From original research of Dodie E. Browning
Copyright 1997- 1998 all rights reserved
Ralph A. Steele was the first permanent Steele settler of Logan County, West Virginia. Nearly all of the Steeles who have ever lived in Logan County descend from Ralph Steele and his wife Levicy (Ferrell.)
Ralph was born in what is present day Tazewell County Virginia on 11 September 1801, The son of George and Rosannah (Fannin) Steele. He married in Pike County Kentucky on 29 June 1823 to Levisa "Vicy" Ferrell, the daughter of John and Nancy (Jackson) Ferrell. Their first son, Hawkins Ferrell Steele was born 29 July 1821, almost two years before they were legally married. In today's world this is very common but in the 1800s, it was against the law, as documented in Russell County Virginia Court records .The Russell county records reveal that Levicy Ferrell was charged in open court with "Fornication." How she must have suffered from the humiliation of having to defend herself in court for being in love! Perhaps that is why they chose to be married in Kentucky rather than in Virginia.
Ralph A. and Levicy bought land on the border of Russell and Tazewell Counties in Virginia, near Ralph's parents. That is where they made their home for over twenty years and where most of their children were born in Tazewell County. They were the parents of thirteen children, ten of whom survived to adulthood and produced large families.
Ralph and Vicy came to Logan County circa 1840, where they settled on Island Creek. Ralph was a land speculator and had numerous business partners over the years. There are numerous deed records which can be found in the Logan County Court House. His Land Tax records can be found in the Virginia State Archives in Richmond, VA.
They lived out the rest of their lives at the homeplace on Island Creek. They lived to be well into their eighties and both are buried at Steele Hollow on Island Creek. Ralph wrote his will on 9 January 1885 and it was entered into Logan County Probate records on 6 July 1886. Therefore Ralph probably died in June of 1886 when he would have been close to eighty five years old.
The family Bible of Ralph's parents is in the possession of this writer. The Bible entries for Ralph's children are in Ralph's hand writing. This conclusion was reached comparing the signature of Ralph from other family documents.
The order of births of his children:
1. Hawkins Ferrell Steele- Click for "Hawk's" Story b. 29 July, 1821
2. John Steele - Click for John's story- b 2 March 1825
3. George D. Steele b. 3 Feb. 1827, m(1) Sarah "Sally" Ellis; m(2) Edith Jane Meadows
4. Nancy J. Steele b. 1828 d. 24 Aug. 1830
5. Charles Steele b. 8 August, 1829 (died as an infant)
6. Samuel Steele b.8 July, 1830 (Samuel E?), m. Polly Johnson 10 Nov. 1853, Russell County VA.
The above was the end of the Bible records for Ralph's children. The Bible only shows birth dates. Other information was found in public records. Based on census records, death records and other public records, the following are relatively accurate dates:
7. Lewis S. circa December 1832-1833- m. 3 September 1854 Charlotte Smith.
8. Ruth A. circa 1836 (Ruth L? records show both middle initials) m Thomas Harmon Duty, 30 Oct.1856
9. Rebecca M. circa 1837 -m. 1 October 1857, Lewis D. Hinchman
10. William A. circa 1839, m. Katherine "Kate" Spratt
11. Lorenzo Dow - circa 1840, m. Angeline Johnson in Russell County VA
12. Levisa Catherine - 12 Oct. 1841 d. 5 Dec. 1923, Huntington, WV- m. Benjamin Harrison Justice
13. Reason Ratcliff Steele - b. 1845, d. 1856 of Epilepsy.
"Logan County W Va. January 9th 1885"
"The Last - Will and testament of Ralph A. Steel of all his known propperty [sic] and Real Estate and of his Real Estate To the following Beloved Heirs to Have and To hold for Ever as theirs at My Deceas [sic] then the Said Heirs to Dispose of at ther [sic] Pleasure To Wit
First - To my Beloved Son John Deceast [sic] To his Heirs I will one Dollar To Be paid out of my affects at my Death
Second - To my Beloved son george [sic] I Will one dollar out of my affects at my affects at my Death
Third - To my Beloved Daughter Ruth L. Deceast [sic] I will one dollar To Be paid out of my effects at my Death
Fourth - to my Be loved son Lewis I Will one dollar To Be paid at my Death
Fifth - To my Be loved Son Samuel I will one dollar To Be Paid at my Death
Sixth - To my Beloved Son William I Will one dollar To Be Paid at my Death out of my affects
Seventh - To my Beloved son L D Steel I Will one dollar To Be Paid at My Death out of my affects at my Death [typed just as it was written]
Eighth - To my Beloved Daughter Catherine I Will one dollar To Be Paid at my Death as others
Ninth - To the Heirs of my Beloved Daughter Rebecca M Deceast - i [sic] Will one Dollar To Be Paid at my Death as others
To my Beloved Jane Dewly [sic - this is Duty] my Neace [sic-This was his grand daughter] I Will one of my cows at my Death if she marrys [sic] and settels [sic] herself
And - To Mary C Steel Daughter of LS I will one white cow to hav [sic] and to hold for Ever as Hers at my Death or sooner if setteled [sic] down the little stear is Ralph A. Steel reserved for my own Benefit [sic]
And - I Will to my Be loved son lewis [sic] Steel my Bay Horse I Re Serve [sic] Priv a lig [sic] of wriding [sic] same Horse When i [sic] Want to
And - To Jane Dewly [sic] and Mary C Steel My Be loved two neaces [sic - they were grand daughters, not nieces] Bav Written [sic????wonder if he was trying to write above written???] I Will my fether [sic] Bed and all its covers and pillows ekeraly [sic - believe this means equally] Be tween them to hav [sic] and to hold at my Death And - To Thomas Dewly [sic - this is Thomas Duty] former son in law and his son Leander Dewly my Beloved Nephew [grandson] I Will fifty seven acres of Land lying on Pigeon Creek Ef [sic] Dr James oKeeff [sic] fails to take said Land ef [sic] the said o Keeff [sic] takes the Land and pays for the Same the affects of Said land I Re Serve [sic] to Dis pose of at my own Pleasure
All Saw [sic - also] I Will to Thomas Dewly a bav Warmedunsan [sic? Writing is clear, but does not make sense - probably meant above written?] All my furniture To Wit
All Saw - Book case and Bew Raw [sic] To hav [sic] from this Date Jan th [sic] 9th 1885 and to hold for Ever
All Saw - I Will the BenEfit [sic] all tax es i [sic] hav [sic] paid and D Steels house and the part of the tract of Land claimed by Dow to collect and hav [sic] for his own for Ever
All Saw - I Will to my Beloved son Lewis Steel Aleveng [sic - eleven???] Dollar Debt Dew [sic] from LD Steel with its in ther Est [sic - interest] from Day of con tract To collect and hav [sic] and hold for Ever All Saw - I Will to Catherine Justice and BH Justice my daughter and son in law one Debt in cured [sic] by BH Justice to me for Ever Bon [sic - Bond?] served axen [sic - asking] to pay on his debt to Me The Law saw same - all saw [sic-also] Borrowed money $10.00 which amounts to $210.00 To Keep free from all the other Heirs free of collectain [sic - collection] from my turnaris [probably meant attorneys]
I Ralph A Steel Doeth [sic] chewse [sic] and ap point for my Ex E cator to this will of myne [sic] the said Revd AM Toler
I Ralph A. Steel asque [sic] the county court not to demand no Surety of the said AM Toler to this Will
Signed and Sealed - Ralph A Steel
Attest - John Vandike
Attest - Revd. AM Toler The Will was proven by the oaths of A.M. Toler and John VanDyke, witnesses and admitted into probate 6 July, 1886. John VanDyke was a cousin of Thomas A. Smith, the husband of Ann Eliza Steele, who was niece of Ralph A. Steele. Tom and Ann Eliza were the great grandparents of this writer. Betsy Steele, Ralph's neice (sister of Ann Eliza) was married to one John VanDyke.
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