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George Buchanan

Posted by Bob Scott

Surname: Buchanan, Campbell, Benefiel, Cowen, Yount, Lockridge, Ricketts, McLaughlin, Freeman, Short


George Buchanan, who came to Jefferson or Ripley Co., Ind., is the ancestor of hundreds and probably thousands of Southern Indiana residents. The DAR says that George came from York Co., Pa., and that he lived 1721-1818, married Esther Campbell and served in the Fourth Pennsylvania Continental line in the Revolutionary War. All of these facts might be true. But none are proven.

There is no documentation of where he was born, his age, when or who he married
or where he lived. No one has identified George on any tax list or deeds. He could have been born in Ramelton, Donegal Co., Ireland, or in Pennsylvania. Research regarding his ancestry or siblings has been complicated by bogus family trees generated in the 1930s over the fraudulent "Buchanan Estate" in which many Buchanans were convinced they might be heirs to a great fortune.

A 1910 account by a grandson, named George W. Buchanan, states that the George lived to be 102 years old and that "grandmother" lived to be 101 and that they are buried in the McLaughlin Cemetery near Buchanan Station in Brown Township, Ripley Co.
And while the 1850 Indiana census shows that two of George's children were born in Pennsylvania, it also shows that son Wilson Buchanan was born about 1775 in New York.

There are no deeds for this family in Cumberland, Huntingdon, Bedford Co. or Westmoreland Counties, Pa. Son-in-law George Benefiel served in the Revolutionary War from Cumberland Co., but lived in modern Franklin Co. A George Buchanan, who owned land in Fannett Township in Franklin Co. 1778-1781, might be our George.

Most records say that George Buchanan married Esther Campbell. There is at least circumstantial evidence for this marriage. Daughter Mary Buchanan Benefiel had a daughter, Esther Campbell Benefiel.

The family lived in Westmoreland Co., Pa., after the Revolution and moved to the Paris, Ky., area about 1790, according to the biography of grandson Jacob Buchanan. The earliest reliable record of the family in Kentucky comes on 28 Jan. 1795 when George's son Wilson Buchanan married in Bourbon Co. Son William Buchanan may be the William on the 1795 Scott Co. tax list as George Benefiel is on that same list. An earlier record is that of Hugh Cowen who married Mary or Margaret Buchanan on 9 Oct. 1794 in Bourbon Co. Transcriptions differ and the original bond has not been found.

George and his four sons appear on no Bourbon tax lists (although the Benefiels and McLaughlins appear there.) There are no Bourbon deeds for any members of the family except the McLaughlins. There is a George Buchanan, who could be our man, and a John Buchanan on Woodford Co. tax lists 1792-1795, but there are no Buchanan deeds in Woodford Co.

Son Wilson Buchanan appears on the Franklin Co. tax list of 22 March 1797.
All four Buchanan brothers, William, Wilson, John and David, along with brother-in-law Hugh Cowen, appear Aug. 10 1801 on the Franklin Co. tax list, living on Benson Creek. But no Franklin Co. deeds involve this family.

Illinois researchers say that about 1800 the Buchanans moved to a place 20 miles upstream from Madison on the Ohio River. This is consistent with Federal land records that show that John Buchanan bought land on 10 Sept.1804 near the site of modern Florence, Switzerland Co.

In 1807, Wilson and John Buchanan are listed on the territorial census for Dearborn Co., which then included Switzerland Co. The family probably moved to the border of Jefferson and Ripley Co. about Aug. 25,1809 when John Buchanan purchased the SE1/4 Section 34 Twp. 6N Range 11E and the SW1/4 Section 25 in what became Brown Township.

The 1910 Madison Courier article gives the best authority for George's family: George W. Buchanan listed his uncles, John and William Buchanan. George W. also listed Uncle George Benefiel, Uncle George McLaughlin and cousin William McLaughlin.

Another element in Buchanan history is the Buchanan Station, the blockhouse, that the family is reported to have erected on its land because of Indian trouble. The date of its construction is usually given as occurring 1813 in Brown Twp., Ripley Co., not far from the Jefferson Co. border. However, the 1860s, Perret Dufour reports orders given to David Hillis, whose militia company was charged marching with constructing the block house that became known as Buchanan station. Hillis' orders were dated May 10, 1812. Dufour said that Hillis constructed the fort without delay.

All branches of the family maintain the tradition that George was a Revolutionary War soldier. The DAR lists George's service in the Fourth Pennsylvania 1778-1781 and cites the Pennsylvania Archives as proof. But the Archives only show that A George Buchanan served in that unit. No age or town is given. Federal records show that in 1786 an Ezekiel and Elizabeth Buchanan were paid for services of George Buchanan in the Fourth in Pennsylvania. They were paid with interest accuring from Jan. 1, 1781. Why were these two people paid and not the soldier? I can only conclude that these two were heirs of a man who died by 1786.

Children of George Buchanan
1. Mary Buchanan 19 March 1764-21 May 1857 died in Jefferson Co., Ind., and is buried in the Jefferson Church Cem., along with her husband, George Eli Benefiel 25 Dec. 1759-1 April 1832. The family moved to Indiana shortly after daughter Esther married Robert McLelland on 3 January 1814 in Clark Co., Ky.
2. Margaret Buchanan 1771-1837. Dates are from the DAR. She is probably the Margaret Buchanan (some transcriptions say Mary) who married Hugh Cowen on 9 Oct. 1794 in Bourbon Co.
3. William Buchanan 1771-Feb. 1845 He is buried in a small family cemetery several hundred feet west of Buchanan Station. His stone was moved to the Buchanan family cemetery opposite the recreated fort sometime between 1972 and 1984. William was married before 1796, probably in Kentucky, as his oldest son, William H. Buchanan was born that year. He may have been the William who married Fanny Buchanan in 29 May 1801 in Franklin Co., Ky. He is probably the William who married Catherine Yount 1813 in Jefferson Co. William's estate was probated in Ripley Co. His widow, Elizabeth's (Elizabeth, perhaps Catherine Elizabeth Yount?) estate in Jefferson.
4. Wilson Buchanan 1774/75-19 April 1851 Buried in the Buchanan Cemetery, Wilson married Rebecca Lockridge in 1795 in Bourbon Co., Ky. Wilson probably married Hannah Ricketts, 1790-13 Feb. 1853 in Dearborn Co., Ind., in 1809. However, Dearborn records were destroyed by fire in 1826.
5. John Buchanan 1779-6 May 1847, buried Old Bethel Cem., Craig Twp., Switzerland Co. He left a will in Switzerland Co. John had a first marriage, possibly to Tabitha Freeman. John married 2nd on 6 May 1813 in Jefferson Co., Rachel Short.
6. Martha E. Buchanan 1780-16 Nov. 1833 She m. George McLaughlin 29 Dec. 1773-5 April 1846. Both buried in McLaughlin Cem. west of the fort, but the stones were removed to the Buchanan family cemetery between 1972 and 1984.
7. David Buchanan b. 1785/86 in Pennsylvania, probably died by 1860. According to the 1850 census in Brown Twp., he was age 64, born in Pennsylvania. His first marrige has not been discovered, but three of his children were born before 1814 when he married Nancy Buchanan, 1786/87-after 1880. Her relationship, if any, is unknown.
8. George Buchanan. Stayed in Pennsylvania, unmarried, according to Illinois family researchers.
9. Jane Buchanan m _______ Read, mother of poet Thomas Buchanan Read. This daughter is also listed by Illinois family researchers.

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