Category Archives: Butler

Will of James Waters of Amelia County, Virginia 1753; Was James WATERS the Father of Rhoda (MNU) Butler, wife of William Butler?

A few days ago, I shared the will of William Butler, dated 5 March 1812 and proved on 27 January 1814 in Amelia County Court, Virginia.

With the scarcity of the Butler surname in Amelia County and marriage records found their for each of his children, I am convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that his daughter Betsey was the wife of Revolutionary War soldier Moses Woosley.

I also speculated as to whether or not it could be proved that William Butler’s wife, Rhoda, was a Walters by birth.

Given that the family lived in Amelia County and records there date back to 1734, I looked for land deeds and probate records for any Walters people I could find. There were absolutely NO men with the Walters surname found. However, I did find WATERS, which is certainly very close in sound and spelling to WALTERS.

I didn’t find any early land records here for many Waters, which I was hoping to find, but when I looked at some of those early deeds for Nicholas Waters, I noticed that his name was sometimes spelled as WATTERS and that, at times, the clerk put loops in the letter T and crossed them, so it certainly would be easy to think that WATTERS was actually WALTERS.

A quick search of probate records for Amelia County did turn up a will for one James Waters, who was fairly young when he died, as he had unmarried daughters. Based on tentative birth years for his children, I believe he was likely born c1705.

Amelia County, Virginia WB 1:99
Source: FamilySearch

Some of the ink has faded, making it almost impossible to read the bottom portion of the page:

In the Name of God Amen, I James Waters of Nottoway parish & county of Amelia Being in perfect Sense & Memory do make Constitute and ordain this to be my Last Will and Testament

Item, I give and bequeath to my Daughter Mary Whitworth one Shilling Sterling and no more She haveing already Received that part of my Estate which I intended for her

Item, I give and Bequeath to my Son John Waters one Shilling Sterling and no more he having already received that part of my Estate which I intended for him

Item, I give and bequeath to my Daughter Mary Ann Hughes one Shilling Sterling and no more She having already received that part of my Estate which I intended for her.

Item, I give and bequeath to my Daughter Catherine Morris one Shilling Sterling and no more She having received that part of my Estate which I intended for her

Item, I give and bequeath to my Daughter Rhoda Waters one Featherbed & the furniture to her and her Heirs for Ever

Item, I give and bequeath to my Son William Waters, one shilling sterling and no more having Received already that part of my Estate which I intended for him

Item, I give and bequeath to my Daughter Mourning Waters fourty Shillings current Money to her and her Heirs

Item I give and bequeath to my Wife (?) after all my just Debts are paid, all the rest (?) and remainder of (. . . .) what (. . . .) quality (?) to her my Said Wife and (. . . . . . . .) rest to be appraised (?) my Ex. . . (?) to give Security (. . . . . . .) and to be my whole and Sole Executrix(. . . . . . . . . . . . . ) I have hereunto Set my hand and fixed my Seal xxi day of June MDCCLIII

Signed sealed published and
(?) to be his last will & Testament in the (?) of us

Gideon Johnson
Saml Goode

At a Court held for Amelia County the 27th Day of September 1753 This Will and Testament of James Waters was presented in Court by the Executrix therein named whom (?) Oath thereto and was also proved by the Oath of Samuel Good one of the witnesses thereto which is admitted to Record

From this will and knowing that Moses Woosley was born in 1758 and his wife, Elizabeth, probably around 1760 and working back to estimate a birth year of c1736 for Rhoda Waters, we can create a prospective family group for James Waters. Because of the mix of sons and daughters listed in James’s will, I think they might be in birth order.

Also, given that the last child is named Mourning, a name often given when the mother died in childbirth, it seems likely that the wife who survived James might be the stepmother of these children.


1. Mary, born c1728; married Mr. Whitworth, before 1753
2. John, born c1730; died after 1753
3. Mary Ann, born c1732; married Mr. Hughes, before 1753
4. Catherine, born c1734; married Mr. Morris, before 1753
5. Rhoda, born c1736; married William Butler, before 1760
6. William, born c1738; died after 1753
7. Mourning, born c1740; died after 1753

Abraham Whitworth, born c1728, with a wife Judith, gave supplies to the troops during the Revolutionary War, as did Moses Morris, born before 1728, wife unknown. These men are potential husbands for Mary Whitworth and Catherine Morris.

Abraham Whitworth and Moses Morris are both on the 1782 census substitute for Amelia County, Virginia, along with one John Hughs Jr. and William Butler, all appearing on Christopher Ford’s list, so they lived in close proximity to each other.

This certainly isn’t definitive proof that Rhoda (MNU) Butler was Rhoda Waters, not Walters, but I think it seems very, very likely given the less common nature of Rhoda as a female name and Waters/Walters sounding so similar.

Perhaps further research into Abraham Whitworth, Moses Morris and John Hughs will yield more information about the Waters family.

Elizabeth Butler, Wife of Rev. War Pensioner Moses Woosley

A number of years ago, I was able to untangle the family of Revolutionary War soldier Moses Woosley, as his estate was involved in a chancery court lawsuit that went on for so many years that grandchildren, heirs of their deceased parents, were named. The litigators were even kind enough to say to where the various family members had migrated through the years, leaving no doubt about the children of Moses Woosley.

Further adding to knowledge about Moses and his wife is the marriage record for Moses Woosley and Elizabeth Butler on 7 May 1789 in Amelia County, Virginia.

Lately, I’ve been on a genealogical trek to break through some of my husband’s brick walls and to verify 17th and 18th century ancestors because others did the research many years ago and I have little documentation for some of the lines.

Elizabeth Butler is one of those lines. Her parents are said to be William Butler and his wife, Rhoda. Rhoda’s maiden name is not documented in any online trees I’ve come across. However, Rhoda isn’t a particularly common given name for females in the 1700s. When I have come across it, I’ve found it generally runs in families.

It just so happens that Moses and Elizabeth named a daughter Rhoda Walters Woosley and this Rhoda is my husband’s 4X great grandmother.

In the late 1700s, it was not common for children to have middle names unless the family was of German/Scandinavian background OR unless a maiden name was being passed down through the family.

Therefore, with Rhoda Walters Woosley having a middle name that is, indeed, an actual surname, it has been said that one of her grandmothers was Rhoda Walters.

A twofold challenge presented itself here – first, to find primary documentation that Elizabeth Butler was the daughter of William and Rhoda Butler and, second, to prove that Rhoda was a Walters by birth.

This post will tackle the first challenge – that Elizabeth was the daughter of William and Rhoda Butler.

Proving my case turned out to be much easier than I expected. Since Moses and Elizabeth married in Amelia County, Virginia, it was likely that the bride, if not the groom, too,  resided there.

Amelia County, Virginia has will books dating back to 1734, in addition to land records which also begin in that year. I began with a search of the probate records and quickly found a will for one William Butler, likely died in late 1813, but before 27 January 1814, when his will was presented and recorded in court records:

I William Butler Senr of the county of Amelia do make my last Will and Testament in manner and form following That is to say. . .

1st I lend to my loving wife Roda during the term of her natural life all my estate both real and personal for her reasonable support and if the profits should not e sufficient for that purpose I then give to her such part of my Estate which she may think proper to sell for that purpose provided at her death should there be any part of the proceeds of such sale it shall revert back to my estate subject to a distribution here after mentioned

2ndly I give after the death of my wife Roda to my two sons Zachariah and Isaac one shilling each to be raised out of my estate and paid them by my  Executors

3rdly after the death of my wife I give all the residue of my Estate both real and personal to be divided in manner and form following among my son William and daughters Nancy Wade Polly Bromfield and Betsey Wooseley; that is to say the land to be equally divided both in quality and quantity by men which they or a majority of them devise; giving William his part where the house are which he formerly occupyed. If he should chuse it and runing the line or lines for quantity in such directions as to them (?) seem just and right also Nancy Wades Lot of Land adjoining the land whereon she now lives provided she may chuse it to be laid of as in the case of Williams Lott but if the said William or Nancy should prefer having their land laid of in common with the others they have a right to do so The personal part of my Estate is to be sold on a credit of twelve months and the proceeds thereof to be equally divided among the above named William Nancy Poley and Betsey: and Lastly I do hereby appoint Rodophil Jeter executor of this my Last Will and Testament hereby revoking all other wills or testaments heretofore made by me. In witness whereof I have set my hand and affixed my seal this 5th day of March eighteen hundred and twelve

William (X)  Butler Seal
His Mark

Signed and acknowledged in presence of us
William Wood
Anderson Jeter
William Green

In Amelia County Court 27 January 1814
This Last Will and Testament of William Butler decd was exhibited into court and proved by the oaths of the witnesses thereto subscribed sworn to be Rodophil Jeter the Executor therein named and ordered to be recorded and on the motion of said Exor who with John Lane and John T. Leigh his securities entered into and acknowledged bond in the penalty of one thousand dollars conditioned as the court directs certificate is granted him for obtaining probate thereof in due form

J.T. Leigh Seal

From this it can be determined that William and Rhoda Butler had the following children living in March 1812, the date William wrote his will. While birth order is uncertain, if we assume that the sons married around age 21 and the daughters at age 18, we would have:

  1. William, born c1761; married Martha Farley, 9 July 1782, Amelia County, Virginia
  2. Zachariah, born c1766; married Elizabeth Noble, 6 December 1787, Amelia County, Virginia
  3. Nancy, born c1768; married Claiborn Wade/Ward, 4 April 1786, Amelia County, Virginia
  4. Isaac, born c1770; married Rebecca Noble, 28 October 1791, Amelia County, Virginia
  5. Elizabeth (Betsey), born c1771; married Moses Woosley, 7 May 1789, Amelia County, Virginia
  6. Mary (Polly), born c1774; married William Brumfield, November 1792, Amelia County, Virginia

There are two other Butler marriages in Amelia County in this time period – John Butler who married Sarah Clardy, 25 September 1788 and Archibald Butler, who married Milly Clardy on 13 January 1789 or 13 January 1798. Both dates are found online.

It isn’t known how these men are related to William, if at all. It’s possible that both died as young married men with no surviving children.

It is also unclear why William left Zachariah and Isaac only one shilling each. The only commonality I can see is that both married Noble girls. Perhaps William had a falling out with that family or else the sons received land and/or money before William made his will.

I am well satisfied that Elizabeth Butler, wife of Moses Woosley, was indeed the daughter of William Butler and his wife, Rhoda.

Next part of the challenge – was Rhoda’s maiden name Walters? In a few days, we will take a look at possible parents for William Butler’s wife, Rhoda.






Who Were The Grandmothers of Rhoda Walters Woosley, c1792-Before 1838?

Rhoda Walters Woosley was the 4x great grandmother of my husband, Dave. She was born about 1792, likely in Virginia. Rhoda married John Perkins on 10 October 1808 in Halifax County, Virginia.  She may have died giving birth to their 8th child, a daughter, Louisa, born about 1837.

Rhoda was the daughter of Revolutionary War soldier and pensioner, Moses Woosley and his wife, Elizabeth Butler. Thanks to a lawsuit filed by Moses’s heirs, his children and some of the grandchildren are well documented. Both Rhoda and husband John were deceased at the time of this lawsuit in 1844.

Moses Woosley’s ancestry has been the subject of a lot of speculation, but it seems quite certain that he was the son of Thomas and Elizabeth Woosley, who lived in Halifax County, Virginia. No marriage record has been found for Thomas and Elizabeth, although they likely married about 1752.

Moses’ wife, also Elizabeth, was the daughter of William and Rhoda Butler. No marriage record has been found for them, either, although they likely married in the late 1750’s.

It also appears that the Woosleys were living in Albemarle County, Virginia during the years in which their children were born and the Butlers were living in Amelia County, Virginia. If the families lived near county lines, at the closest point to each other, there would only be the newly formed (1749) narrow Cumberland County separating them.

I have not come across very many people who have done original research on this family, but I have seen many errors relating to the Woosley and Butler families regurgitated through many decades, starting way before the internet age.


Rhoda is not a common given name, especially for the mid-to-late 1700’s, and Walters is a common surname. Genealogical lore has stated that Rhoda was named for her “grandmother,” but which one or was she named for each?

Moses and Elizabeth Butler Woosley had eight children and they gave most of their children middle names, although only initials are known for some of them:

Moses Martin Woosley
Rhoda Walters Woosley
Sally B. Woosley
Holman H. Woosley
Elizabeth Woosley
Samuel S. Woosley
Nancy Woosley
James T. Woosley

Some have said that Rhoda’s maternal grandmother was Rhoda Walters. Others have said that She was named for each grandmother and that her paternal grandmother was Elizabeth Walters.

Since nothing is known about the Woosley or Butler forebears, for certain, beyond the parents of Moses and Elizabeth, it is not known if “Martin” or even “Holman” were surnames of close family  members.

There are some Amelia County transcribed personal property tax lists online for the 1760’s. William Butler is found on them, but there are no Walters at all. However, that doesn’t by any means prove a thing about who Rhoda was named for.

I would love to hear from anyone who has any kind of documentation for Thomas and Elizabeth Woosley or William and Rhoda Butler.

In the meantime, I have added this mystery to my ever-growing “to do” list in Salt Lake City in February. Probate, tax lists and land deeds might help to provide some documentation.