Monday, October 17, 2011

Peter Smith, Son of Peter Smith of Westmoreland County, Virginia

Peter Smith of Caswell County, North Carolina

Peter Smith, son of James and Elizabeth Smith and grandson of Peter Smith of Westmoreland County, Virginia, will often be referred to as "Peter Smith of Caswell County."  He was born in Prince William County, Virginia, about 1736 and may have been the oldest of James Smith's sons.  He married Jemima Simpson,[1] of Fairfax County.

It seems quite probable that Jemima's father was George Simpson, who in his will named several children then added that his daughters who had married and left him had received their share.[2]  Two of George Simpson's children were Aaron and Richard.  There were men by these names in Caswell County, North Carolina, where Jemima lived in later years.  It is said by one researcher that the progenitor of the Simpson families in Stafford, Prince William, and Fairfax Counties was John Simpson, a Scotsman who settled in Stafford late in the 1600's.

Peter Smith bought 202 acres of land in Orange County, North Carolina.  The sale by George Counts to Smith was ordered to be registered at Inferior Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions held in Corbin Town on the second Tuesday of November 1764.[3]  Caswell was formed from Orange in 1777 and Peter Smith's property was in that part which became Caswell County.  The farm of Smith was situated on the north side of Hogans Creek on the Round Hill Branch of Hogans Creek.  In census records Smith was referred to as "Round Hill Peter Smith" to distinguish him from other Peter Smiths.  Two or more other men by that name settled in Caswell County after the Revolutionary War.  So far as can be determined they were not related to our subject.

Peter Smith gave patriotic service to his country during the Revolution.[4]  The certificate giving evidence of assistance reads:

"Peter Smith.  No.592.  State of North Carolina, Hillsborough District.  Auditors office the 7th day of August 1782.  This day certify that Peter Smith Exhibited his claim and (was) allowed fourteen pounds six shillings and pence.  (Signed) John Nichols."

Peter Smith died in 1797 in Caswell County; his will was dated April 18, 1793.  One must assume that Jemima died before the will was written as she was not mentioned in it. His almost freeing "my Negro Anthony" was of interest to me. At one period of time it was illegal to free slaves, and the will may have been written during that period.

Copy of Peter Smith's Will; of Caswell County, North Carolina

Made in the year of 1793.

            In the name of God, Amen.  I Peter Smith, of Caswell County state of North Carolina, for divers good causes and considerations, now hereunto moveing have made constituted and appointed this my last will and testament, in the following manner.

Item first.

I give to my daughter Elizabeth, her heirs etc. a certain Negro woman named Jane, a horse, saddle and bridle and feather bed, etc. now in her and her husbands possession.     

Next I give to my daughter Martha a Negro girl named Bess, a horse, saddle and bridle and Feather bed and furniture.  

Next I give to my son Jesse a negro boy named Lewis.  

Next I give to my son Moses a negro boy named Edmond.  

Next I give to my son Aaron a negro girl named Fannie.  

And I will that all my other property estate consisting of land, negroes, stock, household furniture, etc., be equally divided between my sons, to wit: James, William, Pressley, George, John B., Elias and Elijah, except my Negro Anthony, who though not absolutely free, I will that he have liberty to have his own choice from time to time, to serve which of my children he shall choose, and not to be confined to any one particular, but if ill treated by one, to have liberty to go to another as he shall see fit, and not to be sold to any other person.   

In testimony whereof, I set my hand and seal this 18th day of April 1793, Seventeen hundred and ninety three, and I appoint John Windsor, Richard Hornbuckle and my son William W. Smith executors of this my last will and testament.
                                                                                                PETER SMITH

James Grant
Jeptha Rice. 

Caswell County, October Court, 1797.

The executors of this Will was duly proved in open court by the oaths of James Grant and Jeptha Rice, subscribing witnesses, and on motion, ordered to be recorded.

                                                                                                A. C. Murphy, Clerk.

Children of Peter and Jemima (Simpson) Smith

The children that Peter Smith mentioned in his will are listed below in the order in which they were named.  Middle names learned from other sources are shown in brackets.

Peter and Jemima are believed to have had a son named Robert, a preacher, and a daughter Susan, although they are not named in the will.  Possibly they died before their father.

A History of Muhlenberg County (Kentucky), by Otto A. Rothert, 1813, states that Paradise, Kentucky, is one of the oldest places in the county.  It is about a mile from Old Airdie (named for a town in Scotland), and is built on land first settled by Pioneer Leonard Strum (or Strom).  Rothert states further that among the first settlers in this neighborhood were three of the sons of Peter Smith of North Carolina: Aaron, James and Elias.  Records show that eight sons of Peter and Jemima Smith moved to Muhlenberg County, where some or all of them obtained land.  One of the daughters also came.  They were:

[1]   DAR Patriot Index, 1966, p. 628
[2]   Fairfax County, Virginia, Will Book D, p. 292
[3]  Orange County, North Carolina, Registration of Deeds, 1752-1793, Part II p. 16
[4] DAR Patriot Index, p. 628

1 comment:

  1. I'm looking for an image of the 1793 will. Saw one on the Internet a few years back and unable to locate a copy. Thank you, Gary Smith --