed and land records that they were John Ryder’s (brother of Thomas's father James Rider) sons George, William, David and a son-in-law George Bumgardner.

"The first scouting trip was made in 1827.  They rode their horses over the mountains from Back Creek, Virginia, to the ”Falls of the Ohio” [the Falls of the Ohio National Wildlife Conservation Area is located around Clarksville, Indiana and Louisville, Kentucky] and beyond, to look for land in central Ohio, north of Columbus.  For several days the men rode over the area, which we now know was eastern Delaware County.  From there they went to Bloomington (now Muscatine, Iowa) on the Mississippi River. After inspecting the land for many miles on both sides of the river, they continued west about 100 miles through land which was an unorganized area of the United States."

"Turning their horses eastward, they traveled to an area that would become McHenry County, Illinois, located about 60 miles northwest of Fort Dearborn, which is now Chicago. There they viewed areas of land that looked good to them.  Again riding eastward toward Ohio, they located large areas of level land in northern Indiana.  They retraced their trail through Delaware County which they had scouted early on their journey.  Two months after they had set forth, the party of five men arrived in Bath County, Virginia, having traveled more than 1,200 miles.

"The following year the group of men revisited those areas that they scouted in 1827. On this trip they rode to the Ohio River, where they loaded their horses and equipment aboard a boat which carried them to the Mississippi River, thence upriver to Bloomington.  From there they scouted 100 miles further west than they did the previous year before turning back towards Illinois.  While in Illinois, William J. and a cousin William C. made contracts to purchase land.  Later, in northern Indiana, George Bumgardner selected the land he wanted.  Returning to central Ohio, Daniel marked land and made contracts in Marietta for the purchase of this acreage.

"Some nine years later, in 1837, Thomas J. Rider and Charles Callahan joined William J.,   George C., and William C. Rider as they again made the trip to the West.  This group traveled by boat to Bloomington…the group returned to northern Illinois.  At this time…Thomas J. Rider located a tract about 20 miles to the north (of William J. Rider, Charles Callahan, William C. Rider).

"In 1843, William J. and his brother returned to McHenry County to finalize their land purchases. Two years later, in 1845, the families of William J. and Thomas J. Rider and Charles Callahan settled in McHenry County.

"The author believes that George Bumgardner and William Curry Rider were the leaders of the first three trips, even though it was the son of William J. who wrote of their adventures.

"It has been interesting to find that members of this family of Riders were on the leading edge of the northwestern movement and settlement of our country."


Ryder, Gordon J. The Rider-Ryder Family From Virginia, 1993, Gateway Press succeeded by Bay-Books Family History Publishers.  ISBN xvi, 349p, ill 24 cm. [This hard copy and copyrighted monograph or compilation authored by Gordon J. Ryder is available at the Milstein Division of the New York Public Library and 10 other World Cat libraries listed at:  The Rider-Ryder Family From Virginia].  You may be able to get a library near you to arrange an inter-library loan.

Originally published by the author by Gateway Press, Inc., North Calhoun Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21332.  The current digital card index for this book now shows Bay Books The Family History Publisher but there is no web information available for this company, or Gateway Press, and both are assumed to be out of business.   

[Note of  November 28, 2017:  Mr. Ryder died in September 1998; letters to his family were not acknowledged.]

Library of Congress Card Catalog Number 93-70030
Transcribed by Sherry Wilmes November 28, 2017