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William Robert Lesley

Born 9 FEB 1727 Auldearn, Nairn, Scotland. Died 1802 Lower Johns Creek, New Gulnere, Floyd, Kentucky, USA, known today as Pike County. He was the son of John Lessly and Isobel Urquhart.

He married Elizabeth Buchanan. Born 1735 Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Died 1786 Montgomery Co., Virginia. She was the daughter of Walter Buchanan and Mary Rowey.

Children of William Robert Lesley and Elizabeth Buchanan are:

1. Nancy Leslie McGuire. Born 1756 Augusta Co., Virginia. Died 14 AUG 1841 Logan Co., West Virginia.
2. Elizabeth Leslie. Born 1758 Augusta, Bluestone, Virginia, USA. Died 1837 .
3. John Leslie. Born 23 OCT 1760 Augusta, Bluestone, Virginia, USA. Died 7 MAY 1841 Lawrence, Kentucky, USA.
4. Robert Thomas Leslie. Born 25 OCT 1763 Augusta Co., Virginia. Died 1822 Pike County, Kentucky.

Siblings of William Robert Lesley

1. Alexander Lesley. Born 29 MAR 1721 .
2. Ann Lesley. Born 21 APR 1722 .
3. John Lesley. Born 18 OCT 1722 .
4. Catherine Lesley. Born 7 AUG 1734 .
5. Emilia Lesley. Born 28 AUG 1737 .


The Lesley Family



Belongs to the Celtic race. William Leslie came from Ireland to America before the American Revolution, and settled in the valley of Virginia . He was a patriot, and fought against the king. Robert, his son, came to Sandy with his family in 1798, settling at the mouth of Pond, where he made a crop. He, however, was driven off by the Indians before he had been there a year. He, with his family, returned again in 1800, this time settling on John's Creek, at a place now and from that time known as the Leslie Settlement.


Robert's son, Pharmer Leslie, was the first male child born on the waters of John's Creek. The event occured soon after the family came to the country. Pharmer became one of the prominent men of the Sandy Valley . He was a model farmer and grew rich at farming, stock-raising, and timbering. He was a man of high character. He was the father of seven sons. A granddaughter married Dr. Jackson, a noted physician of Pike County . The sons, like the father, were men of mark, noted for energy, honesty, and fair dealing. They married into leading families of the valley, and now the Leslie family is one of the largest as well as one of the most noted in the valley. Doctors and lawyers are representative of the house, as well as merchants and traders. One, a scion of the house, came to the front as a newspaper man several years since.

William Robert Lesley

Was the progenitor of the Leslie family of Eastern Kentucky . He and his brother John Leslie emigrated from Ireland to New York City . Here John and William became separated and never saw each other again. According to family tradition they had brought with them equipment for setting up a linen business. They soon got into trouble in New York in some type of street brawl, after which William went to a barber shop to be cleaned up. The barber as it turned out was a friend of William's opponent in the street brawl and slit William's throat. The wound was quite serious and he was close to death for quite some time. When he recovered his brother John was gone and they never met again. William Robert then migrated to Pennsylvania where he met Elizabeth Buchanan. Katherine Caroline Craft remembers Garrett Hobart Leslie speaking of these names when she was younger. Katherine was the wife of Carl Lawerence Leslie, whom was the son of Garrett. William and Elizabeth then migrated to Augusta County , Virginia where there four children were born. William Robert was a Revolutionary War Soldier.This Leslie family attempted to make a settlement at the mouth of Pond Creek on the Tug River , then Mason County , in 1789 but were driven out by the Indians. They returned in 1791 but instead of stopping at Pond Creek, they went on to John's Creek and founded what to this day is known as the Leslie Settlement. The Leslies must have been the earliest permantent settlers in the Big Sandy Valley Region.According to some authorities, William Leslie migrated to and settled in what is now Pike County , Kentucky in 1802. William died at the age of 73. Ely in "The Big Sandy Valley", p. 211, describes William Robert Leslie casket and burial as follows:"In early days when the plank in the upper Johns Creek country was sawed by hand, and used as fast as sawed, William Leslie died at seventy-three, and no plank could be procured to make a coffin to bury him in. Nor could a whipsaw be procured to saw enough. His relatives and friends were determined to give him a decent burial. They had a nice poplar tree cut down and chopped off a log of proper length, squared it up, and with an axe and adze, shaped it into a coffin, digging out a trough. They took clapboards and shaved them, with which they made a nice lid for the trough-like casket, and in this unique case the remains of William Robert Leslie of Johns Creek were consigned to mother earth."


On Wednesday, July 20, 1774, Major James Robertston wrote to Colonel Preston's Command at Culbertson's that "the following persons will march me on Thursday." William Lesley is 14th on the list. This was for service in Lord Dunmore's War.

1776 William was a member of the Revolutionary War of the Montgomery ’s County Militia .

One evening when he was left alone with the smaller children while his son and daughter-in-law and others were attending to barnyard chores, he was choked to death on a piece of venison which he had broiled at the open fire. He is buried on the shelf of the hill just back of the then site of their home. For 120 years the date was kept visible in the bark of a beech tree beside the grave - indeed some remnant of it is still visible. However, in 1922, several of his descendants erected a more enduring marker of cement and on it carved the following simple inscription:


Died 1802

The tombstone below will be replacing the one above. It was in 2003 these pictures was taken.

This marker is at the 14th hole located at the Mountain Pub Links Golf Course in Pike County, Kentucky. Williams tombstone is 100 feet up the hill from this spot.

The Leslie Cemetery
Located at The Leslie Settlement, Mountain Pub Golf Course
Lower Johns Creek, Pike County, Kentucky
Off of Route 194
26 Hurt Branch Rd
Pikeville, Kentucky 41501
Pike County

For more pictures of the Lesley's burials and cemetery's please visit Find a Grave, maintained by Pam Roach

William Robert and Descendants F.A.G



This early permanent settlement in the Big Sandy Valley was named for Revolutionary War veteran William Robert Leslie (1729-1802). Leslie moved to this site at John's Creek circa 1790. His son Robert joined him shortly before his father's death. William and Robert are buried in separate plots on original settlement site. Presented by Leslie/Lesley Family Association.

This settlement marker is located at the opening of the Mountain Pub Golf Course


Daniel Boone traded this powder horn and leather pouch to William Robert Leslie in about 1790. It has passed from father to son ever since: from William Robert Leslie to Robert Leslie to James Harvey Leslie to John Buchanan Leslie to Shirley Hugh Leslie (Shirley was a male, the father of Gene B. Leslie.) and finally to Gene Bennet Leslie.

The Horn is covered with carvings, Boone’s initials, deer, snakes, daisies, geometric figures and many other things. There is a knife scabbard on the back of the pouch.

For more information go to the Daniel Boone website


The Leslies were Democrats in politics, but were not office-seekers. In religion they are mostly Southern Methodists.


Read the complete History on William and his descendants taken from Ruths book here

Leslie~Lesley by Ruth Cleaveland Leslie



Following Williams steps thru the years


1755 William Departed Dublin, Ireland enroute to America with his Brother John. Possibly a Wooden vessel as there were no other kind at this time. They arrived in New York about 1755.


It is said that Williams Father John Lessley had a Tavern in Ireland and was possibly banished from Scotland as a “free thinker” at the beginning of the 18 th century or early 1700’s.


1755 soon after his arrival in New York he went to Philadelphia , Pennsylvania .


1756 William and Elizabeth met with scotch-Irish settlers and went to Augusta , Virginia

1774 services in Lord Dunmore’s War, Michael Wood wrote to Colonel William Preston that “in that Bounds from Rich Creek Mountain to where the county line strikes the river there are thirty men.” He listed them and William Lesley was 29 th on the list.


1774 Wednesday July 20 th services in Lord Dunmore’s War, Major James Robertson wrote to Colonel Preston’s command at Cumbertsons that “the following persons will march with me on Thursday, “William Lesley was 14 th on that list.”

1775 he agreed to “March” with Major Robertson in defence of the frontier.


1775 April William made his first entry for lands on the Bluestone, Virginia . This survey was for 63 acres.


1776 William was a member of the Revolutionary War of the Montgomery ’s County Militia .


1783 William had a survey for 400 acres on the bluestone, Virginia .

1785 William is on the Tax list for Montgomery County , Virginia .


1794 William had 2 more surveys made for 212 acres and 291 acres, in the Bluestone, Virginia .

*All of Williams lands lay “at the end of the little Valley” and included lands on both sides of Bluestone Creek, spreading out over the “big bottom” and to the mountain across the wide bottom lands “low lying meadow lands”.


1802 William left the Bluestone with his son Robert and family and settled in Johns Creek , now Pike County , Kentucky .

Main Sources:

Title: “The Big Sandy Valley A History of the People and Country From The Earliest Settlement to the Present Time”

Author: William Ely

Publication: Originally Published, Catlettsburg , Kentucky 1887

Media: Book

Text: Information on Lesley family

(Wiilliam Robert, Robert and Pharmer) of Floyd/Pike Co., KY

Title: “Lesley--Leslie, a history of two hundred years in America , 1755-1955 :

William Robert Lesley and Elizabeth Buchanan Lesley and their descendants”

Author: Leslie, Ruth Cleveland

Publication: 1955

Media: Book

Text: Information on William Robert Leslie and Elizabeth Buchanan, stating births, deaths, marriages. A genealogy book.

Title: “Pioneer Families of Eastern and Southeastern Kentucky And Their Descendants”

Author: William C. Kozee

Publication: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, 1979.

Media: Book