Sorting out the Samuels

Got multiple ancestors with the same name in the same place? It can be a nightmare to sort out. It’s time to expand the arsenal of documents you use to get them all sorted out.

What follows is a report I prepared for submitting a new Revolutionary War patriot ancestor to the Daughters of the American Revolution. These reports are often referred to as Genealogical Proof Standards and they’re used when the documentation gathered does not clearly indicate the familial relationship the genealogist is trying to prove – like an attorney proving a case with circumstantial evidence.

Thing is, in the case of all my Samuels, the proof is all here, it’s just that one has to examine and analyze all the individual pieces and then view them as a whole to see it.

In Mecklenburg County, Virginia, there were multiple men named Samuel Holmes, all closely related to each other – one of them being my fifth great-grandfather from my paternal grandmother’s line, the second his uncle, the third his nephew, and the fourth his grandfather (my seventh great-grandfather). There was no readily available record that differentiated them, and my self-appointed task was to sort them out. The citations used are referenced at the end.
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Sorting Out the Samuels

All events take place in Mecklenburg County, Virginia unless otherwise noted.

Various Mecklenburg County, Virginia records (hereinafter cited) show two Samuel Holmes, referred to in the records as Jr and Sr, during the period beginning with the American Revolution and continuing through the very early 1800’s. This paper will identify the two Samuels and connect them to the appropriate spouses.  This paper will also show that these two Samuels had a uncle-nephew relationship, rather than a father-son relationship that the use of Jr and Sr would indicate.

Revolutionary War Records of Mecklenburg County, Virginia shows three entries for Samuel Holmes: Samuel Holmes Jr, Samuel Holmes Sr, and Samuel Holmes.1 The primary task of this research was to determine which of these entries belonged to the Samuel who died in 1804 and to the Samuel who died 1826.

The two Samuels are:

No. 1 – “Samuel-1804” – Samuel Holmes made his will 1802, recorded 10 Dec 1804.2 In it he names seven daughters, no sons, and no wife. The daughters are:

Martha (m Walter Leigh 17843) b. 1763 – estimated by marriage
Ann (m Josiah Hundley 17914) b. 1768 – May 13, Bible record5
Elizabeth (m John Warren 17926) b. 1771 – estimated by marriage date
Mary (m Marriott Warren 17947,8 m2 Robert Fox 18019) b. 1773-75 – estimated by 1820 census,10 marriage
Sarah (m James Reekes 179611,12 m2 Thomas Jones 181513) b. 1775 – estimated by 1820 census,14 marriage
Joyce (m Edward Goode 179815) b 1778 – estimated by 1850 census record16
Susannah (m Edward Baskervill 180017, m2 Richardson Farrar 181018) b. 1779 – estimated by marriage date

The detail provided for these daughters above will be relevant later.

No. 2 – “Samuel-1826” – Samuel Holmes made his will 16 Sep 1826, proved 16 Oct 1826.20 The Warren Family Bible record indicates he died the same day he made his will, and using the age given in that record, his calculated date of birth is 4 Apr 1753.21 In his will, he names the following family members:

Grandson Samuel H. Warren
Grandson Mariott W. Warren
Grandson Robert H. Warren
Granddaughter Ann C. Bugg
Granddaughter Jane Abernathy
Grandson David H. Abernathy

Martha Abbenathy was a witnesses to this will; she is Samuel’s daughter – Martha Holmes married Signal Abernathy (later records show he was incorrectly transcribed as Tignal) in 1796.22

The Warren children (including Ann Courtney Warren Bugg, married to John J. Bugg23) were the children of Lucinda Holmes who married William Warren in 179824 (see also records for DAR Ancestor A121576, children of John’s son William). Jane Abernathy above was also the daughter of Lucinda and William, and she married her cousin David H. Abernathy in 1824 (her brother Samuel H. Warren was surety).25 The conclusion that the Warren children were the children of Lucinda and William is based upon the marriages of Lucinda and Martha, Samuel’s will, and the marriage records of Ann C. Warren and Jane Warren; Ann’s marriage record includes consent by Samuel Holmes, naming him as grandfather and guardian of Ann.

Sam I Am

This portion of the analysis will begin to demonstrate that Samuel-1804 was “Sr” and that Samuel-1826 was “Jr”.

The progenitor of the Holmes family in first Lunenburg County and then Mecklenburg County (formed from Lunenburg in 1765) was Samuel Holmes (hereinafter Samuel-1766) who married Anne (last name unknown, possibly Pennington). He made his will in 1762 (Lunenburg), which was recorded in 1766 (Mecklenburg).26 In his will he names:

Son Isaac b 16 Nov 1727 Bristol Parish, VA27
Daughter Mary Lark  b 29 Nov 1724 Bristol Parish, VA28
Son Samuel b 27 May 1731 Bristol Parish, VA29
Daughter Ann
Granddaughter Elizabeth Pool
Son William (DAR Ancestor A057149)
Wife Ann

Since Samuel-1766 died in 1766, he was eliminated as a possible candidate for the Samuels listed in Revolutionary War Records.

Samuel-1766’s son Isaac made his will 21 Aug 1772, recorded 11 Dec 1772.30 In it he names:

Wife Lucy
Son Samuel
Son John
Son Isaac (DAR Ancestor A056993)
Son David
Daughters Sarah, Anne, Rebecca, Lucy, Frances, Faitha, Mary, Elizabeth and Martha
Isaac’s wife Lucy was the daughter of John Ballard, as proven by Ballard’s 1787 will.31

Samuel-1766’s son William’s will was made 1809,32 recorded 1813.33 He names his wife Sarah, sons Pennington, Samuel (hereinafter Samuel-X), Isaac, and Edward, and daughters Betsy, Mary, Sarah Ann.

An early task was to determine if Samuel-X could be one of the Samuels listed in Revolutionary War Records. Personal property tax records first show Samuel-X in his father’s household in 1794;34,35 since males in a home were taxable once they reached age 16, this would indicate that Samuel-X was born about 1778, thereby eliminating him from Revolutionary War service.

The tax records from 1782 through 1805 for all Holmes households were abstracted and then analyzed to determine if a differentiation between the two Samuels could be made.36 Entries for Samuel Sr never show a Holmes male listed in his tax records, which aligns with Samuel-1804’s will naming only daughters.

Samuel Jr, however, shows in 1793 his son Isaac (born ca. 1777); 1794 shows Isaac and another son Edward (born ca. 1778); and 1799 shows a son Robert (born ca. 1783).

At this juncture, using tax records alone, it can be determined that Samuel Sr is Samuel-1804 and that Samuel Jr is Samuel-1826. This is based upon Samuel-1826’s son Isaac who survives to have heirs, as Samuel-1826’s will indicates, though Isaac predeceases his father.37

In the tax records, the Samuels are almost always referred to as Jr and Sr, but as we can see by eliminating Samuel-1766 and Samuel-X and reviewing the sons named in wills and tax records, the suffixes were used to differentiate Samuel the elder from Samuel the younger, rather than noting a father-son relationship.  And by monitoring the sons named on the tax records, we know that Samuel-1804 had no sons and Samuel-1826 had three sons who did not survive him.

In order to provide additional evidence for the identification of the two Samuels, further analysis of records was needed, and sorting out the spouses held the key.

Marriage, Death and Taxes

In 1775, Samuel Holmes married Prudence Courtney, widow of Clack Courtney (d. by 1771) and daughter of George Clark (or Clarke)38. Prudence married Clack Courtney in 1756 at Brunswick County, Virginia.39 Therefore, Prudence was born, say, 1735. As early as 1771, guardian accounts indicate that Samuel Holmes Jr is the legal guardian of the children Anne Clack Courtney, John Courtney, Susannah Courtney, and Clack Courtney, Jr., and later, Sampson Courtney.40 The guardian accounts show that the children are paying Samuel Holmes Jr for their board, clothing, etc., from their father’s estate. Referring to personal property tax records, John Courtney is residing with Samuel Jr in 1787, and Sampson Courtney is residing with Samuel Jr in 1788. It is a reasonable assumption that it was Samuel Holmes Jr who married the widow Courtney.

That said, giving consideration to the possibility that Samuel-1826 is Samuel Jr, this marriage can be bothersome when calculating the age difference between Prudence and Samuel Jr. Since Samuel was born in 1753 and Prudence married in 1756, the difference in their ages could be estimated at 17 years or more. In order to alleviate the doubt this age difference causes, especially since Prudence is the older party, consideration was given to the possibility that Prudence married to Samuel-1804, and a search for Samuel-1804’s wife was made.

In 1782, Drury Malone made his will, recorded the same year, and in it he named his eldest daughter Martha Holmes, among other children.41 The Albemarle Parish Register (Surry and Sussex counties, Virginia) shows Pattie born to Drury Malone and Martha his wife on 27 March 1741.42 Drury’s bequest to Martha was for four slaves, namely Selah, Bob, Anica and Edey, until her death and then to her heirs.43

In order to determine which of the Samuels Martha married, I reviewed the personal property tax records, which until 1801 named slaves falling within certain age groups. Of all the Holmes males in the records from 1782 onward, only Samuel Sr has slaves by the names given in Drury’s will. (Note: The entire 1782 and 1791 records were reviewed three times, but no Samuel Sr or Samuel was found, only Samuel Jr.)

Furthermore, in his 1802 will, Samuel-1804 directs his executors to sell the slaves Hannah, Harry, Mima, Hinton and Isham; the 1800 property tax record for Samuel (no suffix) shows two of these slaves, Hannah and Isham; it should be noted that not all slaves were taxed, only those within a certain age ranges. The 1800 record for Samuel Jr shows no slaves by these names.

This researcher felt it was necessary to also consider that Prudence may have been a previous wife of Samuel-1804 and that Martha was married to him after he was married to Prudence but before her father made his will, with further consideration that perhaps not all the daughters in Samuel-1804’s will were Martha’s. Closer examination of the inherited slaves was made, and due consideration was given to Martha’s daughters ages based upon their marriages and any located census records that would show ages. The tax records indicate that the daughters were taking possession of the slaves beginning in 1792; at this date, Ann (married to Josiah “Cyer” Hundley) has Edey. As the daughters marry, one can observe the slaves’ relocations by viewing the tax record abstract.44

Then, referring to the list of Samuel-1804’s daughters above, note that the birth dates shown for Martha, Elizabeth, Sarah, and Susannah are the latest possible, since the marriage records do not indicate consent was required for them and therefore they must have been at least age 21. We can observe slaves in the households of Ann, Elizabeth, Mary, and Sarah and Susannah. Since the daughters who receive slaves were born beginning in 1768 and ending about 1779, and Martha is still living in 1782 when Drury Malone made his will leaving four named slaves to her and at her death to her daughters, we can conclude that the Samuel who was married to Martha was not previously married to Prudence. It is important to remember than Prudence was widowed by 1771 and did not remarry until 1775; she could not have been the mother of Samuel-1804’s daughters.

It should be noted that from 1782 through 1796, there are only two Samuel Holmes listed in the tax records, and the third Samuel is our Samuel-X, who has been previously herein proven too young to qualify as 1) a Revolutionary War participant and 2) a candidate for spouse of Prudence.

In Samuel-1826’s will, he frees slaves by the names of Roger, Stephen, Cesar, Frank, Ephraim, Phill, and Lizzy. While 26 years have passed between the 1800 tax record and Samuel’s will, note that the 1800 tax record does show slaves by the names of Frank and Cesar in Samuel Jr’s record. Both of these slaves have appeared in Samuel Jr’s property since 1782, and in the valuation of his estate, Cesar is listed as having no value, so he must be quite old in 1826. All the slaves regardless of age are listed by name in the 1826 valuation of the estate, and four of them do appear in the 1800 tax record: Watt, Frank, Caesar, and Lucy.

Conclusion

Based upon analysis of gathered records, the following conclusions can be made:

Samuel-1804 = Samuel Holmes 1731-1804 = Samuel Holmes m. Martha Malone = Samuel Holmes Sr in Revolutionary War Records

Samuel-1826 = Samuel Holmes 1753-1826 = Samuel Holmes m. Prudence (Clark) Courtney = Samuel Holmes Jr in Revolutionary War Records

Lastly, since Samuel-1804-Sr served the cause by providing supplies and since Samuel-1826-Jr served in a military capacity, it is a strong probability that the “orphaned” Samuel Holmes in Revolutionary War Records was Samuel-1826-Jr.

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1 Elliott, Katherine B., Revolutionary War Records, Mecklenburg County, Virginia (Easley SC: Southern Historical Press, Inc., 1964), 80.
2 Will of Samuel Holmes, Jr, dated 4 May 1802, proved 10 Dec 1804, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, Will Book 5: 202-203, County Clerk’s Office, Courthouse, Boydton, transcription held by compiler.
3 Elliott, Katherine B., Marriage Records 1765-1810, Mecklenburg County, Virginia (Easley SC: Southern Historical Press, Inc., reprinted 1984­­), 80.
4 Ibid., 68.
5 Birth record of Ann Holmes; Ann Hundley, widow’s pension application file W7844, for service of Josiah Hundley; Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service; Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files, compiled 1800–ca. 1912; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.; digital images, “Revolutionary War Pensions,” fold3.com (http://www.fold3.com: accessed 26 March 2013); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm publication M804, catalog ID 300022.
6 Elliott, Katherine B., Marriage Records 1765-1810, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, 129.
7 Ibid., 129.
8 Spears, Jo Lee and Kerry Kirk, transcribers, “Wills Index Transcription Project 1765-1948,” VAGenWeb Mecklenburg County Project, Mecklenburg County, Virginia Cross Index to Wills, http://www.vagenweb.org/mecklenburg/willindex/Ws/MecklenburgW_p57.gif, accessed 26 Mar 2013.
9 Elliott, Katherine B., Marriage Records 1765-1810, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, (Easley SC: Southern Historical Press, Inc. reprinted 1983), 48.
10 1820 United States Census; Census Place: Mecklenburg County, Virginia; Page: 160; NARA Roll: M33_130; Image: 308. Ancestry.com, downloaded 26 Mar 2013.
11 Elliott, Katherine B., Marriage Records 1765-1810, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, 105
12 Spears, Jo Lee and Kerry Kirk, transcribers, “Wills Index Transcription Project 1765-1948,” VAGenWeb Mecklenburg County Project Mecklenburg County, Virginia Cross Index to Wills,  http://www.vagenweb.org/mecklenburg/willindex/Rs/Mecklenburg_p37.gif, accessed 26 Mar 2013.
13 Prestwould Chapter, DAR, Marriage Records 1811-1853, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, 9.
14 1820 United States Census; Census Place: Mecklenburg County, Virginia; Page: 144A; NARA Roll: M33_130; Image: 277. Ancestry.com, downloaded 26 Mar 2013.
15 Prestwould Chapter, DAR, Marriage Records 1811-1853, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, 51.
16 1850 United States Census; Census Place: Regiment 98, Mecklenburg, Virginia; Roll: M432_960; Page: 73B; Image: 15. Ancestry.com, downloaded 26 Mar 2013.
17 Prestwould Chapter, DAR, Marriage Records 1811-1853, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, 13
18 Spears, Jo Lee and Kerry Kirk, transcribers, “Wills Index Transcription Project 1765-1948,” VAGenWeb Mecklenburg County Project Mecklenburg County, Virginia Cross Index to Willshttp://www.vagenweb.org/mecklenburg/willindex/w0ixhome.htm, accessed 26 Mar 2013.
19 Elliott, Katherine B., Marriage Records 1765-1810, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, 46.
20 Will of Samuel Holmes, dated 16 Sep 1826, proved 16 Oct 1826, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, Will Book 11: 118-119, County Clerk’s Office, Courthouse, Boydton, photograph and transcription held by compiler.
21 Sheppard, Susan Bracey and Carol Bracey Corker, Family Records, Mecklenburg County, Virginia (South Hill, VA: Prestwould Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution), 156.
22 Elliott, Katherine B., Marriage Records 1765-1810, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, 7.
23Prestwould Chapter, DAR, Marriage Records 1811-1853, Mecklenburg County, Virginia (Easley SC: Southern Historical Press, Inc., 1962), 27.
24 Elliott, Katherine B., Marriage Records 1765-1810, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, 129.
25 Prestwould Chapter, DAR, Marriage Records 1811-1853, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, 9.
26 Will of Samuel Holmes, dated Sep 1762, recorded 9 Jul 1766, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, Will Book 1: 18, County Clerk’s Office, Courthouse, Boydton, image and transcription held by compiler.
27 Chamberlayne, Churchill Gibson (transcriber), The Vestry Book and Register of Bristol Parish, Virginia, 1720-1789 (Richmond, VA: Chamberlayne, 1898), 314.
28 Ibid., 314.
29 Ibid., 315.
30 Will of Isaac Holmes, dated 21 Aug 1772, recorded 11 Dec 1772, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, Will Book 1: 144-145, County Clerk’s Office, Courthouse, Boydton, image and transcription held by compiler.
31 Elliott, Katherine B., Early Wills 1765-1799, Mecklenburg County, Virginia (Easley SC: Southern Historical Press, Inc., 1963, 1983), 12.
32 Will of William Holmes, dated 17 Feb 1809, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, Will Book 7: 337-338, County Clerk’s Office, Courthouse, Boydton, transcription held by compiler.
33 Spears, Jo Lee and Kerry Kirk, transcribers, “Wills Index Transcription Project 1765-1948,” VAGenWeb Mecklenburg County Project Mecklenburg County, Virginia Cross Index to Willshttp://www.vagenweb.org/mecklenburg/willindex/w0ixhome.htm, accessed 16 Mar 2013.
34 Binns Genealogy Tax List Club, Mecklenburg County Personal Property Tax Records, 1782-1805, http://www.binnsgenealogy.com, accessed various dates 2012-2013, images held by compiler. NOTE: Sample images provided are intended to be examples only; the complete data has been abstracted by this researcher.
35 Thames-Simmons, Rebecca, Abstract of Holmes Tax Records for Mecklenburg County, Virginia, 1782-1805, personal and non-published, source records examined at Binns Genealogy Tax Club, http://www.binnsgenealogy.com, accessed various dates 2012-2013.
36 Ibid.
37 Will of Samuel Holmes, dated 16 Sep 1826, proved 16 Oct 1826, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, Will Book 11: 118-119, County Clerk’s Office, Courthouse, Boydton, photograph and transcription held by compiler.
38 Elliott, Katherine B., Marriage Records 1765-1810, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, 65.
39 Tyler, Lyon Gardiner, editor, “Brunswick County Marriages,” The William and Mary Quarterly (Richmond, VA: Whittet & Shepperson, 1912), Vol. 20: 195.
40 Guardian Accounts, 1766-1793, County Clerk’s Office, Courthouse, Boydton, Virginia, pp. 87-90, 92-93, 96, 98-99, 103-104, 139, images held by compiler.
41 Elliott, Katherine B., Early Wills 1765-1799, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, 59.
42 Richards, Gertrude R. B., Ph.D., transcriber, Register of Albemarle Parish Surry and Sussex Counties 1739-1778 (Virginia:  The National Society Colonial Dames of America in the Commonwealth of Virginia, 1958, reprinted by Southern Historical Press, Easley, SC 1984), 40.
43 Curci, Jane, “Drury Malone, Jr’s Mecklenburg Co VA Will 1782,” 12 Jun 2012 post to Malone Message Board, http://www.genforum.comhttp://genforum.com/cgi-bin/pageload.cgi?drury::malone::4370.html, accessed 12 Mar 2013.
44 Thames-Simmons, Rebecca, Abstract of Holmes Tax Records for Mecklenburg County, Virginia, 1782-1805, personal and non-published, source records examined at Binns Genealogy Tax Club, http://www.binnsgenealogy.com, accessed various dates 2012-2013.

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