|WILLIAM WHITFIELD I, II, & III
The 3 WILLIAM WHITFIELDS, ELIZA JANE�S 5th, 4th, and 3rd great grandfathers left their mark in North Carolina, and their many descendants spread throughout the country.
|Researchers disagree as to whether the first WILLIAM was born in England in 1688 and
came in his own ship, The Providence, in early part of the 18th century and settled at Nansemond Co., Virginia, or whether he was born in Virginia,his parents being MATTHEW and ANN [or PRISCILLA] of Nansemond, who came on the Prosperous in 1679, or was the son of WILLIAM WHITFIELD of Isle of Wight, VA. All agree that he married ELIZABETH GOODMAN (1697-1773) of Gates county, North Carolina in 1713 and that he died 1770 in Lenoir Co, NC. The couple lived and the children were born in Bertie Co., NC. They were either moving to join their son WILLIAM in Rockford, Lenoir County, North Carolina, or going to visit, when they were killed by Indians. [There is no explanation as to why different death dates are usually given for ELIZABETH and WILLIAM.]
WILLIAM WHITFIELD I�s name is found more than once on the records of North Carolina, from deeds to land to serving on juries. He left a legacy of debts, though, to his children.
On the other hand WILLIAM II was very successful financially in spite of being burdened with his father�s debts. According to his great-grandson, BRYAN WATKINS WHITFIELD, his first property, after clearing his father�s debts, was a cow and her calf received for 6 days work weeding a corn patch. He was a brick mason by trade.
WILLIAM married 6 Nov 1741, RACHEL BRYAN, the granddaughter of WILLIAM BRYAN and LADY ALICE NEEDHAM, who had eloped to the new world, at Snowfield Plantation, Bertie Co, NC, the home of her parents, NEEDHAM BRYAN and ANNE RAMBEAU. Soon thereafter the couple set out to find a new home for themselves. They stopped in the home of JOHN WRIGHT, His Majesty's justice of the peace, where South Washington, N C, would later be built. The justice was so impressed with the beauty and youth of the bride that he concluded that WILLIAM was running away with her and ordered his arrest. That evening the WRIGHT home was the scene of a party. The fiddler become so drunk he could no longer play and dancing was halted while a substitute was sought. Perhaps RACHEL told the guests of her husband's skill with the violin. They called him, and he was allowed to play. This he did so well that his dancing friends demanded his immediate release, for it seemed to them that �such a clever musician had no need to run away.�
The couple settled in the portion of North Carolina that would become Lenoir Co., settling at Rich Lands [later called Rocky Ford]. They built Rockford House but only stayed 2 years before moving to White Hall [later named Seven Springs] on the south bank of the Neuse River in Wayne Co. They lived there until 1776 when they moved three miles farther to Pleasant Plains.
Originally a member of the Anglican Church, William changed to being a Methodist for a short time, then followed his son LEWIS in 1789 when he became a Baptist preacher.
WILLIAM not only became a large property owner he also was active in civic affairs. On 6 April 1750 a council held in New Bern directed that WILLIAM WHITFIELD be commissioned a justice of the peace for Johnston County. In the militia returns for 1754-55 WILLIAM WHITFIELD is listed as captain of 67 men. In 1761 RICHARD CASWELL and WILLIAM WHITFIELD were elected to represent Dobbs county in the assembly at Wilmington. April 13, 1762, the clerk issued certificates of election to CASWELL and WILLIAM WHITFIELD, and the day following the latter was appointed to the committee of Propositions and Grievances. In 1771 there is a mention of military equipment ferried over the Neuse by COL. WHITFIELD. In the Heritage of Wayne Co. It is stated that the WILLIAM WHITFIELDS were notable pioneers in Wayne Co., a part of its history from formation. WILLIAM WHITFIELD II built the first ferry in the county and his name and White Hall became known as the first settlement to merit a spot on the earliest Wayne Co. map.
In the beginning he was a reluctant rebel. On 6 March 1775, WILLIAM WHITFIELD and sundry others who had refused to sign the association of the continental Congress appeared before the Safety committee sitting at Wilmington, North Carolina. �The committee adopted a corrective resolution� March 13 the Committee announced that some of those who had refused to sign and so had provoked the above resolution [resolution forbiding trade with those who refused to sign] had since signed. Included in this number was WILLIAM WHITFIELD.
7 Dec. 1775, WILLIAM WHITFIELD was asked to join in a group to assess houses. June 8, 1776, the council of Safety of North Carolina sitting at Wilmington resolved to meet at the home of WILLIAM WHITFIELD on Neuse River in Dobbs County. Shortly thereafter the Council ordered guns sent to Captain WILLIAM WHITFIELD �S. The council July 24th advised WILLIAM SHARPE of its intention to move to Wake or to our old Landlord Whitfield's. The next day a letter signed 'Eaton' and directed to GENERAL MOORE mentioned WILLIAM WHITFIELD . During early August three wagons then at Whitfield's Ferry on the Neuse River were ordered to CAPTAIN STEPHEN COBB. WILLIAM WHITFIELD seems to have supplied forage as well as ferriage for the Continental cause. In the Revolutionary Army Accounts his name is repeatedly found as creditor of the state for forage. 3 May 1779, WILLIAM WHITFIELD and others were elected to the Council of State.
WILLIAM WHITFIELD III [1743-1816/17] became even more notable in wealth and progeny. There has been considerable written about WILLIAM III, as he was a man of wealth and influence in Wayne Co. and its predecessor counties. Deed records show that he owned land not only in Wayne but in several other nearby counties. He managed 36 slaves as early as 1790. O.O. Grady wrote to J B KILLEBREW in Jan. 1855 of WILLIAM and his brothers �four more worthy, respectable and wealthy brothers than WILLIAM, BRYAN, NEEDHAM and LEWIS WHITFIELD have not been raised by one man in North Carolina.�
In the Revolution he was in Col. John Miller's Co., pvt. in light horse. With his brothers he fought in the battle of Moore�s Creek Bridge 27 Feb. 1776. He was a Justice of Peace, Dobbs Co., NC, 1778. He was appointed the Director and Trustee for designing and building the town of "Wanesboro", NC, appointed in 1787 along with his son WILLIAM and brother-in-law JOSEPH GREEN. [The railroad later passed them by and the settlement moved to Goldsboro.]
With his 4 wives he produced at least 29 children, with 21 reaching maturity and the last born 1 month after his death. His son, WILLIAM ALEXANDER. died in 1904 at the age of 87, 161 years after his father�s birth. A letter in the Recollections of J B Killebrew states that WILLIAM A. �the 30th child of my great uncle WILLIAM (and your great-grandfather) now 80 years old, lives in Mexico�. It was his first wife, HESTER WILLIAMS, the daughter of JOSEPH WILLIAMS, who was ELIZA JANE�S 3rd great grandmother.
J B Killebrew states that WILLIAM III gave each of his 28 children property valued at $10,000. All agree that he endowed his children generously, and they in turn were people of means. He received several warrants to lands in Tennessee and his sons WILLIAM, BRYAN, NEEDHAM, LEWIS claimed the land patents and lived on the land.
WILLIAM�S daughter, MARY, JANIE�S, 2nd great grandmother, married BUCKNER KILLEBREW, who had been associated with the family. They also benefitted from her father�s generosity and joined the migration to Montgomery Co., TN.
|Neuse River, Wayne Co., NC|