Tag Archives: Halifax Co VA Chancery Court Lawsuit

Moses Woosley, Revolutionary War Pensioner

NOTE: If you are a descendant of Moses Woosley and would like a copy of the entire probate file, please leave a comment with contact information and I will be happy to email you the file. Even as a PDF, it is too large for me to post on my blog.

Moses Woosley was born in 1758 in Buckingham County, Virginia, according to the account found in his Revolutionary War pension file, given under oath in Halifax County, Virginia on 3 September 1832, and eventually assigned the file number S6442.

Birth records were not mandated by the government at that time and no Woosley family Bible has been located, so Moses’s statement of his age is as close to an official record that has been found.

On the other hand, the name of his wife is known as a marriage bond was recorded and filed on 7 May 1789 at the Amelia County Courthouse in Virginia and indicated an upcoming marriage between Moses Woosley and Elizabeth Butler, daughter of William Butler. (A will found in Amelia County, dated 1812 for one William Butler included a child named Elizabeth Woosley.)

Many insist on calling Moses “Thomas Moses Woosley,” but I don’t believe that “Thomas” was ever part of his name. First, middle names were not commonly given to children born to parents of British origins in that period of colonial America. Second, and more importantly, I have never seen any document about Moses that ever calls him “Thomas.” There are clues that Moses’s father might be Thomas Woosley, but that doesn’t mean that Moses was named for his father and had both a first and middle name.

Family lore also has given Moses twelve sons and one daughter. However, that is fiction. A combination of Moses’s marriage bond, his Revolutionary War pension file and his probate file offer conclusive proof of his wife, his children and those of his grandchildren born to his own deceased children.

Moses’ pension file includes both his statement of his age and birth place and statement relating his service to the United States during the American Revolution:

Moses Woosley, under oath, stated to the Justice of the peace of Halifax County, Virginia that he was seventy-four years old. That he “enlisted in the Army of the United States to the best of his recollection in the month of December 1776 or in the month of January 1777 for three years with Ensign Samuel Jones in the County of Amelia in the State of Virginia and was attached to Captain James Foster’s Company and marched to Dumfries where we joined the 15th Regiment under Col. Mason, at that place where we were enoculated with the small pox and remained there untill we became well, and then marched through Alexandria Georgetown to Baltimore and from thence to Philadelphia, and from thee to the best of my recollection to the White Plains in the State of New York where we joined the main Army under Genl. Washington, I was transferred to Capt. Grays Company and was under the command of Col. Ennis in Genl. Woodfords Brigade and I was with them in the battle of Germantown and at Stoney Point on the north River and I was in many skirmishes during the three years that I served under this enlistment. I was discharged on the first day of January 1780 at Philadelphia, and came home with Richardson Booker who was discharged with me at the same time, after which I served three tours of Duty in the militia Service, I was at the Siege at gC in the battle near Camden when Genl. Gates was defeated, and was present when lord Cornwallis surrendered himself and his Army to Genl. Washington. My discharges are lost and cannot be found. I have no documentary evidence and know of no living person that was in Service with me that I can prove it by – I was born i the County of Buckingham in the State of Virginia – the Record of which is yet in my possession (Note: The “record” has not been further identified and I know of no one who has possession of the record today. It may have been lost with time.) I lived in Amelia County, Virginia when I entered the Service of the United States – after I was discharged from the Service I came to the County of Halifax and have lived in that County ever since.

I hereby relinquish every claim whatever to a pension or an annuity, except the present, and I declare that my name is not on the pension roll of the agency of any state.”

Moses X Woosley

Moses’ statement omitted details of  one brutal winter he spent in service with General Washington, that of Winter 1777,  when on 19 December, General Washington and his men set up camp at Valley Forge. Moses’ regiment, the 15th Virginia, is found on the muster rolls for Valley Forge.

A couple of other documents, part of Moses Woosley’s probate, File #14 in Halifax County Courthouse, names his direct heirs.  Moses’s heirs filed a lawsuit against David Tribble and his wife (also an heir) over his handling of the estate:

Undated Petition

To the Worshipful Court of Halifax County in Chancery sitting humbly complaining shew unto your worships your orators Holman H. Ousley, Samuel Ousley and 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 and Grand-children his heirs and distributees vix Holman H. Ousley, Samuel S. Ousley, James T. Ousley, Nancy W. Tribble the wife of David Tribble, Nancy F. Keeling, Harrison B. Keeling, Sarah Ann Keeling, Mary W. Keeling, Albert P. Keeling, Alexander Keeling, Martha E. Keeling and Susan F. Keeling an infant the children of William Keeling and Sally B. formerly Ousley his wife both of whom died in the lifetime of Moses Ousley, Elijah S. Perkins, Constance H. Perkins, Moses E. Perkins, Samuel H. Perkins, Elizabeth Ann Perkins, Mary W. Perkins, John R. Perkins and George V. Perkins (the last two infants) the children of John Perkins and Rhoda W. his wife formerly Ousley which said Rhoda died in the lifetime of Moses Ousley, and Johnson M. Hancock the husband of Elizabeth Hancock formerly Ousley who has died since the death of Moses Ousley.

The petition ends by saying that the estate has been administered by David Tribble and that the acreage and slaves cannot be divided equitably. Permission was being sought to sell the land and slaves so that distribution of the estate could be completed.

Further there is an undated amendment to the original petition filed in March 1847 that states that since the original petition, Johnson M. Hancock, part defendant in the original bill, had died intestate. No Hancock children were named in this petition.

The next document indicates that an heir was omitted from the original list of heirs and there is no indication of how Sally Brumfield found out about the lawsuit in Virginia. It also states that “your orators” have become aware of Sally Dickerson, whom they did not know existed! Hard to believe when she was born in Halifax County and was a child of their oldest brother, Moses Martin, and Samuel S. Woosley married Nancy Frances, likely a sister of Sally Frances Woosley!

Her deposition was taken on 16 August 1847 in Garrard County, Kentucky at the house of Morgan Dickerson. It seems that there was another son of Moses Woosley, first born Moses Martin Woosley, who had died, that this son had married and had one child, a daughter, Sally Ann Martin Woosley and that they had been omitted from the original list of heirs provided to the court:

“The said Deponent being first carefully examined, cautioned and sworn on the Holy Evangelist of Almighty God to tell the whole truth doth depose and say –

That many years since she intermarried with Moses Martin Woosley in the County of Halifax and state of Virginia and by that marriage with Moses Martin Woosley she had one live born child, a daughter whose name was called Sally Ann Martin Woosley, that the daughter intermarried with Morgan Dickerson some years since in the County of Jessamine and State of Kentucky, and that her said daughter Sally Ann Martin Dickerson (late Sally Ann Martin Woosley) is now living in the County of Garrard and State of Kentucky and that she is the identical child born of her by her marriage with Moses Martin Woosley, that she was born in the County of Halifax in the State of Virginia and was about six years old as (she the said Sally Brumfield) verily believing, when she the said Sally Brumfield moved to Kentucky – that she lived with her (the said Sally Brumfield) from her birth to her marriage with the said Morgan Dickerson – that she is the only child by her marriage with Moses Martin Woosley aforesaid and after moving to Kentucky she (the said Brumfield) late Sally Woosley intermarried with Walter Brumfield in the County of Jessamine and State of Kentucky – that the said Walter Brumfield departed this life upwards of four years ago – that she the said Sally Brumfield moved from the County of Halifax and State of Virginia to the County of Jessamine and State of Kentucky since her removal from Virginia – that he maiden name was Sally Frances – that she came from Virginia in Company with her father Vincent Frances, and her brother Osborne Frances and her family and her sister Fanny Frances, that her husband Moses Martin Woosley died about three years after her marriage with him – that he was the oldest son of Moses Woosley of the County of Halifax and state of Virginia – and that no advancement of any amount as she is advised or believing was ever made by Moses Woosley in this lifetime to her said Deceased husband Moses Martin Woosley. And further this deponent saith not.

Sally X Brumfield

There is no indication of whether the omission was purposeful or accidental. Perhaps those in Virginia had lost contact with the two Sallys, but that begs the question of how Sally Brumfield knew about Moses Woosley’s death and the lawsuit. It appears one or more of the heirs intentionally deceived the court when a list of all heirs was filed with the court.

This wasn’t the only questionable aspect to this lawsuit. Again, there is no indication of how the court was made aware that Moses Woosley kept an account of advancements made to his children through paper receipts that each child or spouse signed and the receipts were witnessed.

To summarize, children received cash and property with the following values: William and Sally Keeling received $145, John and Rhoda Perkins received $765, Holman H. received $850, Samuel S. received $782, James T. received $730 and Johnson and Elizabeth Hancock received $575. No receipts were recorded for Moses Martin Woosley, supporting his widow’s statement that, to her knowledge, they had received nothing from Moses.

On 13 April 1848, the court decreed that the distribution should be made as follows:

Morgan and Sally Dickerson, $1121.98. The administrator of the Hancock estate received $298.96, James T. Woosley received $391.29, Samuel S. Woosley received $339.29, Holman H. woosley received $271.29, each Keeling heir received $108.47, each Perkins heir received $44.53. David Tribble and his wife received $457.29, which included the amount due his wife as an heir and also for costs out of pocket against the estate.

From these documents, the family of Moses Woosley can be partially constructed, with his children proven and some grandchildren also proven. Birth years for his children are estimates based on his marriage date and census records. All children were likely born in Halifax County, Virginia as Moses stated that he had lived there from the end of the war until the time when he applied for his pension.

Moses Woosley and Elizabeth Butler had the following proven heirs:

1. Moses Martin, born about 1790; married Sally Frances (30 Nov 1812). He died about 1815.
a. Sally Ann Martin who married Morgan Dickerson
2. Rhoda Walters, born about 1792; married John Perkins. Rhoda died between about 1837 and August 1844.
a. Elijah S.
b. Constance H.
c. Moses E.
d. Samuel H.
e. Elizabeth Ann
f. Mary W.
g. John R.
h. George V.
3. Sally B., born about 1793; married William Keeling. She died before August 1844.
a. Nancy F.
b. Harrison B.
c. James C.
d. Sarah Ann
e. Mary W.
f. Albert P.
g. Alexander
h. Martha E.
i. Susan F.
4. Holman H., born about 1797. (Not in lawsuit, but he married Nancy Tribble.)
5. Elizabeth, born about 1798, married Johnson M. Hancock.  She died after Moses Woosley but before the suit was settled. No children were mentioned in the lawsuit and her portion of the estate was paid to the administrator of her husband’s estate.
6. Samuel S., born about 1801. (Not in lawsuit, but he married Nancy Frances.)
7. Nancy, born about 1806; married David Tribble. No children named in the court papers.
8. James T., born about 1807; (Not in lawsuit, but married Ruth Ladd.) No children named in the court papers.

So ends the Moses Woosley estate lawsuit in the Chancery Court of Halifax County, Virginia.