1004671_390242614431172_777391602_nWithout supporting documentation, both online and traditional family histories portray Joseph Thomas of Wake/Chatham Counties NC to be the son of Joseph and possibly Ann Spivey Thomas of Bertie County NC. This may be true, it’s just there’s nothing written from which to base it! And, none of the histories I’ve seen address Joseph’s neighbors in Wake County who he interacted with and who were also named Thomas. And to muddle the situation, just to the east in neighboring Johnston County, there lived Elisha Thomas who had earlier removed from Bertie County. This Elisha may be the son of Barnaby Thomas, the brother of Joseph Thomas who possibly married Ann Spivey. So, Joseph Thomas of Wake County and Elisha Thomas of Johnston County should be first cousins and it seems the two should have known of each other. And, this Elisha Thomas in Johnston County was listed in that county as executor in the 1763 last will and testament of a person named Joseph Thomas. There’s nothing online or in hard copy connecting Joseph and Elisha to each other or to Joseph Thomas in Wake.  And further yet, in Wake County, it appears the descendants of Joseph Thomas’ neighboring Thomas family included at least one with first name Elisha.

It’s mind boggling. How to make sense of this genealogical mess and where do we go from here? I have yet to figure out the full story of Joseph Thomas who appears ca. 1772 in the newly formed Wake County NC.

It’s maybe time to take a breather and let folks know where we’re at and to ponder the future and of where the records may carry us all. Please take in the following status report in hopes we’ll be able move forward with the same understanding. And, if you disagree, please stand up and be heard! Feel free to add to the discussion if you have differing opinions.

About Joseph Thomas of Wake County NC – Joseph L Thomas is believed to be born in Bertie County NC on 24 Feb 1747. What is the source of Joseph’s birth date? Some say his middle name begins with the letter L and some say his middle name is Luther …what is the source? Joseph appears ca. 1772 in newly formed Wake County and is believed to have married Martha Godwin. A neighbor of others with surname Thomas, this Joseph and family lived in Wake County until ca. 1800 when his family spread through Chatham and Moore Counties in a region that became present day Lee County.   The children of Joseph and Martha Thomas are believed to be:

  • John Thomas – born ca. 1770-1775, married Mary Oaks in Wake County and died ca 1850 in Moore County NC.
  • Joseph Thomas, Jr-born ca. 1771, married Dora Paschel and may have died in Moore County NC.
  • Frederick Thomas-born ca. 1770-1780, married Nancy Cox and died 1835 in Moore County NC.
  • Micajah Thomas-born ca. 1770-1780, appeared in records of Wake, Chatham and Moore Counties and disappears.
  • Martin Thomas-born ca. 1770-1790, married to Penelope Gunter and died 1830’s in Moore County NC.
  • Catherine Ann Thomas-born 1770-1800
  • Benjamin Thomas-born ca. 1775, married Priscilla Gunter and died ca 1819 in Chatham County NC.
  • William Thomas-possibly a son, born ca. 1790-1800, enumerated in 1830 Moore County NC.
  • Allen Thomas-born ca. 1798, married Ann Weldon, died 5 Mar 1881 in Moore County NC.

About Jacob Thomas. DNA and a single road order in early Wake County just may connect to a land grant in Anson County NC, leaving open an unproven possibility that the Thomas family of Anson descend through a Jacob Thomas who once lived near Joseph Thomas in early Wake County NC.

Jonathan and Nathan Thomas and others. Jonathan Thomas married in Wake County on 16 Apr 1781 to Sarah, the daughter of James and Sarah Holland. In 1794, Nathan Thomas was listed as administrator to settle Jonathan’s estate. Entered in 1792, surveyed in 1794, and issued in 1797, Nathan Thomas received a land grant in which Jonathan Thomas served as chain bearer. Asa Thomas also served as chain bearer on other grants issued to Nathan Thomas. Nathan Thomas disappears from Wake by 1800 and may be the Nathan listed later in Moore County NC census records.

Asa Thomas. Served in the Revolutionary War in the stead of Etheldred Jones to whom the said Asa lived in the household while learning the trade of blacksmithing. Asa never received a land grant or deeded land. He was listed as chain bearer for grants issued to Nathan Thomas. He married Pleasant Matthews, daughter of Joseph and Ann Matthews. Joseph Thomas’ son Micajah is named in the last will and testament of Redmond Matthews who may be Asa Thomas’ brother-in-law. Asa was listed as insolvent ca. 1797 and removed to Anson County NC where he’s listed in the 1800 census. In 1854 Wake County, and on behalf of Asa’s war record, Asa’s son David applied for a Revolutionary War pension.

Wanting to push the story of our Thomas family beyond the records of Wake County NC, it’s painfully frustrating knowing I must settle in a bit longer to the task of fully exercising this special time in our history. At a point where most have broken off the search to jump an unclear trail of records to another place and time, I’m still amazed and consumed by what’s not being said about our Thomas family. It’s the untold stories of Thomas who lived near and interacted with our own.

Soon, I’ll post possible connections through possible children of Asa’s son David. Note my use of the word possible J   Also, I’ll begin to look across the county line into Chatham to hopefully uncover some interesting connections leading to Indiana and Georgia. Stay tuned!

Sharing Memories

aunt-minA happy belated Thanksgiving to us all! Ma and the kids were propped atop the old oxen cart while the uncles stood guard over Pap who proudly showed off the Thanksgiving bounty. Hmmm…pictures like the one above enable us to remember days gone by. They refresh our memories, allowing us to cling a little longer to the ones we hold dear. The faces and places captured by photography live on through the power of sharing. We are but caretakers of memories and should not see ourselves as owners of old family keepsakes and photographs.

On this Thanksgiving, I ask you to honor the memories of times past. Make sure your photographs are labeled and dang it, spread them far and wide. Copy them, make more copies, digitize them and make them accessible. Don’t just put them on Facebook where the images are compressed with each sharing, but rather use Flickr or some other image sharing software.

And how many photographs do you have of family who split away and are no longer close? Make sure those photographs make it back to family whose lives would be brightened by such reunion. Use the act of sharing as a means of mending fences. Open your eyes to see beyond your own front door. Reignite conversation. Keep your ancestors alive, keep the family strong, and make sure you reach out to help others whose story is no longer told.

And about the image above, I’d like to say it captures my own family history, but it does not. The picture could have been taken at Thanksgiving but I know it’s not so. The photograph captures my wife’s ancestors in the late 1800’s Montreal Canada and I don’t think little girls living in Canada would be dressed in November the way they are in this picture.

How others celebrate their special times tell us much about our own memories. It’s important to share your pictures so that others can enjoy your memories as much as you enjoy seeing theirs.


Passing through Misenheimer NC, I’ve driven by this marker more than a hundred times since my days as an NC State student brought me to Raleigh. And never leaving the area, I’m blessed to have enjoyed a long affiliation with the university Crafts Center from which I’m nearing retirement.

I don’t think I have any immediate ties to the Barringer family who owned and ran this profitable mine in the upper corner of rural Stanly County. The Barringer family was a big deal in history with connections to gold, business, politics, and even war. Knowing little about the Barringer family details, I’ve pondered other questions as I passed the historical marker above.  What was it like back then? Did the gold mining destroy the beauty there and did it render the land an eye sore? Looking across the fields and nearby woods, what would it have looked like in the early 1800’s? I also wonder about my distant cousin Hartwell Spain Love and where he lived and what life was like for him?

Some say Hartwell is the son of old grandsire James, the first and oldest of our LOVE family to reside in the area. But, he’s not. Hartwell is instead likely to be the son of a younger James Love whose full name was likely James Allison Love. It’s been believed forever that old grandsire’s full name was James Allison Love, but it’s not. I could rattle on about that fact for hours though that’s not my intent for this post. Instead I wonder about the life of Hartwell Spain Love. He received land across the Rocky River from John Reed’s goldmine. Something happened and he lost his lands before moving to the area of Gold Hill near Barringer’s mine. Listed among many miners in the 1850 census, Hartwell was not enumerated as being a miner. So, what was his purpose in life and why did Hartwell remove himself to live in the neighborhood surrounding Barringer’s mine? Note that within ten years Hartwell moved again. This time to Iredell county where he lived until his death at Elmira NY in a civil war prison camp.

Now, bear with me for a huge change in thought. Two years ago, my wife and I gathered up my mom and met my sister and brother-in-law for a family vacation touring the eastern rim of the Grand Canyon. Paralleling the old Route 66, we left out from Flagstaff with a first stop taking place at a corner in Winslow Arizona. We later headed out across the desert on a horse with no name in search of Meteorite Crater. It’s a big hole and one that must be seen to be believed. Purchased way back when and still owned by the Barringer family, I wondered if there was a connection to the hole smaller in size located in Stanly County NC. Quickly skimming the plaques for clues, I saw mention of Pennsylvania and made the wrong conclusion that the mine was owned by some northern branch of the Barringer family unknown to me.


And now to the present.  Conrad Weiser, a friend, past Crafts Center director, and Barringer descendant stopped by my office to let me know of a recent find. He shared that the Barringer Meteorite Crater was originally purchased by Daniel Moreau Barringer Jr. who was born in Raleigh NC. His father, born near Concord NC, was a lawyer, represented NC in Congress, and was friend to Abraham Lincoln. Like his father, Daniel Barringer Jr received the finest of education and started a career in law. But, something pulled him in a different direction. A love of geology grew in Daniel Moreau Barringer Jr and led him to write a book on minerals and their commercial values. Like his ancestral family in Cabarrus and Stanly Counties, Daniel sought to find that of value hidden below ground. He purchased the Arizona Meterorite Crater in hopes of finding the meteorite he believed was there.


HilleryThe 1790 Wake County census enumerates Hillery Thomas as not white, and not slave, but as two “others.”  He is enumerated right in the middle of our THOMAS family and also near Etheldred Jones.  Hillery may have been Native American, but could have been a mix or free black:

Etheldred Jones        1-4-0-0-5

Frederick Davidson   1-0-0-0-0

Henry Wheeler          1-2-2-0-0

Hardy Johnson           1-0-1-0-0

Hardy Lilley                1-3-4-0-0

Hillery Thomas          0-0-0-2-0

James Moss                2-1-3-0-0

Jefre Lewis                  2-5-2-0-0

John Strickland Sr      1-1-5-0-0

Jonathon Thomas      1-2-2-0-0

John Stinson               1-2-3-0-0

Looking at the southern portion of the Markham map of Wake County land grants (at the top of the page), you’ll see in blue what appears to be the lands of Hillard Thomas.  Not dated, this has always puzzled me because there’s no land grant, deed, or court record in Wake County for the name Hillard, Dillard or Hillery Thomas!  ….hmmm, Hilliard?  Wasn’t there a Mourning Pope who married William Hilliard before marrying a Joseph Thomas?  Could Hillery be an emancipated slave ….or other?

In Franklin County to the north of Wake, the 1810 census enumerates Lettice Thomas as head of household for four others. Some suggest Lettice is the widow of Hillery Thomas of Wake and that Hillery’s offspring are shown in the 1810 Franklin County census.lettice.jpg

I would normally brush this off, but then there’s the last will and testament of Redmon Matthews (previous post) that names Micajah Thomas and is witnessed by Nathan (L) Thomas. Redmon names his brother David and his mother Lettice! What’s more, the will is also witnessed by Valentine Austin. Valentine was Hiwassee Saponi and was also identified as Melungeon (see family page) in numerous records. Valentine purchased land on Neill’s Creek (identified in red above)  from William Love.

Cool stuff, huh?  Well it’s just starting to get good, so hold on! Note that in Wake County there is an Asa Thomas who never owns land, but who’s clearly identified in many records.  Asa was listed on court ordered road work and was a chain bearer for several grants issued to none other than Nathan Thomas.  Normally chain bearers were family or someone close who walked with the surveyor and who could testify in the event of land disputes.

Asa Thomas married Pleasant Matthews, the daughter of Joseph and Ann Mathews as named in Joseph’s last will and testament dated January 1791. Joseph lived just south of Wake County on Neill’s Creek.

On 15 May 1854, David Thomas of Wake County applied for a Revolutionary War Pension on behalf of the services of his father Asa Thomas. Himself being 73 years of age, David Thomas named both his mother Pleasant Matthews Thomas and his only other surviving sibling named Charity, wife of Alsey Matthews of Cumberland County.  David Thomas stated that he had “been informed and verily believes that his farther [sic, father] the said Asa Thomas served as a Continental soldier in the Revolutionary war, a period of two years and upwards, that he entered the service of the United States from Wake County in the State aforesaid, that after the conclusion of said war he removed to Anson County in the State aforesaid where he died about five1 [?] years ago, the exact date not recollected by said declarant.” Asa Thomas appears in the 1810 Anson County census as:record-image_33S7-9YY6-STTF.jpg

And, in the 1850 census, David Thomas is enumerated in southern Wake County as:record-image_S3HY-6SX7-F85.jpg

This story should rightfully end at this point if it were not for an inquiry years ago about information I might have on a person named Hezekiah Bryant. Hezekiah Bryan (Bryant) lived in North Carolina, served in the revolutionary war and then removed to Tennessee. There, in Marshall County, Hezekiah Bryan applied for a Pension for Services in the Revolutionary War. Hezekiah’s pension request is rich in information including the fact he had lived in the home of Etheldred Jones where he learned the trade of blacksmithing!   And, even more interesting, the pension clearly connects to Asa Thomas of Wake:

As a private in company commanded by Colonel Coulston (Goldston), his unit was raised soon after Gates was defeated at Camden. He went first as a substitute for Asa Thomas who had been drafted. He was received into service on Deep River on which river the Corps to which he belonged was raised. He served under commander Goldston for three months. During the period he frequently was engaged in scouting parties in pursuit if Tories which were in the neighborhood of American Soldiers. And when his duty had expired, he received discharge from his commanding officer for a tour of duty not less than six months. Hezikiah could not state the precise dates as he gave the papers to Asa Thomas.

He served second in place of Frank Jones as a twelve month man in a unit raised in Wake County. The unit was commanded by Capt. Dixon and Lieutenant Dickson, as commanded by a Col. Dickson under General Greene. He entered service as private at Granville Court House in Jun 1782. The unit marched through Hillsboro, Guilford and Rowan counties before going to the hills of Santee in South Carolina. He remained there about two months and then marched to Fort Thompson where he met up with the American Army while in pursuit of the British before the battle of Eutaw. Though under the command of Green, he was not immediately engaged as he served in the rear guards. Hezekiah marched back to the Hills of Santee. Recrossing the Santee, he passed the Edisto River to a place called Round-O and then to a place called Pow-Pow and soon after to Bacon Bridge on Ashley River above Charleston. They marched back to Camden and then to Charlotte, North Carolina. From there he marched through Salisbury and the Guilford Courthouse where his twelve months of service expired.

Following the war, Hezekiah Bryant lived in Mecklenburg County about 25 miles from Charlotte. He married Mary Powell about the year 1786 at the house of John Furr. Later Mary applied for a widow’s pension on 12 Apr 1850 stating “she was married on the 24th day of September, in the year seventeen hundred and eighty five or six, that she was married to the said Hezekiah Bryan at the house of her father John Powell…” She stated that the meeting house was located near the home of her father. After publication of bonds according to law at Haynes Meeting House, they were married by a Rev. Mr. Neussman, a Baptist Clergyman.

As it turns out Rev. Adolphus Nussman was the first Lutheran missionary and minister in the state of North Carolina.  And, from the journal of Rev. David Henkel, it’s known that he too preached at Haynes Meeting House.  David Henkel is responsible for the split of the North Carolina synod and formation of the Tennessee synod.

For me, this is seriously intensely remarkable. While walking lands in support of a personal mapping project in southern Cabarrus County, I stumbled upon an ancient cemetery  that folks related as being of little worth. Described in deeds as located on “Meeting House Branch nigh the Baptist Church,” it turns out that the old abandoned cemetery is the site of Haynes Meeting House.  And, it sat amongst land grants issued to those who had earlier removed from Wake County NC.

 (see #7 on the plat map below and then learn more
about the land from the link to legal descriptions).

Legal Descriptions

One last observation.  Hezekiah Bryant bought land from Bonner Bird just north and west of present day Bethel UMC in Cabarrus.  Bonner Bird eventually moved to Burke County NC.  But, prior to living in Cabarrus, Bonner was enumerated in the 1790 Wake County census.

In this post I’ve covered what I know of other THOMAS families who once lived in southern Wake County. But there’s more, and it’s time to put this post to sleep.  Stay tuned for more on Asa, Nathan and another Thomas family from Wake County NC.


We’ve looked at the early THOMAS lands in Wake County and weighed the possibility that a Jacob Thomas in Wake is the same one who shows up later in Anson County NC.   The family of Joseph Thomas is about to move a few miles south from Wake where they would settle on the Caper Fear along the county line of Chatham and Moore.

Before tracing the Joseph Thomas family further, records are screaming at me that there’s more to see and understand in Wake County. The name Joseph Thomas traces back so easily to Bertie County and I’m afraid that others in the same family migration have been ignored. And, as DNA now links me to this early place and time, I really want to search all options in order to learn as much as possible about my family. So, where to start?

Dated 17 December 1796, Redmond Matthews wrote his last will and testament and bequeathed a bay horse called Richmond to Micajah Thomas. The will is witnessed by Nathan (L) Thomas (jurat) and Valentine Austin. As Micajah is likely the son of our Joseph Thomas, who is this Nathan Thomas?  And, who is Asa and Jonathan Thomas who also lived nearby?

will 1

Last Will and Testament of Redmond Matthews


In the past few posts I’ve identified the THOMAS lands in upper Anson County, raised the possibility that our ancestor Benjamin Thomas may have somehow been related to a Jacob Thomas who also owned nearby land in Anson, and identified a possible path back to a Thomas family whose DNA matches ours and whose story in Wake County overlooks a clue to Jacob Thomas in Anson. As the search light has yet to be focused on the life of Jacob Thomas in Anson County, let’s go there before offering a conclusion based on the findings.

jacoba.jpgSo who was Jacob Thomas of Anson County? Entered 20 April 1779 and issued 14 October 1783, this Jacob Thomas was issued grant #4451 for 100 acres on the south side of Rocky River on the southeast side of Richardson Creek.
jacobb.jpgThe land was near the present day crossing of Hwy 742 around what’s called Green’s or Hudson’s branch and adjoined or was near the lands owned by Joachim Hudson, William Morris, William May, John Wright, Asa Baucom, and William Curlee. The chain bearers for this grant were Joachim Hudson and Thomas Gilbert. There’s no other land or court record for this Jacob Thomas and he may appear in record only one more time. In the 1790 Anson County census, a Jacob Thomas is enumerated next to Frederick Taylor as 1 male over 16, one male under 16 and 3 females. He’s not near Benjamin Thomas and is his location cannot be readily gleaned from the census.census.jpg

The only clues we have are in the strong naming tradition of “Jacob Thomas” used by generations of descendants of Benjamin Thomas. That, and in Thomas Gilbert as being chain bearer. Note that Thomas is the brother of Jesse Gilbert and Jesse married to Sarah Green 28 February 1764 in Edgecombe County. Thomas married Eady Weatherford who was from the family of William and Hillikiah Weatherford. Jesse died in Anson and Thomas Gilbert moved with others including Culpepper and Greed to GA. The first court in Laurens County was held in the home of Major Thomas and the first Grand Jury was: Benjamin Adams, Benjamin Brown, William, Boykin, Robert Daneil, Joseph Denson, BENJAMIN DORSEY, Simon Fowler, Henry Fulgham, John Gilbert, Thomas Gilbert, Leonard Green, Edward Hagan, Andrew Hampton, Charles Higdon, Mark May, Gideon Mays, George Martin, William McCall, Charles Stringer, John Speight, James Sarten, Jesse Stephens, Samuel Stanley, Samuel Sparks, George Tarvin, Joseph Vickers, Jesse Wigins, Nathan Weaver, David Watson, Joseph Yarborough, William Yarbrough.

For Jacob Thomas in Anson, there’s no smoking gun, no proof solid evidence that he’s our guy. However, Jacob Thomas is living amongst others who had migrated from or through Wake County from further north in Bertie/Edgecombe Counties. And in Wake County there is a Jacob who lived near to and joined road crews with other Thomas family who we now connect via DNA. The Clerk of Court’s office in Wake burned and therefore we have no record of Jacob buying or selling land. He’s there in early 1770’s and disappears just in time to be the Jacob who shows up in Anson to enter land there in 1779. It’s my belief he is either the father or brother to Benjamin Thomas of Anson.


grants - CopyA person by the name of Jacob Thomas appears in the earliest court records of Wake County as one of several men ordered to work under Nathan Rowland on a road from Terrible Creek to the Cumberland County line.    The order reads:

Ordered that Nathan ROLAND be overseer of the road from Terrible Creek, to Cumberland line, and that the following persons work under him viz. William ROLAND, Etheldred JONES, William JONES, Role STEDSEON, William WAMMACK, Jacob THOMAS and Smiths BATTEMORE.  1st Tuesday, December 1771, Book A-1, Page 22.

One year later, Joseph Thomas first appears in the records of Wake County as member of a Jury of local citizens ordered to lay off a road that was likely an extension of the road where Jacob Thomas had worked:

Ordered that the following Persons be appointed a Jury to lay of a Road from James Quantocks to the County line agreeable to the Order passed last Court (towit)  Jacob Utley, James Quantock, Christopher Woodward, Lewis Jones, Landman Short, Francis Settles, Christopher Osborn, William Barker, Henry Day, James Holland, Richard Green, Anthony Holland, Lazarus Hood, Joseph THOMAS, and that John Utley be appd. Constable to summons said Jury.

There are no further court records or deeds in the name of Jacob Thomas and he was never issued a land grant in Wake County. However, the location of Jacob’s living in Wake County can be gleaned from a land grant issued to William Jones. Being grant # 973 in Wake County, William Jones was issued 200 acres in the fork of Neill’s Creek. The grant was entered 27 May 1779 by Daniel OLDhands (Oldham) and on 16 Jul 1785, Daniel Oldhands assigned the grant to William Jones who it was finally issued to on 15 May 1787.

S762916072707550From the original entry book and as written in the survey below, the 200 acres was located “on the fork of Niel’s Creek including an improvement made by Jacob Thomas.” From the illustration at the top of this page, you can see William Jones’ 200 acres colored in green. You can compare the information to the survey below. You can also locate the road where Jacob, Joseph and other members of the THOMAS family once worked.

S762916072707550It’s my belief this Jacob Thomas is somehow related to Joseph and others who lived in and around Wake County.  It’s my belief he walked the road a few miles south to the ferry where he crossed the Cape Fear and likely never returned. He obviously lived on the land granted to Daniel Oldham who later assigned it to William Jones. And after doing so, the record of Jacob Thomas in Wake and surrounding area dies. Jacob could have purchased, sold or otherwise lived on lands in Wake, though such records are lost due to the 1832 fire in the office of the Wake County Clerk of Court.