Friday, July 16, 2010

William Currence

  • Name: William Currence 
  • Birth: 16 Sep 1727 in Ulster, Northern Ireland
  • Death: 1780 or 1781 in Mill Creek, Randolph County, (West) Virginia 
  • Related through: Erin's grandmother Idonna Nuttall Madson

William Currence, a son of Samuel Currence, was born in Ireland September 18, 1727 and was killed by Indians in Randolph County, Virginia on May 12, 1781. He came to America about 1744 when he was just seventeen years old. He married Lydia Steele about 1751. Lydia, a daughter of John and Elizabeth (Smith) Steele, was born in Pennsylvania about 1725 and died in Randolph County August 29, 1820.

After the death of his mother, William's father married a wealthy and aristocratic woman who could not get along with her step children. According to local tradition, he left his home in Ireland when a disagreement arose between himself and his step-mother, while his father was not around. Believing that harmony was no longer possible, he at once entered upon his journey to America. A short distance from home, he met his father, Samuel, who enquired where he was going. The son replied "to America". After finding admonition unavailing, the father dismounted and a foot race resulted. The young man finally leaped over a ditch which the parent could not cross and eluded his fathers pursuit. I found some accounts that said he was a stowaway on the ship and others that mentioned his father paid for his passage.

He landed at a Maryland port and moved inland to western Augusta County, Virginia and later moved to Tygarts Valley in Randolph County and settled in what is now the town of Mill Creek. He and Lydia raised a large family. Our family is descended through their daughter Ann. In Mill Creek he built a tub mill, which is supposed to have been the first water mill in Randolph County. The area became known as Currence Mill Creek, later the Currence was dropped but the name is still "Mill Creek".

William built Currence Fort in 1774. He maintained it during Dunmore's War and later during the Revolutionary War until his death by Indians while on a scouting party two miles south of the fort. The fort was used by soldiers and spy rangers, who moved from fort to fort. He is listed as a signer of a 1776 petition to the Virginia Assembly in Richmond.

He was killed by an Indians on October 7, 1780 or May 12, 1781 (I found it both ways) at the age of 64. Frank Riffle (we are also related to the Riffle family) was also killed on the same day in the same area. According to one of the books I found online William Currence's family tried in vain to stop him from taking the "ill fated trip". His son was sent to the field for a horse and returned with the excuse that the animal could not be caught. But the father was persistent, and under threats of punishment the lad brought the horse to his father. William was then shot and killed by an Indian’s rifle.

Randolph Co., History by Bosworth; p. 334-339.
Randolph Co., History by Maxwell; p. 359.
"Warnaar Hornbeck Descendants", p 256,
'The West Virginia Heritage Encyclopedia', Vol 6, p 1214. 
Vol 4, p 17, Magazine - History and Biography Published by Randolph County Historical Society. National Number 45 3703.
"The Mace Family in America, A Genealogy and History 1720-1990" by Gretchen Ann
Mace Velasco, p 15,
"Bicentennial History of Randolph County, West Virginia", by Donald L Rice, p 7


  1. I am the seventh great granddaughter of William Currence and I am looking for any and all genealogy research. I am also trying to trace William's father in Ireland but I believe the spelling of the last name might be different in Ireland. I would be happy to share the information I have as well. Please see me on Facebook under Cristina Gal.

  2. William is my paternal AND maternal great grandparent so many times back. My great grandparents are William Aaron Currence and Ida Mae Arbogast. I would love to hear from my distant Currence/Currance cousins as I am my family's historian. You can reach me at Hope to hear from all of you soon!

  3. I am also the seventh great granddaughter of William Currence and I am also looking to find any information on other relatives in virginia that are related too William as well. It is very hard to do research on the Currence name when you are not in the area. I would like more local information on Crickard/Currence Mill, the Currence Fort, and any other history pertaining to our clan. You can contact me at Sandra Currence or Box 1150 Caroline, AB T0M-0M0.

  4. Unless one of us - or a few of us - goes to Northern Ireland on a research trip to find records of our ancestor William, we may never know where exactly he came from or the real circumstances that led to his arrival in early America. The name Currence could be spelled various ways and it is possible it may be of Germanic origin, then again it may not be. From David Armstrong (if I'm recalling correctly) debunked the existence of a Currence Fort in his online history. I have a print out somewhere in my mess of genealogical material relating to this finding. Email me, let's connect. I also made a connection with a gal here in my hometown who is a Bennett-Judy relation and a relation to my family through the Friend-Skidmore lines along with another distant cousin who lives closeby. What's funny is that we see each other at church every Sunday and call each other "cousin!" How cool is that?

  5. Hello to all,

    My name is Richard Andrew Currence, the son of Owen Melvin Currene (1903-1998)of Mill Creek.
    I have what looks like a reprint of a document announcing the death of Col. Melvin Currence and the article goes on to explain that Melvin
    was a grandson of William Currence. It also has a brief background on both of these gentlemen.
    I am likewise interested in the Currence history, if anyone wishes a copy of this document I would be happy to scan a copy for you. You may contact me at



  6. I am a descendant of him and my step mother did a family research for my father William Currence, Jr. I'm on facebook under Mary Alice Currence

  7. I am a descendant of William I have looked for all of the above who have posted that they are on facebook and unable to find any of you.....if you are on facebook please join a group I have started called The Currence Clan....please join us...there are pictures and memories and all kinds of information ..My mother is the daughter of Jacob Washington Currence....have been researching the Currence family for a lot of mother still has a house in Mill Creek....once called ...Currence's Mill Creek....would love to hear from more Currences and share information..

  8. Got some info from regarding William Currence Jr., son of William Currence the Pioneer and Lydia Steele. Someone on the site added a pedigree chart showing an Anne McCracken as mother of our Pioneer and that her father was John Harvy McCracken and mother as Mary Ann McCracken Waugh. There is a problem: Anne's birth is shown as 1701 in Ulster. Her father John's birth is shown as 1730. This cannot be!!! Also his death is stated as 1757 while Anne's is 1727. Someone has the wrong parents for Anne or mistyped the dates. Here is the link for this pedigree if you like to view it.
    We need sources other than the books by Bosworth and Maxwell to help all of us find William's family in Ulster. I'm in the dark as to who posted this pedigree on Ancestry and what source was used where this info was found.

    Email me at:
    I would love to hear from my Currence cousins! Let's see if we can get this mystery resolved. Lots of misinformation out there.

  9. I have a printout of all the currences starting at the Ulster Ireland incident.My Aunt who lives in mill creek has the information.You can contact me at

  10. I am also a decendent of Hannah Currence my Great-Grandmother she married John N C Bell of Randolph County West Virginia. Samuel and William Currence is also a decendent of mine. My Father was born in Mill Creek West Virginia the family Cementary is Bell-Kelly. There are alot of Currences buried there.

  11. Been super busy in life and have not had a chance to get back with all of you Currence cousins. I've been tracing my mom's Norwegian lines and found we have ties to Iceland! As for the Currence and Arbogast lines where I come from, I have considered joining up with Facebook just to start my own family history site and to get in contact with my cousins. This might be the only way I can help in researching or even answering questions that have not yet been resolved with our ancestor William. Also, Col. Melvin Currence is a great grand uncle to me. He served in the Civil War as I recall. I also have pictures of my great grandparents William Currence and Ida Mae Arbogast, along those of my two grandmas Hazel and Elizabeth Currence. I have one of Uncle Mitchell their brother who suffered mustard gas poisoning in WWI and never recovered from the effects after the war. Again, don't be shy and email me at I would love to hear from you all about our Currence family history.

  12. Ive done a search of my grandmother who was Icie Currence and traced her all the way back to William Currence.I actually grew up in Mill Creek and never realized that his grave was actually behind the elementary school