The Memoir of Postmaster General Cave Johnson


This post has to do with the ancestry of my great-grandmother, Margaret “Maggie” Lillian Johnson McKeown. In her ancestry, she has Johnson, Nettles, Green, McNeely, McKain, Lauderdale, Noel, Simmons, Singletary, Holman, Smithers, Bass, and Harrell. She married James Thomas McKeown, and they had ten children together. All of the children lived to adulthood.  Two cannot be seen in the photo. The youngest pictured is a grandson. My grandfather, Willie Green McKeown, is standing directly behind his father. The family lived mostly in Lee County, Texas, and in Cherokee County, Texas.

Maggie’s father was Cave Johnson (1824-1876), an early settler of Beaumont, Texas.  Maggie’s mother was Margaret Elizabeth Nettles, who has known Nansemond (Native American) ancestry through the Bass family.      

Cave came to Texas from Tennessee as a teenager, got land, and settled in Jefferson County. He was a prominent hotel keeper, boat captain (on the Laura), and public servant.

Below is a photo of their home/hotel and a tree that Cave Johnson planted.  It was later known in Beaumont as “The O’Brien Oak” because George O’Brien bought the property.  The photo of the house and tree was taken many years after his death.  It had to be cut down in the 1970s due to disease.  

Letter from the Texas Land Office

Reasons for Writing

There was another Cave Johnson (1826-1922) in Texas around the same time and the same age. He is NOT directly related through any known legitimate line. His death certificate says his father was “unknown” and his mother was a Miss Shote (possibly Choat). His descendants have tried to claim the same family connections, without evidence. Both of these Cave Johnsons served in the Confederacy in Texas, so it really does get confusing trying to sort them out.

It should be noted that there were many boys all over the country who were named Cave Johnson. That is because Maggie’s father, Cave Johnson, was the nephew of Postmaster General and former Congressman from Tennessee, Cave Johnson. He is the tall man pictured here in the James K. Polk Cabinet. I am including his memoir in this post in order to prove family relationships. It was published in the book Picturesque Clarksville (Tennessee), published in 1887 and available at

I am writing about this because of my recent interest in Lewis “Bear” Green‘s connection to my family. There is a lot of speculative nonsense out there about Lewis Green’s ancestors, and I won’t publish any of it here. Take note: I have found no evidence that he was part of the “Red Greens” of Culpeper County, Virginia.

The pedigree below explains the family relationships, and I am hopeful that Postmaster General Cave Johnson’s memoir will shed further light on many of the individuals listed. I got into the DAR based on his grandfather, Henry Johnson. His father was Brig. General Thomas Johnson, and his brother was my ancestor Henry Minor Johnson, M.D.

Excerpts from the Memoir

[William’s wife’s name (below) was probably Dianna Adams, not Morgan.]

[See below: Henry M. Johnson married Sallie Green, sister of Colonel Lewis Green . . .Note that this brother signed her marriage bond to Henry M. Johnson.]

. . . The rest of the memoir is mostly about Postmaster General Cave Johnson’s political career and can be found here.

Documents Related to Henry M. Johnson and Sarah “Sallie” Green

1830 Fayette County, Tennessee, Census. It is assumed Sarah Green Johnson had other family members living with her.


The document below explains what I knew back in 2016.  I NOW believe it is a certainty that Sally Green Johnson’s father was Zachariah Green (Abt. 1760-1840), and her grandfather was Lewis Green (1724-1784).

Fayette County, West Virginia, Skaggs

James Skaggs Family (Continued from previous post)

James and Elizabeth Miller Skaggs

James (1780-1864) and Elizabeth (1787-1869) were very early settlers in Nicholas County in the part that later became Fayette County. They had moved from Monroe County about 1822. These are their 13 children, as mentioned in the previous post. I am descended from Thomas, Susan, and Cynthia.

The photo came from Gary Peck, who manages the Antioch Baptist Church Museum near Ansted, West Virginia. Gary Peck has said that it was part of his family’s picture collection and was originally a tintype.  I have tried to improve and colorize it, using technology at and

Note that Fayette County was created in part from Nicholas County in 1831, and West Virginia did not become a state separate from Virginia until 1863.

  1. Phebe Skaggs, born 21 Feb 1806 in Monroe County, (West) Virginia, died in 1880. She married Alderson Withrow in Sept. 1822 in Nicholas County, (West) Virginia. Notes: Phebe was almost certainly born in Monroe County, since her parents were married there, and her younger brother Thomas was born there. Her birth date is included in the Skaggs Family Bible in possession of Antioch Baptist Church and Museum near Ansted, West Virginia.  The family did not move to New Haven until later. Phebe was probably named for her aunt, Phebe Miller, sister of Elizabeth Miller Skaggs. Phebe was at one time a member of the Hopewell Baptist Church and both she and Alderson were members of the Lick Creek Church. In the History of Summers County, West Virginia, she is mistakenly referred to as the daughter of Dr. Jimmy Skaggs.
  2. Thomas Skaggs, born 14 Nov 1808 in Monroe County, (West) Virginia, died 15 May 1877 in Sugar Creek, Fayette County, West Virginia. Thomas married Julia Ann Hunter in January 1833 in Monroe County, (West) Virginia.  Notes: At age 54, he enlisted in the 22nd Virginia Infantry during the Civil War but was sent home for advanced age. His physical description was listed as fair complexion, dark hair and eyes, and height of 5 feet, 9 and one-half inches. Thomas married his mother’s first cousin. Thomas was enumerated in Fayette County 1840-1870. In every census checked, he was listed as a farmer. He and Julia Ann lived on Sugar Creek near Marvel. He is referred to as Thomas L. Skaggs in History of Greenbrier County, West Virginia. The “L” may not be correct.
  3. Susan W. Skaggs, born 24 Feb 1810 in Monroe County, (West) Virginia, died Abt. 1885 in Fayette County, West Virginia. She married Samuel Withrow in June 1829 in Nicholas County (West) Virginia.  Notes:  She was probably named for her maternal grandmother, Susan Ensminger Miller. Birth month could be December. Both February and December have been seen, so there has very likely been a transcription error by someone. In 1870, Mary E. Sadler, Susan’s niece, was also living in the home. When she signed Samuel’s death record, she signed her name as Susan W. Withrow. Her name is rarely seen as Susanna.
  4.  Valentine Felton Skaggs, born 15 June 1812 in Monroe County, (West) Virginia, died Abt. 1885 in Fayette County, West Virginia. He married Sarah Hunter in January 1832 in Monroe County, (West) Virginia.
    Valentine Skaggs
    Notes:  Valentine Felton Skaggs was named for his maternal grandfather, Valentine Felton Miller. Valentine and his brother Thomas married sisters. In 1840 Valentine Skaggs was given a land grant on the Waters of Mill Creek. His second wife was Martha Grose Keenan, a widow.
  5. Frances “Franky” Skaggs, born 8 Mar. 1814 in Monroe County, (West) Virginia, died Abt. 1847 in Fayette County, (West) Virginia, from typhoid fever. She married Nicholas Kious in August 1829 in Nicholas County, (West) Virginia. Nicholas also died before 1850.
  6. Cynthia Skaggs, born 8 June 1816 in Monroe County, (West) Virginia, died 2 May 1849 in Fayette County, (West) Virginia. She married Abraham Vandal, Jr. in March 1835 in Fayette County, (West) Virginia.  Notes: Cynthia appears to have been born before her parents moved from Monroe County. Cynthia died while her children were still young, but the cause of death is not known. Her husband, Abraham Vandal, Jr., remarried and had other children.
  7. Hiram Skaggs, born 23 Jun 1818 in Monroe County (West) Virginia, died Dec 1901 in Fayette County, West Virginia. He married Mary Potter Miller in March 1840 in Fayette County, West Virginia. Notes:  Hiram was born in Monroe County, according to the death record of his son Albert. Hiram’s parents probably moved to the New Haven area shortly after he was born. At that time, it would have been in Nicholas County. Hiram was enumerated in the Fayette County census records 1850-1880. Part of that time, his mother-in-law Barbary Miller was living in the home.
  8. James Pemberton Skaggs, born 23 May 1820
    James Pemberton Skaggs
    in New Haven, Nicholas County, (West) Virginia, died 17 August 1899 in Fayette County, West Virginia. He married Martha Jane Potter in April 1848 in Fayette County, (West) Virginia. Notes: James was probably named for his father. Some records have his name as James Penelton Skaggs. According to the page from the family Bible, his name was James Pembleton Skaggs. 
  9. Cyrus M. Skaggs, born 28 Dec 1822 in New Haven, Nicholas County, (West) Virginia, died 17 August 1899 in Fayette County, West Virginia. He married Rachel Coleman in September 1842 in Fayette County, (West) Virginia. Notes: His parents were living in New Haven in Nicholas County by the time he was born. Cyrus was a farmer, according to census records. He served in the 22nd Virginia Infantry during the Civil War. In 1870, Falls of Kanawha Census showed Cyrus and Rachel having several children of William Alexander and Nancy Skaggs McGraw living in their home: Cyrus Skaggs, 48; Rachael, 52; Parthenia, 30; Susan, 20; Alexander, 18; Martha, 4; James L., 12; Harriett, 9; George W., 6.
  10. Elizabeth Skaggs, born 28 Oct 1825 in Nicholas County, (West) Virginia, died Abt. 1843 in Fayette County, (West) Virginia. She married Clark Duckett Crow in September 1842 in Fayette County, (West) Virginia. Notes: Elizabeth was probably named for her mother, Elizabeth Miller Skaggs. Some family records have the birthdate as October 23, 1824. Elizabeth and Clark were married by William Carnafix and were married less than two years. There is no evidence that they had any children. Elizabeth’s death before 1844 is assumed, since Clark married Susannah Kious in August 1844. Susannah and Elizabeth were first cousins, because their mothers were sisters. Clark and Susannah had four children.
  11. Leah Skaggs, born 28 Nov 1827 in Nicholas County, (West) Virginia, died Bef. 1860. She married Shadrack Saddler in June 1852 in Fayette County, (West) Virginia. Notes: Leah had two daughters before she died (prior to 1860), and Shadrack remarried.
  12. William and Sarah Skaggs EvansSarah Manerva “Sally” Skaggs, born 21 Sep 1830 in New Haven, Nicholas County, Virginia, died 18 Feb 1913 in Mt. Lookout, Nicholas County, West Virginia. She married William A. Evans in September 1847 in Fayette County, (West) Virginia.  Notes:   Sarah Manerva was born after her parents moved to New Haven (Ansted), but at that time it was still in Nicholas County. Her name in census records is shown variously as “Sally” and “Sarah.” This should rule out speculation that Sally and Sarah were two different children of James and Elizabeth.  She and her husband moved to Mt. Lookout, in Nicholas County, in 1848. According to the book Nicholas County West Virginia Heritage, published in 2000 and housed at Clayton Library in Houston, William and Sally conveyed land to Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church in 1875 for a new building. Sally was still alive when the 1910 census was taken on April 20th. At that time, she was living in Nicholas County with her son, Alex Evans. The listings of children in various census records show many discrepancies. There are three blank markers in the Mt. Lookout Baptist Church cemetery for the William A. Evans family. This information is from the book Nicholas County WV Cemeteries by Helen Stinson.
  13. Edna “Edny” Skaggs, born 28 Apr 1834 in New Haven, Fayette County, (West) Virginia. She married Alexander “Alec” Evans in November 1852 in Fayette County, (West) Virginia. Notes:  Edna was enumerated at age 17 with her parents in the 1850 Fayette County, West Virginia census. After her marriage, she and Alexander moved to Mt. Lookout in Nicholas County (1854). Edna was enumerated with her husband 1860-1900 in Wilderness District, Nicholas County. However, the family could not be located in 1870. In 1880, the household included Sofina Sadler, 19, niece, and Lucien Huddleston, 9, nephew. Lucien was adopted by Edna and Alexander. In 1900 Edna stated she had given birth to only two children.  In 1910, Edna was still in Wilderness District, but living alone. It appears that Edna had no living descendants at the time of her death. No marriage is known for either of her children. A female, Phanny, age 4, was enumerated in the 1860 census, but the child does not appear on subsequent census records, unless she is the same person as Sofina Sadler in 1880 census. Other researchers report they are one and the same.




Fayette County Skaggs Families

James Skaggs and Elizabeth Miller

My guess is that most of the people around Ansted in Fayette County, West Virginia, are related somehow to James Skaggs and Elizabeth Miller. I am descended from them three times. They are my GGGG grandparents.

James Skaggs, born 25 February 1780, in Greenbrier County, Virginia (now West Virginia), and Elizabeth Miller, born 28 October 1787, in Augusta or Rockbridge County, Virginia, were married in March 1805 in Monroe County, (West) Virginia. A record of this marriage can be found in Monroe County, West Virginia: A List of Marriage Bonds 1799-1846, by Oren Morton.

On the copy of the original bond below, signed by James Scaggs and Valentine Miller (Elizabeth’s father), Elizabeth’s name is shown as Betsey.

The marriage was recorded in Monroe County, Virginia, but that is now in West Virginia. Researchers are sometimes confused about the location. They were not married in the town of Monroe, which is in Amherst County, Virginia.    

There is no official record of the birthdates. The only sources for the birthdates of James and Elizabeth were numerous family members who passed down information from child to grandchild to great-grandchild, and so on. My mother interviewed many Skaggs descendants in Fayette County over several years in the 1950s. Her information agrees with the note below, which was passed on to me from another relative (Milburn Skaggs) and was handwritten by Lula Mae Skaggs Harrah (1888-1954), a great-granddaughter of James and Elizabeth. I do not know if the initial “B” is correct because I have not seen it elsewhere. I have seen the initial “A” but without documentation. Census records do not contradict these dates.

Elizabeth was the daughter of Valentine Felton Miller and Susana Ensminger, and was probably named for her paternal grandmother, Catherine Elizabeth Ensminger Miller. Elizabeth’s father and mother were related through the Ensminger line.

Most descendants of James Skaggs believe he was the son of Charles Skaggs, who deeded his land in the Ansted area to James and his brother Joseph. This fact has been restated many times by family members and in local history, particularly in the November 2, 1911, issue of the Fayette Journal (online at The notes of Lula Mae Skaggs agree; however, I have not seen evidence in official documents.

Joseph’s land included a home that was later known as Tyree Tavern. This is a very well-known historical site in Ansted. It was right around the corner from my grandma’s house, and I remember it being pointed out to me and being told that it had been Joseph Skaggs’s house.

                        Halfway House – Tyree Tavern – Home of Joseph Skaggs

A marker on the site provides information. Much more detail is provided on the Tyree family site.

The mother of James Skaggs and Joseph Skaggs is unknown. However, her name was NOT Lucy or Laura Thompson. A different Charles Skaggs married someone by that name. This can be found in Archibald Thompson’s Diary, which is online. There was also a different Charles Skaggs in Putnam County, Georgia, who had a brother named James.

Shirley Ulaki’s book Royalty Among Us says that after Charles died, James was raised by his grandfather, Thomas Skaggs, of Wolf Creek, Monroe County. No evidence has been found to contradict this, since there is evidence that James was living in Monroe County. Records show that his uncle, John Skaggs, deeded him some land there in 1802, shortly before James got married. Perhaps this was part of his inheritance from his father, but that has not been verified.

I could not find James Skaggs in census records for 1810, but he is shown in the 1820 census for Nicholas County. Dyer’s Index to Land Grants shows James Skaggs obtaining a grant in 1822 there on the waters of New River. He was very involved in the development of the area around Ansted and is often mentioned in official records as reported in History of Fayette County, West Virginia, by J.T Peters and H.B. Carden, first published in 1926. This is online at

The book Virginia Postmasters and Post Offices by Elizabeth Axelson at Clayton Library in Houston lists James as the first postmaster of Mt. Cove in Nicholas County. Fayette County was formed from Nicholas County in 1831. After 1837, James served as Sheriff and as Justice of the Peace. Beginning in 1840, James Skaggs appeared in the Fayette County census.

In the records of Lula Mae Skaggs and Grover Cleveland Skaggs (great-grandchildren) the only children were the 13 seen here. The dates can be verified in county records and will be shown in later posts about this family.

This Bible record of unknown origin confirms the birthdates of most of the children. Some people list Louisa Skaggs as one of their children. She was NOT the daughter of James and Elizabeth Miller Skaggs. There were other Skaggs families throughout southern West Virginia, and I have not confirmed her parents. This record names Phebe, Thomas, Susan, Valentine, Frances, Cynthia, Hiram, and James Pemberton. It does not show Cyrus, Elizabeth, Leah, Sarah, and Edna, the last five children. There are some Skaggs-related family photos and items at Antioch Baptist Church Museum in Ansted, but I have not been there and cannot confirm what they have. Here is a link with more information.

Skaggs Bible, Owner Unknown

I do not know the exact date of death for either James or Elizabeth, but from the Fayette County probate documents below, it appears James died between October 1863 and October 1864. My records say that Elizabeth died in 1869, but I have no documentation for that. I do not know where they are buried, so I would be grateful to hear from anyone who does know.

Will Books, 1832-1969; Author: West Virginia. County Court (Fayette County); Probate Place: Fayette, West Virginia

Many people are related to James and Elizabeth, and much has been written about them. I am indebted to all those who have already done so much research on this family.

Finally, I have included census transcriptions from

Census Records

1830; Census Place: Nicholas, Virginia; Series: M19; Roll: 198; Page: 189; Family History Library Film: 0029677

1840; Census Place: Fayette, Virginia; Page: 151

1850; Census Place: District 14, Fayette, Virginia; Roll: M432_943; Page: 344A; Image: 293

The Kious children shown were the children of Frances Skaggs and her husband, Nicholas Kious, both deceased by 1850.

1860; Census Place: District 3, Fayette, Virginia; Roll: M653_1344; Page: 374; Family History Library Film: 805344

I believe the child listed as Mary E. Skaggs was actually Mary E. Sadler, daughter of Leah Skaggs Sadler, and her husband, Shadrack Sadler.  Leah had died by this time, so that is probably why she was with her grandparents.

Patriot Ancestors of K Barrera Listed with the DAR*

I’m proud of my Revolutionary War patriot ancestors!

Ancestor Search link is here.

1 Sgt. John McVey (1737-1823) served with Gen. George Washington at Valley Forge.  A076533

2 John Skaggs (1760-1839) was a Revolutionary War Scout and Spy. A104576

3 Alexander Dickey (1746-1832) served with the South Carolina Militia. A033677

4 Henry Johnson (1738-1815) served in the 10th North Carolina Regiment. A063212

5 Robert Steele (1750-1821) served in the Virginia Militia with Capt. Adams of Montgomery County. A108285

6 Solomon J. Lee (1758-1818) served as a soldier in North Carolina. A068741

7 Samuel Paxton (1737-after 1806) served in the Virginia Militia under Capt. Wallace.  A086708

8 John Samuel Sparr (1748-1836) served in the Pennsylvania Militia. A107903

9 Robert T. Smith, Jr. (1749-1834) served as a guard in Virginia, commanded by John Watson. A106811

10 William Clopton (1720-1796) served as a captain in Virginia. A023232

11 Johann Philip Ensminger (1727-1807) is listed by the DAR for patriotic service in Maryland. A205029

12 2nd Lieutenant Daniel Shumate (1751-1826) served in the Virginia Militia from Fauquier County. A103305

13 Charles Seale (1729-1798) served with the North Carolina Revolutionary Army.  A100915

14 1st Lieutenant Zachariah Nettles (1737-1803) served with General Marion in the Carolinas.  A082464

15 Henry Rains, Jr. (Aft. 1715-1785) delegate to the Provincial Congress in 1776. Served in the North Carolina State Assembly, 1777. A093508

16 John Robertson Jefferson (1742-1809) was prosecuted in 1777 for refusing to pay the parish levy since the minister was a Loyalist.  A061887

17 Ann Isham Eppes Harris (1712-1787) gave provisions to the Revolutionary Army.  A051508

18 Capt. John Madison Hunter (1737-1796) served in the Virginia Militia, was Justice of the Peace in Campbell County, and furnished supplies for the Revolutionary cause. A060528

19 Cornelius Carmack, Jr. (1759-1848) fought at the Battle of Kings Mountain. A019243

Militia groups from Tennessee, Virginia, and the Carolinas soundly defeated the Loyalist militia and British Army.
The Battle of Kings Mountain, By Don Trioani.









20 Cornelius Carmack, Sr. (1736-1824) gave patriotic service as a road overseer in Overton County, Tennessee.  A132601

21 Abraham Vandal (1758-1848) enlisted in 1776 in the State Troops of New York in Orange County. He was engaged in erecting Fort Constitution on the Hudson River and was in the Battles of Long Island (below) and White Plains.   A117491

22 John McFarland, Sr. (1708-1784) is credited with patriotic service and taking the oath of allegiance in Bedford County, Virginia. A076825

23 Thomas Holman (1723-1798) rendered material aid in Wilkes County, North Carolina.  A056978

24 Ambrose Bethea Raines (1750-1820)  took an oath of allegiance in Johnston County, North Carolina.  A214061

25 William Hazeltine (bef. 1760-1812) served in the North Carolina militia under Col. Hampton and Gen. Sumpter.  A053532

Patriot Ancestors NOT Listed with the DAR:

  • James W. McNeely (McNelly) served in South Carolina and was wounded at Eutaw Springs. He also served in the War of 1812.

Builders of the Old Dominion 3

Samuel Almond and Mary Crockford

Getting to Virginia

Despite the fact that many events in the life of Samuel Almond cannot be documented, he was a real person who really did leave his home in Chesham, England, to immigrate to Jamestown.  That much we know.

Chesham is only 11 miles from Aylesbury, where Thomas Harris and Adria Hoare had lived, and also not far from London, where Christopher Branch and Mary Addie had lived. They were among many who left this area of England in the first half of the 17th century to settle in Virginia. Samuel’s name is usually seen in the documents as SAMUELL, and the surname is sometimes seen as ALLMAND or D’ALMOND.

A review of my previous post, Builders of the Old Dominion 2, will help give context:   Christopher Branch and his wife Mary Addie had arrived on the Marchant in 1620. By the time Christopher Branch’s children had grown up, Samuel Almond had arrived in Jamestown. This is estimated by researcher Louise Ashby Almond to have been around 1635, when Henrico County was organized as one of the eight original shires of Virginia. 

Christopher Branch and Samuel Almond undoubtedly knew each other since they were land owners in the same county, but Christopher’s wife Mary had died by the time Samuel Almond arrived. Years later, Samuel’s daughter, Sarah Almond, married Christopher’s son, Christopher Branch, Jr.  There is no documentation for this, unfortunately—only family tradition and unverified notes. Sarah Almond and Christopher Branch Jr. were the parents of Mary Branch, future grandmother of President Thomas Jefferson.

Becoming a Land Owner

Samuel’s three land transactions were made in 1637, 1638, and 1639. Immigration records show his arrival in 1639, but that date refers to when his land was patented or the record created—not when he actually arrived. This is explained in this reference from

The map which follows shows Samuel’s land in the extreme upper left corner. It was just south of present day Richmond. The transactions are listed in Cavaliers and Pioneers.

  1. Arthur Bayly and Thomas Crosby received 800 acres in Henrico County in January 1637. They assigned 400 acres of this patent to Samuell Almond.
  2. Thomas Crosby transferred another 400 acres to Samuell Almond in February 1638.
  3. In March 1639, Samuell Almond received 600 more acres in Henrico County.

Almost all of the land owners grew tobacco, and, apparently, it was a very involved process to get the tobacco ready for market. (Note: The illustration more accurately portrays a much later time period.)

Whether Samuel had slaves or not, I do not know, but I doubt that he did. The first slaves arrived in 1619, but the Virginians had no intention of having slaves. Slavery was introduced when a Dutch ship captain, running short of provisions, was trying to get the Africans off his ship. He landed at Jamestown and wanted the Virginians to buy them. The Virginians did not want to do that, but they finally agreed to it when the captain threatened to throw the captives overboard. (Wallace)

Over time, more and more settlers had slaves, but it was a societal change that evolved slowly from that first encounter, eventually creating suffering and discord that has lasted to this day.

The tobacco growers had a system of verifying the quality of all the tobacco. Samuel was tasked with this responsibility in 1639, as explained in the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. It is apparent that he had earned respect from his new neighbors after being in Henrico less than five years.

Still Researching the Almonds

I have seen some trees on that provide more detailed information about Samuel Almond; however, the sources included do not support the conclusions. For example, you can’t use birth records to support  a birth that occurred a century earlier. Obviously.

One contributor on did provide some credible notes of Louise Ashby Almond (1911-1990), who had received the genealogical records completed by her uncle, Frank Hobson. Clearly, we have to use this information cautiously since we have no other documentation. Louise stated that the Almond family originally lived in Alsace Lorraine, where residents were under severe stress due to wars and religious persecution. The Almonds fled to England and settled in Chesham.

According to Louise’s notes, Samuel’s two children, Sarah and William, survived the well-documented Indian massacre of April 1644 by hiding in a woodbox. Samuel, however, was among 500 other Virginians who were slaughtered. No mention is made of Samuel’s wife or who cared for the children after their father’s death.

The tradition is that Samuel’s wife was Mary Crockford. I have not yet been able to verify that, but I have found some English wills in Sussex that mention Crockfords. Contributors to WikiTree have included a little more detail, providing the names  John Almond and Elizabeth Weldon as Samuel’s parents, and  George Crockford and Anne Honna  as parents of Mary. The WikiTree page says Samuel and Mary were married in Sussex, England, in 1623.  I will update this post as more reliable information comes to light.

Hopefully, someone will read this and offer information that helps verify the wife and children of Samuel Almond, a resident of Henrico County for less than 10 years before his decease. If you know more details, I want to hear from you!


Builders of the Old Dominion 2

Christopher Branch and Mary Addie

 A list of sources and a PDF Register of Descendants are included at the end.


For over 100 years, one of the most thoroughly researched early immigrants to Jamestown was my ancestor Christopher Branch. Since he and his wife Mary Addie were the first known American ancestors of President Thomas Jefferson (Dorman 366), it’s understandable that much would be written about him. I was first aware of the connection when I came across a book at Clayton Library in Houston called The Royal Descents of 500 Immigrants, by Gary Boyd Roberts. I have not looked at the book recently, but I remember looking up Thomas Jefferson, to whom I knew I was related, and finding the connection to royalty. Through Christopher Branch, the Jeffersons are descended from Robert de Caen, 1st Earl of Gloucester and illegitimate son of Henry Beauclerc (King Henry I) , who was son of William the Conqueror (King William I). Additionally, Christopher was the descendant of several Surety Barons—signers of the 1215 Magna Carta, a document that helped establish the rights of English citizens to justice under the law. Those ancestral signers were William D’Albini, Roger Bigod, Hugh Bigod, Richard de Clare, Gilbert de Clare, John de Lacie, William Malet, Saire de Quincey, Robert de Roos, and Robert de Vere.

According to a review of Branch of Abingdon, the Branch family was prominent and prosperous in Abingdon from about 1500, if not earlier. Some in the family had served as burgesses or mayors, and Richard and William Branch were part of Abingdon’s “Fraternity of the Holy Cross,” which I have not researched. Christopher’s father was Lionel Branch (1556-1605) (Dorman 366), who attended Magdalen College of Oxford University 1585-93 and received a B.A. degree. Oxford University alumni records, provided by Gresham Farrar on Findagrave, reveal that Richard, Thomas, and William Branch, probably Lionel’s brothers, were also Oxford graduates. Their parents (Christopher’s paternal grandparents) were William Branch (1524-1601) and Katherine Jennings (1524-1587), through whom the connection to royalty is made. Christopher’s mother (Lionel’s wife) was Valentia or Valentina Sparke (Dorman 366), some say the daughter of Ludgate Sparke and Margaret Greeke. (unverified) I will probably not spend much time researching those names because my goal is to trace ancestors back to the immigrant and not beyond that.

Near the Church of St. Martin, which was destroyed by fire in 1666.

Christopher’s parents, Lionel Branch and Valentia Sparke were married in 1596 at St. Martin’s Church, Ludgate, London, which was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666  but rebuilt later. Christopher, their only child, was born in London, exact date unknown. Early researchers such as Torrence (over 100 years ago) used the birth year of 1602, but more recent researchers, specifically Dorman, use the birth year 1598. The year 1602 cannot be correct if Christopher’s mother, Valentia, died and was buried in 1600, as stated on the Findagrave entry.  I have not come across any information about Christopher’s childhood. His father died in 1605, when Christopher was about seven; his mother, paternal grandparents, several uncles, and maternal grandfather had died earlier. I do not know when his maternal grandmother died or whether she or an uncle raised Christopher. Regardless, his childhood must have been somewhat lonely and sad. However, his paternal grandfather, William Branch, had willed him money, which Christopher was to receive at age 18.

jamestown and henrico

While Christopher was growing up, he was most likely keenly aware of the excitement surrounding the settlement of Virginia. One year after Christopher’s father died, King James I of England issued a charter to the Virginia Company for a tract of land on the Atlantic coast. In December 1606, Captain Christopher Newport left London with three ships: Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery.  When the 104 male settlers arrived in Virginia, they went up the James River about 40 miles and established the first permanent settlement in Virginia on a salt marsh, calling it “James Cittie”. The marshy ground contributed to a proliferation of insects: horsefiles, chiggers, mosquitoes, gnats, and ticks. Despite the bugs, Indian attacks, unhealthy air, starvation, illness, and lack of fresh water killing most of the settlers, hundreds of new people arrived in the next few years. 

In 1611, settler John Rolfe, a smoker, started experimenting with raising tobacco, which the Indians were already growing. Tobacco soon became Virginia’s major crop and it was usually used in lieu of money. (Timeline)

Also in 1611, acting governor Thomas Dale took about 350 men further up the James River to “the falls” to build a new town. He wrote to the Virginia Company: “I have surveyed a convenient strong, healthie and sweete seate to plant a new Towne in.” Settler Ralph Hamor described it as “high land invironed with the mayn River, som sixteene or twentie miles, from the head of the Fals, neere to an Indian towne called Arrahattocke.” Robert Johnson said that the new town would be 80 miles up the James River from Jamestown on “higher ground, strong and defensible by nature, a good air, wholesome and clear, unlike the marshy seat at Jamestown, with fresh and plenty of water springs, much fair and open grounds freed from woods, and wood enough at hand.”  For the next few years, Dale instituted strict rules for the men, which allowed them to get a lot done. They built a palisade with five watchtowers and three streets of well-framed houses, as well as a church, storehouses, and a hospital. They grew tobacco and vegetables, raised livestock, and dug wells. After building the church, Henrico Parish was formed. This new settlement was called Henricus, later Henrico. However, over the next few years, the town deteriorated quickly. (Land 466-9)  

In 1612, King James renewed the charter for the Virginia Company and allowed more self-governance. By 1616, John Rolfe recorded the English population in Virginia as 351 settlers at six different settlements. (Timeline)

James River. Public domain.

 The Virginia Company instituted a “headright” system, giving 50 acres to anyone who paid fare to get there, plus 50 additional acres for each person brought with him. This encouraged more settlement by “gentlemen” and laid the foundation for a plantation economy. (Timeline)

When Governor George Yeardley arrived in 1619, he brought a charter to form a government in which white men with property would be able to choose representatives for a new assembly meeting in Jamestown. (Timeline) In July, the House of Burgesses met for the first time. They passed a law requiring tobacco to be sold for at least three shillings per pound; passed measures against idleness, gambling, and drunkenness; and made church attendance mandatory. In addition, these 22 burgesses, with Gov. Yeardley and his council, decided how much settlers should pay in taxes. (The First Legislative Assembly)

Less than a month later, the first Africans arrived in Jamestown on a ship with a Dutch captain who wanted to sell them. “[T]o the credit of the colonists . . . they were unwilling to purchase the slaves . . . But upon his threat to throw them overboard, as his vessel was short of provisions, the colonists bought them out of pity, and unwittingly founded the system of enforced Negro labor, which in time cost Virginia a fearful price in blood and treasure.” (Wallace)

Also in 1619, as a way to revive the deteriorating settlement in Henrico, it was proposed to build a Protestant college to educate the Indians’ and the planters’ children. Ten thousand acres would be set aside for the school near Arrowhattock.  It was to be called “Colledg Land” and 50 “good” people would be sent as tenants who would keep half the profits of their labor and give the other half toward starting the college.  Plans were made to build a common guest house to serve as an inn to house the 50 new settlers.  (Land 469ff

Now back to Christopher and Mary . . .

new life in virginia

Explanatory Note: From John Dorman’s 3-volume Adventurers of Purse and Person, 4th edition, Volume 1A, p. ix:

     CALENDAR: The Julian calendar, according to which 25 March was   reckoned as the first day of the New Year, was in use together with the Gregorian calendar until 1752 when it was abandoned and the 11 days difference between the two calendars was dropped out of the   year. The occurrence of an event between 1 January, the first day of the New Year according to the Gregorian calendar and 25 March, the New Year’s Day of the Julian calendar, is indicated by a diagonal: thus 16 February 1624/25, which shows that the event took place on 16 February 1624 by the Julian but 1625 by the Gregorian.

             * * * * *

We know little about Christopher Branch as he approached adulthood except that he was left money by his paternal grandfather, which he received at age 18. A few years later, on September 2, 1619, he married Mary Addy (Addie) at St. Peter’s, Westcheap, London, with a marriage license from the Bishop of London. The illustration below shows an event in Westcheap, but the church is not shown. The location of the church in Westcheap is shown on this amazing map

Just as “Christmas” was sometimes written “Xmas,” the name “Christopher” was sometimes written “Xtopher.” The marriage record of Xtofer Braunch to Marie Addie can be found in London and Surrey, England, Marriage Bonds and Allegations at    

The transcription reads:

secondo Septembris 1619

Which daie appeared Xtofer Braunche gentleman, and a batchelor aged xxii [22] or there abouts and at his own government and disposing his father and mother both being deceased and did allege that he intendeth to marrie with Marie Addie mayden, aged xxiii [23] or there abouts the daughter of Francis Addie of Darton in the countie of Yorke husbandman and then appeared Thomas Addie miller, being brother to ye said Marrie and with whome she nowe lyveth and did testifie the consent of his said father to this intended Marry and the truthe of the promise as before that they know of no lawfull let or impediment by reason of pre contract or otherwise to hinder the same they both made faiethe and prayed licence for them to be married together in the pareshe Churche of St. Peter Westcheap, London.                    

The record indicates that Christopher was a “gentleman” meaning he was of a high social status. Mary is referred to as a maiden, and her father is called a “husbandman” (a small landowner or farmer). Thomas Addie, Mary’s brother, is identified as a miller. Through this document, we know the approximate year of birth for both Christopher and Mary, the names of Mary’s father and brother plus their social status or occupation, and where Mary’s father was from. He was still living in 1619, but Mary’s mother, Mary Standing Addie, was deceased.

The marriage of Christopher and Mary took place only a few months after the announcement that 50 “good” people were needed to settle at “Colledg Land.”  These people were sent to Virginia in August 1619 on the Bona Nova. They were “tradesmen such as smiths, bricklayers, potters, carpenters, and farmers, mostly single, with plenty of food and arms.” A few months later, in 1620, the Virginia Company announced that it would send six tenants to cultivate the minister’s 100 acres of land and to help build the guest house. (Land) Christopher and Mary were chosen to settle at College Land and left for Jamestown on the London Marchannt [Merchant] in March 1620. (Dorman)

By the time they got to Virginia, the colony had been reorganized. The scattered settlements, plantations, and cities were organized politically into “four large corporations, with a capital city in each.” These were Elizabeth City, James City, Charles City, and Henrico. (Quisenberry 59) College Land was in Henrico, so that is where Christopher and Mary lived and worked for the next few years.

On March 22, 1622, the Powhatan Indians staged a massive attack on the colony, killing 347 colonists in various settlements 60 miles up and down the James River. (Torrence, Part 1, 125ff) Christopher and Mary survived, so it is assumed that they fled to a safer location. Jamestown was spared because of a warning from a Christianized Indian. Nevertheless, the Indians and the colonists were at war for many years afterward. (Timeline)

After the massacre, the tenants at College Land were moved to a safer and lower area along the James River near present day College Creek in Surrey County. The company allowed tenants who wanted to work for themselves to pay rent of 20 bushels of corn, 60 pounds of good leaf tobacco, and one pound of silk yearly. They would also work six days a year on various public projects to build houses and to “plant gardens and orchards on the college land and not elsewhere.” By early 1624, there were 29 people living at College Land. A year later, the number had dropped to 22, who were living in 10 houses. (Land 495) Hundreds of colonists had died during the winter of 1624-1625 due to hunger, disease, and Indian attacks. That winter was later remembered as the “starving time.” (Timeline)

Christopher was documented as living at College Land (present-day Henrico County) in 1623/24; son Thomas was born in April or May.  In May of 1624, the Virginia Company lost its charter due to mismanagement, and Virginia became a royal colony. (Timeline) In the muster taken in 1624/5, Christopher, Mary, and 9-month-old son Thomas were listed. (Dorman 366). That same muster showed that Jamestowne had a “church, a guardhouse, three stores [storage facilities], a merchant’s store, and 33 houses.” In addition, there were many boats, over 24,000 pounds of fish, corn, peas, and meal, as well as weapons, suits of armor, and hundreds of cattle, hogs, and goats. (Hatch)

After the “colony became a royal province, nothing more was done” for the college, but “the plantation of the college still had tenants and were represented in the House of Burgesses.” (Land)  Christopher was a planter on his leased land at Arrowhattocks when son William was born about 1626, and when son Christopher Jr. was born about 1628. (Dorman 367-8) I assume the children were baptized, but I don’t think those baptism records exist.

I am very curious about something that I don’t believe I have read anywhere else. On 27 September 1629, in Kilmersdon, Somerset, England, there was a christening for a child named Christopher Branch, whose father was also named Christopher. Had they returned to England for some reason? Since Mary died in 1630, perhaps they had gone to England due to health issues. Somerset was not really near Abingdon or London, so why would they go there? If this christening record is for a different family, then Christopher Jr. was probably christened in Virginia, followed by the death of his mother, Mary, also in Virginia, about 1630. 

After Mary’s death, Christopher continued his work as a planter at Arrowhattocks and adapted to being a single father with three small children. One can only imagine how hard that must have been for him. There is no record of a second marriage. In 1632, he returned to England briefly to bring a lawsuit for ownership of the Bull Inn in Abingdon, which had been owned by his uncle, Thomas Branch (1557-1603). This uncle had died when Christopher was quite young, so many years had gone by, and ownership of the Bull Inn had been claimed by someone else. Christopher lost this lawsuit. (Dorman 366)

In 1634, the four Virginia corporations were abolished and the colony was divided into eight counties: Elizabeth City County, Warrasquinoke County, Warwick County, James City County, Charles City County, Henrico County, York County, and Accomac County.  (Quisenberry)  In October of that year, “Christopher Branch, Planter, of Arrowhattocks in Henrico County” was granted a lease for 21 years on 100 acres lying east on the James River. This area of Henrico later became Chesterfield County. (Dorman 366)  On December 8, 1635, Christopher patented 250 acres at Kingsland “over against Arrowhattocks, east upon the maine River . . .  adjacent to the land of John Griffin, now in the tenure of said Branch . . . 50 acres for his own personal adventure and 200 acres for transportation of four persons.” (Dorman 366) The map shows where Kingsland and Arrowhattocks were in relation to each other.The property at “Kingsland” in what is now Chesterfield County was a “plantation long the property and residence of descendants of Christopher Branch.” (Abstracts 1) In September of 1636 he patented another 100 acres of land and was a successful tobacco planter. (Branchiana 26-29) By February 1638/39, the plantation had 450 acres because “he had acquired an additional 100 acres through an exchange with James Place and the remaining acreage through additional headrights.” (Dorman 366)

In January 1639/40, the House of Burgesses decided that “there be yearly chosen and appointed Men of experience and in dignity for the Careful Viewing of each Man’s crop of Tobacco.” By an act of this assembly, Christopher was named as a tobacco viewer from World’s End to Henrico.  He continued growing tobacco and was successful despite “sickly and desperate” conditions all over the colony. He was also elected burgess for Henrico County. (Branchiana 28-30)

Around 1645, Christopher’s oldest son, Thomas, married Elizabeth Gough, daughter of Capt. Matthew Gough of Henrico, who was a burgess in 1642. (Cabell 2) However, the fourth edition of Adventurers of Purse and Person says Thomas married “Elizabeth (Gough?)” indicating doubt. Next, Christopher Jr. married, but Dorman says the wife’s name is unknown. My records show that her name was Sarah Almond, but I don’t know the original documentation for that. There was a settler named Samuel Almond living in the same area. Between 1651 and 1657, several grandchildren were born: Mary and possibly Sarah to son Christopher Jr. and Elizabeth to son Thomas. Around the same time, in 1656, the new grandfather, Christopher Sr., was named justice of Henrico County. (Dorman 367)

The year 1657 had several highlights for Christopher, including the births of two grandsons. William Jr. was born to son William and his wife, Jane Hatcher. Thomas Jr. was born to son Thomas and wife Elizabeth. Christopher, Jr. was appointed justice of the peace in Charles City County that same year and his first son, Christopher III, was born in 1658. (Dorman 367-8) The grandchildren kept on coming: 1659, John born to William; 1660, Martha born to Thomas; 1661, Matthew, born to Thomas; 1663, Samuel born to Christopher Jr. and 1666 James born to Thomas. Several more generations of Christopher Branch’s descendants are given in Dorman’s book.

Shortly after the birth of Christopher Jr.’s son Benjamin in 1665, both Christopher Jr. and his wife Sarah died, leaving five children as orphans. (Dorman 368)Their grandfather, Christopher Sr. raised them. Within five years Christopher Sr.’s second son, William, also died. His wife, Jane, remarried and was able to care for their children. The rest of Christopher’s life seems to have been devoted to raising Christopher Jr.’s orphaned children.  His will was written on June 20, 1678, and these grandchildren, especially Benjamin, were provided for in the will, below. It was filed at Henrico Courthouse. Christopher’s death occurred sometime before the date of probate, which was February 20, 1681/82.

There is much more information about the Branch family in numerous publications. My descent  is from Christopher Jr.’s daughter Mary, who married Thomas Jefferson, an immigrant who was to be grandfather of a president. The Jefferson genealogy will be the subject of another post. 

PDF  Christopher Branch DescendantsDescendants of Christopher Branch Sr.

Copyright © 2020 K Steele Barrera. All rights reserved.

Works Cited

“Abstracts (1) of Virginia Land Patents.” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, vol. 2, no. 3, 1895, pp. 306–316. JSTOR,   Accessed 12 Mar. 2020.

“Abstracts (2) of Virginia Land Patents.The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, vol. 4, no. 4, 1897, pp. 421–430. JSTOR. Accessed 9 Mar. 2020.

“Abstracts (3) of Virginia Land Patents.” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, vol.  5, no. 1, 1897, pp. 92–101. JSTOR. Accessed 9 Mar. 2020.

Cabell 1, James Branch. Branchiana, Being a Partial Account of the Branch Family in Virginia. (Whittet & Shepperson, Richmond, Virginia, 1907.)

Cabell 2, James Branch. “Branch of Henrico.The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 26, no. 4,  1918, pp. 275–276. JSTOR. Accessed 9 Mar. 2020.

Dorman, John Frederick. Adventurers of Purse and Person, Virginia, 1607-1624/5, Vol. 1, part  A., pages 367-371. (Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, Maryland, 2004.)

“England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975,” database, FamilySearch  : 11 February 2018, Christopher Branch,  27 Sep 1629; citing, index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 95,273.

“Immigrant Ancestor Page for Christopher Branch.” Brookfield Publishing Company,  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Website accessed 10 Mar 2020.  

“The First Legislative Assembly at Jamestown, Virginia.Historic Jamestowne. National Park Service, online. Accessed 10 March 2020.

Hatch Jr., Charles. Jamestown, Virginia: The Townsite and Its Story. National Park Service, Washington, D.C., 1957. Public Domain. Accessed on March 8, 2020.

“History Timeline.” Jamestown Rediscovery-Historic Jamestowne.  Accessed 8 March 2020.

“Insects.” Historic Jamestowne. National Park Service, online. Accessed 10 Mar 2020.

Land, Robert Hunt. “Henrico and Its College.” The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 18, no. 4, 1938, pp. 453–498. JSTOR. Accessed 8 Mar. 2020.

“Mary Addy (Addie) Branch”. Accessed March 10, 2020.

Moore, J. Staunton and L.W. Burton and R.A. Brock. Annals of Henrico Parish. (Williams Printing Company, Richmond, Virginia, 1904). Accessed at 10 March 2020.

Quisenberry, A. C. “The First Pioneer Families of Virginia.” Register of Kentucky State  Historical Society, vol. 11, no. 32, 1913, pp. 55–77. JSTOR. Accessed 9 Mar. 2020.

Roberts, Gary Boyd. The Royal Descents of 500 Immigrants to the American Colonies or the  United States: who were themselves notable or left descendants notable in American history. (Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, Maryland, 2002). Repository: Clayton Library  for Genealogical Research in Houston, Texas. Shelf number 929.70973 R644 USA

Torrence, William Clayton. “Henrico County, Virginia: Beginnings of Its Families: Part I.The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 24, no. 2, 1915, pp. 116–142. JSTOR. Accessed 9 Mar. 2020.

Torrence, William Clayton. “Henrico County, Virginia: Beginnings of Its Families: Part II.The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 24, no. 3, 1916, pp. 202–210. JSTOR. Accessed 9 Mar. 2020.

Torrence, William Clayton. “Henrico County: Virginia: Beginnings of Its Families: Part III.” The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 24, no. 4, 1916, pp. 262–283. JSTOR. Accessed 9 Mar. 2020.

Torrence, William Clayton. “Thomas and William Branch of Henrico and Some of Their Descendants. ” The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 25, no. 1, 1916, pp. 59–70. JSTOR. Accessed 9 Mar. 2020.

The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, vol. 20, no. 1, 1912, pp. 111–112. JSTOR. Accessed 9 Mar. 2020. (A review of Branch of Abingdon. Being a Partial Account of the Ancestry of Christopher Branch of “Arrowhattocks” and  “Kingsland,” in Henrico, and the Founder of the Branch Family in Virginia, by James Branch  Cabell.)

Wallace, R. W. “The Story of Jamestown.— (III.).” The Journal of Education, vol. 64, no. 24  (1609), 1906, pp. 682–683. JSTOR. Accessed 9 Mar. 2020.






Builders of the Old Dominion 1

Thomas Harris and Adria Hoare

Though I have 21  ancestors who immigrated to New Netherland (New York), 18 who went to South Carolina, 20 who got off the boat in Pennsylvania, 11 who arrived in North Carolina, seven who landed in Maryland, and quite a few Puritans and Pilgrims who came to Massachusetts, there were over 100 who first settled in Virginia, often now called the “Old Dominion.” Beginning with Jamestown and quickly expanding to other parts of the colony of Virginia, these 100+ adventurers helped lay the foundation not only for the colony, but for the whole United States.

It is my goal to learn more about these Virginians, thereby having a better understanding of historical events of the 17th and 18th centuries. I’m especially interested in getting “up close and personal” to understand their goals, hopes, fears, dangers, and living conditions, which were far more challenging than most Americans realize.  I aim to provide accurate names, dates, and places necessary to genealogical research, which is a challenge due to the errors even in official documents. Furthermore, the dates for some events are difficult to pin down due to changes in the calendar used during this time. Ample resources are available to learn about events leading up to the settlement of Virginia, so I will not explain that here; I encourage the reader to refer to the three-volume fourth edition of Adventurers of Purse and Person by John Frederick Dorman, the Jamestown Rediscovery website, and a wealth of free publications, including The Original Lists of Persons of Quality. . .  1600-1700, by John Camden Hotten, and Cavaliers and Pioneers, by Nell Nugent. The source that I have found most interesting, informative, and intimate, however, is Jennifer Potter’s recently published book The Jamestown Brides: The Story of England’s “Maids for Virginia”, which is described on her website. This and many other Virginia-related publications can be obtained at low cost on Kindle. Additionally, the reader may want to refer to the timeline developed by the Jamestowne Society.

My earliest immigrant ancestor is believed to be Thomas Harris. Information on his first wife, Adria Hoare, follows the entry about Thomas.

Capt. Thomas Harris (1586-1658)

Incorrect vs. Correct Information

After joining the Facebook page Harris Gathering, I learned that Phil Harris, a researcher in Richmond, Virginia, had discovered that almost everything published about Thomas Harris was wrong. He presented his research to John Frederick Dorman, who subsequently revised Adventurers of Purse and Person to reflect this new information. Even the Jamestown Biographies Project had incorrect information when I ordered their report a few years ago. I do not know whether they have corrected their report now (2020) or not, but it appears this project is undergoing some revisions. It must be understood that there were other men in the area of Jamestown around the same time who were also named Thomas Harris; this probably contributed to the confusion.

It was previously assumed that Thomas Harris was the son of Sir William Harris of Creeksea, Essex, and his wife, Alice Smyth. However, their son Thomas Harris died unmarried in England. The real parents of Thomas, subject of this summary, are not known, but it is believed he was born in or near Aylesbury since his wife Adria and most of the people he associated with were from there, including about half of the neighbors who settled near him in Virginia. Thomas was almost certainly born in England despite one immigration record listing him as from Wales. 

For many years, Thomas’s two wives have been identified incorrectly. He was married twice, and neither of his wives was surnamed Gurganey or Osbourne. His first wife, Adria (Audrey) Hoare, arrived on the Marmaduke in 1621 and is the only Adria listed on any ship. Through careful research, Phil Harris has concluded that Thomas’s second wife, Joane, was the widow of a neighbor, William Vincent, but there is no definitive proof of that. There were other Joanes living between Neck of Land and Jamestown, and they arrived in Virginia well before 1630. However, it is certain Thomas was never married to a Gurganey. Ann Gurganey, a neighboring landowner, was apparently closely connected to Thomas; she left her property to him in her will. She may have been a relative of Thomas or possibly a lover.

It was previously assumed that Adria died before 1626. This came about as a result of a witchcraft trial involving a prediction that the wife of Thomas Harris would die. This trial, however, involved a different Thomas Harris. Because of this early death date, Adria was presumed to be the mother of Mary only, and Joane was identified as the mother of William. However, Adria lived long enough to give birth to both children, and Joane was probably too old to have children at the time of her marriage to Thomas.

Henrico County, Virginia, has information about Thomas Harris on their website. The historical marker shown below used to be there, but it has been stolen.  

Approximate Timeline for Thomas Harris

1585/86 Birth in England.

I am unaware of proof of a specific date for Thomas’s birth or baptism. His birth year of 1586 was determined from the 1624/25 muster in which he stated he was 38. That muster is included in the Hotten source, as well as in Dorman’s.

1611 (May 11) Arrival in Jamestown on the Prosperous.

This painting shows how Jamestown looked just a few years after Thomas arrived.

                                        Jamestown, 1614

1611 (September) Settlement in Henricus with group led by Sir Thomas Dale.

1618 (November 18) Designation as an “Ancient Planter” with land grant of 100 acres at “Neck of Land”.

This land became known as “Curle’s Neck,” perhaps derived from the surname of a later landowner named Curle. Wikipedia has an entry about Curle’s Neck Plantation as well as a List of James River Plantations.

1619 (February 11) Will of Ann Gurganey names Thomas Harris to inherit her property. (Nugent, p. 60)

1621 (November) Adria Hoare’s arrival on the Marmaduke.  Marriage.

Adria arrived with other young women sent from England to be wives for the Jamestown residents. Thomas may have married Adria soon after she arrived. The women were free to marry or not, but the men had to pay for the expenses of the trip with tobacco. (Potter)  One can conclude that Thomas had already started growing tobacco on his land. The 19th century engraving below depicts the cultivation of tobacco at Jamestown.

Other researchers disagree that the marriage was soon after arrival. However, some of the brides did marry within a couple of months after they reached Jamestown, according to David Ransome.

1622 (March 22) Indian attack on settlements near Jamestown.  David Ransome’s article mentions that the settlers at Neck of Land were forced to abandon their settlement because of this aggression.  Ransome reports that the only loss at Neck of Land mentioned in any record was “the houses were burnt by the Indians,” so it is likely that the inhabitants retreated to a nearby settlement. 

Over 300 settlers died, but Thomas and wife Adria were listed as survivors. Jennifer Potter describes this event in detail in The Jamestown Brides. The violent massacre seems to have been every bit as extreme as shown in the  image below.

1623 Settled with wife, Adria, at “Neck of Land,” if not earlier.  Ransome’s article says that though the settlers there survived the Indian attack, return to Neck of Land was not possible until the spring of 1623. “Certainly by April 1623 the situation in the colony had been stabilized . . . [and] Neck of Land had been reoccupied.”

1624 Muster (census) listing Thomas, age 38, married to Adria, age 23, with kinswoman Ann Woodlase [Woodliffe], age 7, and servant Elizabeth, age 15 (Hotten).

1624 Election as burgess to represent “Neck of the Land.”

1625 (approximately) Birth of daughter, Mary Harris.

It is clear she was not born before this since she was not named in the 1624/25 muster.

1626 (August) Appointment as one of the “Commissioners for the Upper Parts,” which included Henrico.

1629 Birth of son, William Harris, Henrico County, Virginia.

1634 (or before) Death of first wife, Adria Harris.

1635 (approximately) Marriage to Joane.

She may have been the widow of Thomas’s neighbor, William Vincent, but there were as many as five Joanes in settlements up and down the James River.

1635 (November 11) Property included 100 acres due him as an Ancient Planter in 1618 and 650 acres for transporting 13 persons. (Nugent, p. 37)

1636 (May) Possession of land inherited from Ann Gurganey.

1637 (July 12) New patent for all his land.

“700 acres called ‘Longfield’ with swamps and marshes, 400 acres granted to Edward Gurganey by order of the Court, 1 October 1617 . . . and bequeathed by Ann Gurganey, widowe of the said Edward, to Thomas Harris by her will 11 Feb. 1619.” (Nugent, p. 60)

1638 (Feb 25) Henrico, Virginia–New patent for his land.

This included 100 acres in the name of his “first wife Adry Harris, being an Ancient Planter.” (Nugent, p. 101) I do not know why Adria qualified as an Ancient Planter.  Different researchers have different opinions.

1640 Election as burgess for Henrico County.

1640 (December) Appointment as “Commander of Henrico County”

1647 Election as burgess for Henrico County.

1649 (approximately) Will written (but now lost). Commander of militia.

1658 Death. Survived by his wife, Joane. (6/9/2021 – I will try to locate the source for this information.)

A Wikipedia article on Curle’s Plantation has the following information:

“During excavation, archaeologists uncovered the foundation of Captain Harris’s house, dating between 1635-1654, and portions of a later house probably occupied by [Nathaniel] Bacon. Landscape features include intricate terraces and traces of tunnels down to the James River which could be used as an escape route from potential invasions by Native Americans.”

If the above dates are correct, it would appear that Thomas and Joane lived in a new house–different from the home Thomas shared with Adria. Also, one wonders when the tunnels were built. If Thomas built them, maybe that explains why he and Adria survived Indian attacks.

Scroll down to read about Adria Hoare–his first wife and the mother of his children.

Thomas Harris Sources

1. “Captain Thomas Harris.” Henrico County, Virginia, Website. Accessed February 15, 2020.

2. Dorman, John Frederick. Adventurers of Purse and Person, 4th edition, Volume 2. (Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, Maryland, 2004-2007). Repository: Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research, Houston, Texas.

3. Harris, J. Philip. Document:“No Such Person as Adria Gurganey.”  Harris Gathering Facebook Page. Accessed February 13, 2020.

4. Harris, J. Philip. Document: “Thomas Harris-Establishing a True History.” (November 15, 2005) Originally posted in a forum called Harris-ColonialVA-Archives. Document accessed at in a tree by Therese Mitchell.

5. Hotten, John Camden. The Original Lists of Persons of Quality-1600-1700. (London, 1874. Reprinted by Empire State Book Company, New York.)

6. Nugent, Nell Marion. Cavaliers and Pioneers: Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants, 1623-1800, Volume 1. (Press of the Dietz Printing Company, Richmond, Virginia, 1934.) Accessed online at on February 15, 2020.

7. Potter, Jennifer. The Jamestown Brides: The Story of England’s Maids for Virginia. (Oxford University Press, New York, New York, 2019). Accessed on Kindle.

8. Ransome, David. “Village Tensions in Early Virgina: Sex, Land, and Status at Neck of Land in the 1620s.” The Historical Journal, 43, 2 (2000), pp. 365-381. (Cambridge University Press, United Kingdom, 2000).

9. U.S. and Canada Passenger and Immigration Lists.

Adria Hoare (1604-1635), First Wife of Thomas Harris

Unless otherwise noted, my source for Jamestown immigrant Adria Hoare is The Jamestown Brides, by Jennifer Potter, recently published by Oxford University Press (2019). Ms. Potter’s book is rich with detail, and her sources include David Ransome’s article “Wives for Virginia, 1621” at Colonial Williamsburg’s John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library; the papers of Nicholas Ferrar housed at Magdalene College, Cambridge; experts such as cultural historian Helen Rountree, curator Beverly Straube, archaeologist Nicholas Luccketti, and riverkeeper Jamie Brunkow; and numerous institutions and publications listed in her “Endnotes”. The sections of the book are– Part One: England and Its Virginian Colony (Chapters 1-7); Intermezzo: Maidens’ Voyage (Chapters 8 and 9); and Part Two: Virginia (Chapters 10-18).  Chapter 17, “The Cordwainer’s Daughter” tells much about Adria Hoare.

Adria (Audry) was baptized on August 25, 1604, at St. Mary the Virgin parish church in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. She was the daughter of a shoemaker, Thomas Hoare, and his wife, Julyan (née Triplett), and was younger than all of her siblings–Joan, Agnes, Elizabeth, and Richard. Though both parents were living at the time Adria went to Virginia, her father died not long after—in 1627—leaving a will in which he referred to Adria as “Awadrye” and reserving money from his estate for her and her daughter (Mary Harris).

Adria was barely 17 when she set sail on the Marmaduke from the Isle of Wight on August 12, 1621, but she claimed to be two years older. She was among the “young, handsome, and honestlie educated maydes for Virginia” chosen by the Virginia Company, which was eager to ensure the permanence of the colony by providing wives for the men since they vastly outnumbered females. She was described as one who could “do plain work and black works [types of needlework] and can make all manner of buttons”.

There was a horrific Indian attack on many of the surrounding settlements and plantations on March 22, 1622, but Thomas and Adria were among the survivors. It was after this attack, but before February 1624, that the couple settled at Neck of Land, Charles City. This was further up the river, with healthier air than Jamestowne.  A muster (census) taken in 1625 identifies Thomas’s wife as Adria and states that she arrived on the Marmaduke in 1621. Also in the household was a seven-year-old girl, Ann Woodlase, who was likely the daughter of Capt. John Woodliffe, one of Adria’s relatives. A fifteen-year-old girl, Elizabeth (surname probably Perkinson) was also in the household. She had been in the colony since 1620 after coming on the Margrett and John. Was she one of the many homeless children who had been swept off the streets of London and brought to the colonies as servants? 

The family owned “two houses, a boat, and a quantity of foodstuffs, including seven and a half bushels of corn and one of peas.” They also had 11 cattle and 30 hens. Thomas’s military equipment included three fixed guns, gunpowder and lead, “one sword, a complete suit of armour and a coat of mail.”

Mary, the first child of Thomas and Adria, was apparently born after the muster was taken. By the time she was born, other “brides” had arrived for the men living in the colony, so Adria had plenty of female companionship. Son William was born around 1629. Both children survived to adulthood.

In March 1626, Thomas had to defend his reputation in regard to womanizing at the court at Jamestown. One of those making (hearsay) accusations was Joane Vincent. It was her husband, William Vincent, who secured a warrant. Thomas and Adria both had to go to court, but Joane Vincent’s husband failed to show up and ended up having to pay the Harrises 30 pounds of tobacco for their “loss of tyme”. 

Due to a land transaction made in 1635 that referred to Thomas’s wife as Joane Harris, it is apparent that Adria had died by that time. Since the only “Joane” in the area was Joane Vincent, she is assumed–but not proven– to be Thomas’s second wife. She may have been four years older than Thomas, but she outlived him, inheriting at least some of his land at Curles. (6/9/2021-I am searching for a source for this claim.)

It is claimed that both children, Mary and William, were considered part of Virginia’s “elite”. Mary married Thomas Ligon (Lyggon) who became a burgess, Lieutenant Colonel of the militia, and a surveyor in Henrico County. Similarly, William became a justice and a burgess of Henricus, as well as Major of the Charles City and Henrico militia, by age 27.

In her book, author Jennifer Potter relates her meetings with some of Adria’s descendants through both Mary and William. I will be doing further research on the Harris children, and will add that information to my private family tree at I generally send an invitation to my tree to anyone who requests it.

Copyright © 2020 K Steele Barrera. All rights reserved.

The Craftsmen

Long before the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, my ancestors migrated to North America from Europe. It’s hard to imagine how they could support themselves in an unfamiliar and untamed land, but some arrived as experienced craftsmen with skills that were greatly in demand as more and more settlers arrived. Others learned a skill after they got here. For the most part, these trades are very different from work people do today.

Pilgrims in Massachusetts

Francis Eaton, carpenter (I am still confirming this ancestry)

Francis Eaton was my only ancestor to come on the Mayflower with the English Separatists who settled in Plymouth (Massachusetts) in 1620. With him on the Mayflower were his wife Sarah and son Samuel. Francis, a carpenter, was born in England, date unknown. His carpentry skills were undoubtedly in demand since the Pilgrims had to build all their homes. Unfortunately, Sarah was one of many who died in 1621, and Francis married a second wife who also died. In 1623, Christian Penn arrived on the Anne. She became his third wife around 1625, and they had three children: Rachel, Benjamin, and Christopher. Francis died on November 4, 1633, and Christian married Mayflower passenger Francis Billington the following year.  My descent is through Benjamin Eaton.

Giles Rickard, Sr., weaver (I am still confirming this ancestry)

Giles Rickard Sr., born about 1599 in England, arrived in Plymouth on the Speedwell in 1637 with his wife, Judith Cogan-King, and three children. On December 4, 1637, he was granted seven acres of land in Plymouth, where he served on several grand juries and was chosen to be constable in June 1658. Though he was granted a license to have an ordinary (a tavern), he was also a weaver–one involved in textile production. He died about 1684 in Massachusetts. I am descended from his son Giles Rickard, Jr.

John Barrowe, cooper (I am still confirming this ancestry)

Born in Yarmouth, England, in 1609, John Barrow sailed to Massachusetts in 1637, probably on the Mary Ann, with his wife, Anne Thompson Barrowe. Shortly after arriving, they settled in Salem. John had several ways of supporting his family; one of them was working as a cooper. A cooper made barrels, vats, buckets, tubs, troughs, and churns out of wood pieces held together with hoops. John and Anne were the parents of my ancestor Robert Barrowe, born in 1639, but Anne died soon after the birth. By 1665, John had moved to Plymouth, where he died in 1691. 

John Stockbridge, wheelwright

John Stockbridge, born about 1607 in England, was not technically a “Pilgrim,” but his biography is listed in Genealogies of Mayflower Families, Vol. III, available at the Ancestry website. This source discusses at length some of the controversies regarding baptism that divided people in the church. The claim is made that John came to New England for economic, not religious, reasons. There is no evidence he belonged to the church, but his first wife, Ann, is listed as “Goodwife Stockbridge” in the church records of Scituate, Massachusetts, in 1637.  His second wife also accepted the church’s teachings, despite John’s dissatisfaction with the government in Scituate. He was fined more than once for his “contemptuous speeches,” but his “usefulness as a wheelwright” protected him from being punished more severely. In 1646, he is mentioned in land transfers as “John Stockbridge, wheelwright.” Wheelwrights built and repaired wooden wheels, so it may be that most people did not have the knowledge or the means to do this themselves. He was later party to the purchase of a sawmill, which must have been a help to him in his work as a wheelwright.  I am descended from his daughter Mary Stockbridge by his third wife, Mary Broughton. This daughter married Benjamin Singletary in Essex County, Massachusetts, in 1678.

Nathaniel Briscoe, tanner

The maternal grandfather of Mary Broughton Stockbridge (mentioned in the preceding biography) was Nathaniel Briscoe, born in Missenden, England, in 1595. The surname is also sometimes seen as “Biscoe”. In Watertown, Massachusetts, Genealogies and Histories at, he is described as “the rich tanner”. Tanners were responsible for treating the hides or skins of animals to make leather. Nathaniel had come to Watertown around 1640 and was always politically active. Like John Stockbridge, he was a rather contentious person. For example, he circulated a pamphlet complaining about the way ministers were supported financially. By 1651, he was so fed up with the “religious intolerance” and not being allowed to vote as a “freeman” due to his Baptist beliefs that he returned to England, where it is believed he died. His wife, Elizabeth Honor Briscoe, born in 1600, had passed away before he left, but Nathaniel’s grown children remained in Massachusetts. He later wrote to his son-in-law that he would rather be in Massachusetts if people were allowed freedom of conscience.

Settlers in New Netherland

Philippe Antoni Du Trieux II, worsted dyer

Philippe Du Trieux was born in July of 1586 in Roubaix, France, which is now part of Belgium. In 1615, he married Jacquemine Noirett, and they had four children. After Jacquemine died in 1620, Philippe married Susanna Du Chesne in Leiden, Holland; their families had come to Leiden to escape religious persecution in France. The Netherlands was enriched with the arrival of these new immigrants because they were highly skilled craftsmen and artisans. Philippe was among these skilled workers; he was a worsted dyer–a dyer of wool yarn. In 1623, the Dutch West India Company decided to take settlers to the Delaware Valley near the Connecticut River. Philippe and 29 other families sailed in the spring of 1624 on the ship Nieuw Nederland but ended up going to a different location than planned: New Amsterdam (now New York City). The families settled on Manhattan Island, and Philippe became an employee of the Dutch West India Company. He later served his community in other capacities and had at least nine more children. Sometime before September of 1653, Philippe died, and Susanna died in 1654. I am descended from their daughter Susanna, who married Evert Wendell.

Jochem Wesselse, baker

Jochem Wesselse (1579-1681) was born in Hamburg, Germany. Very little is known about him, but he married Geertruy Hieronimus and had at least one child, Catrina. Though they were among the earliest settlers of Rensselerswyck (now Albany), they later moved to New Amsterdam. Jochem was a baker, and, obviously, his skills were in demand, regardless of where he lived. Everybody eats bread! He made a will around 1680 and died not long after. Geertruy was born in the Netherlands in 1579, but her date of death is unknown. Catrina (1620-1703) married Abraham Staats, a surgeon, fur trader, and community leader in Fort Orange, Rensselaerswyck, now Albany.

Goosen Van Schaick, brewer

Goosen Gerritse Van Schaick was born in Utrecht and came to New Netherland in 1637 under contract to Patroon Killian Van Rensselaer. After seven years of service, he went back to Holland but returned to New Netherland in 1646 on the ship Rensselaerswyck. Goosen was interested in the fur trade and was also involved in the real estate market. In 1664 he and Philip Pieterse Schuyler purchased the “Halve Maan”– land– from the Indians. Within this patent is Van Schaick Island, where the Van Schaick Mansion was built by his son Anthony. In 1675, Goosen and Pieter Lassingh purchased Harmen Rutger’s brewery on the Exchange Block; subsequently, Goosen became a brewer. A brewer, of course, makes beer, which was probably a necessity in that time and place. Goosen’s first wife was Geeritje Brantse Van Nieukerke, mother of my ancestor Sybrant Goosen Van Schaick. After she died, Goosen remarried. Due to his two marriages, he was the patriarch of a large and prominent family in Albany. At his death, sometime before 1679, he left a substantial estate to his second wife and to his ten children living in Albany.

Immigrants to Virginia and South Carolina

Salvator Muscoe, Sr., stone mason

As far as I know, Salvator Muscoe is my only Italian ancestor. According to Doug Garnett of the Garnett Family Registry, Salvator was a stone cutter, or stone mason, born in 1645 in Sicily. He went to London following the Great Fire of 1666 because workers with his skills were in demand to rebuild the city. He worked under the direction of Sir Christopher Wren in the construction of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Salvator immigrated to Virginia around 1685 and settled near one of the Garnett families living there. Sometimes there is confusion about the details of his life due to the fact he had a son also named Salvator. Both Salvator Sr. and Salvator Jr. had daughters named Elizabeth who married Garnetts. I am descended from Elizabeth, daughter of the elder Salvator. Elizabeth was born about 1680 and married Thomas Garnett, born about 1675. They lived in St. Anne’s Parish, Essex County, Virginia.

Johann Philip ensminger, blacksmith

Johann Philip Ensminger, born in 1727 in Waldambach, Alsace, France, immigrated to Pennsylvania as a child with his parents, Peter and Mary Catherine Trautmann Ensminger. He was the fourth generation of Ensminger men to be a blacksmith. His great-grandfather, Philipp Ensminger, Sr. (1640-1712), age 20, was listed in the 1662 tax records for Grafschaft Lützelstein, which included Waldhambach.  His occupation is listed as schmeidwerks. A schmied is a smith (blacksmith) and werks means works. Johann Philip’s grandfather, Philipp Ensminger, Jr. (1666 – post 1730), worked as a blacksmith who shoed horses in Alsace. Johann Philipp’s father, Peter Ensminger (1694-1739), was a blacksmith, too, and practiced that trade both in Alsace and in Pennsylvania. However, blacksmiths do more than shoe horses. They are really metalsmiths– hammering, bending, and cutting metal to make grills, railings, grates, tools, cooking utensils, weapons, and chains, among other things. After the death of his father, Johann Philip married Catherine Margaret Kissinger, supported the American Revolution, and moved to Virginia, where he worked as a blacksmith, raised at least ten children, and died in Monroe County. This area is now in West Virginia.

john dickey, Linen draper

One of the strangest professions I’ve ever heard of is linen draper. Basically, this is the job title for someone who sold cloth or linens–a dry goods merchant. 

According to Grover Dickey’s book John and Alexander Dickey, Immigrants, 1772, this was John Dickey’s job in Larne, County Antrim, Ireland, before he and his son Alexander arrived in South Carolina on the ship James and Mary. They received warrants for land surveys in 1773, and John Dickey’s land was 150 acres in Berkley County. Obviously, they had to do some farming, but I do not know for sure that John continued to work as a linen draper. John died in York County, South Carolina, in 1788. His son Alexander (1746-1832) served in the American Revolution and married Ann Wiseman, also an Irish immigrant. 

John mcvey, millwright

Long-time McVey researcher Vern Taylor believes that John McVey (1737-1823) was probably born in Scotland and came to America as a soldier in the French and Indian War.  He and his (unknown) first wife had four children and lived in Greenbrier County, Virginia (now West Virginia). I am descended from their son Samuel Lewis McVey. After John’s first wife died, he married Sarah Snedigar and had twelve more children. John was given leave to build a mill on his land in 1787 and then worked as a millwright. A millwright’s responsibilities might have included installing, repairing, dismantling, assembling, or moving machinery, as well as constructing any of a variety of types of mills–flour mills, sawmills, or paper mills. The idyllc scenes of mills that are often seen in artwork might make one think that a millwright’s life was easy. However, looking at a diagram showing how complicated the machinery could be, it becomes clear that a millwright actually had to be very knowledgeable about  many things. John moved to Kentucky later in life, but records are unclear as to whether he died in Kentucky or in Virginia.

These examples give a simple overview of some of the crafts and trades our earliest American ancestors learned. Technical and practical skills are always needed, but not always appreciated.  I am looking forward to finding more information about other ancestors  and the crafts and skills that helped them to support their families and contribute to the welfare of the whole community.

Note: All illustrations are in the public domain.

Copyright © 2019 K Steele Barrera. All rights reserved.

The Book Lovers*

Robert Booth

Robert Booth was born about 1613 in England and settled in Gloucester and York Counties, Virginia, before 1638. He was married to Frances Burgess and was the father of Ann Booth, who married William Clopton, Gentleman, as her second husband. Robert was one of two physicians in early Jamestown and also served as Clerk of York County from 1640 to 1657. He represented York County in the House of Burgesses in 1653 and 1654. In 1657, he died, leaving Frances (1609-aft. 1668) as his widow.

Robert Booth’s library, valued at 14 pounds sterling, contained more than 300 books, according to Burns’ Constitutional History of Virginia. Colonial records indicate that he had, at his death, 23,000 bricks valued at 184 shillings. Bricks could have been made by slaves or by transient labor. Land conveyances from and to Robert Booth in 1639, 1642, 1649, 1652, and 1653, as shown in patent records of Charles County and York County, indicate that Robert owned extensive tracts of land.

Sources for Robert Booth:

  1. Ancestry of William Clopton of Virginia, Chapter VII, p. 222. The Genealogical Society, Salt Lake City, Utah.
  2. “Genealogies of Virginia Families.” William and Mary Quarterly, Volume I, p. 450.
  3. Virginia Extracted Vital Records, 1660-1923, indexed by Judith McGhan,, Lehi, Utah, 2017.

William Faris

William Faris was almost certainly a close relative, if not the father, of Mary Farris (1739-1783), who married Andrew Spearman (bef. 1735-1765) before 1755 in North Carolina. Mary and Andrew were the parents of Temperance Spearman (1758-1820), who married Solomon Lee.

Before immigrating to New Hanover County, North Carolina, William Faris (or Farris) had been a merchant in London and possibly Ireland. In Wilmington, he owned a tar house and wharf located on Princess Street. With David Lindsay, he also had a store called Faris & Lindsay on Market Street.

William was a member of the Wilmington Assembly. He was chosen as Wilmington Town Commissioner in 1740, when the town was chartered, and, with William Bartram, he promptly presented a bill that same year to establish St. James Parish. In other actions as an Assembly member from 1740-1752, he proposed forming a committee for the General Inspection of Commodities of the Province, presented an address from the entire Assembly in response to a speech by the Governor, proposed a committee to manage the public debt, served on a committee to prepare a tax bill, brought forth an Act for building and maintaining the roads, and authored an Act to better regulate the town and confirm a survey. In August 1750, he and Dr. Isaac Faris were chosen to hold a poll to choose two new Commissioners in Wilmington. In September 1751, taxes were levied to go toward the construction of the new church that William had helped to establish.  However, the second building, illustrated above, was constructed in the late 1800s.

Considered a man of vision and action, William Faris was responsible for improving the lives of Wilmington residents through his many roles within the community. In his will of January 3, 1757, part of the estate was to go toward finishing the construction of St. James Church. His will was probated the same year. 

Apparently, William read widely, especially in the fields of theology, government, literature, and commerce. The books listed below were part of the inventory of his estate. I have found information about some of these online at That information is indicated with brackets.

  1. Marine Affairs, 2nd Volume
  2. Map of Charleston
  3. Reflections on Theatrical Expression [in Tragedy]
  4. England’s Recovery
  5. Lives of the Saints
  6. Abernathy’s Sermons
  7. The Holy Bible
  8. Fisher’s Arithmetic [A Teacher’s Manual in Arithmetic for Primary Grades]
  9. Gardener’s Calendar
  10. Greek Testament
  11. Gentleman’s Accompaniment
  12. Introduction to the Classics
  13. Treatise on Hemp and Flax
  14. Moses and Aaron
  15. An Apology for Christian Divinity [by Robert Barclay, 1711]
  16. An Account of Denmark
  17. Seneca’s Works
  18. French Grammar
  19. Tully’s Offices [by Roger L’Estrange, 1720]
  20. Epistles
  21. An Apology for the Christian Religion
  22. Poems on Several Occasions [by Mary Barber]
  23. Jacob Behmon’s Epistles
  24. Psalm Book
  25. Pope’s Works
  26. Guide to English Juries [possibly by Richard Bernard, published 1627]
  27. Treatise on Baptism
  28. 11 Volumes of Rapin’s [Rapin De Thoyras] History of England
  29. Dialogues on Education
  30. Virginia Laws
  31. Salmon’s Geography
  32. Prideaux’s Connection [of the Old and New Testaments]
  33. Abernathy on the Attributes
  34. Watt’s Logic
  35. Paraphrase on the Gospels
  36. Common Prayer Book
  37. Court Register
  38. Duncan’s Logic
  39. Milton’s Paradise Lost
  40. Forster’s Sermon [Popery Destructive of the Evidence of Christianity]
  41. Free and Candid Disquisitions . . . [by John Jones, 1749]
  42. Sophocles, a Tragedy
  43. Manners Translated from the French
  44. A Discourse on Freedom of Will [possibly by Jonathan Edwards]
  45. Scripture Line of Time
  46. The Foundling
  47. The History of Louis XIV
  48. Manners
  49. Plutarch’s Lives
  50. Grave’s Miscellany
  51. Incorruptible ______
  52. Duchess of Marlborough’s London
  53. Nature of the Sacrament
  54. A Letter Concerning Affirmation
  55. Taylor on the Romans
  56. Naval Trade and Commerce
  57. An Essay on the Sabbath
  58. Juvenile Persons
  59. Grammatical Commentaries
  60. The Order of Passing Bills [possibly by Henry Scobell, published 1685]
  61. The Laws of North Carolina

Sources for William Faris:

  1.  McEachern, Leora Hiatt. History of St. James Parish, 1729-1979. Wilmington, North Carolina, 1985. Repository: Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research, Houston, Texas

  2. New Hanover County Court Minutes 1738-1769. Abstracted, compiled, edited, and published by Alexander McDonald Walker. Bethesda, Maryland, 1958. Repository:  Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research, Houston, Texas

  3. “North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1979,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 21 May 2014), New Hanover County > F > Faris, William (1757) > image 22 of 23; State Archives, Raleigh.

  4. St. James Church, Wilmington, North Carolina Historical Records 1737-1852, compiled by Ida Brooks Kellam and Elizabeth Francene McKay, 1965, Wilmington, North Carolina. Repository: Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research, Houston, Texas

  5. Weddell, Alfred Moore. A History of New Hanover County and the Lower Cape Fear Region 1723-1800, Vol. 1. Heritage Books Inc., 1989. Repository:  Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research, Houston, Texas

  6. The Wilmington Town Book 1743-1778, edited by Donald Lennon and Ida Kellam. Raleigh, North Carolina, Division of Archives and History and North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, 1973. Repository:  Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research, Houston, Texas

Copyright © 2019 K Steele Barrera. All rights reserved.