The Slavens family in America is of Irish-Scotch descent. The name of the first of our ancestors in America, of whom we have a record, was John Slavin who was born in Tyrone County, Ireland, in the year 1726.
He was a weaver by trade, in Ireland. He came to America when he was seventeen years old and first located in the state of Pennsylvania, but later removed to what is now Highland County, Virginia, and settled about six miles from Monterey and engaged in farming. His was one of the first three families to locate in that section of the state.
From the best information I have in relation to the origin of the Slavens name it originated from the Irish word Sliabh, meaning "mountain". The earliest form of the spelling of our name was Sliabhan, and some of their sons assume the name O'Sliabhan. The first step toward the anglicization of the name Sleiven or Sleven, appears in the name of certain mountains in Ireland to wit; Sleivenamuck, Sleivenance and Sleivenaght, the latter meaning "snow-mountain". Our pioneer ancestor, John, spelled his name Slavin and some of his children changed it to Slaven. Certain of them, Isaiah being of the number, added "S" making the name Slavens. Some of the descendants now living in Virginia and West Virginia of the fifth and sixth generations have changed the spelling of the name back to Slavin, while members of the same family spell it Slaven.
Our first ancestor John Slavin was married to Elizabeth Stuart in the year 1748. She was a native of Scotland but came to America from England under the Indenture System which I understand to mean that some young women were given passage on ships from Europe to America, with the understanding that whoever should marry one of them should, before such marriage, pay the amount of the passage fee of the young woman to the owner of the ship on which she was a passenger. Hence our ancestor John had to virtually pay for his wife before he could marry her.
John and Elizabeth Stuart Slavin were the parents of ten children of whom their son Isaiah was born in Rockingham County,Virginia; June 12th, 1762. Evidently John Slavin had moved from Highland County to Rockingham County, Virginia some time prior to the last named date. Isaiah Slavens, who was my great-grandfather was a surveyor, farmer and horse trader. He was a Continental soldier in the Revolutionary War from October 1780 to June 1782 and was at the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown. He was also a Federal soldier in the War of 1812. After these wars he drew a pension for disability, from the United States government and his pension papers were drawn in the name of Isaiah Slavens. He was married January 2nd, 1786 to Patsy Stuart, a cousin.
It is said that he brought his wife horseback from Baltimore, Maryland, where he made frequent trips to sell or trade horses. From this it would appear that Patsy Stuart was probably a resident of Baltimore at the time of their marriage. There is no record of the date of the death of Patsy Stuart Slavens, but Isaiah was married, date not given, to Mrs. Leaton. To these marriages were born 17 children of which, of the first marriage the second son, my grandfather; William Stuart was born September 15, 1789. At some time between the date of their marriage and the last named date, Isaiah and Patsy Stuart Slavens removed from Rockingham County to Greenbriar County, Virginia, now West Virginia, where William Stuart was born on the date before stated. Later, Isaiah Slavens and family removed from Greenbriar County, Virginia to Montgomery County, Kentucky, locating near Mount Sterling where he lived until the year 1827 when he removed to Indiana and located on a farm in Putnam County about five miles from Greencastle, near Brick Chapel, a Methodist Church, where he died in 1848 and was buried there.
My grandfather, William Stuart Slavens was married five times. He first married Ann Hendricks (born Sept. 5, 1789) July 26, 1808. They had three children. The oldest child James Hervey, my father, was born July 30, 1809 in Montgomery County, Kentucky. Father had two sisters. Aunt Sarah, who was born August 20, 1811 and died September 11, 1818; and Aunt Isabelle who was born March 19, 1814. She was married, date unknown, to William Sanders. I know nothing of her subsequent history or the date of her death.
Grandmother Ann Hendricks Slavens died November 11, 1815 and Grandfather married Mary Riggs November 28, 1816, who lived but a few months after their marriage, and on August 25, 1818 he was married to Elizabeth Ellsbury. They were the parents of ten children, two sons and eight daughters. There is no record of the date of the death of his third wife, but there is an entry of his marriages to Mrs. Thomas and to Mrs. Myers, both widows, his fourth and fifth wives respectively. The dates of marriage are not given.
When Father's mother died November 9, 1815 he was only a few months over six years old, and at the time of Grandfather Slavens second marriage he was a little over seven. His first stepmother only lived a short time, probably less than a year after her marriage,and I never heard Father speak of her. At the time Grandfather married Elizabeth Ellsbury his third wife, Father was 9 years old, and she lived for many years and raised a large family. I have heard Father say she was a good woman, and I am sure he thought a great deal of her and that she treated him well. His oldest sister, Sarah, died September 11, 1818, about two weeks after their father's third marriage when she was seven years old. Father's mother, Ann Hendricks Slavens, was related to the Hendricks family of Indiana, the most prominent member of which Thomas A. Hendricks, became Vice President of the United States. I have heard Father and Mr. H. D. Matthews, a lawyer of Buffalo, Missouri and a relative of Thomas A. Hendricks, converse in regard to their relationship to the Vice President, who I think was a second cousin of my grandmother Slavens.
I think it was in 1821 or 1822 that Grandfather Slavens and family removed from Kentucky to Missouri. I know that Father always regretted having to leave their home near Mount Sterling in Montgomery County, Kentucky not only on account of separating from his grandparents and other relatives but also, he and his sister Isabelle would be deprived of the good school privileges they had enjoyed since they were old enough to attend school. Father at that time was 12 or 13 years old and most of the education he obtained in school was in Kentucky. Grandfather's object in emigrating to Missouri was in order to obtain a home as he could purchase land in Missouri much cheaper than in Kentucky. I do not know whether he had acquired a home in Kentucky, but probably he had not as land was comparatively high in price. I think this too was the reason Great Grandfather Isaiah Slavens removed from Kentucky to Indiana in 1824.
Grandfather on his removal to Missouri settled in the north part of Montgomery County in that state, where later, the settlement in which he located became the village of Middletown. That was a newly settled section of Missouri at that time and very little of the country was in cultivation. I do not know whether there was any improvement on the land Grandfather bought or not, but I am sure he made most, if not all of the improvement, after he purchased it.