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The Pound and Kester Families of Vigo County

The following was written by William Ferguson KESTER, as quoted in "The Pound and Kester Family" book by John E. Hunt.

'"My grandfather [William KESTER] was married three times. His first wife's name I do not recollect. By her he had one son, whose name was Paul. His second wife was a widow FERGUSON, her maiden name being Elizabeth LACOCK. By her he had two sons, William and John, and two daughters, Elizabeth and Sarah. His third wife was a widow STILGAR, who had been married twice before, her first husband's name being POUND.

"Grandfather and family came from Virginia to Kentucky during the first settlement of the State. They came down the Ohio River on a flatboat and while floating on the river were fired on by Indians. Landing at the falls of the Ohio they were escorted by a company of men to Coxes Station, near Bardstown, in Nelson Co., where there was a fort. At this time the Indians made frequent incursions to that neighborhood, stealing horses and sometimes murdering the citizens. On one occasion a company of sixteen men was raised and started in the morning as soon as it was light enough to track the Indians through the wild pea vine and followed them all day and when it was so dark they could follow them no longer they encamped. Hearing a horse neigh in the distance they divided the company, surrounded the Indians, fired into them and killed two of them, but lost one of their own number, the captain of the company.

"Grandfather lived in Nelson County for years and then he and his sons bought a tract of land on Elk Creek, formerly in Shelby, now in Spencer Co. This land they bought of Mr. SHEPARD without surveying it and it was supposed to contain five hundred acres, but since measured six hundred acres. It cost one hundred dollars and a horse.

"Some time after moving to Elk Creek, Grandfather's second wife took ill and kept her bed for about seven years before she died. A while after her death the old gentleman married my Grandmother, my mother's mother. When they were married he was eighty and she seventy-five and each of them died at the age of eighty-seven.

"My father, JOHN KESTER, was born in Virginia March 23, 1770, and died September 14, 1839. He was married in Nelson County, Kentucky October 5, 1791, to Sarah POUND. They lived in Nelson County a few years, where they had two children, Daniel and Rebecca, and then moved to Elk Creek and settled in the woods. Father was called to go on an Indian campaign commanded by General WAYNE, and after the war he cleared a farm and lived on the same for forty years. He had to go for salt to the salt works, near Shepardsville about twenty miles away, and pack it home in sacks on a pack saddle. He owned a great many sugar trees on his land, from which he made sugar every year, some seasons making as high as three thousand pounds. While living here they had eight more children, three sons and five daughters, Nancy, Elizabeth, Joel H., John P., William F., Sarah and Mariem. Father sold his farm in March 1838, to Dr. James J. HEADY and went to Indiana and died in 1839.

"The maiden name of my mother's mother was SARAH MARTIN. She was married three times. Her first husband was POUND, her second STILGAR, and the third was my grandfather William KESTER. My Mother was born in Maryland October 4, 1773. She came down the Ohio River on a flatboat and landed at a place called Limestone (now Maysville). From there they were escorted by a company of men to Bryan's Station, near Lexington, and from there moved to Coxes Station. Here she raised cotton, carded it by hand cards, spun and wove it and made her wedding dress of it and afterwards loaned it to others to be married in.

"My great grandfather came over the ocean with William PENN. He was one of the chain carriers when the State of Pennsylvania was surveyed and for his services was given two tracts of land of five hundred acres each, on one of which the city of Philadelphia now stands. The old gentleman died soon afterwards, leaving one son by the name of William KESTER-- my grandfather, who, being quite young when his father died, knew nothing of this land until he was quite an old man; and so this great fortune was lost to the KESTER heirs, the limitation laws cutting them out."

'The above statement is doubtless substantially true, but is incorrect in some respects. Instead of William Ferguson KESTER'S great grandfather, it was his great great grandfather who came over the ocean. And he did not come with William PENN, but did come with his father and mother and two brothers, probably on PENN'S invitation and solicitation as many others did about that time who emigrated from Germany to America. That these are the facts is shown by the dates of emigration and births and deaths of William KESTER'S ancestors. Paul KUSTER (William's great grandfather) and wife Gertrude and three sons, Arnold, Johannes and Hermanus KUSTER, emigrated to America about 1685, and Paul KUSTER died in 1707, and Johannes (William's grandfather died in 1708, about twenty-five years before William KESTER was born.

'That William KESTER was "quite young" when his father died is doubtless correct. It is not only a family tradition that after his father's death William was "taken away by some kind-hearted Quakers" presumably to live with them, but it is also known that his younger brother John and sister Rebecca were apparently living during their childhood with their uncle Hermanus KESTER and family in the vicinity of Kingwood, New Jersey, and records show that William came to Kingwood in 1756 and was received into the Monthly Meeting of Friends when he was about twenty-three years of age, and it is probable that then for the first time he learned from his uncle Hermanus and family about the landed estate which belonged to his grandfather. That he should know nothing about it before that time was quite natural, because not only did his father die when William was "quite young" but his grandfather also died when William's father Paul was quite young-- in fact when he was probably but about two years of age.

'The ancestor who is said to have done the surveying and received land as pay for his services was unquestionably William KESTER'S grandfather Johannes KOSTER or KUSTER. This is not only shown by records but is substantiated by family tradition in several families. The author has often heard his mother, Nancy Ann (REED) HUNT, say that she learned her mother Rebecca POUND, and grandmother, Sarah KESTER, that the land was in the name of Johannes and that the name of KESTER was spelled on the records in several different ways and many others of her cousins and kinsmen have written that the land was in the name of John or Johannes and that the name of the "First KESTER" was Johannes KOSTER, etc., and Chalkey J. HAMBLETON, of Chicago, Illinois, now deceased, a descendant of Hermanus KESTER, uncle of William KESTER above named, said he often heard his grandmother, Rachael (KESTER) HAMBLETON, tell about an estate in land in or near Philadelphia to which all the KESTERS were entitled, but never secured for some reason or other. And to these statements is added the "handed down" family history among the descendants of William KESTER'S brother, John KESTER. A great granddaughter of this John KESTER, Mrs. Cynthia Dora (KESTER) WEBSTER, of West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, writes that "the sketch written by William Ferguson KESTER agrees very much with what father and uncle Elijah KESTER (my father's brother) told us about a large tract of land which was given to our early ancestor in payment for his services to William PENN for surveying.

'My father often said that he had been told that William PENN granted to our KESTER ancestor, for his services in surveying a large tract of land, a whole township in Eastern Pennsylvania. Father and uncle said they always understood Johannes KOSTER (KUSTER) was that ancestor and as the land was then a wilderness our forefather did not pay much attention to it or value it as he should, land being very cheap, and people (called squatters) settled on the land and in the course of time, according to law, they had lived on it long enough to have a right to own it, and that was how it is said the KESTERS or KESTER heirs were deprived of their estate. Father also said he had been told that the land lay about Plymouth and White Marsh and around that neighborhood. Uncle Elijah said marble had been found years ago on some of the land, and marble quarried out, so that the the land was more valuable than our forefathers had any idea of. Both father and uncle said that they were told that their grandfather, John KESTER (who married Hannah WEBSTER), might have gotten the land back if he had gone to law about it, but that he did not care to do so.

'In addition it may be said that the records show that Johannes KOSTER owned land in Skipjack, near Philadelphia, in 1704. And that shortly after his death his widow, Elizabeth, and son and heir, Johannes KOSTER, conveyed by deed, dated August 3, 1709, land in Springfeild, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, to one Daniel FALKNER (see Deed Book E, 5th Vol., p.329 of Phila. Rec.) and as the said son and heir was a minor of but sixteen years of age at that time and none of the other heirs joined in the deed, they being still younger, and as Daniel FALKNER is charged in the history of Philadelpjia to have made conveyances of land in Germantown without authority, it would appear that he probably gained an undue advantage of the widow and heirs of Johannes KOSTER in the above transaction.

'It is said that Paul KESTER and Thomas POUND, who married Sarah KESTER, went on horseback to Philadelphia to investigate the matter of the estate and found records as reported but that the estate was barred. And again about the year 1847 many of the KESTER heirs in Vigo Co., Indiana, sent Joel H. KESTER (Grandson of William) and Colonel Richard THOMPSON as attorney to Philadelphia to examine the records and report. They did so and it is said they found the land in the name of Johannes KUSTER or KOSTER, spelled in several different ways and Colonel THOMPSON reported that there would be no trouble to prove the heirship but that the limitation laws of Pennsylvania had barred whatever rights may have once existed in the KESTER heirs.

'This matter has been explained somewhat in detail to answer many of the enquiries heretofore made and also with the belief that it is a valuable part of our family history. In summary it may be said that William KESTERS'S grandfather, Johannes KUSTER or KOSTER, did own considerable land in or near Philadelphia; that it is probably true that this land, or a greater portion of it, rightfully would have gone to his descendants, but that others acquired possession and the Limitation laws of Pennsylvania have probably barred all claims of William KESTER'S descendants.'

John Hunt - 1904

Submitted by Ken Reed
Data entry by Kim Holly

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