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LT. COL. WILLIAM ALSTON AND ANNE YEARGAIN

 

Samuel Yeargain's eldest daughter, Anne, whose mother, by a preponderance of evidence, appears to have been Anne Harris, widow of a Mr. Booth. Anne was a daughter of Thomas Harris (d. 1729) and his wife, Mary Jefferson, of Henrico County, Virginia. Mary Jefferson, a daughter of Thomas Jefferson (d. 1697 Henrico County, Virginia) and his wife Mary Branch, was a grandddaughter of Christopher Branch, Burgess, into Virginia 1619-1620. According to President Thomas Jefferson's biography, the Jefferson family originated near Mt. Snowdon, Wales. The Kimbrough family, maternal line of Yeargain's last wife, Sarah Yancey, according to family historians, was originally of Wales. Samuel is thought by this compiler to have also been of Wales, the surname originating from place name Llan-Eurgain, itself named for a very early Welch saint.

Anne Yeargain married William Alston, son of Joseph John and his first wife Elizabeth (Chancey) Alston of Gretna Green in neighboring Halifax County. Joseph John Alston was justice of the peace of Edgecombe Precinct, member of Assembly, and owner of about 100,000 acres of land in eastern and central North Carolina counties, including 4,000 acres in current Warren, then Bute, purchased from his nephew Soloman Alston and willed to his son Henry.

William Alston was also a grandson of Col. John Alston of Chowan County, an Associate Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, collector of customs, sheriff, and vestryman of St. Paul's Parish Church in Edenton. The family as a whole has been referred to as "Those Fabulous Alston's", for their political and military contributions to their state and nation.

William owned over two thousand acres on Butternut Swamp/Bear Quarter and Great Bear Swamp and Great Creek in Halifax County. He was one of the men selected by Col. Jethro Sumner in 1776 to serve with him. Sumner stated that he wanted as officers "young, hardy, robust men whose birth, family, connections and property bind them to the interest of their country".

According to military records, William Alston served with his regiment at Charleston and Savannah in the south and at the battle at Brandywine on 11 September, 1777, and in October, 1777 at Germantown, in the north, afterwhich he resigned, probably due to health problems.

A question has been raised as to which William Alston was appointed at Halifax on 15 April 1776, as Lt. Col. of the Third Regiment of the North Carolina Continental Troops, to serve under Col. Jethro Sumner (of Warren County). There are a pair of over two hundred year old affidavits, located in the Secretary of State Papers at the N. C. Archives, which clarify his identity. Both papers are dated Raleigh, December 15, 1790. One was written by "Congress Willis" Alston. Willis Alston's contributions to the state are legend; six years in the Legislature, member of Congress, 1803-1831, and Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee during the War of 1812.

Willis, Princeton educated son of William's brother and sister-in-law, John and Anne Hunt (Macon) Alston of Warren County, was named as executor of his uncle, William Alston's 1789 Chatham County will. He became a guardian for his uncle's children and later for the daughter of Samuel Yeargain's younger daughter, Sarah Yancey Yeargain.
Willis wrote in his affidavit;

"Raleigh December 15 1790. I hereby certify that John Joseph Alston, William C. Alston & Oroondates Davis Alston are the only sons of the within mentioned William Alston.", signed W. Alston,

in a beautiful, flourishing hand. Historian/genealogist, George Willcox, has compared the signature to that of executor Willis Alston and has found them to be the same. Willis also arranged for these young men to receive the Warren County Little Stone House Creek plantation which had been left to their mother by her father, Samuel Yeargain.

The second affidavit, written on the back of the paper, by Capt. Gee Bradley, reads;

"I do hereby certify that William Alston, decd, late of Chatham County, was Lieutenant Col. in the third N. Carolina battalion. He was appointed in March or April in the year one thousand seven hundred and seventy six. He served in that capacity upward of two years. I saw him commanding to the North-ward in the year 1778. Given under my hand this 15th day of December 1790. (Signed) G Bradley Capt.".

Bradley was appointed as a lieutenant on the same day as William Alston was appointed as Lieutenant Col., and later rose to Capt. There are a number of affidavits by Bradley at the N. C. Archives.
In addition, a land warrant located at the North Carolina Archives and issued by the State of North Carolina names the sons of "William Alston, Lieut. Col., for service in the Continental Line; Jos. John Alston, Wm. Chy. Alston and Oroon Davis Alston." These same sons were named in their father's 1789 Chatham County will.
The Colonial Records of North Carolina include a letter headed "Savan'h 3rd day September, 1776" to Alston from Sumner in which Sumner instructed Alston to take charge of their troops in Savannah while Sumner returned to N. C. for warm clothing and supplies.
Another interesting letter, found in the state Executive Letter Book, dated 2 March, 1782, Chatham Court House, to Brigider Gen. Butler from Maj. Roger Griffith, tells of Col. Alston and Mr. Williams (Chatham attorney, James Williams) taking a request from the notorious Tory Col. David Fanning to Brigader Gen. Butler in Orange County, that he receive a pardon, the men knowing full well what the answer would and should be.
Prior to the outbreak of the Revolutionary War William Alston made the trip four times per year to newly erected Chatham Co., N. C., as he served as its third Clerk of Court. He followed William Hooper, later signer of the Declaration of Independence, and Joseph Lane who served until December of 1773, on whose land our state capitol stands.
Alston, who held the post until he was appointed Lt. Col. in 1776, had demonstrated his convictions, as well as those of the counties of Halifax and Chatham, by omitting the year of the "Reign of the King" in dating the court minutes beginning in November term, 1775, seven months prior to the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

In about 1773 wealthy Col. Philip Alston, of political and military note and an elder brother of William, built the historic "House in the Horseshoe" in a bend of the Deep River in Moore County. Rev. Carruthers recorded his skirmish with Tory Col. David Fanning. A reenactment is held annually.

Alston's Chatham County deeds continued to refer to him as of Halifax County as late as November of 1778. His father, Joseph John, had begun buying land in old Orange County, including a number of purchases in the then yet to be erected Chatham County, beginning in 1751, even before there was an Orange County.

Anne Yeargain Alston, whose life we can only imagine by following the documented deeds and military service of her husband, passed away in 1785. Her son, Samuel Yeargain Alston, died between her father's death and that of her husband. William Alston is said to be buried in Sulfur Springs, Virginia, where he had supposedly traveled in order to regain his health. His children were thus orphaned. The youngest children, four year old Mary Anne Alston and her sister Anne, were to live with their widowed aunt, Anne Hunt (Macon) Alston, sister of the illustrious Nathaniel Macon, in Warren County, as per her father's will. Aunt Anne was directed to use proceeds from plantation products on Little Stone House Creek in Warren to educate and clothe his "helpless" little daughters.

Lacy Alston, descendant of Joseph John "Chatham Jack" Alston, interviewed in the 1950's, reported that Mary Anne actually went to live with her father's half brother, the well to do "Chatham Jack". Jack owned some 40,000 acres between Pittsboro and Siler City. His descent married into the family of North Carolina Gov. Jonathan Worth. The story passed down through Lacy's family that Mary Anne was not fond of one of the elder female members of Jack's family. She, at the tender age of four-teen, announced, "I am not going to put up with this anymore! I am going to the road and marry the first man who comes along!", and flounced out the door. Mary Anne did marry Edwards Rives, born 19 March, 1773, in 1800, when she was just fifteen years of age.

Edwards, a son of large Chatham land owner Thomas Henry Rives (will 1807-1809), and his second wife, Mary Edwards, whom he had married in about 1769, had removed to Chatham from Nutbush Creek, Warren County, where the family had lived between 1791 and 1799. Thomas Henry, a grandson of George "Sea Trader" Rives, was born in Prince George County, Virginia, in 1740. He was a nephew of George Rives' daughter, Mary, wife of Col. William Eaton, thus a first cousin to Gen. Thomas Eaton, also born in 1740 in Prince George. Thomas Eaton died in Warren County in 1808. He had been a neighbor of Samuel Yeargain.

William Eaton, a militia colonel, sheriff, and member of Assembly, and his wife Mary Rives, were the grandparents of Elizabeth Jones, born 1766, daughter of Robert Jones, Jr. Elizabeth was the wife of North Carolina Gov. Benjamin Williams. The couple purchased the Philip Alston "House in the Horseshoe". The small fenced cemetery of the Gov. Williams family is located on the lawn.

Mary Edwards Rives, youngest child of Mary Anne Alston and Edwards Rives, and a sister of two North Carolina state legislators, was born Christmas Day, 1827. At her father's home, on 3 December, 1844, she married Aaron Gaston Headen. Aaron was a grandson of State Senator Andrew Headen and his wife, Nancy Brooks, daughter of Isaac Brooks and Ruth Terrell of Chatham County. Isaac was a member of the Colonial Assembly in 1771 and 1773, representing new Chatham County. Aaron, who had attended Wake Forest Institute (now University), at age twelve, the first year it opened, contributed charming entries to Pascall, the school's historian. Mary Anne spent her elder years with the Headen's. She lived to see the terrors of the Civil War. Her grave stone is located in Hickory Mountain Township, Chatham County.

After the Civil War Aaron and Mary Edwards moved to Pittsboro from Beaumont in the Hickory Mountain Township, to live in the historic "Yellow House". Aaron and his son-in-law, Alvis J. Bynum, owned a large mercantile business. Daughter of Aaron and Mary Edwards, Fannie Harris Headen, married Robert Lee Strowd, the son of U.S. Congressman, Hon. William Franklin "Buck" and Louisanna Harriet "Lou" (Atwater) Strowd. Lou's brother, John Wilbur Atwater, followed W.F. Strowd in Congress.

R. L. "Bob" Strowd was Vice President of the Bank of Chapel Hill, now part of Bank of America, postmaster, and a merchant. His Franklin Street building carries the incised name of Strowd. Bob and Fannie's youngest son, Bruce (1891-1955), pioneer automobile dealer about whom many delightful stories have been written, was named Most Valuable Citizen of Chapel Hill in 1938. Bruce's handprints are visible in the concrete of his Strowd Motor Company building, also on Franklin Street. Bruce, the maternal grandfather of this compiler, and his siblings were born on their father's 1,000 acre property, "Plum Nelly" on Strowd Hill, current Davie Circle, then on the outskirts of Chapel Hill. The property was so dubbed by Bob as it was "plum out of Chapel Hill and nelly to Durham". Not so today!

Bruce and Mattie Atwater's daughter, Billie Atwater Strowd, married James Bryant "J.B." Johns of Durham and Chapel Hill. Billie was a direct descendent of Orange County residents state Legislator Matthew Atwater and his grand-father Capt. Matthew McCauley. During the Revolutionary War McCauley survived the harsh Pennsylvania weather at Valley Forge to return to Orange County where he donated 250 acres of land to assist in the founding of the University of North Carolina.

J.B. held a number of civic positions, including President of the Chapel Hill Rotary Club. He was a descendant of Warren County residents Joshua Mabry and his wife, Lucretia Jones, through their daughter Lucretia and her husband Richard Proctor. J.B. was also a great grandson of Wiley Wooten Cox who, in 1871, constructed the front portion of the recently restored Piper-Cox House on the Eno River, located in the Orange County Eno River State Park. "Riverside" was known as "the showplace of the Eno". Mr. Johns was also a descendant of the Piper family, through John Piper and Elizabeth Herndon.

 

2004 by  Bebe Johns Fox. No portion of this 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.


 

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