Benjamin Borden Sr. came with and initially settled on the Opequon Quaker settlement in what is now Frederick County in 1732-33. He acquired a bit over 3,000 acres there, and then went to a famous “frolic” involving a few card games in Williamsburg. He won what became known as the Borden Grant from the son-in-law of Governor and Earl Gooch. He contracted with John McDowell, (contract dated October, 1737 and done at his home, called “Great Spring” literally right next to Lord Fairfax’s, “Greenway Court” in northern Virginia) for John to be his first and principal surveyor and help bring in enough settlers to fulfill the terms of the grant and have the deed for it recorded.
John McDowell and his wife, Magdalene, then were responsible for bringing into the grant most of the 92 original families in 1738-1739, and the deed for the grant was recorded in 1739 for a total of 92,100 acres. John McDowell was killed on December 25, 1742 and, just about a year later, his widow married Benjamin Borden, III. who had been long pursuing her. In fact when the surveying was being done for the first 92 families, and the paperwork being written up, Benjamin Borden Sr. had his son Benjamin Jr. live with the McDowells to help with the paperwork and such. So the second marriage was founded on relationships in the first.
Magdalene had children by both John McDowell and Benjamin Borden, III. Several children died, at the same time Benjamin Borden, III, died of smallpox in 1753, but there remained three children from the first marriage and one by her marriage to Benjamin Borden, III. Magdalene had no children by her third husband, John Bowyer, but that didn’t prevent him from trying to take a piece of what rightfully was to be inherited by her children. That mess, at least, was the shortest of the several lawsuits, “only” taking about nine years to resolve — about three years after the death of John Bowyer himself.
As for the Borden Grant, it included Augusta County, and most of several adjacent counties originally. The terms of the grant were that each original settling family were to receive 100 acres free and clear for agreeing to settle, and could purchase up to 1,000 acres total at the rate of 50 shillings per 500 acres. Many families had a few hundred acres, few purchased the full 1,000 acres. This meant that when Benjamin Borden died, in 1753, his wife still owned or held mortgages on well over 60,000 acres, as some of the purchases were being made over time through mortgages. John McDowell, for his services was granted 1,000 acres outright (1737 contract).
The Woods River Grant was probably named for the Woods family, Magdalene’s family, for whom Woods Creek, off the James River just north of Lexington was also named. Her brother, Richard Woods, was one of the first sheriffs of Augusta County, and she had at least nine siblings, sisters and brothers, who all were settlers on the Borden Grant, some of whom did acquire that 1,000 acres each, and more, as other settlers sold out and moved on. They acquired additional lands as they opened up, adjacent to the Borden Grant. She and her siblings were children of Samuel Woods and Elizabeth Campbell, not the Michael Woods and Mary Campbell of Albemarle County family, who may have been (researchers are still working on this) brother and sister respectively to Samuel and Elizabeth. Michael and Samuel were contemporary and did live in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, near one another in the 1730’s prior to moving to Virginia (a lawsuit from a merchant, surnamed Smith, in Pennsylvania shows this; he named members of both families in it, and described some of the relationships. The lawsuit was transferred to Augusta County, Virginia, after a point).
(Cecelia Fabos-Becker, historical and Virginia family history researcher, 25 Jan 2016)
Benjamin Borden (1675 - 1743)
Zeruriah Winter Borden (1680 - 1750)
Magdalena Woods Bowyer (1706 - 1810)*
Martha Woods Borden Harvey (1746 - 1823)*
Created by: Sue McDuffe:)
Record added: Oct 04, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 59606034