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Introduction to Extraneus
Book XII
Strange of the Carolinas

Virginia - South Carolina - Georgia

American Stranges Reviewed

The oldest and largest Strange lineage in America originated in New Kent County, Virginia, in the mid 1600s, in an area first called Blisland Parish, and later named Saint Peter’s Parish. The scant and fragmentary records that survive from that colonial time do not provide us with enough data to prove any European ancestry, but we strongly suspect that Strange of Virginia might have been a branch of the seafaring family of Stranges from the region around Bideford and Barnstaple, Devon, England, about fifty miles north of Plymouth. Stranges from Bideford owned and operated several small, ocean-going vessels called snows and brigantines. In that one ship was built in New England, registered in Bideford, Devon, and used to transport tobacco from Maryland to Devon, we can reasonably postulate that Devon Stranges emigated to three parts of America, namely Massachusetts, Maryland, and Virginia.

We have no sure idea when the family Strange of Virginia first established itself in America, but we have transportation records as old as 1619, and several continuous parish records starting from 1689. By commencing our count from the first reliable records in the 1680s and 1690s, we may confidently say that Strange of Virginia is older than ten generations. The editor belongs to the tenth generation, and has identified certain branches with progeny belonging to the thirteenth and fourteenth generations.

For the purposes of tracing and classification, we have found it convenient to divide this large and expansive family Strange of Virginia into two parts: Strange of Blisland and Strange of the Carolinas. Members of the family began to migrate and scatter themselves throughout Virginia Colony during the 1700s, and Halifax County, Virginia, became home to a large family of Stranges. Strange of Blisland is the older, principal line, and we have successfully traced many branches of this family to their present locations, or to extinction. A couple of brothers in the second generation of Strange of Blisland sired offspring who migrated southward from Halifax County in the 1770s, and we have collectively called these two branches Strange of the Carolinas.

Alexander Strange, Sr., and his wife Anne, of Saint Peter’s Parish, New Kent County, Virginia, are generally regarded as the progenitor and progenitrix of the Strange of Blisland family, described in Book XI. Two sons of Alexander founded families that eventually emigrated southward and westward, chiefly to South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and points west. These two sons were named Henry Strange (circa 1685-1746), founder of Strange of Dan River, and Robert Strange (circa 1707-circa 1765), founder of Strange of Swearing Creek.

This great division in the Strange family of Blisland Parish or Saint Peter’s Parish occurred in the second generation, among sons born between 1685 and 1716. Henry and Robert, identified herein as the first and eighth children of Alexander, established the Strange branches that migrated from southern Virginia, to the west and south, broadly defining the southern lineages of Strange of Virginia. The opposing, northern lineages of Strange of Virginia, which have already been described in Strange of Blisland, generally moved northward and westward. The northern lineages are junior to Henry’s line, but senior to Robert’s line.

Historically, we find it convenient and expedient to characterize these two large branches of the family as having once comprised the northern and southern lineages of Strange of Virginia. However, in modern times, after so many decades of migration and perturbation, our geographical division has been rendered somewhat useless. Members of both the northern and southern lineages may now be found widely scattered throughout several regions of the United States. Representatives of both lines may today be found living side-by-side in the same state, and sometimes in the same county. In order to place any individual among the Strange of Virginia, the genealogist needs to determine first to which of the lineages his subject belongs, either the northern Strange of Blisland, or the southern Strange of the Carolinas, for the two branches have been separate and distinct from one another for nearly three centuries.

How desirable soever it may be to present a single, unbroken narrative for Strange of the Carolinas, the editor has determined to exclude from Book XII the earliest colonial records, preferring instead to relegate those details to the extensive, introductory chapters of Book IV, Book V, and Book XI. To further study the earliest generations of Strange of the Carolinas, the reader needs to refer to Book XI, Strange of Blisland, which covers the early colonial period from 1619 to 1689, and includes the important biography of the progenitor Alexander Strange, Sr. If the reader wishes to investigate the trans-Atlantic connections with Strange of Devon, he must turn to Book IV, Strange of Wessex, or Book V, Strange of Eastern America.

Strange of Swearing Creek covers five generations of descendants of Robert Strange who lived in Virginia and North Carolina during the 1700s and 1800s. Gideon Strange, Sr. (circa 1732-circa 1770), founded a branch of this family we call Strange of Oconee, which migrated from Virginia to North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Texas. Representatives of this line living today generally belong to the tenth and eleventh generations.

Strange of Dan River commences our discussion of the copious descendants of Henry Strange. Henry’s progeny were numerous, and created many branches, several of which survive in the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth generations. This lead chapter treats individuals who moved from Virginia into Tennessee and Kentucky. The lines descending from Dan River are named Strange of Chester, Rowan, Laurens and Chattooga, and Sturgeon Creek, and were established by men in the third and fourth generations born between 1726 and 1792.

Mitchell Strange (1726-1788) founded the family Strange of Chester, which moved from Virginia to South Carolina, Georgia, and several points farther west, namely Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma. From this line there sprang two others: Strange of Wateree River and Strange of Tickfaw and Amite. Strange of Wateree River started in Virginia, with Edmond Strange, Sr. (1745-1806), but reëstablished itself in South Carolina, and its members relocated to Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, and even Wisconsin. The Reverend Isham Strange (1755-1821) was born in Virginia and emigrated to Georgia and Mississippi. His descendants, called Strange of Tickfaw and Amite, lived chielfy in Mississippi and Louisiana, but also in Alabama, Florida, Texas, and Oklahoma.

Strange of Rowan arose in Virginia, from James Strange (1728-1785), and its branches relocated to North Carolina, Tennessee, and Missouri. John W. Strange (1791-1850) gave birth to Strange of Jefferson and Moniteau, and that line gave rise to Strange of Bagnell, founded by Francis Marion Strange (1856-1935).

Strange of Laurens and Chattooga is the name applied to Amos Strange (1759-1842) and his descendants. Amos was born in Virginia, and lived in North and South Carolina. His sons William Bradford Strange, Littleberry Strange, and Amos Bradford Strange I respectively established the lines known as Strange of Walnut Grove, Strange of Littleberry, and Strange of Sand Mountain. Walnut Grove was a settlement near the Old South Carolina Meeting Ground, where immigrants from the Carolinas congregated, having moved to northwestern Georgia. William Bradford Strange’s family was sizeable, for it produced Strange of Pond Springs and Strange of the Umpqua Valleys, and Strange of Boonesville. Representatives of the Strange of Littleberry family survive today, but they are scarce, having mostly merged with collateral lines. Amos Bradford Strange I’s descendants continue to flourish, but they are likewise few in number.

John Anderson Strange (1824-1895) moved most of his family to Oregon in the 1870s, and they established Strange of the Umpqua Valleys. However, John’s second eldest son Alexander Taylor Strange I (1850-1932) remained behind in Illinois, and his twin sons Algy and Eury founded Strange of Mount Pleasant and Strange of Hillsboro. The present genealogy owes its existence to Alexander Taylor Strange, otherwise known as ‘A.T. Strange’ or ‘Alex.’ Alex compiled and published Strange: Biographical and Historical Sketches of the Stranges of America and Across the Seas in Hillsboro, Illinois, in 1911. Having published his work, Alex maintained correspondence with his Strange relations for twenty more years, and after Alex’s death in 1932, several members of the family maintained the correspondence, notably Colonel William Alexander ‘Bill’ Barton of San Antonio, Texas. The work was once chiefly performed by Alex’s daughter-in-law Floy Belle Strange née Cannon of Hillsboro, and then Floy handed the materials to her grandson, the present editior John R. Mayer of San Francisco. And thus, from 1911 until the present year 1993, over a span of eighty-two years, three generations of genealogists have managed to somehow preserve and expand our knowledge of these families Strange.

Our family has long believed that the Revolutionary soldier Amos Strange had a much younger half brother named William Henry ‘Henry’ Strange (1792-1868), who was raised in Virginia and moved to Tennessee. These men were apparently born some thirty-three years apart, which seems to be an incredibly long period even for half siblings. If our dates are reliable, then we must conclude that Henry was merely eight years of age when his father Edmond died in 1800. We have received reports that Henry Strange visited his half brother’s family in South Carolina, perhaps about 1810, when Henry and his full brother Parnum are said to have migrated into Tennessee. William Henry Strange founded the family we call Strange of Sturgeon Creek, members of which lived in Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama, Ohio, Missouri, and New Jersey.

During the first three centuries of American history, most persons surnamed Strange were simply farmers, and Stranges living on the expanding frontier were generally illiterate, even as late as the 1840s in Missouri. In colonial Virginia and Maryland, the common crop and currency was tobacco. We have evidence that Strange farmers cultivated an even greater variety of crops and partially engaged in animal husbandry in the early 1800s.

More than one dozen Stranges were veterans of the War of the American Revolution (1775-1783), and the number of Stranges serving both sides during the Civil War (1861-1865) was probably more than two hundred. Virtually all of the earliest Revolutionary soldiers were lowly privates, serving in local militias, but certain Stranges managed to achieve the rank of colonel by the 1830s. Two Stranges achieved the rank of admiral in the twentieth century.

James Strange was a joint patentee to 1,290 acres in Virginia in 1635. Understandably, with the passage of time, the acreages available to pioneers continued to diminish, such that homesteads acquired in the 1830s were about 160 acres, but only 80 acres in the 1870s, and just 40 acres in later years. By the late 1800s, Stranges across the country gradually began to abandon farming, and started to engage in merchandising. As affluence and higher education became more generally available, near the turn of the century, Stranges began to enter professions.

Hereditary rights and privileges may have once existed in the crown and proprietary colonies, but few Stranges ever had the means to create dynastic wealth. The earliest surviving signature of one Henry Strange in 1677 happens to be an "x" mark, and the majority of Stranges in America remained illiterate pioneers of poor and modest livings throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Some Strange households in the Virginian counties of Albemarle, Fluvanna, Halifax, and elsewhere, obtained properties and slaves, and seem to have begun passing those properties to succeeding generations, but permanent roots seldom took hold in any place. We have several records of hereditary owners of properties in Virginia who sold their real estate to kinsmen, affined relatives, or friends, in order to emigrate to other territories.

People surnamed Strange in Canada and United States have often demonstrated the same migratory, peregrine spirit as their pioneer predecessors. Even after the frontiers vanished, Stranges continued to move around the continent, pursuing careers and chasing employment. During the twentieth century there have lived a great diversity of persons named Strange: doctors, ministers, dentists, computer experts, entrepreneurs, Biblical archaeologists, linguists, writers, mechanics, store owners and operators, insurance executives, realtors, lawyers, mayors, sheriffs, and judges.

American Stranges Reviewed

All told, there have existed and continue to exist far too many Stranges and L’Estranges to reliably count and describe. A few Stranges and Strange descendants have risen to national prominence, but a few Stranges have earned for themselves enormous condemnation. Recently, one Strange in Kentucky was sentenced to sixty years in prison for the murder, decapitation, and incineration of his wife, and another Strange in Missouri was adjudged guilty for the murder of his wife and two sons. The spectrum of Strange diversity ranges from this base, murderous level, to the level of the U.S. Presidency, and various ranks: noble, religious, fraternal, sororal, and professional.

Stranges once explored and developed the wilderness of Canada and the United States. They farmed and once participated in the great and terrible War of 1861, and then began to civilize America, by attending the National Congress of Farmers, by joining Masonic societies, by building churches, schools, and institutions, and by sending their sons to professional schools, to become doctors, ministers, and magistrates.

For the greatest part, Stranges have consistently lived decent, law-abiding, and civic-minded lives. There have long been two great tribes of Stranges, namely Strang or Strange of Balcaskie, Fifeshire, Scotland, which arose in the thirteenth century, and the older Extraneus or le Strange of Mercia and East Anglia, or the families surnamed le Strange, L’Estrange, and Strange that originated chiefly in Salop and Norfolk, England, which first appeared in the twelfth century. We believe that both tribes came to America.

Several extraneous and unrelated immigrants, freedmen, authors, and actors have from time to time adopted the surname Strange, or L’Estrange, and the name has sometimes been applied to fictional characters, comic superheroes, rock groups, and the like.

Stranges have existed, or have been newly created Strange, in a variety of provinces and states in North America since 1619. We may view these Strange lives as being perfectly illustrative of Anglo-American and Scots-Irish culture in North America, for we have examples of pioneer Strange families in places as far removed as Massachusetts, Georgia, Oregon, and Alberta.

The family le Strange of Norfolk dispatched a younger son to Ireland in the sixteenth century to join the class called the English Ascendancy, and that family flourished as the military and religious cadet branch called L’Estrange of Westmeath and elsewhere in central Ireland. The Strang of Balcaskie family of Fifeshire, Scotland, established the Protestant branch surnamed Stronge at Tynan Abbey in Northern Ireland, and the same Scottish family frequently varied the spelling of their surname from Strang to Strange. Thus, there were two hubs of Strange migration: those persons surnamed Strang, Strange, and Stronge of the Balcaskie ilk, living along the Scots-Irish axis, and those persons surnamed le Strange, Strange, and L’Estrange, positioned along the line from Norfolk to Salop to Eire, called the Anglo-Irish family.

When Great Britain expanded its colonial boundaries to envelop North America, the subcontinent of India, and the continent of Australia, persons surnamed Strange and L’Estrange, and one titled Lord Strange, emigrated to these places, and launched careers that helped develop each region. In most cases, we do not have the records and remembrances needed to reconstruct the migratory histories of Stranges and L’Estranges completely and conclusively, but we may at least note the trends and relations that chiefly demarcate all of the major lines called Strange or L’Estrange.

From beginning to end, Stranges have lived at many social stations and in many communities throughout the United Kingdom and North America. The sons of the Count of Brittany surnamed Extraneus came out of the Conquest and rose to prominence on the March of Wales during the reign of Henry I. From that time forward, about 1100 a.d., the Breton Stranges can be found at critical points in occidental historical time through a broad expanse of territories, including Cyprus, Ireland, America, India, and Australia. It is a rare and wonderful thing to have memory and cognizance of the past, and the collective experiences of persons named Strange happen to give us some comprehensive examples of agrarian, warring, migratory, and erudite lives.

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