Personal Property Tax Lists for Rockbridge County, Virginia

When I began doing family research on the internet, I connected with Robert N. Grant, author of Sorting some of the Wrights of Southern Virginia. I found him on a mailing list (pre-Facebook days) where he mentioned a couple of my surnames. This was back in May 2000 when he was working on the draft of his work on 1825 Achilles WRIGHT of Oldham County, Kentucky (the year before his name indicates the year of death in the said county). Bob sent me a paper version of this draft via snail mail (yes, it was that long ago) that included information on my LANDRUM and CRISP lines of Amherst County, Virginia as Achilles had lived in Amherst and Nelson counties in Virginia before moving to Kentucky.

Repaying an Act of Genealogical Kindness

The book is part of a series of books that are available on FamilySearch. Years later I was able to return the favor. In October 2014 I found chancery records involving a James WRIGHT and sent the link to Bob. I received a reply the same day thanking me. I’d caught him pre-retirement and in July 2015 he wrote:

I wanted to thank you again for the very helpful reference to the Nelson County Chancery Court cases involving James Wright.  They clearly identified James, the son of 1825 Achilles Wright of Oldham County, KY, as the James who married Lucy Crisp.  Thank you! 

In addition, the case clarified that Elizabeth Wright who married Elijah Skidmore was a daughter of James and not, as had been reported previously, a daughter of his brother 1845 George Wright of Trimble County, KY.  That rewrote a portion of my materials as well.

I have an updated version of my material on 1825 Achilles Wright and his descendants and would be happy to send that to you, if that would be of interest to you.  It includes a transcription of the chancery court case that lays out the family of James and the family of Lucy’s parents.

A Lesson Learned from Bob’s Research

When I found those chancery records I knew I had to send the information to Bob to repay him for sharing his work with me. I never forgot this act of kindness on his part as he also taught me the importance of personal property tax and land tax lists without knowing it.

By reading through his draft, I learned how the PPT and land tax lists can be used in our research. Although the annual PPT lists may appear to include very little information compared to census records, when they are viewed as a whole, the information can be used to fill in the missing years between the census. For persons of the same surname, relationships may have been expressly or implicitly stated. They can also help with determining when a person lived in a certain place and when he may have moved or died. Most importantly, the names found on the lists can help identify the male members of households in pre-1850 census listings.

The Library of Virginia’s “Using Personal Property Tax Records in the Archives at the Library of Virginia” (Research Notes Number 3) includes the following:

The early laws required the tax commissioner in each district to record in “a fair alphabetical list” the names of the person chargeable with the tax as well as all “tithables,” or taxable individuals and goods in the household. Included were the names of white male tithables over the age of twenty-one, the number of white male tithables between ages sixteen and twenty-one, the number of enslaved people both above and below age sixteen, various types of animals such as horses and cattle, carriage wheels, ordinary licenses, and even billiard tables. 

During the past five years or so, I’ve been checking the catalog at FamilySearch for collections that are available to all users on the site and not only at the Family History Library or associated libraries. Land tax records for several counties in West Virginia were found to be accessible in 2019.

Earlier this week in the Facebook group Rockbridge County Virginia Genealogy, I replied to a query. Someone asked if the tax lists were available online. Not knowing the answer, I checked the catalog and I discovered the Personal Property Tax lists for Rockbridge County, Virginia, are online on FamilySearch.

Rockbridge Couty, Virginia, Personal Property Tax Lists

I’d been waiting to be able to work with tax lists for many of my lines since I first read Bob’s draft. Discovering their availability for Rockbridge pushed me to do some browsing in these records.

One of my DEMPSEY brick walls began to crumble in 2007 when I found Wm. A. W. DEMPSEY listed on the 1841 tax list of Rockbridge County, Virginia. The initials are the same as those he used on the 1850 census in Fayette County, (West) Virginia, and in 1862 on the Provost Marshals’ List (a Civil War document). I am convinced these initials were very important to him.

In Section VII of A History of Rockbridge County, Virginia1 the taxpayers of the county for 1841 were listed. The numbers after their names refer to the road precincts in which the persons lived.

Image courtesy of Archive.org. (https://archive.org/details/historyofrockbri00mortrich/page/380/mode/1up : accessed 13 March 2021)

Appendix D in the book gives a description of the precincts.

Image courtesy of Archive.org. (https://archive.org/details/historyofrockbri00mortrich/page/552/mode/1up : accessed 13 March 2021)By searching through the taxpayer’s list for others who were in precinct 43,  I was able to put together this list of persons who were likely his neighbors.

1841 Taxpayers
Rockbridge County, Virginia
43 – Nathaniel Gaylor’s to Cumings and Carter’s, intersecting Gilmore’s Road
Dempsey, William A. W.
Others who lived in the same road precinct:
George Agnor, Jacob Agnor, Sr., Jacob Agnor, Little Jake Agnor, John Agnor, John H. Agnor, David Entsminger, Albert Gilliat, and William T. Ruley. (Note to self: Agnor was later seen as Agnew)

The problem was that the source was not a primary source. Finding the mention in the book was not the same as accessing a digital copy of the tax list collection: Personal property tax lists, 1782-1850, main author: Commissioner of the Revenue (Rockbridge County, Virginia).

I searched first for the image of the 1841 tax list naming William A. W. Dempsey.

Wm. A. W. DEMPSEY was enumerated on 29 March 1841. In the column for white males of 16, there is a 1 indicating one person 16 or older was tithable. It is my understanding that the person named had to be of age therefore 21 years old or older. William was therefore born about 1820 or earlier.

Headers of the 1841 Personal Property Tax List for the South West District (Samuel Walkup) of Rockbridge County, Virginia. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSKJ-Q3T8-Q?i=228&cat=694874 : accessed 5 March 2021)
1841 Personal Property Tax List for the South West District (Samuel Walkup) of Rockbridge County, Virginia. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSKJ-Q3T8-Q?i=228&cat=694874 : accessed 5 March 2021)

In 1842, William was not found. In 1843 he was visited by Samuel Walkup in the southwest district on 5 April 1843. The entire list was viewed. I found William was the only person who was visited on that day. Is this an indication that he lived in a sparsely populated area?

1843 Personal Property Tax List for the South West District (Samuel Walkup) of Rockbridge County, Virginia. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSKJ-Q3Y2-F?cat=694874 : accessed March 2021)

No Dempsey was found in Rockbridge County on the PPT for the years 1844 to 1851.

William A. W. DEMPSEY was in Fayette County at the time of the 1850 census. The PPT for Fayette County, available for the years 1831 to 1850, showed a William DEMPSEY in 1846, 1849, and 1850. No initials are noted.

Working backward, I checked in Rockbridge before 1841.

1839 tax list: John W. Dempsey (March 4) and William Dempsey (April 3), both in Samuel Walkup district.

William A. W. DEMPSEY was listed as 28 in 1850 and as 40 in 1860 on the census of Fayette County. If this William DEMPSEY was William A. W. DEMPSEY and only men 21 or older were named then he was born 1818 or earlier. He was visited a month after John W. DEMPSEY. If they had been closely related or living near each other, wouldn’t they have been visited within a day or two?

John W. DEMPSEY (1802-1873) married in Rockbridge in 1824. He was on the Fayette County census in 1840 and the PPT lists from 1840 to 1850. He has been proven to be the son of Tandy DEMPSEY who was in Rockbridge in 1820 (per census) and earlier (per tax list), in Logan (now WV) in 1830 (per census), and in Jay County, Indiana, by early fall 1835 until 8 August 1836 when his death was the first recorded in the township of Bear Creek.

1838 John Demsey (W.C. Lewis district) with 0ne horse, male, mule, or cattle. The W. C. Lewis district appears to be the same district seen as Samuel Walkup district in later years.

1837 John W. Demsey (W.C. Lewis district) with 0ne horse, male, mule, or cattle

1836 John Demsey (W.C. Lewis district) with one slave

If John W. DEMPSEY was the father of William A. W. DEMPSEY, the 1836 to 1838 tax lists (above) do not help to show this as male white tithables 16 and older were not noted. If this category had been included then John and all males 16 and older (possible sons in the household) would have been included in the count. Further, if John was the father, he would have had to have been married before his 1824 marriage.

From 1835 back to 1822 (W.C. Lewis district) no Demsey or Dempsey was found on the PTT.

Personal property tax books, 1824-1850 for Logan County are restricted at this time on FamilySearch. When they are available, I need to check if Tandy, John W., and other siblings were in Logan before 1835. Tandy was in Indiana by 1835, is known to have been in Logan for the 1830 census and the 1827 tax list (from a transcript).

Other Virginia Counties Need to be Checked

Rockbridge County is surrounded by the counties of Augusta, Nelson, Amherst, Bedford, Botetourt, Alleghany, and Bath. I’ve searched Botetourt and will be working through each of the other counties to find Dempsey individuals who may have crossed over the county lines. Formation of the counties will also be considered.

Botetourt had the expected Rev. Absalom C. DEMPSEY (1787-1872) on the tax list from 1809 to 1851. The Reverend was the son of another William DEMPSEY who died before June 1806 and grandson of a William DEMPSEY who died about 1806. The estimated deaths of Absolom’s father and grandfather were found in chancery records that also name children of the younger William, including William the 3rd who died intestate, unmarried, and without issue before 1822 (see images 4 and 5).

Montgomery has also been added to the list of counties to check as there is a connection between men found on the Botetourt tax lists and at least one known to have been in Montgomery. Hugh DEMPSEY (born 1785 or earlier) was not named as a son of the senior William mentioned in the chancery records. He was seen in Botetourt from 1808 to 1828, was on the 1830 census in Montgomery before going to Missouri before 1840.

Orange County will also be carefully checked as I have researched the DEMPSEY family coming out of this county in my process of elimination.

Recap for William A. W. Dempsey

My review of the Rockbridge County PPT brought to light two tax listings for my great-great-grandfather William A. W. DEMPSEY. Listed with the middle initials he used during his lifetime, he was found in the county in 1841 and 1843. The 1839 listings may or may not be for my William.

As other counties in Virginia (including present-day West Virginia) are checked, I hope to be able to sort all of the DEMPSEY individuals into their appropriate family groups.

As my William A. W. DEMPSEY went to Fayette County after 1843 and by 1846, it has been speculated that he may have been a son of John W. DEMPSEY who married Margaret FITZPATRICK in 1824. This John moved to Fayette County by July 1839 when he married his second wife, Amelia RIDDLE. I also once considered this possibility. As genealogy research has not so far turned up any supporting evidence for this assumption, I’ve turned to genetic genealogy and evaluating DNA matches. If my William A. W. DEMPSEY were the son of John W. DEMPSEY and the half-sibling of John’s children from both marriages, I should be seeing matches with some of their descendants. So far, none have been found.

And the search continues, for the parents of William A. W. DEMPSEY.

© 2021, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Oren F. Morton, B. Lit.; A History of Rockbridge County, Virginia; published by The McClure Co., Inc., Staunton, Virginia 1920; pgs. 380, 552. Images of the pages in the book courtesy of Archive.org. 

52 Ancestors: #36 William JOHNSON Jr. 1793-1845

“The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.”

This is entry #36 in Amy Johnson Crow’s Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

I’m a bit behind on this week’s entry. Setting up my new laptop is taking me longer than I thought. And there are other things in my life that have priority – spending time with my husband and children, keeping myself healthy (310 kilometers/11+ hours on my bike since the 1st of the month), and creating memories.

#36 William JOHNSON Jr. 1793-1845

William JOHNSON Sr. (1755-1805) and Amy NELSON (1757-1837) married about 1774. Most family trees have their place of marriage as Bath County in Virginia but I cannot agree with this.

As is the case with all research in old Virginia, the county formations need to be considered. Bath County was created in 1790 from parts of Augusta, Botetourt, and Greenbrier counties. Greenbrier was formed in 1778 from Botetourt and Montgomery counties. Botetourt County was established in 1770 from Augusta County. The marriage of William and Amy most likely took place in the area of Botetourt County that later went to Greenbrier or in Augusta County where the Johnston families lived. As this is a portrait of William JOHNSON Jr., I will go into the Johnston connection in Augusta County in a later post.

William and Amy were the parents of at least 8 known children, one of them being my fourth great-grandfather William JOHNSON (1793-1845) born about 1793 on Lick Run, Greenbrier County in old Virginia, now West Virginia.

William’s oldest brother Rev. John JOHNSON1 was born in 1777 in Botetourt or Augusta County. Their father may have been away from home for long periods of time due to his military service during the Revolutionary War (1775-1784). In any case, the next child Nelson JOHNSON was born about 1782. In Laidley’s 1911 History2 Nelson is named as one of the four sons of William JOHNSON Sr. Other sources3 have him listed as the son of Benjamin JOHNSON.

William Johnson Sr. moved to what is now Monroe County, West Virginia, after the end of the Revolutionary War and lived there for a number of years.4

New records brought to light by Wayne L. Johnson, a direct descendant of William Jr., may prove that William Sr. was actually in the area when Greenbrier County was formed in 1778.5 This would mean that John and Nelson were born “in the Sinks” as the JOHNSONs were there in 1784:

Among the people who were living in the Sinks at the close of the Revolution were several Methodist families. Among these were the Blantons, the Christys, the Johnsons, and the Warrens. They held religious meetings at their homes, and as their membership was growing, they organized a regular society late in the summer of 1784. This date, it will be observed, is also that of the independence of the Methodist Church.6

Note (5 September 2022): I have doubts that the Johnsons mentioned in this excerpt are William JOHNSON and his wife Amy. They were Methodists and lived in an area of Greenbrier (Lick Run) that would later be part of Monroe. However, it must be noted that there was another JOHNSON family in the area. More records are needed to establish a timeline of the Johnson families at this time.

James M. (1783-1834), Susannah (1784-1840), Mary “Polly” (1790-1850), my 4th great-grandfather William (1793-1845), Nancy (1794-1825), and Amy (1795-1859) were born on Lick Run then part of Greenbrier County.

Two land records were extracted from the deed books of Greenbrier County many years ago by David Fridley (who did not note the book or page on these). They would indicate that William and Amy left for Kanawha around 1798 selling a total of 238 acres:

◉ 25 June 1798. William Johnson and Amy deeded out 62 acres Lick Run. Witn: John Johnston7
◉ 26 June 1798. William Johnson and Amy sold 88 acres Lick Run. Witn: John Johnston, et al.8

The two tracts of land were part of a survey of 150 acres granted in 1796 to William JOHNSON by a patent lying and being in the county of Greenbrier on the waters of Lick Run.9

The JOHNSON family likely moved to Peters Creek, at the time in Kanawha County, after disposing of the 150 acres in 1798. William Sr. settled and remained there for the rest of his life.

The murder of one individual or a dozen families did not deter the sturdy pioneer from his onward march in the conquest of the wilderness, and accordingly, before a year has passed after the destruction of Kelly’s settlement, we find Leonard and William Morris both residing almost in sight of the fatal spot. Their settlement is elsewhere noticed [pg. 58, Kelly was killed in early 1773]. Among those who here found homes and become actual settlers in the next few years were John Hansford, Sr., Thomas Foster, Ransom Gatewood, Robert Perry, John Jarrett, John D. Massey, Gallatin G. Hansford, William Johnson, John Wheeler, Shadrach Childers, Peter Likens, Spencer Hill, William Pryor, Barney Green, Thomas Trigg and Shadrach Hariman.10

In the above, it cannot be assumed that William JOHNSON mentioned is William JOHNSON Sr. Laidley further mentions William in this excerpt from the biography of Julian M. JOHNSON:

Then he and his sons, William, John, Nelson and James, moved to Gauley River in what is now Nicholas County, WV, near and below the mouth of Little Elk about 1798.11

William’s youngest sister Elizabeth (1799-1840) was born the year after the family moved to Kanawha County.

At the turn of the century, William’s sister Susannah was the first to marry. She married Martin SIMS (1783-1853) on 28 March 1800 in Greenbrier County. The permission slip dated 24 March 1800 for Susannah’s marriage was signed by her father William JOHNSON.12

William’s brother John married Elizabeth SIMS (1782-1845), sister of the above-mentioned Martin SIMS, on 2 June 1802 in Kanawha County.13

William JOHNSON Sr. would only live to see these two children marry. He died on 22 December 1805 and was buried near Swiss in present-day Nicholas County, West Virginia.14

Photo courtesy of Carl L. Johnson.

Following their father’s death, the children lived with their mother Amy until one by one they married and started their own families. Mary “Polly” married Benjamin DARLINGTON (1775-1853) on 23 April 1810 in Kanawha County.15 She was with her husband when the 1810 census was enumerated. Amy was with her single children and close to son John and daughter Susannah who had married the SIMS siblings.

1810censusjohnson
1810 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Kanawha > Kanawha > image 4 of 16 [ancestry.com]
1810 U.S. Federal Census16
Kanawha County, (West) Virginia
Kanawha
Johnston, Anne (sic, Amy; listed just above her son John)
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 2 (James & Alexander)
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 15: 1 (William)
Free White Persons – Males – 16 thru 25: 1 (Nelson)
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 15: 1 (Elizabeth)
Free White Persons – Females – 16 thru 25: 2 (Amy & Nancy)
Free White Persons – Females – 45 and over : 1 (Amy)
Number of Household Members Under 16: 4
Number of Household Members Over 25: 1
Number of Household Members: 8

During the time our nation was at war (War of 1812), William and his two single brothers married in Kanawha County.

◉ James M. JOHNSON and Elizabeth MILLER ( -1823) were married on 4 May 1813 by Edward Hughes. A bond or license was applied for on 29 April 181317,18
◉ Nelson JOHNSON married Nancy MURPHY in 181319
◉ William JOHNSON married Nancy Ann SIMS on 15 October 181420

In 1815, soon after William married my 4th great-grandmother Nancy Ann SIMS, sister of Martin and Elizabeth SIMS mentioned earlier, their first child Nelson JOHNSON (1815-1855) was born in Kanawha County. In all records found for Nelson, I have only seen “Nelson” as his first name. Denise Jackson of Our Family Heritage©1974-2022 is a great-great-granddaughter of this son. Family lore is that his full name was Joseph Nelson JOHNSON and his grandson Joseph Nelson “JN” JOHNSON was named after him. On 9 May 2014, she wrote “It is only word of mouth about JN’s grandfather being Joseph Nelson Johnson and he (JN) being named for him” in response to my email to her about the full name. Before replying, she checked with two of her cousins, the sons of her father’s sister, and her two brothers as she said, “I wanted to check with all of them to make sure I had heard (and remembered) correctly.” They confirmed that she was right about the family lore.

William JOHNSON Jr. and his family originally lived at the mouth of Laurel Creek, a tributary of the Gauley River which empties about one mile above Swiss. In 1810 the JOHNSON and SIMS families were neighbors and it is known that James SIMS, father of Nancy Ann SIMS, made his home in what is today known as Swiss. William’s son John B. JOHNSON was born at the mouth of Rich Creek on Gauley in 1823 per the 1911 biography of his son Julian M. JOHNSON. This would have been in the area of Swiss. Later, most likely after 1823, the JOHNSON family moved to a place on Loop Creek (Loup Creek) in the area of what is known as Robson in present-day Fayette County, West Virginia.

“Loop Creek flows for its entire length in western Fayette County. It rises in the city of Oak Hill and flows initially west-northwestward through the unincorporated communities of Lick Fork, Wriston, Ingram Branch, and Hamilton; then northward through the unincorporated communities of Kincaid, Page, North Page, and Robson, to Deep Water, where it flows into the Kanawha River.”21

Before William and Nancy’s next child was born two of his sisters married brothers in Kanawha County. Nancy married Peyton FOSTER (1793- ) on 11 January 1815.22 Amy and Turley FOSTER (1794-1859) were married by Edward HUGHES on 16 November 1816.23 The marriage was also recorded on 18 November 1816.24

And William’s family continued to grow with the birth of my third great-grandmother Huldah JOHNSON (1817-1880) about 1817 and Alexander JOHNSON (1819-1887) on 10 June 1819.25

The 1820 and 1830 censuses were enumerated in alphabetical order rather than in order of household visitation. This makes it less useful for locating the actual place where the family lived.

The family was in Nicholas County in 1820 and then next seen in Kanawha County in the 1830 census which supports the theory that their move to Loop Creek was in the 1820s, most likely between 1824-1830. Robson is 10 miles south of present-day Gauley Bridge. Fayette County was created on 28 February 1831 from parts of Greenbrier, Kanawha, Nicholas, and Logan counties. From then on William’s children were born on Loop Creek in Fayette County where they were seen in the 1840 census.

1820censusjohnson
1820 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Nicholas

1820 U.S. Federal Census26
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
Page No: 204B
Enumerated by: Hedgman Triplett on the 26th day of December 1820
William Johnson
2 males under 10 yo (Nelson and Alexander)
2 males 10 & under 16 yo (not sons of Wm and Nancy who were married only 6 yrs)
1 male 16 & under 26 yo (William)
1 female under 10 yo (Huldah)
1 female 16 & under 26 yo (Nancy Ann b. bet. 1794-1804)
1 person engaged in agriculture
7 persons in household

Following the enumeration of the 1820 census, William’s fourth child Mary JOHNSON (1820-1898) was born on 20 August 1820.27

William’s sister Elizabeth JOHNSON married Presley L. FOSTER (1798-1873), a brother of Turley and Peyton FOSTER, on 12 March 1822 in Nicholas County, (West) Virginia.28 His brother James M. JOHNSON, recently widowed, married(2) Sarah LEGG (1795- ) on 6 March 1823 in Nicholas County, (West) Virginia.29

Shortly before Christmas in 1823 another son, John B. JOHNSON (1823-1902), was born on 23 December 1823.30 His middle name may be assumed by many to be Brown but I have not found proof of this. The JOHNSON family was very fond of this name!

The first of William’s siblings, Nancy (Johnson) FOSTER died before 6 September 1825 leaving only one known child, a son she named Johnson FOSTER.31

Nancy gave William three more children before the 1830 census: Amy JOHNSON (1825-1904) on 4 November 1825, Lewis JOHNSON (1828-1845) on 6 March 1828, and Elizabeth JOHNSON (1829-1833) about 1829.32

1830censusjohnson
1830 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Kanawha

1830 U.S. Federal Census33
Kanawha County, (West) Virginia
Johnston, William
2 males under 5 yo (Lewis b. 1828, John Brown b. 1823)
1 male 5 & under 10 yo (Alexander b. 1819)
1 male 10 & under 15 yo (Nelson b. ca. 1815)
1 male 30 & under 40 yo (William Jr. b. 1793)
1 female under 5 yo (Amy b. 1825)
1 female 5 & under 10 yo (Mary b. 1820)
1 female 10 & under 15 yo (Huldah b. ca. 1818)
1 female 30 & under 40 yo (Nancy Ann Sims Johnson b. bet. 1791-1800)
1 female 70 & under 80 yo (Amy Nelson Johnson b. 1757)
7 free white persons under 20
2 free white person 20 thru 9
10 total free white persons
10 total – all persons

In William’s household, we see an older woman. This must be his mother as family tradition is that she lived among her children until her death.

William’s family was not yet complete: William Hunter JOHNSON (1832-1899) was born on 27 July 183234 and Nancy JOHNSON (1835-1915) was born in August 1835.35 Sadly, young Elizabeth, about 4 years old, died about 1833 of the flux.

A year later William’s brother James M. JOHNSON died in 1834 on Loop Creek, Fayette County, (West) Virginia.36

William’s oldest child Nelson JOHNSON married Elizabeth HUGHES (1817-1900) on 14 September 1837 in Fayette County, (West) Virginia.37

Sadly there would be another death in the family during the 1830s. William’s elderly mother Amy NELSON died on 23 December 1837 in Robson, Fayette County, (West) Virginia, and was buried in Nichols Cemetery on Loop Creek also known as Nichols Hollow Cemetery, Robson.

Courtesy of Gary Johnston (Facebook message dated 1 May 2013)

Amie Nelson Johnson lived among her children after coming to Loup Creek but her last days were at the home of her son William, whose home was near that of Mutt Ellis. This was very close to the cemetery known then as the Kelly grave yard but now called the Nuchils cemetery. This is a beautiful location for a cemetery. In a row in this cemetery is the grave of William and Nancy Simms Johnson, two children, and the mother Amie Nelson Johnson. William and Nancy died around 1845 during a typhoid fever epidemic. Afterwards, most of his family went to Kanawha County to an area called the Grape Vine, near Charleston.38

Unfortunately, Laura Blake, a local historian, didn’t get all the facts correct in the above statement. William’s wife Nancy SIMS did not die around 1845 during a typhoid fever epidemic. She was seen living with her son William Hunter JOHNSON in Kanawha County in 1860.39

After his mother Amy’s death, William’s wife Nancy gave birth to their last child Morris Houston JOHNSON (1839-1845) on 21 January 1839 in Fayette County, (West) Virginia.40

William’s daughter Mary JOHNSON married David Alexander MILLER (1820-1871) on 13 December 183941 in Fayette County, (West) Virginia.

William’s sister Susannah SIMS died before the 1840 census.42

1840censusjohnson
1840 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Fayette > page 145

1840 U.S. Federal Census43
Fayette County, (West) Virginia
Johnson, William Sr. (page 145)
2 males under 5 yo (William Hunter and Morris Houston)
1 male 5  & under 10 yo (Lewis)
1 male 15 & under 20 yo (John Brown)
1 male 20 & under 30 yo (Alexander)
1 male 40 & under 50 yo (William)
1 female under 5 yo (Nancy)
1 female 15 & under 20 yo (Amy)
1 female 20 & under 30 yo (Huldah)
1 female 30 & under 40 yo (Nancy Ann; should be listed as 40 & under 50 yo)
10 persons in household
2 persons engaged in agriculture

William’s sister Elizabeth died after the 1840 census and before 9 February 1843 when her widower Presley FOSTER married Lucretia BAILES.44 Update: During a recent review of the records, the correct date of marriage was found in the War of 1812 widow’s pension of Lucretia FOSTER, the widow of Presly FOSTER. Previously seen as 9 February 1840, the corrected date changes the timeline. Elizabeth would have been the woman in Presley’s household in 1840 and not Lucretia. She therefore died after the census and before Presley’s remarriage.

William and Nancy’s oldest daughter Huldah JOHNSON married Robert INGRAM (1819-1902) in about 1841 in Fayette County (West) Virginia.

Courtesy of Gary Johnston (Facebook message dated 1 May 2013)

In 1845 during an epidemic of typhoid fever, three members of the family died. William’s sons died within three weeks of each other: Morris Houston JOHNSON died on 11 August 1845 and Lewis JOHNSON died on 31 August 1845. William JOHNSON followed his sons on 18 December 1845. They are all buried in the Nichols Cemetery in Fayette County.45

This Post was Updated on 4 September 2022Missing source citations were added, images were scaled, and some corrections were made to the text and format.

© 2014-2022, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. I have not found any sources that list a middle name or initial for John Johnson. Many family trees include Brown as the middle name for John Johnson. Only his grave marker placed long after his death, includes the initial B. 
  2. William Sydney Laidley, History of Charleston and Kanawha County, West Virginia and Representative Citizens, Richmond Arnold Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois, 1911; pg. 979, Article on Julian M. Johnson, great-grandson of William Johnson and his wife Amy. (https://archive.org/details/historyofcharles00laid/page/978 : accessed 8 Oct 2015). 
  3. Christine Beckelheimer, submitter, The History of Fayette County West Virginia 1993, sponsored and published by the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce, page 32, “Benjamin Johnson.” 
  4. See Note 2, supra. 
  5. Wayne L. Johnson and Carl L. Johnson, These Lost Children of the Marquis of Annandale, Johnstone-Johnston-Johnson, Notes & Compilations in three volumes, Vol. II First Americans, Charleston, West Virginia. A copy of this draft (a work in progress) was received in the mail on 16 July 2014 from Wayne L. Johnson via Tim Spradling. I haven’t tried to prove the work in progress – tentative research – by Johnson & Johnson is reliable. 
  6. Oren F. Morton, The History of Monroe County, West Virginia, published by McClure Company, Inc., Staunton, Virginia, 1916, page 140 (https://archive.org/details/historyofmonroec00mort/page/230/mode/2up : accessed 1 September 2022). 
  7. Greenbrier County (West Virginia) County Clerk, “Deeds (Greenbrier County, West Virginia), 1780-1901” (non-indexed images), FamilySearch, Microfilm of original records at the Greenbrier County Courthouse in Lewisburg, West Virginia, Film 593545, DGS #7765144, Deeds, v. 2 1798-1803, images 37 of 380 (page 52). Johnston to Tennis deed for 62 acres (25 June 1798, entered 26 June 1798). (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSM7-V4RY?i=36&cat=98577 : accessed 31 July 2019). 
  8. Ibid., Film 593545, DGS #7765144, Deeds, v. 2 1798-1803, image 80 of 380 (page 145). Johnston to Kounts deed for 88 acres (__ June 1798, entered 26 June 1798)(https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSM7-V45L?i=79&cat=98577 : accessed 31 July 2019). 
  9. “Land Office/Northern Neck Patents & Grants” (index and images from microfilm), Library of Virginia Archives (https://lva-virginia.libguides.com/land-grants), citing Virginia State Land Office, the collection is housed in the Archives at the Library of Virginia, Land Office Grants No. 33, 1795-1796, p. 306 (Reel 99), Land grant 10 May 1796, Johnston, William grantee, 150 acres on the waters of Indian Creek a branch of New river and adjoing. the lands of Patrick Kenan, Edward Heathers &c. (Greenbrier). (https://lva.primo.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/01LVA_INST/altrmk/alma990007778620205756 : accessed 28 April 2013). 
  10. Laidley’s History, page 235, Cabin Creek District. 
  11. Laidley’s History, page 979, Julian M. Johnson. 
  12. Larry Heffner, email dated 10 August 2004 in reply to my request for information on the marriage papers of Martin Sims and Susanna Johnson in the archives of the Greenbrier Historical Society. “The Marriage bond on file with the Historical Society is for Martin Sims & Susanna Johnson and is dated 28 March 1800.  There is also a permission slip dated 24 March 1800 signed by Susanna’s father, William Johnson.” 
  13. The History of Fayette County West Virginia 1993; sponsored and published by the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce. 
  14. Laidley’s History, page 979, Julian M. Johnson biography, “William Johnson, Sr. died on Gauley December 22, 1805. His wife lived until December 23, 1837.” (https://archive.org/details/historyofcharles00laid/page/978 : accessed 8 Oct 2015). 
  15. West Virginia Vital Research Records Project (database and images), West Virginia Division of Culture and History citing county records in county courthouses, West Virginia (A collaborative venture between the West Virginia State Archives and the Genealogical Society of Utah to place vital records online via the West Virginia Archives and History Web site accessible at https://archive.wvculture.org/vrr), West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 521719, image 214, page 73, marriages performed by Edward Hughes, 23 Apr 1810, Benjamin Darlington and Polly Johnson. (http://images.wvculture.org/521719/00214.jpg : accessed 2 September 2022). 
  16. 1810 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7613/), citing Third Census of the United States, 1810 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M252, 71 rolls, FHL 0181429, roll 69, image 405, Virginia, Kanawha, Kanawha, page 129, sheet 207A, line 20, Anne Johnston (accessed 6 February 2018). 
  17. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 521719, image 79, page 74, James Johnson and Elizabeth Miller, married 4 May 1813 by Edward Hughes. (http://images.wvculture.org/521719/00079.jpg : accessed 1 September 2022). 
  18. Ibid., West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 521719, image 215, Kanawha Marriage Records, page 74, line 20, 29 Apr 1813, James Johnson and Elizabeth Miller. (http://images.wvculture.org/521719/00215.jpg : accessed 1 September 2022). 
  19. Ibid., West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 521719, image 78, page 15, Kanawha, Nelson Johnson and Nancy Murphy, married in 1813 by John Lee. (http://images.wvculture.org/521719/00078.jpg : accessed 1 September 2022). 
  20. Ibid., West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 521719, image 215, Kanawha County, Marriage Records, page 74, line 16, William Johnson and Nancy Sims 15 Oct 1814. (http://images.wvculture.org/521719/00215.jpg : accessed 20 January 2020). 
  21. Wikipedia contributors, “Loop Creek (West Virginia),” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Loop_Creek_(West_Virginia)&oldid=1094195964 : accessed September 1, 2022). 
  22. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 521719, image 215, Kanawha Marriage Records, page 75, line 7, Payton Foster and Nancy Johnson, 11 Jan 1815. (http://images.wvculture.org/521719/00215.jpg : accessed 1 September 2022). 
  23. Ibid., West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 521719, image 180, Kanawha Marriages performed by Edward Hughes, Turley Foster and Anny Johnson, 16 Nov 1816. (http://images.wvculture.org/521719/00180.jpg : accessed 1 September 2022). 
  24. Ibid., West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 521719, image 215, Kanawha Marriage Records, page 75, line 8, Turley Foster and Amia Johnson, 18 Nov 1816. (http://images.wvculture.org/521719/00215.jpg : accessed 1 September 2022). 
  25. The source of Alexander’s date of birth is unknown. I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has the source for the 10 June 1819 date of birth. 
  26. 1820 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7734/), citing Fourth Census of the United States, 1820 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M33, 142 rolls, NARA Roll M33_130, image 388, Virginia, Nicholas, page 204B, line 31, William Johnson (accessed 21 February 2018). 
  27. Luella Loving Lowther (1929-2019), William Johnson Jr.-Nancy Ann Sims Family Group Sheet, supplied by Lowther, Klamath Falls, OR, 2019. This sheet offers only a list of materials used, with no specific documentation for any piece of data. Publications used were checked with the likely source for dates of birth, marriage, and death (that could not be confirmed with other sources) coming from the Family Group Sheet of Johnson supplied by Dreama J. Blevins Stewart (1943-2012). 
  28. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 495643, image 38, Re-Index and Copy of Marriage Record No. 1 – Nicholas County, 3/12/1822 Presley L. Foster and Elizabeth Johnson married by John Campbell. (http://images.wvculture.org/495643/00038.jpg : accessed 1 September 2022). 
  29. Ibid., West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 495643, image 61, Re-Index and Copy of Marriage Record No. 1 – Nicholas County, 6 March 1823, James Johnson and Sarah Legg married by John Campbell. (http://images.wvculture.org/495643/00061.jpg : accessed 1 September 2022). 
  30. See Note 2, supra. 
  31. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 495643, image 38, Re-Index and Copy of Marriage Record No. 1 – Nicholas County, 6 Sep 1825, Peyton Foster and Sarah Sims, married by John Campbell. (http://images.wvculture.org/495643/00038.jpg : accessed 1 September 2022). It is assumed that Nancy Johnson was deceased when Peyton Foster married. 
  32. See Note 27, supra. 
  33. 1830 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/8058/), citing Fifth Census of the United States, 1830 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M19, 201 rolls, NARA Roll M19_191, FHL Film 0029670, Virginia, Kanawha, image 37 of 84, page 198 (double-page spread), line 7, William Johnston (accessed 3 March 2018). 
  34. Laidley’s History, page 820-821, article on W.S. Bean. (https://archive.org/details/historyofcharles00laid/page/821/mode/1up : accessed 1 September 2022). 
  35. 1900 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7602/), citing Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T623, 1854 rolls, Roll: 1762; FHL microfilm: 1241762; West Virginia, Kanawha County, Mairs, Enumeration District 59, sheet 22B, household 328-329, line 56-58, William B. Martin and wife Nancy (born Aug 1835) (accessed 1 September 2022). 
  36. He was last seen on the 1835 PPT list of Nicholas County. His widow was on the list from 1836. There may be court records to prove the year of death – that need to be checked. 
  37. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 584764, image 196, Fayette County Marriages, page 13, 4th entry, Nelson Johnson and Elisabeth Huse married on 14 Sep 1837 by John Johnson. (http://images.wvculture.org/584764/00196.jpg : accessed 24 April 2022). 
  38. From the writings of Laura Blake, a local historian 
  39. 1860 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7667/), citing Eighth Census of the United States, 1860 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M653, 1,438 rolls, Roll: M653_1356; FHL Film 805356; Virginia, Kanawha County, page 113, lines 21-25, household 788-788, William Johnson (accessed 5 June 2018). 
  40. See Note 27, supra. 
  41. Sissonville A Time to Remember, The Sissonville Historical Awareness Committee, pg. 108, Miller (an article on this family) (http://sites.rootsweb.com/~wvkanawh/Sissonville/hphphp186.jpg : accessed 31 August 2022) 
  42. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 584764, image 198, page 17, Martin Sims and Margaret Hughes married 6 June 1840 by E V B__g (illegible). (http://images.wvculture.org/584764/00198.jpg : accessed 2 September 2022). Susannah Johnson’s widower Martin Sims marries. 
  43. 1840 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), <i>Ancestry</i> (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/8057/), citing Sixth Census of the United States, 1840 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M704, 580 rolls, NARA Roll M704_555, FHL Film 0029685, Virginia, Fayette, sheet 145 (double-page spread), line 23, William Johnson Sr. ‎(accessed 5 June 2018). 
  44. “War of 1812 Pension Files,” database and images, Fold3, citing “War of 1812 Pension and Bounty land Warrant Application Files,” compiled ca. 1871–1900, documenting the period 1812–ca.1900, National Archives, Washington, D.C., original data from The National Archives (http://www.archives.gov), Roll: RG15-1812PB-Bx1282, War of 1812 Widow’s Pension File, Wid Orig. 43160, Soldier: Foster, Presley; Widow: Foster, Lucresia; Service: Virginia Militia, image 36 and 40 of 42, 9 Feb 1843 marriage of Presley Foster and Lucretia Bailes in Nicholas County,. (https://www.fold3.com/image/312366094 : accessed 2 September 2022). 
  45. See Note 27, supra. 

Hezekiah SUMNER

Door17Hezekiah SUMNER (abt. 1750-1823) of Botetourt and Montgomery County, Virginia

Hezekiah came to America from Wales about 1760-1765 according to family oral tradition. He may have migrated down Shenandoah Valley from the north or from the Tidewater area. Neither has been proven.

He was said to have been a known Tory, however, pension records show that he gave public service during the American Revolution being assigned to Capt. Easom’s Co., August 31, 1782, in Botetourt County, Virginia, to serve for three years.
Between 1786 and 1808 he obtained by land grants 596 acres on both sides of the Little River in Botetourt and Montgomery counties. He also bought land adjacent to his property in 1790 (acreage unknown). The 4 land grants (totaling 596 acres) were found in the Library of Virginia’s Land Office Grants database.

Marriage records have not been found. Isabella may have been his first wife as she is listed on son Owen’s death record as the mother. His will names Mary as his wife.
He died between 16 Nov 1822 (will) and Mar 1823 (probate) in Montgomery County, Virginia (Wills – Bk. 3 p. 522). [Need lookup for will!]

Known children were Rebecca Ann (md. Jacob England), Charity (md. Ralph Ratliffe), Priscilla (md. Joseph Harris), Owen (md. 1. Sarah Newton 2. Levina Sowers), Isaiah (md. Nancy Hungate), and Susannah (mentioned in father’s will, no further information known).

Lots of research still needs to be done on Hezekiah SUMNER and his descendants.

Don’t assume family tradition is right until you’ve proven it correct.

© 2013, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.