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

Friday, October 12, 2012

The James Whitlock Family of Rowan & Surry County, NC...Part 1

Dutchman's Creek, Davie County, NC
(where it crosses James Whitlock Sr.'s 1787 land grant)
Since been dammed to create this small lake. 

Born circa 1766-1770, James Whitlock Jr. joins the extended family of Isaac Jones through the Surry County, NC marriage of his son Bowen Whitlock to Isaac's oldest daughter Alavina. James was the son of James Whitlock Sr. and Sylvia Jones who was the sister of the well-known Methodist Hardy Jones and daughter of Samuel and Sarah Jones. The earliest mention of any Whitlocks in Rowan County, NC can be found on the 1761 Tax List for Caleb Osborn's District which ultimately became Davie County in later years. On this tax list you find a Joseph Whitlock with a James and Mark Whitlock residing in the home or sharing the property. Despite what would appear to be the right name and location, it is my opinion that James Whitlock was actually in Lunenburg County, Virginia at this time. My reasons for believing this are based on the fact that James Sr.'s wife Sylvia, and her family, were all from Lunenburg County, as well as the fact that a James Whitlock can be found on the 1764 list of tithes for St. James Parish in the county. Further confirmation that this is indeed the correct James Whitlock I feel can be seen in the fact that he is listed adjacent to a Robert and Jessey Bowin on the tithe list. Considering his son James Whitlock Jr. eventually married a Nancy Bowen and even went a step further by naming their oldest son Bowen, this would have to be more than sheer coincidence.

At some point prior to 1768 the family of James Whitlock Sr., and his Jones in-laws, decided to relocate to the northwest corner of Rowan County, NC. The earliest mention of James Whitlock that can definitely be attributed to the subject of this post is the 1768 Tax List for Morgan Bryan's District where he can be found being taxed for himself and a "Negro Fan". This is certainly the correct James Whitlock based on the other individuals listed adjacent to him which correspond with the same names shown adjacent him or in close proximity on the 1772 Tax List for William Sharp's District. Once again, James Whitlock is shown being taxed for himself and "one negro". More importantly, James Whitlock is listed directly adjacent a man named Robert Farrington. Two years after the tax list the two men are mentioned together in the minutes for the county's Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions where it is recorded that on August 4, 1774 that the court issued James Whitlock the "letters of administration" to the estate of Robert Farrington. Currently at this point I am unaware of what the prior connection was, if any, between these two men, but it would be 10 years before the courts would declare the estate "settled" and by this point James' wife "Silvia" is listed as the "Admx de bonis non" due to her husband's death that same year. Another interesting mention of a Whitlock can be found in these same records from earlier that year on May 4, 1774. On this particular day it was ordered that James Cole and William Whitlock be taken into custody "on suspicion of having knowingly passed counterfeit money of this province." There must have been something to the case because two days later it was ordered that the two men were to be "kept in common gaol of the District of Salisbury" with that word "gaol" being an Old English word for jail.

1778 Vacant Land Entry entered by James Whitlock
for 320 acres on Dutchman's Creek, Rowan County, NC.

The following year James Whitlock makes a return to the county court records on May 2, 1775 when "letters testamentary" for the estate of his father-in-law Samuel Jones are granted to him and Samuel's wife Sarah. It's not until 1778 that you find mention of James Whitlock in any of the county land records. On July 28 of that year James Whitlock makes a land entry for 320 acres which lay on both sides of Dutchman's Creek in what is now Davie County. I expect this is also where he had initially settled when coming to the county because the land is described as including "his own improvement". The land wouldn't be officially granted to James by the State until August 9, 1787 which also happens to be three years after his death. At the time the grant is issued, it is listed as Grant #1596 and adjacent "John Beeman and Silvas Whitlock". The fact that the land was granted to James after his death has lead many to question whether this could be the same James Whitlock. To this, I say yes based on the history of the North Carolina land grant system itself. It's important to know that in the initial years of the land grant system started in 1778 all fees, which included the entry fee, surveyor's fee, and the grant fee (cost of land) were required at the actual time of entering a land entry.With the land having already been paid for, it was just understood that the individual who made the land entry owned the land, and unless the claim was sold before the official grant was issued, it was issued to the name of the original entry maker.

This 1778 land entry made by James Whitlock also provides clarification concerning his inclusion on the 1778 "List of Tories in Capt. Johnston's District". It's important to note that this isn't the official title of that list, but rather a misleading title created by author Jo White Linn in her book Rowan County, North Carolina Tax Lists 1757-1800. This listing of individuals is actually transcribed from the Minutes of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions for Rowan County where it was announced on August 7, 1778 that certain individuals in Capt. Johnston's District, including James Whitlock, had "neglected or refused to appear before the Justice of their respective Districts and take the Oath of Affirmation of Allegiance to the State". In the case of James Whitlock, it was certainly due to neglect and not refusal because he wouldn't have had any reason to believe he needed to make an appearance having already sworn his allegiance to the State eleven days earlier when he made his land entry on July 28. As part of the requirements to apply for a land grant in 1778, the individual had to swear the "oath of allegiance to the State" at the time of making his initial land entry. This system was set up specifically with the intent of keeping Tories (British Loyalists) from acquiring land that had been recently confiscated from the King by the Colonial government. Further negating the claim that James Whitlock was a Tory is the fact that two months later James Whitlock entered a second land entry on November 3, 1778 for 300 acres on Dutchman's Creek that was ultimately "made to William Cook".

1785 Vacant Land Entry entered by Silvias Whitlock
for 170 acres on Dutchman's Creek, Rowan County, NC

In regards to the 1787 land grant, one of it's most important aspects that merits discussion is the mention of it being adjacent land owned by Silvas Whitlock. The same exact day that James Whitlock receives his grant, the State also issues 300 acres on Dutchman's Creek to "Silvas Whitlock" which is listed as Grant #1562 and described as being "adjacent James Whitlock, William Halmar, William Cook, and John Gwaltney." This person is indeed James Whitlock's wife Sylvia. Although I have yet to find anything that states it in these exact words, I am fairly certain that a woman would not have been able to purchase a state land grant during this point in time. The wording in the statute by the North Carolina General Assembly that created the state land grant system in 1778 hints to this fact. Despite using the term "any person" in the law, when referring to said persons throughout the statute, it is done in the masculine form using words such as "him" and "he". Women were certainly able to own property during this time, but taking part in the state land grant system seems highly unlikely. But in the case of this particular land grant, Sylvia wasn't the original person to make the land entry. According to records at the NC State Archives this was actually done by Thomas Prather on October 12, 1779, who then sold the land to the Whitlock's neighbor John Beeman, who in turn sold the land to "Silvas Whitlock" who was then issued the official grant. Interestingly enough, two years prior on September 24, 1785 Sylvia, now listed as "Sylvias Whitlock", is found making a land entry for 170 acres on Dutchman's Creek adjacent John Beeman and James Whitlock. This land entry was ultimately "made over to John Bruman" who I expect is actually supposed to be listed as John Beeman due to the same piece of land being officially granted to him on August 9, 1787 as Grant #1558. While women were indeed able to own property during this time, usually through inheritance, this is certainly a rare instance of a woman actually purchasing land. I know this person to in fact be the wife of James Whitlock due to a series of deeds that would occur after his death.

James Whitlock Sr. would die at some point shortly prior to the Rowan County court granting the administration of his estate to his wife Sylvia on February 6, 1784. A man named Isaac Enochs acted as security on the 1000 pound bond that was required by the court. Nine months later the estate inventory was filed with the court on November 4, yet it would be just shy of four years before the Rowan County courts announced on November 6, 1788 that the estate had finally been settled. I have yet to uncover the details of how the estate was ultimately settled, but it would appear that eventually all of James Whitlock's land ended up in the hands of his son John Whitlock. Evidence of this can be found in a Rowan County deed dated March 13, 1790 showing John Whitlock of Surry County selling 320 acres of land to John Beemon that are described exactly as his father's 1787 grant and the 1778 land entry. It's important to note that Stephen Wood of Surry County fame, along with a man named Henry Johnston, were the witnesses to the transaction. This is important because in the vacant land entry records for Surry County a record can be found from two years earlier on February 11, 1788 showing Henry Speer entering 100 acres on Hunting Creek "adjacent Sylvanus Whitlock and Stephen Wood."

Now here's where it gets interesting. On that very same day James Whitlock's land was sold by John Whitlock to John Beeman, a second deed was written up involving this same Henry Johnston of Rowan County purchasing 300 acres of land on Dutchman's Creek from a "David Anthony and wife Silva of Surry County." The land is described as being adjacent James Whitlock, William Holoman, William Cook, and John Gwaltney; the exact same individuals listed adjacent Silvas Whitlock's 1787 land grant. The transaction was witnessed by John Beeman and once again Stephen Wood. With page two of the deed even mentioning the other 320 acre transaction between John Whitlock and John Beeman, it's pretty clear that this is indeed the same piece of land. Surry County tax records for this same year (1790) show David Anthony being taxed in Captain Hudspeth's District which is the same district where you find just about every Surry County resident I've ever mentioned in this blog, including eventually James Whitlock Jr. I would say that it's extremely likely that this David Anthony's wife Silva is actually the remarried widow of James Whitlock Sr. My theory would certainly make a solid explanation for how all of James Whitlock Sr.'s land ended up in the hands of his son John. Further evidence that David Anthony's wife Silva is actually the remarried Sylvia Jones Whitlock can be found in a later series of Surry County, NC deeds.

The first of these deeds is dated January 30, 1798 and shows an Isaac Mize of Kentucky selling to David Anthony of Surry County, 200 acres on Hunting Creek adjacent to a man named David Gault. Roughly three years later on October 9, 1800, David Anthony and "wife Silvanus" are found selling this same piece of land to James Parks. In case I failed to mention at some point earlier in my blog, James Parks was a famous Methodist minister who helped co-found the Cokesbury School in Rowan County with Sylvia Jones Whitlock's brother Hardy Jones. Not only this, but James Parks was also Hardy Jones' son-in-law through his marriage to Hardy's adopted ward Elizabeth Jones. With this "wife Silvanus" most likely being the remarried widow of James Whitlock Sr., it comes as no surprise to me that you find their son James Whitlock acting as a witness for the transaction. Not only this, but the second witness on the deed is William Holeman, the same individual that owned land next to Sylvia Jones Whitlock's 1787 Rowan County land grant. It also comes as no surprise that less than two months later on December 1, 1800 you find James Parks selling this same piece of land to none other than Hardy Jones. As with the prior land deed, James and Sylvia Jones Whitlock's son James Whitlock is once again found acting as a witness for the transaction.

To be continued...........

1774 Rowan County, NC Court Minutes ~ Estate of Robert Farrington

1775 Rowan County, NC Court Minutes ~ Estate of Samuel Jones

1778 Rowan County, NC Court Minutes ~ No Oath Of Allegiance To The State List (Capt. Johnston's District)

1784 Rowan County, NC Court Minutes ~ Estate of Robert Farrington

1784 Rowan County, NC Court Minutes ~ Estate of James Whitlock

1784 Rowan County, NC Court Minutes ~ Estate of James Whitlock #2

1787 Rowan County, NC Deed ~ James Whitlock land grant (page 1)

1787 Rowan County, NC ~ James Whitlock land grant (page 2)

1787 Rowan County, NC Land Grant Plat Record ~ James Whitlock

1787 Rowan County, NC Deed ~ Silvas Whitlock land grant

1787 Rowan County, NC Land Grant Plat Record ~ Silvas Whitlock

1788 Rowan County, NC Court Minutes ~ Estate of James Whitlock

1790 Rowan County, NC Deed ~ David Anthony & wife Silva to Henry Johnston

1790 Rowan County, NC Deed ~ John Whitlock to John Beemon

1798 Surry County, NC Deed ~ Isaac Mize to David Anthony (page 1)

1798 Surry County, NC Deed ~ Isaac Mize to David Anthony (page 2)

1800 Surry County, NC Deed ~ David Anthony & wife Silvanus to James Parks

1800 Surry County, NC Deed ~ James Parks to Hardy Jones (page 1)

1800 Surry County, NC Deed ~ James Parks to Hardy Jones (page 2)

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