JUDGE ARCHIBALD BORDERS
Archibald, son of John Borders, was born in Giles County, Virginia, in 1798, and came, with his father's family, to the Sandy Valley in 1802. His father intended going on to the Scioto country, but falling sick, stopped near the mouth of Tom's Creek, in what is now Johnson County, where he died, leaving a widow and eight children---four sons and four daughters. The oldest son settled on George's Creek, where he died in 1882, at the age of eighty-two. John, the second son, also settled on George's Creek. He died in 1879 or '80. He was a highly respected Baptist preacher. He, too, lived to a great age. Hezekiah settled on the Sandy River at what is known, and has been for sixty years, as Borders Chapel. He and his wife were great Methodists, and no Methodist preacher ever passed by the chapel during their lives who did not call to see these pious people. They passed to their reward years ago; but a son of theirs, the now aged Joseph Borders-the father of Joe H. Borders, once a journalist of the Sandy Valley, but now a banker in Kansas-owns and lives at the old homestead, to represent his honored ancestors. The chapel has been rebuilt, and is the best-looking log church in the valley. Polly, the oldest daughter, married Isom Daniels. They settled on the farm two miles below Tom's Creek, now the home of Peter Daniels, one of their sons. She died during the Civil War. The father and mother left a large number of sons and daughters, who have come to honor. More than one of the sons is a Baptist minister. Betty married Joseph Davis. They settled on the banks of the Sandy, at a place well known as Davis Bend. This branch of the family also rose to honor. The wife of Rev. Z. Meek, D. D., is a daughter of this honored pair. John Davis, formerly a leading business man of Paintsville, was their son. William Davis, the large land-owner in Lawrence and Johnson Counties, is another son. Daniel, the wealthy business man and prominent Republican politician of Johnson County, is a grandson. Jemima married Felty Van Hoose. Katie, the youngest, married John Brown, who became a wealthy farmer and a noted old-time hotel-keeper On George's Creek. She is the only one still alive of all the John Borders family, and, although over eighty, is a well-preserved old lady. Her husband died in 1875.
It will be seen that the entire household of the first Borders who came to Sandy have occupied the highest positions known to ordinary life; and without detracting from them any meed of praise, it is true to say that the brother who was the youngest outranked them all, if not in moral worth, in great business plans.
When a little past twenty-one, married Jane Preston, a daughter of Moses Preston the first, and a sister of "Coby" Preston. They settled near Whitehouse Shoals, and lived there until two of their children were born, when they moved down to the farm which he possessed when he died. He opened up a large and productive farm, ran a large store, a tannery, shoe-factory, and saddlery. Those branches of trade and industries, it would seem, were enough to occupy the full time of any one man; but he also was one of the largest tan-bark and timber traders then on the Sandy. Nor did he fail in either. In 1860 he built the steamer Sandy Valley, a boat equal to any of the Sandy steamers of to-day. He was not only a man of great industry and business capacity, but was a gentleman of the most refined tastes. He established a large park on his plantation, stocked with a herd of native deer of the mountains, which not only supplied his table with venison, but the gambols of the beautiful creatures added pleasure to himself, his family, and others. He continued to attend to business up to within a year or so of his death, which occurred November 12, 1886.
He accumulated a vast amount of land and other property, leaving his children well off. During his busy life he was a friend of Churches and schools, and much to support them, yet never made a public profession of Christianity until within a month of his death. His conversion was miraculous. He prayed the Father to send him the witness of his Spirit, and make it so plain that he could have no doubt, as he was too weak to prove his conversion by an examination of the Word of God. He was satisfied, and then asked the great Jehovah to reveal to him how he should receive the ordinance of baptism, whether by immersion or sprinkling. He was told to be sprinkled. He immediately sent for his kinsman, Rev. Z. Meek, D. D., who baptized him and admitted him into the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.
Archibald Borders was more than an ordinary man, or he could not have borne so many burdens, and live up to the age of eighty-eight years. He was foreman of the grand jury that indicted one Walker, who forfeited his life on the gallows at Louisa for murder. He filled the office of justice of the peace in Lawrence County from 1834 to 1850, when it expired by the death of the old Constitution. The same year he was elected the first county judge of Lawrence, and was re-elected in 1854, serving for eight years. During the great Civil War, the Borders family were Union people, but always conservative. Since the war the judge and his son David, a wealthy citizen of Lawrence, have voted oftener for men and measures than at the suggestions of party managers.
Judge Borders and his wife, Jane Preston, had five children-four sons and one daughter. Of the sons, John and Arthur have long been dead. David, to whom we have already referred, is a widower, living on a farm near his father's old home, and takes the world easy. Allen P. has one of the finest brick residences on the Sandy River. His wife is a daughter of the late Lewis Mayo, so well remembered for his noble traits of character. Julia, the only daughter, is the wife of J. W. Dillon, a leading man in the business circles of Catlettsburg. After the death of her father, Mrs. Dillon had her invalid mother brought down to her home, where she might better attend to her many wants until the candle of her life, which for twenty years has been flickering down low in the socket, became extinguished.
Among the most prominent contemporaries of Judge Borders in Lawrence, not yet named, the author may mention John D. Ross, Major Bolt, Neri Sweatnam, Walter Osburn, and Greenville Goble, the father of M. B. Goble, of Catlettsburg. All these, save Mr. Sweatnam, were called upon to fill official stations, and Mr. Sweatnam was as useful in private as he could have been in a public station.
Walter Osburn and John D. Ross are all that linger on the shore of time. These were, and are, honorable names.
The following is an Excerpt from Appalachia Crossroads, by Clayton R. Cox. Pages 513-514.
Archibald Borders, son of John and Catherine [Sellards] Borders, and grandson of Hezekiah Sellards, was born May 20, 1798, Giles County, Virginia, died Nov 12, 1886, in Lawrence Co., Kentucky. He is buried in a small enclosed cemetery atop the hill down river from where his large log home once stood on the old river road above the present Belle Chapel. His gravestone is a spire type or Washington monument style resting upon a square pedestal and approximately ten feet in height.
On Dec. 14, 1820, he married Jane [Jency] Preston, born about 1799 in Virginia, daughter of Moses and Fanny [Arthur] Preston.
Though the youngest son in the family he became the wealthiest and best known of the eight children. Lawrence County Court reflects numerous land transactions and leases of property up to 3000 acres per parcel. His usual signature was simply "A Borders".
Archibald served as a magistrate in the Lawrence Co area, when it was a part of Floyd Co. When Lawrence Co. came into being in 1822, he continued this position until the 1st County Judge was elected in 1851. He ran for this office winning the election and served as the county judge until 1858.
At first he and Jane settled at White Goose Shoals. Shortly after their first two children were born they moved to the large farm situated on River Road, between Borders Chapel and Belle Chapel.
Upon a visit to the old home place of Archibald, McDonald Akers, then owner of 645 acres of the farm walked over the farm with his son-in-law, E. B. Lycan, and me. Mack pointed out where the old residence stood and looking across the Levisa Fork, one could see through the fall foliage the entrance to the Old Peach Orchard mine. As you walk over the farm you find evidence still exists of Archibald's many and varied activities.
Just beyond the field where their residence stood, are two small hollows. The right one just below the cemetery, is referred to as the tan bark hollow. Sink holes or depressions still exists where once ground pits were located for leather tanning operations. On the front slope of the ridge separating the two hollows, and directly behind the old residence location the remains of a flat shelf which had been excavated for his combination saddlery and shoe shop.
In addition to these activities, Archibald engaged in timber and tan bark sales. About 1860 he built the "Sandy Valley", a steamboat most popular on the Sandy prior to the Civil War, and one that played an important part in the development of the community of Peach Orchard. When Col. Garfield came into the area to head the Union Forces, he commandeered the "Sandy Valley", while the river was at flood stage, forcing the crew to take the craft from its docking, turn it in the heavy current and move up the river as a supply ship for his troops.
Up river from Archibald's home, and just around the bend on the River Road, is the large brick dwelling, on which Archibald used slave labor in construction of a home for his son, David. Bricks for the residence were fired in the area between the residence site and the Levisa Fork. This was the residence occupied at the time of our visit by Mr. McDonald Akers and his family.
One of the surprising things is that Judge Archibald died intestate. In Lawrence County Deed Book, 45, page 61, is recorded a Commissioners Deed, at the direction of the May 1891 term of court, to settle a portion of his estate. This deed carries 43 signatures of the next of kin.
Per a letter from Clayton Cox, author of Appalachia Crossroads, Archibald's steamboat was commandeered during the Civil War and was used as a supply ship.
The following are excerpts from "Lawrence County, A Pictorial History" by George Wolfford, 1972:
Borders, whose position of respect was mirrored in a political career, first developed the Peach Orchard territory and lived so well as to emulate European barony, with a private park around his home and deer running wild within the grounds. He sold to William Mellen, who touted the value of coal there and got investments from Cincinnati. Pg. 13.
From an article on Coal: For Lawrence, organized mining began in earnest in 1847 when George Carlisle, R. B. Bowler, and other Cincinnati capitalists formed "Peach Orchard Coal Company" and bought 2,000 acres of land from Archibald Borders. The tract was on the east side of Levisa fork 15 south of Louisa, near the Martin County line. It was property which would rise and fall with innovations in mining. Pg. 35.
He was active in the development of the original Peach Orchard coal property. Pg. 159.
The following are some newspaper clippings:
Nov. 29, 1883 Issue, Ashland Independent, Boyd County (Catlettsburg): John W. Dillon and family are on a visit to his father-in-law, Judge Borders, at Peach Orchard. Mr. Borders is dangerously ill. Source: Bygone Bylines, Jackson and Meek, Eastern Kentucky Genealogical Society, 1996, pg 159.
Nov 4, 1886 Issue Big Sandy News : Mrs. W. D. Roffe and Miss Neva Stewart accompanied Judge Stewart to Peach Orchard Tuesday. Judge Borders, Mrs. Roffe's grandfather is critically ill. Source: Big Sandy News Abstracted by Cora Meek Newman, Eastern Kentucky Genealogical Society, 2000, pg 20.
Nov. 18, 1886 Issue, Big Sandy News: Archibald Borders, one of the most reputable, wealthy and best known business men of Sandy Valley died at his home near Richardson a few days ago at age 89 years old. Source: Big Sandy News Abstracted by Cora Meek Newman, Eastern Kentucky Genealogical Society, 2000, pg 20.
The following are a few comments made by descendants of Archibald:
Don C. Childers speaking regarding his grandfather and Archibald says: Grandpaw Forest Childers remembered him. Archibald died when Forest was 11 years old. He showed Forest a safe with lots of money, telling him "after my death you will have your share" but after his death, the safe was empty.
Joyce Childers Stepp recalls her grandmother Mary Borders Childers relating a tale as follows: When Mary was just a child and playing on her grandfather Archibald's farm, she and one of the little black girls from Archibald's staff, dug up a pot of gold money on his property. Joyce also remembers comments from older family members saying that Archibald was strict but good. When he left the farm for business, he would tell his help that they could take what they needed but no more.
In David P. Borders' family Bible, David lists his father's death as occuring: Died November 12th 1886 at half past four in the morning aged 88 yrs - 5m - 22 days.
1850 Lawrence Co., Ky Slave Census. Archibald is listed as owning 4 slaves.
NOTICE: All documents and electronic images placed on the Kentucky Lawrence County Genealogical and Historical Society, Inc.GenWeb site remain the property of the contributors, who retain publication rights in accordance with US Copyright Laws and Regulations. These documents may be used by anyone for their personal research. Persons or organizations desiring to use this material, must obtain the written consent of the contributor, or their legal representative, and contact the listed Kentucky Lawrence County Genealogic and Historical Society, Inc.GenWeb coordinator with proof of this consent.