James Moore was born between 1718 and 1721, but we don’t know where. I’ve deduced his age, because we find him noted as exempt from taxes in both 1788 and 1791 in Halifax County and continuously thereafter until he disappears from the list in 1797. The age at that time to become exempt from paying tax was age 70, so he was clearly born by 1721 and perhaps as early as 1718.
Amelia County, Virginia
Amelia County was formed from Prince George and Brunswick Counties in 1735 and in 1754, Prince Edward would be formed from Amelia County.
In the article, The Settlement of Prince Edward County by Herbert Bradshaw in volume 62, No.3, pages 448-471 of The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, we are told the following:
Two streams of settlers converged up on the territory which became Prince Edward County and met there. The first settlers came from eastern Virginia and their move into the upper part of Amelia County was the natural migration westward of a people seeking more and fresh land. They came from various sections of the eastern part of the colony, from south of the James to the Northern Neck. Some of the immigrants belonged to the movement into southern Virginia and northern North Carolina known as the Hanover Migration. The number of people who went out from Hanover and its neighboring counties during the four decades before the Revolution was almost phenomenal.
The distance from Hanover County to Prince Edward County is about 80 miles – over a week by wagon.
These settlers from eastern Virginia were largely of English stock. Jacob McGehee who came from King William (County)…was of Scotch descent. John Nash who moved from Henrico (County)…was from Wales.
The second major stream of migration consisted of Scotch-Irish settlers from Pennsylvania. These people who were Scottish in nationality had the Irish hyphenated as a result of a sojourn of approximately a century in Northern Ireland. They had been settled there by James I to repopulate a land desolated by the armies of Queen Elizabeth I. Many migrated to Pennsylvania where they settled on the frontier. Indian troubles made life precarious there, so many took again to the weary road and south to a haven in the “back parts” of Virginia.
About 1735 two Scotch-Irish settlements, both under the leadership of John Caldwell were made in southside Virginia, one on Cub Creek in Brunswick (now Charlotte) County and the other on Buffalo River in Amelia (now Prince Edward) County. The Scotch-Irish for the most part moved in companies and made their homes in a settlement and for the purposes of protection, social contact and religious worship.
Bradshaw goes on to mention by name the Scotch-Irish settlers, none of which are the surnames that are consistently associated with James Moore. Neither is the location of their settlement which was someplace in the region of Sandy Ford and Spring Creek, according to the road orders.
A third smaller group were the French Huguenots from Manakin in Goochland County. James Moore is not associated with those names either.
The 1740s in Amelia, eventually to become Prince Edward County, was defined by settlers opening land for cultivation, clearing roads, building homes and forming a community.
Of course, innkeepers with licenses for ordinaries and taverns followed, with George Moore receiving permission to open an ordinary in 1748 known as “Moore’s Ordinary” in the town of present-day Meherrin, near the Meherrin River.
Today, a lonesome roadsign points the way to a sleepy, nearly deserted village that was once thriving.
The original Moore’s Ordinary was converted into a private home, then torn down years ago, with only a grainy picture remaining today. You’d never guess that this building, below, was the famous ordinary. Certainly, James Moore would have visited this building, as ordinaries weren’t just taverns, but community centers where all kinds of business was transacted.
A cemetery, mostly with unmarked graves, is all that’s left nearby now.
For a long time, I believed George Moore was associated with our James Moore, but there is no direct evidence today to suggest such. There is, however, some amount of circumstantial evidence, but given the community interactions and intermarriages between the families, it’s impossible without either definitive documents or Y DNA tests to determine whether or not these men were actually related or simply associated.
For example. George Moore’s daughter married John Watkins who was the executor of the will of Joseph Rice, James Moore’s father-in-law. You can read a summary here.
First Sighting of James Moore
Hanover County suffered extensive record loss during the Civil War, so early Hanover Records aren’t available, for the most part. I was not able to find any references to Moore families that would have been in the Hanover area concurrently with Joseph Rice. The Rice family is first found in New Kent County, Virginia where Joseph was born.
There is a James Moore born on November 13, 1718 in New Kent County to a father named James Moore, accoring to the St. Peter’s Parish Records. There are at least two James Moores in New Kent during this timeframe, because one dies on July 9, 1718 but another goes on to have more children. In 1729, James and Agnis Moore had son, Robert. This couple is likely not our James Moore’s parents because the name Agnis is not found in the family and neither are other names of James and Agnis’s children, like Valentine. There is no William Moore, probable brother to James Moore, born during this time in New Kent.
Our first glimpse of James Moore in Amelia County might be in 1743, but I can’t tell if the James Moore on the tax list is our James or not.
In 1745, James Moore is working as on overseer on the plantation of the Randolph’s. The Randolph family owns an immense amount of land.
James was a young man, between 24 and 27 years old. He may have been married when he arrived in Amelia County, or he may have married after arriving there.
According to the tax list, James lived “above Sailor’s Creek” and according to the court records, was ordered along with several others to clear the road from Bush River Bridge to the Chapple.
A History of Dissent
According to the History of Prince Edward County, The Chapple was also known as Watkin’s Church, situated about eighteen miles from Prince Edward Court House (now the town of Worsham), on the Lynchburg Road. By 1760, a significant amount of religious dissent was occurring in Prince Edward County, in part because of the taxes levied to pay for the glebe land of 3 different Anglican Churches, and in part because the upper church at Sandy River had been involved in scandal, including selling liquor at and in church. Watkin’s Church was not Anglican.
Dissenters continues to increase, with some Anglican officials themselves converting. In 1779, it’s mentioned in the vestry notes that the Presbyterians, “were then riding the top of the wave in Prince Edward.”
In 1759, Joseph Rice was given permission to build a dissenting meeting house on his property, which had previously assumed to be Methodist, but there is no history of the Methodists in Prince Edward County at that time. It’s very likely that Joseph Rice was among the Presbyterian dissenters, even though his grandson, William Moore, would, by 1775 be a founding Methodist circuit riding minister.
Dissenting seems to be a family tradition.
Given that Joseph Rice is James Moore’s father-in-law, this informs us that James too was probably not Anglican and was a dissenter himself. This probably also explains why no marriage record exists for James Moore when he married Joseph Rice’s daughter. An Angican minister didn’t perform the ceremony and therefore no marriage return was filed. At this time, only Anglican ministers were authorized to perform marriages, legally.
James is mentioned on the 1745 road list along with Henry Ligon, William Ligon, Alexander Frazier, James Rutledge and Charles Cottrel.
On this map, Sailor, also spelled Saylor Creek is where the red arrows point, and Bush River is where the green arrows point. Both creeks dump into the Appomattox River to the north and are about 5 miles distant from each other, as the crow flies.
Sandy River, mentioned as an area heavy with dissenting families is the branch pointed to by the purple arrow.
Apparently, the Rice land on Sandy River reached to Little Saylor’s Creek, maybe two miles distant.
Apparently the Joseph Rice family was the hotbed of the Sandy River dissenters.
Is William Moore James Moore’s Brother?
The only hint of family that I can connect with James Moore is William Moore, also living above Sailor’s Creek in 1748 in close proximity to James Moore and adjacent the Rice family.
In 1752, William Craddock sold 148 acres of land to William Moore on a small branch of Sandy Creek adjacent the lines of both Matthew Rice and William Ligon, land patented to William Craddock on October 10, 1752.
Other transactions occur, but it’s difficult to identify those William Moores. There is a James Moore living in Amelia County who is not our James Moore, proven by Y DNA testing. That James Moore died in 1772, having son Anderson Moore who moved to Halifax County literally within a couple miles and across Mountain Road from our James Moore. That James Moore also had sons James and William Moore.
In 1754 William Moore became levy-free due to disability or age. We know he’s not a preacher nor a sheriff.
In 1762, William Ligon sells 970 acres to James Atwood of Amelia County on the south side of Sandy River bounded by William More, Matthew Rice and others.
In 1762 William is tithed with himself and also a William Jr, who is likely at that time 16-21, so born 1741-1745. Therefore William Moore Sr. is born 1720 or earlier, about the same time as James Moore.
In 1767, William Moore is taxed with 147 acres.
In 1774 William sells with wife Margaret 60 acres to Thomas Vaughan.
William disappears off of the tax lists in 1782.
In 1784 William, no wife named, sells 75 acres of land to Edmund D. Ford with John, Sarah and Sarah Moore as witnesses (yes, two separate Sarah’s). A John Moore sued Noel Waddell for debt, so this John may be connected to this William. These transactions leave 13 acres unaccounted for.
In 1810, there is a William W. Moor in Prince Edward Co. with 1 male 10-15, 1 male 16-25, female under 10, female 10-15, female 26-44 and 5 slaves. The only other Moore in the county is Molly, widow of George who died in 1798.
Even more interestingly, in 1885, a William H. Moore sells 13 acres of land on Briery Creek to Annie E. Dotson. That 13 acres makes up the full amount that William owned, although Briery Creek is a branch of Bush River, not Sandy Creek, so this could be a red herring. If this is the same land, it also means that there may be Moores of that bloodline in Prince Edward County, or someone researching them. I could find no William Moore in the census for Prince Edward County from 1840-1880, but in 1880 there is a William L. Moore who is living with a family in Halifax County as their cousin. He was born in 1828.
In 1830 in Prince Edward County, one William Moore, age 40-50 (born 1780-1890) with 3 sons, age 5-20 and 3 daughters of the same age is living in Prince Edward County
I was unable to determine what actually happened to William Moore although I suspect given that he was born about 1720 that he probably died when he disappeared from the tax list in the 1780s.
James Moore named his oldest two sons James and William.
James Moore’s life in Amelia and Prince Edward Counties
James Moore married one of the daughters of Joseph Rice about 1745, as proven by Joseph Rice’s will in 1766. In Prince Edward County, James Moore lived on Sailor (Saylor) Creek adjacent both Joseph and Matthew Rice. Matthew Rice was the brother of Joseph Rice.
In 1746, the court records a trespass case with James Moore as plaintiff and Garrett Smith as defendant. Trespass at that time was different than today. Generally, trespass meant that two farmers were having a dispute regarding the planting of crops over the perceived property line.
The property tax list of 1746 appears to be in neighbor order with James’s “road” appearing to be George Lovall, Alex Frayser, Duglass Pickett, James More, James Rutledge and Thomas Rutledge, Charles Cottrell, John Waddill, Tho Certan and Wtopr. Certain, Richard Witt.
In 1747, although James Moore is not specifically listed, the Amelia County order book shows the following court order:
Joseph Rice, road to be cleared from the place Captain Walker’s old road crossed Sandy River by the nearest and best way to Bush River, the Parson, Thomas Turpin, John Holloway, Richard Witt, Michael Rice, John Waddell and their tithables to do the work.
William Womack, road from Great Sailor’s Creek into the road a little below Crawford’s house, with Thomas Certain, Abraham Vaughan, John Gentry, Jonthan Howell, William Brooks, Charles Spradling and their tithables and those at John Nash’s and Benjamin Runnins’ quarters to do the work.
We find the names of Womack and Spradling here and also as James Moore’s neighbors a few years later in Halifax County. Joseph Rice was James Moore’s father-in-law.
On July 25, 1748, a land sale occurred that may provide a much-needed clue about James Moore’s ancestry.
Abraham Womack of Raleigh Parish to James Moore of Raleigh Parish – July 25, 1748 – consideration 15# – 100 acres on Saylor’s Creek adjoining the lines of John Hall, William Womack and Abraham Womack, being the upper end of a larger tract patented to Abraham Womack on July 10, 1745. Witness Matthew Rice, Thomas Turpin, Thomas Nash and John Nash. Possession being obtained by James Moore on July 25, 1748. Deed ordered recorded Aug. 19, 1748 after Jane, wife of Abraham, relinquished dower.
Somehow, I match more than 30 Womack descendants who also match me and each other. Was Abraham Womack somehow related to James Moore?
In 1749, 1750 and 1751, James is noted as “above Sailor’s Creek.”
James Moore may be associated with a George and William Moore who also lived “above Sailors Creek”, although that may be happenstance. William Moore appeared “above Sailor Creek” on the tax list of 1748 and purchased land on Sandy Creek, abutting Matthew Rice in 1752. There is also a Peter Moore for only 1 year in 1748 in this same Sailor Creek area. George Moore’s land abuts the land of the Randolphs, but the Randolphs were large absentee landowners, so we have no way of knowing if this is really relevant.
In 1752, James Moore witnessed a land sale from Abraham Womack to William Womack.
Abraham Womack to William Womack June 23, 1752 for 15# – 100 acres on the upper side of Sailors Creek adjoining land of Benjamin Ruffin, James Moore and Charles Caython, being part of 400 acres patented to Abraham Womack on July 10, 1745. Witness James (x) Moore, John (x) Haloway (also Holloway) and John Rice. Possession and deed ordered recorded June 25, 1752.
James also served on a jury and as a witness for Daniel Dejarnett who owed him for 7 days attendance at court.
In 1753, James is again taxed “above Sailor’s Creek.”
This portion of Amelia County became Prince Edward County in 1754.
In 1756, a heart-rending situation occurred as told in the History of Prince Edward County:
A dangerous situation developed in 1756 when a slave of William Womack after having been outlawed took refuge in quarters of John Stanton and defended himself with broadax and darts. He had tried to kill his master and neighbors tried to capture him alive. A group of Abraham Womack, Isham Womack, William Barry, James Moore and William Masters fought with the slave and shot him. He died of his wounds.
I can’t help but feel the terror that slave must have felt, 263 years later. I was unable to discern the meaning of “outlawed” in this context. Was this man evil, or simply desperate? We’ll never know the answer to that, or the backstory. I do know that neither James Moore nor his sons or father-in-law owned slaves.
In 1759, the location of James Moore’s property was more specific, noted on the tax list as between Ligon’s Rolling Road and Sailor’s Creek Old Road, Sailor’s Creek and Sandy River. The Ligon’s owned land on Sandy River and the Rolling Road would have been the road they rolled the tobacco hogsheads down to the Appomattox River. Threefore, the roads would run alongside the creeks and rivers north to the Appomattox.
Sandy River (red arrows) is the eastern branch of Bush River (left green arrow.) The right green arrows point to Sailor’s Creek and I’m guessing that the roads mentioned are between those rivers.
This map of Prince Edward County drawn during the Civil War shows an approximate location, including Rice’s Station.
On February 4, 1760, Edith Cobbs of Amelia County sold 200 acres of land to Joseph Rice, land patented to John Ford. James Moore who signed with a mark, along with Noel Waddell and Jeay (Icay?) Rice were witnesses.
This deed states that it’s the other half of Ford’s original 400 acres and Joseph Rice had already purchased the other 200.
On February 20, 1760, James Moore of Prince Edward County sold 75 acres for 40 # to Noel Waddill on Sailors Creek, part of a tract that James purchased from Abraham Womack and bounded by Ryan, Matthew Rise (Rice), the Mill branch, signed by James Moore. Witness Jacob Waddill, James Flowers, and Joseph Nunn.
Now if I only knew where the Mill Branch was located. Note on the map, above, Ellington’s Mill to the right of Rice’s Station.
Today, the town of Rice is Rice’s Station and the Mill Branch may be Ellington’s Mill.
On March 1, 1760, Abraham Womack of St. Patrick Parish sold to James Moore 11 acres for 5# adjoining James Moore and the new line agreed on by Abraham and William Womack. Witnesses were Joseph and Icay Rice.
In September of 1760, in a court proceeding, John Nunn wanted to build a mill across Childress Creek and James Moore is one of several men making a judgement.
In April of 1761, Matthew Rice sold land to John Chapman on the Sandy River, bounded by Philip Ryon, Thomas Turpin and Matthew Rice, witnessed by James Moore who signed with an “M”.
On April 13th, the same day, Samuel Goode of Prince Edward County sold 330 acres of land to Charles Rice, on the upper side of Saylor’s Creek granted to the said Samuel by patent dated July 13, 1760 and bounded by Joseph Rice, Abraham Womack, the old line of Matthew Rice, William Barnes, Noel Waddil. Witnesses were Obadiah Claybrook, Matthew Rice, and James (M his mark) Moore.
This deed too may be very important.
James Moore named his son born about 1765 Mackness. That unusual name is associated with the Rowlett family in Prince Edward County, with one Mackness Rowlett born about 1741 being the son of John Rowlett who died in 1776 with a will. The name Mackness may well reach back in time to the marriage of one John Goode and Frances Mackarness. Samuel Goode is reported, but not verified to be their grandson.
James Moore didn’t just pick the name Mackness out of the sky. There had to be a reason for James or his wife to select Mackness. Probably the same or a similar reason that John Rowlett named his son Mackness in 1741.
In November 1761, James Moore witnessed a deed from John Maynard to William Spicer for land on the lower side of Sailor’s Creek.
A year later, on December 13, 1762, Henry Barksdale sold 25 acres to Noel Waddell on both sides of Great Sailor’s Creek bounded by a road in James Moore’s line and also mentions Joseph Nunn. Witnesses were James (M) Moore, Phil Holcombe and Grimes Holcombe.
Between this information and the tax lists, it looks like James Moore owned land on a road on the north side of Sailor’s Creek, and probably adjacent to the Creek.
In February 1764, Noel Waddell sells to Francis Anderson of Amelia County, 250 acres and 203 acres on the lower side of Great Sailor’s Creek patented July 10, 1755. John Stanton bought it from Abraham Womack “once owned” it and James (M) Moore witnessed again.
By this time, James Moore is more than 40 years old, possibly as old as 47. He owns a total of 36 acres of land. He has probably been married for 25 years or so, which makes the next item particularly significant and perhaps a turning point in his life.
Joseph Rice Dies
In 1766, James Moore’s father-in-law, Joseph Rice died, with a will that is recorded in the Prince Edward County Will book 1, page 80. Bless his heart!
In the name of God Amen I Joseph Rice of Prince Edward County being indisposed in body but of perfect mind and memory praised be to God for the same do make and constitute and ordain this and none other to be my last will and testament in manner and form following.
To my son-in-law James Moore 100 acres land whereon he now lives to be divided from the tract I live on by a line that was run by Robert Farguson to him and his heirs forever.
To my well beloved son John Rice 100 acres of land joyning the aforesaid 100 of Moores and also divided by the said Fargusons line and the tract whereon I now live to him and his heirs forever.
To my well beloved son William Rice the East part of the tract of land I now live on to be divided beginning on a line run by Robert Farguson on my Spring Branch…containing 100 acres more or less to him and his heirs forever.
To my well beloved son Charles Rice the remainder part of my land whereon I now live after the death of my well loved wife to him and his heirs forever.
To my well beloved son David Rice 133 acres of land whereon he now lives to him and his heirs forever
To my well beloved son Joseph Rice 133 acres of land whereon he now lives to him and his heirs forever.
To my well beloved sons John, William and Charles as they become of age 21 each a feather bed and furniture and one cow and calf to them and their heirs forever if the estate can afford it.
To my well beloved daughter Mary Rice one feather bed and furniture and one cow and calf.
Well beloved wife Rachel remainder of personal estate during her natural life.
Sons John, William and Charles after decease of wife, 7 # current money of Virginia.
Rest of estate divided equally after decease of wife. Wife Rachel and David Rice and John Watkins executors. December 1765.
Signed with mark (long I with 3 crossmarks) witness John Watkins, William Womack, Charles Rice – Probated June 16, 1766.
This will tells us that in addition to the 36 acres that James Moore owns, he has been living on and farming 100 acres of his father-in-law’s land. Now James owns a total of 136 acres.
His land also abuts the Farguson land, another name we’ll see in Halifax County living adjacent James Moore.
The Problem with the Will
The problem with the will is that James Moore’s wife is named Mary according to later deeds in Halifax County. However, in Joseph Rice’s will, he specifically says that James Moore is his son-in-law, and he mentions his daughter Mary separately with the Rice surname, giving the impression that Mary Rice is not married.
- Did James Moore marry two of Joseph’s daughters? First, an unnamed daughter, and eventually, Mary Rice?
- Did James Moore marry one of Joseph Rice’s daughters who died after 1766, and James Moore remarried to a Mary, last name unknown, before his wife’s name appears in Halifax County records a few years later?
- Is it possible that Joseph Rice’s daughter that was married to James Moore had already died before Joseph died? If that were the case, I’d presume that the land would have been left to James Moore’s children, not James himself.
We know from various records and sources (including DNA matches) that indeed, this James Moore is the James Moore that was Joseph Rice’s son-in-law, but why did Joseph refer to his daughter as Mary Rice if she was married to James Moore who had been mentioned previously in the will?
James Moore had a son named Rice Moore, born about 1762 – so the evidence is compelling that indeed James was married to one of Joseph Rice’s daughters.
James Moore’s daughter, Lydia Moore, born about 1746 married Edward Henderson and named a son Rice Henderson, so clearly Lydia’s mother was a Rice.
In 1767, on the tax list, James Moore is listed with 136 acres of land, two tithes, one of which is James Moore Jr. This means that James Jr. is over the age of 16 and possibly over the age of 21, so was born before 1750.
James is nearing 50 years of age, the half century mark. You’d think he’d be interested in farming his land and maybe beginning to relax a little. By this time, he had grandchildren to enjoy. Perhaps his wife wanted to help care for her mother.
However, that’s not at all what happened. By 1770, James Moore and family had packed up everything they owned into a wagon, apparently sold their land in Prince Edward County, although I’ve never found a deed, and migrated with a community once again. This time, to what is now the Vernon Hill/Oak Level area of western Halifax County where he settled among the Spradlings, Womacks and Fargusons.
The curtain drops on Act 1 of James Moore’s life, a half-century in the making. What will Act 2 bring?
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