A direct male descendant of Thomas Watts, the son of Thomas Watts who wrote this will, had his DNA done and is a match with the direct descendant of Richard Watts of Mercer and Washington Counties Kentucky the subject of this book. This indicates that they are related and share an MRCA (Most Recent Common Ancestor) which according to the documented paper trail is in all likelihood The Thomas Watts who wrote the will cited above.
They are both a match for the descendant of a Robert Watts born 1750 in Somerset England and his wife Phoebe. This descendant has been in England all his life. The descendant of Thomas Watts died 1764 and the descendant of Robert Watts b 1750 in England both share a MRCA born prior to at least 1700.
Before we leave Culpeper Co. VA I need to mention another family. Richard Watts married a Sarah “Sally” Stubblefield. Her parents have never been identified and it is uncertain whether she and Richard Watts were married in Virginia or elsewhere. However it is interesting that there are wills for two Stubblefield males who were apparently brothers.
Will of Edward Stubblefield of St Marks Parish, Culpeper Co. VA 1750
Will of Thomas Stubblefield of St Marks Parish, Culpeper Co. VA 1757
Other wills related to the Thomas Watts family are the following: Will of Joel Watts Dated and recorded 1781 (CCWB B-440) mentions wife Isabel, son Frederick and daughters Lettie Brown and Barbara Thomas. Joel was a witness to the will of Thomas Watts. Will of Thomas Watts son of Thomas Watts and Elizabeth (CCWB D193) Mentions wife Ann, sons Aron and Robert, daughter Eleanor Morriss and granddaughter Prissy Watts. Dated 4/22/1796 rec 12/19/1796. Inventory (CCWB D242) 1799. Marriages Culpeper Co VA Robert Watts m Susanna Lewis 5/5/1788 (Reg 1-93) by Nathaniel Sanders, Baptist Minister.
There appear to be at least two Watts families in Culpeper Co VA who are genetically unrelated according to the DNA results reported on the Watts Family surname Project of FamilyTreeDNA. This second Watts Family appears to be the one related to Thomas Watts who died 1749. His will dated 12/22/1746, rec 3/15/1749 mentions wife Esther, sons Edward, John, Benjamin, Thomas, Jacob and William, daughters Ann, Elizabeth, Sarah, Esther, Mary and Franky(Frances). Will Book A, p.10.
The Thomas Watts of 1749 appears to be the one who received a land grant along with his father Edward. This family also appears to have had property that was centered in the vicinity of Black Walnut Run a tributary of the Rapidan River on its North side and in Bromfield Parish as reflected in Culpeper Co VA land deeds. (CCDB) Edward and Elizabeth Watts of Orange Co. to William Johnson of Culpeper Co, land where Johnson now lives, adj James Barbour, part of a patent to Thomas Watts, dec, and willed to Edward. Dated and recorded 10/15/1761.
Deeds reflecting the property of the Thomas Watts died 1764 family: (These deeds seem to reflect property on Potato Run, a tributary of the Rapidan River and Amelia Rd. all within St. Mark’s Parish. (CCDB A-415, 416) Lease and release from Jacob Kindrick to Joel Watts, both of Cul. Co. 52 acres in St. Marks Parish in the Great Fork of the Rappahanock, adj. to Bloodworths old land, Cabler of the Amelia Rd. Wit. Thomas Watts, John Hackley, Thomas Doggett. Dated 2/5/1752, recorded 5/21/1752.
The Three Richard Watts
There is not a record of a Richard Watts until the 1780’s. However during that time and in the 1790 Federal Censuses (VA census destroyed but recreated from tax records) there are three Richard Watts listed – one each in Bedford County Virginia, Pittsylvania County Virginia and Wilkes County North Carolina. Although there is no evidence to connect any of these Richard Watts to Culpeper Co. VA or Mercer Co. KY, I will discuss each one starting with the Richard Watts of Bedford County Virginia.
Richard Watts of Bedford County Virginia is often cited as the Richard Watts who went to Mercer County KY and is the ancestor of the Watts families of Mercer, Boyle and Washington Co KY families. In 1790 he is listed as having 10 people in his household. After much research he is found to have been born in 1740, married an Elizabeth Townsend, and to have had nine children. He died and is buried in Georgia. There are records showing that his descendants wound up in the State of Georgia. A direct male descendant of his had his DNA done and does not match the descendant of Richard Watts of Culpeper VA and Mercer Co. KY, indicating they are not related in any genealogical time frame. Some of the descendants of Richard of Watts of Culpeper Co VA and Mercer Co. KY have joined the DAR based on the misinformation that their ancestor was this Richard Watts in Bedford Co. VA who was a surveyor in the Revolutionary War.
Richard Watts of Pittsylvania Co. VA is listed in the 1782 State Census. His household included 10 whites and in 1785 11 whites. In 1787 Richard is listed in The Pittsylvania Co VA tax rolls along with Edmund King, Seaton Beadles and William Russell, people who were involved with the Richard Watts family in Kentucky. In his manuscript on the descendants of Thomas Watts of Stafford Co. VA, Edward C. Watts of Arlington, VA adds more information to make his case. While this information, gathered by Edward C. Watts of Arlington, Virginia is compelling and I both admire his reasoning and agree with many of his conclusions, I prefer another conclusion which involves a Richard Watts who is found in the Wilkes Co. NC 1790 Federal Census.
Since I wrote this paragraph I have corresponded with a Carolyn Watts Lambert who is descended from a Greenberry Watts in Pitttsylvania VA. She mentions this as being the family of Richard Watts with 7 males and 5 females. The males names are Richard, John, Joshua m. Sarah Wright, Greenberry m Elizabeth Law, Levi m Betty Ragsdale, Martin and Marshall. The females are Nancy m Jarrett Boling, Elizabeth, Catherine m John Wright, Sally m Daniel Wright, and Patsy m James Wright. In the Watts Familytreedna family surname projects this family is R1b1 Family #1 and does not match either Richard Watts of Bedford Co VA descendants or our Richard Watts family descendants. So therefore we have three genetically distinct families descended from three different Richard Watts in Virginia as demonstrated by DNA results and genealogical documentation.
Richard Watts and Sally Stubblefield of Wilkes Co. NC
Wilkes Co. NC was formed in 1777 from Surry Co. Until 1779 when Ashe Co was created from Wilkes Co, the northern border of Wilkes was the Virginia state line. Regular, ongoing disputes took place between North Carolina and Virginia as to where the state line actually lay, and individuals living anywhere within 20 miles of the present day state line might live in Virginia one year, North Carolina the next and Virginia the following year. A side effect of this dispute was that whenever possible, residents attempted to convince tax collectors from both states that they had paid taxes to the other. In a number of cases they were successful, meaning that in many years individuals might go unrecorded on the tax lists of both Virginia and Surry Co., North Carolina.(Index to Combes &c. of Wilkes Co., NC)
The Expedition to Ramsour’s Mill – a Battle of the Revolutionary War.
In the Wilkes Co. NC Tax List for 1787 in Captain Carrel’s District we find Richard Watts with 250 acres and 1 Poll (One person old enough to vote), George Stubblefield with 100 acres and 1 Poll, and Thomas Stubblefield with 468 acres and 1 Poll. There is also an Anne Stubblefield listed in the same district. She is the mother of George and Thomas Stubblefield listed in the same district and the widow of Robert Stubblefield who died in 1775 in Guildford Co. NC, the same county in which William Watts, his son Peter Watts and Gideon Watts were living during the same time period (Peter Watts enlisted as a private for one year in the army under Capt. John Nelson and Col. Thomas Polk Guildford Co. NC May 1776). Anne owned property on Bugaboo Creek in Wilkes County and died there on 1 March 1787. Her two sons, George and Thomas Stubblefield lived next to her. In the 1790 Federal Census in Wilkes Co. NC we find in the Seventh Company Richard Watts with one white male over 16, two white males under 16 and five females. Thomas Stubblefield in the same Company has three white males over 16, four white males under 16 and six females. There are also a William Russell and a William Watts listed. Whether these men have any relationship to Richard Watts is unknown. We need to note however that according to records obtained by Edward Watts that Richard Watts parents, William Watts and wife unknown, had another son William Watts who appears with them on the 1787 personal property tax rolls of Culpeper Co. VA. At that time William, Richard’s supposed brother was between 16 and 21 years old. After 1787 there is no record of him in Virginia. A William Watts is listed next door to Richard in the Wilkes County, NC census in 1790. Could this William Watts be Richard’s brother?
There are several points that can be made here along with questions. According to research done within the Stubblefield family, George and Thomas Stubblefield, the Stubblefield males listed in Wilkes County, NC are the sons of Robert Stubblefield who is the brother of the Thomas and Edward Stubblefield whose wills were written and filed in St. Marks Parish, Culpeper Co. VA, the same parish that Richard Watts appears to be from. If Sarah Stubblefield is one of the unnamed children in Thomas Stubblefield’s will, then she is the cousin to George and Thomas Stubblefield of Wilkes Co. NC and the wife of Richard Watts. Also the Robert Stubblefield who died in 1775 in Guildford Co. NC, the brother of Thomas and Edward Stubblefield of Culpeper Co VA, had a son John who was born 1730 in Spotsylvania Co VA and died1783 in Surrey Co VA. Could Sarah Stubblefield be the daughter of this John Stubblefield and the granddaughter of Robert and Ann Parker Stubblefield. This could explain why Richard and Sarah Watts are in Wilkes Co. NC and perhaps how they got there. Could this explain the name of their first born son – John Stubblefield Watts?
The children of Richard and Sarah Stubblefield Watts just prior to leaving NC are:
We can see that Richard and Sarah Watts had children born in three states – NC, VA, and TN prior to their move to Kentucky. This corresponds to the situation described above with the state borders and the formation of the free state of Franklin which was right next to Wilkes County, NC. It is quite possible and highly probable that Richard and Sarah Watts never moved in NC but that the border moved and they took advantage of it.
According to the Bible of John Stubblefield Watts, son of Richard and Sarah Watts, his father Richard Watts was born in Virginia 29 August 1758. This is prior to the writing of the Will of Thomas Watts of Culpeper Co. VA. (Personal communication from John S. Watts’ descendant, Marian Franklin).
If the Richard Watts in Wilkes Co. NC is our Richard Watts, then he would have been 19 years old when his first child Elizabeth was born and 22 years old when he participated in the Battle of Ramsours Mill. In 1790 he was 32 years old and five of his six children would have been born. The Federal census of 1790 lists him with one male over 16, two males under 16 and five females. This corresponds with the known makeup of the family that our Richard Watts would have had at that time except for one extra female. This extra female could have been a daughter who died young, or another related female.
Also the name of Richard and Sarah’s son William Russell Watts is interesting. There was a well known Officer in the Revolutionary War who lived in Culpeper Co. VA who was named William Russell. At one time he was the Sheriff of Culpeper Co. VA. His son William Russell born 6 March 1758 in Culpeper Co. VA was also an army officer and wound up living near Lexington, KY at the time Richard and Sarah were living in Mercer Co. KY. As we have noted there was a William Russell in Wilkes County NC in 1790.
I could find no further records for Richard Watts until he appears on the tax records in Mercer Co. KY in 1796 at age 36. However since his daughter Frances Watts is said to have been born in Kentucky in 1794, it is probable that he and Sarah were in Kentucky by that time. Also the obituary for John S. Watts, the son of Richard and Sarah Watts, who was born in North Carolina and died in Mariposa Co. CA states that he moved to Kentucky in 1794 (Mariposa Gazette). This corresponds with the timing of the birth of Richard and Sarah’s daughter Frances in Kentucky.
In Early Tax Records from the Register of the Ky Historical Society 1984, pages 174, 175 we find in the 1789 list Gideon Watts, Peter Watts – slaveholder, and William Watts listed. At that time there were 153 taxpayers above the age of 21, 176 slaves, 2 ordinary licenses, 4 carriage wheels, and 6 stud horses. List taken by Wm. Green, does not include all of Mercer Co. At this time James Harrod lived in the part of Mercer Co. that became Boyle Co.
In the 1795 tax list p.187, Wm. Watts is listed as having 3 cattle, no slaves, no horses and was a person exempt from tax. P.191. Peter Watts is listed as having 3 slaves, 8 horses and 20 cattle. P.191. Gideon Watts is listed as having 1 slave, 3 horses and 10 cattle. The list on P. 191 was done by Wm. Gaines. The list on P. 187 was done by Gabriel Slaughter.
Gabriel Slaughter was born 12, December 1767 in Culpeper Co. VA and moved as a young child with his family to Kentucky. He was a farmer until 1795 when he obtained an appointment as the Mercer County Justice of Peace. In 1803 he joined the Kentucky Militia as a Lieutenant Colonel and participated in the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812. On 14 October 1816 Governor George died and the then Lt. Governor Gabriel Slaughter became Governor of Kentucky. When he died 19, September 1830 he was buried in the family graveyard in Mercer County.
We can see from these records that by 1796 William Watts, his son Peter, and Gideon Watts as well as cousin Richard Watts were all in Mercer County Kentucky, having all gone from Culpeper County to North Carolina and then to Kentucky. Many Revolutionary War soldiers as well as others came over the Wilderness Road through the Cumberland Gap to Kentucky to receive land either by grant for service in the war or to buy land for a small fee. The states often could not pay soldiers in full or at all but were able to reward them with land that was available to the states. The great move westward continued. It is quite likely that our Watts family followed the Wilderness Trail through the Cumberland Gap from North Carolina to Kentucky.
The land that became Kentucky was a part of Virginia until after the Revolutionary War. However as early as 1767, James and Samuel Harrod came to Kentucky looking for furs. The Harrods returned to the Pennsylvania border country and recruited 31 men to come to the Kentucky region with them. They came down the Ohio River to the Kentucky River. They left the river at Harrod’s Landing and proceeded to the area in what is now Mercer County and laid out Harrodstown on 16, June 1774. The men were each given 1⁄2 acre on the main street and 10 acres on the outer limits of the town. They built temporary log and brush buildings to live in. After raids by the Indians and Dunmore’s War against the Indians in which the men from the Kentucky settlement participated, the settlers returned to find their homes flooded and ruined. They decided to build a log fort on the hill to be safe from floods and the attacking Indians. The settlers were confined to the fort for most of 1777.
However after the Battle of Blue Licks in 1782 there were no more Indian attacks and by 1784 there were 6 grist mills in operation as the production of corn and other grains increased. By 1808 the current site of Pleasant Hill was cleared and log houses were being built for the elders of the Shaker religion to come to Kentucky from their original settlements in the East. Today there are many historic sites preserved for all to see and Pleasant Hill is a community that demonstrates the Shaker way of life even though there are no more Shakers. ( KY History On-line)
In 1800 Richard Watts appears on the tax list for Mercer County KY. In July 1801 Richard and Sarah were accepted as members in the Shawnee Run Baptist Church. This church is located on the road between Burgin and Pleasant Hill (Shaker Town) in eastern Mercer Co. just west of the Kentucky River. Although I have been unable to find a land deed for Richard this early, I assumed that they lived somewhere close enough to the church to reach it by horse and buggy. After I read the minutes of the church I realized that Richard Watts asked numerous times for permission to start a church in his area where he lived. Permission was never granted. It is quite possible then that he lived on the Salt River from the time he came to Mercer County until he left. The church still exists on the same site with the accompanying old cemetery with headstones bearing the names of early members. It is set amidst the rolling hills of Mercer County with beautiful views over the bluegrass countryside. On the Kentucky River were warehouses to store grains and hemp for transport down the rivers. Shipping by river was the most important way to ship goods and from the Kentucky River one could go downstream to Natchez, MS and New Orleans to sell one’s crops, furs and goods. Shaker Landing, a shipping port was on the river near Pleasant Hill (Shakertown).
John Rice, the founder and first pastor of the Shawnee Run Baptist Church, is believed to be a native of North Carolina and was born in 1760. He was among the earlier settlers of Lincoln County Kentucky. He was a member of the Gilberts Creek church of Separate Baptists, where he was ordained to the gospel ministry in 1785 and was probably the first preacher ordained in Kentucky. Soon after his ordination he settled on Shawnee Run in Mercer County. Here he preached to the few settlers that occupied the beautiful valley of Shawnee Run, till he gathered Baptists enough to constitute the first church which had any permanence in Mercer County. He was immediately installed as its pastor and continued to minister to it more than fifty-four years. Besides Shawnee Run, Mr. Rice preached statedly to Stony Point, Salt River (after the death of John Penny) and several other churches at different periods. He also preached in Barren County in 1812. He died 19 March 1843 and was buried in the Shawnee Run Baptist Church cemetery. (A History of Kentucky Baptists by J. H. Spencer, 1885)
(NOTE: If you have stories to contribute from your branch of one of these families, please email Marian Franklin. firstname.lastname@example.org.)