The Tracy Family History
Michael Woods Sr., of Blair Park, 1684-1762
This photo is of the graveyard on the plantation. It is from Neander Woods’ book. Photo taken in1895, and we can assume these are our cousins standing proudly in front. The graveyard has been described by various historians to be at differing distances from the dwelling, anywhere from 100 to 500 yards, south from the house, which no longer stands. At the time there was a rail fence around the burial ground with an abundance of cherry trees. The grave was “...located in the extreme northwestern corner of the plot.” At the time of the photo the grave of Michael was known. There was a crude wooden marker and foot stone which was lost sometime after the Civil War. The location of the grave has been lost since this cherished photo was taken. There is a monument to commemorate our interesting ancestor.
It is believed that his wife, Mary Campbell, preceded him in death by some 20 years and is buried next to him, along with their children, and their children’s children.
Michael Woods lived on the plantation for 28 years, dying at the age of 78, in the year of 1762. Many in the family and their following generations would grow up in Albemarle County. During these first 28 years they would live in constant fear of the Indians, for good reason as will be soon explained.
The plantation stayed in the family for a few short years, until it became the property of Chief Justice Blair. (John Blair was Chief Justice of the Provisional Supreme Court of Virginia during the Revolutionary War. Later, George Washington appointed him as a Justice of the US Supreme Court. The Blair’s and our people intermarried.) Since then, Michael Woods has been known by the distinguished titled of “Michael Woods, Sr., of Blair Park.” However, distinction, stature and status had nothing to do with it. Families in those days tended to be large, 10 to 12 children. The Scotch-Irish, by tradition, had a system of naming children after relatives. There was one Michael Woods, Jr., and seven grandchildren would carry the name. After this generation we lose count. The use of the name Senior, and of Blair Park was used to distinguish him from the descendants who carried the same name. His son was known as Michael of Botetourt.
This is the signature of Michael Woods, Sr., on his will dated 24 November 1761. This is a blurry copy of a copy. On the original it is obvious that his signature is very shaky, thus we can be assured that this is his true signature.
However, the 2 signatures of the witnesses are forgeries. I am quite sure that Michael Woods (minor) and Michael Wallace were not present. The forgeries were by two people who were playing games. Look at the capital letter on the top Woods. The top end of the W has a spear point. Below, Wallace, the top end has a loop. Below that, the signatures appear again. This time the Woods has a loop and the Wallace has a spear point, showing the two forgers changed the names they were writing.
Neander Woods says that Michael Woods Sr., always wrote his name with a very small "m" between Michael and Woods. (I have not seen it.) No one was ever able to figure out why. They wonder if "m" was his middle initial. This is a classic in handwriting analysis. Yes, "m" was his middle initial. Why so small? He did not like his middle name.
(Left) This is the Woods burial place, cemetery, in Ivy, just five miles east of Blair Park. We know that Michael Woods, Sr., is buried on the plantation called Blair Park.
Yet, at the little cemetery at Ivy there is a large monument to Michael Woods. (The largest in the cemetery.) Numerous tombstones engraved with the name Woods surround the monument.
It is the St. Paul’s Episcopal graveyard!
One of the reasons our people immigrated from Ulster was to be free of the Episcopal Church, the Church of England. They also wanted to get away from the Irish Catholics, who the Scots had been fighting for generations.
(Right) We know that our people were devout Presbyterians. So where did all of these Episcopalians come from?
Monument to Michael Woods Sr.
Mountain Plain Baptist Church
4297 Old Three Notched Road
Charlottesville, VA 22901
Located 10 miles west of Charlottesville, VA. From Charlottesville, take 250 West to Crozet. Turn on Old Three Notch Road. (Charlottesville you can not miss as it is a city of 45,000. Crozet is unincorporated.) The church is not far (North) off I-64.
If you are coming in from the West, through Staunton --
take exit 107 (Crozet exit) from 1-64. Go 4.5 miles east on US 250 (toward Charlottesville). Take a hard left on State Route 240. Go a half mile on 240 to its intersection with Old Three Notched Road. Turn right on Old Three Notched Road. The church will be 0.3 miles on the right. (Note: It is not the white frame church at the intersection of 240 and Old Three Notched Road. )
That is Mountain Plain(s) today. ( In the early days it sometimes went by the name of Henderson’s Quarter, but that name has long past from history.)
“The church is just outside the small town of Crozet, VA. There are a few small old houses on the road on which the church is located. A farm borders part of the church property. Recently some new, large very expensive houses have been built next to or very near the church’s property. Because the lots are wooded, there is still some sense of isolation from these new houses. Crozet is a rapidly growing community, but the major large scale developments are about a mile from the church. The church cemetery is about 200 yards from the sanctuary, to the north of the church.”
You will remember the Rev. James Anderson of Donegal Church, Pennsylvania. He made at least one trip to Mountain Plains Church. It is not well documented or understood, but it is obvious that there was a strong connection, traveling back and forth, and correspondence, between our Virginia people and our Lancaster County cousins that lasted for a number of years. I suspect well beyond the Revolutionary War.
At this point I must confess to some confusion about the Mountain Plain Church. I will quote from George Selden Wallace, Genealogical Date, etc. (1927).
"Inasmuch as the old Mountain Plains Church, that may have been built for and occupied by the Rev. Samuel Black, its first pastor, has long since passed away, it is proper that I shall place on record a description of it. It was framed and weather-boarded, after the old style, and of fair size. Neither ceiled nor plastered. The pulpit was in the side and, as was common at that time, perched very high. The building was well provided with pews and had three doors. It also had a large gallery in one end for the colored people. My impression is that Father Black resided in the neighborhood. There were several families of that name, some of whom were related to him. And few, if any, of his or their descendants have ever left the Presbyterian Church. The Wallace family, in which I boarded, with the Presbyterians of that neighborhood, having preaching at Waynesboro only every other Sabbath, with the then only Elder of the Mountain Plains Church, 'Beaver Creek William Woods,’ senior, as he was universally called, would on the alternate Sabbath, attend at the church to hear the Rev. Benjamine Ficklin, Colonel William Woods had married a sister of William Wallace (whose mother was a Woods) and was a near neighbor of the Rev. Mr. Ficklin. Whilst the latter was an 'Iron-Side Baptist' and an uncompromising 'water man', Colonel Woods, or Father Woods as most people called him, was as rigid a bluestocking...”
These facts were furnished to the Rev. Mr. Black, the author, by Matthew Pilson, a venerable Elder of the Tinkling Springs Church (another church across the Blue Ridge Mountains in Augusta Co). The events related occurred when Mr, Pilson, now more than eighty years old, was a young man. The history was published in 1870.
I have not researched the above. So here is my best read: We are talking of a wood-frame church that no longer exists. We know that our Mountain Plain Presbyterian Church was, and still is, brick. I think we are talking about the Baptist Church, which existed concurrently with the Presbyterian Church. In the 1820's the Baptist took over the Presbyterian Church building. Thus, they went from the old wood-frame church to our now brick church: Two churches; two buildings. Also, many of our people converted from Presbyterians to Baptists. This is the reason the Baptist took over the Presbyterian Church. ”The Presbyterians becoming scarce.” Our family now becomes two churches.
I just can’t figure out who, what, where, when, how come everything happened. It was common for different denominations to meet in the same church buildings on alternate Sundays, which only adds to the confusion.
George Selden Wallace
Photo from the Herald-Dispatch newspaper of Huntington, WV.,
25 April, 1963.
George Selden Wallace was born in Greenwood,
Virginia, just 10 miles west of Charlottesville, right in the middle of our
Woods-Wallace country. His was an illustrious career. He started off humble, was
educated at public school and the Mechanics’ Institute in Richmond (Robert E.
Lee had an office in the building during the Civil War.); worked as a railroad
messenger boy at age 13; and wound up earning his Bachelor of Laws from West
Virginia University in 1897. He started practicing law in 1897; served as 2nd
and 1st Lieutenant in the 2nd West Virginia Volunteer Infantry, Spanish American
War, 1898-99; division quartermaster; member West Virginia National Guard,
1900-16, advancing to Lieutenant Colonel, acting; in the Judge Advocate
General's (J.A.G) office, Washington DC. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel
and went to France in 1918, where he was Senior Assistant to acting J.A.G for
France. This put him on General Pershing’s staff. His list of publications are
numerous, histories, genealogies, biographies and especially in the field of
military law. A Huntington, West Virginia, lawyer he served in turn as a bank
president, prosecuting attorney, circuit judge, and builder of his city parks
and was active in the Democratic party. He started practicing law in Huntington,
West Virginia, before the year 1900 and continued to within a few months of his
death, at age 91, in 1962. He was an Episcopalian. There are fine photos of this
distinguished man, but I have chosen his obituary photo, which shows him the way
he was at the time he died at such an advanced age and after an active life.
His highly recommended book is Wallace, Genealogical Date Pertaining to the Descendants of Peter Wallace & Elizabeth Woods, His wife. The main emphasis is on the Wallace name. It is a genealogical book, not a strong mixture of genealogy, history, and family stories such as Reverend Neander Woods’ book.
It is interesting, published in 1927, with 275 pages. Available in reprint through Higginson Book Company, 148 Washington Street, P. O. Box 778, Salem, Mass 01970
The following book I have not read. However, it might be of interest to our cousins who would like to know more about this family. The Michael Woods--Mary Campbell family in America, by Patsy Woods Young. Published 1984, with 603 pages.
Updated September 2007, information from Michael Upchurch
"I am employed as a geologist for the Commonwealth of Virginia and have become interested in the history of the land Michael Woods named Mountain Plains. Three years ago, I purchased from the estate of Robert Page the “plains” portion of Michael’s land between Three Chopt Road southward to the slopes of Calf Mountain (43 acres). I am trying to determine if Michael cleared the land for farming or had any structures that high up in the mountain. I would like to restore the land to what Mountain Plains used to be shortly after 1737. I believe I found the site of the first or “upper” Mountain Plains Church next to the cemetery in the gap. There are records indicating that “logs were dragged to the gap for the church.”
The cemetery that adjoins my land is now in the park, and there is no sign of the church that I have heard referred to as “upper” Mountain Plains Church. There are approximately 20 graves with unmarked rocks standing on end at the head and the foot, not the graves of wealthy landowners. Perhaps this church was organized after 1819. There is a gravel state road that goes to the crest of Woods Gap, so access is not a problem."
I understand that the land has been used for tobacco, corn, cattle, apple/peach orchards, and even a movie. If you ever see “Evan Almighty,” the final scene was filmed under a lone apple tree on Mountain Plains. Our people planted this tree long ago. Pay attention to the beautiful rolling hills surrounding the tree. The ark was built on land adjacent to our plantation. Notice the beautiful hills. The land is gorgeous! Most of the filming of “Evan Almighty” was done at “Old Trail,” now an upscale subdivision and part of Michael Woods’ plantation. Also, filming was done in the area and mountains close to the plantation.
Michael Woods and Mary Campbell are unknown in American history. However, many of their descendents would become prominent.
My family history web site has 79 chapters. If you would like to know more about the other chapters then go to my
Home Page www.thetracyfamilyhistory.net