Matthias Williams, Revolutionary War Soldier

Matthias Williams, son of Matthias Williams (c1727-1782), of Cumberland County, Virginia, didn’t leave much of a paper trail, although some of the trail he likely might have left burned with the records of Morgan County, Tennessee in 1862.

Although Matthias was a Revolutionary War soldier, serving under Lafayette at the Siege of Yorktown, and he received a pension beginning in 1832, his pension file unfortunately gave no information whatsoever about his family.

Matthias Williams’ Declaration of Service

Matthias was born on 14 Nov 1755, Cumberland County, Virginia and died after the 1840 census, probably in Morgan County, Tennessee, where he had lived for a number of years. No probate or will exists for him, nor have any land deeds been found for descendants that mark his land. However, his final pension pay voucher was issued in the last quarter of 1846. He then died late that year at the advanced age of 91 years.

Matthias Williams’ Final Pension Pay Voucher

Matthias seems to have been an independent sort of man as he was living alone in the 1840 census. Williams family members believe that his wife was  probably  Sarah Butler, daughter of Aaron Butler, and that they married about 1776, possibly in Cumberland County, Virginia. Although marriage records exist for that time period, none is found for them. However, it was also the beginning of the War for Independence and it is possible their marriage bond and/or license return were never filed or even moved for safekeeping and then lost to time.

In the spring of 1776, Matthias (probably Matthias’s father) sold a tract of land with Aaron Butler in Cumberland County. During the fall of 1776, Aaron’s will was written and then probated in Cumberland County in 1777, with Matthias Williams as a witness and Aaron’s daughter, Sarah Williams, named as an heir.  

It is possible that Aaron Butler’s wife was Susannah Williams.  This Susannah may have been a sister of Thomas (born 1712) and Matthias Sr.  If true, then Matthias Jr. married his first cousin.

After the war, Matthias and his brother, John, left Cumberland County. Matthias next lived in Campbell County, based on marriage records of his children. By 1805, Matthias, John, youngest brother William and several Williams cousins (children of Samuel Williams of Cumberland County, Virginia) all made the westward trek to eastern Tennessee.


  1. Susannah, born c1778; died after 1850, probably Cole County, Missouri; married John Landrum, 9 January 1796, Campbell County, Virginia. The marriage record identifies Susannah as the daughter of Matthias.  In April 1801, “Thias” Williams and John Landrum appear in Cumberland County, Virginia court orders as plaintiffs in a case against one Henry Skipwith.  Nothing further was found on this suit.  A John Landrum appears in Anderson County, Tennessee court records from 1805-1814. From circumstantial evidence, it appears that this John is the same man who married Susannah Williams and that the Landrums were part of the larger Williams family who left for Tennessee together. There are many Landrum descendants today.
  2. ?Child, born c1780. The 1782 and 1784 tax lists of white souls include enough people to account for two parents and 3 and 4 children, respectively.  However, this child is speculation – there may have been another family member living with them at the time and even if this was a child of Matthias Jr., no further records have been found for him/her.
  3. Polly, born c1782; died before 13 March 1844, Pittsylvania County, where there is an estate administration for Pleasant and Polly from 1842-1845; married Pleasant Mahone, 20 Feb 1802, Campbell County, Virginia. He was born c1780; died before 20 March 1842, Pittsylvania County, Virginia. Polly survived him, but not by much. This first Mahone generation remained in Virginia, but many of their children moved on to Missouri. Pleasant and Polly left many descendants.
  4. Thomas, born c1784; died before 18 July 1814, Roane County, Tennessee where he left a will that was probated on that date; married Charlotte Rector, daughter of Martin Rector, c1809, possibly in Anderson County, Tennessee, where Martin Rector was living at the time. Thomas and Charlotte had two daughters – Fanny who married Alfred Morgan and had eleven children and Elizabeth, who was at home in the 1830 census with her mother, but then lost to time.
  5. Matthias, born c1789, Virginia; died after 1860, probably in Morgan County, Tennessee; married Sally Rector, daughter of Martin Rector. Matthias and Sally had nine children and have many living descendants today. They lived first in Roane County and then Morgan County, Tennessee.
  6. John, born c1791; died by October1815, Roane County, Tennessee when the administration of his estate was noted in court records. When Thomas Williams, (4, above) named his executors, he named Matthias Sr. and John. It is assumed that he named his father and brother.  Chancery Court records for 18 October 1815 name Matthias Williams administrator of the estate of John Williams, deceased.  If John was married, there is no record to indicate the identity of his spouse or any children.
  7. Martha, born October 1797, Campbell County, Virginia; died 8 December 1884, Clark County, Mississippi; married Moses Shoemaker, 28 December 1814, Roane County, Tennessee. He was born 27 April 1795, Pulaski, Giles County, Tennessee; died 22 September 1876, Silas, Choctaw County, Alabama. Moses and Martha Shoemaker also have many descendants today.
  8. William H., born 10 March 1803, Virginia; died 1 May 1883, probably Morgan County, Tennessee; married (1) Unknown, born 1801-1810 (2) Unknown, possibly Sarah Row, 25 Sept 1843, Roane County, Tennessee (3) Sarah Elizabeth Patterson, c1848, probably Morgan County, Tennessee. She was born c1826, Tennessee; died 1900-1910, probably Roane County, Tennessee.

There is not much other documentation to fill in further details on the life of Matthias, the Revolutionary War soldier who witnessed the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown. Matthias’s wife, Sarah, predeceased him by many years. The early censuses of eastern Tennessee are lost, but Matthias was living alone as early as 1830.

I have much information on the descendants of Matthias up to the end of the Civil War. If you are related to this family, please leave a comment and I will contact you.

9 thoughts on “Matthias Williams, Revolutionary War Soldier”

  1. So happy to find your site! We are trying to complete an application for membership in the DAR and need some documented proof of this patriot’s line. Polly Williams married Pleasant Mahon and had child, Elizabeth Mahon who married Pliant Mahon. Can you help with any documents, court papers that can help us with this? Thanks so much!

  2. Hello, I was hoping you can help me.
    Do you know of Matthias’ son Thomas Williams (born 1816) and his family? (This is the son of Matthias who was husband to Sally Rector.)
    I have Thomas in the 1850 and 1860 census. I want any info. you may have on this individual.

  3. Hello Ms. Stufflebean

    I am a descendant of Thomas Williams, bother of Matthias Williams. I last contacted you about 2000 when you were living in California. In the following years I have I have taken your original work and put it into the Family Tree Maker format. I am very interested in talking to you.

  4. Hello, Linda — thank you for your careful work. I’m a descendant of three other Williams lines, including that of Roger & Mary (Barnard) Williams of Rhode Island; I volunteer nearly fulltime on WikiTree, and I’m trying to assist three different individuals who had been led to believe they were descended from Roger & Mary of RI, but in fact clearly descend — if indeed from any Roger — from one who lived in Virginia.

    What you’ve shown of this line has already been helpful in one of the above cases, and I’m going to gently urge that particular descendant to study these entries with some care. Her initial descent appears (at least as currently shown on WikiTree) to run thus: Matthias > Matthias > William H.; both Matthiases are however assigned the middle name “Ignatius”.

    Beyond William, however, is shown an unconfirmed descent from his (alleged) daughter, who is given as Elizabeth Winifred Williams and shown as the wife of Richard McCoy, Sr. Shown as their son is Richard McCoy, Jr. [These are of “the” McCoys, as in Hatfield-McCoy.]

    The daughter of Richard, Jr., & wife Nancy Elizabeth Davis — Faye Nanette McCoy — is the mother of the individual I’m hoping to assist.

    Any confirmation or refutation of any of the above you are able to offer will be appreciated. I gather that, atop the known line, the parentage of Matthias, Sr., simply is not known, so whether _any_ Roger Williams is actually involved in this lineage is only speculative.

    Appreciatively, Christopher Childs
    [not to be confused, please, with Christopher _Child_ of NEHGS… as has been known to happen]

  5. I am trying to prove that Martha aka Patsy Williams was the daughter of this matthias and his wife Sally rector.Martha was born c 1828, married Horace M Smith in 1845 and died a & mar 1910. They lived in Rhea county. If I could link her to father or a sibling that would work.

  6. I descend from William Williams of Marion County TN. HE so I’m told was the son of Matthias Williams of Cumberland County VA.
    One family story says he was married to a Judith Saunders from NC and I have found a person by than name who is also about 5 0 % cherokee Indian. Just attempting to determine if that is true.
    Any additional information o regarding this family would be greatly appreciated.

  7. Hi Linda. I’m a Landrum descendant of Susannah Williams and John Landrum. You and I corresponded years ago about them. I’m still trying to find John Landrum’s family of origin.

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