50th Pottenger-Pottinger Reunion, Story by Ron Pottinger
(Slide Show / Regular View / 2 Columns / Thumbnails)
The John, Sam, Robert, and William Pottenger/Pottingers
as told by the host, Ron Pottinger, October 12, 2014

About 353 years in England, Robert & Sarah Pottenger (spelled with an “e”) gave birth to a son named John. In 1684, exactly 330 years ago, that son JOHN made a great decision that affected many in this country; go to America for land and freedom. On September 24 1684, John in his early 20's, immigrated aboard the ship "Maryland Merchant" of Bristol to go America. It took about 2 months travel time. He landed in Maryland under the agreement of indentured servitude. This was a voluntary labor system whereby young people paid for their free passage to the New World by working for an employer for a certain number of years. A register listed "John Pottenger of Sittingbourne, Kent to Francis Lawler, 4 years Maryland".

He did extremely well for himself; just two years later, John married Mary Beall and became a large landholder. He had 9 kids with Mary, and owned a large number of slaves for farming. He was a man of influence and raised a strict Presbyterian family. Of their 9 children, there were 5 girls & 4 boys (John Jr., Sam, Robert, & William). All of his kids married and gave him many grandkids, but times were extremely tough. Disease (no modern medicine) led to most of John’s kids and their spouses not living past 50 years old. John lost Mary in her early 60’s and married 2 more times until his death at 74 years old. John’s 2nd oldest boy was the first “Samuel Pottenger”.

The first Samuel (1693-1742) did not get to be 50 years old, but Sam was busy. Sam and his wife had 8 children; 5 girls & 3 boys (Sam Jr, John & Robert); of those 3 boys, Sam Jr & Robert started the “go west young man and get some land”. We don’t know much about John other than he was married a couple of times. (No known kids). Sam Jr became to be known as “Old Sam” since he lived to be 102 years old, traveled from MD to PA, down the Ohio River to KY and back up to Ohio to start the Ohio branch of Pottengers. They all kept the “e” in Pottenger. All his kinfolk soon owned a large amount of land west of present day Dayton in beginning of 1800’s. Old Sam had 8 kids, 6 girls and only 2 boys (Sam (III) &…believe it or not Thomas).

Old Sam’s brother Robert, his wife, and kids, moved from MD to VA in the 1770’s, to lease orchards to make cider. They had 11 children, 6 girls and 5 boys (Sam, Robert Jr, William, John &…Dennis). Robert’s Wife died shortly after her 11th childbirth in 1777 at age 46 and Robert died the next year leaving 11 orphans behind. Robert’s oldest boy, who most of us know as Capt. Samuel Pottinger, was 24 years old at the time. He was a soldier of the American Revolution and Kentucky Militia. He explored and founded the area to known as “Pottenger’s Landing or Pottenger’s Creek” (named after him), built a fort, and a beautiful brick mansion known as “Walnut Hill”. He went back to VA to retrieve all his brothers and sisters, and started the KY branch of Pottingers. There were no roads, just the “wilderness trail” and travel was limited to horseback at less than 5 miles a day sometimes.

Only Capt. Sam & his brother William (and their families) remained here in KY. All the other brothers and sisters went on to Ohio to meet up with their Uncle “Old Sam”. Capt. Sam’s family remained in Nelson County and William’s in Washington County. (Springfield, KY). Capt. Sam had been to Ohio earlier fighting Indians and maybe did want go back or did not want to leave his new brick home, we just don’t know? William has the credit with starting the “I” instead of “E” in 1765 when it showed up on a land grant. Was it a mistake or intentional?
Capt. Sam was married & widowed twice, took in some adopted kids from both marriages and had 3 girls and 3 boys of his own (Sam Jr, John and Robert). Robert died young before Capt. Sam’s death, at age 19 with pneumonia, Sam Jr died a year after his dad at 47, and John, a bachelor, died 2 years after his dad at 44 when the cholera epidemic broke out in KY in 1833 and killed so many. All of Capt. Sam’s 3 boys used “e” on tombstones but all the future generations used “I” sometime before the Civil War (1860’s).

Sam Jr. had a dozen kids, 4 girls and 8 boys (John, William, Robert, George Washington, James Allen, Thomas Jefferson, Hardin Logan, & Mariman Greenup). Is someone missing? There is not a Sam the III. Sam Jr and Lucinda did not have any children for the first 3 years of their marriage, so it could be possible there was an infant death of Sam III but no known records indicate this.

There have been at least 63 “John” Pottenger/Pottinger families over the last 300 years, 39 “Samuel”, 30 “Robert”, 60 “William” and the most common spouse’s name seems to be “Mary” with records showing at least 70 or more.
Ruth Ann Pottinger-Amato says...
"Thanks so much, Ron, for this narrative of our progenetor, John Pottinger. I've known bits and pieces but you strung it together beautifully. For the record, my brother is John Pottinger, my son is Evan (Welsh for John) and my youngest Taylor Samuel, and my uncle (now deceased) was Samuel Pottinger. I have a cousin who has a young son, another Samuel Pottinger...and I,Maureen there's more! " (3/18/15)