Above is the home where Solomon Burres and his wife Delilah once lived. Solomon is the son of Dempsey Burres who we know to be the paternal ancestor of Ken Burres whose family history was hinted at in Part 1 of this posting. Knowing that Ken descends from the family seen in front of the old home, it’s interesting that his DNA provides us the only known path from western Tennessee to others who share his surname here in North Carolina.
There must be more like Ken …like his ancestor Dempsy who we believe grew up on the waters of the Chowan River. I introduced some of the others in the first post of this two part series. I also discussed the Burrus/Burras/Burris lands on the west side of the river within the area known as Pell Mell. There was Blount Branch and the land Joshua Burris acquired from Mordecia White. Some say Modecai’s brother Luke ran a ferry on the east bank of the river going back to 1716. Records are not definitive in making that case. But it’s there where I’d like to begin this post. Some 33 years after Luke White’s ferry first appeared on the Mosely map, it shows up again in the 1770 Collett map (right). Entering the Chowan to the south of L. White’s Ferry is the green shaded and unlabeled creek known as Rockyhock. And before entering the red shaded town of Edenton from the north, the old Virginia road crosses the eastern prongs of Rockyhock. It’s in this vicinity where the home of “Hoskin” is located. And as will be shown, Thomas Hoskins who lived there is certainly connected to our Burris family.
Born ca. 1739, Thomas Hoskins is the son of yet another Thomas and his wife Mary Halsy Hoskins of Chowan County. Mary Halsy’s brothers are named Daniel and Miles Halsey. Is it possible the two brothers are the namesake for Daniel Burres who, from the first part of this post, had a son Miles Burres? Could the naming be a tenuous thread tying the family of Daniel Burres to the Hoskins and Halsey families?
At the height of the Revolutionary War, the younger Thomas Hoskins dies as is indicated by the writing of his of his last will and testament. In the instrument penned 1 Jun 1781, Thomas names his sister Mary Burris:
Item I give to my sister Mary Burris one hundred and twenty five eakers of land joining where Bucker now lives.
Who was the above Buckler and where was the land located that Thomas Hoskins bequeathed to his sister Mary Burris? Further down in a bequeath to his sister Keziah, Thomas gives the full name of Buckler which may in time help us to better understand the family lands. To Keziah Hoskins he left “200 acres of land where now Richard Bukler now lives.”
The following is also found in the loose estate files. It’s from an 1800 petition for dower raised by “Mary Dolby, the widow and relict of Thomas Hoskins”:
“…that her said husband departed this life in the month of April 1783 seized of a considerable tract of land in the county.”
And from another document among the loose papers, Richard Buckler recovered approximately 43 pounds from John Cofield who was the executor. The legal heirs in that paper are identified as: “Mary Burrows, wife of Joshua Burrows, Keziah Hoskins, Sarah Hoskins, and John Cofield, the younger.”
Bizare! At this point I have to wonder, have other Burris family researchers seen this set of documents? If so, how do they explain the naming of Joshua Burris as being the husband of Mary Hoskins? Is Mary the wife of our Joshua Burris Senior? Joshua Burris Junior? Is she the wife of some unknown Burris who also happens to be named Joshua and is contemporary to known members of our family?
It must be said that Thomas Hoskins who wrote the 1781 last will and testament is said to have been born ca. 1739. Based on that birth, if in fact Thomas’ sister married either Joshua Burris Junior or Senior, wouldn’t Mary’s probable age mean that she is better suited to be the wife of Joshua Junior? At this point I urge the reader to keep the powder dry.
In the 1790’s, Joshua Burris and wife Mary gave unto Job Leary and wife Rachel two tracts of land. The first is 100 acres “formally belonging to my grandfather Thomas Hoskins deceased.” The second tract containing 320 acres is located on the “Rockahock Swamp on the east side of the Piney Woods.” Also, note that this land action was actually a gift: “ …in consideration of the natural affection and fraternal love which we have and bear unto Job Leary and Rachel Leary his wife forever and also for —– other good causes and considerations Me at this time especially moving …”
According to Chowan County records, Job Leary married Rachel Hoskins 1 Jan 1776. And, from online genealogies, both Job and Rachel descend from an earlier generation of the Thomas Hoskins family. One such writing connects Rachel and Mary Hoskins Burris though I’ve yet been able to understand how. Also, there is another Mary Hoskins who married a fellow by the name of James Bond on 8 Oct 1787. This person cannot be the same Mary who was the wife of Joshua Burris as Mary and Joshua were both alive and active at the time of the Bond-Hoskins marriage. However, the marriage of Mary Hoskins and James Bond does raise serious questions as the loose estate of Thomas Hoskins (Joshua Burres’ father-in-law) contains a document or petition from James Bond.
In another deed (A2-26 Chowan), Joshua Burris and wife Mary sold a tract of 62 acres to John Crutchlow and Robert Goodwyn of Southampton County VA. Witnessed by John Halsey and Nathaniel Woodward, the tract is located “in Chowan River near Jeremiah Cannons.” It is identified as being “part of a tract of land formerly granted to Thos. Holladay bearing date 1730 and conveyed by deed to Samuel Farlee (Farless?) & from sd. Farlee to Thos. Hoskins.” Could this be part of Holladay’s Island, within the area of Cow Island on the west side of the Chowan? Could this be part of a recreational spot known today by the name of Holladay’s Island?
Neither Joshua nor Mary appear in the 1790-1800 census. I’d like to move forward though two deeds in 1809 need to be mentioned. Dated 15 May 1809. Mary Burrows gave to her daugther Polly Burrows 16 ½ acres (E2-166, Chowan) that she, Mary Burrows “bought of Levi Jones – joining Joseph Bozeman, James Rhodes, Samuel Tredwell, and Wm. Bennett.” The deed was witnessed by Ab’m Pritchard and Moses Buckley who must be related to Richard Buckley whose land adjoined that of Thomas Hoskins …who was Joshua Burris’s brother-in-law. On the next page in the deed book, Mary Burrows gives all her kitchen and utility items to the said Polly Burrows.
And then in Chowan County, Mary Burris of Chowan County, by herself, deeded 4 ¼ acres of land to James Harrell, her son-in law. Dated 21 Jun 1816, the deed (H2-422 Chowan) reads: “Knowye that I Mary Burris of the county of Chowan and state of North Carolina, having by these presents and goodwill that I bear towards my son in law James Harrell …give unto him the said James Harrell a certain tract of land lying in Chowan on the west side of Juniper.” It being part of the land I bought of Joseph Bozeman of Edenton. Wit: Abr’m Pritchard, Wm. Coffield.
Could any or all of these be Mary, wife of Joshua Burris as appears in the last will and testament of Thomas Hoskins? As for Joshua, he seems to disappear with no final record or deed to mark his passing. The above deed from Mary to daughter Polly may or may not reflect the family of Joshua Burris. But what if it does? What if Joshua died sometime in the 1790’s. He and Mary may have had other children who like Polly, would eventually become known by the marks they made in life. Though Daniel Burres who lived in Bertie County lives and dies without clear tie to Joshua and Mary, he is of age to be a son or grandson. He may not even be their son but rather a child of another member of the Burres family living in that day and time. Note there is a James Jr. Burris and William Burris whose records we have yet to review. And, with that said, I’d like to introduce you to Solomon Burres who also acquired land on the Rockyhock clearly in the area where Joshua and Mary Burres once lived.
Dated 2 Jul 1803, a person named Solomon Burris married Ann Harris in Chowan County. The bondsman for the marriage was E. Norfleet. Though Solomon does not appear in the 1810 Chowan census, a 26-44 year old John Burrus does appear. Who is he? And then in 1820 Solomon is enumerated as:
1m 0/10, 1m 26/44/ 1f 10/15, 2f 26/44
And, we know Solomon served in the war of 1812 as the following pay voucher was punched, indicating it had been received and paid:
Signaling the loss of his first wife, Solomon Burris marries second on 2 Oct 1824 to Rachel Jones. And then, per 1828 probation of his last will and testament, the passing of Solomon Burris is duly recorded:
In the name of God Amen, I Solomon Burris am weak in Body but thanks be to God sound in mind and memory and as its appointed for all men once to die I make and ordain this to be my last will and testament in manner and form as followeth – –
First I give my soul to God that gave it to deal as pleaseth him and my Body to the dust of the earth to be buried in a Christian line manner by the care of them that I leave behind me.
2nd I give and bequeath unto my deare beloved son David Jones my plantation whereon I now live and all the land belonging there to bounded by the Rockehock road and Ferry Road
3rd I give and bequeath unto my daughter Elizabeth Burris all the lands of mine on the west of the Ferry road to Jesse Smith’s line
4th I give unto my Grandson in law James Jones all my land on the south side of the Rockehock Road to Tho’s Satterfield’s line to him and his heirs and forever if the said James Jones should not live and his mother Lediah Jones should not have any more children that should not survive twenty one for the land to come in my family again
5th I give unto my son William Halsey all my land on the west side of the Juniper and if he should die without an heir lawfully begotten by him the land to come back to my family again
6th I lend unto my Mother in Law the plantation whereon the Juda Jones the Plantation whereon she now lives during her widowhood [or until she moves of] with the privilege of timber for plantation use
7th It is my desire that my dear beloved wife Rachel Burris shall have the use of the plantation whereon we now live during her natural life Likewise I give to her one bed and furniture her choice one wheel and cards one loom and gears and hog enough to make her pork for one year and three head of cattle
Likewise I give unto all my children namely James Jones [five head] David Burris and Elizabeth Burris three head of cattle a piece and two head to William Halsey
All the rest of my property to be sold by my executors and my just debts and funeral charges paid and the remainder of the money to be equally divided between my two youngest children.
Last of all I appoint my two friends George White and Noah White and Zachariah Evans my soul executors of this my last will and testament.
Confirmed and declaring this my last will and testament as witness my hand and doth affix my seal in this year of our Lord God one thousand eight hundred and twenty eight the 17th of October 1828.
In presence of Ab’m H. Pritchard Jurat Solomon (X) Burris
Solomon Burris’ last will and testament offers a treasure trove of information likely connecting deep within our family. Starting off, you see Abraham Pritchard serving as Jurat just as he did in the gift deed from Mary Burrows to her daughter Polly. Solomon also appoints his two friends George White and Noah White …and Zachariah Evans to be executors. Is this Noah the same person who later moved to Tennessee along with Miles and Dempsy Burres? And who is George White? Note that the 1799 last will and testament of Medey White in Bertie mentions a son George White. And, the instrument is witnessed by Abraham Pritchard who for some reason has witnessed other legal documents over on Chowan. I believe there is a connection between the Bertie and Chowan families of White. Are those mentioned here the sons of Luke? William” or could they be cousins? And as for Zachariah Evans, he married 8 Mar 1808 to Elizabeth Cofield who is said to be the daughter of Jeremiah and Sarah Banks Coffield. Zachariah Evans was an itinerant Methodist Minister and later founded Evans’ Meeting House in the area of Rockyhock along the old and important Virginia Road. Zachariah’s father Jeremiah is the son of John Coffield Senior who married Elizabeth Hoskins who was the aunt of Mary Hoskins. Mary appears in the estate of Thomas Hoskins as being the wife of Joshua Burres. All of this is intertwined and I believe the records bring the story full circle.
And as we’re just getting starting, there’s also William Halsey who in Item five of the will is bequeathed land on the west side of the Juniper. Remember Mary Burrus who gifted 4 ¼ acres to her son-in-law James Harrells? That land was also described as being located on the west side of the Juniper. Could this be pointing to the possibility that Solomon of Chowan County is the son of Joshua and Mary? It appears so though no proof.
Solomon Burres also mentions his “Grandson
in Law James Jones.” James is ordered, that following the death of the said Solomon, that a bequeath of land should return to his mother Lydia Jones. Solomon also lends to his mother-in-law the “Judah Jones Plantation.” A grenadson? Was Solomon married prior to his first recorded marriage to Ann Harris? This one baffles me as I do not yet understand the Jones connections.
The above provides wonderful detail connecting family and land. Note that Solomon’s land was located near the ferry road within Rocky Hock. His land was liklely near Evans Church on the Virginia Road. It’s within the same area where Luke White was ordered to operate a ferry some 100 years earlier. I haven’t found any significant family deeds that predate Solomon’s ownership though would like to learn more of this place and of how members of our family came about living there. There’s still some pieces missing in this story.
Following the death of Solomon Burris, his widow Rachel Jones Burris soon after married second to Wiley Haste, the son of Charlton Haste. John Jones was bondsman. And note, that Charlton Haste likely comes out of Henry Haste whose land in Bertie County was deeded to the Burris family. The loose papers for the estate of Solomon Burris names Wiley, the new step-father, as being appointed guardian of Solomon’s minor children David and Elizabeth. Below are briefs of four documents from those files.
- 21 June 1830, Chowan. Wiley (x) Haste appointed guardian of David and Elizabeth Burris. Wit: Charlton (x) Haste.
- 12 Feb 1834, Chowan. “Wiley Haste, guardian of David Burris and Elizabeth Burris, you are hereby notified that at the next county court of Chowan County, I as the next friend of the said orphans shall move the said …….court to remove you from guardianship of the said David and Elisabeth Burris on the account of your mismanagement of the said —– estate and neglecting the case of their education.” Signed: Willis Elliott.
- May 1837, Chowan. Willis Elliott, guardian of David and Elizabeth Burris summoned to court.
- 7 Aug 1837, Chowan. Willis Elliott, Jordan D. Elliott, & Zachariah Evans are bound in the appointment of Willis Elliott as guardian of David and Elizabeth Burris.
Solomon Burris’s son David did not live long. As per his loose estate record, David died ca. 1842. From one of the documents in the estate papers:
The petition of Lydia Jones [of full age] widow of Joseph Jones and of Elizabeth Burrows an infant by her guardian Jordan D. Elliott all of Chowan County, shows unto your worships, that, as heirs of law of David Burrows, a minor now deceased son of Solomon who died leaving in his last will and testament a tract of land to the said David, they are the only tenants in common, of the said tract of land situated in Chowan County in the district of Rockyhock and bounded in the north by the lands of Cullen Jones and the lands east by Miles Halsey & Jack Parker, on the south by the main road leading over Rocky Hock Bridge and on the west by the main ferry road, …being the tract wheron the said Solomon Burrows lived, containing by estimation 50 acres.
At this point the significant records seem to end for the Burris family east of the Chowan River. In it all, I’ve not found a smoking gun leading to how that family connects to ours who eventually settled in Stanly County NC. And then, on top of everything, there is the history of Joshua Burris who is believed to have married Sarah Chamblee before moving to South Carolina. That Joshua and wife Sarah are clearly named in deeds selling family lands along Blount’s Branch of Flat Swamp in Bertie. The history for that Joshua seems to follow a clearer path of records back to family when they first appeared on the Pocosons of eastern Bertie.
It’s easy to look at all this and make the snap decision that something’s out of place. Could Joshua of Rockyhock be the son of Joshua Senior? Could he actually be Joshua Senior, the father? Could we have mixed up the two generations? It’s possible just as is the idea Joshua may be a cousin named for our Joshua Senior. For me, I wonder about Solomon of Rockyhock and his son David. When our Joshua Burris Senior left the Chowan for lands in Anson County, a person named David Burris also made the trip and served as chain bearer for his 1778 land grant. Is David a son, a brother? And, it’s important to point out that the same Joshua had a son Solomon who in turn had a son named Joshua. Did the naming honor his father or brother? Also, our Solomon had a son David whose namesake could be the David Burris named as chainer in the said Solomon’s father’s grant.
In the same manner above, could Solomon of Chowan be named for an uncle or cousin? How about his son David? Does this naming pattern link the family to our Solomon of Stanly County? I’d say yes, though such ties are not proven to be direct lineage. This, because we are sure the family was larger than just the traditional story of Joshua and Solomon. There is James Jr, and likely Samuel and possibly John not to mention the girls who at this time remain unknown. Out of any one of these, there could have been a son Joshua named in honor for Junior or Senior who passed through Anson County. And, such a scenario could easily be at the root of Joshua, and Solomon, who once lived in the area of Rockyhock. We just don’t know. And likewise, the path back for Ken Burres of Tennessee is much like our own. I do believe that he and a person named Miles Burrres are close kin. I also believe the naming patterns of his family are in honor of others just as with ours. But for now, and truthfully said, the exactness of how his family ties back to the Carolina gamily eludes us all.
At this point I’ll end for now so as to enjoy the Christmas holidays with family. I hope the best for you and yours and look forward to the New Year. Knowing more work needs to be done on the families of Joshua and Sarah … and of the other brothers/cousins, I look forward to 2020 and the times that’ll be spent plowing new fields of early North Carolina history.