Saturday, April 08, 2006

Anne Smith of Caswell County, N.C.

Anne Smith of Caswell County, North Carolina--Grandmother of the Town of Milton, N.C.
By: Latham Mark Phelps

James Phelps daughter Lucy Phelps, married Willis Buckingham Smith in Caswell County, N.C., November 11th, 1794. Willis Buckingham Smith was a descendant of Anne Smith and a prominent Devisee of her Will. Herein follows the story of Anne Smith as we know so far, concluding with a transcription of her Last Will and Testament.

Quoted from Caswell County Historical Association Newsletter VOL.XXVI, Number 2 Pg. 2 April 2003

" Kendall's ABSTRACTS OF WILL BOOKS 1777-1814 gives the Tax List for Richmond District, Caswell County for 1784, a really good listing for the county that was established in 1777 and named for North Carolina's first governor, Richard Caswell. MACE STOKES lists 200 acres on Mill Creek. This gentleman went by many names, making research a memorable experience (like Mary Hicks')

Two years before that this man's grandmother, Mrs. Anne Smith, had written her will Sept. 17, 1783 and grandson Amasa Smith who had been named an executor failed to bring it into Court until January Court 1792. The Caswell County Historical Association was not aware in 1985 when we published the first Heritage Book that Mrs. Smith was also the grandmother of the town of Milton., founded in 1796, oldest in the County. While investigating the 200th anniversary, we discovered that Milton began with the sale of a mill on Country-Line Creek where the Dan River flows by and separates Caswell from Pittsylvania. and Halifax Counties over the line in Virginia. Benjamin Merritt, whose descendants in Person County (cut off from Caswell in 1792) reported in the HERITAGE OF PERSON COUNTY I. "He came down from New York" and secured a Granville Grant of many acres on both sides of the Dan River in two colonies. Benjamin built a mill which he sold to Mrs. Anne Smith ca.1757 with acreage over 50 in the tract, more than enough to start a flourishing frontier town. From Mrs. Smith's will we gather that in addition to the wheat and corn-grinding and rough-sawn lumber production, she also had a grog-shop. This hostess with the mostest had several daughters whom she remembered fondly and a son Willis Buckingham. We do not know if she remembered that her daughter Anne and husband James Reiley had sold her mill to William Thomas, Sr. in 1779. It was listed by one of the Thomas sons in the 1784 Census. She mentioned that she had two mills and two plantations, so we find grandson MACE STOKES, alias Mason Smith, alias Mase/Massie and several other variations, presiding over a cluster of interesting pioneers about whom we have had too little information. Due to the fact that family members were separated into Person County, their records must be searched in both Caswell, Person and Orange in North Carolina and maybe their descendants can report with the Merritts that they have at last found his home tract (in Halifax County, Va., not too far from Milton). A few stray facts about the cluster could. begin with the PASS family who lived near Milton. Over in Person County, a Merritt descendant owns an old Pass house with a Thomas Day mantelpiece. Milton is famed for its antique commercial row today and for the fact that it was the location of Thomas Day of the famed free-black family of cabinet-makers who came to Milton from Warrenton ca.1824 and started a business which remains unique in our state's history. Fortunately, the Day residence and shop are being restored by donations and grants."

James Phelps Land was on the East side of the Country Line Creek in Caswell County just across the Creek from the future Town of Milton, N.C. His property was bordered on the West by the lands of Anne Smith, on the East, by Shadrack Hudson, on the South by Nathaniel Pass Sr. and on the North by the Virginia Line. To the East of Shadrack Hudson were the lands of John Warren, whose daughter Jane married James Phelps' son William. James's son Thomas, married Nathaniel Pass Sr.'s daughter Mary and James Phelps' daughter Lucy married Willis Buckingham Smith, the son or grandson of Anne Smith. Anne Smith acquired her property in the year 1760 from "the Right Honourable John, Earl of Granville by deed bearing date the second day of August in the year of our Lord, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty & registered in the Registers Office in Caswell County aforesaid in Book E Page( blank)”. This passage is from a Deed from James and Anne Reiley (Anne Smith's daughter and son-in-law) of Caswell County, N.C. to William Thomas Sr. of Pittsylvania County, Va., in 1779 (Caswell Co. Deed Book A--Page 115). Ironically, This Deed was witnessed by my 6th Great-Grandfather Andrew Haddock, as well as by Charles and John Boulton. This property consisted of 50 acres "Beginning at Benjamin Merritt's corner White Oak on the Virginia Line, and on the West side Country Line Creek".

William Thomas Sr. of Pittsylvania County, Va. had a son, Asa Thomas who is widely credited as being the Father of Milton, N.C. Quoted from The Caswell County Historical Association's (CCHA) website. " The town of Milton in northeast Caswell County was incorporated in 1796 as a center for warehousing and inspecting tobacco and flour. It was a natural site with a fine location on the Dan River. The property of Asa Thomas was selected. Because the new town was to have been located near the mill owned by Asa Thomas, it naturally was named Milltown or Milton." This mill was originally built by Benjamin Merrit and later sold to Anne Smith. If Asa Thomas was the Father of Milton, N.C., Then Anne Smith was the Grandmother of the town of Milton as it is situated on the land previously owned by her. Below is the transcription of Ane Smith's Will.

Anne Smith's Last Will and Testament 1783

Caswell County, N.C.
Will Book Page 438

January Court 1792

In the Name of God Amen this seventeenth day of September in the year of our Lord, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty Three, I Anne Smith of the County of Caswell and State of North Carolina, being sick and weak of body but of perfect Mind and Memory, (thanks be given to God) and calling to mind the Mortality of my body and the uncertainty of this life, do make Ordain Constitute and appoint this my last Will and Testament in the following manner and form:

And first I resign my Soul unto God who gave it me and my body to the dust, to be decently buried by my Executors hereafter mentioned. And as for such wordly Goods as it has Pleased God to bless me with, I dispose of them in the following manner:


I Give and bequeath to my Daughter Margaret Williams five Shillings Sterling and no more.

Item-I Give and bequeath to my Grandson, William Williams, son of William Williams, five Shillings Sterling and no more.

Item- I Give and bequeath to my Grand Daughter, Elizabeth Williams, One Hundred Acres of Land, lying on the State line that Divides Virginia and North Carolina, also a Big Wheel and a little wheel, also one loom, also two Plates, a Dish and one Bason and one Pott, also one Bed and furniture, also One Mare three years Old.

Item- I Give and bequeath to my Grand Daughters, Anne Smith & Keziah Smith, My Negro Wench Amy and her son Adam to be sold when they Anne & Keziah Smith comes of Age and the Money to be equally divided between them , also the Mill that I now Own with fifty Acres of Land where the said Mill stands and to Joyn to Elizabeth Williams land, also two Plates one Dish and one Bason to each of them the said Anne & Keziah Smith.

Item- I Give and bequeath unto Willis Buckingham Smith, the Plantation whereon I now live with two hundred Acres of Land to him and his Heirs forever, also my Negro boy Sam, also my Still that is now on the Plantation where I now live, also one Bed and furniture, also two Plates, also one Dish and one Bason, also two Potts one frying Pan one Dutch Oven, to be Sold after my Decease, and the Money arising from the said Sale to be Divided between Willis Buckingham Smith and Anne Smith and Keziah Smith, also one Bay and Mare four years old, I give and devise to Willis Buckingham Smith.

Item- I Give and bequeath unto my my Grand Daughter Nanney Riley, one Bed and furniture, also my side Saddle, also one Black Mare.

Item- I Give and bequeath unto Lattice Riley, one Gilt Leather Trunk.

Item- I Give and bequeath unto my Grandson Mason Smith, my Case and Bottles, also my Juggs, also all the Plantation Tools, to be Divided between Mason Smith & Willis Buckingham Smith, also I Give unto Mason Smith all my Books. I Give unto Elizabeth Williams one Cow and her Calf and one Sow and her Piggs, also one fatt Hog, also one Ewe and Lamb. All the rest of my Cattle, Sheep and Hoggs I Give unto Mason Smith till Willis Buckingham Smith, Anne Smith & Keziah Smith comes of age, then the said Mason Smith to give to each of them one Cow & Calf, one Ewe and Lamb, also one Sow & Piggs. Also I leave my Crop for the Maintenance of the family, Except Ten Barrels of Corn and four Bushels of Wheat, that I Give unto my Grandaughter Elizabeth Williams.

Item- I Give and bequeath unto Mason Smith, Three hundred and Ten Acres of Land on the upper end of my land whereon he now lives, also five Chairs one Table to be Sold, and the Money to be equally Divided between Willis Buckingham Smith, Anne Smith and Keziah Smith. Also I desire that Willis Buckingham Smith may be put with Mason Smith with all that he has till he comes of age and the said Mason Smith to keep him and all I have left to the said Willis Buckingham Smith till then, and as for the Residue of my Estate, I Will that it be Sold by my Executors and the Money arising from the Sale be applyed in discharging the Debts which may Accrue on the Estate.

And Lastly I constitute and appoint my beloved Grandson Mason Smith, and my trusty friend Archibald Murphey, Executors to this my last Will and Testament and I ho hereby revoke and deny all Other Will or Wills by me made and all Other Legacys and bequeaths. Ratifying and confirming this only to be my last Will and Testament. In Wtness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and Affixed my seal the year and day first above written.


Anne x Smith {Seal}

Signed Sealed published pronounced and declared to be the
Last Will and Testament in Presence of us:

George Connally--(Jurat)
Willam Randolph--(Jurat)
Abraham Randel

Caswell County January Court 1792
The Execution of this Will was duly proven in open Court by the Oaths of George Connally and William randolph. Two of the Subscribing Witnesses thereto & on Motion, Ordered to be recorded. At the same time Amasa Smith, one of the within mentioned Executors Quallifyd.

Teste: A. E. Murphey--C.C.

Transcribed By: Latham Mark Phelps--April 2006

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