My Runyon mess!

+6 votes

I made a mess of my Runyon line, so much so that I’ve detached all my previously supposed Runyon ancestors save one: Mary, wife of John Shepherd. I feel like this should be easy, but, typical of me, when I get frustrated, I detach myself(!) from the research and move on to something else. However, this one keeps coming back to me, especially when looking at Paula J’s ancestry with that beautifully complete Runyon line managed by several PMs going back in time.

Husband John (Shepherd-4967) is documented thought his father’s will and family bible, but Mary is not mentioned in the will. Two Shepherd genealogists generally trusted by the Shepherd clan give John’s wife as Mary, but I cannot tell what sources they used except through a list of sources in articles without footnotes, one of those being the family bible mentioned previously.

John apparently was the “roamer” of the Shepherds as while the rest of his siblings were cramming themselves into the Cowee Valley of Macon County, NC, he was stopping along the way to marry Mary, supposedly in Burke County, NC. Even here, the sources are sketchy.

Any assistance ​​​​​​would be most appreciated!!! (Need WikiTree geniuses!!! Heeellllppp!!!).    

WikiTree profile: Mary Shepherd
in Genealogy Help by Pip Sheppard G2G Astronaut (2.5m points)
recategorized by Jillaine Smith

There is something listing US Census, 1850, Macon Co NC; at 

Good Luck!

Sorry, David, I’m getting a 404 error message on the link. let me try this...
A tree with some sources at
Right. That’s them. Cousin Dwight has done some really great work. The son, James, is my ancestor, and his wife was his first cousin. However, I don’t know where Dwight got Joseph as Mary’s father.  Time to email Dwight!

Thanks, David. I’ll try to hunt down Joseph.
On the old Angelfire page, the only source is a county heritage book. It’s also a source I have used for lack of anything else. While there is much to be gleaned from these, I have seen much data based solely on oral history. Thanks for trying, David.
At the end there were 520 footnotes, some appeared to be a bit more.  In the late 1960's, my 1st experience of correcting grammar on a genealogy book, so much info was gathered via questionnaires received from known family lineages. Now I question nearly everything for potential bias or human error.
Yeah, me too. And oral history has led me down so many rabbit holes!
URL is

Please don't expect much from this old page. I did this when very green about the need for robust sourcing. Away on vacation this week, but will delve into this further next week.

Thanks, Dwight. If I find anything pertinent, I’ll be sure to let you know. Be safe!

2 Answers

+6 votes
Best answer

Pip, have you looked at this. If you go to the end of the book there is a list of names there.
by Rodney Long G2G6 Pilot (675k points)
selected by Susan Laursen
This book was helpful in two ways, Rodney. First, a Joseph Runyon (b. 1674) I adopted (Runyon-18) is not listed in this book as a son of Vincent the immigrant. That could mean one of two things: 1) Joseph was missed as a son in the book and would have been sandwiched in between Ann, b. 1673, and Thomas, b. 1675, or 2) there was no son named Joseph and his profile is a “floater” (my term for a profile that was created for someone who doesn’t really exist).

Second, an apparent grandson of Vincent by the name of John (father?) lived for a short while in Wilkes County, NC, (census record) during the time the Shepherds lived there (before they moved to Macon County, NC). He would have been the right age to be the father of my Mary Runyon Shepherd. If so, Mary may not have married John Shepherd in Burke County, NC, but in Wilkes. However, in the records I have, there is no marriage in Wilkes for Mary and John. Neither are there any Runyon marriages. So, maybe it was Burke County! Maybe there just wasn’t any record anywhere (possibly).

Can you feel my frustration rising? Too many suppositions, not enough hard evidence, but, Rodney, your link did give me some clues. I’ll hang on to them just in case something floats to the top.

Thanks for your efforts, Rodney.
+2 votes
Cousin Pip, I am so glad you are asking these questions. I think it is time to look back at the evidence versus family histories. Family histories state John Shepherd married Mary “Polly” Runyon and that Polly was the daughter of Joseph Runyon and Elizabeth (or Mary) Shepherd, sister to Thomas Sr. and family bible birthdates are given for Joseph, Elizabeth and Mary Runyon. I can’t recall exactly where these stories originate but I think it may have been a family history in the first Heritage of Buncombe County. (I didn’t realize the importance of documenting sources when I started) This same history tells of Thomas Shepherd rescuing the 2 falsely imprisoned Stanton brothers in Virginia and then marrying their sister Nancy.

I have never found any documentation of the above. What does exist is a family bible (and I don’t know whose bible or where it is) which lists the birth dates of Mary Runyon, Elizabeth Runyon, Joseph Runyon and the younger children of Thomas and Nancy Stanton Shepherd. Tax, census and land records also indicate a relationship between John Runyon (father of Joseph) and Thomas Shepherd Sr starting in the 1780 s in Montgomery Co., VA and down to Wilkes Co. NC in 1790 and then Buncombe Co. NC in 1800. There is also an entry in the Haywood Co., NC Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions dates 10 Oct 1829 where John Runyon aged 77 pleads for relief based on his Rev War service. He joined the war effort In 1779 2 Virginia Continental Line. Thomas and Nancy Shepard witnessed the declaration as they had lived with John’s family during the time he was in the war. I think many have interpreted the Bible record to indicate Joseph Runyon married Mary and then Elizabeth Shepherd, sisters to Thomas Shepherd but I think Mary and Elizabeth Runyon were sisters to Joseph Runyon. I have that Joseph married Elizabeth Keith and his sister Elizabeth Runyon married Reuben Keith. Understand that there are no marriage records found for any of this.

So John Runyon born c1752 (aged 77 in 1829) lived in Bedford Co VA in 1779 was married to Susannah Stanton whose sister Nancy Stanton had married Thomas Shepard Sr. There was also a brother John Shelton Stanton born c 1750 who lived in Buncombe and Madison Co NC before moving to Tennessee. John Runyon’s parents are not positively identified but may be Freeman Runyon and Mary Stout. See memorial #154985549 (John Runion 1752-1829) for a thorough recap of John’s life including the 1829 court record.

John’s son Joseph Runnion born 1776 and his wife Elizabeth Keith had Mary about 1799 in Burke Co NC and were living in 1800 in Buncombe Co NC. Mary Runyon Shepherds birthdate is not consistent on the 3 censuses she is recorded on. In 1850 she and John said they were both 60 and born in Burke Co NC. In 1860, John said he was 80 and born in Virginia and Mary was 80 born in Burke Co NC. In 1870 Polly was 98 and born in NC. Considering the birthdates Mary Polly Runyon could have been a daughter of John Runyon and Susannah Stanton. Regardless, John and Mary Runyon Shepherd didn’t leave many records to go by.

I don’t know about other Shepherd descendants but I have a lot of DNA matches to Keiths, Sheltons and Hensley in the Buncombe and Madison Co areas of NC. Any one else also match? Cathy
by C Hurst G2G Crew (420 points)

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