The Ancestors: Bailey WOOD and Nancy, his wife (392 & 393)

Once you’ve worked your way back to ancestors who lived in America in the late 18th and early 19th century, it becomes more difficult to gather the records to tell their stories. This is the case with most of my paternal 5th great-grandparents.

Difficult does not mean impossible.

Bailey and Nancy WOOD are a set of these 5th great-grandparents. They lived in the counties of Greenbrier, Monroe, and Nicholas in western Virginia (present-day West Virginia) as early as 1781 and as late as 1826. Neither were ever listed by name on a census. Neither left a known marriage record. Neither left a birth or death record.

They were likely born about 1750 in unknown parts. Bailey as will be seen below, died about 1820 while Nancy lived at least until 1826.

Two important records have been found by previous family researchers that help to tell a part of their story. One of these is from 1781 and gives insight into the religion of the family while the other is from 1826 and concerns land owned by Bailey WOOD.

Original Members of the Old Greenbrier Church

On 24 November 1781, the Baptist faith gained a more permanent footing in the Greenbrier region when Pastor John ALDERSON organized the Old Greenbrier Church at Alderson. It was the first Baptist organization west of the Alleghenies and the oldest of any denomination to be established in this section of the country. Its twelve original members were John ALDERSON, Mary ALDERSON, Thomas ALDERSON, John KIPPERS, John SHEPPERD, John SKAGGS, Katherine SKAGGS, Joseph SKAGGS, Lucy SKAGGS, Bailey WOOD, Ann WOOD, and James WOOD.1

Is has been assumed by many WOOD descendants that Ann WOOD who was a charter member of the church was Bailey’s wife. However, an 1826 record names his wife as Nancy WOOD. Were Ann WOOD and Nancy WOOD the same person? To answer this, the record from 1826 needs to be examined.

1826 Indenture

This 1826 indenture is a deed of bargain and sale by the heirs of Bailey WOOD to John ALDERSON.2 For easier reading commas missing in the original have been added to this transcription in red.

This indenture made the 21st day of September one thousand eight hundred and twenty six between James Wood & Polly his wife, Bailey Wood and Lucretia his wife, William Wood & Mary his wife, Richard Skaggs and Susannah his wife, Martin McGraw & Nancy his wife, Samuel McGraw and Elizabeth his wife, Katherine Wood, heirs and legal representatives of Bailey Wood decd and Nancy Wood widow of Bailey Wood decd of the county of Nicholas and state of Virginia of the one part and John Alderson of the County of Monroe and state aforesaid of the other part. Witnesseth that the said heirs & widow of Bailey Wood Decd for and in consideration of the sum of one dollar to them in hand paid the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged have bargained and sold and by these presents do bargain and sell unto the said John Alderson and his heirs a certain tract or parcel of land containing one hundred acres more or less lying on the south side of the Greenbrier river in Monroe County adjoining the lands of William Johnson and James Graham and bounded as followeth. To wit: Beginning at a popular and beech corner to John Lusk on the south side of the river and with his line S12° E74 poles to 2 Beaches S55° E64 poles to a poplar & sugar tree S22 poles to a poplar and white oak nigh a draugh S75° E38 poles to 2 Buckeye N30° E27 poles to a buckeye and sugar tree N22° W8 poles to 2 Elms N30° E50 poles to 2 hickories N10° E42 poles to 2 Buckeyes N23° W36 poles crossing the river to 2 birches on the river bank and from there to the beginning with all its appurtenances. To have and to hold the said tract or parcel of Land with its appurtenances & with all and singular the appurtenances heriditriments thereunto belonging and the said heirs & widow aforesaid do covenant with the said John Alderson the said tract or parcel of Land from themselves & from their heirs Executors & administrators the tract or parcel of land aforesaid from all and every person or persons will warrant and forever defend in witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands and seals this day and date first above written.

James Wood (seal)
Polly (her X mark) Wood (seal)
Bailey Wood (seal)
Lucretia (her X mark) Wood (seal)
Wm Wood (seal)
Mary (her X mark) Wood (seal)
Richard (his o mark) Skaggs (seal)
Susannah (her X mark) Skaggs (seal)
Martin Magraw (seal)
Nancy (her X mark) McGraw (seal)
Saml McGraw (seal)
Elizabeth (her X mark) McGraw (seal)
Katherine (her X mark) Wood (seal)
Nancy (her X mark) Wood (seal)

Nicholas County to wit:
We William Carnefix and James Skaggs justice of the Peace of the County of Nicholas and the state of Virginia do hereby certify that James Wood, Bailey Wood, William Wood, Richard Skaggs, Martin McGraw, Samuel McGraw parties to a certain deed bearing date 21st September 1826 and hereunto annexed personally appeared before us in our county aforesaid and acknowledged the same to be their act and deed & desired us to certify the said acknowledgment to the Clerk of the County Court of Monroe in order that the said deed may be recorded. Given under our hands and seals this 21st day of Septr 1826.

W. Carnefix (seal)
James Skaggs (seal)

Nicholas County
We William Carnefix and James Skaggs justices of the peace in the County of Nicholas aforesaid in the state of Virginia do hereby certify the Polly Wood the wife of James Wood Lucretia Wood the wife of Bailey Wood, Mary Wood the wife of William Wood, Susannah Skaggs the wife of Richard Skaggs, Nancy McGraw the wife of Martin McGraw, Elizabeth McGraw the wife of Samuel McGraw, Katherine Wood and Nancy Wood widow of Bailey Wood, decd parties to a certain Deed bearing date the 21st of September 1826 and hereunto annexed personally appeared before us in our county aforesaid and being examined by us privily and apart from their said (said marked out) husbands and having the deed aforesaid fully explained to them they the said Polly Wood, Lucretia Wood, Mary Wood, Susannah Skaggs, Nancy McGraw, Elizabeth McGraw, Katherine Wood and Nancy Wood widow of Bailey Wood decd acknowledge the same to be their act and Deed and declared that they had willingly signed sealed and delivered the same and that they wished not to retract it.
Given under our hands and seals this 21st day of Septr 1826

W. Carnefix (seal)
James Skaggs (seal)

Monroe county clerks office February 10, 1842:
     This deed of bargain & sale from Bailey Woods heirs to John Alderson was acknowledged before two Magestrates in the county of Nicholas & certified and admitted to record.

Teste: Geo. Hutchinson, Jr, CMC

Transcription vs Original Record

Until last week I’d never seen the actual document. On New Year’s Day, I found the original record on FamilySearch. It seemed like a good omen for my genealogy research and a great start for the New Year 2020.

I did my own transcription even though I’ve had a transcript of this indenture for nearly two decades. I received it from a WOOD researcher and descendant, Vernon A. Fox (1924-2002), in an email dated 31 May 2001. My transcription is not 100% the same as the work sent to me by Mr. Fox. Some of the call lines did not match, several words were different, commas had been added, some words were missing, and abbreviated words and symbols had been written out. All of these differences could mean the transcriber was working from a different or less legible copy of the deed.

Narrowing the range for the date of death of Baily WOOD

It has been assumed Bailey WOOD died before 21 September 1826, the date of this indenture. He was not found in the 1810 or 1820 census, i.e. he was not found as a head of household. The 1800 census is lost for Virginia. Bailey did not leave a will in any of the counties he was known to have lived in. No administrative bonds for his estate were found. What other records did he produce which might narrow the range of death?

While checking the catalog at FamilySearch for records in Monroe County, West Virginia, I not only found the above indenture in the Deed Book but also the Land Books, registers in which the tax on land was recorded for each year since Monroe County was formed in 1799.

In the Land Book, I found the 100 acres mentioned in the deed above was taxed from 1810 until 1842. From 1810 to 1819 the owner is listed as Bailey WOOD. From 1821 to 1842 the owner is listed as “Bailey WOOD heirs.” The district in which the land was listed is missing for 1820. How was the landowner listed in 1820? As Bailey WOOD or his heirs? Even with this missing year, the death of Bailey WOOD can be estimated at between 1819-1821 as taxes were paid by him in 1819 and by his heirs in 1821.3

The Heirs and Legal Representatives of Bailey WOOD

Let’s take a look at the heirs and legal representatives. Who were they and when were they married? If their marriage records did not prove Bailey WOOD was their father, would they at least show the individuals were old enough to be children of Bailey and not grandchildren of deceased children?

The indenture shows Bailey WOOD left a widow named Nancy WOOD and the following heirs and legal representatives:

  • James Wood & Polly his wife
  • Bailey Wood & Lucretia his wife
  • William Wood & Mary his wife
  • Richard Skaggs & Susannah his wife
  • Martin McGraw & Nancy his wife
  • Samuel McGraw & Elizabeth his wife
  • Katherine Wood

Of the heirs who were married, records have been found for of all except Bailey WOOD Jr. and his wife Lucretia SKAGGS. All were performed by John ALDERSON – not unusual as the WOOD family were practicing Baptists and members of Alderson’s Old Greenbrier Church.

Susannah WOOD married Richard SKAGGS on 10 March 1789.4 The marriage entry does not name the parents of either the bride or groom.

William WOOD married Mary Ann McGRAW on 18 June 1800.5, 6, 7 Martin and Margaret McGRAW gave permission for their daughter to marry. John WOOD went bond with William WOOD on this marriage. The identity of John WOOD is unknown.

Nancy WOOD married Martin McGRAW Jr. on 3 May 1806.8 The marriage entry does not name parents of either Nancy or Martin.

Bailey WOOD Jr. married Lucretia SKAGGS, likely before 1807. No marriage record has been found. A similar indenture to the 1826 Wood indenture with heirs was found. This 1841 John SKAGGS heirs to Joshua ELLIS deed of bargain and sale includes Bailey WOOD and wife Lucretia as heirs of John SKAGGS who left a widow Catherine SKAGGS. This couple was two of the charter members of the Baptist church formed by John ALDERSON. This record proves Bailey WOOD Jr.’s wife Lucretia was a SKAGGS, daughter of John SKAGGS and Catherine HICKS.9

James WOOD married Mary HALSTEAD on 26 April 1810.10, 11, 12 Neither the marriage entry nor the bond gives information on the parentage of the bride and groom.

Elizabeth WOOD married Samuel McGRAW on 28 May 1812.13, 14 The marriage bond identifies Bailey WOOD as the father of Elizabeth WOOD.

Bailey WOOD was only identified as the father of Elizabeth, the youngest child who was the last to marry. As all of the other heirs married prior to Elizabeth they cannot be grandchildren and therefore must be children of Bailey WOOD.

As Katherine WOOD was named as an heir in 1826 she must have been of age (21 or older) at the time and born 1805 or earlier. An 1850 census listing for Fayette County was found for one Catherine WOOD age 56 (born abt. 1794) living in a SKAGGS household along with a man named James C. WOOD age 27.15 The two WOOD individuals are alone in a household in 1860. The occupation of the woman is governess but crossed out and replaced by wife even though the age of the man is 30 and the woman 60.16 This was done on several other listings on this census and cannot be reliable. I suspect this could be Bailey’s daughter Katherine and that she had a son out of wedlock. Further research is needed as neither were located in the census after 1860.

Who was Bailey WOOD’s wife?

Was Nancy WOOD named as the widow of Bailey WOOD in the indenture the mother of all of the children?

Bailey acquired 450 acres by grant in Greenbrier County in 1788.17 In 1803 he sold 127 acres of the 450 acres land grant to William GRAHAM.18 The other 323 acres were sold to Robert GWINN by Bailey WOOD and his wife Nancy in 1804.19 Nancy was, therefore, his wife as early as 1804.

Ann WOOD, a charter member of the baptist church (1781), was dismissed from the church on 23 April 1825 as was another woman named Polly WOOD.20 Members were dismissed when they left the church for other parts. As both of these women were dismissed on the same date, it would seem probable that they were from the same family. Polly WOOD could be Mary HALSTEAD, wife of James WOOD. If Polly was Mary, could Ann who had been a member for 44 years be her mother-in-law Nancy?

In 1820 Richard SKAGGS (husband of Susannah WOOD)21, William WOOD22, Martin McGRAW (husband of Mary WOOD)23, and Bailey WOOD Jr. were in Nicholas County. They had all moved to Nicholas County before the census.

James WOOD24 and Samuel McGRAW25 (husband of Elizabeth WOOD) were in Monroe County in 1820. James WOOD would move to Nicholas County by 1830. Samuel McGRAW would be in Greenbrier by 1825.

Only James WOOD’s census listing includes an older woman who could be his mother Nancy and a young woman who could be his single sister Katherine.

These census listings account for all of Bailey’s children and his widow in 1820. If my analysis is correct, Bailey WOOD must have died 1819-1820 after the land tax was recorded for 1819 and before the census was taken in 1820. This would support the assumption that the older woman in James’ household was Bailey’s widow Nancy.

Putting the speculation to rest

I strongly believe Ann and Nancy were used interchangeably by Bailey WOOD’s wife. To date, Nancy’s maiden name is unknown. There are hundreds of family trees on Ancestry that have her listed as Nancy HICKS. The maiden name is undocumented.

I found an old post on the Hicks Surname Forum on Genforum by Kitty Steele Barrera dated October 2006 in which she wrote, “I know that the Nancy Hicks/Bailey Wood connection is tentative because I was the first to make the connection. I posted “Bailey Wood married Nancy Hicks?” and before long, it was all over the internet as a fact.26 Kitty mentioned in another message in the same forum that she can be blamed for starting the rumor and the Hicks part is pure speculation.

It is pure speculation that Bailey’s wife Nancy was born Nancy HICKS.

Bailey and Nancy’s son William WOOD was my 4th great-grandfather. No record has been found indicating he had a middle initial or a middle name. As with his mother’s maiden name, William has also been given Hicks as a middle name by some unknown person and the mistake has been copied into hundreds of family trees.

The internet is an amazing tool for genealogy research however misinformation grows quickly and is widely spread. In hopes that this post will help clear up some of the misconceptions and encourage descendants of Bailey and Nancy WOOD to find the records to push back another generation.

© 2020, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Otis K. Rice, A History of Greenbrier County, Lewisburg, W. Va. : Greenbrier Historical Society, 1986, page 193. 
  2. County Clerk of the County Court, Monroe County (West Virginia), “Deed book, 1789-1901” and “Deed index, 1789-1969” (manuscript on film, browse-only images), FamilySearch (Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1969; 34 microfilm reels; 35 mm), Film 589502, DGS 8219401, Deed book, v. N 1840-1846, pages 187-189, image 124+125 of 411. Citing microfilm of original records at the Monroe County courthouse, Union. 1826 Bailey Wood heirs to John Alderson deed of bargain and sale. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSGX-491G-C?i=123&cat=98998 : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  3. Monroe County (West Virginia) County Assessor, “Land book, 1799-1900” (manuscript on film, browse-only images), FamilySearch (Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1968; 12 microfilm reels, 35 mm). Citing microfilm of original records at the State Auditor’s Office, Charleston. (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/60462?availability=Family%20History%20Library : accessed 5 January 2020). 
  4. West Virginia Vital Research Records Project (database and images), West Virginia Division of Culture and History (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 http://www.wvculture.org/vrr), West Virginia, Greenbrier County, 10 March 1789, Susannah Wood and Richard Scags married by John Alderson. 1789 Marriage Record (right page, 7th entry from bottom). Note: bride indexed as Ward and image could be Ward or Wood. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=10975982&Type=Marriage : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  5. Ibid., West Virginia, Monroe County, 18 June 1800, William Wood and Mary Ann McGraw, permission slip from her parents. “June /newline/ Sir, this coms (sic) to let you now (sic) that I Marten and Marget Mcgraw is wiling that William Wood should have our daughter Mary Ann /newline/ To John Hutchason (Clerk) /newline/ The above was sworn to by John Wood one of the witnesses present.” 1800 Marriage Permission Slip. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11370465&Type=Marriage : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  6. Ibid., West Virginia, Monroe County, Marriage Bond dated 18 June 1800 for the marriage of William Wood and Mary Ann McGraw. “Marriage Bond #39 William Wood and John Wood went bond on the marriage of William Wood and Mary Anne McGraw (both of Monroe) on 18 June 1800 in Monroe County, Virginia.” 1800 Marriage Bond (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11370480&Type=Marriage : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  7. Ibid., West Virginia, Monroe County, 18 June 1800 William Wood and Mary Ann McGraw married by John Alderson. 1800 Marriage Record entry (right page, 1st entry under Alderson). (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11369625&Type=Marriage : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  8. Ibid., West Virginia, Monroe County, 3 May 1806, Nancy Wood and Martin McGraw married by John Alderson, banns were published. 1806 Marriage Record (right page, 4th entry from bottom). (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11369727&Type=Marriage : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  9. County Clerk of the County Court, Monroe County (West Virginia), “Deed book, 1789-1901” and “Deed index, 1789-1969,” Film 589504, DGS 8219402, Deed book, v. P-Q 1846-1852, pages 487-490, image 686+687 of 743. Citing microfilm of original records at the Monroe County courthouse, Union. 1841 John Skaggs heirs to Joshua Ellis deed of bargain and sale. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSGX-49SY-L?cat=98998 : accessed 1 January 2020). 
  10. West Virginia Vital Research Records Project, West Virginia, Monroe County, 17 April 1810, James Wood and James M. Condon went bond for the marriage of James Wood to Mary Halstead. 1810 Marriage Bond. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11371453&Type=Marriage : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  11. Ibid., West Virginia, Monroe County, 26 April 1810, James Wood and Mary Halstead by John Alderson. 1810 Application for the marriage license. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11369951&Type=Marriage : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  12. Ibid., West Virginia, Monroe County, 26 April 1810, James Wood and Mary Halstead married by John Alderson. 1810 Marriage Record entry (right page, last entry). (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11369380&Type=Marriage : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  13. Ibid., West Virginia, Monroe County, marriage bond dated 19 May 1812, Samuel McGraw and Bailey Wood went bond on the marriage of Bailey’s daughter Elizabeth Wood and Samuel McGraw. 1812 Marriage Bond. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11371819&Type=Marriage : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  14. Ibid., West Virginia, Monroe County, 28 May 1812, Samuel McGraw and Elizabeth Wood married by John Alderson. 1812 Marriage Record entry (right page, 6th entry). (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11369509&Type=Marriage : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  15. 1850 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry, citing Seventh Census of the United States, 1850 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M432, 1009 rolls, Year: 1850; Census Place: District 14, Fayette, Virginia; Roll: M432_943; Page: 336B; Image: 278. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 8 January 2020). 
  16. 1860 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, 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, Year: 1860; Census Place: District 3, Fayette, Virginia; Roll: M653_1344; Page: 373; Family History Library Film: 805344. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 8 January 2020). 
  17. “Land Office/Northern Neck Patents & Grants” (index and images from microfilm), Virginia State Land Office, Grants A-Z, 1-124, reels 42-190; Virginia State Land Office, Grants 125- , reels 369-. The collection is housed in the Archives at the Library of Virginia, Library of Virginia Archives, https://www.lva.virginia.gov/ (Records on Library of Virginia site accessible through the new Collections Discovery System https://lva.primo.exlibrisgroup.com/discovery/search?vid=01LVA_INST:01LVA&lang=en), Land Office Grants No. 18, 1788-1789, p. 269 (Reel 84). Wood, Bailey Land grant 31 July 1788, 450 acres on the south side of Greenbrier River adjoining the land or James Givin and the land of Mathias Keen.(https://lva.primo.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/01LVA_INST/18mtacj/alma990008443800205756 : accessed 24 April 2013). 
  18. County Clerk of the County Court, Monroe County (West Virginia), “Deed book, 1789-1901” and “Deed index, 1789-1969,” Film 589348, GDS 8152873, Deed book, v. A 1789-1805, pages 280-281, image 369+370 of 463. Citing microfilm of original records at the Monroe County courthouse, Union. 1803 Bailey Wood to William Graham 127a. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSKV-23MT-F?i=368&cat=98998 : accessed 1 January 2020). 
  19. Ibid., Film 589348, GDS 8152873, Deed book, v. A 1789-1805, pages 330-331, image 394+395 of 463. Citing microfilm of original records at the Monroe County courthouse, Union. 1804 Bailey Wood and Nancy to Robert Gwinn 323a.(https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSKV-23M5-S?i=393&cat=98998 : accessed 1 January 2020). 
  20. Journal of the Greenbrier Historial Society, page 92. Greenbrier Historical Society, Lewisburg, West Virginia (a yearly publication, year unknown). (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 2 August 2017, courtesy of Kitty Steele Barrera) 
  21. 1820 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Fourth Census of the United States, 1820 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M33, 142 rolls, 1820 US Census; Census Place: Nicholas, Virginia; Page: 204A; NARA Roll: M33_130; Image: 388. Richard Skaggs household (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 8 January 2020). 
  22. Ibid., 1820 US Census; Census Place: Nicholas, Virginia; Page: 205A; NARA Roll: M33_130; Image: 389. William Wood and Bailey Wood households (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 8 January 2020). 
  23. Ibid., 1820 US Census; Census Place: Nicholas, Virginia; Page: 204; NARA Roll: M33_130; Image: 387. Martin McGraw household (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 8 January 2020). 
  24. Ibid., 1820 US Census; Census Place: Union, Monroe, Virginia; Page: 188; NARA Roll: M33_133; Image: 227. James Wood household (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 8 January 2020). 
  25. Ibid., 1820 US Census; Census Place: Peterstown, Monroe, Virginia; Page: 179; NARA Roll: M33_133; Image: 218. Samuel McGraw household (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 8 January 2020). 
  26. Kitty Steele, “Re: Bailey Woods and Nancy Hicks,” Hicks Surname Forum, 29 October 2006, message 9940, Genealogy.com, GenForum (https://www.genealogy.com/forum/surnames/topics/hicks/9940/ : accessed 1/1/2020)