Over the 25 or so years that I've been active in genealogy I have received information and advice from many people. One of the joys in genealogy is finding others who are interested, informed, and amenable to collaborative efforts. There are a few people that I especially want to acknowledge because they have contributed so much to many of the papers on this site. Some of these people are long-time collaborators, others have provided crucial information and insights:

Virginia Regan (Bynum and others)

JoAnn Van Boven (Witt, Hayes, Hester, and others)

Vineta Witt Ketner (Witt, Hayes, and others)

Jack Baird (my late father, who began several of these efforts)

Robert Fowler (Baird family letters and documents)

John Scott Davenport (Hendrick and Davenport)




This is the only line from which I descend on both my father's and mother's side.  The Witts begin with John Witt, who immigrated to Charles City County. Virginia about 1672.  Several generations later, Joseph Witt migrated to eastern Tennessee.  William M. Witt, his grandson, moved to Titus County, Texas about 1849.  Andrew Weldon Witt was my mother's grandfather.  His uncle, James Houston Witt, was my father's great-grandfather.

See also families related by marriage:  COOK, BYNUM, DAVENPORT, HAYES, and CATE. 

My line:


Some Miscellaneous Witt Files:

John Witt, Headright - explains what we can learn from the patents in which John Witt was claimed as a headright.

Daux Family - what I know about the family of Ann Daux, who married John Witt I.

Miscellaneous Notes - all on one page:

North Carolina Land Grants in Tennessee by the sons of Charles Witt, explains that they were purchase grants, not grants for Revolutionary service.  A related topic, "Did the Sons of Charles Witt Serve in the Revolution" is on a separate page.

Two Supposed Children of Joseph Witt - Notes on John Witt and Sarah Earle and on Elizabeth Witt and Charles Robertson Sevier.  Both are claimed as children of Joseph Witt, but both are likely of another line.








John Witt

(c1645 –  bef 1715)


Our John Witt was claimed as a headright in three different land patents in 1682, 1685, and 1699, all for land in Henrico and Charles City counties.  It appears that all these were the same person.  He seems to have arrived about 1672 and probably settled in the western part of Charles City County on the north side of the James River near the border with Henrico County, possibly on the northern edges of Shirley Hundred.  He does not appear to have been an indentured servant, rather a member of the lower or middle class of freemen.  [See separate page for supporting details.]


Unfortunately, practically all colonial records of Charles City County were destroyed, with only a few court orders and a handful of deeds and wills remaining.  Likewise, records of Henrico County do not exist at all prior to 1677 and exist mainly in fragments thereafter.  We are forced to make do with the few county records that remain, and the colony’s records, but we find John Witt mentioned often enough to tell us something about him.


Certainly it was this same John Witt who married Ann Daux, the daughter of Walter and Mary Daux, by October 1673.  The proof requires some explanation.  A woman named Mary, the wife of Robert Plaine[1][1], had at least one child, John Plaine, before being widowed.  She then married Walter Daux[2][2] and had two daughters named Ann and Susanna Daux before being widowed a second time.  She then married John Flower(s) Jr., the son of a wealthy ship’s captain, who had evidently inherited the part of his father’s estate that lay in Charles City County.  Flowers was aged about 30 at this time.  This final marriage took place shortly before 24 May 1658 when John Flowers made deeds of gift to the children of his wife “Mary the relict of Walter Daux” spelling out the above relationships quite clearly. [3][3]  One child was John Plaine “the son of the sd Mary by her former husband Robert Plaine decd.” The other children were Ann and Susan Daux.   Several days later, on 3 June 1658, John Flower was granted administration of the estate of Walter Daux “having married the relict of sd. Daux.”  Fleet’s abstract of the deed of gift indicates that Robert Plaine had owned land at his death which fell to the son John Plaine, and indeed John Flower claimed that land in 1668, the son John Plaine having died by then.[4][4]  Walter Daux had evidently owned land as well, or lived on the Plaine property, as there are three records for John Flower regarding a shipment of two hogsheads of tobacco by Walter Daux to his father Richard Daux of London.[5][5]  There is also a reference to the land of Walter Daux as late as 1664 when Edward Hill sold land adjacent Walter Daux.  In 1658 the Charles City court ordered an accounting of all orphans estates within the county, but Flower evidently failed to deliver, as in early 1659 the court ordered the sheriff to seize the estate of Flower or Daux until an accounting was rendered.[6][6]  He apparently did not do so, because on 3 June 1659 the court appointed two officials to appraise the estate of Walter Daux “and divide the same to the relict and his two children”.[7][7]  A few months later, John Flower was allowed 1000 pounds of tobacco out of the estate “in consideration of his wife’s bedding”.[8][8]  The following year, in late 1660, Flower made a bond for the estate of Walter Daux for “carefull keeping and educating the orphanes of the sd Daux during their minority.”[9][9]


There is at this point a gap in the Charles City County court records until a fragmentary book for 1672-3 followed by an order book for 1677-79.   It appears that John Flower died in the interim, as there is no further record of him.  The two Daux children evidently married about 1673.  Richard Rawlins[10][10], who married Susannah Daux, and John Witt, who married Ann Daux, petitioned the court on 3 October 1673.[11][11]  The substance of the petition is not recorded, and the court records stop at that point, but from later records it is clear they were attempting to recover the estate of Walter Daux due to their wives.  (The wives may have still been minors at the time, not eligible to receive the estate until their marriages.)  The petition must not have been satisfied, for a year later, on 1 October 1674, John Witt and “Susannah” Rawlins were suing the commissioners of Charles City County in the colonial court.  (Richard Rawlins had apparently died in the intervening year.)  The case was deferred and, on 3 March 1674/5,  the case of “Jno. Witt and Richard Rawlins who marryed the two orpts. of Walter Daux, dec’d” was deferred again.[12][12]  The case is not mentioned again, and was apparently not resolved.  Three years later, on 14 February 1677/8 when the court records resume, John Witt and John Turberfield[13][13] (who had married Susannah Rawlins) are found suing a justice of Charles City County for the value of the estate of Walter Daux.  The suit claimed that “the estate was appraised and divided between the two Daux sisters.  The court did not demand security of Flowers and he has wasted the estate.  The plts. having married the sd. orphans now demand recompense by the court…The plts. ask the court to have the deft. pay Daux’s daughters according to the inventory as recorded.[14][14]  The husbands were evidently suing the justices who were sitting in 1658, whom they claimed should be liable for the estate’s value.  The court ordered the payment, but one of the justices at the time appealed the judgment.[15][15]  William Randolph (remember him?) was security for the plaintiffs.  Unfortunately, there is no further mention of the case.


I might point out here that the orphans themselves apparently did not initiate any suits.  That suggests they may not have been of age – most Virginia women in the 1670s had married by the age of 17, and their mean age at marriage was 18.  Further, the timing suggests they had recently married.[16][16]  The first record of the suit is in September 1673 by Richard Rawlins alone, joined by John Witt a month later.   Both John Flowers and his wife Mary apparently died before 1672.  Neither is mentioned after the court records resume in 1672, and presumably Flowers was not available to be sued in 1673.


In addition to its intrinsic genealogical value, all this tells us something about John Witt.   First of all, the Plaine and Daux families, as well as John Flower, appear to have been solidly middle class. [See Daux note below.]   Given the strict stratification of 17th century Virginia society, that tells us that John Witt probably was as well.  It also helps to confirm that this John Witt was the same person as the John Witt claimed as a headright several years later.   A few references to John Turberville and Richard Rawlins in the court records suggest they lived in or near Shirley Hundred in western Charles City County, a mile or two from Henrico County.  John Flower’s claim of Robert Plaine’s land tells us he lived in the northern part of Shirley Hundred, on the river itself.  Flower, in fact, served as constable for Shirley Hundred district in 1659.  This is the same small area where all the patentees who claimed John Witt lived.  Finally, this tells us that John Witt was probably not imported as an indentured servant.  For several reasons [see endnote] it appears he did not come to Virginia until about 1671 or 1672, and we know he was married by late 1673, a privilege rarely permitted of servants and certainly not to free women.


We can also make a reasonable guess as to his age.  We know, for example, that John Flower was about 30 years old in 1658 when he married the widow Mary Daux, suggesting that Mary herself was either younger or, at worst,  no more than a few years older.  The Daux sisters, if they were typical of the time, would have married about the age of 17 or 18, suggesting they were born in the mid 1650s and were quite young at their father’s death.  Men typically married in their late 20s at this time, and tended to be about ten years older than their wives. 


John Witt (with his brother-in-law John Turberfield) appears as a juror in Charles City County on 15 September 1677, a privilege reserved for freeholders[17][17].  This indicates he owned at least 50 acres in the county.  How he acquired the land is unknown.  There are no records of a patent and the deed records no longer exist.  Ten years later, in a February 1687 court order, Major John Stith was directed to lay out a road “from Chickahominy bridge down and up these parts of the county…” from the bridge “into ye road to or near Harman Bosman’s habitation as also from ye bridge into ye main road near John Whitt’s...” [18][18]  The “main road” was undoubtedly the road that followed roughly the same path as US Highway 5, from Jamestown up the north side of the James River toward Richmond.  Where along this path John Whitt lived is unclear, but it appears to have been at the western end of the county, near the border with Henrico. 


The last record of John Witt is a notation of his suit against Ralph Hudspeth in 1695 in Henrico County, presumably the county of residence of the defendant. Unfortunately, there are no further citations for John Witt or his wife owing to the nearly complete absence of further records in Charles City County.  There are some existing court records for Henrico County, but no known Witt citations other than the suit above. 


We don’t know when or where John Witt and his wife died, nor do we have any records to prove their children.  It is assumed that he was dead by 1715 when two apparent sons moved several miles away, but he could have died any time after 1695.  It may be significant that no Witts appear on the surviving 1704 Quit Rents.  The following four sons are postulated, mainly by their proximity to John Witt’s last known location.  None of these second-generation Witts appear as importees on patents, and all appear first in the vicinity of John Witt’s last  known location.   There must have been daughters as well, but we have no clues to their identity.

1.      William Witt (c1675-80 – 1754)  He was likely a son of John Witt since he lived in Charles City County prior to 1715 when he and his brother John Witt jointly purchased land in Henrico County (later Goochland) as residents of Charles City County (see below).   By 1738 he had moved about 40 miles west into what later became Albemarle County[19][19] where he remained until his death   His will in Albemarle is dated 25 April 1754 and proved less than two months later on 13 June[20][20].  The will names four children and implies at least two more.[21][21]  A fifth child, Mildred (Chastain), has been proposed but is unproven.  The Huguenot Society claimed years ago that there were five additional sons, using as evidence the appearance of these names among records of the other children.[22][22]  It appears certain that these persons were actually grandsons of William Witt.  The Huguenot Society also at one time speculated that his wife was Elizabeth Daux, a very unlikely proposition given that Walter Daux had no male children and no other Dauxes are evident in the area.  The Huguenot Society also reported, with no supporting evidence, that her name was “Mildred Daux (daughter of Walter Daux b1630, d1674 Charles City County).”  This is, of course, equally suspect.  His wife’s name is mentioned in no records.  William Witt’s birth year is estimated from the apparent ages of his children, who seem to have been born beginning about 1710.   His sons are mentioned here to help differentiate them from the children of his brother John Witt II.

2.         John Witt (c1710? – 1782)  He was in Albemarle County by 1741, probably earlier, and seems to have remained there for several years.  His will, dated 1781 and proved in 1782 in Amherst County, named sons Abner, John, Littleberry, George, Elisha, and William, and daughter Lucy.[23][23]  His widow and mother of “my seven first sons” according to the will, was named Lucy.  A David Witt witnessed the will, presumably one of the two unnamed sons.

3.         Benjamin Witt (c1710? – c1775)  He married Marianne (probably Chastain).  The first record of him is the notation of the birth of their daughter Marianne on 19 March 1732/3 in the King William parish register.[24][24]  By 1740 he had moved about 20 miles south of his father into the part of Goochland that would shortly become Buckingham County and patented land there in 1744.[25][25]  In 1756, as a resident of Buckingham,  he purchased land in Prince Edward County with (apparently) his children Lewis and Charles as witnesses.[26][26]  He and his sons Lewis and Charles were all on the 1755 tithables list of Prince Edward, though Charles appealed (probably because he was still a resident of Buckingham).  His sons Lewis and Charles both appeared as witness to deeds in the next few years, but Benjamin himself seems to have gone back to Buckingham County where he appears in its records.  He was alive in mid-1774 when he and Benjamin Jr. appear as tithables, but was dead by late 1775 when his widow and son sold the remainder of the land in Prince Edward County which Benjamin had purchased in 1756.[27][27]

4.      John Witt II (c1680? – by 1751) See below.

5.      Edward Witt ? (c1700? – c1755?)  He may have been another son of John Witt.   The Bristol Parish register contains a record of the birth of two children in 1730 (Anne) and 1734 (John) to Edward Whit, giving his wife’s name as Elizabeth in 1730 and Mary in 1734.[28][28]  Although it’s not clear exactly where he was living, Bristol Parish covered the parts of Henrico and Charles City County that lay south of the James River.  On 12 March 1739 Edward “Whitt” patented 189 acres in what had by then become Prince George County.[29][29]  The land, which is now in Dinwiddie County, was only about twenty miles from the area where the immigrant John Witt lived.  Possibly the same Edward Witt surveyed land in Lunenburg County in 1746 and appeared in a 1747 court record there.  Edward Witt appears on the Lunenburg tithables lists from 1748 through 1752, appearing with his son John in 1751 and 1752.   The son John later settled only a few miles south of Charles Witt in Halifax County.  Another son, William (b c1742), may also be the one mentioned in early Pittsylvania records.

6.      Richard Witt (c1690 – 1764?)  He seems to have been another son of John Witt.  His first appearance is as a witness to a deed in Henrico County on 11 April 1730 for land about ten miles east of John and William Witt.[30][30]  Elizabeth Witt, apparently his wife, was named as a daughter in the 1734 will of Edmund Liptrot of Henrico County.[31][31]  (Edmund Liptrot and his wife Rachel, interestingly, had witnessed the will of Philemon Childers several years earlier, and lived in the same small area as John Witt the immigrant.)  From Liptrot’s apparent age, we assume his daughter was probably in her 30s at the time of the will, thus the wife of a second-generation Witt.  It is possible she was the same Elizabeth married to Edward Witt in 1734, but most Witt researchers think she was married to Richard Witt, mainly because Richard Witt named a son “Edmund”.  Richard Witt eventually settled near the border of present-day Amelia and Prince Edward counties.  He appears in the tax list of Amelia County 1745-1749 and in a 1747 road order in Prince Edward County.   I haven’t determined for myself which of the next-generation Witts are his children, but the Richard Witt who later appears in Lunenburg County is probably either this Richard or his son.


Note:  It is possible (but unlikely) that the Charles Witt who purchased land in 1739 (see below) was a son of John and Ann Witt.  I have assigned him as a son of John Witt III, but I note the possibility he is misplaced.

































John Witt II

(c1675? – by1751)


On 14 September 1715, John and William Witt, both of Charles City County, jointly purchased 300 acres in Henrico County from Charles and Mary Hudson.[32][1]  The land was “lying and being in the county of Honaricho at a place called Tuckahoe” north of the James River about 25 miles up the James from where the immigrant John Witt had lived.  In 1728 Tuckahoe Creek became the border between Henrico and Goochland counties, and this land fell a few miles west of the county line.  More than thirty-five years later, when William Witt and John Witt, Jr. sold this land, it was then in Goochland County,  and that same deed identified the original purchasers, John and William Witt, as brothers.


The land John and William Witt purchased in 1715 was part of a patent just a year earlier by Charles Hudson and John Bradley[33][2], who called it “Young Mens Adventure” and described it as being on the north side of the James River on a southern branch of Tuckahoe Creek “known by the name of Bever Pond Branch”.  This was later called the western branch of the Tuckahoe, and was located just north of the “three notched road” and just south of the Hanover County line.   Hudson and Bradley split the land[34][3] and Hudson sold the eastern half of it to the Witt brothers.  The Tuckahoe area was still frontier at the time.  A law at that time required that there be for every 500 acres "one Christian man, perfect of limb, provided with a well-fixed musquett or fuzee, a good pistoll, sharp simeter and tomahawk”.[35][4]


The fact that both brothers were “of Charles City County” in 1715 leads us to the assumption that they were sons of the immigrant John Witt.  Although we don’t know who William Witt married (see above), John Witt II seems to have married Ann Rogers, but perhaps as a second wife.  The will of John Rogers of Westover Parish, Charles City County, recorded on 5 August 1730, left livestock and other items to his daughter Ann Whitt, wife of John Whitt.[36][5]  Of the four daughters named in Rogers’ will, two were unmarried.  That suggests all four daughters were relatively young.  While the unmarried daughters could have been aged spinsters, it’s much more likely they were unmarried simply because they were still young women.  In 1730, it was still very rare for mature women to remain unmarried - women were still in short supply and essentially all were married by their early 20s.  That all suggests that Anne Rogers was a relatively young woman, and therefore probably a second wife.[37][6]  It also suggests that John Witt II, probably born around 1675, could have still been fathering children by a young wife as late as 1725-30, and could perhaps the be father of our Charles Witt.


Unfortunately, Henrico County records are only partially preserved in this period and there are no records of Witts that help us.   Both John and William Witt are mentioned in court records in 1720[38][7] but we know of no citations thereafter.  In 1728 Goochland County was created from western Henrico, and part of Tuckahoe Creek became a portion of the border between the two.  While Goochland’s records are reasonably well preserved, by this time there were three John Witts living in the county.  Both of the brothers, John and William Witt, had sons named John.  That presents us with some difficulty telling them apart.  It helps that William Witt and his sons moved about 40 miles west, purchasing land in St. Ann’s Parish on the Rivanna River and Ballenger’s Creek in 1738[39][8], in what became Albemarle County in 1738 and Fluvanna County in 1777.  William Witt described it as the land on which he lived in 1741 when he deeded this land to his son John Witt[40][9].  John kept it until 1772, in addition to acquiring other land nearby.  It appears from these and other records that both William Witt and his son John remained in this area, being mentioned in several records that place them on the Rivanna River at Ballenger’s Creek.  That means that after 1738, we can probably eliminate William’s son from the mix. 


Meanwhile, a John Witt “Jr.”, undoubtedly the son of John Witt II, patented 400 acres in 1731 on the south side of the James a few miles south of the Tuckahoe Creek land, in the part of Goochland County that became Powhatan County in 1777.[41][10]  Although he and his wife Elizabeth sold this land in two parts on 28 April 1734[42][11], it continued to be referred to as his land in several patents of 1738 and in a will of 1740 and subsequent estate records.  This is likely due to the use of surveys that significantly predated the deeds and patents.


Still, it is not clear whether some of the citations for John Witt refer to the father or to the son.  Both of them apparently appear together in the King William tithables for 1732-4, living on the land of John Witt III south of the James. [43][12]  A 1741 road order appointed a John Witt surveyor of a road from Jones Bridge to Fine Creek, which probably refers to John Witt III given the road’s location south of the James.  In 1742, a John Witt (probably the father) was “levy free”.[44][13] 


The last record of John Witt II is his sale of land on 25 July 1747.[45][14]  He sold 150 acres to Henry Whitlow which, from its description, seems to be adjacent to the land purchased in 1715.  I presume the seller is John Witt II mainly from the location of this land.


There are no records of John Witt’s death in Goochland County, but he was deceased by 1751.  In 1751 William Witt and John Witt sold half of the land purchased in 1715.[46][15]  The deed described this John Witt as the son of John Witt deceased, and nephew of William Witt.  John Witt’s wife Elizabeth also signed the deed.  Witnesses were John Witt and Jesse Witt (sons of John Witt III[47][16]), and three people who may have been heirs of John Witt II:  Sylvanus Witt, John Farrar, and David Barnett.  William Witt sold the remaining half of the land the following year.


John Witt’s children, except for his sons John and Sylvanus, are surmised.  

John Witt III  (c1700? – aft1778)  He was apparently the eldest.  See below.

Sylvanus Witt   (by1718 – aft1765)  He can be proven to be a son.  He first appears on 26 March 1739/40 recording a grant of 400 acres in the part of Goochland County that became Cumberland County in 1749, located about 10 miles south of William Witt’s residence at the time.  He apparently lived there in 1751, yet traveled many miles to witness the 1751 deed selling John Witt’s land.  He was still in Cumberland County in May 1754, when he made a bill of sale[48][17]  Within a few months, on 5 September 1754, as a resident of Cumberland County, he bought land in Chesterfield County on the border of Powhatan.[49][18]  He subsequently appears in several Chesterfield County records, including his 1765 witness to the will of Benjamin Cheatham.[50][19]  On 23 April 1771, as Sylvanus Witt of Chesterfield County, he arranged to buy land in the part of Pittsylvania County which became Henry County.[51][20]  On 5 September 1771, Sylvanus Witt made a deed of gift of all his property after his decease to “my nephew Jesse Witt” of Cumberland County.[52][21]  Both Jesse and Sylvanus appeared together in the 1773 and 1774 tax lists of Pittsylvania County.  Sylvanus apparently died soon thereafter, as in 1783 Jesse Witt exercised the deed of gift to recover the bond against the seller of the 1771 land who failed to deliver title.[53][22]  Sylvanus evidently had no children. 

Sarah Witt ? (c1700? - aft1777)  A daughter may have been the wife of Thomas Harbour, based on later connections between the descendants of John Witt III and Thomas Harbour.  Though widely accepted, this theory is not supported by any persuasive evidence.  There are no direct connections between Thomas Harbour and any Witts in Goochland County, and the later connections between Thomas Harbour and Witts who married his children can be explained without assuming he himself was married to a Witt.  Further, there is no evidence that Thomas Harbour lived within 20 miles of any Witts until well after his marriage. [See Harbour notes.]

(Daughter) Witt?  It is possible that David Barnett witnessed the 1751 deed as a legatee of John Witt II.  It’s intriguing that David Witt and a William Barnett jointly patented land in Halifax County five years later in 1756.

(Daughter) Witt?  It is possible that John Farrar witnessed the 1751 deed as a legatee of John Witt II.  He lived considerably west in Albemarle County at the time, though he owned land adjacent to the 1747 sale by John Witt.  His wife’s name is unknown.


Note:   It is possible that the Charles Witt discussed below was a son, rather than a grandson, of John Witt.  (See endnote.)




















John Witt III

(c1700? – 1779)




As explained on the John Witt II page, it’s not certain which references in Goochland County apply to this John Witt.  He was clearly the “John Wit Jr.” who patented 400 acres south of the James River on 17 September 1731.[54][1]  The land is described as lying between the two Manakin Creeks and crossing Ditnoy’s Creek.  From it and patents to neighbors, we can plot the land fairly precisely, placing it several miles southeast of the 1715 land and quite near the Huguenot settlement in Manakin.  One of the few surviving tax lists of Goochland County shows him with three tithes in this area of the county in 1732 or 1733.[55][2]  He also appears as a tithable in 1732, 1733, and 1734 in the vestry records of King William Parish, a parish of no fixed boundaries which had been intended to serve the area of French settlement.[56][3]   In 1732 he is listed as “John Watt, Junior Watt, 2”.[57][4]  In 1733 he appears as “John Wett, Wott, 2” (translated from the French original.)  In 1734 he appears simply as “John Witt, 3”.  If we can trust the 1732 translation, it appears this is a household of  two John Witts, father and son, which means they must be John II and John III.  The third tithable is either a son just turning 16 (Charles being the only known candidate) or a slave.


On 28 April 1734, John Witt and his wife Elizabeth, of King William Parish, sold the 1731 patent in two parts, 200 acres each, to John Peter Bilboe and Peter Depp.[58][5]  Elizabeth signed with a “P” mark.  Both Bilbo and Depp are subsequently listed as tithables in King William Parish, and no Witts appear in the tithables for 1735 or subsequent years.  Oddly, John Witt’s land is referenced in three patents filed in 1738.[59][6]  While this might be explained by the time lag between survey and patent, several records in the 1740s still refer to this land as John Witt’s.  The will of Thomas Dickens, dated 31 July 1740 and recorded on 21 July 1741, refers to two 400 acre parcels, both of which were described as adjacent to the land of John Witt, and both of which were acquired only two years earlier, well after John Witt’s sale.[60][7]  This description is further perpetuated by subsequent deeds related to the estate in 1741 and 1742, as well as a renewal of an adjoining patent in 1746.  When all of these lands are plotted, it is clear that all these references are to the single parcel patented by John Witt in 1731 and sold by him in 1734.  Why it should continue to be called his so many years later is probably attributable to old surveys.  John Witt appears in no King William tithables after 1734, nor does he appear in that area in the 1744 county tithables – while both Bilbo and Depp are on both lists. 


There is no record of John Witt acquiring replacement land.  It is possible, particularly if his father was living with him in 1732-4, that he took up residence on the land his father and uncle had purchased in 1715.  It is also possible that he somehow acquired land on the Tuckahoe.  On 25 July 1747 a John Witt (possibly him, as he signed the deed) sold 150 acres on the Tuckahoe, apparently adjoining the original 1715 purchase, to Henry Whitlow.[61][8]  How the land was acquired is unknown, and it is not clear if this was John Witt II or John Witt III.  The next available tithable lists (other than for King William Parish) are for 1746 and 1748.[62][9] The 1746 list does not include the area covering the Tuckahoe land, but it does have two John Witts not far from one another in the central part of the county near Lickinghole Creek.  The 1748 list does include the Tuckahoe area, but shows only one of the two John Witts who should have been in the area.


Nonetheless, John Witt evidently remained in Goochland County through at least 1757.  The “Douglas Register”, essentially a sort of vestry book for St. James Northam Parish, contains marriage dates for several of the presumed children below.[63][10]  This implies he was living north of the James, but on what land we don’t know.  Presumably John Witt was still in Goochland when his daughter Judith (described as “of this parish”) married John Matlock in 1756 and his daughter Mary married John Bullington in 1757.  One of the John Witts in the 1748 tithables was also on the 1752 tithables list, but there is no further known record of him in Goochland or its vicinity.  Later records are presumed to have been of his son John Witt IV, whose children’s births are recorded in the Douglas Register through 1766.  In particular, a purchase in 1758 is assumed to be for John Witt IV.[64][11]


It appears that he moved into Halifax (later Pittsylvania) County near some of his children.  The references to the various John Witts in Pittsylvania (later Henry) and Halifax counties are somewhat confusing, and I have not yet sorted them out.  It appears that John Witt IV did not move to this area, which should simplify things.  But the John Witt who was a son of Edward Witt, and various next-generation John Witts were in the area and it is not altogether clear which references apply to which persons.  However, the presence of Pittsylvania surveys by a John Witt “Jr.” in 1768 and 1769 imply the presence of an older John Witt (though perhaps not his father), because none of the next-generation John Witts had reached majority by then.[65][12]  This John Witt who was a “Jr.” in 1768 was plain John Witt when Thomas Harbour sold  him and William Witt 140 acres on Blackberry Creek in 1763.[66][13]  Wayne Witt Bates thinks these were grandchildren of Thomas Harbour, but both the grandchildren were minors in 1763, and there is a reference to the land of William Witt in a 1762 survey.  This may be cleared up by future research.  In 1773 Adjonijah Harbour sold land next to David Witt on Falls Creek in a different part of the county to a John Witt “Sr.” who may have been him, as that John Witt later gifted this land, on which he lived at the time, to John Matlock and Jesse Witt in 1779[67][14], obviously the sons of John Witt III. When and where he died is unknown, but this is the last reference to him that I've been able to find.


His wife’s maiden name is unknown.  He was evidently married to Elizabeth by 1731 when he filed his patent, else she would not have released dower at the sale of that land in 1734.  His wife was still named Elizabeth in 1751, but she appears in no record thereafter.  The fact that she used “P” as her mark leads to speculation that her maiden name might have begun with that letter.  A favored candidate of some researchers is Humphrey Parrish, who signed with a “HP” mark.  I’d propose an additional candidate: Sylvanus Pumphrey who was a neighbor on the Tuckahoe by 1729, and whose name would explain the son Sylvanus if he were misplaced as a son of John II.


The children are mostly deduced, since there is no definitive record proving their relationships. 

Charles Witt (c1715? – c1781)   See below.  Also see separate page for discussion of whether he is correctly placed as a son of John Witt III.

David Witt (c1720? – 1810)   He first appears on the 1746 tax list of Goochland County with an unknown Witt listed first in the household.  He was clearly living at the time on the 1715 land of his grandfather.  He next appears patenting land near Thomas Harbour in 1756, which he sold in 1772 to David Harbour.  He surveyed land on Falls Creek next to Thomas Harbour with Palatiah Shelton in 1765 and patented the land two years later.  In a deposition taken in a suit between William Murray and Adonijah Harbour in 1779, the clerk states that David Witt is “aged about sixty-five years”.  That seems to have been overestimated, but can’t be discounted.  There seems little doubt that he married Sarah Harbour (c1735-1819), the daughter of Thomas Harbour. 

Jesse Witt (c1730? – 1809)  He is provably a son of John Witt by virtue of Sylvanus Witt calling him a “nephew”, and the deed of gift to him by John Witt in 1779.  He witnessed the sale by John Witt III and William Witt in 1751.  He married Martha Cheatham, daughter of Benjamin Cheatham.[68][15]  On 10 June 1752, was overseer for Rev. Richard Douglas.  By 1753 he was (barely) in Chesterfield County[69][16] and bought land there the following year bordering the Chesterfield county line with what is now Powhatan.[70][17]  He was evidently still in Chesterfield county as late as 1771 when Sylvanus Witt made his deed of gift.[71][18]  His will was probated on 25 September 1809 in Henry County, Virginia.  He seems to have had three sons and three daughters:  Joseph, David, Joel, Tabitha, Elizabeth, and Nancy.

Elijah Witt (? – c1775?)  There are few citations for this man.  He is assumed to be a son of John Witt by his later associations, probably a younger son.  He first appears in early 1767 entering a survey for land on Marrowbone Creek in Halifax (later Henry) County a few miles from the Falls Creek land David Witt, Palatiah Shelton and Thomas Harbour were occupying at the time.[72][19]   A month later, it was apparently he who witnessed deeds from Sherwood Walton to Charles Witt and Samuel Davis.  It’s not clear that there are any further references to him (see Elijah Witt son of Charles Witt below), and he does not appear on any tax or tithables lists for the area.  It is thought that a Jane Witt mentioned twice in the records was his wife.  In 1809 Sarah Witt, the widow of David, made a deed of gift to her sister Jane Witt of half her personal property.[73][20]  This suggests that Jane Witt (if a literal sister) was a daughter of Thomas Harbor.  Elijah Witt seems to be the most likely candidate to have been her husband. 

John Witt (c1725-30? - ?)  Married Mary Bullington ca 1753 according to the Douglas Register.  The births of five children from 1753 through 1766 in Goochland County are recorded in the Douglas Register.  He apparently remained in Goochland County.  He appears to be the John Witt in its 1787 state census.

Mary Witt (c1737? -?)  Married John Bullington on 4 September 1757 according to the Douglas Register. 

Hannah Witt (c1736? – c1805)  Married Charles Hulsey (or Huddlesley) 2 July 1756 according to the Douglas Register.  He is apparently the same person who was in the Rowan County, NC tax list in 1768 and the Surry County tax lists of 1774 and 1775, all in an area south of the Dan River.  They moved to Greenville County, South Carolina by 1790.  Children are reported to have been James, Charles, Adonijah, Jesse, Adler, Parthenia, and Elizabeth.

Judah Witt (c1736? - ?) Married John Matlock 22 November 1756 according to the Douglas Register.  Apparently also in Rowan County in 1768, and in Henry County afterward.

Elizabeth Witt ? (? – 1810)  A daughter named Elizabeth is theorized, as the wife of Thomas Smith, who had owned land near William Witt in Goochland.  This Thomas Smith left a will in Rockingham County, North Carolina in 1797 naming his wife Elizabeth, and children Drury, Zachariah, Mary, Elizabeth (Mays or Mayo), Phoebe (Mayo),

Charles Witt

(c1715? – c1781)


Charles Witt’s father is a bit of a mystery.  He could have been a son of John Witt II or John Witt II or, less likely, of William Witt.  On balance (see endnote) he seems most likely to have been a son of John Witt III.  For several decades, it was thought that Charles Witt was a son of the William Witt who died in 1754 in Goochland County.  This assertion was first published in the Manakin Huguenot Society’s initial Yearbook in 1924, and repeated in numerous subsequent publications[1].  Although only two sons, John and Benjamin, were identified in William Witt’s will[2], the Huguenot Society concluded there were five additional sons based on subsequent relationships between the two named sons and other Witts.  In reality, it appears that two of these Witts were sons of Benjamin Witt and the other three were sons of John Witt, all grandsons, rather than sons, of William Witt.  The assertion that Charles Witt was a son of William Witt was based entirely on a Charles Witt’s witness to a deed by Benjamin Witt in Prince Edward County in 1756.  It was assumed that this Charles Witt was a brother of Benjamin Witt, and that he was the same Charles Witt whose will was probated in Halifax County in 1781.   Neither of these assumptions is true.  This Charles Witt was actually a son of Benjamin Witt, who appears frequently in Prince Edward County and later in Buckingham County during a period when “our” Charles Witt was elsewhere. 


The first evidence of a person who is probably our Charles Witt is a 1739 court record of a deed from Thomas Joplin to Charles Witt in Henrico County just east of the land bought by John and William Witt in 1715.  Although the deed itself is not extant, we can identify the land through Thomas Joplin, the grantor.  The land was part of 343 acres on both sides of Deep Run which was patented in 1735 by Henry Holman[3] and then sold to brothers-in-law Thomas Joplin and Holman Freeman a few months later on 17 December 1735.[4]   This land was described as being on both sides of Deep Run “nigh Tuckahoe Creek”, and is easily plotted on maps of the area.  It was only a mile or so west of the Henrico-Goochland county line.  (Both Joplin and Freeman lived near John Witt II on Tuckahoe Creek at the time, and John Witt would five years later witness a sale there to Holman Freeman.)  Thomas Joplin and Holman Freeman had been left the land by the will of George Freeman[5], which split the land between them on either side of Deep Run, Thomas Joplin receiving the land on the west side.  This is undoubtedly the land Thomas Joplin sold to Charles Witt in 1739, who then disposed of the land nine years later.  On  14 October 1748 Charles Witt of Goochland County sold 160 acres on the upper side of Deep Run in Henrico County to David Staples.[6]   This was, from its description, the upper portion of Freeman’s patent and therefore the same land purchased in 1739 by Charles Witt.


The location of this land can be determined quite precisely, since we have three different descriptions of it.  When Goochland County was formed from Henrico in early 1728, the dividing line between the two counties was Tuckahoe Creek as far as Chumley’s branch.  Charles Witt’s land was barely on the Henrico side of that line.  Interestingly, Holman’s patent bordered two sons of the same William Randolph who had claimed the importation of John Witt.


Among the partial tithables lists of Goochland County is a short 1746 list of tithables on Tuckahoe Creek.  On that list are (torn) Witt and David Witt together – a tear in the paper obscures the first name.  This is likely to have been Charles Witt.  These two Witt tithables are probably living on the Tuckahoe land purchased in 1715.  Since Charles Witt was “of Goochland” in 1748 when he sold his land across the line in Henrico, it seems likely that the obscured name was his, living on that land and working to his own land a few miles away.  (The only other candidate to be living in this area is John Witt II, but he had been “levy-free” in 1742 and thus, if he were still alive, may not have been included on the 1746 tithables list.)  Neither of these Witts appears on the 1748 tithables, but it appears the existing tithables for that year are missing the Tuckahoe Creek area.


Whether this Charles Witt is “ours” or not is not certain, but it seems highly likely.  There is no further record of a Charles Witt in Henrico or Goochland, and we know our Charles Witt was in Lunenburg County shortly thereafter.  However, it casts some doubt on his marriage to Thomas Harbour’s daughter.  We know that our Charles Witt was married by 1745 or so, but never seems to have lived within 40 miles of Thomas Harbour until several years later.  Of course, he may have known Thomas Harbour by his association with William Witt. 


About the time Charles Witt sold the land in Henrico County, he joined a modest migration of several Goochland families to Lunenburg County about 125 miles southwest.  Although this area had been attracting settlers for several years, it was still wild country – one of Charles Witt’s neighbors was captured and held by the Shawnee in 1758.[7]   A survey for John Steward of 400 acres on 18 October 1746 was apparently assigned to Charles Witt according to the entry record book.[8]  He did not patent the land, apparently preferring a nearby parcel surveyed for Charles Witt on April 1750[9], for 300 acres in Lunenburg County on the Irwin River (now called the Smith River), for which he recorded a patent on 10 September 1755.[10]   He does not appear on the tithables lists for Lunenburg County, which are thought to be complete for 1748, 1749, 1750, and 1751, so he may have still been in Goochland in those years.[11]  The land surveyed in 1750 adjoined one of the eight patents in the area by his presumed father-in-law, Thomas Harbour, which was surveyed the following day and which referred to “Charles White’s line”.[12]   Charles Witt’s land adjoined this land of Thomas Harbour’s on its western side, and was located in what is now Patrick CountyThomas Harbour gave that adjoining patent to his son Elisha Harbour in 1763[13], after Charles Witt had evidently moved away.  The location of this land was at the intersection of Flat Creek (now Jacks Creeks) and the Irwin River in what is now Patrick County.[14]  However, another of Thomas Harbour’s patents in 1753 was for 140 acres on Blackberry Creek several miles east[15], which he gifted in 1763 to his grandsons John Witt  and William Witt (the son of David Witt).[16]   In 1768, a survey for John Witt describes this land as being on a branch of Blackberry Creek, “which comes in by Char. Witt’s house, adjoining his (John Witt’s) own lines”.[17]  [This is quite confusing.  For one thing, Charles Witt had been in Halifax County for several years by 1768.  For another, the location of this house was many miles east of his 1755 patent.  It is possible that this survey was misread or that the name was mis-entered.]  


In 1752 Halifax County was formed and the 1755 grant fell into the new county.  Charles Witt does not appear in its records until 1758.  In that year he was reimbursed for provisions to the militia, receiving a little less than three pounds.[18]  Charles Witt moved nearly 75 miles east shortly thereafter.  On 11 June 1760, Charles Witt leased 400 acres for 16 years from Catherine Astin for 10 pounds.[19]  The land had been purchased from Sherwood Walton, a Halifax justice, by her late husband Jacob Astin, and was apparently located somewhere on Mirey Creek or on its south fork  near where it runs into the Dan River at South Boston.  A 1766 road order assigns “Charles Witt’s tithables”, Talmon and Abner Harbour, Sherwood Walton, and several neighbors on Mirey Creek to clear the road leading from Roberts Ferry to the courthouse.  This road ran just east of Mirey Creek due north to the courthouse, and is now (roughly) US 501.  The “tithables” plural implies that Charles Witt had one or more sons who had reached the age of 16.


Seven years later, on 19 March 1767, there are two deeds that appear to be a trade of land.  Charles Witt sold the 300 acres he was granted in 1755, “known by name of Stewards Level”, to the same Sherwood Walton.[20]  Thomas Spencer, Samuel Davis, and Elijah Witt were witnesses.  On the same date, and for the same price, Charles Witt bought 200 acres in the neighborhood of his leased land from Sherwood Walton.[21]  This land was part of a much larger patent to Walton on the south fork of Mirey Creek, less than a mile north of the Dan River and just west of the town of South Boston and Robert’s Ferry.  Sherwood Walton sold another part of the same tract to Samuel Davis the same day.  These two tracts bordered Wilson, Richard Sullins, and James McDaniel.  Samuel Davis and Thomas Spencer witnessed the deed to Charles Witt.  Thomas Spencer, Elijah Witt (presumably his brother) and “Lamina” Witt witnessed the deed to Davis.  Shortly thereafter, Talmon Harbour would also buy part of the Sherwood Walton patent.


Charles Witt appears on the voting list for the Burgesses election in 1765 in Halifax County.[22]  He was evidently charged for one tithable too many in 1769, as both the vestry book[23] and court records[24] for that year note that he was relieved of exactly the right amount for one tithable “wrongly paid”.  Since his son Joseph was clearly over 16 by 1769, this must either refer to a son who was not yet 16, to Charles himself, or to a son over 21 who should have been separately taxed.   


Charles Witt may have been crippled in some way.  Although he lived within a brisk walk of the courthouse for twenty years, he never once appears in the court records as a juror, witness, or in any other capacity.  The only other mention of him in the Antrim Parish book, dated 15 October 1766, called him “Charles Witt a pensioner.”[25]  This means he was receiving a stipend from the parish, typically indicating old age, poverty, or some infirmity that rendered him unable to fend for himself.  [I might note that pensioners commonly were landowners.  At least one other pensioner on the same list was a landowner, owning land being no bar to receiving alms.  Further, his estate fifteen years later amounted to very little, despite having grown sons to help increase it over the last ten years.]


Another road order in April of 1770 appoints Micajah Watkins surveyor of the road from Roberts Ferry road to Birch’s Creek and assigns the tithables of Talmon Harbour, Sarah Harbour, Samuel Davis, Elijah Witt, Josiah Sullins, and Richard Sullins to clear the road.[26]  In January 1772, a similar order appoints Talmon Harbour surveyor and assigns the tithables of Josiah Sullins, Charles Witt, Joel Harbour and others to clear the road from Robert’s Ferry Road to Birch’s Creek.[27]   Birch’s Creek was the next major creek to the west of Mirey Creek, so this is probably the road that ran between the courthouse road and Birch’s Creek, running parallel to the south branch of Mirey Creek and the Dan River.  The appearance of Elijah Witt in the first order may refer to Charles Witt’s brother rather than his son.   Again the “tithables” plural is an indication of the ages of his sons; a son over 21 would have been responsible for his own tithe, meaning Charles Witt probably had at least one son over 16 but not yet 21 in 1772.


The road running from Robert’s Ferry Road to Birch’s Creek may have been called either Millers Road or Talman Harbour’s Wagon Road.  On 14 November 1770 Charles Witt sold 10 acres of the land he bought from Sherwood Walton, “on both sides of Millers Road”, to Philip Malone.[28]  When Philip Malone sold the parcel a year later, he described it as “located by the County Main Road, joining William Cunningham & Co. and Samuel Davis.”[29]  Between these two deeds, Samuel Davis sold his own land adjoining Charles Witt to William Cunningham & Co. He described it as bordering Charles Witt and “Talmon Harbour’s Wagon Road.”[30]  [William Cunningham & Co. were a large Glascow-based mercantile business with stores in many Virginia counties.]


Charles Witt does not again appear in Halifax County’s records until his will was proved.  The will was dated 30 January 1771 and proved ten years later on 23 June 1781.[31]  It was not actually recorded until 15 August when Joseph Witt, the sole executor, was granted a certificate of probate[32].  The will left one shilling sterling to three sons and daughters:  Lavenia Sullins, Mary Jonaken, and Elijah Witt.   His daughters Charity Witt, Nelly Witt, Lyddie Witt, Rhoda Witt, and Susanna Witt were each bequeathed one cow or two pounds current money “after the death or marriage of my said wife.”  His son Caleb Witt was bequeathed a horse and fifteen pounds to be delivered “when he comes of age.”  His wife Lamina Witt was to have “during her natural life or widowhood the land and plantation whereon I now dwell with all my stock of every kind also my household furniture of every kind whatsoever.”  His son Joseph Witt was to have “after the death or marriage of my said wife the above said land and plantation with all my stock of every kind and also all the household furniture provided he my said son Joseph pays off the legacies before bequeathed…provided my son Joseph should die without a male heir lawfully begotten, then my desire is that my son Caleb should enjoy the said land and plantation above forever.”  The will also states “my will and desire is that my son Joseph Witt shall oblige to take care of his mother during her life or widowhood also the small children to keep them together with her while they come to age or able to do for themselves.”  Joseph Witt and wife Lamina Witt were named executors.  The will was signed with his “C” mark and witnessed by  James LeGrand, Micajah Watkins, and Robert Rakestraw.


An odd item is that the will also ordered the executors to “sell all the land I hold on the south side of the Main Road between that and Dan River, and the money be applied towards paying my son Caleb’s legacy off.”  It is not clear what land he was referring to, and there is no record of a separate sale after his death.  He is most likely referring to some portion of his remaining 190 acres that lay below the road.  The land he was leasing at the time does not appear to be below the road, and the lease would have run out by 1777, long before Caleb came of age.  I also doubt that the sale of the lease would have brought much money, since the original price was only 10 pounds.  At any rate, Joseph Witt sold the remaining 190 acres after his father’s death.


The inventory and appraisal was taken on 11 September 1782 and filed on 19 September.[33]  The inventory was taken by James LeGrand, Daniel Hutchinson, and James Johnson, and amounted to 125 pounds.  Most of the value was from 12 cattle, 4 horses, 37 hogs, 9 sheep, and furniture.  Although Charles Witt couldn’t sign his name, the inventory includes eight books.  Joseph Witt may have disbursed the five cows and one horse, as directed by the will.  He is listed in the 1782 tax list with 11 cows and 4 horses.


His wife Lamina apparently did not survive him.  There is no evidence she was alive in 1781, as Joseph Witt was the sole executor when the will was proved and again a month later when the inventory was recorded.  Whether or not she was the mother of all the children is also unknown.  There is a strong belief among Witt researchers that Lamina (or Lavinia) was the daughter of Thomas Harbour, but there is (in my view) virtually no compelling evidence for this assertion.  [See separate page.]


I find it interesting that, as best we know, only one of the children named a son “Charles”.


1.      Joseph Witt (c1748? – c1819)  See separate page.

2.      Elijah Witt  (c1749? – c1801)  It’s not clear which references in Halifax County records apply to the son and which to the uncle, both of whom were named Elijah.  Lucy Ball, an early researcher who probably was the source for Mrs. Norton, gave his birth year as 1755, but he was probably older than that.[34]  She also gave his wife’s name as “Miss Hutchinson”, who I suspect may have been a daughter of neighbor Daniel Hutchinson.[35]   [Elijah clearly married while still in Halifax, as he had a child by 1777.]   From the above records, he was probably a tithable by 1770 if not before.  It may be him who, with several neighbors of Charles Witt, was assigned to a road crew on 9 April 1770.[36]  It was presumably him who was sued successfully in 1772 for nearly three pounds[37], and who bought a horse in 1773[38].  He and Joseph Witt witnessed a neighbor’s deed in 1775.[39]  There is no indication in his father’s will that he was not of age in 1771, but the Elijah Witt appearing in Halifax in the early 1770s may be his uncle Elijah.   He seems to have left Halifax County about the time his father died, joining Thomas Jarnigan in Washington County, Tennessee by 1781.  A pension application speaks of a militia “Captain Elijah Witt” in February 1781[40] and a militia pay voucher for Elijah Witt exists in Washington County in 1783.[41]    Elijah filed a land claim the same day as his brother Joseph, on 22 October 1783, for 200 acres on Long Creek in Greene County that apparently adjoined claims filed by Thomas Jarnigan the same week[42]Elijah added a claim for another 200 acres on Long Creek on 17 May 1784, the same day as his brother Caleb.[43]  Both grants were southeast of what is now Morristown in the part of Greene County that became Jefferson County in 1792, and which is now Hamblen County.  He was on a jury at the first court held in Jefferson County, and was appointed a militia captain there in 1792.  He and his sons Noah and Joseph are on the 1800 tax list for Jefferson County.  He died intestate sometime between July 1805, when he appeared in court, and April 1806, when his administrators were named.  He had apparently married a widow named Sarah Bottom in Jefferson County on 26 December 1797, and Sarah and son Noah Witt were his administrators.  His children are provided by several sources that don’t all agree, but all are evidently based on Mrs. Ball’s research in the 1920s. [44] [45] [46]  Mrs. Ball gave his children as Noah (1776), John (1780), Eli (1785), Harmon (1788), Daniel (1790), Polly or Ann (c1791), Martha, Piety (c1798) and Silas (c1800).  The latter two were by the second wife.  Jefferson County deed and court records seems to generally confirm this list of children, but these records add four other children.  Three of them were a daughter named Lavinia, a minor at Elijah’s death, a daughter Mary (the wife of Samuel House), and Elijah Witt, also a minor at Elijah’s death.  The fourth child, proven by deed records, was Joseph Witt (c1775), the husband of Sarah Earles, who died in Kentucky at about the same time as his father.  (See also Joseph Witt Notes)

3.      Caleb Witt  (2 September 176220 January 1827)   Other than his father’s will, Caleb does not appear in any Halifax County record.  Caleb apparently followed Thomas Jarnigan into Green County, Tennessee before 1783.  He filed a claim for 200 acres on Long Creek the same day as his brother Joseph, on 22 October 1783[47].  The land included his own improvement and was quite near both Thomas Jarnigan and his brother Elijah Witt, just southeast of the present town of Morristown.  According to his widow’s pension application, Caleb volunteered for service in Halifax County at the age of sixteen and was present at the surrender of Cornwallis.  She declared they were married on 2 September 1784 and that Caleb Witt died on 20 January 1827. (The pension was not granted owing to lack of confirmation of his service.)  The wife was Miriam Horner, the daughter of William Horner and Elizabeth Allred.[48]   They settled in the part of Green County which became Jefferson County, and eventually Hamblen County.  Caleb was a minister several churches, notably the Bent Creek Baptist Church, where he is buried.  His modern-day gravestone erected by the DAR in Bent Creek Cemetery gives his date of birth as 2 September 1762.  A book on Baptist preachers contains a brief synopsis of his career.[49]  This source also mentions four of his siblings:  Joseph, Elijah, Patsy, and Lydia – suggesting that both Patsy (Mary Jarnigan?) and Lydia Mayes were in Tennessee as well.  Descendants claim he lived and died in Witt’s Foundry, Tennessee.  This is very doubtful, as Caleb appears to have lived on his original grant on Long Creek and I can find no record that Witt’s Foundry, which is a few miles away, existed prior to his death.  He is well documented in a variety of publications, and had children:  William (1785), Enoch (1787), Elizabeth (1790), James (1794), Charles Horner (1797), Pleasant Alred (1800), Samuel Harris (1800), Merrill (1807), Chester Deadrick (1809), Lamina (1811), and Coleman Murray (1814).[50]

4.      Lavinia Witt (c1748? – c1775)  Called “Lavinia Sullens” in her father’s will, she was at that time the widow of  Josiah Sullins.  Richard Sullins owned adjoining land when Charles Witt moved to Mirey Creek, and sold land there to his son Josiah Sullens in 1767, probably about the time Lavinia and Josiah married.   Josiah Sullens’ will in Halifax County is dated 31 January 1773 and was proved on 19 August 1773.[51]  In it, he leaves his property to his wife Lavinia and “my three suns Zaccariah, Jesse, and Joseph.”   His brother John Sullins, sold the Mirey Creek land in 1785 as executor of the estate.[52]  The money was to be divided among the three sons, Lavinia Sullins apparently having died by then.  John Sullens, by then living in Rutherford County, North Carolina, had taken the three sons into his household.   Nathan Sullins, brother of Josiah Sullins, also moved to Jefferson County, Tennessee where he and his children lived close to Joseph Witt.

5.      Sarah Witt   (c1750? - ?)  She was “Sarah Kirby” in her father’s will.  An interesting complication is that Samuel Davis, who lived adjoining Charles Witt, also had a daughter named Sarah Kirby, whom he named in his will in 1772 just a year after Charles Witt’s will.  (Samuel Davis had lived adjoining Thomas Harbour in Goochland, and had migrated to Lunenburg County, then purchased the adjoining land the same day as Charles Witt in 1767.)  There were several Kirbys in Halifax County whom I have not attempted to sort out.  There are six Kirbys in the poll list of 1765, for example.  Among them is a Richard Kirby whose will was proved on 21 Feb 1782 naming his wife Sarah and three minor sons: Joseph, Richard, and William.  Richard Kirby bequeathed a feather bed to his wife Sarah, "it being  the said bed left her by her grandfather."  If his wife was Sarah Witt, the grandfather would have been either Thomas Harbour or John Witt.  [The Witt’s End website claims Henry Baker Kirby, brother of Richard Kirby, as Sarah Witt’s husband.  That seems unlikely, for there is a marriage record for Henry Baker Kirby and Mary Anderson in 1767.]

6.      Mary Witt (4 April 1753 – 6 August 1829)  There is little doubt that “Mary Jonaken” was the  wife of Thomas B. Jarnigan (1746-1802), whom she married around 1767.  Thomas Jarnigan, whose name is seldom spelled that way until the late 1700s, was probably a son of John Jarnigan and Mary Bynum of Pittsylvania County and a grandson of Thomas B. Jarnigan (see my Bynum book[53]).  Interestingly enough, Thomas Harbour sold John Jarnigan land on the Irwin (Smith) River in 1777. Thomas Jarnigan was a revolutionary veteran, serving in a North Carolina militia company in Tennessee from 1779 through 1783 under John Sevier.[54]  He was evidently the first of this family to move to east Tennessee, claiming land on Cedar Creek in Washington County on 9 December 1778, described as the land “said Johnnekin now lives on.”  In 1783, he began acquiring considerable land on and near Long Creek in present Hamblen County, where he and Mary lived until their deaths.  Their homesite was called “Mount Harmony”, several miles south of Morristown.  There is a family graveyard there with many legible stones.  Thomas and Mary had eleven children, all recorded in their family Bible which was among the possessions in Mary’s inventory of 14 December 1829:  Noah, Lavinia, Chesley, Martha, Anna, Rhoda, Jeremiah, Patsey, Benjamin, Preston Bynum, and Pleasant  There exists an exhaustive study of this family in Tennessee with much detail on their descendants.[55]

7.      Charity Witt  (c1755? – by1820) She was unmarried when her father wrote his will in 1771.  She is thought to have married about 1773 to neighbor named Duncan Carmichael (1755-1834), who witnessed Josiah Sullin’s will in early 1773.  By the time Charles Witt died, they were living on the Virginia-North Carolina line in neighboring Caswell County, North Carolina, on a grant filed by Duncan Carmichael in 1777 and issued in 1778.  Duncan Carmichael appeared on a tax list in Caswell County in 1777 and again in 1784.  Charity was certainly dead when Duncan Carmichael, a revolutionary veteran, filed for a revolutionary pension in 1820 from Stokes County, stating he was then living with his widowed daughter Mary Ingram.[56]  Duncan Carmichael himself died intestate in Stokes County in 1834.  Records of his estate name the children, who included John, William, Sarah, Lemina, Lemuel, Mary, Barzilla, Solomon, and Richard.  His son John’s marriage bond supposedly lists his parents as Duncan and Charity.

8.      Nelly Witt  She was unmarried when her father wrote his will in 1771.  There is no further record of her, and it is not clear whether she was alive at her father’s death.

9.      Lydia Witt  (c1756? – aft1822)  She was unmarried when her father wrote his will in 1771.  While we lack proof, she undoubtedly married William Maze (Mays), a neighbor, and also went to Jefferson County, Tennessee sometime after 1789.  A William Maze had lived on Flat Creek near Charles Witt, and left a will in 1748 leaving that land to his son William Maze.[57]  A grandson named William Mays left a will in Halifax County in 1794.  Apparently the fourth in the series, William Maze “Jr.” had bought part of the land on Mirey Creek in Halifax County where Sherwood Walton lived in 1777, with Joseph Witt a witness.[58]  This was probably Lydia’s husband.  He is probably the same William Maze listed next to Joseph Witt in the 1782 tax list.  Sometime after 1785 they moved into Pittsylvania County.  In 1789 William Mays sold his land on Miry Creek and moved to the same vicinity as Caleb and Elijah Witt.  In fact, William Maze was guardian of two of Elijah Witt’s children in 1807.  William Maze’s will was dated 15 March 1818 and proved 14 June 1819 in Jefferson County.[59]  It named his wife Lydia, sons William, James, Gardner, John, and Caleb, and daughters Mary Patsy, Milly, Sally, Rhoda, and Lydia.  It also named his four grandsons, the sons of his daughter Milly Maze and Noah Witt, the son of Elijah. Lydia Witt Maze was still alive when she appears in the 1822 tax list of Jefferson County with her sons James and John.

10.  Rhoda Witt  (c1750? - ?) She was unmarried when her father wrote his will in early 1771.  Some descendants think she married Thomas Stamps shortly thereafter.  Whether that was the case or not is uncertain.  Although Thomas Stamps lived nearly 75 miles west at the time of the marriage, he did have a child named Moses Witt Stamps.  A biography of Moses Witt Stamps says his mother was a Witt.[60]   However, whether or not she was specifically a daughter of Charles Witt is unproven.  Moses Witt Stamps was born 1771-2 so his parents must have married shortly after Charles Witt’s will was written.  I am unable to find any evidence that Thomas Stamps wife was named Rhoda, much less that his wife was a daughter of Charles Witt.  Thomas Stamps was born 21 October 1750 in Fauquier County.  He is listed as a tithable in the Pittsylvania County household of his father, Timothy Stamps, in 1767.  His father was evidently living on land in present-day Patrick County which he had begun acquiring by deed and patent in 1764.  Thomas Stamps is listed by himself on the 1782 tax list of the part of Henry County that later became Patrick County.  He is not in the 1787 census, and by 1788 he appears on the tax list of Green County, Georgia.  He apparently died in Coweta County.

11.  Susannah Witt  She was unmarried when her father wrote his will in 1771.  She is thought to have been the Susannah Witt who married James Bates 31 March 1788 in Pittsylvania County.   They named a son James Witt Bates.  One wonders where Susanna lived between the time the sons left Halifax and the time she married, perhaps with a married sister.




[1] As noted above, the same source contributed this information to Virkus and to Burgess for their subsequent books.

[2] Albemarle County Will Book 2, p20.

[3] Virginia Patent Book 16, p294 dated 29 September 1735.

[4] Henrico County Wills & Deeds Book 1725-1737, p519.  [The land is identified as  “…by patent to sd Holman 29 Sep last and is to be deeded to Joplin and Freeman as specified in the will of George Freeman dec'd…”  Joplin had married Hannah Freeman.  Hannah Freeman and Holman Freeman were children of George Freeman and Jane Holman.]

[5] The 3 October 1735 will of George Freeman in Henrico County left an unspecified acreage to the two men:  “…I give unto my son in law Thomas Joplin and his wife, my daughter Hannah Joplin one certain parcel of the said tract of land beginning on John Shoemaker's line after his land is laid off and running thence along Thomas Ally's in a corner thence a south course to Deep Run, thence down the said Run to Randolph's line…”  The remainder of the grant was left to Holman Freeman.  (George Freeman described the land as his own, though it was patented in the name of his brother-in-law Henry Holman.)

[6] Henrico County Deed Book ???, p76

[7] Robert Pusey, an adjoining landowner on Flat Creek a first justice of Pittsylvania County, according to Virginia’s Colonial Soldiers, Lloyd DeWitt Bocktruck (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1988), p198.  One of Pusey’s daughters married Thomas Harbour’s son Elijah.

[8] (Pittsylvania) Entry Record Book 1737-1770, Marian Dodson Chiarito (1984), p38

[9] From Wayne Witt Bates.

[10] Virginia Patent Book 32, p636.

[11] This was still wild country.  Bockstruck's "Virginia’s Colonial Soldiers," (p.198)  notes that Robert “Pewsey”, an adjoining landowner to Charles Witt, was taken captive by the Shawnees along with his wife & child in 1758 and held for a several years.

[12] Virginia Patent Book 32, p250.

[13] Halifax County Deed Book 4, p378.

[14] There were at least three Flat Creeks in Lunenburg County,  but from land descriptions by neighbors, it appears Charles Witt’s land was on the creek now called Jacks Creek.  Supporting this is the entry of several patents by John Steward (of “Steward’s Level”) in and around that creek.

[15] Virginia Patent Book 32, p252.

[16] Halifax County Deed Book 4, p367.

[17] I have not seen this survey.  It was reported to me by Wayne Witt Bates.

[18] The Statues at Large, Volume III, William W. Henning, ed. (1823) p130. (He was reimbursed twice, and in 1765 was required to return the second payment, p172-3.)

[19] Halifax County Deed Book 2, p189.

[20] Halifax County Deed Book 7, p65

[21] Halifax County Deed Book 6, p431.  (Deed to Davis is on p431.)

[22] Halifax County, Virginia, Colonial Poll and Tithables Lists, Mary Bondurant Warren, (Heritage Papers, 1991), p9 and p14.

[23] Vestry Book of Antrim Parish, Halifax County, Virginia 1752-1817, Marion Dodson Chiarito, (self-published, 1983), p104.

[24] Halifax County Order Book 7, p477.

[25] Chiarto’s Vestry book, p80.  (Pensioners were generally persons of no more than modest means.  Some were landowners.  They were often poor people who did some service for the parish in exchange for modest stipends.)

[26] Halifax County Order Book 6, p486.

[27] Halifax County Order Book 8, p285.

[28] Halifax County Deed Book 8, p120.

[29] Halifax County Deed Book 8, p184.

[30] Halifax County Deed Book 8, p124.

[31] Halifax County Will Book 1, page 414.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Ibid. (filed with will.)

[34] Virginia Soldiers of 1776, Volume I, Louis A. Burgess, (Richmond Press, 1927), p163, contains a brief statement by Mrs. Norton of the Huguenot Society.  She credited Lucy Ball as a source on p159, and is probably repeating information developed by Mrs. Ball.

[35] Daniel Hutchinson Sr. was a neighbor of Charles Witt in Halifax, and moved to Surry County shortly after Charles Witt’s death.  He died after 1800 in Stokes County.  I have not pursued proof of a relationship, but it is intriguing that Elijah Witt named a child Daniel – the first use of that name in the family.  In addition, Daniel Hutchinson Jr. moved to Jefferson County, Tennessee about the same time as the Witts and was a neighbor of Elijah Witt there.

[36] Halifax County Pleas Book 5, p487.  (There’s no evidence that Charles Witt’s brother Elijah ever lived in this area.)

[37] Halifax County Pleas Book 8, p467. (Sued by John McNabb.  Elijah Witt did not appear, losing the suit.)

[38] Halifax County Deed Book 9, p176.

[39] Halifax County Deed Book 10, p98.

[40] Revolutionary Pension application W3777, by Tidence Lane Jr. states that he enlisted in February 1781 and served three months in Captain Elijah Witt’s company of militia under Col. John Sevier in Washington County.

[41] Militia voucher for 5 pds, 15s, dated 12 June 1783 (Tennessee Archives)

[42] North Carolina Green County File #36 (Entry #234, Grant #99)  Granted 1 November 1786

[43] North Carolina Green County File #81 (Entry #1541, Grant #39)  Granted 1 November 1786

[44] Clan Skeen, A. T. Skeen (1987), gives some of this data.  Harmon Witt married a Skeen and the author apparently had access to family Bibles..

[45] Tennessee Cousins: A History of Tennessee People, Worth S. Ray (Genealogical Publishing Co.) p222 gives the wife as Miss Hutchinson and lists ten children:  Noah, John, Alexander, William, Harmon, Daniel, Polly, Martha, Piety, and Silas.

[46] Burgess, p163 (provided by Mrs. Norton) lists the children as:  Noah, John, Elie, William, Harmon, Daniel, Polly, Martha, Piety, and Silas.

[47] North Carolina Green County File #136 (Entry #1540, Grant #118)  Granted 1 November 1786

[48] Jefferson County Wills, p525: Caleb Witt a legatee of William Horner estate; p431 will dated 15 April 1823 lists “Marian” as a daughter.

[49] Sketches of Tennessee Pioneer Baptist Preachers, J. J. Burnett (originally published 1919), p535.

[50] See also Roster and Soldiers the Tennessee Society of DAR 1960-1970 Vol. II pp 789, 790 and  Some Tennessee Heroes of the Revolution, Zella Armstrong (1933)

[51] Halifax County Will Book 1, p20.

[52] Halifax County Deed Book 13, p199.

[53] Just another example of intersecting families.  Bynum and Baynham Families of America 1616-1850, Robert. W. Baird (Gateway Press, 1983)

[54] In addition, the application of Isaac Lane (R6137) states he served in NC under Lt. Thomas Jarnigan in 1780 as a resident of Pittsylvania County.

[55] Captain Thomas Jarnigan 1746–1802, Lee Leeper Powers, (Self-published, 1985, 3rd edition)

[56] Revolutionary Pension File #R-41467

[57] Lunenburg County Will Book 1, p39.

[58] Halifax County Deed Book 10, p339.  Dated 30 September 1777.

[59] Jefferson County Will & Probate Book 2, p177.

[60] Georgia Men, Vol. 1, p420 and The Annals of Our Kin, Mary Pearl Price (1940), p85.
























Joseph Witt

(c1749? – 14 November 1819)


The record of Joseph Witt’s death in November 1819 (see below) gives his age as 67, implying a birth year of 1752.  However, we have good reason to think he was actually as much as five years older.  His father’s will of 30 January 1771 names him a co-executor, an office he could assume only if he were 21.  Further, a court record in September 1766 assigns “Charles Witts tithables” to a road crew.[1]  Since Charles Witt did not own slaves, his only tithables would have been his sons aged 16 or more.  Both records suggest a birth in 1749 or earlier.  I also infer from the will that Joseph’s brother Elijah was of age in 1771 and, if Joseph were the eldest, he must have been born a few years before 1750. 


Joseph Witt appears only twice in the records of Halifax County before his father’s death in 1781.  He and Elijah Witt witnessed a neighbor’s deed on 21 December 1775.[2]  On 6 October 1777 he witnessed a deed from Charles Henderson to Sherwood Walton and another deed from Sherwood Walton to William Mayes Jr.[3]  Unlike his father, he signed his name in each case. 


His father’s will, dated 30 January 1771 and proved 23 June 1781 in Halifax County, left his plantation to his wife Lamina during her widowhood with reversion to Joseph Witt at her death or remarriage.  It also requested “my son Joseph Witt shall oblige to take care of his mother during her life or widowhood also the small children to keep them together with her while they come to age…[4]  Both Joseph Witt and Lamina Witt were named executors.  Lamina probably died before her husband, since Joseph Witt was the sole executor both when the will was proved and a month later when the inventory was recorded.[5]  Joseph appears in the 1782 tax list of Halifax County, next to William Mayes, with a single white poll.   His brothers Caleb and Elijah probably had already joined Thomas Jarnigan in Tennessee.  The children of Charles Witt by then must have reached maturity or married, since Joseph Witt almost immediately moved to Tennessee himself.  On 11 May 1783, Joseph Witt sold his father’s land on Mirey Creek to neighbor James LeGrand, “…which is the same land on which the said Joseph now dwelleth, and is the same which the aforesaid Charles Witt, late deceased, purchased from Sherwood Walton…[6]  That is the last record of Joseph Witt in Halifax County.


He apparently went to Tennessee to stake out a claim. Five months later, on 22 October 1783, Joseph Witt entered claim #103 at Hillsboro, North Carolina for land in Greene County, which included “Joseph Witt’s improvements”.[7]  That suggests he was actually living on the land at the time, as does the fact that the grant required the applicant to be a citizen of North Carolina.  The warrant and survey describe the land as 160 acres bordered by the north bank of the French Broad River, Buffalo Branch, and the land of John Walker.[8]  The survey was made 26 May 1785 and the grant was issued 1 November 1786.  Joseph Witt must have traveled to Hillsboro as part of a group.  His brother Elijah Witt had filed a claim the same day for land about 18 miles away on Long Creek adjoining Thomas Jarnigan, and brother-in-law Thomas Jarnigan filed claims both the day before and the day after.  [Contrary to published assumptions, Joseph Witt’s grant was not for Revolutionary service, but rather a simple purchase.  A brief explanation of the NC grant process, and of the grants mentioned above, is on a separate page.]


Joseph Witt’s claim lay in what was still North Carolina at the time.  Its location can be roughly determined by his and neighboring surveys as on what was later known as Inman’s Bend, about three miles southeast of Dandridge.[9]  Greene County had been formed a few months before he filed his claim and covered essentially everything east of the Tennessee River.  In 1792, the area of his claim became Jefferson County.  At its first court, held on 23 July 1792, jurors included Elijah Witt, Caleb Witt, Jesse Kimbrough, and Thomas Jarnigan.[10]  Joseph Witt himself served on a jury in January 1793.[11]   In March 1793, the court’s meeting place was changed to what would become the town of Dandridge[12] and Joseph Witt subsequently appeared as a juror in nearly every court session over the next few years.[13]   The Sheriff typically rounded up jurors from among those who lived nearby or who had business at the court, from which we can conclude that Joseph Witt must have lived very near the town.  As further confirmation, he appears in the 1800 tax list of Captain Carson’s company, which included the town of Dandridge, and contained fewer than 100 white polls.[14] 


We have additional evidence of his location in church records.  On 25 March 1786, the Lower French Broad Baptist Church was established about two miles east of what would become Dandridge, at the home of Michael Coons.  Though there were only twelve charter members, the first complete membership roll lists 27 people, including Joseph and Sarah Witt.[15]  Nearly all the other names, including Michael Coons, were in the same 1800 tax district as Joseph Witt.  By 1794 the congregation was petitioning to establish itself as a permanent church.  In May 1795 the church minutes show "Br Gentry and Br Joseph Witt appointed as helps for the Constitution on Dumplin".  In July 1797 "the Church nominates Br James & Br Gentry & Br Witt & Br Kimbrough & Br Snelson to attend the New Constitution on Dumplin the 29th of  July.[16]   The Dumplin Creek Baptist Church was established later that year, on land donated by John Cate Sr., several miles west of Dandridge.   Michael Coons was evidently close to the Witt family.  When he wrote his will on 17 March 1803, “friend” Joseph Witt was named an executor and Joseph’s sons John Witt and Nathaniel Witt were witnesses. [17] 


On 6 April 1798 two deeds were consecutively entered into the Jefferson County deed books, both dated 10 January 1797.  One from William Galbreath to Joseph Witt for 7 ¾ acres on the north bank of the French Broad River “joining the old survey belonging to said Witt”.[18]  The other from Joseph Witt to William Galbreath for apparently the same 7 ¾ acres, “being part of a tract now occupied by Witt”.[19]  Both deeds were witnessed by neighbors Joseph Sullins and John Henderson.  Only the deed from Witt to Galbreath was proved in court.[20]  [It seems likely that one of these deeds was actually a lease or mortgage, mis-transcribed by the abstractor.]  William Galbreath had earlier bought John Walker’s 250 acre grant adjoining Joseph Witt to the west, and had sold it two weeks later on 23 January 1797 to David Russell.[21]  Whatever the story of these deeds, Joseph appears on the tax list of 1800 with only his original 160 acres.


There are no censuses of Jefferson County until 1830.  There is, however, a tax list for 1800 and others for 1822 and subsequent years.  In Captain Carson’s company in 1800, Joseph Witt appears with 160 acres and one white poll, indicating that no sons were yet 21.[22]  Carson’s company, of less than 100 polls, included the town of Dandridge as well as the Dumplin Church and most of its congregation.  In 1822, only his son John Witt is on the tax list.


On 2 August 1804, Joseph Witt purchased 200 acres on the head of Manuel’s (Immanuel’s) branch from Elizabeth Johnson, the widow of John Keith and later of Samuel Johnson, and several other Johnson heirs.[23]  Samuel Johnson, her late second husband, had been on the same 1800 tax list with 400 acres – his heirs sold half this land to Joseph Witt and half to John Henderson.  This land was clearly somewhere near the land he already owned, in the same tax district, but it’s exact location is unclear.  Joseph Witt may have moved onto this land and installed one or more of his sons on the original land grant.


[On 11 March 1815 a Joseph Witt purchased 232 acres of land in Jefferson County from James Russell.[24]  The land is described as being on Regan’s Branch “wheron the said Joseph Witt now lives”.  This was probably the son of Caleb Witt, not our Joseph Witt.]


Although Joseph Witt apparently remained a member of the Lower French Broad Church, his wife Sarah Witt “Senor” and her daughter “Sarah Witt Jr.” joined the Dumplin Creek Church by letter on 10 July 1813.[25]  Her daughters Mourning Witt and Patsy Witt joined the church by experience on 13 July 1817 and 9 August 1817, respectively.[26]   I’m not sure why they would join a church several miles from their home.  It may be that Joseph Witt had moved onto the Immanuel Creek land, and that it was located west of Dandridge, between the two churches.


Joseph Witt’s wife was named Sarah, but her maiden name is unknown.  Tradition, the original source of which I haven’t discovered, is that she was Sarah Kimbrough.[27]  If she were the mother of the two elder children, they must have married before leaving Halifax County.  There are no Kimbroughs in or around Halifax County whose daughters cannot be accounted for.  There were several Kimbroughs in Jefferson County, but none were in the area of Halifax County at the time Joseph Witt married.  The troublesome gap in the ages of the children raises the possibility that Sarah may have been a second wife who he married in Tennessee.  If so, she may well have been related to one of the Kimbroughs of Jefferson County.


Joseph Witt died intestate on 14 November 1819.  The minutes of the French Broad church mention “the death of Joseph Witt the Deacon of this church who deceased 14 Novr. last [1819] aged 67 was taken note of.”[28]  [As noted above, I have my doubts that his age is correctly stated.]  An inventory of his estate was taken 7 March 1820 by John Witt and Sarah Witt, administrators.[29]  The inventory included woodworking and blacksmith tools, books, a pair of spectacles, household goods, and livestock.  Also included were notes due from John Witt ($426) and James Witt ($300) and a $16 note from Silas Henry, a neighbor.  An estate sale is dated 30 March 1820, as is a provision for the widow Sally.[30]  Buyers at the sale included Sally Witt, James Witt, Nathaniel Witt, Mourning Witt, John Witt, Thomas, John, and William Cate, Edward Sellers, and several neighbors.[31]  From the names of these persons we can assume he was still living on or near his original grant, as nearly all these names appear on the 1822 tax list for Dandridge.  The sale totaled $299, with Sally Witt buying the bulk of household goods.  A supplemental inventory was filed on 12 June 1820 by John and Sally Witt, consisting of small cash payments to the estate by “N. Witt” and “H. Franklin”.[32]  There is no final settlement of the estate recorded in either the court or probate records of Jefferson County.[33]


On 6 March 1821,  Sally Witt and eight children (John Witt, Nathaniel Witt, Silas Witt, James Witt, Mourning Witt, Edward G. Sellars, Patsy Witt, and Joseph L. Witt), all of Jefferson County, sold to Charles Cate Jr. the 200 acres on Manuel’s Branch in Jefferson County which Joseph Witt had purchased in 1804.[34]  Sally Witt, the widow, signed with her mark, but the others signed their names.  [Joseph L. Witt is listed twice in the body of the deed but did not sign it, evidently because he was a minor at the time.]  By the time this deed was finally proved in 1829, the entire family had left the county, and a witness was required to depose that he saw all the Witts sign their names to the deed.  John Witt evidently took (or already had) possession of the original 160-acre grant, on which he was taxed in 1822.  As best we can tell, it appears that the children in the 1821 deed are listed in order, from oldest to youngest.


John Witt, with one white poll and 160 acres, is the only member of the family on the 1822 tax list of Jefferson County.  His mother, brothers, and sisters had already moved away.  Sarah Witt, Patsy Witt,  Mourning Witt, and Sarah Witt (the wife of James) had all requested and received letters of dismission from the Dumplin Creek Church in early 1821 just prior to their sale of land.[35]  They apparently went to McMinn County, where his son Nathaniel Witt entered a claim for land on Mouse Creek on 3 July 1824.[36]   He had apparently lived on the land for some time prior, as the minutes of the Eastanallee Baptist Church for July 1823 mention a meeting to be held at “the widow Witts on Mouse Creek”.[37]   There surviving tax lists for McMinn County for the years 1829-1832 and 1836, which I have read only as abstracts. [38]  Silas Witt Sr., Silas Witt Jr., Joseph Witt, and Edward Sellars, all appear in the same company in 1829.  Mourning and Joseph Witt appear together in 1830.  Joseph, Mourning, Mary, and Silas Jr. appear in the same company in 1831 and 1832.  Joseph, James, Silas, and Mary Witt (the widow of Nathaniel Witt) appear in the same district in 1836.  All the children, except John Witt, are also found in the McMinn census for 1830.


The widow, Sally Witt, is not listed as a taxpayer in the tax lists, but she is apparently the Sally Witt enumerated consecutively with Joseph Witt, Edward Sellars, and Polly Witt in the 1830 census of McMinn County.  She was aged 60-70 with four young men in the household, whose identities are unknown.[39]  She died in 1839.  Her will was dated 9 April 1837 and proved at the January court 1840.[40]  She calls herself “a widow…being very old and weak in body but in perfect mind [and] memory”.  The will had only one provision: “to my son Joseph Witt the eighty acres of land I now live on with all my household furniture and living stock and my farming tools and he shall decently maintain my daughter Patsey as long as she lives.”  Mordicai Rucker and James R. Witt were witnesses.


The eighty acres referred to in the will, which were adjacent Nathaniel Witt’s grant, had been purchased by Sarah Witt from her son Silas Witt on 15 January 1834.[41]   The 1836 tax list shows her son Joseph Witt being taxed on the land. After writing the will, she sold this land to Willis Wright on 23 January 1838.[42] When Willis Wright resold the land on 6 December 1839, it was described as the land he bought of Sally Witt, deceased.[43] 


Joseph Witt and Sally had eight children.  The nine persons who sold Joseph Witt’s land in 1821 clearly were his widow and their eight children.  Mrs. Mary Latham Norton[44] of the Huguenot Society provided the names of nine children in 1927, adding a daughter named Elizabeth to the list: “Joseph Witt born in Halifax County, Virginia about 1750, died in Tennessee in 1824, served from North Carolina.  Married Sarah.  Children:  Nathaniel, Joseph, Mourning, Sarah, Mary, Silas, James, John, and Elizabeth.  War Department and Family Records.[45]  The source of these “family records” is unknown, but this reference has apparently been used by virtually all his descendants.  The evidence for claiming Elizabeth as a child is unknown, and none of the “family records” I have found mention her.  Nor have I been able to confirm that Joseph Witt served in the Revolution as Mrs. Norton claimed.  I suspect she assumed, incorrectly, that his Tennessee land grant was related to Revolutionary service.  I doubt the reliability of this information, especially since Mrs. Norton was apparently unaware of any of the estate records for Joseph Witt.


The eight children we can prove are the following.  Marriage dates below are from a single Jefferson County source.[46]  Note that it appears highly likely that the children appeared in birth order sequence in the 1821 deed. 


1.      John Witt (c1780 –?)  He was administrator of his father’s estate, from which we can infer that he was the eldest.  He does not appear as a poll in 1800, so was probably born 1779 or later.  He first appears witnessing the will of Michael Coons on 17 March 1803, which suggests he was 21 by then.[47]  The large note due to his father’s estate was almost certainly a mortgage on the original land grant, as John Witt appears in the 1822 tax list for Dandridge with 160 acres.  He seems likely to be the same John Witt who married Susannah Walker (daughter of James Walker, a founder of the French Broad Church) on 25 January 1809 in Jefferson County.  I have not attempted to track this line, but he apparently left Jefferson County before 1830 since he doesn’t appear in the census.  He is thought by some to be the John Witt (5 Nov 1785 – 1834) who married Rebecca Wear in Sevier County, but that appears to be a different person, probably related to the Witts living further north in Jefferson County in 1800.[48] 

2.      Nathaniel Witt (c1782 – c1841) married Mary Cate 30 July 1804 in Jefferson County, Tennessee.  (See separate page.)

3.      Silas Witt (25 May 1790 – 15 July 1881)  He married in Jefferson County on 30 June 1812 to Susannah Randolph, daughter of James and Sarah Randolph, charter members of the French Broad Church.  Silas served in the War of 1812, enlisting in 1814, according to his pension application.  Silas apparently moved to McMinn County with his mother and siblings, where he apparently acquired 80 acres adjoining Nathaniel Witt’s grant.  He appears in the McMinn tax lists of 1829-1832 and in the 1830 census.[49]  On 15 January 1834, Silas Witt sold this land to his mother Sally Witt, describing it as adjoining Polly Witt (Nathaniel’s widow).[50]   Sarah Witt sold this tract, “with the exception of one acre where the meeting house now stands”, to Willis Wright on 23 January 1838.[51]  The “meeting house” was evidently Hopewell Baptist Church, for which Silas Witt was a delegate to the Hiwassee Baptist Association in 1828.  He must have left for Alabama immediately after the sale, for he was the minister of New Hopewell Church in Benton County later that same year. He was in the Benton County 1840 census[52] and, as Silas Witt of Benton County, was granted land in neighboring Cherokee County in 1845.[53]  He and Susannah are in the 1850, 1860, and  1870 censuses of Cherokee County, listed as a “Baptist Clergy” in 1860 and as “Preacher” in 1870.[54]  The 1850 census of Cherokee County shows Silas as a “Baptist minister”.   He moved to Texas, in 1871 according to family stories.  Silas (age 90) and Susannah (age 85) appear in the 1880 census of McLennan County in the household of  their son John Witt and two of his grown sons.  Susannah Randolph Witt died within days of this census, on 15 June 1880, and Silas died the following year.  Both are buried in Old Perry Cemetery near Moody, Texas, where there is a Texas historical marker at their graves.  For more detail on this family, in Alabama and Texas, see the publication at[55].  I note the possibility that Silas Witt’s first three sons may well have been named after his brothers. The children, according to secondary sources and census records were:

3.1.         James Randolph Witt (23 August 1813 – 1895) married first Delilah Harkrider (1833) and second Melvina Willhite (1868).

3.2.         Nathaniel Witt (c1815 - ?) married Mary Ann Cook on 17 November 1839 in Benton County.

3.3.         Joseph Lockhart Witt (30 October 181725 April 1889) married Nancy J. Penn.

3.4.         William Carroll Witt (3 February 182014 July 1892) married Joicy Elizabeth Hollingsworth on 19 September 1843 in Benton County.

3.5.         Robert Wesley Witt (10 April 18221 May 1898) married first Anita (Nettle) Lewallen on 27 December 1843 in Benton County.

3.6.         Sarah J. Witt (c1824 – c1891) married Augustine Alexander Bridwell on 28 December 1843 in Benton County.

3.7.         John Witt (26 February 18268 May 1898) married Elizabeth Taylor afer1850, then two more wives.

3.8.         Isaac Martin Witt (24 January 18288 May 1898) married Sarah Taylor about 1850.

3.9.         Eliza Jane Witt (13 December 1829 - ?) married Martin VanBuren Lewis, Apr. 13, 1852.

3.10.      Lucy Witt (c1832 - c1848)

3.11.      Silas Witt, Jr. (c1834 - ?) married Maranda Owens, died in Battle of Missionary Ridge.

3.12.      Pleasant Francis Witt (c1838 – 12 August 1862) married Eliza Louisa Llewellyn, died in Battle of Cedar Mountain.

3.13.      Francis Marion Witt (c1842 - ?)

3.14.      Emeline Witt (c1840 – before 1850)  Her name was provided by descendants, but she was not in the 1850 household.

4.      James R. Witt (29 November 1791 - 29 November 1846)  His middle initial was “R” if he is the same James Witt who witnessed the will of his mother.  I suspect he was named after James Randolph.  He married Sarah Cate on 23 November 1814 in Jefferson County, Tennessee.   James must have bought land in Jefferson County, otherwise I’m hard pressed to explain the large note due his father’s estate.  He is presumably the James Witt who appears in the 1829-1836 tax lists of McMinn County.  He is in the 1830 census of McMinn and the 1840 census of Bradley County.  His widow Sarah Witt (age 60) is in the 1850 census of Bradley County with an apparent daughter named “Alzira”.  Next door is Simeon Witt (age 33) and his wife Sarah Geren. The 1830 and 1840 censuses suggest he had two sons and four daughters.  A descendant, Kay Witt Potvin, had a family record of some type that listed his children as follows:[56] 

4.1.      John Simeon Witt (22 July 181729 November 1881) married Susan Geren.  He is in the 1850 census of Bradley County next door to his mother, listed as Simeon Witt age 33.  He died in Bradley County.

4.2.      Mary Witt (13 January 182020 May 1874) married Andrew Duncan.

4.3.      Wilford Barton Witt  (c1823 - ?)  He is apparently the male 5-10 in 1830 and 15-20 in 1840.  He was not found in the 1850 or later censuses, but Mrs. Potvin’s record says he married Nancy Ann King and died in Taos, New Mexico.

4.4.      Elizabeth Witt (? - ?)  Apparently one of the three females born 1825-30, she married a Kirkpatrick.

4.5.      Sarah Witt (c1829 – 25 December 1857) married Thomas Ross, and is in the 1850 census near her mother.

4.6.      Alizira Permelia Witt (14 June 18311 September 1899) married W. P. Palmer, and later George F. Erwin.

5.      Mourning Witt (c1797 – aft1860)  She is said to have married a man named Moore.[57]  That was apparently Littleberry Moore, in whose Bradley County household Mourning appears in 1850 (age 53) and 1860 (age 62).[58]  When they married is unclear, but Mourning was his second wife and they had no children.  Mourning Witt was unmarried in 1821 when she was among the heirs selling Joseph Witt’s land.  She was also unmarried when listed in the 1829, 1830, and 1831 tax lists of McMinn County.  She is not in the 1830 census, and it’s not clear whose household she was in – if she was one of the younger females in Polly Witt’s household, her age was dramatically understated.  My best guess is that she married Moore sometime in the 1830s.  Littleberry Moore is in the 1830 McMinn census with what is apparently his first wife, and in the 1840 Bradley census with a wife of the right age to be Mourning.[59]  

6.      Sarah Witt (c1799 – c1859)  Sarah joined the Dumpin Creek church in 1813.  She married Edward George Sellars in Jefferson County, Tennessee on 8 March 1818.  Edward Sellars sold his wife’s interest in Joseph Witt’s land three years later, and they moved with the rest of the family to McMinn County.  They are in the 1830, 1840, and 1850 censuses of McMinn County, located near the rest of the Witt family.  In 1850, Edward is age 56 and Sarah age 50.  Children in the 1850 household were:  Nathaniel (17), Silas (15), Morrison (13), Samuel (11), Blount (9), George W. (7), and William (5).  There were probably several older children as well, one of whom was said to be a son named John.  

7.      Patsy Witt (c1802 – aft1850)  Patsy never married and was called an “idiot” in the 1850 census.  I suspect Patsy was a bit older than her 1850 census record suggests.  She joined the Dumplin Creek Baptist Church in 1817 and her mother requested her letter of dismission in 1821.  Patsy Witt was one of the sellers of Joseph Witt’s land in 1821 and was still unmarried in 1837 when her mother’s will charged Joseph Witt with “maintaining my daughter Patsey Witt as long as she lives.”  Joseph Witt apparently did care for her, since she is certainly the second female 30-40 in the widow Matilda Witt’s 1840 household.  In 1850, she is still in Matilda’s household, as Patsy Witt, age 47, “idiot”.

8.      Joseph L. Witt (c1805? – 1839)  This son is almost universally misidentified as the Joseph Witt who married Sarah Earles.  However, all the evidence indicates that Joseph Witt Jr. was the youngest son of Joseph Sr.  He was mentioned twice (as “Joseph L. Witt”) in the 1821 deed disposing of his father’s land, though he did not sign the deed.  That suggests he was a minor at the time, which is consistent with later census records.  [I note the possibility that his middle name may have been “Lockhart”, since his brother Silas named a child Joseph Lockart Witt.]  He is in the 1829, 1830, 1831, 1832, and 1836 tax lists of McMinn County located near Mary, Mourning, and Silas Witt.  In the 1830 census of McMinn he is consecutive with Edward Sellars, Sally Witt, and Polly Witt, with one male under 5, he and his wife both 20-30.  He was evidently quite newly married.  The Rucker book mentions him only briefly as the husband of Matilda Rucker (born c1809), and attributes him as a son of Nathaniel Witt.  He did indeed marry Matilda Rucker, as in 1839 they sold their interest in James Rucker’s estate.  He was apparently the Joseph Witt who served as a delegate to the Hiwassee Baptist convention in 1828 from the Big Spring Baptist church in southern McMinn County.  He apparently lived on his mother’s land, as he was taxed on her 80 acres in 1836.  His mother’s will, written in 1837, left him her land and property on the condition that he care for his sister Patsy.  His mother subsequently sold the land, and Joseph Witt apparently removed southward into newly-formed Meigs County, where he died sometime between 2 September 1839, when he appeared on a road jury[60], and 6 January 1840, when Matilda Witt and James E. Rucker were appointed administrators of his estate.[61]  The widow Matilda Witt is a head of household in the Meigs County 1840 census, with five children and a second female 30-40 who is apparently Patsy Witt.[62]  She remarried to a neighbor named Avery Hannah on 3 January 1842.[63]  Their 1850 household in Meigs County include the five children of Joseph Witt, as well as Patsy Witt.[64]  I can’t find either Matilda or Avery after 1850, but three of the Witt sons are together in one household in 1860. 

8.1.      James Witt (c1829 - ?)  James seems nearly certain top be the eldest son of Joseph Witt.  Although the James in the 1850 household might have been Avery Hannah’s son, it seems far more likely that he was James Witt.  He married Catherine Gross, the daughter of a neighbor named Jacob Gross, on 16 September 1856 and appears in the 1860 census just a few households away from the other Witt children.  I’d also note that he named his two sons Jacob and Joseph, presumably after their grandfathers, and named one of his daughters Violet.

8.2.      Nathaniel Witt (23 August 1830 - ?)  Nathaniel married Janetta Wood in Meigs County on 1 March 1860, though they were childless. The 1860 Meigs census shows “Nat” as head of a household with his wife and his brothers Silas and Jesse.  He joined the Union Army (5th Tennessee Volunteer Infantry) as a Lieutenant and by late 1864 was made a Lt. Colonel.  He applied for a pension in 1881, when he declared his age to be 51.[65]  His brother Jesse was in the same company.  He was in his brother Jesse’s household in 1870, and in 1878 married Margaret Hicks.

8.3.      Violet Witt (c1833 - ?) married Thomas D. Conner about 1859.

8.4.      Silas Witt (c1834 - )  He appears in his brother’s household in 1860 and in his own household in 1870.  I did not attempt to track  him.

8.5.      Jesse Witt (c1836 - ?)  Jesse married Harriet E. Shiflett.  The 30 October 1874 will of her father, Austin Shiflett,  gives “to daughter Harriet E. Witt, land she now lives on, the balance being owned by her husband Jesse Witt”.[66]  They must have married about 1865, as the 1870 census has two children, the eldest 4.  Jesse had been a sergeant in the same company in which Nathaniel Witt was an officer.

Note:  Many descendants have claimed a different Joseph Witt and an Elizabeth Witt as children of Joseph and Sarah Witt.  See the separate page for a discussion of who they were and why they probably don’t belong in this family.  





[1] Halifax County Order Book 5, p375.

[2] Halifax County Deed Book 10, p98.  (Thomas Justice to Thomas Wilson Jr. for land on Astin’s Creek.)

[3] Halifax County Deed Book 10, p331 and p332.  Both dated 6 October 1777.

[4] Halifax County Will Book 1, p414.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Halifax County Deed Book 12, p427.

[7] North Carolina Grant #103, Greene County (original file at NC Archives contains warrant, survey order, and survey), Warrant #235, Grant #61, filed in Book 59, p422.

[8] John Walker received grant #1647 for 250 acres on the north bank of the French Broad on the same date. 

[9] From Joseph Witt’s survey and John Walker’s survey, their adjoining lands were located at a point where the French Broad River ran east-west, then turned sharply north.  Joseph Witt’s land was on the bend.  The only location that fits this description is about three miles southeast of Dandridge.  The area is now under water, thanks to Douglas Dam, but can be identified on early maps.  It would have been only about a mile south of the location of the Lower French Broad Baptist Church

[10] Jefferson County, Tennessee, Court Minutes 1792-1795, James L. Douthat & Roberta D. Hatcher (Mountain Press, 1985), p3.

[11] Douthat & Hatcher, p9.

[12] Dandridge, the county seat, was laid out in 1793 on the land of Francis Dean near Robert Henderson’s meeting house.  That meeting house was later known as the Hopewell church.

[13] Ibid., p9, 13, 25, 33, 34, 42, 47, 56, 83, 86, 172, 186, 188.

[14] Early East Tennessee Tax Lists, Mary Barnett Curtis (Arrow Printing Co.), p?

[15] Tennessee Cousins: A History of the Tennessee People, Worth Stickley Ray (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1950)  The Witts were not among the charter members, but are on the list of members in the church minutes.

[16] French Broad Baptist Church Minutes (secondhand, from internet)

[17] Jefferson County Will Book 2, p38.

[18] Jefferson County Deed Book C, p354 as abstracted in Land Deeds of Jefferson County, Tennessee, 1792-1814, Boyd J. Holdaway (Southern Historical Press, 1991), p64.

[19] Jefferson County Deed Book D, p1 from Holdaway, p65.

[20] Douthat & Hatcher, p200.

[21] Jefferson County Deed Book D, p161 from Holdaway, p80.

[22] Early East Tennessee Taxpayers, Pollyanna Creekmore (Southern Historical Press, 1980), p125.

[23] Jefferson County Deed Book G, p88 from Holdaway, p141.

[24] Jefferson County Deed Book N, p44.

[25] Minutes of the Dumplin Creek Baptist Church, as reproduced in The Romance of A Bi-Centennial Journey:  The Bi-Centennial History of the Dumplin Creek Baptist Church, Glenn Alfred Toomey (1988), Volume I, p56.  

[26] Toomey, p62.  [A first-time church member was generally received “by experience”, while a transfer from another church was generally received “by letter”.]

[27] This appears in print in several sources.  For example,  Sevier Family History, Cora B. Sevier and Nancy S. Madden (1961), p420.   The earliest reference I have found is in an undated typewritten manuscript (author unknown) filmed in 1972 and on file at LDS Library on reel #873927, item 7.  This is referred to later as the “CLHW” paper.  It was apparently written in the 1930s from information supplied y descendants.

[28] “French Broad River Baptist Church Minutes 1786-1859”, (WPA Historical Records Project, 1936), p104, provided courtesy of Gerald Witt.  Note that the Dumplin Creek Church, of which he was evidently a member, did not report on his death.  Rather this entry is in the minutes of the parent church.

[29] Ibid., p217.

[30] Ibid., p291 and p294.

[31] Other buyers were Samuel Carson, Henry Haggard, William Dotson, William Pettus, James Adams, Joseph Shadden, George Leeth, John Laurence, and others

[32] Ibid., p288.  Douthat’s abstract calls the entry on page 288 a settlement, but it is actually a sale.

[33] Douthat’s abstract of Will Book 2 shows a settlement of the estate of “Joseph Witt” at page 338 (Douthat page 32), but this is a typo.  At the referenced location is the settlement of “Joseph White”, who had died a few months previous. 

[34] Jefferson County Deed Book ?, p219.  ( I have a photocopy of the page, but am unsure of the book.)  Note that the names are entered in the sequence shown, quite possibly in order of birth.

[35] Minutes of the Dumplin Creek Baptist Church, as reproduced in The Romance of A Bi-Centennial Journey:  The Bi-Centennial History of the Dumplin Creek Baptist Church, Glenn Alfred Toomey (1988), Volume I, p68.   A Sarah Witt requested a letter on the same day (10 February 1821) as “Sister Witt…for herself and daughter Patsy”.  That second Sarah Witt was probably the wife of James Witt.  A separate list of members includes both Sarah Witt “Sr.” and Sarah Witt “Jr.” (apparently the mother and daughter) as well as a third Sarah Witt (apparently the wife of James Witt).  This separate list of members indicates all three Sarah Witts were dismissed at about the same time, although the minutes note only two letters.

[36] Grant #3040, the southeast quarter of section 25, township 2, range 2 west, “beginning on the southwest corner of said quarter” apparently on Mouse Creek.

[37] New Hopewell Baptist Church, Mabel Lorene Norwood Boylston, p95.  The Church secretary confirmed in April 2002 that the date on the page is actually 1823, not 1819 as in Ms. Boylston’s book.

[38] Index to McMinn County, Tennessee, Tax Lists, 1829-1832 and 1836, Harald Reksten & Reba Boyer (Heritage Books, Inc., 1996)

[39] McMinn 1830 census, p181:  Sally Witt 00112-000000001.  Who these four males are is unknown, since all of Sally’s children are otherwise accounted for.  Since she was not a landowner at the time, I doubt they were employees.  One possibility is that they might be children of her son John if he were deceased by 1830.

[40] McMinn County Will Book C, p195.

[41] McMinn County Deed Book C, p149.  Abstract from McMinn County, Tennessee Deeds and Other Data 1820-1880, Reba Bayless Boyer (1986).

[42] McMinn County Deed Book F, p288, abstract by Boyer.

[43] McMinn County Deed Book F, p289, abstract by Boyer.

[44] Mrs. Norton was the founder of The Manakin Huguenot Society, and has not proven to be completely accurate.

[45] Virginia Soldiers of 1776, Volume I, Louis A. Burgess, (Richmond Press, 1927), p163.

[46] Marriages of Jefferson County, Tennessee 1792-1836, Edythe Rucker Whitley (1982). 

[47] Jefferson County Will Book 2, p38.  A witness did not have to be 21, so we can’t conclude that John was of age.

[48] John Witt’s administration of his father’s estate implies that he was the eldest and, if so, would have been born before 1785.  Further, descendants claim that John Witt was in Lincoln County, Tennessee at a time when we know he was still in Jefferson County.

[49] McMinn County census 1830, p178:  Silas Witt 2122001-111001.

[50] McMinn County Deed Book C, p149 as abstracted in McMinn County, Tennessee Deeds and Other Data 1820-1880, Reba Bayless Boyer (1986).  Joseph Witt and Silas Witt Jr. (Nathaniel’s son) witnessed the deed.

[51] McMinn County Deed Book F, p288, as abstracted by Boyer.

[52] Benton County 1840 census, p56:  Silas Witt 11211001-0111001.

[53] Certificate #7703 for 40 acres, granted 1 July 1845.

[54] Cherokee County census 1850 (p79), 1860 (p330), and 1870 (p278).

[55] Our Heritage (San Antonio Genealogical and Historical Society), Vol. 21, "Rev. Silas Witt Family", Raymond H. Bostick, (21 July 1980), pp165.

[56] Letter with manuscript dated 7 November 1973 from Kay Witt Potvin of Questa, New Mexico

[57] CLHW manuscript.

[58] Bradley County census, 1850 p254 and 1860 p253.  Littleberry aged 64 and 72, Mourning aged 53 and 62.

[59] !830 McMinn census, p202: Littleberry Moore 0001001-0120101.  !840 Bradley census, p46:  Little Berry Moore: 00000001-0001101.

[60] Meigs County, Tennessee County Court Minute Book 1, Vol. 1, Bettye Broyles (1993), p113.

[61] Ibid., p118-121

[62] Meigs County 1840 census, p226: 112001-010002.  This entry is not in most indices for this census.

[63] Meigs County marriages (e.g., from Meigs website)

[64] The household consisted of Avery Hannah (55), Matilda (40), Patsy (47, “idiot”), James (21), Nathaniel (20), Violet (17), Calvin M. (17), Silas (16), and Jesse (14).  No surname is identified for the children, but Avery Hannah’s 1840 census includes only two males, one 5-10 and one 10-15.  Later records strongly suggest that all these children were Witts, with the exception of Calvin M.  Calvin and Violet seem to be identified as twins in the census, but the handwriting for “twins” is different suggesting that might be a later entry.  The 1840 census does not suggest that they were twins.  Only four males were in the 1840 Matilda Witt household, and the one in the same category as Violet was clearly Silas from later records. It appears to me that Calvin M. was actually a Hannah but the remainder of the children were Witts.  I would note that Calvin was a common name among the Hannahs at the time, and while there are no subsequent references to a Calvin Witt, there were at least two other Calvin Hannahs in the area. 

[65] Pension File # SC392726

[66] Meigs County Will Book 1858 - 1881, p344-5.















Nathaniel Witt

(c1782? – 1826)


Nathaniel Witt was probably born before his father left Virginia, but his exact birth year is unknown.  He was apparently born after mid-1779, as the 1800 Jefferson County tax list shows Joseph Witt with only a single white poll.  His first appearance is as a witness to the will of Michael Coons, in which his father was named executor, on 17 March 1803.[1]  That suggests, but doesn’t require, that he was of age at the time.[2]  He was certainly of age when he married in Jefferson County, Tennessee to Mary Cate by bond dated 30 July 1804.[3]  Nathaniel was of age and signed his own name to the bond, with Collins Grisham as surety.  [He was not the same person as the Nathaniel Witt who signed a Tennessee petition in 1787.[4]]


Nathaniel evidently lived with his father after the marriage, since his only acquisition of land in Jefferson County appears to be a grant of 65 acres in Jefferson County, entered on 11 May 1811 and surveyed on 13 May 1811.[5]  I could find no record of a subsequent sale of this land, which was located about a mile from his father’s tract.  The only other records of him in Jefferson County are those associated with the settlement of his father's estate (see Joseph Witt page).  The last record of him in Jefferson County is his participation in the sale of his father’s land to Charles Cate on 6 March 1821.[6]  Neither Nathaniel nor any of his siblings (save his brother John) appeared the following year on the 1822 tax list of Jefferson County.  Whether they went directly there or not in 1821 is unclear, but within three years they were in McMinn County.


Nathaniel Witt, his widowed mother, and at least five brothers and sisters were in McMinn County by 1824, as was his father-in-law, William Cate.  On 3 July 1824 Nathaniel Witt entered a grant of 160 acres on Mouse Creek just southwest of Athens in McMinn County, on which his wife and children continued to live well after his death.[7]  He had probably been living on this land for at least a year or two, given the normal delays in grant processing.


The minutes of Eastanallee Baptist Church for July 1823 or 1824 (the date is uncertain) contain a reference to the formation of the New Hopewell church:  "The scattered members of Eastanallee Church living on Mouse Creek agreed to become a Constitution if found fit and petitions Pisgah and Zion Hill Churches for their ministerial help for that purpose to attend on the 4th Saturday in August at the Widow Witts on Mouse Creek." [8]  "Widow Witt" must refer to Sarah Witt, Joseph Witt's widow and Nathaniel's mother.  Mary Cate(s), surely Nathaniel’s mother-in-law, was received into the church on the same day.  [See the referenced footnote for a discussion of the date of this entry.]


Nathaniel Witt died intestate sometime in mid-1826.  On 5 June 1826, William Cate was appointed administrator of the estate of Nathaniel Witt, “the widow of the said deceased being present and consenting thereto.”[9]  The widow, who was not named in the court record, was Mary, and William Cate her father.  Several of the children were unmarried minors at this time, but the loss of McMinn’s records denies us information on guardianship or any other records of the estate.[10]  Mary “Polly” Cate Witt did not remarry, despite having an infant and several children at her husband’s death.  She and some of her children continued to live on Nathaniel Witt’s 1824 grant for the next 17 years. 


The 1830 census of McMinn County has a number of Witt households[11], four of them enumerated consecutively:  Joseph Witt (aged 20-30), Edward “Cellers”, Sally Witt (aged 60-70), and Polly Witt (aged 40-50).  These appear to be Nathaniel Witt’s brother, brother-in-law, mother, and widow.  Nathaniel’s brothers Silas Witt and James Witt were nearby, as were father-in-law William Cate and sons-in-law Thomas Epperson and William Rucker.  Polly Witt had in her household a male under 5, a male 5-10, a male 20-30, two females 10-15, and a female 15-20 – evidently the six children who were unmarried at the time.[12] 


The surviving tax lists of McMinn County show Mary Witt, her son Silas (“Jr.”), her sister-in-law Mourning Witt, and her brothers-in-law James Witt, Joseph Witt and Silas Witt Sr. in the same district in 1829, 1830, 1831, and 1832.[13]  All but Silas Sr. and Mourning are also on the 1836 tax list.  In 1836, Mary Witt was still being taxed on Nathaniel Witt’s 160 acre grant.  Only her son Silas was charged with a poll.  [Among the 162 taxpayers in this district were nearly all the related families, including William Cate and several sons, Solomon Hayes, Thomas Epperson, and Mordicai Rucker.]


Further evidence that Mary was still living on her husband’s 1824 grant lies in related deeds. Silas Witt, Nathaniel’s brother, had apparently acquired 80 acres adjoining Nathaniel’s grant, which he sold prior to moving to Alabama in 1834.  On 15 January 1834, Silas Witt sold this land to his mother Sally Witt, describing it as adjoining Polly Witt.[14]   Sarah Witt sold this tract, “with the exception of one acre where the meeting house[15] now stands”, to Willis Wright on 23 January 1838, when it was again described as bordering Polly Witt.[16]  The 1840 census shows Mary Witt as age 60-70 with a female 20-30 (Catherine) and her two youngest sons in the household.  Mary Witt was still alive in late 1843.  William Cate, her father, had moved into Bradley County shortly after its formation, and died there by 1843.  On 14 September 1843, the widow of William Cate sued his heirs, naming Mary Witt as one of them.[17]  Though I’ve found no record of her death, she evidently died sometime after late 1843 and mid-1849.  She does not appear in the 1850 census either by herself or in the households of any of her children.  Nor does she appear in the 1850 mortality census, which included deaths from June 1849.


The children of Nathaniel Witt are identified in a series of deeds disposing of his property.  On 24 April 1841, five of the heirs sold their interests in “the estate of Nathaniel Witt dec’d…one tract containing 160 acres” for $50 each to Mordicai Rucker.[18]  These heirs were William Rucker and his wife Nancy, Thomas Epperson and his wife Sally, George W. Cate and his wife Mary, William Witt, and Katherine Witt.  [Katherine and William sold separate shares, and were not a married couple.[19]]  Two years later, on 3 March 1843, Mary Witt and four daughters, for a total of $600, sold their individual interests in the 160 acres  “descended to them from the estate of Nathaniel Witt, deceased” to James E. Rucker.[20]  This set of heirs was Mary Witt, Mordicai Rucker and his wife Miriam, Robert Elder and his wife Polly, Thomas Grisham and his wife Betsy, and George W. Cate and his wife Mary.  All were of McMinn County, and all the women signed with their marks.  Finally, on 4 January 1847 Joseph (Nathaniel) Witt, now of age, transferred his interest to James E. Rucker.[21]  From these deeds, we can identify nine children:  William, Joseph Nathaniel, Nancy, Sally, Mary, Katherine, Miriam, and Elizabeth, plus Silas Witt (whose widow was Mary Elder). 


Two of the Witt children married children of James Rucker, according to a book on the Rucker family.[22]  Indeed, on 8 October 1839, the heirs of James Rucker, deceased, transferred their interest in his land to William Rucker, husband of Nancy Witt.[23]  The heirs included Joseph and Matilda Witt [an uncle of the other two Witts], and Mordicai Rucker, husband of Miriam Witt, who later purchased this same land from William Rucker. 


In addition, we have three other family records of the children of Nathaniel Witt, none of which can be considered completely reliable. 


First, the Rucker book published in 1927, mentions the other Witt children in an incidental way.  It lists six children of Nathaniel Witt: “Marriam” (wife of Mordicia Rucker), Joseph (husband of Matilda Rucker), Nancy (wife of William Rucker), Rathian, William, and Sally (wife of Thomas Epperson).[24]  Joseph Witt is misidentified here as a son of Nathaniel rather than a brother.  The book provides details only for Miriam and Nancy, although the 1841 deed above is referenced.   [This deed was clearly misread, as “Katherine” was transcribed by the author as “Rathian”.]  Of the six children named, Joseph was actually an uncle of the others, but five were definitely children of Nathaniel Witt.


Second, an unsigned typewritten manuscript in the LDS Library, which I will call the “CLHW” paper[25], gives the same five children, and adds three more:  Mary (wife of George W. Cate), Joseph Nathaniel Witt, and Silas Witt.  The Rucker book was evidently a source for this paper, though it adds more detail to some of the children.  Some of the information in this book came from a “Mr. Carter”, also acknowledged as a source in the Rucker book, who was apparently a grandson of Nancy Witt and William Rucker, through their daughter Rachel who married Hiram Carter.   This paper makes only rare references to original sources and seems to have been compiled from family records and interviews.  [The paper adds “Rathian” as a ninth child, apparently relying on the misreading of the 1841 deed perpetuated by the Rucker book.  It omits Elizabeth.]


Finally, a grandson of Nathaniel Witt (William Breckinridge Witt) wrote a letter in 1947 mentioning eleven children: “My father’s name was William and [he] had two brothers named Joe and Nathaniel.  There were eight sisters which I know very little about.  Two of the girls married men by the name of Kates. One married a man by name Rucker.  One married a Mr. Box.” [26]  [Mr. Witt was born in Texas and probably never knew any of the siblings. The Box marriage is an error, referring to Mr. Witt’s maternal ancestors.]


Census records, and the deeds above, clarify that there were three sons and six daughters. 



1.      Sarah (Sally) Witt  (c1805 – 1878)  From the 1841 deed above, she was the wife of Thomas Epperson, married about 1823 or 1824 judging from the children’s ages.  They are in the 1830 census of McMinn and the 1840 census of Bradley County, located near the other Witts.  The 1850 census for Bradley County has Sarah, age 44, and apparently fourteen children in the household.[27]  In 1860 they are still in Bradley County (Sarah now age 56) with six of the same children in the household and three others next door.  They had sons named John, Key and Green according to the “CLHW” paper, but the latter two do not seem to be in the 1850 or 1860 household.  The son John is probably the John Epperson located nearby in the 1850 census and next door in the 1860 census.  Descendants say that they had a total of sixteen children.

2.      Miriam Witt  (9 July 180715 April 1884)   According to the Rucker book, she was the wife of Mordicai Rucker (c1802 – c1855).[28]   She and her husband sold their interest in Nathaniel Witt’s estate in 1843, and their interest in James Rucker’s estate in 1839.  They named their first son “Nathaniel Witt Rucker”, born c1826.  They seem to have married about 1823, since the first child was born about 1824.  They are in the 1850 census of McMinn County with Miriam’s age given as 43.  Mordicai Rucker died by September 1855 according to a later court record.  On 5 November 1855 James R. Witt and Hilton H. Burk were appointed his administrators.  His estate settlement, dated 8 July 1857, in McMinn County names the children as Silas N., Rachel (wife of Hamilton Wasson of Missouri), Sarah C. (wife of Hilton H. Burke), Nancy (wife of Levi Swinford of Smith County, Texas), Mary M. (wife of Pleasant B. Bryan of Smith County, Texas), James C. (also of Smith County), William A., Joseph C., and Miriam M., all three minors, John E., a minor who died a week after his father, and Wilford, a minor who died about a week before his father.[29]  Miriam was appointed guardian for two of the three minor children in late 1855 and assumed guardianship of the third minor child several years later.  Her birth and death dates are from the “CLHW” paper and from her gravestone in the Hopewell Church Cemetery in McMinn County.[30]

3.      Silas Witt  (c1808 – 29 September 1838)  There appears to have been a son named Silas.  A Silas Witt “Jr.” was in the same tax district as other members of this family in 1829-1832 and in 1836.   Nathaniel Witt’s brother is listed in these tax lists as “Silas Witt Sr.”  [The “Jr.” was likely a means of distinguishing the two Silas Witts, rather than indicating a relationship. Silas Witt Sr. did not marry until 1812 and his own son Silas was not born until 1834.]  The appearance as a poll in 1829 indicates Silas Witt Jr. was 21 by then.  He appears as a poll in 1829, 1830, and 1831, but was evidently the male 20-30 in his mother’s household in 1830.  As “Silas Witt Jr.”, he was a witness to the 1834 sale from Silas Witt Sr. to Sally Witt, and was a again a witness when Sally Witt sold the land on 23 January 1838.  He died between early 1838 and early 1840, for on 6 June 1840 when this latter deed was recorded, Robert McAdoo deposed that he saw Silas Witt, since deceased, sign his name.[31]  He seems to be the Silas Witt whose gravestone in the Hopewell Baptist Church cemetery reads “29 September 1838, aged 29 years.”[32]  He must have married a woman named Mary sometime after 1830.  This Mary Witt appears near the other members of the family in the 1840 census, age 20-30, with a male 5-10 and two females under 5.  She is clearly the “Mrs. Mary Witt” who married Robert Elder in McMinn County on 14 January 1841.[33]  Robert and Mary Elder sold their interest in the estate of Nathaniel Witt in 1843.  In Robert Elder’s 1850 household in Meigs County, Mary is age 40 and there are three children who nicely match those in her 1840 household:  William (17), Sarah Ann (15), and Emaline (14).  There are four other children aged 1 through 7 who are Mary’s children by Robert Elder.  Robert Elder died testate in Meigs County in 1863.  Descendants of Robert Elder do not claim William, Sarah Ann, and Emaline as his children, indeed they are not present in his own 1840 household.  They seem clearly to be children of Silas Witt.

3.1.      William Witt (c1833 - 1862) He appears to be the William C. Witt who married Mary J. Heron on 20 September 1855 in McMinn County and who married again to Margaret Owen on 20 October 1860 in Meigs County.  He was apparently in a mercantile partnership with William A. Rucker, who sued him in 1860.[34] He died intestate in McMinn County before 23 October 1862 when a year’s support was provided for his widow.[35]

3.2.      Sarah Ann Witt (c1835 - ?)  She was probably the Sarah Witt who married A. B. Cate on 22 January 1860 in Meigs County.

3.3.      Emaline Witt (12 February 183817 March 1865) She seems to be the Emaline E. Witt who married Evander McCorkle on 19 January 1860 in Meigs County.  They appear in the 1860 census.  She is buried in the Goodfield Methodist Cemetery in Meigs County from which her birth and death dates come.

4.      Nancy Witt  (8 June 181131 May 1863)  According to the Rucker book, she married William Rucker (c1804–1886).  Her birth and death dates are given in the book’s section on William Rucker.[36]  They sold her interest in Nathaniel Witt’s estate in 1841.  She was probably married by 1830, since William Rucker’s 1830 census entry shows a childless household with a female aged 15-20 who is probably Nancy.  Like her sister, she named a child “Nathaniel Witt Rucker”.  The first child was born 4 March 1832, consistent with a marriage date by 1830.  They are in the 1840 census of McMinn near James Witt.  They are in the 1850 census of McMinn, Nancy age 40, with eight children:  Mary (19) James (17), Nathaniel (15), John (13), Sarah (11),  Matilda (9),  Rachel(6), and Margaret (5).[37]    They moved to Macon County, Illinois about 1853 where Nancy died and William Rucker remarried to Mary Houseworth.  He and both wives are buried in North Fork Cemetery in Decatur, Macon County.  The Rucker book gives the full names of the children, and names one additional child:  Mary C., James Marion, Nathaniel Witt, John Lafayette, Sarah Elizabeth, Anna, Rachel, Margaret, and William T. Rucker.  This family is also covered in some detail in the “CLHW” paper.

5.      Mary Witt  (c1814 – aft1860)  She was the wife of George William Cate, named as an heir of Nathaniel Witt in both the 1841 and 1843 deeds.  She appears to be one of the females aged 10-15 in Polly Witt’s household in 1830.  She and George W. Cate seem to have married about 1832 judging from the children’s ages.  In 1840, they were living adjacent to William Cate Sr. in Bradley County, Tennessee, with four children under 10.  They apparently moved to Smith County, Texas where they are in the 1850 and 1860 census (Mary aged 36 and 46).  The eldest child was named “Nathaniel”.  

6.      Elizabeth Witt  (c1815 – c1877)  The daughter in the 1830 household of Polly Witt, aged 15-20,  appears to be the Elizabeth Grisham, later the wife of Thomas Grisham, who sold her interest in Nathaniel Witt’s estate in 1843.  Census records suggest a birth year of 1815 and a marriage date by 1835.  They are in the 1850 census of McMinn County (as “Grissom”), Elizabeth as age 34.  There are six children in the household: Susan, Lavista, James, John, Joseph, and William.  On 1 March 1867 Elizabeth Grisham homesteaded land on which she lived, declaring that her husband had abandoned her and her family.[38]  [Thomas Grisham apparently was in debt, as he was selling off his property at about the same time.] A court record dated four years later indicates Thomas Grisham was living in Arkansas.  Indeed, the 1870 census shows the couple was back together in Hot Springs County, Arkansas, both aged 52 (and with four additional children).  By 1880, Thomas is in the household of their son Joseph in Hood County, Texas. Elizabeth had died in 1877 according to descendants.

7.      Catherine Witt (c1818 – aft1860)   Catherine Witt was probably of age but unmarried when she sold her interest in her father’s land in 1841, signing the deed with her mark.[39]  She was apparently one of the two females aged 10-15 in Mary Witt’s household in 1830, and the female 20-30 in the 1840 household.  According to the “CLHW” paper, Nathaniel Witt’s daughter Catherine “married a Mr. Ball in Tennessee and she is said to have had an only child…Sene Ball b abt 1843 and died May 2, 1919 Birchwood, Tenn…[who] married Samuel Gamble…a brother of her uncle Joseph Nathaniel Witt’s first wife.” [40]   Catherine may have married a Ball after 1841, but she was using her maiden name again in the 1850 census when Catherine Witt, age 31, was in the McMinn household of Pleasant B. and Mary Bryan[41] with a daughter age 7 named “Ascynith”.  In 1860, Catherine Witt (age 42) and her daughter “Amatha” (age 16) are in the Meigs County household of her brother Joseph N. Witt.[42]   I could not find her after 1860.  

8.      William M. Witt (c1822 – 1871) We have conflicting records of his birth year, but it appears to be about 1822.  He seems to be the male 5-10 in Mary Witt’s household in 1830 and the male 15-20 in her 1840 household.  He married Elizabeth Hayes, daughter of Solomon Hayes (a neighbor of the Witts) in 1845 according to his son-in-law.  He moved to Titus County, Texas in late 1846 with several others from McMinn.  (See separate page.) 

9.      Joseph Nathaniel Witt (31 December 1825?  - September 1892)  He was apparently an infant at his father’s death, and must have been the youngest male in Mary Witt’s household in 1830 and 1840.  The “CLHW” manuscript is the only source I have seen that names him as a son of Nathaniel Witt, and it contains quite a bit of information about his descendants apparently provided by “Mr. Carter”.[43]  It gives his birth date as 31 December 1827 (obviously impossible if he were Nathaniel’s son) and death date as September 1892.  This birth date appears to be two years off, given the consistency of later records of his age.  He gave his age as 24 in 1850, and 34 in 1860, 44 in 1870, and 54 in 1880 – all of which suggest that the birth year was actually 1825.  He also testified in his pension application dated 4 July 1891 that he was 65, which would be correct if the birth date was in 1825.   On 4 January 1847, Joseph Witt sold his interest in Nathaniel Witt’s estate to James E. Rucker, having (probably) turned 21 four days earlier.  He is in the 1850 census of Meigs County with his first wife, 16 year-old Charity A. Gamble whom he married in Meigs County on 18 August 1849.[44]  Charity evidently died and he married again to Mary J. Whitmore on 29 October 1856 in Meigs County.  They are in the 1860 census with the first two children below and his sister Catherine Witt.[45]  He apparently remained in the same location, which was successively Meigs, Hamilton, and James counties in the 1860-80 censuses. Joseph Nathaniel Witt served as a Captain in the Union Army and applied for an invalid pension in Meigs County in 1891.[46]  [The pension was not granted because he died during the process.]  He stated that he had lived in Meigs County since his discharge.  The “CLHW” manuscript gives nine children, all by the second wife:  Maggie Henriette, William H., George, Nathaniel, Joseph, Thomas, Walter Whittier, Mary Catherine, and May Belle.  This seems to match the names of the children in the census records.


[1] Jefferson County Will Book 2, p38.

[2] It was not legally necessary for a witness to be of age, since anyone aged 14 or older could legally serve as a witness.  I would also note that the John Witt who also witnessed this will may have been Nathaniel’s brother, who we know to have been only 17 at the time.

[3] Copy of original bond provided by Joann Van Boven.

[4] North Carolina State Records, Volume 22, pp705-714 reproduces a petition from residents of the “State of Franklin” requesting severance from legal obligations to North Carolina. Among the signers were Elias, Thomas and  Nathaniel Witt.

[5] Jefferson County Deed Book O, p252.  The grant was actually issued on 3 May 1814 and recorded 1 January 1818.  The 65 acres was assigned to Nathaniel Witt from John White, part of his 300 acre grant of 1810.

[6] Jefferson County Deed Book ?, p219.  ( I have a photocopy of the page, but am unsure of the book.)

[7] Grant #3040, the southeast quarter of section 25, township 2, range 2 west, “beginning on the southwest corner of said quarter.”

[8] New Hopewell Baptist Church, Mabel Lorene Norwood Boylston, (Self-published, 1996) p95.  This page contains two photocopies of the original church minutes and a partial transcript.  The transcript reads “William Witt’s” but the original record clearly reads “Widow Witt’s”.  [The same page, incidentally, contains the reference “recd Mary Cates by letter”, apparently referring to William Cate Sr.’s wife.]  The date attributed to that entry is July 1819, though it is not visible in the photocopy.  I strongly suspect that the year was actually 1824, not 1819.  McMinn County did not exist in any practical sense in July 1819, and there is no evidence that Big Spring or any other congregation existed that early.  Further, it seems virtually certain that the “widow Witt” was Sarah Witt, who was still in Jefferson County as late as March 1821.  One of the churches asked for assistance, Zion Hill, was not formed until 1822.  Mary Cate did not receive her letter from the Dumplin Creek church until September 1822.  Finally, the Hiwassee Baptist Association, to whom the petition must have been addressed, did not exist until May of 1823.  The Hiwassee Association minutes of the first two annual meetings, for 1823 and 1824, neither mention this church, nor any petitions from it.  That is particularly odd since the 1824 meeting was held at Big Spring, a church in McMinn just ten miles away.  My guess is that the petition was begun in 1824 for submission at the 1825 annual meeting.  The Hiwassee Baptist Association minutes are lost for the years 1825-7, but by 1828 New Hopewell was an established church, with Silas Witt one of the delegates to the convention that year.

[9] McMinn County Court Minute Book 1824-31, p155.

[10] It is possible that the records of either Eastanallee or New Hopwell churches may contain a reference to his death.  The Eastanallee records exist, but I have not read them.  The only McMinn records for the period are a court minute book, there being no probate books or other court records.

[11] Several children of Hezekiah Witt, a distant cousin of Nathaniel Witt, had moved into McMinn at about the same time.

[12] McMinn County 1830 census, p181-182 (listed consecutively):  Joseph Witt 10001-00001, Edward Cellars 300001-30101, Sally Witt 00112-000000001, Polly Witt 11001-0021001.

[13] Index to McMinn County, Tennessee, Tax Lists, 1829-1832 and 1836, Harald Reksten & Reba Boyer (Heritage Books, Inc., 1996)

[14] McMinn County Deed Book C, p149 as abstracted in McMinn County, Tennessee Deeds and Other Data 1820-1880, Reba Bayless Boyer (1986).  Joseph Witt and Silas Witt Jr. (Nathaniel’s son) witnessed the deed.

[15] “The meeting house” was apparently Hopewell Baptist Church

[16] McMinn County Deed Book F, p288, as abstracted by Boyer.

[17] Bradley County Chancery Court Minutes 1840-1850, p91.  This entry is brief, indicating the filing of the suit, and contains no record of the details of the case.  The case ws dismissed in March 1845.

[18] McMinn County Deed Book G, p608.

[19] This deed was mistranscribed in Mrs. Rucker’s book, reading “Katherine” as “Rathian”.

[20] McMinn County Deed Book H, p458. 

[21] Boyer, p52.

[22] History of the Rucker Family, Edythe Johns Rucker Whitley (Hermitage Printing Co.,1927), p153 and p198.

[23] McMinn County Deed Book G, p424 as abstracted by Boyer.

[24] Whitley, p153 and p198.

[25] Typewritten paper (author unknown) on file at LDS Library on reel #873927, item 7.  Filed as 929.273A1 no. 258.  This manuscript deals with descendants of Charles and Lavinia Harbour Witt, so I’ll refer to it as the “CLHW” paper, although the focus is on Joseph Witt’s descendants.  No author is attributed. There appears to be a some connection between this author and Mrs. Whitley.  Both documents quote “Mr. Carter”.  From the dates in the document, it appears to have been written at about the same time as Ms. Whitley’s book, around 1930 or so. 

[26] Letter dated 3 November 1947  from William Breckinridge Witt to Mary Lou Witt (born 1906), courtesy of Mary Lou Witt.   This letter is partially transcribed on the William Witt page.

[27] Bradley County 1850 census p364:  Thomas Eppison (47), Sarah (44), Elizabeth (22), Harriet (23), Joseph (18), Caroline (14), Lucinda (7), Mary A. (6), Jackson (2), Nathan (20), Jesse (17), William P. (15), Joseph (12), Mary C. (9), Benj. (6), Thomas M. (3).  All were born in Tennessee except for Harriet, whose birth place was Georgia.  She may not have been a child of this family.

[28] Whitley, p157.

[29] McMinn Chancery Court Records, p274

[30] Boylston, p23 and p28.

[31] McMinn County Deed Book F, p288, as abstracted by Boyer.

[32] Boylston, p30.

[33] Early East Tennessee Marriages, Volume 2, Byron & Barbara Sistler (Sistler & Associates, 1987), p396

[34] Chancery Court Records of McMinn County, Tennessee, 1844-1894, p39.

[35] McMinn County Will Book F, p474.

[36] Whitley, p164.

[37] Mary is in the household as the wife of L. H. Horton (26).

[38] Boyer, p110.

[39]  McMinn County Deed Book G, p608.  A misreading of this deed has caused “Rathian” to appear among the children of William Witt in several publications.  The “K” does look a bit like an “R” but is unlike any other “R” in the document.  The scrawled name in the body of the deed is clearly “Katharine”, as it is also on the signature line.

[40] “CLHW” manuscript, p36.

[41] Pleasant B. Bryan was the son of William Bryan and Lucinda Cate (sister of Nathaniel Witt’s wife).  His wife Mary was Mary Rucker, daughter of Mordicai Rucker and Catherine’s sister Miriam Witt.

[42] The census appears to read “James M. Witt” but the wife and children are clearly those of Joseph N. Witt.

[43] “CLHW” manuscript, p37.

[44] Interestingly, Charity Gamble and her brother Samuel appear in the household of their father Samuel Gamble next door to Jacob Gross, father of Catherine Gross, in 1850.  Due to the timing of the marriage, Charity appears in both households.

[45] This record (1860 Meigs census page 145) reads James M. Witt (34), Mary I. (25), Margaret (1), Wm. H. (6/12), Catherine (42) Amatha (16).  This is clearly Joseph N. Witt.  “Amatha” is probably meant to be “Asentha” or something similar.

[46] Declaration for an Original Invalid Pension No. 981105.


































William M. Witt

(c1822? – 1871)


William Witt’s birth date is uncertain.  James Houston Hayes, kept a diary late in his life which gives William Witt’s birth date as 16 September 1824.[1]  However, many of the dates in that diary do not match those from other records, and it appears likely that James Hayes wrote the wrong year.  The only censuses we have suggest that William Witt was a couple of years older – he gave his own age as 38 in the 1860 census and 50 in the 1870 census.  In addition, Ora Witt Belton, the late daughter of William Breckenridge Witt (see letter below) wrote in her family Bible that her grandfather was born in 1817, though this was from her own memory.[2]  Like many people at the time, it is likely William Witt was not sure himself exactly how old he was.  The fact that he apparently signed the 1841 deed is good reason to suspect he was of age, or nearly so, at the time.


The proof that William M. Witt was a son of Nathaniel Witt is compelling, if a bit convoluted.  The 1841 sale by the heirs of Nathaniel Witt establishes that there was a son named William.  The question is whether ours is the same person.  The “CLHW” paper provides a valuable clue.  It has no detail on William Witt, but states “Some say he died near Athens, Tenn.; others say he moved to Texas…John Witt, son of William Witt, lived in Texas, place not learned, and once visited in Tennessee.”[3]  This undoubtedly refers to the John Witt below, who lived just a few miles outside Chattanooga and did visit his Witt relatives in Tennessee.  We also know that William Witt’s father-in-law had lived in the same tax district as the Witts in McMinn County, and came with him to Texas.  In addition, several brothers-in-law from McMinn County[4], and a Thomas Cate[5] apparently came to Texas with William Witt.


One of William’s children, William Breckenridge “Breck” Witt, wrote a letter in 1947 to a great-granddaughter of William Witt which cements the ancestry.[6]  We can’t take his statements too literally, as Breck Witt was 90 years old at the time he wrote the letter, and his father had died when he was twelve, but there is great value to his statement:


My grandfather Witt [meaning Nathaniel Witt] came from France but I do not know his name.  They settled in North Carolina where my father was born.  My father’s name was William and he had two brothers named Joe and Nathaniel.  There were eight sisters which I know very little about.  Two of the girls married men by the name of Kates.  One married a man by name Rucker.  One married a Mr. Box. 

The family moved from
North Carolina to East Tennessee where my father married Lizzie Hayes.  My oldest brother was born in East Tennessee.  That was Jim.  Then the family moved to Titus County near Old Snow Hill, where all the rest of the children were born…


This letter is very helpful in connecting William Witt to his father Nathaniel Witt.  William was probably born in McMinn County, Tennessee.  Indeed, he gave Tennessee as his birth state in the censuses of 1860 and 1870.  His marriage to Elizabeth “Lizzie” Hayes on 20 September 1845 is confirmed by her brother’s diary and other family records.[7]  It almost certainly took place in either McMinn County, where Solomon Hayes lived, or in neighboring Bradley County.  William M. Witt was a resident of Bradley County in 1845, when he and his brother-in-law G. W. Cate are consecutive signatures on a petition in October 1845.[8]  In addition, James Houston Witt, born just two months after the marriage, gave his birth place as Tennessee in later censuses.

I don’t know exactly when he moved to Texas, but the family legend is quite strong that it was in the winter of 1846.[9]   It seems very likely that both William Witt and Solomon Hayes traveled to Texas together, and that they settled in Snow Hill near one another.  Unfortunately, William Witt does not appear in the 1850 Titus county census, though his father-in-law does. [I can’t find him in any state or county in 1850.]


The Titus County courthouse burned in 1895 and only a few of its early deeds were recovered or rerecorded.  Among them are five deeds to or from William Witt.[10]  In a deed dated 1 May 1862, William M. Witt mortgaged 18 acres near Snow Hill to T. P. Lockhart for $90.  This land bordered Solomon Hays, and was located just outside Snow Hill.  Lockhart was the principal merchant of Snow Hill at the time, and probably the only lender in the area.  That same day, William Witt sold to Lockhart, for $1,000, 62 acres next to William Hayes. 


According to Breck Witt, his father served in the CSA.  He was perhaps the William Witt who served as a private in Company A, 2nd Battalion Texas Cavalry in the Civil War, enlisting at Camp McGruder for six months, on July 27, 1863 and remaining on the muster roll of that company through December 31 that year.   Technically, these were Texas State troops, not the CSA.  His son James Witt served in Well’s Regiment of Texas Cavalry. 


He was back in Titus County by 11 October 1864, when he purchased 325 acres (at $1 per acre) from Rebecca and Amanda Province.  This land was on Boggy Bayou[11] about 9 miles northeast of  Mt. Pleasant, between Snow Hill and Daingerfield. 

William M. Witt and Mary Witt, his wife, on 11 April 1868, sold to Cyrus Wright 71 /14 acres for $286.  Finally, on 6 February 1871, William M. Witt sold 20 acres to Silas Osborn for $200 This was part of the James F. Box grant, adjacent to “…the fourteen acres on which the village of Snow Hill now stands.” [12] All five deeds identify him as “William M. Witt” and in each case he signed by making a mark.


I could not find William Witt in the 1850 census of either Tennessee or Texas.  However, he was in the 1860 census of Titus County.  He was listed in the town of Snow Hill with the first six children listed below, all but James listed as born in Texas.  He is shown as a farmer with $1,600 of real estate and $200 in personal property.  He could not read or write.  The children’s ages are accurate (the census was taken 6 August), and his age is given as 38, born in Tennessee. There was no wife.  James Hayes’ diary, which agrees with other family records, says that Elizabeth Hayes Witt died 13 September 1859.  [However, she does not appear in the 1860 mortality schedules, which should have recorded a death within a year of that year’s census.]  By 1870 he had apparently moved onto the Boggy Bayou land, and was enumerated in the vicinity of Mt. Pleasant, age 50, with his second wife Mary (Polly) Wright Beasley and the six younger children.[13]  Also in the 1870 household were four Beasley children and Amanda Price, age 13.


Elizabeth Hayes was the mother of William’s first six children.  After her death on 13 September 1859, William Witt married Mary (Polly) Wright Beasley, who was the mother of the last two children.  This Polly Wright (1830– 1911) was the widow of John Beasley.  After William Witt’s death, she married her third husband, William Hayes, in 1871.  William Hayes was Elizabeth Hayes’ older brother, thus giving Polly Wright a unique connection to both William Witt and his first wife, Elizabeth Hayes.  William and Elizabeth are both buried in the old Hayes cemetery.  Polly is buried in Concord cemetery.


I think William Witt died on 12 October 1871.  According to James Hayes’ diary, the date was 12 October 1870, but William Witt personally appeared in the Titus County court on 10 February 1871 to acknowledge his deed to Silas Osborn.  The simplest explanation is that James Houston Hayes was one year off.  His dates, in several cases, do not agree with other records.  I’ve noted below the differences between the children’s birth dates given by others and by James Houston Hayes.


1.      James Houston Witt  (21 November 1845 - 7 July 1899)   James Houston Hayes’ diary records his own birth date as 22 November 1845.  It’s interesting that his diary also shows his parents’ marriage two months prior to his birth.  He married Unica Abigail Davenport on 1 December 1868.  He was apparently named after his uncle.   [These were my father’s great-grandparents – see separate page.]

2.      Joseph Witt  (6 January 1848 - 1 June 1925).  James Houston Hayes’ diary records his birth date as 10 October 1847.  He married Melinda V. Barrier.  They were in the 1880 Morris County, Texas census with children Mary E., Louelly, and Robert Lee.

3.      Nancy A. Witt  (15 October 1850 - 19 February 1929)  James Houston Hayes’ diary records her birth date as 25 October 1851.  She married John T. Barrier.

4.      George Washington Witt  (14 February 1853 - 4 December 1943)    He married Louisa Rebecca Cook on -- May 1872.  [These were my mother’s great-grandparents – see separate page.]

5.      John M. Witt  (17 January 185618 March 1934)  James Houston Hayes’ diary records his birth date as 23 March 1855, but his death certificate gives it as 17 January 1856.  He had at least two wives, but I do not know their names. In the 1920 census, his wife is named Sarah.  His widow Jennie Witt was the informant for his death certificate.  When his father died, John Witt lived with his older brother, James Houston Witt, and is in his household in the 1880 census.  When the post office was established in the town of Gavett (changed to Omaha in 1886), he was named its postmaster.  He left Texas for Tennessee about 1890, apparently to study telegraphy, but went to Walker County, Georgia shortly thereafter.  He was living in Chattanooga, Tennessee by 1925 and died in Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Tennessee.  His headstone is said to be in Chicamauga, Georgia a few miles south of Chattanooga.  The “CLHW” paper (q.v.) mentions John Witt as the only child of William Witt known to the author.  He evidently visited Witt relatives while in Tennessee.

6.      William Breckenridge Calhoun Witt  (23 January 1857 - 18 January 1952)  He married Willie Huba Honeycutt. “Breck” wrote the letter mentioned above to Mary Lou Witt in 1947.

7.      Robert Franklin “Doc” Witt  (18 September 1862 - 28 June 1924)  He married Samantha Elizabeth Hayes, daughter of William Hayes, on 23 January 1882.

8.      Nathaniel Witt  (30 January 1869 - 27 April 1887)  He died at the age of 18, unmarried.


[1] James Houston Hayes began a diary in 1902 with names and vital records of many members of his family. A photocopy of the pertinent pages was provided to me by Vineta Witt Ketner.

[2] Related by Ora Witt Belton to Vineta Witt Ketner.  I strongly doubt this date is accurate.

[3] “CLHW” manuscript, p36.  (See Nathaniel Witt page for complete citation.)

[4] John Butler, John Massey, and John Henderson, all sons-in-law of Solomon Hayes.

[5] Mary “Kate”, age 35, listed in the 1850 census of Titus County with five children.  This person was evidently the widow of Thomas Cate, who died at age 35 in December 1849 according to the 1850 Mortality Schedule.

[6] The letter was written to Mary Lou Witt (born 1906), the daughter of Fred Witt and granddaughter of George Washington Witt.  Her 1963 paper on the descendants of William Witt was invaluable.

[7] James Houston Hayes’ diary, as well as other family records, were kept by descendants.  Several photocopies of the diary exist in their hands.

[8] TNGenWeb, Bradley County Website – an 1845 petition from 161 “residents of Bradley County” to the state legislature requesting compensation to Samuel Samples for grain consumed by militia in 1836 at his warehouse in Athens, McMinn County.  This seems to show that William Witt was living in Bradley County in 1845.

[9] Judy Hayes Butler, sister of Lizzie Hayes Witt, stated that it was December of 1846.  All the descendants agreed that it was prior to 1850.

[10] I have copies of the deeds as loose documents, but the book and page are not noted.  All five deeds were apparently re-recorded in Morris County, in which the land then lay, after the Titus County courthouse burned.

[11] Boggy Bayou (now called Boggy Creek) runs roughly from Cookville through Morris County into Lake o’ the Pines.

[12] Snow Hill was located on the border of today’s Titus and Morris Counties.  The community was abandoned beginning in the late 1870s when the railroad bypassed it and built the Cason station south of the town.  Many of the townspeople moved to Cason.

[13] Mary Beasley was head of her own household in 1860, with five children.






George Washington Witt

(14 February 1853 - 4 December 1943)


He was my mother’s great-grandfather, born 14 February 1853 in Titus County, Texas according to his death certificate.[1]  He appears in his parents’ household in the 1860 and 1870 censuses of Titus County, and in his own household in 1880.


He married Louisa Rebecca Cook, daughter of Andrew Barney Cook and Sarah Gray Rountree, on 17 April 1872. [2]  They had twelve children, all born in Cookville, according to information received from both my grandmother (daughter of Andrew Witt) and from Mary Lou Witt (daughter of Fred Witt).  All twelve children survived him.  After Louisa’s death in 1920, George married Carrie McAdoo.


According to an old newspaper clipping, “Mr. G. W. Witt for a number of years operated a brick kiln near the town [of Cookville].” [3]  However, he is listed in all censuses as a farmer.  He was listed in the 1880 census in Cookeville as a farmer, with the first three children in the household.  The 1900 census (1890 is lost) shows him in Cookville with children 4 through 10, again listed as a farmer.  The 1910 census shows him as a farmer, with the last three children in the household, and in 1920 he is listed with his wife and only Mildred in the household.


The 1900-1920 censuses show him living on Omaha Road, apparently the road that is now US 67.  According to Mary Lou Witt, this farm was located just a mile west of the Morris County line.  He is listed in Cookville in every census.


His obituary was carried in the Mount Pleasant Times Review on 10 December 1943.[4]


Pioneer Resident Passes Away at Age of 91 Years


Funeral services were held Monday afternoon at 2:00 at the Cookville Baptist Church for George Washington Witt, pioneer resident of Titus County, who passed away late Saturday afternoon [the 4th].  He had been in bad health for a long time.  Deceased was born on February 14, 1853, lacking only a few weeks of attaining his 91st birthday.  He was married to Miss Louise (sic) Rebecca Cook in 1872, and to this union was born three sons and nine daughters, all of whom still survive.  They are Fred and G. A. Witt of Cookville; Andrew W. Witt, Ft. Worth;  Mrs. C. H. Wallace, Dallas;  Mrs. Margaret Spencer, Houston; Mrs. Ray Harvey, Ponca City, Okla.; Mrs. Virgil Brooks, Mesquite; Mrs. George W. Williams and Mrs. William M. Fomby of Sweetwater; Mrs. Duke Cantrell, Cotopaxi, Colo.; Mrs. Roy G. Nelson, Dumas; and Mrs. Ennis Moore, Forney.  He is also survived by 38 grandchildren and a number of great-grandchildren and two brothers, Brack (sic) Witt of Texarkana and John Witt of Tennessee.  He was a long-time member of the Baptist Church.  The services were held under the direction of Rev. M. M. Pate, with interment following at the Cookville cemetery…


His first wife and mother of all twelve children, Louisa Rebecca Cook Witt, is also buried in the Cookville cemetery.  I might note that all family records give her date of death as 19 January 1920, but the 1920 census taken on 5 February 1920 shows her still alive.


His death certificate was apparently filled out by his son Fred Witt.  It gives his cause of death as “senility”, and gives his father’s name as William Witt.


The children and descendants of William M. Witt were documented in 1963 by Mary Lou Witt , a daughter of Fred Witt below.[5]  Additional dates were provided by my grandmother, Passie Louisa Witt Taylor, daughter of Andrew William Witt below.  The 1900 and 1910 censuses both asked the number of children by each female, and the number still living.  From these records, all the children of the couple lived to adulthood.



  1. Andrew William “Drew” Witt  (12 May 1874 - 16 or 17 August 1965)  He died in Ft. Worth.  He married Georgia Ann Bynum on 23 July 1893.  [They were my mother’s maternal grandparents.]


  1. Fred W. Witt  (31 July 1876 - 14 July 1961)  He lived in Cookville, but died in the hospital in Mt. Pleasant.  Fred Witt was a depot agent for the Cotton Belt Railroad, then opened a store selling hardware and tack.  He married Birdie Narcissus Cobb on 20 March 1898.   Both are buried in Cookville cemetery.  They had five children:  Lillian (died as infant), Mary Lou[6], Evelyn, Fred Jr.(died as infant), and Thomas Fred Witt.  Their house in Cookville, built about 1904, was a well-preserved Victorian several years ago, located very near the cemetery in which they are buried.


  1. George Alphonso “Fon” Witt   (19 August 1878 - 5 February 1975) He died in Cookville.  He married Mary Elizabeth Hall ca1902.  They had six children:  Delphia Elizabeth, Anna Vivian, Ralph, William Theron[7], Quentin Durwood, and Kenneth Earl Witt.  {These are Joann van Boven’s grandparents.]


  1. Elizabeth Gray “Bessie” Witt  (5 November 1880 - 27 November 1967)  She married Dr. Charles Harris Wallace about1901.  They were living in Dallas in 1943, according to her father’s obituary.  They had three children:  Imogene, Charles Harris Jr., and Witt Osler Wilson Wallace, according to Mary Lou Witt.  Bessie’s own obituary names these three plus three other children who survived her:  Mildred Mathews, Jean Albord, Dowman, Dewey D., Charles H., and Witt O.[8]  According to the obituary, she was to be buried at the Cookville cemetery.  Bessie’s obituary names eight of her brothers and sisters who survived her.


  1. Margaret Bell Witt  (31 December 1882 - 29 August 1977)  Her actual name may have been Maggie, as that is how she is listed in the 1900 census.  She married Henry (Bunion) Traylor about 1900, then T. C. Spencer.  She had four children:  Pauline Elizabeth, Wallace, Barney, and Lucille Traylor.  She was living in Houston in 1943, according to her father’s obituary, and was still there in 1967 according to Bessie’s obituary.  She died in Houston in 1977. 


  1. Illa Mae Witt  (4 March 1885 – aft1967)  She married William Henry Blackwell on 13 January 1901.  They had two daughters:  Edwina and Hope Blackwell.   She later married Adrian Leroy “Roy” Harvey in 1934.  She was living in Ponca City, Oklahoma in 1943, according to her father’s obituary, and was still living there in 1967 according to Bessie’s.


  1. Sallie Myrtle Witt  (15 January 1888 – aft1967)   She married Virgil Vivian Brooks on 24 August 1907.  In 1966 she married Jack McCaskill.  She had no children.  She was living in Mesquite in 1943, according to her father’s obituary, and was still living there in 1967 according to Bessie’s.


  1. Annie Witt  (10 July 1890 – aft1967)  She married George W. Williams on 2 March 1908 in Mt. Pleasant.  They had two sons:  George Hansford and Billy Maurice Williams.  She was living in Sweetwater in 1943, according to her father’s obituary, and in Abilene in 1967 according to Bessie’s.


  1. Virgie Louisa Witt  (25 September 1892 - 1 November 1961)   She died at Cotapaxi, Colorado where she was living at her father’s death.  She married Duke Cantrell and had three daughters:  Virginia, Marian, and Bobbye Jean Cantrell.


  1. Saddie Marie “Pet” Witt  (10 January 1896 – aft1967)  Her given name was “Saddie Marie” according to family records, but was known as “Pet” as early as the 1910 census.  She married William Mathew Fomby in Cookville on 15 December 1912.  They had one child:  George Harold Fomby.  She was living in Sweetwater in 1943, according to her father’s obituary and was still there in 1967 according to Bessie’s obituary..


  1. Mildred Cook Witt  (7 July 1900 - 9 April 1973)  She married Roy Gladstone Nelson on 20 June 1920 in Greenwood, Arkansas.  They had six children:  Mary Louise, Roy Ned, James Witt, Dorothy Faye, Charles Edwin, and Clyde Anthony Nelson.  She was living in Dumas in 1943, according to her father’s obituary and in Cookville in 1967 according to Bessie’s obituary.


  1. Eva Lou Witt  (3 April 1902 - ?)   She married Crawford Ennis Moore on 13 May 1924. Later, she married ____ Tabb.  She had three children:  Jess Ennis, Betty Lou, and Sally Blanche Moore.  She was living in Forney in 1943 and 1967, according to her father’s and sister’s obituaries.



[1] Texas Death Certificate No. 58032

[2] Source is family records.  For more on Louisa Cook’s ancestry, see  COOK and ROUNTREE pages.

[3] Clipping from unknown newspaper found in Passie Taylor’s records, titled “Historical Facts About Cookville”, by M. W. Barrier.

[4] Mount Pleasant Times Review, issue of 10 December 1943.

[5] Genealogy of the George Washington Witt and Louisa Rebecca Cook Witt Families, Mary Lou Witt, (Unpublished typewritten manuscript, 1963). 

[6] Mary Lou Witt, the author of the above manuscript, was born 10 November 1906.  She didn’t marry until 1950, then was divorced in 1955.  She resumed using her maiden name.

[7] William Theron Witt was the father of JoAnn Van Boven.

[8] Dallas Morning News, issue of 29 November 1967.
































James Houston Witt

(21 November 18457 July 1899)

He was my father’s great-grandfather, born in McMinn County, Tennessee before the family moved to Texas.   He was apparently named after his uncle, James Houston Hayes (q.v.).[1]

I really know very little about him. He appears in all the censuses I checked (1860-1880) in Titus County, and died there on 7 July 1899.  His gravestone still exists.

He married Unica Abigail Davenport on 17 December 1868 in Titus County.  She was the daughter of Presley George Davenport and Sarah Ann Credille.  [See DAVENPORT and CREDILLE papers.]  They appear in the 1880 census of Titus County with his brother John Witt and the first four children. 

In 1915, Unica Witt applied for a widow’s pension based on James Houston Witt’s CSA service.[2]  The pension was granted.  She gave his date of death as 7 July 1898, but his gravestone reads 1899.  In addition, the lodge book of the local Woodmen of the World chapter recorded his death date as 7 July 1899.[3]  She gave their marriage date as 17 December 1868 and said James Houston Witt served in the cavalry as a private soldier in Company D of Well’s Regiment,  Two witnesses deposed that they had served in the same company.  William Allison deposed that James Witt served from February 1864 through “the close of the war” in Company D of Wells’s Regiment.   C. W. Wright deposed that he enlisted in the winter of 1863 and served “until the surrender”, initially in Goode’s Battalion which was consolidated into Well’s regiment.  Wright deposed that he was his sergeant and “assigned him to duty many times.”  Goode’s Battalion was indeed consolidated into Well’s Regiment in early 1864.  there are no muster rolls for either unit, but there is one regimental return dated April 1865 for Company I that shows a J. H. Witt “absent without leave since March 18, 1965.”

Unica Davenport Witt died in Mount Pleasant on 13 May 1835 of influenza, according to the Mortuary Warrant filed by her son James Estes Witt.[4]

They had eight children, all documented by family records kept by several descendants.  I have old photographs of most of these children.

1.      William Presley Witt.  (11 October 1870 - 6 November 1935).  He married Zula Pool on 7 February 1907.

2.      Abigail Victoria Witt.  (7 May 1873 - 9 May 1946)  She married William Henderson on 13 December 1889.

3.      Lou Ella Witt.  (4 May 1876 - 9 December 1969)  She married Edward Young Anthony on 15 March 1896.  These were my father’s maternal grandparents. [See ANTHONY pages]

4.      Walter Houston Witt.  (26 March 1878 – 1932)  He married Alice Towler.

5.      Ada Matilda Witt.  (c1880 – 1918).  She married Wylie Alexander Hawkins on 8 December 1907.

6.      John Franklin “Doc” Witt  (c1884 – 1952)  He  married Willie Evans.  Doc played cornet in several bands, including John Phillip Sousa’s band, and was later a high school and college band director in Tyler, Texas. There is a lengthy obituary in the Tyler Morning Telegraph issue of 8 February 1952.

7.      Daniel Marvin Witt  (23 March 1888 – 1942)  He married Annie Mae Coffey, then Ann Wilson.

8.      James Estes Witt  (c1894 – 1964)  He married Thelma Henderson.  I ws told that Jim was a doctor in Mt. Pleasant.

[1] According to Vineta Witt Ketner, a granddaughter.

[2] Widow’s Application for Pension (Texas), No. 32166

[3] Lodge book in the possession of James Coffee of Omaha, Texas in 1975.  According to the minutes of that date, the meeting was adjourned so that the members could visit with the widow and family, some of whom were “still ill”, apparently with the measles.

[4] Part of Pension File







[1][1] A Robert Plaine was claimed as a headright by Thomas Burbage on 10 March 1638/9 and by William Walthall on 4 Oct 1657.

[2][2] A “Walt. Daux” was claimed as a headright by John Stith and Samuel Eale on 15 February 1663.

[3][3] Virginia Colonial Abstracts, Volume III, Beverley Fleet (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1988), p203 contains both references in this paragraph,  from Charles City County Court Orders 1655-58, p146 and p148.

[4][4] Virginia Patent Book 6, p205.  To John Flowre 750 acres between Shirley Hundred and Turkey Island Creek “formerly possest by Robt. Playne dec’d, granted to Eliza Grayne (Graves?), widow and by her (by the name of Heyman) transferred to sd Playne and lately found to escheat [in 1667]…and no granted [to Flower].”  This is proof that the son John Plaine had died without heirs (that’s the meaning of “escheated” land).  The land had been patented by Elizabeth Grayne in 1638 (VPB 2, p580), described as bordered on the west by the river.

[5][5] Ibid., p156 and p209, both references in 1658, and p243 in 1661.

[6][6] Ibid., p213 (at a court held 25 February 1658/9.)

[7][7] Ibid., p217.

[8][8] Ibid., p221.

[9][9] Ibid., p234 (at a court held 3 October 1660.)

[10][10] “Richd. Rawlings” was claimed as a headright by George Pace of Charles City County in 1650. (VPB 2, p252.)

[11][11] Ibid., p549.  (This section is court orders 1672-3.)

[12][12] Minutes of the Council and General Court of Colonial Virginia, 1622-1632, 1670-1676, H. R. McIlwaine, (The Colonial Press, Everett Waddy Co., 1924), p403.

[13][13] The name appears as both Turberfield and Turberville in the records.  He deposed he was aged 24 in 1673.

[14][14] Quotation is from the abstract, not the original.

[15][15] Charles City County Order Book 1676-1679, Margaret Mitchell Ayres (1968), p42 (and see page 4 of addendum for correction of spelling to “Whitt”)

[16][16] There is a reference in Fleet (p236) to “Rawlins wife” in a deposition concerning events around Christmas 1672.

[17][17] Ibid., p20.

[18][18] Charles City County, Virginia Court Orders 1685-1695, Benjamin B. Weisiger III (Iberian Publishing Co., 1980), p23

[19][19] Goochland County Deed Book 3, p125.

[20][20] Albemarle County Will Book 2, p20.

[21][21] The will divides a slave “among my children” except Benjamin, Sarah, and Agnes.  It also distributes the residue of the estate “equally divided among my children” except the same three.  That implies more than two additional children.

[22][22] Huguenot Society of the Founders of Manakin in the Colony of Virginia, Year Book No. 1, (W. T. Lyon, 1924).  This information was evidently provided to Frederick Adams Virkus for his Volume IV of The Compendium of American Genealogy, (The Virkus Co., Chicago, Volume IV in 1930).  Virkus cannot be considered an independent researcher; he merely published information provided to him by others, without any attempt to verify it.

[23][23] Amherst County Will Book 2, p34.

[24][24] Vestry Book of King William Parish, Virginia 1707-1770, (Manakin Huguenot Society, reprint 1966), p.?

[25][25] Virginia Patent Book 22, p111.  (A patent in Book 19, p188 dated 1 Dec 1740 mentions Benjamin Witt’s line in the same area.)

[26][26] Prince Edward County Order Book, p86.  Both witnesses proved the will in court.

[27][27] Prince Edward County Deed Book 5, p433.

[28][28] The Vestry Book and Register of Bristol Parish Virginia 1720-1789, Churchill G. Chamberlayne, ed., (Heritage Books, reprint 1998), p388 (Anne, d. of Edward Whit and Elizabeth born 11 December 1730) and p390 (John, son of Edward and Mary Whitt 10 July 1734)

[29][29] Virginia Patent Book 18, page 563.

[30][30] Henrico County, Virginia Wills and Deeds 1706-1737, Benjamin B. Weisiger III (1985), p 210.  Deed from Robert Green to Joseph Mayo.

[31][31] Fleet, p408.
























[32][1] Henrico County Deeds 1706-1737, Benjamin B. Weisiger (from Deeds 1714-1718, p46.)

[33][2] Virginia Patent Book 10, p132 dated 16 June 1714.

[34][3] Henrico County Deeds 1706-1737, Benjamin B. Weisiger (from Deeds 1714-1718, p46, same date as deed.)

[35][4] Historic Virginia Homes and Churches, Robert A. Lancaster, Jr. (1915), p168.

[36][5] Charles City County Wills and Deeds 1725-1731, Benjamin B. Weisiger, p40.  (From Book D, p298)

[37][6] The unmarried sisters could have been elderly spinsters, thus Ann Rogers might have been old enough to have children c1695.  It’s more probable that Anne Rogers and her sisters were relatively young in 1730, thus she is unlikely to be the mother of John III.  The only of her brothers we can trace is John Rogers, who seems to be the one who died in 1788, which supports the case for Ann being born around 1700.

[38][7] Henrico County Minute Book 8, p34.  At the July court 1720, John & William Witt presented a petition concerning bounds of their land. On p37, same court, a suit of William Witt vs. Boothe Napier was dismissed. (Courtesy of Carlton Wood.)

[39][8] Goochland County Deed Book 3, p125.

[40][9] Goochland County Deed Book 3, p464. Dated 10 August 1741.  Described as bounded by the James and Rivanna Rivers, and Ballenger's Creek.  From Goochland County, Virginia Wills And Deeds 1736-1742, Benjamin Weisiger (Southern Historical Press, 1984), p64.

[41][10] Virginia Patent Book 14, p333.  (dated 17 September 1731)

[42][11] Goochland County, Virginia Wills and Deeds, 1728-1736, Benjamin Weisiger (Southern Historical Press, 1983), pp. 51-52

[43][12] Vestry Book of King William Parish, Virginia 1707-1770, (Manakin Huguenot Society, reprint 1966), pp70, 76, 78.

[44][13] Goochland Order Book 5, p60.  From Witt Newsletter.

[45][14] Goochland County Deed Book 5, p303.

[46][15] Witt newsletter and website.  WWB sent an abstract, but not a reference..

[47][16] The witness John Witt signed his name, while the John Witt who was a son of William Witt used a “J” mark.  That indicates the witness was John Witt IV.

[48][17] Cumberland County Order Book 2, p171.

[49][18] Chesterfield County Deed Book 2, p187.

[50][19] Chesterfield County Will Book 1, p550.

[51][20] Henry County Deed Book 3, p15.

[52][21] Chesterfield County Deed Book 6, p350.

[53][22] Henry County Deed Book 2, p363.

[54][1] Virginia Patent Book 14, p333.

[55][2] Magazine of Virginia Genealogy, Volume 33, No.2 “Tithables of Goochland County”.  The list is undated, but apparently either 1732 or 1733.

[56][3] Vestry Book of King William Parish, Virginia 1707-1770, (Manakin Huguenot Society, reprint 1966), pp70, 76, 78.

[57][4] The original list was in French, and I assume the this was translated from “jeune” rather than from “fils”.

[58][5] Goochland County, Virginia Wills and Deeds, 1728-1736, Benjamin B. Weisiger III (Southern Historical Press, 1983), p52 (From Deed Book 1, p523-4.)

[59][6] Virginia Patent Book 18, p5, p64, and p74.

[60][7] Abstracts of Wills From Goochland County, Virginia 1727-1777, Margaret V. Henley (Goochland County Historical Society), p17.  (From Deed Book 3, p435.)

[61][8] Goochland County Deed Book 5, p303.

[62][9] Goochland County Virginia Tithe Lists 1735-1747, A. Jean Lurvey (1974) and Goochland County Virginia Tithe Lists 1748-1749, A. Jean Lurvey (1979).

[63][10] The Douglas Register, William Macfarlane Jones, ed. (Genealogical Publishing Co., reprint 1985)

[64][11] Goochland County Deed Book 7, p310.

[65][12] The John Witt who was likely a son of Edward Witt was living at the time in Halifax, not Pittsylvania, so there wouldn’t seem to be a need to differentiate him from the John Witt in Pittsylvania.

[66][13] Halifax County Deed Book 4, p367.

[67][14] Pittsylvania County Deed Book 3, p261 and Henry County Deed Book 1, p228.  He described the land as where he lived.

[68][15] It is interesting, though that Sylvanus Witt witnessed the will of Benjamin Cheatham.  Chesterfield Will Book 1, p550.

[69][16] Chesterfield County Deed Book 1, p525.

[70][17] Chesterfield County Deed Book 2, p187.

[71][18] Chesterfield County Deed Book 6, p350. 

[72][19] (Pittsylvania) Entry Record Book 1737-1770, Marian Dodson Chiarito (1984), p321.  (Entry dated 19 Feb 1767.)

[73][20] Henry County Deed Book 7, p193.