McDaniels of Virginia
News Items Birth/death/marr. Cemeteries Photos Home


McDaniels/McDanolds/McDonalds of Southwest Virginia

Last upated 04/05/2016 11:50:21 AM

The McDaniel family line begins with Columbus McDaniel (also spelled McDanold and McDonald) who migrated south from the upper East Coast through Maryland and into Virginia. He was said to have been married to Betsy Bishop. When they came to Virginia isn't known precisely, but their first four daughters were born in Maryland and the next child, Solomon, was born either in Montgomery County, Virginia or Maryland in 1784 so their arrival in Virginia occurred sometime around 1785. While Columbus' will spells his name "McDaniel" as does the 1820 Census, the 1810 Census and a land document show it as "McDonald," and the name is spelled "McDanold" in the bible of the oldest son of Columbus' son Solomon. Over the years, it evolved to "McDonald."

We've made a significant find and addition to the family of Columbus McDaniel with the discovery of an eighth child of Columbus and Betsy.  Agnes Ara Menter, who was born in Montgomery Co., Md. after 1784 and died in1816 in Glasgow, Barren Co., Ky.  Agnes married John Marshal, born before 1784 in Pennsylvania and died in 1816 in Glasgow, Barren Co., Ky. 
Click to scroll to Columbus' children

While we don't know Columbus' origin or his parents names what we have been able to establish is very close DNA (both Autosomal and Y) matches with a family of McDaniels in Berkeley County, West Virginia, whose earlier ancestor is Alexander who came from Frederick  County, Md., and with one Enos McDaniel who lived in Bedford County, Pa. and then Bourbon County, Ky.  Our best guess is that Columbus was related to these individuals, but we don't know how.  We also continue to believe that Columbus was related to Jared McDaniel who settled in the Upperville, Va. area.

We believe that Columbus initially settled in the area around St. Clair Bottom just east of what is today Chilhowie, Va. where a family of Bishops also settled.  Wilson's "Smyth County" says a Columbia McDonald acquired 148 acres of land, March 4, 1793, on the North side of the Middle Fork Holston river which would be nearer to the Chilhowie area than to Chatham Hill where the North Fork flows.

Columbus eventually settled in the vicinity of Chatham Hill on the North Fork of the Holston River which is located in Rich Valley about 12 miles north of the city of Marion. At that time, Chatham Hill was located in Montgomery or Washington County. Virginia Valley Records, Rockingham County Supplement says that on Oct. 10, 1797, Michael and Elizabeth Cassell deeded to Columbus McDonald, 180 acres in Rich Valley, Wythe County, Virginia, on the North Fork of the Holston granted to Michael Cassell by patent dated Sept. 6, 1793, and we acquired a handwritten document signed by Columbus McDonald in or prior to 1802 transferring 180 acres to John Byars (or Byers).  The document was witnessed by Elias Bishop, son-in-law of Columbus who died in 1802.

All of the McDonald family males had left the Chatham Hill/Marion area and Virginia by the mid-1880s, although some of the daughters stayed and married into other families. Those who left migrated northwest to Nebraska. Some went on to Iowa and several of Columbus' grandchildren continued on to California in the early 1900's. Records of them in Virginia are sparse, but there are a few cemetery headstones of Columbus' grandchildren in the Chatham Hill area. Other than the reference to Columbia McDaniel purchasing land in 1793, the only specific records we have found are entries on the 1810 and 1820 censuses referring to Columbus and his children, and Columbus' will from 1821.

View map of the Chatham Hill area


Columbus McDaniel

From the 1939 Hulburt family history:

“So we must start with Columbus, who is said to have used the spelling MacDanold. He lived in what is now Smyth county, but what probably then was Montgomery or Wythe, depending upon what time he came. He is said to have come from Maryland, and either he or his father to have come earlier from Glencoe, Scotland.

I have been interested in what Mrs. Jos. C. Jeffords, 925 Virginia st., Charleston, W. Va. has told of a Jared who immigrated with several children, who died near Upperville, Va., in 1824, where his widow died in 1832. In the records of Fauquier county, Va., the names of the Jared family appear as McDonald, McDanold, McDaniel. Jared's descendants 40 years ago were excited about a supposed great estate in Scotland to which they had claim--and so were Columbus' descendants. Two of Jared's sons, Jared and Samuel, married Marshall girls, and one of Columbus' grandsons was Solomon Marshall McDanold. I have what are said to be the names of all Jared's sons, and since the oldest was only 18 years older than a son of Columbus, Columbus must not have been a descendant of Jared. But I have thought he might be a brother or nephew--purely speculative on my part.

Columbus' wife was Betsy and I suppose they married before coming there. I'm told she was Betsy Bishop. Her granddaughter was Sarah Bishop McDanold, her granddaughter, in turn, being Sarah Bishop Sexton. Columbus is said to have had 2 or 3 sons. I was told that one was Amon, but it may have been Absolom, as Mrs. Nan Gaddy told me there was a son, Absolom, and I think he drowned leaving no family.”

View complete Hulburt family history (PDF)

What we know about Columbus McDaniel is - -

  • He is alleged to have come from Maryland and possibly earlier the upper East Coast.

  • Based on reported years of birth of his children, he migrated to Virginia between 1780 and 1795.

  • He died in 1821 in Wythe Co., (now Smyth Co.) Virginia.

  • His name appears as "Columbus McDaniel” on his last will and testament.

  • He appears on the 1810 and 1820 United States Censuses and was shown living in Wythe Co., Virginia.

  • Based on the Hulburt history, Columbus was married to Betsy Bishop who apparently died before him as she is not shown on his last will and testament, nor is she included in the 1820 census. While nothing has been found on Betsy, their daughters Teresa and Sarah Salley, named daughters Elizabeth Bishop. The name Bishop was used extensively as a middle name for sons and daughters throughout the various families connected to the McDaniels.  We suspect that Betsy was related to the Bishop family into which her sister Teresa McDaniel married (Elias Bishop, son of Joseph Bishop and Sarah Bouton), but there is no proof of that relationship.

  • Columbus and Betsy had at eight children as shown below.

Columbus McDaniels' will transcription, dated July 20, 1821 - -

(note: daughters Sarah, Orpha, Agnes Ara Menter, and Elisabeth don't appear in the will, however, their husbands do: John Hutton, Martin Bonham, and Robert McReynolds and John Marshall. The sole daughter mentioned, Tary Wolf [Teresa] was married to Phillip Wolfe in 1802, but it's likely he died prior to 1821. In the following extract the name of John Helton should read "John Hutton." This is clear from the full handwritten will further below. There are inconsistencies between the extract and the handwritten version. First, John Marshall is mentioned separately from the others in the next paragaph and the entry says, "John Marshals heir" (or heirs). Secondly, in the section mentioning John Marshall, the will specifically states that Tary McDaniel's share of the estate will descend to her first two children.  These entries fall into a separate paragraph from the other children because, in both cases, the husbands of daughters Teresa and Agnes Ara Menter were deceased.  While Teresa remarried to Phillip Wolfe, for whatever reason, Columbus specifically did not mention Teresa's children with Phillip.  In the case of Agnes Ara Menter who married John Marshall, both died prior to Columbus' death and he may not have known the names of their six children; hence the term "heirs."

In the name of God Amen

Columbus McDaniel of the County of Wythe and State of Virginia being weak of body but of sound mind and memory knowing that it is appointed Once for all men to die do make and ordain this my last Will and Testament as follows to wit:

First I give and bequeath to Tary Wolf (late Tary Bishop), Robert McReynolds, Martin Bonham, Solomon McDaniel, John Hutton & Absalom McDaniel an equal part of my Estate real and personal (except as herein after mentioned) which is to be sold by my Executor to the best advantage at two years credit except the land & that to be divided in yearly payments and to be rented untill there will be an opportunity for getting the value of it.

Secondly I give and bequeath to John Marshals heirs an equal part of my estate with those above mentioned. The part I here give Tary Wolf to descend to her first children (William Elias, Betsy Bishop) at her death.

Lastly, I hereby constitute and appoint Solomon McDaniel my Executor of this my last Will and Testament and hereby revoke & make void all other Wills and Testaments by me made.

I witness whereof I have hereby set my hand and seal this 20th day of July 1821.

Columbus McDaniel
(illegible entry)

Acknowledge in presence of

R. Graham
John Dougherty
Andrew H. Cox

At the Court held for Wythe County the 11th day of September 1821.

This the last Will & Testament of Columbus McDanield Dec? was presented in Court & approved by the oaths of Robert Graham, John Dougherty & Andrew H. Cox the subscribing witnesses thereto and ordered to be recorded. And on the motion of Solomon McDaniel the Executor named in the said will who entered into Bond with William Hays & John Dougherty his securities in the sum of three thousand dollars. Conditioned as the law directs and took the oath required by law probate of the said will is granted herein in due form.


W. Mathews CC

View the handwritten will

We've done extensive research on Columbus McDaniel, but haven't been able to turn up any additional information about him except for some speculation (in the Hulburt history above) that he may have been related to a Jared McDonald who settled in Upperville, Virginia and died there in 1824. This undocumented speculation goes to the issue of the relationship, if any, between Columbus and Jared since some family names are common between the two. Those include the names Marshall and Solomon. In the late 1980’s my wife and I visited a cemetery in Upperville (we lived in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. at the time) and found several McDonald gravesites. None of the given names, however, matched anything we have on the Columbus McDaniel side. Another piece of speculation is that Columbus’ parents were possibly James McDaniel and Orpha Bowie, but again, there’s no evidence, DNA or otherwise, to support this. 

GENERATION 2 (click on the names to follow their families):

Teresa Jenny (Tary) McDaniel

Sarah Bishop "Salley" McDaniel

Orpha McDaniel

Agnes Ara Menter McDonald

Solomon Franklin McDaniel

Absolom McDaniel

Elisabeth McDaniel

Amon McDaniel
Born about 1787 in Montgomery Co., Va (now Smyth), he died about 1813 in Wythe Co. (now Smyth).  Little is known about Amon other than he wasn't married and had no children.  His death was said to have been by drowning.