Children of Thomas Whitlock (abt. 1745 – 1830) and Wife Hannah Phillips: Nancy Whitlock (1778 – 1863) and Husband Abner Bryson (1)

As a previous posting states, by 1776, the family of Thomas Whitlock and Hannah Phillips had settled in Montgomery County, Virginia, where Thomas witnessed a deed on 1 March 1776.[2] He seems to have settled by this time on Little Reed Island Creek on land on which he and Hannah would live up to 1805, with the land falling into Wythe County at that county’s formation in 1790. It seems very likely that Nancy Whitlock was born in Montgomery County.

The 26 January 1824 Cumberland County, Kentucky, will of Thomas Whitlock names Nancy Bryson as his daughter and lists her after her sister Sarah, who was born 9 June 1774 in Bedford County, Virginia.[3] As a previous posting states, the will of Thomas Whitlock appears to name his three living daughters Sarah Brooks, Nancy Bryson, and Milly Hurst in their order of birth. Mildred Whitlock Hurst was born in 1784.

Surry County, North Carolina, Years

I have not found a marriage record for Nancy Whitlock and Abner Bryson. As a previous posting states, Abner was the son of James Bryson and either Catherine or Margaret, whose surname is often given as Cox.[4] The 1800 federal census shows Abner Bryson living in Surry County, North Carolina, with a household comprised of a male aged 26-44 and a female aged 16-25.[5] According to James L. Pauley, Abner was born 23 January 1770, so this household configuration matches what we know of Abner’s and Nancy’s ages.[6] They appear to have been married prior to 1800. Pauley thought the couple married about 1790 in Surry County, North Carolina. If so, their first child, Thomas Whitlock Bryson, was not born until 1802-3. The 1850 and 1860 federal censuses say he was born in Virginia, and the 1870 federal census gives Kentucky as his birthplace.

As we’ve seen, there are numerous connections between Thomas Whitlock’s family in Wythe County, Virginia, and families living in Surry County, North Carolina, to which Thomas’s brothers Charles and Nathaniel moved from Albemarle County, Virginia, in the 1770s. The daughter of Thomas Whitlock who married William Hannah and whose given name hasn’t been found also married into a Surry County, North Carolina, family. As the posting I’ve just linked states, William Hannah’s brother James Hanna married Susannah Bryson, a sister of Abner Bryson. James Bryson, father of Abner and Susannah, was in Surry County by 15 February 1782 when he had a land grant in Surry.[7] He received other grants there on 12 August and 19 November 1782 and was a juror in Surry County in 1785.

We know from testimony given by Thomas Whitlock’s nephews Thomas and John, sons of Thomas Whitlock’s brother Charles, in the Whitlock vs. Whitlock case in Wythe and Augusta Counties, Virginia, that Thomas and John were living with their uncle Thomas Whitlock in Wythe County when Thomas and Hannah Whitlock’s son Charles was killed in April 1796.[8] These pieces of information suggest to me that Abner Bryson and Nancy Whitlock likely married in either Wythe or Surry County prior to 1800, then settled in the latter county near his family before moving — as we’ll see — with Nancy’s parents to Cumberland County, Kentucky, in 1805. As a previous posting states, researcher Gwen Hurst thought that Thomas and Hannah Whitlock may have moved temporarily to Surry County from Wythe County, Virginia, as they left Wythe County for Cumberland County, Kentucky, in 1805, since their daughter Mildred married William Hurst in Surry County on 22 April 1805.

Surry County, North Carolina, grant file #2268, Grant Bk. 115, p. 291, #683

Abner Bryson entered 50 acres of land in Surry County on 11 February 1796, an indication, it seems to me, that he may either have married by this date or was planning to do so.[9] The tract was on Robert Harris’s line with McCarver’s mill creek running through its middle. The land was surveyed 29 November 1799 by W. McCraw with chain carriers Isaiah (Izaer in the original) Field and Daniel Smith. The survey was recorded 9 January 1800 and the grant issued 30 August 1802. 

As noted above, Abner Bryson and a younger female who is evidently his wife — they’re the only two persons in the household — appear on the 1800 federal census in Surry County, North Carolina.[10] The census places Abner’s date of birth between 1756 and 1774 and his wife’s between 1775-1784, and this fits what’s known about the birthdates of both Abner and Nancy.

Move to Cumberland County, Kentucky, in 1805

As I’ve just stated above, Abner and Nancy evidently moved to Cumberland County, Kentucky, in 1805 along with Nancy’s parents Thomas and Hannah Whitlock, settling beside them in Cumberland County. Their daughter Catharine Bryson was born in 1804 prior to the move to Kentucky. She is thought to have been born in Wythe County, Virginia, though it appears her parents were living in Surry County, North Carolina, at the time of her birth. The 1850 and 1880 federal censuses give Catharine’s birthplace as Virginia, with the 1860 federal census stating (erroneously) that she was born in Georgia and the 1870 federal census giving her birthplace as Kentucky. As we’ll see down the road, the death certificate of Abner and Nancy’s next child, Hilpa, states that she was born in 1806 in Cumberland County, Kentucky. Hilpa’s tombstone gives her date of birth as 10 May 1806.

Abner Bryson’s family appears on the 1810 federal census at Burkesville in Cumberland County, Kentucky.[11] His household has one male under 10, two males 26-44, three females under 10, and one female 26-44. As a previous posting has noted, the household of Thomas Whitlock is found next on this census listing, one among several indicators in Cumberland County records that Thomas and Hannah Whitlock lived next to their daughter Nancy and husband Abner Bryson in Cumberland County.

The 1820 federal census shows Abner Bryson at Paoli in Cumberland County.[12] Abner’s household has three males under 10, one male 16-25, one male over 45, one female under 10, two females 10-15, one female 16-25, one female 26-44, two enslaved persons, and one free colored person. The Bryson family is once again enumerated next to the family of Thomas Whitlock. According to Joseph W. Wells in his history of Cumberland County, in 1821, Abner Bryson was a justice of Cumberland County.[13]

As a previous posting notes, on 16 August 1823, Thomas and Hannah Whitlock sold half of their land on Illwill Creek in Cumberland County to their son-in-law Abner Bryson.[14] Abner paid $475 for the 250 acres. The deed notes that the land bordered land on which Thomas Whitlock and Abner Bryson lived. It also states that the land was along the road from Burkesville to Paoli. After the deed was proven on 8 March 1824 and recorded on 16 March 1824, it was delivered to Abner Bryson on 28 June 1824, according to a marginal note next to the deed in Cumberland County’s Deed Book E. My reading of this document in light of the listing of Abner Bryson next to Thomas Whitlock on the 1810 and 1820 census is that Abner farmed with his father-in-law from the time both families came to Cumberland County, sharing land with Thomas until Thomas deeded half of his land to Abner not long before making his will.

As noted above, Thomas Whitlock named Nancy Bryson as his daughter in his 22 January 1824 will in Cumberland County.[15] The will left to Nancy enslaved persons named Alfred (the name is given as Elford in the will) and Keziah (Kiza in the will), as well as a proportionate share of all the money belonging to the estate when it was settled.

On the 1830 federal census, Abner Bryson appears again in Cumberland County.[16] The household has two males 15-19, one male 60-69, one female 5-9, one female 10-14, one female 50-59, and seven enslaved persons. Thomas Whitlock died in or not long before May 1830 and does not appear on this federal census.  

As a previous posting indicates, Abner Bryson administered the estate of Thomas Whitlock in Cumberland County along with his brother-in-law Thomas Brooks following Thomas Whitlock’s death in or before May 1830. Thomas’s will had opened with a statement, [“I]n the first place i allow all my estate both real and personal to be valued by two Juditious and Interested men chosen by my executors for that purpose.” The will made George Swope and William Wood executors, but neither executor ever appears in the estate records. It’s obvious that they made Thomas Brooks and Abner Bryson, “two Juditious and Interested men,” administrators of the estate. Thomas and Abner were the two sons-in-law of Thomas Whitlock living closest to him at the time of his death.

Thomas Whitlock’s estate documents are discussed in this previous posting. On 15 June 1830 at the request of the two administrators, Thomas’s estate was inventoried and appraised.[17] At the estate sale on 16 June 1830, Abner Bryson and his son Thomas W. Bryson were buyers.[18] Abner bought an unnamed enslaved girl, who was, I believe, named Amy. In addition, he bought items including a woman’s saddle with riding blanket and bridle, household goods including a dish and six plates, and a horse. The only sons-in-law of Thomas Whitlock who appear as buyers at the estate sale are Abner Bryson and Thomas Brooks. 

As administrators, Abner Bryson and Thomas Brooks appealed for a final settlement of the estate at February court 1832.[19] On 9 March 1832, John Noland and P.H. Williams filed an account of the estate, current with Bryson and Brooks, which shows, among other things, that by this date, Thomas Brooks, Abner Bryson, and William Hurst, all sons-in-law of Thomas Whitlock, had each received $424.69, their fifths of the estate, with the entire estate account amounting to $2,184.27. The account was recorded 21 May 1832.[20]  

Evidently as a finalization of the estate, on 12 March 1832, as administrators of the estate, Thomas Brooks and Abner Bryson sold to Edward Vincent for $105 the 250 acres belonging to Thomas Whitlock on Illwill Creek in Cumberland County.[21] At some point in 1832 or 1833, following the settlement of Thomas Whitlock’s estate, Abner and Nancy Whitlock Bryson moved their family from Cumberland to Christian County, Kentucky. They were living in the latter county by 10 December 1833 when Abner and Nancy sold the 250 acres they had bought from Thomas Whitlock on Illwill Creek in August 1823 to Alexander Smith (see the image at the head of this posting). The deed for this land sale states that Abner Bryson and wife Nancy his wife were of Christian County, Kentucky, and Smith was in Cumberland County.[22]  Both Abner and Nancy signed with no witnesses. On 18 December, they acknowledged the deed and Nancy relinquished dower. The deed was recorded 8 May 1834. 

In my next posting, I’ll pick up the story of Nancy Whitlock and husband Abner Bryson after the couple moved from Cumberland County, Kentucky, to Christian County, Kentucky. That posting will follow both to the end of their lives in Christian County.

[1] 1850 federal census, Christian County, Kentucky, district 1, p. 408 (dwelling 401/family 444, 4 September); and 1860 federal census, Christian County, Kentucky, p. 732 (dwelling/family 545, 25 July).

[2] Montgomery County, Virginia, Deed Bk. A, pp. 160-2.

[3] Cumberland County, Kentucky, Will Bk. B, pp. 423-4.

[4] As Marty Grant explains, “James Bryson (1745) and Catherine — of Surry Co, NC; Montgomery Co, VA and Sumner Co, TN,” at his Marty and Karla Grant website, a “1959 sworn statement” shared with Marty Grant by Lawrence Wood states that James Bryson’s wife was named Margaret, but public records give her name as Catherine. Marty Grant thinks it’s possible James was married twice, or that there’s confusion about his wife’s name as Margaret since it’s known he was the son of John and Margaret Bryson.

[5] 1800 federal census, Surry County, North Carolina, p. 638.

[6] James L. Pauley Jr., Bryson to Rice and Pauley (Jefferson, Iowa; 1992), pp. 20, 24. I’m uncertain of Pauley’s source for Abner Bryson’s birthdate.

[7] Ibid., p. 23.

[8] Augusta County, Virginia, Chancery Court case, Whitlock vs. Whitlock, box 10, file 38 (1803-4), available digitally via Library of Virginia’s Virginia Memory chancery records collection

[9] Surry County, North Carolina, grant file #2268, Grant Bk. 115, p. 291, #683.

[10] See supra, n. 5.

[11] 1810 federal census, Cumberland County, Kentucky, Burkesville, p. 741 (or p. 180, depending on which page-numbering system one chooses).

[12] 1820 federal census, Cumberland County, Kentucky, Paoli, p, 157.

[13] Joseph W. Wells, History of Cumberland County, Kentucky (Louisville: Standard, 1947), p. 113.

[14] Cumberland County, Kentucky, Deed Bk. E, pp. 225-6. 

[15] See supra, n. 3.

[16] 1830 federal census, Cumberland County, Kentucky, south of Cumberland River, p. 133.

[17] Cumberland County, Kentucky, Will Bk. B, pp. 428-430.

[18] Ibid., pp. 430-3.

[19] Ibid., Bk. C, p. 23.

[20] Ibid., p. 21.

[21] Cumberland County, Kentucky, Deed Bk. G, pp. 297-8. 

[22] Ibid., Deed Bk H, pp. 224-5.

One thought on “Children of Thomas Whitlock (abt. 1745 – 1830) and Wife Hannah Phillips: Nancy Whitlock (1778 – 1863) and Husband Abner Bryson (1)

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