Isaac Jones homestead (1837-1851) Calloway County, KY

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Jeffrey Family of Surry County, NC




1816 Surry County Tax List ~ Capt. Jones District



Of the many families to marry into the Isaac Jones clan, fortunately, few are able to match Isaac Jones in regards to mystery of origin as that of the family of William Jeffrey Sr. What little that is known about William is primarily pulled from the federal census records. As with Isaac Jones' son Joshua, luck would have it that William Jeffrey's son John lived to see the 1880 Census on which he states that his father was born in North Carolina. William Jeffrey's inclusion on the 1786 Tax List for Surry County, NC would indicate that William was born at some point prior to 1765.

As to the identity of William Jeffrey's parents, that information still remains a mystery to me. There is one individual that stands out to me as a likely candidate though, and this would be the James Jeffery that can be found living in Rutherford County, NC on the 1790 Census. If one were to want to put stock in the traditional child-naming system, he would certainly rise well above the rest considering William Jeffrey named his oldest son James. The earliest record I've been able to locate involving this James Jeffrey in Rutherford County is his appearance on the 1782 tax list where he is found listed adjacent a John Wells and being taxed for 50 acres of land, 3 horses, and two head of cattle in Captain Uel Lamkin's Company. Two years later, he is joined by a Jeremiah Jeffery on the 1785 tax list and is now shown adjacent a William Wood. By 1800 James Jeffery disappears from the Rutherford County record and I've seen where some researchers believe him to be the same James Jeffery who ended up in Izard County, Arkansas where he died in 1844. This Izard County James Jeffery is thought to have been born in Virginia in the year 1758 and also to be a son of a James, which would probably make a better case if they are one and the same, for him possibly being an older brother of William Jeffrey.

As I discussed in an earlier post concerning Isaac Jones, there was a distinct migratory pattern of many families moving from Rutherford to southern Surry County in the late 1700's. With there not being any record of other Jeffreys, or any of it's spelling variations in Surry County prior to William, it may be that William Jeffrey was also part of this migration considering he makes his first appearance in Surry County records on the 1786 tax list for Captain Sanders District. Despite being listed as "William Jeffes", confirmation of his identity can be found in the Surry County Court Minutes for May 19, 1787. It would appear that Captain Sanders District didn't have a tax collector in 1786 and "William Jeffery" is listed as still owing tax on a single white poll. This would be a pretty good indicator that he was new to the county and is consistent with what William Jeffes was being taxed for on the1786 tax list. Evidence seems to suggest that William Jeffrey certainly wasn't a man of means, because even as late as 1790, tax lists still show him not owning any land and only being taxed for a single white poll. In fact, his earliest known land purchase doesn't occur until October 6, 1797 when he buys 103 acres on Deep Creek from Allen Gentry for the sum of 40 pounds. I would venture to say that it's quite likely that William Jeffrey had migrated to the area as a young newlywed with the family of his wife, much as his own son William Jr. later did after marrying a daughter of Isaac Jones and going to Tennessee with him.

Very little is known concerning the identity of William's wife, who we're told was named "Patsy" based on his "verbal will" later recorded by the courts in 1831. Her real first name was most likely Martha due to Patsy being it's common nickname and her son William Jr. naming his oldest daughter Martha. The 1830 Census for Surry County states that she was born sometime after 1770 and her son John would later claim on the 1880 Census that she was born in Indiana. It's difficult to say how accurate this claim is due to the fact that Patsy was born during a time when the area that eventually became known as Indiana was off-limits to colonial settlement due to a British proclamation setting it aside as Indian territory in 1763. It may be this that has partially played a role in leading some to speculate that Patsy was Native American. I kind of doubt that possibility due to the fact that North Carolina had anti-miscegenation laws making it illegal for whites to marry Native Americans during the Colonial Era and long after the American Revolution. By the late 18th Century, Surry County wasn't exactly the frontier region anymore where you might have been able to get away with it like many did who moved out and actually lived among the Indians. With William actively buying land and serving the county courts as a juror he wasn't exactly living under the radar, not to mention the simple fact that Patsy was granted the rights to his property upon his death which certainly wouldn't have occurred if she was Native American. One thing is certain, by today's standards she would be considered a fairly young bride, most likely no older than 16 at the time of her marriage to William.

Assuming that the couple didn't have any extended or immediate family members living with them, the 1790 Census would seem to indicate that they had three daughters by this point in time. Of the possible three, the only one known to me is their daughter Sarah who was born in Surry County in 1789. She would eventually go on to marry Benjamin Sparks and live out her days in neighboring Wilkes County. Unfortunately the 1800 Census doesn't provide any further clarity as to the identity of the other two females, or any additional children, due to the census being severely faded through most of the surnames starting with "J". The only other child known to me that was born prior to 1800 was their son James who was born in 1794. If the information is correct, the 1810 Census points to the possibility that William and Patsy also had at least one additional daughter by the year 1800 and two more between 1800-1810. It was also during this period of time that their sons William Jr.(1806) and John (1807) were born. Unless the information is incorrect or William and Patsy had a widowed daughter and her children living with them at the time, the 1820 Census shows the addition of three new sons and one new daughter all under the age of 10. Of these three boys, the only identity known to me is that of their youngest son Harrison.


Vicinity of William Jeffrey's Homestead
Yadkin County, NC


As I mentioned earlier, William Jeffrey's initial land purchase was located along the waters of Deep Creek in what is now Yadkin County. The area or land must not have been to his complete satisfaction because a mere three years later he turns around and sells it to a man named Richard Parsons for the amount of "sixty-two Spanish milled dollars" otherwise known as pieces of eight, on January 20, 1800. The deed was witnessed by Ambrose Chappel and Airs Hudspeth and signed by William Jeffrey using "his mark". The following month on February 28, 1800 William purchases 170 acres on Hunting Creek from Reuben Sparks of Wilkes County for the sum of  150 pounds. The land is described in the deed as being "on the waters of Hunting Creek on the Brushy Mountain" and running along the Surry and Wilkes County line. The only neighboring individual named in the deed is listed only as Denny, this being most likely James Denny, who tax records and later deeds show was in fact William Jeffrey's direct neighbor. Of all the land that William Jeffrey would buy and sell over the years, this is the actual parcel that he lived on and would still own at the time of his death. Based on the deed description I would say it was most likely located in the vicinity of where Hwy 421 crosses from Wilkes into Yadkin County. Interestingly enough, this deed is also witnessed by Ambrose Chappel and two other men named James Chappel and Solomon Sparks. Even more interesting is the fact that on every land transaction involving William Jeffrey, whether buying or selling, the deed is witnessed by Ambrose Chappel. Possible connection?

Ambrose Chappel appears once again when William Jeffrey receives a 100 acre land grant from the State of North Carolina on December 9, 1802. The land is described as being on "the North Fork of the North Fork of Hunting Creek" and bordering Ambrose Chappel. In the fall of 1804 William Jeffrey continues to add to his land holdings, purchasing 80 acres adjoining Samuel Hicks, Isaac Jones, and John Brown on October 17th from Benjamin Hicks and then another 21 acres from William Hicks on November 13th. This second tract of land also bordered John Brown and Samuel Hicks. The following year on August 3, 1805, William purchases another 100 acres on Hunting Creek from William Hicks, with the land once again bordering John Brown, Samuel Hicks, and now also Richard Messick. One has to wonder what William Jeffrey's motive was with these three land purchases because roughly three months later he turns around and sells all 200 acres to William West on November 19, 1805 for 125 pounds. He certainly lost money on that deal having originally paid 170 pounds for all of it.


1828 Surry County Tax List ~ Capt. Ashby's District


Two months later on January 18, 1806, William Jeffrey purchases another 100 acres closer to his original land purchase along the Wilkes County line from Amos Chappel for the amount of $200. Just one year later on January 10, 1807 he turns around and sells this same piece of land to a man named William George for the same amount he originally paid for it. By February 1, 1811, William Jeffrey had reduced his total land holdings down to just his original 170 acre Hunting Creek property after selling his 100 acre 1802 land grant to Elisha Chappel for 58 pounds. Having only paid 50 shillings originally for the land, this was quite the profit considering 1 pound equals 20 shillings. Later that same year on October 2, William would make his final and largest land purchase to date, buying 270 acres from Thomas Allen of Wilkes County for the amount of $500. The land is described as being "on both sides of Hunting Creek" and starting "west of the Brushy Mountains near the head of said creek" also running adjacent to the land owned by Nathan Pearson and James Fisk. By 1812, the Surry County Tax List for Capt. Hatley's district shows William Jeffrey being taxed for a total of 440 acres. Although there are no existing deeds for the transactions, later tax lists such as the one for 1818 indicate that William Jeffrey later sold some of this land. By 1818 he was only being taxed on 347 acres and by the following year only 327. By 1828 he is down to only the 170 acres he had purchased from Reuben Sparks back in 1800. This would be the land he would leave to his wife Patsy with his passing on September 5, 1831.

A week after William Jeffrey's death, the Surry County Court sent two of their acting justices, Elisha Chapell and Thomas Hampton, out to William's house to record his "verbal will" based on the sworn testimony of Richard Benge and Elizabeth Chapell who stated they "did hear the decd. Wm. Jeffrey say a number of times during the decd. sickness and on the week before he died" that "his beloved wife Patsy Jeffrey should have and enjoy the hole of his property." The only other provision he made was that for his son Harrison to be given "a horse worth sixty dollars and one bed" upon reaching the age of 21. As executors, he appointed his son James Jeffrey and his son-in-law Benjamin Sparks.

It remains a mystery in regards to what happened to Patsy after William's death. No further record exists in the county involving her or the land that William left to her. Their oldest son James remained in the county until as late as 1844 before moving to Hancock County, Indiana. It may be that she died at some point prior to 1840 because she doesn't appear as a head of household or in her son's household on the census for that year. But with the possibility that William and Patsy had as many as 13 children, most of them apparently girls, there's really no telling who she could have been living with if still alive in 1840.                          


1797 Surry County, NC Deed ~ Allen Gentry to William Jeffrey (page 1)

1797 Surry County, NC Deed ~ Allen Gentry to William Jeffrey (page 2)

1800 Surry County, NC Deed ~ William Jeffrey to Richard Parsons

1800 Surry County, NC Deed ~ Reuben Sparks to William Jeffrey (page 1)

1800 Surry County, NC Deed ~ Reuben Sparks to William Jeffrey (page 2)

1802 Surry County, NC Deed ~ The State of NC to William Jeffrey (page 1)

1802 Surry County, NC Deed ~ The State of NC to William Jeffrey (page 2)

1804 Surry County, NC Deed ~ Benjamin Hicks to William Jeffrey

1804 Surry County, NC Deed ~ William Hicks to William Jeffrey

1805 Surry County, NC Deed ~ William Hicks to William Jeffrey

1805 Surry County, NC Deed ~ William Jeffrey to William West

1806 Surry County, NC Deed ~ Amos Chappel to William Jeffrey (page 1)

1806 Surry County, NC Deed ~ Amos Chappel to William Jeffrey (page 2)

1807 Surry County, NC Deed ~ William Jeffrey to William George (page 1)

1807 Surry County, NC Deed ~ William Jeffrey to William George (page 2)

1811 Surry County, NC Deed ~ William Jeffrey to Elisha Chappel (page 1)

1811 Surry County, NC Deed ~ William Jeffrey to Elisha Chappel (page 2)

1811 Surry County, NC Deed ~ Thomas Allen to William Jeffrey

1831 Surry County, NC "Verbal Will" of William Jeffrey (page 1)

1831 Surry County, NC "Verbal Will" of William Jeffrey (page 2)