Appendix C

A Revised Version of Early Kilgores

By Vickie Miller

(Jeff's note: This article was written as a rebuttal to Judge G.W. Kilgore's "A Short Historical Genealogy of the Killgores", which has been found to contain numerous genealogical errors as set out below. Judge Kilgore 's  article is also present in the Douglas Library, but is presented not as a matter of fact but rather as a document of historical interest to Kilgores. As with all information on this web site, the reader is encouraged to do their own research and to reach their own conclusions as to the validity of the material presented.)


In the early 1900s, a Kilgore researcher, Judge G. W. Kilgore  fostered the information mentioned in his account of "The American Killgores". Despite his obvious earnestness, subsequent findings have found that many of his conclusions are inaccurate. It should be kept in mind that he did not have access to much of the information we have today at our fingertips. In the interest of genealogy, I shall endeavor to point out the inaccuracies.

First his claim that there were five brothers named Kilgore who immigrated to America ca 1763 and who all participated at the Battle of King's Mountain in October 1780. He claimed that the brothers were named. Robert , Charles , Hiram , William  and James . His source for the Revolutionary War claims was a local history book that he'd found at a Judge Johnson 's residence and whose author he could not later remember. No complete roster of soldiers participating at the Battle of King's Mountain is known to exist. Judge Kilgore  claimed that he knew of two copies of the history neither of which has yet come to light, which of course does not mean that they don't still exist somewhere; nor did Judge Kilgore give the title of the book. We have no way of knowing what source the original author of the history book used nor it's accuracy. We don't know whether the men were actually listed as brothers or whether this was perhaps a presumption on Judge Kilgore's  part.

We do know that men named Charles  and Robert Kilgore  are listed on records from Orange County, North Carolina and that these men were later found in what became known as Russell County, Virginia. They were both listed on a roster list at Lt. Moore 's Fort, Scott County , Virginia in June 1777. As of yet, no evidence has been found for a William Kilgore  in this area during the Revolutionary War period or later. It is known, that the above named Robert Kilgore had a son named William Kilgore B :1769 who lived in Scott County , Virginia and it's probable that Judge Kilgore  may have mistaken the son for the so-called brother, William . As of yet, no researchers have been able to verify that a brother, James  existed; however, a man named James Kilgore who settled in South Carolina has not been ruled out.

A man named Thomas Kilgore  who is first found in records in Orange County , North Carolina in 1760s and who can later be found in Robertson County , Tennessee is believed to be some relation to Charles and Robert Kilgore . In Goodwill's History of Arkansas-Columbia County, his grandson Dawson Kilgore  is mentioned. This history written in the 1880's states that Dawson Kilgore's grandfather, Thomas Kilgore participated at the Battle of King's Mountain and that "he lost a brother who was fighting alongside him". A Thomas Kilgore was not listed as one of the "five brothers", although he appears to be referring to the Hiram Kilgore  who was supposedly killed at the battle. This account, which Judge Kilgore  does not seem to have been aware of, does support the claim that a man named Kilgore was killed at the Battle of King's Mountain. It is known that the above named Charles Kilgore  participated at the battle and was in fact wounded. He filed a claim with the State of Virginia in which he mentioned wounds received at the Battle of King's Mountain. In his Revolutionary War pension file, he stated in a request for a new certificate that he had served with Col. William Campbell's  men under Capt. John Snoddy . Col. William Campbell was the commanding officer of troops at the Battle of King's Mountain.

It's known that a man named Robert Kilgore Sr . was in North Carolina as early as 1750 when he appeared on a tax list in Granville County , North Carolina . This is not the Robert Kilgore believed to be one of the five brothers. He is suspected of being the father of Robert  and Charles  (though not proven) and therefore, these Kilgores appear to have been in America well before 1763 which is the date that early researchers believed that the Kilgores arrived in America .

It has been claimed that these Kilgore's were the descendants of a Lord Douglas  from Scotland and that they took the name Killgore/Kilgore because Lord Douglas used the words "kill" and "gore" as his battle cry. The Scottish Historical Board states that the name Kilgore was first used in connection with a foundling (presumably male) who was left on the doorstep of a church and who was given the name of the church: Kilgore. This supposedly occurred soon after a battle involving the powerful local Douglas clan who had been declared outlaw and driven from the area. Local tradition had it that the child was a junior member of the family left on the doorstep in order to save his life. It's known that early Kilgore researchers wrote to Scotland and obtained this information and it appears that someone took the above information one step further and actually believed the story to be true. Note that Scottish historians don't make the claim themselves-they just mention that "according to local tradition". I'm not an historian myself, but it seems to me that the Lord Douglas in question -the so-called "Black Douglas" would have been screaming his war cries in Scottish Gaelic and not English. I very much doubt that the words "kill" and "gore" have the same meanings in Gaelic as they do in English. This appears to be some attempt to explain the name Kilgore.

Apparently, sometime prior to 1911 Judge Kilgore  sent his history around to the various branches of the Kilgore family in Virginia , Tennessee and elsewhere. We do know that one branch of the Tennessee family has since mangled this tale and now believe that their ancestors changed their name from Douglas to Kilgore here in America around the time of the American Revolution. They claim that their ancestors used the war cry of "kill" and "gore" in battle against Indians- hence the name Kilgore.

Another error that early researchers made concerning these Kilgores, was the mistaken assumption that the above named Charles Kilgore was the husband of a woman named Winnie Clayton  by whom he had these children: Robert , Charles , Hiram , Ralph , William  and Mary Kilgore   Culbertson . We now know that Winnie Clayton was the wife of a man named Robert Kilgore J r . who was killed by Indians December 31, 1782 along with a man named James Green . Another man who had accompanied them on this hunting trip was able to make his escape and bring word to local authorities who marched out and found the bodies of Robert Kilgore and James Green whom they hurriedly buried in a hollow log. It was mistakenly believed that it was Charles Kilgore who was killed when in fact it was Robert Kilgore. This is proven by tax records from Russell County, Virginia which in 1783 list Winnie Kilgore  as head of household (Charles Kilgore was listed on 1783 tax list Greene County, Tennessee where he'd arrived sometime prior to this date and where he remained until his death in 1823). In 1784, the tax records list "Robert Kilgore's estate"-again giving proof he was deceased. It was also once believed that Winnie Clayton died c1787 and that Charles remarried a woman named Martha . We now know that Winnie Clayton was still living in 1811 when she witnessed a deed in Russell County, Virginia. Of the above named children listed for Charles Kilgore the only one who was in truth his child was Mary Kilgore Culbertson who was named in his will. Charles Kilgore listed his "three sons" in his will: William , John  and James . Robert  and Winnie's son, William Kilgore  born 1769 and who married Virginia Osborne  was mistakenly believed to be the William Kilgore listed in Charles' will. It's now known that this was William Kilgore born ca 1771 Orange County, North Carolina who married Jane Henderson  in 1796 Greene County, Tennessee.

Judge Kilgore  claimed that one of his informants was "Aunt Betsy Walker " daughter of Mary Kilgore  and James Culbertson  whom he claimed to have been about 5 years old at the time of the Battle of King's Mountain. There is some mistake here. Betsy Culbertson  Walker  was born in 1792 according to her husband's Bible records-12 years after the Battle of King's Mountain (her parents were married in 1785). It's certainly possible that Betsy's memory had slipped by the time she spoke with Judge Kilgore concerning family history and so he may have been the beneficiary of garbled information. The inaccuracy of Judge G. W. Kilgore 's  account was discovered by researchers descended from both Charles Kilgore  and Robert Kilgore  who pooled their knowledge and began to find discrepancies in old accounts about this family and have sought diligently to clear this matter up. In the name of accuracy, it should be pointed out that no actual proof exists for the claim that Charles and Robert were in fact brothers, though descendants generally accept this belief because of the close association of the two men during much of their lives.