Tag Archives: Revolutionary War

Locating John Chavis (1763-1838) in the Historical Archives

John Chavis (1763-1838) is often credited as being the first black man to become an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church and credited for being the first black man to attend a university or college in the United States. After completing his missionary work among enslaved people, John Chavis opened a school in antebellum Raleigh, North Carolina where he taught both white and free black pupils. These are just some of the fascinating details about the life of John Chavis, a man whose name and legacy continues to inspire people today.

The purpose of this blog post is not to retell the biography of John Chavis, but rather is about correctly locating John Chavis in the historical archives. Having a name like “John Chavis” in antebellum Virginia and North Carolina is akin to having a name like “John Smith”. That is, there were many John Chavises who were contemporary to John Chavis (1763-1838). As a result, the records for these other men who happened to share the same name, have been confused and incorrectly attributed to John Chavis (1763-1838). In 2001, scholar Dr. Helen Chavis Othow published a biography titled: “John Chavis: African American Patriot, Preacher, Teacher, and Mentor.” In her book, Dr. Othow wonderfully recounts the life of John Chavis, however some key biographical details are not correct. Dr. Othow wrote her book before Paul Heinegg published his seminal genealogical research: “Free African-Americans of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, and Delaware”. In his book (which he continues to update and correct online with the new research), Heinegg has an entire section dedicated to the Chavis family, including John Chavis (1763-1838). (John Chavis 1763-1838, is number 39 in the Chavis family sketch that can be accessed here). Heinegg does correct most of the outdated information in Dr. Othow’s book, but there are still some minor inaccuracies in Heinegg’s summary of John Chavis (1763-1838). This is why as more records and research becomes widely available, it is crucial to revisit and update older work.


John Chavis (1763-1838) Timeline

In this section, I will present a timeline of John Chavis’ (1763-1838) life from the primary source records found in the historical archives. Creating timelines is something I emphatically encourage researchers to do because it helps to avoid common genealogical mistakes such as conflating the identities and records of people who share the same name.

For example if John Smith (1750-1804) is documented with a wife named Betsy and residing in Warren County, NC through land deeds and census records, then he cannot be the same man also named John Smith (1760-1797) who is documented with a wife name Rebecca and residing in Cumberland County, NC where his will and estate records are located.

So even if John Chavis (1763-1838) is not relevant to your research interests, I still encourage you to read this blog post so you can see the benefit of creating timelines.

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1763 – Lunenburg Co, VA (now Mecklenburg Co, VA): John Chavis was born to “free colored” parents Jacob Chavis (1736-1808) and Elizabeth Evans (1745-1818). His birth year is an approximation based upon his age reported in later documents, so it is possible he may have been a year before or after 1763. His father Jacob Chavis is documented through land deeds and court cases in Lunenburg (now Mecklenburg) during these years, so this is undoubtedly where John Chavis was born.

20 Dec 1778 – Mecklenburg Co, VA: John Chavis swore an oath of allegiance to enlist in the Revolutionary War. This information comes from an article in the Raleigh Register on 27 Oct 1835 in which John Chavis showed his oath of allegiance to prove that he was a Revolutionary War veteran.

1786 – Mecklenburg Co, VA: John Chavis is taxable on one tithe (himself) and one horse.

1787 – Mecklenburg Co, VA: John Chavis is taxable on one tithe (himself) and one horse

22 May 1787 – Mecklenburg Co, VA: John Chavis is named in the will of his maternal grandfather Thomas Evans (1723-1788).

1788 – Mecklenburg Co, VA: John Chavis is taxable on one tithe (himself) and one horse.

1789 – Mecklenburg Co, VA: John Chavis is taxable on one tithe (himself) and one horse.

1789 – Mecklenburg Co, VA: John Chavis was employed to tutor the Greenwood orphans of the late Robert Greenwood according to this source. This is a key detail because it shows that John Chavis was not only literate but educated enough to be entrusted to teach white children. It may have been this experience and others like it that propelled him to become a minister and teacher.

1790s – I have not located John Chavis in any records in the 1790’s until 1799 (see next entry). He is not listed as a tithable in the Mecklenburg Co tax lists as he had been in the 1780’s, which means that he moved outside of the county. One possible explanation is that he was a student at Princeton during these years. There are reports that he took private classes at Princeton University under Dr. John Whitherspoon and there is a 1792 board of trustees report that the university accept a a free black man named John Chavis of Virginia. John Chavis is not listed as an official alum of Princeton. Perhaps because of his race, John Chavis was an “unofficial” student at Princeton.

1799 – Lexington, VA: The first time John Chavis appears in the records of the Presbytery of Lexington when he attends their meetings.

1800 – Lexington, VA: The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church grants John Chavis a license to be a missionary.

1801 to 1807 Lexington, VA: John Chavis begins his missionary work among enslaved people of Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina.

6 April 1802 – Rockbridge County (Lexington is the capital), VA: John Chavis’ free papers are recorded which refer to him as a former student of Presbyterian Washington Academy (now Washington and Lee University) and that he completed the regular course of studies.

8 November 1802Rockbridge County (Lexington is the capital), VA: John Chavis’ free papers refer to him as a free black man of 40 years of age.

August 1805 – Chatham County, NC: While doing missionary work in North Carolina, his conversation with an educated black woman was reported in the August 1805 issue of the The Association Missionary Magazine of Evangelical Intelligence.

15 May 1806 – Wake County, NC: John Chavis purchased 233 acres adjoining Mine Creek and Haw Branch in Wake County for $700 from Joshua Eastland of Chatham County. This is the first record that show John Chavis as a resident of North Carolina.

11 July 1806Mecklenburg Co, VA: John Chavis’ father Jacob Chavis gives him power of attorney to recover a debt from William Stewart (born circa 1715) of Wake Co, NC. William Stewart formerly lived in Mecklenburg Co, VA and owed money to Jacob Chavis from when Jacob Chavis successfully sued his own father-in-law Thomas Evans. William Stewart had agreed to pay Thomas Evans’ court costs but left the state for Wake Co. Because John Chavis had just relocated to Wake Co, it would make sense that his father Jacob Chavis would ask him to recover this debt.

26 August 1808 – Wake County, NC: In an article in the Raleigh Register, John Chavis provides details about classes in a school he recently opened.

1809 – Wake/Orange/Granville County, NC: John Chavis joined the Orange Presbytery while residing in Raleigh (capital of Wake Co), which serviced Wake, Orange, and Granville counties.

28 June 1815 – Wake County, NC: John Chavis purchased 111 acres on the south side of the Neuse River on Laurel Creek.

3 December 1827 – Wake County, NC: John Chavis wrote to his friend Senator Willie P. Mangum about a deed of trust for land adjoining Tignal Jones and Job Rogers in Wake County which was given to him and his wife Frances during their lifetimes. This record confirms that John Chavis was the same John Chavis who owned land in Wake County and establishes that John Chavis’ wife was named Frances. I have found no record of their marriage nor records that help to identify her maiden name or birth year.

18 December 1827 – Wake County, NC: John Chavis wrote again to his friend Senator Willie P. Mangum inviting him to attend the next examination at his school in Wake County at Revises Crossroads.

22 April 1830 – Wake County, NC: It is reported in the Raleigh Register that Joseph Gales (editor of the paper), had recently attended an examination “of the free children of color” at the school and “seldom received more gratification from any exhibition of a similar character”.

8 July 1831 – Granville County, NC: John Chavis made a quit claim deed relinquishing any right to the estate of his brother Isaac Chavis (1766-1831). Isaac Chavis had moved from Mecklenburg Co, VA to Granville Co, NC in the early 1790s and is well documented in the Granville census records and tax lists until his death. He had no living children which meant that his estate would be divided among his siblings.

1831 – Wake County, NC: The Orange Presbytery assigned Samuel Smith Downey and William McPheeters of Raleigh to take care of John Chavis and his wife Frances.

27 October 1835 – Wake County, NC: In 1835, North Carolina passed a new state constitution which stripped away the voting rights of free people of color, including John Chavis. During a debate at the state convention it was argued that no free men of color took the Oath of Allegiance. In an article from the Raleigh Register that was republished in the Fayetteville Observer on 27 Oct 1835, it was noted that an “old colored man” named John Chavis a resident of Wake County who was a licensed Presbyterian Preacher, showed the crowd his Oath of Allegiance from 20 Dec 1777 signed by James Anderson of Mecklenburg Co, VA.

15 June 1838 – Wake, Orange or Granville County, NC: John Chavis’ died on this date according to an obituary published in the Watchman of the South, Obituary Notice by Virginia Genealogical Society Quarterly. There is conflicting information on the location of his death. John Chavis was documented as a resident and land owner in Wake County up through 1835, so it would stand to reason that he died at his residence. However a Richmond Presbyterian paper reported that his death was in Orange County. A 28 Sep 1880 (over forty years after his death) article in the Oxford Torchlight, reports that John Chavis died at his residence somewhere between Oxford and Williamsboro (Oxford is in Granville and Williamsboro was in a part of Granville that became Vance County in 1881). It is believed that John Chavis is buried on the plantation of his friend and former student, Senator Willie P Mangum in Rougemont in Durham County, NC.

John Chavis State Convention
John Chavis (1763-1838) showed proof of his Revolutionary War service in 1835 when he handed over a certificate showing his Oath of Allegiance. Clipped from Fayetteville Weekly Observer, 27 Oct 1835, Tue, Page 2
John Chavis 1763 1838 tree
Family tree of Presbyterian minister, teacher, and Revolutionary War veteran John Chavis (1763-1838)

Discussion On John Chavis’ Timeline

By sequencing John Chavis’ life events in a timeline, we can begin to draw out a broader narrative of his life. John Chavis was born and raised in Mecklenburg County, VA and lived there until he went away to study to become a minister in the 1790’s. His formal education took place in Lexington, VA at the Presbyterian Washington Academy and probably in New Jersey at Princeton University. By 1800, he was a practicing Presbyterian preacher and traveled throughout the region doing missionary work.

John Chavis then settled in Wake County, NC by 1806 where he was licensed to preach by the Orange Presbytery and also opened a school where he taught both free black and white students. He was not only well known in Wake County but also known in neighboring counties such as Granville and Orange. Land deeds show that he owned property in Wake County yet I have found no records of him selling his land. It’s possible he lost the land due to taxes and other debts. In 1831, North Carolina forbid men of color from practicing ministry and in 1835, North Carolina disenfranchised all free people of color. As a result, this may have put John Chavis in a bad financial situation. This is evident when the Orange Presbytery assigned caretakers for John Chavis and his wife Frances. I have yet to find estate records for John Chavis, therefore I have no records of surviving children or heirs. John Chavis’ widow was apparently receiving financial assistance from the Orange Presbytery until April 1842 when it was reported she went to live with friends. I cannot confirm her in any later census records and I have not found a record of her death. It’s quite possible the couple had no surviving children given that widow Frances went to stay with friends and not with any of her children (if she had any).


Records and Family Relationships That Are Not Attributed to John Chavis (1763-1838)

In this last section, I will discuss the many records and family relationships that have been incorrectly attributed to John Chavis (1763-1838). Frequently on Ancestry and other on genealogy websites, I have noticed researchers attaching just about any “John Chavis” record to John Chavis (1763-1838) which has added to the confusion about his identity. So all of the records discussed in this section are NOT for John Chavis (1763-1838) and instead I explain who these records should be attributed to.

Marriage Records:

On 27 July 1801 in Mecklenburg Co, VA,  John Chavis married Sally Blair with Thomas Cypress as security. This marriage record is for John Chavis (born 1780) who was the son of a Revolutionary War soldier also named John Chavis (1755-1787). As we can see in the timeline established above, John Chavis (1763-1838) did not reside in Mecklenburg Co, VA in 1801. Instead he was living in Lexington, VA where he had recently completed his studies and received his license from the Lexington Presbytery to preach.

John Chavis Sally Blair treeOn 8 June 1815 in Granville Co, VA, John Chavis married Sarah Anderson with Abraham Anderson as the bondsman. This marriage record is for John Chavis (1790-before 1840) who was the son of Jesse Chavis (1766-1840) of Granville County. Sarah Anderson (1798-1820) was the daughter of Lewis Anderson Jr and Winnie Bass of Granville County. Bondsman Abraham Anderson was a brother of Sarah Anderson. John Chavis and Sarah Anderson had two children together: Anderson Chavis (born 1816) and Joyce Chavis (born 1816) who were named legatees in the 1844 will of their aunt Patience (Reeves) Anderson (1776-1844). Patience was the widow of Augustine Anderson (1776-1827) who was a brother of Sarah Anderson and died with no living heirs. As a result, Augustine Anderson and wife Patience, left their estate to their orphaned nephew and niece Anderson Chavis and Joyce Chavis. Sarah Anderson was deceased by 1820, when her husband John Chavis remarried a woman named Nancy Harding on 19 July 1820 in Granville County. John Chavis was deceased sometime between 1830 ad 1840. I believe the reason why Patience (Reeves) Anderson left her estate to her nephew and niece was because they were orphaned and she wanted to ensure that they were financially taken care of. We know that the John Chavis mentioned in these records are not John Chavis (1763-1838) because his wife’s name was Frances and she lived to at least the year 1842.

John Chavis 1790 1840 tree.jpg

Family Relationships

As stated in the timeline, there are no estate records for John Chavis (1763-1838) or his wife Frances, which makes identifying any possible surviving children extremely difficult.

Charlotte “Lottie” Chavis (born 1803) was the wife of Littleton Taborn of Granville County. Paul Heinegg incorrectly guesses that Lottie Chavis was a daughter of John Chavis (1763-1838). This comes from the fact that her marriage record to Littleton Taborn on 14 April 1818 in Granville County, shows the bondsman as a John Chavis. However this bondsman was John Chavis (1790-before 1840) who was discussed above. Moreover, there is an apprenticeship record for Lottie Chavis which identifies her as a daughter of Mary Chavis. On 8 November 1815 in Granville County, Charlotte Chavis, aged thirteen, was called the daughter of Mary Chavis when she was apprenticed out to Richard Lemay. John Chavis (1763-1838) was alive and well in 1815, married to Frances and living in Wake County where he ran a school, so there is nothing that connects him as the father of Lottie Chavis.

Lottie Chavis apprenticeship
On 8 November 1815 in Granville County, Charlotte Chavis, aged thirteen, was called the daughter of Mary Chavis when she was apprenticed out to Richard Lemay. Source: North Carolina Wills & Probate Records; Apprentice Bonds & Records, 1716-1921.

Lottie Chavis treeRevolutionary War Records

John Chavis (1763-1838) was not the only John Chavis from Mecklenburg County, VA to enlist in the Revolutionary War. We know that John Chavis (1763-1838) enlisted on 20 December 1778 with James Anderson signing his Oath of Allegiance. This is the certificate that John Chavis presented to the North Carolina state convention in 1835 when they voted to disenfranchise all free people of color. Another John Chavis (1755-1787) who lived in Mecklenburg County is also a documented Revolutionary War soldier.

In March 1783, Captain Mayo Carrington certified that John Chavis (1755-1787) had “faithfully fulfilled [his duties] and is thereby entitled to all immunities granted to three year soldiers”. This is consistent with a July 1778 payroll which shows a John Chavis in Captain Mayo Carrington’s Company. We know that these records are for John Chavis (1755-1787) because his heirs on 20 April 1818 filed suit to be compensated for their late father’s war service. According to a letter from William O. Goode on 12 January 1836, John Chavis (1755-1787) and his brother Anthony Chavis (1757-1831) were both wagoners in the Revolutionary War. His letter further states that John Chavis (1755-1787) was issued a certificate for public debt for 89 pounds signed by Captain Mayo Carrington. So this confirms that the John Chavis who enlisted in Captain Mayo Carrington’s Company was not John Chavis (1763-1838) but rather John Chavis (1755-1787).

Chatham County Land Deeds and Census Records

The following records from Chatham County have been attributed to John Chavis (1763-1838) by Paul Heinegg. However, the timeline shows that there is ample evidence that John Chavis’ place of residence during this time period and his school were in the city of Raleigh located in Wake County. I think the reason why Heinegg attributed the Chatham County, NC records to John Chavis (1763-1838) was from when a conversation between John Chavis and an educated black woman was reported in 1805. However John Chavis did missionary work in Chatham County which is probably why he was recorded there.  These records of a John Chavis residing in Chatham County are actually for John Chavis (born 1775) who was the son of the above mentioned Anthony Chavis (1757-1831) and his first wife Betsey Evans.

9 November 1804 in Chatham County, John Chavis purchased 100 acres of land on Weaver’s Creek.

In the 1810 census for Chatham County, John Chavis is enumerated as the head of household of five “free people of color”. In this census he is enumerated next to his brother Peter Chavis (born 1772 – after 1850) and his uncle-in-law Charles Evans (born 1783). Peter Chavis (1772-born 1850) is a confirmed son of Anthony Chavis (1757-1831) and his first wife Betsey Evans from the Revolutionary War pension file on Peter Chavis. Charles Evans (born 1783) was the apparent brother of Richard Evans (1772-1855) who gave a deposition for Anthony Chavis’ pension application in which he stated that his wife Lucy Evans was the sister of Anthony Chavis’s first wife Betsey Evans. These families moved together from Mecklenburg Co, VA and neighboring Nutbush township (split between Granville and Warren counties, NC) to Chatham County, NC in the early 1800’s.

23 July 1811 in Chatham County, John Chavis purchased another 100 acres of land on Weaver’s Creek.

28 April 1817 in Chatham County, John Chavis sold 100 acres of his land on Weaver’ Creek for 100 pounds.

7 March 1818 in Chatham County, John Chavis sold his remaining 100 acres of land on Weaver’s Creek for $650.

In the 1820 census for Chatham County, John Chavis is enumerated as the head of household nine “free people of color” (household looks consist of husband, wife, and seven children).

John Chavis Chatham County

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The Saponi/Monacan Indian Brandon/Branham Family of Granville County

The Brandons are a core family of Granville’s Native community that have intermarried with most of the other Native families. Originating in Southside Virginia, the Brandons came to Granville County in the 1820s, rejoining their Saponi relatives who had already established the community during the days of Indian trader Colonel William Eaton. I introduced the Brandon family in an earlier blog post about the Saponi Indian cabins that were reported in Amelia Co (modern Nottoway Co), Virginia in 1737. I will repost some of the content here but I recommend reading that blog post if you have not already done so.

The Brandon surname has been spelled a variety of ways including Brannum, Branham, Brandom, and Brandum. However for the sake of clarity and consistency, I will use the standardized “Brandon” spelling of the surname for the family in Granville Co, NC. But please be aware of the variety of spellings as you research this family. Also note that there were white Brandon/Branham families residing in the same areas as the “free colored”/Native American Brandon/Branham family. I have found no connection between the two populations, with the exception that they share the same surname. The family that is the topic of this blog post were consistently listed as “free colored” people with the exception of some later descendants who were identified as “white”.


Background on the Brandon Family:

The Brandon family descends from several Brandons living in Bristol Parish, Prince George Co, as well as surrounding areas of Brunswick Co. and Henrico Co. who first appear in the records in the 1720s, 1730s, and 1740s. It is not known exactly how all these Brandons relate to each other but a few Brandons who were born in the household of Godfrey and Elizabeth Ragsdale in Bristol Parish were most likely siblings and could be connected to the Saponi Indian cabins in Amelia County in 1737. Edward Brandon was bound to Godfrey Ragsdale on July 9, 1730 and in 1751, Edward Brandon was a tithable between the Flatt and Deep Creek districts of Amelia Co. As you will recall, Winningham Creek the site of the Saponi cabins runs off of Deep Creek in Amelia County. Margaret Brandon was born on Nov 7, 1720 and was bound to Godfrey Ragsdale on Oct 10, 1722. Doll “Dorothy” Brandon was bound to Godfrey Ragsdale on Jul 24, 1727.

Contemporaries to siblings Edward, Margaret and Doll Brandon, who are probably of some family relation to them include: Benjamin Branham b. 1721 who lived in Louisa Co, and Eleanor Branham/Brandon b. 1728 who lived in Brunswick and Lunenburg Cos. There was also an Edward Branham b. 1760 who was likely related to Benjamin Branham and Eleanor Branham/Brandon. Edward Branham b. 1760 first appears as a tithable in Amherst Co, VA in 1783 and he is the progenitor of the core Branham family (this family used the standardized “Branham” spelling) of the state recognized Monacan Tribe in Amherst Co, VA. Current Chief Dean Branham is a direct lineal descendant. The Monacan are another Eastern Siouan tribe that once comprised a confederacy that included the Saponi.

Family tree of the Brandon/Branham family. The Brandons bound out to Godfrey and Elizabeth Ragsdale may be connected to the Saponi Indian cabins. The other Brandon/Branhams are connected to known Saponi/Eastern Siouan communities. © Kianga Lucas
Family tree of the Brandon/Branham family. The Brandons bound out to Godfrey and Elizabeth Ragsdale may be connected to the Saponi Indian cabins. The other Brandon/Branhams are connected to known Saponi/Eastern Siouan communities.
© Kianga Lucas
Map showing the precise location of the Saponi Indian cabins within what is now Nottoway Co, VA. Source: http://bridgehunter.com/va/nottoway/big-map/
Map showing the precise location of the Saponi Indian cabins within what is now Nottoway Co, VA. This is where some of the early Brandons lived.
Source: http://bridgehunter.com/va/nottoway/big-map/

Eleanor Brandon b. 1728

We don’t know much about Eleanor Brandon except for the records of her children that were bound out. Based upon the dates of when her children were bound out, Paul Heinegg in his research on the Brandon family suggests that she was born around 1728.

On 24 Jul 1753 in Brunswick County, VA, Eleanor’s children – Thomas and Molly/Mary Brandon were bound out. And on 29 January 1755, her children Thomas Brandon, Molly/Mary Brandon, and Viney Brandon were bound out again in Brunswick Co. There is no record of who her children were bound out to. Brunswick Co is the location of Fort Christanna, the former Saponi reservation that was closed in 1718. Many Saponi continued to live in and around Brunswick Co which explains why Eleanor resided there.

Entrance to the Fort Christanna site Photo credit: Tonya Evans Beatty
Entrance to the Fort Christanna site
Photo credit: Tonya Evans Beatty
This panel at the Fort Christanna site explains the original layout of the fort. Photo credit: Tonya Evans Beatty
This panel at the Fort Christanna site explains the original layout of the fort.
Photo credit: Tonya Evans Beatty
This panel at the Fort Christanna site discusses the nearby location of the Saponi village called Junkatapurse. After the fort was closed Saponi people continued to reside in the area and both sides of the state border. Eleanor Brandon was likely one of those Saponi who remained in Brunswick Co. Photo credit: Tonya Evans Beatty
This panel at the Fort Christanna site discusses the nearby location of the Saponi village called Junkatapurse. After the fort was closed Saponi people continued to reside in the area and both sides of the state border. Eleanor Brandon was likely one of those Saponi who remained in Brunswick Co.
Photo credit: Tonya Evans Beatty

Viney Brandon (1754-1818)

Viney Brandon was a daughter of Eleanor Brandon and resided in Mecklenburg Co, VA. She was the “wife” of a white man named Thomas Dison. Because of laws against interracial marriage, they could not legally marry and so on 14 March 1791, they were presented to the court for living in “adultery”.

Viney continued to live in Mecklenburg Co, VA where she was a land owner and appears on the tax lists until her death in 1818. She left a will which named her children. Because she was not legally married to Thomas Dison, their children alternated between the Brandon and Dison (also spelled Dyson) surnames. Most of Viney Brandon’s  children and descendants remained in Mecklenburg Co or on the North Carolina side of the state border. They mostly intermarried with other known “free colored”/Native American families in the area such as Goins, Chavis, Howell. etc. There was one son named William Brandon Dison (1777-1845) who relocated out to Wilkes and Surry Cos, NC. Though he was “mixed race”, after he moved to Western NC, he and his children were most commonly recorded as “white”.

From left to right siblings: Susannah Dyson b. 1812 (with white shawl), Moses Dyson b. 1810 (wearing dark hat next to Susannah), and Solomon Dyson b. 1817 (standing right behind the donkey). They are direct descendants of Eleanor Branham/Brandon b. 1728. Their father was William Brandon Dyson and their grandmother was Viney Brandon. The family moved from Mecklenburg Co, VA out to western North Carolina (Wilkes, Caldwell, Burke Cos). This photo was taken when Moses Dyson was leaving for Tennessee. Source: Jerry Dagenhart
From left to right siblings: Susannah Dyson b. 1812 (with white shawl), Moses Dyson b. 1810 (wearing dark hat next to Susannah), and Solomon Dyson b. 1817 (standing right behind the donkey). They are direct descendants of Eleanor Branham/Brandon b. 1728. Their father was William Brandon Dyson who was the son of Viney Brandon and a white man named Thomas Dyson. The family moved from Mecklenburg Co, VA out to western North Carolina (Wilkes and Burke Cos). This photo was taken when Moses Dyson was leaving for Tennessee.
Source: Jerry Dagenhart
Andrew Jackson Dyson Source: Jerry Dagenhart
Andrew Jackson Dyson b. 1818. He was a brother to the above listed Dyson siblings. His father was William Brandon Dyson who was the son of Viney Brandon and a white man named Thomas Dyson.
Source: Jerry Dagenhart

Thomas Brandon (1746-1834)

As discussed above, Thomas Brandon was bound out in Brunswick Co in 1753 and 1755 to an unnamed person. Heinegg suggests he was born around 1746 and that is the date I will use for consistency but it’s possible he was a few years younger. Thomas Brandon was also my 5th great-grandfather.

On 12 May 1763, Thomas Brandon was bound out again in neighboring Lunenburg Co, VA to Hutchins Burton. And according to the tax lists in 1764 for St. James Parish in Lunenburg Co, Thomas Brandon was a tithable in Hutchin Burton’s household. Very noteworthy is that Robert Corn (1745-1816) was also listed as a tithable in Hutchin Burton’s household in 1764. Robert Corn later moved to North Carolina and some of his descendants are the Corn (now more commonly known as “Cohen”) family of the state recognized Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation in Orange/Alamance Cos, NC.

So this begs the question, who was Hutchins Burton? Hutchins Burton (1722-1767) was the son of Nowell Burton and Judith Allen and looks to have belonged to a prominent, slave-owning family. You can find additional well researched information about the Burton family here. I wonder if there was a connection between his family and the Saponi people.

Thomas Brandon was mistreated by Hutchins Burton and complained to the courts to be freed from his indenture. And on 13 Jul 1764 Thomas Brandon was bound to Jacob Chavis (1736-1808). Jacob Chavis was the husband of Elizabeth Evans (1745-1814) which is probably why on 3 January 1771, Thomas Brandon married Elizabeth Evans’ sister Margaret Evans (b. 1753). Elizabeth and Margaret Evans were the children of Thomas Evans (1723-1788) and his unnamed Walden wife. I previously discussed Thomas Evans in this blog post.

We learn from his 1833 pension application (W.4643) that Thomas Brandon was a soldier in the Revolutionary War. Thomas lived in Mecklenburg Co until his death in 1834 and his widow Margaret (Evans/Walden) Brandon received a widow’s pension. In Margaret’s application, she provided a family register which listed the names and ages of her children. This specificity of this information is very impressive and rare for its time, so this is a valuable source for reseachers.

A page from Thomas Brandon's Revolutionary War pension application which lists the names and birth dates of his children. Source: The National Archives
A page from Thomas Brandon’s Revolutionary War pension application which lists the names and exact birth dates of his children.
Source: The National Archives

Most of their children remained in Mecklenburg Co, VA where the Occaneechi-Saponi of Virginia community is located. Some later relocated to Ohio where the Saponi Nation of Ohio and the Midwest Saponi Nation are.

So the children of Thomas Brandon and Margaret Evans/Walden were:

1. Nancy Brandon (b. 1771) married Frederick Graves

2. Agnes Brandon (b. 1773)

3. Walden Brandon (b. 1775) – note that his first name “Walden” probably came from his mother Margaret’s Walden heritage.

4. Susan “Suckey” Brandon (b. 1777) married Freeman Howell. These are my 4th great-grandparents and they moved from Mecklenburg Co, VA to Granville Co, NC.

5. Edward Brandon (b. 1779) married Elizabeth Chavis

6. Elizabeth Brandon (b. 1782) married Archer Stewart

7. Thomas Brandon Jr (b. 1786) married Sarah Chavis

8. Margaret Brandon (b. 1790) married John Garnes

9. John Brandon (b. 1792)

10. Jesse Brandon (b. 1796) married Parthena Drew

Elisha Pettiford (1875 - after 1940). Elisha Pettiford (1875 - after 1940). Elisha was the son of Arabella Brandon and Chesley Pettiford. Arabella Brandon was the daughter of Jesse Brandon and Parthena Drew. And Jesse Brandon was a son of Viney Brandon and a white man named Thomas Dison. Elisha's family relocated to Ohio in the 1860s. Source: Ancestry, Username:dl1952
Elisha Pettiford (1875 – after 1940). Elisha was the son of Arabella Brandon and Chesley Pettiford. Arabella Brandon was the daughter of Jesse Brandon and Parthena Drew. And Jesse Brandon was a son of Thomas Brandon and Margaret Evans/Walden. Elisha’s family relocated to Ohio in the 1860s.
Source: Ancestry, Username:dl1952
Arminta Evangeline Pettiford (1857-1934). She was the daughter of Arabella Brandon and Chesley Pettiford. Arabella Brandon was the daughter of Jesse Brandon and Parthena Drew. And Jesse Brandon was a son of Thomas Brandon and Margaret Evans/Walden. Arabella's family relocated to Ohio. Source: Ancestry, Username: sej1sej
Arminta Evangeline Pettiford (1857-1934). She was the daughter of Arabella Brandon and Chesley Pettiford. Arabella Brandon was the daughter of Jesse Brandon and Parthena Drew. And Jesse Brandon was a son of Thomas Brandon and Margaret Evans/Walden. Arabella’s family relocated to Ohio.
Source: Ancestry, Username: sej1sej

Mary/Molly Brandon b. 1744

This brings us to Eleanor Brandon’s daughter Mary/Molly Brandon who is the primary progenitor of the Brandons in Granville Co. She was called both “Mary” and “Molly” in the records and for the sake of clarity I will refer to her as Mary Brandon.

Like her siblings, Mary Brandon was bound out in 1753 and 1755 in Brunswick Co, VA. She was living in neighboring Mecklenburg Co, VA when her son Rhode Brandon (1762-1811) was bound out on 11 Aug 1766. There are no additional records for Mary Brandon, so I’m unsure who fathered her children or what became of her. So we will move onto Mary Brandon’s descendants.


Rhode Brandon (1762-1811)

Rhode Brandon was a son of Mary Brandon and he was initially bound out to a white man named Isaac Holmes on 11 Aug 1766 in Mecklenburg Co, VA. Isaac Holmes (1727-1772) was married to Lucy Ballard and when Isaac Holmes died in 1772, Rhode Brandon was bound out to Isaac Holmes’ brother-in-law John Ballard Jr. Rhode Brandon continued to live in Mecklenburg Co until his death in about 1811. His wife’s name was Elizabeth but her maiden name is unknown. Elizabeth may have been a Stewart because after Rhode Brandon’s death, she purchased land in Mecklenburg Co from James Stewart (b. 1734) that adjoined William Stewart’s (b. 1723) property. The Stewarts were another Saponi family that lived in the area, intermarried with the Brandons, and some family members also moved into Granville Co. This same William Stewart (b. 1723) was bound out to Indian trader Col. William Eaton. Col. Eaton had a close relationship to the Saponi Indians and would later move to Granville Co where the Saponi lived next to his land. See my previous blog posts about Col. William Eaton here and here.

Rhode and Elizabeth Brandon had the following children:

1. *Charles Brandon b. 1787

2. *Burwell Brandon b. 1789

3. Elizabeth Brandon b. 1791

4. Peter Brandon b. 1784

5. George Brandon

6. *Mary Brandon b. 1790 married Robert Mayo 31 Dec 1811 in Mecklenburg Co, VA

7. Hannah Brandon

*Charles Brandon, Mary Brandon, and Burwell Brandon relocated next door to Granville Co, NC. Mary Brandon’s children carried the Mayo surname and despite what Paul Heinegg says about her and Robert Mayo separating by 1839, I have not found that to be the case. They are clearly listed together in the 1850 census in Granville Co with their children. My next sections will focus on Charles Brandon and Burwell Brandon as they are the ones who primarily carried the Brandon surname into Granville Co.

Robert Mayo and his wife Mary brandon did not separate by 1839. They are shown in the 1850 census in the Oxford district of Granvile Co, residing in the household of their son Eldridge Mayo. Eldridge was married to Sally Harris (sister of my 3rd great-grandmother Jane Harris). Source: Year: 1850; Census Place: Oxford, Granville, North Carolina; Roll: M432_631; Page: 106B; Image: 212
Mary (Brandon) Mayo and her husband Robert Mayo did not separate by 1839. They are shown in the 1850 census in the Oxford district of Granvile Co, residing in the household of their son Eldridge Mayo. Eldridge was married to Sally Harris (sister of my 3rd great-grandmother Jane Harris).
Source: Year: 1850; Census Place: Oxford, Granville, North Carolina; Roll: M432_631; Page: 106B; Image: 212

Charles Brandon b. 1787

Charles Brandon is well documented as a son of Rhode and Elizabeth Brandon because he was a tithable in their Mecklenburg Co, VA household. By 1820, Charles Brandon moved to the Abrams Plains district of Granville Co, NC where he is found in the census, head of a household of 6 “free colored” individuals, including: 1 male under 14, 1 male 26-45, 2 females 14-26, and 1 female over 45. This household information suggests that Charles Brandon was married and had at least one son and two daughters. I say at least because it’s quite possible some of his children may have been bound out as apprentices in white households (a common occurrence for the Brandons in Mecklenburg Co, VA).

Charles Brandon was enumerated in the Abrams Plains District of Granville Co in 1820. Source: 1820 U S Census; Census Place: Granville, North Carolina; Page: 23; NARA Roll: M33_85; Image: 23
Charles Brandon was enumerated in the Abrams
Plains District of Granville Co in 1820.
Source: 1820 U S Census; Census Place: Granville, North Carolina; Page: 23; NARA Roll: M33_85; Image: 23

I know very little about Charles Brandon because that is the last time he appears in the census. I do not have a marriage record associated with him either so I cannot verify the identity of his wife. However it certainly appears that Charles Brandon died sometime after 1820, and so we may find his children in the apprenticeship records in Granville Co.

On 7 Feb 1831 in Granville Co, a Mary Brandon and a Susannah Brandon were bound out to John Bowen and Chesley Daniel, respectively. The fact that both girls were bound out on the same date is good evidence that they were sisters. Their parents were not named in the apprenticeship records but looking at the date of when they were bound out suggests they were orphans of Charles Brandon. And Granville County court minutes reveal that Mary and Suannah were the orphans of Charles Brandon, deceased (h/t to researcher Warren Milteer). I don’t know what happened to Mary Brandon. Susannah Brandon on the other hand married William Pettiford (son of Collins Pettiford and Polly Chavis) of the very large “free colored”/Native American Pettiford family on 3 Jan 1846. Also, Susannah Brandon and her husband resided in the Abrams Plains district, the same district that Charles Brandon formerly resided in.

Apprenticeship record for Susannah Brandon shows that she was bound out to Chesley Daniel on 7 Feb 1831. Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998
Apprenticeship record for Susannah Brandon shows that she was bound out to Chesley Daniel on 7 Feb 1831.
Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998
The apprenticeship record for Mary Brandon shows that she bound out to John Bowen on 7 Feb 1831. Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998
Apprenticeship record for Mary Brandon shows that she bound out to John Bowen on 7 Feb 1831.
Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998

What is also worth pointing out is the name of Chesley Daniel. This Chesley Daniel may have had a close relationship to Charles Brandon because there was a Chesley Brandon b. 1812 who appears in the Granville Co records that I believe to be a son of Charles Brandon. It was not uncommon for “free colored”/Native American families to name their children after “friendly whites”. I cannot locate an earlier Chesley in the Brandon family, so Chesley Daniel may be the reason why the Chesley name was passed down in the Brandon family. (Also note there was a Chesley Bass b. 1815 of Granville’s Native community).

Below is a list of probable children of Charles Brandon and they all lived in and intermarried with members of Granville’s Native community. If I find additional documents to verify or dispute these connections, I will update:

1. Chesley Brandon b. 1812. Married Susan Anderson 8 Oct 1840 in Granville Co, with Collins Pettiford as the bondsman. This is the same Collins Pettiford who was the father-in-law of Chesley’s sister Susannah Brandon.

2. Jane Brandon b. 1815. Married Martin Cousins 26 March 1845 in Granville Co, with Evans Pettiford as the bondsman. Evans Pettiford was the husband of Jane’s sister Martha Brandon.

3. Susan “Susannah” Brandon b. 1819. Married William Pettiford 3 Jan 1846 in Granville Co, with Sterling Chavis as the bondsman. Susannah was called an orphan of Charles Brandon when she bound out in 1831 to Chesley Daniel and lived in the same part of Granville Co as her father Charles Brandon.

4. Martha Brandon b. 1821. Married Evans Pettiford 30 Sep 1840 in Granville Co, with Abram Plenty as the bondsman. Evans Pettiford was the bondsman for the marriage of Martha’s sister Jane Brandon.

5. Mary Brandon b. 1823. She was bound out on the same date as her sister Susannah Brandon in 1831 to John Bowen when she was called an or[han of Charles Brandon. No additional records of her after she was bound out.

If we go back and look at the census information for Charles Brandon’s household in 1820, we know that he had at least three children (1 son and 2 daughters) born before 1820. Those children could be Chesley, Jane, and Susannah (Jane and Susannah may have been mistakenly listed a bit older).

William Pettiford (1852-1932) was the son of Sussanah Brandon and William Pettiford Sr. He lived in Granville's Native community. Source: Ancestry, Username: t4phillips
William Pettiford (1852-1932) was the son of Susannah Brandon and William Pettiford Sr. He lived in Granville’s Native community.
Source: Ancestry, Username: t4phillips

Burwell Brandon b. 1785

Burwell Brandon was born in Mecklenburg Co, VA where he was found on the tax lists in the household of his father Rhode Brandon. He next appears in the 1820 census in neighboring Charlotte Co, VA, head of a household of one male (himself). This is a very important detail because it strongly implies that Burwell Brandon was not married nor had children before 1820 unless they were bound out.

Burwell Brandon was enumerated in the 1820 census in Charlotte Co, VA. He was the head of a household that only included himself. Source: 1820 U S Census; Census Place: Charlotte, Virginia; Page: 33; NARA Roll: M33_136; Image: 46
Burwell Brandon was enumerated in the 1820 census in Charlotte Co, VA. He was the head of a household that only included himself.
Source: 1820 U S Census; Census Place: Charlotte, Virginia; Page: 33; NARA Roll: M33_136; Image: 46

I have not located Burwell Brandon in the 1830 census, so I’m unsure the exact year he moved to Granville Co. However other closely interrelated Saponi families in the Mecklenburg Co area such as the Guy, Howell, Parker, Cousins, and Chavis families moved into Granville Co in the 1820s.

In the 1840 census in Granville Co, Burwell Brandon is listed as the head of household of 5 “free people of color”, and by looking at their ages they were presumably his wife, 2 sons, and 1 daughter.

So who was Burwell Brandon’s wife? There are some family trees on Ancestry that list Burwell’s wife as Lucy Young but I have found no evidence to support this. I believe these family trees are confusing a woman named Lucy Young who lived in and never left Charlotte Co; she appears in the 1810, 1820, 1830 and 1840 censuses for Charlotte Co. According to the “Free Negro Register” of Charlotte Co, this Lucy Young along with other Youngs were emancipated slaves of an Edward Almond. This Lucy Young was 57 years of age in 1822 when she is listed in the “Free Negro” register of Charlotte Co, making her born around 1765, too old to be Burwell’s wife.

According to the death certificate of Burwell Brandon’s youngest son Richard Brandon (1840-1916), Burwell’s wife was “Lucy Stoye”. I have not come across this surname before and I’m pretty confident that “Stoye” was a misspelling of “Stow”. I found several white Stow (also spelled “Stoe”) households in Charlotte and adjacent counties in the early 1800s. As we know Burwell Brandon resided in Mecklenburg and Charlotte Cos before coming to Granville Co. And Virginia is listed as Lucy Brandon’s birthplace in the 1850 census record. It could be that Lucy was a member of the white Stow family or even an emancipated slave of the Stow family. Either scenario may explain why I have not been able to find a marriage record for Burwell Brandon.

The death certificate for Burwell and Lucy Brandon's youngest son Richard Brandon, lists Lucy's maiden name as
The death certificate for Burwell and Lucy Brandon’s youngest son Richard Brandon (1840-1916), lists Lucy’s maiden name as “Lucy Stoye”. I believe this is a misspelling of the Stow/Stoe family.
Source: North Carolina State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics. North Carolina Death Certificates. Microfilm S.123. Rolls 19-242, 280, 313-682, 1040-1297. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.

In the 1850 census, Burwell Brandon appears in the Tabbs Creek district of Granville Co with his wife Lucy Brandon, daughter Betsy Brandon, sons Humbleston “Amos” Brandon and Richard Brandon, and grandchildren Hilliard “Hettie” Brandon and Hayoshe “Osh” Brandon. These grandchildren were the children of Burwell’s daughter Betsy Brandon.

Burwell Brandon and his family were enumerated in the 1850 census for the Tabbs Creek District of Granville Co. Source: Year: 1850; Census Place: Tabscreek, Granville, North Carolina; Roll: M432_631; Page: 82B; Image: 166
Burwell Brandon and his family were enumerated in the 1850 census for the Tabbs Creek District of Granville Co.
Source: Year: 1850; Census Place: Tabscreek, Granville, North Carolina; Roll: M432_631; Page: 82B; Image: 166

We learn from the Granville Co apprenticeship records that a few years prior in 1847, the court had ordered that Burwell’s sons Humbleston Brandon and Richard Brandon to be bound out. The sons were not specifically named but it is clear the court order was referring to Humbleston and Richard Brandon. But it appears the court never took action since Humbleston and Richard were living with their father in 1850.

Court order in Granville Co in 1847 recommended that Burwell Brandon's sons (Humbleston and Richard) be bound out. However it appears this never happened because they are listed in Burwell's household in 1850. Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998
Court order in Granville Co in 1847 recommended that Burwell Brandon’s sons (Humbleston and Richard) be bound out. However it appears this never happened because they are listed in Burwell’s household in 1850.
Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998

I have not located Burwell Brandon in the 1860 census. In 1870, he was living in Fishing Creek township in Granville Co, and enumerated again with his wife Lucy Brandon. This was the last time Burwell and his wife Lucy appear in the census, so they likely died shortly afterwards.

The documented children of Burwell and Lucy Brandon were:

1. Betsy Brandon (b. 1831). She was not married and had a number of children whom I will discuss in the next section.

2. Humbleston “Amos” Brandon (b. 1834). He was first married to Onie Peace and second married to Addie (I don’t know her maiden name). He had numerous children with both women and continued living in the Native community in Granville/Vance Co in Fishing Creek/Kittrell townships.

3. Richard Brandon (1840-1916) . He was married to a woman named Eliza (not sure of her maiden name) but it appears they never had children. He remained in the Native community in Granville Co in Fishing Creek township.

There are two additional Brandon children of Burwell’s that were much older than than the ones discussed above and so they likely had a different mother.  Mahalia Brandon (b. 1805) was the wife of Henry Parker (b. 1810) who was from the Saponi Indian Parker family that I discussed in this previous blog post. Their descendants remained in Granville’s Native community. Second there is Giles Brandon (1813-1909) who was the husband of Sallie Ann Evans 1827-1914 (daughter of Thomas Evans and Sallie Bass) of the Native American Evans and Bass families. Interestingly, Mahalia Brandon’s husband Henry Parker was the bondsman for the marriage of Giles Brandon and Sallie Ann Evans, which is a strong indicator that Mahalia Brandon and Giles Brandon were siblings. Furthermore, Mahalia Brandon had a son named Giles Parker (b. 1835), likely named after her brother Giles Brandon. Giles Brandon eventually left Granville Co for Ohio where his descendants are found among the Saponi Nation of Ohio and the Midwest Saponi Nation.

Several of Mahalia (Brandon) Parker’s children listed their grandfather as Burwell Brandon when they registered to vote in 1902 under the “grandfather clause” (h/t to researcher Warren Milteer). So from those voting records, we know Burwell Brandon had to be the father of Mahalia and Giles Brandon. But their mother could not have been Lucy Stow/Stoe (b. 1795) because she was too young to be the mother of Mahalia Brandon (b.1805). As I mentioned earlier, Burwell Brandon in the 1820 census was in a household by himself, so perhaps his first unknown wife had died and his children were bound out. So you can see, there are some unresolved questions with identifying the mother of Mahalia and Giles Brandon. I would urge any researchers and descendants of this family to be aware of these issues.


Betsy Brandon b. 1831

In this final section, I’m going to take some time to discuss Betsy Brandon’s children. Because she was not married, I have seen some confusion about who fathered her children.

Betsy is well documented as a daughter of Burwell and Lucy Brandon and appears in their household in the 1850 census. Betsy’s oldest children were fathered by Hilliard Evans b. 1815 (son of Thomas Evans and Sallie Bass) of the Native American Evans and Bass families that I previously blogged about. I have verified this a few ways. The marriage record for Betsy’s oldest son Hayoshe “Osh” Brandon to Parthenia Eaton, recorded on 23 Dec 1868 in Granville Co, lists his father as Hilliard Evans. Betsy’s oldest daughter was named Hilliard “Hettie” Brandon, obviously named after her father. The marriage records for Betsy’s next three children: Crutch Brandon, Pantheyer Brandon and Amanda Brandon do not list their father’s name. But given that they are quite close in age to Hayoshe and Hilliard Brandon, Hilliard Evans was most likely their father. It also worth mentioning that Hilliard Evans was the brother of Sallie Ann Evans who married Giles Brandon.

The marriage record for Hayoshe
The marriage record for Hayoshe “Osh” Brandon to Parthenia Eaton on 23 Dec 1868 lists his father as “Hilliard Evans
Source: Ancestry.com. North Carolina, Marriage Records, 1741-2011 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.
Hilliard Evans on 24 Jun 1855 married Louisa Mitchell in Wake Co and relocated to Ohio, so we know he likely did not father any additional children with Betsy Brandon after 1855.

I cannot find Betsy Brandon and her children in the 1860 census, which makes establishing their ages a bit difficult. She does appear again in the 1870 and 1880 censuses in Fishing Creek township in Granville Co with additional children. The next clue about who fathered Betsy Brandon’s next set of children comes from the death certificate of her son Peyton Brandon (1861-1925). His death certificate lists his father as William “Billie” Peace of Granville Co. Another clue comes from the death certificate for Betsy’s daughter Maranda Brandon (1868-1962), where her father is listed as “Billie Brandon”. There was no Billie Brandon but I believe this was also in reference to William “Billie” Peace.

Peyton Brandon's death record lists his father as
Peyton Brandon’s death record lists his father as “Billie Peace
Source: North Carolina State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics. North Carolina Death Certificates. Microfilm S.123. Rolls 19-242, 280, 313-682, 1040-1297. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.

So who was William “Billie” Peace? I found two William Peaces who were both the appropriate age to father children with Betsy Brandon, were never married and lived in close proximity to her. Both men were also white. One was William L Peace (son of Pleasant Peace and Peggy Reed) who looks to have been a prosperous slave owner. The other was William R Peace (son of John Peace and Frances Reed) who is consistently listed in the census as “deaf & dumb”, so I doubt that he is the correct one. William Peace being white is also likely why Betsy Brandon never was able to marry him. Additional research is needed to verify that I have identified the correct William Peace.

Here is the list of Betsy Brandon’s children who all lived in the Native community. Most intermarried with other Native American families:

Fathered by Hilliard Evans:

1. Hilliard “Hettie” Brandon b. 1847. Married to Samuel Harris

2. Hayoshe “Osh” Brandon 1848-1923. Married first to Parthenia Eaton and second to Sarah Williams.

3. Pantheyer Brandon 1851-1934. Married to Junius Thomas Howell

4. Crutch Brandon b. 1853. Married to Lucy Ann Parker.

5. Amanda Brandon 1854-1922. Married to Henry Howell.

Fathered by William “Billie” Peace:

6. Admond Brandon 1858-1948. Married to Delia Braswell

7. Peyton Brandon 1861-1925. Married to Beatrice (maiden name not known).

8. William Brandon 1864-1932. Married first to Florence Braswell and second to Etta Jones.

9. Walter Brandon 1865-1939. Never married.

10. Maranda Brandon 1868-1962. Married to Matthew Parker.

11. Delia Brandon 1869-1958. Married to Ben Howell.

Pantheyer Brandon (1851-1934). She was the daughter of Hilliard Evans and Betsy Brandon and a lifelong resident of Fishing Creek township in Granville County. She comes from the same Branham family in Plecker's letter. Source: Ancestry, Username: rthomas1973
Pantheyer Brandon (1851-1934). She was the daughter of Betsy Brandon and Hilliard Evans and a lifelong resident of Fishing Creek township in Granville County. She was married to Junius Thomas Howell.
Source: Ancestry, Username: rthomas1973
Admond Brandon (1858-1948) was the son of Betsy Brandon and William
Admond Brandon (1858-1948) was the son of Betsy Brandon and William “Billie” Peace. He was a lifelong resident of Fishing Creek and Kittrell townships.
Source: http://www.chileshomepage.com/Brown/ID/Brown.htm
Hayoshe
Hayoshe “Osh” Brandon (1848-1923) was the son of Betsy Brandon and Hilliard Evans. He was a lifelong resident of Fishing Creek and Kittrell townships.
Source: http://www.chileshomepage.com/Brown/ID/Brown.htm
Zonius Brandon (1896-1970) was the son of Hayoshe Brandon and Sarah Williams and he was the grandson of Betsy Brandon and Hiliard Evans. Zonius spent most of his life in Fishing Creek and Kittrell and later moved up to Boston, MA. Source: http://www.chileshomepage.com/Brown/ID/Brown.htm
Zonius Brandon (1896-1970) was the son of Hayoshe Brandon and Sarah Williams and he was the grandson of Betsy Brandon and Hiliard Evans. Zonius spent most of his life in Fishing Creek and Kittrell and later moved up to Boston, MA.
Source: http://www.chileshomepage.com/Brown/ID/Brown.htm
Willie Brandon (1904-1980) was the daugjhter of Hayoshe Brandon and Sarah Williams. She was a lifelong resident of Fishing Creek and Kittrell. Source: http://www.chileshomepage.com/Brown/ID/Brown.htm
 Willie Brandon (1904-1980) was the daughter of Hayoshe Brandon and Sarah Williams. She was a lifelong resident of Fishing Creek and Kittrell.
Source: http://www.chileshomepage.com/Brown/ID/Brown.htm

The Weyanoke (and Nottoway/Tuscarora) origins of Granville’s Kersey Family

Many of Granville County’s Native American families came to the county from Virginia to escape the intrusions of the British colonists. The Bass, Evans, and Anderson families are just several examples of coastal Algonquian speaking peoples that followed this route. The Kersey family is no exception, and has roots in Surry County, VA among the Weyanoke, an Algonquian speaking people who allied and moved in with Nottoway and Tuscarora on their reservations. In this blog post I will trace the Kersey family from the Surry Co, VA area to Granville Co, NC.

Lumbee scholar J. Cedric Woods published an essay titled, “Lumbee Origins: The Weyanoke-Kersey Connection” in support of the Lumbee Tribe’s federal recognition bid. The full text of the essay can be found here and here (pdf format). The tribal origins of the Kersey family are relevant to the Lumbees because the tribe’s Lowry/Lowrie family of Robeson County, NC descend from the Kersey family – specifically a Sally Kersey who was described as a “half-breed Tuscarora woman” during the Civil War era. Sally Kersey was the grandmother of famed Tuscarora (later Lumbee) hero Henry Berry Lowrie/Lowry (1845-1872). Through careful examination of genealogical and historical records, Woods chronicles how a Weyanoke man named Thomas Kersey  (born 1665) from Surry Co,VA resettled close to the Tuscarora “Indian Woods” reservation in Bertie Co, NC. His Kersey family likely intermarried with the Tuscarora before moving down together to Robeson Co. I will be citing Wood’s scholarship for this article as well as Paul Heinegg’s genealogy of the Kersey family.

Who are the Weyanoke?

Map of the Powhatan Confederacy in 1607. The Weyanoke tribe is circled in red. Source: Helen Rountree
Map of the Powhatan Confederacy in 1607. The Weyanoke tribe is circled in red.
Source: Helen Rountree

The Weyanoke are an Algonquian-speaking tribe of the Powhatan Confederacy from the Tidewater area of Virginia. Because of ongoing conflicts between indigenous people and the British colony, the Weyanoke moved around quite a bit to seek shelter, and by the 18th century had integrated onto the Nottoway and Tuscarora reservations. The surname “Wineoak” appears on the land records for both reservations, indicating that these community members were of Weyanoke descent. Cedric Woods describes this movement and integration of tribal people:

As this case study will show, what may be initially viewed as a spin-off of what I maintain as a Weyanoke individual, was actually the continuation of a cross border movement to friendlier social and political environs. These person also did not move in isolated fashion. They are individual faces of historic movements of tribes. Additionally, they did not move to isolation, but maintained contact with their kinsfolks and allies, and recreated their communities as much as possible in new territory. This process created new Native communities in North Carolina with very ancient roots in Virginia.

What Woods is describing is exactly what I’ve noticed in carefully describing the genealogies of Granville’s Native American families. These families moved together from one location to the next, and along the way brought in allied Native families to sustain their Native identity. This is why these families are so interrelated across state and county borders because of centuries of documented intermarriage. For the Weyanoke families that moved out of Virginia and into North Carolina, they did not simply “blend” into African-American or European-American communities like researcher Heinegg suggests, but rather they moved together with other Native American families to form new tribal communities.

Cedric Woods also points to another trend that lead to the “detribalization” of Virginia Native Americans – the indentured servitude system. Young Native Americans were often “bound out” to white families to be servants and by the time their service contract was over, these individuals most often did not rejoin their tribal communities.

The Kersey line that is ancestral to the Lumbee tribe, descends from a man named Thomas Kersey  (born 1665) who was an indentured servant of Benjamin Harrison of Surry Co, VA. Harrison was a known Indian trader who traded with the Saponi, Meherrin, Nottoway, and Weyanoke tribes. Cedric Woods also cites several colonial references of Weyanoke villages and cabins in the Surry Co area, to geographically place the Weyanoke people in Surry So in the late 17th century. For example, I found in colonial records from 1707:

…then lived on A Plantation of Collo Benjamin Harrisson on Blackwater and within call of the Weyanoake Indian Forte and consumed there five yeares during which time this Deponent had frequent Discourses with the Indians and was by them informed that they never Claimed to the Southward of the Maherine River But at the time that the Appachoukanough was Routed and taken for the Massacre he had committed the Weyanoakes (being his Confederates and fearing the English) removed themselves from that place which is now called Weyanoake in James River to Warraekeeks on Weyanoake River and after when the Poackyacks killed their King they were by the English brought from thence and placed on the Blackwater aforementioned as Tributarys. where this Deponent lived by them and this Deponent further saith that he was informed by the Weyanoaks that the Weyanoke River now Called Nottoway was their bounds and that they never Seated to the Southward of Warr-a-keeks.

Source: http://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.html/document/csr01-0343

All of this information leads Woods to conclude that Thomas Kersey (born 1665) was  a local Weyanoke Indian who was “bound out” to Indian trader Benjamin Harrison.

By 1720, Thomas Kersey (born 1665) left Virginia and resettled in the Chowan/Bertie Co area that later became northeastern Northampton County, NC. His son Thomas Kersey (born 1712) moved to the part of Edgecombe County, NC that later became Nash County, NC by 1743 and in 1764 he moved to Robeson County. Cedric Woods explains why the Weyanoke had such a strong affiliation with Tuscarora people:

Another strong connection that predisposed the Weyanoke to relocate to Tuscarora-controlled territory is their pre-contact relationship with the Tuscarora as ambassadors for Powhatan’s chiefdom (Rountree, 1993). In fact, the Tuscarora queens (clan mothers) are on several occasions documented as entreating with them to relocate to North Carolina. This begs the question, what did the Tuscaroras have to gain by the relocation of the landless Weyanokes to their homeland? A couple of possibilities seem evident. First, this was an infusion of additional Native people in the region that was coming under increasing pressure from the English (pressure that would eventually result in the Tuscarora Wars). The Tuscaroras, clearly an Iroquoian people, had Algonquin speakers as allies, and recruiting others is not surprising. Second, the Weyanokes were Algonquins that had already had extensive dealings with the English, and knew their customs fairly well, particularly as a result of the experience of indentured servitude. They also had connections with the English traders in Virginia, who might be more willing to supply the Tuscarora with guns and powers as opposed to the English traders who lived in their area. Perhaps they were viewed as potential go-betweens with the English. In any case, by the mid-eighteenth century, Weyanokes were very much a part of Tuscarora political structure, as is evidenced by their names on land deeds (Powell, 1758).

Woods cited Helen Rountree’s book “Powhatan Foreign Relations, 1500-1722” (1993), as a reference to the Weyanoke’s relationship with the Tuscarora as ambassadors to the Powhatan confederacy and her book is worth a look to learn more about Powhatan diplomacy.

An unsourced Wikipedia entry also relays the following information about the Weyanoke seeking protection with the Nottoway and Tuscarora:

Despite their many moves, the Weyanoke after 1646 became partly Anglicised, preferring to have some English-style houses built, rather than yehakans, wherever they moved. The colony, in assigning them reserve land on the upper Blackwater in 1650 (from which they were driven by colonists the following year), even expressed a desire to teach the Weyanokes the English concept of property ownership, and this was successful. In their subsequent wanderings, the Weyanoke always made land purchase or rental contracts with the chiefs of the Iroquoian-speaking Tuscarora and Nottoway tribes. By the 18th century, they had fully integrated with the Nottoways, and were speaking their language, their former presence visible only in the surname “Wineoak”.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weyanoke,_Virginia

I did find in the colonial records from 1710, sources that reveal the Weyanoke were making land contracts with the Nottoway:

All our Evidences are unanimous as to the name of Nottoway River which with the Indians account, corroborated by English Evidences of the Weyanoaks paying an acknowledgement to the Nottoways (who lived there long before) for living on that River, makes it seem improbable the name of that River should be changed from their living a few years upon it, at least twenty five miles from the mouth, when they lived much longer upon Blackwater without altering the name of it.

Source: http://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.html/document/csr01-0397

And finally, current Nottoway Chief Lynette Allston in a letter dated 2006 to the Virginia Council on Indians, for the purpose of the Nottoway to be “recognized” as a tribe by the state of Virginia says:

The Nottoway had earlier provided a safe haven for those some historians have labeled (or mis-labeled) a non-Christianized segment of the Nansemond in 1744 through at least 1786[5] . Segments of the Weyanockes and Meherrins also sought refuge within the Nottoway community.

Source: http://www.nottowayindians.org/petitioncoverletter.html

Map showing the movement of the Kersey family from Weyanoke territory in Virginia into North Carolina. In red is the movement of Thomas Kersey (born 1665) whose Kersey family is ancestral to the Lumbee Tribe. In purple is Thomas Kersey (born 1735) whose Kersey family is ancestral to Granville County. In blue are locations of the Nottoway Reservation and the Tuscarora Reservation. © Kianga Lucas
Map showing the movement of the Kersey family from Weyanoke territory in Virginia into North Carolina. In red is the movement of Thomas Kersey (born 1665) whose Kersey family is ancestral to the Lumbee Tribe. In purple is Thomas Kersey (born 1735) whose Kersey family is ancestral to Granville County. In blue are locations of the Nottoway Reservation and the Tuscarora Reservation.
© Kianga Lucas

Granville County’s Kersey Lineage

So with the background information that Woods has provided about the Kersey-Weyanoke connections, let’s take a closer look at the genealogy of Granville’s Kersey family.

Identifying the precise verified earliest member for the Kersey family of Granville is a bit tricky, because Heinegg in his Kersey genealogy, leaves a lot of room for speculation. However I am comfortable saying that Thomas Kersey (born 1735) of Sussex and Southampton County, VA is the earliest verified ancestor. Heinegg suspects that Thomas Kersey is a descendant of John Kersey (born 1668) of Surry Co, VA. This John Kersey is probably a brother of previously mentioned Thomas Kersey (born 1665) of Surry Co, VA who was the subject of Cedric Woods’ essay. I agree that Thomas Kersey (born 1735) descends from the Kerseys next door in Surry Co, but more research is needed to correctly identify his parents. Because there are several different related Thomas Kerseys found in these early records, Heinegg has unfortunately incorrectly attributed records to the wrong Kersey, so below is a corrected version of major life events for Thomas Kersey (born 1735).

Thomas Kersey (born 1735)

The first verified record for Thomas Kersey (born 1735) is when he was sued for debt by David Wiggins in Sussex Co, VA court in 1755. (Sussex Co was formed from Surry Co in 1749). The following year in 1756, Thomas received a plat for 104 acres of land on the southside of the Nottoway River near Ploughman Swamp in Sussex Co. This is in close proximity of the former Nottoway and Weyanoke  village called “Warekeck” that was located in the Blackwater River area that Woods describes in his essay. Thomas Kersey then sold this land in 1759 to William Longbottom. Next, Thomas Kersey purchased land in neighboring Southampton Co, VA in 1760 from the previously mentioned David and Elizabeth Wiggins who were residents of Surry Co, VA. This land was situated on Three Creeks and was adjacent to Thomas Wiggins and McLemore (probably a descendant of James McLemore, a Scottish born settler). This Southampton County land owned by Thomas Kersey was also adjacent to the bounded Nottoway “square tract” reservation.

Map showing the locations of several Indian reservations, including both the "square tract" and the "circle tract" of the Nottoway reservation. Thomas Kersey (born 1735) owned land on the southside of the Nottoway River, along Three Creeks which was adjacent to the Nottway "square tract" reservation. Source: https://andersonnc.wordpress.com/2-john-pitmans-of-iow/
Map showing the locations of several Indian reservations, including both the “square tract” and the “circle tract” of the Nottoway reservation. Thomas Kersey (born 1735) owned land on the southside of the Nottoway River, along Three Creek which was adjacent to the Nottway “square tract” reservation.
Source: https://andersonnc.wordpress.com/2-john-pitmans-of-iow/

Thomas Kersey’s wife is unknown but I have strong reason to believe she was from the Native American/”free colored” Walden family of Southampton County. Thomas did not leave a will, but the Kerseys who appear in the subsequent Southampton records, are most likely his children. These children include: William Kersey (born 1761), Agatha Kersey (born 1762), Thomas Kersey (born 1767), Walden Kersey (born 1767), Willis Kersey, Delilah Kersey (born 1778), and Loudon Kersey.

Walden Kersey’s name is very revealing because it was common practice for the maiden names of wives to be passed down as first names in their descendants. The Walden family is also ancestral to many Native American families of Granville County (myself included). The Waldens are connected to the Nottoway and there are still Walden descendants among the state recognized Nottoway Tribe of Southampton County. This is why I strongly believe that Thomas Kersey’s (born 1735) wife was a Walden.

William Kersey (born 1761)

From here we turn to Thomas Kersey’s son William Kersey (born 1761). William was a tithable in Southampton County, VA in 1780. In 1786, he married Polly Evans, the daughter of Thomas Evans (1723-1788) and his unnamed Walden wife of Mecklenburg County, VA. Polly Evans was the sister of my 5th great-grandmother Margaret Evans and I discussed their Evans family here. After marrying Polly Evans, William Kersey appears in both Southampton and Mecklenburg records, but Mecklenburg County appears to be his primary residence. This Mecklenburg County property was situated right on the Warren County, NC border because William Kersey was recorded just as frequently in the Warren County records.

In 1832, William Kersey filed a pension for his services in the Revolutionary War. You can find excerpts of his pension application here. From this application we learn many details of his war service. He first enlisted in 1777, survived the disastrous winter camp at Valley Forge, and fought in the Battle of Monmouth. Other important details in the pension application confirm that William Kersey was from Southampton County but moved to Warren County towards the end of the war and continued to live there through to the present because he received 640 acres of land for his war service. William Chavis (not the founder of Granville’s Native American community) provided testimony in support of William Kersey’s pension and stated that he remembered William Kersey’s wedding to Polly Evans because there was lots of “fiddling and dancing”, and the wedding took place at Polly’s father Thomas Evans’ home. From the pension records, we learn that William Kersey later died in 1836 and that his widow Polly (Evans) Kersey died in 1840.

In 1845, William and Polly Kersey’s youngest son Edmund Kersey (born 1805), sought to collect his father’s pension payments and listed the names of William and Polly’s other surviving children. In addition to Edmund, the other surviving children named were: Thomas Kersey (born 1785), William Kersey (born 1794), Nancy Kersey (born 1799) and Barbara Kersey (born 1800). One son was not named and that was Benjamin Kersey (1790-1838). Thomas Kersey (born 1785) and Nancy Kersey (born 1799) remained on the Mecklenburg County side of the border, and Edmund Kersey (born 1805) remained on the Warren County side of the border. However Benjamin Kersey (1790-1838), William Kersey (born 1794), and Barbara Kersey (born 1800) had all moved to Granville County by 1830. William Kersey was married to Margaret Ivey and moved further into North Carolina and settled in Orange County. Barbara Kersey was married to Martin Anderson of the Native American/”free colored” Anderson family. Benjamin Kersey was married to a woman named Sally (maiden name not known). However Benjamin died by 1838, and his widow Sally remarried Martin Anderson who had been widowed when his first wife Barbara Kersey died.

Benjamin Kersey (1790-1838)

As stated earlier, Benjamin Kersey (1790-1838) was not named as a surviving child in William Kersey’s pension record because Benjamin died in 1838, 7 years before Edmund Kersey petitioned to collect their father’s pension payments. And because Benjamin’s widow Sally had remarried Martin Anderson, she was not entitled to any support from William Kersey’s pension. All of Benjamin Kersey’s children and grandchildren intermarried with members of Granville’s Native American community including: Tyler, Anderson, Howell, Harris, Chavis, and Richardson families and continued to live in the heart of the community.

Sally Kersey (1828-1911) was the daughter of Benjamin Kersey and Sally (maiden name not known). She was married to William Tyler and was a lifelong resident of the Native American community in Granvilly, in Fishing Creek township.  Source: Ancestry, Username: wanhiehol
Sally Kersey (1828-1911) was the daughter of Benjamin Kersey and Sally (maiden name not known). She was married to William Tyler and was a lifelong resident of the Native American community in Granville, in Fishing Creek township.
Source: Ancestry, Username: wanhiehol
Sally Kersey Tyler and grandchildre
Sally Kersey (1828-1911) is pictured again with her Tyler grandchildren (children of her son John Thomas Tyler). Sally is seated in the back of the carriage. Fishing Creek township, Granville Co, NC. Source: Robert Tyler

The Adventurous Life of Baldy Kersey (1820-1899)

Baldy Kersey (1820-1899) was a son of Benjamin and Sally Kersey and was a well known person in Granville County whose name made the papers for being on the wrong side of the law. Baldy Kersey was first married to Frances Tyler and they adopted the four children of Frances Tyler’s sister Martha Tyler (their adopted daughter Betsy Ann Tyler was the first wife of my 2nd great-grandfather James E. Howell). In 1864, Baldy Kersey escaped from jail in Oxford and the following notice was published which includes a physical description of him:

Source: The Daily Conservative, 7 Oct 1864, Fri, Page 1
Source: The Daily Conservative, 7 Oct 1864, Fri, Page 1

In 1866 as recorded in the Freedmen’s Bureau records, Baldy Kersey was again accused of larceny when he stole a horse and a mule and sold them to Avery Taborn, another member of the community.

In 1880, Baldy Kersey was arrested along with a white man named John Smith. They were accused of being in charge of a gang that was stealing horses and counterfeiting:

Source: The Torchlight, 16 Mar 1880, Tue, Page 3
Source: The Torchlight, 16 Mar 1880, Tue, Page 3

Baldy Kersey was also involved in a famous land case that went up all the way up to the United States Supreme Court. Apparently, a man named Col. Edwards was attempting to collect a debt from Baldy Kersey, and Baldy claimed his homestead. Baldy Kersey’s land was in the heart of the Native American community in Granville County, in Fishing Creek township and it was very important for Baldy to hold onto this land. As you’ll recall from earlier, Baldy’s mother Sally (maiden name unknown) remarried Martin Anderson after her husband Benjamin Kersey died. In order to keep this highly valued land in the family, Sally Anderson paid Baldy’s debt and put the land deed in her name. Perhaps to stop her other children (and debtors) from claiming the land, Sally Anderson disinherited her children and left the land solely to Baldy in her will. However after her death, her will was being contested on the grounds of insanity.

Source: The Granville Free Lance, 22 Feb 1878, Fri, Page 3
Source: The Granville Free Lance, 22 Feb 1878, Fri, Page 3
Source: The Torchlight, 23 Jan 1883, Tue, Page 3
Source: The Torchlight, 23 Jan 1883, Tue, Page 3
Sam Napolean Kersey (1898-1982) was the son og Baldy Kersey and his last wife Rovella Tanner. Sam was Baldy's youngest son and passed away just a year after Sam was born. Sam lived in the heart of Granville's Native American community in Fishing Creek township, and relocated later in life to New Jersey. Source: Darrin Norwood
Sam Napolean Kersey (1898-1982) was the son of Baldy Kersey and his last wife, a white woman named Rovella Tanner. Sam was Baldy’s youngest son and Baldy passed away just a year after Sam was born. Sam lived in the heart of Granville’s Native American community in Fishing Creek township, and relocated later in life to New Jersey.
Source: Darrin Norwood

So to summarize, the Kersey family came to Granville County in the early 1800s, after the founding members had already established a Native American community. Previous to Granville County, the Kersey’s tribal origins are with the Algonquian speaking Weyanoke tribe who sought refuge and intermarried with the Iroquois speaking Nottoway and Tuscarora tribes. The Kersey lineage that came to Granville, was more closely connected to the Nottoway tribe because of intermarriage with the Nottoway Walden family. The journey of the Kersey family exemplifies how early contact Native American peoples maintained their Native identity in spite of colonial pressures to relocate.

The Tale of two (maybe three, four?!) Sherwood Harrises in Granville County

I think one of the most common mistakes in doing genealogical work is mixing up the records for people who have the same name. In Granville County in the 1700s, there were at least four men with the name “Sherwood Harris”. One of those men was my 5th great-grandfather Sherwood Harris. The three other men are related to one another but are unrelated to my Sherwood Harris. My Sherwood was Native American, most often listed as a “free person of color” in the records. The other three Sherwood’s were listed as “white”. One would think that this racial distinction along with many diverging life details would help resolve any confusion, but that has not been the case. In this blog post, I’m going to discuss the Revolutionary War pension application of my Sherwood Harris that has quite frequently been attributed to the other Sherwood Harrises. Hopefully this will be a helpful warning to other researchers to take more care in how they attribute records.

My 5th great-grandfather Sherwood Harris (1761-1833) was the son of Edward Harris and Sarah Chavis. Edward Harris was among the founding members of the  Native community in Granville. Sarah Chavis’ parents were William Chavis and Frances Gibson, who owned the original land base for the community. Two of Sherwood brother’s named Jesse Harris (1762-1844) and Edward Harris Jr (1756-1792) also fought in the Revolutionary War. Edward Jr died before filing a pension and left no heirs, and Jesse and later his widow Julia (Taborn) Harris successfully filed and received a pension (W.1277).

It is actually incorrect for me to say that Sherwood Harris filed a pension. From after his service in the war and until his death in 1833, Sherwood never filed for a pension. According to witness testimony provided by Nathaniel Estes, Sherwood “felt rather above begging” the government for compensation. However after his passing, his widow Martha/Patsy Harris (maiden name not known) was in financial trouble and had no means of support. So in 1843, she filed a widow’s pension, application number W.3984.

In order to receive a widow’s pension, Martha Harris had several things to prove. For one, she had to prove that she was legally married to Sherwood Harris and had not remarried after his death. She also needed to give proof of his Revolutionary War service including details such as names of captains and battles that would substantiate his record as a soldier. Despite both Martha and her deceased husband Sherwood being illiterate and not being able to leave behind a paper trail, Martha was able to prove her claim to a widow’s pension based off of witness testimony.

The following individuals provided testimony in support of Martha’s application: Frances “Fanny” Cavender, Samuel Chapell, Nathaniel Estes, Peter CashStephen Bridges, and George Pettiford. I have a full un-transcribed copy of the pension application but you can access transcribed portions of the pension application here. George Pettiford (1760-1853) was from the Native American Pettiford family of Granville, and he was the son of founding community member Lawrence Pettiford. George was also a pensioned Revolutionary War veteran and provided testimony that he was well acquainted with Sherwood Harris before the war. He knew that Sherwood had been enlisted, but did not see Sherwood until after the war when they both came back to Granville.

The five remaining testimonies came from white residents of Granville who also knew Sherwood Harris. Samuel Chapell (1757-1845), was a pensioned Revolutionary War veteran who knew Sherwood Harris around the time of the war and believed that Sherwood was a private in Col. William Moore’s regiment for at least two years. Peter Cash (1756-1846) was also a pensioned Revolutionary War veteran and recalled that he served with Sherwood Harris in Col. William Moore’s regiment. He further stated that Sherwood served under a different captain named Capt. Harrison.

Siblings Stephen Bridges (born 1770) and Frances “Fanny” (Bridges) Cavender (born 1765) were personal friends of Sherwood and Martha Harris and knew that their father and older brother served with Sherwood in the Revolutionary War. They both remembered attending Sherwood and Martha’s wedding and provided 1787 as the approximate year of the marriage. And finally Nathaniel Estes (1770-1845) was aclose friend of Sherwood and Martha’s and provided some interesting information about the couple. He said he frequented their home regularly and heard Sherwood speak of being a soldier in the war. He also recalled Sherwood and Martha’s wedding but could not remember the date. However he added that Sherwood had a son who was older than his own son born in 1793 and that this son of Sherwood’s was buried on his property.

The testimony provided by fellow soldiers  as well as personal friends, allowed for Martha Harris to receive an annual widow’s pension payment of $80. However Martha Harris was not receiving any money because her pension payments were being illegally withheld by local land agent J.H. Kirkham according to additional testimony from Martha Harris in 1851 and backed up by a letter sent from her attorney William Hunt. As a result Martha was in a state of destitution.

Letter from Martha Harris' attorney William Hunt in 1851 confirming that she has not received her pension payment because it is being illegally withheld. Source: NARA M804. Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application W.3984
Letter from Martha Harris’ attorney William Hunt in 1851 confirming that she has not received her pension payment because it is being illegally withheld.
Source: NARA M804. Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application W.3984

Even back in 1844, after initially filing the pension claim, the pension office mixed up Martha’s husband Sherwood Harris with another Sherwood Harris. The other Sherwood Harris had received a bounty land grant for 228 acres and Justice of the Peace Clement Wilkins writing on Martha’s behalf had to explain that it was a different Sherwood Harris who received this land.

Justice of Peace Clement Wilkins explaining the Sherwood Harris mix up back in 1844.
Justice of the Peace Clement Wilkins explaining the Sherwood Harris mix up back in 1844. “The Sherwood Harris who received 228 acres of land for two and a half years of service since in the Continental Line from the state of North Carolina could not have been her husband such since being entirely inconsistent that said forth in her own declaration”.
Source: NARA M804. Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application. W.3984

As you can see, these Sherwood Harrises have been getting mixed up for quite some time. Finally in 1855, Martha Harris applied for a bounty land grant however there is no further documentation to find out what happened with that application. According to her 1855 testimony, Martha Harris was receiving $80 annually so it appears J.H. Kirkham eventually released her payments or she was issued a new payment certificate. Martha passed away in 1859.

Martha
Martha “Patsy” Harris’ household in the 1850 census for Granville County. She had been widowed for 17 years and is living with her daughter and grandchildren.
Source: 1850; Census Place: Beaver Dam, Granville, North Carolina; Roll: M432_631; Page: 127A; Image: 252
Delia Harris (1843 - after 1870), granddaughter of Martha Harris. She is listed in Martha's household in the 1850 census for Granville County, listed as
Delia Harris (1843 – after 1870), granddaughter of Sherwood and Martha Harris. She is in Martha’s household in the 1850 census for Granville County, listed as “Dilly Harris” age 7. Her descendants today are part of the Haliwa-Saponi tribe
Source: Marvin Richardson. Please do not reproduce.

So who are these other Sherwood Harrises?

Two of the Sherwoods have a father/son relationship, and the third Sherwood shares an uncle/nephew and 1st cousin relationship with the previous two. Below I created family tree to better illustrate the family relationships:

Family Tree showing the Sherwood Harrises. Circles is the Sherwood Harris who was also a Revolutionary War veteran as well as a Justice of Peace.
Family Tree showing the Sherwood Harrises. Circled is the Sherwood Harris (1733-1805) who was also a Revolutionary War veteran as well as a Justice of the Peace.

Most of the genealogical information on the Sherwood Harris family tree above comes from this website. I found many trees on Ancestry that included these Sherwood Harrises, though far too many looked incorrect, had contradictory information and lacked sources. Many of these family trees also had the pension application for my Sherwood Harris attached to these three other Sherwood Harrises. What a mess! But by reviewing some additional records I was able to sort out the records for each of these Sherwoods and determine which of these other Sherwoods was also a Revolutionary War veteran.

Off the bat, I could eliminate the Sherwood Harris (1720-1763) who left a 1763 will because he pre-deceased the Revolutionary War. Several descendants of the other Sherwood Harris (1733-1805) who was also a veteran, filed applications to join Sons of the American Revolution. According to those applications, their ancestor Sherwood Harris was married to an Elizabeth Tillman/Tallman and they claimed descent through two of their sons – Daniel and William Harris. Additionally, they state that their Sherwood Harris fought under General Ashe and was also a Justice of the Peace. They also have 1805 as Sherwood’s death date.

Sons of the American Revolution application for Sherwood Harris (1733-1805) descendant Charles Harris Livingood Jr. The document provides key details about this Sherwood Harris' life and descendants.  Source: Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications, 1889-1970. Louisville, Kentucky: National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. Microfilm, 508 rolls.
Sons of the American Revolution application for Sherwood Harris (1733-1805) descendant Charles Harris Livingood Jr. The document provides key details about this Sherwood Harris’ life and descendants.
Source: Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications, 1889-1970. Louisville, Kentucky: National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. Microfilm, 508 rolls.
More information on Sherwood Harris (1733-1805) confirming his occupation as Justice of Peace from the Sons of the American Revolution application. Source: Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications, 1889-1970. Louisville, Kentucky: National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. Microfilm, 508 rolls.
More information on Sherwood Harris (1733-1805) confirming his occupation as Justice of the Peace from the Sons of the American Revolution application.
Source: Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications, 1889-1970. Louisville, Kentucky: National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. Microfilm, 508 rolls.

The 1805 death date of the veteran Sherwood Harris is consistent with the Granville County census records which show 2 white Sherwood Harris head of households for the 1800 census, and only 1 white Sherwood Harris head of household for the 1810 census. So for any researchers of this family, the white Sherwood Harris in the 1810 census is the Sherwood Harris (born 1749) who was NOT the Revolutionary War veteran, and instead was the son of Sherwood Harris Sr. and Jane Hudspeth.

Revisiting the pension application of my Sherwood Harris (1761-1833), it is clear the Pension Office incorrectly filed correspondence letters from the descendants of the other Sherwood Harris (1733-1805) veteran into his folder. The letters from these descendants provide details that are consistent with the other Sherwood Harris. Yet, the Pension Office wrote back to these descendants and provided them with the service information of my Sherwood Harris.

Letter from a Mrs. J.B. Stroud, a descendant of Sherwood Harris (1733-1805) requesting information about her ancestor. Source: NARA M804. Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files. W.1277
Letter from a Mrs. J.B. Stroud, a descendant of Sherwood Harris (1733-1805) requesting information about her ancestor.
Source: NARA M804. Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files. W.3984
Response from the Pension Office to Mrs. J.B.Stroud, a descendant of Sherwood Harris (1733-1805). The office mistakenly gives her the information on my Sherwood Harris (1767-1833). Source: NARA M804. Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files. W.3984
Response from the Pension Office to Mrs. J.B.Stroud, a descendant of Sherwood Harris (1733-1805). The office mistakenly gives her the service record and pension information on my Sherwood Harris (1761-1833).
Source: NARA M804. Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files. W.3984

I hope this blog post will not only clear up any confusion about the many Sherwood Harrises of Granville County, but also serve as a reminder for all of us researchers to be patient and take the time to efficiently sort out and attribute records.