Category Archives: Benjamin Thomas of Anson NC

Benjamin’s ancestral link is unproven though a connection is made through DNA.


Filled with a curious hunger to fully understand our Thomas family, once again we come together to review and build upon prior efforts of telling our story. Some of us have seemingly clear paths through northern tier counties of North Carolina back to Virginia where records become fewer and therefore more difficult to link. There are others, like myself, whose only connection lies in DNA and the educated guess that somehow, we will someday clear a more perfect path into this family.

For us all, there is John Thomas who appears in 1620’s ship lists, a census/muster list, and a later land record near Jamestown VA. And, then there’s the story of Sea Venture, a storm, and Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” Of all the possibilities, the connection to this place and time is nothing less than magical. It’s a great challenge! We’re talking John Rolfe and Pocahontas, the formative years prior to Colonial Williamsburg, the opening chapter of our American story.

Much has been written about this earliest of American Thomas families. Published 1984, there’s Edison H. Thomas and his “Thomas and Bridges Story 1540 –1840.” And in 1977, Robert E Thomas wrote “The Thomas family in 300 years of American history.” There’s the writings of notable researchers like historian Hugh Buckner Johnston whose mother was Ruth Thomas born in Wilson County NC. And, there’s also indispensable research materials such as “Cavaliers and Pioneers. Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants” dealing specifically with records sourced in early Virginia.

As we move forward, we’ll need to work with others in the family who have differing viewpoints. There will be differences with what was believed and written in the past. There will be disagreements both with the traditionally accepted story as well as among ourselves in deciphering the meaning of new finds. Yes, there will be new finds and new stories to tell. Some will merely add to the story while others may figuratively shake the ground from where we believed our beloved ancestors once lived.

For many years I’ve looked towards Virginia with fear and an anxious internalized kicking and screaming of Noooooo….. don’t drag me there!!! It’s a big leap going back through records I have little knowledge. It expands the tree exponentially and with that is a much larger circle of information that’ll need to be verified. There’s much written on this stuff and until now (ha-ha), I was not part of the history. But things have changed, like myself, there is a growing crop of cousins who’ll be paying us a visit in the years to come. We’ll learn of each other through DNA and by improved understanding of the records. We’ll know each other and the story of each other’s family. So, if any THOMAS finds a kinship and is interested in learning more, please don’t be shy. Join us, share, and most importantly, participate in the painless Y DNA testing. We need more participants across the far-reaching spectrum of our Thomas family.


avent ferry_tonemappedStanding at Braswell’s on the north side of the Cape Fear at what’s known as Avent’s Ferry, the anticipation must have been overwhelming for the folk who were starting their trek west. It was 1778 and times were changing fast. Rooted in the lead-up to the Revolutionary war, a series of General Assembly acts authorized the state to grant unsold colonial lands.  In places like Mecklenburg, unsold acreage in Arthur Dobb’s 100,000 acre tracts was also authorized to be sold by way of Secretary of State land grants.

Situated on the Great Pee Dee Trail, Avent’s Ferry was the primary starting point for many removing from places like Wake and Johnston Counties. It also served those who moved from further north, leaving behind their homes in places like Bertie and Martin Counties. Some moved down the trail and never came back north while others returned home or at least made visits.  The names of families that likely crossed at the ferry include Green, Strait, Kent, Segraves, Traywick, Baucom,  Barker, Holland, Osborne, Gurley, Braswell, Rogers, Pope, Austin, Lee, Hamiliton, Hill, Jones, Honeycutt, Hobbs, Rowland, and maybe even THOMAS.

My family settled in Anson County, but from where did they come?  I’ve suspected they came out of areas surrounding Wake County, but how can I be certain? Rather than delving into the who-done-it of my own family history, I’d like to share several important lessons learned on recent visits to the North Carolina State Archives. In particular, I’d like to share information that may be of help to those of you researching family in southern Wake County.

Named in honor of Governor Tryon’s wife Margaret, Wake County was formed 12 March 1771 out of land cut from Granville, Johnston and Cumberland. The people that really interested me lived in southern Wake County and therefore I asked, …if part of Wake was cut from Cumberland, then where was the line prior to the formation of Wake? If part of Wake was once Cumberland, I should be able to find earlier mention of its residents in the annals of Cumberland County ….right???

Poring through historic county maps and clicking through online formation animations, I was deeply bothered by something I was NOT SEEING. The southern county line of Wake appeared to never move! I questioned the folks at archives and though we all saw the same thing, nobody had a clue as to what happened. This all changed this week when I passed the back corner table where friend Jack McGeachy was working to abstract New Hanover court minutes. Telling him of my concerns, he asked if I had seen the book of North Carolina County Formations that included detail maps? Jack graciously walked me to the Genealogy library downstairs where he showed me the North Carolina Atlas of Historical County Boundaries compiled by Gordon DenBoer and edited by John H. Long. The below overlay map of early Cumberland indicated its northern most county line was “estimated.”  It appears a wedge of land overlapped present day Wake County and that the boundary was disputed through 1782.  That’s important find number one.cumberland

Secondly, I’ve always known that existing court records in Wake were solid though no deed books survive prior to 1782. This week I learned that several deed books covering the early years of Wake County were burned in an 1832 fire at the Clerk of Court office. To a small degree you are able to work around this through a close study of Secretary of State land grants. Also, and since other records are pretty solid for Wake County, you can glean a bit of information from the registering of deeds found in the county court minutes.

So, not only are we robbed of the chance to identify family through their land conveyances, now we have to work around records obviously corrupted by a disputed county line! And for us all, it is what it is and there’s little we can do to make it better.  Our best opportunities lie in understanding the situation and by then making the best of what we have.

As for my own THOMAS clan, Benjamin was fathering his family during the period when the southern bounds of Wake County were in dispute. It was a time he would likely begin to show himself in record. Robbed of that opportunity, will we be able to locate him some other way?  Note, …an important note too, is that a Joseph Thomas and others lived within the disputed wedge of Wake/Cumberland County.  Through DNA, descendants of the Joseph Thomas family match and are therefore related to the descendants of Benjamin Thomas of Anson County. There must be something in the wedge of disputed land that we need to uncover.

One last find, and one that likely plays no role in our family is the learning of a county that I had never heard of.  Have you ever heard of Fayette County?  Formed on 4 Jul 1784, the county was eliminated 25 November 1784:Fayette



ajaxhelperCPZU9NFLIt’s a big day for my THOMAS family. The culmination of many years of research has solidified the story of our earliest known ancestor, Benjamin Thomas of Anson County NC. We know much about him and research tells us of his neighbors, of whom many came from places like Wake, Chatham and Johnston counties before settling in Anson. It would seem from the old saying “birds of a feather flock together,” that somehow we’d find Benjamin living among neighbors in an earlier time and place. But this is not so. Benjamin Thomas of Anson County is our “Brick Wall;” there is nothing of his past beyond Anson County.

DNA testing has been helpful in expanding our story line. Beliefs have been verified and new family relations have been illuminated. We’ve learned of Joseph Thomas who came from NC through GA before his story comes to end in Coosa County Alabama. There’s also Andrew Thomas (born in NC) who first appears in 1860 Montgomery County Alabama. For both families there is no existing records linking to earlier family here in NC. Like the descendants of Benjamin Thomas, all we have are hunches and a few seemingly meaningful naming traditions.

It truly is a big day for the Thomas family as very new DNA testing now connects us to a family who came from an area we’ve always believed to be within the classical migratory path through NC. For the first time, we’re able to look back in time, to see over our brick wall, and catch a glimpse upstream to the people our Benjamin may have known as family.

Here’s the story. As it turns out, a James Frederick Thomas flew 30 missions as a B 24 Aircraft Commander.  Before that, he drove a mule for his sharecropping daddy, John Edward Thomas in Lee County, NC. Like his father, James Frederick Thomas’ son Daniel Thomas also took to the skies as an Air Force pilot with our former Strategic Air Command. Curious of his past, Daniel was DNA tested and his family tree is as follows:

(Daniel Thomas 1946)

James Frederick Thomas (Dad) 1919  – 2006

John Edward Thomas 1884 – 1966 Moore and Lee County, NC

John Martin Thomas 1849 – 1910, Moore County, NC

Daniel Thomas 1814 – 1880, Moore County, NC

*John Thomas 1772 – 1849, Moore County, NC

Joseph Luther Thomas 1747 – 1818, New Kent, VA to  Moore County, NC

Joseph Thomas Jr  1701 – 1758, New Kent, VA to Moore County, NC

Joseph Thomas Sr 1680 – 1735, Isle Wight, VA to Bertie, NC

Richard Thomas 1629 – 1687, Nansemond, VA (Birth date needs correction)

John Thomas Jr 

John Thomas Sr  Wales to Queen’s Creek, VA

If this holds to scrutiny, the linage may go a long way in identifying our path to the past.  Thus far, in the few days devoted to this new possibility, I am sincerely overwhelmed by the woven web of history of this line and how it links to family and neighbors who made their home along Rocky River. Please stay in touch and if connected, note that a Facebook user group will soon be created to collectively share research, stories, documents and pictures with the idea of extending our family history beyond the brick wall.

IMG_20160611_133632619*John’s marriage bond from Wake County NC to wife Mary Oaks. Note a Daniel Oaks lived close to if not on land adjoining the lands of John’s father Joseph. Family land records in the area around and under present day Shearon Harris Lake connect with families Green, Osborn, Kent, Straight, and others who removed to live along the Rocky River. And today, there remains a Thomas Creek and remnants of a Thomas mill nearby (see map at the top of the page).


Many living along and in the region of the Rocky River hold to the belief that at some point in the past there occurred a mixing betwixt their ancestors and the indigenous peoples.   It’s not really a farfetched idea, as we know many who settled in the area migrated from the northeast part of North Carolina where early European settlers sometimes intermarried with “People of Color”, including Algonquin, Tuscarora, Haliwa-Saponi, and black Africans.

I, myself, have been curious about my ancestors’ ethnicity because of how easily and darkly my paternal family tans. Recently, in searching my family roots, my curiosity was peaked after learning of one certain person’s given name.

My namesake ancestor George Thomas was born 9 Feb 1852, the son of David and Alice Newsome Thomas. From the Joseph Newsome family bible, we know that, sadly, Alice died less than three months after the birth of her baby boy, George. And, from an estate book in Union County, we know that George’s father David did not live much longer, dying prior to 1854.


Thomas Family burial plot at the Edmond Davis Cemetery

The burial location of David and Alice are unknown though I can’t help but think they lay at rest behind or near David’s father Ananias at the Edmond Davis cemetery. George Thomas may have been raised by Edmond Davis, who was his guardian and the administrator of his father’s estate.


George eventually moved to Stanly County where in 1870 he was enumerated as living in the home of John Brooks. It’s here that the story gets interesting . . . John Brooks’ son Joshua married George’s older sister, Puah Ellen Thomas. I’d never heard the name Puah before and thought for sure it was a Native American Indian name until I learned better.

As it turns out, Puah Ellen Thomas was named for her mother Alice’s sister, Puah Newsome. Puah Newsome’s birth record is found in the same Newsome family bible that records the death of Alice. Puah Newsome married Edmond Davis’ brother Andrew Jackson Davis and together they eventually removed to Chester County, Tennessee. We’ll hear more from them later.

Given names have meanings and are given with purpose. If not Native American, I wondered, what is the story behind Joseph Newsome’s daughter, Puah? I found the following scripture in the Book of Exodus, Chapter 1: 15-17.

15 And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah. 16 And he said, when ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live. 17 But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive.

Knowing of Joseph Newsome’s Quaker heritage, an internet search opened my eyes to the above verses used by Quakers and others in the Abolition Movement to end slavery.

Angelina_Emily_GrimkeOne of the prominent voices in this movement was that of Emily Angelina Grimke, born in 1805 in Charleston SC. Her father was a politician and profitable plantation owner in SC. Emily accompanied her father on a trip to Philadelphia where she was introduced to the Quaker religion. She came to the realization that it was no longer possible for her to continue life in the presence of slavery and became a prominent American political activist,  abolitionist, women’s rights advocacy, andsupporter of the women’s suffrage movement.

Published in 1836, Emily Grimke’s Appeal to Christian Women of the South makes the case that women, like their male counterparts, should be held accountable for their actions. She writes:

“We do not make the laws which perpetuate slavery. No legislative power is vested in us; we can do nothing to overthrow the system, even if we wished to do so. To this I reply, I know you do not make the laws, but I also know that you are the wives and mothers, the sisters and daughters of those who do; and if you really suppose you can do nothing to overthrow slavery, you are greatly mistaken. You can do much in every way…”

Rationalizing her argument in the above scripture from Exodus 1:15-17, Emily Grimke includes the following suggestion on how southern women could actively support the Abolition Movement.

“Teach your servants then to read and encourage them to believe it is their duty to learn, if it were only that they might read the Bible. But some of you will say, we can neither free our slaves nor teach them to read, for the laws of our state forbid it. Be not surprised when I say such wicked laws ought to be no barrier in the way of your duty, and I appeal to the Bible to prove this position.

What was the conduct of Shiphrah and Puah, when the king of Egypt issued his cruel mandate, with regard to the Hebrew children? “They feared God, and did not as the King of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive.” Did these women do right in disobeying that monarch? “Therefore (says the sacred text,) God dealt well with them, and made them houses” Ex. I.

What was the conduct of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, when Nebuchadnezzar set up a golden image in the plain of Dura, and commanded all people, nations, and languages, to fall down and worship it? “Be it known, unto thee, (said these faithful Jews) O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the image which thou hast set up.” Did these men do right in disobeying the law of their sovereign? Let their miraculous deliverance from the burning fiery furnace, answer; Dan. III.

What was the conduct of Daniel, when Darius made a firm decree that no one should ask a petition of any man or God for thirty days? Did the prophet cease to pray? No! “When Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house, and his windows being open towards Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.” Did Daniel do right thus to break the law of his king? Let his wonderful deliverance out of the mouths of the lions answer; Dan. VII.

Look, too, at the Apostles Peter and John. When the rulers of the Jews, “commanded them not to speak at all, nor teach in the name of Jesus,” what did they say? “Whether it be right in the sight of God, to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.” And what did they do “They spake the word of God with boldness, and with great power gave the Apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus;” although this was the very doctrine, for the preaching of which, they had just been cast into prison, and further threatened. Did these men do right? I leave you to answer, who now enjoy the benefits of their labors and sufferings, in that Gospel they dared to preach when positively commanded not to teach any more in the name of Jesus ; Acts IV.”

Reading this passionate plea, I can’t help but think that the name of Joseph Newsome’s daughter Puah arose out of readings, sermons, and other connections to a Quaker perspective on the Abolition Movement. What were Joseph’s political leanings and did they change with time? While numbers of his grandchildren served in the Confederate forces, were there any remaining vestibules of Quaker ethic?

(to be continued)


13With the exception of an occasional passing jogger, I was alone there in the misty Pennsylvania pre-dawn morning. Monuments to the dead rose above the hallowed fields as far as my eyes could see. And peacefully silent, I sat in tearful solitude near what was once the Union Headquarters. The morning glowed surreal as the changing tints of majestic purple washed over the landscape. Far across the fields laying before me, another monument made itself known. The white spot on the distant tree line acknowledged the State of Virginia, the Army of Northern Virginia and atop the large granite block was Robert E. Lee with his horse “Traveler.” Most if not all of the North Carolina troops serving at Gettysburg did so under the command of the Army of Northern Virginia.

Over 620,000 Americans died in the Civil War nearly equaling the combined number killed in all other armed conflicts. For every three men killed in battle, five died of disease. And at Gettysburg alone, over 51,000 were killed in just three days. Though a tragic waste of humanity, it was a necessary war and there was little option but for the south to lose. I can’t imagine this country if the outcome had turned out differently. And as for the State of North Carolina, we lost more men than any other state in the Confederacy and yet our men served valiantly while having the least to gain.

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What was it like? What were the emotions running through the minds of my ancestral neighbors who made their way to Gettysburg for the pivotal battle? Found amongst the private collections at the North Carolina State Archives is the personal diary of Sergeant James E. Green. In the days leading up to Gettysburg, James wrote about the towns and of the people he passed. The unit moved north as the roar of cannons grew louder. And then, without warning, his regiment, CSA Co. I 53rd Reg. NC turned towards Gettysburg where it entered the fight. Take a moment to read the following pages from James Green’s diary:


Click here to read the diary

 In 1860 my g-grandfather’s older brother Hampton H. Thomas was enumerated as living in Monroe at the home of John Warwick, a shoemaker and emigrant from the state of Pennsylvania. Hampton enlisted 5 June 1861 in Co. B. 26th Reg. NC where he reached the rank of Sergeant.   I imagine the memory of John Warwick weighed on Hampton as he too made his way to Gettysburg.

“No Man Can Take Those Colors and Live”


Battle Flag -26th Reg. NC

On 1 Jul 1863, the first day of Gettysburg, the 26th faced off with the 24th Michigan at Herbst’s woods. The 26th’s regimental colors were shot down 14 times with 588 out of the initial 843 troops being killed. The CSA 26th NC and USA 24th MI collectively lost more troops than any other units at Gettysburg …day one was over and it would not be their last.

On 3 Jul 1863, the 26th crossed the fields of Gettysburg in the Pettigrew-Trimble-Picket assault against the center of the Federal line on Cemetery Hill. In this epic struggle, the 26th  regiment’s colors would be shot down 8 more times with another 120 troops being killed. Planting its flag on the Federal works known as “The Angle,” the 26th NC may have advanced farther than any other Confederate unit. Or did they? There’s no doubt that the unit tragically lost more men than any other unit at Gettysburg. The monument at the foot of Cemetery Hill erected in 1986 by the State of North Carolina reads:


North Carolina Regiment

Pettigrew’s Brigade Heth’s Division,

Hill’s Corps

Army of Northern Virginia

Although nearly destroyed during its successful attach against Meredith’s Iron Brigade on July 1, the Twenty-Sixth North Carolina Regiment joined in the Pettigrew-Pickett Charge on the afternoon of July 3. Advancing under solid shot hot, spherical case, canister, and musketry, the Regiment charged to within ten paces of the stone wall to their front.

The scene was described by an artilleryman of a Rhode Island battery: “. . .As a regiment of Pettigrew’s Brigade (the Twenty-Sixth North Carolina) was charging . . .and had almost reached the wall in front of us, Sergt. M. C. Onley cried out . . .’Fire that gun! Pull! Pull!’ the No. 4 obeyed orders and the gap made in that North Carolina regiment was simply terrible.” Under this galling fire, the Twenty-Sixth North Carolina was compelled to retire with the Brigade from this point to Seminary Ridge.”

“The men of the Twenty-Sixth Regiment would dress their colors in spite of the world”

Should we trust what’s written on the above monument provided by the State of North Carolina at one of our nation’s most important historical site? Are we certain the information is correct …is it historically accurate? From the history of Capt. William A. Arnold’s Company A of the 1st Rhode Island Light Artillery, much of the information on the 26th’s marker is founded in the writing of Thomas M. Aldrich. Looking more closely at how the battle unfolded, it appears the 26th NC may not have made it front and center to “the Angle,” but rather faced off with the 12th New Jersey and 1st Delaware a bit further to the north. If the monument is incorrect, why hasn’t the State of North Carolina changed it?


Regardless of how Gettysburg played out, the 26th Reg. NC served the cause valiantly. And as for Hampton H. Thomas, whatever became of him? According to his Combined Confederate Military file, Hampton H. Thomas lost a leg on 3 July 1863 after being captured at the battle of Gettysburg. Following the amputation of his right leg, Hampton was transferred to David’s Island, N.Y., to Fort Wood at Bledsoe’s Island, and then on Christmas eve of 1863, to the Point Lookout Prison in Maryland. Known as “Hell on Earth,” many died from typhoid and other diseases while confined at Point Lookout. Located on a spit of land surrounded by water on three sides, the huge number of prisoners confined in the small space quickly contaminated the limited water supply.


H201 Point Lookout, Maryland. Lithograph by E. Sachse & Co., 186

Point Lookout, MD

Hampton Thomas was eventually exchanged at City Point, Va where he stayed until 1865. Returning home to North Carolina, Hampton’s death is recorded in his grandfather Joseph Newsome’s bible. Though Joseph died in 1848, Hampton is listed in the bible as follows:

E - Copy

It’s very likely Hampton Thomas died of typhoid or from some other disease he contracted while in service at Gettysburg or imprisoned at Point Lookout. He’s likely named for a probable uncle Hampton Newsome who also served in the Civil War.  Hampton Newsome removed to TN where he lived out the remainder of his life.




Like a bow wave pushing forward in front of a boat, competing religious denominations moved through 18th century North Carolina staying just ahead of the King’s reach. Baptists, Quakers, Moravians, Lutherans and others, held to their own tenants of faith, but were ultimately governed by laws set forth by the crown. Escaping the tyranny of European kingdoms and principalities, some came to this land as individuals while collective groups came in contract with and even funded by England’s need to populate this new land. Did these newcomers find satisfaction and security in the “church state?” From civic duties to faith, the King had power over all. Ultimately resolved in revolution, was it right for such power to be based solely on one man’s spiritual interpretations? Escaping oppression to this land with promises of so much hope, matters of faith really were complex. Over the next few posts, I’ll take a little time to explore my Quakers roots and share how their story sets the stage both for and in conflict with who I am today.

Quakers believed in the inner light. This was the notion that God was a spiritual presence within each individual and could speak to all humans through the words and actions of anyone. 

The Society of Friends known as Quakers spread across the open landscape of North Carolina along two primary paths of migration. Out of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland, Quakers brought over by William Penn moved with Moravians and others along the old Indian path usurped and is now known as the Great Wagon Road. These Quakers settled in the piedmont, particularly in areas surrounding present day Greensboro. But much earlier out of southeast Virginia, others opened meetings down east in Perquimans County and at places like Rich Square in present day North Hampton County. These Quakers migrated westward up the Neuse River to places like Contentnea Creek Meeting in old Dobbs, now Wayne County. Slavery and events of the mid-1700’s made it impossible for Quakers to morally justify efforts aimed at further growth in North Carolina. Guided by a strong peace ethic, the Quakers removed themselves in mass to places like Ohio and Indiana.

It’s in this environment that I begin to write about the life and family of Joseph Newsome. He was born in Wayne County, the third child of William and Mary  Jordan Newsome. He is my third great grandparent. And as written in the records of Nahunta Monthly Meeting (from the earlier Contentnea Creek Meeting), Joseph Newsome was born 10 Eighth 1777. Note that Quakers did not use the pagan naming for months as we do today:

2 001

William Newsome was born about 1755 in Surry County VA, the son of Joel and Rebecca Dickenson Newsome. On 1770,1,20 William was received in membership to Rich Square Monthly Meeting in North Hampton County NC. There, he married Mary Jordan, the daughter of Joseph and Patience Ricks Jordan on 1770, 3,17. Joseph descended from Thomas Jordan, patriarch of what’s considered to be the most significant Quaker family in Virginia. And, closer to our immediate family, Mary Jordan’s brother Richard Jordan was a prominent Quaker Minister. He toured and preached throughout England and in his honor, a pattern of Staffordshire china was named for him. Richard lived out his latter life in New Jersey.  The image at the top of this post captures Richard’s home. ….and he is family!

My GGGG grandfather William Newsome’s request of marriage survives in Quaker Meeting records:


As a child, our Joseph Newsome witnessed the rapid increase in the acceptance of slavery as a profitable practice by farmers used to increase productivity. The trend was met by Quaker sentiment growing in its voice to abolish slavery. And then enacted 13 Jul 1787 by our newly formed United States Congress, the Freedom Ordinance (formally An Ordinance for the Government of the Territory of the United States, North-West of the River Ohio) created the Northwest Territory situated beyond the Ohio River. Item 6, the final item of this important act reads:


Free from slavery, the newly opened land was an answer to Quaker prayers. Beginning in the late 1790’s, a migration to Ohio and Indiana escalated after 1811 when peace with the Indians was realized following the Battle of Tippacanoe. By 1820, most Quakers in North Carolina had either been disowned for holding slaves against church doctrine or had removed from the state in protest of slavery. In witness from a Nov 1911 Quaker church information bulliten in observance of the Quaker migration, the following was said about a person who had relocated to Indiana from the Contentnea Creek Meeting in Wayne County NC:

“. . .was visited by an aged Quaker Minister, who stayed the night. The next morning, the minister got up early, and took a walk over the farm. When he returned, he told his host he had an impression from the lord, that it would be right for him to sell the farm and move to the territory of Indiana.”


And now back to the Newsome family. William Newsome was likely disowned from the Quaker Church prior to 1790 as in that year he is listed in the Wayne County census as owning one slave. Dated 17 April 1795, the marriage bond for our Joseph Newsome and Christian Barnes appears in county records. Christian is the daughter of Simon and Mary Barnes. The 1800 Wayne County census enumerates Joseph and family as owning one slave. And following the mass exodus of Quakers to Indiana, Wayne County was likely not the place it once was.  Land records show that Joseph and family removed to Anson County NC ca. 1817.

Now living beyond his Quaker upbringings, Joseph Newsome lived out the remainder of his life on the banks of Gourdvine Creek in now Union County NC. Did his childhood amongst Quakers have an impact on his life? Built on his surviving bible, future posts will delve deeper into his family and into some of their lives in our changing antebellum south.




C - CopyJoseph Newsome was likely born in what’s now Wayne County NC in 1775 at the start of the American Revolution. His ancestry is clearly traceable by land deeds to early 1600’s Jamestown VA and possibly earlier to Robert Newsome from the 1550’s Newsome Chapel in Lancashire England. Like many others, Joseph and members of his family moved south and west, settling on the hills along Gourdvine Creek in present day Union County NC. It was there where his daughter Ally Newsome married my ancestor David Thomas, the son of Ananias Thomas.

In the late 1990’s I was overwhelmed with joy to learn that Joseph Newsome’s bible survived and was safe in the hands of the family matriarch whose life, at that time, was beginning to fade. Befriending her grandchild online through Genforum, I was graciously given the following photocopies. As you can see, the technology of the day was not very good though that’s okay as the record held important bits of information including the life record for my great-great grandmother Alla/Ally Newsome Thomas. And looking back to Joseph Newsome, it’s hard to imagine his legacy. It’s big; statistically, from 3,000-6,000 people have walked this earth because of the life he perpetuated.

Now many years later, I’m wanting to tell Joseph’s story, to show off the bible record and to share what I’ve learned from its pages. Putting my newfound love of photography to work, I recently sought to create and distribute a more perfect copy of the bible record. But time moves forward and the old matriarch has since passed. And, in process, the bible’s whereabouts is not at this moment known. Hopefully it’s in good hands. Likely, the present owner is unaware of its importance and hopefully will someday bring it forward.

Moving on, I’ve spent the last few weeks watching evening TV while working to digitally clean the old record. I don’t know how I feel about that as I’ve surely made mistakes and altered what was written many many years prior. But hopefully, the record will increase understanding and encourage conversation on this wonderful family story. Here is the cleansed copy along with a typed version found in a Carolinas Genealogical Society Journal.

And as a note of its provenance, my copy of the bible record was lost many years ago in a computer crash. And, the Newsome descendant who helped me loaned out their copy and its whereabouts are no longer known. So I recently reached out to Newsome family historian Dave Johnston who had received a copy of the record about the same time as myself. Of note, Dave as a descendant is not from North Carolina, though he lived near the old Newsome home place in Wayne County while serving at Seymour Johnson Airforce Base.

Our family story survives because of good people who have kept the stories safe. Good record keeping is important as is the generosity of those who understand the importance for shared distribution of family records. A sincere thanks to Dave and to all who have made this post possible.



It’s a gray and dreary New Year’s day, so I’m kicked back, watching a bit of UNC Explorer TV and sharing memories with mom driven from the old 1905 map of Stanly County.  There’s a Smyrna and Lymra church located near where Love’s Grove UMC now stands.  And the Polk Ford road over to Love’s chapel crosses just above Chapel before passing by Clark’s Grove Baptist. And hey, in 1772 the route was likely the main highway from Charlotte to Elizabethtown!

I can also see my G-grandfather George Thomas’ home and store.  I’ve heard old folks talk about him journeying to Charlotte by wagon to load up on goods to sell.

Take a look and wonder around a bit.  Here’s the large searchable map of old Stanly County.

Can you find something you’ve always wondered about?  Where did YOUR grandparents or great-grandparents live?


Nearly every visit to the farmlands of upper Union County includes a stop at the Fast Stop where I always honor the old ways with a 7 oz. Coke and pack of nabs or peanuts.

Fast Stop is one of those treasured country stores where local farmers and old timers congregate to share daily goings-on. Little did I know that advice offered on a certain less than fast stop would connect me to Annie Lee Traywick, a retiree who spent many years at the Lance plant making the Toastchee crackers I so love. …they really are the unbeatable compliment to a small bottle of Coke!

Annie Lee owned a picturesque farm near the intersection of Hwy 218 and Thanny Helms road where we spent hours talking about family history and plotting trips to old farms and graveyards. She knew her community, of the people, and of their past. With little access to hard records, Annie Lee passed down generations of family stories keeping alive the spirit of life. She was a tour guide of sorts; a caregiver always seeking to maintain memories while working to preserve old family cemeteries now falling to decay.

On one such visit we explored the life of John Robert Thomas, brother to my own ancestor David Thomas. Born in 1816, the son of Ananias Thomas, John married Annis Nance 2 Dec 1846. John’s life record is relatively short, with hints of legal troubles. He purchased land near Rocky River in the vicinity where Annis was raised. John wrote his last will and testament in 1857 and died prior to its probation a year later. Land and court records show that Annis continued to live in the area until or near her death. She’s buried at Oakwood cemetery in Concord near her son Clement Marshall Thomas. John and Annis Thomas also had a son John Calvin who’s buried at Big Lick Baptist not too far from my grandfather’s farm in Stanly County.

Seeking to satisfy my curiosity about his burial and the wanting to locate the lands of John R Thomas, Annie Lee Traywick led me to a Mr. Austin who raised African long horned cows on Pleasant Hill Church road. He knew bits and pieces and told us the homeplace was marked by a punch well on the old dirt road that once led from the fields of Austin’s Big Branch to Coble’s old mill on the river. He also spoke of an old Indian burial ground nearby. We found the punch well covered with briers at a point where two dirt roads converged near a large ravine. Annie and I spent an hour walking the old homesite. The burial ground Mr Austin spoke about was located on a small flat on the far side of the ravine. There were but a few small rounded stones and all were rough with no visible inscriptions. Some may be quick to identify them as old Indian stones, it’s my belief they mark the early generation of settlers.

Annie Lee Traywick had one more person she wanted me to see. Heading back up Pleasant Hill Church road, we turned off to pay a visit to Ms. Emma Austin. Upon arrival we had to wait a bit as Emma was busy on her tractor plowing the large field by her house. At roughly 94 years in age, Ms Emma was full of spirit. She showed us a black spot on her leg where she had recently been bitten by a brown recluse spider. Having been hospitalized with gangrene growing over much of her leg, she refused treatment, came home, and nursed herself back to health using a poultice of sulfur wrapped in bacon.

Ms Emma Austin had lots to tell. As a young child, she lived in the old home now identified only by a metal pipe protruding from the ground. She told of the good times and of hard times. She also knew of the old grave stones once marked with writing! From her testimony, we know Annis Thomas lived in the house when Emma was a baby and that the home place was always known as the Annis Thomas house.


Annie Lee Traywick

It’s been more than ten years since Annie Lee led me through the rudes of Union. She’s now passed and I suspect Ms Emma has too. The backwood where the old place once stood has changed. It now sports several brand new brick homes and an improved roadbed. Today’s land owners likely know little of the past and of the people who once trod the land they now call home. The last few attempts to visit the little graveyard have been futile as I’ve yet been able to find it again. Someday! But hey, one of the homeowners is a THOMAS, so I’m looking forward to the new door that’s opened!


The New Year is upon us and while most are recovering from celebration, this Saturday I’ll be kicking leaves in search of family long lost.  It’s my thing.