Category Archives: Woosley

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.






52 Documents in 52 Weeks #5 – Probate Packets & Moses Woosley’s Heirs

Moses Woosley was a Revolutionary War soldier, born, bred and died in Virginia. The exact date of his death is unknown, but probate on his estate was in progress by the summer of 1844 and continued on for over ten years.

There is a ton of misinformation to be found online about Moses’s children and his purported father and siblings, partly because the surname is not common and there is a second spelling – Ousley or Owsley – which researchers keep trying to make into one big happy Woosley/Ousley/Owsley family when there is no proof to support the theory.

Even in pre-internet days, I was overwhelmed with all of the Woosley queries and articles to be found in newsletters and journals, but few cited any sources. Therefore, I was quite amazed when I contacted the Halifax County, Virginia probate court to ask if there was a will or estate administration for Moses and was told there was an 87 page packet sitting there, waiting to be discovered!

This was one of my more expensive genealogical purchases, especially for the time, as the courthouse charged $1.00 per page copy. I bit the bullet and received a goldmine in return.

Here is the most important page in terms of genealogical information:

Page 42 (not numbered) of 87 Pages

Here is the transcription of about 2/3 of the page:

To the Worshipful Court of Halifax County in Chan
cery sitting humbly complaining shew unto your
Worships your orators >Holman Ousley, Samuel Ousley, James T. Ousley, that some short time since
a certain Moses Ousley of this County died intestate
and seized and possessed of a small tract of poor
land containing as it is estimated about 400 acres
and eight slaves – that the said Moses Ousley left the
following children & grand-children his heirs & distribu
tees viz. Holman H. Ousley, Samuel S. Ousley, James T.
Ousley, Nancy (the) Tribble the wife of David Tribble,
Nancy F. Keeling, Harrison B. Keeling, James C. Keeling,
Sarah Ann Keeling, Mary W. Keeling, Albert P. Keeling
Alexander Keeling, Martha E. Keeling & Susan F. Keeling
an infant the children of William Keeling and Sally B.
formerly Ousley his wife both of whom died in the
life time of Moses Ousley, Elijah S. Perkins, Constance
H. Perkins, Moses E. Perkins, Samuel H. Perkins, Elizabeth
Ann Perkins & George V. Perkins (the last two infants) the
children of John Perkins and Rhoda W his wife former
ly Ousley which said Rhoda died in the life time of
Moses Ousley, & Johnson M. Hancock the husband of
Elizabeth Hancock formerly Ousley who has died since
the death of Moses Ousley. . . .

There is absolutely no doubt about the names of the children of Moses Woosley – Holman H., Samuel S., James T., Nancy, Sally B. and Rhoda W. and Elizabeth. There is also no doubt as to which children predeceased Moses – Sally B. Keeling and Rhoda W. – and daughter Elizabeth died not long after her father. There is also no doubt as to who the surviving grandchildren were. It is all there in black and white.

Other pages even state to where the various children migrated. I wish all probate packets contained this kind of information!

Not all probate records are complete and many don’t bother to look them up because “it’s not a will.” That doesn’t mean that there is no genealogical treasure to be found.