|LeComptes of Castle Haven||
© 2004-9 Kirkwood A. LeCompte
"LeComptes of Castle Haven."
|Sketches of Some Famous LeComptes|
Immigrants Anthony & Hester |
Stained Glass Artist Rowan LeCompte |
Judge Samuel Dexter LeCompte |
Pioneer Charles LeCompte | Congressman Joseph LeCompte | Congressman Karl Miles LeCompte |
LeComte Racehorse | Game Warden E. Lee LeCompte | Secretary Edward W. LeCompte
Anthony came of age during the rule of King Louis XIII and, more importantly, his Chief Minister, Cardinal Richelieu of the Roman Catholic Church. Long before the revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685), Anthony's family must have felt the increasing pressure to convert to Catholicism and may have even been forced to give up their land due to geographic restrictions on the practice of their religion.
Anthony fled his mostly Catholic homeland for England sometime after La Rochelle fell in 1628 to Richelieu's army, a foreboding of the end of protestant privileges, especially for the small number of Huguenots living north of Paris. In England, Anthony is reputed to have fought for the causes of King Charles I as a Lieutenant in the British Army, and even earned titles. However, as a French Huguenot (that is, a Calvinist protestant), Antoine would have been more likely to serve in the victorious New Model Army of Cromwell rather than the defeated Royalist Army of King Charles. In 1819 his great-grandchildren, Thomas and Daniel LeCompte tell us that Anthony:
Unfortunately, the brothers' testimony is the only reference to English knighthood that can be found. A search in May 2004 by William Hunt, Windsor Herald for the College of Arms in London, concluded that no knighthood of Antoine LeCompte (or its various spellings) is to be found in England. However, there remains the possibility that Antoine carried his family Arms from the European continent rather than for service to the English King.
After the Civil war in England between the Cavaliers and the Roundheads, and the subsequent execution of King Charles, Anthony headed for America. Whether his trip was self-financed or aided by others in the Huguenot community is currently unknown, but we do know that Anthony would later sponsor the crossings of other French Huguenots in the 1660s, such as Jean Gautier (John Gootee Sr.) who was also from Calais.
Anthony arrived on the Chesapeake Bay before 1655, possibly as early as October 1650, and acquired 75 acres of land, "Compton," on the Western Shore near St. Mary's in Calvert County, Maryland. However, the Eastern Shore tended to attract those who wished to practice their religion freely, particularly French Huguenots. So, Anthony embarked on a scouting trip around 1658 with a man named Horn. They both decided that waterfront property on the Choptank suited their needs. Anthony probably considered the Eastern Shore a very safe place - perfect for the family he envisioned raising there - despite its remoteness and even the threat of Indians.
We know from the church register of St. Helen's Chapel Bishopsgate in London that Anthony returned to England in 1661 and married a young French woman, Hester Dottantte (also known as Esther Doatloan) from Dieppe, Normandy. Hester (most likely pronounced 'es-stair') was perhaps 20 years younger than Anthony. We know nothing about Hester's life before marriage, but we presume her family also fled France because of religious persecution.
We don't know how or where Anthony and Hester first met, but the proximity of Dieppe to Calais means the families may have been known to each other previously, or they may have lived in the same section of London along with other French emigrants of that period. Perhaps Anthony returned to England with the intention to secure a wife, gather supplies and start a family. We do know they settled on Anthony's 700 acres, a land grant from Lord Baltimore, which was later patented as 800 acres, on the Choptank River in the New World, a place first known as St. Anthony, and later referred to as Castle Haven Neck.
Anthony and Hester raised their children along the creek and bay that would later bear their surname, and which became part of Dorchester County in 1669. Anthony was chosen as one of the county's first justices of the peace a few years before his death in 1673.
Editor's Note: Where was Anthony baptized? Who was his family in France? With whom did he fight in England? Is there really a coat-of-arms attributable to him? How did Hester and her family come to be in London? Who was her family?
His most popular work is undoubtedly the "Creation Rose," set above the west front portal of Washington National Cathedral in 1976. This spiritual masterpiece, 25 feet in diameter, contains over 10,500 shards of glass that unite, with the help of the sun's rays, to illuminate LeCompte's abstract vision of the beginnings of our universe.
The National Cathedral web site describes Rowan's early years as follows:
"As a thirteen-year-old boy visiting the Cathedral in 1939, he was awestruck by the north rose window, the masterpiece of artisan Lawrence Saint. LeCompte resolved that day to learn everything he could about stained glass.
"Long conversations with Cathedral architect Philip Hubert Frohman led to his first Cathedral commission when he was just sixteen years old. He visited the Cathedral on January 2, 1942, to show Frohman his watercolor design for a little window in tiny St. Dunstan's Chapel (now the Cathedral Center for Prayer and Pilgrimage). Frohman marveled at LeCompte's sketch and LeCompte left that day with an offer from the Building Committee to create the window.
"As a young Army soldier during World War II, he found himself standing in Notre Dame Cathedral. With him on that historic day was another soldier, Charles Matz, who would become the principal author of the iconographic scheme for the Cathedral's eighteen clerestory windows. When LeCompte returned home in 1946, he began his formal arts education studying with Ben Benn and at the New School of Social Research in New York. Further studies came at the American University and the Institute of Contemporary Arts in Washington, D.C."
Rowan's precision, dedication, and artistry captured the imagination of Norman Rockwell who first witnessed the young artisan patching a stained-glass window in Westminster Abbey. Years later, after Rowan and his wife Irene shared their latest designs with Rockwell in his Stockbridge studio, Rockwell decided to adapt his recollection to canvas. The finished work, which became the cover of the Easter edition of the Saturday Evening Post in 1960, shows Rowan, kneeling on a wooden support, tools-in-hand, intently patching a larger-than-life stained-glass recreation of the Resurrection.
In 2001, Rowan LeCompte offered this benediction upon the stained glass in his beloved National Cathedral: "May all the windows work together to achieve a great visual music that will sing harmoniously with the architecture so to truly lift the heart and in every moment of daylight offer up its radiant prayer of passionate praise and gratitude."
Genealogy of Rowan
For more on Rowan LeCompte, visit this Apr-2009 NPR archived summary and radio interview.
Donors are sought to finish a documentary film, "Let There Be Light," about the creation of Rowan's final masterpiece.
The above trailer is courtesy of Peter Swanson. Learn more about this promising film at GlobalViz.com.
Cover of Saturday Evening Post is © Copyright Pineapple Publishing, Curtis Publishing Co., All Rights Reserved.
Judge Samuel Dexter
By all accounts, Judge LeCompte was not a neutral party in the days of "Bleeding Kansas." He is on record as writing:
Although he avoided and condemned the violence and fraud that prevailed around him, LeCompte did go out of his way to lend federal judicial support to the political interests of the pro-slavery legislature in the Territory, a legislature that was considered "Bogus" by many for it was elected by a flood of Missouri citizens, labeled "Border Ruffians," who claimed to be Kansas settlers. For championing their cause, and to honor their powerful political ally, the pro-slavery contingent renamed their intended state capital LeCompton and made Judge LeCompte the President of the LeCompton Town Company.
For his support of slavery in the 1850s, LeCompte was vilified by the leaders of the Free Soil and Abolitionist movements for the rest of his life. Some historians have even allowed him to be blamed for the "sack of Lawrence" by a mob of pro-slavery men, an event of which he had no prior notice and in which he had no authority to intervene anyway. President Pierce, the man who appointed LeCompte in the first place, even attempted prior to the 1856 election, to remove LeCompte as a plausible scapegoat, an effort that Congress failed to support.
There is no doubt that LeCompte found himself on the wrong side of history. However, those who were personally acquainted with LeCompte have consistently described him as a diligent student, a respectable lawyer, a prominent Democratic politician, and possessed of the personal instincts and demeanor of a gentleman" and as a "learned" and "good humored gentleman, more violent in his words than in his acts."
Long before he was appointed a territorial Judge to Kansas and thrust into the national spotlight, Samuel Dexter LeCompte had proven himself a solid lawyer and respected politician. Born and raised in Cambridge, MD, he attended Kenyon College in Ohio for two years before transferring to Jefferson College, PA, where he graduated with honors in 1834 at the age of 20. Returning to Maryland, he studied law with the honorable Henry Page of Dorchester County.
From 1837-1844 he practiced law in Westminster, Carroll County, MD, outside Baltimore, and was elected to the State Legislature (1841-1842). It was here that he met Camilla Anderson, who became his wife in 1841. After the birth of his second child in 1843, they relocated to Cambridge, MD, where Camilla gave birth to another 8 children, most of whom died in infancy. In 1850 he was defeated as the Democratic candidate for Congress. In 1854, they returned to Camilla's hometown of Baltimore, where he continued his law practice and remained active in the Democratic party.
In October 1854, LeCompte was appointed by President Franklin Pierce to serve as chief justice of the supreme court of Kansas, a position he held until March 9, 1859. After his days as a federal judge, LeCompte continued to live and practice law in Leavenworth, KS. After the war he renounced his position on slavery and became a republican. He served as a probate judge, served on the state legislature, and was even elected chairman of the Republican Congressional Committee of the First District in 1874.
It is not known when his wife died, but his eldest son died of a tragic fall in 1860, leaving only two living children. LeCompte moved in with one of these sons in 1887 in Kansas City, and died there in 1888.
Genealogy of Samuel Dexter
Samuel's parents, Samuel and Araminta, were both previously married and widowed, so in addition to his three younger sisters, Henrietta, Margaret, and Araminta, Samuel had two half-brothers, and two half-sisters. His elder half-brother Edward Price LeCompte served as Clerk of Dorchester County, MD and had a son, Edward White LeCompte, who was Maryland's Secretary of State under three governors. His other half-brother, Joseph Smoot, died in early manhood. Little is know about his half-sisters, Elizabeth and Mary Smoot.
Samuel's younger sister, Henrietta, married Joseph Richardson Eccleston, brother-in-law of Samuel Woodward LeCompte. This is of interest because Samuel W. LeCompte's brother, Benjamin Woodward LeCompte is the one who sat down with two blind family members to record the often quoted LeCompte Family Manuscript in 1819. Clearly, Judge Samuel was well acquainted with Benjamin, beyond the consideration that they were 4th cousins, which helps explain why he possessed an original copy of the 1819 manuscript.
[Editor's note: does anyone know more about Samuel D. LeCompte's progeny? Any living descendants? Does anyone know how he got on the short list to be chief justice of Kansas?].
Like so many colonial families of the Eastern Shore, the LeComptes of Castle Haven can mostly be found in Maryland from the 1600s through the 1800s. The pioneer spirit led very few away. One early exception was the father of Charles LeCompte, Robert Winsmore LeCompte.
Although his motivation is not on record, we do know that Robert sold his land interests for 1000 lbs of tobacco and £5 cash to his brother James in 1748, and then headed toward the Kentucky frontier with his wife.
That pioneering spirit was passed on to their son Charles who was born during their travels through, or shortly after their arrival in, Monongahela County, PA (what is today Pittsburgh). There is sketchy and conflicting information about the family life of Robert and his wife after leaving Maryland. But we can attribute the majority of the LeCompte frontier families to the descendants of their son Charles.
We first learn about Charles in his twenties, when he leads a party of would be landclaimers down the Ohio and up the Kentucky River in 1775. Anthony Lindsay and other Marylanders joined up with LeCompte, who in turned joined up with William McConnell and other Pennsylvanians at Fort Pitt. We learn from the research of Kenneth Lindsay:
In 1779, LeCompte would lead a wagon train of pioneers, including the Lindsay family, back to the claimed lands. These expeditions would preserve the name LeCompte to the present day, as part of the Kentucky River and its tributaries were named in recognition of his leadership. See LeCompte's Bottom and LeCompte Run. The region known as Stamping Ground and Buffalo Spring in Scott County, KY, also apparently owe their name to LeCompte and McConnell, who, although they may not have been the first to see the place, gave the ancient herding trail and watering hole of the American Buffalo it's lasting name.
In 1780 Charles is recorded as having served with George Rogers Clark in a campaign against the Shawnee Indians, and as protecting the fort at Georgetown during the Revolution. He also appears to have fought at the bloody Battle of Blue Licks on August 19, 1782 against a superior force of Indians and British-Canadians.
Charles married sometime between 1779 and 1787 (probably closer to the latter), Elizabeth Coons, presumed daughter of David Coons, in Jefferson County, VA. Elizabeth, based on ongoing research, appears to be the widow of Coleman Brown (d. abt 1776), and also Reuben Waits (d. abt 1780). Together they reared 7 or more children, one of whom would become a Kentucky Congressman.
Genealogy of Charles
The marriage date of Charles & Elizabeth is unclear. One daughter, Priscilla LeCompte who married John Faught, has been assigned a birthdate prior to 1787 and as early as 1780. Another son, John LeCompte who married Sibby Brewer, must also have been been born about the time of Priscilla. Five other children appear to have been born between 1788 and 1797. While these latter children are likely the children of Elizabeth, it is not so clear that the earlier children were.
Personally, I have often wondered whether there was an intervening generation between Charles (born abt 1749) and Robert Winsmore LeCompte (born abt 1700). My only reasoning is the large gap in dates, and the fact that Charles didn't name any children Robert, but he did name at least two of them John. Unfortunately, we know little about Robert once he headed West. Even less about his other son, Samuel LeCompte. There is certainly room for additional research in this area.
As the son of pioneer and revolutionary soldier Charles LeCompte, Joseph had a family name well known along the Kentucky River. He was even raised in a place named for his father, LeCompte's Bottom in Henry County, KY. Of course, his own name became popular among his extended family as parents honored the Congressman when naming their children.
As a young man, Joseph served in the War of 1812 with the Kentucky Riflemen and participated in the Battle of New Orleans with Davy Crockett. He entered politics in his twenties as a Democrat, serving in the State House of Representatives in 1819 and 1822 before being elected four consecutive times (1825-1833) to the U.S. House of Representatives from the State's 6th district, the last time as a Jacksonian. He was a good friend of his fellow Congressman from Kentucky, the "Great Compromiser," Henry Clay.
Joseph married shortly before becoming a Congressman and had a son soon afterward. However, the couple must have found Congressional life too busy for family rearing, as their next child wasn't born until Joseph decided not to run again for federal office. After his time in Washington, D.C., he continued his political career closer to home and was elected to the State House again in 1838, 1839, and 1844.
He remained in Kentucky his whole life. When he wasn't pursuing his political career, he attended to agricultural interests. Joseph died fairly young, in his fifties, and left behind a wife and 5 children, the youngest of whom was only 7.
Genealogy of Joseph
[Editor's note: Actively seeking descendants of Congressman Joseph LeCompte. Please contact email@example.com.]
At the age of 51, he became a Congressman, and was elected for 10 straight terms (1938-1958). During his tenure, he took an active interest in agricultural improvements and conservation as well as working tirelessly for better conditions for miners and laborers, a position that often grouped him with progressives rather than conservatives in the republican party. He was a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; he worked on committees for public lands and insular affairs; and twice he served as Chairman of the Committee on House Administration.
In 1959, at the age of 71, he voluntarily returned to his newspaper in Corydon. Even after retiring, he remained a contributing editor until his death in 1972.
The Congressman was honored by his family and hometown friends when the Corydon Public Library was named after him in 1977. The original library owes its start to the family of Karl's mother, especially Mrs. Ben Miles, as early as 1897. When it came time for a new library building in 1977, Karl's sister Miriam, who served as the local librarian for many years, donated a building on the town square. The town chipped in additional funds for remodeling while the library trustees secured grants for furnishings and equipment. The bulk of remodeling was financed by the estate of Karl's wife, Dorothy Tye LeCompte.
Karl was a member of the Iowa Historical Society, Sigma Delta Chi, Sigma Delta Kappa, Phi Theta Pi, Mason and Elk.
of Karl Miles LeCompte
Karl M. LeCompte had three brothers. Clarence LeRoy LeCompte and Charles Edward LeCompte died as infants before Karl was born, and William Rollin "Rollie" LeCompte died unmarried at 35. Karl also had three sisters. Miriam Belle "Dit" LeCompte was born March 19, 1890 and never married. She resided in the LeCompte family home in Corydon until her death in July 1982 at age 92. She is buried near her brothers and parents. Martha "Nell" LeCompte married Dr. Jesse Ullman Reaves and moved to Mobile, AL. They had no children. Coy married Abel Lynch Hill, resided in NC and had issue, including grandsons that carry the Congressman's name: LeCompte Hill and Karl Hill.
Interestingly, the extended family of Karl Miles LeCompte has always pronounced their name "LeCount." In fact, many LeCompte families of the Eastern Shore today pronounce their name "LeCount," while others pronounce it "LeCompt" with a short "o" sound. How Antoine pronounced it is anyone's guess, but probably "LeComt" with a long "o" sound, as is common in modern French.
[Editor's note: Actively seeking collateral descendants and ancestral information of Congressman Karl Miles LeCompte. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.]
For a brief time in the 1850s, a chestnut brown colt, known as Lecomte, was considered by many to be the fastest race horse in the world. Lecomte was named for the planter Ambrose LeComte (not a Castle Haven descendant, but may have been spelled LeCompte) after he gave the animal to his horse training friend Jefferson Wells as a gift. The town of Lecompte, LA, was named after this famous competitor. Back in the days of Lecompte High School, the yearbook carried an image of the racehorse on page one.
This description of Lecomte was published in "Spirit of the Times," November 9, 1856:
Lecomte raced and frequently won at the Fairgrounds racetrack in New Orleans. His maiden victory was reportedly in 1853 at the Metairie Race Course, winning at mile heats, the second heat being the fastest run to that date. A rivalry grew between Lecomte and another thoroughbred, Lexington, who defeated Lecomte in 1854. Lecomte later avenged his loss and handed Lexington his only career defeat. In 1856, Lecomte was purchased for $10,000 by Lexington's owner, Richard Ten Broeck and sent to England where he died of colic the following year.
Each year at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans, there is a $100,000 1 mile race named in honor of Lecomte, namely the "Lecomte Stakes," also known as the "Lecomte Handicap."
Game Warden E. Lee
Before the Maryland Conservation Commission appointed this 41 year old into the role of Game Warden, E. Lee had served as President of the Dorchester County Fish and Game Protective Association. During his tenure with the State, he also served as President of the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (1925-26), Chief of the American Fisheries Society (1930-31), and Chairman of the American Game Conference in Baltimore (1938). His duties made him a frequent and popular speaker to sportsmen and conservationists across the State and beyond.
Early in his administration, LeCompte played a key role in enacting the first statewide hunting license law. Anticipating licensing revenue of $35,000 in the first year (1918), state officials actually generated $61,770.43.
Another interesting tidbit from the past comes from a "Backtrack" posting by the Baltimore Sun looking back 75 years from August 6, 1995:
A line from his 1947 obituary reads, "Always an advocate of game laws with teeth in them, Mr. LeCompte largely was responsible for the system of game and bird sanctuaries throughout the State. An ardent conservationist, he sponsored much legislation protecting streams and the State's game and bird life. He always urged hunting in moderation."
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) honored the conservation work and values of E. Lee LeCompte by giving his surname to the LeCompte Wildlife Management Area (WMA), which serves as a public, 500 acre refuge for many native flora and fauna, an outdoor laboratory for wildlife biologists, and a nature walk for visitors.
Genealogy of Edwin Lee LeCompte
Delia died 29 July 1944 at the age of 67 (see obituary). E. Lee died a couple of years later on March 16, 1947 at the age of 72 (see obituary). They are buried in Christ Church Cemetery in Cambridge. Lucille Phillips died unmarried at the age of 86 on March 4, 2001 in Cambridge. Despite having 11 siblings, Mr. LeCompte was survived by only three nephews, the youngest of whom honored his uncle by naming his youngest child Edwin Lee LeCompte. His namesake still wears the watch his great-uncle received after 25 years of loyal service to the State of Maryland.
Secretary Edward W.
Edward was the second oldest of nine children, 4 of whom died in infancy. His father, a clerk for Dorchester County, died when Edward was 11. Edward's paternal uncle was Judge Samuel Dexter LeCompte.
Edward served as Register of Wills for Dorchester County for twenty-four years. In 1866, he was Commissioner of the Dorchester and Delaware Railroad, the first railroad in Cambridge, MD. In 1868 he was director of the first telegraph company in Dorchester County. Active in politics, he served as Secretary of State from 1886 to 1893 under democratic Governors Lloyd, Jackson, and Brown.
As Secretary, Edward earned $2,000 a year. According to the Maryland State Archives, "An article from The Evening Capital of April 8, 1890 shows that a large part of his responsibilities as secretary of state was opening the governor's incoming mail; that task frequently took him half of his workday."
Edward served as the first President of the Maryland Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR), his maternal grandfather, Edward White, being the patriot ancestor. He was elected on April 20, 1889 when thirty-six charter members met in the Old Senate Chamber in the State House in Annapolis to organize the eighth oldest SAR society. It was in that very same room that General George Washington had resigned his commission as Commander of the Continental Army.
Edward was the only one of his siblings who married, and since he had no children, he marks the end of one branch of Anthony LeCompte's family tree.
Genealogy of Edward White
[Editor's note: does anyone know whether Edward's mother remarried after her husband's death? She appears in 1850 census with 5 children and the Goldsborough Family].