Anderson Williams Property Sale 1801: Sadly Separating Family

Anderson Williams is one of the hundreds of collateral ancestors in my husband’s very extended Williams family. Anderson Williams was born c1767, probably in Cumberland County, Virginia, the son of Samuel Williams and Susannah Ligon.

Anderson married Mildred Shepherd on 18 December 1786 in Cumberland County, but she apparently had family members living in Caswell County, North Carolina. By the early 1790s, Anderson and Milly had removed to Caswell County and several of their children were born there.

While I was following the paper trail of Anderson, I came across a deed filed in Caswell County:

Anderson Williams to James Webb (right side)
Caswell County, North Carolina Deed Book M:67

Know all men by these presents that I Anderson Williams of Caswell County & State of North Carolina for & in consideration of the Sum of one Hundred & fifty pounds Virginia Currency to me in hadn paid by James Webb of Granville County and State Afforesaid do by these presents Bargain Sell & deliver unto the said James Webb four Negros one named Hanner & her three youngest Children – Jacob Doll & Sam which said negros I do hereby Warrant and for ever defend to him to him the Said James Webb his heirs Executors Administrators & assigns from me & my heirs Exers Adm & assigns or any other person or persons whatsoever. In Witness where of I have hereunto Set my hand & Seal this 23 day of July 1801.

Anderson Williams (seal)

John Webb
Lewis Shepard (?)
Booker Shepard

There must have been a question as to whether or not Anderson Williams, or his father Samuel Williams, owned the enslaved people as Lewis Shepard made this deposition:

Caswell County July Court 1801
This Bill Sale was duly proved in open Court by the Oath of Lewis Sheppard one of the Subscribing Witnesses there to & on motion ordered to be registered.

Test (? Clerk

The State of North Carolina Caswell County
This day Lewis Shepard Came before me one of the Justices of the peace for said County and made Oath that he was at Samuels Williams House in the State of Virginia in the Cumberland County about the Last of February or the first of March last an (sic) mentioned to said Samuel Williams a bout the right of a Sartain Negro woman named Hanner that his Son Anderson Williams had in his possession and was about to sell the Said negro & Samuel Williams Saith that he gave the negro to his Son Anderson Williams and Saith that he had no objection to his Selling her. Lewis Shepard

Sworn to Before me the 23rd day of July 1801.

David Gooch J.P.
Capt. Somers will register the Deposition immediately Suceeding the Bill of Sale from Williams to Webb.

I had noticed several years earlier while reading the personal property tax lists of Cumberland County, Virginia that for a single year, 1783, the tax man included the names of enslaved persons along side the name of their master.

Samuel Williams was taxed for eleven enslaved persons, six adults and five children (Cumberland County, Virginia Personal Property Tax List, 1783)

Samuel Williams – himself – Neptune, Peter, Peg, Aggy, Sarah, Hannah; 6 Moll, Bella, Nancy, Jacob, Joi (?), 5

If this Hannah is the same Hannah in the 1801 bill of sale, then she was likely at least 18 in 1783, so born no later than 1765. Given that there are three other females named before her, and perhaps in birth order and older than her, it is impossible to determine whether any of the five children are hers. My best guess would be that they are not since Hannah and her children were valued at but 100 pounds Virginia currency 18 years later.

What became of James Webb? The records are silent at this point. No James Webb is found in Granville County in either the 1800 or 1810 censuses, although there is a James Webb living in Orange County, North Carolina, which at the time bordered Caswell County on the south and extended eastward to touch part of the southwestern portion of Granville County.

In any case, Hannah and her three youngest children were taken far from a home they had long known in Cumberland County, Virginia to Caswell County (over 100 miles away) to Granville County and then towho knows where. It is doubtful that they ever saw other family members still in Virginia ever again.



Genealogical Methodology: Strategies for Success

How one approaches a problem might add or detract from the likelihood of successfully reaching a predetermined goal. This is especially true in the world of today’s genealogical research given that so many seem to think that it is “all” online.  By the way, if you are among those who believe that fantasy, you might be surprised to learn that the percentage of records digitally available online today is less than 10%. Factor in the probability that many records might never be accessible online and a researcher who limits his/her field of record sets might never find documents that do, indeed, exist.

It’s been quite some time since I wrote about strategies to research successfully so here are some time-proven tips.

1. Let’s start with the famous (or infamous, as the case may be) BSO or Bright Shiny Object. There is absolutely nothing wrong with setting aside some time to truly just browse and see where the rabbit holes lead. It’s fun and can lead to new discoveries. HOWEVER, crawling down the rabbit holes is not a viable research strategy.

2. Set a genealogy research goal. It can be a simple goal such as locating a marriage record or it can be more complex, such as proving the maiden name of a female ancestress.

3. Review what you have already searched and what information or clues might be sitting there pointing to your chosen goal. Sometimes, we already have an answer we are seeking, but overlooked it or didn’t realize it was lurking in a pile of notes.

4. Keep a research log for two reasons – (1) so you know where you’ve already looked and don’t duplicate your efforts and (2) so you can return to that record collection if further digging becomes necessary. I have to admit that I have never, even in my earliest days of hunting down the ancestors, kept a research log for every document or photo I’ve located. If I expected a birth record to be in City “X” and it was there, no research log is needed. However, when your goal is more complicated – like proving an elusive maiden name – research logs are essential to detail all the locations and repositories you’ve searched.  Tracing an ancestral trail through land documents is another great example of the need for a good research log.

5. Check all the commonly expected repositories where you might expect to find information you are seeking about your ancestor. Remember the caveat at the start of this post – most information is NOT available online. You MIGHT have to email, telephone, write a letter (with a stamp and envelope!) or visit in person to determine whether or not your ancestor appears  in the local records. Example – I wanted to search land deeds for my Loyalist ancestor who was living in Albany County, New York at the outset of the American Revolution. The Albany county clerk has land records online all the way back to – – – -1980! That wasn’t much help. FamilySearch has a good collection of U.S. county land records, including some from New York. A quick look determined that there were digitized images for mortgagor/ee records for the mid 18th century in Albany. However, there were no collections labeled as the traditional land deed index and deed books. Those records do exist for Albany in that time period, but it took feet on the ground by a local historian to check the index housed in the county clerk’s office. Ancient records are sometimes given to a local historical society for safe keeping, a state historical society, a local library or genealogical society or a state archive. My research log was up and running for that goal!

6. Create an ancestral timeline and fill in all the appropriate dates and events that will help you reach your goal. A database program like Excel is terrific for this as the columns can be sorted. Timetoast is one of several free alternative options available online.

7. Last, but definitely not least, follow a “no stone unturned” policy. Expand your horizon and brainstorm all the possible places where you might find the document/s to attain your goal.

How do you find all those stones to turn over?

  • Use the FamilySearch Research Wiki to get an idea of what categories of resources are available in the place you need to research
  • Google your person of interest along with a place or year. Someone else might have already found your answer.
  • Online search results often include old message boards. I have found many clues and book titles to help me attain my goal.
  • Church records vary greatly in the type of information they contain. Not only are baptisms, marriages and burials recorded, but mentions of new arrivals and departures from other congregations are recorded. Histories mention early members and notable happenings. They are also an excellent record of a FAN club in a given time period.
  • Tax lists at times include more than just males over 21 and the number of horses owned. Death dates can be determined when the male disappears and a female head appears or the entry changes to “heirs of.” Determining ages for sons where there are no birth records available can be figured out when they first appear next to their father’s name, or as part of the father’s household, indicating that he has come of age. I’ve even seen a couple of tax lists in Southern states that named each enslaved person in a household.
  • County histories can supplement or sometimes take the place of government records that have burned. Many histories are unindexed and often overlooked and underused.
  • Published genealogies may still be under copyright and it is necessary to locate a hard copy in WorldCat or via an online purchasing site. Modern publications are more likely to be well documented and worth seeking out. Books that are out of copyright need to be used cautiously, especially if source documentation is lacking.
  • Social Media Groups abound online today. There is likely a genealogically oriented group with a focus on your topic or place of interest.
  • Reach out to distant relatives. You never know what documents, photos, Bibles or family lore that might have descended in their branch of the family, but not yours.
  • Are you faced with a burned county, a place where “all” the records burned? Dig a little deeper. It is rare that every single record book burned in one county courthouse. Find out what was salvaged and, if you are lucky, what attempts have been made to reconstruct lost records. These substitute records are often not digitally available.
  • Contact local libraries and genealogy societies to find out what rare or unusual records might be in their holdings. Ask about their vertical files, folders in which local historical and genealogical articles and records are kept.

Happy Researching!

Larrison Family: Where Are the Clues Pointing Us?

I’ve rambled on now about the Larrison family for several days over the last week or so. Where has all this information gotten me? Well, there is no definitive answer yet about possible siblings George and Elsee Larrison or there parents, but there are a number of clues that have made themselves known. It’s time to recap some of the data.

Hunterdon County, NJ to Estill County, KY, about 650 miles
Source: Google Maps

There are two research questions – Is George Larrison the brother of Elsee Larrison? – and, if so – Who are the parents of George and Elsee Larrison?

Kentucky Clues

  1. Estill County, Kentucky records create a FAN club between the Stufflebeans, Larrisons, Stouts, Parkes, Ketchams, Barnes, Snowdens and Stewarts that all lead back to the Hunterdon County, New Jersey area.
  2. George Larrison’s known children include: Elsee, Abigail, George, David and William. Was Elsee named for George’s possible sister, Elsee Larrison Stufflebean?
  3. George Larrison first appears on an 1800 tax list in Madison County, Kentucky. He purchased land in Estill County, next door, in 1809. The Stufflebeans also lived in Estill County. He was born 1760-1770, based on census records. Given that daughter Elsee married David Stewart in Madison County in 1807, placing her birth year no later that 1793 and possibly as early as 1787, George was most likely born c1765 at the latest.
  4. Elsee Larrison deposed in 1844 that she was 82 years old, so born c1762.
  5. Elsee Larrison Stufflebean had many sons – William (thought to be her stepson), James, Michael, Andrew, Jacob, Hiram, Richard and John. James and Andrew, two of her oldest sons, have names that definitely never appear in the German Stufflebean clan. It also appears that the Stufflebeans lost at least two unidentified sons before they reached adulthood.
  6. Elsee Larrison Stufflebean’s youngest child, Richard, reported in 1880 that his father was born in New York (proven true) and his mother was born in Pennsylvania (possible, but New Jersey is also possible.)
  7. Elsee Larrison married (1) Joseph Ketcham and had at least one child, Joseph, born in the early 1790s, before Joseph Sr. died. The Ketchams have  a long FAN club association with the Larrisons stretching back into the mid 1600s in Newtown, New York.

While no direct evidence has been found proving that George and Elsee Larrison are siblings, I believe they most likely are. The strongest pieces of preponderance of evidence are (1) that they are in the same FAN club by marriage connections and neighborhood, (2) are both born in the 1760s, (3) are the only known Larrisons (not a common surname in  itself) anywhere in Kentucky and (4) George’s eldest daughter was named Elsee.

That pretty much sums up the crumb trail in Kentucky. At this point, I would be very surprised to discover that they were NOT siblings!

New Jersey Clues

Connecting George and Elsee to parents is a totally different conundrum with a chasm called Pennsylvania in between them and New Jersey. First, we need to review New Jersey evidence.

Cutting to the chase in New York and New Jersey means accepting for the moment that William Larrison who died in 1749 was most likely a son of John Larrison and grandson of James Larrison, the immigrant. There has been no finding of evidence that would negate that belief and it actually has no bearing on the possible parentage of George and Elsee.

1. William Larrison, born probably in the 1670s or 1680s, removed from Newtown, New York to what became Hunterdon County, New Jersey in the early 1700s and appears on a Hunterdon County tax list in 1722. He died in 1749, leaving a will that named: eldest son James, William, Thomas, John and George, in that order. He also named daughter Elizabeth Stout and made her husband, David, executor of his will. A codicil written on the same day as his will further identified daughters Martha Hyde, Mary Higgins, Rebeckah Brittain, Deborah Shippey and Keziah Van Tilburg. Because he named his son-in-law, and his own son John (NOT James), as executors, I believe Elizabeth was one of his oldest children and David was likely older than William’s other children, too. Birth years for William’s children are only estimates, but I believe the estimate that James was born c1695 is too early. There is no mention of a previous wife and his known wife, Keziah Parke, was said to have been born c1717. Their children’s births began about 1737. I believe James Larrison was more likely born about 1710-1715. If no other children were born in between those surviving and the children were born approximately every 2 years, then we can estimate, if sons were named in birth order: Elizabeth, born c1710, James c1712, William c1714 (and died 1777), Thomas, c1716, John, c1718 and George c1720, Martha c1722, Mary c1724, Rebeckah c1726, Deborah c1728 and Keziah c1730. Yes, I’ve seen birth dates for some of these children, but no documentation to support their sources, so I am sticking with my estimated dates. I also realize that the sons and daughters except for eldest son James and likely eldest daughter Elizabeth were mixed in terms of birth order, but this gives a visual picture of the range of years. If James was really born c1695, then the range would be Elizabeth c1697, James c1699, William c1701, Thomas c1703, John c1705, George c1707, Martha c1709, Mary c1711, Rebeckah c1713, Deborah c1715 and Keziah c1717. Both of these alternatives seem to be reasonable.

2. William’s son, James, married Keziah Parke, c1734 and had a SUPPOSEDLY well documented family (but I find no documentation for family members): John, born 1737; married Mary Pelton, but had no children; Andrew, born 2 February 1739; died c1800; married (1) Miss Green (2) Lavina Severns; William, born 24 January 1741; died 21 October 1816; married Francina Blackwell; Anne, born 11 February 1743; married Judge Jared Sexton; Roger, born 1745; married Lenar?; Elizabeth, born 1747; married Aaron Runyon; Catherine, born 1750; married (1) Benjamin Sexton, 24 November 1779 (2) Benjamin Parke; Achsah, born 1752; married John Humphrey; Elijah, born 1754, died 26 October 1827; married Elinor Stout; David, born 8 March 1757, died 29 November 1800, married Jerusha Smith.

3. Little is known about William’s sons, John Larrison and George Larrison, although it has been remarked that George is thought to have gone to Pennsylvania.

4. George Larrison married Abigail Moone, daughter of Dr. Jacob Moone, of Somerset County, New Jersey, who left a will in 1740 identifying them and their daughter, Keziah Larrison, who was to receive her bequest when she was 18 years old. It is not known whether this George is the son of William, but he is an excellent fit. If this George is the son of William, then he most likely was born no later than 1718 if he married at 21 and had one child in 1740.

5. William Maple married Keziah Larrison, daughter of George and Abigail, c1773. William Maple is enumerated in Washington County, Pennsylvania in 1790. Also in Washington County are one John Larrison and one Philip “Catcham.” This John Larrison had a daughter, Nancy, born c1773, who married William Gibson and they moved on to Guernsey County, Ohio. John Larrison was then born no later than 1750 and possibly much earlier. Is he the son of William Larrison who died in 1749?

6. In 1840 John Stufflebean, Revolutionary War pensioner, was living in the home of David Snowden in Estill County, Kentucky. David’s father, David Snowden Sr., also served in the Revolution and lived in Washington County, Pennsylvania at that time.

7. John Larrison of Washington County, Pennsylvania appears on a 1781 tax list, owning 200 acres, 3 horses and 3 cattle, and again on a 1786 list. In 1790, there is one male over 16, three males under 16 and two females in his household. One of the females would be his daughter, Nancy. Is the other female his wife or a daughter? No way to determine that answer as he is not there in 1800.

8. Finally, although she was born much later, there is an Elsee Larrison, born c1804, who married Joseph Buren of Middlesex County, New Jersey. She is said to be the daughter of David Larrison and grandchild of William Larrison (who died 1777) and great grandchild of William Larrison who died i n1749. Elsee is most definitely a Larrison name passed down through the family.

To sum up the New Jersey clues, at first glance, given that Elsee Larrison Stufflebean had two older sons named James and Andrew, I would suspect that she, and George, might be descended from James Larrison and Keziah Parke. However, James’s and Keziah’s son George, born c1770, married Catherine Lambert, daughter of the New Jersey governor 1802-1804, John Lambert, and remained in New Jersey, as apparently did their other children.

Where do I got from here? Well, I mentioned that little chasm in the way of getting to Kentucky. In 1790, the following counties existed and were within striking distance of the Pennsylvania Road (today I-76) and are counties in which Larrisons – George and whoever else – might have lived in after they departed from New Jersey: Bedford, Berks, Bucks, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Fayette, Franklin, Greene, Huntington, Lancaster, Mifflin, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Washington, Westmoreland and York. There are 19 counties in all, but it isn’t an overwhelming task.

Virginia Clue

While researching a totally different family, I was looking at entries on various pages and, totally by chance, my eye was drawn to one name in a list of many. It was in Chalkley’s volumes of the Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish. The name I saw was George LARSON in volume 2 on page 414. His name was included on a 1748 delinquent tax list and it said “not found.” That was the one and only entry for any name like Larson or Larrison so I have to wonder. Might George Larrison have meandered into Augusta County, Virginia for a while on his westward trek?

My plan? I will be trying the easy way first by checking indexes for land records, court minutes and probate, along with tax lists, hoping against hope that I can connect the dots together. Time will tell.