Notes for Johannes Peter Dingess

Peter Dingess was a member of General Lewis' army at the Battle of Point Pleasant, 1774. He is said to have been present when Chief Logan's speech was read to Dunmore's troops at the time the treaty of peace was negotiated.

Records at the Port of Philadelphia show the arrival of four Dingess families as immigrants between 1741&1754-They were from Germany. (Sigfus Olafson)

Trigg's Battalion, Montgomery County Artillery, LaFayette's Corp. Johannes Peter Dingess's unit was in Trigg's battalion of Montgomery County artillery in General LaFayette's corps at the battle of Yorktown. Source: History of the Middle New
River Settlements, by David E. Johnston, Commonwealth Press Inc., First and Berkley Streets, Radford, Virginia, 1969.

“ PETER DINGUS, about twelve or thirteen years old, along with his parents and sister, left Rotterdam and sailed for America. The parents became ill and died, leaving the two young children orphans in a new land. Not knowing anyone in
Philadelphia (some say Baltimore), they were left to roam the streets. Brother and sister became parted and lost touch with one another when they were taken to live with different families. PETER went to live with a merchant in Virginia, and
his sister went to live with another family north of her brother’s new home. There has been no futher connection with the sister.” This is the story that has been told through the years to the descendants of PETER DINGUS. The family also
told of pieces of furniture brought from the “Fader Land”, especially a finely finished bureau which was for a long time an heirloom in the family, and a peculiar shaped gourd which was grown in Germany, and used by PETER’S son, JOHN, as a
powder gourd. There have been many attempts to trace this family, and the following pages record some of the things that have been located. With more interest in family research, maybe one day, more of the story will be known.

“DINGUS - DINGES - DINGESS - DINGAS. The name has been found with various spellings and is of Teutonic origin. They came from the Palatinate, Rhine Region Germany. Three brothers came across the Atlantic Ocean in 1749, 1750, and 1751. The
last of the three brothers was PHILLIP DINGUS, who left a large number of descendants in southwest Virginia, and in eastern Kentucky.” (The Gate City Herald, Scott Co. VA, Dec 23, 1937) “ FILLIPP (PHILLIP) DINGESS sailed from Rotterdam on the
ship “Edinburgh,” and arrived in the port of Philadelphia, September 15, 1749.” (Pennsylvania German Pioneers, by R. B. Strassburger.)
(Was PHILLIP an uncle to PETER?)

“Dingus (ding’ as) noun. Slang. An Article whose name is unknown or forgotten. [Dutch dinges, probably Old High German noun. High German from the middle of the 9th to the end of the 11th century.” (The American Heritage College Dictionary, Third Edition, 1993.)

“Ding” us, noun [South African. Dutch. From ding, thing.] any device; contrivance; gadget: humorous substitute for a name not known or temporarily forgotten. [Slang.]” (Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary of the English Language,
Unabridged Second Edition, 1971.)

The name was traced back to 1609, to MITTLEBURGH, a town not far from MAINZ (spelled Mayence in 1742), near FRANKFURT, GERMANY, according to some earlier family research.

(Pennsylvania German Pioneers by Strassburger, Introduction: “ Journey to Pennsylvania.) The jouney to Pennsylvania fell naturally into three parts. The first part, and by no means the easiest, was the journey down the Rhine to Rotterdam or
some other port. Gottlieb Mittelberger, wrote in German, later translated into English, of his Journey to Pennsylvania (arrived Sep. 29, 1750). He wrote, “This journey lasts from the beginning of May to the end of October, fully half a year,
amid such hardships as no one is able to describe adequately with their misery. The cause is because the Rhine boats from Heilbronn to Holland have to pass by 26 custom houses, at all of which the ships are examined, which is done when it suits
the convenience of the customhouse officials. In the meantime the ships with the people are detained long, so that the passengers have to spend much money. The trip down the Rhine lasts therefore four, five and even six weeks. When the ships
come to Holland, they are detained there likewise five to six weeks. Because things are very dear there, the poor people have to spend nearly all they have during that time.”

“The second stage of the journey was from Rotterdam to one of the English ports. Most of the ships called at Cowes, on the Isle of Wight. This was the favorite stopping place, as 142 ships are recorded as having sailed from Rotterdam to
Cowes. Other ships touched at one of seven other channel ports, Deal, Dover, Portsmouth, Gosport, Porte in Dorsetshire, Plymouth, Falmouth, and others.”

“In England there was another delay of one to two weeks, when the ships were waiting either to be passed through the custom house or waiting for favorable winds. When the ships had for the last time weighed their anchors at Cowes or some other
port in England,” then, writes Mittelberger, “the real misery begins with the long voyage. For from there the ships, unless they have good wind, must often sail eight, nine, ten to twelve weeks before they reach Philadelphia. But even with
the best wind the voyage lasts seven weeks”.

“The third stage of the journey, or the ocean voyage proper, was marked by much suffering and hardships. The passengers being packed densely, like herrings”, as Mittelberger describes it, “without proper food and water, were soon subject to
all sorts of diseases, such as dysentery, scurvy, typhoid and smallpox. Children were the first to be attacked and died in large numbers. Mittelberger reports the deaths of thirty-two children on his ship.”

“The terrors of disease, brought about to a large extent by poor food and lack of good drinking water, were much aggravated by frequent storms through which ships and passengers had to pass. The misery reaches the climax when a gale rages for
two or three nights and days, so that every one believes that the ship will go to the bottom with all human beings on board. In such a visitation the people cry and pray most piteously. When in such a gale the sea rages and surges, so that
the waves rise often like mountains one above the other, and aften tumble over the ship, so that one fears to go down with the ship, when the ship is constantly tossed from side to side by the storm and waves, so that no one can either walk or
sit, or lie, and the closely packed people in the berths are thereby tumbled over each other, both the sick and the well--it will be readily undestood that many of these people, none of whom had been prepared for hardships, suffer so terribly
from them that they do not survive.”

“When at last the Delaware River was reached and the City of Brotherly Love hove in sight, where all their miseries were to end, another delay occurred. A health officer visited the ship and, if any persons with infectious diseases were
discovered on the ship, it was ordered to remove one mile from the city. Then the new arrivals are led in procession to the City Hall and there they must render the oath of allegiance to the king of Great Britain. After that they are brought
back to the ship. Then announcements are printed in the newspapers, stating how many of the new arrivals are to be sold. Those who have money are released. Whoever has well-to-do friends seeks a loan from them to pay the passage, but there
are only a few who succeed. The ship becomes a market place. The buyers make their choice among the arrivals and bargain with them for a certain number of years and days. They then take them to the merchant, pay their passage and their other
debts and receive from the govenment authorities a written document, which makes the newcomers their property for a definite period.”

MICHAEL DINGUS and his wife, GERTRUDE, along with their son, PETER and a daughter whose name remains unknown, boarded the ship “The Brothers” in Rotterdam, Holland, with
William Muir as captain. During the voyage many of the passengers became ill and some died, of scurvy or smallpox, including MICHAEL and GERTRUDE DINGUS. Their two young children were left to face a new world alone. The son, PETER, as the
remaining male of the family, took the OATH OF ALLEGIANCE when the ship docked. “At the Courthouse at Philadelphia, Monday, September 16, 1751, present, The Worshipful, The Mayor, Thomas York, Esq., did this day take and subscribe the usual
qualifications of J. PETER DINGIS (among others). The ship ‘The Brother’, Captain William Muir, from Rotterdam.” (Pennsylvania German Pioneers, A Publication of the Original Lists of Arrivals in the Port of Philadelphia From 1727 to 1808,
Vol. I, page 464 by R. B. Strassburger, LL.D) J. PETER X DINGIS. The “J” in PETER’S signature was probably for Johannas or John, but this seems to be the only time he used it. He signed with an “X”, but in later documents we find his
signature. (Foreigners Who Took Oath of Allegiance 1727-1725 page 338 by W. H. Egle.) “All males over 16 years of age were obliged to take this oath & declaration, as soon after their arrival as possible, being marched to the Courthouse,
although in a number of instances they were qualified at the official residence of the Magistrate.”

October 16, 1782. Survey. PETER DINGESS, 54 acres on New River, Montgomery county.

1782. PETER DINGESS enters 100 acres on a branch of Back Creek, also to include the improvements. (Montgomery Co VA Entry Book A, page 137.)

Montgomery county, VA 1782-1784. List of men under the command of Capt. Mayes: PETER DINGESS. (1782?)

“I certify that PETER DINGES was 50 Days himself and horse employed Carrying Lead from the led Mines to My house for the Use of the troopes order on the Frontier of this County of Montgomery. By order of govirmint. August 17th 1782. /s/
Joseph Cloyd (Military Accounts, Montgomery County Court Records.)

He operated a grist mill on Wolf Creek in Montgomery county in 1782, this was at Glyn Lynn, now in Giles county Virginia.

William Preston, lease to John Williams, land on East side of New River below the DINGUS place for three years. Contains a clause providing, if Preston builds a ferry, Williams will operate it and transport Preston, his household and
livestock, free of charge from Smithfield or the Horseshoe. March 18, 1783. (Preston Family Papers.)

Montgomery county, VA 1782-1784. List of men under the command of Capt. George Paris: PETER DINGESS. (1783?)

Colonel Joseph Cloyd, 35 acres on Back Creek of New River, adjacent to PETER DINGESS. Feb. 12, 1785. (Montgomery Co VA, Survey Book D.)

On February 22, 1785, the Court ordered PETER to build a road from south of Little Walker Mountain to Brown’s Bottom. A ferry was started across New River at Scott’s land, now in Giles county. (Montgomery Co VA Court. Annals of Southwest
Virginia, page 780-781. L. P. Summers.)

William Thompson, 60 acres on Back Creek adjacent to PETER DINGUS, Joseph Cloyd, and own patent land. March 13, 1786. (Montgomery Co VA, Survey Book D.)
PETER DINGUS, inclusive survey, adjacent one survey of 320 acres, surveyed for Robert Evans by virtue of a right of settlement, another for 54 acres by virtue of right of settlement and 63 acres being paart of Loyal Company Grant, on Back Creek
adjacent to Jacob Shuffelbarrier, Britts, and Col. Cloyds. July 10, 1786. (Montgomery Co VA, Survey Book D.)

John Preston. Survey for PETER DINGUS by James Devor, Asst. Surveyor. July 10, 1786. (Preston Family Papers.)

September 25, 1788. Tax List, Montgomery county: PETER DINGESS, 1 white male 16 to 21, no slaves, 6 horses.

September 26, 1789, Tax List, Montgomery county: PETER DINGESS, 1 white male over 21, 1 white male 16 to 21, no slaves, 7 horses.

David Willis, by right of settlement, 130 acres at mouth of Five Mile Fork of East River. Transferred to PETER DINGUS. Sept. 2, 1790. (Montgomery Co VA, Survey Book D.)

John Scott (inclusive survey) 378 acres at head of Neck Creek of New River adjacent to DINGUS and Thompson. November 14, 1790. (Montgomery Co VA, Survey Book D.)

It is said that after the Rev. War, PETER owned 2800 acres of land in Montgomery county, which became Giles and is now in Mercer county, West Virginia. This was probably the Bounty Land he received for service in the war; land was usually
given for service rather than money. Oakvale, Mercer county, West Virginia, sits on this land. He built a double log cabin there which stood until the 1950s. The building in back that was used as a kitchen is still there and being used in
1996. William McKinley and Rutherford B. Hayes stayed in this house in 1862, when one of them became ill while traveling through the country. (History of New River Settlement, D. E. Johnston.) Another account of this story: “Napoleon French
was the great uncle of the late Dr J. B. Boyd and Miss Maud Boggess. Israel Jones was the son of Hiram Jones. He was a miller for French during the Civil War when according to tradition, Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes was wounded and attended at
the Jones home by Sgt. William McKinley, both afterward presedents.” (The Story of Mercer County by Kyle McCormick.)
January 14, 1793, CHARLES NEILL married ELIZABETH DINGESS in Montomery county, VA. WILLIAM DINGESS was surety; PETER DINGESS gave consent for his daughter
“BETSY” to marry. They were married by Edward Morgan. The date 15 February has also been given as their marriage date, the earlier date may have been the date of the marriage bond.

June 18, 1794. Letter from John Tucker, Richmond, to John Preston, Montgomery county, concerning certificate required in caveat against John Preston. Cannot find PETER DINGUS’ Survey nor one issued Samuel Ferguson during the past eight years.
(Preston Family Papers.).
July 17, 1794. Letter from William Price, Land Office, to John Preston, Montgomery county, about land grants that cannot be found, one a Survey issued PETER DINGUS, entered August 1791. (Preston Family Papers.)

POLLY DINGESS married DAVID FRENCH in Montgomery county, VA. WILLIAM DINGESS was surety. The marriage date was either June 8, 1797, or from Alexander Ross’ list of returns, June 18, 1797.

June 6, 1798. John Preston of Montgomery county to PETER DINGUS of same county, $200 for 300 acres at the mouth of Mill Creek of Guyandotte in Kanawha county by patent to John Breckenridge April 1, 1785. Wit: Jas King, Henry Farley, John
Wilson, Geo Currin, Samuel Cecill, Micajah Anderson Thorn, Jas Breckenridge, Jas Resque, & Allen Taylor. (Greenbriar Co WV, Deeds. District Court Deeds, Sweet Springs Virginia Courthouse Records. Shuck.) )

October 1, 1798. William Preston, receipt for survey fee paid by PETER DINGUS, for survey made in David Willis’ name.

January 7, 1800. WILLIAM HENDERSON married NANCY DINGES, daughter of PETER DINGESS, DAVID FRENCH, surety. (Montgomery Co VA .)

February 2, 1802, PETER DINGESS, John Connally & John Kent gave bond, Montgomery Co VA, for guadianship of EZEKIEL SMITH, orphan of ISAAC SMITH. (Found in metal file of loose wills, Montgomery Co VA, courthouse.)

EZEKIEL SMITH & PETER DINGESS, February 2, 1802, made a marriage bond & obtained a license for the marriage between EZEKIEL SMITH & SUSANNA DINGESS. PETER DINGESS gave his consent for the marriage. (Filed with the above bond.)

EZEKIEL SMITH & SUSANNA DINGESS were married February 4, 1802, Montgomery Co VA. (Bible of EZEKIEL SMITH. Marriages of Montgomery Co VA.)

May 18, 1805, ELIZABETH (DINGESS) NEIL, widow of CHARLES NEIL deceased, married WILLIAM SMITH in Montgomery county, Virginia. Surety, John Ditty.

The grand jury returned into court & made the following Presentments to wit: PETER DINGESS, farmer, for retailing spiritous liquors within the last twelve months. Ordered that PETER DINGESS & William Stowers be summoned to appear here on the
first day of the September term next to show cause if any they can why an information should not be filed against them on the Presentments of the Grand Jury made this day. June 10, 1806. (Giles Co VA, Justices’ Court Minute Book 1, page 7 &

PETER DINGESS, WILLIAM SMITH, John Toney and James Copley or any three of them first being sworn, appointed to view the ground for a new road from the Tazewell county line to the mouth of East River. June 10, 1806. (Giles Co VA, Justices’ Ct.
Min. Bk. 1, page 12.)

PETER DINGESS appointed overseer of the road from the ford of East River near the Hurricane Bottom to the mouth of East River. August 13, 1806. (Giles Co VA, Justices’ Ct. Min. Bk. 1, page 27.)

In the case of The Commonwealth against PETER DINGESS upon indictment and information against him for retailing spiritous liquors the defendant came into court and entered a plea of not guilty, and a jury was sworn, to wit, James McClaughterty,
Joel Canterbury, Joseph Canterbury, Thomas Burgess, Philip Lybrook, John Mullens, Thomas Prunty, Matthew Mullens, William Clay, Jeremiah Jones, Henry Welles and Benjamin Hall, who returned a verdict, “ we the jury find the defendant Guilty”,
whereupon judgement is granted against the defendant for thirty dollars and costs. Sept. 9, 1806. (Giles Co VA, Justices’ Ct. Min. Bk. 1, page 33.)

The judgement which was entered on yesterday in the case of the Commonwealth against PETER DINGESS is set aside and he is granted a new trial. Sept. 10, 1806. (Giles Co VA, Justices’ Ct. Min. Bk. 1, page 38.)

In the trial of the case of the Commonwealth against PETER DINGESS on indictment for selling spiritous liquors, the following jury was empaneled and sworn on this date: Samuel Cecil, Archibald Marrs, John Chapman, John Hale, Isaac French,
Charles Hale, John King, Jesse Bowling, NIMROD SMITH, James Coply, James Rowe Jr, and Tunis Muncy. The jury on the same date returned into court with the following verdict “We the jury find the defendant not guilty”. Nov. 11, 1806. (Giles
Co VA, Justices’ Ct. Min. Bk. 1, page 45.)

PETER and MARY DINGESS to Lewis Ford, land on north side of East River Mountain at head of Kenaman’s Stillhouse Branch. 1806. (Giles Co Deed Book 1, page 18.)

September 22, 1807. Montgomery county, PETER DINGESS: 1 white male, no slaves, 6 horses or mules.

Indenture. PETER DINGESS SR, of Giles county, to WILLIAM DINGESS and PETER DINGESS JR, tract on Mill Creek of Guyandotte for $1000, deeded to PETER DINGESS SR by John Preston. Wit: DAVID FRENCH, PEGGY DINGESS, SALLY DINGESS, & JOHN DINGESS.
March 27, 1809. (Cabell Co Va Deed Book 1, page 18.)

PETER DINGESS SR, gives his land crossing Five Mile Fork below the Rockhouse to his sons, CHARLES and JOHN, in exchange for feeding and clothing their parents, PETER and MARY DINGESS. Wit: John Toney, Peter Blankenship, WILLIAM SMITH,
Benjamin H. White, & DAVID FRENCH. August 8, 1809. (Giles county Virginia, Deed Book 1, page 130.)

Oakvale, West Virginia, was first named “Frenchville” and Glen Lynn, West Virginia, was first called “Montreal” and then “Hell’s Gate”. The country west of Oakvale was called “The Wilderness”. This is where the Shawnee Indians roamed around
Bluestone River and committed raids and massacres upon the white settlements.

PETER DINGESS was the first settler in what is now Oakvale, Mercer county, West Virginia. His daughter, SARAH, died in 1821, was said to have been the first person buried in the Oakvale Cemetery, but that cannot be true as PETER died in 1809,
and is also buried there. It is possible that they had an another child that died at birth or very young, and we have found no record. This is where he built a double log cabin facing Pigeon Creek and built a corn mill just below the old log
house. When PETER and POLLY died the estate passed to his sons JOHN and CHARLES and then to his daughter, MARY, who married DAVID FRENCH. It then passed to their son, Colonel NAPOLEON BONAPART FRENCH, who established a post office known as
Frenchville. At this time, there were two houses, a blacksmith shop and one corn mill there; later a church building was built. In 1881, the name was changed to Oakvale because of a grove of Oak trees, and the Norfolk and Western Railway
added a depot in 1888.

The last will and testament of PETER DINGESS, deceased, was proven by the oaths of John Toney and Peter Blankenship, and on motion of MARY DINGESS, the widow, one of the Executors therein mentioned, made oath and entered into bond with
security. Probate granted in due form. Nov. 15, 1809. (Giles Co VA, Justices’ Ct. Min. Bk. 2, page 23.)


In the name of God Amen. I PETER DINGESS of the County of Giles and State of Virginia being in a low state of health but thanks be to God of Perfect mind and memory and calling to mind the mortality of my body and knowing it is appointed
for all men are to die do make and confirm this my last will and Testament (viz)

First, I give and recommend my soul unto the hands of Almighty God who gave it and my body to the grave to be buried in decent Christian burial at the discretion of my Executors nothing doubting but at the General resurrection I shall receive
thos by the mighty Power of God and touching thoes wordly Good wherewith it has pleased God to bless in this life I dispose of bequeath and devise of in the following manner and form towit. I give unto my dearly beloved wife MARY my dwelling
house and one half of the proceeds of all my land for five years or during the minority of my son CHARLES as likewise all my household and kitchen furniture also one sorrel horse and one bay mare all my stock of cattle not otherwise devised and
all my hogs sheep and Geese and after the death of my wife the house is to be the property of my two sons JOHN and CHARLES and all the other property to be the property of my wife and to be disposed of as she may think proper. I also give to
my wife my negro woman Jude as her own property. I also give to my daughter ELIZABETH SMITH two dollars out of my estate I also give my daughter SUSANNA SMITH two dollars out of my estate. I also give to my two sons WILLIAM DINGESS and PETER
DINGESS two dollars each out of my estate. I also give my daughter MARY FRENCH two dollars out of my estate. I also give to my daughter NANCY HENDERSON two dollars out of my estate. I also give to my two sons JOHN DINGESS and CHARLES DINGESS
all my farming utensils and also my still and tub my waggon and Gears also one Cow each I also give to my daughter PEGGY DINGESS two dollars out of my estate I also give to my daughter SARAH two dollars out of my estate. I also constitute and
appoint my wife MARY and my son JOHN DINGESS and my son in Law DAVID FRENCH my Executors to this my last Will and Testament and confirm this and no other as my last Will and Testament

Given under my hand and seal this 2nd day of June in the year of our Lord One thousand eight hundred and nine. /s/ PETER DINGESS (Seal)
Signed subscribed and
acknowledged before
John Toney, Benj H. White
Peter X Blankenship, Shadrack X Blankenship (each made his mark)

At Giles November Court 1809.
This last Will and Testament of PETER DINGESS decd was proven in Court by the oath of John Toney and Peter Blankenship, two of the Witnesses thereto subscribed and ordered to be recorded Test DAVID


An Inventory of the estate of PETER DINGESS Dec’d taken this 4th day of November 1809.
$ cents
Thirty nine hogs big and little running 47 75
One mare 45
One sorrel horse 50
One old gray horse 0 1/2
fourteen head of cattle 63 50
twenty five geese 8 33
eleven sheep 16 50
two tables 8
One cubboard not finished & furniture 6
One old wheel & Reel 1
two beds and furniture 40
One bedstead 1 50
One old negro woman named Jude 1
Books 2
Sundry pots kettles &c 17
Nineteen fattening hogs in the pen & two pigs 86
One puter quart, one point Do one Gill Do 1 50
One Smoothing Iron 75
One pair Cotton Cards 75
One looking Glass 75
One churn one cann Piggins & two Coolers 1 75
One old pair of fire dogs 25
One Jug 1
$ 00

Agreeable to an Order of the Worshipful Court 400 33
of Giles County we have appraised the within
mentioned property
/s/ Jas McClaugherty Jr.
/s/ Jas Copleas
/s/ John Toney

The Will & Inventory of PETER DINGESS SR were recorded in Giles county, Virginia, Will Book A, pages 24-26. His wife, MARY “POLLY” DINGESS, survived him and died in about 1838. They are buried in the Oakvale Cemetery just above their home
near the entrance, and must have been the earliest burials. The Matthew French & John Chapman Chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution placed a stone on PETER”S grave with this inscription:


Near the entrance to the cemetery are seven graves, no doubt all DINGESS. The monument for PETER DINGESS on the left end of the row of graves and the monument for CAPT. WM SMITH is on the right end. Their daughter, SARAH, is also believed to
be buried there.

1.) marked by native stone, M. D. on head stone. (MARY “POLLY” DINGESS?)
2.) marked by native stone, but no lettering.
3.) marked by native stone, P. D. on head stone. (This stone has been placed at the foot of the grave. PETER DINGESS.)
4.) marked by native stone, but no lettering.
5.) marked by native stone, but no lettering.
6.) ELIZABETH SMITH, WIFE OF CAPT. WM SMITH 1769-1843. (This is the d/o PETER DINGESS who first married Charles Neill & second married William Smith, who is buried next to her.)

The cemetery is on a high hill off the old highway. To reach this location from Oakvale, exit off 460 East.

Appalachian Ancestors
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Updated February 20, 2003

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