"The more I know of my maternal ancestors, the more I realize they moved the frontier forward before the American Revolutionary War. They fought the Native Americans, the French, Tories, the British twice and then in the Civil War, their neighbors. They were one feisty bunch! - GNH
Below the writer in Boone,
North Carolina on the beautiful campus of Appalachia State University
Five years ago, I began writing this blog on my maternal ancestors. My mother, Geraldine Stansbery Holliman Feick, died this past July 12, 2015. Before she slipped into dementia, she and I, along with my two sisters and a nephew were able to make a trip to Damascus, Virginia, Bristol, Tennessee and Sutherland, North Carolina to visit ancestral sites. Later my son and grand daughter made the trip to Sutherland.
As a child, my mother had told me of her grandmother, Frances Wilson Osborne, walking behind her father in his Ashe County, NC corn field during the Civil War. It was a chilling tale of a young 13 year old girl, born 1851, who witnessed her father, Isaac Wilson (1822-1864) shot in the back from ambush by neighboring Union sympathizing bushwhackers.
Decades later, I found the story on the Internet and in the book Neighbor to Neighbor, largely written by Frankie's brother, The Rev. William Albert Wilson (1861-1950). About Uncle Will and Great Grandmother Frankie, I have written many times in this space, and I hope to do so more in the future.
But for now, I wanted to share more information on our Wilson line. July 1, 2010 on this blog site, I wrote what I knew at the time of Isaac Wilson and his lineage; that is to say very little about his own grandfather and line before the middle 1700s. (One can go to the Blog Archive, bottom left column, to retrieve the 2010 article.)
Several years ago, I did visit the Appalachian State University archives to research the Wilson line. Here are my findings, basically 'raw data', inconclusive but intriguing. Perhaps this will encourage someone reading these words to dig deeper and help connect the dots.
First a snip-it from Ancestry.com on my Wilson very great grandparents. Isaac's father, Hiram, appears in Neighbor to Neighbor, a grandparent to my great grandmother, Frankie, who greatly assisted his daughter-in-law Caroline Greer Wilson, when her husband was murdered.
According to my great grandmother's notes, Hiram's father was John Wilson (1749-1812) and his father was Charles Wilson (1733-1781) who died of wounds after the Battle of Guildford Courthouse. The dates of Charles and John's births are a bit suspicious but could be accurate.
But what do we know of their lives? The data below might help.
In the ASU Center for Appalachian Studies is a volume, the Marriages of Rowan County, NC, 1753-1868, compiled by Brent H. Holcomb, Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, 1981. I found:
-P. 144, John Wilson, bondsman for Frost, John and Rebecca Boon 23 Aug 1793.
- P. 271, John Wilson, bondsman for Mealy, John and Mary Linn, 20 March 1797.
- P. 341 John Wilson, bondsman for Roark, William and Margret Rose, 25 Nov 1768.
Hmmm...if this our John Wilson who witnessed these marriages? Notice the marriage of Rebecca Boon; perhaps a first cousin? There is much more on John Wilson.
Next I looked into the multi-volume Journal of the Rowan County Genealogical Society, 1989.
- P. 61, Marriage deed between John Wilson and Sarah Boone April 1782. Same page Benjn Wilson m. to Margret Bowman on 12/30/1788. This John and Sarah would be Isaac Wilson grandparents, or my generation's fourth great grandparents.
- P. 97, Alexander Wilson m. Jean Brandon on 2/11/1778. James Wilson m. Hannah Bryant on 9/1/1783. Was James Wilson a brother of John Wilson? Notice the Bryant connection. Daniel Boone, this writer's sixth great uncle, married Rebecca Bryan.
- P. 112 one Elizabeth Wilson, b 1754 and d 1825 was second wife of Wm. Frost, who bore him 14 children.
- P. 133, James Wilson m. Jean Caldwell on 5/6/1788. Is this the widower of Hannah Bryant above?
- P. 107, Elizabeth Wilson m. David Enochs 1/29/1794. Oh me, is this the same Elizabeth as above or a different Wilson?
- P. 113 John Wilson and Sarah Smith witnessed a Jacob Wiseman deed. Notice in the snip-it above the close relationship between Wilson and Smith families.
- P. 85 Katherine Wilson m. Joseph Hall,8/7/1788 and Elizabeth Wilson m. Wm. Hall 1/7/1783.
- P. 111, Elizabeth Wilson m. Joseph Holman 4/12/1768. Yet more Elizabeth Wilson marriages.
- P. 113 Samuel Wilson m. Margaret Jack on 4/6/1768.
- P. 119, one Capt. Wilson listed on 1778 list in Second Creek area. This may very well have been Charles Wilson, John's father, and my 5th great grandfather.
- P. 19, John Wilson m Marey Kimsey on 2/24/1769.
I propose this is the father of John Wilson and grandfather of Hiram.
On page 18 is another ancestor. Squire Boone in 1754 appointed one of the commissioners. Indians wars in 1760s reduced the taxables. Squire is my generation's 7th great grandfather.
Below the library and Appalachian archives at ASU in Boone, North Carolina, 3,300 feet above sea level with cold winters and moderate summers.
So let us take a look at the Rowan County, NC Tax Lists 1757-1800 by Jo White Linn, 1995.
- P. 35, 1759, Charles Wilson listed as one taxable.
- P. 53, 1761 tax list has Charles Wilson.
- P. 76, 1768 tax list – 2 taxables for Charles Wilson.
- P. 120, Charles Wilson and John Wilson listed in 1772 Rowan Co. tax list as well as James Wilson and son and two Negroes – 4 taxables.
- P. 211, 1783 Charles Wilson has 200 acres, valued at 75 pds. Uh oh... Hmmm…this can’t be Charles Wilson who died at Guildford Ct. House in 1780! Is this a son, another Charles Wilson, a brother of John, my generation's 4th great grandfather.
On my to-do list is to return some day to this fabulous archive filled with information on my frontier ancestors. My thesis is Charles Wilson migrated, probably from Pennsylvania, possibly a neighbor of the Boones and Wilcoxsons, who like thousands were migrating south by the 1750s, moving to cheaper and abundant land in North Carolina. The Shenadoah Trail, now I-81 was a busy road, but not much more than a wagon path in the middle 1700s.
I hope the above helps other researchers, and encourage all to share information and theories with us.
All are invited to join in building a family tree at Wilson-Greer-Osborne-Forrester-Donnelly and Associated Families of Western NC at Ancestry.com. Just write to firstname.lastname@example.org for an invitation. Saving our family history one ancestor at a time. Thanks!