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The Plymale Family In America

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0-1-7 James Plymale

BORN:(1802)   DIED:(about 1875)   BURIED:(?)
Home States:( West Virginia / California / Arkansas / Kansas )

0-1-7 James Plymale was born In 1802 and died about 1875.  He married a lady whose first name was Mary.  1830 Census shows he had one daughter under five years of age.   When he was a young man, he moved to what is now Wayne County, West Virginia where he visited his brother, 0-1-3 John Plymale, and decided to settle down.  He purchased two tracts of land.  In 1825, he purchased 26 acres from Edmond McGennis, located on Twelvepole Creek near his brother John's plantation.  This transaction is recorded in the Cabell County Courthouse Book 4 Page 130.  Later he purchased 43 acres on the Guyan River, which was near his brother Gabriel’s home, from a man named Soloman Thornburg .  The records show that James and his wife Mary, sold these two tracts of land to Thomas Shelton for $500 cash on June 15, 1839.  For some reason Mary did not sign the deed then, but some three months later, on September 28, 1839 she did sign a quit claim deed.  It was witnessed by Allen McGennis and Benjamin Drown.  For the next eleven years there is no record of their whereabouts, but during the gold fever of 1848, he went to California and was one among the many who were successful in locating a paying claim.

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From here, there are two conflicting stories about his experiences.  I will tell them both as I have learned them, and will have to let the you decide the truth:

Story #1

by 0-1-13-12-1 Fred 0. Plymale from his "NOTES AND TREE OF THE PLYMALE FAMILY from 1730 to 1906".
Passed on to an Ada Plymale by 0-1-13-7-2 Naomi Plymale.

While a young man, 0-1-7 James Plymale moved to the mid-west, and then during the gold fever of 1849, went to California and was one of the many that hit a paying claim.   In 1849, he was returning home, accompanied by two companions, when they were attacked by robbers, resulting not only in the loss of all their gold, but the death of his two companions. His right arm was cut off during the fight and he lost consciousness and was left for dead by his assailants. He managed to survive and dress his wounds and continue his Journey back to Virginia. He did not stay there long however. He supposedly left on a raft down the Ohio River. We next hear of him being near Little Rock, Arkansas where he settled after he married a Spanish-Mexican lady, and became a slave holder and planter of repute.  0-1-13 Hugh Plymale is said to have visited James in the early 1850’s, from whom we learn this story of James’ later life.


Story #2

0-1-7 James sold all his land and moved west.  During the gold rush of 1849, he went to California.  He wrote to his brother 0-1-3 John stating that he had struck it rich, and wanted John to send one of his sons to California.

The rest of this story comes from a LIFE Magazine article (April 27, 1959) The following was taken from the diary of a gold prospector named "Alfred Doten" from Plymouth, Mass. who later moved to Nevada where he died in 1903.


Sunday-December 21, 1851:

In the evening when I was just commencing a letter, I was aroused by a sudden cry of, "To arms, to arms, get your rifles". I took my gun and joined party of some fifteen or twenty of my comrades, well armed, who were preceding up over a hill to the head of the gulch to the Mexican camp. The reason of this out cry and excitement was this: Mr. Jacomb Chinn and Alexandra McDonald came over from the ranch on horses and went up to the Mexican camp where Charles Everbeck, James Finn and Mr. Dixon, George Christman, James Plymale (Old Uncle James) and Alex McDonald asked them all up to a Mexican tent to drink. As they stepped up to the bar, some Mexicans were standing there talking. Alex asked one of them, "Are you going to drink?", he answered, "No Sabe". Alex then said, "Well, if you are not going to drink, we are, so just stand back." But as the Mexican did not move, Alex took him by the shoulder and pushed him to one side not roughly at all, but merely made him stand aside. Where upon, the Mexican and another who stood by his side started out of the tent, and in a moment, they returned armed with pistols and swords, and one of them attacked Chinn and the other one attacked Alex. Alex tried to fend off the sword with his hands, as he was entirely unarmed, and got an awful gash on his left arm, near the wrist. He said to Chinn, "Shoot him, Jake," as Chinn had a revolver, but Chinn was hot pressed by the other Mexican who backed him right through the side of the tent before he could get his pistol out. He then followed him up striking at him until Chinn fired at him and wounded him on the hip and he fell. At the same moment, another pistol fired and Alex fell just outside of the tent saying, "Oh God, I'm shot, I'm shot."

All this occupied a very short space of time when the lights were put out, and all was darkness. It seems that old Uncle Jimmie (Plymale) was just outside of the door, and just as Alex fell the Mexican came at him and because he was a white man, he commenced cutting at him. Uncle Jimmie held up his hands to fend off, and he got three fingers cut off of his left hand. He, then, received a cut on the left side of his head which felled him senseless.

We were not long getting up there where we found the whole camp deserted by the Mexicans except for two women and a few men. Dr. Brown got there and was examining Alex's wounds. He found he was shot in the middle of the back near the spine. Some of us went out and brought in Uncle Jimmie (Plymale). Myself, Dr. Brown and a few others stayed all night, armed, on guard over the wounded ones. The next day, Alex died.

They formed a posse the next day and caught the two Mexicans, called a jury, tried and convicted the two Mexicans and hung them both on the same rope to a pine tree, which they described as a double neck tie party.

End Of Story

Regardless of which story is correct, 0-1-7 James Plymale is thought to have eventually ended up in Kansas where he lived until his death in about 1875.  At present, we have no records of his descendants.


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Click above to see a scan of the actual article mentioned in story #2, and a picture of Alfred Doten.

Updated On May 04, 2004 12:53 AM