It appears that “Sauvain” was the originial spelling of the family name. Sovain is also found spelled: Sovine, Souvain. Abraham Sovain is DAR patriot A209706 for assisting the colonist by paying the 1783 Supply Tax, Source: LIB OF VA, PERSONAL PROP TAX 1782-1802, REEL # 124; HENINGS STATUTES, VOL XI, PP 112-129. Before arriving in the colonies, he was born about 1741 in France or Switzerland. I have proven the connection of each generation.
A History of Monroe County, West Virginia p. 404 gives the Sovain family as: Abraham (d. 1805) (Lydia). C: Nancy, Lydia, Henry, Polly, (_____ Wade), Kate (_____ Spickard), Elizabeth (_____ Smith), and Susannah (_____ Cooper).
Provided by Alicia Keatley Polk:
Lydia was the daughter of Abraham and Lydia Sovain. Abraham arrived in Philadelphia 26 Oct 1768 on the ship Crawford, which sailed from Rotterdam via Cowes, which is adjacent to Portsmouth, England. From 1768 to 1792 he lived in Winchester, Frederick Co, VA. He lived in Botetort Co VA from 1793 to 1797, and in Monroe co VA from 1799 until his death in 1805. After his death, his wife Lydia moved to Blacksburg, Montgomery Co VA, where she lived until her death in 1828.
Their children were:
Mary, b Frederick Co VA, m Thomas Wade 1787, Frederick Co VA
Catharine, b Frederick Co VA, m Joseph Spickard 1793, Botetort Co VA
Susannah, b Frederick Co VA, m Isaac Carper 1797, Botetort Co VA
Rebecca, b Frederick Co VA, m Samuel Clark 1797, Botetort Co VA
Elizabeth, b Frederick Co VA, m Henry Smith 1797, Botetort Co VA
Abraham, b 16 Oct 1785 Frederick Co VA, d 17 June 1786, Frederick Co VA
Henry, b 1783 Frederick Co VA, m 1) Milly Brown, 1805, Monroe Co VA, 2)
Thomas, 22 Aug 1826, Montgomery Co VA, d 1859, Lawrence Co KY
Lydia, m James Keatley 2 May 1809, Montgomery Co VA, d 1869 Monroe Co VA
Ann, b Botetort Co VA, m Samuel Burk 30 Dec 1812, Montgomery Co VA
On Oct 26, 1768, the ship Crawford, Charles smith master, docked at
Philadelphia, having completed a voyage from Rotterdam via Cowes. Male
passengers debarking in PA were required to sign an oatf of loyalty to
the British crown, due to uneasiness caused in that colony by the heavy
influx of immigrants, mostly from Germany. Of a passenger list of 198,
86 “subscribed to the usual qualifications.” Among them was “Abraham
Saurain.” The record does not reflect whether he brought a wife to
America, or where he boarded the Crawford at Rotterdam or at Cowes
20 Jun 1773 there was the christening of Maria Catharina, their daughter, at the Evangelical Reformed Church, Frederick, Frederick, Maryland.
On 2 Sep 1777, Joseph Jones and his wife executed to Abraham Sovain a
deed of release of Lot 44, Winchester, in Frederick Co VA, indicating
the paying off of a mortgage. The borrower executed to the lender a
“deed of lease” and upon payment of the loan, the lender executed to the
borrower a “deed of release” thereby putting ownership in him.
On 8 March 1780, Abraham Sovain and Lydia Sovain, his wife, of
Winchester, executed a deed of release to Elias Holding “Gaoler of
Frederick County” conveying an undivided one-half of Lot 44. Abraham
affixed his signature; Lydia signed by her mark.
On 2 May 1780, William Baylis conveyed to Abraham Sovain Lot or
half-acre No. 203 in Winchester, being the corner of Cork and Cameron
The 1782 census of Frederick Co records Abraham Sovain as head of a
family consisting of seven whites and one black.
On 8 Apr 1784, Abraham Sovain and Lydia, his wife, executed a mortgage
to secure a bond of L100, exclusive of another mortgage, on Lot No. 203.
In Winchester on 16 Oct 1785 an early Lutheran minister baptised Abraham
Sovain Jr, son of Abraham and Lydia Sovain, and on Dec 9 of that year,
baptised one John William Heyl, with Abraham Sovine and his wife Lydia
as sponsors. On 17 June 1786 he recorded the burial of “Abraham
Sovain’s child Abraham aged 9 months and 12 days.”
On 9 June 1787, Mary Souvain (sic) was married to Thomas Wade in
Frederick Co. Other records confirm that this was a daughter of Abraham
Sovain, and the existence of a daughter of marriageable age in 1787
suggests that if he did not bring his wife with him on the Crawford, he
married not long after his arrival in Philadelphia.
On 7 July 1788, the ship LeBrie, a barque from London, arrived in
Philadelphia, carrying as passengers “Jean Pierre Sauvain, sa feme
Catherine, Abram Sauvain de Vinzestre en Virginie, and David Dauvain.”
While it is not indicated how these passengers were related to Abraham
Sovain, it is likely that, after the Revolution, Abraham’s financial
status permitting, he returned to Europe to bring these relatives to
America. No further record of Jean Pierre and Catherine has been
The first US Census lists Abraham Sovain as Head of Family with 7 white people and 1 black person in the household. This census does not provide details of the other persons gender or names.
The next record of the Sovains appears in Botetort Co, VA in 1793, when
Joseph Spickard married Catharine Sovain, and in 1797, when Isaac Carper
married Susanna Levain (sic) daughter of Abraham Levain (sic), Samuel
Clark married Rebecca Levain (sic) daughter of Abraham Levain (sic), and
Henry Smith married Elizabeth Lorain (sic). These records appear
pertinent in view of the fact that the handwritten records left much to
be desired in terms of spelling, and the fact that the written “S’s”
aaaand “L’s” of that time are difficult to distinguish.
In 1799 Monroe Co VA, now WV, was formed, and for a few years a court
was conducted at Sweet Springs. In the order book of that court it is
recorded that Abraham Sovain, jailer, was allowed $2.00 per day for his
attendance. Oren F. Morton, in his history of Monroe County, reports
that the court records of that county from March 1805 until 1811 have
disappeared. Notwithstanding, he reports the death of Abraham Sovain
there in 1805, survived by his widow Lydia and the following children:
Henry (Probably he who married Milly Brown in 1805, Monroe Co)
Polly Wade (no doubt Mary who married Thomas Wade in Frederick Co)
Kate Spickard (Catharine who married Joseph Spickard, Botetort Co)
Elizabeth Smith (who married Henry Smith, Botetort Co)
Susannah Cooper (probably she who married Isaac Carper, Botetort Co)
After the death of Abraham Sovain, his widow Lydia apparently moved to
Blacksburg, Montgomery Co, with the younger children. It was there that
James Keatley wed Lydia Sovine (sic) on 2 May 1809, with Harmon Sifford,
guardian, consenting for Lydia.
In the same county on 30 Dec 1812, Samuel Burk married Ann Sovain, no
doubt the Nancy who is listed as a survivor of Abraham, who was further
identified as the daughter of Abraham Sovain, deceased. In Dec 1815 the
will of Samuel Burks as probated, mentioning the testator’s wife, Nancy,
and on 22 Aug 1826 Henry Sevine (sic) married Catherine Thomas in
Montgomery Co. If this Henry was the son of Abraham and Lydia Sovain,
as is likely, this was his second marriage, as shown by the record of an
1805 marriage to Milly Brown in Monroe Co.
In 1821 Lydia Sovain made her will, showing that after the death of
Abraham, she had operated a grocery store in Blacksburg, apparently with
success, for she left, among other property, two lots in that town which
she had purchased since his death.. Nancy Burk, the widow of Samuel
Burk, had been her mother’s only assistant in accumulating her property,
and for this reason, and for the further reason that Nancy had received
but little of the estate of her father, while the other children were
reasonable well cared for, Lydia made her daughter Nancy Burk her sole
beneficiary and heir, referring to the other children, but not naming
them. Lydia apparently died in 1828, the year in which her will was
probated. Presumably the young widowhood of Nancy Burk provided the
older widow an additional reason to name her as sole heir.
In 1859 one Henry Sovaine (sic), 76, son of Abraham and Lydia Sovaine
(sic), and born in Giles Co VA, dies in Lawrence Co, KY. It is noted
that Giles Co was not organized until 1806, and that in 1783, the stated
year of Henry’s birth, the Sovain family was living in Winchester,
While the marriage of James Keatley and Lydia Sovain took place in
Montgomery Co in 1809, it is noted that, at least to 1805, the Sovain’s
lived in Monroe Co, where the Keatley’s also lived, near the mouth of
Indian Creek, and on Brush Creek. It is possible that the younger
people were acquainted before the death of Abraham in 1805; it is also
possible that the Sovain’s may have remained in Monroe County for a
few years after his death.
Morton stated that the name “Sovain” was French in origin, a fact
confirmed by the spelling “Sauvain” and by the names of Abraham’s kin,
Jean Pierre and his wife Catharine. That this family was Protestant is
shown by the baptismal records in Winchester. Many French Protestants
fled their native land to escape persecution in the 1600’s and 1700’s,
many settling in England and later migrating to America. Thus, it is
possible that Abraham or his ancestors fled to England long before 1768
and that it was from Cowes that he sailed for Philadelphia.
The above notes suggest that Abraham Sovain was essentially a townsman,
as distinguished from the Keatley’s, who were countrymen. In Winchester
he lived in town and had real estate dealings with the local jailer, and
that he later became a jailer suggests that he may have been employed
by, or in some position near to, the jailer of Frederick Co. It is also
likely that he operated a grocery store, since it is unlikely that his
uneducated widow could have begun and successfully operated such a
business without prior knowledge and experience. In this connection, it
is noted that she executed her will by her mark, indicating she had not
learned to write in her later years.
Abraham apparently was neither very rich nor very poor, it was still necessary for his widow to support herself after his death. He was a Huguenot who was literate in an age when many men were not; his wife was illiterate in an age when few women were otherwise. I have no record of his marriage
to Lydia or her maiden name. Some such record may exist in
Philadelphia. It appears that “Sauvain” was the correct family name,
probably corrupted by Anglo-Saxons attempting to spell the French name