The Lewis Family of Wilkes County, NC, 1700s: A Timeline, Part 1

Sometimes, genealogical research can be extremely frustrating, even when a full set of records exists back to the formation of a county.

Take the Lewises, of whom Gideon Lewis was the first to appear in Wilkes County, North Carolina on 26 August 1779, when he lived in the North River District and was taxed on 384 acres of land. Also on the list were Edward King with 170 acres and James Lewis with 344 acres.

I believe Gideon Lewis or James Lewis was likely the father of Feelie or Phebe Lewis who married Edward King.

I’ve recently discussed the King family in my posts. I was hoping to perhaps fill in some proven details to support my theories, but few clues have come to light.

First a quick review of county histories is needed:

Ashe County – formed 1799 from Wilkes County
Wilkes County – formed 1777 from Surry County
Surry County – formed 1771 from Rowan County
Rowan County – formed 1753

One additional thought – While the Lewises might have been of the Quaker faith, given their absence from most government records, I think it is more likely that they were frontiersmen and hunters. The second half of the 1700s is the Daniel Boone and Morgan Bryan era, with men (and families) making frequent trips to the Kentucky frontier.

If the Lewises married into other frontier families, that would also account for the lack of marriage records in the latter part of the 1700s.

By 1800, Gideon Lewis and Edward King were living in Ashe County. Given the 1799 organization date and Ashe County’s early missing records, it was necessary to focus on Wilkes County records.

I also browsed probate and land records and the 1771/72 and 1782 tax lists from Surry County and found no evidence that Gideon Lewis had lived there.

His birth year is unknown, but 1750 is not an unreasonable assumption. He might have been born earlier than that, too, but not much later as there is Gideon Jr., born c1775.

Rowan County records also provide no evidence that Gideon Lewis ever lived there.

From the lack of records, my current working theory is that Gideon Lewis settled in North Carolina between 1772-1779, possibly arriving with Edward King.

From whence he came is anybody’s guess, but Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland or Virginia are likely candidates. That isn’t much help for a man with a common surname who reached adulthood not long before the start of the Revolutionary War.

Some attribute Gideon Lewis, born to Quaker parents William and Lowry Lewis in Chester County, Pennsylvania as the man who settled in North Carolina. However, that is not possible since those same Quaker records record the burial of William’s son, Gideon, on 13 June 1731 in the midst of what must have been an epidemic, as William’s son, Joseph was buried on 5 June 1731, daughter Ann was buried a day later on 6 June 1731 and William himself wrote his own will on 5 June 1731. It was probated in October 1731.

However, given the lack of presence in North Carolina court records, it is possible that Gideon of Wilkes County might have been a Quaker, but his residence previous to Wilkes County, North Carolina remains unknown.

Furthermore, there is no record of any Lewis marriage in Wilkes county before 10 October 1801 when Mordecai Lewis married Mary Bradley.

Aside from the lack of female Lewis names found in county records, there are still a couple of clues that can be gleaned from tax. land and census records.

Given that both Gideon Lewis and James Lewis appeared in the same district in 1779 and shared a later FAN club, my current theory is that both were young men, probably not much older than 21, since there are no Lewis marriages in Wilkes County before 1801.

Both lived on the north fork of the New River, first in Wilkes County and then, from 1799 onward, in Ashe County.

As taxed land owners in 1779, they would have been born no later than 1758. As to why there are no Lewis marriages recorded before 1801, the reason is unknown. Could they have been Quakers and the monthly meeting minutes for their congregation lost?

1759 – Edward King, Rowan Co., tax list (later Lewis neighbor in Wilkes and Ashe Counties)
1768 – Gideon, Rowan Co., militia list (Other Lewises on the list – Samuel, William, James & Richard)
(NOTE: Surry Co. formed 1771, Wilkes Co. formed 1777, both from Rowan County. Ashe Co. formed from Wilkes in 1799.))
1779 – Gideon taxed for 384 ac., No District, Wilkes Co.
1779 – James taxed for 344 ac., No. District, Wilkes Co.
1785 – Gideon receives land grant, 150 ac. (Grant mentions Paul Henson’s line, as does the land sale to John Flannery.)
1785 – Gideon buys land from Martin Gambill, 150 ac.
1787 – Gideon and James both appear on 1787 Wilkes Co. list, Captain Nall’s Company
1789 – Gideon buys land from William McClain, 130 ac. (William and Robert Nall were witnesses and 10th Co. was headed by Robert Nall.)
1790 – Gideon, census, M +16, 2M -16, F, page 7, 10th Company
1790 – James, census, M +16, 3M -16, F, page 7, 10th Company
1790 – James, census, M +16, 2M -16, F, page 7, 10th Company
1790 – Gideon, census, 2M +16, 2M -16, 5F, page 11, 16th Company
1790 – Edward King, census, 2M +16, 4M -16, 5F, page 11, 16th Co.
1791 – Gideon sells land to John Flannery, 150 ac.
1794 – James sells land to Jesse Bolin (10th Co. in 1790), 66 ac.
1795 – Gideon sells land to Abraham May, 150 ac. (Gideon’s 1785 grant and this sale both mention Horse Creek.)
1796 – James records a state land grant, 150 ac.
1797 – Gideon sells land to Henry Waggoner, 120 ac. GIDEON Jr. is one of the three witnesses.
1800 – James, census, 45+
1800 – James Jr., census, 16-25
1800 – Gideon, census, 26-44
1800 – Gideon, census, 16-25 (likely Gideon born c1777 in 1850 Ashe County census)
1800 – Gideon, census, 26-44
1800 – Richard, census, 45+
1810 – J., census, page 15, 16-25
1810 – J., census, page 6, 16-25
1810 – G., census, page 6, 26-44
1810 – G., census, page 8, 45+

So, who do we have in this motley crew?

Gideon Sr. is living next door to Edward King in 1790, both in the 16th Company. He is likely the man selling land to John Flannery because the 1790 census shows Jno. Flanery also in the 16th Company.

James Sr. is living next door or very close to James Jr. and Gideon Jr., all in the 10th Company. Martin Gambill is a next door neighbor to James Sr. so we can probably conclude that Gideon Jr. is the man who bought Martin’s land in 1785. That means that Gideon Jr. was born no later than 1764 to be able to legally purchase acreage.

However, from 1797, it becomes quite difficult to separate out who was who.

If Edward King, in the Lewis FAN club, is the same man in Wilkes County in the 1770s, then Edward King was born no later than 1738.

As for Gideon and James Lewis, we have:

Gideon, born no later than 1747, and who might be related to Samuel, William, James & Richard, all in Rowan County in 1768.
Gideon, born no later than 1764, first in the land records in 1785.
Gideon, born no later than 1766, in Nall’s Company with James Lewis in 1787 and with James Sr. and James Jr. in 1790 census.

James, born no later than 1747, in Rowan County in 1768.
James, born no later than 1769, with James Sr. and Gideon in 1790.

At this point, there appear to be three Gideon Lewises and two James Lewises.

More on these men coming up!







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