“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 #46 in Amy Johnson Crow’s Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.
52 Ancestors: #46 Zachariah PETERS of Franklin County, Virginia, Father of a War of 1812 Veteran
Zachariah PETERS was born between 1766-1770 in Amherst County, Virginia, and died between 1830-1840 in Franklin County, Virginia. Although much genealogy research has been done on him by people before me, his parents are to date not known (proven).
Paula Kelley Ward, who is to be credited for her work on this family, hired Andrew S. Webb, of Lineages, Inc., to do research in 2001-2002. After seven sessions of research Mr. Webb concluded that circumstantial evidence suggests that John PETERS was the father of Zachariah PETERS as well as James PETERS and Elisha PETERS.
First let’s analyze the census and tax lists to determine when my 4th great-grandfather Zachariah was born. The estimation “between 1766-1770” was made from the age ranges seen on the 1810 to 1830 census of Franklin County, Virginia.
- 1810 – age 26 & under 45 (1766 or later)
- 1820 – age 45 & over (1775 or earlier > 1766-1775)
- 1830 – age 60 & under 70 (between 1761-1770 > 1766-1770)
If the age range was correct in these three census years then he should have appeared in personal property tax lists beginning no later than 1791. Mr. Webb wrote in his report on the first session, “Personal property tax lists of Amherst County, Virginia, were searched for anyone with the surname PETERS or PETER.” He found and listed all PETERS men for the years 1788 to 1797. Zachariah was found on:
- 18 June 1793 with 1 tithable, 3 horses
- 1794 – not found
- 13 Apr 1795 with 1 tithable, 2 horses
- 15 May 1796 with 1 tithable, 1 horse
- 21 Jul 1797 with 1 tithable, 0 horses
Why did Zachariah go from having 3 horses to two to one to none? I had to ask the question, even though I don’t have an answer.
Surviving personal tax records for Virginia counties starting in 1782 are available on microfilm at the Library of Virginia or through interlibrary loan. Two sets for Amherst, 1790 and 1799, are available online, and can be used as a substitute for the 1790 and 1800 census.
I found Zachariah in the Personal Property Tax list of Amherst County, Virginia, in 1790. In this case Zachariah was a white tithable listed with the taxpayer Thomas NEVIL, the white tithable over the age of twenty-one. As Zachariah was not the person charged with tax he most likely was a tithable between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one. What can this mean? Is there a family relationship between Zachariah PETERS and Thomas NEVIL or his wife of two years Elizabeth TILLER?
Mr. Webb missed Zachariah PETERS in 1790. In his report he wrote, “The appearance of Zachariah in Amherst in 1793 suggests that he lived in another county before 1793.” He does not speculate on why he was not on the 1794 tax list.
I suspect that Mr. Webb consulted only the pages with the surnames beginning with P. If he had searched through all pages he would have found Zachariah in 1790. I realize that a hired researcher works under the restraints of the client’s purse and doesn’t have the time to search page for page.
This brings up the question: Was Zachariah perhaps listed with another taxpayer in 1791 and 1792 as he was with Thomas NEVIL in 1790? I am nearly certain that Zachariah was not with a NEVIL or NEVILLE individual as researchers on the NEVILLE mailing list discussed the tax records of that family in January and February 2000 and mention finding Zachariah in 1790 with Thomas NEVIL. I discovered this conversation only after viewing the 1790 tax lists online.
Mr. Webb suggested that as a young, single man, Zachariah may have found work outside of the county of his birth, returning to Amherst County to marry and settle down, at least until he moved to Franklin County, Virginia. This could in fact be a good possibility as I recently received this listing of marriage bonds of Amherst County in which the groom was listed as being from Bedford County. I submitted a photo duplication request for the marriage record found in “Virginia, Marriages, 1785-1940” on FamilySeach.org. Will it have more information? I’ve only used this service a few times and so far all requests were received between 7-9 days. At this rate I should have it in time for 52 Ancestors: #47 Kesiah LIVELY, wife of Zachariah PETERS. (UPDATE!)
Zacharias PETERS and Kesiah LIVELY were married in Amherst County on 18 November 1794. Bondsman (surety) on the marriage bond was Austin WOODY. The marriage was celebrated by the Rev. Ezekiel CAMPBELL. 
Two years later, on 21 November 1796, Zacharias and Kesiah were seen selling her part of her father Joseph LIVELY’s estate, 44 acres in Amherst County, to William LOVING.
The image for the 1799 Personal Property Tax list shows Zachariah followed by Elisha Peters. As the lists are in alphabetical order one cannot tell if they lived close to one another or not. However on the earlier tax lists found by Mr. Webb, Elisha and Zachariah were visited the same day in 1795 indicating that they must have lived close to each other.
On 7 February 1800 Zachariah PETERS and Elisha PETERS were witnesses on the following deed:
Amherst County, Virginia, Deed Book I, page 129: Abstract: Rich BREEDLOVE & wife Mildred, to Nelson ANDERSON for $300, 180 acres branches S fork Rockfish. Lines: Jno. BALL, Wm. KEY, Glade road, Wm. CABELL, Jas. NEVIL, Thos. KEYS. Witnesses: Zach. NEVIL, Elisha PETERS, Zach. PETERS, Carel EADS.
Once again the NEVIL name comes up as well as KEY and KEYS. Only neighbors or is there a closer relationship?
Zachariah’s Possible Parentage and Siblings
A closer analysis of abstracted records that were found previously found evidence suggesting that James, Zachariah, and Elisha PETERS were the sons of John PETERS. John does not appear to have owned land in Amherst County, but the deeds that he witnessed give a fairly clear picture of where and when he lived. John lived in the same area in which James, Zachariah, and Elisha lived. John was also closely associated with many of the same people and families with which Elisha and Zachariah were closely associated. John appears to have lived as an adult in Amherst County from 1761 through 1772. John might have died about 1773, leaving at least three very young children.
This was one of the summaries made by Mr. Webb in his research reports which total 77 pages. In another summary he wrote:
Although no document clearly stating their relationship has been found yet, their ages suggest that they might have been brothers, with James born about 1765, Zachariah born between 1765 and 1770, and Elisha born in 1772. All three owned land in what is today the southern part of Nelson County.
Without going into this any further I would like to give a brief run-through of the persons who may be the father and brothers of my Zachariah PETERS.
Father: John PETERS (1730- ) Birth Abt 1730/1731 in England. In September 1755, John PETER enlisted in Captain David BELL’s Company in Albemarle County. John was twenty-four years old, and five feet, four and a half inches tall. He was a weaver by occupation. John was born in England, was dark with black hair and pitted with small pox.
Sibling 1: James PETERS (1765-1823) born about 1765. He married Elizabeth STEVENS (1776-1850) on 11 March 1793 in Amherst County, Virginia. He died 1 November 1823 in Nelson County, Virginia.
Sibling 2: Elisha PETERS (1773-1862) born about 1773. He married(1) Jane TILLER (d. bef. 1806) on 1 June 1792 in Amherst County, Virginia. He married(2) Cynthia TURNER on 17 February 1806 in Amherst County. Elisha died before 24 Mar 1862 in Bedford County, Virginia.
DNA May Put a New Spin on Zachariah’s Ancestry
A descendant of Elisha PETERS and Cynthia TURNER has done autosomal DNA testing and has a match with a descendant of Zachariah PETERS and Kesiah LIVELY. He wrote, “Ancestry.com said there was a 95% confidence level that [the test person] is a 4th to 6th cousin. By the birth dates, Zachariah and Elisha would be either brothers or cousins.” When it comes to DNA I am lacking in knowledge and, although normally optimistic, wonder if the connection might be for another ancestor.
Sylvia who shared the page with the Amherst marriage bonds (above) wrote on 14 November 2014, “You might be interested to know that before my father’s nephew’s death, he submitted 2 DNA samples for analysis. Both proved to be closer in match to men with the surnames of KEY and MUNDY.” We have not discussed this further and Mundy is a name I haven’t run across.
From Amherst County to Franklin County
We know that Zachariah PETERS remained in Amherst County until 1803 when he was last seen in the Personal Property Tax lists of the county. While living in Amherst Zachariah and his wife Kesiah had at least four children. My 3rd great-grandfather Jordan N. PETERS (1796-1890) born 10 October 1796 was most likely their first born.
By 1810 Zachariah had moved his little family to Franklin County, Virginia, were he was seen in the census with 4 sons, 4 daughters and his wife Kesiah. His family was no longer little!
1810 U.S. Federal Census
Franklin County, Virginia
2 males under 10 yo (Willis & son b. 1801-1810)
2 males 10 & under 15 yo (Jordan & William)
1 male 26 & under 45 (Zachariah)
2 females under 10 yo (Elizabeth & Lucy)
2 females 10 & under 15 (Mary and daughter b. bet. 1796-1800)
1 female 26 & under 45 (Kesiah)
1820 U.S. Federal Census
Franklin County, Virginia
2 males under 10 yo (Joseph b. 1810 and 1 son b. 1811-1815)
1 male 45 yo & upwards (Zachariah)
2 females under 10 yo (Susannah and daughter b. 1811-1815)
2 females 10 & under 16 yo (Elizabeth & Lucy)
2 females 16 & under 26 yo (Mary and daughter b. bet. 1796-1800)
1 female 45 yo & upwards ( Kesiah)
1 person engaged in commerce
1830 U.S. Federal Census
Franklin County, Virginia
2 males 15 & under 20 yo (Joseph and son b. 1811-1815)
1 male 60 & under 70 yo (Zachariah range 1761-1770)
1 female under 5 yo (granddaughter?)
2 females 15 & under 20 yo (Susannah and daughter b. 1811-1815)
1 female 20 & under 30 yo (daughter b. bet. 1796-1800?)
1 female 50 & under 60 yo (Kesiah)
At this time not all of Zachariah and Kesiah’s children are known by name. These are the known and unknown children:
- Ch 1: Jordan N. PETERS born 10 October 1796. Jordan married(1) Mary “Polly” TROUP (1799-1837) on 6 October 1817 in Franklin County, Virginia. Jordan married(2) Sarah COX ( -1841) on 15 August 1837 in Franklin County, Virginia. Jordan N. PETERS married(3) Rachel PROFFITT (1817-1899) on 8 December 1841 in Franklin County, Virginia. He died 14 Octocber 1890 in Nettle Ridge, Patrick County, Virginia.
- Ch 2: Mary PETERS born bet. 1796-1800. Mary married Samuel SMITH (1800-1884) on 18 December 1823 in Franklin County, Virginia. Her brother William PETERS was surety.
- Ch 3: [–?–] PETERS (female) born bet. 1796-1800
- Ch 4: William PETERS born about 1798. William married Alice “Alla” TROUP (1795-1841) 12 December 1818 in Franklin County, Virginia. William married(2) Lydia KEMPLIN (1821-1866) on 27 March 1841 in Franklin County, Virginia. Jesse EDWARDS, husband of Betsy, was surety on marriage which took place after Zachariah PETERS’ death.
- Ch 5: Elizabeth “Betsy” PETERS born about 1805. Betsy married Jesse EDWARDS (1803-1870) on 17 June 1826 in Franklin County, Virginia. Zachariah PETERS was surety. She died between 1880-1890.
- Ch 6: Lucy PETERS born about 1807. Lucy married Joseph JARRELL (1807- ) on 4 October 1827 in Franklin County, Virginia. Zachariah PETERS was surety. They may have gone to Tennessee.
- Ch 7: [–?–] PETERS (male) born bet. 1801-1810
- Ch 8: Willis PETERS born 23 Apr 1808. Willis married Ruth SMITH (1809-1884) on 21 March 1829 in Franklin County, Virginia. He died 30 March 1882 in Franklin County, Virginia. His death record names Zachariah PETERS as his father.
- Ch 9: Joseph PETERS born 10 Dec 1810. Joseph married Martha “Patsy” SMITH (1811-1888) on 1 September 1830 in Franklin County, Virginia. He died 14 February 1892 in Rocky Station, Lee County, Virginia.
- Ch 10: [–?–] PETERS (male) born bet. 1811-1815
- Ch 11: [–?–] PETERS (female) born bet. 1811-1815
- Ch 12: Susannah PETERS born about 1815. Susannah married Andrew REEL (1813-1870) on 16 October 1839 in Franklin County, Virginia. Her father was most likely already deceased as Wm Hixon went bond. Susannah died after 1880.
Research of the Zachariah PETERS’ family is made more difficult by the fact that another group of people of German origin with the surname PETERS were living in Franklin County when Zachariah moved there.
Zachariah PETERS and his wife Kesiah LIVELY died sometime after the 1830 census and before the 1840 census.
 William Montgomery Sweeny, Marriage Bonds and Other Marriage Records of Amherst County, Virginia 1763-1800 (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1973). Paula K. Ward, email dated 21 Nov 2004, her source: letter dated 1978 to PKW from Mrs. Gertrude C. Mann, Rocky Mount, Virginia.
 Rev. Bailey Fulton Davis, The Deeds of Amherst County, Virginia, 1761-1807, and Albemarle County, Virginia, 1748-1763, Southern Historical Press, 1979, pages 126-127.
 Ibid., page 360
 Andrew S. Webb, Genealogist at Lineages Inc., Research Report (#38772 – Ward) 21 January 2002
 Andrew S. Webb, Genealogist at Lineages Inc., Research Report (#38772 – Ward) 17 September 2001
 Lloyd DeWitt Bockstruck, Virginia’s Colonial Soldiers (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1988), 64. Reference document 8.
© 2014 Cathy Meder-Dempsey