Michael Roark and Family

In compiling the information on Michael Roark of Hawkins County, Tennessee, several documents were used. Each document will be identified as the information it contains is presented.

In the first census of the United States for Rockingham County, Virginia we find Michael Rorok’s list.

It is important to note that we will see several variations of the spelling of Roark in reading this history.

In Michael Rorok’s census list of Rockingham County, Virginia, we see several familiar Hawkins County names. To mention a few: John Grisbee, Benjamin Grigsbee, Samuel Short, Phillip Kite, George Kite, John Kite, William Kite, Joseph Louderback, Zachariah Lee, William Hoard and it is apparent that these men lived in close proximity to one another.

In Goodspeed’s History of East Tennessee, page 875, Michael Rork is identified as Constable appointed to “wait on” the first empanelled grand jury for Hawkins County. The organization date for this circuit court was the first Monday in October, 1810.

Michael Rork’s Revolutionary War Pension Application – Application Number W 5 720 – Hawkins County, Tennessee

State of Tennessee)
Hawkins County ) Circuit County – December Special Term 1832

On this third day of December 1832 personally appeared in open Court before the Hon: Samuel Powel, one of the Judges of the Circuit Courts of Law and Equity of the State of Tennessee, now sitting for the County of Hawkins aforesaid, Michael Roark, a resident of the County of Hawkins and State of Tennessee aforesaid, aged about Eighty Seven years, who being first duly sworn according to law, doth on his oath make the following declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the act of Congress passed June 7th 1832. That he entered the Service of the United States under the following named officers, and served as herein stated at several times. That at one time he volunteered under Captain Michael Coger, and was promoted to and held the rank of Lieutenant in the Company commanded by said Coger during the campaign, which lasted about three months. That he volunteered in Rockingham County in the State of Virginia, in January 1781. That he left home about the 14th of said month under the command of said Coger, Major Guy Hamilton, and Colonel William Nall. That they first marched to Richmond, Va. After remaining there a day or two they crossed James River at Hog Island Ferry, and marched to the Tanyards near Suffolk – thence they marched to Stoner’s Mills – there Colonel Nall left them and was succeeded by Colonel John Dowyers. From thence we marched to Edmonds Hills where we remained several days – thence we marched to General Gregory’s headquarters in North Carolina – after remaining there some time, we marched back to Edmonds Hills again – thence to Stoner’s Mills, and near there we received our discharge – Was in no regular battle during this campaign. That he volunteered for the period of three months, but was detained in service a little longer, that at the time of entering the service he resided in Rockingham County, Virginia.

This Declarant further States that about a year before the period last mentioned, as well as he now recollects, he volunteered at Shenandoah Court House, Virginia, as an Indian Spy, for the term of three months under Captain Michael Rader, and served as a private in his company. We first marched to Tiger’s Valley and was stationed at Westfalls’s Fort, in Virginia. We were detained there about two months, when our provisions gave out, and the alarm from the threatened attack of the Indians, having subsided, we were discharged. Several months after this (say about nine) I volunteered again at Rockingham Court House, Virginia, for the period of three months, under Captain Robert Cravens – we marched to Warrick’s Fort at the Clover Lick in Green Briar Co., Va. We remained at that fort about two months, when there was a call for men at Kenawha, and our company was ordered to repair there. We started and my brother took my place, and served out the balance of my term. The last time I entered the service, I volunteered at Rockingham Court House, Va., under Captain William Baxter, to go out against Cornwallis. We marched about a hundred miles to a place called the Bowling Green where we heard of the defeat of Cornwallis, and returned having been absent about two weeks. I served during the several periods above mentioned, in all, about the term of eight months and a half. I removed from the State of Virginia in the month of April 1792, and settled in Hawkins County, Tennessee in the Month of May ensuing, where I have ever since resided. I was born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, on the 29th day of September 1745, and am now upwards of Eighty Seven years of age. Declarant further states that he has no documentary evidence of his various services or discharges, having lost all his papers – and that he knows of no person living by whom he can prove his service, except Charles Dyche who resides in Green County in this State (whose Affidavit is hereunto annexed) and who served in the same Regiment with this declarant one campaign. And, also a certain Spencer Breeding who resided in Russell County, Virginia, who also served one term with this Declarant, whose affidavit is hereunto annexed, Declarant not being able to get his personal attendance at this place. He further states that in addition to the officers above named he was well acquainted with Generals Washington and Morgan and others whose names he cannot now recollect. That he hereby relinquished very claim whatever to a pension of annuity except the present, and declares that his name is not on the pension roll of the Agency of any State. The Declarant further states that there is no Clergyman residing in his neighbourhood whose Certificate can be obtained.

Sworn to and subscribed in open Court 3rd December 1832 Michael Rork

  1. B. Mitchell Clerk

We, George Kite, Nicholas Long and Jesse Spears residing in the County of Hawkins, in the State of Tennessee, hereby Certify that we are well acquainted with Michael Roark who has subscribed and sworn to the above declaration, that we believe him to be eighty seven years of age, that he is reputed and believed in the neighbourhood where he resides to have been a Soldier of the Revolution, and that we concur in that opinion. And the said Kite further states that he lived neighbour to said Roark in Rockingham county, Virginia at the time he was in the Service, and (being then a small boy) recollects to have heard the friends & neighbours of said Roark say that he was absent in the Army of the Revolution. And the said Long also states that he has often heard his father speak of the Service of said Roark in the Revolutionary War, of his own knowledge. Said Witnesses also state that they all live in the neighbourhood of said Roark, and that there is no clergyman resident in said Neighbourhood or its vicinity. Sworn to and Subscribed in open Court the 3rd December 1832 George X Kite

(his mark)

Nicholas Long

Js Spears

And the said Court doth hereby declare its opinion, after the investigation of the Matter, and after putting the interrogatories prescribed by the War Department, that the above named applicant was a Revolutionary Soldier and served as he states. And the Court further Certifies that George Kite, Nicholas Long and Jesse Spears who have signed the preceding Certificate, are residents of said County of Hawkins, and are Credible persons, and that their Statement is entitled to credit.

Powel Judge of the Circuit Courts of the State of Tennessee

Following transcribed 1956 by Prentiss Price from photographic reproductions from the original file, sent by the General Services Administration

(On Jacket) 3, 350 Tennessee Letty Rork, widow of Michael Rork deceased a pensioner Act 7 June 1832 who died on the 9th January 1839 on Hawkins County in the State of Tennessee who was a private in the Compy commanded by Captain Coger of the regt commanded by Col Nall in the Virginia Military line for 8 months. Inscribed on the Roll of Knoxville at the rate of 26 Dollars 66 Cents per annum to commence on the 9th day of January 1839. Certificate of Pension issued the 6 day of June 1840 and sent to Hon. A. McClellan, House of Reps.

Arrears to the 4th of Mar 1840 $30.88

Semi-annual allowance ending 4 Sep ’40 13.33


Revolutionary Claim, Act July 4, 1836, Section the 3d

She further states that her said husband was placed on the pension list roll of the United States on the Sixth day of July 1833, at the agency at Jonesboro but afterwards transferred to the agency at Knoxville, Tennessee, which Certificate of Pension is herewith forwarded to the Department to which she refers never having made application for the arrearages because the amt. was not worth the expense and trouble of getting it.

Sworn to & subscribed before the this 13th day of February 1840 Letty X Rork

John Reynolds J. P. for Hawkins County (her mark)

State of Tennessee)
Hawkins County )

Personally appeared before me Nicholas Beckner Justice of the Peace in & for said County, Letty Rork, widow of Michael Rork deceased late a Pensioner of the United States, and the said Letty Rork being first duly Sworn by me States that she has no record of her Marriage or of the births of her children, never having kept any, & further saith not.

Sworn to & Subscribed before me this 21st day of May A. D. 1840 Letty X Rork

Nicholas Beckner J. P. for Hawkins County (her mark)


District of Columbia – I certify that Nicholas Becker Esqr whose name appears to the foregoing affidavit is now and was at the time of signing the same an acting Justice of the Peace for said County and that his Signature appears to be in his own proper handwriting.

Given under my hand this 4th day of June 1840. A. McClellan of Tenn.

In the 1840 Census, Letitia Rorack, aged 93, blind is listed as a pensioner – Hawkins County, TN.

The following is transcribed from film borrowed from the LDS in Salt Lake City, Utah. The original Circuit Court File was copied by Prentiss Price. This information was used as part of an application from a prospective member to the DAR, from which is was copied. “Hawkins County, Tennessee, Circuit Court Files: State vs. Elizabeth Walker, John Robertson, Jacob Rush and Jesse Creech. Jesse Walker had been confined to the jail in Rogersville on a charge of stealing a steer from Gabriel McCraw. In February 1824 he was admitted to bail, with the four named above as his securities. He promptly skipped the country and the State charged the securities with his bail. They tried to get out of it. Michael Rork makes oath that he was employed by Rush and Creech to hunt after Jesse Walker, that he was in the States of Alabama and Kentucky in search of said Walker, that he rode thirty three days in trying to take Jesse Walker to surrender him to the Sheriff of Hawkins County, that he must have rode nearly or quite one thousand miles after him, and that the parties must have spent nearly or quite one hundred dollars in trying to take Jessee Walker to surrender to Justice in discharge of themselves as bail for his appearance to the Circuit Court of Hawkins County to answer a charge the State against Jessee Walker. He further states that Jesse Creech accompanied him in to the State of Kentucky, near to a place called Rock Castle where they came up with said Walker and had like to have succeeded in taking him but 3was baffled by a masterly maneuver of the said Walker, and he further states that he does not believe that there is any reasonable prospect of the said Walker being taken to surrender in discharge of themselves as his bail. October Term 1824: Jacob Rush and Jesse Creech makes oath that they were induced to become bail for the appearance of Jesse Walker to the Circuit Court of Hawkins County to answer a charge the State against him because they were induced to believe that he was innocent of the charge & through the tears and prayers of his wife and Mother, and not for the purpose of facilitating the escape of said Jesse. They further state that they hired Captain Michael Rork (who is justly celebrated for catching runaways) to go in pursuit of said Walker to surrender in discharge of his bail. They further state that they had also hired Nathan Ward to hunt after him and that said Ward was gone twelve days. And that it cost them all upwards of one hundred dollars besides the loss of their own time in hunting after said Jesse Walker. They further state that they have used every exertion to take said Walker to surrender but having wholly failed, and that they do not believe that they will ever be able to take him. October Term 1824: John Grigsby, Joshua Smith, John Reynolds & James Sanders makes Oath that they are will acquainted with Capt. Michael Rork and would believe him when on oath, and that Capt. Michael Rork is esteemed to be among the best hands in the country to detect criminals and catch runaways.”


Will of Michael Rork recorded in Will Book 1, page 422 in the office of the County Court Clerk of Hawkins County, Tennessee, but the copy here presented is from the original will in File Box “R” in this same office. Last Will and Testament of Michael Rork. In the name of God Amen – I Michael Rork of the county of Hawkins and State of Tennessee being somewhat weak of body but of sound mind and memory, and knowing the uncertainty of life – do make and ordain this as my last Will and Testament – in manner following to wit – Item 1st I bequeath to my son James Rork one dollar and no more – Item 2nd To my daughter Sally Combs who intermarried with Elijah Combs I bequeath one dollar & no more – Item 3rd To my son Michael Rork I bequeath one dollar & no more Item 4th To my daughter Rebecca Tunnel who intermarried with William Tunnel I bequeath one dollar & no more Item 5th To my daughter Betsy Self who intermarried with Thomas Self I bequeath one dollar & no more – Item 6th To my daughter Sally Reynolds who intermarried with George Reynolds I bequeath one dollar & no more – Item 7th To my daughter Julia Kirkpatrick who intermarried with John Kirkpatrick I bequeath one dollar & no more Item 8th To my daughter Polly Morrisett who intermarried with George Morrisett – I bequeath one dollar & no more – and it is my wish and desire that she remain on the plantation on which I now reside as long as I or my wife Survive should she Choose so to do Item 9th It is my wish and I do will it that my wife should she Survive me is to remain on my plantation use and enjoy it as long as she lives – Item 10th To my well beloved Grand Son James Rork (Son of John Rork my Son) I will and bequeath the tract or parcell of land on which I now reside, to him & his heirs forever – but he is not to have possession until the death of myself & wife – reserving the use of it for our Maintainance – also I bequeath to him all my personal effects of every description subject to the payment of my just debts – Item 11th To my well beloved son John Rork I bequeath the four shares of a tract of Land I bought of the heirs of Charles Campbell joining the tract I live on, and containing about one hundred acres – Item 12th I do hereby appoint my well beloved son John Rork & my beloved grand son James Rork my Executors to this my last will and testament – and I wish them to qualify and Enter upon their duties without giving bond and Security believing that they will faithfully perform the trust hereby imposed on them – I hereby commit my Soul into the hands of a Merciful God before whom I must shortly appear – In testimony whereof I have hereunto Set my Hand & Seal this 25th day of August 1834. Michael Rork (SEAL)

Signed Sealed delivered and published as the last will & testament of Michael Rork in our presence date above – D. Alexander Joseph Mooney

Proven 4th February

I certify that this is a true and correct copy of the will of Michael Rork and that it has been compared with the original. Signed: Prentiss Price. Sworn to before me: Dennis Payne County Court Clerk

Rogersville, Tennessee, October 3, 1955


Family Information for Michael Rork

Michael Roark had four brothers: Timothy, Owen, Phillip and John. His two sisters were Mary and Nellie. Michael Rork born 29 September 1745 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, parents thought to be Timothy O’Roark and Sarah _____ . He married 1766 in Augusta County, Virginia to Letitia Grigsby born 1747 – 1749 in Augusta County, Virginia, parents thought to be John Grigsby and Rosanna Etchison (much conflict on this issue) – Michael Rork died 9 January 1839 in Hawkins County, Tennessee. Letitia “Letty” Grigsby Rork died (blind) 26 April 1844. Children of Michael and Letty Grigsby Rork as follows:

  1. James Rork born about 1767 in Virginia, married Nancy Finney. James died 3 July 1855 in Newport, Franklin, Missouri
  2. Sarah “Sally” Rork born about 1767 in Virginia married Elijah Combs. Sarah died 7 September 1855 in either Perry County, Kentucky or Bradley County, Tennessee
  3. Michael Rork born November 1778 in Rockingham County, Virginia married 1801 to Melinda Paine. Michael died 1844.
  4. Elizabeth “Betsy” Rork born about 1780 in Virginia married Thomas Self. Betsy died about 1875 in Greene County, Tennessee.
  5. Rebecca Rork born about 1780 in Virginia married William Tunnel. Rebecca died 1845 in Monroe, Tennessee
  6. Susan “Sally” Rork born 6 May 1787 in Virginia married George Reynolds. Susan died about 1875 in McMinn County, Tennessee.
  7. John Rork born about 1790 in Virginia married Margaret “Peggy” Blair. John died in Strahl, Hawkins County, Tennessee
  8. David Rork born 1790 – no other information available to this researcher
  9. Mary “Polly” Rork born 1794 in Hawkins County, Tennessee married 1814 to George Washington Morrisett in Hawkins County. Mary died 1880 in Hawkins County, Tennessee
  10. Julia “Judy” Rork born about 1796 in Hawkins County, Tennessee married about 1814 to John Kirkpatrick. Julia died 1864 in Hawkins County, Tennessee

We descend from Michael Roark as follows:

Michael’s daughter Mary “Polly” Roark married George Washington Morrisett in Hawkins County, TN. It is apparent from divorce decree that he deserted Mary and her children. This is probably why Michael states in his will that she could stay on his plantation. Mary’s son, Enoch Morrisett married Lucinda Helton in May of 1841 in Hawkins County, TN. Their son, James Phillip “Polk” Morrisett married Elizabeth Louisiana Kite in 1874 in Hawkins County, TN. Their daughter, Mattie Morrisett married Newton Phillip Short 23 December 1903 in Hawkins County. Their son, William Ross Short, born 9 May 1910 in Bulls Gap, Hawkins County, TN, was my father. Betsy Wright Stanford is my daughter.

Betty S. Mize 16 May 1998

Compiled by Betty S. Mize and Betsy W. Stanford – descendant granddaughters.

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