Category Archives: Benjamin Thomas of Anson NC

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



My GGG-Grandfather Ananias Thomas was born in 1779 and lived a long and prosperous life near the banks of Richardson Creek in upper Union County NC. He married a person named Sarah whose maiden escapes record. Both Ananias and his wife outlived most of their children.

Living on the creek when the American Revolution swept through the region, Ananias wrote his will in 1860 and died 16 Feb 1861 at the start of the civil war. His grave stone (above) at the Edmond Davis Cemetery is barely readable today. Ananias’ wife Sarah died in 1867 and her estate papers list all the heirs including my own great grandfather George.

Rather than fill you with more computer generated font, below are images of Ananias’ last will and testament along with his wife Sarah’s estate papers. Take a look, imagine the shaky old hand using a quill pen to sign his last living directive. Read and imagine what kind of man he was. And look through Sarah’s papers and see if you can find your way back to Ananias and Sarah.

I want you to see the past like I do …it’s a puzzle full of mystery, written mysteriously in a language all but gone. Enjoy and may you look forward to a happy and blessed new year!

ananias will


sarh estate



David Thomas, son of Benjamin and brother of Ananias was born 1773 and married 1797 to Mary Presley, the daughter of Thomas and Sarah Lee Presley. This family moved from Anson County NC to Chester County SC around 1800. Mary died prior to 1830 and David married again to a person also named Mary. Some wrongly believe David’s second wife is the daughter of Thomas Satterwhite while it’s more plausible her maiden name is Brakefield. David died 1845 and his much younger second wife Mary was born ca. 1802 and died prior to the 1880 census.

In the late 1990’s I was guided to speak with a lady in York SC who was known to be most knowledgeable on the family. Forgive me as I can’t remember her name. A very kind soul, she allowed me to copy a framed photograph traditionally believed to be the second wife of David. But for the life of me, it just seemed the person photographed was too young. I’ve recently learned more about the image and of family traits that make me question my early stance.

Using the collodion process, the original photograph of the above was a type of photographic image known as an ambrotype. Unique and unable to be copied as is accomplished with modern film processes, ambrotypes are projected and printed onto glass. Following the introduction of daguerreotypes in the 1840’s and predating tin-types of the 1860’s, ambrotypes such as this can be dated to the late 1840’s through the 1850’s.

Is the picture above that of Mary who is enumerated in the 1850 census as being 48 years old? Is it possible she padded her age a little to seem more respectful in age? Or, could this be a picture of another person that’s been misidentified for the many years?

Family lore holds strongly to the belief that the photo is in fact that of David’s second wife. And to their credit, the ladies in the family hold up well to the advances of time. This is certainly a wonderful photograph and an important record for the descendants of David Thomas of Chester County SC.


Staring across the grassy fields, I can imagine the goings on of early generations of settler. I’ve studied for years and feel in tune with their changing community and of the people who once lived near what is now the Edmond Davis cemetery. And realizing this was my ancestors’ final resting place, I know the story is not complete; there‘s more to be found and more story to be told.

Take a look at Edmond Davis cemetery … zoom in, zoom out and see the fields I see. The southeast corner of the cemetery is the place where my Thomas family is at rest. Edmond Davis and others are at rest under great cedars in the northern portion of the graveyard. And see the white spot midpoint of the west-most fence line?   That’s the resting place of Lorenzo Merriman Little, a member of Jesse James’ Gang who was on hand 13 Feb 1866 in Liberty Missouri for the first daylight bank robbery in the United States.  More on Edmond Davis cemetery can be found on Julie A. Hampton’ site.

W__Websites_Anson_Tif_Deed_000V0415.tif_doc.tifWhile putting together the title history for lands around the cemetery, I happened across the following deed (left) dated 1821 in which James Baucom conveys 100 acres along Gourdvine Creek to William Holly. The tract originated as part of a land grant entered 1797 and issued 1811 to Frederick Taylor. Though my next post will delve deeper into the title history of the surrounding area, this one deed opens the possibility that Edmond Davis cemetery was more than a family graveyard. As highlighted in yellow, there must have been a “Meeting House Ford” on the waters of Gourdvine and I can only imagine there was also a meeting house nearby.

This is new and big as it does not relate to any known church histories. Well over 10 years before the founding of Jerusalem Baptist and more than 30 years before the founding of Olive Branch Baptist, we now know another church existed in 1821. It’s not Rocky River Baptist as it’s too far away. Let’s look back at the grant, neighboring lands and later conveyances to see where this all fits in today’s landscape.

gourdvineIn the illustration to the left, the Edmond Davis estate lands and cemetery are identified as a red shaded area. Frederick Taylor’s 1811 grant for 300 acres is lined in blue and adjoins the lands of Richard Lee as is written in the warrant for survey. You’ll also note another tract granted to Jacob Gurley. It’s in that tract where I believe the “Meeting House Ford” once crossed Gourdvine creek. Here’s a short title history of the land originating in the Frederick Taylor grant:

Grant # 5982 to Frederick Taylor, Anson NC, ent. 20 Dec 1797, iss. 18 Dec 1811. Being 300 acres on both sides of Gourdvine Creek.

  • Deed O-187 Anson NC, 6 Aug 1808, John Jennings Sheriff to Richard Williams for debt owed to Solomon Steagall being the entire 300 acres.
  • Deed S-274 Anson NC, 26 Jan 1818, Richard Williams to Willis Williams being all of the tract lying west of Gourdvine Creek containing 200 acres. Wit: Isaac Williams, Jacob Little.
  • T-304 Anson NC, 26 Nov 1819, Isaac Williams to Obediah Curlee being all of the tract on lying on the east side of Gourdvine containing 100 acres. Wit: Isaac Williams, Jacob Little.
  • T-313 Anson NC, 2 Jan 1821, Obediah Curlee to James Baucom being all of the northern half of the tract above the dashed line containing 216 acres. Wit: Lewis Baucom, Ransom Baucom.
  • V-415 Anson NC, 24 Sep 1821, James Baucom to William Holly being all of the northern half of the 300 acre tract lying west of Gourdvine containing 116 acres. In this deed the northern most east-west line is identified as being above the “Meeting House Ford.” Wit: C. B. Curlee, William Mullis.

DSC_4423_4_5_tonemapped… above the Meeting House Ford. Hmmmm, … as water runs downhill, the ford should cross the creek within the adjoining tract downstream from the land originating in Frederick Taylor’s grant. Entered 1797 and issued 5 Dec 1805, Jacob Gurley received 100 acres adjoining Michael Austin’s lands on both sides of Gourdvine at the mouth of “Buck Branch.” Nobody today knows anything about Buck Branch though a branch does rise just below the cemetery before making its way to Gourdvine below Olive Branch road. Here’s a look at the conveyances of this piece of Jacob Gurley’s land:

  • L-195 Anson NC, 4 Mar 1805, Jacob Gurley to Isaac Williams Senr, being the 100 acres granted to Jacob Gurley. Wit: Willis Gurley, Isaac Williams.
  • V-92 Anson NC, 3 Apr 1822, James Baucom to Solomon Mullis, being 25 acres of Jacob Gurley’s 100 acres lying on the west side of Gourdvine. The deed states the land was conveyed from said Gurley to Isaac Williams Senr, then to Obediah Curlee and then to James Baucom. Wit: Obed. Curlee.
Olive Branch road passing over Gourdvine creek

Olive Branch road passing over Gourdvine creek

Where was the Meeting House ford located?  There’s very little option other than it crossing at the same location  as today’s bridge or at least very close nearby. And knowing the location of Meeting House ford in 1821, exactly where was the Meeting House?

It’s my belief that at some point from 1800-1820, a Baptist church was organized and built on the hills above Gourdvine creek. In 1821, at the time James Baucom purchased land from Obediah Curlee, the church and graveyard (now Edmond Davis cemetery) must have already begun to serve numerous families in the community.

As Baptists are social in order, survival of the church was dependent upon the clout and leadership of a few families. Something happened to this dynamic causing change. What could have happened?

Edmond Davis grave

Rev. Edmond Davis grave

We’ll never know for sure though the 1830’s and 40’s were hard. Migrations west carried away many and there was also disease and death. It’s important that my own David Thomas’ lands at least adjoined the cemetery and that he and his wife both died in the early 1850’s. Baptist minister and uncle Edmond Davis oversaw both the estate and orphaned children. In 1857, he bought David Thomas’s land that adjoined the cemetery. And then in 1858, Edmond Davis and others provided notification that Olive Branch Baptist church was to be built on Henry Baucom’s nearby lands. See Julie A Hampton’s site.

The church grew strong and Olive Branch as a community was formally incorporated in 1875. Though Olive Branch Baptist church had its own cemetery, the old graveyard by Gourdvine creek continues its service through today. Why has it survived and why did they name the new church Olive Branch? A sign, a branch of peace, there must have been a very real reason. It’s my belief the name was a way of bringing together a community that had been divided by death, migration or social conflict. It’s only a guess; it’s not meant for us to know for sure.

foreground - grave of Ananias Thomas, background -gave of Merriman Little, distant landscape - location of bridge and likely site of Meeting House ford.

foreground – grave of Ananias Thomas, background by fence -grave of Merriman Little,  distant low land – location of bridge and likely site of Meeting House ford.



The Edmond L. Davis cemetery is located on a hilltop just east of the bridge where Olive Branch road crosses Gourdvine Creek in Union county NC.

The Edmond L. Davis cemetery is located on a hilltop just east of the bridge where Olive Branch road crosses Gourdvine Creek in Union county NC.

I remember Thanksgiving weekend 1996 and a visit to the Edmond L. Davis cemetery in Union county to photograph family lands I had only recently learned about. It was dreary, cold to the bone, and yet the frequent sounds of gunshot rang out as hunting season was in full swing. My father had passed less than a year prior and here I was alone in a cemetery seeking to lay witness to my GGG grandfather Ananias Thomas’ grave. I found his hand-carved stone which appeared to be grouped in a plot amongst other members of Thomas family. And just behind his grave were two unmarked stones that some have identified as mere foot markers. However, it’s always been my belief the stones mark the resting places of my GG grandparents David Thomas and his wife Alice Newsome Thomas. David is the son of Ananias.

Both David Thomas and his father-in-law Joseph Newsome owned land along Gourdvine creek in the vicinity of present day Edmond L. Davis cemetery. Prior to his death ca. 1843, Joseph Newsome sold some of his land to David Thomas. Per bible record, Joseph’s daughter Alice Thomas died 3 Dec 1852 and Union county probate records indicate David Thomas died prior to 1855.

Lot 1 of the estate of Edmond L. Davis

Lot 1 of the estate of Edmond L. Davis

Following the death of David and Alice Thomas, Edmond Davis was appointed estate administrator . He was also named guardian of the younger children including my namesake ancestor George Thomas. In the Fall Term 1856 of the Court of Equity for Union County, C. M. McCauley ordered the sale of 268 acres. Known as lot 1 of the “land upon which David Thomas lived at the time of his death”, this tract was situated on the south side of Gourdvine Creek. It adjoined David Thomas’s second tract and the lands of Elbert W. Caraway and Edmond Davis. On 30 Dec 1856, Edmond L. Davis purchased the land for $1,325.

Important! Following Edmond Davis’ eventual death on 6 Jan 1896,  lot 1 of his own estate takes in the cemetery that now bears his name (see plat above) . The tract matches and therefore can be accurately located using county GIS land records.

historyofrockyri00broo_0073Edmond Lilly Davis was a prominent Baptist minister in a region historically dominated by Baptists. His life and services are well documented in E. M. Brook’s 1928 History of Rocky River Baptist Church. Edmond Davis was also a friend and brother in-law to David Thomas as he married Mary Elizabeth Newsome, a sister of David Thomas’ wife Alice.

Note that David Thomas owned 660 acres per the 1852 Union county tax list at a time when Edmond Davis was listed with less. Following the death of David Thomas, the numbers reverse with David’s ownership of course going to zero.   From this I’ve always wondered if the cemetery was built on lands that once belonged to David Thomas and/or his father-in-law Joseph Newsome? The following plat locates the entire estate of Edmond Davis. Note the portion highlighted in purple identifies the one lot Edmond Davis purchased from the estate of David Thomas.


Estate of Edmond L Davis

At this point, after nearly 20 years of looking, I still cannot say with absolute certainty that the graveyard in question was first located on David Thomas’ home land. But we know his lands were oh so close as were his father-in-law’s. And knowing there are no graves marking the resting place of David and Alice Thomas, my mind goes back to something Ms. Annie Lee Traywyck once told me: “The cemetery once had many more stones that eventually went the way of cows”.  And then there are the two stones behind those of Ananias and his wife Sarah.  Stake-like in form and made of a much harder granite, was there ever even clear writing on the stones? Is it just my wishful thinking? And note that Olive Branch Baptist Church just up the road was formed by Edmond Davis and others in 1858 just as the estate of David Thomas was being settled?

Before Olive Branch Baptist, where did the folks along Gourdvine creek go to congregate and seek spiritual comfort? Where there’s more than two gathered, there would have been church. Where was it?





“When I was a little bitty boy, just up off a floor, We used to go down to Grandma’s house every month end or so. We’d have chicken pie and country ham, homemade butter on the bread. But the best darn thing about Grandma’s house was her great big feather bed. It was nine feet wide, and six feet high, soft as a downy chick It was made from the feathers of forty-eleven geese, took a whole bolt of cloth for the tick.” – John Denver

John Denver’s song “Grandma’s Feather Bed’ echoes a way of life dear to my mother’s memories of childhood. At a time before the modern conveniences of central heating and air conditioning, on cold winter nights, mom would warm by the fireplace before going to bed. Running as fast as her little legs would carry her, she’d jump up onto a feather tick piled high with soft warm quilts.

Not knowing the origin of the word “tick,” I’ve always imagined a mattress packed so full of soft down and feathers that it looked rather like a plump, well-fed deer tick. This viewpoint changed after reading the following store ledger written long ago.


In 1793, almost ten years before moving from North Carolina to Kershaw South Carolina, Daniel Little (Junior) made the above purchases at John Melchior’s store in Cabarrus County. Such ledgers provide a wealth of information, offering clues and rare glimpses into the daily lives of our early ancestors. An account in this store ledger documents Daniel’s numerous puchases of Osnaburg along with 20 yards of ‘Ticklenburg’. Curious as to the Germanic sounding names of these items, I searched online to find out more; I am amazed at what I learned.

Located in the south of Lower Saxony, German was Prince-Bishopric of Osnabrück, a state of the Holy Roman Empire from 1225 to 1803. The fabric purchased by Daniel Little at Melchior’s store is rooted in this region, in the town of Osnaburg, known historically for quality woven cloth and fabrics. Originally made from flax yarns, the creamy white Osnaburg cloth has also been made from tow or jute yarns. A coarse imitation of the German fabric began to be woven in Scotland in the 1730’s and quickly became the most important variety in east-central Scotland. For bedding and clothing garments, Osnaburg was used in revolutionary war uniforms and was the fabric most often used to clothe slaves prior to the Civil War. It’s still commonly used today for window curtains.


Happy to have found the origin of the Osnaburg fabric, I was then surprised to find that less than 15 miles to the southwest of the town of Osnabruck, was a district and town called Tecklenburg which was well-known for making another kind of cloth. Named after the town, Tecklenburg is a course blue and white striped industrial-type material often used for britches and bedding. Today we know it as “Ticking,” the blue and white fabric we’ve all seen made into mattress and pillow coverings. So now we know that it is this place in Germany where the naming of our fabled feather tick is rooted!

In another 1793 purchase by Christoph Lylerle (above), stockings, buttons, and Durant were purchased. Durant is of Norman origin being derived from an Old French word meaning “enduring.” I’ve not found the exact connection though the name of this cloth is likely attributable to John Durant, a wealthy wool merchant who died in 1297 Bedfordshire, England. The Columbia Cyclopedia identifies Durance as “A term applied to the leathrn dresses worn by the lower orders; a stout woolen stuff formerly made in imitation of buff leather, and used for garments, also called Durant and Tammy.”


And worth sharing in this post, I stumbled across the chance to learn from another word found in Christoph Lyerle’s acount. In the last entry, dated November 15, 1793, Christoph’s account was paid off by Richard Honnicut. At first reading this as “Green, a Widdow,” I thought maybe I had stumbled upon some genealogical clue. Excited, and in discussing this with a friend who just happened to be a retired NC State animal husbandry professor, I quickly learned that a “Wedder” is a castrated annd fattened sheep! Aparrently Richard paid for the bill with a fat sheep!

Note that one other purchase by Christoph Lylerle was paid for using counterfit money. This was a major issue after the Revolutionary War and was one met with harsh penalties ..more later.

Have fun reading those old docs!


walnut branch masterIn 1778, Salathiel Clifton sought to receive 3 land grants in Anson County. The first was located on Richardson Creek at the mouth of Gourdvine creek (image above). The other two tracts were situated to the east on Swon’s branch of Brown Creek. These latter grants were issued in 1779 as the winds of war pivoted south.

Lord Cornwallis

Lord Cornwallis

It became clear in 1780 that Lord Cornwallis’ growing reach into the Carolina back-country had to be halted. During late summer of that year, General Horatio Gates led his Maryland Continental line along with troops from Virginia through North Carolina before setting up a base camp at Mask’s Ferry on the west bank of the Pee Dee River. A retired British general, Gates had a proper understanding of warfare and was therefore tasked with the defeat of Lord Cornwallis. Correspondences from General Gates illustrated his concerns with the poor conditions and lack of military hardware provided in North Carolina:

Camp Masks’ Ferry West side of Peedee
3d August 1780
I have not received any answer to the Letters I had the Honor to write Your Excellency from Hillsboro. Since I joined the Army upon Deep River, my Distress has been inconceivable, of which the enclosed Copy of a Letter of this Days Date to Governor Nash will Convince your Excellency. I wish I could say the Supplies from Virginia had been a reproval to North Carolina. I am ashamed to say, their Backwardness rather countenances, than disgraces, their Sister State. What can the Executive Councils of both States believe will be the consequences of such unpardonable Neglect. I will yet hope your Excellency is doing all in your Power to supply your half starved Fellow Citizens. Flour, Rum and Droves of Bullocks should without Delay be forwarded to this Army, or the Southern Department will soon want one to defend it. It has rained furiously for several Days, and our Militia are still without Tents; therefore I expect Desertions and the Hospital will speedily leave Genl Stevens without any Command. I wish I could present your Excellency with a more pleasing Account of the Public Affairs this Way, but the Duty I owe to the United States obliges me to represent Things truly as they are. Colonel Harrison of the Artillery has been severely wounded in the Leg by a kick from a Horse, which splintered the Bone; he was left at Buffalo Ford on Deep River, and I am this day informed, is worse than when I parted from him. As the Time of his Recovery is uncertain, I beg the favor of your Excy to acquaint Lt. Colo Carrington that it is my orders he forthwith join this Army. I would also request your Excelly to order One Hundred Copies of the enclosed Proclamation to be immediately struck off and sent me by the Return of this Express.
I am, &c

Gen. Horatio Gates

Gen. Horatio Gates

It was in this environment that Salathiel Clifton joined the cause as Captain of troops likely raised in Anson County. Can you imagine what it would have been like? Settling with others in a great migration from northeast North Carolina, the landscape in Anson County must have been crawling with a mix of trained troops and rag-tag farmers both weary and itching to do battle. And just after 2 weeks from the above written letter, a great battle was on. Salathiel marched under General Gates to Camden SC where Lord Cornwallis handed the American’s their greatest defeat. Horatio Gates’ expectations were not realized as the ill-prepared troops lined face to face with the well-oiled British fighting machine. And as alluded to in the movie “The Patriot,” a new kind of hit and run warfare grew from this defining loss known as the Battle of Camden:

There were few if any grants issued in the ensuing years thick with war. It wasn’t until October 1782 that Salathiel Clifton received his grant for 100 acres on Richardson Creek at the mouth of Gourdvine Creek. And downstream along Richardson Creek, Michael Austin, Gideon Green and Benjamin Thomas were issued adjoining tracts (see below).

A. Grant #4281, Anson NC, to Salathiel Clifton. Ent 19 May 1778, Sur 15 Jun 1779, Iss 24 Oct 1782. The warrant for survey by David Love was for 100 acres “Beginning at the mouth of the Gourdvine Branch , on the south side of Richardsons Creek, extending from the Sd. Creek for Quantity—–“. The survey matched the requested land entry. Chainers were Benjamin Thomas and Gideon Green. B. Grant #4324, Anson NC, to Gideon Green. Ent 15 Jun 1779, Sur 15 Jun 1779, Iss 11 Oct 1783. For 150 on both sides of Richardson’s Creek. One of the lines of this survey follows the courses of Walnut Branch. Chainers were Salathiel Clifton and Benjamin Thomas. Note: Gideon later sold this tract to Benjamin Thomas. C. Grant # 5172, Anson NC, to Michael Austin. Ent 24 Oct 1793, Iss 10 Jul 197. Land on the south side of Richardson Creek joining Salathiel Clifton and Benjamin Thomas. Chainers were Benjamin Thomas and David Thomas.

To my knowledge there are no further records for Salathiel Clifton. No deeds of sale and no estate or court records as a fire in the 1860’s burned the Anson County courthouse. So maybe Salathiel died. And maybe he moved or his land was sold by the sheriff due to unpaid taxes. At any rate, this land at the mouth of Gourdvine Creek would change hands many times and in ways I barely understand.

Being the heart of where my ancestor settled, I’ll begin a dedicated study of land with this, my starting point.



walnut branch masterLand title history along Gourdvine Creek is a mess but it’s at the heart of where I’d like to center a new map based study. I also hope more finds made this past week will close the story of Moses K. Hyams and his life along the Rocky River. It’s been a busy week.

I’ve hinted of my ancestor’s Uncle William Barnes’ legal troubles involving land and how they may connect with the story of Moses K. Hyams. Wiliam began selling off his lands along Gorudvine Creek in 1822:

Anson U-477, 22 Feb 1822, William Barnes to Polly Jenkins. Being 118 acres on the east side of Gourdvine Creek ajoining his own land. Wit: Solomon Mullis, Jacob Little.
ANSON V-153, 20 — 1825, Absolum Myers Shff. To Thomas Griffin. Being the following 3 tracts sold arising from an execution issuing from the Court of Please and Quarter Sessions for the sum of $328 recovered by William Mullis against William Barnes, John Rowe and others.
Anson V-296, 19 Jan 1826, William Barnes to Solomon Mullis. Land on the southwest side of Gourdvine joining Griffin lands.
Anson W-24, 28 Mar 1827, William Barnes to Ransom Baucom. Being 50 acres on Gourdvine adjoining Barnett lands. Wit: Daniel Smith.
Anson W-322, 12 Jul 1827, Absolum Myers Shff. to Robert Strange of Cumberland County. Being the 3 tracts sold arising from an execution issuing from the Court of Please and Quarter Sessions for the sum of $424 recovered by the Gove against John Rushing, Paul Rushing and William Barnes.
Anson Z-129, 24 Dec 1831, William Barnes to Berry Austin. Being 300 acres on Gourdvine adjoining Hyams lands.

Robert Strange

Robert Strange

There’s likely issues with the above, though I’ve not had the time to confirm through platting. The lands sold by the Sheriff show that William may have been involved in a failed business. Gold mining? And of particular interest, in 1827, William’s lands were sold to Robert Strange, president of the Bank of Cape Fear. Strange was also a Senator and Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of North Carolina.

On 29 May 1851, Daniel M. Fesperman was issued a grant for 100 acres along the east side of Gourdvine Creek. The survey clearly takes in the 12 acres issued in the 1820’s to Moses K. Hyams. This land adjoined Ananias Thomas and Josiah Austin. A search of D. M. Fesperman netted the following article published 23 May 1911 in the Monroe Journal:

Affidavit by a Famous Person

Judah P. Benjamin

Judah P. Benjamin

In the office of the clerk of the court of this county is a deposition made and signed in the yer 1855, by the famous Judah. P. Benjamin, who afterwards won so much renown as a member of the cabinet of President Jefferson of the Southern Confederacy. Benjamin was a Jew and thought by many writers and historians to have been the most able man in Mr. Davis’ cabinet. After the wr he settled in England and won high place in official circles, having become a member of the Queen’s privy council. The affidavit on file here was given on the date stated in a land suit brought in this county against D. M. Fesperman by the heirs of Moses K. Hyams, a well-known Jew who did business in the first part of the century where Olive Branch now is. He went to Louisiana and died having his brothers and sisters as his heirs. One of these sisters is the wife of Abram C. Labatte, who did business at the Tindle place, where the first county court was held. LaBatte had also gone to Louisiana. Hyams died in Louisiana, while still owning land in this county. D. M. Fesperman had acquired some shares in the land and after the death of Hyams, had come into possession of it. The Heirs of Hyams brought suit to recover it and it was necessary to establish kinship of these with Hyams. Judah P. Benjamin’s testimony was to the effect that he had known the parties to the suit and their kinship with the deceased man.

It is an interesting old document and Squire Simpson was as happy over its discovery as a boy with a new toy.

Judah P. Benjamin was raised in Wilmington; his mother’s maiden name is Levy. There’s a possibility Benjamin is related to Moses K. Hyams through their maternal grandmothers. And who was Abraham Labatte mentioned in the deposition? The following is abbreviated from Abraham’s obituary found on Find-a-Grave:

cohenSecond Oldest Mason in America, Last Original Member of the Firemen’s Charitable Association, a Leader in Israel, He Took the First Steamship to Galveston.

Abraham Cohen Labatt, one of the oldest citizens of Texas. Born in Charleston, S. C. on 2 July 1802, he went to North Carolina as a young man. He married Caroline Hyams of Charleston in 1825, and in 1830 he removed to New Orleans. He remained there til 1849, when he went to California. After the war he came to Texas and settled, first in Waco. There he lived till 1879, when his wife died, and he came to Galveston.

In 1836 he brought the steamship Columbia to Galveston, which was the first steam vessel to enter this port. There was no pilots here then, and a man had to be sent to Houston by rowing up Buffalo Bayou to notify the people that the Columbia had arrived here. Gen. H. B. Bee was a passenger on that occasion.
Mr. Labatt was intimately acquainted with all the old Texans, and entertained Crockett and Sam Houston at his home many times. Mr. Labatt was made a Mason in May, 1823, at Cheraw, S. C. He was postmaster of David Crockett Lodge, San Francisco, and was the second oldest Mason in the United States.

Though there’s likely more to this that remains unsolved and of interest, it’s time to turn the page. For those interested in Jewish history for the area of Union County NC, take a look at a follow-up article written on 19 Sep 1911 in the Monroe Journal. It outlines the family of Vangal Simons, the Moses family, the Labatt’s and Moses Hyams.


Having just completed my last post on David Thomas’s brief encounter with Moses K. Hyams, I’ve more to share including the wonderful life story of Moses’ aunt Kitty. Remember that in the 1820’s, Moses purchased a small 12 acre tract in Anson NC adjoining the lands of both David Thomas and his wife’s uncle William Barnes. Moses didn’t remain in Anson very long as by 1830 he was living with his family who had moved from Charleston SC to Louisiana. I’ve learned that William Barnes removed to Arkansas as a result of legal concern related to gold. Family lore from Arkansas leads us to believe William fled in the middle of the night.

It’s known the road from gold rich Cabarrus to Charleston SC passed the lands of David Thomas. It’s also known that gold was found near David’s home in Anson County. Speculation and the flow of money during this time led to dishonest land deals. The US Geological Survey of the day reported that folks were falsely claiming gold discovery in order to sell their land at jacked up prices.

Why did Moses come to Anson County? Was he drawn in by gold? Was he involved in a fraudulent land deal involving his neighbor William Barnes? Is that why William Barnes quickly left North Carolina for Arkansas? Did he sell land to Moses Hyams before leaving the state?

Marie Antionette

Marie Antionette

Moses’s aunt Catherine “Kitty” Hyams was schooled in Ireland before being adopted by Lord Hyde of England. Taking the name Hyde, she moved to Paris where she served as Maid of Honor in the royal house. Kitty was there in the darkest of times. She performed many secret missions for Marie Antionette and Princess De Lamballe. During a visit to family in America, Kitty (Catherine Hyde Marquise de Govion Broglio Solari) told of writing two books. Her first was titled “Venice under the Yoke of France and Austria.” From a perspective like none other, her second book titled “The Secret Memories of Princess Lamballe,” documented the final days of Marie Antionette.

Moses Hyams’ life surely connected with the lives of my family in early Anson County NC. His was a unique family with a story worth telling. A little gold, a little cake, his family’s story adds to our understanding of life along the Rocky River. By the way, from Google, it appears there’s no evidence that Marie Antionette ever declared “Let them eat cake.”



While browsing David McCorkle’s North Carolina Land Grants for holdings along Gourdvine Creek, I came across a person who didn’t seem to fit the neighborhood. Being the day after the New Year, it was a good and quiet time to explore this person at my favorite place …North Carolina State Archives.


My Great-Great Grandfather is David Thomas who married Alice Newsome, the daughter of Christian Barnes and Joseph Newsome originally from Wayne County NC. David and Joseph lived near the mouth of Gourdvine Creek in present day Union County. I remember well the day I found William Barnes also living on Gourdvine Creek. Joseph’s brother-in-law William is Alice Newsome Thomas’ uncle. This was one of those discoveries that reminded me that people have the same needs, they’re bound by family and they’re forever building community.

My ancestor, David Thomas served as chain carrier in the 1829 survey (see above) for 12 acres issued to Moses K. Hyams. The survey indicates the land adjoined that of Thomas and Barnes. Looking for more on Moses, I found nothing. So who was Moses? Where did he come from?

Born in Charleston SC, Moses Kosciusko Hyams is the son of Samuel Myers Sr and Meriam Levy Hyams. In 1823, Moses K. is listed as Justice of Peace in Charleston. Being a well-documented Jewish family, information on Samuel can be found in Malcolm H. Stern’s First American Jewish Families. From that source we learn that Samuel was the son of Moses and Judith Isaacks Hyams. This Moses was born in Gdansk Poland and had removed to Dublin Ireland and then on to London where he died. The family came to America around 1765. Arriving in Charleston, Samuel is later honored as being the first Jew to settle in Natchitoches Louisiana. It’s there, on 18 Aug 1836, the Thomas’ brief neighbor died in Pointe Coupee Parish.

The Jewish Cemetery MarkerOne of Moses K. Hyams’ brothers studied engineering and during his life is credited as surveying much land in Louisiana. The family was involved in building community and as leaders of government. Moses’ brother Henry Michael Hyams also served the State of Louisiana as Lieutenant Governor during the American Civil War. This family established the historic Jewish Cemetery of Rapides Parish and is prominent in the Natchitoches American Cemetery.

How cool is all this! My ancestor walked the rudes of Carolina with this family. They must have shared times, beliefs, and their thoughts on life. We’re all connected much more than by birth and death alone. Never knowing where tomorrow will lead, it’s important that we acknowledge each moment. Moments like this remind me of my father’s favorite poem:

Let me live in a house by the side of the road, Where the race of men go by-
The men who are good and the men who are bad, As good and as bad as I.
I would not sit in the scorner’s seat, Or hurl the cynic’s ban;-
Let me live in a house by the side of the road And be a friend to man.
Sam Walter Foss (1858-1911)


The phone call was received while in a parking lot as my wife and I headed to our favorite Italian restaurant. Henry Thomas was calling to let me know that he was really busy on a job; it would probably be a month before we would be able to talk. Henry’s DNA matched mine and this curiously short call was his first response to my effort to reach him. Henry did call back as promised and we spoke in depth about Thomas history. You see, Henry is an actor and being on location, he was away from his research and unable to provide much information.

MTIwNjA4NjM0MTQzMTQ3NTMyHenry Jackson Thomas Jr was born in San Antonio TX to hardworking parents who supported his childhood ambition of becoming an actor. At age 8, Henry’s first audition led to a role playing Sissy Spacek’s son in the movie “Raggedy Man.” He is also known for giving a coke to a football player in “The Steeler and the Pittsburg Kid.” And in 1982, Henry became every kid’s champion playing Elliott in Stephen Spielberg’s blockbuster “ET: The Extra Terrestrial.” In this role, Henry Thomas reached out to the stars only to remain with family and those he loved here on earth. Henry remains in the business of acting while chasing an equally strong love of music. He recently stared as Hank Williams in “The Last Ride” and performs in the band Farspeaker.

Now grown and seeking to learn about the fabric of his own existence, Henry’s searching has carried him to Montgomery County Alabama where his namesake ancestor Henry Jackson Thomas was born in 1854 to Andrew and Jane Thomas. Jane was born in 1823 and married first Thomas P. Dailey on 21 Feb 1838 in Lowndes County Alabama. From her mother’s last will and testament, we know Jane is the daughter of James and Mary Wood:

Will of Mary Wood dated 8 June 1841, probated 2 Dec 1844.
Heirs of James Wood deceased, daughter Nancy D Wood and George W. Wood.
Allen Davis be allowed exclusive of his portion or his wife’s portion.
daughters Jane V Dailey and Nancy D. Wood and son George W. Wood .
…and grandchildren Mary Jane Blake, Martha Ann Blake, and Elizabeth Jackson Blake.
Executor: son-in-law Allen Davis.
Witnesses: B. W. Mangum, Joseph Cobb, A. D. Chapman, David Davenport.

Thomas P Dailey died prior to 1850 as Jane was listed at that time as living at the home of James Henry Smith:

Andrew Thomas eludes the 1850 census and may or may not be in the area at that time. However, shortly afterward, on 29 Jan 1852, Andrew Thomas married Jane Dailey in Lowndes County Al. The marriage was performed by Rev Peyton S. Alexander, a Methodist preacher who later moved to Autauga County.

At the writing of this post, Andrew Thomas is Henry’s earliest known paternal ancestor; he is Henry’s brick wall. The only other clues come later in the 1860 Montgomery County census where Andrew is enumerated between Dr. Geo. Pollard and Sterling Harrison, a one-time Montgomery county sheriff. Note that Andrew identifies himself as being from North Carolina and that his wife Jane had given birth to their first child two years after recently being married:


This is all we know about Andrew and Jane Thomas as other valuable clues were likely destroyed during and immediately after the American Civil War. Landscapes were ravaged, courthouses were destroyed and county lines forever changed. Times were so bad that neighbor Col. Charles Gunter along with William Norris of Dallas County led groups of Confederados to safe haven in Brazil. Note that Charles was born in Chatham County NC while William’s family lived nearby in Wake. These families interacted with a Joseph and Micajah Thomas whose families moved to Georgia where they just may connect with ours (hopefully more later). And as for Andrew Thomas, did he serve and was he lost in war? Did he remove west? Did Jane die young or could she have remarried? Family lore has it her son George removed to Texas or Arkansas with family around Dallas. Was he possibly named for Dr. George Pollard who lived next door? There’s also mention of a stepbrother. Who might he be? And as for son Henry Thomas, born in 1854, he later surfaces in Elmore County just to the north of Montgomery Alabama.

No beans about it; this was hard times and a hard environment for families to prosper. People were on the move and we can only speculate as to the goings-on. Young Henry and the rest of the family elude the 1870 and 1880 census. However, an Andrew Thomas aged 2 is listed as living in the home of Hiram Norris in the 1880. Lore has it that Henry had a step brother. Who is this baby Andrew!

Henry Thomas married Mary Foreman, the daughter of James Monroe and Jane Booth Foreman in Elmore County Alabama where they lived out the remainder of their lives. The 1910 census show the Thomas and Foreman families living side-by-side in the community of Cold Springs Alabama:

Note that Henry identifies his father’s birthplace as South Carolina! Is this correct, or did Andrew get it right when he claimed North Carolina in the 1860 census?

Henry and Mary Thomas are buried at Coosa River (Shoal Creek) Primitive Baptist Church in Deatsville Alabama near graves of the Foreman family. There are many graves of babies and of those who suffered and died from disease. Older folk in Henry’s family speak of the disease and of bad air. Did Henry’s family move west to escape an unhealthy environment? And why was the family missing in the 1870 and 1880 census? Though our Henry’s line removed from the area, the family of his grandfather’ brother James Eugene Thomas remained where they own and have farmed land on nearby Thomas road through 2000.

Somehow Henry’s family relates to my Thomas family of Anson County NC as his DNA matches mine perfectly. And not far to the north of where his family lived in Deatsville, he also relates to John Pelham Thomas’s family who once resided in Coosa County AL. The paths nearly cross, but how! mmmm…hello, is there anyone out there whose lineage crosses Henry’s??? Anyone with an ancestor named George Thomas whose family lived around Dallas TX 1880-1910? We’re also looking for other THOMAS who’re trying to get their family back through NC.

Help us to knock down our family wall. There’s no magical touching of finger tips. No ouch, blood nor painful forms of testing required. All you need to do is provide a simple swab coated with a little of your very own saliva …help us and help yourself …get DNA tested!!!