The Brothers Bourden: Isle of Wight County, Virginia

Nicholas Bourden and Prudence Wrenn, “relict” of John Wrenn, were married in Isle of Wight County, Virginia, before 1738 (The Marriages of Isle of Wight County, Virginia, 1628-1800 by Blanche Adams Chapman, page 5).  On November 16th of that year, Nicholas was referred to as “brother-in-law” in the will of Prudence’s brother, Samuel Davis (Wills and Administrations of Isle of Wight County, Virginia, 1647-1800, Volume 2, by Blanche Adams Chapman, page 136).  Since their first child was born in April of 1737, they were most likely married in 1736.  There is a John Wrenn whose estate was ordered to be appraised March 22, 1735.  Whether this was Prudence’s husband or some other John Wrenn, I don’t know.  She married him sometime before August 15, 1734, when she’s referred to as Prudence Wrenn in the will of her brother, Thomas Davis (Wills and Administrations of Isle of Wight County, Virginia, 1647-1800, Volume 2, page 70), but after 1720 when she’s referred to as Prudence Davis in the will of her mother, Mary Davis (Wills and Administrations of Isle of Wight County, Virginia, 1647-1800, Volume 2, page 9).  There is reason to believe the marriage took place before 1727 (see below).  Also, the wording of her mother’s will may imply that Prudence had not yet attained the age of 21.

The births of Nicholas and Prudence’s five children were recorded in the Newport Parish Vestry Book, which can be viewed at (Virginia, Isle of Wight County Records, 1634-1951 – Church Records – Vestry Book, 1727-1772).  Bottom right of image 117 for the boys, left side of image 119 for Mary.  If you’d rather not strain your eyes reading old documents, this information can also be found in Tyler’s Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine, Volume 9, Number 2, page 119. This can also be accessed through FamilySearch.

The children of Nicholas Bourden and Prudence Davis Wrenn were:

  • Samuel Bourden b. April 14, 1737
  • John Bourden b. June 10, 1739
  • Nicholas Bourden, Jr. b. March 25, 1741
  • Baker Bourden b. January 10, 1742/3
  • Mary Bourden b. March 30, 1745

The above list is slightly different from that found in Tyler’s Quarterly which has Baker being born in the month of June.  However, looking at the Vestry Book, I think it may actually be January.  Compare the June written for John


with what’s written for Baker.


Doesn’t the second letter look like an “a” rather than a “u”?  And the fourth more a “u” than an “e”?  Its being January instead of June would also explain the 1742/3 thing.  Mary’s birth year is written in Roman numerals, of all things:  MDCCXLV.  The “V” is written with quite a flourish.

Besides the five children she gave Nicholas, Prudence had two children with John Wrenn.  One of these was named John.  In the Vestry Book, at the very bottom of image 117, you can just make out “John Wren son of John Wren and Prudence his wife….”  The next line, which would be his birth date, is illegible due to extreme fading.


We know there was another child because of the Accounts of the Estate of John Wrenn (scroll down a bit), taken by Nicholas and Prudence in 1748 (James Baker was ordered to audit the Accounts of the Estate August 12, 1748), in which there is the entry “To bringing up two small Children.”  The implication being that the youngest was now of age. In those days, this meant they were at least 21 years of age, that is born in or before 1727.  I’ve seen several online trees that say the Thomas Wrenn who married Catherine Ingram was the other child, but, as yet, no one has offered any actual proof that I’ve seen.

If Nicholas and Prudence used conventional Colonial naming patterns, which is suggested by second son John, for her father, John Davis, and third son, Nicholas (for him), then eldest son, Samuel, would have been named after his paternal grandfather.  As for the fourth son, Baker, I’ve wondered if Baker was the maiden name of Nicholas’s mother.  Thus, Nicholas Bourden, Sr., may have been the son of Samuel Bourden and ? Baker.  Of course, I have no proof of that, so it’s complete speculation.

With Prudence, we’re on much firmer ground.  She was the daughter of John Davis and Mary Green.  An abstract of John’s will can be found in Chapman’s Wills and Administrations of Isle of Wight County, Virginia, 1647-1800, Volume 1, page 79, and Mary’s in Volume 2, page 9.  We’ll get into her family in more detail in future posts.

The first appearance of Nicholas Bourden in the records was in Elizabeth City County where on December 2, 1734, he witnessed the will of John Kerby (Wills and Administrations of Elizabeth City County, Virginia, 1688-1800 by Blanche Adams Chapman, page 48).  And on April 4, 1735, still in Elizabeth City County, he witnessed another will, that of Mary Picket (same source, page 69).  After his marriage to Prudence, Nicholas’s name is peppered throughout the second volume of Chapman’s Wills and Administrations of Isle of Wight County as he appraises, examines and settles many estates.  The first of these occurs at the bottom of page 91, where he and Lawrence Baker settle the estate of Jeremiah Ingraham, October 23, 1738.

On December 20, 1738, Nicholas Bourden wrote a letter to The Virginia Gazette about a tragic incident which occurred the Wednesday prior, December 13 (Some Descendants of John Moone ca 1600-1655 and Nicholas Bourden ca 1700-1759: Jamestown and Isle of wight County In the Colony of Virginia by Richard Bowden Jones, page 7, citing The Virginia Gazette, Issue Number 133).  Images of the Virginia Gazette can be accessed through the Colonial Williamsburg website.  Go to Research – Online Resources – Digital Library – Virginia Gazettes.  You’re looking for Parks, 1739, February 23.  This letter is on page 3, bottom right.

Isle of Wight County, Dec. 20, 1738

Mr. Parks,
The Publication of the following unhappy Accident, may be a Means to prevent the like in other Families, which I hope will be a Warning to all; and desire it may be inserted in your Gazette, for the Public Good. On Wednesday the Thirteenth of this Instant, I intended to kill some hogs, and accordingly put a Kettle of water, containing 20 Gallons, over the Fire, for that Purpose; and when the Water was boiling, none being in the Kitchen but my only Child and a Negro child, the Sway-Pole broke, and scalded them to such a Degree that twas a most horrid Spectacle, and must have moved the most obdurate. The Negro Child is dead, but my own Child, I hope is in a fair Way of Recover tho’ prodigiously scalded: My Wife very narrowly escaped the same Fate; for she had not gone three Steps from the Kitchen Door, before the Kettle fell down, when she sat on her Hams, putting some Potatoes in the Fire for the Children: The Children were both in the Corner when the Kettle fell down, or it must have been present Death.

I am, Sir, Your humble Servant,

Nicholas BOURDEN.

Samuel would have been just over a year and half and Prudence would have been carrying John, though she may not have known it yet.

Adventurers of Purse and Person, Virginia, 1607-1624/5: Families G-P by John Frederick Dorman, page 681, mentions that Samuel was ordered bound to John Dering, a tailor, August 1, 1751.  He’d have been 14.  Samuel, along with James Dering and Martha Dering, witnessed the will of Benjamin Barlow (bottom of page and onto next page) December 26, 1757.  The will was registered April 5, 1759.

Louise Jones abstracted entries from various Isle of Wight County records concerning “Orphans and Other Children of Isle of Wight County” which were published over several issues of The Virginia Genealogical Society Quarterly and of which I’ve only had glimpses thanks to my free Ancestry account.  I can’t afford a paid account right now, so all I get are frustrating snippets.  But what intriguing snippets they are!

  • August 1,…Samuel Bourden, orphan of Nicholas is…Taylor [James Dering, tailor?]. p. 342.   (Volume 25, Number 2)
  • 6 July…John Bourden, orphan of Nicholas, is to…    (Volume 26, Number 1)
  • Snippet of the index to Volume 26, Number 1 lists Baker on page 32 and John on page 31

If you put the snippet about Samuel together with the apprentice bond mentioned in Dorman, both dated August 1, then it’s possible that Nicholas Bourden had died earlier in 1751 or in late 1750.  On page 8 of his book cited above, Richard Bowden Jones says that John was bound out in July 1759 and Baker in November of that year.  I’ve yet to find mention of young Nicholas being apprenticed to anyone.  If anyone has further information on this, either through the aforementioned article or the Isle of Wight County Order Book, 1746-1752, please contact me via comments.  Thank you so much, in advance.

Young Nicholas witnessed the will of a John Davis February 1, 1762 (Wills and Administrations of Isle of Wight County, Virginia, 1647-1800, Volume 3, by Blanche Adams Chapman, page 12).  Whether uncle or cousin, I’m not sure.  John Bourden was one of the men to appraise the estate of John Jackson which was recorded January 6, 1763 (same source, page 20).  This is the last public record, that I’m aware of, in which John appears.  It’s possible he died shortly after this.  And, as far as I know, there’s no mention of Mary after her birth.  Of course, it’s harder to find women in the records and she may have married or she may have died in childhood.  Either way, she’s left no trace. There is no record, that I know of, that either John or Mary ever left Virginia, but the other three migrated to Duplin County, North Carolina.

Which is where we’ll follow them next.

Update 7/7/2017:  I finally managed access to the above mentioned articles in the Virginia Genealogical Society Quarterly.  The article, “Orphans and Other Children of Isle of Wight County”, yielded no further information than that given by Mr. Jones in his book and recounted above.  However, there was another article, “Isle of Wight County Order Book, 1746-1752” (Volumes 38 through 40), which gave me this gem, from Volume 40-1, p. 54 (emphasis mine):

Francis Wrenn, plantiff, vs. Nicholas Bourden, type: in chancery, verdict: dismissed due to the death of the defendant.

The date for that entry was January 4, 1749.  From this, we can conclude that Nicholas died late in 1748.  Other entries from the Order Books:

9 Apr 1747 – William Sutter provided evidence for Robert Bureswetter, Gent. vs. Nicholas Bourden.
9 Jul 1747 – Robert Burwell, Gent. plantiff, vs. Nicholas Bourden.
5 Apr 1750 – John Davis, Edward Brantley & wife Mary, Nicholas Bourden & wife Prudence, & Sarah Murry, plantiffs vs. John Davis admin of Elizabeth Davis…verdict dismissed, parties agreed.


Who was Ephraim Gatlin?

I have three Gatlin lines and all of them lead back to one couple:  John Gatlin and Esther Tingle.  John Gatlin and James Gatlin purchased a marriage bond January 6, 1784 for John to marry Esther Tingle.   There are two sources that lay out their children. The first is a deed of gift (Craven County Deed Book 30, page 130), dated February 22, 1793, from Esther’s father, Solomon, to the children:

To all People to whom these presents shall come I Solomon Tingle do send Greeting.

Know ye, that I the said Solomon Tingle of the State of North Carolina in the County of Craven Farmer for and in consideration of the love good will and affection which I have and do bear towards my loving grand children Abner Gatlin, Mille Gatlin Shadrack Gatlin Holon Gatlin of the same County sons and daughters of John Gatlin and Esther his Wife, have Given and Granted and by these presents do freely Give and Grant unto the said Abner Gatlin, Nille Gatlin Shadrach Gatlin Hollon Gatlin their Heirs Executors or administrators all to one Feather bed and furniture to one Linen Wheel, to one pewter bason, one pewter dish, four pewter plates, to five head of cattle to four head of hoggs, of which before the signing of these presents I have delivered them the said Children an Inventory signed with my own hand goods and cattles to the said Children their Heirs Executors or administrators from henceforth as their proper Goods and chattels absolutely without any manner of condition In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 22nd day of February 1793.

Signed Sealed & delivered                   Solomon (his mark) Tingle
In the presence of us
Amos Cutherell
John Tingle

March Craven County Court 1793
Then was the deed acknowledged in open court by Solomon Tingle the grantor and ordered to be recorded.

Attest Samuel Chapman CC

Many Tingle researchers seem to be unaware of Esther’s relationship to Solomon. Probably due to her omission from his will, dated September 30, 1784. In it, he mentions sons Solomon and John, daughter Mary, and wife Mary. The will was proven March Term 1795. I strongly suspect that he had another daughter not mentioned in the will, the Mills Tingle who married John King October 11, 1782 with Amos Cuthrell as bondsman.  According to the text of their respective bonds, both Mills and Esther were “of Christ Church Parish”.  This raises the question, in my mind, anyway, of whether Solomon’s wife, Mary, was a Mills. But that’s a puzzle for another time.

The second piece of documentation proving the children of John Gatlin and Esther Tingle comes from Craven County Deed Book 39, page 535:

This Indenture made and executed, this eleventh day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifteen by and between Esther Gatlin, widow and Abner Gatlin, Shadrach Gatlin, Jeremiah Roe and Milly his wife, Shadrach Roe and Holland his wife, heirs at law of John Gatlin deceased of the County of Craven, and State of North Carolina of the one part, and John Reel Esquire of the County & State aforesaid, of the other part; Witnesseth, that the said Esther Gatlin, Abner Gatlin, Shadrach Gatlin, Jeremiah Roe and Milly his wife, and Shadrach Roe and Holland his wife, for and in consideration of the sum of Dollars to them in hand paid, by the said John Reel at and before the sealing and delivery of these presents, the receipt whereof they do hereby acknowledge, have given, granted, bargained, and sold, and by these presents do give, grant, bargain and sell, unto the said John Reel his heirs and assigns their undivided shares or portions of a certain tract or parcel of land situate, lying and being in the County of Craven on the north side of Neuse river and the West side of Morgan’s Swamp, beginning at a white oak in the fork of turkey neck branch and running thence, north forty five Degrees West one hundred and sixty poles crossing the main prong of turkey neck branch, to a stake in back [or buck] savannah, about half a pole to the north east of a marked pine saplin, then north forty five Degrees East one hundred and sixty poles to a pine, in or near John Gatlin’s other patent, then to the beginning, containing one hundred and ten acres, more or less, being the same tract which was patented by the said John Gatlin 24th day of October, A.D. 1782.–To Have and to hold that portion, share or dividend of the said tract herin before bounded & described with its appurtenances, which descended to the said grantors as heirs of the said John Gatlin to the said John Reel his heirs and assigns for ever and the said grantors for themselves and their heirs, Executors and administrators, to and with the said John Reel his heirs and assigns do hereby covenant and grant thir said undivided interest and share in the tract herein before described with its appurtenances against themselves, the said grantors, and their respective heirs and against the lawful claim or claims of all persons whatsoever, unto the said John Reel his heirs and assigns forever to warrant secure and defend by these presents– In Witness whereof the said Esther Gatlin, Abner Gatlin, Shadrach Gatlin, Jeremiah Roe and Milly his wife, & Shadrach Roe and Holland his wife, have hereunto set their hands and seals, the day and year first above written.–

Esther [her mark] Gatlin
Abner Gatlin
Shaderach Gatlin
Jeremiah Roe
Milly [her mark] Roe
Shadrick Roe
Hollon [her mark] Roe

Signed sealed and Delivered in the presence of
Jacob Burch
Wm Gatlin

So, the children of John Gatlin and Esther Tingle were:

  • Abner Gatlin (b. 1785)
  • Mills “Millie” Gatlin (b. 1788) married Jeremiah Roe January 29, 1812 with Abner Gatlin as bondsman
  • Shadrack Gatlin (b. 1790) married Margaret Stevenson May 15, 1811 with Elijah Gatlin as bondsman
  • Holland Gatlin (b. 1792) married Shadrack Roe December 17, 1811 with Jeremiah Roe as bondsman

I descend from all but Abner.  Shadrack through Mom’s maternal grandmother and both Mills and Holland through Dad’s maternal grandmother.

It all looked pretty cut and dried until I found another deed, Deed Book 41, page 306:

This Indenture made this 16th day of December one thousand eight hundred and sixteen between Esther Gatlin, Abner Gatlin, Shadrick Gatlin, Jeremiah Roe and Milly his wife grantors of the County of Craven and State of North Carolina of the one part for and in consideration of one hundred dollars to them in hand paid by Shaderick Roe of the County and State aforesaid of the other part at the sealing and signing of these presents the receipt and payment whereof is hereby is acknowledged the said Grantors have bargained sold conveyed and confirmed and do hereby bargain sell convey and confirm unto Shaderick Roe his heirs and assigns forever our several undivided shares in a certain piece or parcel of land lying and being in the County of Craven on the North side of Neuse river and east side of Little Swift creek and east side of Bumpy ground swamp begining at a small sweet gum on the said Swamp to the center of a big laurel and sweet gum and turns No. 62 Et. 25 poles to a pine John Harris’ corner then with his line No 45 Et 128 poles then So 18 Et 60 poles to a stake then So 6 Wt 80 poles to a pine then So 40 Wt 66 poles to a pine in Simon Bexley’s line then with his line No 42 Wt 60 poles to a stake then So 67 Wt 56 poles to the Bumpy ground Swamp then with the various courses of the said Swamp to the begining which land was patented by Ephraim Gatlin and by a legal decent came to the present proprietors and by them sold to Shaderick Roe. To have and to hold the said several undivided shares contained in said Ephraim Gatlin’s Patent with all ways woods waters and every other appurtenance thereunto belonging to Shaderick Roe his his heirs and assigns forever in fee simple and we the said grantors for ourselves our heirs Exrs. and admirs do covenant and promise to and with the said Shaderick Roe his heirs and assigns that we shall and will warrant and forever defend each of our undivided shares in the aforesaid patent free from all lawful claim or claims of any person or persons whatsoever. In witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands and seals the day and year first above written.

Ester [her mark] Gatlin
Abner [his mark] Gatlin
Shaderick Gatlin
Jeremiah Roe
Milly [her mark] Roe

Signed Sealed and delivered in presence of
John [his mark] Evernton
Lazarous [his mark] Ipock

Who was Ephraim Gatlin? The only other document I’ve found with his name on it is the patent mentioned in the aforementioned deed, entered January 10, 1798 and issued June 3, 1799. If he’s old enough to patent land in 1798, then he was born in or before 1778.  How does he fit into the overall Gatlin jigsaw and by what legal descent did Esther and her children come by this land?  Does anyone out there have a clue?  Cause I don’t.  I’ve considered two possibilities:

  1. That Ephraim was John’s son by a previous marriage.  But this would not explain how Esther would have acquired any share in the land.
  2. That Esther married Ephraim sometime after John’s death.  But, in the first deed, dated September 11, 1815, she’s referred to as Esther Gatlin, widow.  The second deed is dated December 16, 1816.  So when did John die?  Ephraim?  There is no estate record for Ephraim, but there are three for a John Gatlin dated 1801, 1807, and 1811.
    1. John Gatlin, Sr. (1801) – Died before March 9, 1801.  On that date, Esther Gatlen, John Gatlen and David Gatlen paid £100 administrator bond on the estate of John Gatlen.
    2. John Gatlin (1807) – Clearly, this is the John who married the widow Dolly Barnes.
    3. John Gatlin (1811) – Died before June 10, 1811 when Esther Gatlin, Abner Gatlin & Shadrack Gatlin paid £500 administrator bond on the estate of John Gatlin.

    Chances are high that our John is the one who died in 1811.  Looking at the estate sale, which occurred July 3, 1811, Esther, Milly, Abner, Hollan, and Shadrick are the top buyers.  John Gatlin, Sr. is, probably, the one who married Esther Johnson sometime in the 1760s.  The only other documents in our John’s estate folder pertain to the required audit and settlement of the accounts of the administrator, in this case, Esther, with the Estate.  This is dated March 5, 1816.  Usually, when a widow remarries, and that widow is the administratrix/executrix of an estate, those duties are transferred to the new husband.  There is no documentation to show that this occurred in this case.

It’s a puzzle.

Here’s a little something else to throw out there, from Deed Book 33, page 107:

State of North Carolina, Craven County

To all Men to whom these presents shall come I Elizabeth Gatlin senr. send greeting. Know ye that I the said Elizabeth Senr. of the County and State aforesaid for and in Consideration of the Love good Will and affection, which I have and do bear towards my two Grand Sons Abner Gatlin & Shadrick Gatlin, both of this County & State have given & granted and bye these presents do freely give and grant unto my said two Grand Sons Abner & Shadrick Gatlin their Heirs & Assigns forever, a Certain Tract or parcel of Land lying and being in the State and County aforesaid and on the South East Side of Swifts Creek and North Side of Neuse River: Beginning at a large Pine by the Side of the white March, from thence So. 29 ds. East 40 poles to a post in Samuel Lawsons given Line thence North 65 Et. with Lawsons given ine 153 pole to his Beginning Corner a Gum in Kitten Bridge Swamp then South 55 ds East with Lawsons line 83 pole to a pine, then No. 40 ds. East 52 pole to a Stake in Ephraim Pearcesis Line then North 30 ds with his line 45 pole to a Light wood Stump said Pearceis beginning Corner in or near Willis’s Line 154 pole to the cutting Ledge [or Lodge] Marsh then along the Marsh side and binding on the Side of the Marsh to the Beginning Containing one hundred and fifty Acres of Land, unto them the aforesaid Abner and Shadrick Gatlin and their Heirs and Assigns forever, with all the Houses plantations Timber profits, benefits and advantages to the same belonging or in any wise appertaining unto them the said Abner & Shadrick Gatlin their Heirs and Assigns forever may have hold and quietly possess the aforesaid Land and Improvements Clear from the just Claim of the aforesaid Elizabeth Gatlin her Heirs or any other person or persons whatsoever to their proper use, without any manner of Consideration. In Witness whereof I have hereunto put my Hand & Seal this ? day of ? 1797 August the 12th day

signed sealed & delivered in the presence of us

Elizabeth [her mark] Gatlin
Lazarus [his mark] Gatlin
Baron [his mark] Gatlin
Mary [her mark] Gatlin
Levi Burch

State of North Carolina
Craven County Court March Term 1798
Then was the foregoing Deed proved in open Court agreable to Law and ordered to be registered
Attest Saml Chapman CC

The identity of this Elizabeth Gatlin, Senr. is just one more Gatlin puzzle. Trust me, there were a lot of Gatlins marrying women named Elizabeth!  This land was originally entered by John Gatlen, Junr. May 8, 1779 and his grant issued October 9, 1783.  He sold it to Elizabeth August 6, 1792 for £100 (Deed Book 30, page 139).

Oh, and, if you’re curious, here is John Gatlin’s “other patent” mentioned in the John Reel deed (North Carolina Land Grant Images and Data, Book 20, pg. 707, Grant No.: 110):

John Gatlin: 100 acres Craven on the N side of Neuse river and on the W side of Morgans Swamp Beginning at the head of Turkey neck at a post oak and runs No 75 W 127 poles to a pine then So 15 W 127 poles to a pine then So 75 E 127 poles to a pine on Morgans Swamp from thence a direct course to the Beginning dated 14th November 1771.                                                                                                     Jo Martin


The Discovery of Britty Swindell

In my post, Dixon Wives: Nancy Jane Daniels, I proposed that the parents of Nancy’s father, Isaiah, were Wilson Daniels and Prudence, his wife. My reasons for this were based on information gleaned from the 1850 and 1860 censuses. In 1860, the households of Isaiah and Wilson Daniels were contiguous, houses 246 and 247, respectively. Wilson, an apparent widower, was 63 and Isaiah was 38. Simple arithmetic leads one to the simple conclusion that they were father and son.


The 1850 census gives us the name of Wilson’s wife, Prudence.


Although I’ve yet to find a document that states outright the relationship between these men, it seems self-evident.  But, as it turns out, the relationship between Isaiah and Prudence may have had little to do with blood (since  I don’t know Prudence’s maiden name, I can’t  discount some sort of blood tie).  You see, my friend, Google, led me to a discovery: The John Gray Blount Papers. Mr. Blount and his brother, Thomas, were merchants based in Washington, Beaufort County. On page 429 of Volume 4 (Internet Archive), there is a letter from William Higson, in Mattamuskeet (this is in Hyde County), to John Gray Blount, dated April 12, 1825:


and further on:


I was all agog, let me tell you! Just why the boys would need a guardian when their father was still living quite baffles me. Over to FamilySearch I went to glance through Hyde County estate records. From these, I learned that Henry Williamson died sometime before December 11, 1802 when the sale of his estate was held and a year’s provision was set aside for his widow, Ann.  There were two Swindells at the sale, Jonathan and Solomon. Which, if either, of these gentlemen was the husband of Fanny Williamson? Back to Google I went. It gave me an answer: Jonathan.  Proof of this is supposed to be contained within an 1802 deed in Hyde County, bur I can’t confirm this until I’m able to see for myself.  The search results also told me Jonathan left a will, dated 1847.

Clicking back to FamilySearch, a quick browse through the Beaufort County will books nets me the will of Johnathan Swindle:

Jonathan Swindell

July the 28 1847
this is my last will and testament
Britty daniels one dollar
my son isaac swndell one dollar
megattin swindell 50 acres of land begining on lintons line runing to [word that’s smudged but looks like] my middle bay gineing [joining?] Jerome Spain
Johnathan Swindell 50 acres of land begining on lintons line runing to middle bay gining gattin swindell
my daughter salina my house and plantation gining land 50 akers
the balance of my land to tomouse defoe [I think] swindell my grand Child
50 dollars to my son Joel Swindell is to Come out of my property
Joel Swindell execter to my property and Josiah Lupton

Johnathan Swindell [signed with a mark]

J. B. Spain
Stephen Mason [signed with a mark]

If you’ll remember, Isaiah had a daughter named Britannia who was called Britty. Can we get a Eureka!?

The will was probated in December 1847 by the oath of J. B. Spain and Joel Swindell qualified as Executor. There is an Estate folder for Jonathan in the CRX boxes in Raleigh. Maybe, one of these days, I’ll get around to viewing them. They’re not the only papers in those boxes I want to see, trust me.

So, we have Britannia “Britty” Swindell, daughter of Jonathan Swindell and Fanny Williamson married Wilson Daniels, probably about 1818 or 1819, in the Goose Creek area of Beaufort County.  Wilson Daniels appears on a tax list for the first time in 1819, in this area, with 1 white poll taxed at $0.55.  Britty’s father, Jonathan, also appears on this list with 50 acres valued at 50 with one white poll taxed at $0.66.

I have more about the Williamsonses and Swindells that I’ll post later.  Henry Williamson was an intriguing character!

Sally Bourden

Okay, yet another mystery woman has popped up in my Bourden research.  The following is a deed between Baker Bourden and John Watkins, dated September 9, 1815, and witnessed by Sally Bourden and Readin Bourden (Deed Book 5a, page 531):

This Indenture made this 9th day of September in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and fifteen, Between Baker Bowden of the County of Duplin & State of North Carolina and John Watkins of the County & State above mentioned, Witnesseth, that I the said Baker Bowden for and in consideration of the sum of one hundred & eighty three dollars to him the said Baker Bowden in hand paid by the said John Watkins before the sealing & delivering of these presents, the receipt whereof he doth hereby acknowledge, hath given granted bargained and sold and doth hereby give grant bargain sell alien convey & confirm unto the said John Watkins his heirs or assigns forever, a certain tract or parcel of land situate lying & being in the County of Duplin on the head of Calf Pasture branch, on both sides of the main road & joining Wayne County line, Beginning at a pine & Black Jack Jacob Taylor’s corner, & runs along Reuben Johnston’s line Wt. 100 poles to a pine, thence No. 210 poles to a pine, thence Et. 100 poles to a pine on Jacob Taylor’s line by his corner, thence to the beginning, containing one hundred & twenty five acres be the same more or less, which said bargained lands & premises with all the improvements privileges or advantages to the same belonging or in anywise appertaining, I the said Baker Bourden do bind myself my heirs exers. or admns. to warrant secure & forever defend unto him the said John Watkins his heirs excrs. admins or assigns forever against all person or persons whatsoever.  In witness whereof I the said Baker Bourden have hereunto set my hand & affixed by seal this day & date above written.

Baker Bourden

Signed sealed acknowledged in presence of

Sally (her mark) Bourden
Readin Bourden

State of No. Carolina Duplin County, July Term 1816 –
Then was the within deed proved in Court by the oath of Sally Bourden & ordered to be registered.

Copy Th. Routledge, Esq.
Test, W. Dickson, C.C.

Who the heck is Sally Bourden?  Sally is probably short for Sarah.  Did Reading have another wife before he married Nancy?  Or did Mary Branch Bowden predecease her husband and Baker took a second wife?  Or she could be one of Baker and Mary’s daughters.  This is the first time I’ve come across this name.

Proof: Tabitha, wife of Nicholas Bourden

Just hours after scheduling the previous post, The Brothers Bourden: Men of Family, I’ve discovered proof that Tabitha was, indeed, the wife of Nicholas Bourden, Revolutionary War Captain.

I was reading deeds at, focusing on James and trying to untangle him from his nephew, when I found a bill of sale (Deed Book DFTU, page 433) wherein Nicholas Bourden sells to James Bourden a “certain Negro woman named Sue, aged twenty one years, for the sum of three hundred dollars.”  I’m unsure if these are James and his father or his two nephews, or some other combination thereof.  The witnesses were Nathan Garner and William Bourden.  At the bottom, after the witnesses’ signatures, it says:

a mistake in the [can’t make out this next word, but it begins with an “f”] of the Bill of Sale of Excepting Nicholas Bourden Senr. & Tabitha his Wife‘s lifetime.  a mistake by me James Bourden.

Here’s a screenshot so you can read it yourself.


The Brothers Bourden: The Wives

Before discussing the children, I want to take a moment to talk about their mothers. In various genealogies posted across the web, I’ve seen the maiden name of all three wives given as Holder. No records are ever cited, no evidence given. The only sources are other genealogies and Ancestry. Similarly, the given name of Nicholas’s wife is often said to be Elizabeth, but, again, no documentation is sourced. If some descendant somewhere has record of these things, a family bible, perchance, I wish they’d come forward. Otherwise, in reality, only the first names of Samuel’s and Baker’s wives are known with any certainty.


We learn the name of Baker’s wife, Martha, through the court and probate records of New Hanover County.  Both he and Martha left wills, which I’ll discuss in more detail in the next post.

From New Hanover County Court Minutes, Part 3, 1786-1793, Abstracted, Compiled and Edited by Alexander McDonald Walker:

5 January 1790 … Estate of Baker Bowden, Decd.–Will proved by Jno. Fulwood; and Joel Parish qualified as Exr. (page 48).

9 Apr 1790 … Estate of Baker Bowden, Decd.–Martha Bowden, decedent’s widow appointed Admrx. with will annexed; bond 200 pounds; John Erwin and James Stanley, sur. (page 52).

My personal theory, and it’s just that, a THEORY, regarding Martha is that she was a Parrish.  My reasons are pretty diaphanous.

  1. Joel Parrish was one of the Executors appointed in Baker’s will.
  2. Joel Parrish’s own will, he mentions a son named Richard and a daughter Molsey. Baker and Martha have children with those names.

That’s it. See? It couldn’t get much more flimsy and still have any basis in documentation whatsoever. I’ve also toyed with her being a Cowan, based on even shakier grounds:

  1. John Cowan is listed right next to Martha in 1790.
  2. Two of his daughters married sons of Baker and Martha.


The name of Samuel’s wife, Catherine, comes down to us through a deed of gift, dated March 30, 1809 (Deed Book 4A, page 17):

The only other surname I’ve seen suggested for Catherine is Hodges, which makes a lot more sense than Holder. This comes from a tree at FamilySearch, but no source is given, and no parents suggested.

Mrs. Nicholas

As for Mrs. Nicholas Bourden, Jr., my working hypothesis is that she was a Bryan or Bryant. My only basis for this is that one of their sons was given that name. But, as any researcher knows, names can be clues. Her own given name may have been Tabitha. My one and only source for a Tabitha Bowden is a deed, dated April 8, 1789, “…between Owen O’Daniel of the County of Duplin & State of N Carolina of the one part and Wm Duncan of the same County & State aforesaid of the other part…”, which can be found in property book DFTU, page 101). It was “Signed sealed & delivered in the presence of Tabetha Bowden, Samuel Bowden, Bryan Bowden….”

My first thought was that she was one of the unknown daughters of Samuel, Sr., found in the censuses. But, with Bryan being the other witness….  You see, there is another Samuel, son of Nicholas, and Bryan is another of his sons (Deed Book M, page 72, for Samuel and Book N, page 257, for Bryan) I find myself wondering if she was their mother and, thus, the wife of Nicholas, Jr. In any case, to have witnessed a legal document, she was, more than likely, of or over 21. Therefore, whether wife or daughter, Tabitha Bourden was probably born in or before 1768 (if wife, obviously, well before).

I was right the first time!

I’ve just discovered that you can go to some county register of deeds sites and read old land deeds and bills of sale.  Let’s just say I’ve been having fun with my new toy!

One of the many speculations I made in my post Dolly Bowden was that Elisha Spence was the son of Isaac Spence and Elisabeth Bowden.  Soon after publication of that post, I came across some deed and marriage bond information that led me to conclude that Elisha was not their son but was, instead, the son of Isaac’s brother John and his wife Rhoda.  See The Parentage of Elisha Spence.  Well, it turns out I was right the first time!  When I ran a Scanned Index Books Search at the Cumberland County Register of Deeds website I discovered this deed from Deed Book 28, page 719:

This Indenture made & entered into this ? day of december 1813 [or 15, the day and year are difficult to read] between Isaac Spence of the County of Cumberland & State of N. Carolina of the one part & Elisha Spence (my eldest son) of the other part, Witnesseth that for the love good will & affection which I have and do bear towards Elisha my son I do ? the following tract of land being part of the lands I bought of Wm. Redding; Beginning at a poplar by a branch side near Mill Creek in the line of the old 500 acre survey patented by Woods…containing by estimation one hundred & four acres more or less, To have and to hold, to him the said Elisha Spence his Heirs and assigns, and I the said Isaac Spence for myself my heirs Executors, administrators & assigns do warrant & forever defend the said lands & premises from my right title, interest, or any lawful claim or claims of any person or person whatsoever ? him the said Elisha Spence his Heirs Executors administrators & assigns forever.  In Testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal the day and date above written.

Signed Sealed & delivered
in the presence of                                                      Isaac (his)   I  (mark)  Spence

John (his mark) Spence
Jas. Atkins

The deed was proven in Cumberland County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, March Term, 1817, by John Spence.

The Parentage of Elisha Spence

I know I said we’d talk about the Bowdens next, but, first, I have a correction to make.  Elisha Spence was, most likely, not the son of Isaac and Elisabeth.  In fact, I’m pretty sure he was the son of John and Rhoda.  My reasons for this are, mostly, circumstantial.  My main piece of evidence comes from a couple of land patents (emphases are mine).

  1. John Spence
    Cumberland County
    Book 91, page 62
    Grant Numbers: 1265

    Know ye that We have granted unto John Spence one hundred and sixty acres of land in Cumberland County on Hector’s creek Joining Atkins’s and Anderson’s lines; Beginning at a small Spanish oak Atkins’s corner in Anderson’s line then as Anderson’s line East thirty chain to a red oak by the side of the Creek, then North twelve chain and fifty links to a white oak by the side of the creek, then East eighteen chain and fifty links to a stake and pine then North twenty five chain and sixty six links to a stake and black jack, then West forty eight chain and fifty links to the Beginning. Dated the 17th Day of October 1796.

  2. Elisha Spence
    Cumberland County
    Book 134, page 256
    Grant Number: 2433

    Know ye that we have granted unto Elisha Spence twenty acres of land in Cumberland County, Joining his own, James Atkins, and other lines on or near the pond Branch; Beginning at a post oak one of his own corners of the land his father let him have and runs East twenty seven chains with his own line to a sassafras in the Vaugn line then south seven chains to a pine James Atkins corner then as his line West twenty seven chains to a sassafras by a Branch then North seven chains to the Beginning.

    Entered 3rd February 1819. To Hold to the said Elisha Spence Heirs and assigns forever. Dated 13th of March 1821

Of course, they could be talking about two different Atkinses.  🙂

Next are a couple of marriage bonds:

  • John Prince and John Spence paid bond in Cumberland County for John Prince to marry Nancy Spence August 23, 1815
  • Daniel Prince and Elisha Spence paid bond in Cumberland County for Daniel Prince to marry Medeia (I don’t know if that’s supposed to be Medea or Madeira) Spence September 23, 1819

I know Nancy Prince was their daughter because of this letter in John’s estate file:

N. Carolina Cumberland County
To the Court of pleas and quarter
sessions March Term 1830

This is to certify that I Rhoday Spence Relict of the late John Spence Senr Decd of the county afforesaid do hereby relinquish my right of administration on my Intestate husbands Estate, to my Daughter Nancy Prince or to any other person she may see proper to annominate for it is necessary that some person should be appointed and I am not able to attend to the business myself it therefore is my request that she may be appointed or some other person that she may recommend to the court and no other person.  Given under my hand this 27th Day first day of March 1830.

Rhoday Spence (her mark)

Test:  Montillian Sexton
Nancy Prince

I’ve read that Rhoda’s first name was actually Rebeckah and that she was the daughter of Hardy Dean of Wake County, but that is impossible.  Rebeckah Dean was unmarried as of 1827, according to her father’s estate papers.  Within that folder, there is a letter, dated January 29, 1827, from Aulsey Dean, in Tennessee, to Hardy Dean, Jr., which says

…give my compliments to sister Rebeccah and allso brother Josiah and his family and Theophilus and fammily, Claton Leyland [not sure about that last name, it was hard to make out] fammily and also Berry King and his familly…

These are his siblings and their families.  Notice there is no “and family” for Rebeckah, and no husband named.  If she was the wife of John Spence, it would have said something like “give compliments to John Spence and family.”

The children I currently have for John and Rhoda are:

  • Mary “Polly” Spence married John Taylor December 7, 1813, John Spence bondsman
  • Nancy Spence married John Prince August 23, 1815, John Spence, bondsman
  • Elisha Spence married Nancy Wood, Jr. November 25, 1823
  • Medeia Spence married Daniel Prince September 23, 1819, Elisha Spence, bondsman
  • Sarah Spence married Thomas Spence January 17, 1820, Samuel Atkins, bondsman (uncertain)
  • James Spence married Nancy Pate January 1, 1825, Elisha Spence, bondsman
  • William Spence (uncertain, John Spence estate sale)
  • Delilah Spence (uncertain, John Spence estate sale)

I’m sure there were others. Besides Rhoda, there were seven other females in that house in 1810.  Of males, there was a boy under 10, most likely William, and John.  Talk about being outnumbered.  If Rhoda was the Rhody Spence in Sampson County in 1800, then the boys would be Elisha and James and the girl, probably, Nancy.  I don’t know where James and Elisha were in 1810.  They may have been bound out as apprentices, which would, perhaps, explain why their wives were from Johnston County.

Free White Males Free White Females
<10 10-15 16-25 26-44 45+ <10 10-15 16-25 26-44 45+
Sampson County – 1800
Rhody Spence 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0
Cumberland County – 1810
John Spence 1 0 0 0 1 2 3 2 1 0

Dolly Bowden

Dolly may have been a nickname.  It just sounds like it should be.  I’ve read that Dolly can be used as a nickname for Dorothy.  At the time she married James Bourden/Bowden, her surname was Southerland, but that may or may not have been her maiden name.  There are indications that she may, originally, have been a Spence.  Or her mother was.  Or her mother-in-law, because I have no idea who James’s mother was.  Why am I so certain somebody in this family was a Spence?  Because of this entry in the Spence Family Bible:

Bethsay Ann BOURDEN the darter of Jonas? BOURDEN and wife Dolly BOURDEN was born the 15 day of February 1830.
Bethsay Ann BOURDEN dec’d the 26 day of March 1835.

Why would little Betsy Ann be recorded in the Spence Family Bible unless one of her parents, or grandparents, was a Spence?

Before I go any further, you’ll want to open that link in a new window, because I’m going to refer to that bible record frequently in this post.  There will be lots of speculation with theories, hypotheses, and possibilities galore.  I’m going to focus on Dolly and/or her mother being the Spence, but, keep in mind that, as I said before, it could just as easily have been James’s mother who was the Spence.  If anyone has any information that would back any of this up, or prove me horribly wrong, please share!

I hinted in my post Hiram Wright and the Bowden Sisters that certain questions were raised in my mind by the genealogy Some Early Families of Eastern North Carolina.  I discussed one of those questions in that post, whether James and Dolly were the parents of Mitchell Bowden.  The answer, in my humble opinion, being an emphatic no.  The dates just don’t work.  A second question pertains to the parentage of Dolly herself.  It says Dolly was the daughter of Isaac Spence and Mary Elizabeth Bowden, daughter of Samuel Bowden.  I’ve seen no actual evidence that her name was Mary, the marriage bond just says Elisabeth, and I’m not so sure Samuel was her father.  Isaac Spence and Elisabeth Bowden married in Duplin County April 27, 1789, as per this post.  I know most genealogies have the date of their marriage being in 1769, but the William Dickson argument utilized in that post is compelling. And, let’s face it, 1789 makes Dolly Spence a more likely probability.

The above genealogy also says Timothy W. Spence, born June 4, 1771, was the son of Isaac and Elisabeth Bowden Spence, which is, clearly, incorrect.  No, this is not wishful thinking on my part due to the whole 1769 vs. 1789 thing.  The bible record clearly states that he was the son of Timothy and Elizabeth Spence.  This older Timothy is quite likely the Timothy Spence on the 1767 Tax List for New Hanover County.  There’s a John Spence on that list, as well, though I don’t know if they’re brothers or father and son or something else entirely.  Just so you know, if John turns out to be the son in this possible father/son relationship, it will render the rest of this post moot.

I’m wondering if Timothy W. Spence and Isaac Spence were brothers, both sons of Timothy and Elizabeth?  And maybe we could add the John Spence of the 1790s Cumberland County land patents to the mix.  We could also, still hypothetically speaking, add to this list of possible children the Sarah Spence who married Beesly Maning June 10, 1793 in Duplin County with Elisha Gibbs as bondsman.

So, the children of Timothy Spence, Sr., and Elizabeth, his wife were:

  • John Spence (b. 1768, d. 1830) married Rhoda (as per his estate)
  • Isaac Spence (b. 1769) married Elisabeth Bowden (b. 1773)
  • Timothy W. Spence (b. June 4, 1771, d. May 3, 1853) married Martha “Patsy” (d. December 14, 1858)
  • Sarah Spence (b. 1777) married Beesly Maning

The dates for Timothy and Patsy come from the bible record, and John’s death date from his estate file, the others are calculated from a marriage age of 20 for the men and 16 for the women.  And does anyone have information about Beesly Maning?  All I have is this marriage bond.

Now let’s say, for supposition’s sake, that Timothy and Elizabeth married just before John’s birth, that is in 1767, and, further, that she was 13 when they wed.  That would mean she was born in 1754.  Dolly was born in about 1785, give or take a year or two.  In 1785, Elizabeth would have been 31 and, barring tragedy, still able to bear children and would  have been even if she’d married at 16 instead of 13.  Or, she and Timothy could have had a daughter born in 1772, who would have been 13 in 1785 and who was Dolly’s mother, Mrs. Southerland.  These calculations would work even if the hypothetical Mrs. Southerland was a year or two older than Isaac instead of younger.

Quick aside, I’ve read in various genealogies that Martha “Patsy” Spence’s maiden name was Futch, though with no actual proof, and that she was the daughter of Onesimus Futch.  Looking at the dates involved, I think granddaughter would be more likely.  Onesimus and his son, John, appear on the 1762 tax list in New Hanover County (see here for that and other tax lists for that county).  To be considered taxable, John had to have been at least 16 in 1762 which means he was born no later than 1747.  I don’t know where the 1766 date in so many genealogies comes from.  Martha was born sometime in the 1770s. Onesimus was the son of Martin Futch and Isabella Lawson Chilly.  Isabella was the daughter of John Lawson and Hannah Smith and widow of John Chilly and Martin the son of Jacob and Margaretha Fuch who were among the Palatines that came to the New Bern area with Baron von Graffenreid.  See this post:  Martin and Isabella Futch N. C.  This Onesimus Futch, there were at least five in the eighteenth century alone that I know about just glancing through some of the available data, never lived anywhere but North Carolina.  He was born in Craven County, probably in the part that is now Jones, and died in New Hanover County in 1781 (his estate file).  His wife’s name was Mary, she may or may not have been a Blunt.  It is interesting to note that Onesimus Futch entered a patent (it was never recorded) for 200 acres on the north side of Goshen Swamp, Duplin County, April 18, 1767.  John Futch was issued a patent, same county, for 100 acres on Farris’s Branch, not sure where that was, May 17, 1754.

Back to the bible record for a moment.  I found these entries especially interesting:

Isaac SPENCE, Junr, died the 21st day of October 1820, age twenty-six and four
months and twenty days old.
Timothy SPENCE, Junr. Died the 17th day of September the year 1818, age 21
years and 13 days old.
Samuel SPENCE died the 16th of November 1819, age 23 years 10 months old.
Elibeth SPENCE the wife of Isaac SPENCE dec’d the 24th day of May 1821.

and, further down,

Isaac SPENCE, Sr. died the 19 day of April 1848.

The question, here, is which Isaac Spence was “Elibeth” married to?  Was she the wife of Isaac, Jr. or was she the wife of Isaac, Sr., and, thus, Elisabeth Bowden?  The Isaac, Junr was, obviously, the son of Timothy and Martha, their children are the main focus of this bible record, born May 1, 1794.  Or so I thought until I did the math, with the help of this age calculator.  Their Isaac would have been 26 years, 5 months, and twenty days old on October 21, 1820.  So, either someone miscalculated his age at death, or this isn’t their Isaac, but someone else.  Plus, their Timothy was only 9 in 1818, and they had no son named Samuel. Were Samuel (b. Jan 16, 1796), Timothy, Junr. (b. Sep 4, 1797) and, Isaac, Junr. (b. June 1, 1794, exactly one month after his cousin of the same name) the sons of Isaac Spence and Elisabeth Bowden?

Ergo, the children of Isaac Spence, Sr., and Elisabeth Bowden, for now, are:

  • Isaac Spence, Jr. (b. June 1, 1794, d. October 21, 1820)
  • Samuel Spence (b. Jan 16, 1796, d. Nov 16, 1819)
  • Timothy Spence (b. Sep 4, 1797, d. Sep 17, 1818)

Now to tackle another puzzle:  Who, exactly, was Elizabeth, wife of John Prowse, Schoolmaster, and what relation was she, if any, to Isaac Spence?  There’s a whole conversation about this on the message boards, mostly about whether or not Elizabeth Prowse was Elisabeth Bowden.  See, John Prowse wrote his will January 16, 1791 and it was probated in July.  After what I’ve come to think of as the preamble, it says:

…the Residue and Remainder of my Estate both real and personal 2 lend to my beloved wife Elizabeth Prowse during her natural life or widowhood, and at her decease or future marriage then 2 give and bequeath the whole to my son Thomas Prowse to him and his heirs and assigns forever.  And further to constitute and appoint my trusty friend Samuel Bowden and my son in law Isaac Spence to execute this my will and testament…

One of the witnesses is Timothy Spence.  The sticking point is the term “son-in-law.”  At this point in time, it could have it’s modern meaning, but it could also refer to a stepson.  So which was Isaac Spence to John Prowse?  If son-in-law, then what happened to Elisabeth Bowden Spence?  And if Elizabeth Prowse was Elisabeth Bowden Spence, making Isaac John’s stepson, then the only way this makes any sense is if the 1769 marriage date is correct instead of 1789, the Isaac Spence in the will being the son of Elisabeth and the senior Isaac.  That’s the gist of the controversy.  However, using my theory, as yet unproven, then Elizabeth Prowse was the widow of Timothy Spence, Sr., when she married John Prowse and was, thus, Isaac’s mother.  And, within the bounds of that hypothesis, Thomas Prowse would have to been her stepson, there being no indication that he is underage (under 21) in this will and, thus, was born in or before 1770.

The only other information I’ve been able to find on John Prowse is a deed in which he buys 100 acres from Hardy Reeves for 50 pounds on August 27, 1785.  He is on no tax list I can find for Duplin or Sampson County, nor can I find him on the 1790 census.

Isaac is the only Spence to appear on the 1784-1786 State Census + Goshen Swamp Project of 1785 in Duplin County.  I suspect he’s just on the Goshen Project list not the census because there are not numbers beside his name.

Looking at Isaac’s little family in 1790, it appears he and Elisabeth may have had twins.  One boy, I’ve been debating with myself whether or not this is Elisha Spence, and one girl.

Heads of Households Free White Males Free White
Other Free Slaves
16+ <16
Isaac Spence 1 1 2 0 0
Timothy Spence 2 1 3 0 0

The household of Timothy Spence could be interpreted in many ways.  I don’t know if he and Patsy were married yet, and, if they were, the bible record lists no children born prior to 1792. Timothy would have been 19 in 1790.  The other man could be his stepfather, John Prowse, and Thomas could be the boy under 16.  Yes, I know, I’m reaching.  I just got finished saying that Thomas Prowse was, probably, of or over 21 in 1791.  That sound you just heard was my exasperated huff.  The females could be Elizabeth Prowse, Dolly Spence/Southerland, and either Patsy Spence or ? Spence Southerland, widow.

In 1800, Isaac and Elisabeth have three boys under 10, Isaac, Samuel, and Timothy as well as the tweenaged “Elisha” and two daughters. I wonder who the other male is?  Could it be Thomas Prowse?  This genealogy mentions Thomas selling 100 acres in Duplin County in October 1804, so he was alive and in Duplin County. I don’t know if their theory about this Thomas being their Thomas of Kentucky is correct.  The older girl is probably “Elisha”‘s twin, not Dolly.  I don’t know where she is at this point.  If she was the sister of Isaac and Timothy instead of the niece, being about 15, she’s probably married to Mr. Southerland.  Whichever one he was.  And, looking at Timothy’s household, it appears that Elizabeth Spence Prowse had passed.  I think that the Rhody Spence in Sampson County, Fayetteville Township, may have been John’s wife, but I’m not sure.  It’s just herself, two sons, and a daughter.

Free White Males Free White Females
<10 10-15 16-25 26-44 45+ <10 10-15 16-25 26-44 45+
Duplin County
Isaac Spence 3 1 1 1 0 1 1 0 1 0
Timothy Spence 3 0 0 1 0 3 0 0 1 0
Sampson County
Rhody Spence  1  1  0  0 0  1  0 0 1  0

Isaac Spence appears on the 1806 tax list, but he’s the only Spence to do so.

Now, 1810 is the first census in which I’ve found John. I know he was in Cumberland County before this due to several land patents in the 1790s and early 1800s, but I can’t find him in either prior census. Notice that he is of or over 45, whereas Isaac and Timothy are aged 26 to 44 (41 and 39, respectively).  It leaves the option open that this John could be the John on the 1767 tax list in New Hanover County and, thus, their uncle instead of their brother.  If he was 16 in 1767, and thus born in 1751, then he’d be 58 in 1810 and 78 when he died in 1830.

By this time, Dolly had married James Bourden, January 12, 1804.  They have two young daughters and a third girl who may be Dolly’s daughter from her marriage to Mr. Southerland.  If not, then I have no idea who this girl could be.

Heads of
Free White Males Free White Females
<10 10-15 16-25 26-44 45+ 0-9 10-15 16-25 26-44 45+
Duplin County
Isaac Spence 3 1 1 1 0 2 1 0 1 0
Timothy Spence 4 2 0 1 0 2 3 0 1 0
James Bourden 0 0 0 1 0 2 1 0 1 0
Cumberland County
John Spence 1 0 0 0 1 2 3 2 1 0

And this is where we’ll leave them for a bit, before the move to Cumberland. Next post we’ll talk about James Bourden and his family. After that, we’ll hook back up with the Spences.

Hiram Wright and the Bowden Sisters

Sarah Elizabeth Wright was born October 6, 1846 to Hyram H. Wright and Sarah Bowden Wright in Harnett County, North Carolina.  Harnett didn’t exist until 1855, so, technically, it was Cumberland County.  According to her death record, her mother was also born in Harnett County, her father in Chatham. The informant was her husband, David Fields. However, Hiram’s Find a Grave page says he was born in Cumberland County, and the death certificate of his elder daughter, Charity Ann Wright Newell, says he was born in South Carolina. The informant, Ashford Newell, was her son.

Wherever it was, Hiram was born December 12, 1813, according to his tombstone. For some reason I don’t understand many places, including Find a Grave, give James and Dolley Southerland Bowden Wright as his parents. A clear case of adding 2 + 2 and getting 15.  More on that below.

I don’t know if this next bit is relevant, but I’m throwing it out there.  There was an adult Hiram Wright in Chatham County in 1814. Listed among these Chatham County Marriage Bonds is one dated May 24, 1814 where a Hiram Wright stands bondsman for James McMath and Polly Johnson. However, he may have been a visitor, because I can’t find a Hiram Wright in Chatham County in any census or on the 1815 Tax List.  There’s also a bond for an Ira Rosson to marry a Sarah Wright, dated January 9, 1813 with James Wright as bondsman and two bonds in 1817 for persons named Hiram Rosson to marry.  James and Ira are both in Captain Brantly’s District in 1815, and there’s a James Wright in the census records for this county from 1810 until 1850 when he’s 72 years old.  Any connection?  No clue!  Oh, and because I have an inquiring mind, I looked, and James McMath, Jr. was living in Captain Roger’s District in 1815, adjacent to Isaac Henderson on Tyrrell’s Creek.  There are no Wrights in that district and the only Rosson is Benoni Rossin.  James McMath, Sr. was in Captain Crutchfield’s District.  No Wrights there, either, and no Rossons.  In fact, the only other Wright I could find on the whole freaking list was Augustine Wright in Captain Brantly’s District with one white poll.

The first mention I can find of my Hiram Wright is in the October 10, 1840 issue of The North-Carolinian.  His name was on a list of letters remaining at the Post Office since the first of the month.  Apparently, he was habitually rather slow to pick up the mail, because this isn’t the only time his name appears on such a list:

  • The North-Carolinian, October 24 and 31, 1840
  • The Fayetteville Weekly Observer, April 7, 21, and 28, 1841
  • The Fayetteville Weekly Observer, October 13, 1841
  • The North-Carolinian, October 6, 13, and 20, 1849

Hiram Wright and Sarah Bowden were married May 13, 1842 in Cumberland County. David Barksdale was bondsman. They had four children together: Charity Ann, born in 1843, Dolly Jane in 1844, Sarah Elizabeth in 1846, and James Hiram in 1847. I think Sarah may have died in childbirth with James, because Hiram married again on February 5, 1850, to Elizabeth Bowden. Tradition says Elizabeth and Sarah were sisters. I see no reason to doubt this, although I’ve seen no actual proof.  A Major Bowden stood bondsman for Hiram and Elizabeth. Their brother, according to tradition, and, again, I have no reason to doubt it. However, those same traditions say their father was also a Major Bowden, and that I do doubt.  More on that below.  I have also seen mention of a brother named Colonel for whom Hiram Wright acted as bondsman. I have not seen this bond, so, again, no proof.  I’m starting to wonder if someone mis-read the Stephen Reeves/Charlotte Bowden marriage bond (see below).

In 1850, Hyram and Elizabeth Wright, aged 33 and 21, respectively, were living in the Northern Division of Cumberland County with daughters Charity, 7, and Sarah, 3.  He was a Cooper (aka barrel maker).


Next door is a Moses Bowden, 26, wife Nancy, 24, and their one year old son, Daniel J.  I don’t know if there’s a connection there, just a point of interest.  Further on in the census we find James Bowden, 72, and wife Dolly, 65. Living with them are Major, 24, Dolly J. Wright, 6, and James H. Wright, 3.


There is a marriage bond in Duplin County for James Bourden and Dolley Southerland dated January 12, 1804 with Samuel Bourden as bondsman. Bourden is the original spelling of Bowden.  James and Dolly are a little old to be Sarah and Elizabeth’s parents, or so I thought, until I found this entered in the Spence Family Bible:

Bethsay Ann BOURDEN the darter of Jonas? BOURDEN and wife Dolly BOURDEN was born the 15 day of February 1830.
Bethsay Ann BOURDEN dec’d the 26 day of March 1835.

Bethsay Ann was close in age to Elizabeth, who being 21 in 1850, would have been born in 1829.

Note that James Bowden is still alive in 1850.  Would someone, please, explain to me how it is that Dolly Southerland Bowden was supposed to have married a James Wright and born him a son in 1813.  Unless you’re going to tell me she married two James Bowdens.

Elizabeth Bowden Wright gave Hiram three children: Nathan in 1851, Mary Catherine in 1855, and Charlotte in 1856. Either she died giving birth to Charlotte, or shortly thereafter, because she doesn’t show up in the 1860 census:


Who were Sarah and Martha Bowden? In 1850, in the household of Mitchell Bowden, we find:


I wonder what the connection is? Mitchell was born in about 1792, making him too old to be a son of James and Dolly. Although, I did find this one genealogy, Some Early Families of Eastern North Carolina, that does have Mitchell as their son. How that worked when Dolly was born between 1785 and 1790 and Mitchell in 1792, is not explained. James would have been about 14 in 1792, thus Mitchell being a product of a previous marriage of his would be, though not entirely impossible, highly unlikely.

There are other questions raised by that genealogy, but they’re for another post.  Back on topic…

On January 15, 1861, a summons was issued for Hiram Wright to testify in the case of Elizabeth Buie vs. Robert Wooten (everything I’ve underlined was handwritten):


To the Sheriff of Cumberland Harnett County, Greetings:

YOU are hereby commanded to summon Hiram Wright
personally to appear before the Judge of the Superior Court of Law, at the next Court to be held for the County of Cumberland, at the Court House in Fayetteville, on the seventh Monday after the fourth First Monday in February next, then and there to testify and the truth to say, on behalf of Plff
in a certain matter of controversy in the said Court depending, between

Elizabeth Buie Plantiff and

Robert Wooten Defendant

Herein fail not, and have you then and there this Writ, with your doings thereon, to render to the said Court.  And this shall in no wise omit, under the penalty prescribed by act of Assembly.

Witness, JOHN W. BAKER, Clerk of our said Court, at Office, the seventh Monday after the fourth Monday in Septm — A. D. 1860

Issued the 15th day of January 1861.

J. W. Baker Clerk.

What’s with the “seventh Monday after the fourth Monday” crap?  Like legal documents aren’t difficult enough.

I don’t know exactly what Hiram testified to, but, from what I can understand of the legalese, John D. Buie, son of the Plaintiff, sold one of his slaves to his mother for $730. He owed a lot of money to several people and someone called in the debt and filed a suit.  Robert Wooten, the Defendant, a constable, in what I assume to have been a court ordered response, seized and sold this same slave as the property of James D. Buie in recompense.  The question before the court appears to have been:  Was the slave actually, truly, the property of Elizabeth Buie, bought in a legitimate transaction, or was some sort of fraud being perpetuated.  In other words, were they trying to pull a fast one?  The facts of the case were made murkier by the fact that the cardinal witnesses to the transaction were John’s sister, Jane Buie, and his brother-in-law, Thomas Murphy.  The Court would eventually rule in favor of the Plaintiff.  One feels sorry for the poor slave.

There is a note on the back of the summons that says “Not to be found in my County” and “in Cumberland Co. working with W. T. Rhodes.”  The date of the note is January 31, 1861.  W. T. stands for Wiley Trice.  According to the 1860 census, Mr. Rhodes was a Distiller.  This means he made booze.

Also in 1861, on July 4, and again on the 8th, this little tid-bit ran in The Fayetteville Semi-Weekly Observer:

From the subscriber on the 22d ult., a small Sorrel Roan HORSE, red mane and tail. A liberal reward will be paid for the delivery of said horse to me, or any information of said horse thankfully received.

From Fold3
From Fold3

September 2, 1863, at the age of 47 (according to this record), Hiram joined the 2nd Battalion, Local Defense Troops, Company D as a Private (this record).  A list of Cumberland Confederate Soldiers printed in the January 9, 1902 issue of The Fayetteville Weekly Observer, page 1, says Hiram’s unit was part of the Armory Guard.

After Elizabeth died, Hiram married again. To another Bowden. He and Nancy Ann Bowden married in Cumberland County on October 23, 1863. Stephen Reives was their bondsman. A couple of months later, on December 22, his daughter, Charity, married Edward Robert Newell. Stephen Reeves was their bondsman, too. On November 11, 1865, Stephen Reaves marrried Charlotte Bowden. Hiram Wright acted as bondsman. Stephen and his first wife, Isabella Guy, lived next door to Hiram in 1860.  The Isaac Guy in Hiram’s household was her brother.

Here’s a quick look at the relevant marriage bonds to refer to:

Bride Groom Date Bondsman
Sarah Bowden Hiram Wright May 13, 1842 David Barksdale
Elizabeth Bowden Hiram Wright February 5, 1850 Major Bowden
Isabella Guy Stephen Reeves October 30, 1850 John R. Cribbs
Mary Ballard Bryant Bowden April 28, 1853 Alexander Johnson
Sarah Autrey Major Bowden July 14, 1855 Alexander Johnson
Sarah Bowden James H. Marshall October 9, 1862 Robert M. Atkinson
Nancy Ann Bowden Hiram Wright October 29, 1863 Stephen Reeves
Charity Ann Wright Edward R. Newell December 22, 1863 Stephen Reeves
Jane Wright George Ely June 22, 1865 David Fields
Sarah Wright David Fields July 5, 1865 George Ely
Charlotte Bowden Stephen Reeves November 9, 1865 Hiram Wright
Sarah Jernigan Denning David Bowden September 12, 1872 n/a

Most genealogies say Nancy Ann Bowden Wright was a sister of Sarah and Elizabeth. I disagree. Look again at the family of Mitchell Bowden in 1850.  Notice Nancy A., aged 12, and Lotta, aged 8?  Further, look at this: on September 21, 1876, in Wake County, Charlotte Reives married Paschal Johnson.

…Charlotte Reivs of Wake County aged 35 years, color white, daughter of Mitchell Bowden and Lottie Bowden (nee Reves?) the father living, the mother dead, resident of Wake County…

Charlotte was definitely the daughter of Mitchell and Lottie Bowden. But it gets even more interesting.  There is another Wake County marriage license, dated January 4, 1880, for Ann Wright and William I. Rowland:

…Ann Wright of Wake County aged 42 years, color white, daughter of Mitchell Bowden and Rachel Bowden the father dead, the mother dead, were resident of Harnett County…

This begs the question: Was there a divorce? Or am I completely off base?  Cause Hiram ain’t dead in 1880.  He’s alive and, presumably, well, in Burnt Swamp Township, Robeson County.

By 1900, Annie was a widow living in Middle Creek, Wake County, in the household of John Allen Johnson and wife Martha.  She also lived there in 1910 when her name was listed as Nancy A. Rowland.  She could neither read nor write and had born no children.  In both censuses, her relationship to Mr. Johnson is “sister-in-law.” Another sister-in-law living with them was Sallie Marshall.  Remember the Sarah, aged 11, and Martha, aged 6 in the household of Mitchell Bowden in 1850, then in Hiram’s own house in 1860?  However, just to confuse everything, according to Martha Bowden Johnson’s death certificate, she was the daughter of Moses Bowden, whereas Annie’s gives her parents as Mitchell Bowden and Charlotte Jones.  Sallie Marshall’s isn’t as specific.  It just says her father was “Bowden”.  Martha died of “cancer of the face”,  Annie suffered from dementia, and Sallie burned to death in a house fire.  John Allen Johnson also died in that fire.  His death certificate says Pascal Johnson was his father.  The twists and turns just keep getting weirder the more I go into this, I swear.

I have no idea where Hiram lived right after the war.  Nor do I know where he was in 1870. Charity and Sarah lived in Robeson County with their husbands and children.  Both men were coopers.  I wonder if Hiram taught them the trade.  As I said, in 1880 he was living in Burnt Swamp Township, Robeson County. Sarah and David Fields lived there as well. My great-grandfather’s just 2 years old.

I wonder if he was the Wright father-in-law, aged 86, next to Frank and Kate Harris in Burnt Swamp in 1900. The problem is, they are all listed as Indian.  Frank and Mary Catherine Harris had a son named Hiram Franklin.

Hyram H. Wright died May 27, 1907, Pembroke Township, Robeson County.