William Ramey--Elkhorn's first settler

by Jeanette Elswick
(As taken form the Elkhorn City Enterprise, Thursday, May 11, 1972)
The founder of Elkhorn City, Kentucky, was William Ramey, who at the approximate age of 27, migrated here form Virginia. His Descendants say that he originally came from the area near Dobson and Mr. Airy ( Surry County), North Carolina, form which he moved to Virginia, and eventually Kentucky. William was an engineer by trade. He surveyed may tracts of land through North Carolina and Virginia, one of which still bears his name, "The Ramey Flats", in Dickenson County, Virginia. The 1810 Floyd County census lists two William Rameys, as well as a Jesse Ramey, a Daniel Ramey and a John Ramey. The grantees index of all deeds recorded in Floyd County Kentucky, deed books A and B from 1800 to 1825, affecting land in Pike County and in Letcher County on Elkhorn Creek, show that William Ramey bought 200 acres of land, (Book A, Page 354), located on Russell Fork and Elkhorn Creek, from Robert G. And Susan R. Scott, September 24, 1816, So it was about 1810 when William Ramey settled in this rugged valley of Eastern Kentucky.
The name Ramey is French, originally spelled Remy. The earliest Ramey to settle in America was probably Jacques Remy, born about 1630. He was a Huguenot refugee, who came to America as an indentured servant in 1655. In 1671 he an Mary Miles were married. The christian name of Miles, which was the maiden name of Jacob Ramey's wife , has since been bequeathed to Ramey sons and descendants other than Ramey's for generations. Jacob Ramey died prior to 1721, for his will was probated in Westmoreland County, Virginia, December 5, 1721. This same Jacob Ramey is believed to be related to the William Ramey, who settled in Elkhorn City, Kentucky.
The exact location of William Ramey's first home is unknown, but in his will (probated in 1866) he mentioned that some legal papers were burned up in 1838 or 1858 (date not legible). His home, probably a one room log cabin, located near the mouth of Elkhorn Creek, very likely burned at this time.
Long before William Ramey came here, this section was explored and owned by land speculators. Records in the Pike County Courthouse show that Rev. James C. Madison's 1100 acre survey was made December 20, 1790. This was twenty years before William Ramey's arrival. This Rev. James C. Madison, was a cousin to James A. Madison, fourth President of the United States. G. Tom Hawkins, a descendant of Ramey's told an interesting story about William Ramey's wife. He said she was a sister to President James A Madison. Hawkins also stated he knew the location of her grave on the Elkhorn City Cemetery. It is a fact that the Rev. James C. Madison, first owner of this land was a first cousin to President James A. Madison, but no proof has been found to substantiate the relationship between the Ramey and Madison families.
The 1830 Pike County Census lists a William Ramey and family totaling twelve. (Ramey was spelled Remy in the 1830 census). There is no possible way of knowing if all listed in the 1830 census are William Ramey's children.