Author Archives: geothos

Gideon Green and Joseph Thomas

I’ve held firm to personal beliefs for nearly thirty years and last night my thoughts were finally validated.   Reviewing online Wake County civil action papers brought to my attention while preparing for Dana Leed’s upcoming special autosomal DNA presentation for the Wake County Genealogical Society in August, I came across a document that will forever solidify my opinion. One thing I’ve learned in this genealogy obsession is that somehow, like magic, if I reach out to assist someone then ultimately the favor is returned.  I believe it’s all about the power found in the old proverb about good deeds:

Jeremiah 17:10 say “I YHWH search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.”

And yet, for many years, some of the Anson/Union County descendants of Gideon Green have Gideon’s son Leonard Green Sr. as being the GG Grandson of Farnfold Green who may have been the first to own land in the historic coastal North Carolina town of Beaufort:

“Lineage: Roger 1620-1671, Timothy 1650-1712, Farnifold 1674-1714, James 1710-1788, James 1739-1784, Gideon 1755-1799, Leonard Sr. 1790-1881, Leonard Jr. 1819-1925.”

I am not going to say Leonard is not the GG Grandson as shown in the above lineage found on the blogsite Beaufort North Carolina History though I believe fervently the lineage is wrong. Let’s look forward to a new find and to records making the connection I’ve only been able to guess at in the past.

From my platting of land grants along Richardson Creek in old Anson, now Anson and Union Counties NC, look at entry #80. I believe this tract represents the first grant issued to our Thomas family of that area. Jacob Thomas entered the 100 acres in 1779 with the grant ultimately being issued after the war, in 1783. Neighbors Joaquim Hudson and Thomas Gilbert walked with the surveyor, serving as chain carriers and likely holding the measuring equipment and helping out as needed.  This piece of land later fell into the hands of Michael Austin, John Curlee, and then Spear Moore. It is my strongly held belief that this Jacob Thomas is the father, maybe brother(?), of Benjamin Thomas who is my earliest documented ancestor.

Looking upstream a few bends, Gideon Green received entry #45 which he later sold to Jacob Gurley who had arrived in the area from Johnston County.  And, looking even a bit further upstream, where Pleasant Hill Church Road crosses the creek today, Gideon Green received another grant identified as #22 which he later sold to Benjamin Thomas, my earliest proven ancestor. The eastern most line of that tract runs along Walnut Branch, and it is known that Benjamin and others are buried on the tract. A crossing of the larger Richardson Creek once called “Charity Ford” is located on the land. Note also that Salathiel Clifton and Benj’n Thomas were present at the survey of Gideon’s grant to carry the measuring poles and assist with the surveyor. Also, note that Captain Salathiel Clifton served in the Anson County regiment during the American Revolution. Tract #22 represents my ancestor’s first ownership of land in Anson County.

But looking far to the north to where these people surely came from, I believe Jacob Thomas who owned land along Richardson Creek first shows himself to us in 1771 in the following court minutes found in Wake County:

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.

Following the court order, Jacob disappears and is never heard from again in Wake County though the next year court minutes introduce us to yet another person named Thomas:

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.

Jacob Thomas and family may have moved from Wake to the northeastern side of the Yadkin River to what is now Montgomery County before crossing over into what is now Union County. That’s an idea that needs more work. But as luck again would have it, not too many years ago Y-DNA solidly connected me to Lt. Col. (ret.) Dan Thomas who is a descendant of the above Joseph Thomas who remained in Wake County before moving nearby to Chatham. For the first time, our large southern North Carolina Thomas family became kin to another and equally large branch of family living far away along the Cape Fear River. So, here we have a plausible string of events loosely illustrating the split in two branches of our family …though we still don’t know exactly how.

Looking at the above two court entries, see the names Anthony Holland, Christopher Osborn, William Barker, Lasarus Hood and of course Richard Green?  All these men, or at least their immediate kin folk ended up moving to lands withing five or so miles from Gideon Green and Jacob Thomas along Richardson’s Creek.  Christopher Osborne and William Barker lived near present-day Midland in now Cabarrus, while Anthony Holland lived in the area of Running Creek in old Montgomery, now Stanly County. The extended Hood family interacted with our Thomas family as well as the family of Elisha Thomas of Johnston County. Furthermore, in 1782, at the mouth of Island Creek in Montgomery, now Stanly County, Leonard Green helped the surveyor carry equipment when a grant for Goin Morgan was surveyed. Looking back to the Green family lineage I earlier declared as wrong, being the one stating Leonard Green Sr. lived from 1790-1881, who was this fellow identified below as walking the woods of Island Creek eight years before Gideon’s son was born?

Back to Wake County, numerous grants, deeds, and court records connect the Thomas family to others who made the move to southern North Carolina. But rather than clearing up my curiosities, the records led to more what-ifs.  For instance, a grant for 200 acres was surveyed in 1778 for Daniel Oaks who is likely the father of Mary Oaks who married Joseph Thomas’ son John Thomas in 1789. The reason for bringing this up, from the 1778 survey warrant as shown below, note that Daniel Oaks’ land is situated north of Buckhorn Creek on both sides of Cary’s Creek, “joining the lower side of the land whereon Leonard Green Sen. lately lived.” Furthermore, and according to the Marcom map of Wake County land grants, those whose lands adjoined or were near that of Daniel Oaks includes William Hayes, Joseph Cobb, Andrew Peddy, Etheldred Jones, John Humphries, and Stewart Hamilton.  And knowing I can get hung upin matters concerning land, most important in the above passage is that Daniel Oaks’ land adjoined the elder Leonard Green. This fellow Green is documented twelve years before the birth of Leonard Senior, the son of Gideon Green.

So, seeing all this has for years held me in suspense. I’ve known these people had to be part of the “path” of genetics leading to who I am today.  And yet, I have never found even a smidgen of information that undeniably connected my family in Anson to those in Wake as indicated by Y-DNA. It is in the need to find a smoking gun that everything turned on its ear when I made a new find late last night.

Take a minute to study the following which I came across while flipping through civil action papers 1760-1774 at familysearch:

About the document, on 13 Dec 1772, being a year after Wake County was formed, Joseph Thomas, Daniel Hooks, and Gideon Green are ordered to appear in court to testify on behalf of Henry Day in a suit raised by Joseph Cobb. Amazing!  This is the first document I’ve ever seen for Gideon Green outside of southern North Carolina. Here, the man who sold my Thomas ancestor his first land in Anson County is earlier in Wake County serving as witness alongside Joseph Thomas.  Incredible and according to the Marcom map, the plaintiff is a neighbor. And as for Daniel Hooks, who might he be? There is a Daniel Hooks who happens to appear in 1790 Richmond County and then in Anson County in 1800. Could this be a matter of phonetics? Could this Daniel Oaks in 1772 have moved south where by 1790 he was known in a new place as Daniel Hooks?  I think that would be really cool as my father’s first cousin H. George Thomas married Ms. Ida Hooks. Ms. Ida sure could bake the cakes! What if, without knowing it, we are all family by marriage occurring many years ago?

Based on the above, I believe Gideon is the son of Leonard Green or at least one of the others of that name who interacted with my distant Thomas family in early Wake County. There are Leonard, Richard, and William who I believe to be brothers in that county. The timing of this group in Wake County simply does not correlate to the narrative of descendancy from Farnfold Green as is believed by some. Furthermore, I believe the document in Wake naming Joseph Thomas and Gideon Green may indicate the connection to my branch of the family in Anson County is more closely connected to Wake than has been previously supported. Plausibility has increased that Benjamin Thomas in Anson County is closely connected to Jacob Thomas of Wake. And of importance I cannot shake free, our Benjamin Thomas family of Anson County absolutely does not descend from the Quaker lineage of Tristram and Stephen Thomas.

However, in 1742 a person named Richard Green penned a will claiming Chowan County to be his home. Richard mentioned his sons: “I also give to my five sons Richard Green, William Green, Thomas Green, Lonard Green, Jacob Green, my wifes land for which their own need.”

The will was probated in Edgecombe County, and I believe these sons mostly settled in southern Wake County before moving to the region around Rocky River in southern North Carolina. Somehow Joseph Thomas connects to this family though in that determination I run into yet another brick wall. More on that on a later date.

Closing Note: I must apologize as growing from my excitement of connecting Anson County family to Wake by way of this document naming Joseph Thomas and Gideon Green, I inadvertently overlooked other connections I don’t think have ever been fully discussed. Earliest in the area of Wake of the name Green were Edward and Peter Green. There is nearby Green path and I wonder if that is named for the family? There is also Silas Green who has ties to both the earlier Edward and yet William Green who I believe is tied to Richard. Are Edward and William Green kin and do they somehow descendant from the same family.  Is their ancestor Richard Green or Peter and/or Edward? There is also a Joseph Green and Isham Green who moved to South Carolina from Wake.  Beyond the Green family, I wonder about Joseph Cobb from the record and whether he has ties to the David Cobb family of Anson.  I think this find will significantly impact Cobb family thinking. I plan to dig a bit deeper into these people and will soon provide a bit of thought on who they might be ….

REV. MICHAEL THOMAS JR. TO ALABAMA

Family history is often unpredictable in how it comes together. Around 2000 Dr. Pelham Thomas paid me a visit at NC State University, my place of employment. Born in Alabama, he taught statistics and mathematics at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina. Furthermore, his first cousin had once been the chancellor at NC State where I served in the student arts program. Pelham’s Y-DNA matched mine, and therefore his lineage through his earliest known ancestor, “Joseph Thomas,” was somehow tied to mine. First appearing in Russell County, Joseph Thomas can be traced forward through Coosa and Bibb Counties in Alabama. My interest in this person has always piqued as Joseph had a son Micajah for which you are about to learn more.

There has recently been a match to a person named Henry Thomas, who, as a child actor, played Elliott in the movie ET. His family also went back to Alabama to Henry J Thomas in Elmore County, who first appeared as the son of a person named Andrew Thomas. This family is enumerated in the 1850 Montgomery County census, with Andrew born in North Carolina. Andrew is first found a few years earlier in Lowndes County, Alabama, though Henry’s heritage quietly ends there in Alabama, as does Pelham’s.

Lastly is “Cousin Dan,” a retired Lt. Col. whose father was born among a large family of Thomas in Lee, once Moore County in North Carolina. This family holds dearly to the belief this branch of the family goes back to Bertie County by way of a person named Joseph Thomas, who moved to Wake County and having children including John, Micajah, Benjamin, Joseph, Allen, and Aaron. Though buying into the belief, I have yet to find the singular smoking gun emphatically connecting our collective family narrative to that of early Bertie County.

Like many, ours is a motley crew, a ragtag of family whose disjointed record spans the southeast. For more than 15 years, I have been unable to find any leads connecting us though that has recently changed, at least in part. This post tells of new directions and exciting findings requiring deeper study.

_______________________

Pelham shared with me a written family history he created though much to his consternation was whether he was on the correct path. Pelham’s history weakly supported documentation of beginnings in a person known as John Thomas, a powerful preacher whose family members removed to Hancock County, Georgia. Leaps of faith are necessary for pondering one’s family history, and concerning Pelham, he told me that clues gleaned from estate records introduced doubt in his proposed ancestry. In addition, collective wisdom for my family now connected to the Moore County branch should rightfully not link by Y-DNA to Pelham’s proposed Edgecombe family. And yet, there must be an error among all the findings as Pelham is undoubtedly related to me and others believed to have migrated west to Wake directly from Bertie County. And in recently reading through Pelham’s paper once more, I found something I had not previously seen. Projecting heritage beyond proven ancestry, carrying Pelham’s family back to Russell County, Alabama, Pelham wrote:

“Joseph and at least one other brother, Michael, and one sister, Lydia (Aunt Liddy), were raised in North Carolina …In 1825 the western counties of Georgia, around what is now Columbus, became available for settlement by virtue of a treaty of session of Indian lands. Joseph found some land available in Muskogee County, Georgia. He and his family, and probably a brother called Michael (see note 4), settled there. They were there and my great grandfather, Micajah Thomas, was one year old when rumors of a pending uprising of the Creeks caused the family to rush to the Fort in Columbus in 1834.

The uprising never actually occurred, the Creeks went west rather quietly, but the family remained in or near the Fort for about a year. Congress passed the Creek Removal Act in 1832. This act made the ten southeast Alabama counties available for settlement, so Joseph and his family (and probably his brother Michael) moved into Russell County, Alabama.”

Pelham’s ancestor, Joseph Thomas, first appears in the 1840 Russell County census as 30 to 40 years, while Michael is enumerated as 40 to 50 in the same county. Earlier, across the Chattahoochee River in Muscogee County, Georgia, Joseph and Michael appear to be living beside each other, and both are 30 to 40 years of age. From deeds in Muscogee County, Michael Thomas purchased 202 acres in 1834 that were sold in 1835 by Michael Thomas of Russell County, Alabama. Michael Thomas died ca. 1846 per his last will and testament probated in Russell County. As for his brother Joseph, he moved to Coosa County before 1850, at which point he is enumerated as:

Michael Thomas of Russell County, Alabama is credited as building the first mill on Little Uchee Creek and he was a Freewill Baptist minister as appears in a 1953 issue of Alabama Historical Quarterly:

“This one among the first preachers who penetrated the primeval forests of Russell county—Rev. Michael Thomas—was born about 1795, Ware county, North Carolina, and settled in Russell county in the winter of 1834 and 1835, when he was about forty years old. The family was composed of six brothers and four sisters, nearly all of whom settled in Russell county about the same time. He had seven children: William Thomas, died before the war; Caroline, wife of Mr. Benj. Singleton; Mr. Joseph Thomas; Harriet J., wife of Mr. George Prewitt; Mr. John Thomas—all of Elmore county; Millenden, died before the war; Mr. Blake Thomas Jr., died in the Confederate army; Sarah, wife of Mr. William Pitman, died some years ago; and Ciscillia, wife of Rev. Wheeler Cooper—lately settled on a part of the estate left by their father. Mr. Thomas died in 1846, aged about fifty years. His wife died in 1881.

Rev. Michael Thomas was a disciple and follower of the late Cyrus White, of whom notice will be given hereafter. The denomination is known in church history as The Free-Will Baptists, and as Mr. White was the most prominent leader and zealous in planting churches, his followers are more generally known in this country as Whiteite Baptists. Mr. Thomas was a man whose life was pure, a minister of the plain, honest, unvarnished primitive sort, a farmer of the old fashioned short and a miller and lumberman of the water-power, upright-saw period. He, his brothers and sons built the first mills of any kind ever erected on Little Uchee creek. He located and built up a congregation of his faithful followers at a point on the north side of Little Uchee creek on section 21, township 18 and range 28, near the centre of the section. Here Mr. Thomas and Rev. James Dixon had a monthly appointment, occasionally interspersed by a sermon from Rev. Cyrus White, when the weather and the Indians permitted, under the trees, until 1836, when a log church was built. This served until Macedonia, near the Maynor place, was built. The first mill on Little Uchee stood where McKinnon’s mill now stands. His sons built another set of mills three quarters of a mile above, which were destroyed by fire and rebuilt by his brother. The exact dates of these various mill erections are lost.

Mr. Thomas was acknowledged as a man of God, and as such, was respected, honored and loved until his death. He introduced the peculiar tenets of the Free-Will Baptist faith in his neighborhood, in advance of all others, the fruits of his labor being still apparent, and the little church, Macedonia, which stands near where he lived and died, and where his body and that of his wife lie buried, is his fit monument and perpetuates his memory.

A brother of the above is closely identified with the same period, and though never emerging from the private walks of life, has exerted a quiet activity which has resulted in retaining him on the stage of action as one of the old landmarks of the days of “lang syne” of Russell county. A B. Thomas, Sr, was born in North Carolina, Oct. 19th, 1809; the youngest son of a family of ten children of Michael Thomas, Sr. This latter was a Revolutionary soldier and merits a passing notice in this history. In 1812, when his son, Blake, was three years old, this patriarch moved to York District, S. C., and settled on Fishing creek, where he lived until 1818.”

I am almost certain there is a mistake in the family tree of Michael Thomas Senior as outlined above.  Back in time the good folks of Alabama claimed that his son, the Rev. Michael Thomas Jr. was born 1795 in Ware County, North Carolina. There is no Ware County, but instead there is a Wake County. And, in 1790, the census in that county lists only one Michael Thomas who happened to live in southern Wake County not far from Joseph Thomas who is commonly believed to be the patriarch of family there. This Joseph is mentioned in the 1758 last will and testament of yet an earlier Joseph Thomas living in Bertie County. It is my believe that Michael Thomas Sr in this writing is the same person as “Micajah” who is shown in records as being the son of Joseph Thomas who moved to Wake County from earlier in Bertie.

US Topographic Map Collection

Beginning in 1794, “Micajah Thomas” is named in road orders leading from Terrible Creek to Braswell’s Ferry. Joseph Thomas and family moved across the river to the Buckhorn area of Chatham County where Micajah Thomas became first to acquire land. Dated 13 May 1796, “Cage Thomas” planter of “Weak” county purchased 250 acres from Phil Johnston of Moore County. The deed was witnessed by brothers Benjamin Thomas, Joseph Thomas and neighbor John Shephard. About this land, it originated as a land grant issued in 1780 to Voluntine Braswell, whose father Richard lived earlier near the Thomas family on Roquist Creek in Bertie County. Following the war, Voluntine and brother Byrd moved to Georgia after which Voluntine’s land fell into the hands of John Shephard before being sold to Micajah Thomas.

Moving a mile or so south into Moore County, Micajah sold his land in 1804 to Ishmael Roberts, a Revolutionary War Veteran and man of color. Micajah appears in the 1810 census as 26-44 years of age with three sons under 10 and two being 10-15 years of age. One of the children listed could easily be the future Rev. Michael Thomas, Junior. Not appearing in any census going forward, at this point I have always wondered if he remained in the area. Because of this uncertainty and knowing that Chester and York Counties were a popular stop for people moving out of Chatham County, it makes sense that Michael [Micajah]Thomas Senior moved to and died in early York District, South Carolina before 1820. Furthermore, concerning Rev. Michael Thomas Jr, and his brother Joseph, being Pelham Thomas’ ancestor, I believe they are the two sons 10-15 years of age from the 1810 Moore County census. At this point to further make the case, I strongly urge any male descendants of Rev. Michael Thomas to be Y-DNA tested with familytreedna.com.  Your DNA is key in making the case and in that I believe we will someday become family.

At this point I would like for this post to end, however, it must not as others in the family and community moved to Georgia. Following retreat from the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, General Charles, Lord Cornwallis crossed the Deep River before making way to Wilmington on Ramsey’s Road.  The road changed names as it crossed into Cumberland County, later Moore, becoming Sheppard’s Road. The family owned much land in that area. Note to the right the old county line (red) and the 250-acre Voluntine Braswell tract that passed through John Shepard’s hands before passing down to Micajah Thomas in 1796 (purple). Below is 300 acres granted to John Shepard (yellow).  Land colored deep green was acquired by Andrew Sheppard, the father of John Sheppard. Andrew owned more land with much of it lying to the west along the run of Lick Creek.

With the family of Micajah Thomas Sr. now in South Carolina and considering their move to Georgia, the urge to move was felt by Micajah’s family. In March of 1838, William Judd wrote his last will and testament bequeathing land to wife Elizabeth and then to her son Henderson upon her death. One of the tracts was situated northeast of the land platted below. The other, at that time, was identified as the “Thomas Place” which I believe is the land where upon lived William Thomas, son of Micajah’s brother John. The deeded land, below, filed in Chatham County, shows the William “Thomas Place” which would no longer be owned by the said William Thomas following a move to Georgia. Furthermore, William Thomas’ land was originally granted to Neil McLeod after which it passed to Andrew Shepard. The name Andrew will later become important for generations of Thomas as I believe there were marriages between the families of Thomas and Sheppard. Note too that the deeded land shown below nicely adjoins the northeast side of the green colored diamond shape in the illustration above.

John Shephard and the families of Micajah Baggett (husband of Catherine Thomas) and William B. Thomas moved to Georgia shortly after the 1830 census. Catherine may be the sister or maybe a niece of Michael [Micajah] Thomas Senior. William B. is believed to be Michael’s nephew, the son of John Thomas. As for John Shepard, whose land in Chatham was acquired by Micajah Thomas, he wrote his last will and testament in 1842 Marion County mentioning daughter “Mary Thomas.” Mary Thomas appears in the 1850 census as a widow living in the home of Osborne and wife Mary Blair who is John Sheppard’s granddaughter. Earlier, in 1839, a person by the name of Henry Thomas died, leaving an estate in Marion County with buyers including John Shepard and M. Baggett. However, missing is William B. Thomas. Likely related, who is this Henry Thomas and how does he relate? Could he be William B. Thomas’ brother, or maybe a son of Micajah [Michael] Thomas?

In 1854 Muscogee County to the west of Marion County was divided with Chattahoochee County being formed from its southern half. Today, much of Chattahoochee serves as home to the US Army’s Fort Benning military post. In their later years the families of Baggett and Thomas lived in Chattahoochee County and are interred at County Line Primitive Baptist Church in the Pine Knot community east of Buena Vista. Known burials in the cemetery include William Thomas and John Shepard’s son Andrew M. Sheppard. One will encounter roads named “Helmet Trail and “Division 1 Road” if heading due west from cemetery into the grounds of Fort Benning. Continue may fifteen more miles through Chattahoochee County and your trip will pass over the state line, being the namesake Chattahoochee River, at which place Uchee Creek enters from the Alabama side of the river. Rev. Michael Thomas Jr lived nearby as he built a mill nearby which was operable into the 1970’s. Much like the land these folks left in Chatham Counties in North Carolina, note that Russell County was divided following war’s end with the northern half being named Lee County in honor of the Confederate General. Much of Rev. Michael Thomas’ family can be found in Lee County. From there family trees online show movement of the families through Coosa, Elmore, and Montgomery Counties before heading to points further west in Louisiana and Texas.

Furthermore, knowing of Thomas family in Elmore County Alabama rooted ancestrally through names Henry Jackson Thomas and his father Andrew, and knowing Henry was born in Georgia while Andrew was born in North Carolina, we can now discuss the likelihood that family descends from an earlier Henry, being the son-in-law of John Sheppard. At this point more work is needed to learn of any later ties between this Thomas family and that of Sheppard.

I believe emphatically that we are close to the endgame of discovery and to any male descendants of Rev. Michael Thomas and William B. Thomas reading this, I make two simple requests. First, please have your Y-DNA tested at familytreedna.com which may undeniably connect your tree to a vibrant trunk that is deeply rooted in North Carolina. Also, feel free to join our Facebook group titled THOMAS FAMILY from Northeast North Carolina. We would love to hear from you, sharing with you all we have while learning from what you may offer.

REIMAGINING THE GREAT WAGON ROAD

Today, while out in the yard working hard spreading a fresh layer of mulch over the flower beds, I had an epiphany concerning something that has been on my mind as of late. I have recently become enthralled with the degree in which many families may have spread out of Northeast North Carolina, and yet, for folks like me with roots in the southern Piedmont of North Carolina, it is the Great Wagon Road we wholeheartedly credit as bringing family to our state. With that thought laying heavy on my mind as I moved wheelbarrow loads of good stuff across the landscape, it suddenly hit me that there was something missing; something I wanted to see. For family like mine historically living in say Cabarrus County, North Carolina whose ancestors have Germanic last names like Sossomon, Meisenheimer, Clontz, Furr, or Dry, I got to wondering on how autosomal DNA products visualize the spread of such people from their ancestral beginnings here in the USA.

Of the image I quickly threw together at the top of the page, I confess to taking a little liberty in drawing how I might imagine “my” autosomal DNA spread if the Great Wagon Road really is as important to our lives as we give it credit. Do you like the tugboat my family came over on? Actually, looking like some poor representation of an intestinal track, the image in my mind wiggles all my family narrowly south from New York or Pennsylvania along the old road I can only imagine. Reaching their final destination here in our warm southland, families would of course begin to spread beyond.  Just maybe I am putting way too much emphasis on the “here,” being the place I like and know so well. Anyhow, I bet I am not alone in how I’d like to imagine the multifaceted bits of DNA journeying across the new land coming together in making me who I am today. But, seeing myself this way would be wrong and such a spread pattern likely does not exist, for anyone, and in that idea lies a question that piques my curiosity.

Now, for my own Ancestry DNA autosomal spread, really and truly, the image below represents the collective DNA making me who I am today …so they say.

Lore and historical documentation provide a colorful history for my early Germanic ancestors who traveled the Great Wagon Road to North Carolina. However, and based on the above visual presentation, such influences appear to be weak, at best, and may even be statistically non-existent. Though the stories I’ve heard are all about this trek, I see nothing above offering even a hint of these people. From that observation, I wonder about the reader, how many of YOUR descendants from ancestral German stock arriving in North Carolina followed similar patterns from origin as did mine? Particularly of interest to me are those traditionally believed to be rooted in the Germanic names common to early Piedmont North Carolina. Are there any of you out there whose autosomal DNA targets origins to the north, say in Pennsylvania? And please, I’m not referring to snowbirds or folks who have moved into our state in later years; instead, I question the pattern for those whose families have been in North Carolina since the invention of our famed red clay.  All I want to see is a real person’s visual DNA presentation capturing an arrival in Pennsylvania while also possibly doing the same for origins in say Virginia.

Of curiosity to me, maybe I have been misguided in placing so much emphasis on the importance of the Great Wagon Road. It’s a cool kind of stuff to tell a young person, though thinking about it, migrations from the far north were often accomplished as a singular trip, or maybe numerous journeys by different families making up who I have genetically come to be. The period of German migration took place during a short window of time such that autosomal DNA visual presentations may not show Pennsylvania because in part, many headed south soon after arrival in what may be defined as a singular journey or leg of a greater trip beginning in Europe.

Whereas for folks originating on the tidewaters of Virginia, many came to this country as indentured servants, finding freedom following the completion of years of servitude under a work agreement. Few had the means or even the desire to at first move far. All they wanted was their freedom and a sense of safety they first found within the swampy lands of our state’s northeast. Such people migrated slowly across the state with some maybe passing through places like Bertie County while others moved west before dropping down into our state to places like Granville or Stokes Counties. DNA mixed all along the way, creating a rich but complicated history influenced by the abundance of admixture. And yet, while some in many genetic families may have moved out of Virginia with descendants ultimately passing through numerous generational stops, others stayed put at which point new generations sprang into existence, diverging from various points along the migratory trail according to realities we hardly recognize.  Genetic mixing finds a multitude of paths in which DNA influences who we have become today. Going back to my love of yardwork, visualize carrying a busted bag of grass seeds from the car to a far point in the yard.  Not only will new grass grow beside the driveway, but one may also see its spotty “accidental” influences growing all along the way.

Maybe, just maybe, we need to look more deeply into the myriad of old Indian paths and the roads and communities springing from such beginnings. With my Germanic influences failing to be noticed by autosomal DNA mapping, I believe a plethora of research opportunity awaits many of us whose families are defined by a more enduring migration from the east.  For me, this is an important eye opener. Assuming the autosomal DNA spread presentations are accurate, shouldn’t one wisely consider such clues to be important, being ones we most need to seriously explore?

JOSEPH THOMAS GOES TO GEORGIA

In 1850, Joseph Thomas is living in District 13 in Savannah, Chatham County, Georgia. Enumerated as born in 1798 and head of household, Joseph may be married to the much younger Sarah E Thomas. According to marriage records for Chatham County, Joseph H. Thomas married Sarah Jane English on August 6, 1849. By occupation Joseph is a “net maker” with others in the home also being tradesmen including a saddler, several tailors, and a fisherman.  Some were born in Georgia while others came from Virginia, South Carolina, and as far away as Scotland.  As for Joseph, he is born in North Carolina.

The 1860 Chatham County census illuminates why the above may be important to me as at that time Joseph Thomas is 64 years of age, a farmer, with land and real property valued at $1,000.  In 1860 Joseph is enumerated as born in “Berty Co. N. C.”  At that point Joseph and wife Sarah have a respectably sized family with another couple, Jonah and wife Catherine Harrell living in the household.  This couple is also born in Bertie County NC.

In harmony with the 1850 Georgia census, looking back to Bertie County in search of clues based on the ages of Joseph and Jonah, I found Joseph clearly in the 1830 census as over thirty and under forty years of age. He is living within twelve households from Josiah Harrell (related to Jonah?). He’s also near James Collins and John Fife; understand my mention of both will become better understood in a bit.

So this is Joseph and in finding him, I can now begin to unravel a curious person who I’ve been wondering about. Particularly, there are some good mentions of Joseph Thomas in records though I have still not been able to properly connect him to earlier family. Yet, what we know solidly begins to resolve some issues connecting him to the lands and records of Josiah Thomas Senior, son of Joseph Thomas (II).

Josiah Sr. had a son “Jordan Thomas” whom folks have been all over the place in addressing.  The 1814 estate division of Josiah Thomas Sr. deceased devises upon son Jordan 80 acres along the road, I think being present-day Republican Road near the intersection of School Road. Laid off by Moses Gilliam, Turner Bazemore, Zed. Stone, and Geo Outlaw, and Simon A. Bryan: Jordan’s 80-acre share (shaded green) is identified as:

“beginning at a pine in the road in Turner Bazemore’s line, then to a  pine, then along the line of said Bazemore to a pine in Simon A. Bryan’s, then along his line and Joseph S. Pugh’s to a gum in a branch, then south 89 west a new line.”  

But then, at this point, we can begin to trace other members of family, and even those who are not, though Jordan becomes lost in an almost vacuum of nothingness.  One ray of hope some have followed is believing that Josiah’s son above is a Jordan Thomas who died earlier in Franklin County NC.  Though Josiah’s son seems to vanish, the dates simply do not match though for others out there chasing this fellow who served as Sheriff for Franklin County, I offer the arousing bit of record below.  Again, to be clear, this is the record for a Jordan Thomas, though not the son of Josiah of Bertie County.

Nearly coming to an end without any lifelines reaching back in time, I believe the record I’m about to share relates to both Josiah’s son and Joseph Thomas who moved to Georgia.  Dated May 15, 1833, Joseph Thomas of Bertie County purchased an eighty-one acre tract from John Fife (Bertie DD – 67). In the land instrument is written the following:

“a certain piece or parcel of land lying and being situated in the county and state aforesaid bounded by the lands of Joseph Pugh’s heirs, Josiah Thomas [Junior], Thomas Speller, and others it being the tract of land upon which Jordan Thomas late of the state and county aforesaid lived and died, it being the right of my wife Judah, daughter of the said Jordan Thomas.”

From this deed one can clearly see that Josiah’s son Jordan lived and died on the family lands he had inherited.  Further, according to a Bertie County marriage bond, the above John Fife and Judy Thomas were married on March 23, 1827. And of the marriage, Judy apparently died young as on April 16, 1838, John married second to Anna Harrell.  A sister or relative of Jonah Harrell who married Catherine and was living in 1860 at the home of Joseph Thomas in Savannah, Georgia?

Back in Bertie, Joseph S. Pugh who was mentioned in the deed died circa 1830 at which time Joseph Thomas and James Collins purchased canoes from the estate. Also making purchases nearby on the list was Henry Harrell whose relation to Jonah Harrell is unknown to me. Joseph Thomas, along with George Thomas, also provided depositions on how slaves owned by the heirs of Gov. David Stone deceased were hired out to move and stack lumber.

Pertaining to Joseph Thomas’ acreage purchased of John Fife in 1833, being the land once owned by Jordan Thomas, son of Josiah Thomas Senior, that land was not held too long as Joseph Thomas sold fifty acres of it in 1837 to “Elizabeth Speller” (Deed DD – 572). At that time the land is described as:

“Beginning at the road in the said Elizabeth Speller’s line then running her line near a south course to a corner in her line then running near a north east coarse to the road Everett Thomas & wife’s line then down the road to the first station.”

This appears to be Jordan’s land east of Republican Road.   The land on the west side of the road may have been sold to the house carpenter, Jeremiah Bunch.

Note that Everett Thomas is the son of Josiah Thomas Junior who received the northwest-most tract from his father’s estate, including the homeplace. The homeplace is identified in both the estate division and the 1860’s Confederate Engineering Map which the division plat overlays.  In 1850, 45-year-old Everett Thomas is living in the home of his aged father, Josiah Thomas, who is 75 years of age. Next door in the census is Jeremiah Bunch [Junior] who is also identified on the Confederate map.

Following recent participation in a genealogy talk at Historic Hope Plantation concerning architecture, specifically homes built by the family of person of color Jeremiah Bunch, Mr. Lou Craig offered to tour me though numerous places important to the family.  Seen in the Confederate map above, you will note Craig’s Mill close to the Josiah Thomas estate.  Well, that’s Lou’s folks and he carried us to look out from “school road” towards the old mill pond site.  Also, take a minute to look at the photo below.

Isaiah Thomas is the son of Michael Thomas, who is the son of Josiah Thomas Junior, the son of Josiah Thomas, Senior who died circa 1811-14. Apparently, the old home tract passed from Senior to son Junior and then on to Michael or at least later purchased by Isaiah as in real life the photo above goes further to unravel the mystery.  Looking beyond the stone, and beyond the woods, one will see a small field within which the old Josiah Thomas Senior’s home once stood.  So, this is naturally the perfect for a cemetery and likely under the leaf-covered ground lies stones marking the grave of original owner, Josiah Sr.  And looking beyond the distant field, see the woods in the background?  That’s on the other side of Republican Road and is close to the spot where Jeremiah Bunch’s home once stood before being moved to School House Road.

This was the area and land once lived upon by Joseph Thomas who later appears as “net maker” in the Savannah Georgia census.  We do not know yet how he ties into the family …maybe as a brother of Judy and therefore a son of Jordan Thomas.  And with that, it’s time for this bit of writing to come to an end until further information can be found kicking the can further down the road.

A LOOK AT THE PLACE WHERE FREDERICK THOMAS ONCE LIVED

Few passing by today are aware of the important ruin revealed if one could peer a little deeper into  the thick patch of woods. The site is most noticeable when viewed from overhead (right).

Registered in the Lee County deed book 23, page 488, Darius Thomas and wife Rosanna sold two and seven tenths acres for a price of $13.50 to Benjamin W. Hunter, John W. Laurence, John T. Kelly Sr., J. W. O. Thomas, William Bradley, John N. Smith, J. O. Kelly, John M. Hunter, and E. R. Partridge, trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. Note this was a deed reregistered from its original conveyance dated 27 Mar 1882 and the men were trustees from nearby Memphis establishing a new church.

Concord Methodist was located “on Fall Creek, and lying on the southeast side of the Fall Road and joining the lands of the first part, the said Darius Thomas, Harrington and others.” The metes and bounds go further, mentioning adjoining lands owned by “Shepard” and Joseph Thomas.” Note that Andrew Shepard and son John are known to have acquired land in this area going back to the pre-revolutionary war days in which this land was located at that time in Cumberland County. Keep the name Shepard in mind.

Below are the metes and bounds along with a plat I drew overlaid atop of the Google map. Though deeded in the 1800s, it is nice that the bounds are recognizable today.

Founding this little church must have been a high-water mark in the life of Darius Thomas and yet, he must have been equally proud in hosting the 1889 marriage of his daughter Ida G. Thomas (Jonesboro Leader, 29 May 1889).

Concord Church existed for more than 40 years though all that remains today are vines covering the hidden heap of wood once a house of worship built on land previously owned by Darius Thomas.

The church and name of Darius Thomas, who I had yet to research, are but a loose-ends that, when looked at more closely, began to unlock information about the lands where more distant family lived in old Moore County.  Dated 3 Jan 1917, the court allowed a transaction to be registered as an old deed was deemed to be an original. Note that Moore is a burn county so many of the deed books for that county are lost. In this case, the old deed acknowledged in 1917 was actually for 275 acres sold by Henderson and Darius Thomas on 8 Mar 1845 to Joseph Thomas (Deed 13-620 Lee County). An accompanying plat (below) indicates the southern-most end joins Shepard to the west and the said Henderson Thomas to the east.  Like the church deed, the southern end of this great tract adjoins Shepard’s land with the end line running 41 degrees off of north.  The church tract likely adjoins this land to the south.

More importantly, the deed describes the 275 acres as being “the following part of the lands held at his death by Frederick Thomas which said parcel of land is bounded as follows in Moore County on both sides of Fall Creek.” So, it is known that Frederick Thomas died before 1845 at which time Henderson and Darius sold part of the land to Joseph Thomas.  Was this a transaction among heirs?   Yes! It was, and can be proven as on 10 Sep 1838, Frederick’s widow, Nancy Thomas, wrote her last will and testament mentioning

“my children namely that is to say – Henderson Thomas, Deros [Darius] Thomas, Joseph Thomas, Caty Thomas and Patsy Thomas all my undivided interest in the negroes [unnamed] belonging to my husband Frederick Thomas Dec’d.”

Darius Thomas is appointed executor and the will was witnessed by Aa’n [Aaron] Thomas and Fredrick Rollins.

Take a look at the plat below and note that I have listed adjoining landowners in red.  Also, note that the adjoining line with Henderson Thomas crosses the “mill pond” at the point where the line crosses Fall Creek. And lastly, see the house? That’s likely Frederick’s house and if only we could locate the land it would be a sinch to identify the general location where Frederick Thomas once called home. Take a look:
Now, for this re-recorded deed plat, it is mentioned to look also in the same deed book being  620, though five pages back at page 615. In doing so, I found aa second detailed plat in somewhat the same hand and style updated though reflecting the 1845 deed. This new plat, below, was unceremoniously written with the survey being completed Sept, 6 1916 and filed on 9 Jan 1917.  The plat represents the division of lands belonging to Joseph Thomas dec’d. Again, I believe the plat for the 1845 deed is modern, being drawn by and likely at the same time as the same surveyor for the land below. At any rate, some interesting observations follow:

Purple line indicates Fall Creek and an unnamed branch, the mill dam and mill race. Tract 1&2 allotted to Lonnie and Catherine Thomas Tract 3 allotted to Malissa Howard Tract 4 allotted to J. Clyde Thomas Tract 5 allotted to Edgar Thomas Tract 6 allotted to L. C. Rosser.

When overlaid atop one of the layers available at the Lee County GIS site, and as based in matching up old lines to what is seen today, it becomes easily possible to identify the lands once owned by Frederick Thomas as passed through his heirs Henderson and Darius before falling into the hands of their brother Joseph.  Also now known is the general area where Frederick’s home once stood along with the branch that once served as a “race” for Frederick’s mill. As for adjoining lands, we know where Shephard once owned land as well as Frederick’s son Henderson. We can also see the lot where Concord Methodist once stood and of Darius, brother of Henderson and the above Joseph. Being thirty years before he gave the land for the little Methodist church, Darius actually deeded land in provision of Juniper Spring Baptist, which is located just down Buckhorn Road to the west.  In those acts, one might suppose that Darius owned sizeable amounts of land south of Buckhorn Road, in the areas where the two churches served the community.

Zooming in using Google maps, one can study Fall Creek and the branch where once there was a lake roughly 6 chains or roughly 400 feet wide. The image below, looking in the area where the branch once flowed, pretty much identifies what could easily be the old lake and dam site.

In closing, concerning Henderson Thomas, I may have him misidentified in much earlier research on Asa Thomas (soon to be corrected). In 1870, Henderson and family, including wife Martha Norris Thomas, are listed on Buckhorn Creek in Wake County with Henderson listed as being a millwright. That choice in career makes sense as the said Henderson Thomas had a great opportunity to hew his occupation while working on the family mill. From my earlier post, here’s a bit of that I wrote:

“Born ca. 1815, Henderson Thomas married Martha Norris on 17 May 1847. Martha is the daughter of Needham Norris and Patience Pearson. In the 1850 census, Henderson Thomas (millwright) and family are enumerated next to Needham Norris. In April of 1851, two tracts purchased by Henderson Thomas were recorded in court. First tract (deed 19-11, Wake NC) from Gaston Jones was situated on Carries Creek adjoining S. P. Harris. The second tract from John Watson was for 44 acres on the north side of Buckhorn Creek. In 1852, Henderson Thomas sold 33 ½ acres on Fish Dam Road “near the Holly Spring Meeting House” Henderson sold the land to Andrew K. Clements, James Rogers and Andrew W. Betts; Masters and Wardens of Holly Spring Lodge # 115. The land was likely purchased as a site to build an academy for the town of Holly Springs.”

Looking at the 1870 census, it appears Henderson may have worked two mills in two different counties as he was enumerated in both Moore and Wake Counties:

1870 Sloan Township, Moore County

1870 Buckhorn Township, Wake County

 

TAYLOR BURRIS – BURRIS TAYLOR

A Bit of Background.
From his Revolutionary War pension application, we know that my ancestor, Solomon Burris, married Judith [Taylor] in the 1780’s after arriving in Anson County where he enlisted for service. Notice the brackets around Judith’s maiden name? Based on supplemental evidence, it is rightfully believed Judith’s maiden name is likely “Taylor.” However, I find no absolute proof that Judith was born a member of the Taylor family.

The couple, Solomon and Judith Burris, lived out their lives in Stanly County, which formed from Montgomery, which was earlier cut from Anson. Buried in the crossroads community called Frog Pond, Judith’s gravestone at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church shows her birth as Nov 10, 1766 (see above).

Solomon’s pension application includes the family’s record which names his son Taylor Burris born “December, the 28th Day, 1784.” See it to the left, at the top? This fact is used in support of the idea that Judith’s maiden name is indeed Taylor. And using more distant records, some wrongly assess Judith Burris as being the daughter of Robert and Mary Taylor out of Edgecombe County NC.

The elder Robert Taylor wrote his will in 1758 Edgecombe County naming children Robert Jr, Edward, Joseph, Richard, Henry, William, Henry, Billington, Nimrod, Hudson, Judith, and Rachel. Another clue as to Judith’s ancestry, numerous children in the above-mentioned family of Robert Taylor can be later found living on land granted in early Montgomery, now Stanly County, located near the lands where Solomon Burris settled. By proximity of land in conjunction with naming patterns, we begin to connect Solomon’s wife to the highly suspect family of Robert Taylor. However, and picking up on “Judith” as being a named child in the 1758 last will and testament of Robert Taylor, it simply cannot be that Solomon Burris married Robert’s daughter Judith as her mentioning in the will occurred some eight years before the birth date of Solomon’s wife as appears on the her tombstone in Stanly County.  Solomon’s wife Judith was not even born when Robert Taylor named his daughter Judith in his 1758 will.

Though it’s quite impossible for Solomon’s wife to be the daughter of Robert Taylor, maybe she could be a descendant named in honor of the mentioned daughter whom so many confuse to be our maternal ancestor.  Or, looking back even further in time, Robert’s wife is believed to be the daughter of Judith Elizabeth Billington. So here again, the naming tradition supports the idea that Solomon’s wife somehow descends from the family of Robert Taylor who died ca. 1758 in Edgecombe. It’s good, I buy into it, but I must acknowledge that the proof is subjective.

The nature of homonymous naming patterns is indeed historically rich in the ways of our southern heritage though interpretations have confused the dickens out of many researchers seeking to refine the tangled family trees.  Lost beyond the scarcity of surviving records, there once existed a time and generations of people who could have helped us out.  They lived among these people and could have offered a much better understanding of the confusing relationships we struggle to understand today.

At some point one realizes that searches may bear no more fruit as the twisted possibility of relations can no longer be verified. At that point, maybe having studied the winds and seeking spiritual guidance by clapping the spit on our hands, it is easy to ere by converting one’s plausible maybes based on guesswork supported by some self-anointed rationale.  Passing on the street some unknown person whose recognizable likeness you reacted to with dropped jaw, subjective perpetuation of family throughout the generations have unknowingly produced familial doubles, multiple narratives, and doppelgängers through ill-conceived thoughts based on a narrow smattering of records discovered. It’s a huge problem and yet, genealogically speaking, we come to appreciate that such mentions of family indicate that we are quite close to discovering the truths of who we are. It may be that such naming patterns draw us as close to our ancestral clan as we may ever come and that’s a good thing worthy of being screamed from the mountain tops.

Beyond Robert’s naming of children in his last will and testament as was recorded in Edgecombe County NC, the migration of his sons is well-recorded. Much of the family stopped off in Chatham County NC before settling on Long Creek, south of present-day Albemarle in Stanly County NC. Also settling in the same area of present-day Stanly County was Timothy Taylor who has no known ties to the family of the elder Robert Taylor. However, such ties, if they ever existed, seem plausible though very confusing. It’s one thing if Solomon’s Judith is the daughter or cousin of one of Robert Taylor’s sons living on Long Creek; it is another if she somehow descends from Timothy whom little is known. It’s my belief that telling the story inclusive of all the various possibilities is much more intriguing than if it had been passed down singularly by declaration built upon guesswork. So, there we are, this and a nickel’s worth of cultural flavoring is all I have on my Taylor family ancestry.

Curious to learn from any published use of the names Burris and Taylor within the confines of my North Carolina stomping grounds, I searched Newspapers.com where I came across the following 17 Nov 1826 notice by former Montgomery County Sherriff Abram Forrest concerning land being sold due to unpaid taxes. Published in the North Carolina Star (Raleigh NC), the sale represented serious business as much of the land was likely being sold because the folks listed were either dead, woefully in debt, or had moved beyond the county. Just as with naming patterns and how the miscommunication of their attribution can alter history, bits of information as found in this Sherriff Sale may be fraught with opportunities for error. I’ll delve into that broader aspect in my next post, but for now, do you see a name on the list below that might be significant for the Burris family? How about for the Taylor Family?

The Big Sale.
History is written on what is known.  Naming patterns strongly suggest that Solomon’s wife is a member of the Taylor family.  Clues direct research towards the sons of Robert Taylor as they are living near Solomon and Judith Taylor Burris during the early years of settlement in now Stanly County. The fact that Judith gave birth to oldest son Taylor Burris is important. And, in a twisting of that logic, we find an equally intriguing clue within the wording of a common sale notification.

If we can gather an idea of Judith’s ancestry based on the name of her son, how then should we interpret the person “Burris Taylor” who, in 1826, had two 100-acre tracts of land being sold by the Sherriff in order to pay back taxes?

I have yet to locate Burris Taylor in census or any other surviving record though he would certainly appear in the Montgomery County deeds and court minutes if only the courthouse had not been burned by arson. Damn!

The naming of this fellow could be in honor of a  friend or neighbor though like with Judith, it’s equally likely that the naming of Burris Taylor is rooted in family.

Having his land sold in 1826, and knowing that Burris Taylor was at that time an adult of at least 21 years of age, he would have been born ca. late 1700s to 1805. Normally two tracts of land would not be purchased and sold for back taxes, all occurring in one year.  Considering the amount of time needed for Burris Taylor to acquire and have reason to sell the land for taxes, it’s likely that the said Burris Taylor was born in the late 1700s or earlier. This would make him of age, a candidate to be the son of one of the older Taylor boys who settled in now Stanly County. And, if so, it’s possible one of those Taylor fellows married a girl whose mother or other honored ancestor was a member of the Burris family.

Here’s another way to look at it.  The men in the families of Burris and Taylor have been somewhat easy to locate though about this case, is it possible Solomon’s father Joshua Burris Senior had a daughter? …one who married a Taylor man? Sure!  You see, we just don’t know and yet it’s nice now to be close to people we can look back on as likely being family.  However, you will not see me make a claim or grandiose statement on the possibility as doing so would be wrong.  We simply don’t know.

Burris Taylor is a new suspect to be pinned to our family’s wall for further investigation. Maybe he died and then again, maybe he made it to Tennessee, Alabama, South Carolina, or Kentucky where the winds of migration carried many Americans from the State of North Carolina. It’s amazing to come across something so simple as a twisted family name on a tax sale, and then asking the honest questions pertaining to meaning, I am humbled in realizing there is much we simply don’t know. If he lived and had children, Mr. Burris Taylor could conceivably be the ancestor of millions today. That’s a huge number and they would all be my cousins, just maybe.

THE FAMILY GARDEN

Here it is the day before Thanksgiving and lately I’ve been thinking a lot about yesteryear and of the many gatherings at momma’s and at the homes of distant family. Yesterday, I bought the meats and produce needed to make this year’s holiday meal for mom, wife Christina, and myself. Studying the bin near the back of the grocery, the big Tom was obviously too large so I stood there dumfounded wondering what to buy.  Go big, or not …hmmm? An employee, ripe in his years and while sweeping the floor, saw me and stopped a minute to weigh in on my dilemma before offering his own take on my predicament.  Regardless of the various scenarios I presented, he caringly responded “if it works for you, that’s good.”  Well yes, of course and I was about to walk away when behind me I noticed packages of precooked turkey in gravy hanging from the deli display …the only requirement was a microwave and six minutes. Sold! …the smaller portions were perfect for mom and I as my wife is purely vegetarian.

Next was the big decision, should I buy the Italian pole beans or the big cans of Hannaford’s string beans? Are the Italian beans anything like those out of Kentucky I grew up eating? Lord, how I yearned one more time for mom’s home-canned beans.  I remembered all those years the many jars set atop towels along a wall in the living room.  Every week or so mom used the back of a spoon to tap the jar lids, making sure the seals had not failed. Before leaving the grocery, I had potatoes, beans, a pie, and all the fixings, along with ingredients needed to make a cheesy broccoli casserole.  Mom never made casseroles as that dish is especially intended for my wife who had been thinking lately of her sister. Sue passed years before my wife and I ever met and I understand she loved to cook and always made a wonderful casserole, as well as numerous yummy desserts.

And now, back home, while mom watches her sixth episode of Little House for the day, I sit nearby with laptop on my knees content that the world is good. Christina, walked by, heading to the front yard carrying every spare bed sheet she could find. She marched like a soldier on a mission to do battle in advance of this year’s first seriously freezing night. Life is so simply harsh and I’d like to tell her that all is okay for this is the time for nature to yield in advance of winter. Unlike in spring, a time when swelling buds from warming temperatures are often unfairly nipped, the suddenness of a killing frost in the fall is better understood. We spiritually grow to appreciate death and the need for rest in advance of the big reveal to come.

My dad used to say that this was the time when the yard had gone to rest. He would have spent the last weeks before Thanksgiving “putting the yard to sleep” and at that point, only needed to further worry about the falling leaves for which his Lawnboy was the answer.  And on the festive day of Thanksgiving, he understood the need for appreciation, giving thanks for this year’s bounty while preparing his thoughts for the doldrums of winter.

I’ve grown my share of gardens, but as mom often pointed out, it’s not such a big need anymore since food has become cheaper with the refinement of quick-freeze vegetables. I guess it has gotten much better that way as to the contrary, mom often spoke of her childhood and of her father declaring “look, those are homes of Republicans as all they knew to eat was out of a can.” About our society’s move from subsistence gardening, I remember telling a lady once that people don’t garden like they once did to which she responded, “but I have a lovely garden!” When asked how many quarts she had put up her response was a simple conversation halting “ohhh.”

Beyond growing vegetables from seed, I am blessed to have grown up in a family who looked at every spot of yard wondering “what could go there.”  Times were different early on with few buying plants from the nursery as money was tight. I remember driving with dad “down home” where he dug up three small river birches from the bottom land where he had played as a child.  He saw liriope borders at a house on Queen’s Road and somehow ended up with a start. I remember Ms. Bost, Ma Boone, and Ms. Mac, all neighbors, each independantly proud of their yards and yet there is plenty of evidence of their sharing.  It’s neat now to drive down any street in the older parts of town, seeing plantings clearly resultant from what was once a very neighborly exchange.  I may spot in yards near each other, the same forsythia, azalea plantings, or some old cultivar of hellebore, imagining the conversations and numerous platitudes that led to what I am seeing.

We all take a little from our “roots” and for me I am grateful this year that I was raised to appreciate gardening, and yet we are all modified in it all, in time. After the passing of my father, mom and I spent countless hours in both her yard and beyond, contemplating on what next. We’ve made mistakes in layout and selection and even had to start over a few times, but this thing of gardening is a journey, and the process is all about change. Embrace it and yet, in taking account of my own little slice of the world, I am thankful to be able to honor my family past through landscape.

Whether by way of the King Solomon daffodils or my dad’s favorite Camelia Japonica, or maybe Ms. Mac’s Formosa azalea and even the iris I am photographed trampling as a toddler, I am surrounded by memories as I sit here contemplating next year. I am also thankful for buying into the idea of sharing, and of asking for “starts” from family and the special people I have visited through the years. In my yard is a rock from Pless’ mountain, in Arkansas, just as there is a rock from “down home” along with bricks hand-made by my grandfather’s siblings. I was given a Japanese maple said to have been the offspring of a grand tree that once adorned Billy Graham’s momma’s front entrance.  And there are also the azaleas and the Grandsire Greybeard given to me by family friend Loren Smith.  These plants and many more are now a part of my herbaceous memory album, linking me to my past. The smell of earth and joy in maintaining my simple connections are as important as any family photo I own. Each speaks in its own way and yet both pictures and plants are finite to the degree we care for their preservation.

Seeking to find the perfect picture for this simple sort of post, I chose the image above, of germinating larkspur raising their heads from the cooling grounds as winter approaches.  I have always heard of the magic of larkspurs, imagining them peppered wildly throughout my flowering landscape.  Of this understanding, and in moving beyond the traditional conversations over chain-linked fences o old, Facebook connected me with an old family cousin who as a child, played with and walked to school alongside my mother. Mom and I had the chance to visit in person and through the next year or so, it was good to see these folks sharing a bit of the past, of their gardening, and of my newly found cousin’s beautiful larkspur. From an envelope of seed received through the mail, this year’s “start” has been productive with the memories now being made secure as next year’s flowers break from the ground. At a time when most things in the landscape speak of going to sleep, Larkspur bless us with the realization there are plans greater than what we naturally expect.

LANDS IN BERTIE: FROM SAMUEL BASS TO JOSEPH THOMAS

Genealogical/historical blog writing offers a wonderful twist on the old social art of fishing for information.  Research is refined and uniquely presented in hopes of gaining notice and further refinement.  Often, we never get to know the writers except by what we glean from the quality of their work. As for the blog site Colonial Andersons of N. Carolina, for several years I’ve admired the illustrative land grant plats and related discussion.  I am a frequent visitor as I’ve recently learned that both my paternal grandmother and grandfather have roots passing through the lands lying between the Roanoke and Chowan.

As for Bertie County, many people researching the area must overcome the fact that there are:

    • Unique waterways including funny, though importantly named creeks, rivers, swamps, and even upside-down swamps called Pocosins. You’d think you could drive through and study these things from the comfort of your car, but ohhh no …the terrain will not allow for that as things are not what they would seem. Understanding the flow and locations of all these sources of water is important for us “people hunters.” Also, the names of many of these bodies of water have been duplicated many times, appearing in records at different locations across the county …with spelling evolving independently over many years.
    • Many land grants were issued in the mid-late 1700s as “Lord Granville Grants” which early source typically does not include fully detailed metes and bounds. Without the numbers you can’t get an accurate idea for the shape and size of many of the early tracts. Besides these worries, the surveys for many of the earliest land grants are lost, meaning that one must depend on entry book descriptions along with deeding descriptions from later conveyances.
    • Family names. Unlike any other county I have seen in North Carolina, given names passing through Bertie are repeated within the family tree as well as outside.  It’s easy to bark up the wrong tree here and the use of the same given names over numbers of generations frustrates the search. This problem is likely born in very early arrivals with naming traditions spreading ever so wider as generations moved out of Virginia.

A few years ago, I wrote a post about these things as related to my own research …telling of curious tracts of land and the numerous locations where I believe my Thomas family possibly lived. Here is a map I altered showing the areas I was studying:

I was hoping that someday, someone would respond and set me straight. That very thing recently happened in part by way of a pingback indicating that Colonial Andersons of N. Carolina had mentioned my post in connection with theirs entitled the Tuscarora Town.” In that post, the lands of Milton, Busby, Parker and others have been accurately platted near the Roanoke River not far from Woodville. The platted lands on the post were once owned by a person named Joseph Thomas.  For the first time, I can look at the area with clear understanding of the early community. It’s also proper here to note that this information jibes with what I had learned from my friend Gregory Tyler whose family home stands nearby.

All of this is wonderful though finding this information in no means eliminates my concerns.  Yes, it’s possible I relate to a Joseph Thomas who owned land in the vicinity of Running Creek near Woodville though I find other records of a person named Joseph Thomas who lived 12-15 miles away, closer to present-day county seat of Windsor. Are the two Thomas men named Joseph related, possibly the same person or do their purchases of land reflect different generations of the same family? Note there are also Phillip and Lazarus and other Thomas men who once lived to the north, along the present-day Northampton County line. Some show all these men as being of the same family and yet, others are not in agreement. You would thing Y-DNA would give us the answer though at this point not enough good Thomas men have been tested! Is it possible that any family ties are much more distant if even related at all?

At some point soon I want to revist records for Thomas lands in the vicinty of Woodville. But for now, my curiosity leads me down Hwy 308 to Joseph Thomas who purchased land in 1727 from Samuel Bass.  That land is identified as lying south of Kesia Swamp and is the first known deeded land for “Joseph Thomas in Bertie County.” Looking back a few months earlier, Samuel Bass had purchased the same tract from William Griffin. Overlaid atop a historic map drawn during the Civil War, the tract originally attributed to this “Joseph Thomas” appears roughly in green. Oh, and as will be later shown, the tract in white belongs to Josiah Thomas, who we believe is a descendant of Joseph Thomas.

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A year ago, I graphically overlaid a topographic map with the plat of a 700-acre land grant issued in 1786 to David Standley (seen outlines in red below). The piece of land ran miles down the Cashie Swamp and its original survey shows the names of adjoining owners (right). Of interest in this exercise, the survey also references the mouth of Connaritsa Swamp and historic Lumber Bridge which crosses Cashie Swamp between the communities of Snake Bite and Republican.  This was fun to see as I knew the tract could be graphically expanded or made smaller until the illustration correlated with known locations on topography maps.  The tract, being long with a bend south made me realize how accurate the surveyors were in the early days. Anyhow, related to this post, note in the image below that the southern-most end of the tract adjoins the lands of “John Hill,” just as David Standley’s survey suggests.

US Topographic Map Collection – [M-204 Bertie, 3 Aug 1773, Whitmell Hill and Winefred his wife to Josiah Williams] Being 700 acres of land lying in Cashy Swamp beginning at a little cypress on Cashy Swamp being in the line of Catherine Hunter minor of Moses Hunter Dec’d then N 44 W 90 along Cashie Swamp being her line to a beach her corner standing on the swamp then up the swamp being Maj. Robert West’ line S 85 W 38 to a gum on the sd swamp then along the said swamp N 57 W 22 to a cypress then along the swamp N 75 W 26 to an ash then N 76 W 12 to an ash in the swamp then S 51 W 28 to a beach on the swamp then S 41 W 28 to a beach then S20 E 32 to a beach then S 18 to a cypress then S 44 W 24 to a beach then N 41 W 8 to a white oak on the swamp then N 15 E 26 to a gum then N 16 W 28 to an ash then N 42 W 38 to a maple then N 19 W 36 to beach N 52 to a beach on the swamp then N 33 W 24 to a gum then N 68 W 26 to a gum then S 78 W 48 to a white oak then North 16 W 30 to a beach then N 3 E 36 to a poplar then N 42 W 2 to an ash then N 12 E 16 to a water oak then N 40 W24 to a gum on the swamp near (Bryar?) House then N 36 along sd swamp being Joseph Thomas’s line to a cypress in the swamp then N 11 W 50 to an Elm then N 71 W 20 to a cypress then N 7 W 26 to a beach then N 43 W 28 to a beach then N 46 W 70 to a cypress then N 10 then N 7 E 36 along Henry Bunch’s line to a white oak then N 8 W 22 to a beach then S 72 W 20 to a cypress then along the swamp being Bunch’s line then N 27 W 34 to a beach on the swamp then N 33 E 16 to a beach then N 57 W 18 to a beach then N 27 W 68 to a beach on swamp then N 22 to a chinkerpin then N 43 W 20 to a beach then N 18 to a beach then N 30 E 26 to a chinkerpin then N 44 W 20 to a hickory on the swamp then across the Cashy Swamp to a pine on the swamp standing above Micajah Thomas’ plantation then down the said swamp S 28 E 14 to a red oak then S 12 W 56 to a beach then S 33 E 16 to beach then S 7 W 27 to a pine then S 53 W 16 to a dogwood then S 11 W 14 to a gum in John Hill Junior’s line then S 51 E 6 to a beach them S 46 to a sourwood then S 36 W 30 to a chinkerpin then S 47 E 38 to a gum them S 8 E 42 to a pine in Whitmell Hill’s line then S 44 E 22 to a hickory then N 53 E 8 to a pine then S 65 E 20 to a pine. Witnesses are Hezekiah Mohum and Bart. Barnes.

Not readily appearing in land grant records, deed (K-284 Bertie) identifies a 700 acres Granville grant issued in 1762 to John Hill.  That deed only identifies metes and bounds for the starting line though names of numerous adjoining owners, including Joseph Thomas and Micajah Thomas, are also included.

Starting with the first survey line at the southern-most end of this tract (shaded green below), the deed reads:

“beginning at a little cypress on Cashy Swamp, being in the line of Catherine Hunter minor of Moses Hunter Dec’d then N 44 W 90 along Cashie Swamp ….”

Note that the mentioned land originates as a grant to Robert West who sold it to Michael Hill (G-289 Bertie). Michael Hill in turn sold it to Robert Hunter (G-282 Bertie) who happened to be Katherine Hunter’s grandfather. In 1753, Robert Hunter penned his last will and testament which reads in part:

“7thly I Give and Bequeath to My Loving Son Moses Hunter … one Tract of Land Lying on Cashy and Willis Quarter Swamps which sd. Land, I bought of Coll. Robt. West & Michael Hill this Land I Give to the sd Moses his heirs and assigns for Ever …”

Providing the perfect starting place for orienting the sprawling lands purchased of Whitmell Hill, note that the Hunter lands (shaded green) are described in- deed as:

“lying in ye fork of Cashy and Wills Quarter [now Hoggard’s Mill] beginning at a beach in Cashy swamp & running a north east course to Coll. Robt’ West’s corner, from thence a southeast course to Wills Quarter Swamp, then down the Swamp to the fork, then up Cashy Swamp to the first station.”

From this information we know that Whitmel Hill’s 700-acre tract ran all the way from Wills Quarter northward past the mouth of Guy Hall Swamp (now White Oak Swamp) to where the tract abuts the lands of David Standley.

Also, now knowing that the Hill and Hunter lands adjoined land owned by Robert West, I have a good understanding of a particular piece of land purchased by Joseph Thomas in 1746. But before going into that, look back at the green lines of the sprawling grant originally issued to John Hill before being passed down to Whitmel. Note how the lines somewhat follow the swamp edges when compared to the underlying topography map.  To the west of Robert West’s lands, note how the old survey dips severely at one point while the topographic map takes the Cashie River on a gentler curve. See it?  Zooming in on this area using Google Maps, amazingly it is easy to ascertain the ancient swamp edges which did in fact once dip more severely to the south.

Our family believes there is a Joseph Thomas (I) who dies in the 1730’s followed by a son Joseph Thomas (II) who dies in the 1750’s. With that in mind, Joseph Thomas purchased land in 1746 by John Bell (G-78, Bertie).  This deed indicates the land was purchased by Joseph Thomas (II) as his believed father had already passed. Later, in 1769, the very same piece of land was sold again by Joseph Thomas to Joseph Collins who had served as witness in the 1752 last will and testament of Joseph Thomas (II). This last sale was made by a person we refer to as Joseph Thomas (III) who we believe to be the son of Joseph Thomas (II). Joseph Thomas (III) moved west where he eventually wrote his last will and testament in 1819 Chatham County NC. Joseph Thomas (III) had also been indentured to David Turner in 1763 to learn the art of cabinet making.  Court recordings of the indenture reads:

Feb 1763, Bertie – Ordered that Joseph Thomas orphan of Joseph Thomas Dec’d be bound to David Turner to learn the trade of a Joiner and Cabinet Maker of ye. Age of sixteen years.

The deed in 1769 indicates Joseph Thomas (III) had reached legal age, having completed his indenture. This would be his last known record in Bertie County before moving to Wake/Chatham.

Take a minute to locate the corner identified with a red letter “A.”  See it? Today this corner stands along or near School Road, just east of Thomasville Road …can’t make this stuff up!  However, back in 1774, the survey of Hill’s deeded land identifies that the lines passed by “Friers House” before intersecting the “Joseph Thomas” line and his cypress corner at the red letter “A.” This is likely the western terminus of the land Joseph Thomas (II) purchased of John Bell (shaded purple).  Also, and having written about this before I ever knew of the above, an 1813 estate land division for the lands of Josiah Thomas was situated across the river from this land. From the division, we know Josiah had children Jordan, Josiah Jr, Elizabeth, and Sarah who married Reuben Bazemore. Finally there was one more conveyance of the land at red letter “A” that had already passed from John Bell to Joseph Thomas (II) and from Joseph Thomas (II) to Joseph Thomas (III) before falling into the hands of Joseph Collins. In 1814, Jacob Collins of the State of Georgia and County of Tatnell of the one part acting agent for Joseph Collins, heirs David Collins, John Collins, and john Collins heirs and Drury Wilson of the state of South Carolina Edgefield district, Jonas Summerlin & wife of Bertie Boswell (Braswell?), Charles Collins and the heirs of Miliba Collins of the one part to John Bass (Y-40 Bertie). Being sale of David Collins estate, the land in question is the same as that which was deeded to Joseph Thomas (II) by John Bell. Oh, and following the death of Joseph Thomas (II), his widow Ann married the above-mentioned David Collins.

Following the green survey to the north, the green lines of Whitmel Hill’s 700 acres passes two tracts owned by Henry Bunch (see the red letter “B” & “C”). Note that the above Joseph Collins married Rachel, the mulatto child of Henry Bunch.

Now, north of the red-letter C, note how the Cashie River bends severely as it passes White Oak Creek, once called Guy Hall Swamp which enters to the north. Being the earliest known land owned by our earliest known Joseph Thomas (I) in the area, in 1727 Joseph Thomas purchased 200 acres from Samuel Bass (C-212 Bertie).  On the very same day, Joseph sold to Samuel Bass his lands along Oropeake Creek located near the Virginia State line in present-day Gates County. The metes and bounds for the Cashie River land reads:

“on the south side of Kesiah Swamp beginning at a pine in the woods by William William’s plantation, then north 5 east 320 poles to a pine standing on the Kesia Swamp, then according to the winding of the swamp to the mouth of the great branch, thence the various courses of the said branch to a pine in his headline, then along the headline to the first station. “

Do I have this correct? Going from the Great Branch to Kesia or Cashie, is the terminology used to  identify river changes occurring as the waterway transforms from a true river to becoming more or less a swamp? Through my eyes it appears this tract is situated somewhat in the purple shaded tract. However, yet another conveyance of the same land shows the tract may have been but a portion of an even larger tract. In 1774, Whitmel Hill and wife Winifred again sold and to Josiah Williams (M-206 Bertie). Being the next deed in the deed book from Whitmel Hill’s conveyance of the big green sprawling tract, you’d think and would be correct that the two pieces of land are near each other. From this second deed, the metes and bounds read:

“Beginning at an old ash on John Hardy’s corner tree, then south 65 west 270 poles to a pine, north 25 west 320 poles to a pine, north 65 east 320 to a pine on Cashy Swamp, then the windings of the swamp to the first station.”

Not the same metes and bound as appears in the conveyance from Samuel Bass to Joseph Thomas, this deed goes on to reveal additional details:

“Containing by patent granted to John Griffin 591 acres and was given by Wm. Griffin, son of the said John Griffin to his wife Mary Griffin by will which land …except a parcel of the land which was sold by William Griffin to Samuel Bass containing an estimated 320 acres …know by the said sale to the said Bass since belongs to Joseph Thomas.”

Reaching the most-northerly end of Whitmel’s 700-acre conveyance, the lines cross the river for which no distance or directions are given.  Differing from what I have drawn, at this point I believe the northern end of the tract should be bent or shifted a bit to the east so that the lines cross the river only once as indicated. Also, at spots the width of the tract is surely narrower or wider as we really don’t know what the line crossing the river looks like. However, if I ever had the chance to walk this area, I think it being the tight bend across from the mouth of Guy Hall Swamp (now White Oak Swamp), I would be able to also see the lands sold in 1727 to Joseph Thomas. And if that’s not telling, now turning to follow the green lines and the run of the river south, Whitmel Hill’s conveyance continues after crossing the water:

“…then across the Cashy Swamp to a pine on the swamp standing above Micajah Thomas’ plantation then down the said swamp.”

I believe this is Michael Thomas, son of Joseph Thomas (II). After Joseph died in the 1750’s, Michael was appointed guardian of his younger brother Josiah.  Josiah appears in period tax lists as living in the home of Michael Thomas. Note that in his 1752 last will and testament, Joseph Thomas (II) leaves to wife Anne his plantation “known as Spring Branch.” And in item 2, Michael Thomas is bequeathed 640 acres purchased of Thomas Kearsey.

Note that Thomas Kersey purchased land from William Ricks that adjoined lands of Thomas Busby (B-173 Bertie). Clearly, this purchase happens to be 12-15 miles away, being part of the lands near Woodville identified on the Anderson of N Carolina blog site. This deed is extremely valuable in that it solidly connects the estates of Joseph Thomas (I) and (II). And yet, in item 3, Josiah received land occupied by Nathaniel Keel joining Michael and Thomas Blount’s land.  You would immediately assume this land was also situated near Woodville and that may be correct though who was the named Thomas Blount?  The father of Winifred who married Whitmell Hill, a Thomas Blount, late of Edenton, purchased 591 acres south of Cashie from John Lett (F-200 Bertie). The description mentions John Hardy’s corner and further states the land was given by

“William Griffin son of sd. John Griffin to his wife Mary by will ..which land was sold by William Griffin unto Samuel Bass …since belonging to Jos. Thomas.”

Some say the Blount family of Woodville area are Tuscarora, are they? Or are they kin to Thomas of Albemarle?

There’s much more we could say about Michael Thomas though back to the green-lined tract sold by Whitmel Hill to Josiah Williams, after leaving the “Micajah Thomas plantation,” the next mention in the survey is of adjoining land owned by John Hill Junior.  Oddly, John Hill Junior does not show up on any Hill family trees and is considered an unknown.  However, for the Thomas family, we know for sure that he married Anne, the widow of Joseph Thomas (II) following Joseph’s death in the 1750’s.

In 1766, likely at a time of coming of age, Joseph Thomas (II)’s son Josiah Thomas was deeded land by Joh Hill (L-80) “in consideration of the Last Will and Testament of his father Joseph Thomas deceased.”

 “Being on the south side of Cashy River, …beginning at the mouth of the Great Branch between the said and Michael Thomas’s Plantation running up the said branch westerly to Joseph Thomas’s line then aling his head line south to a lightwood limb & marked pine tree Whitmel Hill’s corner, then eastwardly along a line of marked trees to the head of a branch called Middle Branch, then down he branch to the Cashy Swamp and then up the swamp to the first station.”

Note that the land is deeded by John Hill, not John Jr and the deed is witnessed by Joseph Collins.

And then in the same general vicinity, Josiah and Nancy Collins sold to John Thomas 70 acres (P-180) lying on the south side of the Cashie Swamp beginning at a stooping oak in the Spring Branch then down the various courses of the said branch to a pine in the branch then running across a line of marked to another branch that makes out of the Spring Branch to a water oak then running the various courses of the said branch to the head line Jesse Bazemore’s line then running across a line of marked trees to the first station, being the land that Michael Thomas sold to John Capehart and the said Capehart sold to John Freeman and & by Freeman to Josiah Collins. The deed was witnessed by Josiah Thomas, John Collins, and Mary Asbell …all identified in the 1752 last will and testament of Joseph Thomas (II). I have no idea who John Thomas was, though Josiah witnessed the deed.

Returning to the green-lined survey of Whitmel Hill’s conveyance, next down-stream below John Hill Jr is mention of none other than Whitmel Hill. There ae numerous deeds connecting to families of Pugh, Hill, Freeman, Hardy, and Bazemore. However, to be able to properly place and draw the tracts, I must first know for sure the locations of several ancient streams once running through the area. One such tract passed from John Capehart to John Freeman (O-52), then from John and Sarah Freeman to Francis Pugh Junior.  Note that this land adjoins Thomas Clark, John Bazemore, Jesse Bazemore and David Collins, who married Anney, the widow of Michael Thomas who died in 1766. There is so much more to be gleaned but my out-of-towner knowledge does not know locations that surely exist on old deeds and plats quietly held by area farmers. To be able to draw adjoining lands, I need to know the locations of Spring Branch, Middle Branch, and Thick Branch.

Now, at this point the green lines of Whitmel Hill’s survey ends abruptly as I believe an ancient page of a recorded deed has been lost. From that point south, the tract surely passed by lands that were later owned and passed down by Josiah Thomas via his 1813 estate. As appears in a more detailed discussion, this land is located near the old Craig Mill.  Opposite the river from the Joseph Thomas (II) purchase of John Bell, this land appears to be somehow connected. And looking at the above map of Whitmel Hill’s conveyance, I’m sure that if it the deed had survived intact, further mentions of Joseph, Michael, and Josiah Thomas would appear in the description now lost and gone. However, going one step further, let’s look at the period 1770 map by John Collet. As has been pointed out, some things are not to scale and are even misplaced. Though, the map clearly shows Hill’s Mill on a stream shown in the above topography map as following the western side of Whitmel Hill’s conveyance.  I’d love to learn more about this area and of the creeks and odd waterways needed to carry this conversation further ….

 

A SLICE OF WAKE

Above is a portion of the old Marcom Map which shows land grants in early Wake County.  Wake County is represented by all of the area with white background while the green shaded land is old Cumberland County, now Harnett County.  To the west you see the yellow shaded area which is old Orange County, now Chatham County. And about Wake County, note that  a southern sliver of that county was originally formed from Cumberland while the western lands of Wake were cut from Orange.

I remember years ago seeing this and noticing names connected to what I had thought was my family’s home lands along the Rocky River which runs through Southern NC.  In the map I see lands of Silas Green who connects with William, Richard, and Leonard Green who we know made the move south.  My Thomas family in Anson County connects to Gideon Green who somehow connects to the Green family/families of Wake. My earliest known ancestor, Benjamin Thomas, may be the son of or somehow related to a person named Jacob Thomas who quietly appears in the above land study.

I also see Nathan Thomas and Dilliard or Hilliard Thomas who lived not far from Joseph Thomas in early Wake County.  Joseph Thomas, ancestor of many in present-day Chatham-Moore-Harnett Counties lived near present day Shearon Harris Lake, not seen on this map but is just a bit off of the map to the west. Recently my DNA has proven to match descendants of Joseph Thomas and in that I remain curious as to possible connections to the other Thomas families (Nathan and Hillard) who we have yet to find descendants to test. And, look closely and you will see the name Joseph Thomas mixed upon some of the records outlined below. This never escapes my mind and someday I will be able to understand the relationships binding us just as do the property lines as seen on the map.

But for now, I want to try to look at all this in a slightly different way. Recently, David McCorkle digitized all the early Wake County land grant surveys on his site called NORTH CAROLINA LAND GRANT IMAGES AND DATA. For this post, I decided to screen print individual survey images which have been resized and floated into place based on the above Marcom Map.  I refer to all of this as an alphabet study to maintain focus while protecting my personal sanity. Note that I’m limiting the number of plats to the number of letters in the alphabet. Oh well, it works in concept though you will notice I did go over by one.  Anyhow, take a look at my map below utilizing hand drawn boundaries from 240 years ago.  It blows my mind how well the accuracy various surveyors were able to maintain any sense of accuracy! Even though some of the names are not found in court and deed books, it is nice to be able to realize the possibilities revealed in studying the neighborhood where family once lived.

A. Felps Smith, Wake County Grant # 484[A] – 300 acres issued 1780. Both sides of Buckhorn joining Richard Hill and the county line. CC: David Jones, Elkin Jones.

B. Richard Hill, Cumberland County Grant # 48 – 660 acres issued in 1763. Both sides of Buckhorn.

C. Ebenezer Folsom, Wake County Grant # 995 – 281 acres issued 1787. South of Buckhorn, joining “formerly Charles Jones”, Watson’s, Felps Smith, and the County line. CC: Joel Edwards, Frederick Jones.

D. Francis Hobson, Wake County Grant # 453 – 350 acres issued 1780. Both sides of Buckhorn, joining Britain Womack, William Jones at a rocky hill, and Wm. Watson. CC: Carnaby Stevens, Elkin Jones.

E. Dennis Collings [Collins], Cumberland County Grant # 47 – 175 acres issued 1763. Both sides of Buckhorn joining John Smith. This land was later sold to Charles Smith. Likely surveyed at the same time as Grant # 48 to Richard Hill.

F. Peter Quarles, Wake County Grant # 1054 – 400 acres issued 1787. Both sides of Buckhorn, joining William Jones, Charles Jones, and near David Jones. CC: Joseph Thomas, James Stephens. Question: Is this Joseph Thomas III or his son who married in 1789 Mary Oaks?

G. David Jones, Wake County Grant #495, 300 acres issued 1780. South side of Buckhorn joining Felps Smith. CC: Felps Smith, Elkin Jones.

H. Albritton Jones? The Marcom map indicates the land in area of “H” belonged to Albritton Jones though I’ve yet to find the legal deed or grant for that piece of land.

I. Felps Smith, Wake County Grant # 457[A] – being 100 acres issued 1780. Waters of Buckhorn, the warrant says on both sides of Horse Branch and the Survey says both sides of Horse Branch. CC: David Jones, Phelps Smith.

J. William Watson, Wake County Grant # 974 – being 200 acres issued 1787. Horse Branch, joining Phelps Smith, David Jones, and the county line. CC: John Burt, David Smith.

K. David Jones, Wake County Grant # 0121 – being 50 acres with the “0” in the file number indicating the grant was never issued. The original warrant was for land adjoining his own and the Cumberland County line.

L. Solomon Rogers, Wake County Grant #1470 – being 640 acres issued 1809. Warrant to Survey mentions joining to Nathan Thomas. Survey identifies the land on Hector’s Creek joining Mathew R. Turner, the county line, and David Jones. CC: Darling Jones, James Jones.

M. Solomon Rogers, Wake County Grant #1469 – being 360 acres issued 1809. Waters of Buckhorn, joining David Jones, his own, and William Jones. CC: Reddick Jones, William Nash.

N. Jesse Jones, Wake County Grant #1009 – being 200 acres issued 1787. Both sides of Horse Pen Prong of Neils Creek joining his own line. CC: Mark Myatt, James Lightfoot.

O. William Jones, Wake County Grant #975 – being 200 acres assigned to William Jones by Daniel Oldhands and issued 1787. On the Fork of Neals Creek “including improvements made by Jacob Thomas.” CC: Fredrick Jones, Joshua Elkins.

P. William Love, Wake County Grant #1296 – being 100 acres assigned to William Love by Jesse Jones and issued 1798. West side of Neals Creek joining Jesse Jones and William Jones. CC: John Terrialle, Clem’n Stinson.

Q. William Jones, Wake County Grant #975 – being 240 acres assigned to William Jones by Daniel Oldham and issued 1787. Gum Spring Prong of Neils Creek and joining his own line. CC: Joshua Elkins, Fredrick Jones.

R. Hilliard [Hillery] Thomas – No grant, deed, or court record survives for Hilliard Thomas though his ownership of this tract is indicated in “U” above in which he is mentioned in the survey for Silas Green’s land grant. Also,

S. James Stephens, Wake County Grant #1393 – being 200 acres issued 1802. Both sides of the Gaulberry Fork of Neils Creek. CC: Darling Jones, Redick Stinson. Later a James Stephens witnesses deeds between the children of Joseph Thomas in Chatham Caunty.

T. Solomon Rogers, Wake County Grant #1398 – being 640 acres issued 1802. On the Cape Fear, the warrant mentions Nathan Thomas, William Jones, and himself. CC: Reddick Jones, William Nash.

U. Silas Green, Wake County Grant #1230 – being 500 acres issued 1797. Waters of Neals Creek and Braswell Creek, adjoining James Stinson, his own, Croswell’s old field (may be the family of Richmond Croswell who owned two tracts of land in Anson County NC. The first was beside Jacob Thomas and the second several miles away beside Benjamin Thomas Sr on the north side of Richardson Creek). Note that Croswell’s fold field is described in the grant as lying on Hilliard Thomas’ line (southern-most line issued to William Jones in 1787). It also adjoined James Stinson’s corner and the head of Horse Pen Branch. CC: Thomas Beany, Jas. Stinson.

V. Silas Green, Wake County Grant #1035 – being 400 acres assigned to Silas Green by Rowland Stinson issued 1787. Head Branches of the South Prong of Middle Creek, and on both sides of Braswell’s old Road, including the Burnt Tavern, beginning at a hickory near said tavern. CC: Etheldred Jones, James Shelton.

W. Nathan Thomas, Wake County Grant #1214 – being 314 acres issued 1797. Joining Braswell’s Creek, his own and Silas Green lines. CC: Jonathan Thomas, Asa Thomas.

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.

X. Nathan Thomas, Wake County Grant #509 – being 200 acres issued 1780. Both sides of Braswell’s Creek including improvements made by Edmond Mathews. CC: John Norris, Gerrard Stephens.

Y. John Stinson, Wake County Grant #1034 – being 200 acres issued 1787. South side of Middle Creek, both sides of Braswell’s Creek joining Rowland Stinson’s former lands. CC: Etheldred Jones, James Shelton.

Z. Rowland Stinson, Wake County Grant #415 – being 600 acres issued 1780. Both sides of Braswell’s Creek joining Utley lines. CC: Gerrard Stinson, Nathan Thomas.

AA. Mathew Rainer Turner, Wake County Grant #1319 – being 150 acres issued 1799. Gum Prong of Neils Creek. CC: Jesse Jones, Solomon Rogers.

BB. This area needs further study as the Marcom map does not show origination.

Please do not consider the following exact …. However, and based on the 1914 soil map for Wake County, I overlaid the above land grant plat in order to gain a rough idea of where the platted lands are today.

In closing, my last post pertained to my discovery of survey plats for James Battle who owned land near the Cumberland/Chatham County line along the Cape Fear River. In the next post, which may take some time to complete, I hope to present a similar map as that above for a streak of land connecting the Cape Fear to Wake County. In all of this, for me, my mind is always sighted based on the concept of birds of a feather.  If Jacob and Joseph in Wake are truly my kin …they are, then friends etc.. who journeyed with them from where they earlier lived should appear somehow in the record as seen by way of plat maps.

EMPTY SHUCKS

Lost or missing records are a major issue for those of us seeking to uncover our family histories. Most often records are destroyed by courthouse fires, floods, or even from hurricanes and cyclones. Many of the records needed to trace my own family in early Stokes County NC were destroyed by a “cyclone” that leveled the Surry County Courthouse in the 1830s. And beyond accidents and acts of nature, there is arson used by criminals of the day to destroy legally critical documentation. As an example, Mathew Cagle witnessed such a fire while he and his son camped near the courthouse in Moore County.

The Carthage Blade, 12 Sep 1889.

“…about two hours before the fire broke out I noticed a light about as large as a candle in the Register of Deeds Office. I thought nothing of the circumstance, and again went to sleep. The next thing I heard, my son called me and said the court house was on fire. I hurriedly ran up there and into the building and noticed that fire was issuing from the Register’s office door. I pushed the door, which was slightly ajar, open and saw a large pile of books burning very rapidly, as if saturated with oils or spirits turpentine.”

Looking at land records back to origin, a decision was made many years ago by our state to organize the piles of surviving colonial and Secretary of State issued land grants for safety and public consumption. Documents were collected, assembled, and placed into shuck-styled envelopes based on their origination as sequentially appearing in patent books as “entries”.  As an example, see the patent book entry for Alexander McAlister below. Click on the image to enlarge and read carefully as this entry is important.

Shucks were arranged geographically by county with file numbers given to each entry. All related documents were placed into the shucks which included warrants, reassignments of land grants, surveys, and other related documentation.

Sometimes the supporting documents were lost and never found with only the original entries in the patent books surviving. Of course you can’t place the patent book into a shuck so somehow the discrepancy needed to be communicated. In such cases of missing record, as appears to the right in the microfilm image of the shuck for the above Alexander McAlister, the patent entry for that particular grant was given a file number along with a brief description abstracted from the patent book. But of huge disappointment to people like me on the search, notice the red highlighted statement at the top which reads: “THERE WERE NO DOCUMENTS IN THE SHUCK AT THE TIME OF FILMING.”

Note that Alexander McAlister’s grant file no. 297 was located “on the east side of the N’t W’t River [Cape Fear] beginning at a gum where the Earl of Granville line crosses said river”. This is really important geographically and wouldn’t it be great if the original survey plat survived? Oh well … it appears at some point the state lost their copy of the document. You would believe that all is lost, and yet, guess what?  …the original owner’s copy of the survey survives! It survives!

Beyond the numerous ways in which records became lost as outlined above, land granted to Alexander McAllister was impacted by a later occurring era of great industrialization built on the mining of forests, coal, and iron. Lost within the acquisition of huge multi-thousand acre tracts, title histories for many land grants in the region surrounding the Cape Fear River, such as that belonging to Alexander McAlister, are now lost to the world. And even today, brick manufacturing companies and the enormous Shearon Harris Nuclear Plant properties make it virtually impossible for the untrained eye to imagine what once stood on such sites. Within this reality, how can it be that Alexander McAlister’s land documents survive?  And similarly, what do we know of the surrounding lands?

A fellow by name of Jonathan McGee Heck was responsible for locating and acquiring raw materials needed to sustain the Confederate forces. Following the war, and operating from his home in Raleigh (today being a major landmark in our city), J. M. Heck pursued northern industrialists to which end he met and joined with George Lobdell of the Lobdell Car Wheel Company of Wilmington, Delaware. George Lobdel manufactured train wheels during the war and afterwards, following evaluations of scavenged wheels from Confederate Fleets, the said Lobdell learned that a particularly hard grade of steel originated from iron mines located near Buckhorn Falls on the Cape Fear. At a time when the south was economically depressed, Lobdel and Heck took advantage of the opportunity though their efforts ended abruptly when the valuable veins of ore ran dry. Their holdings included a steam ship, furnaces, and many acres on the northeast side of the Cape Fear River.

Jonathan McGee Heck lived out his life in Raleigh where he died. Today his papers reside at the North Carolina State Archives. Going the extra mile in chasing my family’s loose ends, I decided to explore the collection. Among the papers are deeds and early communications related to the mining effort.  And as appears below, the 1759 survey for Alexander McAlister’s grant can be found among the papers.

How cool is that!   Not seen in any index or other format, and being lost as were many other grant documents from the time and area, Alexander McAlister’s original paper copy passed from his hand through successive owners before finally reaching the hands of Jonathan McGee Heck whose family wisely placed the papers at NC State Archives for preservation. The collection also holds the original 8 Nov 1761 deed of conveyance for this tract from Alexander McAlister to William Tully. Further title history for this tract is as follows:

  • Deed 2-292, Cumberland, 1763, William Tully to Robert Perrygrove
  • Deed 2-522, Cumberland, 1765, Robert and Febe Perrygrove to John Johnston
  • Deed 2-608, Cumberland, 1765, John Johnston to James Brazier
  • Deed 7-100, Cumberland, 1782, James Brazier to his loving son Elijah Brazier

Let’s take a closer look before leaving this particular tract of land. Referring to the survey, note that the Earle of Granville line once served as the southern boundary for the immense Granville Tract which took in nearly the northern half of our state. You’d think physical memory of that land would be lost by now however, unlike on the eastern side of the Cape Fear, the western side did not experience the same sorts of loss from industrialization. Also, and giving us a valuable bit of information, on the west side of the river, the Granville line served to separate old Orange from Cumberland County which later became Chatham and Moore Counties.  Lee County was cut from Moore and Chatham in 1907 though today the remnant remains of the old county line, the Granville line, can clearly be seen as a horizontal anomaly in the quilt work pattern of modern day property lines as seen on the county GIS map below. See it?

Now that we’ve looked at the McAlister tract, let’s take a minute to explore another lost land grant document from Jonathan McGee Heck’s papers. Being land grant no. 2187 issued in Cumberland County, the 250-acre tract issued to James Brazer [Brazier] adjoins his own mill tract, being the above mentioned 100 acres originally issued to Alexander McAlister. The shuck for James Brazier’s grant is not empty though it ONLY contains the entry officer’s order to survey the land as seen to the right.

As with Alexander McAlister, James Brazier’s original copy of the actual survey passed through numerous landowners before finding its way to the collection of Jonathan McGee Heck. The actual survey goes further in depth than what was provided in the entry officer’s orders. The survey as seen below mentions the Granville line with the plat referring to the same as being “Brazier’s line”. Hugely important, the survey plat also identifies “John Burt’s line” to the north and “Anderson’s line” to the east. As for Anderson, a quick search of the Cumberland County Register of Deeds and land grant records at NORTH CAROLINA LAND GRANT IMAGES AND DATA, we learn that land grant no. 1437 to the east was issued in 1756 to John Anderson out of Bladen County. The grant was entered at a time before the formation of Cumberland. The shape and orientation of John Burt’s land to the north is a little more problematic in visualizing though look soon for updates related to this and lands of others who lived on what’s now the Harnett County line along the waters of Parkers Creek.

Bringing this post to closure, many from my extended family passed through the above lands. Knowing that every clue should be considered, and as will later be shown, locating this land at the foot of Buckhorn falls is an important step in figuring out the history of my early Thomas family.