The History of Reverend George Tarvin

by Verne Hoffman


Adapted from The Descendants of George Tarvin IV, Tenth Child of Reverend George Tarvin prepared by the Tarvin Family Association and published by Family History Publishers, 845 South Main Street, Bountiful UT 84010. Copyright 1993 by the Tarvin Family Association. Permission to reproduce is granted provided proper attribution is made.

Reverend George Tarvin was an ordained minister for the Church of the Brethren. He was a compassionate individual, an outstanding leader, and a pioneer in the true sense of the word.

Rev. George was born about 1744 in Charles County, Maryland, to second generation Americans who were prominent land owners in Southern Maryland, near Port Tobacco. His ancestors were members of the Church of England, which, along with the Catholic Church, was prominent in early Maryland.

Rev. George's father, also named George Tarvin (George II in the Tarvin histories), died in Charles Co. in 1750 and his estate was administered that year. At that time, George was only six years of age.

Ref. Estate settlement, Charles Co., Maryland, 1750.

The next probable recorded date in the life of Rev. George was his release from apprenticeship in Fairfax Co., Virginia, in 1757 when he was thirteen years of age. Speculation has it that George was apprenticed out sometime after both of his parents had died. He continued to have ties in Charles Co., however, as his aunts still lived there and his future in-laws, the Craycrafts, were also residents of Charles Co.

Ref. Bound in apprenticeship and discharged from apprenticeship in Fairfax Co., Virginia, 1757, court order 1754-56, part 1, page 77, 17 April 1754.

Rev. George's introduction to the Church of the Brethren, commonly known as the "Dunkers" or "Dunkards," could have come early in his life, during his apprenticeship or most likely when he started courting Sarah Craycraft. Sarah was the daughter of Joseph Craycraft, a Dunker preacher himself, and his wife, the former Ann Stanton, called Nancy, whose family was also affiliated with the Dunker faith.

Note: It was formerly thought that Sarah's mother was Margaret Bowles, but it was her brother, Joseph, not her father, who married Margaret Bowles. Several Cracraft family historians agree that Sarah's mother was Ann "Nancy" Stanton.

Family tradition has it that Rev. George was disinherited when he joined the Dunker Church. His parents would not have disinherited him because he was only a boy when they both died; however, his aunts were still living during the years when he is likely to have joined the Dunkers. Perhaps it was they who disinherited him. A record of George's ordination has not been found, but it probably would have been sometime after his marriage to Sarah Craycraft in 1767, when he was 23 years old.

Ref. Allegeheny Passage by Emmert Bittinger

The next official record of Rev. George was as a witness to a deed in Hampshire Co., then in Virginia, in 1779. (Note: Hampshire Co. later joined nearby Virginia mountain counties in supporting the North in the War between the States and seceded from Virginia in 1863, when it was made a state of the Union called West Virginia.) He could have been in Hampshire Co. as early as 1765, for he probably married Sarah Craycraft there in 1767. Their first child, Thomas, was born in June 1769 in Hampshire Co., Virginia.

Ref. Early Records of Hampshire County Virginia Now West Virginia, compiled by Clara McCarmack Sage and Laura Sage Jones, Baltimore, Genealogical Publishing Company, 1969, page 33.

The family is listed in Hampshire Co. in the State Census of 1782 and again in 1784. (The Federal Census of 1790 for Virginia was destroyed in the War of 1812) During those years, Rev. George was involved in a number of land transactions in the Cacapon Valley near the Potomac River in Hampshire Co., Virginia.

Ref. Early Records of Hampshire County Virginia Now West Virginia, compiled by Clara McCarmack Sage and Laura Sage Jones, Baltimore, Genealogical Publishing Company, 1969, page 97.

He also served as a witness for a transactions of several of his neighbors, many of whom show up later in Kentucky, both as neighbors and probably as members of his congregation.

Ref. Early Records of Hampshire County Virginia Now West Virginia, compiled by Clara McCarmack Sage and Laura Sage Jones, Baltimore, Genealogical Publishing Company, 1969, page 24, 13.

The last land transaction Rev. George made while still living in Hampshire Co. was the sale of 417 acres, one mile from the Potomac River on October 18, 1794.

Ref. Early Records of Hampshire County Virginia Now West Virginia, compiled by Clara McCarmack Sage and Laura Sage Jones, Baltimore, Genealogical Publishing Company, 1969, page 56.

The Charles Co. records also reveal that in 1785, Rev. George relinquished his rights to a portion of his grandmother's, Elizabeth Dent Tarvin's, estate for 55 pounds. This was done in order to clear title as his grandmother had been dead since 1759.

The move of the large family to Kentucky was a major undertaking and probably occurred early in 1794. Twelve of the thirteen children were living at that time. The last major Indian uprising in Kentucky had been quelled about 1793. No doubt that news had some effect on Rev. George's decision to move along with the migration of a number of his neighbors and members of his congregation.

The route most likely taken would have been overland to Ft. Pitt (now Pittsburgh) then down the Ohio river on a flat boat to Limestone, Kentucky, present day Maysville. The family reportedly first gathered near the Shannon Church about ten miles southwest of Maysville, living there for six years.

In August 1796, Rev. George was granted permission to perform marriages in Kentucky by the county court of Mason Co. His first marriage , however, had united his son Richard to Sarah Armstrong on 23 February 1796, six months prior to his receiving official permission.

Ref. Mason Co., Kentucky marriage records.

In August 1798, Rev. George granted a power of attorney to his son Joseph to return and sell the remainder of his land in Hampshire Co., Virginia.

Ref. County Clerk's Records, Hampshire Co., Virginia, Romney, West Virginia, Deed Book #11, page 546-548

By 1801, Rev. George and family had moved to Fleming Co., Kentucky, adjacent to Mason Co. Land records show that he purchased 100 acres of land on Fleming Creek.

Ref. Fleming Co. Kentucky, Land and Property Records, page 346, date 28 February 1801.

In the southwest portion of Fleming Co., near Fleming Creek, was once an early meetinghouse and graveyard of the Church of the Brethren known as "Log Union." It was unlikely that Rev. George preached here and performed a number of marriages because the church was not established until 1833 even though the first recorded burials occured here in 1823. The Log Union cemetery contains the graves of some of his neighbors from Hampshire Co., Virginia, and some of the couples he married in Kentucky.

Ref. Record of tombstones compiled by Enos C. Hinton, 410 Dye St, Flemingsburg KY 31041.

On 27 March 1807, Rev. George married a widow named Mary Wood who was with him the remaining six years of his life. They had no children.

Ref. Bracken Co. Kentucky marriage Records

About 1809, Rev. George moved to Bracken Co., near both Mason and Fleming Counties. He continued to perform marriages. In May 1810, he returned to Fleming Co. to perform a marriage for his son and namesake, 10 George Tarvin (referred to as George IV) who married Keziah Harman. After Keziah died in 1812, he officiated at the subsequent marriage of 10 George to Rachel Rhodes in July 1812 in Bracken Co., Kentucky.

Rev. George died early in 1813, a result of a grist mill accident he had suffered in Augusta, Bracken Co., some time previously. In the estate settlement, his widow, Mary, received $12.29 after all bills were paid.

Ref. Bracken Co. Kentucky Will Book, settlement and inventory, page 34, dated December 1816.

Rev. George had amassed little of the material things of life. He did, however, leave to his family a rich heritage of life, dedication, service to his neighbors, and a great example of religious faith.

No tombstone to mark his final resting place has ever been found. This was common for many of those who could not afford such a luxury. Nevertheless, the mark that Rev. George left was the legacy of thousands of his posterity who have excelled in many walks of life and have contributed to the development of America. This record will remain long after any tombstone had disappeared.


Sarah Craycraft was born in Virginia about 1747. Sarah was the daughter of Joseph Craycraft, a Dunker preacher, and his wife, the former Ann "Nancy" Stanton, whose family was also affiliated with the Dunker faith. She married George Tarvin (George III) in Hampshire Co., Virginia, about 1768 and undoubtedly practiced the Dunker faith of the Church of the Brethren. She had thirteen children. She died in Fleming Co., Kentucky, on 10 Aug 1806. She likely rests in a private grave on the land she owned with her husband when she died.
Mary Gardner Wood was born 6 Sep 1765 in New Jersey, the daughter of William and Ann Gardner, and married about 1785 a Daniel Wood in Morris Co., New Jersey. Daniel was apparently a widower with older children when he married Mary. Mary had two children by Daniel: Joseph, born 1786, and Rhoda, born 1788. Between 1788 and 1790 this family migrated to Cumberland Twp., Washington Co. (now Greene Co.), Pennsylvania. Daniel died there in 1792.

Following Daniel's death, Mary apparently moved to Kentucky to join her brother Joniah Gardner who moved about 1794 to Fleming Co., Kentucky, with his wife and children. (Mary's children apparently remained in Pennsylvania with their older step-brother.)

Ref. Information on Mary Wood comes from Nancy Reynolds of Tennessee, JEFFNAN65@aol.com.
It was likely in Fleming Co. that Mary became acquainted with Rev. George Tarvin, a prominent member of the community, whose wife, Sarah, had died in 1806. She married 27 March 1807 Rev. George Tarvin in Fleming Co., Kentucky, and they moved about 1809 to Bracken Co. They had no children together. Mary became his widow when he died in 1813 and received the remains of his estate after a probate period of over three years.

In 1825, Mary married third the Rev. Abel Sargent in Fleming Co., Kentucky, becoming his third wife. She moved with him to Cincinnati and then to Indiana. She apparently left him about 1835. Rev. Sergent, well published in religious tracts, printed a notice in the Bloomington, Indiana, newspaper that he would no longer stand for her debts and accused her of stripping and robbing his house of all his goods. (See http://www.sidneyrigdon.com/dbroadhu/IL/miscill1.htm#122735 )

(It seems this Abel Sergent was an interesting character in American religious history. Dale Broadhurst has assembled quite a saga about him at http://solomonspalding.com/SRP/saga/saga01b.htm including some comments about Mary Gardner Wood Tarvin Sargent.)

She died sometime after 1835.


The children of George Tarvin and Sarah Craycraft:
1 Thomas Tarvin
2 Eleanor Tarvin
3 Joseph C. Tarvin
4 Richard Tarvin
5 Ann Stanton Tarvin
6 Elizabeth Tarvin
7 Cassandra Tarvin
8 Rebecca H. Tarvin
9 Mary Tarvin
10 George Tarvin
11 Sarah Tarvin
12 Sabina Tarvin
13 Martha Tarvin

Note: The book The Descendants of George Tarvin IV, Tenth Child of Reverend George Tarvin shows Ann Staton (Nancy) Tarvin as the fourth child of George Tarvin and Sarah Craycraft, and Richard Tarvin the fifth. Since its publication, however, Nancy's tombstone was located which indicates that she was born in 1777, after Richard's birth. The above listing shows the birth order as the Tarvin Family Association now believes is correct.

The Children of Reverend George Tarvin

A history and descendancy for each of these children is planned to be published in separate volumes. A brief overview of these children's history is given below. See also the Descendants of Reverend George Tarvin for a list of the grandchildren of Reverend George.

1 Thomas Tarvin was born 14 Apr 1769 in Hampshire Co., Virginia. He married 9 Feb 1788 Deborah Flora. They had twelve children. He died 9 Jul 1847.

2 Eleanor Tarvin, known as Nellie, was born about 1771 in Hampshire Co., Virginia. She married about 1795 _________ Whaley. They had three children.

3 Joseph C. Tarvin was born 16 Jan 1773 in Hampshire Co., Virginia. He married 8 Mar 1796 Martha Cowgill in Mason Co., Kentucky. They had twelve children. He died 3 May 1847 in Campbell Co., Kentucky.

4 Richard Tarvin was born 27 Oct 1775 in Frederick Co., Maryland. He married 8 Mar 1796 Sara A. Armstrong, known as Sallie. They had ten children. He died 11 Oct 1852 in Campbell Co., Kentucky.

5 Ann Stanton Tarvin, known as Nancy, was born 1777 in Frederick Co., Maryland. She married 18 Mar 1794 Elisha Cowgill Jr. in Mason Co., Kentucky. They had sixteen children. She died 4 Jun 1839.

6 Elizabeth Tarvin was born about 1779 in Frederick Co., Maryland. She married 30 Jun 1799 Thomas J. Cracraft in Mason Co., Kentucky. They had four children.

7 Cassandra Tarvin was born about 1781 in Hampshire Co., Virginia. She married 15 May 1802 Thomas Parish. They had eight children. She died before 1840.

8 Rebecca H. Tarvin was born 1784 in Hampshire Co., Virginia. She married 9 Feb 1806 Robert Freyer Carnahan. They had nine children. She died 18 Aug 1854 in Daviess Co., Indiana. She is buried in Veale Creek Baptist Church Cemetery in Daviess Co., Indiana.

9 Mary Tarvin, known as Polly, was born about 1786 in Hampshire Co., Virginia. She married 23 Jan 1807 Jackson Martin Harmon. They had seven children. She died 1828 in Fleming Co., Kentucky.

10 George Tarvin was born 1789 in Hampshire Co., Virginia. He married first about 1810 Kesiah Harmon. They had one child. After her death, he married second 10 July 1812 Rachel Rhodes in Bracken Co., Kentucky. They had seven children. He died about 1828 in Fleming Co., Kentucky.

11 Sarah Tarvin was born about 1790 in Hampshire Co., Virginia. She married 1807 Jason Tribby. They had fifteen children. She died 21 Aug 1841.

12 Sabina Tarvin was born about 1793 in Hampshire Co., Virginia. She married 2 Jan 1814 Archibald Mann in Kentucky. They had ten or fourteen children. She died 5 Sep 1863 in Shelby Co., Indiana.

13 Martha Tarvin was born 4 Sep 1795 in Mason Co., Kentucky. She married 27 Feb 1817 Reverend John Green Hicks in Kentucky. They had thirteen children. She died 23 Nov 1855 in Campbell Co., Kentucky.

To see the heritage of Reverend George, go to the document The Origins of the Tarvin Family in America.

For a detailed listing of the children and grandchildren of Reverend George Tarvin, see The Descendants of Reverend George Tarvin.


Return to Tarvin Home Page.

Last Updated: 17 Nov 2012 21:42 PST


Gary Hoffman, ghoffman@ucsd.edu