Post-Research Thoughts on Tobias Tillman & Henry Sharp Family Connections

For the time being, I think I have finished what can be done concerning the parentage of Tobias Tillman. It may be that the names of his father and mother may forever remain a mystery.

However, Tobias’s FAN club most definitely includes the Sharp family – his wife, Catherine, is said to be a Sharp by birth. While leaving no stone unturned in my research, I expanded my “to do” list to include Henry Sharp, who seemed to live in the same locations at the time time as Tobias. He is reputedly Tobias’s father-in-law.

I found an excellent book on the Sharps, downloadable as a PDF – Know Your Relatives – The Sharps – Gibbs, Graves, Efland, Albright, Loy, Miller, Snodderly, Tillman, and other Related Families by Genevieve E. Peters, perhaps self published (the text is typewritten) in January 1953.

In spite of Ms. Peters work having been completed long before the Genealogical Proof Standard was even a thought in anybody’s mind, she has done an outstanding job with her research, literally following the ancestors’ trail, by car, to personally examine courthouse records. One huge difference for me, though, is that I have the luxury of accessing the same records online from home!

No, she doesn’t cite her sources to today’s EE standards, but she liberally footnotes in my favorite college paper format. Therefore, when she mentions someone on the 1755 tax list of Orange County, North Carolina, I can replicate her work and read the tax list for myself.

Tobias Tillman is mentioned several times in Mrs. Peters’ book, but there is also a short chapter dedicated to his line on pages 150-156. She is a lady after my own heart, as she supports several theories I have about Tobias and his family.

First, Tobias Tillman, in his Revolutionary War pension application, states that he was born mid-June in 1751 or 1752 in Orange County, North Carolina. Well, factually, there is anywhere from 0-50% chance that is true. Orange County was first set off on 31 March 1752, so it is possible that Tobias was born there if born in 1752. However, if he was born in June 1751 and grew up in the area where he was born, he would have been born either in Granville, Johnston or Bladen Counties, as they were the parent counties of Orange.

On the other hand, it is said – UNDOCUMENTED – that his parents were John and Eva Tillman. If so, the only documentary evidence I have come across for John Tillman in Somerset County, Maryland is a land deed in which John, no wife named, sold land there in 1753 and bought no further land in Maryland after that time.

If he is the same John who reportedly married Eva (UNDOCUMENTED and likely wrong) Dryden (as Eva is said to be German, but Dryden is a British surname), then the family seems to have left Maryland when Tobias was a baby.

Mrs. Peters adds a further detail about John and Eva Tillman in her book, one that I suspected – John and Eva reportedly had only two children – Elizabeth and Tobias – before John died (in North Carolina) and Eva remarried to a German man.

More than once I’ve found that one of my brick walls appeared because of the very situation of a spouse dying and a remarriage.

There is conflicting information about John Tillman. One common story – family lore – which I’ve been unable to document – is that John died at Tobias’s home in Preble County, Ohio in 1809 at the age of 105. His purported death conveniently happens before the first census of Ohio was taken. However, I truly doubt that Tobias was shuffling around his very elderly father in the back of a wagon as he moved from North Carolina to Virginia to Tennessee to Ohio. By the time Tobias removed to Preble County, Ohio, c1805, his own son, John, would have been of legal age. It seems much more likely that his son was the early John Tillman in Preble County, not a centenarian father.

Tobias and Catherine Tillman sold land in Montgomery County, Virginia in 1796. In footnote 1 on page 152, a descendant stated that the deed was in German script “probably because his father had been left an orphan at an early age and was raised by his mother’s people, who were German, and he never learned to speak English.” Exactly who the father is – Tobias or Tobias’s father – is unclear. However, this scenario makes more sense in terms of extant records because Tobias Tillman is the only Tillman found in early Orange County, North Carolina records. If John is his father and lived to be over 100 years old and Tobias grew up in Orange County, why isn’t John Tillman, or any Tillman, on the 1755 tax list or the 1779 tax roll?

That supports my theory that Tobias’s father died young, left no other sons besides Tobias, and Tobias’s mother remarried to a German man. Unfortunately, the 1755 tax list of Orange County is 23 handwritten pages long and only the male’s name is listed. There are way too many German families living there and no Tillman marriage, or even just “Eva”, to be found. However, the marriage records begin in 1754, so it is possible that Tobias’s father died shortly after he was born and his mother remarried just before the 1754 records begin.

In spite of the lack of a marriage record for Tobias Tillman and wife, Catherine, preponderance of evidence certainly points to a close association between Tobias and Henry Sharp.

Therefore, next up will be an introduction to Henry Sharp and a factual timeline of his life – as opposed to the many connections to several men of the same name.

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