Blackwell Family, A Vintage Vignette
A Vintage Vignette by John P. Rankin
March 2, 2010
When Ann Blackwell married Colonel Martin Pickett in 1764, their union added to a number of intermarriages of the Blackwells with the Picketts. Both the Pickett and the Blackwell families intermarried several times with the Steptoe, Collier, Eusatce, Crump, Keith, Randolph, Withers, Chilton, Stanton, Tyler, Conway, Lee, Parker, Beale, and other prominent colonial Virginia families. Their linkages included several Presidents of the United States and Governors of Virginia and Alabama. The local Blackwell families lived along and on both sides of the Tennessee River in the area between Mooresville and Triana. They were known for having highly educated family members and for giving elaborate parties in their large homes of the early 1800s here.
The Blackwell family of our area has documented roots back to Joseph Blackwell, born in England and an immigrant to Northumberland County, Virginia around 1636. His son Samuel was born in 1680. Samuel married Margery Downing in 1710 as her second husband. Their five children included another Samuel Blackwell, who married Elizabeth Steptoe, a daughter of John Steptoe. Colonel William Blackwell was another son of the senior Samuel and Margery. He married Elizabeth Crump in 1734. The third child of Samuel and Margery was Colonel Joseph Blackwell. He was born in 1715 and in 1740 married Lucy Steptoe, another daughter of John and Elizabeth Steptoe. Lucy was born in 1720 and died sometime after 1787.
Joseph and Lucy Steptoe Blackwell were the progenitors of the Blackwells that came to this area from Virginia. They had nine children. Their first was Elizabeth, born in 1742. She married Colonel Charles Chilton, son of Thomas and Jemima Cooke Chilton. The second child of Joseph and Lucy Blackwell was Captain Samuel Blackwell, husband of Elizabeth Tyler. The third child of Joseph and Lucy Steptoe Blackwell was Ann Blackwell, who married Colonel Martin Pickett. The fourth child of Joseph and Lucy Steptoe Blackwell was another Lucy, who married William Stanton, son of Thomas Stanton and Dianna Field. The fifth child was Letitia Blackwell, who in 1765 married Captain John Chilton, another son of Thomas Chilton and Jemima Cooke. The sixth child of Joseph and Lucy was Major Joseph Blackwell, who married Ann Eustace, daughter of Isaac Eustace and Agatha Conway. The seventh child was George Steptoe Blackwell, born in 1753, about whom nothing more is known. The eighth child was General John Blackwell, born in 1755. He married three times. John’s first wife was Agatha Ann Eustace, another daughter of Isaac Eustace and Agatha Conway. John’s second wife was Judith Lee, a daughter of Kendall Lee. John’s third wife was Fanny Parker, a daughter of Richard Parker and Mary Beale. The last child of Joseph and Lucy Steptoe Blackwell was Judith. In 1775 she married Captain Thomas Randolph Keith, a son of Rev. James Keith and Mary Isham Randolph. While not all of these children of Joseph and Lucy Steptoe Blackwell moved to Alabama, many of their descendants did, and the intermarriage of these families was continued as they migrated and settled together in various parts of the country.
Martin and Ann Blackwell Pickett resided in Fauquier County, Virginia for all of their lives. They owned “Paradise Plantation” there, where Martin died in April 1804. He had been born on Christmas Day in 1736 in Virginia to William Pickett and Elizabeth Cooke. Martin was a Lieutenant in Captain William Edmond's Company of Virginia troops in 1761. He was a Lieutenant Colonel in the 3rd Virginia Regiment during the Revolutionary War and High Sheriff of Fauquier County in 1785. Through the name given to their ninth child, Steptoe Pickett, born in Virginia in 1790, Martin and Ann Blackwell Pickett honored Ann’s mother, the Lucy Steptoe who married Joseph Blackwell. Steptoe Pickett married Sarah Orrick Chilton on 10 Jan 1811 in Virginia. They moved to northern Alabama around 1820. Steptoe died on December 16, 1843, in Morgan County, Alabama, at age 53. Sarah was a daughter of Orrick Chilton and Felicia Corbin, as described in a previous Vintage Vignette. Now it is known how Steptoe Pickett got the unusual given name, through his Blackwell heritage, which not only commemorated his maternal grandmother’s maiden name but also honored her ancestors.