Saturday, January 29, 2022

Old Seth Williams

Seth Williams Jr died in 1853 and his surviving heirs, his brothers and sisters, became tenants in common of a tract of land in the county of Montgomery on the waters of Clarks Creek, adjoining the land formerly owned by Andrews and Joseph Wilson and others, which tract of land was granted to Old Seth Williams dec'd and by him in his lifetime deeded to, presumably his sons, Malcom Williams, Seth Williams, Thomas Williams, Charles Williams, and John Williams, containing about one hundred and fifty acres, more or less.

Thomas Williams’ interest in said land was levied upon and sold by the Sheriff of Montgomery County by virtue of an execution when S. A. Christian became the last and highest bidder and did by transfer of said bid or by deed duly executed by him conveying the same to the defendant Matthew Davis. 

As Seth Williams Jr died without ever having married and without any children, his interest in said lands descended to his brothers and sisters as his next collateral relations who were Malcom Williams, Thomas Williams, whose interest had been sold to Matthew Davis, Charles Williams, and John Williams and to his sisters Harriett, who has intermarried with James Simmons, Helena who has intermarried with Miles Jackson, and Martha who has intermarried with Osborn Williams. 

Malcom Williams removed to Tennessee and died leaving his widow Nancy and his children William and Allison who reside in Tennessee. 

Charles Williams removed to Texas and died leaving his widow Eliza and 2 children whose names are unknown. 

Harriett married James Simmons and removed to Tennessee where both her and her husband died leaving children surviving vis, Garrett, William, Hardeman, Caswell, James, Newton, and Marian who reside in Tennessee. 

Martha married Osborn Williams and she is dead leaving Elmira, Wilson F., Thomas, Nancy, who is married to Robert Scarboro, Jane and Frances Williams and her husband Osborn Williams surviving. The two last, Jane and Frances, are minors and have no Regular Guardian.

James L. Gaines on the 1st day of February 1854 and on the premises, proceeded to sell the land mentioned in the petition at public sale to the highest bidder when Nancy Wilson became the purchaser at the price of two hundred dollars.

The more I dug into the families mentioned in the estate file, the more I realized that Old Seth Williams probably died before 1830. He is found on very early records of Montgomery County; a 1782 tax list, the 1790 Census, the 1810 Census, and early land grants. He is not found on the 1830 Census though. His wife, and the mother of his children, had to be Nancy Wilson, who purchased the land of Seth Jr and who remarried to a man named Joseph Wilson, thus uniting the Williams and Wilson families. Most family trees I reviewed have Nancy listed as the mother of Joseph Wilson’s children – but that cannot be the case. Records do not support that. A few trees had Ann Pritchard listed as the mother of Joseph’s children, but no evidence listed to support the claim. 

Joseph Wilson wrote his will in April 1841, giving to his dear beloved wife Nancy Wilson one bed and furniture one grey mare, bridle, and saddle and one cow and calf and $50 for her portion of his estate. In his estate file, there was no dower land mentioned. 

Joseph goes on to list his children, never referring to Nancy as their mother; daughters, Polly Billingsley, Elizabeth Deberry, Patsey Thomasson, two children of a deceased daughter, Calvin Wooley and Preston Wooley, Nancy Billingsley, Sally Myric Wilson, Joanna Christian and sons Isiah M. Wilson, William R. Wilson, John P. Wilson.

Joseph Wilson also names his brother in his will; noting that the land on Clarks Creek that he bought of his brother, Joel Wilson, is to descend to his son, Isaiah M. Wilson. Joel Wilson may be the J. Wilson listed on the 1810 Census living next door to Joseph Wilson. 

Joel published in The Raleigh Minerva, in 1809, that his wife Rebecca, had deserted him.

On 27 May 1846, Joseph deeds to his wife, Nancy, for her use, during her lifetime, a negro woman by the name of Chaney and her three children, Frank, Nancy Ann, and Sarah. After Nancy dies, the slaves are to revert to Joseph’s children. Calvin Wooley, grandson of Joseph Wilson and Isaiah Wilson, son of Joseph Wilson, witnessed the deed.
10 Nov 1846, a publication announcing the death of Joseph Wilson is published in the Fayetteville Observer. Joseph was 77 years, 9 months, and 15 days, making him born about 1768/9.

A deed dated 13 April 1847, is what absolutely determines that Nancy Wilson was once a Williams. In the deed she lists herself as the mother of Thomas Williams, the brother whose interest in Seth Junior’s land was purchased by Matthew Davis Sr. Nancy deeds to her son Thomas Williams a certain grey mare about six years old and other items. This is probably the same grey mare that she received of her husband, Joseph Wilson, in his will. The deed was witnessed by Calvin Wooley, who is named in the will of Joseph Wilson as his grandson. 

Matthew Davis Sr is connected to the Wilson family through Isiah M. Wilson, son of Joseph Wilson, who married his daughter, Eliza Davis in 1847.

In 1850, 73-year-old Nancy Wilson is living next door to Isaiah M. Wilson, the son of Joseph Wilson. James Livingston, 15-years old, is shown in her household. This Census was taken on 29 Jul 1850 by C. W. Wooley (Nancy’s step grandson). James is listed as a laborer; I have found no family connection between the Livingston’s and Nancy. 

16-year-old James Livingston, Laborer, is also listed on the 1850 Census just 2-weeks later, living with his parents, William, and Hannah Livingston. That Census was taken 16 Aug 1850 by C. W. Wooley. James was probably doing some work for Nancy on 29 Jul and C. W. Wooley, knowing that enumerators were paid 2 cents per person enumerated, added James to the Census because he was at Nancy’s house that day.

Closer to home in my own family tree; Matthew Davis Jr, the son of Matthew Davis Sr who purchased the interest of Thomas Williams, married Massan Henderson, the daughter of Joel Henderson and Susannah Smart Morgan Henderson, my 4th great grandmother through her first marriage to Joseph Morgan. Lockey Henderson, the brother of Massan Henderson Davis, married Matthew Jr’s niece, Mary Polly Davis, the daughter of Green Davis, Matthew Jr’s brother. This was an exciting find as previously I did not know the parentage of Mary Davis Henderson.
In 1860, 84-year-old Nancy is found living with her son, Thomas. She is listed as a widow. Thomas Williams is listed as renting from Wm G [William Gaston] Deberry, son of the Honorable Edmund Deberry. Thomas married Martha Boyd, daughter of Robert and Debby Simmons Boyd. Both Thomas and Martha are shown in the estate papers of Robert Boyd. Debby Simmons is the daughter of Benjamin Simmons and sister of Lockey Simmons.

Interestingly, Nancy Ann Deberry, sister of William Gaston Deberry, and daughter of the Honorable Edmund Deberry, married Calvin Wooley, grandson of Joseph Wilson who married Nancy Williams after Old Seth Williams died. 

Joseph Wilson’s will also list a daughter as Elizabeth Deberry, but I do not yet know which Deberry she married.

Harriet Williams, the sister of Seth Williams Jr, married James Simmons. I do not know if there is a connection to the Benjamin Simmons family who populated early Montgomery County. Both are mentioned in the 1853 estate file as removing to Tennessee. Harriet and James's children are also mentioned. It became clear to me while researching Harriet and James, that their descendants have not found the 1853 estate file of Seth Williams Jr because there are a wide range of parents listed for Harriet, but most agree she was probably born in Montgomery County, North Carolina. 

I am not able to find concrete proof of the parentage of James Simmons, but there is enough evidence to lead me to think he may be the son of John and Mary Polly Parker Simmons who married in Franklin County, North Carolina around 1790, migrated to Chatham County, North Carolina around 1796 or 97, and then to Montgomery County, North Carolina around 1803, where John died in 1823, and later, Polly Simmons migrated to Henry County, Tennessee with proven son, Bartlett. James also migrated to Henry County, Tennessee and there may be a connection between Bartlett and James, perhaps brothers. I am posting what I found in hopes that descendants or researchers of this family might be able to connect with me and provide documented proof – or correct me if I am wrong. 

Early Census documents for John Simmons, who has a common name, are of no help. I found John Simmons in Franklin County, North Carolina in 1790, but the age is not right. I found John Simmons in Chatham County, North Carolina in 1800, but the age was just too young to be my John. I found a John Simmons in Montgomery County in 1790, and while the age could be right, based on other records, I do not think John was in Montgomery in 1790. In 1810, Montgomery County, there is a T. Simmons in Capt. Williams District but no J. Simmons. I am not sure how this guy escaped so many Census takers!

I was able to document a paper trail for John based on other records though. Except for the Census records, he did live a well-documented life. In 1780 and again in 1781, claims were submitted in Franklin County and Hillsborough, for services performed during the Revolutionary War. It is probable that one or both records belong to John Simmons.
In 1797, John Simmons of Franklin County purchases from John Kilby of Chatham County a tract of land on the east side of New Hope Creek and a Grist Mill.
New Hope Creek was formerly called the New Hope River until it was dammed to create Jordan Lake (Wikipedia). Below is a circa 1777 map of Chatham County showing the area where John and Polly Parker Simmons lived. The first bridge built in Chatham County was across New Hope Creek and was called "Sypart’s Bridge." It was on the road to Raleigh. The exact date of building the bridge is not known, but at August 1777 court it was ordered that “Elisha Cain and Francis Sypart be appointed commissioners for letting to the lowest bidder the repairing of New Hope Bridge near the said Francis Syparts"
In 1818, John filed for a Revolutionary War pension as a resident of Montgomery County, North Carolina, age 58, making him born about 1760. He was living in Chatham County, North Carolina towards the later part of the war and enlisted the same year that Lord Cornwallis was captured [1781]. At the time of his claim, his family consisted of himself, his wife, and one son, Bartlett, 13 years old. He married Polly Parker in Franklin County, North Carolina in 1790. The marriage license is provided in his pension file.

Sometime after the marriage, John and Polly migrated to Chatham County, North Carolina where he bought land on New Hope Creek [see above deed and map]. On an 1803 deed in Chatham County, John is listed as a resident of Montgomery County, North Carolina and sold the same land as noted above to Bartholomew Lightfoot and Oliver Prince for $510.00. John and Polly left Franklin County around 1796, were in Chatham by 1797, only staying there a few years; by 1803, they had moved on to Montgomery County and were there in 1818 when John filed for his war pension. 

In May 1800, John advertised in The Raleigh Minerva, that his 201-acre plantation at New Hope Bridge on the main road leading from Raleigh containing a Mill Seat, was for sale.

9 Jun 1840, in Henry County, Tennessee, Polly Simmons files for a pension as the widow of John Simmons, a pensioner, who died 5 Apr 1823. Thomas Oliver Sen and Thomas Oliver Jun provide sworn affidavits that John Simmons, late of the county of Montgomery and state of North Carolina, was a pensioner and drew his pension at Fayetteville, North Carolina. 

I have not had time to research Thomas Oliver Senior or Junior. I find it odd though that neither James Simmons nor Bartlett Simons are found in these documents.

The only documented child in the Revolutionary War file belonging to John and Polly Parker Simmons is Bartlett Simmons. John stated in his 1818 pension file that Bartlett was 13 years old, making him born about 1805. James Simmons, based on future records, was born about 1794. 

Bartlett Simmons is found on the 1830 Census for Henry County, Tennessee, the same place where Polly Simmons filed her widow pension claim. Found in the same county are Henry, Charles, and William Simmons – possible relatives of Bartlett, but no James Simmons.

James P. Simmons makes his appearance on the 1840 Census for Henry County, Tennessee. Living with him is a female old enough to be his mother, Mary Polly Parker Simmons.

James P. Simmons is living in Carroll County, Tennessee in 1850. This Census does not include Polly Simmons, and it is assumed that she died between Census years, 1840 and 1850. Living with James are his sons, Hardman, and James. 

Going back to the 1853 estate file of Seth Williams Jr, “Harriett married James Simmons and removed to Tennessee where both her and her husband died leaving children surviving vis, Garrett, William, Hardeman, Caswell, James, Newton, and Marian who reside in Tennessee.” This would indicate that James Simmons died in Tennessee prior to 1853.

It is after 1853 that things become confusing for James Simmons. He is not found at all in 1860. I can find some of his children though. Garrett looks to be living in Benton, Tennessee in 1860. Caswell, who became a doctor, is living in Prairie, Arkansas in 1860. Hardeman, who looks to be the most documented, is living in Tippah County, Mississippi in 1860. 

Most family trees have James Simmons listed on the 1870 Census for Tippah County, Mississippi living with Harriett Nutt. She is supposedly the daughter of Kedar Nutt and Sarah Simmons from Wake County, North Carolina. I do not know what the relationship is between James and Harriett or if any exist at all, or if this is James Simmons who married Harriet Williams.

Find-A-Grave provides further details that James served as a private in Captain Joshua Craven's Company, Colonel Jesse A. Pearsons' 7th Regiment of North Carolina Militia Volunteers in the War of 1812 and that he drew a pension from the U.S. Pension Bureau, Department of the Interior. So, off I went to North Carolina State Archives to find the Muster Rolls and to Fold3 to find his pension file.
The rolls of the Tenth Company, detached from Montgomery County regiment did not show James Simmons on the roll. Numbers 28 and 76 are blank, so, perhaps James should be in one of these spaces. A search of the entire book found no James Simons or James Simmons.
I found one card on Ancestry indicating that James Simmons served as a Private in Capt. Joshua Craven’s Company, North Carolina Militia. Pension numbers listed as S.O. 30260 and S.C. 21727. A search of those numbers on Fold3 found that this James Simmons died about 1824 and his widow, Mary remarried to Walter Hutchinson in Washington, D. C. This is not the James Simmons I am looking for.
Martha Williams, the sister of Seth Jr, married Osborn Williams, who is the son of Isham and Francis Williams. Martha died prior to her brother Seth Jr. Left surviving were her husband Osborn, and children, Elmira, Wilson T., Thomas, Nancy, who married Robert Scarboro, and Jane and Francis who are minors in 1853.

Isham Williams was probably born about 1760 and may be related to Old Seth Williams, perhaps a brother, if so, that would make Martha and Osborn first cousins. Isham died before 1842 in Montgomery County. His wife, Francis, died about Oct 1842 and after her death a paper writing was produced purporting to be her last will and testament in which Archibald Williams claimed to be the executor. In Jan 1843, Archibald Williams offered to the court the will for probate. The court admitted the will without any notice given to the heirs at law of Francis Williams, some of whom resided in the states of Georgia and Mississippi at the time of Francis’s death. 

The estate file names the heirs of Isham and Francis Williams as, Sterling Andrews and Elizabeth his wife, Archibald Williams, James Henley, and Mary his wife, Ausborn Williams, and Tempey Austin, widow of Bryant Austin deceased.

On the 1850 Census I found John Williams (Amos), age 52, a Wheelwright. His family consisted of Amy, age 45, presumably his wife, and children Eliza, age 13, Mary, age 6, and Henry, age 3. Also listed is Harriet Williams, age 21. Most trees have Amy listed as Amy Moreland because there is a marriage record listed on Ancestry that links to John and Amy Williams of Montgomery County. Looking further into the marriage record, I found that John Williams and Amy Moreland were married in Lincoln County, North Carolina in 1796. This couple is not the John and Amy Williams found on the 1850 Census in Montgomery County, North Carolina. 

Neither Amy nor Eliza is mentioned in John’s estate file. They both may have died between the 1850 and 1860 Census. Harriet Williams married Simeon Blalock, Ann Williams married James Maner (Maynor), Mary Williams married John Ussery, and Henry may have moved to Randolph County, and married a York. 

I thought it interesting that (Amos) is spelled out on the Census record beside John’s name. I believe that the Census taker may have been attempting to identify John, him having such a common name. I thought perhaps, this John Williams may be the son of Amos Williams.

Sure enough, there was an Amos Williams in Montgomery County. In fact, there were quite a few Williams men in Montgomery County in 1790. All were born prior to 1774. Some of these names look to be repeated in Randolph County as well. More research is required to figure these men out. Roger Williams may be the same man I wrote about in the Blog, “The Forgotten Dead.” There was a Roger Williams in Randolph County as well. More research required to find out if these are the same men.
Amos is also found on the 1810 Census for Montgomery County. Listed as over the age of 45, making him born prior to 1765. His neighbors are the Lilly and Davis families. Amos had a land grant for 16 acres of land on lower Richland Creek in 1796. John Lilly and Solomon Williams were chain carriers. Interestingly, the land was transferred from Nathan Smith to Amos Williams.

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