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The Life and Times of Robert B. McAfee and His Family and Connections

Part Three Beginning in anuary 1927, the Register of the Kentucky Historical Society began publishing transcripts of the papers of Robert B. McAfee, which had been loaned by McAfees’ great-granddaughter “Miss Georgie McAfee, of Lima, Ohio, but formerly of Danville.” Robert Breckinridge McAfee (b. 18 ebruary 1784, Mercer Count , d. 12 March 1849) was a soldie , farme , attorne , and state legislator. After his father s’ 1795 murde , the young McAfee became the ward of his father s’ friend, ohn Breckinridge (U.S. senator 1801-05, U.S. attorney general, 1805-06), and his uncle, ames McCoun. After attending ransylvania Universit , McAfee studied law under Breckinridge and was admitted to the bar in 1801. He served as a member of the state legislature until the ar of 1812, when he volunteered for service, eventually being promoted to captain. After the wa , McAfee resumed his legislative career. He later served as lieutenant governor (1824-28), U.S. charge d’ affaires to the Republic of Colombia (1833-37), and president of the board of visitors of the U.S. Military Academy ( est Point) (1842-45). Obvious errors in the text have been corrected and the punctuation changed to modern form. Notes appear within brackets, and 1927 notes within parentheses.


The winter of 1783-84 was a severe one with an unusual quantity of snow. My father being a [thor- ough] going, industrious, persevering man, assisted by my eldest brother Samuel & his negro boy Cor- nelius, attended to his mill & farm, and during this winter cleared and made about four acres of meadow on the south side of [the] valley running through my farm north of his cabins and appeared prosperous and contented.

Yet a sad blow awaited [my father]. A second son, born in 1778, took sick and died on the 6th day of February. His name was Robert, and on the 18th day of the same month (Feb. 7, 1784), I was born and was destined to supply my brother’s name and place & was called Robert B., in honor of a favorite young lawyer, John Breckinridge, a favorite of my father’s in Botetourt, who a few years afterwards moved to Kentucky & settled in Lexington, and afterwards on North Elkhorn.

Not long after I was born, my mother was at- tacked with fever and ague, which added to the distress of the family and I had to be fed with milk from a bottle by my eldest sister Margaret, to whom I was always attached afterwards. It was some months before my mother recovered her health.

My first recollections were my plays round my father’s cabin as soon as I could walk and of slid-

ing down an ash pile on which ice had formed and of slipping & cutting my head on a broken pot on its top as I slipped down. My next exploits were in my mother’s safe or dairy, which sat at the back of the house. …I helped myself to as much cream as I wanted and I have loved good cream ever since.

I will now give a definite description of my birth- place, where I now live, as well as a personal descrip- tion of my father and mother.

My father, Robert McAfee, was five feet and elev- en inches and a quarter in height, remarkably large round and full breasted, well made in proportion indicating great strength & activity and endurance. He was considered the most athletic of his family, large, well proportioned face, with prominent square forehead & strong natural powers of mind. [He had] very black hair, thick set on his head & inclined to be curly, which he always wore short. He was a good specimen of the Scotch race.

Firm and decisive in his character and when his purposes were made up, he had the most unwearied perseverance, so that to decide was to do. … Impos- sibility with him was seldom permitted to come within his calculations. His eyes were black or very dark hazel, which strongly indicated a Spanish cross of blood in some of his ancestors during the inter- course of that nation with Scotland.

My mother was rather above the ordinary size

2007 Kentucky Ancestors V42-4


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