Daniel Vannoy (1752 – after 1794) Embattled, then Disappeared – 52 Ancestors #261

Daniel Vannoy Blue Ridge Parkway.png

Daniel Vannoy is the father of Elijah Vannoy who was born about 1784. This seems like such a simple statement, but believe me, identifying Elijah’s father was anything BUT simple. In fact, without DNA testing, we would never have been able to know which of the 4 sons of John Vannoy was the father of Elijah.

Fortunately, we know the identity of the wives of the 4 Vannoy sons. It was through matching the descendants of the ancestors of Daniel’s wife, Sarah Hickerson, that we identified Daniel.

I wrote about that here and here.

In a nutshell, Y DNA proved that Elijah was indeed a Vannoy male, and autosomal matches to Sarah’s siblings’ descendants proved that Daniel Vannoy and Sarah Hickerson were Elijah’s parents.

Birth and Baptism

Daniel Vannoy was born on February 22, 1752 in Rowan County, North Carolina, according to family Bible records.

The location of Daniel’s birth in Rowan County has been widely reported as Potts Creek, but Potts Creek, today, is about 90 miles southwest of the Jersey Church where we know positively that Daniel’s father was living. There may have been a different Potts Creek at that time, but it’s unlikely that Daniel’s father, John Vannoy moved away from the Jersey Settlement, and back again, especially given that settlers were even less safe further west. I’d love to know the source of the Potts Creek information.

Daniel Vannoy may have been named after Daniel Gano, one of the men who lived in Hopewell New Jersey and whose son, John, migrated not long after the Vannoy family settled in the North Carolina Jersey Settlement. The Reverend John Gano was the eventual minister of the Jersey Settlement church, at least until he high-tailed it back to New Jersey because of the unsafe conditions in North Carolina.

It’s worth noting that Gano recorded that the trip from New Jersey to the Jersey Settlement in North Carolina was 800 miles and took him 5 weeks – and he was riding a horse, not pulling a wagon which would have taken much longer – about 10 miles per day on average. That means that John Vannoy’s trip to North Carolina took about 80 days – if nothing broke and everything went well.

Gano returned to New Jersey in 1760 due to Indian trouble in North Carolina, but clearly John Vannoy and his sons remained. In February 1760, the Cherokee attacked Fort Dobbs and the white settlements along the Yadkin and Dan Rivers. War with the Cherokee lasted until August 1761 when a peace treaty was reached.

Daniel Vannoy was baptized into the Dutchman’s Creek Church on August 17, 1774 at 22 years of age.

August the Seventh 1774, there was added to the Church by baptism:
Daniel Vannoy

Dutchman’s Creek Church became Eaton’s Ford on the Yadkin in 1790. The Mulberry Fields Baptist Church, where Daniel was baptized was a more distant branch of Dutchman’s Creek.

Daniel was baptized as an adult and the family had clearly moved to the area known as Mulberry Fields, today known as Wilkesboro, by 1774.

Moving West

Daniel’s father, John Vannoy, owned land near Lick Creek Road Church when Daniel was born. The Jersey Church where Daniel would have first attended is a few miles up the road. Eaton’s Baptist Church is at the middle red arrow on the map below. The Mulberry Fields church was located at what is now Wilkesboro, about 75 miles northwest of the Jersey Settlement.

Nathaniel Vannoy lived at Mulberry Fields, but Andrew Vannoy eventually lived near McGrady, up on the mountain, another 17 miles further north. Daniel’s other brother, Francis, lived on Reddies River, in between Andrew and Nathaniel.

Daniel Vannoy Jersey to Wilkesboro.png

It’s interesting that Daniel Boone’s parents lived on Mulberry Fields on the Yadkin as well, and that Daniel Boone’s brother, Edward Boone was baptized the same day as Daniel Vannoy. In fact, the Boone family seems to be a presence in Daniel Vannoy’s life, with Squire Boon also found in the court notes with Daniel Vannoy.

Daniel Vannoy lost his father when he was about 25 years old, in approximately 1788, and shortly thereafter, Daniel married.

Wedding Bells

Like many young men, we don’t hear much about Daniel until he marries, but we do find Daniel on the Surry County tax list in 1774 and 1775 with 1 poll. That portion of Surry County would become Wilkes county a few years later.

Wilkes County was formed in 1777, and in Wilkes County, Daniel Vannoy and Sarah Hickerson were married on October 2, 1779.

Daniel Vannoy marriage.jpg

On his marriage document, we have Daniel’s only known signature. This tells us that he could read and write.

After Daniel’s marriage, he began farming and we find him in a variety of typical records for the next few years.

Court Minutes 1777-1788 – September 6, 1778 – page 3 – Court ordered that George Wheatley, Edmund (blurred), Jeffrey Johnson, Francis Vannoys, Jonathan Stamper Jr., William Johnson, Thomas Stubblefield, Francis Reynolds, James Reynolds, Moses Toliver, David Hickerson, Daniel Vannoys, Charles Burns, Andrew Vannoye, Joseph Pourter, Joseph Fannel (?), view road from end of road at Roaring River to court house.

Francis and Andrew Vannoy are Daniel’s brothers, and David Hickerson is Daniel’s brother-in-law.

Daniel Vannoy Wilkesboro Roaring River.png

Assuming the courthouse then was in present-day Wilkesboro, and the “end of road at Roaring River” is about at Elkin Highway today, this was about a 10 mile stretch of road. This length explains the next entry that divides the length into more manageable segments for maintenance. Daniel’s brother, Nathaniel, was responsible for opening and overseeing a section of the road.

The next day, Francis Reynolds was appointed as the overseer of the new marked road from the court house to Francis Reynolds Ridge Road, Francis Vannoy overseer of the road from Francis Reynolds Ridge Road to Roaring River, George Wheatley overseer of the road from Roaring River to Little Bugabo Creek, and William Warrel over seer of the road from Little Bugabo to the County Line.


March 27, 1778 – James Fletcher entered 400 acres on the South side of the Yadkin River including an island at Moravian Lower line to John Prophets claim including improvement said Fletcher lives on (Caveated by Daniel Vannoy) – entry 47.

A property caveat is a legal document lodged to provide notice of a legal claim to a property. Lodging a caveat allows time for both parties to claim their interest in court. No other transactions can be registered against the title until the caveat is resolved.

Moravian Creek is south of the Yadkin River, while at least some of the rest of the Vannoy family settled several miles North of the Yadkin, although Nathaniel lived in the Mulberry Fields area.

We don’t know for sure if Daniel received this grant, but based on the next entry, it appears that he might well have.

October 7, 1779 – Charles Gordon entered 100 acres east corner east and west line Mulberry Fields tract joining Daniel Vannoy’s tract, entry 1236.

Let’s see if we can find this land.

Daniel Vannoy Moravian River.png

This land would be in Wilkes County near present-day Wilkesboro. The mouth of Moravian River is shown intersecting with the Yadkin at the upper red arrow, with what was then Mulberry Fields to the right.

Of course, in the intervening 221 years since Daniel tried to claim those 400 acres, roads were constructed, as well as many floods having occurred. I don’t see an island today, but that doesn’t mean much if the island was small.

The great irony is that when I visited Wilkes County in 2004, my favorite coffee shop, the Coffee Tavern, was located on the Yadkin River, quite near this location.

Daniel Vannoy coffee tavern.jpg

Now a dental office, this was about a mile and a half as the crow flies from the mouth of Moravian Creek on the Yadkin. Daniel’s land would have been more than half a mile wide by a mile long – but of course it might not have been rectangular. The Coffee Tavern is likely further east, but not by far.

I struggled to find this property today, but finally succeeded.

Daniel Vannoy Moravian to coffee tavern.png

I knew I was close, but the Coffee Tavern was actually further east at 1409 Willow Lane. Still, I stood on the back deck with my coffee and looked out over the Yadkin not far from where Daniel and his brother, Nathaniel lived. I had no idea then how close I was, but I clearly remember feeling moved.

The Yadkin was smaller than I expected, but it was clearly the lifeblood of, and responsible for, the settlement of this part of North Carolina.

Finally, I found the actual survey itself, and the island mentioned. There’s an important clue, “just below the mouth of Cub Creek.”

And North is down, not up.

Daniel Vannoy Cub Creek.jpg

I wasn’t far from this location at the Coffee Tavern – although it appears that Daniel only attempted to own this land but didn’t succeed. His brother Nathaniel lived close by.

Daniel Vannoy Mulberry Fields.png

This area in Mulberry Fields was clearly the early stomping ground of the Vannoy men.

Beaver Creek

Daniel then entered land further west. The descendants in Wilkes County have always said that “Elijah’s people” were from “over in Ashe County” – and it was true.

October 18, 1779 – Daniel Vannoy entered 100 acres on a branch of the New River called South Beaver – entry 1248.

Daniel Vannoy 1780 survey.jpg

Next in the file was the survey drawing which helped immensely in locating Daniel’s actual land.

Daniel Vannoy Beaver Creek survey.jpg

Daniel’s brother, Nathaniel would be his chain carrier for the survey.

This land would be in future Ashe County when it was formed in 1799.

Daniel Vannoy South Beaver.png

New River in Ashe county shown by the green arrows, and the South Beaver is shown by the red arrows. It’s about 5 miles long.

Daniel Vannoy South Beaver to Wilkesboro.png

The closest portion of South Beaver was not close to Wilkesboro – about 24 miles distant.

Andrew Vannoy was claiming land on Mulberry Creek by 1780, and Francis was living on the Reddies River by Lewis Fork by 1783. Nathaniel claimed land in Mulberry Fields.

Daniel Vannoy Beaver to McGrady.png

The closest points between Vannoy Road in Wilkes County and South Beaver Creek. Daniel’s brother Andrew lived close to McGrady near the Old North Carolina 16 location, known as the “Old Wilkesboro Road” which snaked its way through the mountains.

On December 6, 1779, Daniel was again serving as a juror in Wilkes County.

While things appear calm in the courtroom up until now, keep in mind that the country is in the middle of the Revolutionary War and many men from Wilkes County served. Nathaniel Vannoy was a Sergeant Major and Daniel’s brother Andrew was a Captain, but there is no suggestion that Daniel served.

The Feud Begins

September 4, 1781 – Court entry for Samuel Steward vs Daniel Vannoy.

A jury was called – no trial outcome is listed. This looks to be the official beginning of a feud between the Hickerson family and Daniel Vannoy – not even 2 years after his marriage to Sarah. By this time, their first child had probably been born.

This suit is likely a foreshadowing of things to come a decade later.

It’s worth noting that on the 1782 tax list, there are no Stewarts or Stewards and in the 1790 census, there is only one Steward family in Wilkes County, James Steward.

Three pages later in the court transcriptions, another suit involves a near neighbor.

Nathaniel Jud vs Daniel Vannoy.

Another jury is called, with no outcome listed.

I would like to have been a fly on that wall.

Court would have been quite interesting on April 26, 1786. Daniel was a juror in court that particular day, although not for this specific trial. The trial where Daniel served immediately followed this case.

State vs Bradock Harris – indicted assault, jury called, jury find guilty. Ordered defendant fined 5 pounds and be CARTED up and down the court yard from Humphries to Smothers with this inscription wrote in large letters on paper and fixed to his forehead and read loudly by the sheriff at each place. THIS IS THE EFFECTS OF AN INTENDED RAPE and the last part of the punishment be inflicted between hours of four and five o’clock this evening.

Court was adjourned for one hour and following were present: Charles Gordon, Russell Jones and William Nall, Esquires.

The caps are in the record and are not mine.

I’d wager that the court adjourned so everyone could go outside and watch the procession. Interesting that in the 1790 census, Bradock is married with 2 children.

The next entry for that day in the Wilkes County court is a case where Daniel Vannoy is a juror, so he would have witnessed the case above, including the punishment. Court in the 1700s was the soap opera entertainment of the day.

The fact that Daniel is serving in Wilkes County tells us unquestionably that he was living in Wilkes County and was a property owner at this time.

The 1782 Wilkes County tax list shows that Daniel had 100 acres of land, 1 negro, 1 mule or horse and 4 cattle. This implies that he did not obtain the 400 acres in Wilkesboro and was probably living on the South Beaver Creek land.

A few months later, we find Daniel in the records again. It appeared that he applied for another grant on Beaver Creek.

October 23, 1782 – NC grant no 274 – Daniel Vannoy 100 acres on Beaver Creek branch South fork New River page 229.

I thought this was a second piece of land, but it wasn’t. The first document is the entry for the grant, and this document, below, is the actual granting of the same land.

Daniel Vannoy 1782 grant.jpg

In 1787, Daniel is found on the tax list with a wife, 2 sons and a daughter.

We know now that one of those sons is Elijah Vannoy, but we don’t know the identity of the other son, nor of the daughter, assuming they survived, of course.

November 11, 1788 – Petition of the back inhabitants of this state humbly sheweth that there are many small pieces of land in the upper or back parts of this state now lieing vacant and the price of entering of land being high and the inhabitants in general low circumstances causes many families to live on rented lands whereas if the price of entering was reduced they might be in a capacity of getting land on their own. We pray that you would reduce the price of entering land so as to put poor men in a capacity of getting land to maintain their families on.

These petitioners look to be men from Wilkes County, NC. I recognize many of the names such as Vannoy, Shepard, Cleveland, Hickerson and McNiel.

We find Daniel Vannoy listed among the petitioners.

In 1790, Daniel is found on the census with his wife, 2 sons, a daughter, and a slave.

Daniel Vannoy 1790 census.jpg

Viewing the neighbors on the census list is often useful. Unfortunately, Daniel is the last person in the second district, but the people listed above him are likely recorded in some form of neighbor order.

In this case, Leonard Miller is married to Daniel’s wife’s sister, Jane. Does this mean that Daniel and Leonard are living not terribly far from Charles Hickerson, Sarah’s father, in Wilkes County?

July 28, 1790 – Daniel is a court juror.

November 12, 1792 – Daniel Vannoy witnessed a deed for William Curry Sr. and Jr, on the Middle Fork Fisher’s Creek.

November 7, 1793 – Court ordered Isham Harvell, William Chambers, William Mitchell, Charles Johnson, William Curry, Daniel Vannoy, Charles Foster Jr. James Harvil, William Hendren, John Hendren, John Howard view road from road leads from Old Store to Samuel Nicholsons to the Meeting House at road between Fisher’s Creek and Cub Creek.

Cub Creek intersects with the Yadkin in Wilkesboro, but Fisher’s Creek, now Fisher’s River, is about 35 miles East.

Daniel Vannoy Cub Creek to Fishers Creek.png

November 8, 1793 – Bastardy bond 50 pounds Reuben Carter charged with begetting bastard child on Mary Brewer, Daniel Vannoy and John Johnson bondsmen, page 383.

This bastardy bond for Reuben Carter makes me wonder if Daniel is related to either Reuben Carter or Mary Brewer, the mother of Reuben’s child. Note that on the census, Henry Carter is listed three houses above Daniel Vannoy.

April 6, 1794 – Between Daniel Vannoy and Nathaniel Vannoy 160 pounds for negro women named Winnie formerly property of Col. Charles Gordon and her child, Reubin. Wit Rowland Judd and Isaac Parlier. Signed Daniel Vannoy page 190

This hurts my heart to know that Daniel owned slaves. There’s no clue as to how or when he obtained those slaves.

This transaction was confirmed in court on May 4, 1805, “Bill of sale from Daniel Vanoy to Nathaniel Vannoy for a negro woman named Winny was duly proven in court by the oath or Rowland Judd.”

Daniel’s In-Laws

Before the end of 1793, Daniel’s father-in-law, Charles Hickerson had died and is reported by his grandchildren to have been buried at Mulberry Fields.

We know Charles Hickerson had died because Daniel’s mother-in-law, Mary Hickerson died on or about December 5, 1793. Mary “published” a nuncupative will that was probated in Wilkes County at the February court term 1794 and recorded in Will Book A, page 386.

As they say, that’s when the fight began.

In the name of God Amen, I Mary Hickerson of the County of Wilkes and State of North Carolina, being of Sound mind and memory, blessed be God, do this the fifth day of December in the year of our lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety three make and publish this my last Will and Testament in the manner following, that is to say– First, I give my son Joseph Hickerson one purple rugg. I also give my daughter Jane Miller my chest and tea ware. I also give my daughter Mary Stewart and her son Samuel Hickerson one feather bed and also my daughter, Mary Stewart, all the goods in the above mentioned chest. And all the balance of my property to be equally divided amongst my daughters. I also leave my son David Hickerson three yards of white linnin. Also this is my last Will and Testament and Desire. Delivered in the presence of us Amy Hickerson Jane Miller.

No signature and no executors.

I suspect that Amy Hickerson is actually Ann, Mary’s daughter-in-law.

The problematic words in this will are likely “the balance of my property to be equally divided among my daughters.” Mary doesn’t name the daughters, nor does she say if that includes any deceased daughters who might have children. Or, maybe there wasn’t any other property left, based on how this will read, so any daughters not specifically remembered would have received nothing at all.

Mary Steward who had a Hickerson son, Samuel, is the probable the source of the alias of Samuel Steward in the 1794 slander case with Daniel Vannoy as well as the 1781 court suit.

It’s also of note that Mary did not leave anything to her daughter, Sarah, Daniel Vannoy’s wife, and that too may have been a source of conflict.

Was Sarah Hickerson Vannoy deceased before her mother? If so, Sarah clearly had children and Daniel would obviously have felt they should have inherited something from their grandmother.

If Sarah wasn’t deceased, why was she not specifically remembered. Did her only inheritance fall into the “balance of my property to be equally divided among my daughters,” but there was no property left to divide?

Slander and Assault!

Obviously, someone was very unhappy. That someone was apparently Daniel Vannoy and by inference, his wife, Sarah, assuming she was living. I do presume she was alive, because Daniel Vannoy never remarried, at least not that we know of. The Wilkes County marriage records exist prior to and after this date.

On May 7, 1794 we find this in the court notes:

Samuel Stewart alias Little D. Hickerson vs Daniel Vannoy – slander – jury called.

This tells us that Samuel Steward is of age, so born before 1773. In fact, he was probably of age by 1781 when the first suit was filed, meaning he was born before 1760, pushing his mother’s birth back to about 1740 or so.

This entry suggests that the man is now called Samuel Steward but his legal name is Little D. Hickerson – suggesting that he was illegitimately born to his mother, Mary HIckerson, before she married a Stewart/Steward man.

David Hickerson vs Daniel Vannoy – same jury, Leonard Miller forfeit his appearance as witness in case.

It sounds like Leonard Miller, Daniel’s brother-in-law, didn’t show up for court. He probably didn’t want to be in the middle, but if he was a witness, it’s likely he was there when whatever happened, happened.

Court ordered attorney McDowal to show tomorrow why a new trial shall not be granted in Samuel Hickerson vs Daniel Vannoy.

Here, he’s actually listed as Samuel Hickerson.

Leonard Miller is Daniel’s wife’s sister Jane’s husband.

David Hickerson is Daniel’s wife’s sibling.

Court ordered R. Wood to show cause why David Hickerson should not pay witness in suit.

I’m guessing that R. Wood is an attorney for David Hickerson.

In today’s parlance, everyone is lawyered up.

On November 2, 1794 – On motion of attorney McDowell on behalf of Daniel Vannoy, complainant, a sci fa issued to Samuel Hickerson alias Steward Hickerson Litle.

This is the fourth name for Samuel, aka whatever.

Scire facias is a writ requiring a person to show why a judgment regarding a record or patent should not be enforced or annulled.

In this case, the scire facias filing suggests that Daniel argues that Mary’s will should be set aside as pertains to Samuel, the son of Mary Steward to whom Mary Hickerson left all of her furniture and everything in that trunk. In essence, this probably included all of Mary’s worldly goods except the purple rug, chest, tea ware and 3 yards of white linen.

Or maybe there was an allegation that additional items were added to the chest that hadn’t been there before.

Of course, Mary Hickerson was Daniel’s mother-in-law.

As the leaves and seasons were turning and the anniversary of Mary’s death was approaching, things deteriorated further.

November 6, 1794 – State vs Daniel Vannoy, indicted assault and battery, fined 1 penny.

This is one of those verdicts where it appears that the court (no jurors were mentioned) had to find Daniel guilty, but they fined him as little as possible. This is what I refer to as a wink and a nod. Yep, you did it Daniel, as they patted him on the back and said, “yea, I would have too.”

November 7, 1794 – State vs Samuel Hickerson indicted assault and battery.

Unfortunately, no outcome is listed for this trial. It sounds like Daniel and Samuel had an old-fashioned brawl.

State vs William Curry, indicted assault and battery, jury called.

William Curry is the man for whom Daniel witnessed the deeds. I wonder if he’s somehow related too.

I’m not sure how William Curry is mixed up in this, but he clearly is based on the distribution of the costs.

Court ordered a fine of 5 pounds be remitted in State vs David Hickerson.

If a fine was ordered, David was found guilty. It’s worth noting that the fine is more than a penny.

Ordered William Curry pay Joshua Souther, John Love and the prosecutor in suit State vs William Curry, and Daniel Vannoy pay other witnesses – defendant found not guilty.

William isn’t guilty, but for some reason Daniel has to pay the witnesses. This is a mess.

Daniel was on a tear. Today, this is referred to as “going full southern.” I can’t help but think of Julia Sugarbaker.

Daniel was obviously furious about something and feeling very wronged. Was he actually?

November 8, 1794 – Bill of sale from Daniel Vannoy to Nathaniel Vannoy for negro woman named Wille, oath Isaac Parlier.

The next day, Daniel sold his slave, probably to pay the costs and witnesses. I don’t know if this case was a matter of money or of principle, or both, but clearly Daniel was “all in.”

This was the third slave Daniel sold in 1794, all to his brother Nathaniel.

Was Daniel preparing to leave?

January 16, 1795 – Between Daniel Vannoy and Patrick Lenin Cavender, 50 pounds, 100 acres on South Beaver Creek branch South fork of New River below his spring branch…gap between Frenches and Querrys Knobs. Wit David X Fouts and David Burket. Signed Daniel Vannoy pages 390 and 391.

Two months after those suits and after selling his slaves, Daniel sold his land.

This land sale was not proven in court until on November 6, 1802, after Daniel seems to be gone. “Deed from Daniel Vannoy to John L. Cavender for 100 acres of land proven in court by the oat hof David Fouts.” The transcriber notes that Absher abstracted a deeed (C 1:390) on January 16, 1795 from Daniel to Patrick Lenin Cavender for the same amount of land, with the same witness, and this might be the same land.”

This land sale document held the clue to actually locating Daniel’s land.

Daniel Vannoy Beaver Creek land.png

Frenches Knobs is the red balloon, above, and the area being pointed to with the red arrow looks very much like Daniel’s survey. Noticing the road to the right of the Beaver Creek Primitive Baptist Church holds another potential clue. It’s named Bob McNiell Road.

Daniel Vannoy land.png

This is roughly the area of Daniel’s land.

The Cemetery is named the Peter McNeill Family Cemetery according to FindAGrave. The Beaver Creek Primitive Baptist Church was founded in 1785, which clearly suggests that both Daniel Vannoy and the McNiell family were involved. This church was on Daniel’s land, which makes me wonder if he was actually one of the founders himself. He owned this land from 1780 when he staked the claim until 1795 when he sold it.

The oldest McNiell family burial is Peter Gaither McNeill born in 1827.

Daniel Vannoy Blue Ridge.png

Note that Daniel actually moved across the top of the Appalachian Range. Frenches Knob is shown with the red pin. The two arrows beneath show the Blue Ridge Parkway which runs in dog-leg fashion along the top of the ridge. I’ve also noted McGrady and Wilkesboro.

Visiting Daniel’s Land at Frenches Knobs

Let’s take a drive and visit Daniel’s land!

Daniel Vannoy Frenches Knobs.png

The beautiful valley between the knobs where Daniel lived. I can’t help but drink this in. This is heading Northwest on 163 right about at the east boundary of Daniel’s land.

Daniel Vannoy Frenches Knob view.png

The infamous Frenches Knobs, above, and an old barn in a field.

Daniel Vannoy Beaver Creek Church Road.png

The intersection of Beaver Creek Church Road and Bob McNiell Road with North Carolina 163.

Daniel Vannoy Beaver Creek Church cemetery.png

There’s a cemetery back behind Beaver Creek Church, shown at right above, but we know that William McNiel sold out and moved on, with Elijah Vannoy, to Claiborne County, Tennessee about 1811. This appears to be a related McNiell family, as William McNiel’s children left with him when he packed up his wagon.

I do wonder if Sarah Hickerson Vannoy might be buried here.

Daniel Vannoy land 163.png

This was Daniel’s land. I’ve now “turned around,” because Daniel’s land seems to end about here, and am driving back southeast.

Daniel Vannoy land knob and barn.png

I wonder if this was the location of the original homesite. Note the ancient tree in the front yard, and the old barn out back. Not to mention, it’s relatively flat and has a source of fresh water nearby.

What Happened to Daniel?

And then, after Daniel sold his land in 1795, in the next 4 years before Ashe County was formed…silence. Nothing in any Wilkes County Records.

Daniel is not found in the 1800 Wilkes or Ashe County census, but in Ashe County, only the census for the Morgan district still exists. He’s not found anyplace else for that matter either.

Daniel Cavender who purchased Daniel’s land in 1795 is not listed in the census either, but he could have died or sold the land in the intervening years.

Given that Elijah Vannoy married William McNiell’s daughter in 1809, let’s see if he’s listed in the 1800 census.

William McNiel is listed in the Morgan District of Ashe County with:

  • 4 males under 10 (Niel McNiell born about 1792, other 3 males unknown)
  • 1 male 10-15 (George McNiell born about 1788)
  • 0 males 16-25
  • 1 male 26-44 (William McNiell born c 1760)
  • 2 females under 10 (Mary McNiell born about 1792, Nancy McNiell born 1794)
  • 1 female 10-15 (Lois McNiel born about 1786)
  • 1 female 16-25 (Sarah McNiell b 1784)
  • 1 female 26-44 (Elizabeth Shepherd born 1766)
  • 1 female over 45 (unknown)

It’s possible that we found Sarah Hickerson Vannoy. Although this doesn’t fit exactly either. Sarah could be the woman over 45, as she would have been about 48. The extra male under 10 could be Joel Vannoy born in 1792, but Elijah, born about 1784 is missing.

In 1810, William McNiell is again living in Wilkes County, 5 houses from Andrew Vannoy. I find William still in the Ashe County court notes in 1809, but not in the Ashe County 1810 census, so it would appear that these families are moving together back to Wilkes County.

In 1810, Daniel Vannoy is still missing in the census, but there is a Sarah Vannoy who might be the widow of Daniel living in the Wilkesboro District, in Wilkes County, with no males, 2 white females 10-15, 1 white female 16-25 and 1 white female 26-44. Sarah would have been about 58 at this time, so whether this Sarah is the widow of Daniel is unclear. The ages don’t match, but the census is notorious for those types of issues.

There doesn’t seem to be another candidate for this Sarah Vannoy.

If this woman is Daniel’s wife, Sarah, then Daniel and Sarah had two more daughters between 1794-1800, but son Joel born about 1792 is missing. If this woman is Sarah, then the woman with William McNiell in 1800 might not be Sarah, as she has 2 additional small children not accounted for in 1800.

In 1810, when Elijah, Daniel’s son, then about 26, emerges on the census, it’s not in Ashe county which was formed in 1799, but in Wilkesboro District in Wilkes County which extends north of Wilkesboro, not far from McNiels and David Hickerson.

No Vannoy or McNiel (by any spelling) is on the Ashe County 1815 tax list either.

Daniel is most likely dead by 1817, because his son, Joel Vannoy who was born in 1792 married Elizabeth Saint Clary (Claire?) on March 18, 1817, and his marriage license was signed by Little Hickerson as bondsman. Surely, if Daniel was alive, he would have signed himself.

This may also suggest that Sarah was not estranged from her family – at least not in 1817, although her brother, David, Little’s father, had been in Tennessee by that point for several years – and so had Sarah’s son, Elijah Vannoy.

If Sarah was alive, it’s apparent based on where her 2 sons emerged that she moved back to Wilkes County.

Many Wilkes County families moved on to Tennessee around the 1810 timeframe, and maybe if Sarah was living, she was finding her family shrinking.

The only children of Daniel Vannoy that we know of, for sure, are my Elijah born about 1784, proven through DNA, an unnamed son and daughter born before 1788 according to the tax list, probable son Joel born about 1792 and a rumored daughter Susan, courtesy of long-time Wilkes County researcher, now deceased, Joyce McNiel. Susan was reported to have been born about 1804 and married George McNiel, born about 1802. Joyce proved that two other sons weren’t the father of Susan, but she was never able to prove who her parents actually were. DNA could probably do that today.

Of course, if the Sarah in Wilkes County in 1810 is Daniel’s wife, then Daniel had 2 additional daughters.


Daniel was quite active for years in Wilkes County, serving in court as a juror, which means he was a citizen in good standing.

This all seemed to come unraveled in 1793 and 1794 with the death of his wife’s parents and resulting conflict when he would have been in his early 40s. From that point on, Daniel simply disappears.

By 1799, when Ashe was formed, Daniel would have been living there, based on his land grants, that is, if he still owned land. However, Daniel had sold his land in 1795.

There are no further land transactions for Daniel Vannoy in either Wilkes or Ashe County.

Daniel’s son Elijah was born about 1784. Son Joel is reported to have been born in 1792 according to the book, “George Michael Eller and Descendants of his in America”, so he could not have been one of the males in the 1790 census. This also means that it’s unlikely that Sarah in 1810 in Wilkes County is Joel’s mother, because Joel would have been 18 and still living at home – or working on a farm someplace.

Furthermore, the fact that Elijah married Lois McNiel in 1809 or earlier, fully 14 years after Daniel Vannoy sold his land and disappeared suggests that Elijah was living someplace in Ashe County. How else would he have been courting Lois McNiell? Their first child was born 11 months after a court entry in Ashe County with William McNiell appearing as a court justice. You have to be in physical proximity to court.

Knowing that William McNiel was Daniel Vannoy’s neighbor in Ashe County, I can’t help but wonder if William McNiell raised brothers, Elijah and Joel Vannoy.

When Daniel was last in the records, Elijah was about 11 and Joel about 3.

Did Daniel die, intestate, in either Wilkes or Ashe County before 1800? If so, he would not have owned property at that time, because the Wilkes records are complete and there is no mention of Daniel after 1795. If he didn’t own property, he may have had no estate to probate.

If that’s the case, he went from being a slave-owning land-owner to not owing slaves or land without enough assets to probate. That would be unusual but certainly not impossible.

Did Daniel die in Ashe County sometime between 1799 when the county was formed and 1806 when the court records began? That’s certainly possible. A significant number of records were destroyed in the Ashe County courthouse fire in 1865.

If Daniel died sometime after 1806 in Ashe County, some of the court records exist. I’m reading them page by page, in the hope of catching a glimpse of Daniel. Currently I’m working on 1810, and no Daniel Vannoy. I don’t think he’s there. That’s 15 years after he sold his land and disappeared.

It is interesting that William McNiel, the father of Lois McNiel whom Elijah Vannoy would marry in 1809 lived in Ashe County, also owning land on the north side of the South Fork of New River.

William McNiel still owned land in Wilkes County that he sold to his new son-in-law, Elijah Vannoy, in 1810.

Daniel Vannoy and Sarah Hickerson were married in 1779. If Sarah was age 20 at the time, she would have been born about 1759. In that case, she could have borne children until about 1802. If she was slightly older, Daniel’s age, born in about 1752, then Sarah would have been giving birth until about 1795.

It’s certainly possible that the Sarah that appears in 1810 in Wilkes County is indeed Daniel’s wife, but there’s no record of her other than the census in Wilkes County.

The 1810 census exists for both Wilkes and Ashe Counties, and it’s apparent that Daniel is living in neither county at this time.

It’s possible that Daniel and family moved on when Daniel sold his land in 1795, except that Daniel and Sarah would not have left their son Joel, born in 1792, only 3 years of age, behind.

It’s also possible that Sarah and Daniel both died and the Vannoy boys were raised by one of their uncles, or someone else, in Ashe or Wilkes County.

On the census records, we do find that Andrew Vannoy has an unexplained male in both 1800 and 1810, but not two unexplained males. In 1787, both Joseph and Benjamin Darnell, born about 1780, were bound to Andrew Vannoy until they were 21 because their father had died. This extra male in 1800 could have been one of the Darnel boys.

Marital Strife?

The situation between Daniel and the Hickerson family had to take a toll. It obviously unraveled Daniel, because he is being sued for slander and assault by a number of people.

I can’t help but wonder if this situation caused his relationship with Sarah to deteriorate as well. At that time, extremely few people got divorced. In fact, divorces were only granted at the state level – and yes, I checked.

What was more common was for the man to simply “leave,” to move on to another place and perhaps remarry.

I have no evidence that this is what happened to Daniel, but I also have no evidence, not one shred, that Daniel remained in either Ashe or Wilkes County – even though his minor sons did.

The fact that Daniel sold his land as well as his slaves suggests he left. I can’t find any additional land transactions. I can’t find his wife. I can’t find a probate record, or his children being assigned guardians or bound out like the Darnel boys.

Yet, Daniel’s 2 sons emerge in Wilkes County in 1809 and 1817, respectively.

Did Daniel literally just disappear in life too?

I find his two known sons, both in Wilkes County, with Elijah’s marriage occurring in 1809 or before and purchasing land from his father-in-law, William McNiel, in 1810.

Perhaps the reason Elijah was willing to leave with the McNiel family for Claiborne County within the next couple of years is because both of his parents were gone, and his parent’s two families were estranged from each other.

Daniel’s son, Joel Vannoy, is found in Wilkes marrying in 1817 with Little Hickerson signing as his bondsman. Daniel probably rolled over in his grave – assuming he was in a grave someplace and not blissfully married in another state.

This certainly suggests that Joel Vannoy was close to the Hickerson family.

There’s are also other possibilities – more nefarious.

It’s not unheard of for vigilante justice to occur.

Maybe Daniel disappeared up in those mountains.

It’s rough, really rough, terrain. A body would never be found.

But given that Daniel sold both a slave and land, that looks like the less likely option – unless, of course, it was known that he had cash.

It’s apparent that Daniel was preparing to not live there anymore. What isn’t apparent is why his sons, ages 11 and 3, were left behind.

Daniel could also have committed suicide. I don’t ever recall people discussing things like that – but surely, they happened. Perhaps they were couched as accidents – suicides and murders both.

We know that Daniel’s grandson, Joel Vannoy, was mentally unstable and confined to an institution for some time. Was Daniel mentally ill too? Is that perhaps what happened to him in 1794 when he was in his early 40s? Are we witnessing a psychotic break from the distance of two+ centuries?

One thing is for sure, Daniel was one unhappy man in the last records we have of his life.

Then, he was simply…gone.

Daniel Vannoy's land from Blue Ridge Parkway

Overlooking Daniel’s land from the Blue Ridge Parkway.



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16 thoughts on “Daniel Vannoy (1752 – after 1794) Embattled, then Disappeared – 52 Ancestors #261

  1. A branch of my family was also related to the Vannoy’s. Around 1770 brothers William and John Butterworth Colvard/Calvert moved from Goochland County, VA to Wilkes and Surry Cos, NC. William married Mercy Holland, daughter of Michael Holland and Elizabeth Pleasants. Before they moved to Wilkes/Surry Cos, NC, they had six children: Elizabeth b. 1759, Neil, b. 1760, William b. 1762, Betty b. 1765, Nancy b. 1765, and Damaris was b. 1769. Their other children were born in North Carolina.

    One daughter was named Temperance Colvard. She married Richard Thomas and they had one child named William Holland Thomas who was born in 1805 and later adopted by the Cherokee Chief Yonaguska. William Holland Thomas later became one of the leaders of the Eastern Band of Cherokees. He died May 10, 1893 in Morganton, North Carolina at the age of 88.

    William Colvard II, b. 1762 married Rachel Berry.

    One of their children was named Wade Hampton Colvard and he married Phoebe Vannoy, daughter of the Rev. James and Sarah Shephard Vannoy on November 2, 1831. Wade H. Colvard was born on July 9, 1805 and died July 15, 1880. He was buried in the Reddies River Church Cemetery.

    Wade Hampton Colvard and Phoebe Vannoy had children:

    Rufus Winfield Colvard, b. 1832 d. 1891 in Wilkes Co, NC
    James Colvard b. 1835 died in the War Between the States
    Jesse Colvard b. 1837 died in the War Between the States
    Wiley T. Colvard b. 1838 m. Fannie Severt
    William H. Colvard b. 1841 m. Martha McGlamery and Nelia Teague
    Sallie E. Colvard b. 1843 m. Leander E. Whittington
    Peyton M. Colvard b. 1844 m. Saphronie Eller
    Rachael Colvard b. 1846 m. Benjamin F. Whittington
    Thomas Jefferson Colvard b. 1847 m. Mary A. Whittington and Susannah Vannoy Whittington
    Charles Cicero Colvard b. 1848 m. Laura Whittington.

    [My family has gone by the surnames Calvert, Colvard and Colbert ever since my 7th GG Christopher Calvert was transported from England to Accomack Co, VA in 1635. I have exact y-DNA-67 matches with members of the William Calvert family of England, and the descendants of brothers William and John Butterworth Colvard, and my own Colbert family of VA and NC. I am also a member of the Jefferson-Hemings-Wayles-Eppes DNA Project.
    Benjamin Colvard aka Colbert — brother of William and John B. Colvard — moved to Albemarle Co, VA in 1750. His son Benjamin Colvard/Colbert Jr. had six children by Betty Brown– sister of Sally Hemings. One of their children was Burwell Colbert. He was the butler and personal valet of Thomas Jefferson.]

  2. In “Heads of Families at the First Census of the United States Taken in the Year 1790 North Carolina” several names are listed in Morgan District, Wilkes County 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th companies including:
    1st Company: Wm Colvert [Colvard]…
    2nd Company: Elisha Reynolds, Danl Vennoy…
    3rd Company: Nath. (E.) Vancey [Vannoy]…
    4th Company: Jn Tyre, Wm Colvert [Colvard], Frank Vannoy, Hiram Boon, Andrew Venoy…

  3. I do love a mystery! During the last few days I’d been studying your latest article on triangulation, thinking about our shared segment and how there are other triangulation groups involved, i.e., more testers, more possible lines, and then–lo and behold–your article about the father of the elusive sons of Daniel, marrying into families of these very matches of mine and yours, new triangulation groups for me to identify and place! Brick wall work? There’s nothing like a perfect storm of genetic genealogy fun! 🙂 But as for what happened to Daniel? I think you’re on to something with the evidence that he was selling all his property–if you find more evidence you must let us all know!!

  4. My ancestor Elijah Oliver (born about 1748/50) of Wilkes and Surry Cos. NC also “left.” He is apparently the son of George Oliver and Jemima Regan of Rockingham Co. NC. Elijah seems to have been the eldest son. George’s probate indicates that it was held open from 1786 until 1801. Elijah’s wife was head of household in 1790 and 1800 in Wilkes Co. NC. However, before his death, apparently in the 1780’s Elijah Sr. owned land in Georgia, as proven by later deeds involving his sons, Elijah Jr. and John. This land in Georgia may have been for military service as indicated in the following records:
    1) Oglethorpe, GA, 1785-88 Elijah Oliver of NC buys 200 acres from James McComan of Wilkes Co. GA, Beaverdam Waters, branch of Broad River
    2) In 1793 Robert Loony of Pendleton, S. C., had a power of attorney from Elijah Oliver. In 1795 and 1797 he sold land on the waters of the Tugaloo River, some of which had been granted in 1784. Much land here was granted for military service.

    1790 Census: Pendleton, SC (note: power of attorney above in 1793 was from Pendleton)
    Elijah Oliver 1M 16+ (living alone – no other Olivers listed)
    1790 Census: Greenville, SC
    Elijah Olliver 1M 16+ 2F
    Pleasant Hudson next listed
    Winnie Gilreath Westbury wondered if the Elijah Oliver on the 1790 Greenville Co. SC census could be this Elijah based on the notes below from her. [NOTE: If this is the same Elijah it means that he left his family in NC and (based on census record) married again and had a daughter by 1790 OR he left his wife in NC with some of the children and two daughters moved with him to SC. In 1790 in SC, Elijah Oliver is listed next to Pleasant Hudson. In 1834 Pleasant Hudson is a member of a church whose pastor in the 1790s was quite possibly the Lewis Rector of Surry/Wilkes Co. NC. It is apparent that these families had a Surry/Wilkes Co. NC connection.

    From Winnie –
    Winnie has a few notes on Elijah OLIVER citing jury duty in Wilkes Co NC–at the same time that William GILREATH was a juror there.
    William GILREATH d 1794 SC: two of his sons are in Greenville Co SC by 1800 census. They were in the area of Milford Church or South Tyger River.
    This Elijah OLIVER of 1790 census in Greenville Co SC is enumerated near Pleasant HUDSON. Pleasant HUDSON is mentioned in a plat for Joseph WOODALL. This plat also mentions Reuben SMITH. Reuben SMITH’s grandson married Martha GILREATH granddaughter of William GILREATH (d 1835 Wilkes Co NC).

    Maybe you should look for Daniel Vannoy in SC or GA. Who knows – maybe your Daniel and my Elijah knew each other.

    We have so many near miss connections in our various lines that I feel that we should somehow share some DNA.

  5. Should have said that George Oliver’s probate was open so long because Elijah wasn’t showing up to claim his inheritance.

  6. Oh, no, Roberta! I have ancestors who were in the Jersey Settlement. They are completely separte lines from my Claiborne County ancestors. Claiborne County is paternal; Jersey Settlement is maternal. Anxiously awaiting your John Vannoy article.

      • You’ve probably seen this … http://www.sonsofdewittcolony.org/mckstmerjersey.htm

        I researched in Rowan and Davidson counties several years ago, but I think only on my lines. I just got home today from this last trip. When I get caught up a little, I’ll see if I can find anything.

        My 6th great grandparents are Hugh McCrary and Susannah Whitaker. They were married in Chester County, PA. Their first child was born in Jersey Settlement in 1752.

  7. The Vannoys and the Kilbys of Reddies River, Wilkes County have a history, too. After William Kilby (1734-1815) and Frances Eddins Kilby (1747-1833) migrated from Culpeper County, Virginia, they had daughters that later married Vannoys. Elizabeth Kilby (1777-1843) married a John Vannoy (1775-1855) c. 1796. John was a son of Nathaniel Vannoy (1749-1835). Together they had six sons and three daughters. William’s daughter Mary “Polly” Kilby (1785-1864) married Jessie Vannoy (1781-1875) in 1804. They had thirteen children: eight boys and five girls. Jessie was another son of Nathaniel Vannoy.

    • The Colvard’s were also related to the Kilby’s. William Colvard and Rachel Berry had daughter named Rachael Colvard b 1797. She married James Welborn Kilby, Sept. 26, 1826, son of Humphry Kilby.

      Also Peyton Colvard, son of Willliam Colvard, was born June 22, 1792 in Wilkes Co, NC. He married Jennie Ray and they had daughter named Rachel Colvard b. ca. 1828. She married James Kilby in Wilkes Co, NC.

  8. You mentioned that Daniel Vannoy was part of a crew assigned to a road between Fisher’s Creek and Cub Creek. You noted that Fisher’s Creek/River is about 35 miles east of Cub Creek. There are several creeks with a similar name in the same area! I’ve found that these earliest grants and deeds used the name Fisher’s Creek when referring to what is now called Fishing Creek. Fishing Creek is the next creek east of Cub Creek on the south side of the Yadkin River. I bet this was the one being referenced in the court book.

    I descend from George Shepherd (born c1700) and his wife Elizabeth Mary Angellica Day who I believe you’ve written about before. Their son Robert Shepherd, then his daughter Agness Jane Shepherd Irwin are part of my line.

    I live near Wilkesboro and have lots of Wilkes Co ancestors, so I always look forward to reading your stories about family from this area. Thanks!

    Jason Duncan (jason@webjmd.com)

  9. Pingback: Sarah Hickerson (1752-1760 – before 1820), Silent Member of a Feuding Family – 52 Ancestors #262 | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

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