The 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.
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:
And, in the 1850 census, David Thomas is enumerated in southern Wake County as:
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).
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.