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The WILLIAMS and YANCEY Families

A Study of Two Early Granville County Families

Submitted by Evelyn W. Wallace

This is part of a collection of notes and genealogies put together by the late author over more than 50 years of research of many Granville Co. families and being shared here hopefully to help others in their quest for their own ancestors. There is additional info and documents on this website for many of the names included in these notes, so do a Search above, or click onto any of the  underlined  links included in these records.

Following are notes and records collected over the years in the research of the descendants of John Williams, often called "of Hanover County, Virginia"



JOHN WILLIAMS of Henderson Co., KY.  (1785 NC-d. 1840 KY)  WIR00428.  He was the son of Samuel Farrar Williams (1759-ca. 1835) of Henderson Co., KY, formerly of Granville Co., NC.

 John is such a common name in this Williams family.  He apparently is of the fifth generation of this particular Williams family.  In reality, he is probably at least about the sixth or seventh man named John in this particular Williams family, all descendants of John1 Williams I of Hanover Co., who died ca. 1735/7 in that Virginia county.  John Williams, son of Samuel Farrar Williams, is the grandson of William Williams, who died Dec 1775 at Boonesborough.  He is the great-grandson of John Williams, Sr. of early Granville Co., NC, and previously of Goochland Co.VA.  He seemingly is the 2nd great grandson of John Williams I [to identify the probable immigrant ancestor] of colonial Hanover Co., VA and previously of Henrico Co., VA (Land patent of 31 Oct 1716)

    In 1806, in Henderson Co., KY, John was witness to Deed A-477 in which George Sprinkle and his wife Catherine (nee Stephens) sold part of Lot 23, Henderson's grant, to Samuel F. Williams. Other witnesses were James Hicks and George Holloway. (1)

     A later deed executed in Henderson Co., KY 1 Mar 1845,  DB K-450-451, wherein the William McGraws, the Joseph Orendorffs, and the Christopher Ewings, all of Logan Co., IL, sold their share of Lot 23 to Delaware Maloney, makes reference to the fact that Catherine Stephens, one of the original co-tenants of Lot 23, intermarried with one George Sprinkle.  She conveyed her half (100 A) to John Williams who conveyed to one Blackman Moseley.  We believe the grantee, instead, may have been Samuel F. Williams, the father of John Williams, and the grantor his son Alfred.  Alfred may have sold the land to Moseley.  More research of deeds is needed.

      As stated, earlier deeds indicate it was the elder Samuel F. Williams who purchased the property from the Sprinkles.  Samuel F. Williams, in turn, sold the land to son Alfred Williams.  Refer to biography of Samuel Farrar Williams for details.

     Refer to the biography of Lewis Lambert, who is believed to have been married to the sister of John Williams--Pegy [sic] Williams.  In 1827, the grantor index of Henderson Co. indicates that John and Susannah Williams were grantors and Evans Lambert was grantee.  No further details.

     John Williams' name appears frequently in Henderson Co. court records and deeds prior to his death in 1840. (2)  He evidently was a skilled carpenter or craftsman.  In the court records he is frequently appointed one of the commissioners to build a new bridge, to build scaffold, to repair the jail, to build a bridge across Lick Creek, which is where much of the Williams land was located at Lot 23.  (His brother William was also reportedly a carpenter.)

      John's widow, Susannah or Susan Starks, whom he married in 1807 in Henderson Co., outlived him for many years, dying in 1860.  John's gravestone inscription in Henderson Co. cemetery show he was born 28 Mar 1785 and died 21 July 1840.

     At October county court 1840 there was appraisement of the estate of John Williams decd.  Reference is made to Order Bk D-458.  The estate was appraised at $989.87;  Included were 3 horses, 1 negro woman, 5 beds and bedsteads.  Appraisers were Joel Gregory, E. D. Bennett, Eli Jones.

     E. L. Starling in his HISTORY OF HENDERSON CO., KY says in his biography of Jenks Watterman Williams (d. 1880) that Jenks was the son of John.  Also, according to Starling, John was the son of Samuel Farrel [sic] Williams and his mother was "Rebecca Stevens Dudley." The information about the mother is believed to be erroneous.  John, in all probability, was the son of Hannah Snead, first wife of Samuel Farrar Williams, the marriage having taken place in Granville Co. NC in 1782.  The second (or possibly third) wife of Samuel Farrar Williams was Elizabeth (not Rebecca) Stephens, widow of David Stephens, who died ca 1813, after having served as quartermaster in War of 1812, which position he resigned, according to Kentucky history of War of 1812.  The Stephens land [Lot 23] was also part of Lot 23 where Samuel F. Williams presumably resided, as this is property he purchased from the aforesaid Sprinkles, Mrs. Sprinkle (Catherine Stephens, being co-tenant with her brother, David Stephens in 1799) .  (3)

    (Note:  Hannah Snead Williams's mother was the former Jane [Jain] [Dudley] Snead of Person Co., NC.  Jane Snead left a will in Person Co., NCl 1823, WB 9-434.   Hannah Snead's father was Samuel Snead, an early settler, ca 1746, of Granville Co., NC.  The Sneads were parents of quite a number of children, most rather prominent in their communities.  Hannah's brother, Stephen Snead/Sneed of Granville Co., long-time county clerk, had earlier married the sister of Samuel Farrar Williams, Mary Williams.)

     Minutes of Grave Creek Baptist church, Henderson Co., typescript of which was at one time on shelves at Kentucky Historical Society, Frankfort, KY, show that in 1812 John Williams was baptized.  Negley family historians state the  George Negleys (Nancy Williams) were also members, and this is reflected in the minutes.  John Williams at one time was the preacher, and there was some theological disagreement during his tenure.  He seems to have been dismissed but later readmitted.

     John and his wife Susannah Starks, whom he married 3 Nov 1807 in Henderson Co. (Marriage Bk A-1), were the parents of at least eight and probably nine children.  Their children are believed to be (not in order): Claudius; Monroe L. (d. 1879); Bellfield (d. ca. 1834); John Rusk; Albion A.; Jenks Waterman; Cerra (m. Drury White); Mary S. (m. Isom Johnson; d. 1857); Amelia A. (believed to have married a Willingham).  These names, with the exception of Bellfield's, are found in the will made in 1860 by Susannah Williams, their mother. (4) (5) (6)

     Both John Williams and John Williams, Jr. appear in the 1835 tax list, Henderson Co.  John is shown with 550 acres on Lick Creek. (7)  See biography of Alfred Williams which shows Alfred purchased land on Lick Creek in 1815, part of Lot 23 Henderson's Grant, from his father Samuel F. Williams and Alfred's new stepmother, Elizabeth (the widow of David Stephens, one of the owners of Lot 23, Lick Creek, Henderson Co., KY).


     (1) According to Henderson Co. Deed Bk. A-116, dtd 17 Jul 1799, the other 100 acres of Lot 23 (one-half of Lot 23)  belonged to David Stephens, who was co-tenant with Catherine Stephens, of Lot 23, Henderson's grant. Each of the Stephenses owned one-half, 100 acres each.  A later Henderson Co. deed states Catherine Stephens intermarried with George Sprinkle; they later lived in Vanderburgh Co., IN (across the Ohio River from Henderson Co.).  This Catherine Stephens is obviously older than Catherine Stephens, child of David Stephens, who married Samuel S. Williams in Henderson Co. 1817.  See Deed Bk A-477, dtd 1806, George Sprinkle and wife Catherine Sprinkle, grantors, to Samuel F. Williams, grantee.  The fact is that each of the Stephenses, David and Catherine, was a co-tenant, and not husband and wife.  Indications are Catherine Stephens Sprinkle was David Stephens's sister.

     (2)  Court Order Book D-338, November Court 1837, 27 Nov, shows John Williams was security for George J. Williams, administrator of William Williams, decd.  We believe that this William Williams is the brother of John, Alfred, and Dudley Williams and possibly of Samuel S. Williams, all of Henderson Co., KY, formerly of Granville Co., NC. We have no information on George J. Williams.

     (3)  All documentary evidence in Granville Co., NC points to the fact that John IV's mother was Hannah Snead and not a person named Rebecca Stephens Dudley.  The latter person is reported to have died 1833, which is probably a death date for Elizabeth (--) Stephens Williams, John's stepmother. Marriage records show John's stepmother, but not mother, was Elizabeth (--) Stephens of Henderson Co., widow of David Stephens, whom Samuel F. Williams married in 1814. Whether Samuel Farrar Williams, John's father, had a second wife--between Hannah Snead and Elizabeth Stephens, widow--we have not determined.  Either Starling, the interviewer, or Jenks W. Williams, the interviewee, garbled names, we believe.  Rebecca Stephens, according to deeds executed from at least 1845 to 1867 by the heirs of David Stephens give the name of Rebecca Stephens as one of the deceased heirs who died without heirs.  Dudley was the maiden name of the mother of Hannah Snead Williams, Jane Sneed of Person Co., NC, earlier of Granville Co.

     David Stephens (d. intestate 1813), Elizabeth's first husband, had had a daughter named Rebecca Stephens, as noted in 1851 Henderson Co. deed of Joseph Orendorff, et al.  Rebecca Stephens witnessed Henderson Co., KY deed C-238, dtd 8 Aug 1815, Samuel F. Williams and Elizabeth his wife, grantors to Alfred Williams, grantee, 100 A of Lot 23.  See biography of David Stephens and his heirs for details. The name "Dudley" comes from the maiden name of Mrs. Samuel Snead--Jane Dudley--the maternal grandmother of John III and great-grandmother of Jenks Waterman Williams.  Many of the descendants, including one of Jane Snead's sons, bore the first name Dudley, including one of the children of Jesse H. Williams (qv) of Hickman and Ballard Cos., KY.

     (4)  Mary Snead (Williams) Johnson was born 20 May 1812 and died 10 Jan 1857.  She was married to Isom Johnson 10 Dec 1831 (Henderson Co. Marriages Bk. 1, p. 47). Conceivably, Isom Johnson's family was from Granville Co. also. The 1786 Granville Co. tax list shows "Ishum Johnson," probably an older relative, in Tara (Tarr) River District.

     (5)  Bellfield Williams was married 7 Apr 1834 to Lucinda Jones by Wm. Hatchett, off.  He seems to have died shortly thereafter as at November court 1834, John Williams was appointed administrator of Bellfield Williams.  Larkin White and George Negley (married to John's sister Nancy Williams) were approved as John's securities.  We believe Bellfield's young widow, Lucinda Williams, may have remarried to Anthony Griffin 15 Mar 1836, probable son of another Anthony Griffin.  An Anthony Griffin, possibly an older person, was also a neighbor of Samuel F. Williams and sons.  Anthony Griffin, Martin Vanada, and Rebecca Stevens were witnesses to the aforementioned Deed Bk C-238, Samuel F. Williams and Elizabeth is wife to Alfred Williams, 1815.

     (6)  Amelia may have previously been married to Matthew Dennis.  We deduce this from the appraisal (Will Bk A-316, 28 Feb 1820) of Matthew Dennis, which mentions Amelia Dennis.  The appraisers were E. H. Vaughan, John Davis, and John Williams.  Possibly Amelia Dennis is the daughter of John Williams.

     (7)  Could John, Jr. be John Rusk Williams of Starling's HISTORY OF HENDERSON COUNTY?





STERLING YANCEY.  Granville Co., NC deeds, grantors John Mitchell and his wife, the former Phillis (Beckham) Williams, indicate that Sterling Yancey was the husband of Betsy Williams.  Betsy was the daughter of William Williams and his wife Phillis, the latter who married 2nd) John Mitchell.

     According to FGS sent to Floyd Negley, Tucson, AZ by Dennis Yancey, Miami, FL latter part of 1997, Thornton Yancey and Elizabeth Mitchell of Granville Co. were parents of Sterling Yancey.

    During the years 1781 and 1783 Thornton Yancey was sheriff, and Sterling Yancey qualified as Deputy Sheriff, according to Vol. 6 of Granville Co., NC court minutes

  (Thomas Owen McAdory "Sheriffs of Gr. Co." in HISTORY AND GENEALOGIES OF OLD GRANVILLE COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA, 1746-1800 [Greenville, SC:  Southern Historical Press, 1993], p. 202)

     No marriage bond for the Yanceys appears in Holcomb's abstracts for Granville Co.   However, land records indicate a probable marriage date about 1785.

    E-mail letter from Deloris Williams  dated 25 Aug 2010 gives as marriage information as well as other information:

Sterling Yancey was born Dec 25th 1762
Betsy Yancey, his wife was born August 12, 1770
Minge Yancey, first son, was born July 24th 1787
William Wms. Yancey 2nd son was born Feb 14th 1790
Miscarriage of a 3rd son.

Lewis Yancey, 4th son, was born August 20 1793.

James Madison Yancey, 5th son, was born the 25th March 1796.

George Washington Yancey, 6th son, was born 4th Sep 1798.

Elizabeth Ridley Yancey, first daughter, was born 10th Dec 1800.

Albert Yancey, 7th son, was born 29 Dec 1803.

Jackson M. Yancey, son of James[?]* Yancey was born 3rd of October [1791]

Elizabeth Williams Yancey, daughter Albert & Susan Yancey was born in Wake Cty N.C. the 19th day of October A.D. 1830.

William Yancey, 1st son of Jas. M. Yancey was born May 1st 1815.

James Yancey, 1st son of Jas. M. Yancey by his 2nd wife (Ann Smith) was born September 18th, 1818 at Murfresboro N.C.

Susan Yancey, wife of Albert Yancey was born January 31st 1810.

Sterling Yancey & Betsey Williams, his wife, were married the 24th of August 1785
[Other Yancey family information from transcribed Bible:
James M. Yancey & Elisa Slade his 1st wife were married Aug 2, 1814
Eliza, James M wife died August 12, 1815
William her first and only son, Nov 7th 1815 died\Jas M. Yancey and his 2nd wife Ann Smith were married Dec 7th 1817

Deloris Williams cites as sources:

Transcription of original Bible as found in "  "Family Findings" Mid-West Tennessee Genealogical Society - Jan 1972
Yancey Family Bible submitted by Mrs. C. C. James, Humboldt, Tenn, reads on the inside front cover "This Bible is the Property of Sterling Yancey 1811")

     Two entries in Granville Co. Will Bk 1, pages 465, 477, and 478, dated 1786, give information Yancey was the husband of Betsey Williams, the child of Phillis Mitchell, formerly the widow of William Williams who died at Boonesborough (later in KY but then in VA) Dec 1775, probably Christmas day or shortly thereafter.

     465 - 8 Feb 1786  Sterling Yancey and John Mitchel, guardian of Betsy Williams, now Betsy Yancey, wife of Sterling Yancey, agree that estate of said Betsy is clear and that it is to be turned over to Sterling Yancey, it being her part of her father William Williams' (deceased) estate.  Wts:  John Webb. 

     477 - 2 Dec 1785 John Mitchel & Phillis Mitchel as guardians and executors of William Williams' estate, deceased deliver to Sterling Yancey and Betsey Yancey, his wife, Negroes & other personal estate due them from William Williams' estate  - negroes Hannah and James.  Wts:  Gideon Macon, S. Snead.

     478 - 2 Dec 1785 - John Mitchel gave to son-in-law Sterling Yancey Negroes Toby and Wilks, as gift.


     DB O-457 Thornton Yancey deed to Sterling Yancey.  5 June 1786


     The 1787 tax list for Granville Co. shows Sterling Yancey with 342 acres.  There were a number of other Yancey males on this same tax list, but their linkage is unknown:

Thornton, Esq., James, Philip, Charles, William, Lewis, Esq. James, Jr.
     Notes from the court Records of Granville County ca. 1757:

     "Sterling Yancey proved a Bill of Sale from Phillip Yancey to Thornton Yancey."


     From Ray's abstracts of other court minutes, it seems that Thornton Yancey, a relative of Sterling, probably his father, was from the Abrams Plain District of Granville Co. 

     Samuel (Farrar) Williams, the brother of Betsy Williams Yancey, on the other hand, was in the Island Creek District, which is near Nutbush Creek and Anderson's Swamp areas of old Granville Co.

     Court minutes of Granville Co. for 6 Feb 1797 indicate Sterling Yancey was treasurer for Granville Co.  Earlier in 1781 and in 1782, he had qualified as "Dept. Shff." which may be interpreted as Deputy Sheriff.  (Vol. 6 of Minutes, as abstracted by Thomas McAdory Owen).

Other Public Office

     W. H. Wheeler in HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF NORTH CAROLINA FROM 1584 TO 1851 [Baltimore:  Regional Publishing Co., 1964], p. 166, lists Sterling Yancey as a member of the House of Commons of the North Carolina General Assembly for the years 1798,  1799, 1800 as representative of Granville Co.   Probably Sterling was son of Thornton Yancey as Thornton had been in the House of Commons in 1784, 1786, 1787, 1789, 1790, 1791, 1792.  (Ibid., p. 165-166)

      In 1797, Sterling Yancey was witness to marriage of John Denton to Sarah Starks, Granville Co.  Yancey may have been a county official. 

(Sarah Starks believed to be a widow and now Mrs. Denton is believed to be an aunt or possibly the widowed mother of Susannah Starks, wife of John Williams IV of Henderson Co., KY.

John Williams of Henderson Co., KY was one of the older sons of Samuel Farrar Williams, later of Henderson Co., KY and and only surviving son of William Williams.  Samuel. F. was, grandson of John Williams II "of Goochland" but later of colonial Granville Co.  John Williams died intestate before Jan 1770 when his son and two others posted bond for administration.  See McAdory for more details of this administration.)  

Sterling Yancey - Land Transactions

     Deed Bk. O-457:  Thornton Yancey deed to Sterling Yancey, 5 June 1786.

     Deed Bk. Q-149:  George Culberson of Mecklenburg Co. deed to Edward Jones for part of a tract which Sterling Yancey now possesses.  3 Nov 1797

     (Gwynn, op. cit.)

     The children of Sterling and Betsy Yancey are reported by Dennis Yancey to have been as follows:
(Note by D.W., this is confirmed in the Sterling Yancey Family Bible)

Minge Yancey (b. 24 Jul 1787, Granville Co.) m. Frances Knott
William Williams Yancey (b. 14 Feb 1790, NC)
Lewis Yancey (b. 20 Aug 1793) m. Harriet J. Casso
James Madison Yancey (b. 25 Mar 1796, NC) m. 1) Eliza Slade 2) Ann (Nancy) Smith
George Washington Yancey (b. 4 Sep 1798, NC)
Elizabeth Ridley Yancey (b. 10 Dec 1800, NC) n.m.
Albert Yancey (29 Dec 1803) m. Susan Simmons?

The 1810 census for Cumberland Co., NC
has this listing for males 1-2-2-1  (last figure for male 45 and over)
                      for females 0-1-1-1 [last figure for female 26 to 44]
           1 free person
           12 slaves         
total number of household memers:  22

     Sterling Yancey died 5 Jan 1815, according to the Raleigh Register of 27 Jan 1815. 

(Carrie L. Broughton, "Deaths," MARRIAGE AND DEATH NOTICES FROM RALEIGH REGISTER AND NORTH CAROLINA STATE GAZETTE, 1799-1825 [Baltimore:  Genealogical Publishing Co., 1966], p. 151) 

Reported Ancestors of Sterling Yancey

1.  Charles Yancey of Hanover Co., VA (b. bef 1684)
2.  James Yancey (b. early 1700s)
3.  Thornton Yancey (b. ca. 1750-d. 1811 NC) m. Elizabeth Mitchell in Hanover Co., VA.

     Possibly the Yanceys were from Virginia.  Several Yanceys lived in Louisa Co., VA in the 1750s, and their names appear in Granville Co. deeds:

     Deed Bk B-169 through 173 - Mar 6, 1753:  Robert Jones of Surry Co. to James Yancey for 1000 pds. 1280 acres on N. fork of Jonathans Creek on County Line dividing Virginia from North Carolina where James Yancey now lives. Wts:  none.

     199-200 - May 20, 1753:  William Williams and wife Elizabeth to Richard Yancey of Louisa Co., VA for 20 pds. 143 acres on both sides of Jonathan Creek. Wts:  Richard Harris, George Underwood.  (This is not the William Williams, whose wife was named Phillis.)

     (Refer to biography of Lewis Yancey, who reportedly is a son of Richard Yancey of Mecklenburg Co., formerly of Louisa Co., VA.)

     225-226:  Sep 6, 1753 - Jaconias Yancey of Edgecombe Co., NC, to Samuel Henderson of Granville Co., for 75 pds. 440 acres on both sides of Andersons Swamp, a branch of Nut Bush Creek, which was granted Mar 25, 1749.  Wts:  Richard Bullock, Richard Henderson.

     Other evidence of possible father-son relationship:  Thornton Yancey , probable father of Sterling.  He was a witness in 1777 to a deed recorded in Caswell Co.:

     Deed Bk. A-74 Thomas Mutter & Co. of Granville Co., NC to John Bowls of CC...... 29 Sep 1777.  Wit:  Hugh Galt, Thornton Yancey, David Watt, Benjamin Yargain.

       (Source:  K. K. Kendall, CASWELL CO., NC. DEEDS 1776-1817, p. 5)

     Possibly some Yanceys went to Kentucky.  The following is an excerpt from KENTUCKY ANCESTORS Summer 1989, Bible Records Index.  The Bible recorded is in Vol. 9, No. 1, p. 36.  The given names indicate there was an association with Bullocks:

Yancey, Robert Bullock, Mason Co., KY

Mary Ginsey Yancey

     Wm. Christmas to Mary Jinsey Yancey.  Bond dated:  July 28, 1790.  Signed by Wm. Christmas & Anderson Pattillo.  Wit:  H. Potter.

Note: by D. Williams: This was Jane Yancey, dau/of Lewis Yancey & Mary Graves (dau/of Henry & Rachel Graves of Granville; Henry Graves left a will in 1797 where he named his family); she married 1st to William Christmas, son of Thomas Christmas & Sally Duke; William died in 1804, and Jane Yancey-Christmas married 2nd to Capt. John Green (ca 1760-1825) of Warren Co., NC, who was the widower of Martha Christmas-Green, the sister of William Christmas. John Green was the son of Thomas Green (d. 1791) & Sarah Turner ( 1792), both of whose estates John administered.  Jane Yancey-Green died in 1845 Warren Co.  See: Will of Jane Green-1845

     (Thomas Owen McAdory in HISTORY AND GENEALOGIES...., p. 82)

**A word of caution to Researchers**
Problems with IGI Entries

     IGI gives a marriage date of 1739, Granville Co., NC for Sterling Yancey and Betsy Williams.  This is in error in several ways:  Granville Co. did not become a county until 1746. Further, Betsy more than likely was not even born at that early date, as her brother, Samuel Farrar Williams, stated in his rejected Rev War Pension, filed in Henderson Co., KY, that he was born 1759.  It seems he was older than she as reflected in her guardianship papers.  In 1786, the date of her probable marriage to Yancey, she probably was underage as her stepfather John Mitchell is called guardian of Betsy Williams.  John Mitchell died ca 1787, and then Betsy's mother Phillis Mitchell (formerly Williams) applied for guardianship of the youngest child, Sallie Williams.  (Sally Williams reportedly married Samuel Hogg, a Revolutionary War hero.  They later moved to Tennessee, where Sally allegedly died.)

     IGI indicates that the parents of Sterling Yancey were Thornton Yancey and Elizabeth Mitchell.  There are two conflicting entries for the parents of Thornton Yancey:  One states his parents were Charles Yancey and Miss Bartlett and the other states his parents were James Yancey and Ann Thornton, and that their child was b. 1740 in Hanover Co., VA.  This information needs to be verified.

For further reading:

For those having access through a local or nearby public library to online database called HeritageQuest, the "History of Henderson County, Kentucky"  by Edmund L. Starling.  Much of Henderson Co., KY's history is bound up with the history of Col. Richard Henderson of early Granville Co. NC and his company, called various names, including Transylvania Colony, Boonesborough, etc.

Also on HeritageQuest and now Google Books online is a book (Filson Club) entitled "Boonesborough", by George Washington Ranck.  The appendices are of special interest.  Other information about Col. Richard Henderson in his efforts to establish a 14th colony (a proprietorship such as the Fairfaxes had in Virginia.)


2012 to present by Evelyn Wallace and Deloris Williams for the NCGenWeb Project. No portion of  any document appearing on this site is to be used for other than personal research.  Any republication or reposting is expressly forbidden without the written consent of the owner. Last updated 10/24/2015


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