Here's a copy of the speech I gave in 2001 at the stone dedication ceremony for Elisha:
Company F, 10th Kentucky Cavalry, CSA
The Lester family name can be found back as far as the 1300’s in England. The original spelling is Lister – which was probably a derivation of the place name Leicester.
Lesters were arriving in America as early as 1623. A Thomas Leister, age 33 was a resident of James City, Virginia in 1623. John Lister was the master of the ship Blessing that arrived in Virginia in July 1635.
It is believed that Elisha Lester descends directly from a Bryant Lester born about 1730 in Lunenburg County, Virginia. This Bryant Lester served during the French and Indian War of the 1760’s. He married Sarah Winbush about 1749 and they ran a mill near Juniper Creek near Lunenburg Courthouse in Virginia.
One of their sons was Abner Alexander Lester, great-grandfather of Elisha Lester. Abner was born on August 8, 1750 and married Martha “Patsy” Arthur about 1770 in Montgomery County, Virginia. Martha’s mother was a Cherokee Indian. During the American Revolution, Abner served in Captain Daniel Trigg’s Company of Montgomery Militia. This unit served in several engagements with the British including the Battle of Guilford Courthouse in North Carolina. About 1801, Abner and Martha moved to Russell County, Virginia. After moving to Floyd County, Kentucky, Abner settled in the area that is now Wyoming County, West Virginia.
The grandfather of Elisha Lester was James Lester who was born about 1767. James married Mary Elswick and they had three children. Mary was the daughter of John and Susannah Elswick.
Elisha’s father was Edmund Lester – youngest son of James and Mary Lester. Edmund was born about 1800 in Pike County. In 1825, Edmund married Sarah “Sallie” Stiltner – daughter of the first pioneers of what is now Buchanan County.
Edmund and Sallie had nine children – including five sons who all served during the Civil War. Elisha’s brother Michael is buried on Pounding Mill at Hurley and we hope to order a stone for him soon. Jacob is probably buried near Weller Yard and we hope to find his gravesite soon. During the war, Elisha served in both the 21st Virginia Battalion and the 10th Kentucky Cavalry.
On September 4, 1852, Elisha Lester was married to Malvinia “Viney” McClanahan – the daughter of William McClanahan and Nancy Blair. On July 2, 1855, Elisha received a grant of 39 acres here on Grassy Spring Fork of Rock Lick Creek and it was here that he is buried.
Elisha and Viney had a large family of eleven children:
Margaret “Polly” who married C.M. Hurley
Sarah “Sallie” Lester who married John Blair
Isaac Lester who married Nancy Dotson
Pricey Lester who was married to William Lester then Peter Coleman
John Lester who married Chloe Blankenship
Mary Lester married Leander Davis
Henry H. Lester
Matilda Jane Lester who married Rueben Coleman
Elisha died of heart failure on November 7, 1901. Viney lived until 1912 and is buried here beside her husband. Today we dedicate this new stone and honor the memory of Elisha Lester, a pioneer of Buchanan County, a veteran of the Civil War, and a true American. Thank You.
Speech given by Ed Talbott
Genealogist, Lt. Col. V.A. Witcher SCV Camp #1863 – Grundy, VA
May 6, 2001
at Elisha Lester Cemetery, Grassy Spring Branch, Rock Lick, Buchanan County, VA