Letter by Lewis Gravely Pedigo, 17 January 1924

Shorewoodplace Footprints & Odysseys

Comments:  The letter below was written by Lewis Gravely Pedigo (1858-1938) [#135-932].  He was son of John F. Pedigo [#135-93], son of Henry [#135-9], son of Robert "Robin" Pedigo [#135]. 

It was graciously submitted for inclusion in our pages by Paula Markins Mangrum, who writes:  "My line is from Ned's brother Robert.  This letter is a copy that was typed by my grandfather, William Roy Parkhurst; I'm not sure where he got it from.  My grandfather's mother was Selina Elizabeth "Bettie" Pedigo Parkhurst, d/o Jesse Anderson, s/o Robert, s/o William, s/o Robert, brother to Edward. Granddaddy wasn't really a researcher. he was from Macon Co., Tennessee, and claimed to be related to most everyone in Macon and Clay County, Tennessee, somehow or another. These are very near Monroe and Barren Co., Kentucky, where many of the Pedigos of both brothers settled."

The Story of the 
Two Pedigo Brothers Robert "Robin" and Edward "Ned" (Peregoy)
as written by Lewis Gravely Pedigo (1858-1938)

"Roanoke, Virginia 
January 17, 1924

"Mrs. G. E. Miley 
2705 Griffin Avenue 
Richmond, Virginia

"Dear Mrs. Miley:

"Some time ago I promised to write you some account of my family name, and to explain to you the connection between it and your maiden name, Peregoy. In my own immediate family there is a well-defined tradition that two young sons of Henry Peregoy, near Annapolis, Maryland, ran away from their home and never returned. These two boys were named Robert, or Robin, and Edward, or Edwin, and were respectively twelve and eight years of age. They explained to their immediate descendants that they fled from the oppressions of a tyrannical step-mother. I can give you only one side of the question, as I have never had the advantage of hearing the step-mother's version of the affair. The story goes that this step-mother was a devotee of fashion and of the gaieties of society and that she pressed the two step-sons into all sorts of menial service and did not give them any opportunity of education. Under the stress of this situation the older boy, Robert, being sent to drive in a herd of milk cows one afternoon, failed to return. Later, he began worrying about the younger brother, whom he had left under the tender mercies of the dreaded step-mother. He went back and succeeded in getting a clandestine interview with the younger brother, then only eight years of age, and persuaded him to go with him.

"An interesting item in the story is that the step-mother was especially proud of her fair and beautiful complexion and, among other cosmetic precautions, she usually set aside a jug of milk with which to wash her face the next morning. The two boys, before their final departure, gathered up a lot of green walnuts, squeezed the juice from them and poured it in the jug of milk, and shook it up. I have always regretted that they did not have the nerve to hang around and observe the effect of that mixture on the complexion of the lady and report it to their posterity.

"The two brothers wandered as far as the York River Valley in Virginia, remaining there until they were grown men. Then they worked their way through the wilderness to the South Piedmont Region of Virginia to the locality now covered by Henry and Patrick Counties. They were among the pioneers in that region and took up large areas of land under royal grants. Robert settled on the North side and Edward on the South side of Smith's River. Any well-informed surveyor in Henry County to this day can point out a very ancient tree known as Pedigo's Corner. This Colonial landmark is on Mulberry Creek near the town of Martinsville, Virginia. Robert Peregoy, or Pedigo, as the name came to be spelled in that generation, made his home on the watershed of the Leatherwood Creeks. He lived in this locality through the period of the Revolution. He did not fight in the Revolution, would not fight, and if he had fought he would have fought on the English side. In fact he was so strong a Tory in his convictions that he would not even allow his horse or gun to be used in the Revolutionary cause.

"The evolution of the name Pedigo received a new impetus at this time. In investigating some old records in Henry County, I find one deed to my great-grandfather Robert in which the family name is spelled five different ways, for example, Peregoy, Peregory, Pedigoy, Pedigoe, and Pedigo. His eldest son was Henry, his son John F., and I, Lewis G. Pedigo, am the son of John F.

"All the Pedigos in the South are descended from these two runaway children. They are scattered from the POTOMAC to the RIO GRANDE. Wherever you meet them you will find among them a well-crystallized tradition that they are descended from the Perigords of Southern France and that Royal Blood flows in their veins. The name Perigord, from which Peregoy and afterwards Pedigo are derived, is an extremely ancient and illustrious name in France. One of the most distinguished and interesting representatives of that family was the father of modern diplomacy, Charles Maurice Talleyrand de Perigord. It will be remembered by all discerning students of history that this remarkable man dominated the great Congress of Vienna in 1814. This fact is all the more astounding when we consider that he represented in that congress the conquered and downtrodden nation of France. It will be remembered that this famous congress of diplomats was composed of more brains than has ever been in a congress of this kind, not excepting any one of the numerous similar congresses since the World War. Talleyrand represented France; Metternich Austria; Castlereagh, England; and the Czar Alexander of Russia furnished our own Woodrow Wilson a precedent by representing, in person, his own dominion. "Thereby hangs a tale." Depending wholly upon memory, I quote from a Catholic Review printed about forty years ago, a passage which, to any descendant of the Perigords, should be of transcendent interest. The reviewer stated that the Czar Alexander came by way of Paris and Versailles on his way to Vienna. Of course, according to all conventions, he would have been logically the guest of King Louis XVIII. On the contrary, he elected to invite himself to be the guest of Prince Talleyrand, thinking thus to flatter Talleyrand and use him in the intricate machinations of the forthcoming Congress, "But Talleyrand was insensible to such delicate attentions. He knew that he was descended from the ancient and illustrious family of Perigord who were dominant in Southern France before the Romanoffs had held court on horseback or crossed the Urals or had been heard of in Europe. No, Alexander did not use Talleyrand by Talleyrand molded the Czar like wax beneath his fingers." Talleyrand's correspondence with Louis XVIII setting forth the secret details of the conferences at Vienna was withheld from publication by the will of Talleyrand until thirty years after his death. It is of further interest as illustrating the subtle ability of Talleyrand that he once said to his cousin King Louis XVIII, "There is something inexplicable about me that brings bad luck on a government that neglects me." It is a matter of history that the great Napoleon feared Talleyrand, Hate him, and yet could not get along without him. This ancient and illustrious family was descended from the Counts of Perigord, who had reigned as sovereigns before the ancient County of Perigord had become absorbed by the Crown. This fact was alluded to when King Louis Phillippe came to bid Talleyrand farewell on his death-bed. On this occasion Talleyrand, indicating by him manner a subtle meaning in his words, said, "Sire, this is a great honor for our house." It is said of him that "He could trace his pedigree farther back than that of the Capetian dynasty, for he was descended in direct line form the Counts de Grignoles, Princes de Chalais, who asserted that they were a younger branch of the suzerain Counts de Perigord, and in consequence adopted the proud motto, 'Re que Dious.'

"Another form of this motto which appears on the ancient coat-of-arms of the Talleyrand-Perigord family, expressed in modern French, is "Rien que Dieu." The meaning of this idiomatic and rather arrogant motto is, when freely translated, "There is nothing above us but God Almighty."

"After the Bourbon Restoration, chiefly engineered by Talleyrand himself, his cousin, Louis XVIII, on the occasion of his first reception of Talleyrand at Compiegne, evidently had these facts in mind. He said to Talleyrand, "Our houses date from the same period but my ancestors were more successful than yours. Had it been otherwise, you would now be saying to me, 'Pray take a chair, sit near me and let us discuss our business.' Today I say to you, 'Be seated and let us chat.'"

"The derivation and the variants of the name Perigord are of peculiar historic interest. The ancient Province--or, strictly speaking, County--of Perigord was the territory occupied by the barbarous tribes known in ancient Gaul as the Petrocorii. I once discovered in an old authority a still more ancient form, Petrocordii. This of course is a Greek derivative and obviously means "a stony-hearted people." This tribe is mentioned in Caesar's "Commentaries" among the names of those he had to content with in his invasion of Gaul. Of course they were licked, as everything was licked that went up against Julius Caesar, but the Petrocorii, alias Perigords, alias Pedigos, for 2000 years have practiced up their resistance to the kaisers who invade that same country at intervals, and finally we have learned how to whip them. It is a strange coincidence that when the late German Kaiser invaded the same country, a nephew of mine by the name of Pedigo, a lineal descendant of the ancient tribes of the Petrocorii, volunteered and went back 4000 miles to defend the same territory. It is also a striking fact that after arriving in France he was placed within the limits of the ancient County of Perigord for his intensive training. We had a cousin by the name of Katherine Pedigo, who happened to be the first Red Cross nurse leaving Roanoke for the front in the World War. She was with the University of Virginia unit. By another strange coincidence she was placed as head nurse in a military hospital in the town of Perigeuex. This was the old capital of Perigord and is identical with the ancient Roman town of Vesunna. The old Perigord Cathedral is located there.

"At some time in the near future I may write you a brief supplement to this imperfect sketch and in any case I shall take pleasure in sending you an exact copy of the Perigord coat-of-arms.

"Sincerely your cousin,



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