Connecting a KY Anderson back to VA

Connecting a KY Anderson back to VA

The exact identification of the father of Armstead's Anderson of Union County, Kentucky is one of those genealogical exercises which at once make the labor both frustrating and rewarding. Many individuals had researched this question and met without success. Herewith I submit my own evidence in way of a proof of his lineage.

Everett Anderson of McLeansboro, Illinois (my uncle now deceased) recalled in conversation with me in 1974, that Armstead father's name was John, that his mother was Mary and that he may have had a brother William. I considered this information very unreliable.

Everett stated that Thomas P. McGilley, son of Mahalia Anderson, granddaughter of Armstead; was knowledgeable of Armstead's parentage. Charles McGilley, his brother, was an employee at the National Archives in Washington, D. C. and was actively involved in a search of records for Armstead Anderson about 1900. I have in my possession, the typewritten transcript of Armstead Anderson's Revolutionary War Pension application provided by the National Archives to Mr. McGilley. This was mailed with accompanying letter to Warner Anderson in McLeansboro, IL in 1901.

No record in the possession of the Anderson Family of Illinois indicates the exact place of birth or the parentage of Armstead Anderson. Contact with distant cousins in Morganfield, Kentucky revealed that the bible of Urshula S. Kief nee Anderson, Armstead's youngest daughter reflects the same date of birth as is given in his revolutionary war pension application. However this date was not entered into the bible until between 1825 and 1827 based on an analysis of the handwriting.

In his application for a military pension, Armstead Anderson in response to a question by the court concerning his date and place of birth states, "in Amelia County & State of Virginia, on the 2nd day of September 1756." In response to the question, "Have you any record of your age and if so where is it?", Armstead answered, "I have a record at home from my fathers register." None of these registers have been located in the hands of current descendants.

No church records have been located in Virginia which would indicate the birth of Armstead. No family Bible or record of Anderson's in Virginia has been found that records the birth of Armstead Anderson in Amelia County. In more northerly Hanover County the family of Robert Anderson is known to have used the name of Armistead on two occasions in the late eighteenth century. These two Armistead Anderson's of Virginia are of the next generation to the Armstead of interest.

An examination of Amelia County tax rolls reveals no Armstead Anderson. The absence of archival confirmation occurs due to the omission of critical tax records for the period 1772 to 1777 in Amelia County. Existing tax records cease in 1771 and restart in 1778. Armstead would have come of tax age in 1772. In 1776 he had left with James Lyon for the Virginia frontier and upon returning took up residence in Henry County, Virginia with the members of his militia unit. Subsequently he moved southwest after being charged with a felony in 1785 in Henry County and having his property garnisheed as is recorded in the Court Orders of that county.

The careful delineation of all Andersons found in Amelia county records had suggested by process of elimination that Armstead must have been the child of John Anderson or James Anderson,Jr both of Nottoway Parish in Amelia County. Four distinct Anderson families are resident in Amelia county at that time. These include the family of James Anderson, Sr.; Henry Anderson (both descendants of Reynard Anderson of Charles City County (163?-1690); a Richard Anderson (from New Kent County) and the sons of James Anderson (from Surry County). None of these source families are of any proven relationship to one another yet. However study of the published literature and comparison with the records of Amelia and Nottoway Counties, Virginia did not identified a likely candidate for Armstead's father within the Henry or Richard Anderson groupings.

The examination of the correspondence of the ancestors of Grant James Anderson of Westminster, Texas and travels to the state of Virginia led him to publish a genealogy of his ancestors in 1909. Genealogy in part, of the Anderson-Owen-Beall families; By Grant James Anderson; Richmond Virginia; Whitter & Shepperson printers, 1909.

In this genealogy he gives the children of James, Thomas (of Dinwiddie) , Jordan (of Chesterfield) and John Anderson (of Nottoway), County, Virginia. Nottoway County was formed from the southern half of Amelia County in 1784.

Grant Anderson states that this John had twelve children listing sons; Armstead, William, Allen, and daughters; Sylla (married Mr. Hawk), Polly (married Mr. Nichols), Katie (married Mr. Vaughan), Susan (married Mr. Vaughan), Sallie (married Mr. Harpe), Patsey (married Mr. May), Hannah, Lucy, and Bettie.

The data of Grant James Anderson is remarkably accurate regarding the family of Jordan Anderson (his own lineage). It did contain errors regarding the family of Jordan's son James Anderson and his son Richard. There was a need to verify the accuracy of Grant James Anderson's data regarding John Anderson's children before I could have confidence in attributing Armstead Anderson to the Nottoway Parish, John Anderson.

Examination of records associated with John Anderson of Nottoway Parish, Amelia County, Virginia reveals  Armstead Anderson as a witness on a 1786 deed. A review of the wills of John May dated 10/06/1794 and Martha May dated 09/06/1800 was made. In his will John May indicates that he leaves his sister-in-law Priscilla Anderson, wife Martha May, brother-in-law Daniel Vaughan, brother-in-law David Vaughan, brother-in-law Henry Harp, brother-in-law William Anderson, brother-in-law Freeman Nichols. sister-in-laws Hannah, Rebeckah, and Lucy Anderson. There is no mention of the Allen or Armstead listed in Grant Anderson's genealogy. In her will, Martha May, names sister Caty Vaughan, sister Hannah Anderson, sisters Rebecca and Lucy Anderson, brother William Anderson, brother-in-law Peter Hawks, sister Polly B. Eckles, and sister Sally Harp. She also states that her mother and father are still living.

Examination of the will of John Anderson dated 1807 and probated in 1815 reveals that his wife Mary was still living at the time the will was written and names only his unmarried daughters Lucy, Rebecca and Hannah.

Examination of Amelia County tax rolls in the colonial period revealed in 1780 presence of Allen Anderson and a slave named Patt in the household of John Anderson, carpenter. Careful tracing of these tax rolls back to the 1750's revealed that this is the John Anderson brother of Jordan, Thomas and James, who were leased land in Nottoway Parish by their father James Anderson of Surry County, Virginia in 1743. Further, a slave named Patt first appeared in John Anderson's tax list in 1768.

None of this data however, proves that there was another son of John by the name of Armstead Anderson. It fully confirms the other children of John Anderson as alleged by Grant Anderson, with the slight variation in spellings and given names typical of the period.

Close examination of the Nottoway County Court Order Books through 1815 reveals the following record in Nottoway County Court Order Book 7, page 194.

May Court 1815

Rebecca Anderson			Complt.
					  In Chancery
Edmund Irby adms. of Hannah Anderson decd. Daniel Vaughan
& Caty His wife, Priscilla Hawkes, David Vaughan & ___ his
wife, Lucy Anderson, Armstead Anderson, Allen Anderson, Wm
Anderson and ______________ Harp children and infants of
Henry Harpe by Sally his wife formerly Sally Anderson and
_________________ Eckles children & infants of Freeman Eckles
by Rebecca B Eckles, formerly Rebecca B. Anderson, the said
infants by Freeman Eckles their special Guardian

It is decreed and ordered that Nathaniel Niblett, Abraham 
Buford, John Pace, and Samuel Morgan or any three of them 
who are hereby named and appointed Commissioners for that 
purpose do proceed to sell to the highest bidder on a credit 
of twelve months one negro Girl and one colt of which Hannah 
Anderson died possessed, and that they do divide the proceeds 
of the said sale into ten equal parts and that they assign to 
Rebecca Anderson on equal part, to Daniel Vaughan & Sussey his 
wife one other equal part, to Priscilla Hawks one other equal 
part, to David Vaughan & Caty his wife one other equal part, 
to the children of Henry Harp by Sally his former wife who was 
Sally Anderson one other equal part, to the children of Freeman 
Eckles by his former wife Polly B Eckles who was formerly 
Polly B. Anderson one other equal part, to Lucy Anderson one 
other equal part, to Armstead Anderson one other equal part, 
to Allen Anderson one other equal part, to William Anderson 
one other equal part, and that they make a report to this 
court in order to a final decree.

The subsequent return to the court states only that the court order was carried out and does not reveal any new significant information regarding family members.

The preceding transcription of the Court Order clearly provides proof that John Anderson of Nottoway Parish, and Amelia County was the father of an Armstead Anderson.

A search of Virginia records for any mention of Mary Anderson revealed the will of Hannah Bell of Surry County probated in 1768 in which she gives to her daughter Mary Anderson a female slave named Patt. Now we know that Armstead Anderson was the son of John Anderson and Mary Bell. The daughter Polly B. Anderson of John Anderson was clearly a namesake of her mother. Armstead Anderson of Logan, and Union County, Kentucky also names a daughter Polly B. Anderson and sons Allen and William.

Grant James Anderson Genealogy appears to come solely from examination of ancestral correspondence and visits to relations in Virginia in the post civil war era. The identification of the father of the four Anderson brothers, which is absent in his genealogy is readily made from the Virginia State Archives (Surry County Wills, will of James Anderson, 1752). A study of Grant's data implies that he may have reviewed the correspondence of his grandfather, who would have known John Anderson's early family as a child. 

I have included this report of tracking down a Kentucky to Virginia link to demonstrate that it can be done. NOTE however that it required the examination of all the published literature on Virginia Andersons and many many Virginia wills, deeds, tax lists and court orders. And in the end the confirming clue was found in an 1815 court order recorded in Nottoway County, Virginia at a time when Armstead was living hundreds of miles west in Union County, Kentucky near the juncture of the Ohio and Mississippi River. The evidence was found in the struggle over the estate of his youngest sister. Armstead himself had left the area by 1776.

I publish here my apology to my uncle Everett Anderson because Armstead's father was indeed John; his mother Mary; and he had a brother William. It seems our elders always know best.

The MIDI file of "The Voice of By Gone Days" (lyrics) by Stephen Collins Foster (1826-1864) is used by permission of Benjamin Robert Tubb from his website at Public Domain Music

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