Let’s talk about Brocks Gap families, starting with one couple, Emanuel Roadcap and wife Elizabeth Cherryholmes Roadcap. They married 212 years ago (1810). These two people are the direct ancestors of thousands in Rockingham and across the nation. Their eleven children married into the Turner, Fulk, Hoover, Beard, VanPelt, Ritchie, Shoemaker, Miller, Hiser, and Sprinkle families. They had at least 77 grandchildren, and who-knows-how-many great-grands. If you have Hoover roots in Brocks Gap or Fulk ancestors from the Shenandoah Mountain, Emanuel and Elizabeth are probably your ancestors. If you have Roadcap roots from the Gap, they are definitely your ancestors.
Emanuel’s and Elizabeth’s families were in the colony of Virginia for decades before they were born. Researchers found that his ancestors Hans Jacob Rathgeb and Barbara Haller Rathgeb left Zurich, Switzerland in October 1734 with other members of the Reformed church movement. After many misadventures, the group arrived in Philadelphia May 29, 1735. A Virginia planter had paid Hans Jacob Rathgeb’s passage to the New World, and he and wife Barbara worked for a number of years to earn their freedom. They located in what is now Page County, VA.
Elizabeth’s father William Cherryholmes was the second generation in Virginia. His father, also named William, was a British convict sent to the colonies as punishment. More on that intriguing story in another column.
Emanuel Roadcap was born about 1786 near Harrisonburg, son of Peter and Mary Roadcap. Peter owned 100 acres of land in Brocks Gap in 1802, which may be how Emanuel and Elizabeth met. Her parents, William and Susannah Bible Cherryholmes, lived in the Dry River area, probably around Dull Hunt Road, William and Susannah owned a couple hundred acres and sold some to Emanuel in 1824 to help get them started.
Emanuel was recognized locally as a leader. In 1812, he was appointed overseer of Dry River road from what is now Fulks Run to the Pendleton county line on the mountain. In 1847 his son Jacob Roadcap took over the responsibility.
In November 1824, Emanuel bought the 229-acre Adam Bible Sr. place from William Cherryholmes. The Bible family cemetery is on this farm on Dull Hunt Road. In 1838 and 1844 Emanuel bought more Gap land. Some of his neighbors were Richard Custer (at the mouth of Dry River) and Philip Baker (near Walkbridge Lane).
Elizabeth and Emanuel had eleven children: Absalom Roadcap, Martha R. Fulk, Margaret R. Shoemaker, Mary R. Hoover, Hannah R. Hoover; Stephen Roadcap, Susannah R. Miller, Isaac Roadcap, Elizabeth Roadcap (single), George Roadcap, Jacob Roadcap.
The Roadcaps were self-sufficient farmers, with a farm valued at $2,500 in 1850, a little above average in the Gap. In addition to 200 acres of improved land and 200 unimproved acres, his farm implements were worth $100. His livestock included 6 horses, 5 milk cows, 9 head of cattle, 11 sheep, and 20 hogs, for an estimated value of $600. That year he harvested bushels of wheat (200), Indian corn (200), oats (40), peas and beans (1), potatoes (5), sweet potatoes (3). They harvested pounds of wool (20), butter (300), hops (2), maple sugar (30), molasses (5), beeswax and honey (20), plus six tons of hay.
Fulks Run had no organized churches before 1860 but traveling minister Elder John Kline often preached near the Roadcap home. In 1858 Kline baptized George Roadcap and his mother [Elizabeth]. On April 17, 1859, Kline baptized Emanuel after a meeting at Hoover’s schoolhouse.
A horse kick killed Emanuel May 11, 1860; his obituary is in the Gospel Visitor, September 1860. His wife Elizabeth lived with their youngest son Jacob until her sudden death January 21, 1876. “She was taken sick while at the table eating. As soon as her illness was observed she was carried to the bed and died in a moment later.” She was in the 84th year of her age.
The Civil War interrupted Emanuel’s estate settlement. Administrator George W. Fulk held a sale of personal property in late 1860, but he couldn’t finish settling the estate for several reasons. Some customers had paid with their bonds (IOUs), but a fire at Pennybacker’s store destroyed them in 1861. Sale summaries were recorded at the courthouse, but they were burned in 1864. In early 1861, Fulk was away in Confederate military service. The heirs did not want Fulk to pay the estate debts, and the courts were in too much confusion to compel the payments. Some of the sales customers had paid with Confederate bonds, and George had invested other sales proceeds in Confederate bonds. There were at least three lawsuits about the estate which weren’t settled until the 1880s.
Emanuel and Elizabeth are probably buried in the Roadcap family cemetery off Third Hill Road. We plan to erect a monument soon. Contact me at email@example.com for details.