Tag Archives: Moses 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.

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.