Masters Family History & Genealogy

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James Masters Masters, Campbell, Cochran, Belknap Ancestors of James S. Masters
Richard Masters, the Immigrant
On 25 March 1770 Richard Masters married Isabella Campbell. We do not know where this happened, but it probably was in the Town of Warwick, Orange County, New York. There on 5 June 1771 the first of their twelve children, Thomas, was born. Their other children were Robert Clinton (20 Aug 1773), Hannah (22 March 1775), Christiana (10 June 1777), Elizabeth (1 Sep 1779), Richard Clement (28 Sep 1781), Campbell (2 Sep 1783), James (2 Oct 1785), Juliana (8 Jan 1788), George (26 Mar 1790), Charles (9 Feb 1792), and Isabella Maria (9 May 1794).
Richard, the immigrant, was born in England on 28 October 1746, where in England and who his parents were are not certain. The IGI lists a Richard baptized in Priors Marston, Warwick, on December 7, 1746, whose father was Richard. When Richard came to America he settled at Warwick, NY. But Richard named his first son Thomas, and customary naming patterns of the time strongly indicate that his own father was Thomas. His second son was Robert, and Isabella's father was Robert. So the mystery of the place of his birth and family remains.
During the American Revolution Richard Masters, Pvt., served from time to time in the militia. For example, he was in Hasbrouck's Reg't, NY Militia, July 29 to Aug 5 (year not indicated) 8 days, receiving 6 2/3 d per day. He also served in Col. John Hathorn's 4th Regiment of the Orange County, NY Militia.
The First Federal Census 1790, Orange County, Town of Warwick, NY lists Richard Masters as head of a family with 3 Free White Males of 16 years upward, including heads of families (Richard himself, Thomas, Robert C.); 4 Free White Males under 16 years (Richard C., Campbell, James, George); and 5 females (Richard’s wife Isabella, Christiana, Eliza, Hannah, Juliana). Charles and Isabella Maria were born after 1790.
The entire family left Orange County, about 1791, and moved to Greenbrier County, Virginia. From 1800 through 1807 Richard paid property tax at an address called The Levels. In 1810 Richard is still listed in the Census of Virginia.
Shortly after that he moved to Warren County, Kentucky and purchased land on the Gaspar River near Bowling Green. Eight of their children moved to Kentucky with Richard and Isabella. He died on June 2, 1813, age 67, and is buried in Mt. Zion Cemetery, near Woodburn, Kentucky. Isabella then lived with her son Charles. Her date of death is not known.
Isabella Campbell’s Family
Isabella Campbell’s father was Robert Campbell and her mother was Elizabeth Duncan, both from Scotland. It’s taken a bit of inference to determine who Robert Campbell was, but the following seems the best explanation.
During the 18th Century the French tried to extend their trading empire south from Canada into the upper Hudson and Mohawk Valleys. As part of their plan to resist French intrusion, in 1732 the British colonial government advertised its desire for "Protestants of all Nations and Denominations" to come to New York in order to secure its hold there. At the same time, between 1727 and 1737, in Scotland the Campbell estates were being reorganized, the rents on these properties were being increased, and the cattle market (the primary export in the Highland economy) was falling on difficult times. Lauchlin Campbell of Islay saw the New York land grab as an opportunity to establish himself as a proprietor and businessman. So he applied for a patent of land in what is now Washington County, and the governor of New York appeared to have granted the patent. He visited the province in 1737 and returned shortly thereafter with 35 families from Islay. By the year 1740 he had assisted some 93 Highland families in coming to his proposed immigrant colony, usually referred to as the "Argyll Colony." But the patent turned out to be not secure, and Lauchlin did not get his land. Disappointed, he eventually settled at Campbell Hall, Ulster County, New York, and the people who he had brought scattered here and there. In 1745 he went back to Scotland to oppose the Jacobite rebellion led by Bonnie Prince Charlie against the Hanoverians. Returning to NY, he died not long after that.
Among the people Lauchlin Campbell brought to New York in 1738 were Donald Campbell and his wife, Mary McKay, and their children Robert, James, Margaret, and Isabel. This Robert was probably Isabella Campbell's father. If they were related to Lauchlin Campbell other than by clan, we don’t know how. Many people with the same name in a Scottish clan were not blood relations at all.
Presumably Donald Campbell’s family settled in or near Orange County, next to Ulster County. Isabella was born in that area in 1753 and married Richard Masters there in 1770. Robert Campbell was listed as one signing the "intention to abide by the Continental Congress" and a member of the Committee of Safety and Observation, appointed 27 January 1775 in the precinct of New Windsor in Orange Co., New York.
Richard Clement Masters
Richard Clement Masters, sixth child and third son of Richard and Isabella, was born in Orange County, New York on 28 September 1781. When he was ten-years old in 1791 he moved with the rest of the family to Greenbrier County, Virginia. There on 1 November 1808 he married Nancy Cochran. About 1810 they moved on with other members of the family to Warren County, Kentucky with their small son, Robert C. Masters. They bought farm land near Bowling Green on the Gaspar River where the rest of their nine children were born. John, Jim’s ancestor, was born on 11 April 1811 in Warren County.
When Richard C. Masters was 45, in 1826, he moved his family to Sangamon County, Illinois and settled near Springfield. In 1832 he sold wheat to the soldiers in the Blackhawk War.
In 1833 he went to Bureau County and built a log cabin, and the following year brought his family, settling three miles north of Dover. “By trade he was a wagon-maker, and had followed that until he came to Bureau County, when he invested in land, and afterward gave his attention to farming. He paid “the sum of two hundred dollars and no cents, being in full payment for the South East quarter of Section No. 1 in Township No. 17, north of the base line of Range No. 9, east of the principal meridian, containing one hundred and sixty acres at the rate of one dollar and twenty-five cents per acre. $200.00. Filed for record on the 30th day of July, 1836. In addition to farming Richard and his sons started a saw mill and a grist mill which was later moved to Leepertown Township near Bureau, Illinois. He became an expert in surveying and establishing roads.
Agnes died in 1854 and Richard continued to reside in Bureau County until a short time before his death when he went to Minnesota where his son, Robert, was then living and died there in 1872.
Nancy Cochran’s Family
Thomas Cochran, Nancy Cochran’s father, probably came as a child in a group of Scotch-Irish immigrants that came to Philadelphia in 1732, which included several Cochrans. Many up these people came up the Shenandoah Valley and settled in Augusta County, Virginia. After he married Mary MacKemie about 1774, they moved west into the mountains to the Greenbrier Valley and settled [on the Rankin place] at the mouth of Locust Creek near Hillsboro. Later they moved to the vicinity of Marvin Chapel near Mill Point.
"Although we do not know the dates of his birth or of his death, we do know that he lived in the era of dirt floor log cabins which also served as a fortress against attacks by Indians who still frequented the [Greenbrier] Valley in his time. Travel was by trail and pack horse while the basic tools of survival were the rifle, the knife and the axe, supplemented by home made hoes, rakes, forks, etc."
Mary MacKemie was from near Parnassus, Augusta, Co., Virginia. This is in the part of the county where John MacKemie, Sr. had his plantation, 388 acres on a branch of North River of the Shenandoah at the end of Buck Hill, near Parnassus. He bought this land from Henry and Jane Downs in 1748 and 1749. I take him to be Nancy’s grandfather. One of his sons was John, and I take him to be her father, since she named one of her two sons John.
John Masters
John Masters, second son of Richard Clement and Nancy Masters, was born on 30 April 1811 in Warren County, Kentucky in a log cabin on a farm near Bowling Green. He attended school here and learned to hunt and to fish in the nearby Gaspar River.
In 1826 his family moved to Sangamon County, Illinois. The family farm was seven miles from Springfield. When he was 19 he and his 21-year old brother Robert bought 80 acres of land: E1/2, NW1/4 Section 23, Twp 16 North, Range 5 west of the third principal meridian, seven miles from Springfield. They sold wheat to the Blackhawk War soldiers in 1832.
His family moved to Bureau County, Illinois in 1834. He bought 160 acres of land in Dover Twp on July 15, 1835. He, with his brother Robert and father Richard, owned and operated a grist mill for the next 20 years. He held the offices of Justice of Peace and School Director in Dover.
On 4 March 1841, when he was nearly 30, he married Maria Belknap, who was still 18. The first of their ten children was born in 1842 and the last in 1863. Four of these children died in infancy.
In 1866 they moved to Leepertown Twp. near Bureau Junction, where he built another grist mill on Bureau Creek. In 1878 Maria died, and in 1879 John retired from activity with the mill. In 1880 the mill burned, and another was built that was run by his sons Arzy and Miles.
On January 8, 1880 the following letter from John Masters appeared in the "Bureau County News:"
"Dec. 26, 1879, Coxsackie, New York
“I retired from the Leepertown Mill in November last, having been invited here to engineer a contract water power three miles west of the Hudson, twenty miles below Albany. This is a romantic place with a beautiful view across the Hudson for 10 miles in distance with snow clad fields and pine forests alternately, which makes a beautiful picture. This water power has been in use some 70 years, and is a small stream about six feet wide fed by springs. At this place it passes through a ledge of rock and falls 60 feet in 200 yards. There's a grist mill 150 feet below the dam, which now has 50 feet head. Since the sawmill above it passed away, it has 20 foot overshot wheel and 2 runs of 4 foot stone. I propose to overhaul it this coming year and put in 16 inch turbines and let the water down in 1 inch gas pipes and put in 16 inch buhrs.
“There has been but little wheat raised here the past 20 years, till the last two years when wheat has done well, and I am told that there is considerably sown, partly for the straw, which is worth here now $12 per ton, for the paper mills. There are 3 paper mills within 5 miles of here. Across the river there is a turnpike from the boat landing going west passing near here. Since I have been here, from 8 o'clock to 12, there is almost a string of platform wagons leaded with straw and hay, all bailed going to the landing or to the paper mills. One-fourth of a mile down the pike is a stone crusher to crush stone to repair pikes; also a lime kiln that runs into two pits the year round, and hauls lime one or two loads daily across the river to the paper mill. There is also a grist mill at the same place, run with 20 foot overshot wheel on this same stream. It has been running for the past three months on buckwheat, day and night. He sent last week to New York 8 tons of buckwheat flour in 2 bushel sacks at 2.50 per cwt.
“Last Saturday navigation closed in the river. There is from 2 to 4 foot rise and fall in this river every day from tides. From Albany to 30 miles below here is a great ice field for New York City. The saltwater spoils the ice in the Hudson for 40 miles up from the city.
“About the first of November there was in transit on the canal between Buffalo and Albany 2 million bushels of wheat and 1 million of other grain at one time, so the papers say, and they had to cut some ice. This doesn't look like canaling was played out, here at least. Corn is worth $.60 per bushel, oats $.50, hay from 8 to $10 per ton.
“We have now 6 inches of snow on the ground that fell 3 days since and makes fine sleighing, - weather calm. John Masters"
John died at age 84 in 1895 in Bureau County.
Maria Belknap’s Family
Maria Belknap’s family line can be traced back to Richard Beltoft, born in England about 1450. His great great grandson, Abraham Belknap, was born in 1589/90 in Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire, England, the son of Bennet and Grace Adam Beltoft. He was a farmer who lived in Netteswell and North Weald, Essex, and migrated from Epping, Essex. All these places are not far northeast of London.
Abraham was baptized as Beltoft; then the family name was changed to Belknap. On Jan. 28, 1599/1600 Josias, uncle of Abraham, and a member of the family that had gone by the name of Beltoft, signed his will with the surname of Belknappe, which name more than one contended had been their real name all along. Josias listed his brother Bennet as Bennet Belknappe in his will. Bennet, as executor of Josias' will, attested that his own name was Benedict Belknappe. "Toft" and "knap" both mean low or small hill.
On 28 October 1617 in Latton, Essex Abraham married Mary Stallion. Their first three children died in infancy. Samuel, their fourth, born in 1627, lived, and became Maria Belknap's ancestor. Their next child after Samuel died in infancy. After Samuel was six years old, they had three more children who lived.
He brought his family to Massachusetts as part of the Great Migration, and died in Lynn, Massachusetts in September 1643.
Abraham’s great grandson, Samuel Belknap, was born about 1702 in Framingham, Massachusetts. His occupation was weaver. As a young man he moved west and was married in Mansfield, Connecticut on 9 July 1723 to Mary Dickinson. They had nine children between 1724 and 1744. Samuel died in 1757 in Windsor, Connecticut.
Their son, Samuel Belknap, was born on 13 June 1731 at Enfield, Hartford Co., Connecticut, and on 18 July 1731 he was baptized at Somers Church, Tolland, Connecticut. On 19 June 1754 he married Mary Newton in East Windsor, Connecticut. They had eight children between 1754 and 1769. On 3 May 1775 both Samuel, when he was almost 44 years old, and his son Jonas Newton Belknap, who was still only 15 years old, enlisted at Granby, Massachusetts for service in the Massachusetts Militia. On 18 June 1775 Samuel died of heat prostration in the military camp at Cambridge, the day following the Battle of Bunker Hill.
Jonas Newton Belknap

Jonas Newton Belknap was born on 19 May 1759 at Windsor, Connecticut, third child and first son of the eight children of Samuel and Mary Newton Belknap. His family moved to Belchertown, Massachusetts, where he was christened in the Congregational church on 12 April 1761.
After the Revolution started with the battles on 19 April 1775 at Lexington and Concord, both Jonas and his father Samuel enlisted at Granby, Massachusetts on 3 May 1775 for service in the Massachusetts Militia. Samuel was not quite 44, and it would still be two weeks before Jonas reached his 16th birthday. Both fought in the Battle of Bunker Hill on 17 June 1775, and the following day Samuel died of heat prostration in the military camp at Cambridge. Jonas served out his 8-month term and re-enlisted in January 1776.
His service records indicate that he had light hair and complexion and was 5'9" tall.
His Revolutionary War service record includes the following:
17 June 1775 Battle of Bunker Hill
January 1776 re-enlistment in the Massachusetts Militia
Fall 1776 enlistment in Washington’s Continental Army in New York
7 October 1777 Battle of Bemis Heights, 2nd Battle of Saratoga, the ‘Taking of Burgoyne’
30 May 1778 Battle of Cobleskill, New York
24 February 1779 serving in Cherry Valley, New York
19 October 1781 Battle of Yorktown, the ‘Taking of Cornwallis’
1782-1783 stationed at the cantonment at New Windsor, New York with Washington’s army, waiting for the peace treaty to be signed. (Washington established his headquarters at Newburgh, New York on 16 April 1782 and remained there until the Treaty of Paris was signed on 3 September 1783.)
As can be seen, Jonas Newton Belknap participated in some of the most notable events of the American Revolution from Bunker Hill to Yorktown. Even summarizing all these events would turn this biographical sketch into another history of the Revolution. In 1778-1779, however, he was serving on the New York frontier west of Albany. During this time the British were urging the Loyalists and the Native American tribes who sided with them to attack the American settlements on the frontier, and Continental troops were stationed there to defend the settlements. We seldom hear of the Battle of Cobleskill, New York, but Jonas was there, was wounded, and escaped. See the following document, "Revolutionary War Events on the New York Frontier,” about Jonas’ service there.
While he was stationed at New Windsor waiting for the peace treaty to be signed, on Dec. 17, 1782 he was given leave by General Patterson to go to Belchertown, Massachusetts for 40 days. He overstayed two days. On 17 January 1783 he married Esther Parker in the Belchertown Congregational Church. It is interesting to note that their first child, Elijah, was born on 14 March 1783. It appears that Jonas must have had a leave in about June 1782 that resulted in the rushed marriage in January 1783.
General Washington honorably discharged him as a sergeant and decorated him with a special badge of merit on 10 June 1783 at Newburgh, New York.
Jonas and Esther had nine children: Elijah 14 March 1783, Samuel 1784, Jonas, Jr. 1786, Elisha 18 Jan. 1789, twins Jesse and Susannah 26 Jan 1792, Esther 1 April 1797, Orin 29 May 1799, and Cynthia 12 July 1801. Elisha was the one whose daughter, Maria, married John Masters, whose son Orin was Bert Masters’ father.
It is interesting to note the pattern of naming of these children. Jonas himself was named after his great uncle Jonas Newton. Elijah was named after Esther’s father, Samuel after Jonas’ father, Jonas, jr. after his father, Jesse after uncle Jesse Belknap. Elisha and Susannah were other biblical names often used in New England at the time, but apparently they had not been used by any of his recent ancestors. Esther was named after her mother. Then when Orin and Cynthia were named the use of biblical names stopped. This, too, was typical in New England at the time. The strict use of biblical names only was coming to an end.
Jonas and Esther and their whole family moved to Pittstown in Rensselaer County, New York in 1795. At the same time Elijah Parker, Esther’s brother, also moved to Pittstown. Then they all moved on, possibly through Cherry Valley in Otsego County and then to Honeoye, Ontario County, New York. Esther died on 10 June 1809 at age 48 at Spring Water near Honeoye. Jonas married twice more and moved to Kentucky by 1820. Jonas died in Hart County, Kentucky on 18 February 1824. He would have been 65 in May.
Elisha Belknap
Elisha Belknap, son of Jonas and Esther, born in 1789, moved west with them when they migrated to New York state. About 1807, when he was only 18, Elisha married Bettie Briggs. Their son Lacy was born on 5 July 1808. Bettie died in 1810.
On 10 June 1809 Elisha's mother died at Spring Water near Honeoye. Then his father, Jonas, moved on to Kentucky.
Elisha is listed in the 1810 Ontario NY census, living in Honeoye close to Albert Finch, Lucy's father. He was still married to Bettie Briggs at the time of the census. On 1 July 1810 in Ontario County Elisha married Lucy Finch.
Lucy Finch had first been married in Green County, New York to Asa Norton, who died late in 1810 or early 1811. Then Lucy moved out to Ontario County, where her father Albert and her brother Albert, jr. had moved in 1810. There in 1811 she married Elisha Belknap, whose first wife, Bettie Briggs, had recently died.
Elisha and Lucy moved from Ontario County to Niagara County by 1819, and then in 1830 westward to the area of Alexandria, Licking Co., Ohio, where Elisha died in 1839.
Maria Belknap
Elisha and Lucy’s daughter, Maria, was born in Niagara County, New York on 19 August 1822, and moved with her parents in 1830 to Ohio. In 1839 her brother Eli moved to the area of Malden, Bureau Co., Illinois. In 1840 he brought his sister Maria and his widowed mother to Bureau County. There on 4 March 1841 she married John Masters. Between 1842 and 1863 they had ten children, four of whom died in infancy. Maria died of abdominal cancer on 26 April 1878, before she reached her 56th birthday. Maria was Bert Masters’ grandmother and Jim Masters’ great great grandmother.
Orin Masters
Orin Masters was born at Dover, Bureau Co., Illinois, 15 May 1852, and the 1870 Census for Leepertown Twp., Bureau Co., listed him as living on the farm with his parents, John and Maria Masters.
Orin married Aggie Masterman in the Methodist Episcopal Church at Marengo, Iowa on 4 June 1874. Witnesses: George P. Masterman, Aggie's brother, and William Tauer, Aggie's brother-in-law. (Note: Orin's older brother, Edgar, had married Elizabeth Cashman in Marengo in 1869. Edgar must have taken Orin to Marengo, where he met Agnes Masterman. Orin and Edgar at one point later briefly went into business with one another in Lincoln, Nebraska.)
Bert Hale Masters was born 27 Dec. 1875 in Bureau County, Illinois. Claude Ross Masters was born 19 February 1881 in Bureau County, Illinois. Claude died 15 February 1883. Orin, Aggie and Bert moved to Farmington, Iowa 27 February 1883. They moved to Lincoln, Nebraska 11 September 1884. Many of their Masterman relatives lived there.
"Located about four miles from the heart of the City of Lincoln is the Town of Havelock, the home of the Burlington Railroad shops and the center of a hustling industrial community. In the late '80s G. G. Smith, W. J. Johnson, O. Masters and Dr. J. A. Scott came to the site of Havelock and each erected a building, built of frame and very small."
In 1885-86 Orin and Edgar Masters had a business at the corner of M & 8th in Lincoln, Masters Brothers, feed, milk, and dealers in flour. It did not last, because in 1886 Orin was a laborer, in 1887 a grain buyer, in 1889 and 1890 a commercial traveler, and in 1891- 1893 a grocer in Havelock at the northeast corner of Jackson and Forbes.
In 1885 the Orin Masters residence was at 1020 S. 13th in Lincoln. Note: at this time Aggie’s father, Henry Masterman, was night policeman at the Post Office and resided at 1227 S. 13th; and James Masterman, Aggie’s brother, was a grocer at 13th and corner of E and resided at 1227 S. 13th. Edgar Masters resided at 1511 F Street.
Orin, Aggie and Bert moved to Neosho, Missouri in 1896. Aggie died 18 August 1897. Orin married Hattie Masterman, Aggie's younger sister, on 1 November 1898 in Omaha, Nebraska. They moved to Neosho and were there in 1903. Orin had a store for a while in Vinita, Oklahoma. The Neosho Daily Democrat, March 29, 1926 had the obituary for Orin Masters. He died in Joplin and is buried in the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Neosho.
Bert Hale Masters
Bert Hale Masters, son of Orin and Aggie, was born 27 December 1875 in Bureau County, Illinois. He moved with his family to Lincoln and Havelock, Nebraska in 1884 and grew up there. He moved with his parents to Neosho, Missouri in 1896.
Bert married Sidney Ellen (Ella) Fortner on 29 October 1897 at Neosho. They went immediately to Lincoln, Nebraska so Bert could go into business with a Masterman relative, but it was hard times in America and this venture did not work out, so they moved to Kansas City, seeking work there. Sterling was born 25 August 1898 in K. C., Missouri. But opportunities for employment that would support a family were no better in Kansas City, so they moved back to Neosho.
1900 Census Neosho, Missouri, 6 June 1900: Bert Masters, working as clerk at Ratchet Hardware Store; Ella, wife; Sterling. In the census two entries down: John Fortner, merchant in notions; Susanna, wife; Margaret, daughter, teacher; Alexander, son, at school; Jerry, son, at school.
On 20 May 1901 Raymond was born in Neosho, Missouri.
Passes on several railroads were issued to B. H. Masters, Assistant Claim Agent, KC Southern Rwy Co., in 1927and 1928.
When the depression came Bert was laid off from the K. C. Southern RR and lost his property at 3916 College. My earliest memory of his family was when he and Grandma and Harold were living in an upstairs apartment in Mrs. Mims' house on Oak Street. He began to get some work with the Portland Cement co. This may have been where Raymond was working. They were able to move to 3914 Locust, where he lived the rest of his life.
About the time of his death he received notice that he would soon get a job with the Kansas City government, but he died before this could happen. Bert had a heart attack and died about a week later on 24 August 1942 in St. Mary's Hospital in Kansas City. He was buried in Mt. Moriah Cemetery.
Sterling C. Masters
Sterling Masters was Bert Masters’ son. Sterling married Margery Lake in 1923. Their first child was James S. Masters, born in 1928.
For further information about these family lines, contact Jim Masters, [contact link].
Aug 19, 2008 · Reply
Shaun Masters would just like to know if anyone out there would know the name jack masters?
lived neepawa manitoba,would like to know more of my grand fathers history.
i was told he left his past life and family behind do to some family affair fight....when he was a young man...he then moved to manitoba and married glayds masters and i dont know much about his original family and would like to hear more if anyone knows!!!!!
[contact link]
i do believe he may have migrated from the us to canada....
would also like to hear more from possible family members.......
May 16, 2009 · Reply