Genealogical narratives of our ancestors from early northeast North Carolina are as numerous as are the people writing them. I guess it’s now my turn to read the family tea leaves and in that, I am hopeful my digging has been both deep enough and compiled in such a way to rightfully tell the story.
Among the photographs given to me through the years is the one above of Grady Carr Greene (1896-1981) whose family were my mom’s neighbors on Love’s Chapel Road in Stanfield NC. My mom’s uncle, Grady married Rossie J. Love, who is my grandmother’s sister. From Grady Carr Greene looking back to his ancestral beginnings, I believe the genealogical ancestry may look something like Grady Carr Greene > Aaron Ephraim Greene > Tilmon Green > Leonard Green > Gideon Green > Leonard Green > Richard Green > Richard Green.
7/20/1736- Grant- John Langston 191 AC, Nansemond Co, Va, beginning @ ancient corner tree, N/S Summerton Swamp, ADJ His own, being surplus land found within bounds of 400 AC Patent to Richard Green, June 3rd, 1665, and sold to John Langston by Richard Green, son & heir of Richard Green.
Bertie Co, NC Deeds-Nov. 26, 1739 John Langston to Richard Green, Jr, 150 AC at a place called Sarum, near Rogers’ Pocosin.”
The above begins on Summerton Swamp in present-day Gates County situated some 20 miles or so west from Coropeake which community my Thomas family first called home upon arriving in the state. A region rich in indigenous culture, the families of Green and others spread a few creeks down from Summerton along the Chowan River to the historically significant place called Sarum. I imagine settlers naming the location just as back home in Wiltshire, earlier generations constructed the first iterations of Salisbury Cathedral upon a similarly named Roman site of yore. Maybe the naming of Sarum in Gates County was in some way a prophetic though respectful honoring of the local indigenous culture as it once was.
From Sarum School – Chowan Indians – Thomas Hoyle written by Roberta Estes, “there’s one Mr. Mashburn who keeps a school at Sarum on the fronteers of Virginia between the two Governments and neighboring upon 2 Indian Towns” (Colonial Record Vol. I, 858-9). Detailing what is known of early Indian schools in our state, Roberta further states that “Sarum was in all probability located at or near the “Ballard place,” about 8 miles Northwest of Gatesville at the head of “Sarum Creek.”
At this point I could easily delve deeply into the life of the aforementioned Richard Green though let’s cut a corner and not go there. Instead, take a minute to look over the following as in 1742 Chowan County, Richard Green penned his last will and testament. Note the names for bodies of water are colored blue.
In the Name of God amen : September the thirteenth day of one thousand seven hundred and forty two I Richard Green of Chowan County being weak of Body but of Sound mind and perfect memory praise be to Almighty God – form following first I commend my soul into the hands of Almighty God who gave it hoping though the meritorious Death and ……. Christ to have full and free pardon of all my life and my boddy to the Earth to be decently buried at the discretion of my Executors hereafter named and as touching such temporal Estate as it hath pleased Almighty God to Besto upon me I Give and Dispose as followeth –
First, my will is that all my just debts and funeral charges be paid and discharged. Item, I Give and Bequeath to my son John Green twenty shillings to be raised out of my Estate. Item, I give and bequeath to my son Thomas Green part of the tract Mast Branch running out of the Licking Root Branch running up the Mast Branch to a Red oak standing by the side of a pond from there a strait corce to a pine a corner tree standing in the line yt divids between William Smith and my plantation then running up that line to a white oak a corner tree between William Smith and my own thence down the Licking Root Branch to the first station. Item, I give to him and his heirs forever out of the said tract more or less and bounded as followeth. Beginning on his Brother Thomas a line at a pine a corner tree and running thence to Thomas Sparkmans corner tree standing in or near the head of the Mire branch then down the said Mire Branch to the Cypress swamp, then up the said Cypress Swamp to a pine a corner tree of the said land I now live on then along that line to his brother Thomas to the first station. I Give to him and his heirs forever. Item, I give and Bequeath to my son Jacob Green my plantation that I now live on and all the land belonging to it that I have not before mentioned after his Mother decease. I give to him and his heirs forever. Item, I give and Bequeath to my son William Green a piece of land I have on the Sand Banks joining in the Cypress Swamp beginning on Robert Rogers line at a pine standing on the lower side of the Cypress Pond and running a straight corce to a pond called the Brigre pond to Robert Reddick corner tree joining on the said Cypress Swamp I give to him and his heirs forever. Also, I give and Bequeath to my son Jacob Green all the other part of the tract of land on the said bank joining on his brother William Green and to the River pocosin being all the said tract of land between them as it is mentioned I Give to them and their heirs forever. I also Give to my five sons Richard Green, William Green, Thomas Green, Leonard Green, Jacob Green my wife’s land for their own —– I give to my son Jacob Green my Gun and one iron pot which he so fit to have. Item I Give to my son Jacob Green and my three daughters Elcey Green, and Catherine Green, and Mary Green my four feather beds and furniture belonging to them after their mother’s decease. Item I Give and Bequeath to my loving wife Elce Green All the Remainder part of my estate both with in doors and wt. out of what soever …..and Kind it be during her natural life and then to dispose amongst my children as she shall see fit and Lastly, I nominate and appoint my dear loving wife Elce Green to be the hole and sole Executor of this my last will and testament utterly revoking all other will or wills that hath been made by me heretofore Ratifying this to be my Last Will and Testament In Witness Whereof I have here unto set my hand and fixt my seal the day and year above written.
Signed Sealed in the presents of us,
John (X) Sparkman Richard (RG) Green
Penned in 1742, the above occurred six years following John Langston’s grant stating that the land originated as an even earlier 1665 patent to Richard Green. The land had somehow been sold to the said Langston “by Richard Green, son & heir of Richard Green.”
Situated in an area heavily seeded today with cotton and peanuts, Richard Green’s land per his 1742 last will and testament draws attention to legal bounds crossing the Licking Root Branch and Cypress Swamp. The water ways are clearly visible in the old USGS topographic map (below). One sees Taylor Millpond which was built on the main run of Sarum Creek. And hearkening back to the days of Sarum School, located to the east, one also sees Ballard’s Church and crossroads (shaded red). Richard Green’s lands likely included the green shaded area though his will mentions other lands including some joining the Chowan “river pocosin.”
Looking at Richard Green’s neighbors in this break-of-day community, in 1736, William Horn of Bertie sold land to Samuel Smith of the Upper Parrish of Nansemond “patented to the said W. Horn commonly called & known by the name of ‘the Banks of Italy.‘” How cool! …wouldn’t you love to walk that land? Furthermore, the acreage is described as bounding the Cypress Swamp along with the lands of John Denby and none other than Richard Green (W-306, Chowan). Also living in the community was Henry Holland who purchased land from John Vaughn in 1733. Granted to William Speight in 1719, that land was situated on the east side of the Chowan River along the River pocosin and adjoined that owned by “Bennett.” According to the deed, the land was “devised [from Speight] to the sd. Henry Holland, & by the sd. Henry Holland devised the part to Thos. Vaughn, & by the sd. Thos. Vaughn devised to his son John Vaughn as by his last will and testament will more at large appear, & now is by the sd. John Vaughn forever sold to the sd. Henry Holland.” Witnesses for this transaction include Henry Holland and James Holland.
And patented to Richard Holland on 1 Apr 1723, the said Holland sold the land in 1728 at which time it was described as joining the lands owned by John Green (B-100, Bertie). The deed further described the land as “being in the province of No. Carolina in Bertie prec’t joyning upon the Chowan River known by the name of Nansend Indian Town.”
Looking now at a portion of Edward Mosely’s 1733 New and Correct Map of the Province of North Carolina, one can see the Nansemond Indian Town on the west side of the Chowan River. Also shown is Somerton Creek where William Speight lived to the south. And seeing the run of roadways, one can imagine the flow of traffic and what life was like in the various places where people settled.
A year following his father’s estate settlement, in Dec 1743, son Richard Green now “of Edgecombe District” sold his holdings (Deed A1-288 Chowan) to Elexander Carter. Then in Jan 1753, the deceased Richard Green Senior’s son Leonard Green also “of Edgecombe County” sold to his brother Thomas Green 30 acres (Deed H1 -151 Chowan), “which said land was given to the aforesaid Leonard Green by his father Richard Green in his last will and testament.” And like brothers Leonard and Richard, Richard Senior’s son William Green also made the move to Edgecombe as in Aug 1751 he too sold his holdings on Cypress Swamp to “John and Solomon Green both of Chowan County.” That land joining William Smith, Robert Reddick, and William Langston was originally “granted by patent to Capt. John Alston bearing date the 12th day of July 1725.” It is believed John Green is Solomon’s father. Completing a circle of influence, in 1752 Solomon Green purchased land on Cypress Swamp from John Denby of Nansemond, Virginia …being the land originally “patented to William Horn Senior” as previously outlined.
Brother Thomas Green died soon after as estate papers were filed in 1756 Chowan County by “Sarah Green, administrator of Thomas Green, deceased.” Brother Jacob Green also died young as ca. 1752 his brother John filed an inventory for the estate. As for John Green, he remained in the area where he made his mark in Edenton as house carpenter and joiner. John was well-known within the elite of Edenton and his wife Elizabeth Green “signed the famous “Edenton Tea Party” resolution in 1774.”
Crossing over the Chowan River from where we began, families lived for a while in Bertie County which was formed in 1722 from Chowan County. And soon after, families continued their move west beyond the Roanoke River which was called Moratock by the Indigenous peoples. Those heading west settled in Edgecombe County which formed in 1741 from the western half of Bertie. However, though conveyances in Bertie County mention residences in the early “Edgecombe District,” some of the actual deeds are filed in Halifax County, yet another break-off forming from Edgecombe in 1758. Note that some of Richard Green’s children eventually moved beyond Edgecombe County, to Wake and further west to Montgomery and Mecklenburg Counties.
Almost like the nature of suburbs in today’s urbanization, new counties formed followed by citizens hungry for new land and a better existence. And somewhat lost within the evolution of our county-based system is the very real sense of community built on the movement of families like Green, Holland, Jones, Woodard, Pope, and Thomas as they spread west. It is in this complicated reality of constantly moving people through rapidly evolving jurisdictions where scenarios identifying specifics of various generations becomes muddled. And for the reader, especially important to me are the unproven possibilities my Thomas family came first from a particular Joseph Thomas in Bertie County or whether they represent another family who passed through Edgecombe County. Both possibilities have merit and note that currently I have not been able to disprove either over the other. So, I’ll move forward with mentions of my Thomas dilemma, though my goal, for now, lies in understanding the extended movement of the greater community.
Enter Pope Family. Situated in now Halifax County on the “south side of Moratock [Roanoke] River and on the lower side of the Great Swamp,” in 1722, William Pope of Isle of Wight Virginia sold “ye half of the patent of land sold to me by George Smith to Henry Pope my father” (A-162 Bertie). Henry then sold the land to his son John (B-107, Bertie) in 1726. And Henry’s son Jacob Pope sold his nearby land in 1730 (C-223, Bertie). Situated in the same general vicinity on the south bank of the Moratock River, the previously mentioned Richard Holland purchased 250 acres from John Cotton (B-193, Bertie) in 1723. Note that Richard married Mary Cotton, daughter of the said John and his wife Martha Cotton.
As seen below, Henry Horn, Isaac Ricks, and Joseph Thomas were appointed to divide the 19 Feb 1744 Edgecombe County estate of Jacob Pope Junr., deceased. Note that Jacob Junior is the son of Jacob Pope Sr. and Jane Braswell.
This Joseph Thomas is believed to be the brother of Micajah Thomas and Joseph’s wife Mourning is believed to be the daughter of Jacob Pope, Senior. If true, Joseph and Micajah Thomas’ mother, Ann Cotton, is believed to be the sister of Martha Cotton who married Richard Holland (more later). Ann is the daughter of John and Martha Cotton.
Jacob Pope Junr. must have been a young man when he died ca. 1744 as his father, Jacob Pope, Senior, lived to pen his last will and testament in 1772 Edgecombe County. As for Jacob Pope Junr., it appears he married and had at least one child named Shadrack Pope. Following the court orders to divide the estate as seen above, on May 22nd, we learn that Leonard Green was appointed legal guardian of the said Shadrack Pope (below). Leonard Green is always oh-so-close to these families that one should consider the possibility he was somehow related, maybe through marriage.
On the very next day following the above-written court entry, being Thursday, the 23rd, 1744, rationale for the choice of Joseph Thomas to be guardian is made clear as that court entry states that that the said Joseph Thomas had already married Mourning Pope Hilliard who happened to be the widow of Jeremiah Hilliard. Joseph Thomas’ wife Mourning is sister of the deceased Jacob Pope Junior and therefore she is Shadrack Pope’s aunt. At issue raised in this new court entry was a matter of fairness as Robert Hilliard, brother of the deceased Jeremiah Hilliard, “moved on behalf of the orphans of Jere Hilliard Dec’d., that Joseph Thomas Admr in Right of his Wife, Relect, Widow of the sd dec’d” had returned an accounting for the estate sale conducted by Sampson Pope, who was also the said Mourning and Jacob Pope Junior’s brother. Furthermore, the said Sampson Pope married Susannah Thomas who is also believed to be the daughter of John and Anne Cotton Thomas and therefore a sister of the said Joseph Thomas.
Looking into Jeremiah Hilliard’s family, his sister Mary Alice married into another but more proven Thomas family. Mary Hilliard married Reverend Jonathan Thomas who was the son of Rev. John Thomas Esq. and Christenater Roberts of Toisnot Creek. Mentioned widely in histories of Toisnot and Kehukee Baptist Church, this John Thomas is historically prominent in our state’s early Baptist leadership.
As for the other Joseph Thomas, the one who married Mourning Pope, court records again remind us of life’s fragility as probated in 1758 Edgecombe County, this Joseph Thomas’ last will and testament mentions wife Mourning and their daughters Mary, Priscilla, and Charity Thomas (to each he devised lands on Pigg Basket Creek). No sons are mentioned though he chose his brother John Thomas to execute the will and the instrument was witnessed by Micajah Thomas. Surely Joseph and Micajah are related as is believed.
Seeking to verify the lands mentioned in Joseph Thomas’ 1758 last will and testament, and therefore looking back to transactions made during the period 1749-1753, this Joseph Thomas received three Granville land grants in Edgecombe situated on Pig Basket Creek and Peach Tree Branch. Serving as chaincarriers were John Thomas and Micajah Thomas (see above).
From beginnings along the Chowan and Roanoke Rivers, and in the same manner Bertie, Halifax, and Edgecombe had been created from Chowan Precinct, new counties sprang up along the roads heading west toward our state’s interior. Some new counties, such as Dobbs and Bute, were short-lived as they had been created in honor of British royalty and were therefore dissolved early in the Revolution. Records for those counties are few though the movement of people is clarified in the 1746 creation of Granville from Edgecombe County. Growing out of Craven to the south of early Chowan and Bertie, Johnston County was also formed in 1747 to the south of Granville. Bute was formed from Granville in 1764 and then Franklin County was formed from the politically abolished Bute County in 1779. And finally, Orange was cut from the western portion of Johnston with Wake being formed in 1771 along the dividing line between the two counties and a sliver of Cumberland County to the south.
Settling in the same area as Joseph Thomas who died ca. 1758, Leonard Green purchased in 1750 from Job Wilder 100 acres on the south side of Peach Tree Creek (3-501, Halifax). Witnessed by Sampson Williams and Henry Holland, the 400 acres originated as a Granville grant issued to the said Job Wilder in 1745. Six years later, on 12 Nov 1756, Leonard Green, now of Johnston County, sold his land on Peachtree Creek in Edgecombe County after which he is found along New Light Creek which flows out of Granville County into what later became Wake County. And then, on 9 Feb 1760, Shadrack Pope now of Granville County sold to William Horn his 200 acres in Edgecombe situated on the north side of Tar River (0-94, Edgecombe). That conveyance was witnessed by James Horn, John Allen, and none other than Leonard Green.
Four days after Shadrack sold his land, Leonard Green of Edgecombe County also made a conveyance to Joshua Proctor. That piece of land was originally patented to William Bryant in 1749 (0-90, Edgecombe). So here we have an apparent guardian and his ward moving west at about the same time. And, along with them was a person named Joseph Thomas. But herein lies my dilemma. If Joseph Thomas, the person who interacted with the estate of Jacob Pope, died per the 1758 last will and testament filed in Edgecombe County, then who is this other Joseph who appears to be moving west about the same time as Shadrack Pope and Leonard Green? …and this other Joseph Thomas does not go away! As a matter of fact, my y-DNA from a Thomas family in southern North Carolina matches that of the descendants of this mysterious Joseph Thomas who settled in Wake before crossing over the river into Chatham County.
Others. Living within the Edgecombe County community, Henry Kent received in 1762 a Granville grant situated on Lewis Branch in Edgecombe County. I suspect Lewis Branch is named for the family of Enoch Lewis who later received a Granville Grant along the Cape Fear River, in Orange County, now Chatham. As for Henry Kent’s land in Edgecombe County, it was sold in 1764 to Thomas Holland (C-252, Edgecombe). Henry Kent is later found in Wake, Mecklenburg, and South Carolina.
Anthony Holland sold to Adam Collins a 100-acre portion of 648 acres he received in 1761 as a Granville grant (C-258, Edgecombe). And then, two years later, Anthony sold his remaining land in Edgecombe to William Boddie (C-461, Edgecombe). Situated on Beaver Catcher Branch, this land grant adjoined that of Arthur Braswell and Bennett (Granville 1291, Edgecombe). Reaching the end of his life and for love and affection, in 1769, the patriarch Richard Holland deeded land on Peach Tree Creek and “the Great Mill” to his son Thomas Holland. That transaction was witnessed by James Woodward and Reuben Whitfield. And lastly, considering son Thomas Holland, in 1771 he and his wife Mary Ross Holland sold 200 acres on the north side of the Tar River to Benjamin Oneal (3-21, Edgecombe). Note that Benjamin Oneal ended up in Anson County where Hopewell Methodist Church was built upon his land. This church served the community where lived Jacob Thomas, son of my early ancestor Benjamin Thomas. William and Jacob Horn witnessed the deed to Benjamin Oneal.
Going back to two court entries that have haunted me since first reading them in late 1990s, I ask you to read them closely.
From the 1771 minutes of Cumberland County Pleas and Quarter Sessions, Leonard Green and Shadrack Pope appear in the following road order beside James Holland. Mentioned beside Leonard Gree, who is Samuel Green? Note the entry indicates these folks were properly in Cumberland County, likely living in a section north of the Cape Fear that became Wake County during the very same year.
Whereas a road is laid off from Nuce River to Braswell’s Ferry on the Cape Fear River and the road is opened and cleared to the Johnston line, ordered that there be a road from the said Johnston County line; Wm. Cone appointed overseer. Constable of the uper district to summon all the following to appear before a justice of peace on or before the second Tuesday in July to qualify and make a jury to lay off said road: Wm. Cone, Samuel Green, Leonard Green, Robert Pettigro, Charles Broom, Wm. Corbett, Denis Collins, Absolem Tyler, Abden Tyler, Moses Tyer, James Holland, and Shadrack Pope.
This absolutely had to represent continued interaction between Shadrack Pope, his old neighbors, and Leonard Green who was appointed his guardian following the 1744 death of Jacob Pope. And then in Dec 1772, the Wake County Pleas and Quarter Session minutes records the following:
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.
Ordered that William Barker be Overseer of the road in the room of John Utley and the following hands to work under him (towit):
Leonard Green, Henry Day, Jesse Barker, James Holland
Anthony Holland, Richard Green, and also the hands included in that bounds.
Ordered that Edward Herring be Overseer of the Road from where William Barker Overseer Ends to the County line and the following hands to work under his (towit):
Lazarus Wood, Joseph Thomas, Sampson Holland, Thomas Hicks
Moses Hicks, Jacob Levin, Thomas Hensby, and Sampson Wood.
The above offers a more complete list of people working on the network of roads centered on today’s Avent Ferry Road. We see Richard Green, who we know is the name of Leonard’s father and brother. Most genealogies indicate James and Thomas Holland are brothers. However, though Anthony Holland is mentioned with others at nearly every stop along the Holland family’s walk from the Chowan River, genealogies fail to identify him relationally as being a brother or even a member of the immediate family. That must be an error.
And for Joseph Thomas who appears with others in Wake County, for many years I assumed him to be among the three members of the 1744 committee to divide the estate of Shadrack Pope’s father, Jacob Pope. But that cannot be the case as Shadrack’s Uncle, Joseph Thomas, died in 1758 per his last will and testament. Furthermore, note that Joseph did not mention a son named Joseph Thomas in his will and yet there are others of that name who passed through Edgecombe County. All these people of similar names moved together; they were close, and they were community. Implications are powerful and do not end in Wake just as they had not done so in Edgecombe or earlier in Bertie County.
In up-coming posts I plan to look closer at each of the persons mentioned in this post along with the records binding them to one another in Wake County. I plan also to look beyond, towards Montgomery County where the next leg of their journey reached a stopping point. And lastly, I hope at some point to look back again at the record of Joseph Thomas who settled in Wake and Chatham Counties. Wanting to know of him is close to my heart if only I can shake the tree a bit more vigorously. But for now, finding a comfortable stopping place, I leave you with a few thoughts I plan to address in upcoming posts.
- The Holland family are mentioned but a few times in early Wake County deeds. However, roads and churches carry the family name as does the town of Holly Springs which creek and spring may have originally been Hollon’s Creek and Spring. And as for Anthony Holland, his only mention concerning land appears in a survey order for a grant to be issued to none other than Joseph Thomas. In 1780, the 550-acre tract (grant 481, Wake) included an “Improvement made by Reuben Wise & the Plantation whereon Anthony Holland now lives.”
- Raised in Charlotte situated far to the south of Wake County, I always considered Cumberland County to be Fayetteville. That was a huge error on my part because Cumberland actually joined Wake County until Harnett County was formed in 1855. In that area, just south of Wake and east of the Chatham County line, in 1780 Shadrack Pope received a grant for land situated on Beaver Dam Creek. His land is but a few miles southeast of where his earlier neighbors from Edgecombe settled.
- Much of the related genealogy I have seen online is Wake-centric with mentions of Edgecombe though I’m learning many families from Wake later ended up moving further west, to places like Anson and old Montgomery Counties. And just as the migration picked up new families as they passed through Edgecombe County, the move west from Wake introduced a new mix of people. However, the sense of community going back to our beginnings along the Chowan and Roanoke Rivers remains undeniable. Join me on my next post as we look closer at those who moved west from Wake.