Betty in forma pauperis

In 1835 Hanover County, Virginia, a woman simply named Betty filed suit in forma pauperis to fight for her and her children's liberties.  In a world where Betty had no rights under the bondage of slavery, the court abstract for Betty's suit presented a woman's fight to keep her family together.  What initially drew my eye to this suit was that somehow my Thurman family was involved Betty's battle.  I feared digging further into the suit and learning something about my Thurman that I really didn't want to know.  And yet, I couldn't get Betty and her brave heart out of my mind.  I had to know Betty's story and the fate of her children.

According to the official court record, Betty was the property of William Gooch, a white, land owning male who lived in Hanover County, Virginia.  Betty's claim described her relationship with Gooch as something more than "master and slave".  She stated that Gooch was the father of her children and that he had pr…

County Friends & Kinsmen

If you ever doubted that the early Hanover County and Charlotte County White families were related, you can put those doubts to rest!  Thanks to the Library of Virginia's Virginia Memory Digital Collection, we now have proof that the families were related - according to their own written words!  As part of the Virginia Memory Digital Collection, the Library of Virginia has uploaded Chancery Court records for many counties, including Charlotte County.  The cache of White family letters is part of the uploaded Charlotte County Chancery Court case known as Elisha White v. Wood Jones.  In order to understand the impetus for Elisha White writing the two letters, you must first understand the background to the case.

In 1740, a Henry Hatcher apparently purchased a "treasury right" from the Secretary of the Colony of Virginia for 45 schillings.  Following the procedures for obtaining a Virginia land patent, Hatcher would have then taken his "right" document t…

Mr. John White's Beaverdam Creek Land 1711 to 1784

In an earlier post, we found that Mr. John White owned two pieces of land, 320 and 190 acres, according to the 1704 New Kent County Quit Rent roll.  And yet, there is no known record of how he obtained these properties.  The first known record of Mr. John White obtaining land was a 1705 land patent for 211 acres in New Kent County, on the east side of Beaverdam Creek.  It is probable that these 211 acres were across the creek from one of his other tracts (320 or 190 acres) that included the White Mill.  The only known existing records to track the ownership of Mr. John White's properties at Beaverdam Creek are the precinct processions of the St. Paul's Parish Vestry Record.  Although the precinct numbers changed over time, the surrounding land owners of Mr. John White's Beaverdam property stayed the same, allowing us to follow ownership changes.    

Below is a visual chronology of the procession years and the responsible parties for the Beaverdam property (indicating owners…

A Town & Country Relationship

A few years back, I came across the below 1778 Virginia Gazette advertisement while researching my Thurman family.  This Revolutionary War era ad created more questions for me than answers.  I couldn't help but wonder why "Mr. John Thurman", a young man originally from rural Hanover County, was acting on behalf of Dr. William Pasteur, the eminent 18th century Williamsburg surgeon and apothecary.  Pasteur's Beaverdam Creek plantation, mentioned in the ad, was comprised of 700 acres on the north side of the James River.  Today, there is a historic home known as Mount Bernard which proudly stands on a small portion of the original plantation which maintains sweeping views of the James River valley.  According to a historic survey of the property prepared by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, it is believed that Mount Bernard was built upon an 18th century foundation - the time frame of the below subject ad.   
Initially, I thought Mr. John Thurman may have be…

Serendipitous Land Research

White is not the only Hanover County surname that I research.  And sometimes, researching multiple surnames can lead to unexpected surprises.  Such was the case while researching my Wade family connection with friend and fellow researcher Sydni Thurmond-Hamill.

Sydni has a very lively and well connected Instagram presence.  A great passion of hers is to follow historic architecture and landscapes.  One of her favorite Instagram architectural historians is Gray O'Dell  who one day posted a photo of Quietude, a historic home in Hanover County off McClellan Road.  In the post, O'Dell mentioned Edmond Wade/Waid (herein after Wade) and his possible lineage.  Knowing of my Wade family interest, Sydni excitedly texted me and we were off and running in trying to determine Edmond Wade's ancestors by taking the "follow the land" approach.
Sydni began identifying Wade properties that were labeled on various Civil War era maps. Using these old maps retrieved from the Library o…

What Became of the Land for "John White's Orphans, Robert Brane in Possession Thereof"?

The first extant St. Paul's Parish procession record after Mr. John White's 1744 death is for the year 1751, followed by a procession order in 1755 and a return in 1756.   Below is a comparison chart showing the names of the land owners in the Yellow Community between the processions of 1744 and 1756.  Fortunately, there appears to have been a pattern of recording the names within the precinct beginning each time with John Howard and followed similarly.  Changes in ownership can be determined by analyzing the names going across the table.  For example, in 1744, John Muirfield owned a tract of land within the Yellow Community.  But in 1751, Anthony Winston and John White took possession of Muirfield's land.  They held this tract of land through 1756.  The mention of Whites as property owners are highlighted in yellow.   

For clarification, although the above chart shows that a John White, along with Anthony Winston, purchased land from John Muirfield located in the Yellow Co…