Susan Marshall’s Letter (1900) about Origins of the O’Rear family.

The following comments by Judge E.C O’Rear or E.C. O’Rear II.

The writer of this letter was a daughter of Susan O’Rear and James Marshall of Paris, Fauquier County, Virginia. Many of the events she recounts can be checked against other records and have been found to be accurate, except as to the birth date of her great grandfather, John O’Rear (No. 3), of Prince William County, Virginia which we have since proved to be 1713 instead of 1704 as related in her letter. He was therefore only 91 years of age when he died in 1804 instead of 100. This letter recounts the earliest tradition of the family extant and is most interesting in that it states that John O’Rear’s (No. 1) parents came to this country. If true, they did not survive long into the 18th century as they do not appear in the early records of Stafford County. Note also the tradition of Huguenot origin -- a very persistent though not exclusive tradition that has come down in all branches of the family. These family matters although recorded some two hundred years after the events took place, are entitled to considerable credence inasmuch as Mrs. Marshall’s mother got them from No. 2 John O’Rear, who must certainly have known about his parents and probably his grandparents from personal knowledge. The French traditions may have originated through intermarriage of the family with descendants of Huguenots who settled in Stafford County with the O’Rears in the early 1700’s. The best circumstantial evidence is that the O’Rear were of Irish origin.

       Liberty Hill
       January 8th, 1901

Dear Francis:

I received your letter some time ago wanting to know about your ancestors. I will try and give you all I know about them your great grandfather and mother Orears name was Benjamin and Mary, they came from Prince William when mother was a small girl. She was left down there with her grandfather and Aunt Betsy to go to school. Her grandmother was dead, I rekon. I never heard her say much about her. I don’t remember ever hearing her given name. She was a Miss Reno, old grandfather lived to be a hundred years old. He was blind, and before he died he wandered out and got lost in a deep gully either fell in or wandered in there, he was gone all night and nearly two days before he was found, he only lived a day or so after found. His father came from France here, mother said the original name was spelt without the last r, Orea. His name was John, he had five sons and three daughters, Mollie, Peggy, and Betsy. Now the sons names Jerry, Daniel, Benjamin, Jesse, and Enoch. I think I can tell you who they all married. Jerry and Benjamin married Sisters Miss Catletts, Daniel Miss Luckett, Jess Miss Holton, and Enoch his cousin Miss Reno. The daughter Mollie married Camberlin for her first husband , she had three daughters and her second husbands name was Blackaby he taught school in Prince William, Mother got her first education with him they went to Kentucky and their daughters married out there. Peggy married Mr. Jamieson and went to Culpepper to live she had children but how many I don’t know I expect some of their children are living there yet Betsy never married.

Your great grandmother Orear was a Miss Catlett you know her fathers name was Robert and his wife was a Miss Floyd. They had a large family of children, her name was Mollie her mother was patching and old pocket every piece of gold she would get she would cover with a patch some one asked her what she was doing that for she said that she was all she had to leave poor Mollie, it was before the entails were broken the laws were then, the oldest son inherited all the property at his fathers death he got the property after the revolutionary war, I don’t know how long after, he started to Kentucky with thirty negroes, in the fall there came a cold Snow Storm very deep about the time he got to the mountains and half of them perished, froze to death, I suppose. Mollie never got the pocket, Mother used to say.

I forgot to tell your great great great grandfather Orea was born on the ocean his parents were fleeing from persecution of saints in Europe. . .