b.8 NOV 1750 Norfolk, Augusta County, Virginia
m. 7 APR 1730
Facts and Events
Andrew Skidmore was one of the Early Settlers of Augusta County, Virginia
Records of Andrew Skidmore in Augusta County, VA
From Chalkley’s Augusta County Records:
Information on Andrew Skidmore
[These notes have been put together at the request of David Armstrong, editor of the Allegheny Regional Ancestors, who feels that the truth about a widely-believed error should be better known.]
Act One of our drama begins with Archibald W. Corley, a great-grandson of Andrew Skidmore and Margaret Johnson of Randolph County. He took a considerable interest (even pride) in his Skidmore ancestry in a period when this was not common. As a practicing attorney he spent much of his time in courthouses and had "stoped (sic) off one time at Harrisonburg from the train to look at the old records for my family." It was doubtless at this time that he located an Andrew Johnson there, made him the father of Margaret Skidmore (she was in fact his youngest sister, a posthumous child of Arthur Johnson), and produced a tale out of the whole cloth that this Andrew Johnson was the grandfather of the president of the same name.
In 1914 his distant cousin, Minna S. Hyman (Mrs. Harry), of San Antonio, Texas, wrote to Counsellor Corley (now in his mid-sixties and practicing in a sleepy country town) asking for some genealogical information. She was descended from William Wilson who had married Sarah Friend, a daughter of Jonas and Sarah (Skidmore) Friend. Corley answered her letter on 2 October 1914, and wrote again on 19 December 1914 sending her some rather careless information on her Randolph and Pendleton County ancestors. Mrs. Hyman was not a descendant of the Johnsons, but he wrote gratuitously in December (on the stationery of A. W. Corley and C. F. Greene, Attorneys and Counselors at Law, Sutton, West Virginia):
Most genealogical correspondence eventually gets trashed but Mrs. Hyman saved hers, and I was able to make pencil copies of these letters (and another from Claude W. Maxwell, Counsellor at Law at Elkins, dealing largely with Friend's Fort) back in the pre-Xerox period.
The Second Act involved John D. Sutton who received a somewhat embellished tale of the Johnson connection which he published in January 1919 (after Corley's death) in his History of Braxton County and Central West Virginia. Publication led to an immediate acceptance, and Act Three was played on the grounds of the Old Fellow's Home at Elkins. Here, on 8 July 1929, the Margaret Johnson Skidmore monument (now sadly vandalized) was unveiled and dedicated before about 2000 people. The plaque parroted the Corley correspondence:
The speakers included a United States Senator, and a special Skidmore-Johnson issue of the Randolph County Historical Society Magazine was published to commemorate the event.
Sadly, more than one member of the West Virginia family later visited the Greeneville, Tennessee, home of the president and convinced Mrs. Margaret Johnson Patterson Bartlett (a great-granddaughter) of the truth of the Pendleton County story. They were true believers who had been led down the garden path, and it would serve no useful purpose to identify them at this late date. There can be no doubt, however, that the acceptance by the president's family has made Corley's tale even harder to stamp out.
If I may be permitted a personal aside, I have told anyone who would listen since the 1940s that the Johnson connection was completely fraudulent but have resisted telling the full story until now. (4) I put the editors of the Henckel genealogy (Andrew Johnson of Pendleton County had married Hannah Henckel as his first wife) on the alert before publication, but they still repeated the presidential story. Since then I have also published two editions of my Skidmore family history and denounced the Johnson error in both.
Father: Joseph Skidmore b: Abt 1706 in Murderkill Hundred, Kent County, Deleware Mother: Agnes Caldwell b: Abt 1705 in Somerset County, Maryland