Thomas Devericks Senior of Shaws Fork, Highland County, Virginia
Thomas Devericks was born around 1735, possibly on the eastern shore of Maryland. His parentage is suspected to be Joseph Devericks and Anne Smith who were married in Maryland in 1732, and migrated to Virginia shortly thereafter. What is known about Thomas Devericks is that he enters the historical record possessed some education and economic resources, and participated in the settlement of the Virginia frontier in an area settled by the Scotch-Irish. He married a widow, Mrs. Sarah Montgomery, in Albermarle County in 1759, and witnessed a land transaction here in 1761. She may be the Sarah Devereoux referred to in the Will of John Higgins of Kent County, Maryland. His first two children, John (1763, see separate page on this site) and Sarah (~1765), also were probably born in Albemarle County.
As Thomas was living in Albermarle during these years, it would be expected that he served in the local militia. In 1753 the French and Indian War broke out between England and France. The region of Virginia encompassing Albemarle and the future Augusta and Highland Counties supplied most of the militia led by George Washington, during this conflict.
The first major action of this war for Washington’s men was in 1754 when he was sent to negotiate boundaries with the French. The French refused to give up their forts, and Washington led a group of Virginian troops to confront them at Fort Duquesne (present day Pittsburgh). On May 28th of this year, Washington stumbled upon the French at the Battle of Jumonville Glen about six miles northwest of the soon to be established Fort Necessity near Uniontown, Pennsylvania. In the ensuing skirmish, a French Officer, Joseph Coulon de Jumonville, was killed and news of this provoked a strong French response. Washington pulled back a few miles and established Fort Necessity. On July 3rd, the French forced Washington and his men to retreat at the Battle of Great Meadows.
The next year, 1755, Edward Braddock led a campaign against the French from May 29th to July 9th. Washington and the Virginians were again among the British forces. Braddock employed European tactics: bold, linear marches and firing formations. This led to disaster at the Battle of Monongahela on July 9th, where the French and natives, though heavily outmanned and outgunned, used the trees and bushes as cover to gun down and rout the British. Braddock was killed, and Washington led the survivors in retreat.
After this defeat, the Indians were emboldened on the Virginia frontier. It fell to Washington to direct the defense of the Highland County region throughout the fall of 1755, and it probably was during this time that Thomas Devericks first got a glimpse of his future home on Shaws Fork. The Indians continued to raid the area, but no great destruction was accomplished. In 1758, Washington and the Virginia militia were present at another major French victory at Fort Duquesne. They were again driven back across the frontier into Virginia.
Among the people killed during the Indian Wars was a James Montgomery who died near Fort Dinwiddie in September 1756. He was from Augusta County, and this makes him a potential first husband for Thomas Devericks wife, Mrs. Sarah Montgomery.
Shaws Fork is a branch of the Cowpasture River in Virginia. It was a frontier region on the boundary of the 1763 Proclamation delineating lands allowed for colonial settlement from that reserved for the Indians, and was administered by Augusta County, Virginia. In 1765, shortly after being recorded as the witness for the land transaction in Albemarle, Thomas acquired his original 34 acres on Shaws Fork (eventually within the boundaries of Highland County). The land was purchased from Thomas Botkin. The Botkin and Devericks families would be further linked by the marriage of Thomas’ daughter, Margaret Devericks, to Thomas Botkin Junior in 1786. Thomas Botkin’s father, Richard, was one of the original settlers of the region, and had possessed land on the nearby Bullpasture River. In 1762, Richard or his son, Richard Junior, sold this land and moved farther north acquiring property that included part of Shaws Fork.
The original settler of Shaws Fork in 1756 was its namesake, John Shaw, who died in the early Indian raids. In 1759 his son, James, expanded their holdings by acquiring more land from a land speculator, George Wilson. The Shaw cabin is said to have stood on a hillside opposite and a little below Headwaters. The Devericks family settled here north of Estill’s Road and across the run from the Shaw’s cabin. When Bath County was separated from Pendleton County in 1793, the dwelling of Thomas Devericks was described as lying just above the dividing line where it crossed Shaws Fork. This line left North (Shenadoah) Mountain, and extended North-63.5 degrees-West for 20.25 miles ending 2.5 miles above Blue Hole.
In 1763, a band of Indians came down the valley and were driven off and killed. Due to the frequent Indian incursions in this area, settlers came in groups for mutual protection, and this further suggests some prior connection between the Devericks family and the other settlers of the Valley. In 1774 conflict with the Indian’s flared again in what was called Lord Dunmore’s War, and another raiding party passed through the area, but this signaled the end of any serious Indian threat.
The Devericks family had three more children were added to the family here: Margaret (1771), Thomas Junior (~1774, see separate page on this site), and Mary (1773). Shortly after his arrival in the valley, he was able to expand his land holdings and continued to steadily acquire property throughout his life. By the time of his death he owned a large plantation encompassing most of the Shaws Fork Valley northeast of modern Headwaters, Virginia and Highway 250. It included Mortons Draft, Upper Mountain Lick, and Lower Mountain Lick. His eldest son, John Devericks, purchased lands adjacent to his holding to the south which surrounded Highway 250 as it runs eastward from Headwaters, Virginia and included Devericks Hollow, and portions of Salthouse Hollow. Shortly after his son John’s marriage to Mary Peebles, Thomas acquired land probably as a wedding gift as it would eventually be transferred to this son. His younger son, Thomas Junior did not marry until after his father died, living on the family plantation, which he inherited along with the care of his unmarried sister, Sarah. As noted above, Thomas daughter Margaret had married Thomas Botkin Junior. His remaining daughter, Mary, would marry John Hodge in the 1790’s.
Thomas Devericks signed his will suggesting that he was educated. He was prominent in the region, and was cited in court records assisting in settling estates. He supported the American Revolution, and his eldest son, John, fought with the Virginia Militia and earned a military pension. They were Presbyterians and supported the founding of a church in Headwaters where many of the family are buried.
Thomas entered his Will in Pendleton Court records on January 1, 1807. He appointed both of his sons, John and Thomas Junior, as executors. No provisions were made for his wife, and it must be assumed that she died prior to its writing. Thomas Devericks died in April 1812 on Shaws Fork in Pendleton (future Highland) County, Virginia. He was not buried in Headwaters with the later family members. There is another cemetery within his land holdings on the west side of Shaws Fork about a mile north of Headwaters. It sits on a hillside overlooking route 616, and near the opening of Mortons Draft. This cemetery contains members of the Hodge family who were descended from a Devericks daughter, and some very old tombstones that were unreadable. Considering the close relationship between these two families, and its location, it is a possible location for the burial of Thomas Devericks, Sr. and his wife Sarah.
In the terms of the Will, Thomas bequeathed to his younger son, Thomas Junior, all his remaining lands with the exception of 100 acres, which were given to his grandson, Thomas (eldest son John’s son). Along with the land went the farming equipment, cattle, and horses to run it.
His unmarried daughter, Sarah, received cattle, horses, bedsteads & beds, clothing, shelf furniture, tables and chairs (to be divided with Thomas), a chest of drawers, and pots. She received bonds on James and John Botkins, and several slaves, which were to revert to Thomas on her death. In addition, the plantation and family house could not be sold during her life, and she would reside there with her brother, Thomas Junior. His married daughters, Margaret and Mary, and eldest son, John, appear to have been provided for during his life. Margaret Botkin and Mary Hodge both received ten dollars to be paid in property, and Mary also inherited a loom and tacklings. John inherited a six-year old horse named Buck.