Dorothy Durham’s Parents and the Mysterious William Smoot, 52 Ancestors #165

Given the time in which she lived, we know quite a bit about Dorothy Durham, wife of Thomas Durham, but we only have hints, and a mystery, about her parents.

Dorothy was born in 1663 – that much we know for sure, or within a year either way, based on a deposition she gave in 1704 regarding the will of one James Gilbert. She died sometime after early 1725 and before 1753 when her second husband, Jeremiah Greenham, died.

Dorothy and Thomas Durham had interactions with several people over the span of their lifetimes that tell us the names of two of Dorothy’s sisters. Other documents tell us that Dorothy was probably closely related to William Smoot, but the fact that Dorothy’s son married William Smoot’s daughter pretty much eliminates the possibility that William Smoot was Dorothy’s father. William could have, however, been her brother or uncle or some other relative.

And then there’s poor James Gilbert. A man so beset by epilepsy that he didn’t remember what was in his will a year or two after signing it. Either he or his wife are also somehow connected to William Smoot as well, because that same William Smoot quit-claimed a deed when Mary Gilbert, widow of James, sold land to Dorothy and Thomas Durham after James Gilbert’s horrible death.

The script of these families living in the Northern Neck of Virginia reads something like the thriller TV series, Dallas, with equally as much intrigue – but without the ability to tune in next season to discover the outcome. It’s like never knowing who shot JR Ewing!

If you’d like to read more about these Northern Neck families that intermarried, along with the history that formed their life and times in the century or so following the settlement of Jamestown, I would suggest the following articles:

The Parents of Charles Dodson, Jamestown Unraveled, 52 Ancestors #163

Anne (probably not) Elmore (c1650/2-c1721), Wife of Charles Dodson, 52 Ancestors #159

Charles Dodson (1649-1706), Forcible Entry, 52 Ancestors #157

Thomas Dodson’s Estate Inventory, A Tallow Sort of Fellow, 52 Ancestors #153

Thomas Dodson (1681-1740), Planter on Totuskey Creek, 52 Ancestors #151

George Dodson (1702-after 1756), Disappeared Without a Trace, 52 Ancestors #145

Raleigh Dodson (1730-c1794) of Dodson’s Ford; Ferryman, Surveyor and Stone Dresser, 52 Ancestors #143

Dorothy Durham (1663-after 1725), No Shrinking Violet, 52 Ancestors #164

Thomas Durham (before 1649-1715), A Governor’s Son?, 52 Ancestors #161

Mary Durham (1686 – c 1746), Scandals and Scoundrels, 52 Ancestors #152

Henry Dagord or Dagod or Maybe Doggett (c 1660/1683 – after 1708), 52 Ancestors #150

Margaret Dagord (1708-?) of North Farnham Parish, 52 Ancestors #147

This article about Dorothy’s parents is the last in this series.

There are several players in our Northern Neck family drama as we try to unravel who Dorothy’s parents were, and weren’t, so let’s talk about each person briefly, then take a deep dive into the details. What you’ll discover is that we don’t have individual stories, we have a tapestry of interwoven lives in tidewater Virginia when it was Rappahannock County and then after 1692 when it became Richmond County.

William Smoot Sr.

William Smoot does play a prominent role in the life of Dorothy Durham, but it most assuredly is not as her father. It’s easy to see how the confusion arose though, because in August of 1700, William Smoot Sr. deeded land to Dorothy and her children for “the great love I have and beare unto Dorothy Durham, wife of Thomas Durham.” This does indeed sound fatherly, but it surely wasn’t, because Dorothy’s son, Thomas Durham Jr. marries Mary Smoot, daughter of William Smoot Sr., as proven by William’s 1716 will. Clearly, Dorothy’s son did not marry his mother’s sister, meaning his aunt. However, William Smoot is surely somehow related, as he also mentions Dorothy’s niece through her sister in that same land transaction. We will take a look at the Smoot family to see what gems we can unearth.

James and Mary Gilbert

James and Mary Gilbert are tied into this tapestry by some colorful thread. These families spend a lot of time together, argue like families do, and after James Gilbert’s death, Mary sells her land to Thomas Durham, with William Smoot quit-claiming his interest in that land. Unfortunately, we don’t know what interest William Smoot held in Mary’s land nor his relationship to Mary.

Thankfully, James Gilbert’s will was contested and we find half a dozen depositions that discuss the circumstances involving his will. Unfortunately, none of them tell us exactly who is who, but there are clues to be gathered.

Fortunately, depositions are juicy and make great reading! These remind me of the board game Clue – the butler did it in the kitchen with the candlestick!

John Mills and John Mills Jr.

Somehow, for some reason, James Gilbert leaves his estate to John Mills Jr. Even before James Gilbert’s death, there are extremely hard feelings between the families – so much so that James Gilbert and his wife appear to live apart as a result. This has to be something more serious than hen dung on James Gilbert’s chest. Wait until you hear this story!

Alice and John Chinn

Dorothy’s sister, Alice, married John Chinn. Alice died in 1701 in Lancaster Co, VA and her will is found recorded in will book 8 page 105/106. Her children named in the will were Ann Fox, wife of Capt. William Fox, Catherine Heale and Rawleigh Chinn. We’ll look to see what, if anything we can find about John Chinn and Alice that might suggest who Alice’s parents are.

Thomazin and Abraham Marshall

Dorothy’s sister, Thomazin married Abraham Marshall. We find Abraham also woven into the tapestry of Northern Neck families, in particular, with the Gilberts and Mills. Thomazin is such a beautiful name. I do wonder if it’s the feminine version of Thomas, perhaps in a family who had no male children? I’m very surprised that there is no Thomazin or Alice found in Dorothy’s children, although it’s certain that Dorothy had children that died.

Elizabeth Grady

Elizabeth Grady left her entire estate to Mary Smoot, daughter of William Smoot? Why, and how was Elizabeth related to Mary Smoot?

Charting the Relationships

When doing both Appalachian and Acadian genealogy, one of my favorite sayings is that it’s not a family tree, but a family vine. I think that’s very true of this time period in Virginia, as well, especially in regions that were for some reason rather isolated – like on the Northern Neck peninsula of land. Granted, new people settled there, but the families who owned land adjacent to each other along a creek were destined to interact and intermarry for a generation or two. There wasn’t anyone else close enough and available, so you married your neighbors who may also have been your kin.

I’m not going to kid you – this is one of the most difficult evaluations I’ve ever done. There are partial records and a lot of players that are obviously somehow connected, but the “how” is not obvious. Maybe you’ll have some thoughts after reading the details – and I’d love to hear from you.

If this is not your family line, you may not revel in the details, but if you have a difficult problem of your own to unravel, you might be interested in how I approached this problem and what I was able to glean.

Now, not to scare you, but the chart below represents the players in this drama and the defining events that connect them together, aside from the relationships implied in the pedigree chart used as the base for the activity grid.  Please click to enlarge this or any graphic.

Let me explain how this works. The pedigree chart in the top half of the graphic shows how the various individuals are connected through known/proven relationships. The three individuals in dark rose are Dorothy Durham and her proven sisters, connected to their unknown parents at the top. It’s very likely that their parents are also interacting in the neighborhood. We know that both of Dorothy’s sisters married local boys, so it makes sense that Dorothy’s parents lived there too. You can’t marry someone if they aren’t close enough to court. In fact, Dorothy’s parents may be some of the people at the bottom of the chart – the ones not connected to the people at the top through known relationships.

The green boxes include data, detailed in the extracted records in the next section, but too detailed to include in the person’s pink or blue box in the chart above without making the box too large for the chart.

For example, the green box below James Gilbert details his activities and interactions with others on the grid. The red arrows point from the person who is interacting with someone else. James Gilbert left his entire estate to John Mills Jr., so a red arrow points from James Gilbert to John Mills Jr.

The above chart is meant to be utilized with the extracted records to form a visual of the complex relationships. The red arrows do NOT include what I would consider to be normal activities, such as land transferred between parents and children, wills, etc. In other words, the red arrows only show the interactions between people who are not directly related and whose relationship to others is not immediately obvious based on the pedigree chart itself.

Anyone who does read this entire document, I welcome your thoughts as to how the various individuals are or might be related to Dorothy Durham. Conversely, if you feel something precludes a specific relationship, I’m interested in that as well. And of course it goes without saying that if anyone has additional information, I’m all ears and would be very grateful for anything missing! There may be additional information in other counties that I’m not aware of.

Extracted Records

Not living in or near the Northern Neck of Virginia, I utilized the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana to access the extracted records for Rappahannock and Richmond Counties, but plus select others. In addition, I utilized a site called “Early Colonial Settlers of Southern Maryland and Virginia’s Northern Neck Counties.” I don’t know who compiled this information, and their conclusions are sometimes incorrect, often suffering from generational confusion, but when they provide notes, they always include sources, which is a very valuable contribution. I’m very grateful for all their hard work.

Some records below that involve two parties are included in the information for both people. I couldn’t really see a better way to handle the information, presented in timeline format, without some level of duplication.

The Smoot Family

Somehow, the Smoot family is related to Dorothy. There is no other reason for William Smoot to give Dorothy land with “great love and affection” and name her sister’s child as an alternate beneficiary if they are not family. The question is, of course, how are they related? In order to attempt to answer this question, I stepped back a generation to William Smoot’s (possible) parents and began there.

My initial perspective was that Dorothy was either a child to William Smoot, as is widely reported in people’s family trees, or a sister. That’s where I began my search.

According to the book, The Smoots of Maryland and Virginia by Harry Wright Newman, William Smoot(e)(es)(s) immigrated in 1646 with his wife Grace Wood, Wood being her previous husband’s name, along with their children: Thomas, Richard, Elizabeth, Anne and Ales (Alice) and Elizabeth Wood his wife’s daughter along with Anne Woodnot, William Smoot’s servant. William patented land for his headrights, naming family members noted above individually, on the west side of the Wicohomico River in Charles County, Maryland in 1652.

William Smoot and family settled in Maryland, across the Potomac from the Northern Neck area. He died sometime after his son, Thomas, died in February 1667/68. Grace died on January 14, 1665/66 according to the Archives of Maryland, Vol 60, page 116.

There is a land record for William Smoot in 1683 in Charles County, MD transferring land to Humphrey Warren and also to William Hungerford. There is no estate record for William Smoot of Maryland.

Based on information I was able to find, mostly from the Newman book, I constructed a tree of William Smoot’s known children.

You will notice that there is no William Smoot Jr. listed in known descendants. This means that William Smoot of Rappahannock County, if he is the son of William Smoot of Maryland, had to be born after 1646 when the list of children for which William Smoot Sr. received a headright was documented, meaning William Jr. (the second) would have come of age no earlier than 1667 if he was born after 1646.

Let’s look at the dates and see if that is possible.

First, Grace Wood Smoot had already borne 6 children who lived, so spanning about 12 reproductive years. Let’s say she first married at age 20. That means that in 1646, she would have been no younger than age 32 and possibly older. If Grace was age 32, she had about 10 years more to bear children, so possibly bore 5 additional children, until about 1656. She could also have been past child-bearing age, but she had no more than 10 reproductive years left.

We know for sure that Dorothy Durham was born in 1663, according to her own deposition, so Dorothy Durham could not have been the child of Grace Wood Smoot. Therefore, if Dorothy and William Smoot are brother and sister, it’s not through William Smoot of Maryland and his wife, Grace.

William Smoot of Rappahannock County is first found in the records as a witness in 1672, in a location where William Smoot of Maryland did not live. He was likely at least 21 by this time. His son, William Smoot Jr. first appears in records about 1700, so this makes sense.

By 1678, William Smoot in Rappahannock County is purchasing land, 150 acres on the Moratico Path, adjoining John Ingoe.

In March 1683/84, William Smoot in Rappahannock County with wife Jane transfers land to Richard Ellett, so William is married by that time.

Over the next many years, William Smoot of Rappahannock County appears repeatedly with Charles Dodson, Thomas Durham and Peter Elmore – families and neighbors all intertwined one way or another.

These records suggest that William Smoot of Rappahannock County was born no later than 1651, so he could potentially be a son of William Smoot of Maryland, but not if Dorothy is his sister.

William Smoot of Rappahannock County died in 1715, mentioning his grandchildren by daughter Mary who married Thomas Durham Jr., son of Dorothy and Thomas Durham Sr. He left everything to his son-in-law, Thomas Durham, and his Durham grandchildren. William Smoot had two other daughters, Anne and Elizabeth, twins, born on March 16, 1698, according to the North Farnham Parish register, but they apparently died, as they are never mentioned elsewhere.

William Smoote and his wife Jane are having children in the 1690s, at the same time as Dorothy and Thomas Durham, so they appear to be about the same age, not offset by a generation.

I have found absolutely nothing to tie William Smoot of Rappahannock County to William Smoot of Maryland other than the same name and living across the Chesapeake from each other.

If William Smoot of Rappahannock County was NOT the son of William Smoot of Charles County, Maryland, then it’s possible that Dorothy was the sister of William Smoot of Rappahannock County.

Given that William Smoot of Rappahannock County’s daughter, Mary, very clearly married the son of Dorothy Durham, Dorothy was assuredly not the daughter of William Smoot of Rappahannock County. If Dorothy had been the daughter of William Smoot, that would have meant that Dorothy’s sister married her son. Ewwww…

However, if Dorothy was the sister of either William Smoot or William Smoot’s wife, and their children married, that would have means that Mary Smooth and Thomas Durham were first cousins. That’s not an unusual marriage in colonial times.

Of course, the speculation about the relationship between Dorothy and William Smoot is all caused by the 1700 deed that reads thus:

Richmond County Deed Book August 2, 1700 – Deed of gift. William Smoot Sr. of N. Farnham Parish Richmond Co. for consideration received and for the great love that I have and beare unto Dorothy Durham wife of Thomas Durham of same county and her children do give unto her and her children a 62 acre parcel of land bounded by Thomas Durham, branch of Morattico Creek, land of the same William Smoot Sr., land of Rowland Lawson, line of Mr. Grimes and line of Clare. If in case the said Dorothy Durham die that then the land shall come to Thomas Durham eldest son of the said Dorothy and in case that he die without issue that then the land shall come to John Durham second son of the said Dorothy and in case that he die without issue that the land shall come to Mary Durham eldest daughter of the said Dorothy Durham and in case she shall happen to die without issue that then the land shall come to the fourth, fifth, sixth and c children of the same Dorothy, but in case of want of issue that the land shall descend to Ann Fox wife of William Fox of Lancaster Co., gent. Wit John Simmons, Thomas Mackey, ack Aug 7, 1700 Book 3 page 57

Aug 2, 1700 – Power of attorney Jane Smoot wife of William Smoot Sr. having appointed Edward Jones my attorney to ack the above gift to Dorothy Durham and her children. Wit Thomas Mackey, Edmond Overton. Book 3 page 58

Court Order Book Page 56, August 7, 1700 – Ordered that the deed for land ack in this court by William Smoot Sr. unto Dorothy Durham, wife of Thomas Durham, be recorded.

This deed indicates that the land is bounded by Thomas Durham, which suggests that he already owned the neighboring land. If so, that would likely have been the Abraham Marshall land referenced in the 1723 sale of this land by Thomas Durham Jr. No deed exists for the sale from Marshall into the Durham family, although the date of 1692 is provided in the 1723 sale.

This 1700 deed is quite interesting and somewhat perplexing. Just to keep the players straight, William Smoot is the father of Mary Smoot, to whom Mary Grady also leaves land. Clearly there is a very close connection between William Smoot and Dorothy Durham.

  • First, this deed is to Dorothy, not Dorothy AND her husband, Thomas Durham together and not to Thomas Durham alone as most land would typically be deeded. This meant that Thomas Durham exercised no authority over this land and could not sell the land. It was Dorothy’s and Dorothy’s alone until her death.
  • Second, William Smoot is also somehow related to Ann Fox, daughter of Dorothy’s sister, Alice who married John Chinn. Alice died in 1701 but Dorothy’s other sister, Thomazin/Thomasin lived until after 1713.
  • Third, this deed names Dorothy’s living children that are documented in the North Farnham Parish registers. The deed was written in August 1700 and John Durham was born on November 23, 1698.

This deed tells us that of Dorothy’s children, Mary is the eldest living daughter and John and Thomas are the eldest living sons. Given John’s birth date, they have to be the only living sons. What we don’t know is whether or not the children referenced as 4th, 5th and 6th are living or are speculative in case they exist in the future.

It’s certainly unlikely that between 1686 and 1700 and Dorothy only had 3 children. Six or 7, assuming they all lived until weaned, would be normal. If the children numbered 4-6 noted in the will, were living, they were assuredly females or they would have been listed ahead of daughter Mary in the inheritance order. If they were living in 1700, they weren’t by the time Thomas Durham Sr. wrote his will in 1711.

Furthermore, I can’t find any record of where William Smoot received this land, unless it’s part of this patent found in the Virginia Northern Neck Land Grants, 1694-1742, Vol 1:

2-315 – William Smoot Sr., 262 acres in Richmond Co. adjacent his other land, Bryary Swamp, James Gilbert, Mr. Leuson, Mr. Grimes line, line of Clears, April 29, 1700

This deed indicates the 262 acres are bounded by James Gilbert – but the 62 acre deed to Dorothy says it is adjacent Thomas Durham, so William Smoot’s land grant may not be the same land that he deeded to Dorothy, or the land of William Smoot, James Gilbert and Thomas Durham may all be adjacent each other. The neighbors, except for Thomas Durham, appear to be the same in William Smoot’s deed to Dorothy as his land grant – so the 62 acres must surely be part of his grant.

Why did William Smoot deed land to Dorothy just a little over three months after he patented the land?

In addition, we find the following deed with William Smoot quit-claiming any right he has to 50 acres of land sold to Thomas and Dorothy Durham by Mary Gilbert.

26 Apr 1707 Richmond County, Virginia Deed Book 4, 1705-1708 page 109a-110a – This Indenture made the six and twentieth day of April anno Domini 1707 and in sixth year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lady Anne by the Grace of God of England, Scotland, France and Ireland Queene, Defender of the faith Between Mary Gilbert of the parish of North Farnham in the county of Richmond and Dominion of Virginia, Widdow of the one part, and Thomas Durham of North Farnham in the county of Richmond and Dominion aforesaid, Planter and Dorothy his wife of the other party. Witnesseth that the said Mary Gilbert for good and valuable consideration in hand payed the receipt whereof the said Mary doth hereby acknowledge and of every part and parcel thereof doth requitt consrate and discharge the said Thomas Durham and Dorothy his wife and theire heires by these presents do give grant, bargaine sole alienate entaile and confirme unto the said Thomas Durham and Dorothy his wife theire heirs and assignes a certain plantation tract or parcele of land scituate lying and being in the parish of North Ffarnham in the county of Richmond and Dominion of Virginia upon a Branch of Ffarnham Creeke called and knowne by the name of the Buory (Briery) Swamp, containing by estimation fifty acres, now in the tenure and occupation of Walter Wright and bounded as followeth: …corner along land of William Smoot… the said Mary Gilbert for her self, her heires, Exors. and Admns. doth covenant promise, grant and assign to the said Thomas Durham and Dorothy his wife and their heires and assignes In manner and form as followeth, That is to say, that the said Mary Gilbert att the time of the ensealing and delivery hereof hath true title, full power and lawful authority to grant and convey the said bargained land and premisses as aforesaid and allso from time to times and att all times hereafter …… doth hereby grant unto the said Thomas Durham and Dorothy his wife and their heires and assignes with all the rights members and appurtanances thereunto belonging or appurtaining without…..and do Execute and acknowledge any other or further deed or deeds which shall be advised, devised or required by the said Thomas Durham, Dorothy his wife or theire Counsel learned in the law or theire heires or assignes for the better and more sure settlement of all and singular of the premisses hereto granted and every part and parcel of the said land unto the said Thomas Durham and Dorothy his wife and theire heires and assignes forever, In Witness whereof the said Mary Gilbert have hereunto put her hand and seal the day and month and year above written. Signed, sealde and Delivered in the presence of: William Smoot, Mil. Walters Mary M Gilbert (signed with M mark) (seal) Recorded 15 May 1707, Teste: J. Sherlock (Supplement to the History of the Dodson-Dotson Family of Southwest Virginia. Compiled and edited by the Rev. Silas Emmett Lucas, Jr. N.p: the author, 1966., pp. 106-107)

Five items of interest:

  1. Fifty acres is the amount of land awarded for importing one person. Someone would receive this for paying their own passage.
  2. Does the fact that Walter Wright is living on this land imply that Mary Gilbert is not living on the land? Does this perhaps mean this land was “family land” and not the farm where she lived with husband James Gilbert?
  3. Mary does not specify the nature of the “valuable consideration” she received, which is rather unusual. It could have been that the Durhams agreed to take care of her in her old age.
  4. Mary clearly retained this land outside of her husband’s will, which means either she owned is separately from him, inherited it after his death, or his will was overturned. Even so, Mary Gilbert would have been entitled to no more than 30% of his estate and we have nothing to indicate that James Gilbert owned this land.
  5. William Smoot is somehow involved with Mary Gilbert and has some unspecified interest in this land, which he releases.

P 110a – William Smoote planter, Farnham Parish, consideration to Thomas Durham of same, planter, quit claim a certain plantation and tract or land situate in upon a branch of Farnham Creek called the Bryery Swamp and bounded (same description as deed between Mary Gilbert and Thomas Durham above) April 20, 1707 signed. Wit Anne Kelly and Mil. Waters

Note Anne Kelly is Thomas Durham’s indentured servant. This land is on the same swamp as the land that William Smoot conveyed to Dorothy Durham in 1700.

Court Order Book Page 299 September 3, 1707 – Mary Gilbert acknowledge deed to Thomas Durham, ordered recorded.

Court Order Book Page 299 September 3, 1707 – William Smoot acknowledge release of right and title of parcel of land sold by Mary Gilbert to Thomas Durham and ordered to be recorded.

The only reason William Smoot would be quit-claiming this land is if he had some sort of real or legally perceived interest in the land. That interest would most likely be by inheritance. In other words, we know that William Smoot is not the son of Mary Gilbert, at least not by her Gilbert husband, or their surnames would be the same, so if William Smoot holds an interest in Mary’s land, it would perhaps be because his wife, Jane, is the daughter of Mary Gilbert, he is Mary’s son from an earlier marriage, or because Mary Gilbert and Jane or William Smoot both inherited this land from a common ancestor.

Possibilities for the relationship between William Smoot and Dorothy:

  • Father and daughter – This is discounted because Dorothy’s son, Thomas Durham Jr., married William Smoot’s daughter, Mary.
  • Parent and siblings – meaning that Mary is the mother from an earlier marriage to a Smoot man to Dorothy, William Smoot and Dorothy’s sisters, Alice and Thomasin. This is improbable because Thomasin, still living in 1707, does not quitclaim the land to Thomas Durham along with William Smoot.
  • Siblings – meaning that Dorothy, William Smoot and Mary Gilbert are all siblings. This is possible.
  • Siblings in law – Meaning that Dorothy is the sister of William’s wife, Jane. This is also possible.
  • Uncle and niece, meaning that William Smoot is Mary Durham’s uncle, which suggests that Mary Gilbert is Dorothy Durham’s aunt or mother. This is also possible.

I did find something humorous about Jane Smoot, William’s wife.

In the Richmond County Court Order book, one page Page 83, January 2, 1722/23, the court ordered the sheriff to summon to court Jane Smoot, widow, of Northfarnham Parish to answer the presentment of the grand jury for common and notorious swearers.

Jane was in good company, however, because this list of swearers also included Doctor Robert Taylor, so it wasn’t just peasant people who swore and were reprimanded.

Apparently, William Smoot’s estate wasn’t divided until several years later.

Court Order Book, Page 297.298 July 7, 1735 William Smoot’s estate to be divided. Dominick and Joseph Durham by their petition setting forth that William Smoot, decd, did by his will order his estate should be equally divided between Thomas Durham, Margaret Durham, Joseph Durham and Sarah Durham only that his wife Jane Smoot should have it during her natural life which said Jane Smoot is likewise deceased, thereupon pray that persons maybe appointed to divide the same, whereupon John Woodbridge, William Glascock and George Glascock appointed to divide the estate according to the will of the said William Smoot decd and to settle the accounts between the partys and make report to the next court.

Page 298 July 7, 1735 Upon motion of Sarah Durham, Mary Durham is admitted her guardian giving security whereupon the said Mary Durham together with Jeremiah Greenham, her security, entered into bond and acknowledged same.

The North Farnham Parish church registry tells us that Jane Smoot died on October 4, 1726.

Aside from these land transactions, Dorothy and Thomas Durham were clearly very close to the Smoot family.

Court Order book Page 218 Dec. 3 1702 – Nonsuite is granted to Thomas Durham and Dorothy his wife for the nonappearance of William Smoote Jr which is ordered to be paid with costs of suit.

One thing I do find unusual is that William Smoot Sr. who died in 1716 does not leave anything to his son, William Smoot Jr. who is mentioned in earlier records. Because he also does not ever deed land to William Jr., and doesn’t mention him in his will, I would presume that William Jr. died sometime before 1716. It appears that William and Jane Smoot had no living children other than Mary Smoot who married Thomas Durham Jr.

Another William Smoot

If two William Smoots at the same time, one in Maryland and one in Rappahannock County weren’t bad enough, there’s a possible third one in the records too.

In the Northumberland County records, we find a William Smoot functioning there, owing corn between 1648 and 1652. There is no William Smoot on the 1652 Northumberland Oaths of Allegiance list.

William Smoot of Maryland was clearly in this area, but William Smoot of old Rappahannock County would likely have been underage at this time, so either this is William Smoot of Maryland or perhaps a third William Smoot.

Now, to make things every more complex, we have another unusual inheritance.

Elizabeth Grady

In a will written by Elizabeth Grady on March 10, 1693/94 and probated on Nov 4, 1702, Mary Smoot daughter of William Smoot is left all of Elizabeth Grady’s land. Mary Smoot is a child at the time.

Is Elizabeth Grady perhaps a sister of William Smoot or his wife, Jane? If so, Elizabeth could also be a sibling of Dorothy Durham.

Elizabeth Grady’s will was written March 10, 1693/94 and probated Nov. 4, 1702: Mary Smoot dau of William Smoot all land, ex: William Smoot; wits Thomas Durham, Richard Draper, John Rankin

The executor of the estate is William Smoot, and the witnesses are Thomas Durham, Richard Draper and John Rankin. Generally, a son, son-in-law, brother or brother-in-law perform executor functions.

Court Order Book Page 184 July 1, 1702 – Will of Elizabeth Grady proved by oaths of John Rankin and Thomas Durham.

This question of Elizabeth’s identity has further reaching implications than it appears, because the people involved are intertwined.

I extracted every Grady record in both Rappahannock and Richmond Counties, and came up exactly empty handed. In other words, we don’t know where Elizabeth Grady obtained this land, who her husband was, nor why she left the land to Mary Smoot, a very young child.

I was not able to discover any land transfer to a Grady in a timeframe in either Rappahannock or Richmond County that would account for how Elizabeth Grady came to own this land which, unfortunately, does not have a description.

Clearly, somehow, Elizabeth Grady was related to Mary Smoot through one of her parents.

Elizabeth Grady and Mary Gilbert both own land that cannot be accounted for.

James and Mary Gilbert

Somehow, James and Mary Gilbert are in this mixture too. One researcher suspects that James and Mary are the parents of Dorothy Durham, and that may in fact be the case. I extracted every single Gilbert entry for Rappahannock and Richmond Counties.

James Gilbert apparently suffered from epilepsy and had for several years according to a deposition sworn in 1704 in conjunction with the contested probating of his will. He may have been “not in his right mind,” as they would say. We know today that untreated epilepsy leads to progressively more brain damage with every seizure. We also don’t know what caused the epilepsy. The testimony indicates he had it for years, but doesn’t say that it was a lifelong problem. It’s possible that a closed head injury resulting from an accident of some type was the beginning of epileptic seizures for James.

Let’s look at what we know about James and Mary Gilbert.

Court Order Book March 5, 1689/90 – Antho: Montades entered his information in this court against James Gilbert for concealing one tithable this last preceding year.

In other counties, I have found that concealed tithables often means that the wife was of mixed race. Anyone not “white” was taxed differently, meaning that white wives were not taxed, but wives of color, or mixed race, were taxed. Therefore, sometimes men refused to pay tax on their wives and were subsequently convicted in court of concealing tithables. Of course, not reporting any taxable person would be concealing tithables, including white males over a certain age (generally 16) and any non-white person, regardless of relationship. Regardless, James was found in 1690 to have more taxable people than he paid taxes for.

In 1690, James Gilbert was assigned jury duty 3 times. If James Gilbert was impaired, he would not have been summoned for jury duty, so we can presume his seizures began or worsened sometime after 1690. This also tells us that James owned land in 1690, because only free white landowners were allowed to sit on juries.

Court Order Book Sept. 2, 1691 – Order granted against sheriff to John Morgan for the nonappearance of James Gilbert according to declaration.

Court Order Book May 5, 1692 – Nonsuit granted to James Gilbert against John Morgan, he not appearing to prosecute to be paid with costs.

Court Order Book May 5, 1692 – Nonsuit granted to James Gilbert against John Thomas, he not appearing to prosecute to be paid with costs.

Court Order Book Sept 8, 1692 – Reference granted between John Morgan plt and James Gilbert deft till next court.

Court Order Book Oct. 6, 1692 – Judgment granted to John Morgan against James Gilbert for 1000 pounds tobacco according to declaration to be paid with costs of suit.

Court Order Book Nov 2, 1692 – John Morgan brought his action to last August court against James Gilbert and complained against him in a plea of the case for that Nathaniel Browne of the county of Lancaster some time in the year 1690 did receive and marke with his own proper marke one hogshead of tobacco at the house of the said James Gilbert and did by noat under his hand transfer the same unto the complainant or his assignee and that the complainant upon the said noat sending for the said hogshead of tobacco the said James wholy refused to deliver the same and that he still doth refuse to the complainants damage 1000 pounds of tobacco and caske for this prayed judgment but the deft not appearing either by himself of his attorney to answer the said suit, a conditional order passed against him for the sum aforesaid, returnable to this court where the said James Gilbert also not appearing the court have confirmed the above recited order and do order that the said James Gilbert do pay unto the said John Morgan the said 1000 pounds of tobacco, damage with all costs of suit.

Colonial planters were quite litigious. The above type of court cases were quite typical, although this suit makes me wonder if his seizures had begun by this time, along with his apparent cognitive decline.

Court Order Book June 7, 1693 – In the suit depending between William Smyth Plt and William Richardson def for the better decision thereof, it is ordered that Mr Edwin Conway together with a jury to be impaneled by the sheriff of this county or his deputie and sworn by Mr Thomas Glascock who is requested to be present at the time here under expressed on the 2nd Tuesday in July do meet on the land of the said William Richardson and survey a patent granted to Thomas Madison for 250 acres in Rappahannock now Richmond now bearing the date of of November 17, 1670 having regard to the antient reputed bounds of the said patent and that they make report of their proceedings herein to the next court held for this county. Also ordered that James Gilbert do produce the said patent unto the jury and surveyors at the time and place aforesaid.

The Northern Neck land patents suggests that James Gilbert wound up owning some of the patent land, which would explain why he might be holding the original patent itself.

Court Order Book Nov 4, 1698 – Action brought by James Gilbert against Edward Geffery dismist, the plt not prosecuting.

Court Order Book Nov 4, 1698 – The action brought by James Gilbert against William Norris dismist, the plt. not prosecuting

Court Order Book March 3, 1698/99 – Suit between James Gilbert and Edward Geffery deft upon reading the declaration, the deft. Pleads not guilty in manner and form as in the said declaration. Jury returns after evidence heard find for the plt 550 pounds tobacco with cost of suit and 500 pounds tobacco in cask damage, and that Geffery pay to Gilbert 1050 pounds tobacco together with cost of suit

Court Order Book March 3, 1698/99 – Ordered that James Gilbert pay unto John Mills 12 days attendance according to act being by him subpoenaed an evidence in the suit between James Gilbert plt and Edward Geffery deft.

Court Order Book March 3, 1698/99 – Ordered that Willliam Lawson be paid for 12 days attendance according to act by James Gilbert being by him subpoenaed an evidence in the suit between said James Gilbert plt and Edward Geffery def.

Court Order Book Sept 7, 1699 – the action brought by James Gilbert against William Norris dismist, the plt not prosecuting.

Deed Book P 117-119 Oct 30, 1699 between John Mills, planter and Easter Mills, wife, Richmond Co., to William Richardson 20 acres in Farnham Parish begin at corner white oake in a branch joining upon Thomas Duzin line running along the line SW or thereabouts until the dividing line between James Gilbert and the said Mills, along the line of William Smyth until he comes to the said marked white oak. Mills bought it of George Vincent. Signed by both with their marks. Witness Samuel Jones mark, John Browne.

This tells us that James Gilbert’s land is adjacent to John Mills land. Extreme hard feelings develop between James Gilbert and the Mills family. James Gilbert, for some reason, leaves everything in his estate to John Mills Jr. which causes a huge rift with his wife, Mary Gilbert.

Court Order Book April 5, 1700 – Action brought by James Gilbert against Edward Geffery is dismist, the plt not prosecuting.

Court Order Book Nov. 4, 1702 – Appearing to this court that Elinor Hughes has by her own confession fugitively absented herself out of the service of her master, James Gilbert, the space of 23 days, the court have ordered that she serve her said master or his assignes the space of 46 days after her time by indenture custome or otherwise be fully expired.

Elinor Hughes, servant to Gilbert Jones (sic) being presented to this court for having a bastard child, the court have ordered that she serve her said master or his assignes according to act in consideration for the trouble of his house during the time of her childbirth.

This day James Gilbert confessed judgement to the church wardens of North Farnham Parish for the use of the parish for 500 pounds tobacco it being the fine of Elinor Hughes for committing the sin of fornication and having a bastard child to be paid with costs also.

Ordered that Elinor Hughes servant to James Gilbert by and with her own consent do serve her said master of his assignes the space of one whole yeare after her time by indenture custome or otherwise be fully expired in satisfaction for his paying her fie for committing the sin of fornication and having a bastard child.

Court Order Book Nov. 6, 1702 – Action brought by James Gilbert against Abraham Marshall is dismist the plt not prosecuting.

Court Order Book June 3, 1703 – Action brought by James Gilbert against William Norris is dismist the plt not prosecuting.

James Gilbert wrote his will on January 31, 1701, with the will being probated January 7, 1704. I actually ordered a copy of the original will, hoping it would be more complete or hold clues that the extracted version did not.

In the name of God, Amen…..I James Gilbert of North Farnham Parish in the County of Richmond being very sick and weak in body but of perfect mind and memory thanks be given unto God…that I be buried in a Christianlike and decent manner, at the Resurrection I shall receive the same againe by the mighty power of God and as touching such worldly estate where in the power of God, and, as touching such worldly estate where it hath pleased God to bless me in this life I give devise and dispose of the same in the following manner and forme:

I suspect the paragraph above was probably standard verbiage for anyone drawing up a will, BUT, I’ve included the verbiage at this time for two reasons. First, in following depositions, people testify that he was not “of perfect mind and memory” and that he told people he was not at all sure that there was a Resurrection. James apparently wasn’t terribly ill, because he lived another three years. James goes on to say, in his will:

I give and bequeath to Mary, my deare beloved wife the summe of twenty shillings of lawful money of England to be raised and levyed out of my estate.

I give to my well beloved friend John Mills Jr. whome I likewise constitute make and ordaine my only and sole executor of this my last will and testament all singular my estate both personal and reall excepted before excepted by him and his heires freely to be possessed and enjoyed and I do hereby utterly disallow revoke and disannul all every other testaments wills legacies and executed by me in any ways before time named? willed and bequeathed. Ratifying and confirming this and no other to be my last will and testament.

In witness whereof I have herunto sett my hand and seale the day and year abovementioned.

Signed:

James Gilbert, his mark

Witnessed by Edward Welch, his mark

Jone Williams, her mark,

Thomas White

Probated ? sacrament White and Welch in ? Richmond 7th die Jany 1704 and recordeded 12 die ?

Unfortunately, James Gilbert’s land is not described in detail.

There are two very important aspects of this will that were not in the published extracted form. First, Gilbert states that is wife’s name is Mary, which helps assure us that the Mary Gilbert mentioned later is his wife. Second, he states that John Mills Jr. is his friend, not his grandson, not his son-in-law, not his nephew, his friend. The relationship between the two men was that of friend. That’s important because it removes speculation about the nature of their relationship.

Based on this language, it seems that James Gilbert and John Mills Jr. expected problems – so the fact that this was James only will and everything else was revoked was stated multiple times in various ways. I do wonder at the motivation of James Gilbert’s choices. Clearly, something is unstated.

My understanding of colonial law is that James Gilbert was unable to summarily cut Mary Gilbert out of her share of his estate, deemed to be minimally 30% by law, unless he left her more.

The book, Brabbling Women: Disorderly Speech and the Law in Early Virginia by Terri Snyder says:

Virginia’s intestacy statutes guaranteed a widow’s dower as one third – or, if childless, to one half – life interest in real estate and absolute interest in personal property, which until 1705 included increasingly valuable slaves. Husbands who wrote wills, of course, could give more than the amounts specified by intestacy statutes, but not less.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to have been as estate inventory for James Gilbert filed in Richmond County, which is unusual. There is no inventory listed in the book of extracted records that I utilized nor did the clerk return an estate inventory with the copy of the will. I wish the clerk had SAID there wasn’t an inventory so I don’t have to wonder if it was overlooked. An estate inventory is also not noted in the court notes, so I suspect, for some reason, there was none. There is nothing normal about James Gilbert’s estate.

James Gilbert died sometime between June of 1703 and June of 1704. That’s when things get quite juicy!!! The will is probated and Mary is quite unhappy, as one might expect. For us as genealogists, that’s when the good stuff begins.

Court Order Book June 7, 1704 – Last will and testament of James Gilbert being presented to this court by the executor therein named for proofe, the same was proved by the oaths of Thomas White and Edward Welsh and order for probate granted thereon.

Thomas White appears to be the uncle of John Mills Jr.

Court Order Book Page 332 June 7, 1704 – Ordered Charles Dodson, William Smoote and George Devenport or any 2 of them appraise estate of James Gilbert. Sworn plus Mary Gilbert executrix.

Often, or when possible, the appraisers were the largest creditor, someone from the wife’s family and a totally disinterested party.   A child or someone who benefitted from the will was never appointed an appraiser.

Court Order Book Aug 2, 1704 – Petition of Mary Gilbert setting forth ye last will of her decd husband James Gilbert, was only proved in common forme and that the same ought to have been proved in dur forme of law yt: ye executr of the said decd be summed to the next court held for this county to prove y said will in due forme of law.

Court Order Book October 4, 1704 – Order for proving the last will of James Gilbert is continued till morning.

Court Order Book Nov 1, 1704 – Pursuant to an order of court Aug 3, 1704 granted upon the petition of Mary Gilbert for the (C???) of John Mills, executor of the last will and testament of James Gilbert, decd, to prove the will of the said James according to due form of law, it only being proved in (____) form, the said Mills accordingly appeared and Mary Gilbert by her attorney George Eskridge, not insisting on any further proofe by ye said Will than already made but did by his pleading make voyd the same and all dependence and evidences in order to prove the said James in his lifetime revoked and said will. The court on ye consideration of ye whole matter are of judgement that the will of said James Gilbert is a good will and duely proved and that the evidences produced to prove the revocation thereof are not sufficient in the law to prove the said revocation from which judgement (upon reading the order) the said Mary Gilbert by her attorney George Eskridge did appeale to the 5th day of the next general court and upon the motion of the said Mary Gilbert by her aforesaid attorney George Eskridge (the evidence produced to prove the abovesaid revocation being put into writing and severally sworne to in court) are ordered to be recorded.

From which judgment Mary Gilbert by her attorney George Eskridge appeals to the 5th day of the next general court.

This day Samuel Samford and Edward Jones acknowledge themselves indebted to the justices of Richmond county in the full and just summe of 20,000 pounds tobacco and caske to be paid to the justices their exrs and admrs in case Mary Gilbert do not prosecute an appeale by her made from an order of this court this day obtained against her by John Mills exr of James Gilbert to the 5th day of the next general court.

The general court was held at Williamsburg each April and October, and I have been unable to find any references to specific cases or James Gilbert’s among the reported decisions. In 1799, the general court was moved from Jamestown to Williamsburg.

A call to the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library, a part of the Colonial Williamsburg, confirms that indeed, the general court records from the time period including 1704 have burned. Very unfortunately, this seems to be the end of our information about this case, except for the following depositions which were clearly given in preparation for the general court case.

The following depositions were found in the Richmond Co., VA Miscellaneous Records, 1699-1724 by TLC Genealogy.

Page 26 – Deposition. Thomas Langdale, aged about 24 years, says that one and a half years before James Gilbert’s death, John Mills came over to James Gilbert’s where your deponent then lived and when the said John Mills went away, said Mills told your deponent that James would make his will, meaning your deponent’s master, and sometime after that, John Mills Jr. came to your deponent’s master’s house and your deponent’s master, James Gilbert, went along with the said John Mills Jr. and when the said James Gilbert came back again, your deponent asked him whether he had finished his business and the said James Gilbert answered, yes, and some time after that, your deponent asked John Mills Jr. who your deponent’s master has left his estate to and the said John Mills Jr. answered that he had left it all to him, only 20 shillings and that he had left to his wife, and sometime after that, your deponent met with Thomas White and he told your deponent that his master has set him free when he died. Signed Nov. 2, 1704. Thomas (U his mark) Langdale

This deposition raises far more questions than it answers. We know that James Gilbert’s will was dated January 31, 1701/02. If we calculate his actual death based on this date, this deposition tells us that James Gilbert actually died in about June or July of 1703. Not included in this deposition, but through genealogy, John Mills Sr.’s wife, Hester, was the daughter of Richard White. Therefore, we know that John Mills Jr.’s mother was not a child of James Gilbert. This is in addition to James Gilbert’s will referring to John Mills Jr. as his friend.

Page 26b Deposition. Ann Kelly, aged 20 years or thereabouts, says that on last New Year’s Day, Thomas Durham, your deponent’s master, sent her to James Gilbert’s to desire him to come down to pipe it, and as your deponent and said James Gilbert were coming back, by John Mills his plantation, James Gilbert asked your deponent whether his old woman was at your deponent’s master’s house and your deponent answered, yes, she was, and said James Gilbert held up his 2 hands and said, God’s Curse Light upon that family naming John Mills and all his family and said that if it were not for John Mills and his wife, he and his wife would never have lived at variance as they did, and your deponent told said James Gilbert that it was his own fault, living so, and asked him why he had not fought away his chest and confound that will which he made, and the said James Gilbert said that John Mills and his family had robbed his chest so that they would not agree upon any means that he should fetch it away, and that they were ashamed of it, and the said James Gilbert said that there was a will made but swore by God that he knew not what was in it no more than I did, and your deponent asked said James Gilbert whether he was no sent for to sign his will, but said Gilbert answered, swearing by his God, that he did not sign it, and told your deponent that he had not the sense to make a will, and that John Mills was a rogue for making a false will and that made him and his wife live so discontentedly and further your deponent says that she saw said Gilbert last Feb. count 15 head of cattle for 40. Signed Nov. 2, 1704 by mark

Since this deposition was given in November of 1704, I would presume that “last New Year’s Day” would mean New Year’s of January 1704, not January of 1703.

Clearly, the damage from James Gilbert’s seizures, and perhaps whatever caused them to begin with, is taking its toll.

If there is a smoking gun, this might be it relative to Dorothy being the daughter of Mary and James Gilbert, although it alone is very weak evidence. On New Year’s Day, a day of celebration, James Gilbert’s wife was already at the home of Dorothy Durham. By this time, January 1704, James Gilbert was already very angry with the Mills family for some reason. This occurred between one and two years after James Gilbert made his will and left everything to John Mills Jr. By this time, James also claims he doesn’t know what is or was in the will and that he didn’t sign.

Page 27 – Deposition. Lawrence Callahan aged about 21 years says that your deponent being at John Simon’s house on a Sabbath Day, sometime last summer, he heard John Mills and Thomas Landale talking together, and that Thomas Langdale told John Mills that he did not know that he was to be set free by his master’s will until he had met Thomas White coming from Moratico Mill and the said John Mills said that he should be free nevertheless. Signed Nov. 2, 1704 Lawrence Callahan by his mark

James Gilbert had at least one indentured servant, Thomas Landale.

Page 27 Dorothy Durham aged about 41 years says that sometime before James Gilbert’s death, being in company of said Gilbert and William Smoote, amongst other discourse, she heard said Gilbert say to said Smoote that he did not know that there was any Resurrection or not, and that had made a will to John Mills, but that it signified nothing, and that your deponent did, several times, hear the said Gilbert say that John Mills was a rogue and that he nor any of his should ever be the better for what he had. Signed Nov. 2, 1704 – Dorothy (P her mark) Dureham

Clearly, William Smoot is involved with this family, one way or another. One would think that if James Gilbert was Dorothy’s father that Gilbert would not have informed a daughter, namely Dorothy, that he was left his estate to John Mills Jr. by allowing her to overhear a discussion with another person. Not only does this deposition not state a relationship to James Gilbert, the discussion about the will suggests that Dorothy is not the child of James Gilbert.

Page 27b – Deposition. John Ingo, aged about 29 years, says that James Gilbert, a small time before his death, was at his house and did declare to him that he did intend to fetch away his chest from John Mills’ house, for he said that it lay in such a nasty condition, with hen dung and such like nastiness, that he could not well come at his chest for it and that he was afraid that the chest and goods both would be damnified with the nastiness, and that he did intend to fetch the chest home to his own house and did swear bitterly that John Mills, nor any of his family, should ever be the better for anything of his estate, and that the will that he made did signify nothing, and the said John Ingo further says that a little before James Gilbert was burnt, he asked him whether he was not persuaded to make a will or made drunk when he did make it, and the said James Gilbert answered that he was not, but was as sober as he was at that time, and then the said James Gilbert was sober. Signed Nov. 3, 1704 John Ingo

This deposition, along with the next is disturbing. It appears that James Gilbert burned to death.

Page 28 – Deposition. Martha Ingo says that some small time before James Gilbert’s death, said Gilbert being at your deponent’s house, she asked said Gilbert why he did not alter his will, and Gilbert answered that he would, and at the same time, your deponent heard Gilbert swear, by God’s blood, that John Mills nor any of his family should ever be the better for anything that he had, for he was a very rascal or a rogue, and further, said Martha Ingo says that a small time before the said James Gilbert was burnt, she heard her husband, John Ingo, ask said Gilbert whether he was not persuaded to make a will or made drink when he did make it, and that the said Gilbert answered him and said that he was not drunk, but that he was sober. Signed Nov. 2, 1704 by her mark

Apparently James Gilbert drank, and got drunk, but denied being drunk when he made his will.

Page 28 – Deposition. William Smoot says that James Gilbert was not in his perfect senses by reason of fits, which had followed him for several years, and I having some discourse with him about a will which he had made to John Mills for to had him altered it, and he said he had made a will to John Mills, but it signified not, for it was good for nothing and I advising him to prepare for his end and to make his peace with God and to be reconciled with his wife, and he giving very foolish and cross answers, I told him that if he had a mind to have the Sacrament given to him, that no minister would give it to him if he did not change his mind, and likewise, I asked him if he thought there was a Resurrection or not, and he said he did not know and that he did not go to church nor would not yield to have any reading to him in his sickness, nor at other times did not care for it, as ever I could understand, but it was his delight to be in the woods with his sponsor(?) on the Sabbath day. Signed Nov. 2, 1704

This deposition gives us a possibility of what happened to James Gilbert, and perhaps how he burned to death. He may have had an epileptic seizure and fallen into a fire. Furthermore, the testimony about his “foolish and cross answers” would well signify increasing brain damage as a result of the seizures that he had been enduring for several years. That might also explain why he felt that his will meant nothing, when ultimately, it would be upheld by the court.

The fact that William Smoot does not specify a relationship to James Gilbert certainly suggests that they were not closely related by blood.

Page 28b – Deposition. John Rankin, aged about 38 years, says that about 3 years ago, your deponent being in the woods with Mr. George Devenport, near your deponent’s plantation, John Mills Sr. met there with your deponent and said to your deponent that James Gilbert, late decd, was going to live up in Stafford and the said Mills did request your deponent to persuade said Gilbert not to go. Immediately while the said Mills was in your deponent’s company, and your deponent did, by his advice at that time, persuade said Gilbert not to go, nor did said Gilbert ever go, and further, your deponent some short time after, met with the said Mills and the said Mills said that the aforesaid Gilbert did intend to get your deponent to write the said Gilbert’s will, but your deponent never did. Some considerable time after your deponent met with said Gilbert and after some discourse, the said Gilbert said to your deponent that that will that had made to young Mills, signified nothing, and some time before said Gilbert’s death about 10 days, your deponent went to see said Gilbert at his house and amongst some other discourse said Gilbert told your deponent that the aforesaid will signified nothing. Signed Nov. 2, 1704 John Rankin

I wonder why James Mills Sr. did not want James Gilbert to move to Stafford County in 1701.

This ends the depositions. The court apparently found that James Gilbert’s will held, given that John Mills Jr. continues to be the executor, which then begs the question of how Mary Gilbert later sold land to Thomas Durham. She must have owned it fully in her own right or inherited it after James Gilbert’s death. Otherwise the land would have been part of James Gilbert’s estate.

Court Order Book October 4, 1705 – Action brought by Mary Gilbert against John Ingo dismissed, the plt not prosecuting.

Court Order Book Feb. 7, 1705/06 – In action of case between John Dalton and Mary his wife, admin of William Brockenbrough decd plt and John Mills, Jr., exec of James Gilbert decd, deft for 334 lb tobacco, the deft being returned by sheriff by copy left and no appearing upon the motion of the plt an attachment is granted to him against the estate of the deft for the summe aforesaid

Court Order Book March 7, 1705/06 – Judgment granted to John Dalton and Mary his wife admin of William Brockenbrough decd against John Mills Jr. exec of James Gilbert decd for 335 lb tobacco due by account which is ordered to be paid with costs of suit.

Deed Book Page 109a-110a April 26, 1707 – Indenture between Mary Gilbert of North Farnham Parish, widow and Thomas Durham and same and wife Dorothy – that Mary Gilbert for consideration sell tract of land upon branch of Farnham Creek called the Briery Swamp containing 50 acres now in occupation of Walter Wright bound by corner along land of William Smoote. Signed with mark, Witness William Smoot and Mil. Walters

This deed tells us that Mary Gilbert’s land bordered that of William Smoot. We don’t know how Mary or James Gilbert came into possession of this land. Generally, the widow does not inherit land, only a percentage of the estate, so Mary must have owned this land individually. Fifty acres is the amount of land awarded for one headright.

Deed Book P 110a William Smoote planter, Farnham Parish, consideration to Thomas Durham of same, planter, quit claim a certain plantation and tract or land situate in upon a branch of Farnham Creek called the Bryery Swamp and bounded (same description as deed between Mary Gilbert and Thomas Durham above) April 20, 1707 signed. Wit Anne Kelly and Mil. Waters

Court Order Book Page 299 Sept. 3, 1707 Mary Gilbert acknowledges deed to Thomas Durham, ordered recorded.

Page 299 Sept. 3, 1707 William Smoot acknowledged release of right and title of parcel of land sold by Mary Gilbert to Thomas Durham and ordered to be recorded.

It appears we need to look at the Mills family to see if there any clues to be found.

John Mills Family

John Mills, the elder, who died in February of 1710/11 was married to Hester White as proven by the will of Richard White probated in July of 1708 in Richmond County naming his children, including Hester Mills. Hester’s brother, Thomas White was continuously involved with the John Mills family.

When John Mills Sr. died in 1711, son John Jr. was of age and inherited the “land where I now live” from his father, but several other children were still underage.

John Mills (Sr.) is first mentioned in January of 1686/87 when he posts bond for Elizabeth Lincolne to administer the estate of her deceased husband, John Lincoln. Charles Dodson is listed as the administer of that estate. John Hill married John Lincoln’s widow and after her death. Charles Dodson’s widow, Ann, later marries John Hill, evidently after the death of Elizabeth Lincoln.

In 1691-1694, John Mills and wife Hester are buying and selling land on Tostuskey Creek.

Court Order Book March 3, 1698/99 – Ordered that James Gilbert pay unto John Mills 12 days attendance according to act being by him subpoenaed as evidence in the suit between James Gilbert plt and Edward Geffery deft.

Deed Book, Pages 117-119 Oct 30, 1699 between John Mills, planter and Easter Mills, wife, Richmond Co., to William Richardson 20 acres in Farnham Parish begin at corner white oake in a branch joining upon Thomas Duzin line running along the line SW or thereabouts until the dividing line between James Gilbert and the said Mills, along the line of William Smyth until he comes to the said marked white oak. Mills bought it of George Vincent. Signed by both with their marks. Witness Samuel Jones mark, John Browne.

I John Mills have nominated and appointed William Smoot Jr. my true and lawful attorney to deliver to Mr. William Richardson a deed of land to him and his heirs. October 1, 1700. Witness Thomas Mackey, William Smoot Sr. signed by John Mills with his mark

I Hester Mills nominate William Smoot Jr. (same as above) including witnesses.

This deed is quite interesting, because it proves that Gilbert did own land and locates the land of James Gilbert adjacent to John Mills.

In March of 1700, John Mills is ordered by the court to be paid for 8 days attendance in a suit where Francis Moore, a ship’s captain who is also a merchant versus William Smoot Jr. and again in 1701 where John Mills attends court 10 days for the same suit.

Court Order Book April 5, 1700 – Action brought by John Mills against Abraham Marshall and Thomasin his wife is dismist, the plt not appearing to prosecute

This is extremely interesting, because Thomasin Marshall is the sister of Dorothy Durham.

In August and October of 1700, John and Hester Mills both give power of attorney to William Smoot Jr. the son of William Smoot Sr., in order for them to prove a land sale to William Richardson and save them a trip to the courthouse.

In July of 1706 when neighbor Charles Dodson dies, and his widow, Ann, married John Hill, John Rankin, William Smoote, John Mills and Richard White or any 3 of them are ordered by the court to meet and appraise the estate of Charles Dodson. These men all lived in the vicinity of Charles Dodson – and each other. Richard White is the father-in-law of John Mills. We don’t know who the wife of Charles Dodson was, but she is very possibly a local woman.

Court Order Book, Page 40 June 2, 1709 – Action brought by Jeremiah Greenham against John Mills is dismissed plt not prosecuting.

Jeremiah Greenham would one day marry Dorothy Durham, but in 1709, Dorothy’s first husband, Thomas Durham Sr. was still living.

Richmond County Will Book P 37 – John Mills, Farnham Parish, will Dec. 30 1709, probated Feb. 7, 1710/11, son John land where I now live, daughters Hannah, Hester, Elizabeth Green, other sons Richard 50 ac, Thomas 50 ac, George (under 21), James (under 21), wife Hester, exec wife, wit Winifred Southern, John Rankin, Thomas White.

The birth of Elizabeth to John and Ester Mills is recorded in the North Farnham Parish Register.

Court Order Book Feb 7, 1710/11 – Will of John Mills, late of this county, decd, proved by oathes of John Rankin and Thomas White, 2 of the witnesses, admitted to record and Hester Mills executrix. Probate granted.

It’s unlikely that James Gilbert left his entire estate to John Mills Jr. because John Jr. was James Gilbert’s son-in-law. Understanding that James Gilbert’s will says John Mills Jr. is a friend, I still had to work through this possibility, because clearly James Gilbert had to have some motivation for leaving his entire estate to John Mills Jr.

If John Mills Jr. was the eldest son of John Mills Sr., given that John Sr. had 2 underage sons at his death, suggesting that the rest of his children were of age, that would put the age of John Mills Jr. at about 30 or 32 when his father died in 1711. If he was 32 in 1711, he would have been about 22 or 23 in 1702 when James Gilbert wrote his will. This would put the birth of John Mills Jr. about 1679.

We know that James Gilbert first shows up in the records in 1690. If Gilbert’s daughter is indeed Dorothy Durham, which is as yet only speculation, she was born in 1663 and was married in the 1680s, as were her sisters. Therefore, James Gilbert would have had to have been in the area, if not in the records, by the mid 1680s.

While women have children for generally 20-24 years, it’s likely that John Mills Jr. is a generation younger than James Gilbert and his wife, Mary – although it would not be impossible for John Jr.’s wife Mary to be the daughter of James Gilbert and his wife Mary, although I think it’s extremely unlikely given James Gilbert referring to John Mills Jr. as his friend and not as anything more.

John Mills Jr. is first mentioned in any records in the will of James Gilbert wherein all of the drama begins.

North Farnham Parish Wills, Richmond County, Virginia – f69r – James Gilbert of North Farnham Parish, will dated 31 Jan 1701/02, probated 7 June 1704 wife Mary; executor: friend. John Mills Jr; wits: Edward Welch, Jane Williams, Thomas White.

Please refer to the James Gilbert section for the depositions and proceedings having to do with James Gilbert’s will.

We don’t know when John Mills Jr. married, nor who his wife was, other than her first name was Mary, but we do know that he was married before March of 1719 when his son George was born. George died in January of 1721. A second child is recorded as Mills Mills (sic) born in 1722.

Court Order Book Page 38, April 4, 1722 – George Davenport, John Mills, Jeremiah Greenham and Thomas Dodson or any 3 of them to appraise estate of Thomas Welch. All sworn and also Elizabeth Welch, executrix.

This order would have been John Mills Jr, as John Mills Sr. was deceased by this time.

Based on the following entry, John Mills Jr. is dead by 1728 and Mary Mills, his widow, appears to have married Thomas Livack.

Court Order Page 435 October 2, 1728 Action of debt between Frances Hill executrix of will of John Hill, decd, plt and Thomas Livack and Mary, wife, executrix of will of John Mills, decd, for 16,000 pounds tobacco due by bond, the def being called and not appearing the motion of the plt judgement is granted her against the defts.

Yes, this is the same John Hill that married Elizabeth, the widow of John Lincoln and Ann, the widow of Charles Dodson, and who was married at the time of his death to Frances.

Dorothy’s Sisters

We know who two of Dorothy’s sisters are due to the fortuitous listing of relatives in four wills.

  • The first will belongs to John Stretchley, second husband to Dorothy’s sister, Alice.

Abstracts of Lancaster County, Virginia Wills 1653-1800 by Ida J. Lee

Stretchley, John – probated 6 Dec. 1698. Recorded 14 Dec. 1698.

Wife: Alice. Daughters-in-law: Catherine Chinn, Anne Chinn. Son- in-law: Raw. Chinn. Cousin: Edwd. Audley. Sister: Sarah Bambridge. Extrx: Wife. Wits: Wm. Ball, Rich. Ball, Geo. Haile. W.B. 8, p. 87.

In this case, daughters-in-law means daughters by law, or step daughters in today’s vernacular.

  • The second will that of John Stretchley’s wife, Alice, from the same source. Alice’s first husband, John Chinn had been married previously and died in 1691.

Alice died with a will in 1701.

Stretchley, Alice, wife of Jno. Stretchley of St. Mary’s White Chappell. 29 Aug. 1701. Rec. 8 Oct. 1701. Daughters: Anne Fox the portion bequeathed her by Jno. Chinn, her father, and by Jno. Stretchley, her father-in-law; Catherine Heale. Sisters: Dorothy Durham and Tomassin Marshall. Son-in-law: Capt. Wm. Fox. Son: Rawleigh Chinn “all money in the hands of Mr. Jno. Pemberton, Mercht. of Liverpool.” Cousin: Mary Dodson. Wits: Jas. Taylor, Lewis Pugh, David Smith. W.B. 8, p. 106.

  • The third will is by Ann Chinn Fox Chichester, Dorothy’s niece, mentioned above, who first married William Fox who died in 1718, then Richard Chichester. John Fox’s will mentions wife Ann and daughter Mary, but sadly, according to Ann’s will, Mary has apparently died.

Ann’s Will is dated February 9, 1725, and was recorded December 10, 1729 in Clerks Office, Lancaster County, Virginia – Will book no. 12, pg. 123

In the name of God I am Ann Chichester, wife of Richard Chichester of the County of Lancaster…

Item – I give to my Aunt Dorothy Greenham, wife of Jeremiah Greenham of Richmond Co. Planter, my suit of silk crape clothes and a suit of muslin head clothes – with apron, rufels and —

Item – My will and desire is that my Mulatto girl name Mary which is now in possession of Jeremiah Greenham and my aunt Dorothy Greenham his wife remain with my Aunt Greenham until the said mulatto girl Mary shall rise to the years of twenty and one if my Aunt Dorothy Greenham shall live so long and in case my Aunt shall die before Mary shall come to 21 years then my will is that my niece Ellen Heale have ye said mulatto until she arrives to 21 years and at the expiration of 21 my will and pleasure is that mulatto Mary be free from all persons whatsoever.

Item – I give unto Capt. George Heale Junr, William Heale Junr. Ann Heale, Catherine Heale, twenty shillings each.

Item – I give unto Joseph Chinn, son of my brother Rawleigh Chinn, my Negro woman Moriah and her three children viz: namely Hannah, Nanny, Ruth, to him ye said Joseph Chinn and the heirs of his body lawfully begotten but if he shall die without such heirs then my will and desire is that the said Negro woman Moriah and her three daughters, namely Hannah, Nanny, and Ruth and their increase be equally divided amongst my brothers children namely, Thomas Chinn, Chichester Chinn, Ann Chinn, and Sarah Ellen Chinn and their heirs forever.

Item – I give to my brother Rawleigh Chinn my two Negro lads namely Dublin and Cefis until such time my nephew Christopher Chinn shall come to the age of twenty one years and then my will and desire is that Christopher Chinn have and enjoy my two negros Dublin and Cefis to him the said Christopher Chinn and the heirs of his body lawfully begotten forever, but in case he die without heirs then my will is that John Chinn have ye Negro Dublin and Rawleigh Chinn have and enjoy Cefis to them and their heirs forever.

Item – I give to Rawleigh Chinn, son of my brother Rawleigh Chinn twenty shillings.

Item – I give unto Ann Chinn all my plate hereafter mentioned, viz: one large silver tankard market or engraves ISA (?), half a dozen silver spoons and silver ladle marked ACA and one silver tumbler to her and her heirs.

Item – I give to Ann Chinn one suit of my clothes and half a dozen new Rusia Leather chairs.

Item – I give unto Eliza Heale all the remainder of my clothes of the better sort.

Item – I give unto Catherine Lindsey and Catherine Kirk all my usual wearing clothes to be equally divided between them.

Item – I give to Sarah Heale three silver salts and my side saddle.

Item – I give James Atchison six hundred pounds of tobacco to be paid him out of the crop made on the hills plantation.

Item – I give unto my brother Rawleigh Chinn ten Pounds Sterling I have in the hands of Mr. William Dawkins, merchant in London.

Item – I give unto my brother all residue of my estate in what nature forever.

Item – I appoint my loving brother Rawleigh Chinn my sole executor of this my last will and testament, revoking all former wills and deeds by me made and do publish and declare this the last as witness my hand and seale this ninth day of February, One Thousand Seven Hundred twenty and five/six.

Signed, sealed and published in presence of Edmond Carroll, Eliza Heale, Catherine Quick (Kirk?). Rawleigh Chinn audited her est. Feb. 13, 1729, amt. 250 pounds.

  • The fourth will is that of Abraham Marshall, husband of Tomazin, sister to Dorothy, found in Richmond County, VA.

Will of Abraham Marshall, blacksmith written November 3, 1708 and probated July 6, 1709 – Wife Thomasin use of plant. and lands in North Farnham Parish, after her death to daughter Mary Campbell, if she has no heirs, to brother John Marshall of Bradfield in Berkshire in the Kingdom of England, and if he has no heirs to go to John Durham of North Farnham Parish; son in law Alexander Cambell; exec: wife; witnesses: Thomas Morgan, Alexander Thompson, [Mil.] Walters

Tree

Based on the various wills, plus a few birth years from the parish register, we have the following tree for Dorothy and her sisters.

What’s obviously missing are the parents of Dorothy, Thomasin and Alice.

Abraham Marshall

Thomasin was married to Abraham Marshall by the time their daughter was born in 1699. She may have been married to him many years previously, but that is the first record of Thomasin. Abraham Marshall died in 1709 and Thomasin remarried to William Goodridge. Goodridge died in 1713, mentioning her in the will written May 12, 1713 and probated on September 2, 1713, along with his children from a prior marriage. William’s will was proven by Thomas and Dorothy Durham – Thomasin’s sister and brother-in-law.

North Farnham Parish Register – Mary Marshall daughter of Abraham and Thomasin Marshall, January 7, 1699

Court Order Book April 5, 1700 – Action brought by John Mills against Abraham Marshall and Thomasin his wife is dismist, theplt not appearing to prosecute

Court Order Book July 2, 1701 – Katherine Thatchill servant to Abraham Marshall by and with her own consent is ordered to serve her master or his assignes the full terms of one years after her time by indenture custome or otherwise be fully expired being for the payment of her fine for committing the sin of fornication.

This day Abraham Marshall confesed judgemtent to the churchwarden of Farnham Parish for the use of the parish for 500 pounds good tobacco in cask which this court have ordered to be aid with costs of suit. Exo. Being the fine ode from Katherine Thatchill for committing the sin of fornication.

Ordered that Katherine Thatchill do serve Abraham Marshall her present master according to act for the care and trouble of her childbirth of a bastard child.

It being evidenctly made appear to the court that Catharine Parry, servant to Abraham Marshall did fugitively absent herself from her said master’ service the space of 15 days and that her said master hath expended 300 pounds of tobacco for percuring her againe, the court have ordered that the said Katherine do serve her said master or his assignes the full terms of one years after her time and be fully expired being for the payment of her fine for committing the sin of fornication.

Court Order Book May 6, 1702 – Capt. John Tarpley one of the churchwardens of the parish of North Farnham certifying to this court that Thomas Tatchall being a parish charge and Abraham Marshall being willing to discharge the said parish of ye said Thomas, the court have ordered that the said Thomas Tatchall do serve the said Abraham Marshall and Thomazin his wife their heires and assignes until he shall attaine to the full age of 21 years.

Court Order Book Nov. 6, 1702 – Action brought by James Gilbert against Abraham Marshall is dismist the plt not prosecuting.

Court Order Book Aug. 3, 1704 – Motion of Abraham Marshall by his attorney Daniel McCarty setting forth that James Dooling servant to the said Abraham hath by ye persuasion of some of his neighbors absented himself from his said masters service and doth refuse to return home with him. It is heretofor ordered that the said James do forthwith returne home to the service of his said master and that he continue in the same will further order from the court.

Court Order Book Aug. 3, 1704 – Especiall impll. Is granted in the suite betweene Abraham Marshall blacksmith, plt and Robert Renolds deft, until next court.

Court Order Book Aug. 3, 1704 – Daniel McCarthy entered attorney for Abraham Marshall.

Court Order Book October 4, 1704 – Upon petition of James Dolling for his freedome ordered that the said James to returne home to the service of his said master, Abraham Marshall, and that Mr. Francis Moore who imported the said James make oath that he has indentures for the terme of 9 years according to the certificate produced to this court under the hand of the Mayor of the Citty of Dublin.

Court Order Book October 4, 1704 – Imparlance granted in the suite betweene Abraham Marshall, blacksmith, plt and Robert Reynolds deft until next court.

Richmond County Wills by Robert Headley Jr. – F131t – Abraham Marshall, blacksmith, will Nov 3, 1708, July 6, 1709, wife Thomasin use of plantation and lands in North Farnham Parish, after her death to daughter Mary Cam(p)bell, if she has no heirs, to brother John Marshall of Bradfield in Berkshire in the kingdom of England and if he has no heirs, to go to John Durham (son of Thomas Durham) of NFP; s-i-l Alexander Cam(p)bell; exec wife, wit Thomas Morgan, Alexander Thompson (Mil.) Walters.

The birth of Mary Marshall to Abraham and Thomas in was recorded on Jan 7, 1699 in the North Farnham Parish Register (page 126), yet apparently she had married Alexander Cam(p)bell by November 1708. One or the other entries has to be incorrect. The Parish Register is known to have been copied into a new book at least once.

Deed Book Dec 10, 1723 Thomas Durham to Thomas Dodson Sr., 5 shillings 100 acres formerly belonging to Abraham Marshall bounded by Spanish Oak corner tree of Charles Dodson part of patent formerly granted to William Thatcher by the main branch of Totoskey and then (metes and bounds.) Signed Thomas and Mary Durham, wit John Hill, William Walker and Jeremiah Greenham

Deed Book Dec 10, 1723 between Thomas Durham to Thomas Dodson Sr. of Richmond Co. 5000 pounds tobacco received by Thomas Dodson Sr. certain parcel of land formerly belonging to Abraham Marshall bearing date 25th of 9ber, 1692, containing 100 acres bounded (same as lease above). Signed Thomas Durham, Mary Durham, wit John Hill, William Walker, Jeremiah Greenham

Mary Dodson appeared in court May 6, 1724 and released her dower

Deed Book Page 12 Lease and release Dec 6-7, 1733 from Thomas Dodson Sr. and Mary his wife and Thomas Dodson Jr. and Eliza his wife all of NFP to John’n Lyell of same in consideration of a negro woman to be delivered to said Dodson as soon as any comes to Virginia to be sold as the said Dodson Jr. wished about 130 acres in North Farnham Parish and bounded by Charles Dodson by the main swamp of Totuskey. The other 30 acres of land is bounded by old Cone path formerly belonging to Daniel Oneal, a line of trees that divides the land of Mr. Spencer and the land of Thomas Dusin, corner oak formerly belonging to William Matthews, along Matthews line the land formerly belonging to John Jenly. Of the 130 acres, 100 acres formerly belonged to Abraham Marshall by a deed dates 25 9ber 1692 and from thence conveyed to Thomas Durham and by the said Durham sold to Thomas Dodson Sr. The other 30 acres was formerly sold by Thomas Dusin to Thomas Southern by deed dated 21 7ber 1687. Signed Thomas Dodson Sr. his mark T, Mary her mark M, Thomas Dodson Jr., Elizabeth her mark, witnesses Robert Reynolds and George Gibson and William Creel, Recorded April 1, 1734

John Chinn

John Chinn’s (Chynn) family was involved in transporting people to Virginia in order to receive headrights. Alice was John Chinn’s second wife, marrying sometime before the birth of their first child in 1682 which puts Alice’s birth about 1662, or earlier. John died a decade later, in 1692, with a will listing his children.

John Chinn is obtaining patents as early as 1664 for land upon Morrattico Creek, by the Dragon Swamp and at the head of Morrattico. In his adult life, he appears to live in Lancaster County, adjacent Richmond County. Given that John was already patenting land about the time Alice Chinn was born, he was probably at least 20 years older than Alice.

Cavaliers and Pioneers Patent Book No. 4; Pg 436 – John Chinn, 100 acs. Lancaster Co., 24 Aug. 1664, p. 125, (630). Upon Morrattico Cr., adi. his own & land of Henry Davis. Trans. of 2 pers: James Potter, Thomas Coate.

Cavaliers and Pioneers Patent Book No. 6; Pg 31 – John Chynn, 370 acs. upon a br. of Moratico Cr., adj. land’ of Edward Miles; 17 Mar. 1667/8, p. 113. Granted is David Fox, Gent., assigned to Lambeth Lambethson, who assigned to Alexander Portus, by him assigned to Thomas Williams, who assigned to John Chynn & Henry Davis, & sd. Davis assigned his title to sd. Chynn.

Cavaliers and Pioneers Patent Book No. 6; Pg 31 – John Chynn & John Gibson, of Lancaster Co., 550 acs. in Rappa. Co., 17 Mar. 1667/8, p. 113. Beg. by the Draggon Swampe & adj. land of John &c. Trans. of 11 pers: John Johnson, James Johnson, Henry Woodbridge, Anne Wilson, Wm. Harman Flering, Francis Dolphin, Rich.Jno. Medler (?), Wm. Baker, Rick. Parker.

Cavaliers and Pioneers Patent Book No. 6; Pg 70 – Mr. Thomas Wright & John Chynn; 220 acs. N. side of Rappa. Co., near the head of Moratticoe Cr., by the Mill Dam, &c; 26 Apr. 1670, p. 276. Trans. of 5 pers: Ralph Hall, Ben. Davis, Cutberth Taylor, Lyddia Gates, Edward Jones.

Today, we find on Family Search that Edge Hill, nearing Downings Virginia is listed as being the home of the Chinn family, and nearby, we find Chinn’s Pond. This correlates with the location of the above grants and deeds. Edge Hill Road is shown with the red balloon, below. Chinn’s Pond is the body of water to the right of the red balloon.

The two inlets to the north are Farnham Creek and Totuskey Creek, both locations documented in the various deeds. We know that are allied families are living between Chinn’s and Rich Neck, north of 360, near the Haynesville Correctional Center, shown below.

Where Are We?

Ok, we have lots of data, but where are we really?

Good question. I wondered the same thing.

Here’s what we know.

William is NOT Dorothy’s Father

William Smoot is not Dorothy’s father, as proven both by his interactions and his will where he leaves all of his estate to his grandchildren through daughter Mary who married Dorothy’s son, Thomas Durham Jr., highlighted in yellow.

Further evidence of this is that William Smoot’s daughter, Mary, married Dorothy’s son. If Dorothy was William Smoot’s daughter, then Dorothy’s son would have married her sister.

William Smoot and Mary Gilbert are both Related to Dorothy

William Smoot is related to both Dorothy and her sister, Alice, given that William deeds land in 1700 to Dorothy and in the case that Dorothy dies without heirs, Dorothy’s sister’s daughter receives the land.

After James Gilbert’s death, Mary Gilbert sells 50 acres to Thomas and Dorothy Durham, NOT just Thomas Durham. William Smoot quitclaims the land that Mary Gilbert sells to the Durhams. This suggests that the relationship between both William Smoot and Mary Gilbert is to Dorothy Durham, not her husband, Thomas. Otherwise, the deeds would have been to Thomas Durham, not to Dorothy alone in 1700 and Thomas and Dorothy in 1707.

Therefore, William Smoot is probably a sibling of Mary Gilbert. If Mary Gilbert is of the age to be the mother of Dorothy, then Mary Gilbert would have been born no later than 1643 and possibly as early as 1620. That would make Mary between the ages of 64 and 87 in 1707 when she deeds the land to Thomas and Dorothy Durham, and William Smoot quitclaims the land.

William Smoot of Rappahannock County is first found in the records in 1672, so of age and born no later than 1650. He and his wife are having children in the 1680s and his son, William Smoot Jr. comes of age by 1701.

Scenario 1 – Is William Smoot the Son of Mary Gilbert?

Given the ages involved, William Smoot could possibly have been the son of Mary Gilbert by a previous marriage.

If William Smoot is the son of Mary Gilbert and the brother to Dorothy, then Thomasin and Alice’s heirs would both have had to quitclaim the land that Mary sold to Dorothy and Thomas Durham in 1707. This didn’t happen, so I doubt that Mary Gilbert is the mother of both William Smoot and Dorothy Durham.

If William Smoot is the brother of Dorothy Durham, with Mary Gilbert being their mother, then Mary was married to a Smoot before she married James Gilbert.

This would mean that James Gilbert was the step-father of Dorothy Durham and William Smoot, along with Dorothy’s sisters, Alice and Thomasin. That means that William Smoot is also the brother to Thomasin Marshall and Alice Chinn. Not impossible.

It’s also possible that Mary’s child is Jane Smoot, not William. If so, the same laws would apply, given that a husband owns his wife’s land unless she holds the land separately from him.

However, either scenario, William or Jane as the brother to Dorothy, causes me to question why William Smoot would have quit-claimed that 1707 deed, but the other living child known to be Dorothy’s sister, Thomasin, did not quitclaim the deed. Also, Dorothy’s sister Alice mentioned her two sisters in her 1701 will, but did not mention a brother. Unusual, since William Smoot was generous in the 1700 deed towards Alice’s daughter.

Therefore, I find it very unlikely that William Smoot is the brother of Dorothy Durham.

Scenario 2 – Mary Gilbert, sister to William Smoot and Dorothy’s Parent?

Another possibility is that Mary Gilbert, William Smoot (or his wife) and Dorothy’s parent are all three the children of unknown parents. This means the reason William deeded land to Dorothy was because he was her uncle. The reason Mary Gilbert deeded land to Dorothy and Thomas Durham was because she was Dorothy’s aunt and the reason William Smoot quitclaimed the deed was because he owned an interest in that land as Mary’s sibling. This does not explain why Dorothy’s sister, Thomasin, still living in 1707, along with the heirs of Dorothy’s deceased sister, Alice, didn’t also have to quitclaim that deed since ownership would have passed through their parent’s generation. If this is the case, it makes the next scenario more likely.

It’s also possible that ownership of that land was not to all three siblings, meaning Mary Gilbert, William Smoot and Dorothy’s parents, which means that Thomasin and Alice would not need to quitclaim that land if Dorothy’s parents did not own any interest. We would need to know how the land that was conveyed in 1707 was obtained by Mary Gilbert and exactly why William Smoot had an ownership right in that land. A part of that story is also why Mary Gilbert managed to retain that land after James Gilbert’s death and his entire estate being left to John Mills Jr.

This is one of the two most likely scenarios, the second being shown below.

Scenario 3 – William Smoot as the Brother of Mary Gilbert – Mother of Dorothy

In this scenario, William Smoot is the brother of Mary Gilbert, and Mary Gilbert is the mother of Dorothy Durham, Alice and Thomasin, all known to be sisters.

If William Smoot is the brother of Mary Gilbert, or Jane Smoot is Mary Gilbert’s sister, with Mary Gilbert inheriting land from their common parent(s), or even another sibling, then William would have been quitclaiming his interest in his parent’s land. Given that Mary Gilbert deeded this land in 1707, and that William Smoot’s apparent only son, William Smoot Jr., had probably died, William Smoot Sr. would have had no objection to the land from his parents going to his niece who was also a grandmother to his grandchildren through his daughter Mary and Dorothy’s son Thomas. Dorothy Durham was also William’s neighbor, so he had lived beside her for his entire life. The land sold by Mary Gilbert abutted William Smoot’s land as well as Thomas and Dorothy Durham’s land, so it was a perfect fit.

The other possibility is that William is not, himself, the brother of Mary Gilbert, but that his wife, Jane, was Mary Gilbert’s sister. The same laws would apply since William Smoot would have been the person selling his wife’s land. Jane did sign a release of dower. If Jane Smoot was Dorothy’s aunt, would William have said in the 1700 deed that he was transferring land for the “great love” he has for Dorothy? I don’t know.

If he had only added two words, “my niece,” or whatever Dorothy was to him.

In my opinion, the most likely scenario is that Mary Gilbert was originally a Smoot, or is the sister of Jane Smoot through unknown parents, and that William Smoot is not the father of Dorothy Durham, but her uncle, which explains the various relationships in a satisfactory manner that makes sense – including the omission of Thomasin’s quit-claiming the 1707 deed. She held no interest.

Tracking Neighborhood Land

In an act of utter desperation, I created a grid in Excel of all of the land transactions that included anyone with any of the family names I’ve worked with in early Rappahannock or Richmond County. These families were all neighbors.  Mary Gilbert had to acquire that land she sold in 1707 in some fashion – and given that it was bounded by William Smoot’s land, it had to have originated in these early families.

By anyone, I mean anyone mentioned as having land that bounded Smoot or Gilbert, anyone who acted as a witness, and of course, the buyer and seller.

The following grid shows only the first 12 columns of approximately 35, but it does show all of the Gilbert, Smoot or 50 acre involved transactions, highlighted in yellow.

Names on the left with nothing in their rows have entries in the columns not displayed that reflect land sales to and from Charles Dodson, Thomas Durham and others who are neighbors but not directly involved.  My goal was to perhaps find some common links to a neighbor whose land touches Charles Dodson, Thomas Durham and William Smoot – early – before Mary Gilbert obtained the land in whatever manner.

William Smoot’s land that he obtained in 1700 may have been in his hands as early as 1684 and surely was by 1694.  The neighbors are given in the patent bounds as:

  • Rowland Lawson (Leuson)
  • James Gilbert
  • Mr. Grimes (probably John, from other grants)
  • Clears who is probably Ambrose Clary

William Smoot’s land, and that of his neighbors, appears to be complex, based on these 4 entries in the book, Virginia Northern Neck Land Grants (1694-1742) Vol I:

Only two other 50 acre transactions occurred, both in 1694, one from John Mills Sr. to Thomas Dusin and one from Thomas and Susanna Dusin to William Richardson for the same land.

These lands appear to have been in the early Thomas Madison grant or grants.  Madison partnered with Richard White whose daughter Hannah was the wife of John Mills Sr.  Furthermore, James Gilbert in the 1693 court case appears to be in possession of the land grant in question. It appears that the Madison grant(s) and the Griffin grant abutted, based on 3-79, above.

Further research on the various people involved and whose land abutted these transactions produced the following information:

  • Richard White had a will and named two daughters, both of whom were married in 1708 when he died and none were named Mary, Jane, Dorothy or Thomasin.
  • Thomas Madison died in 1674 leaving everything to wife Katherine, mentioning his brother but no children.
  • Thomas Dusin died in 1704, which is after James Gilbert, but leaves his entire estate to his wife, Susannah, mentioning no children.  Dusen, according to a will he witnessed sometime before 1677 was about age 29, so born about 1648 or earlier.
  • John Henley, mentioned as the 1694 purchaser was alive yet in 1709, witnessing a will.
  • Madison also sold land to William Matthews whose daughter, Alice, married William Thacker, another gentleman patenting land in the Northern Neck of Virginia and who sold land to Charles Dodson in 1685. William Thacker was also William Smooth’s neighbor, according to Smoot’s 1694 land patent awarded in 1700.
  • William Matthews sold land to both Abraham Marshall and Charles Dodson. William Matthews died before 1686, his widow married Peter Elmore, long associated with Charles Dodson.
  • William Thacker died in 1698 leaving an underage son, Gabriel and 2 daughters, Catherine and Susanna.
  • Thomas Southern died in 1704, leaving sons James and William and 3 unnamed daughters. However, daughters Susannah (1691), Winifred (1693) and Thomas (1695) are recorded in the North Farnham Parish register for this couple, so they were having children too late to me Dorothy’s parents.
  • Ambrose Clary disappears from the records entirely.
  • Daniel O’Neal is clearly present in the community, but I was unable to find a will after 1699, nor is he present in the Maryland Families data base.  This actually may be he could be a candidate worthy of further research.
  • The Grimes family continues to appear in the records, but I was unable to find anything for John Grimes.  Further deed research would be in order, as well as early wills.
  • I was also unable to find anything further in a cursory search for Edward Riley, meaning that I have not returned to the library to search court records and all deeds.
  • Richard Fowler died in 1718.
  • John Ingo, Sr., died in 1701 leaving sons John, James and daughter Elizabeth Ascough.
  • Rowland Lawson’s father was also apparently named Rowland. One of these men was importing headrights in the 1660s.  Rowland Jr. lived and died in 1706 in Lancaster Co., VA, naming sons Henry and Rowland in his will.  His brother may have been Epaphro.

Needless to say, I’ve struck out with finding any other likely connection for Dorothy, Alice and Thomasin among the neighbor families – at least among the families involved most consistently or with a 50 acre land conveyance.

One possibility yet remaining would be to search for land transactions from both Thomas Madison and William Fauntleroy, husband of Katherine Griffin Fauntleroy, for 50 acre sales to attempt to find the land that was eventually conveyed by Mary Gilbert to Dorothy and Thomas Durham and quitclaimed by William Smoot.

This land may yet be the key to unlocking the identity of Mary Gilbert and her relationship to Dorothy Durham and William Smoot.

Revisiting James Gilbert

What remains is the question of why James Gilbert willed his estate, except for 20 shillings, to John Mills Jr. It’s possible that the reason is because he and Mary Gilbert had no children and he was the step-father to her children. This act would have upset his wife terribly, which it obviously did, but could be logically explained in this manner, although clearly this is speculation. Of course, the other possibility is that the cumulative brain damage caused him to become either irrational or confused. This is certainly a valid possibility, given that one of the depositions indicated that he couldn’t successfully count cows, mistaking 15 for 40.

It’s also possible that Mary Gilbert had no children and was the sibling of William Smoot and Dorothy’s parent – so James Gilbert felt he had no one to leave his estate to – meaning no children. Although that still doesn’t explain why he attempted to omit his wife.

In some way, Mary Gilbert and William Smoot (or his wife) came to own land jointly, probably from common parents, which is why William quitclaimed his interest in the land when Mary sold the land in 1707 to Dorothy and Thomas Durham. This also suggests that there were no additional invested property-owners in that land, because no one else conveyed or quitclaimed that land. We know that if William Smoot was Mary’s child, he would have had no vested interest in the land unless he was left that land by James Gilbert, and James Gilbert only left land to John Mills Jr. If Mary Gilbert has previously been married to a Smoot who left land to William, Mary Gilbert would not have been able to sell that land, because she would have had no interest. Widows only obtained life estate and did not own their husband’s land in fee simple. We also know that if William Smoot was Mary’s son, and Dorothy’s brother, that the third living sibling, Thomasin should also have quitclaimed that deed, and she did not, nor did the heirs of Alice, Dorothy’s other sister who had previously died.

If Mary Gilbert is William Smoot’s sister, and the mother of Dorothy and her two sisters, then Mary Gilbert had to be born before 1643, given that Dorothy was born in 1663 and may not have been the oldest of the three daughters.

If Mary Gilbert was born in or before 1643, and was the sister to William Smoot, then neither William Smoot nor Mary could have been the children of William Smoote who settled in Maryland, because we know that in 1646, when he immigrated, he did not have a daughter named Mary.

William Smoot could be the son of William Smoot of Maryland if Mary Gilbert is not his sister, but is instead the sister of his wife Jane. If that is the case, then who William Smoot descends from is irrelevant to the search for Dorothy Durham’s parents.

It’s possible that William Smoot’s wife is the person related to Mary Gilbert, and that Jane Smoot and Mary Gilbert’s parents are also the grandparents of Dorothy Durham through an unknown parent.

Having sifted through all of the available information, the best fit is that William Smoot (or his wife) and Mary Gilbert were siblings, and that Dorothy, Alice and Thomasin were the daughters of Mary Gilbert, possibly through an unknown first husband, given James Gilbert’s discussion about his will with Dorothy within hearing. That’s not exactly how you want to inform your daughter that she has been disowned. Dorothy, Alice and Thomasin could have been the daughters of James Gilbert as well, although it seems somewhat doubtful.

If Dorothy and her sisters were step-daughters, that might be one reason why James Gilbert felt no compunction to leave any of his estate to Dorothy, Alice or Thomasin – but it does not explain why he only left 20 shillings to his wife and the balance of his estate to a friend. How was his wife supposed to survive after his death? If Dorothy, Alice and Thomasin were his children, we’ll just have to chalk James Gilbert’s decision up to cumulative brain damage due to epilepsy.

The other scenario that fits equally as well is that Mary Gilbert had no children, William Smoot had only one living daughter, Mary, who married Thomas Durham Jr., and that Dorothy’s parent was the sibling of both Mary Gilbert and William Smoot (or his wife.)

I am still hopeful that someday more information will emerge, such as previously undiscovered records out of Williamsburg from the general court or early chancery suits from Richmond County.

Until that time…this is the best we can do.

My Opinion

My opinion, barring further evidence, is that the most likely scenario is Scenario 3 and that Mary Gilbert is the mother of Dorothy Durham and that James Gilbert may or may not have been her father – and that either William Smoot or his wife Jane and Mary Gilbert were siblings.

My second choice would be Scenario 2 where Mary Gilbert is the sibling of William Smoot or his wife Jane, and both are siblings of Dorothy’s parent, whoever that was.

DNA

Unfortunately, the only way to prove the theory that Mary Gilbert is Dorothy’s mother would be to utilize the mitochondrial DNA DNA of Mary Gilbert through her daughters, but since we have no idea if Mary Gilbert had any children – there are no known daughters for us to track their descendants to current.

Dorothy and her sisters had the following female children whose descendants may be candidates for testing.

If Jane Smoot’s daughter, Mary Smoot that married Thomas Durham Jr. is the sister to Dorothy’s mother, or to Dorothy, the mitochondrial DNA of her daughter, Mary, through all females to the present, would match the mitochondrial DNA of the lines shown above.

Mary Durham Dodson had two daughters, Alice born in 1711 that married an Oldham and Mary born in 1715 that married William Creel.  Nothing more is known about these lines.

However, if Mary Durham Dodson’s mtDNA matched that of Dorothy Durham’s daughter’s descendants or that of Dorothy’s daughter’s descendants – we would then know that the relationship of William Smoot to Dorothy was through his wife and not him.  Conversely, we would also know that if the mtDNA did not match, then the relationship was not directly matrilineal and probably through William Smoot and not his wife.

We can’t verify William Smoot’s Y DNA line because he had no surviving sons.

Unfortunately, we can’t use autosomal DNA in this instance to universally search for Smoot, because the descendants of Thomas Durham Jr. will match a Smoot line. The descendants of Thomas Dodson who married Mary Durham MAY show a Smoot line, because Dorothy Durham is shows in so many trees to be Dorothy Smoot.

Smoke or Fire?

However, searching at both Family Tree DNA and Ancestry for matches with the Smoot surname has produced what I would classify as smoke. But you know that old saying about smoke and fire.  The question is, do we have fire?

At Ancestry, Smoot matches break down as follows:

  • 38 total
  • 10 are private
  • 10 are either the Thomas Durham/Dorothy line
  • 9 lines are too late to be useful
  • 9 descend from the Charles County, Maryland Smoots. One of these lines matches me on a known line that is not related to the Northern Neck families.

Those from the Charles County Smoot line share from 6.1cM on one segment to 18.7 cM on two segments.  The person with 18.7 cM on two segments is known to be related through another line, although they could be related through two separate lines. Five have shared matches, but none of the shared matches are useful meaning we don’t share common ancestors in trees and there are either no common surnames, they don’t have trees, or the surnames in common don’t seem to be from the same lines.

Unfortunately, Ancestry has no chromosome browser.

Those 11 matches to people who descend from the Smoot line in Charles County, Maryland are an awful lot of smoke for there to be no fire. Because of the interrelated families and because of the distance in terms of generations and time, we would need to carefully triangulate any autosomal DNA matches to Smoot and they would have to NOT be related to me through any other line – meaning the testers would need to have a pretty complete pedigree chart.

At Family Tree DNA, Smoot matches break down as follows:

  • 8 total
  • 2 no tree BUT they are assigned to my father’s side through family match phasing
  • 4 are from Thomas Durham/Dorothy line
  • 2 are from the Charles County, Maryland Smoot line with longest blocks of 8 and 9 cM

Fortunately, I have more tools to work with at Family Tree DNA, including a chromosome browser that allows me to view the matching DNA segments of the 8 people who match me.  Unfortunately, neither of the two Charles County matches match me on the same segment as another person from my known Durham line, nor do they match anyone else is the Smoot group using the matrix tool.

So, if the matches to Smoot descendants of the Charles County, Maryland group is fire and not smoke, we still need proof.  That means we’ll need more testers to match and some to triangulate on my known Dodson segments.

Let’s hope that in time, between additional DNA testers, advances in technology and perhaps more genealogical records becoming available, that one day we’ll be able to solve the mystery of the relationship of William Smoot and Mary Gilbert to Dorothy Durham, and identify Dorothy’s parents!

The Last Father’s Day

The heat was oppressive. The air wasn’t moving, hanging like a hot wet blanket, engulfing you, making it difficult to breathe.

In the days before air conditioning, you woke up hot and sweaty, and that was before the sun was even on the horizon. You tended the livestock early, weeded the garden out behind the chicken house and picked whatever produce was ready by 7 AM or so, because the heat and humidity only got worse as the day progressed.

Home sweet home. The farm in Indiana.

In fact, it was so hot on the farm in summer that children were allowed to run around in their birthday suits except for their underwear, and play in the sprinkler or a tub outside, filled from the hose or the well pump. Sometimes the adults indulged in the hose too, putting their thumbs over the end to cause “spray,” or stuck their feet in a bucket of cool water. It was just that hot. 

This particular Sunday, June 20, 1993, just happened to be Father’s Day.

My life in 1993 was very different than it is today. Every June, I spent a week at Rockome Gardens, an Amish “park” in the countryside of heartland Illinois, at a Cross Stitch Festival, teaching and learning and enjoying the camaraderie of my friends.

A group of us met at Rockome from across the country every summer, like the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano. Mind you, Arcola, the closest town, a few miles distant was so small that there was only a railroad crossing, a bowling alley and one small Mom and Pop motel. Of course, there were grain silos and an elevator along the railroad tracks, because after all, this is farm country.

By Daniel Schwen – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3448414

The area around Rockome Gardens was much like the area in Indiana where I grew up, corn, soybeans and farm after farm, so I was quite comfortable driving between the fields and avoiding Amish buggies sharing the road. Everyone waved at each other. Life was simple. I loved it there – it felt and smelled so comfortable.

The needlework show ended on Sunday afternoon, but I packed up early and hit the road so that I could drive to central Indiana in time to see my step-father, the man I knew as Dad.

I knew he wasn’t expecting me, because he knew that I was busy at the show, but I wanted to be sure to get there in time to celebrate Father’s Day.

Dad was 72 years old and had been having health issues off and on for a couple of years. A lifelong smoker, he had been in and out of the hospital with COPD. He would give up cigarettes, certainly while he was in the hospital, and for awhile afterwards, but he always started again. He thought that we didn’t know, because he only smoked when he was at the barn. I know he always thought he’d have “just one” but that one always led to another, which led to another, which eventually led to another ambulance ride to the hospital. Up until this time, the EMTs and doctors had always managed to revive him, patch him back together and home he would come with new resolve among our fervent pleas to spare his own life.

I was so grateful that Dad was still with us, seemed to be doing as well as possible, and was excited to surprise him. I had arranged with my husband to celebrate Father’s Day with him the following weekend by planting two maple trees at our house, so hubby didn’t expect me home until very late on Sunday.

The only place that afforded air conditioned comfort was a car, store or a restaurant. No place else in farm country had air conditioning, including the farmhouse that was always “home” to me, even years after moving away.

As I drove cross country, enjoying the cool of my Mom-van, back road to back road, watching the shimmering heat waves rise up from the pavement, I relished the thought of how surprised Dad would be. I had a small gift of some sort all tucked away, even though I had already send a card and gift certificate to Red Lobster.

Dad’s favorite thing to do at Red Lobster was to order something, add a side of crab legs, which he dearly loved, and then see how many meals he could get out of that one meal via leftovers. Red Lobster was a luxury he never allowed himself unless he had a gift certificate – which is why I gave him one at every possible opportunity.

As people age, they are infinitely more difficult to buy for. First, they have most everything they need. What they want has far more to do with people they love, time and visits that any “thing.” I knew that, which is why I was going home, even though it meant arriving at my own home late that night and getting little sleep before work on Monday morning.

The look on his face would be worth it!

I knew Mom and Dad were going to Red Lobster to eat after church on Father’s Day, so I timed my arrival for after they returned home. That worked perfectly.

As I drove, the baking sun gave way to storm clouds gathering on the western horizon. Heat induced summer storms were mixed blessings, as they brought much needed rain for the crops and sometimes a brief respite from the heat, but they also brought tornadoes and this was tornado alley. We learned what to watch for, and when to run to the basement and dive for safety. Tornadoes were a fact of life and I’ve lived through several.

I watched the western sky as a wall cloud approached, rolling towards me, hoping the downpour that was sure to come would be swift and fleeting, because driving in blinding rain is difficult. Many summer storms were violent, but passed quickly, leaving the vegetation refreshed and beautifully green.

I drove in front of the wall cloud for quite some time, at about the same speed apparently, but when I turned north, it overtook me and I found myself in a hail-filled downpour. In the open country, there is no place to “go” and the best you can hope for is to find someplace to pull off the road so someone won’t hit you. No one can see.

Normally, I find summer storms refreshing. I woke up to so many storms, both during the night and to gentle early morning rains when I was a kid that rainfall feels soothing to me, and so do storms, unless they are particularly violent.

But this day, the storm and the greyness didn’t lift.

I arrived “home” in the mid-late afternoon and walked in, just like I had done for decades. I knew where the key to the back door was hidden, but I never had to use it. The door was never locked. I don’t even know if the key worked, truthfully. The lock probably would have been considered antique and there was only one key in existence for everyone to share. Generally, someone was home, and if they weren’t the dog wasn’t going to let anyone but family in anyway. The front door, not once in my entire recollection, was ever used. This was farm country and that’s how farm country worked!

Dad’s two favorite places, other than the barn, were at the kitchen table and in his recliner. Beyond any doubt, he could always be found in one of those three places. This day, he was seated in his chair in the kitchen wearing his ever-present overalls. He looked up to see who was walking in his back door, and I could see the surprise on his face turn to pure joy as he recognized me.

He had no other visitors.

I walked up to him and hugged him and declared, “Happy Father’s Day, Dad.” He beamed, thunked me on the head with his thumb and tousled my hair. All was right with the world. He may have been a quiet, soft-spoken prairie farmer that time passed by, but he was the most important person in the world to me that day.

He was infinitely strong in his silence, a granite pillar, a mighty example of kindness and good. He stood steadfastly for what he believed, even when it wasn’t convenient or popular. He believed in his family, equality and what was right.  In fact, he believed in me when no one else did.  It was Dad who told me, another hot summer day, years earlier, “You can be whatever you set your mind to – and don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.” He didn’t have to say any more. He had said it all and changed my life with one sentence.

Thanks Dad.

He asked what I was doing there and I told him I had come to see him on Father’s Day. He immediately began to worry about me driving home late at night.

Yep, that was Dad.

I told him I came to visit and the drive didn’t matter. I could tell, in spite of his protests, he was secretly pleased.

I’m not sure where Mom was. She was there, I’m sure, but these 24 years later, what I remember of that afternoon was sitting at the old kitchen table and visiting with him. I don’t remember what we talked about, except the storm (of course) because farmers always talk about rain, and about what he ate at lunch at Red Lobster. I think I brought him a mug or something like that as well, and he complained that I shouldn’t be spending my money on him.

That was always Dad.

That was the same man who would patch anything and everything together with duct tape until it simply could not be fixed again, and then begrudgingly purchase a used replacement, but gave me his last $20 when I left with my young children to move away – to pursue that career he encouraged me to follow. He desperately fought tears that day and asked if I was sure I didn’t need more money. I tried to refuse his $20, but he wouldn’t let me. I later found a $100 bill tucked in my purse, which he adamantly disavowed any knowledge of when I tried to pay him back.

That was Dad.

Dad’s sense of humor never failed him. Sitting at the table that day, I recalled that one year I gave him a hairbrush with no bristles for Father’s Day, because he was bald. He pretended to use that hairbrush for years, which would always cause peals of laughter.

Dad, smiling at me as I tried to get one of my kids ready for Halloween. He was wearing a wig, so I wouldn’t “recognize” him – and to let me know he wasn’t bald anymore!

Yea, that was Dad.

We laughed in the heat that day, sitting at the kitchen table with the whir of a very ineffective fan in the background, as we recalled many funny stories, some of which both of us didn’t agree were funny. But we laughed at all of them anyway!

That was Dad. Never malicious or hurtful with his humor, but always a practical joker.

At some point, Mom came in to fix dinner, called supper on the farm. Dinner was at lunch and the word lunch didn’t exist in that world. I told her I couldn’t stay to eat. I had many hours ahead of me, on those same back roads in the rain.

Dad walked me to the car and uncharacteristically told me how much he really appreciated me finding a way to stop. He told me he loved me.

That was not Dad. He was a man of very few words, and never “those” words. Never.

I looked at him a long time, in silence, and he looked at me too. Straight in the eyes. Tears welled up. I knew how much he loved me.

I had always known.

I know he knew how much I loved him too. I tried to tell him with my actions always. As Dad would say, “actions speak louder than words.” I’ve lived by his simple “farmer’s wisdom” my entire life. It never fails me.

I tried to speak. I couldn’t. My voice cracked as I told him I loved him and I simply couldn’t say goodbye. The tears streamed down my face, mixed with sweat, in spite of my attempts to stop them. I felt his rough thumb, calloused by decades in the fields, as he tried to gently wipe my tears away.

Dad was of course sweating, not crying.

I finally got into the car. Dad stepped back a couple steps, between the house and the old building that passed for a garage, and began waving to me, very slowly. He just stood there waving. He never did that.

I knew I had to leave, but for some reason, I was transfixed in that moment in time. Time simply stopped.

Finally, I backed out of the driveway and pointed the car north. As I passed the little white church at the crossroads, on the land he donated, I braked to look in the mirror, and I saw him, still standing there watching me disappear, still waving.

I saw the storm clouds gathering again, and I knew I had to hurry or they would overtake me. I wanted Dad to go inside, out of the storm. He had already weathered too many. I desperately wanted him to be safe, and to be there went I went back the next time, waiting for me at the kitchen table.

I drove away, down that lonely grey road as the storm began. I had no idea I was crossing a divide.

The day after we planted those maple trees, my life changed forever.

That was the last Father’s Day.

It was also the last Father’s Day my husband would be with me.

And the last time I ever visited Rockome.

A year later, I would be on the other side of that terrible divide, and all I could do was to look back in life’s rear-view mirror, longing to see Dad waving. Wanting desperately to turn around and go back. Aching inconsolably for what was forever lost.

I’m so incredibly glad that I found a way to make it home on that sticky hot Sunday for what would be the last Father’s Day.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad, and thank you.

Eloise Lore, my grandmother’s sister, Barbara Jean Ferverda (at right) and Ralph Dean Long holding Spot. Garage, burning barrels and outhouse in the background.

Dorothy Durham (1663 – after 1725), No Shrinking Violet, 52 Ancestors #164

Dorothy, born in 1663, was the wife of Thomas Durham by sometime in 1685, because their daughter, Mary, was born on June 5, 1686 in what was then Rappahannock County, Virginia, now referred to as Old Rappahannock. We don’t know if Mary was Dorothy’s first child, but Mary was the first of Dorothy’s children recorded in the North Farnham Parish church records which are known to be incomplete.

We also know that Dorothy had two more children that lived, Thomas Durham born on June 17, 1690 and John Durham on November 23, 1698. By that time, Richmond County had been formed and Rappahannock County was dissolved.

Dorothy appears to be somewhat younger than Thomas Durham, her husband, who was probably born sometime before 1649 based on the fact that he was exempted from paying levies by the court in September of 1699 “by reason of his great age.” Dorothy was all of 36 years old at that time. It wasn’t uncommon for second wives to be significantly younger than their husbands and it looks like Thomas was probably at least 25+ years older than Dorothy, if not more.

Thomas died before June 1, 1715 when his will was probated, leaving Dorothy with children still at home. Dorothy did what colonial wives did, she remarried quickly, in February 1715, before Thomas Durham’s will was probated. Probate of a will generally happened no later than 90 days after the person died although in this case, Thomas had obviously died sometime prior to February when Dorothy remarried. Someone had to manage the plantation, plant the crops, maintain tobacco which necessitated a lot of manual labor and TLC at just the right time, and harvest the tobacco when ripe. Dorothy married Jeremiah Greenham, a well-respected gentleman who had been involved with the family and neighborhood for years.

Jeremiah Greenham died in 1753 and we know that his wife at the time was named Mary. Dorothy was last recorded in a document in 1725 and died sometime between then and 1753, a span of 28 years. Dorothy died between the ages of 62 and 90.

It’s possible that Dorothy had passed away by January 13, 1726 when Jeremiah Greenham sold his Stafford County land to brothers Thomas Dodson and Greenham Dodson. No wife signed a release of dower, so we can’t tell if the lack of a signature was because Jeremiah was unmarried at the time, or it was an oversight. I think this at least suggests that Dorothy might have been deceased by this date.

However, Dorothy was alive a year earlier on February 9, 1725 when Ann Chinn Fox Chichester, Dorothy’s niece who had no children wrote a will wherein she left “my suit of silk crape clothes and a suit of muslin head clothes, with apron, rufels and —“ to her Aunt Dorothy Greenham. Ann’s will was probated on December 10, 1729 but we can’t tell if Aunt Dorothy was alive to collect her suit of silk crepe.

Clothes were expensive in colonial Virginia, and silk crepe, by whatever spelling, would have been a very nice gift that Aunt Dorothy surely would have appreciated.

We don’t know when Dorothy died, but we do know that Jeremiah retained a close relationship with John Durham, Dorothy’s grandson through her son Thomas Durham. Jeremiah Greenham left John Durham his “Great Bible.” Sadly, Jeremiah had no children of his own.

Dorothy Durham had two known sisters, Alice who married first to John Chinn and second to John Stretchly and Thomazin who married first to Abraham Marshall and second to William Goodridge. Dorothy could have had more siblings, but those are the only two mentioned in 1701 and 1725 wills.

The oft-repeated story about Dorothy’s parents is that she is the daughter of William and Jane Smoot, but working with the records, I can tell you that I’m nearly positive that Dorothy is not William Smoot’s daughter, although she is clearly somehow related to William Smoot. I even have some idea about who Dorothy’s parents might have been, but there is no smoking gun yet today. Maybe in due time, utilizing advanced DNA methodologies. Or maybe someone’s “great Bible” will turn up on e-Bay or records from another location will be found. There is always hope!

Colonial Northern Neck Virginia

What was life like in the Northern Neck of Virginia when Dorothy would have lived there?

This area was still suffering from Indian warfare in 1676 when Bacon’s Rebellion gained a foothold. Servants and slaves took the opportunity to escape. Plantations were burned, as was Jamestown, depicted in the engraving below.

Armed men gathered, eager to fight and emotions ran high. In 1677, the Northern Neck settlers dared not venture from their plantations for fear of their lives. If Dorothy’s family lived in tidewater Virginia then, it would have been a frightening place. Dorothy would have been about 13 at that time.

Militia units were formed and frontier patrols were maintained in this region until about 1700 to protect the families from Indian attack from hostile northern Indians. These patrols were reinstituted in 1704 across the Rappahannock River in Essex County. Plantations were distant from each other, and although the area was sparsely settled, it was still in many ways a frontier.

Bacon’s Rebellion resulted in the courts removing the ability for men without land to have a vote. It would be more than 200 years before non-landowners recovered that right. Dorothy’s husband, Thomas Durham, wouldn’t have been able to vote until 1700, when William Smoot deeded land to Dorothy, if indeed Dorothy’s land would have been considered Thomas Durham’s land for purposes of voting. Furthermore, to sit on a jury, one had to be a landowner, so the lack of land was a handicap and detriment to Civil liberties we all take for granted today. Serving at court and voting was reserved for the more successful male residents, in essence creating a defacto class system. While Thomas and Dorothy don’t appear to be poor, based on Thomas’s estate inventory and the fact that they eventually owned land, they certainly had to work their way up the social and economic ladder.

There is no record of Thomas Durham ever purchasing or patenting land although in 1723, Thomas Durham’s son, Thomas Jr. sells land that looks for all the world like it might have originally belonged to his father. If indeed this was Thomas Durham Sr.’s land, the deed was never filed at the courthouse, just passed down by hand.

Deed Book Page 240 Dec 4-10, 1723 – From Thomas Durham of Richmond County to Thomas Dodson Sr. of same 5000 pounds tobacco parcel of 100 acres formerly belonging to Abraham Marshall bearing date of Nov. 25th 1692 situate in Richmond Co and bounded by Charles Dodson, being part of the pat formerly granted to William Thatcher by the main branch of Toteskey. Signed Thomas and Mary Durham. Wit John Hill, William Walker, Jeremiah Greenham. Recorded May 6, 1724 and Mary Durham appeared in court to relinquished dower.

Abraham Marshall is Dorothy Durham’s sister’s husband. By 1723, Thomas Durham Sr. had died and Dorothy was married to Jeremiah Greenham.

Thomas Durham Sr.’s will is confusing. He directly addressed the 50 acres of land deeded to him in 1707 by Mary Gilbert, but he also makes indirect reference to additional land in this statement:

“If said Thomas Durham doth refuse and will not release the said 50 acres of land nor pay the tobacco aforesaid, I do will and bequeath the said plantation whereon I now dwell with all my lands unto my son John Durham and his heirs.”

Was the land Thomas and Dorothy dwelt on the Abraham Marshall land of 100 acres or the 62 acres deeded by William Smoot?  By all rights, Thomas should not have been willing the Smoot land, because Dorothy owned that land severally.  However, I was never able to discover what happened to Dorothy’s 62 acres. Dorothy did not have a will.

Unruly Virginia!

Dorothy and Thomas Durham began their married life at what was economically, probably the worst time possible. Beginning in the early 1680s, too much tobacco caused a glut in the market and tobacco prices plummeted. Planters called for the Virginia government to limit planting and restore prosperity, and when that didn’t happen, plant cutting riots erupted. If the governor wouldn’t help them, then they would take matters into their own hands, literally.

In May of 1682, rioting spread up and down the Rappahannock River and the Northern Neck peninsula, resulting in militias from other counties being called in to keep the peace. This was about the time that Dorothy and Thomas would have been courting and marrying.

One burgess blamed the time of year and cider brewing for the riots, according to the History of Essex County, Virginia, by James Slaughter, stating that, “All plantations flowing with cider, drunk so unripe by our licentious inhabitants that they allow no time for its fermentation but in their brains.”

According to Slaughter, half the tobacco crop was destroyed in Rappahannock County that summer and tensions ran high. Thankfully, tobacco prices rose in 1683 but the specter of “renewed rebellion hung over an unruly Virginia until the end of the century.”

Unruly Virginians, indeed – but the specter of those angry frontiersmen brings a smile to my lips. Yep, those would be my ancestors.

In 1684, a French visitor to Rappahannock County did us the favor of recording his travels and attendance at a wedding celebration, thus:

“The Virginians eat almost no bread, seldom drink during meals, but they did nothing afterwards for the rest of the day and all night but drink, smoke, sing and dance. They had no wine. They drank beer, cider and punch, a mixture of beer, three jugs of brandy, three pounds of sugar and some nutmeg and cinnamon. Mix these well together and when the sugar has melted they drink it and while making away with the first, they prepare another bowl of it.”

Anyone want to try that recipe?

The Frenchman then reported that the next morning he “did not see one who could stand straight.” Guests spent the night at parties in colonial Virginia because travel was difficult. Probably also because people were highly intoxicated. Ladies slept on beds and men on the floor.

The French visitor also mentioned that one “could not enter a house without being served venison. It is very good in pies, boiled and baked.” This tells us that hunting was an important part of the culture of colonial Virginia, and domestic livestock had not yet taken the place of wild game on the tables of the planters and their families.

At least twice, the Rappahannock court sponsored county-wide parties. In 1683, the county declared a public feast to celebrate the birth of a son to King Charles II and in 1689, the birth of a Price of Wales in England.

More than 100 gallons of “rum or other strong liquors with sugar proportionable” so that the party could “be done with all the expressions of joy this county is capable of” were ordered by the court and consumed – mostly on the north side of the Rappahannock River, now Richmond County, where court was in session at the time. I bet that was one very interesting court session!

(Sir Walter) Raleigh’s First Pipe in England, an illustration in Fredrick William Fairholt’s Tobacco, its history and associations

Tobacco smoking was also quite in vogue, according to our traveling Frenchman:

“Large quantities of it are used in this country, besides what they sell. Everyone smokes while working and idling. I sometimes went to hear the sermon. Their churches are in the woods and when everyone has arrived the minister and all the others smoke before going in. The preaching over, they do the same thing before parting. They have seats for that purpose. It was here I saw that everyone smokes, men, women, girls and boys from the age of seven years.”

I must say, I knew that adult men smoked tobacco as a social pastime, and to some extent, it doesn’t surprise me that some women smoked. However, I was taken aback to think about my 7-year- old ancestors, both boys and girls, smoking. It would be another 300 years before we understood how harmful that habit is, and how difficult to break once established. At that time, it was not only popular, tobacco smoking conveyed that one was of the upper class. Tobacco was also believed to have medicinal and curative properties.

Education, if it happened at all, was a private matter. Public schools did not exist in this part of Virginia until after the Civil War, and most people could not read or write. In fact, according to Slaughter, Governor Berkley (1642-1677) said, “I thank God that there are no free schools nor printing, and I hope we shall not have these hundred years; for learning has brought disobedience and heresy and sects into the world, and printing has divulged them, and libels against the best government. God keep us from both.”

Wealthy planters sent their sons to England to be properly educated, but the Durham family certainly did not fall into that category. Dorothy in her 1704 deposition where, among other things, she gave her age as “about 41 years,” signed with a “P” for her mark. Thomas Durham signed his will with a mark as well.

The Deed

In 1700, something quite unusual happened.

William Smoot Sr. deeded land to Dorothy Durham in her own right, meaning the land was in her name only. Her husband could not sell it or otherwise control that land. This is an extremely unusual circumstance and begs the question of why. Unfortunately, any clue we might have is entirely mute.

Richmond County VA Deed Book, August 2, 1700 – Deed of gift. William Smoot Sr. of N. Farnham Parish Richmond Co. for consideration received and for the great love that I have and beare unto Dorothy Durham wife of Thomas Durham of same county and her children do give unto her and her children a 62 acre parcel of land bounded by Thomas Durham, branch of Morattico Creek, land of the same William Smoot Sr., land of Rowland Lawson, line of Mr. Grimes and line of Clare. If in case the said Dorothy Durham die that then the land shall come to Thomas Durham eldest son of the said Dorothy and in case that he die without issue that then the land shall come to John Durham second son of the said Dorothy and in case that he die without issue that the land shall come to Mary Durham eldest dau of the said Dorothy Durham and in case she shall happen to die without issue that then the land shall come to the fourth, fifth, sixth and c children of the same Dorothy, but in case of want of issue that the land shall descend to Ann Fox wife of William Fox of Lancaster Co., gent. Wit John Simmons, Thomas Mackey, ack Aug 7, 1700 Book 3 page 57

Aug 2, 1700 – Power of attorney Jane Smoot wife of William Smoot Sr. having appointed Edward Jones my attorney to ack the above gift to Dorothy Durham and her children. Wit Thomas Mackey, Edmond Overton. Book 3 page 58

Court Order Book Page 56, August 7, 1700 – Ordered that the deed for land ack in this court by William Smoot Sr unto Dorothy Durham, wife of Thomas Durham, be recorded.

It’s also obvious that somehow, William Smoot is related to Dorothy. Not only does he convey this land for “the great love that I beare unto Dorothy…and her children,” but he also reverts the land ownership to Anne Fox, who just happens to be Dorothy’s niece through sister Alice, if Dorothy dies without heirs.

The Deposition

James Gilbert died in 1704, having made a will in January 1701/02 leaving his entire estate to John Mills Jr., instead of his wife and family. James suffered from “fits,” as seizures were called at the time, and based on the 1704 depositions of various neighbors and (possibly) family members, he verbally revoked his will, but didn’t seem to believe that he needed to do so in writing, officially.

Therefore, as you might imagine, there was quite a hullaballoo after his death regarding his will and estate.

Dorothy Durham gave a deposition about the matter in 1704, which is how we discover her age. From the Richmond County, VA Miscellaneous Record Book, we find the following:

Page 27 – Deposition. Dorothy Durham aged about 41 years says that sometime before James Gilbert’s death, being in company of said Gilbert and William Smoote, amongst other discourse, she heard said Gilbert say to said Smoote that he did not know that there was any Resurrection or not, and that had made a will to John Mills, but that it signified nothing, and that your deponent did, several times, hear the said Gilbert say that John Mills was a rogue and that he nor any of his should ever be the better for what he had. Signed Nov. 2, 1704 – Dorothy (P her mark) Dureham

Furthermore, in 1707, after James Gilbert’s estate is (presumably) settled, Mary Gilbert, James Gilbert’s widow sells 50 acres of land to Dorothy and Thomas Durham, with William Smoot quit-claiming the deed.

How are Dorothy, her sister Alice, William Smoot and Mary Gilbert related? We don’t know exactly, but we’ll discuss the various options and data in a separate article about Dorothy’s parents.

Dorothy Was No Shrinking Violet

Women don’t appear much in county records, except for an occasional release of dower rights when their husbands sold land. Even then, most women appointed a male as her power of attorney in order to release her dower right so she did not have to attend court in person.

Dorothy was unique in a couple of ways. She not only owned land in her own right, she also personally appeared in court in a rather controversial case. I can just imagine Dorothy waltzing before the burgesses, in spite of the gasps of the assembled men because of her audacity, showing up in court like that…and taking care of business

The drama that unfolds in 1708 casts Dorothy in quite a different light than any other colonial women I have ever encountered in the records.

The drama didn’t begin as anything unusual. Ann Kelly’s indenture to Thomas Durham begins like normal in 1699 when she was determined to be 14 years old. The court determined Ann’s age so that the length of her indenture could be determined and so that she could be taxed appropriately. In 1704, Ann gave her age to be 20, which would have put her birth in 1684. If she were 14 in 1699, then she would have been born in 1685.

Court Order Book Page 406, June 7, 1699 – Ann Kelly servant to Thomas Durham being presented to this court to have inspection into her age is adjudged 14 years old and ordered to serve her master or his assigns according to act.

However, by 1708, nine years later, Anne was 23 and circumstances had changed.

Court Order Book Page 372, July 7, 1708 – Anne Kelly, servant to Thomas Durham, being brought before the court by her master for committing the sin of fornication and having a bastard child and said Anne refusing to confess who was the father of the child, the court have ordered she be committed to the county goale there to remaine until such time as she shall confess who is the true father of her child and it is also ordered that she serve her master or his assignes after her time by indenture custome or otherwise shall be fully expired according to law in compensation for the trouble of his house during the time of her childbirth.

Imagine how intimidating this must have been for Ann. Not only did all those men, dressed in their finery and powdered wigs “know what she had done,” they were pressuring her for the name of the child’s father. Ann, a servant with nothing of her own, probably dressed in hand-me-down clothes, if not rags, didn’t even have the right to direct her own body.  Ann faced them down and stood firm, probably shaking with fear, even when sentenced to goale (jail.)

Having none of this, Dorothy steps in.

Court Order Book Page 372, July 7, 1708 – This day Dorothy Durham for on the behalf of her husband Thomas Durham confessed judgement to the church wardens of Northfarnham parish to the use of the parish for 500 pounds tobacco the same being the fine of Anne Kelly for committing the sin of fornication and having a bastard child which is ordered to be paid with costs.

I can’t even begin to explain how unusual this was. Not only did Dorothy appear at court, of her own volition, she clearly defied her husband to do so. Not only that, but Dorothy apparently controlled some financial aspects of the household, because there seemed to be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Dorothy was capable and authorized to pay the 500 pounds of tobacco – even though Dorothy did say she was acting “on behalf of her husband.” In every other similar case, some male community member steps forward and posts bail, or not, but no female ever steps forward like Dorothy did.

I’m convinced that posting bail, in most cases, wasn’t so much to help the poor woman who had the child as it was to retain the services of the woman and not be inconvenienced by her absence. In Dorothy’s case, we’ll never know what motivated her to attend court alone, step up in place of her husband AND pay the fine for Anne Kelly. But she did!

Furthermore, in most cases, the female willingly named the child’s father. In this case, we do discover the name of the father the following March, and I wonder if Dorothy knew all along.

Court Order Book Page 4, March 2, 1708/9 – Anne Kelly came into court and made oath that Thomas Durham Jr. is the true father of 2 bastard children borne of her body in the time of her service with his father, Thomas Durham the elder. Upon motion of the Queen’s attorney ordered that Thomas Durham Jr. be summoned to next court to enter into bond with security for the indemnification of the parish and what charge may acrew to the parish for or by reason of the children aforesaid.

In March of 1708/09, Anne Kelly was dragged before the court a second time. This time, however, she named the father of the children – Thomas Durham Jr., the son of Dorothy and Thomas Durham Sr. While Thomas was summoned to post bond to the churchwardens so they would not incur future costs on behalf of the children, Thomas Jr. was not fined for fornication nor did he have to pay Anne Kelly’s fine for fornication and having a bastard child. Men were never fined, prosecuted for the sin of fornication, nor treated with or sentenced to “goale.” I guess those women somehow managed to get pregnant all by themselves!

This time, it wasn’t Dorothy who paid Anne Kelly’s fees, nor Thomas Durham Sr. or Jr., who should have by all rights paid her fines – but Thomas Dodson who was married to Mary Durham, Dorothy’s daughter.

No place in any of this does Thomas Durham Jr. step up – not once.

I’m proud of Dorothy and her chutzpah in defiance of the social norms of the day and for her courage to do what was right, in spite of whatever the personal consequences.

I can just hear the conversation:

Dorothy: “Thomas Durham, if you won’t pay the fine for Anne Kelly, I’ll just go to court and do it myself.”

Thomas: <Chuckling> “Thou will, will thou?”

Dorothy: “Indeed, I will.”

Thomas: “I think not.” <Frowning, not chuckling anymore.>

Dorothy: “The Hell I won’t. You watch.”

Thomas: “Bet me? I forbid it.” <Menacing>

Dorothy: “Bloody Hell. Hold my beer!”

Thomas: <Calling after Dorothy’s back as she whooshes out the door, climbing on their only horse and not bothering to ride side-saddle, as becoming to a respectable gentlewoman.> “Dorothy, it’s not nice to swear.”

Thomas: <Drinks Dorothy’s beer.>

Dorothy, you go girl!!!

Dorothy’s Children

Dorothy had three children that lived and very likely many more that didn’t.

All three of Dorothy’s children’s births are recorded in the North Farnham Parish Register.

  • Daughter Mary Durham was born June 5, 1686 and married Thomas Dodson, the neighbor lad, on August 1, 1701. She would only have been 15 years old. Their first child, and Dorothy’s first grandchild, was George Dodson, born on October 31, 1702. With mother and baby both safe, the Durham and Dodson households were both celebrating!
  • Son John Durham was born on November 23, 1698. John was somewhat of a challenging child. He may have been troubled by the death of his father in 1715, because in 1716, John and his brother, Thomas sued his mother, Dorothy, who had remarried to Jeremiah Greenham. Custody of John was awarded by the court to his brother, Thomas, and John’s share of the estate was distributed. What the heck does a teenage boy need with a bedstead? Regardless, John went to live with his brother Thomas, taking with him all of the items his father left him in the will. It could be argued that perhaps brother Thomas coveted some of those items along with brother John’s labor and hence, encouraged the suit against their mother. John never married and was dead by 1722.
  • Son Thomas Durham was born on June 17, 1690 and died on December 3, 1734. He would have been 44 years old. He married Mary Smoot, daughter of William Smoot and wife Jane sometime around 1710, when his “bastard children” by Ann Kelly would only have been a couple years old and when Ann would still have been indentured to his father, probably serving her additional time for fornication with Thomas. Talk about awkward!

1734 was a terrible year for Mary Smoot Durham, Thomas Durham Jr.’s wife. She gave birth to her youngest child, Millicent on August 4th, buried daughter Wilmoth, 4 years old on October 2nd and her husband, Thomas Durham (Jr.), died on December 3rd, leaving Mary with a 4-month-old baby and 8 other children, although it appears that daughter Margaret was already married by this time and some of the other children may have died.

The Silent Spaces

Understanding that women are typically married and fertile for about 24 years, and presuming all children live to the age of weaning, approximately 12 children are born to each woman before the days of birth control. If some children die at birth or before they are weaned, then more than a dozen children can be born.

We know that Dorothy was born in 1663, so we can presume she would have begun having children about the time she married, with the first child arriving probably about 1684. Therefore, we have many spaces in which she probably had children that died and were buried at the Farnham Parish church in the old location, lost today, with only a general location known.

In the cemetery in the now-lost churchyard, we would find several of Dorothy’s children born in about the following years:

  • 1684
  • 1688
  • 1692
  • 1694
  • 1696
  • 1700
  • 1702
  • 1704
  • 1706
  • 1708 possibly

That’s an awful lot of babies to have died. Nine, maybe ten. Some may have lived long enough to smile, to play, even to talk and run in the warmth of the sunshine. Then they died, taking a piece of their mother’s heart with them. Every single one.

Every child was buried in a tiny grave, probably with a small wooden cross. Each one had a name.  Dorothy probably held each one as they died, cleaned their tiny body and dressed them in the best way she could afford.

One baby girl was probably named Dorothy, her own namesake. Other baby girls would likely have been named Alice and Thomasin, after Dorothy’s sisters. Two more would have been named after her parents and two more after Thomas Durham’s parents as well.

Dorothy probably visited the graveyard to tend the graves of her children, then to visit Thomas, for the duration of her life. She is probably buried beside them. Knowing in her heart she would be reunited with them one day is probably the only thing to relieve her grief, even a little, and only for a short time.

Those children’s birthdays and death days are never forgotten, even if they are unspoken.

Dorothy’s DNA

Dorothy only had one daughter, Mary, that lived. Mitochondrial DNA is passed from mothers to both genders of their children, but only females pass it on. Dorothy’s mitochondrial DNA would have been passed through daughter Mary to her daughters, and so forth on to the current generation, where male children carry it as well.

Mary Durham Dodson had the following daughters:

  • Alice Dodson married William Creel about 1729. It’s unknown what happened to Alice Creel after her father, Thomas Dodson’s death in 1739.
  • Mary Dodson was born in 1715 and married an Oldham by the time her father wrote his will in 1739. Nothing more is known of this line.

It Dorothy’s mitochondrial DNA was passed on, it was through Mary, through one of these daughters.

Dorothy’s and her two sisters both carried their mother’s mitochondrial DNA.  Dorothy’s sister’s mitochondrial DNA was the same as hers, so we can look at descendants of Dorothy’s sisters who descend through all females to view Dorothy’s mitochondrial DNA.

Sister Thomasin who married Abraham Marshall had only one known daughter, Mary, who married Alexander Campbell in 1708. I have not traced this family thoroughly, but what I have found shows only two male Campbell children. If this is the case, then Thomasin’s mitochondrial DNA is no more. Perhaps Mary Marshall did have additional children by Alexander Campbell and daughters would be discovered if the line was thoroughly researched.

Dorothy’s sister Alice who married John Chinn had two daughters. Anne Chinn had no children, but Catherine Chinn married William Heale and had several, including daughters:

  • Ellen Heale married David Ball
  • Anne Heale
  • Catherine Heale married John Canaday
  • Sarah Heale married Lindsay Opie
  • Elizabeth Heale married William Davenport and had 2 daughters, Judith Davenport born April 4, 1747 and Elizabeth Davenport born Dec. 27, 1749, both in Richmond County, Virginia. Nothing more is known about Judith or Elizabeth. Hopefully there are descendants through all females living today.

The females who could have passed Dorothy or her sister’s mitochondrial DNA to currently living descendants are shown in the chart below.  You can click to enlarge.

If anyone (male or female) descends from these females through all females from Dorothy or her sisters to the current generation, I have a DNA testing scholarship for you through Family Tree DNA. You carry the mitochondrial DNA of Dorothy Durham and her mother, whoever she was. Perhaps you carry the answer to the secret of her mother’s identity too!

I’d love to hear from you.

The Parents of Charles Dodson, Jamestown Unraveled, 52 Ancestors #163

First, let me say right out and straight up that we have absolutely NO EVIDENCE whatsoever for who the parents of Charles Dodson ARE. But we do have evidence that strongly suggests who they aren’t!

Having said that, let’s look at the various rumors that persist and let’s see if we can address them.

The most common rumor, and by the way, I fell for it hook, line and sinker too, initially, because I was making the assumption that earlier researchers certainly would have had evidence or they would not have made fantastic claims, is that Charles Dodson is the grandson of John Dod’s of Jamestown through son Jesse Dodson who married Judith Hager.

Furthermore, Ann Dodson, Charles’ wife is rumored to have been his first cousin through Benjamin Dodson, brother to Jesse Dodson.

If anyone ever had evidence, it has disappeared today along with the documentation of whatever it was.

If you have or come across evidence, please, by all means contact me, because I’m still searching and I would actually LOVE to find some evidence that is documented.

What I will share with you is what I and other researchers have been able to assemble from records.

The Reverend Silas Lucas

The go-to resource for the Dodson family is the Dodson Family of North Farnham Parish, Richmond County, Virginia, an exceptional two volume set by the Reverend Silas Lucas published in 1988. He had written an earlier book in 1958 that preceded this more comprehensive set. Reverend Lucas spent 30 years sifting through primary records in every county in Virginia and many other states as well. Dodson researchers owe him a huge debt of gratitude.

On page vi of the introduction, here is what Rev. Lucas has to say:

A word of warning about trying to claim kinship with people with whom we cannot prove a relationship, i.e. “Are we kin to the John Dodson, d (sic, but he meant circa) 1607” of Jamestown, Virginia or Benjamin Dodson c 1652 of Essex County, Virginia? Some people would like to say that these men are the direct ancestors of Charles Dodson who died in 1701(sic). They state that a John Dodson came with Captain John Smith in 1607 and the John Dodson had sons Jesse and William Dodson. It is further stated that the aforementioned Jesse Dodson was the father of Charles Dodson, born about 1649 and died about 1701, in Richmond County, Virginia. Some of these people further state that our Charles Dodson of Richmond county, Virginia married one Anne Dodson, daughter of Benjamin Dodson of Essex County, Virginia. Regardless of how much one would like to claim descendancy from these aforementioned Dodsons, it must be stated unequivocably that no legal records exist to prove this hypothetical descendancy of Charles Dodson. Others have said that Gervais Dodson of Northumberland County, VA c 1650 was the progenitor of our family, but this also has not been proved.

To show how ridiculous this type of false claiming of kinship is, when I first heard of the above claims, I telephoned a lady in Texas who had been making these claims to Dodson descendants who had written her for possible help. I asked her where she got this proof, and she told me that several people who had joined one or more patriotic organizations had used these claims in their affidavits of descendancy, and she told me that it had to be true if one of these patriotic organizations had accepted the person for membership. I tried to point out that some of these organizations were of very recent beginnings and many had no hard-and-fast membership requirements, as to the DAR, Colonial Dames of America, as far as authenticating each detail of descent. Needless to say, I was unable to convince her of the questionable validity of these organizations and her desire to be associated or claim kinship with persons of the Jamestown era was too overwhelming for her to accept the basic premise of genealogical research concerning documenting proof of family descendancy by legal records.

Of course, for any genealogist reviewing this information, the first issue is that Essex County, Virginia didn’t exist in 1652. Neither did Richmond County.

The history of the counties that ultimately became both Richmond and Essex in 1692 when Old Rappahannock was dissolved, is as follows.

Dods and Dodson

From the book Domesday People: Domesday Book by K.S. B. Keats-Rohan, we find that a man named Aluuin Dodesone lived in Hertfordshire in 1086.

The book The Quest for a Lost Race by Paul B. Du Chaillu who proposed the theory that the English were descended from Scandinavians rather than the Teutons – Normans rather than Germans provides the following:

Dodson – The son of Dode, Alwinus Dodesone, occurs in Domesday as a tenant-in-chief. It is an open question whether it is Scandinavian or Anglo-Saxon. Even Lower is doubtful. There is a large connection of this name in Maryland and Kentucky. One branch is connected with the Botelers of Virginia. A good English stock.

The following publication from the Oxford University Press also provides information.

Is this the same as what would become Dodson, and if so, is it our Dodson line? We know positively that there was more than one, according to Y DNA. We have no way of knowing if this line would become our Dodsons.

Ancestry provides us with the following information about the source of the Dodson surname.

Jamestown

For the past two or three years, I’ve been focused on the Virginia and Maryland ancestors. I had the opportunity to visit Jamestown in 2015. When there and in the Virginia archives in Richmond, I checked for Dod, Dods, Dotson and Dodson in early records of both Jamestown and also of the area that became surrounding counties.

I really wanted to find proof, or even a probable trail that indicated my ancestor actually was John Dods who had been at Jamestown.

The following digitized book includes transcriptions of the original early documents.

The original lists of persons of quality; emigrants; religious exiles; political rebels; serving men sold for a term of years; apprentices; children stolen; maidens pressed; and others who went from Great Britain to the American Plantations, 1600-1700 : with their ages and the names of the ships in which they embarked, and other interesting particulars; from mss. preserved in the State Paper Department of Her Majesty’s Public Record Office, England

Jamestown Biographies

When I found the Jamestown Biographies project, and discovered that John Dods, wife Jane, was listed among the available biographies, I quickly purchased one. Thankfully, it was only $5.

It documents that John Dods was in Jamestown and that oral history says that Jane was an Iroquois, daughter of chief Eagle Plume. Oral history? Seriously? And I paid for this? Their source, personal correspondence with Dodson researchers. My heart sank.

A second page repeats the lore that Jane was reported by the family to be the daughter of Chief Eagle Plume, an Iroquois.

There is some good news in this report and that is the additional research. If we, meaning the Charles Dodson Y DNA descendants, ever get a Y DNA match to someone overseas, these very early references may become invaluable because one of them could potentially be our ancestor – whether through John Dods or not.

Jamestown lists two wills, both in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury.  The first dated February 6, 1560 is the will of John Dodd, gentleman of Little Illford, Essex, and the second dated May 7, 1652 is for John Dodd, gentleman of Enfield, Middlesex.

If John Dodd’s on the lists is actually John Dodson, then the Dodd wills, above, are irrelevant.

Dispelling Rumors

Some genealogists contend that John Dodds wife was Jane Dier who came over after the first settlers and that John Dodds then lived and died in Richmond Co., Virginia.

The second part of that contention is impossible, since Jamestown was settled in 1607 and Richmond County was formed in 1692, which would have made John Dodds about 100 years old when Richmond County was formed. Oh, those pesky details.

John Dods did survive the Indian massacre at Jamestown which occurred on March 22, 1622.

According to the Persons of Quality book by Hotten:

The List of Living and Dead on February 16, 1623 shows John Dod’s and Mrs. Dod’s living at “ye neck of land.”

In 1624, at Neck of Land Corporation of Charles Cittie, John Dod’s is listed on the muster as being 36 years old and arriving on the Susan Constant in April 1607. His wife, Jane is listed as age 40 and there is no arrival ship beside her name, which is probably much of what fuels the speculation that she is Native.

In 1626, John Dodd’s is listed with 50 acres at Charles Cittie and with 150 acres at Tappahanna against James Cittie.

There is absolutely no evidence or records to suggest that John had children. The various lists do include “infants,” meaning underage children, and there are no other Dod individuals listed by any surname spelling, and nothing even close.

Other families on this same list had children listed, such as John Price, wife Ann, and Mary, a child aged 3 months. Very few families have children. Many woman arrived between 1620 and 1623.

Most women are younger than Jane. She along with one other woman is 40, and one woman is 50. Not all women have ages. Most are listed with the names of the ships they arrived in. The other woman, aged 40, does not.

There is no evidence that John and Jane, or John and anyone had any children who survived. There are no records of Jesse and/or William, their supposed sons, whatsoever. If other couples with children have their children listed, John and Ann would too. The oldest child born on American soil was age 8, and there was only one. Two children aged 7 were born in Virginia. It appears that there were very few females in the early colony and that children did not survive the 1722 attack. According to Jamestown historians, only three of the original settlers were still living and found on 1723 list of the living – and none with known children.

Given the information we do have, combined with the fact that Jane was age 40 in 1624, it’s reasonable to surmise that John Dodds and Jane never had children that lived. If they did, it would have had to have been in very short order, given Jane’s age.

Given that children are listed among the dead, and there is no Dod, Dods or Dodson listed by any spelling, it’s reasonable to presume that they did not have a child or children that died. Given that there are no other individuals listed with the Dodds surname, it’s reasonable to conclude that there were no other Dodds or Dodson individuals in the colony in 1624.

Under the list of Thomas Dunthorne’s muster, we find “Thomas an Indian Boaye” under the subtitle, “servants.” This suggests that if Ann had been an Indian, a notation beside her name might have said “Indian.”

Following further rumors, the marriage between John Dodson’s son, Jesse Dodson and Judith Hagar is supposed to have occurred on May 7, 1645 in Jamestown. The problem with this information is that there appear to be no records whatsoever of Jamestown marriages that have survived. Furthermore, there is no record of Judith Hagar arriving in Jamestown, either. Nor is there any record of Jesse Dodson. This rumor has struck out altogether.

Another rumor is that Jesse Dodson died in 1680 in Old Rappahannock County, Virginia, but you guessed it already, there is no record of any Jesse Dodson ever living in Rappahannock County or dying in Rappahannock County in 1680 or anytime, for that matter. Furthermore, Charles Dodson had no sons named Jesse.

Where is Charles Cittie?

John Dods owned land in Charles Cittie and James Cittie.  Charles Cittie is now Charles City County.

James Cittie is now James City County, adjoining Williamsburg and including Jamestown, which is, indeed, on a neck of land.

James City County abuts Charles City County.

On the map below, you can see both Jamestown and Charles City, along with the Northern Neck of Virginia, at the top of the map, north of the Rappahannock River, near 360, where Charles Dodson lived.

Jamestown and Charles City are 23 miles distant. John Dod’s land could have been anyplace along this route. His 2 parcels of land could actually have been very close if they were located near the border of Charles Cittie and James Cittie. Given that John Dodd was one of the original settlers, few of whom survived until 1623, my presumption would have been that he would have been allowed land in the original Jamestown settlement, if he wanted land there.

Where Did These Rumors Come From?

In determining whether there is any truth to a rumor, it often helps to determine the source. For example, if this line of descent had been reported in every one of Charles Dodson’s children’s lines, recorded repeatedly before the days of easy access to other people’s work, I would be more likely to consider the possibility that the story actually descended from the original settlers and wasn’t somehow later manufactured or surmised.

I discovered that I’m not the first person who asked that question. Glenn Gohr back in the 1980s and 1990s posted a significant amount of research on his Rootsweb page involving the various Dodson records.

Glenn first found the Dodson information involving Jamestown in a 1908 document:

Ege, Thompson P. Dodson Genealogy, 1600-1907. Philadelphia, PA: Deemer & Jaisohn, 1908.

Page 4 of the above book does have a good clue:

“Colonial Annals of Virginia mention ‘Dodson’s Plantation’ in 1632.”

Some say this is a reference to the plantation of a John Dodson, who they list as the grandfather of Charles Dodson (c1649-c1704) of Rappannock County and North Farnham Parish in Richmond Co., VA. I do not see enough evidence at this time to establish Charles Dodson’s progenitors.

Pages 363-364 lists origins of early Virginia branches of Dodsons. It says:

“The annals of Virginia record the name of a ‘Dodson Plantation’ in 1632. And the traditional story in a large and widely scattered line of descendants is that their ancestor settled along the James River and was one of the early Jamestown Colony.”

This document goes on to give partial more recent lineages for the Tennessee Dodsons, not going back as far as Charles of Richmond County and his sons. The more I read, the less reliable this source seemed to be.

Glenn continues with the following:

No documentation is given for any of the above. Much more is given on descendants in each of these lines. They do not show Charles Dodson of N. Farnham Parish in the lineage, but some of these names, especially the ones in Estanalle Valley of TN are listed in Rev. S. E. Lucas’s 2-vol. book (but) the lineage in the Ege book does not line up with the lineage in the Lucas book. The connection to Jamestown is interesting, and these lineages may provide some clues for researchers, but they cannot be taken as fact.

The above book also covers Dodsons in Maryland and Dodsons in Pennsylvania, and some unplaced Dodsons. There is also mention of 3 early Dodson settlers (2 brothers and a sister–John Dodson, b. March 1655; Mary Dodson, b. 11 Nov. 1664 md. Richard Boyes; Thomas Dodson, b. 19 Oct. 1669; md. Katharine Savill) who settled in New Jersey and were Quakers and children of a Daniel Dodson, b. ca. 1635 of Knaresborough, Yorkshire, England. These appear to be the ancestors of Dodsons in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland.

The information about the New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland Dodsons is useful relative to Y DNA testing in the Dodson DNA Project which shows that the Talbot Co., Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania Dodson’s don’t match either the Charles Dodson line, or each other.

Glen then notes another book which repeats the Jamestown story

Ancestors of Robert Dodson and His Descendants, written by Mrs. C. T. Dodson; Illustrated by Miss Oneida Uzzell. Privately published, [1964?]. She included this information:

“The year 1619 brought three important events to Virginia and the colonists. Virginia was permitted to enjoy a measure of self government; a ship load, eighty, of prospective wives arrived from England (probably Jesse (2) Dodson and William (2) Dodson married two of these women). The colonist could secure a wife, with her permission, and by paying her transportation, in the amount of one hundred and twenty pounds of tobacco–about $500 dollars worth; and the first Negro slaves landed in Virginia.”

Glen then provides the information from an application for the Daughters of Colonists that seems to be part of the source for the rumors.

SOURCES FROM MRS. C. T. DODSON’S BOOK

Here follows information on records to get into Daughters of the Colonists by Lillian E. Dodson.

  1. 72-73 (This is quoted word for word from the book, including mispellings or question marked items–gg):

Copied 9 February, 1966 by Edith Wolf Standhardt from handwritten copy lent by O. H. Schwanderman.

From Records to get into Daughters of Colonists by Lillian Elanine Dodson [I think this should be Daughters of the American Colonists– gg]

Name of Ancestor – John Dodson of James River or Jamestown. Served in the Council and General Court of Jamestown, 1622 – 1629.

The undersigned have investigated and approve the applicant and her application

Signature of St. Louis Chapter Officers:

Chapter Regent: Maude Bryan Jenneinzo (?) (Jennings?

E.S.)

Chapter Registrar: Gertrude L. Wingert

Chapter Sec: Clara Sizer Nevling

Date: Nov. 21, 1949

Signature of Missouri State Officers:

State Regent: Mrs. Edwin Lamont Barber

State Registrar: Nell Downing Norton

State Sec: Acenath M. Booth

Date: Nov. 21, 1949

Fee received by National Society: Mabel S. Stoyer, Nat. Treas. Dec. 15, 1949

Signature of National Officers:

Natl. President: Margaret F. Powers

Natl. Registrar: Lillian M. Sanford

Natl. Sec.: Mabel Puffer Martin

Date of Acceptance: Jan. 31, 1950

Endorsed:

Mrs. Clyde Nevling, 4259 Maffit Ave., St. Louis

Mrs. Joseph Jannuzzo, 8016 Seminole Place, Clyton 5, Mo.

Miss Lillian Elanine Dodson, born 4 Feb. 1901, Wayne Co., KY. herein apply for membership in Society by right of descent from John Dodson, a member of the Jamestown Settlement in Virginia, who is mentioned in Va. Mag. Vol. 23, p. 11 in St. Louis Public Library Ref. Room., of Jamestown, Virginia, born in England, died in Virginia, served in Council and General Court of Jamestown 1622-29.

I was born in Steubenville (Wayne Co.) Ky. I am the daughter of John Cornelius Dodson of Steubenville, Ky., born 22 Feb. 1869, died 31 Jan. 1931 – married 22 Feb. 1900 to Nancy Kelly, born 19 Dec. 1869 d. 18 Dec. 1939.

John Cornelius Dodson, son of John Dodson born 23 Nov. 1831, died 11 Aug. 1885, married Sara Phillips, born 23 Nov. 1828

John Dodson is the son of Jesse Dodson born 26 Dec. 1802, died 3 Jan. 1864, married 14 July 1824 Elizabeth Small, born 12 Oct. 1805, d. 12 June 1876.

Jesse Dodson is the son of Thomas Dodson, died prior to 1836. married Jemima Randall.

Thomas Dodson is son of George Dodson of Richmond Co., Va., born 31 Oct. 1737, died 1825 Pittsylvania Co., Va., married twice, Margaret and Elizabeth.

George Dodson is the son of George Dodson, married 30 April 1726 in Richmond Co., Va. to Margaret Dagord.

George Dodson is son of Thomas Dodson born 15 May 1681, died 21 Nov. 1740.

Thomas Dodson is son of Charles Dodson of Richmond Co., Va. born 1649, died 1704.

Charles Dodson is son of Jesse Dodson, Richmond Co., Va. married to Ann.

Jesse Dodson is the son of John Dodson of Jamestown Settlement born in England.

Records to be found: Genealogy traced in “Dodson Genealogy 1600 – 1907” page 364, St. Louis Mo. Library. Will on record in Pittsylvania Co., Courthouse, Va. proved 19 Dec. 1825. Named in father’s will proved 2 Mar. 1740 in Richmond Co., Va.

Named in father’s will (Charles) in Richmond Co., Va. Courthouse, 1704. Abstracts of Richmond Co., Va. Also “Dodson Genealogy”, Ege. Lineage in “Dodson Genealogy 1600-1907” by Rev.. T. P. Ege, Local Library. Mentioned in “Dodson Genealogy”, also Virginia Mag. of History.

Children of Ancestor

Jesse Dodson)

   ) sons of John Dodson

William Dodson)

Authorities proving services of Ancestor: Virginia Mag. of History, Vol. 23, p. 11; his name given in minutes of the Council and General Court, 1622, 1629, and the fact stated that he was a passenger on ship Ann, that he came to Jamestown in the original settlement. He was called to report in the Council on conditions of the ship and provisions for the voyage. He is reported to have been a hunter of some note, a good citizen, and the father of at least two children, sons William and Jesse, listed above in Dodson Genealogy.

Copied by Oliver H. Schwanderman of Fort Recovery, Ohio, Route 3, 4 Feb. 1964. She is a cousin to me by Dodson lineage from Rutha Mary Dodson Schwanderman, 1870 – 1959, Wayne Co., Ky. Champaign Co., Ill.

Ancestors of Robert Dodson and His Descendants. Written by Mrs. C. T. Dodson; Illustrated by Miss Oneida Uzzell. Privately published, {1964?] (Note: This book is 115 p. and is located in the Dallas Public Library, Dallas, TX, call # R929.2 D647d), pp. 73-74:

Article in Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol.23 (1915), pp. 11-12, as quoted in:

*Note: I am quoting this directly from the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography article–there is more than what is quoted, here, but this is the part that refers to John Dodson.–gg

Minutes of the Council and General Court

[ink folio 105]

Mr. Thomas Edwardes beinge Demanded wt he could sayd concerninge the Accomodatinge of passengers yt cam in the shipp called the Ann said that he wold never Desire to be better vsed Yt is ordered Yt mr Daniell Lacye shall haue four acres of grounde in the Islande adioyne on the grounde of mr Kingsmells, wch is the rather granted for that mr Kingsmell Doth Desire the same Moris Thomsone and John Dodson sworne and Exand sayeth that for ye they were a fortnight or three weeks abourde befor they had any breckfast Drinke allowed them, And after they had Complayned, they had to smale Cans of beere for breckfast to 5 men wch Contynued soe for some six weeks or two moneths And they had a quarter can of beere to a meale for 5 men wch Contynued for the space of sixteen weeks, And after that for the space of Six weeks a three weeks they had three smale cans of beere to A messe. And a pounde and a halfe And that they had three pownd of bred a Daye to A messe for the space of some sixteene weeks. And after till theyr cominge in thre bisketts a meale to A mess. And for A sixteen weeks they had thrree flesh Dyes A week, And after that for about a moneth fortnight they had too flesh Dyes a week and after yt 2 flesh meales a week till theire Cominge in foorther they say that ther beere was well condicioned except a butt or two (ink folio 106) And fovrther they say have harde some of the passengers Complayne but wt cause they had they know nott….

Glenn closes by stating the following:

Mrs. Dodson does try to list and include sources about the information she has listed, but there is NOTHING besides “family tradition” which definitely links the John with the 2 sons, William and Jesse. Also nothing besides tradition to link Jesse with Charles Dodson of N. Farnham Parish, Richmond Co., VA.

Still it is fascinating reading, hoping that it all could be true and proven true. I, personally don’t see enough proof for the links.

At least now we know where this came from, thanks to Glenn’s detective work.

The Reverend Elias Dodson, writing about 1859, penned a manuscript titled “Genealogy of the Dodson Familes of Pittsylvania and Halifax Counties in the State of Virginia.” Reverend Lucas had a copy of that document and used it extensively when writing his book. However, Reverend Elias Dodson says nothing at all about Jamestown or John Dods. This is the earliest known family document or history of the Dodson family – and it stands mute.

If Elias had heard about Jamestown, and that Charles was descended from John Dod or his son, Jesse, Elias surely would have included that information.

However, there are records of some additional Dodsons that we should review.

Thomas Dodson of Northumberland County

There is a Thomas Dodson found in Northumberland County in 1658.  Because Charles Dodson names his second eldest son Thomas, and because the eventual Richmond County is taken from part of the original Northumberland, these records deserve close scrutiny.

Thomas Dodson patents land on Dividing Creek in 1658 in Northumberland County, but the patent expires and nothing more is known of Thomas’s land until 1694 after he has lost the land and died. Unfortunately there are no records in this part of Virginia that speak to his death, so he may have died elsewhere.

The book Cavaliers and Pioneers volume 1 by Dennis Ray Hudgins, page 383, documents that Thomas Dodson was granted 1200 acres on Nov. 29, 1658 in Northumberland Co., VA for the transportation of 24 persons. His name appeared on the list, which suggests that he is one of the 24. The fact that he transported (or paid for the transportation of) 24 people suggests that Thomas Dodson is wealthy.

Researcher Michelle Ule found the following:

Patent Thomas Dodson grantee 29 Nov 1658 Northumberland County 1200 acres on the high lands above the head of the Dividing Creeks. Source: Land Office Patents No 4 1655-1664 pg 340 reel 4) Dividing Creeks is south of the Great Wicomico and the river flows into the southern Chesapeake Bay.

1200 acres would be the exact amount, at 50 acres each, for transporting 24 individuals.

Grant Walter Jenkin grantee 30 Nov 1694 Northumberland County 500 acres escheat land part of a tract of land of 1200 acres granted to Thomas Dodson 29 Nov 1658. Southermost &c of sd 1200 acres, adjoining to the lands of Colo. Lee and John Cousins. Source: Northern Neck Grants No 2 1694-1700 pg 88-91 (reel 288)

Grant John Lewis grantee 26 Mar 1695 Northumberland County 150 acres escheat land beginning on the land of Charles Lee, Walter Jenkins, Peter Hammon, and Thomas Haydon. Thomas Dodson, died seized of 1200 acres patent dated Nov. 29, 1658. Source: Northern Neck Grants No. 2, 1694-1700, p. 146-147 (Reel 288).

Grant Grantee Hammon, Peter grantee, Date 26 March 1695.  Note  Location: Northumberland County.  Note  Description: 150 acres escheat land, Thomas Dodson died seized of 1200 acres of land, patent dated Nov. 29, 1658, the 150 acres abutting southerly on the land of Walter Jenkins westerly on the land of Thomas Williams. Source: Northern Neck Grants No. 2, 1694-1700, p. 144-146 (Reel 288)

Source: Land Office Patents No. 6, 1666-1679 (pt.1 & 2)

http://www.lva.lib.va.us/

Another researcher reports the following information pertaining to Thomas of Northumberland.

1663 March Northumberland County land record sale of land by Wilbur and Sarah Mauder to Thomas Dodson – the land upon which he lives.

1664 Northumberland County Power of attorney from Jane Wiley to Symon Dodson.

The above record is the only record that involves Symon Dodson.

One Thomas Dodson apparently lived in Northumberland County between 1658 and 1663, but he was not living there in 1652 when the loyalty oath was taken.  He may have had a relative named Symon.  We don’t find anything about either man after 1664, in Northumberland or any of the spinoff counties.  We do know that by 1694, Thomas had died, apparently still owning his land, and the land reverted, probably due to lack of tax payments or because he never paid the fees or had the land surveyed.  If Thomas had an estate that included underage heirs, such as Charles Dodson, a guardian would have been appointed to protect the assets of the heirs and the land would not have been allowed to escheat back to the colony.  No such records exist, so it’s extremely unlikely that Charles is the son of Thomas.

Charles, born in 1649, would have been age 14 in 1663 when Thomas last appears in the records, obtaining land from Wilbur and Sarah Mauder.

Thomas Dodson died sometime between 1663 and 1694.  Charles never owns or sells land in Northumberland County, nor do we find any record of Thomas’s land from the Mauder’s being sold.

Englishmen non-resident in England had their wills probated through the Canterbury Court. One Thomas Dodson’s will is probated in Canterbury in 1672, but his wife’s name is Sarah, as well as his daughter, and he lived in Great Warley, Essex.  Other Thomas Dodson’s are found in Yorkshire, Kent and one buried in London in 1668.

There is no Charles born in 1649 in any of these locations, and no Charles born to a Thomas in any records that are indexed yet today – although future researchers should check these records again.  There is a Charles born in 1645 to Northamptonshire to John and Joanne Dodson and in 1655 in Shropshire to Edward and Frances Dodson – neither of which look promising, given naming conventions.

Charles first appears in Old Rappahannock County in 1679 in a lease type arrangement with Peter Elmore.  Charles does not purchase his own land until 1686, so he clearly didn’t have funds until that time. Nor did Charles patent land, so apparently someone else took credit for his 50 acre headright.

Other Dodsons

Gervais Dodson appears before Charles Dodson in the records of Northumberland County, VA in 1658, but he appears to have died without issue. Furthermore, there is no Gervais in any of Charles children nor their offspring.

There is a John Dodson line in early Maryland which, via DNA testing, we know does not match our Charles Dodson.

Another researcher reports several other Dodsons:

1622 – 31 July Robert Dodson Jr. came to Virginia at the expense of Robert Dodson Sr aboard the ship James.

I was not able to find any evidence of this Robert Dodson Jr. He is not among the list of living taken in 1623.

1623 – 30 April Robert Dodson Jr. said that he had firsthand knowledge of the plantations east of Jamestown.

I have not been able to confirm this informaton, and he does not appear on the 1624 muster list.

1643 – Thomas Dodson by Richard Richards, Charles River Virginia. Source:  Greer, George Cabell. Early Virginia Immigrants, 1623-1666. Richmond VA: W.C. Hill Printing Co., 1912. Reprinted by Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, 1978. Repr. 1982. Page: 96.

Charles’s wife Ann, Daughter of Benjamin?

A secondary Dodson rumor is that Charles married his first cousin, Ann, daughter of Benjamin Dodson, son of John Dodson, of Jamestown.

If you’ll notice, the original rumor has changed. Originally, John Dodson and Jane had two sons, Jesse and William. However, when Ann’s story got added, she became the first cousin of Charles through Benjamin, the brother of Jesse. Therefore, John Dods (Dodson) of Jamestown would have had three sons, Jesse, William and Benjamin. The rumors aren’t adding up, especially considering that John and his 40 year old wife had no children in 1624.

And then there’s the pesky issue of the fact that we have an immigration record for Benjamin in 1635.

1635 – Benj Dodson Place: Virginia Source:  Greer, George Cabell. Early Virginia Immigrants, 1623-1666. Richmond VA: W.C. Hill Printing Co., 1912. Reprinted by Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, 1978. Repr. 1982. Page: 96.

1635 – 22 June: Captain William Pierce, Esq received 2000 acres for the transportation of 40 persons including Benjamin Dodson.  Virginia Magazine of History and Biography.

Another researcher takes this a step further, providing the following:

Charles Dodson, born about 1649, d 1705 Richmond, Co., Va. m Ann Dodson (dau. of Benjamin Dodson, who gave his daughter a legacy of land on the James River in Essex Co., Va., May 1652.  This joined John Hill, Sr.’s land.  (This Benjamin probably came from England.)  Ann m before 1680 to Charles Dodson (2nd) John Hill, Jr., after Charles’ (3) death.

One thing I can confirm is that indeed, Ann did marry John Hill after Charles died. I can’t confirm that it was John Hill Jr.

I can state unequivocally that there was no Dodson in Northumberland County in 1652 when the loyalty oath was signed, so Benjamin must have been elsewhere at that time.

Capt. Hill does patent land, according to the Virginia County Records Quarterly Magazine March 1911, Vol. IX #1:

Capt John Hill land grand 1669 Rappahannock Co for 650 acres, also in 1670 for 1200

However, Essex County wasn’t formed until 1692, so it’s impossible for Benjamin Dodson to leave anyone a legacy in Essex County in May of 1652. In 1652, this area would have been part of Northumberland or Lancaster.

I review the Essex County records, which includes the original Old Rappahannock records prior to 1692, and there is absolutely no mention of Benjamin Dodson in any type of record, including land, court, church or will/probate.

There is absolutely no record to substantiate the claim that Ann was the daughter of Benjamin Dodson, or that there were any transactions between John Hill and Benjamin Dodson, or that John Hill even owned land in what would become Essex County.

Charles Dodson’s wife was clearly Ann.  Later, in online trees, she rumored to be the daughter of Peter Elmore, which I wrote about here.

Dodd is Not Necessarily Dodson

The Dodd family is also found in Richmond County, VA. It has never been suggested that the Dodd and Dodson families are one and the same, nor am I suggesting that now, but while we Dodson researchers have been incredibly focused on the Dodson surname, we need to be cognizant that the Dodd surname in Richmond County is equally as likely, if not moreso, to be descended from John Dodd at Jamestown – if anyone is.

I did find evidence of John Dod(d) who was married to a Jane in the Richmond county records, according to records beginning in 1696/97 in both deed and court records. This record at the Early Colonial Settlers of Southern Maryland and Virginia’s Northern Neck Counties site reveals more information about this John Dodd, including that he is the son of Richard Dodd who was born in 1634 in England and died in 1678 in Charles County, Maryland. So, clearly, this is not the Jamestown Dod family, nor is he related to our Dodsons.

Summary

Not only do we have absolutely not one shred of evidence that John Dod, Dodd or Dodson of Jamestown is an ancestor of Charles Dodson, we have evidence that he isn’t.

Probably the most compelling evidence is that John and his wife are listed in the 1624 muster without children, where other people are listed with children. Given that Jane is 40 at that time, it would be very unusual for her to bear 3 additional children, Jesse, William and Benjamin, and for all 3 to live.

There is also no information about what happened to John Dod or Dodson, or what happened to his land.

There is no evidence whatsoever that a William, Jesse or Benjamin Dodson lived in Virginia before the record of Benjamin’s arrival in 1635. Neither Jesse nor William are ever reported in any record.

It is possible that some Dodson was living in Virginia by 1632 when Dodson’s plantation was reportedly referenced, although I have not been able to confirm that record.

However, given the fact that Charles Dodson can write suggests strongly that he was not raised in early Virginia. If Charles could write, then he would have been the son of a gentleman. He would likely have been sent back to England to be schooled, and when he returned, it would not have been as a penniless man who contracted to work and improve another man’s land 1679 for a period of 19 years. The son of a gentleman would simply have purchased land. Charles did not – at least not for another 6 years, in 1685. Nor did Charles ever claim a 50 acre land grant for transporting himself, so either he was transported by someone who claimed his headright, or he arrived as an indentured servant.

The best we can piece together is that Charles was probably born in England. I’m hopeful that eventually, a parish record will emerge that shows a Charles born in about 1649, a year revealed by Charles’ own testimony in 1699 stating that he was about 50 years old.

Until then, all we can say is that the parents of Charles Dodson were almost certainly NOT Jesse Dodson and Judith Hagar who supposedly married in 1645 in Jamestown. Unless new information is forth coming with actual documentation of some sort, this couple must be relegated to the annals of myth – along with Charles Dodson being the son of John Dods of Jamestown.

I’m hopeful that one day either a parish register of Charles’ birth will emerge or a Y DNA match to an English Dodson whose lineage is located in a small village and has been since records began. Either one would go a very long way in terms of helping us bridge the gap between Charles and his parents by providing us with a search location in England.  Those records may be waiting in a small village church in England for Dodson researchers to find them – along with Charles’ ancestors in the church cemetery!

Thomas Durham (before 1649-1715), A Governor’s Son?, 52 Ancestors #161

Thomas Durham’s land ultimately fell into Richmond county, on the peninsula of land known as the Northern Neck of Virginia.

We know nothing about Thomas Durham’s early life, except it’s unlikely that he was born on the Northern Neck of Virginia. In 1652, in Northumberland County, part of which ultimately became Richmond County, all men had to sign an oath of loyalty, and there is no Durham name among the signers.

The Northern Neck area was still inhabited by Indians at that time, and the region was not easily settled, although people were pushing into the area and carving out farmsteads – much to the chagrin of the Indians whose land they were settling upon.

According to “A Tricentennial Portrait” by Robert Harper for the Richmond County, Tricentennial Commission:

In September 1661, the area that would become Richmond County had its own version of warfare when Indians killed 3 men in retaliation for the killing of an Indian man in the spring. The situation escalated and for the next 5 years, raids ensued.

In an unrelated, but threatening incident, the Dutch fleet appeared in the Rappahannock River in 1666. They engaged, and most of the men on the ship were killed. Then, on November 8th, 1666, the worst hurricane to hit Virginia in the 17th century arrived, destroying more than 10,000 buildings and hurling hail the size of eggs.

In case you don’t know, hail the size of marbles descends at about 20 miles an hour, but hail the size of baseballs descends at the rate of over 100 miles an hour. A 100 mile an hour baseball sized piece of hail kills people as well as livestock and wildlife.

A fort was erected at the head of Cat Point Creek to protect settlers within a 20 mile radius, which tells us there were few settlers. Fortunately, a treaty was reached with the Dutch before the fort came into use.

In 1675, war with Indians continues, with 2 settlers being killed in Richmond County by Indians from Maryland. A retaliatory force of 30 men crossed the Potomac River into Maryland and killed Indian King and 10 warriors.

On January 21, 1675/1676, a group of northern Indians went to war with the English and killed 36 people in Rappahannock County. Starting near Port Royal, the Indian warriors fanned out in a circle and destroyed everything English. Turning down the river valley, their objective was to kill 10 men for every Indian who had been killed.

Small groups of planters met for protection and begged Governor Berkeley to send them a commissioned leader. Berkley wrote that no leader could be sent until the next Assembly meeting and ordered the residents to build a new fort at the head of the Rappahannock River (Cat Tail Creek.)

Berkley’s idea was that the Indians would attack the fort in number and not harass the isolated farmers. In February of 1676/1677, the Governor sent an order that no more than 10 men could meet as a group due to fear of a general uprising against him. This act was the fuel that the Indians needed and a number of attacks were carried out on the small groups of settlers.

Richmond County wasn’t very safe and was likely not a location one would choose to settle with a family. A decade later, things had calmed, the remnants of the Indians were gone, and births of many English families were being recorded in the Farnham Parish Church register.

Thomas Durham’s Life

I’ve rebuilt Thomas’s life, as best I can, by extracting the records from the early Virginia counties, beginning with the formation of York County in 1633 and for the next hundred years in Northumberland, Lancaster, Old Rappahannock and Richmond as they were formed from the original York County. Richmond and Essex were both formed in 1692 when old Rappahannock was dissolved and divided into half, with Richmond County being on the north of the Rappahannock River and Essex on the South.

We don’t know where Thomas Durham came from, but we do know that the first record that includes Thomas is found in the Farnham Parish church register with the birth of his daughter, Mary, to Thomas and Dorothy Durham on June 5, 1686.

Additional births attributed to Thomas and Dorothy were for son, Thomas on June 17, 1690 and son John on November 23, 1698.

These records suggest that Thomas was already married to Dorothy who has been reported to be related to the Smoots by sometime in 1685, if not earlier. Dorothy’s history will be reviewed in a separate article.

Farnham Parish was split into two when Old Rappahannock County was split into Richmond and Essex County, with Richmond County becoming North Farnham Parish and Essex County becoming South Farnham Parish.

The North Farnham Parish register transcription, which includes the original Farnham Parish records, does still exist, but is fragmentary and known to be incomplete.

Who is Elizabeth Grady?

In a will written by Elizabeth Grady on March 10, 1693/94 and probated on Nov 4, 1702, Mary Smoot daughter of William Smoot is left all of Elizabeth Grady’s land. The executor of the estate is William Smoot, and the witnesses are Thomas Durham, Richard Draper and John Rankin.

Court Order Book Page 184 July 1, 1702 – Will of Elizabeth Grady proved by oaths of John Rankin and Thomas Durham.

This question of Elizabeth’s identity has further reaching implications than it appears, because the people involved are intertwined.

Thomas Durham’s son, Thomas Durham, marries this same Mary Smoot about 1710. Furthermore, based on a 1700 transaction, Dorothy, wife of Thomas Durham is related to William Smoot in some fashion.

Lastly, Thomas Durham and William Smoot appear to be neighbors and lifelong friends.

To answer the question more directly, I have no idea who Elizabeth Grady is, nor why she would be leaving land to Mary Smoot – but tracking Elizabeth Grady and figuring out who she is and how she was connected might well lead to unraveling other mysteries involving the Smooth and Durham families.

The 1700 Deed

August 2, 1700 – Deed of gift. William Smoot Sr. of N. Farnham Parish Richmond Co. for consideration received and for the great love that I have and beare unto Dorothy Durham wife of Thomas Durham of same county and her children do give unto her and her children a 62 acre parcel of land bounded by Thomas Durham, branch of Morattico Creek, land of the same William Smoot Sr., land of Rowland Lawson, line of Mr. Grimes and line of Clare. If in case the said Dorothy Durham die that then the land shall come to Thomas Durham eldest son of the said Dorothy and in case that he die without issue that then the land shall come to John Durham second son of the said Dorothy and in case that he die without issue that the land shall come to Mary Durham eldest dau of the said Dorothy Durham and in case she shall happen to die without issue that then the land shall come to the fourth, fifth, sixth and c children of the same Dorothy, but in case of want of issue that the land shall descend to Ann Fox wife of William Fox of Lancaster Co., gent. Wit John Simmons, Thomas Mackey, ack Aug 7, 1700 Book 3 page 57

Aug 2, 1700 – Power of attorney Jane Smoot wife of William Smoot Sr. having appointed Edward Jones my attorney to ack the above gift to Dorothy Durham and her children. Wit Thomas Mackey, Edmond Overton. Book 3 page 58

Court Order Book Page 56, August 7, 1700 – Ordered that the deed for land ack in this court by William Smoot Sr unto Dorothy Durham, wife of Thomas Durham, be recorded.

This deed is quite interesting and somewhat perplexing.  Just to keep the players straight, William Smoot is the father of Mary Smoot, to whom Mary Grady left her land.  Clearly there is a very close connection between William Smoot and Dorothy Durham.

First, this deed names Dorothy’s living children that are documented in the North Farnham Parish registers. The deed was written in August 1700 and John Durham was born on November 23, 1698.

This deed tells us that of Dorothy’s children, Mary is the eldest living daughter rand John and Thomas are the eldest living sons. Given John’s birth date, they have to be the only living sons. What we don’t know is whether or not the children referenced as 4th, 5th and 6th are living or are speculative in case they exist in the future.

It’s certainly unlikely that between 1686 and 1700 and Dorothy only had 3 children. Six or 7, assuming they all lived until weaned, would be more normal. If the children 4-6 noted in the will, were living, they were assuredly females.

Second, this deed tells us who the neighbors are, that Thomas Durham and William Smoot’s lands abut, and that they live on a branch of Morattico Creek.

Third, who are Ann and William Fox? William Fox’s wife appears to be Anne Chinn, daughter of John Chinn and Alice who is suspected of being a Gilbert and who is Dorothy Durham’s sister.

The following will from Lancaster County by Alice Stretchley indicates that Dorothy Durham is her sister and that Tomassin Marshall is as well.

Abstracts of Lancaster County, Virginia Wills 1653-1800 by Ida J. Lee:

Stretchley, Alice, wife of Jno. Stretchley of St. Mary’s White Chappell. 29 Aug. 1701. Rec. 8 Oct. 1701. Daus: Anne Fox the portion bequeathed her by Jno. Chinn, her father, and by Jno. Stretchley, her father-in-law; Catherine Heale. Sisters: Dorothy Durham and Tomassin Marshall. Son-in-law: Capt. Wm. Fox. Son: Rawleigh Chinn “all money in the hands of Mr. Jno. Pemberton, Mercht. of Liverpool.” Cousin: Mary Dodson. Error: Son, Rawleigh Chinn Wits: Jas. Taylor, Lewis Pugh, David Smith. W.B. 8, p. 106.

Alice Stretchley appears to be Ann Fox’s mother who would have been married first to John Chinn and then to John Stretchley. So Ann Fox would have been Dorothy Durham’s niece.

Fourth, why did William Smoot leave this land to Dorothy separately from her husband, meaning that Thomas Durham could not dispose of this land. This is outside the norms and customs of the day.

How was William Smoot related to both Dorothy and Ann Fox, daughter of Alice Quinn Stretchy?

Thomas Durham’s Great Age

Court Order Book Page 475, Sept 7, 1699 – Ordered that Thomas Durham for the future be exempted from payment of leveys by reason of his great age.

I checked the tithable language in the state of Virginia, and it clearly specifies who shall be taxed, and how, and allows for exemptions for people who were disabled and unable to support themselves, and for people who were aged. The state apparently allowed each county court to determine who was exempted. In other locations, I’ve seen men as young as 45, 55 and as old as 70 being exempted due to age, so I’m guessing that the age at exemption was more a combination of age plus ability to work than age alone.

I would think it would be very unlikely that Thomas Durham was less than 50 years old  with his age referred to as “great” so this would put his birth likely in 1649 or before.

Men in colonial American typically married about the age of 25, which would have been in about 1674 if he were born in 1649. However, we don’t find Mary’s birth until 1686. Was Thomas not married until 1685 or so, or did he have a first wife we don’t know about, or was Dorothy significantly younger than Thomas, or was Thomas younger than age 50 when he was exempted from paying taxes?

It’s also possible that Thomas Durham was an indentured servant and he was not able to marry until his indenture was complete.

Court and Deeds

The ebb and flow of life in colonial Virginia was marked by court sessions that were attended by nearly all men. Deeds were filed, orders made and drinking all around with camaraderie. Thomas Durham witnessed deeds and was found participating in the normal life of colonial planters.

Multiple records indicate a very close relationship with William Smoot(e.)

Court Order Book Page 218 Dec. 3, 1702 – Nonsuite is granted to Thomas Durham and Dorothy his wife for the nonappearance of William Smoote Jr. which is ordered to be paid with costs of suit.

Deed Book March 3, 1704/5 – John Ingo and Martha (Matthew) his wife of Richmond Co. for 36 lb sterling sold to George Glascock of same a 100 acre plantation near the head of Moratico Creek that did formerly belong to John Ingo Sr. father of the same John Ingo and lately purchased of Capt. William Fanteleroy and Catherine his wife bounded by the house of John (blurred), the house of Thomas Durham, house of Edward Ryley, decd and the land of his brother James Ingo. Wit Wells Smoot, John Simmons Ack March 7, 1704. Book 3 page 174

Deed Book Page 352-354 December 1704 – Between John Ingoe and Matthew (sic) his wife and George Glascock…plantation situate near head of Moratico Creek in Richmond County which did formerly belong to John Ingo Sr. father of ye said John Ingo and lately by him sealed with a plantacion together with a considerable quantity of land said John Ingo Sr. purchased of Capt., William Fauntleroy with as much of the said land as lyes within the said John Ingoes bounds beginning ta a marker hickory standing within the house of John Simsted and the said John Ingoes and running along ye line to a swamp issuing out of Miratico Creek hard by the house of Thomas Durham then up said swamp meeting with the line, then NW by the house of Edward Ryley decd then land of his brother James Ingo 100 acres more or less. Signed, John Ingo and Martha Ingo (mark) witness William Smoot and John Simson (mark)

This deed confirmed again that the Durham land was along Moratico Creek.

Court Order Book Page 18 December 6, 1704 – Charles Dodson Jr and Thomas Dodson and Thomas Durham summoned to court for not going to church for two months together.

Court Order BookPage 34 February 7, 1704/05 – Peter Elmore, Thomas Dodson, Charles Dodson Jr. and Thomas Durham summoned to court to answer presentment of grand jury against them for not going to church for 2 months together and not appearing, ordered they be fined according to law and pay same with costs.

The Dodsons, Durhams and Elmores were neighbors and apparently influenced one another, or at least there was comfort among neighbors and safe haven for resistance.  Church attendance was mandatory in colonial Virginia.

Court Order Book Page 68 September 5, 1705 – Power of attorney made by John Ingo to James Ingo proved by oaths of William (?) and Dorothy Durham and ordered to be recorded.

The ? is probably William Smoot from other evidence. If so, once again, Dorothy Durham is found with William Smoot.

James Gilbert and the Depositions

Richmond County Misc. Record Book (1699-1724)

Page 26b Deposition Ann Kelly, aged 20 years or thereabouts, says that on last New Year’s Day, Thomas Durham, your deponent’s master, sent her to James Gilbert’s to desire him to come down to pipe it, and as your deponent and said James Gilbert were coming back, by John Mills his plantation, James Gilbert asked your deponent whether this old woman was at your deponent’s master’s house and your deponent answered, yes, she was, and said James Gilbert held up his 2 hand and said, God’s Curse Light upon that family naming John Mills and all his family and said that if it were not for John Mills and his wife, he and his wife would never have lived at variance as they did, and your deponent told said James Gilbert that it was his own fault, living so, and asked him why he had not fought away his chest and confound that will which he made, and the said James Gilbert said that John Mills and his family had robbed his chest so that they would not agree upon any means that he should fetch it away, and that they were ashamed of it, and the said James Gilbert said that there was a will made but swore by God that he knew not what was in it no more than I did, and your deponent asked said James Gilbert whether he was no sent for to sign his will, but said Gilbert answered, swearing by his God, that he did not sign it, and told your deponent that he had not the sense to make a will, and that John Mills was a rogue for making a false will and that made him and his wife live to discontentedly and further your deponent says that she saw said Gilbert last Feb. count 15 head of cattle for 40. Signed Nov. 2, 1704 by mark

Page 27 Dorothy Durham aged about 41 years says that sometime before James Gilbert’s death, being in company of said Gilbert and William Smoote, amongst other discourse, she heard said Gilbert say to said Smoote that he did not know that there was any Resurrection or not, and that had made a will to John Mills, but that it signified nothing, and that your deponent did, several times, hear the said Gilbert say that John Mills was a rogue and that he nor any of his should ever be the better for what he had. Signed Nov. 2, 1704 – Dorothy (P her mark) Dureham

The two depositions above were given in 1704.  In 1707, Mary Gilbert, as a widow, was deeding and to Thomas Durham and Dorothy.

26 Apr 1707 Richmond County, Virginia Deed Book 4, 1705-1708 page 109a-110a – This Indenture made the six and twentieth day of April anno Domini 1707 and in sixth year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lady Anne by the Grace of God of England, Scotland, France and Ireland Queene, Defender of the faith Between Mary Gilbert of the parish of North Farnham in the county of Richmond and Dominion of Virginia, Widdow of the one part, and Thomas Durham of North Farnham in the county of Richmond and Dominion aforesaid, Planter and Dorothy his wife of the other party. Witnesseth that the said Mary Gilbert for good and valuable consideration in hand payed the receipt whereof the said Mary doth hereby acknowledge and of every part and parcel thereof doth requitt consrate and discharge the said Thomas Durham and Dorothy his wife and theire heires by these presents do give grant, bargaine sole alienate entaile and confirme unto the said Thomas Durham and Dorothy his wife theire heirs and assignes a certain plantation tract or parcele of land scituate lying and being in the parish of North Ffarnham in the county of Richmond and Dominion of Virginia upon a Branch of Ffarnham in the county of Richmond and Dominion of Virginia upon a Branch of Ffarnham Creeke called and knowne by the name of the Buory (Briery) Swamp, containing by estimation fifty acres, now in the tenure and occupation of Walter WRIGHT and bounded as followeth: …corner along land of William Smoot… the said Mary Gilbert for her self, her heires, Exors. and Admns. doth covenant promise, grant and assign to the said Thomas Durham and Dorothy his wife and their heires and assignes In manner and form as followeth, That is to say, that the said Mary Gilbert att the time of the ensealing and delivery hereof hath true title, full power and lawful authority to grant and convey the said bargained land and premisses as aforesaid and allso from time to times and att all times hereafter …… doth hereby grant unto the said Thomas Durham and Dorothy his wife and their heires and assignes with all the rights members and appurtanances thereunto belonging or appurtaining without…..and do Execute and acknowledge any other or further deed or deeds which shall be advised, devised or required by the said Thomas Durham, Dorothy his wife or theire Counsel learned in the law or theire heires or assignes for the better and more sure settlement of all and singular of the premisses hereto granted and every part and parcle of the said land unto the said Thomas Durham and Dorothy his wife and theire heires and assignes forever, In Witness whereof the said Mary Gilbert have hereunto put her hand and seal the day and month and year above written. Signed, sealde and Delivered in the presence of: William Smoot, Mil. Walters Mary M. Gilbert (signed with mark) (seal) Recorded 15 May 1707, Teste: J. Sherlock (Supplement to the History of the Dodson-Dotson Family of Southwest Virginia. Compiled and edited by the Rev. Silas Emmett Lucas, Jr. N.p: the author, 1966., pp. 106-107)

P 110a – William Smoote planter, Farnham Parish, consideration to Thomas Durham of same, planter, quit claim a certain plantation and tract or land situate in upon a branch of Farnham Creek called the Bryery Swamp and bounded (same description as deed between Mary Gilbert and Thomas Durham above) April 20, 1707 signed. Wit Anne Kelly and Mil. Waters

(Note Anne Kelly is Thomas Durham’s indentured servant.)

Court Order Book Page 299 Sept 3, 1707 – Mary Gilbert ack deed to Thomas Durham, ordered recorded.

Court Order Book Page 299 Sept 3, 1707 – William Smoot ack release of right and title of parcel of land sold by Mary Gilbert to Thomas Durham and ordered to be recorded.

I’ve grouped the information about James Gilbert together, because it becomes very important in the story of Dorothy, Thomas Durham’s wife.

The Lay of the Land

We have references to land off of a Branch of Farnham Creek and also Moratico Creek. You can see both of these on the 1859 Bucholtz Map, just below Toreskey and Corbin’s Creeks. Briery Swamp that I believe became Marshy Swamp appeared to be on Totuskey Creek, based on previous Dodson Deeds, and is shown such on this map, but these deeds refer to Briery Swamp off of Farnham Creek, so who knows exactly.

This contemporary map shows Totuskey Creek, Farnham Creek and Morattico Creek. Thomas Dodson lived as far north as Rich Neck and we have Thomas Durham mentioned as far south as Morattico Creek.  Both men owned multiple pieces of land that likely did not abut each other.

On the map above, Rich Neck is at the top, then Totuskey Creek, then Farnham Creek near Sharps, and the lowest arrow is Morattico Creek. As you can see, these creeks have many small feeders across about half of the width of the peninsula.

Today this area is dotted by cleared areas for farming, woodlands and small villages.

The Scandal of Ann Kelly

Ann Kelly’s indenture to Thomas Durham begins like normal in 1699 when she was determined to be 14 years old. The court determined her age so that the length of her indenture could be determined.  In 1704, she gave her age to be 20, which would have put her birth in 1684.  If she were 14 in 1699, then she would have been born in 1685.

Court Order Book Page 406, June 7, 1699 – Ann Kelly servant to Thomas Durham being presented to this court to have inspection into her age is adjudged 14 years old and ordered to serve her master or his assigns according to act.

However, by 1708, things had heated up quite a bit.

Court Order Book Page 372, July 7, 1708 – Anne Kelly, servant to Thomas Durham, being brought before the court by her master for committing the sin of fornication and having a bastard child and said Anne refusing to confess who was the father of the child, the court have ordered she be committed to the county goale there to remaine until such time as she shall confess who is the true father of her child and it is also ordered that she serve her master or his assignes after her time by indenture custome or otherwise shall be fully expired according to law in compensation for the trouble of his house during the time of her childbirth.

Court Order Book Page 372, July 7, 1708 – This day Dorothy Durham for an the behalf of her husband Thomas Durham confessed judgement to the church wardens of Northfarnham parish to the use of the parish for 500 pounds tobacco the same being the fine of Anne Kelly for committing the sin of fornication and having a bastard child which is ordered to be paid with costs.

Court Order Book Page 4, March 2, 1708/9 – Anne Kelly came into court and made oath that Thomas Durham Jr. is the true father of 2 bastard children borne of her body in the time of her service with his father, Thomas Durham the elder. Upon motion of the Queen’s attorney ordered that Thomas Durham Jr be summoned to next court to enter into bond with security for the indemnification of the parish and what charge may acrew to the parish for or by reason of the children aforesaid.

Questions and More Questions

I have so many questions.

Thomas Durham Jr. was born in 1690, so he was 17 when he impregnated Anne Kelly who was then 22 or 23, assuming the child was born in 1708. Given the timing of the second child’s birth, it’s certainly possible that the first child was born even earlier, as in 1706 which means Anne would have gotten pregnant as early as 1705 when Thomas was 15.  Why was she protecting Thomas, even to her own detriment?  Did she believe she would one day marry him?  Or was she fearful?  And if she was fearful, of whom?  And why?

Why did Dorothy step in “on behalf of her husband,” an extremely unusual move for a woman in colonial Virginia?  Why didn’t Thomas Durham step in for himself, or sign a power of attorney?  Instead, Dorothy rode all the way to the court house and appeared personally, instead of Thomas.  This suggests a very strong woman defying her husband’s wishes.  Why?  Did she secretly know that Ann’s child was her grandchild?  Or was it exactly the opposite?  She had no idea and was appalled to make that discovery, which might explain why Thomas Dodson posted Ann’s bond for the second child.

To their credit, between Dorothy Durham and Thomas Dodson, they did not allow Ann to go to jail for something she was only half responsible for, while the non-servant male child of the plantation owner went scot free.  Thomas Dodson was, of course, Mary Durham’s husband and the fact that he posted Anne Kelly’s bond made her indentured to Thomas Dodson after her original indenture ended, according to court order.  Mary Durham Dodson, Thomas’s wife, was the daughter of Thomas and Dorothy Durham.

Oh, what a web we weave!

Then, to add insult to injury, Thomas Durham Jr. married Mary Smoot (who had inherited Mary Grady’s land) about 1710.  Ann Kelly was still serving her additional indentures for having two “bastard children” when Thomas married, given that the additional time to serve was typically 5 years, per child.  She still had years to go.  If Ann had any thought that she would one day marry Thomas Durham Jr., they were assuredly dashed by this point.  Ann is left with two small children, serving additional time as a servant, and Thomas Durham Jr. marries the neighbor girl who inherited land.  After Thomas Durham Jr. and Mary Smoot were married, he legally controlled her land.

This isn’t the first or last time Thomas Durham Jr.’s character would be called into question.

Constable

Court Order Book Page 92, May 6, 1713 – Ordered Thomas Durham officiate as constable for this ensuing year in the roome and stead of Bartholomew Richard Dodson between Moratico and Farnham Creeks and that he repaire to some Justice to be sworn accordingly.

There is no Jr. mentioned, so this looks to be Thomas Durham Sr.  This further confirms the area where Thomas Durham was actually living.

Thomas Durham’s Will

In 1711, Thomas Durham wrote his will, but he didn’t pass away until in 1715.

Thomas Durham’s will was dated August 4, 1711 and proved in court June 1, 1715.

In the name of God Amen, I, Thomas Durham of Northfarnham in the County of Richmond being sick in Body but of sound and perfect Memory. Praise be given unto God therefore calling to Mind His Mortallity of my body and that it is appointed for all Men once to Die, Do make and Ordain this my Last Will & Testament, That is to say– Principally & first of all I Recommend my soul unto the hands of God that gave it and my Body to the Earth to be Buried in Christian and Decent manner at the Discretion of my Executors hereafter named; nothing Doubting but at the generall Resurrection I shall receive the same again by the mighty Power of God; And as touching such Worldly Estate wherewith it hath Pleased God to Bless me in this Life—–

Item. I give and Bequeath unto my Dear & Loving wife Dorothy Durham the use of my Plantations, together with all my Lands & Tenements with all and Every of their Appurtenances–Proffits and Commoditys __________ Belonging or appertaining for & During the _____________ of her natural Life and after her Decease if my Son Thomas Durham and Mary his wife do by some sufficient Instrument in writing under their hands and seals and affording to due forme of Law Release and acquitt all and singular their Right, Title and Interest in and unto Fifty acres of Land being the same Tract & Plantation which we had conveyed us by Mary Gilbert unto my son John Durham and his heirs or pay him the said: John Durham Eight Thousand Pounds of Tobacco in Lieu of His said Land and also pay unto my Daughter Mary Dodson Fifteen hundred pounds of Tobacco that then and upon this consideration——-aforesaid: I do give and bequeath unto my said son Thomas Durham and his heirs Lawfully Begotten and for want of such issue unto my son John Durham and his heirs Lawfully Begotton and in _______ of such issue unto my GrandSon Thomas Dodson and his heirs, But if my said son Thomas Durham doth refuse and will not release the said fifty acres of Land nor pay the Tobacco aforesaid: I do will and Bequeath the said Plantation whereon I now dwell with all my Lands unto my son John Durham and his heirs—

Item. I give and Bequeath unto my Son John Durham Fifty acres of Land more or less being the Plantation with all the Tract and Parcell of Land that was Conveyed us by Mary Gilbert, to have and to hold the said Tract and Parcell of Land with the appurtainances unto my said son John Durham and his heirs Lawfully begotten and for want of such issue unto my GrandSon Thomas Dodson and his heirs—

Item. I give and bequeath unto my Son John Durham one Feather Bed and Furniture, one Cow and calf, one Mare and Iron Pott, Two ____ Dishes and half a dozen Plates

Item I give and bequeath unto my Daughter Mary Dodson Five Thousand Pounds of Tobacco; Fifteen hundred Pounds of the same to be paid by my son Thomas Durham within Nine months after the Decise of my wife and Five hundred the Rest of the said Tobacco to be paid by my Son John Durham at the Decease of my Wife—-

Item. I give and Bequeath all the Residue of my Estate, Goods, Cattle and Chattells unto my wife Dorothy Durham for & During her widowhood, but if she doth Marry that _____ off my Personall Estate, Except what is herein given to John Durham shall be Equally Divided between my wife and my three Children, and I do make and Ordain my Dear & well beloved Wife Sole Executrix of this my Last Will & Testament—Rattifying and Confirming this & none other to be my Last Will & Testament. In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand & seal this Fourth Day of August in the year of our Lord, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eleven. Signed, Sealed & Published and Declared in the presence of us– Joan O Searles her mark, Arthur Kay his mark, Miles Walters Thomas Durham his mark (seal)

Att. at a Court held for Richmond County ye first Day of June 1715 This Will was approved in open Court by the oaths of Arthur Key & Joan Searles ______ of the Witness or tthereto be on admitted to Recored…Tests M: Beckewith C.C.O.”

Thomas Durham’s will entry in the will book looks like the clerk reproduced Thomas’s own mark.

Does this mean that Thomas Durham could never write, or that he was simply too ill or old to sign his will? He didn’t pass away for another 4 years, so he certainly was not on his deathbed when he wrote his will in 1711, although he might have thought he was. He does say that he is “sick in body” but he apparently recovered enough to be appointed constable in 1713. Although there is no Jr. or Sr. mentioned, so the 1713 constable entry could have been for his son.

And speaking of his son, Thomas Jr., Thomas Sr. left an inheritance only to the children “lawfully begotten” with his sons, excluding his grandchildren by Anne Kelly, if either of those children were still living.  In that era, illegitimate children could not inherit from their father unless there was specific verbiage to the contrary.

Thomas Durham, according to his will, apparently has two parcels of land – although the will is confusing and he only mentions the 50 acre parcel obtained from Mary Gilbert specifically. The second, referenced rather obliquely, must surely be the 62 acres that he is living on conveyed to Dorothy from William Smoot in 1700. The fact that Thomas Durham does not include this second piece specifically in his will is likely because William Smoot conveyed the land directly to Dorothy, omitting Thomas.

As it turns out, which of his two sons obtained the land becomes irrelevant, because John died without issue in 1722.

P 212 – Thomas Durham inventory July 6, 1715

Dorothy Remarries

We don’t know exactly when Thomas Durham died, but by the time his will was probated, which is typically within 90 days of death, Dorothy was remarried. This seems soon by today’s standards but wasn’t at all uncommon in colonial Virginia.

The fact that Dorothy had remarried meant that she would only receive a child’s share of Thomas’s estate, one fourth, except for the land which he had already bequeathed to his children.

Court Order Book Page 283, June 1, 1715 – Last will and testament of Thomas Durham decd presented into court by Dorothy Greenham, his executrix who made oath and proved by the oaths of Arthur Key and John Searles, two of the witnesses.

Jeremiah Greenham, Dorothy Greenham, John Doyle and Richard Fowler came into court and ack bond for the said Dorothy Greenham admin for the estate of Thomas Durham, decd.

Thomas Griffin, Thomas Glascock, William Downham and George Davenport or any 3 of them to appraise the estate of Thomas Durham, decd. Oath of appraisers to be sworn and also of Dorothy Greenham, the executrix, for her true discovery thereof.

Thomas Durham’s Estate Inventory

Court Order Book Page 62-63 – Jeremiah Greenham and Dorothy, his wife, John Boyle and Richard Fowler of Richmond Co. held and bound for 200 pounds currant money of Virginia condition that Dorothy Greenham executrix of last will of Thomas Durham decd to make a true and perfect inventory of estate of said decd. Signed Jeremiah Greenham, Dorothy Greenham her mark as a D, John Doyle and Richard Fowler

Court Order Book Page 292 July 6, 1715 – Appraisement for estate of Thomas Durham decd returned and recorded.

Thomas’s inventory was taken on June 27, as follows:

  • One feather bed, bolster, 2 pillows and cafos? (cases?), 3 blankets and one rug, one par of cotton cheets, curtains, valances and bedstead – 6.0.0

Rugs at that time meant bed rugs, which were wool and decorative and functioned as both a layer of warmth and decoration on top of colonial beds.

  • One large table and form – 1.0.0

A form was a type of bench.

  • One small “ – 0.05.0
  • Six wooden chairs and one flagg – 0.10.0
  • One Bible and two old books – 0.05.0

I sure would like to know the names of the books.  It would tell us a lot about Thomas.

  • One butter pott, ditto plate and pann – 0.02.06
  • One brass candlestick and one iron pann – 0.01.0

Just one candlestick?

  • One bedstead – 0.05.0
  • One pair small styl’ds (probably stillyards) – 0.02.06
  • One looking glass – 0.01.03
  • One Huckaback table cloth and one dozen of napkins – 1.11.06

Huckaback was a type of course absorbent cotton or linen fabric typically used for making towels.

  • One small old table cloth, 4 old cotton napkins and 2 linen towels, one sheet of the same cloth and one cotton sheet – 0.12.0

Above Stairs

  • One feather bed, bolster, curtains, valances, 1 rugg ? pair of blankets – 02.10.0
  • One old couch bod an old blanket and a cadord? – 0.10.00
  • One rug, two pillows and one bolster case – 0.15.00
  • Three chests – 0.10.00

In the Kitchin

  • One flock bed and bolster, two blankets, one rug and bedstead – 01.0.0
  • One old “, one blanket, one cadoro – 0.05.0
  • One spinning sheel and hoop of cards – 0.10.00
  • A parcel of old tubs – 0.05.00
  • A parcel of iron work – 0.04.02

Kitchin

  • One large iron pott and hooks, qt 9 gal 4 ? p’s – 01.12.00
  • Five small “with four pair of hooks qt 1345 at “ – 02.04.02
  • Two pair of old pott racks – 0.02.00
  • A pair of tongs, one spit – 0.08.0
  • Two smoothing irons – 0.02.0
  • One old musket and one old frying pann – 0.05.06

If the musket was in the kitchen, it probably wasn’t for self-defense.

  • One pofflo? – 0.05.00
  • Two bags 1’b:6’l a and one old sadle 2’b:6’l, one old chest 1’b:6’l – 0.05.06
  • Five hodgos? 8’b, two pailed, two piggins, one old tubb 5’l – 0.13.0
  • A parcel of white salt a’l 2 bushels 2’l, one cart sadle and harness 1’d:6’l – 0.03.06
  • 35 of good pewter at 10’l pr p’d – 29 of old ditto at 6’l ? pd – 02.04.01
  • Three dozen of pewter spoons at 6’b, 16 of wools at 9’l ? pd, one old sauce pann 2’d – 0.18.02
  • Two cows and calves at 2 each, three yearlings at 15’l each, one bull at 3’l 10’s – 06.15.0
  • Five cows at ? 15’s each, one steer 6 years old in 2’l 10’s, two heifers at ? each – 13.05.00
  • Eight sheep at 6 each, one large mare at 3’l – 5.08.0
  • A servant boy two years and 7 months to serve – 08.0.0

Signed:

Thomas Griffin, Thomas Glascock, George Davenport on June 27, 1715

Apparently Anne Kelly long ago completed her indenture, or at least she is not listed as a servant in 1713.  She would have been about 33 by this time.

I love this inventory because it tells us where various items were located in the house. For example, we know that there is an upstairs, and it’s large enough for a bed that included curtains and valances, so no shoddy place to sleep.

The main living quarters, downstairs, included a bed with all the trappings, a second bedstead, but perhaps without a mattress, 2 tables complete with tablecloths and napkins, chairs, butter molds, a looking glass, but only 1 candlestick.

There’s another bed in the kitchen, maybe for the servant boy. It’s flock instead of a feather bed. Flock is a type of filling made of scraps and wool. The spinning wheel is in the kitchen too.

I’m guessing this house had two rooms downstairs, one room “above the stairs,” and the kitchen which may or may not have been attached. There doesn’t seem to be any furniture for more rooms.

There was no mention of tobacco or any farm implements associated with anything except livestock, although tobacco was mentioned in Thomas’s will, so he clearly farmed tobacco in 1711.

Furthermore, there was no cart or wagon. There is only one horse and an old saddle. There are no pistols, which “gentlemen” would have had, and the old musket is in the kitchen. There is no women’s saddle either.

Thomas Durham does not appear to be a wealthy man, yet he does have pewter and tablecloths.

He does not own any slaves which was very common for plantation owners in that time and place.

What I wouldn’t give for that Bible and the information it contained.  We wouldn’t have to wonder who his parents were, or question his wife’s maiden name.  We might even know who his grandparents were, and where they were from in England.  I wonder what ever happened to that Bible.

Guardian

This looks like some tension might have existed between John, the youngest son, Thomas Jr., the eldest son and Dorothy along with her new husband, Jeremiah Greenham.  Daughter Mary was already married to Thomas Dodson.

Page 351, October 5, 1715 – This day John Durham by his petition prayed that his brother Thomas Durham might be admitted his guardian which was granted and said Thomas Durham gives security. Whereupon the said Thomas Durham together with John Harris and Thomas Elmore acknowledge their bond for the said Thomas Durham’s true performance of his guardianship.

Judgement granted to Thomas Durham as guardian for his brother John Durham against Jeremiah Greenham and Dorothy his wife, executrix of the last will of (page 352) Thomas Durham, decd for 1 feather bed and furniture, 1 cow and calf, 1 mare, 1 iron pott, 2 pewter dishes and half a dozen of plates being legacies left him the said John Durham buy the said Thomas Durham, his late father, decd, in his last will and testament, which is ordered to be paid.

Here, we find the source of the issue.  John who was only 17, wanted his share of the estate, even though he would have still been living at home.  This probably means that John went to live with Thomas…and took with him the bed, furniture, cow, calf, mare pewter and other items.  Thomas obviously did not release the 50 acres to John.

Dorothy probably argued that John, as yet underage, was yet living at home so not yet entitled to any of the estate until he came of age.  Clearly, this was not settled and went through the court process, probably causing very hard feelings between Dorothy and both of her sons.

Thomas Durham sells Land

In 1723, Thomas Durham Jr. sells land which could have been his father’s to Thomas Dodson, his sister’s husband.

Deed Book Page 240 Dec 4-10, 1723 – From Thomas Durham of Richmond County to Thomas Dodson Sr of same 5000 pounds tobacco parcel of 100 acres formerly belonging to Abraham Marshall bearing date of Nov 25th 1692 situate in Richmond Co and bounded by Charles Dodson, being part of the pat formerly granted to William Thatcher by the main branch of Toteskey. Signed Thomas and Mary Durham. Wit John Hill, William Walker, Jeremiah Greenham. Rec May 6, 1724 and Mary Durham appeared in court relinquished dower.

Abraham Marshall is Dorothy Durham Greenham’s sister’s husband.

In 1733, the 100 acres is sold to the Lyell family

Deed Book Page 12, Lease and release, Dec 6-7, 1733 – From Thomas Dodson Sr. and Mary his wife and Thomas Dodson Jr. and Eliza his wife all of NFP to John’n Lyell of same in consideration of a negro woman to be delivered to said Dodson as soon as any comes to Virginia to be sold as the said Dodson Jr. wished about 130 acres in NFP and bounded by Charles Dodson by the main swamp of Totuskey. The other 30 acres of land is bounded by old Cone path formerly belonging to Daniel Oneal, a line of trees that divides the land of Mr. Spencer and the land of Thomas Dusin, corner oak formerly belonging to William Matthews, along Matthews line the land formerly belonging to John Jenly. Of the 130 acres, 100 acres formerly belonged to Abraham Marshall by a deed dates 25 9ber 1692 and from thence conveyed to Thomas Durham and by the said Durham sold to Thomas Dodson Sr. The other 30 acres was formerly sold by Thomas Dusin to Thomas Southern by deed dated 21 7ber 1687. Signed Thomas Dodson Sr. his mark T, Mary her mark M, Thomas Dodson Jr., Elizabeth her mark, wit Robert Reynolds and George Gibson and William Creel Rec April 1, 1734

Deed Book Page 25, May 4 1734 _ From Jane Lawson, John Steptoe Jr. and Joanna his wife of Christchurch parish in Lancaster Co. to Robert Mitchell of St. Mary’s Whiteside in Lancaster 18,000 pounds tobacco and 50# and divers other causes 450 acres in North Farnham Parish bounded on west by a branch of Moratico that divides this land from the land of John Mills, Thomas Durham on the north side, Abraham Goad on the NE, William King and Mr. Anthony Sydnor on the east side, Isaac White on the south. Land part of a patent granted to Thomas Madison dated 1770 (sic) by him sold to Capt. John Purvis and by Purvis to John Ockley and by Ockley given by will to said Jean Lawson. Signed by all.

Drunk at Church

Court Order Book Page 11, Nov. 7, 1721 – Ordered sheriff to summon Thomas Durham of North Farnham Parish to answer presentment of the grand jury against him for coming to his parish church drunk on the 29th day of October last past.

Apparently, Thomas Durham’s son, Thomas Jr., now age 31, was a bit rowdy or couldn’t hold his liquor, or both. Apparently now he’s attending church, but not sober.  He obviously did not like to attend church.  Perhaps his earlier escapades weren’t quite forgiven nor forgotten by parishioners.

We’ll leave Thomas’s life and times on this rather humorous note. Well, it’s humorous if you weren’t there and are looking back from a perspective of nearly 200 years. Perhaps Thomas felt that showing up drunk was better than not showing up at all, a fineable offense, as we already know.  Or perhaps Thomas had a drinking problem.  Drinking alcoholic beverages during that time was a daily affair, especially if the water was suspect in terms of cleanliness – but drunk on Sunday morning to the point that he was actually fined?

The Durham family seems determined to leave us with questions!

The Persistent Rumor about Governor Henry Thomas Durham

If you sign on to Ancestry or any other site and look at trees, you’ll find the persistent rumor that Thomas Durham is the son of Governor Henry Thomas Durham who had a son, Thomas, born about 1634.

Unfortunately, there is not one shred of evidence to connect the two. Several trees also have the Governor passing away in 1694 in North Farnham Parish in Richmond County. I can assuredly tell you that there are absolutely NO records to corroborate this information.

The one piece of evidence I did find was posted in 1999 on GenForum by Gene, as follows:

Sorry, guys, LDS records notwithstanding, Thomas DURHAM 1661/1715 of Richmond Co.VA married to Dorothy ??? is NOT the son of Gov. Henry DURHAM of Bermuda. I bought that story too, but couldn’t prove it was the same Thomas.

Finally, I wrote Bermuda Archives, and received an abstract of a lawsuit filed in Bermuda in 1734 that definitely proved that the Thomas who was born to Gov. Hunt lived and died in Bermuda where he had a son “Richard Durham of Sandys tribe marriner Eldest son and heir of Thomas Durham Late of the same Gent: dec’d, who was the son of Henry Durham, Esq.”  The suit was in regard to property in Bermuda lately in the possession of Judith DURHAM, Henry’s wife.  I would love to know also who the parents of our Thomas of Virginia were, but they weren’t Henry and Judith Hunt Durham of Bermuda. I will say there is an outside chance there could be a collateral relationship, since the father of Henry Durham of Bermuda also named Thomas had other sons, who also may have had a son named Thomas, and of course there was trading, etc. between Bermuda and Virginia during that time, of which scant records were kept. Gene in Gotha.

What Gene didn’t mention is that Thomas is a very common first name.

In case you’re having trouble with all the characters, I charted the relationships of Henry Durham, the Governor.

I think we can put the rumor of Thomas Durham of Richmond County being the son of Henry Durham, the Governor of Bermuda, to bed. Furthermore, a Governor’s son would not show up penniless and not own land until 8 years after he was beyond “a great age,” according to court records.

DNA

I was unable to find any evidence in the Durham DNA project that any male Durham descendants of Thomas Durham had done the Y DNA testing. I was quite hopeful, because, needless to say, a match to a Durham from England would give us someplace to look for the origins of our Thomas.

The Y chromosome is passed from father to son, with no admixture from the mother, so Thomas’s two sons, would have passed their Durham Y chromosome to their sons and so forth to the current generation of Durham men descended from Thomas.

It appears that Thomas Durham’s son, John, died unmarried on September 23, 1722.

Son Thomas Durham, Jr., aside from the illegitimate children he had with Anne Kelly, whose genders are unknown, according to the North Farnham Parish records had several children, as follows, with Mary Smoot:

  • Durham, John son of Thomas and Mary Durham, Dec. 14, 1724/5 (sic)
  • Durham, Mary daughter of Thomas and Mary Durham, May 14, 1728
  • Durham, Susanna daughter of Thomas and Mary Durham, May 14, 1728
  • Durham, Margaret and Dominick Newgent, Dec. 2, 1729 (identity of Margaret who is marrying is entirely unknown)
  • Durham, Wilmoth daughter of Thomas and Mary Durham, May 21, 1730
  • Durham, Kathrine daughter of Thomas and Mary Durham, March 18, 1731
  • Durham, Millicent daughter of Thomas and Mary Durham, Aug. 4, 1734
  • Durham, Willmoth Oct. 2, 1734 (death)
  • Durham, Thomas Dec. 3, 1734 (death)

Poor Mary – a new child born in August, a daughter dead two months later and her husband two months following that.

These births and deaths leave us with Thomas Durham Jr. having only one known son, John, born in 1724. John is reported to have married Sarah Hightower and had three sons, Joshua Durham (1748-1816), Charnel Hightower Durham (1753-1836) and Daniel Durham (1777-1868). The births of both Joshua and Charnel are recorded in the North Farnham Parish records, but Daniel is not. I’m hopeful that a male Durham descends from one of these lines and has tested or is willing to Y DNA test at Family Tree DNA. If that’s you, please let me know.  I have a testing scholarship for you!!!

Summary

I have this nagging feeling that we are missing the first half of Thomas Durham Sr.’s adult life.

The first mention of the Durham surname is in 1686 with the birth of Thomas and Dorothy’s child, Mary. She may have been their first child born and she is the first recorded, but the records are known to be incomplete.

In 1699, we find Thomas exempted from taxes due to his great age, but his wife, Dorothy, in 1704 says she’s about 41 years of age, which would put her birth year at about 1663.

If Thomas was of “great age” in 1699, he would have been at least 50, if not 60 or older. In 1699, Dorothy would have been 37.

Furthermore, Thomas Durham owns no land at all until in 1700 when William Smoot deeds 62 acres to Dorothy, omitting him in the deed, and then in 1707, Mary Gilbert adds another 50 acres.

We know, based on Thomas’s will in 1711 he still owns two pieces of land, one of which is the 50 acre tract.

However, there are some rather unusual things about Thomas. He never, not once, sits on a jury. In Virginia, at that time, I believe you had to be a white landowner to do so. That would likely mean he was not eligible until 1707. Either he or his son were appointed constable in 1713, which means they were respected and trusted within the community.

In 1723, Thomas Durham Jr. sells 100 acres of land that belonged to his mother’s sister’s husband. However, there is no record of either Thomas Jr. or Thomas Sr. purchasing that land. Where Thomas Jr. obtained it is a mystery. If the 1692 notation in the deed refers to when Abraham Marshall sold the land to Thomas, it would have had to be Thomas Sr. because Thomas Jr. was still a child, born in 1690.

In other words, there seems to have been some transactions that were handled by family that were never recorded at the courthouse.

While we know quite a bit about the life of Thomas Durham from 1686 on, we know absolutely nothing about his life before that time. Was he perhaps an indentured servant, fulfilling his obligation before he could marry?

He certainly did not come to the Northern Neck with any money, because he did not purchase land until 21 years after his presence is the area is first known. He never owned slaves which was very common for plantation owners, although he did have at least two indentured servants – one of which gave him two grandchildren.

Thomas Durham Sr. remains, in very large part, a mystery.

Mothers, Weddings and a Lobster, 52 Ancestors #160

To celebrate this Mother’s Day, I decided to create a composite of weddings of the women in my matrilineal line. I feel a special affinity for this line, because not only does it include my mother who I miss dearly, and my grandmother, who I knew as a child, but these women passed their mitochondrial DNA to me.

Weddings, in families, mark the boundaries of generations and often, at least historically, the passage into adulthood. These happy events are celebrated by family gatherings that create lasting memories. Today’s wedding culture has become an industry, but weddings weren’t always that way. Often, they were relatively quiet events, more practical than celebratory and limited to family. However, before the advent of cameras, we have no visual records, so the memories died with the attendees.

Sooo….I can hear you thinking, as you recollect some certain relative….maybe no visual records isn’t such a bad thing!

No worries because, today, that certainly isn’t the case.  Come along for a 5-generation jaunt through the bridal gallery of (some not so) well-behaved women. Let’s face it, there is always more to the story than meets the eye!

Nora Kirsch marries Curtis Benjamin Lore

My photographically preserved family bridal history begins with separate photos of Nora Kirsch and Curtis Benjamin Lore taken in Aurora Indiana when they married on January 18, 1888. Oral history tells us that Nora made her own wedding dress and descended the stairs into the parlor at her parents home, the Kirsch House, to marry Curtis.

Of course, the big secret is that Curtis was already married to someone else and let’s just say that this marriage was arranged by shotgun.  Given the choice of an angry estranged wife in Pennsylvania or sure and certain death at the hands of an angry father in Indiana, Curtis chose to get married and was divorced by the Pennsylvania wife a few months later.

Nora always modified her wedding date by a year so her children wouldn’t figure out about the shotgun circumstances.  No one counted on genealogists to dig up the family secrets.  You’re welcome, Nora!

These photos were clearly taken in a studio and there are no photos of the actual wedding. That’s REALLY unfortunate, because if there had been, Nora’s grandmother, Katharina Barbara Lemmert Kirsch, five generations back for me, would have been in attendance and we would have a picture of her – which we don’t today. She passed away the following year.

Edith Lore marries John Whitney Ferverda

Twenty years later, less one day, Nora and Curtis’s daughter, Edith Barbara Lore married John Whitney Ferverda in the minister’s home on Friday evening, January 17, 1908, in Rushville, Indiana. This wedding was obviously very low key, probably because the bride’s father had been ill with both typhoid followed by tuberculosis, so there was no money for any kind of a wedding. Nora was supporting the family by sewing clothing and making alterations.

The groom’s family was Brethren, lived in northern Indiana, and was probably not pleased with his marriage outside the faith. The easiest thing to do? Marry quietly, most likely with her parents in attendance. The local newspaper carried the announcement the following day.

Nov. 18, 1908 – Miss. Edith Barbara Lore and Mr. John Whitney Ferveda were quietly married at the Presbyterian church parsonage in North Harrison Street last night by Rev. J. L. Cowling.

This photo of Edith was taken about that time.

This photo of John and Edith together was probably taken about 1920.  It’s one of very few of them together – maybe 3 total.

You can rest assured that Edith and John were both in attendance at the wedding of their son, Harold Lore Ferverda in either 1934 or 1939, but there were no photos of that wedding either.

Barbara Jean Ferverda marries Dan Bucher

Their daughter, my mother, Barbara Ferverda, married Daniel Bucher in 1943 when he was on leave from the Army, in the midst of WWII. And no, there are no photos of that wedding, but we can get close. I think these photos may actually have been taken on the leave when they got married and may have even been the day they married.  They too were married either by a Justice of the Peace or in a minister’s home.

I think they eloped, although that was never discussed nor any reasons why.  They married in Joliet, Illinois, no place near home and in the neighboring state. Another family secret floated to the surface.  You’re welcome, Mom!  Wink!!!

From things said later, I get the distinct impression that although they went together as “steadies” throughout high school, that this wedding was not planned much in advance. A lot of wartime marriages were rather spontaneous and happened prior to the man being shipped overseas.

Another Pictureless Wedding

Mother’s niece, Lore’s daughter, Nancy, married in 1958, and I desperately WISH there were photos of that wedding because both of my grandparents and my mother were in attendance. Why oh why oh why could there not have been photos????

John Bucher marries Karen Heckaman

The next family wedding was my brother, John Bucher and his wife Karen Heckaman when they married on September 2, 1962. I was crushed because I desperately wanted to be flower girl and wasn’t invited to attend.  Well, John, here’s to you.

I think this was the first and only suit my brother ever owned.

John’s wedding photo, above, includes the parents of the bride, at left, Karen and John, my mother in plaid, John’s father, Daniel Bucher and his wife, Betty.  I think Mom and Dan were trying, as gracefully as possible, to ignore each other.

Both of my grandparents had passed away within the past couple years, barely missing a wedding I know they would very much have wanted to attend.

My Turn

Several years later, I was married at home. You may notice that you can’t see mother’s left arm, hidden under mine. She had received third degree burns the day before on the toaster oven, but didn’t tell me until I arrived that day to get ready for the wedding. Her arm was bandaged at the hospital and she was taking pain medication. I had to help her dress. Poor Mom. Let’s just say she already wasn’t happy and this didn’t help the situation at all!

The best man, at far right, brother of the groom, wasn’t happy either, for a whole different set of reasons. Wedding drama extraordinaire!!! The memories of THAT day and the surrounding events would take a book and would have to be written as a novel because no one would believe it otherwise.

WWII interfered in my mother’s first marriage and sadly, Vietnam would interfere with mine.

Mom Remarries

Next, the generational tables were turned and it was mother who was getting married to my much-beloved step-father, Dean Long.

Karen and I are standing by Mom and Dean at the reception serving table in the basement of the church. No professional photography of course, but at least we had our own personal cameras and thankfully, a few of those photos still exist.

That day was eventful and memorable beyond anyone’s expectations.  That dark blue dress I’m wearing is a maternity dress and I spent the morning and early afternoon at the hospital with false labor pains.  In fact, the pains began at the hair dresser while Mom an I were getting our hair done, so she drove me to the hospital.  No stress here!

As soon as the doctor told me he thought the pains were “probably” false labor, I got up off the gurney and told the staff I had to leave because my mother, who had driven me to the hospital and was in the waiting room, very nervously pacing back and forth, was getting married in a couple hours.  There were several questioning and incredulous looks as I departed, but I was on my way out the door nonetheless.

I figured by that point that if the pains were real and not false, I had enough time to get through the wedding before I needed to get back to the hospital.

This picture makes me laugh, because it is reminiscent of “trimming the family.” No, I have NO idea what was trimmed out of this photo of Karen and me. There may have been water damage later when a tornado damaged the roof. I also don’t know who took this photo, but Mom was notorious for taking bad pictures – heads cut off, crooked – but at least she took them.  And with all the various stressors that day, she can certainly be forgiven.

The Little Country Church

Let’s fast forward more than a decade to my second marriage which took place in a beautiful old-fashioned little church.

This time, we did have professional photography, a first in my family, BUT, the photographer’s camera malfunctioned and only photos taken before the ceremony survived.

This is my absolutely favorite photo of my step-father and one of my all-time favorite photos ever. He and I were devoted to each other and I could not have loved a father-of-blood more. His daughter, who was my age, died as an infant, on Christmas no less.

One day, this man of very few words walked past me sitting in his chair at the kitchen table on a hot summer day on the farm, thunked me gently on the head with his knuckle, a gesture of affection, and told me that when he married my mother, he got his daughter back. He just kept walking, like nothing had happened. The tears streamed down my face, because I felt so fatherless after my father died when I was 7 until Dean came into my life several years later. I was so very touched to know he felt the same way about me.

Of the pictures that survived the camera malfunction, we have only a few taken before the actual ceremony, but these alone were worth the price.

My daughter, as the flower girl, scattered petals in the aisle in advance of the bride. However, during the rehearsal, she scattered only a few petals, for practice, and then picked them up. During the actual wedding, she scattered all the petals in her basket, then scurried out in the aisleway to pick them up. My maid of honor quickly retrieved my daughter, who began to cry because she couldn’t pick up the flower petals and that was a VERY IMPORTANT part of her job! Ah, the memories of that sweet, sweet child.

Unfortunately, a decade later, the groom would have a massive stroke and another decade later, I would again remarry. Life seldom unfolds as planned.

The Winery Wedding

This wedding was outdoors at a lovely European-style winery on an island. My step-father was watching from the other side, but I know he was there.  My children, now grown, stood up with me. My son and his wife, at left, with my brand-new granddaughter were able to attend. Mom, John and Karen were there, to the right of me in the photo, along with my daughter.

Now, John and Mom are both gone, so I’m very grateful for these family photos. Had my husband and I simply married at the courthouse, as we had discussed, there would have been no wedding celebration, and hence, no photos! That was our one and only 4 generation picture!

I love this photo too, of Mom walking me down the aisle. I’m not sure who was holding up whom!!! I was so happy that day to have my family gathered which hadn’t happened in many years and would never happen again.

My wonderful granddaughter, making her official debut at the wedding in a dress made by my daughter, matching hers.

Mom and I had a fantastic time together at the reception, held in a cooking school.  The chef was also a comedian, but no one but my husband and I knew that in advance.  Mom and I shared lots of laughs. I’m so glad, because she would be gone soon.

My matron of honor for the earlier church wedding made me this stunning quilt with signature squares from the attendees at the winery wedding.

A few years later, it would be my turn as the mother of the bride.

The Fifth Generation Bride

My beautiful (and smart and wonderful and charming, and did I mention smart) daughter married a few years ago on the hottest day of the summer. I cherish this photo and all the memories of that day we spent together. Our family-of-blood, which was limited to just the two of us, and family-of-heart gathered that day, and I don’t know what we would have done without them.

When family-of-blood is gone, family-of-heart becomes your family. The photo below, taken at the “preparatory party” just before my daughter’s wedding is of me, with my matron of honor who retrieved my daughter from petal gathering at the church wedding and made the quilt for my wedding at the winery two decades later. She and her husband, who had helped dress me as a bride, prepared lunch for the group before my daughter’s wedding. Some friends are forever.  Thirty-five years and counting.

As photography has become ever more present in our lives, we now record not just the momentous events, but the fun parts that makes them more than just milestones.

Sometimes it’s the little things – like dressing the bride.

You know that saying about “it takes a village,” well, I’m telling you, it did. Without my quilt family and other close friends, we would have been lost that day. But more than help, this was a bonding experience for everyone involved.

What am I doing, you ask? I’m sewing my daughter into her dress.  That’s a needle and thread in my hand.  Never underestimate the power of a quilter!!! We will make anything work, one way or another.

In our family, each bride on her wedding day receives a handkerchief made or embellished by my great-grandmother, Nora Kirsch Lore. Nora and her mother, Barbara Drechsel were lacemakers and created beautiful lace handkerchiefs and collars.

In the photo above, as my daughter is dressing, I’ve opened the handkerchief that she will carry down the aisle with her flowers. Yes, Nora, and Edith and Mom were all with us that day, one way or another.

In fact, Mom left a special wedding gift for my daughter before she departed to join my step-Dad on the other side – her cherished Hummell Christmas ornaments. Just looking at this picture makes me cry.  It made my daughter cry too.  She’s smiling but you can see the tears in her eyes.

My wedding handkerchief, made by Nora or Barbara, given to me by mother, is framed for posterity.

Finally, the bride is assembled, with a little help from our friends.  Yes, pieces-parts were gathered from near and far, and some assembly and reassembly was required.  Instructions, however, were not included!  Dressing the bride at home was a warm-hearted, very dear and memorable experience.

Here’s the “village” that it took, minus a few people that were somehow missing from the photo.  It was a bit hectic that day.

The village included my quilt-sisters, below. The six of us had been though just about every curve-ball life could throw at us – together. Oh, and one quilt sister, at far right, is also a cousin, something we didn’t discover until after we met.

We had to eat, at some point, so lunch was buffet and the bride was not allowed to eat anything that might stain her dress. Somehow she managed to both eat AND stay clean.  Family gatherings that include breaking bread nourish the body as well as the soul.

The “before the wedding” photography occurred outside, in my yard.

It took all of us to get that done, plus the photographer, another long-time friend aka family-of-heart who had videoed my outside wedding, including the bee who buzzed me as the vows were being exchanged. Tiny detail – I’m terrified of bees, especially tangled in my hair.  No, I did not run backwards down the aisle.  Being late to my own wedding had been bad enough.  However, that video is pretty comical because you can’t tell that it’s a bee I’m swatting at.  I somewhat resemble Ninja bride – and then there’s the laughing.  My poor mother was mortified, again.

My friend’s photography turned out exceptionally well, as you can see – and my daughter had no bee visitors, thankfully.

While these photos look beautiful and elegant, there was an incredible amount of fussing to make them perfect. Five women sweating and fussing with a bridal gown is quite a sight. I’ve omitted those photos. I still have to face the quilt sisters.😊

All I can say is God bless my quilt sisters. We’ve been such an integral part of each other’s lives for so many years, decades, now. We’ve watched our children be born, grow up and marry, and in many cases, participated in the events in a very much hands-on fashion. We spend Christmas Eve together, some holidays and birthdays and even a 50th anniversary.  We are truly family.  My daughter grew up with several “aunts.” There are even stories about that too.  Obvious to us, but not to others – we had people wondering how my daughter’s aunts could originally be from so many different states!

Next, it was time to get the bride into the van to go to the wedding. We all had a good laugh. I’m also omitting those photos, on pain of death if I include them. I also have to face my daughter.😊

First, a quick stop on the front porch for a picture with the groom.

No custom in this family of the groom not seeing the bride ahead of time on the wedding day. The poor groom was actually ill, and not just nerves, but he did a fine job of getting through the day with few people knowing how poorly he felt.  They had to find a doctor during the honeymoon.  Yes, he took a lot of ribbing for that!

Carrying on the step-father tradition, my husband escorted my daughter down the aisle. I’m not sure who was more nervous. Can you tell that he dotes on her? The picture below reminds me of the photo at my wedding with me and my step-father.

Reception Memories

After the actual wedding ceremony is finished, the fun begins. These are the aspects that the wedding date in a genealogy software program can never convey. Traditional wedding photography doesn’t catch this either, but for family bonding and stories, the reception is often the best part. The “big event” is over and everyone lets their hair down.

For example, when the groom’s grandmother, in purple above, in front of the groom, led the family in the chicken dance. You go grandma!!! Thank goodness for these photos and great times, because she is now departed too.

The person who made the cakes clearly had a sense of humor!

And speaking of humor, there was the lobster…

It’s called payback, karma perhaps – something unique from the “rents” as my daughter used to call her parents. Yes, indeed, a lobster showed up uninvited at the wedding, all decked out. That’s me and my husband waving at my daughter, one of those “special moments” reflective of the past that one can only fear resurfacing.  Never mess with the “rents.”  They love you, but they will get you just the same!

Rumor has it that the lobster greeted them that evening at their honeymoon location too. But of course, that’s just a rumor and I know absolutely NOTHING about it. Funny though that no one has seen hide nor claw of the lobster since.

If you want to know the story of the lobster, let’s just say that you’ll have to ask my daughter, or maybe wait until the next wedding or family gathering when someone, I’m sure, will be more than happy to spill the beans.  After all, that’s what family gatherings are for, right?

Isn’t making family history fun!!!

Thank goodness for cameras, weddings, mothers and families, of blood and of heart – with a lobster thrown in for good measure!!!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Anne (probably not) Elmore (c1650/2-c1721), Wife of Charles Dodson, 52 Ancestors #159

Charles Dodson (1649-1706) of Richmond County, Virginia was married to a woman named Ann. That much we know, positively.

The first actual record we have of Ann is found with the birth of her son, Thomas.

The North Farnham Parish register tells us that Thomas Dodson was born to Charles and Ann Dodson on May 15, 1681.

Thomas is the only child attributed to Charles and Ann in the North Farnham Parish church records, which are known to be incomplete. In this case, they are quite incomplete.

Ann is still married to Charles at his death and is named as his executrix in early 1705/1706. Charles’ will lists all of their children, including a son named Charles Jr.

Charles Jr. first appears in the records in 1693 as a witness. This suggests strongly that he is age 21 at that time, which would put his birth in approximately 1672. Charles Jr. is also named after Charles Sr., typical for a first son, and he is also listed first in the deeds when his father conveys land on the same day to both Charles Jr. and Thomas in 1702/03.

Even if Charles Jr. is only 16 instead of 21 when he witnessed the two transactions in 1693, his first appearance in county records, that would put his birth no later than 1677.

Presuming that Ann is also the mother of Charles Jr., that means that Ann and Charles Sr. were probably married by 1671 if Charles Jr. was born in 1672, or perhaps they married slightly earlier. They couldn’t have married much earlier, given their ages.

We know from a deposition in 1699 that Charles Sr. was about 50 years of age at that time, putting his birth about 1649.

It stands to reason that Ann would have been born about the same time, or subtracting 20 years from her first child’s birth, about 1652. This meshes nicely with Charles Sr.’s age as well, so I think we can presume that 1671 marriage date is approximately accurate.

Obviously, given all this effort to figure Ann’s birth year, we have no other information about when she was born.

Ann’s Parents

When I first started Dodson research, Ann’s parents were always recorded as unknown. Then, in the past few years, I saw in several locations, including several Ancestry Trees and now WikiTree as well as FamilySearch where Ann was recorded as Ann Elmore, daughter of Peter Elmore.

At first, I was quite excited, especially when I found something that appeared to be relatively well-researched at Family Search – but appearances can be quitey deceiving.

Here’s the entry for Peter Elmore from FamilySearch.

Known Issues

I’m not an Elmore researcher, but I am a Dodson researcher and I don’t want to leave the above information in print without mentioning the known issues with the information, highlighted in red, as follows:

  • There is no indication that I can find where Charles Dodson Sr’s wife, who was remarried to John Hill, died on August 1, 1715. However, Charles Dodson Jr. wrote his will on July 8, 1715 and it was probated on May 1, 1716.
  • Ann Dodson, wife of Charles Dodson Jr., whose surname is unknown, had her will probated in court on March 4, 1718/1719. Of course to make the situation more confusing both Charles Dodson Sr. and Jr. had wifes with unknown surnames named Ann. Of course, Ann Dodson Hill would have been named Ann Hill in 1718/1719 since she was married to John Hill and had been for more than a decade.
  • There is no record that Ann Elmore married Charles Dodson in 1678 in Rappahannock County, or anyplace.
  • There is no shred of evidence that Charles Dodson’s parents were Jesse Dodson and Judith Hagar.
  • There is no evidence that Charles Dodson was born in Rappahannock County, although a deposition in 1799 does state that that he is about 50 years old.
  • There is no evidence that Charles Dodson was christened in 1650 or that his christening, whenever it was, was in Rappahannock County.
  • Charles Dodson Sr. did not sign his will on July 8, 1680, but on January 11, 1702/1703.
  • However, a deed was registered between Peter Elmore and Charles Dodson on July 7, 1680.
  • Charles Dodson Sr. died between October 4, 1705 and February 6, 1705/1706 when his will was probated, not in 1704/1705.
  • Charles Dodson Jr. was not born in or about 1679, because he is witnessing deeds in 1693. He was probably born about 1672.
  • Other than Charles and Thomas Dodson, there is no indication in the Dodson research when the other children of Charles and Ann Dodson were born. Researchers simply have to fit them into the child-bearing years of Ann, around Charles and Thomas.
  • According to Charles Dodson’s will in combination with church and other records, there is no daughter Mary. Charles Dodson Jr. had a daughter Mary born in 1715, several years after Charles Dodson Sr. has died.

Even with the above incorrect information, this is the best information I could find on the Elmore family and how Ann Elmore was thought to be Charles Dodson’s wife. Hopefully the Elmore information is more accurate than the Dodson information.

Is Ann Dodson the daughter of Peter Elmore?

I couldn’t keep the Elmore information straight, so I created this abbreviated tree to track the various Peter Elmores, according to the FamilySearch information.

Peter Elmore proves a bit confusing, because in 1686, the following deed was filed.

Old Rappahannock Co Deed Book 7 – 1686 -1688; pg 306-307

I Wm. Thacker of the County of Lancaster do give William Mathews of the County of Rappa: one Cow Calfe black marked on the right eare with a crop and a slit and the left eare slitt down the midle with the one halfe of her encrease to him his heires and assignes from me my heires forever or from any persons that shall lay claim by me the abovesd Mathews being Son to Mr Wm. Mathews deceased of the Parish of Farnham of the County aforesaid. Peter Elmore being Father in Law to the abovesd Mathews is obliged to see it recorded and to have the other halfe of the encrease of the sd Cow for to looke after them as Witness my hand this 9th day of January 1683/6

Teste Charles Dodson, Wm. Thacker

John Mills marke of

Recordr. in Cur Com Rappa 23d die Martii 1686/7

A Yearling Heifer pide with black and white to be recorded with all her female encrease for Frans: Elmore marked as followeth: Crop in the right eare and a hole and under keeled on the same on the left

Record Cur Com Rappa 23 Marchy 1686/7

Father-in-law in this context probably means step-father, especially given the reference to Frances Elmore, above, and a birth recorded in 1674. Other records from this same time period in this county use the words “father in law” to mean father by law or the person we term as a step-father today.

The only Peter Elmores old enough to be the Peter in the 1686 deed are either Peter Elmore born in 1627 or his son Peter born in 1643.

The Registers of North Farnham Parish 1663-1814 and Lunenburg Parish 1783-1800 Richmond County, Virginia Compiled and Published by George Harrison Sanford King 1966 show:

Elmore, Anne daughter of Peter and Frances Elmore, Aug 29, 1674

Peter, born in 1643, is the only Peter of the age to be having a child, Ann, in 1674, given that his father, Peter born in 1627 is married to Jane and (supposedly) already has a daughter, Ann.

If in fact there was an Ann Elmore born to Peter Elmore Sr., we now have a second, younger Ann Elmore who was born in 1674, shown on the chart below. This younger Ann Elmore is clearly not the wife of Charles Dodson who is having children with his wife Ann at the time the younger Ann Elmore is born in 1674.

Deed Book Page 348 Sept 1, 1675 – I Thomas Dusin give grant and make over Anne Elmore the daughter of Peter Elmore and Frances his wife one yearling heifer…to her the said Ann Ellmore her heirs and assigns forever. Signed with mark, witness Peter Calvin and John Ingo

A year after Anne’s birth, Thomas Dusin, for some reason, gives her a one yearling heifer.

Deed Book Page 278 – July 10, 1679 between Peter Elmore of Rappae County, planter and Charles Dodson, same, planter, and his heirs and assignes, as much plantable land as 3 tithables can tend in corn and tabb, with privilege of leaving out for partuidge and further that said Dodson shall have the privilege of coopers and carpenters timber for the use of ye plantation for the term of 19 years from date hereof. (Further the said Elmore doth engage to furnish ye said Dodson with apple trees and peach trees suffichant to make an orchard both of apples and peaches) and further at the expiration of ye said terms the said Dodson is to leave a 30 foot dwelling house and a 50 foot tobacco house tennentable with all fencing in repairs that is at the expiration of the time. An further ye said Dodson to pay ye said Peter Elmore 50 pounds tobacco yearly during he said terme but if said Dodson chance to leave ye said plantation before the expiration of the said time that then ye said Peter Elmore shall have ye refusal before any other.

Signed Peter Elmore with mark and Charles Dodson. Witness William Smoote and Charles Wilson. Looks like it was registered July 7, 1680.

I’m almost positive that this transaction is why Ann Dodson, wife of Charles, is believed to be Ann Elmore, daughter of Peter. I must admit, this transaction, because of its rather strange nature, makes me wonder the same thing. However, if this were a deed to a daughter, one would think that it would not revert to Peter Elmore after 19 years. This is not a gift, but a business arrangement.

Unfortunately, because land isn’t conveyed, we really can’t say for sure whether this is Peter Elmore Sr. or Peter Elmore Jr., because Peter’s wife is not required to sign a release of her dower.

Deed Book Page 282 April 24, 1680 – Henry Dawson to Peter Elmore right in a bill of sale. Witnessed by William Dawson and Charles Dodson

Charles Dodson clearly does have a close relationship with Peter Elmore. Unfortunately, we really don’t know why. Are they just close neighbors, or is there something more? If they are related, keep in mind that we don’t know who Charles Dodson’s parents are, who Peter Elmore’s parents are, who Jane Elmore’s parents are nor who Ann Dodson’s parents are.  So if they are actually related, it could be through any of those individuals in any capacity.

Deed Book Page 310 – May 30, 1681 John Harding to Jane Elmore, daughter of Peter Elmore one black cow yearling. Signed with mark. Witness Charles Dodson and Jane Ellmore (signed with mark)

Given that this 1681 deed is witnessed by Jane Ellmore, she surely must be the daughter of the elder Peter Elmore, not the Peter Jr. born in 1643.

Deed Book Page 151 November 1684 – Mr Colston, I should desire you to record for Ann Elmore my eldest daughter two cowes with calves by their sides with all their increase and in soe doeing shall obleig. Signed Peter Elmore by mark

And likewise one cowe and calfe to be between my two youngest sons with their increase. Signed Peter Elmore by mark

And likewise a black heifer of 2 years to William Mathews my son-in-law with all her increase Signed Peter Elmore by mark

This deed executed in November 1684 provides us with even more information about Peter Elmore Jr. This has to be Peter Elmore Jr. because he refers to William Matthews, so this Ann Elmore is the Ann born in 1674.

The close relationship between Charles Dodson and Peter Elmore continues, as we see by the following transactions.

Will Book Jan. 29, 1686/87 Edward Johnson will, Charles Dodson executor, Peter Elmore witness.

Court Order Book March 2, 1686/7 page 15 Ordered Richard White, William Smoote, Peter Elmore or any 2 of them do sometime between this and the next court meet to inventory and appraise the estate of Edward Johnson.

Deed Book Page 165 Charles Dodson convey to beloved son Thomas Dodson brown cow called by the name of Nancy marked with a crop and swallow forke on the left eare and a crop on the right eare together with all her female increase being in exchange with him my said son Thomas for one cow given him by his Godfather Peter Elmore. July 31, 1693 signed, wit William Ward and William Colston

Does Ann Elmore, Daughter of Peter Elmore Sr., Exist?

This 1793 document explains something about the relationship between Charles Dodson and Peter Elmore. Peter is the godfather, not the grandfather, of Charles and Ann’s son Thomas Dodson, born in 1681. If Peter was the child’s grandfather, this deed would have said grandfather, not godfather – because blood would trump any other kind of relationship, since a relationship was identified. If Peter Elmore was Peter Elmore Jr., it would have said uncle, not godfather.

Furthermore, there is no child named Peter among Ann Dodson’s children, nor a child named Jane, Peter Elmore’s wife’s name.

I’m beginning to wonder if Anne Elmore, daughter of Peter Sr., born in 1627, ever actually existed at all. There is nothing anyplace to suggest that she did. Jane, yes – Ann, no.

I’m beginning to think that perhaps Ann Elmore was added to the list of Peter Elmore’s children by a genealogist because someone deduced that Ann Dodson was Ann Elmore because of the 1689 transaction between Charles Dodson, whose wife’s name was Ann, and Peter Elmore.

Charles and Ann Dodson obviously were very close to Peter Elmore, but why?

We’ve now produced evidence that suggests Ann Dodson is not Ann Elmore. However, we still have no idea who Ann Dodson is.

We also don’t know who Charles Dodson’s parents were, or where he came from either. We do know that there is no record of any Dodson family in the region before Charles first appears in the 1679 transaction between Charles Dodson and Peter Elmore.

For all we know, Charles and Ann may have married in England, or wherever they were before they are found in Rappahannock County in 1679.

By that time, Ann and Charles have at least one son, Charles Jr., have probably been married about 9 years and most likely have had about 4 children. We know that Charles Jr. lived to adulthood, and it’s safe to say that Thomas born in 1781 is the second son that lived, but we don’t know if any of the children born between Charles and Thomas survived.

Can Ann Dodson Write?

Ann witnesses four documents in 1693, 1694 and 1705. It appears that she signed her name, although that may simply be because the clerk did not mention that she could not write and signed with a mark. Given that her son, Charles Jr., also married an Ann, it’s difficult to discern which Ann was signing, although the ones where Charles Jr. is absent are much more likely to have been signed by Ann, wife of Charles Sr.

If Ann is literate, it makes the probability that she was raised in England much more likely than being raised in early Virginia.

Court Order Book May 1, 1693 Power of Attorney Easter Mills of Richmond Co. constitute my trusty and loving friend Edward Reid of same to be my attorney to ask a deed above made by my husband John Mills and myself unto Charles Richardson of the same of 125 acres. Wit Ann Dodson, Charles Dodson, Jr, Charles Dodson Sr. Book 1, page 71

Deed Book May 28, 1694 William Richardson and Elizabeth his wife of Richmond Co planter to John Henley of same, planter, 50 ac parcel in Farnham parish adj said Richardson’s land and Thomas Dusin part of a devident of land purch of John Mills of Richmond Co on main branch of Totuskey. Wit Ann Dodson, Charles Dodson Jr, Charles Dodson Sr. Ack June 6, 1694 Book 2 page 29

Notice that in the above deed, no one is noted as signing with an X, but below, having to do with the same deed, both Ann and Charles Jr. are noted as signing by their marks.

Court Order Book May 28, 1694 Elizabeth Richardson POA to Thomas Dusin to acknowledge deed. Signed with mark, wit Ann Dodson by mark, Charles Dodson Jr. by mark and Charles Dodson Sr.

Will Book 24 Apr 1704-04 Oct 1705. Richmond Co, Virginia Wills, Will of Eve Smith. Grandson William and John Goad; daughter Catherine to have her father, John Williams’ chest; granddaughter Hannah Goad; exec. son Abraham Goad; Wits: William Dodson, Charles Dodson, Sr., Anne Dodson.

Life on the Northern Neck

Life on the Northern Neck of Virginia at that time revolved around the planting, nurturing and harvesting of tobacco, a very labor intensive crop.

Charles Dodson was very clearly a man with a great deal of initiative and drive, given that he started out in 1679 by working the land of Peter Elmore that he would never own, and by the time he died, 27 years later, he owned 900 acres.

Ann’s life too would have revolved around crops, seasons and church. While church attendance was mandatory at the time, most people, especially women, didn’t need much encouragement to attend. Where the court sessions were an important social occasion for men, women didn’t usually attend court, and church provided that same type of camaraderie for women.

Charles and Ann lived in, along or on Briery Swamp, a part of the Totuskey watershed. They paid for their land with tobacco, the traditionally accepted money in colonial Virginia.

Ann’s husband did the normal male things of the day. He witnessed wills, witnessed deeds and attended court, occasionally serving as a juror. Charles apparently settled differences with people amicably, because for a very long time, he wasn’t sued and he didn’t sue anyone.

He was highly thought of in the community, because in 1686/1687, when neighbor John Lincoln died, it was reported that John would “have none other than Charles Dodson” for his executor.

In 1688, Charles and Ann would have been about 38 years old.

Something began to change. The first suit was filed against Charles Dodson, with a second one following at the same court tern.

In 1693, a rather unusual transaction occurred where Charles Dodson trades cows with his son, Thomas, who was age 12.

Charles continues to sign deeds as a witness and appear in court, until in 1695, when the “Ozgrippin event” occurred. According to depositions, Charles, along with two other men went to the house of Matthew Ozgrippen (or Ozgriffen), apparently Charles Dodson’s tenant, and forcibly entered the house, beat Matthew and destroyed his tobacco and corn crop.

For two years, and with Murphy of Murphy’s law in attendance, Charles Dodson and Matthew Ozgrippen battled in the courts, with Matthew ultimately winning, but not nearly as much money (tobacco) as he had requested.

Charles then begins to file suits and not appear afterwards.

The behavior of Charles has changed perceptibly and I have to wonder if he changed at home too. He would have been between 40 and 50 at this time. His behavior is similar to what I’ve witnessed up close and personal when strokes or closed head injuries are incurred.

About 1698, the 19 year “arrangement” for Charles to farm and improve Peter Elmore’s land expires, and apparently Charles and Ann built a new house on a new plantation on land they owned, because Charles’ will in 1702/1703 references it as such.

In 1699, when he is age 50, Charles does serve on a jury once more, gives a deposition and is also involved with Ozgrippen again in a suit. Ann must have been holding her breath, waiting on one of those two men to kill the other.

In January 1702/03, Charles Dodson wrote his will. He would have been about 53 at the time. He didn’t pass away right away, in fact, not for 3 more years – and he resumes filing suit and not showing up for court too.

In March of 1705/1706, Charles Dodson’s estate is probated, with Ann as executrix.

Charles Dodson’s Estate Inventory

Charles Dodson’s estate inventory was filed with the court on Oct. 17, 1706, as follows:

  • Feather bed and bedstead and parcel of sheets and one blanket and one rugg – 0600
  • One flock bed and paire of blankets one sheet and rug and bolster and bedstead – 0500
  • One saw and six reep hooks and one paire of old pestells holsters and one old chest and one old bill book – 0200
  • Eight chairs – 0800
  • Two wooden chairs – 0100
  • One chest of drawers and table – 1000
  • Two chest – 0250
  • One small table couch – 0150
  • One warming pan two paire of tongs and one box iron – 0200
  • One pair hilliards – 0250
  • One super table cloth and 12 napkins – 0200
  • Four old napkins and one old table cloth – 0050
  • One feather bed curtains and valens one blankett one pair of sheets and two pillows – 1100
  • A parcel of old books – 0150
  • Ole looking glass and lantron? – 0050
  • One old flock bed 2 blankets rug bolster and pillows – 0400
  • 2 spinning wheels – 0150
  • 3 pots 3 pothooks and 3 pot hangers one spit and one iron pestell – 0450
  • 99 weight of pewter – 0950
  • One bellmettle pestle and mortar 0 0700
  • 7.5 pounds of brass – 0130
  • One servant man 3 years and 8 months to serve – 2200
  • One pare of small hilliards and two smoothing iron and two cutting knives and skewers – 0150
  • One mare and two horses – 2400
  • Parcel of old iron – 0100
  • Pair of cart wheels – 0060
  • Old crosscut saw – 0150
  • One saddle and pillow or pillion – 0120
  • 3 cows and 3 years old – 1800
  • One cow and calfe – 0500
  • 6 two yeare olde – 1200
  • One steere of 5 years old – 0500
  • 2 barren cows and heifer and one calfe – 1400
  • 3 old sheep – 0300
  • 3 lambs – 0200

Total 18780

Signed John Rankin, William Smoot and Richard R. White (his mark)

I absolutely love estate inventories, because they tell us exactly what was in the household and on the farm when the man died. Inventories included everything owned by the couple, because the man was presumed to own all property of any kind except for the wife’s clothes and any real estate deeded to her individually after they were married. The wife was entitled to one third of the value of the husband’s estate unless the husband provided for more. However, the estate’s real value was established by the sale of the inventory items, not by the inventory itself, so everything was inventoried prior to sale.  In some cases, the widow was made an initial allocation so she and the children could simply survive.

The feather bed clearly was the bed that Charles and Ann slept in, but it’s worth noting that there were no bedcurtains or valances which would have suggested a more upper-class household.

There were three beds in the inventory, two of flock which meant a mattress of scraps of fabric and wool instead of feathers. However, Ann and Charles had 8 children and a servant. Obviously there was a lot of bed-sharing going on and not everyone had a bed. The servant may have slept in the barn or on straw in the kitchen.

The spinning wheels certainly weren’t tools used by Charles and were obviously Ann’s.

This photo of a woman with a spinning wheel was taken about 1920, but not a lot had changed in spinning wheel design in the past couple hundred years.

The looking glass may have been a shared resource. Looking glasses were scarce and status symbols.

I do wonder why there were no pots and pans, silverware, candle holders, etc. The absence of these items if very unusual for this time period – and let’s face it, you can’t live without candles and silverware and Charles Dodson, while he wasn’t rich, he certainly was not a poor man.

Ann Remarries

Four months after Charles’ will is probated, Ann has remarried to John Hill, probably between March 6th and July 3rd, 1706.

John Hill is no stranger. In fact, he has been a lifelong friend of Charles Dodson. John Hill had previously married the widow of John Lincoln and she had probably recently died as well, assuming Ann married the same John Hill. They probably knew each other well, possibly for their entire lives. A decision to marry would have benefitted both parties. Life alone was difficult if not impossible in colonial Virginia, and Ann would probably have had some children yet at home given that she was probably between 50 and 55 when Charles died. Women had children until they biologically could not, generally between the ages of 41-45, which meant Ann probably had at least 5 or 6 children remaining at home.

Court Order Book Page 137 March 6, 1705/06 Will of Charles Dodson proved by oath of Christopher Petty with oath of John Beckwith.

Will Book Page 171 July 3, 1706 Upon petition of John Hill and Anne his wife, exec of the will of Charles Dodson decd ordered that John Rankin, William Smoote, John Mills and Richard White or any 3 of them meet at the house of John Hill and inventory and appraise the estate of Charles Dodson. All sworn plus John Hill and Anne, his wife.

Court Order Book Page 262 April 3, 1707 Action brought by Thomas Dodson against John Hill marrying the executrix of Charles Dodson is dismissed, plt not prosecuting.

Thomas Dodson was Ann’s second oldest son, of course, who would have about 26 years old at the time and had been married since 1701. Something upset him enough to file suit, although the issue was apparently resolved within the family as the suit was obviously dropped. I wonder if his suit had anything to do with what appears to be missing estate inventory items.

Court Order Book Page 275 May 7, 1707 John Hill and Anne his wife exec of Charles Dodson confest judgement to Katherine Gwyn exec of will of Majr David Gwyn for 8 pounds 19 shillings and 8 pence 3 farthings and 731 pounds of sweet scented tobacco due upon balance of accounts ordered to be paid with costs.

Court Order Book Page 281 May 8, 1707 Imparlance granted in suite between John Harper plt and John Hill and Anne his wife exec of Charles Dodson decd, till next court.

Court Order Book Page 292 July 3, 1707 John Harper against John Hill and Anne his wife exec of Charles Dodson decde, deft for 500 pounds of tobacco upon balance of accounts, def pleaded they owed nothing and plt asked time to next court.

Court Order Book Page 303 Sept. 4, 1707 Judgement granted to John Harper against John Hill and Anne his wife exec of Charles Dodson, decd, for 405 pounds tobacco due by account proved by oath of plt ordered paid with costs.

Court Order Book Page 323 Dec. 4, 1707 John Hill and Anne his wife exe of will of Charles Dodson decd against John Harper dismissed, plt not prosecuting.

Court Order Book Page 40 June 2 1709 Judgment granted to John Davis Sr. against John Hill and Anne, wife, exec of Charles Dodson decd for 136 pounds tobacco due by account ordered paid with costs.

John Hill

As with Charles Dodson previously, we now have to track Ann’s life through husband, John Hill. As we might expect, it appears there is more than one John Hill, at least eventually. We can’t tell the difference between the two, if there are two this early, and we don’t know when Ann died.

Court Order Book Page 27 June 1, 1709 Ordered Luke Hanks officiate as constable for the ensuing year in room and stead of John Hill in the precincts between Totuskey and Farnham Creeks.

Court Order Book Page 337 Sept. 8, 1715 Petition of Thomas Mountjoy and John Hill for their keep an ordinary at the place where they now live is granted provided they give bond and security as the law directs.

Court Order Book Page 475 May 2, 1716 Ordered the Sheriff to summon William Hill and John Hill to appear to answer the presentment of the grand jury against them for stopping the creek and mill road from the Folly Neck in Farnham Parish within this 3 months.

Please note that you can click to enlarge any image.

Folly Neck is the point of land on the south side of Tosuskey Creek where it intersects with the Rappahannock River. Folly Neck Road (614) intersects with the main road (3). Did Ann live here with John Hill, or did they live on one of Charles Dodson’s plantations?  Was this one of Charles Dodson’s plantations? Folly Neck is just south of Totuskey Creek and not far from Rich Neck, shown a the top of the map below, where  Charles Dodson’s land deeded to both Charles Jr. and Thomas in 1703 was located.

The old Farnham Parish church is just south of Emmerton in the bend of the road and the new church, built in 1737, is currently located at Farnham.  The river near Sharps is Farnham Creek and the one heading northwest underneath the word Simonson is Morattico Creek.

Court Order Book Page 43 August 2, 1716 John Hill his action of case against Ann Dodson executrix of the will of Charles Dodson decd for 313 pounds tobacco due by account is dismissed, plt not prosecuting.

This Charles Dodson is Charles Dodson Jr., the son of Charles Sr. and Ann Dodson Hill, and the Ann Dodson mentioned here is the wife of Charles Jr.

Deed Book September 1716 Deed between Thomas Mountjoy and John Hill.

Deed Book Page 66 October 4, 1716 John Doyle from Edward Barrow gent, one of his majesties justices of the peace for this county, against the estate of John Hill for 261 pounds of tobacco is dismissed, the plt not prosecuting.

Given that this 1716 record doesn’t say John Hill, deceased, it’s unclear whether or not this John Hill in question is deceased.  It seems unlikely since there has been no other mention of a will or probate estate in any existing court or will book for Richmond County. The same day, John Hill is in court, noted below.

Deed Book Page 67 October 4, 1716 John Hill came into court and confessed until Augustine Higgins 4167 pounds of tobacco which is ordered to be paid with costs.

Court Order Book Page 72 October 4, 1716 Action of debt between Joseph Hutchinson Plt and Thomas Mountjoy and John Hill, deft, for 750 pounds tobacco due by bill being called and not appearing on motion judgement is granted him against William Carter, returned security for the deft for the aforesaid sum and costs unless defts appear at next court and answer action.

Court Order Book Page 73 October 4, 1716 Mary Stevens action of debt against John Hill for 600 pounds tobacco due by bill, dismissed, plt not prosecuting.

Court Order Page 91 Feb. 7, 1716/17 Joseph Hutchison action of debt against Thomas Mountjoy and John Hill dismissed the plt not prosecuting.

John Hill was appointed constable, but I failed to copy the date which was in either the  1716 -1717 Court Order book or the 1717-1718 book.

Assuming this John Hill is the same John Hill that was married to Ann Dodson, she has died sometime between June 2, 1709 when she is last mentioned in the court records pertaining to the estate of Charles Dodson, and March 7, 1721/1722, when John Hill’s new wife released her down in land John Hill sells.

Court Order Book Page 36 March 7, 1721/22 Frances Hill wife of John Hill relinquished right of dower in piece of land sold by her husband unto Thomas Creele and ack last Jan court.

The Creele family does live in the neighborhood, because in later generations, the Dodson family intermarries with Creeles. Based on the next entry, John Hill has obviously married a recently widowed woman, for the third time. Given that he seems to have a propensity for that, I wonder if Ann Dodson Hill had just recently died in late 1721 or early 1722.

Court Order Book Page 36 March 7, 1721/22 John Hill and Frances Hill, relict of Robert Reynolds, decd came into court and made oath that Robert Reynolds departed this life without making any will so farr as they know or believe and on their petition and giving security for their just and faithful administration of the decds estate, certificate granted them for obtaining probate.

Court Order Book Page 36 March 7, 1721/22 John Hill, Frances Hill, Caron Brannon and James Neale came into court and ack bond for John Hill and Frances Hill admin of estate of Robert Reynolds, decd.

Court Order Book Page 36 March 7, 1721/22 Thomas Dodson, Christopher Petty, Bartholomew Richard Dodson and Thomas Scurlock or any 3 of them to appraise estate of Robert Reynolds decd. All sworn plus John and Frances Hill, the admins.

It’s impossible to tell whether the above John Hill is the same one that was married to Ann Dodson, but the continued interaction with the Dodson family suggests possibly so. It’s also possible that we are dealing with a second generation John Hill, although Jr. and Sr. is never used in these records.

Court Order Book Page 83 January 2, 1722/23 Ordered John Hill in the Forrest of Moratico of Northumberland Parish to answer to the presentment of the grand jury for unlawfully absenting themselves from their Parish Church for one month last past.

This entry is somewhat confusing, because there is not now nor was there ever, that I an find, a Northumberland Parish in Richmond County, Virginia.  There was a Northumberland County formed in 1648, a neighbor to Richmond County, but the parishes in Northumberland were called St. Stephens and Wycomico (Wicomico) when the county was founded.  Northumberland Parish, is therefore, a bit of a mystery.

If John Hill lived in the Forest of Moratico, so did Ann. This reminds me of Sherwood Forest, although I’m sure I’m being overly romantic. I could not find the Forest of Moratico on current maps, or any map between now and then. Clearly, it’s someplace near the Moratico River which is in the general vicinity of the Dodson lands in Richmond County.

I’m guessing that the Forest of Morattico would be someplace near Morattico Creek shown at the red balloon, above. There are several wooded areas, including three state-owned areas shown in green above.  Below, you can see the extent of the tree cover.

The involvement between the Dodson clan and John Hill continues.

Deed Book Dec. 10, 1723 Thomas Durham to Thomas Dodson Sr. 5 shillings 100 acres formerly belonging to Abraham Marshall bounded by Spanish Oak corner tree of Charles Dodson part of patent formerly granted to William Thatcher by the main branch of Totoskey and then (metes and bounds.) Signed Thomas and Mary Durham, wit John Hill, William Walker and Jeremiah Greenham

Deed Book Dec. 10, 1723 between Thomas Durham to Thomas Dodson Sr. of Richmond Co. 5000 pounds tobacco received by Thomas Dodson Sr certain parcel of land formerly belonging to Abraham Marshall bearing date 25th of 9ber, 1692, containing 100 acres bounded (same as lease above). Signed Thomas Durham, Mary Durham, wit John Hill, William Walker, Jeremiah Greenham

Thomas Dodson Sr. is Ann’s son.

Court Order Book Page 307 Sept. 7, 1726 William Garland plt and Edward Jones deft, the deft being called and not appearing, judgement granted him against deft and John Hill his security for the sum sued for in the declaration shall appear next court with cost providing deft does not then appear and answer thereto.

Court Order Book Page 307 Sept. 7, 1726 John Nancy vs John Hill deft damage 100 pounds sterling the plt being called and not appearing, at deft’s motion ordered that he be nonsuited and that he pay the deft damage according to law and attorney’s fees with costs.

Court Order Book Page 308 Sept. 7, 1726 John Hill his case damage 20 pounds sterling against Richard Woollard dismissed, the plt not prosecuting.

I made a note that there is a John Hill listed in the book, Richmond Co Will Book 4 1717-1725 by TLC, but unfortunately, I did not copy the page. The date could be wrong as well, as the books at the Allen County Public Library in this series appears to have the covers mixed up. This site shows that John’s will was probated April 3, 1728 where he leaves the plantation and land to his wife, who is unnamed.

I expect the 1728 entry is “our” John Hill, as he is clearly dead by April 1728 when Frances is shown in the court records as his executrix. Furthermore, three sons of Charles and Ann Dodson are still connected with this man.

Court Order Book Page 399 April 3, 1728 Last will of John Hill decd presented by Frances Hill, executrix and oath of James Wilson and John Hightower, two witnesses.

Court Order Book Page 399 April 3, 1728 Frances Hill, John Hightower and Lambert Dodson came into court and ack bond for Frances Hill’s administration of will of John Hill decd.

Court Order Book Page 399 April 3, 1728 Thomas Scurlock, Thomas Dodson, John Hightower and Bartholomew Richard Dodson or any 3 of them to appraise estate of John Hill. Oaths admin to all 3 plus Frances Hill.

Court Order Book Page 435 October 2, 1728 Action of debt between Frances Hill executrix of will of John Hill, decd, plt and Thomas Livack and Mary, wife executrix of will of John Mills, decd, for 16,000 pounds tobacco due by bond, the def being called and not appearing the motion of the plt judgement is granted her against the defts.

These next two orders show that there was unquestionably (at least) two John Hills, because one is still living.

Court Order Book Page 644 May 3, 1732 Thomas Dodson, Sr, Jeremiah Greenham and John Hill on grand jury.

Court Order Book Page 172 April 1, 1734 Jeremiah Greenham and John Hill on jury.

At this point in time, it’s very unlikely for this John Hill, active in court, to be the husband of Ann Dodson Hill. Ann would have been about 85 years old by now, and John probably as well. They are very likely both deceased by this time and if John isn’t deceased, he’s probably not riding his horse to court. I stopped extracting John Hill information at this point.

I believe that Ann died before 1721/1722 when John had remarried to Frances.

Where is Ann Buried?

In the book, “The Registers of North Farnham Parish 1663-1814,” the following map of the current and old Farnham Parish churches is shown. The current church was built in 1737, and the previous church was located some distance away, on the main road.

This map gives the only locations I have ever seen of the original church, other than a general description.

What I don’t know is whether this is an approximation, or if the old-timers actually knew the location of the old church.

Regardless, given this map, I was able to find the location on Google maps today based on the bends in the road.

Map above, satellite view below.

The X on the map from the Farnham Parish book would be found approximately where the Calvary United Methodist Church is found today.

A closer view allows us to see the lay of the land.

The church does have a cemetery, although we have no idea of course whether this cemetery predates this church or whether the original Farnham Parish church was even in this location.

The original church was certainly someplace nearby, so let’s take a drive down this road.

What a beautiful white country church. Whether the original Farnham Parish Church church was in this location or not, Ann would have seen this beautiful countryside on her way to church.

The earliest burials in this cemetery with markers are a Ficklin in 1873 and a Lyell 1884. The area of the cemetery is quite large, so there may well be many unmarked burials in the churchyard. I was unable to find any history of this particular church online.

The fields beside the church would have been prime farmland – flat and dry. At that time, they would have been planted in tobacco (for 3 years) or corn (for 3 years), or lieing fallow (for 20 years), waiting for the nutrients to replenish so that the fields could be planted once again.

Ann’s Children

Ann and Charles had several children who survived at least until Charles made his will in January 1702/1703. There were likely several more children born to Ann as well. In the following generations, there were at least three grandchildren named for Charles but only one that we know of named for Ann. Of course, we don’t know the identities of the children of William, Anne or Elizabeth and only two names of children of Richard Bartholomew who are remembered in Charles’ will, but we know nothing further.

If Ann was born about 1652 and had her first child in 1672, she would have been having children until about 1695 or so when she would have been about 43 years of age.

  • Charles Junior was born between 1672 and 1677 and likely closer to 1672 given that he witnessed a document in 1693. Based on the deeds by Charles and the fact that he was named for his father, he was most likely the eldest son, if not the eldest child. Charles married an Anne whose surname is unknown.  Charles Jr. died between July of 1715 and May of 1716 when his will was probated.
  • Child born about 1674
  • Child born about 1676
  • Child born about 1678
  • Thomas Dodson was born on May 15, 1681, married Mary Durham on August 1, 1701 and died on November 21, 1740 in Richmond County.

We don’t have birth dates for the remainder of the children, so I’ve listed them as best we know.

  • Child born about 1683
  • Elizabeth possibly born about 1685, nothing further known except that she was alive when her father wrote his will in 1703
  • Anne possibly born about 1687, nothing more is known except that she was alive when her father wrote his will in 1703
  • Bartholomew Richard Dodson married Elizabeth Clark and their first child, James was born on December 23, 1716 according to the North Farnham Parish Records. This would suggest his birth date probably around 1689 if James was the first child. They are last found in the Richmond County records in 1734 selling their land to brother Thomas Dodson, listing themselves as “of Northumberland County.” Unfortunately, Northumberland County records are mostly missing and Bartholomew Richard disappears after this date.

I suspect that Bartholomew Richard’s name may be a hint as to the parents of either Ann or Charles, given that middle names were not utilized at that time unless they were family names and Bartholomew was a very unusual name.

  • William Dodson born about 1691, about whom nothing more is known. He may have died before a 1717 land conveyance by James Tune and Bartholomew Richard Dodson that could have been his land, or he may simply have moved away, abandoning his land with no record.
  • John Dodson born about 1693 was married to Elizabeth Goad about 1724 and died in Shenandoah Co., VA in 1784. In 1726, John sold or leased to Robert Mathews his 100 acres for the use of Mathews for 3 natural lifetimes, with the actual ownership remaining with John, per Charles Sr.’s wishes in his will. In 1737, two of John’s sons, Charles age 1 and Moses age 8 were taken into the care of the church, although nothing more is said as to why. John left soon thereafter and is found in Augusta County by 1741 when his daughter Elizabeth was baptized. John bequeaths his land, leased for 3 lifetimes, to his son, Charles, in his will.
  • Lambeth Dodson was born about 1695 and married a Sarah whose surname is unknown. Lambeth sold the land he inherited from his father being “the new dwelling plantation with 100 acres of land belonging to it” to his brother, Thomas, who bequeathed the land in his will in 1739 to his son Greenham Dodson. By 1753, Lambeth is found in Halifax County, VA and in Guilford Co., NC by 1779.

Lambeth’s son, Greenham Dodson married Eleanor Hightower and sold the 100 acres of Charles’ land to Jeremiah Greenham in 1746, Richmond County deeds 10-373. This land needs to be tracked forward from Jeremiah, with the hope that it can be located today.

Ann’s DNA

The only DNA that we could specifically identify today of Ann’s would be her mitochondrial DNA which is passed from mothers to all of their children, but only passed on to subsequent generations by females. Unfortunately, we know absolutely nothing about what happened to Ann’s two daughters, Anne and Elizabeth. We only know they existed because Charles’ will mentions them. They could have died or married, but regardless, we have no further records of these women, so we can’t obtain Ann’s mitochondrial DNA.

Many people carry autosomal DNA tracking back to Charles and Ann. Some of that DNA is undoubtedly Ann’s DNA, but when we have DNA attributed to a couple, the only way to tell whose DNA is whose is to be able to track specific segments upstream to either the Dodson side or Ann’s side.

The way to do that is to track those segments by finding them in Dodson’s, for example, who do not descend through Ann or Charles – meaning through Charles Dodson’s siblings. Since we don’t know who Charles’ parents nor Ann’s parents were, we don’t know who their siblings are either, so our figurative hands are tied relative to identifying whether segments descending from this couple are his or hers. We can only tell that they are “theirs.”

At Family Tree DNA, where I can both search for current and ancestral surnames, AND compare people to look for matching segments in a chromosome browser, I did just that.

I found a total of 22 people who either have the current surname of Dodson or have Dodson listed in their Ancestral Surnames. Some have trees, and some don’t.

I checked each tree to see how my matches descend from a Dodson ancestor. I discovered that we descend through at least two sons of Charles and Ann Dodson. Several people are brick walled and don’t have their genealogy back far enough to connect.

However, the Dodson DNA connects us when compared to known Dodson descendants.

I pushed all of these people through to the chromosome browser, 5 at a time, and downloaded the matching results, combining them into one working spreadsheet. In total, I had 22 matches that matched me on a total of 452 separate segments. Many of these people matched me on some of the same segments

There are two sizeable segments of chromosome 5 that have, amazingly, arrived intact from the Dodson line.

This first segment is staggered across the first half of the chromosome, and of this group, only two, the yellow and orange have their Dodson lines proven back to Charles. Both the yellow and orange descend through son Thomas, the same as me.

The cM values and ranges for the people shown above as compared to me are:

While the chromosome browser tells me that all of these people match me on the same chromosome – all chromosomes have two sides – Mom’s and Dad’s. Furthermore, these matches are staggered, so not entirely overlapping. Therefore, some of the people may not match each other either because their overlapping portion of the segment on chromosome 5 isn’t large enough to be considered a match to each other, or because some people could be matching me from a line on my mother’s side.

To see if these people all match each other, I used the Matrix tool.

Three of these individuals match each other, plus me, although a matrix match does not guarantee a match on the same segment(s). It does, however, create a genetic network of people known to match and share ancestors, or in this care, a mixture of people proven to Charles and Ann and people whose genealogy isn’t proven quite that far back but who are Dodson descendants.

Two individuals do not match each other. If the overlap occurs without enough DNA matching to be over the threshold, non-matching can be the result. As you can see in the table and also on the chromosome graphic above, the orange and magenta are very offset from the other 3. Sure enough, these two don’t match the other 3 more closely aligned matches over the matching threshold, so either they don’t belong in this group or their overlap isn’t large enough for a match to each other. Looking for other clues, neither of those two are assigned to my father’s side through phased matching.

But wait, there’s more.

A second matching segment on chromosome 5 is even more remarkable.

These segments are even longer and more robust. Five people are shown above on the chromosome browser, above, and in the first 5 rows below.

Three additional people match on these segments, but the chromosome browser only displays 5 at a time. The row below green would be the exact same segment as the green segment. The segment with only 1.37 cM is very small and the last segment, at 13.34 is a known cousin, so I omitted that individual from the browser.

To be as sure as I can be that these segments are legitimate and that these people also match each other, I used the matrix tool again.

This matrix shows that all of the individuals in the matrix match. I’ve included two of the three individuals whose DNA did not fit in the chromosome browser, excluding the one small segment match. All match each other, except for the last row who is the known cousin whose matching segment is much smaller and does not extend the full length of the segments of the other individuals who are matching to me. Therefore, that cousin matches some, but not others, as might be expected.

While Family Tree DNA does not have explicit triangulation, the combination of the chromosome browser showing matches on the same segment, the same family line and the matrix tool indicating that these people also match each other is a very powerful indication that triangulation would or will occur if you can verify that these people also match each other. These individuals form a match group.

So, at this point, we can assume that of these people, all of the group in the second matrix and at least 3 of the 5 in the first matrix all descend from Charles and Ann Dodson, for a minimum total of 10 people plus me.

This is actually quite remarkable, because these large segments have survived through 10 generations on my side alone – plus about as many generations for each of them as well.

If one can assume that the other people matching that chromosome 5 segment are also 10 generations removed from Charles and Ann, they would be my 9th cousins.

The shared cM chart doesn’t even go as far out as 9th cousins. The highest is 8th, with the maximum amount of shared DNA by cM for 8th cousins being 16 cM with an average of 9. These centiMorgans ranging from 15 to 39 for this entire group is really quite amazing. The Dodson DNA seems to “stick together” quite well.

Now if we could just tell if we are looking at Ann’s DNA or Charles’ DNA, or some combination of both. Maybe someday there will be an avenue to associate this segment with the Dodson line or Ann’s family line – and if that day comes, maybe we’ll finally be able to solve the mystery of who Ann Dodson, wife of Charles Dodson, really was.