The King Family of Wilkes & Ashe Counties, NC, c1800, Part 4: Observations

My research into the family of Edward King has been difficult because of the several men named King who lived in Ashe, Wilkes, and Rowan Counties, North Carolina during the second half of the 1700s.

For the moment, my working hypothesis is that a daughter of Edward King, whether named Sophia or not, was likely the young lady who married William Sturgill, probably in Ashe County, c1805.

If the Ashe county courthouse hadn’t burned and destroyed the marriage records, at least her name could be proven for posterity. As it is, only family lore (dating back to the late 1940s, a full century after her death) has given descendants her possible given name.

Past experience with North Carolina records gave me the impression that extant records were quite good, if they survived the ravages of time.

This experience reminds me that the records are only as good as the clerks who created them.

For example, it doesn’t appear that clerks often noted the wives’ names in land records, whereby they would have waived their dower rights when land was sold. I did find a few references to wives being examined separately noted in court minutes, but not in land records themselves.

Another oddity which I don’t ever remember coming across in the 40+ years I’ve been researching is the clerk using probate terms so loosely.

An executor is the person who makes sure the wishes outlined in the will of a deceased person are followed.

An administrator is the person who handles the affairs of settling the estate of a person who died leaving no will.

Yet, in several records I found (and read for myself), the deceased clearly left wills, but the court minutes call the executors the “administrators.” Sometimes, the land records also call sellers “administrators” when they were clearly executors/executrixes.

Additionally, in the case of the land deed filed by ‘Phebe’ King, she is called the administrator, but the county clerk never once mentions whose estate she is administering, leaving me to suspect because of the year – 1804 – that she is probably the widow of Edward King who married ‘Feelie” Lewis. If the clerk had called her the “administrator of Edward King deceased’, there would be no doubt.

My research was also hindered by gaps in extant records. Edward King definitely died between the 1800 and 1810 censuses, but seems to have died by 1804, when Phebe sold land.

Unfortunately, Ashe County, formed in 1799 from Wilkes County, has no extant court minutes surviving before 1806.

On top of that, Wilkes County, from which Ashe was formed, has hundreds of pages of court minutes back to its formation in 1777, but is missing the volumes from c1784 well into the 1790s, which cover years when Edward King might have bought or sold land, served as a juror, been sued, or was named in some other capacity in those records. Any and all details help shed light on his life.

Somewhat surprisingly, census records have not been much help. In 1800, the first year of Ashe County’s existence, the only Kings to be found were Edward and Robert. Whether or not they were related is unknown, but they did know each other because one Edward King sold 39 acres of land to Robert King (Ashe County Deed Book A:73) in December 1800.

Ashe County in 1810 had E. King and R. King living there, but this E. King was Junior. He was also probably the young man living in his (supposed) father’s household in 1800.

Moving back in time, Wilkes County had only a single King family, that of Francis King, living there in 1800.

Robert King (Senior) of Wilkes County died in 1799; he is the man who so kindly left a will naming only his wife, Mary Ann. By the way, court minutes call Mary Ann the administrator, not the executrix, of Robert’s will.

Wilkes County land deeds include a state grant of 150 acres to Edward King (Wilkes County Deed Book D:604), in 1798.

This Edward is Edward Sr. because immediately following the recording of the Ashe County 1800 deed to Robert King is a second sale by Edward King to John Ellsbury, completed on the same day. Ellsbury’s portion is identified as part of a 150 acre grant made to Edward. Thankfully, witnesses are named and Edward King Jr. is one of the three.

Next is a curious clue. James King sold 75 acres of land (A:363)  to Francis King (presumably the man in Wilkes County in the 1800 census). The deed is recorded in Ashe County in 1798, although both are called residents of Wilkes County.

There is one Frank King in the 1790 census, but Francis King in 1800 is too young to be that man.

Twenty pages later in the Ashe County deeds is the recording of a state land grant made to James King in 1798. The land description states that it borders land granted to Edward King.

However, there is no James King in Ashe or Wilkes or even Rowan County in 1800. Did James die and Francis needed to make sure to record the grant and the sale of land from James to himself to protect his interests?

James also sold land in 1798 to Jacob May.

For James to receive a land grant that bordered Edward King, it seems that they would have been related in some way, but whether as brother, son or cousin, who knows?

The fact that James King immediately sold off his land grant in 1798 leads me to think he was a younger man preparing to move and he may well be one of Edward King’s ten children.

Robert King, presumably not the one who died in 1799, but the man in the 1800 and 1810 censuses, recorded a 1798 Wilkes County land grant on the page before that of Edward King and both pieces of land had originally been issued to one George Hays.

In 1827, Edward King (Junior) sold land to William Daniels that bordered that of Robert King.

This land connection between Edward and Robert makes me inclined to think that Robert King was also a son of Edward King.

Earlier records in Rowan County include wills for Peter King, noted as being of Orange County, who died in 1763, Richard King, who died in 1782 and William Morrison Sr., who died in 1771 and who named Robert King among his children (presumably married to a daughter) and legatees.

However, Edward King’s name doesn’t appear anywhere except on the 1759 tax list.

Was this my Edward? Well, a quick survey of Orange County, North Carolina records does include a second Edward King and Orange County borders early Rowan County. Orange County was created in 1752 and Rowan just one year later in 1753.

Not all research projects come to a neat, happy, tidy conclusion. This is one of them.

There are so many unresolved relationships.

It will take a lot more digging into North Carolina records and casting a wider net to try to establish relationships among these Kings and other early King families found in  Rowan and Wilkes County records.







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