In an earlier post, I proposed the two earliest Parkers (John Parker of the Staunton River and William Parker of the Pigg River, the one married to Henrietta) of Bedford/Pittsylvania Counties probably came from the Parker/Donoho family from Essex Country, Virginia who moved to Bedford County after the death of the patriarch, Thoms Parker. I said there were some facts that didn’t fit but I have since come to abandon that theory altogether regarding John Parker of the Staunton River. Joe Crouch from this forum pointed out that John and Thomas, sons of Thomas Parker and Mildred Donohue from Essex are well documented as the Parkers who were assigned Edward Donaho as their guardian, lived in Bedford County, and later moved to Sumner County TN where they lived near a Thomas Donaho. John Parker 1768-1825, married Rhoda Renfro and Thomas Parker 1750-1810, married Judith Rentfro. To cinch the connection of this John of Sumner County, TN to the Essex Parkers, Joe cites a y-DNA test in which this John’s descendants match those of Wyatt Parker of Essex County, Family Group #15.
But in this post, I have another origin theory regarding John Parker of the Staunton River (and maybe also William Parker of the Pigg River) that I touched on in an earlier post but want to present in much more detail. I also want to address the history of Parker research in Pittsylvania and Bedford and how I believe it got off course many years ago.
Since the book, Our Kin is frequently referenced in relation to Parker family research in Pittsylvania County, let’s look at the actual excerpt (Note: The excerpt is preceded by a few paragraphs about the colonial era family of George Parker of Accomack County Virginia but no relationship with the Pittsylvania Parkers is claimed or intended):
The Parkers with whom this sketch has to do, are descended from George Parker who was born in Pittsylvania County Virginia in 1769. No record has been found of the names of his parents but family tradition says that his father came from Maryland, lived for a time in Fauquier County and came to Pittsylvania between 1765 and 1769 where he died in 1805. It also says that he was the youngest son and had two brothers in the colonial army who were present at Braddock’s Defeat. Family tradition, however, cannot always be relied upon and so all of the early Parkers of the state have been investigated with the hope of finding some clue to the ancestry of this branch of the family, but so far, without success.
The census report of 1790 gives two William Parkers as heads of families in Pittsylvania County. This coupled with the fact that George named his second son William—his oldest son was named after his wife’s side of the house—leads us to believe that one of these Williams was the father of George.
(from Our Kin: the genealogies of some of the early families who made history in the founding and development of Bedford County, Virginia by Mary Denham Ackerly and Lula Eastman Jeter Parker, published Lynchburg, Virginia: J. P. Bell Co., c. 1930)
Today, 90 years after the above passage from Our Kin was penned, investigation of these Parkers still remains ”so far, without result.” Unfortunately, although all of the comments in Our Kin, seem fair points, I believe the overinterpretation of them has led to some false leads. The authors commented “his [George’s] oldest son was named after his wife’s side of the house. This was George Parker and Frances Oaks’ son Alexander, Alexander being taken from his grandfather Alexander Oakes and a name passed down in the Oaks family lineage, not, as far as known, in the early Parkers of Pittsylvania. I believe most of the other comments could just as easily point to the maternal Oakes line and not to the Parkers. The Oaks, going back one generation, were from King William County, from which Fauquier split off in 1759.
The youngest son comment does not really apply to George since he appears to be the second oldest of his believed siblings. The story about the two brothers at Braddock’s defeat (which occurred in 1755 in Pennsylvania) could just as well be a story from the Oaks side – I have not pursued that possibility. But it could only apply to someone born around 1730 or earlier, too early I believe to be the brothers of George or any of the other Parkers first appearing in Pittsylvania.
Regarding the dates, 1769 was indeed George’s birth year (based on his info in the 1850 Pittsylvania County census). The date 1805 as George’s father’s date of death may be in the correct range as discussed below regarding John Parker of the Staunton River.
As Our Kin points out, there were two William Parkers in Pittsylvania County and it was logical to infer at first glance that one of them was the father of George Parker. But they don’t fit this assumption since one, William Parker of Old Woman’s Creek was too young (born 1761-1770) per censuses, and the other, William Parker of the Pigg River, married to Henrietta, although perhaps just old enough (born 1741-1750) per censuses, had his own different yet concurrent set of children as shown in his will and land records.
As a likely offshoot of the Our Kin comments, some researchers have arrived at the completely unsupported personage of William Alexander Parker as the ancestor of the Parkers of Pittsylvania, whereas, as I point out in another post on this site, the actual ancestor of George Parker and his presumed brothers was by all evidence John Parker of the Staunton River who was a large landowner in Bedford, Pittsylvania and Franklin counties having lands on both sides of the Staunton River. I am convinced no Parker with the middle name Alexander actually existed in these counties in the years claimed.
[I thought that the name “William Alexander Parker” was a fairly new invention showing up recently on the internet, but looking at 1996 correspondence I exchanged with Ted Parker, a researcher in Missouri, I see he used the name back then on a family tree. But I don’t know where the designation first originated.]
We all wish there was a solid lead, a will naming names, a marriage record, a deed connecting one of the early Pittsylvania/Bedford/Franklin Parkers to another county but after 90+ years of researching, it has not been found. There appears to be only one method of discovery.
Conceptually, it is like the old indenture system where a handwritten deed was torn irregularly (like teeth) in half, one half given to the seller and the other half to the buyer, making it almost impossible for either party to substitute a fake half. That is the situation here where there is no direct evidence at all to connect the Parkers of another county to the Parkers who ended up in Pittsylvania. But I am suggesting the chronology (teeth) of one family fits very closely with the subsequent chronology (matching teeth) of the Pittsylvania Parker family.
CAUTION: THIS THEORY IS JUST THAT AND HAS ITS OWN INCONSISTENCIES. It is worth considering and continued researching but should not be quoted as a settled fact.
In another post on this site, I mentioned a Parker family from Brunswick/Lunenburg Counties, Virginia as follows:
JOHN PARKER OF LUNENBURG/BRUNSWICK COUNTIES AND SONS JOHN AND WILLIAM
John Parker, est. 1710 to 1774, Brunswick/ Lunenburg Counties, VA. In his will he identifies wife Jane (her first husband was a Birchett) and male children, William, Sterling, Thomas, and John, He accumulated substantial land through land grants and purchases from 1735 to 1759 on Stony Creek and Little Creek which adjoin and are in current day Lunenburg County and on Dry Creek, which is about 12 miles NW of Stony Creek. Deeds show he had an earlier wife named Ann (last name Sterling by some accounts but this may be speculation). His will indicated there was an Ordinary (tavern) on his property on Stony Creek.[mistake struck through] There was also a mill identified in the original 1735 grant.
Son Sterling died in the Revolutionary War and sons John (wounded in the Revolutionary War) and William are not otherwise accounted for. This family is the subject of the book Parker and Spurlock Family History, 1987, by John Marvin Parker, who was a descendant of John’s son Thomas who went to TN.
I should clarify that the Rev. War information comes not from the will but from the pension application of son Thomas Parker.
Since posting the above comments, I have continued to research this family. It appears that late in life, John Parker moved from his lands on Stony Creek in Lunenburg County and settled on 300 acres on Sturgeon Creek in Brunswick County where he died in 1774. In his will he left 100 acres and an ordinary on Sturgeon Creek (not on Stony Creek as I earlier erroneously posted) to his wife Jane and 200 acres adjacent to his sons Thomas and John when they came of age. The sons of interest here are of course, John and William. Could they be the same John and William who later show up in Bedford/Pittsylvania counties. Do the teeth fit?
On a side note, the Parker’s Ordinary on Sturgeon creek referred to in the will may well be the nearby Smokey Ordinary which is located a quarter mile north of the marker for the Old Liberty and Old Stage Road. The Smokey Ordinary still stands and is marked with a historic plaque. More research in Brunswick may prove or disprove this connection (Ordinary owners had to pay an annual tax and such lists may still exist).
Per the will (written in 1771 and probated 1774) of John Parker of Brunswick, he had the following children of his own:
Thomas Parker under 21 in 1771 per will, born 1760 per descendants. Died 1845 in Obion County, TN.
John Parker, under 21 in 1771 per will, therefore born after 1750.
Elizabeth, under 21 in 1771 per will, therefore born after 1750.
Sterling, under 21 in 1771 per will, therefore born after 1750.
William, apparently over 21 because not listed in the children under 21 so born before 1750.
Ann Parker Ragsdale, apparently of age in the will, b. 1748 per descendants. Married to William Ragsdale. She died 1815 in Robertson, TN.
Nancy, apparently over 21 per the will.
Sons John and Thomas were to receive 200 acres next to their home place when they were of age and to receive funds from the sale of the Stony Creek lands. (Son John Parker sold his 100 acres share of this land on Sturgeon Creek to Henry Maclin in 1779, which proves he was 21 on or before that date).
The important information extracted here from the will is that son William Parker was apparently born before 1750 and from the will and land sale in 1779 that son John Parker was apparently born anywhere from 1751 to 1758.
The widow Jane Parker lived until 1790. After that date I could find no records for these specific Parkers in Brunswick or Lunenburg Counties except the above quoted deed from John. Much information about them comes from son Thomas Parkers Rev. War pension filings in which he states brother Sterling died in 1778 while a soldier and brother John was wounded in the knee during the war. There exists an 1800 Virginia pension file for John Parker wounded in the knee in 1781, the ball still lodged there. Thomas Parker stated in his Pension application that he was orphaned and left Brunswick County and was taken in by Pascal Greendal, a burgess in Prince Edward County.
Now we move to Bedford, Pittsylvania and Franklin Counties and the Parkers who began to appear there approximately 1779 onward.
JOHN PARKER OF THE STAUNTON RIVER, BEDFORD AND PITTSYLVANIA COUNTIES
1779 Pittsylvania County, John Parker, survey for 400 acres on Pigg River (pg. 270 in survey book).
1781, Pittsylvania County, John Parker named on list of inhabitants to supply the army with beef and clothes.
1782 to 1787, Bedford County, John Parker on tax lists
1782, Pittsylvania County, John Parker granted 187 acres, beginning and on Grassy branch adj land of Colyer, Thurmon, Wheler, Bybee, recorded in 1791.
1782 to 1796, Pittsylvania County, John Parker on all State tax lists except 1787 (note: if you owned land in two counties, had to pay in each county)
1784,Pittsylvania County, Benjamin Parker on tax lists for first time, indicating he was 21 in 1784 and therefore born in 1763 or earlier. His pension has 1759 as his birthdate.
1785-1787, Bedford County, Benjamin Parker on tax lists.
March 1788, Pittsylvania County, John Parker appointed with Abraham Shelton, William Short and Reuben Payne to “lett to the lowest bidder an Addition to the Courthouse of this County...”
1789 Pittsylvania County, John Parker and William Parker of Bedford County purchase 95 acres on East Fork of Old Woman’s Creek from John Colyer. In 1802, John Parker of Pittsylvania County sells 95 acres of this identical tract to William Parker
1789 Pittsylvania County tax list, John Parker had 1 tithable, himself.
1790 Pittsylvania County tax list, John Parker had 3 tithables for the first time indicating that besides himself, he had two sons who had reached 21 years of age.
1791 Pittsylvania County tax list, lists 2 tithables, specifically named as “John Parker and son David Parker” (To be listed, had to be 21 or older, therefore David’s birthdate was likely 1770 instead of 1780). And separately listed was Benjamin Parker who returned to the tax rolls after an absence of 4 years.
June 28, 1794, John Parker exempt from paying county and parish levies, Bedford County Court Order Book 10 pg. 323 (such exemptions were given for old age or disability)
1798, Bedford County; William Freeman married Sarah Sally Parker, daughter of John Parker; David Parker, Surety
1799, Bedford County; Nehemiah Hundley married Polley Parker; Consent of John Parker.
1804, Bedford County; Archibald Hundley married Elizabeth Betsey Parker; Benjamin Parker, Surety.
1810, Pittsylvania tax list, John Parker, noted as “Sr” and Staunton River” has zero tithables. (Note that there are also younger John Parkers by this time)
1811, Pittsylvania County, a John Parker died per an entry in the Winston Dalton Register.
1820 and later censuses, only younger John Parkers are listed.
My inferences from the above are:
John Parker of the Staunton River seems to have arrived in the area around 1779 (he was at least 21 on that date in order to conduct property transactions, therefore born 1758 or earlier) and died there, probably in 1811. A tax list establishes he was the father of David, b. 1770 (rather than the traditional 1780) and one deed indicates he may have been the father of William (married to Keziah) of Old Woman’s Creek, born in the range. 1761 to 1770 per censuses, and marriage records indicate he was likely the father of Sarah Sally Parker, b. 1771, Mary Polly Parker b. 1777 and Elizabeth Betsy Parker, b. c. 1784. This matches the family structure (George, Benjamin, David, Sarah, Mary Elizabeth) in both Mae Moore’s Papers and the E. Marvin Raney Collection in the Virginia Room Collection of the Roanoke Library (except for William) which lists these as the children of John Parker. I don’t think these researchers had any specific information to arrive at these relations but were simply looking at the available records as I did and piecing together likely relationships.
Based on the children’s presumed birthdates, does he match John Parker of Brunswick County who I estimated to be born 1750 or later? Yes, if the presumed son William OWC was born in the latter dates of the range 1761-1770, he just fits. The others fit well.
George Parker, b. 1769 also just fits and it seems George took over John’s land on the Pittsylvania side of the Staunton River even though I could find no deeds or will transferring the land. John Parker of the Staunton River did have two grandsons, through his daughter Sally who were named George Parker Freeman and David Parker Freeman also strongly suggesting George and David were John’s children and Sally’s brothers.
Note that these male Parkers seem to jump around from county to county. I believe that this was because John Parker of the Staunton River had lands in several locations in Bedford and Pittsylvania Counties and his sons may have alternated being responsible for and paying taxes on different ones. George Parker had more presence in the early years in Bedford and Franklin Counties. Many of his children were born in Franklin and he attended Quaker meetings in Bedford. After his father John died in 1811, George seems to have been based in Pittsylvania thereafter.
Benjamin Parker, if his 1759 to 1763 birthdate is correct, does not fit as a son but Benjamin did seem to have some relation since he lived beside William Parker on Old Woman’s Creek and he was a surety to the marriage of John’s daughter Elizabeth. In, addition, he had an obviously close relationship to David Parker who was definitely John’s son per the 1791 tax list.
Benjamin and David both moved to Hardin County, KY, Benjamin first after 1803 and David sometime after 1820 (after living several years in Culpepper County, VA). David and his wife died by arsenic poisoning in 1824 in Hardin County and Benjamin became administrator of David’s estate and guardian of his children. Benjamin traveled back to Pittsylvania County twice in order to borrow money for the administration of David’s estate, Alexander O. Parker, George’s son being a lender.
Regarding Benjamin being born in Fauquier County, I believe (unless I am missing some other evidence) that this assertion comes from the 1832 pension application of Benjamin Parker in Hardin County KY where he states he volunteered for the military in 1777 for 3 months and in 1781 for three months, both times from Fauquier County which establishes his residence there on those dates but not necessarily that he was born there.
Researchers of Benjamin say that he was married to Sarah Ashberry or Asbury (1752-1615), daughter of William and Jean, whose family was from Fauquier. I think this is a possible reason for his being in Fauquier during the 1777-81 period and not necessarily because the Parkers as a family lived there at any period. Benjamin and his wife Sarah (as Sally) show up in Pittsylvania/Bedford records from 1784 to 1803 although this was not mentioned in Benjamin’s pension application.
The records in Bedford and Pittsylvania for Benjamin:
1784, Pittsylvania County, Benjamin Parker on tax list
1785-87, Bedford County, Benjamin Parker on tax lists
1791-1795, Pittsylvania County, Benjamin Parker on tax lists (1794 & 1795 marked OWC for Old Woman’s Creek) next to presumed brother William.
1795, Pittsylvania County, Benjamin Parker purchased 290 acres from James Johnson on Sycamore and Georges Creek, William Parker a witness. (note: the closest these two creeks approach each other is an area northeast of Gretna. This is not in the same watercourse area as the other Parkers but not too far away either)
1799, Pittsylvania County August Court, Edward Terrell assignee of a debt from Benjamin Parker, William Parker says he will satisfy debt.
1800 Pittsylvania County, Benjamin Parker on tax list
1800, Pittsylvania County, Benjamin Parker plaintiff against George May.
1803 Benjamin Parker and his wife Sally of Bedford County sell 290 acres purchased in 1795 to Edward Terrell.
After that, Benjamin and Sally apparently moved to Hardin County, KY.
John Parker of the Staunton River
John Parker of the Staunton River could be the same as John Parker of Brunswick, selling his inherited land in Brunswick in 1779 and showing up in Pittsylvania for a survey in 1779 and Bedford County as early as 1781.
However, if John Parker of the Staunton River was the father of Benjamin (and the birthdate range of 1759 to 1763 of Benjamin is correct) then John would be too old to be John Parker, heir of Brunswick County. Another possible indicator that John Parker of the Staunton River was too old to be the heir from Brunswick was his exemption from Pittsylvania tax levies in 1794. However, this might be explained as being for a disability and not for old age. John Parker of Brunswick was wounded in 1781 in the war and had a ball lodged in his knee and would have been eligible for an exemption owing to his disability. Unfortunately, we have no marriage record for John Parker of the Staunton River, no name for his wife and he left no will when he died presumably in 1811. He is listed in the 1810 census but none afterwards so his records are not as rich as we would hope.
WILLIAM PARKER OF THE PIGG RIVER, BEDFORD/PITTSYLVANIA COUNTIES
Then, regarding William Parker, my ancestor, of the Pigg River, Pittsylvania County, he lived until 1839 and left a substantial number of records including a will. Since he was on censuses until 1830, we know he was 80-89 in 1830, therefore born between 1741 to 1750 which fits the inferred age of William Parker, heir of Brunswick County, who had to have been born before 1750, so it is a possible match. He was married to Henrietta but we don’t know her last name or when or where they were married. (But she certainly wasn’t Henrietta Hyde Donnell Hyde, That person lived in a later period 1827-1898, in Maryland and is a false trail as is William Alexander Parker).
An early record of William and wife Henrietta is in 1786 Bedford County, VA when they purchased 200 acres on Hail’s Mill Creek, which they sold in 1797, then residents of Pittsylvania County. Between 1780 to 1799 they bought land in the Pigg River area of Pittsylvania (also Cherrystone and Harping Creek) They had children John, Nancy, Mildred, James, Sally and Elijah, all born 1777 to 1792. There is no relation evident in the deeds and records in Pittsylvania County between William’s family and that of John Parker of the Staunton River and his presumed children, still John and William could conceivably be brothers. Although their land transactions were not shared and were not adjacent, nor were their children’s, they did live within some ten miles or so of each other in the northwest corner of Pittsylvania County. John Parker’s survey of the 400 acres on Pigg River in 1779 is an interesting possible connection but I don’t know of any actual purchase of this large parcel or any other records referencing it.
In any event, my ancestor William Parker of the Pigg River still fits the candidacy as a son of Thomas Parker and Mildred Donahue of Essex County. And he also fits also as a candidate to be the son of John Parker 1710-1774 of Lunenburg/Brunswick.
David J. Parker on this forum posted an alternative ancestry for the other, younger William Parker of Old Woman’s Creek, married to Keziah. He says, “William Parker Who married Keziah May have moved to Caswell Co. NC during the War. According to his pension application he was born in 1754 in Essex County Va. I believe he was the son of Thomas Parker and Mildred Donohoe Parker . She died in Bedford County in 1768. Thomas Donohoe was born in Bedford County and moved to Caswell County in 1772. He was a Major in the Rev, War. William Parker lived near Donohoe in N.C. and provided an affidavit for Donohoe’s widow for his pension. He talked about knowing him from an early age.” This was intriguing since William Parker OWC disappeared from Pittsylvania after the 1830 census following his settling his estate for debts in 1827. Did he go to Caswell County, just across the NC line from Pittsylvania. I read his pension application with interest but I saw nothing that connected him directly with William Parker OWC. There was no mention of his time in Pittsylvania County, no mention of a wife named Keziah. He says he was in Caswell since the time of the Rev. War. He does, however, match very well the profile of William Parker son of Thomas Parker and Mildred Donoho originally of Essex County, Va and therefore must be favored over my ancestor, William Parker of the Pigg River as their son. But the jury is out and this deserves more research.
Conflicting or unresolved data:
Henry Sterling Parker, married Elizabeth Dorrity 1791 in Franklin County, Va, died in Franklin County Va in 1861. The death record for him in Franklin shows him born in “Brunsic” (Brunswick) County, Va, with his father as John Parker and mother as Rebecca. Rebecca is identified in internet research as Rebecca Dizmang, daughter of William Dizmang. I checked and there were Dizmangs in Brunswick County in this period. Interestingly a John Parker is on the 1810 tax list in Franklin but disappears by 1820 when Rebecca shows for the first time. This appears to be the family on the death register and this prompts much speculation. Could the father John who disappeared from the census (because he died?) in Franklin County between 1810 to 1820 be the John Parker of the Staunton River who died in 1811 and do we now know his wife’s name, Rebecca Dizmang? Is Henry Sterling Parker therefore a brother of George, Benjamin and David?
However, Henry Sterling, according to his death record was born in 1756 which is even earlier than Benjamin and creates another chronological problem. But did he really die at 105 years old?
Another possibility is that Sterling Parker, son of John Parker (d. 1774) of Brunswick County, did not die in the Rev. War as brother Thomas claimed in his pension application, but was actually Henry Sterling Parker. The birthdate would fit, being from Brunswick would fit, being the son of a John would fit, but the mother being Rebecca would not fit. And why would brother Thomas say Sterling died in the Rev. War if it wasn’t true? Thomas may not have been connected to his brothers since he seems to have been separated from them early as an orphan in Prince George County. There were indeed records for a Sterling Parker who died in the Rev. War but the records did not state his County of origin. Perhaps Thomas had lost communication with his family and this assertion was based on the record of an unrelated Sterling.
I did extensive research in the Pittsylvania courthouse about twenty years ago and copied almost all Parker deeds and records but I wasn’t aware of the connection to Bedford and Franklin Counties at that time so I didn’t research there. And only very recently have I explored the possible Lunenburg/Brunswick connection. Records in the court houses of these counties might provide conclusive information. I probably won’t be the one to follow up this line of inquiry but I hope someone else will. The most helpful step right now would be getting y-DNA samples from each of these Parker branches to determine if there is indeed a link or if these are separate unrelated families.
What is needed is for male direct line descendants to take and share y-DNA tests for these eight families:
The first four are presumed sons of John Parker of the Staunton River:
- George Parker 1769-1859. His descendants are well researched.
- Benjamin Parker, 1759/1763-1836, Ditto
- David Parker, 1770-1824, Ditto
- William Parker of Old Woman’s Creek, 1761/1770 – after 1830, married to Keziah. He had a son, John, listed on a tax list, but I haven’t found anyone actively researching this line.
- William Parker of the Pigg River, 1741/1750-1839, married to Henrietta. This is my line and I will be glad to pay for a male descendant to take the 37-marker y-DNA test (after confirming their lineage). The cost of the test using Family Tree is currently $119.
- John Parker 1710-1774 of Brunswick/Lunenburg county represented by his son Thomas Parker 1760-1845 who died in Obion County, TN and whose descendants seem to be well researched in the Parker-Spurlock book.
- Henry Sterling Parker 1755-1861, married to Dorrity. His descendants seem to be well researched.
- William Parker (1755- after 1832) of Caswell County, NC, the Rev. War pension applicant of 1832. He may be William Parker who died in 1836 in Caswell County with wife Ursula and son Jephtha Keirsey Parker and daughter Eddy Tyler.