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William Handy (1749 - abt. 1830)

William Handy
Born in Virginiamap [uncertain]
Son of [father unknown] and [mother unknown]
[sibling(s) unknown]
[spouse(s) unknown]
Descendants descendants
Father of and
Died about in Barren, Kentucky, United Statesmap [uncertain]
Profile manager: Jamie Handy private message [send private message]
Profile last modified | Created 18 Jul 2015
This page has been accessed 545 times.



William was born probably about 1750 in Virginia. His year of birth is calculated from the birth dates of his children, which are based on census records. The few census records in which he himself appears indicate only that he was born sometime prior to 1765.

The father and origin of William Handy is not known. He could possibly be the son of Robert Handy, the noted settler on Adams Creek. Other sources (S?) say that he is the son of Samuel HANDY. (S?). Others still say he was the son of the William HANDY of Maryland who married Comfort ATKINSON and Mary ROBINS. All evidence I have seen so far indicates that this is probably not true. Children of William Handy and Mary Robins of Maryland do not match the children of William Handy of Kentucky.

The name of his wife is not known. The only known record that shows the name of any of his children is the birth of his daughter Sarah. The relationships of the rest of his children have been deduced from census records, by association with him in property records, and by proximity in other records. Census records indicate that his children were born in Virginia. Kentucky was at first territory belonging to Virginia, so they could have been born in either, and still would have been correctly born in Virginia territory.

The Long Hunters, were among the earliest white men who came to the area that is now Adair County. The were led by Colonel James Knox, in 1769, 1770 and 1771, coming down the Cumberland River, crossing over to the Green River. Daniel Boone was in Adair County and Green County areas in 1771 and 1773. (S36). In 1776 Kentucky became a separate county of Virginia, named Kentucky County.

In 1776 William Boaz Moss, Robert Handy, and George Burkes came into the region of Adair County. It is not known how long they stayed at that time. (S36, pg 36). It is possible that William Handy was part of this group, but this is not recorded.

The Virginia Assembly passed an act which is called the Pre-emption Law, which provided that those who had borne the cost of settling others upon any waste or unappropriated lands on ... Western waters, to which no other person hath any legal right or claim at any time, prior to January 1, 1778, should be entitled to four hundred acres of land for each family, settled or smaller amount which the settler might choose. Those who desired more land were to be allowed a pre-emption on any amount of adjoining land up to a maximum of 1,000 acres, which mifght be purchased at the current state price. This spurred a rapind increase in population in Kentucky. Many who had been in the region prior to 1778 rushed to present their claims to the Comission. (S36, pg 30).

The Territory of Kentucky was created in July 1790. On 1 June 1792 Kentucky became a state. The following year, in 1793, Green County was created from Lincoln and Nelson counties. Adams Creek fell within the boundaries of Green County. In 1794 William Handy appears on the tax list of Mercer County, but no land is indicated. In 1795 he again appears on the tax list for Mercer County, as owning property in Green County. He is shown with 500 acres on Russell's Creek, 1 tithe, 4 horses and cattle. I do not know why the entry is l isted in the Mercer County records.

William Boaz Moss, Robert Handy and George Burkes staked out land at the mouth of Adams Creek. Adams Creek is on the south of the Green River It is not known if they received land by service in the Revolutionary War or by securing land by the claims of Improver's Cabins. In 1782 they built the Pleasant Ridge Meeing House. It was bery small, made of logs and chinked with thin layers of rock and clay. This Meetin' House was built on the land of William Boas Moss. It was build around a tree stump, which was tall enough to be used as a pulpit stand. The seats were made of hewn logs with four legs but no backs. They originally used limbs across the door to keep animals out. Later a batten door was mad, split out of wood and tongue and grooved. Reverend Moss preached in this church for ten years. This church stood on a high ridge, and rightly gets its name from the situation, as one can see from amany miles over the beautful countryside. The land slopes down into deep gorges which were well wooded. There was a spring down under the hill which provided water, near Adams Creek. There was also a mineral spring near the Meeting House which was used for medicinal purposes. (S36, pg 94).

Robert Handy, son of Jesse Handy, built a log cabin on his land. It was built of hued buckeye logs. John M. Moss, whose family later lived in the cabin, remembered seeing the date 1782 cut into a log of this cabin. (S36-g. 95). It has been said from this that the log cabin was the one which the original settler, Robert Handy had built. However, since some logs were taken from the Old Meetin House and put into the cabin in which J. M. Moss lived and raised his own family, it is more likely that the log with the date 1782 carved into it probably came from the Pleasant Ridge Meeting House. (S36, pg. 95). [Note: This Robert Handy, son of Jesse, is apparently the grandson of William Handy; not the original settler, Robert Handy].

It is not known when or how William Handy came to Adams Creek area. It is possible that he was a son or brother, or some other close relative, but if there is a connection, it is not known. William Handy is first mentioned in the early Kentucky land records: On the 9th of September of 1796 William Handy had 200 acres surveyed out for himself on both sides of Adams Creek in Green County. He is also on the tax list with 1000 acres on Russell's Creek. In 1797 the 200 acres on Adams Creek are again mentioned in the tax records, and William's improvements are said to be on the creek.

On the 29th of August 1799, 156 acres on Beaver Creek are surveyed out to William Handy as the assignee of Joel Handy and James Handy. This record indicates that Joel is probably one of the son's indicated in the 1810 census. James and Jesse are listed separately in this census record, so they cannot be the two who are mentioned here with William Handy .

Also In 1799, Barren County was created from Green County and Warren County. Adams Creek again fell within the boundaries of this new county. In that year William is listed as having the 156 acres on the waters of Barren, the 500 acres on Green River, and 100 acres on the waters of Adams Creek. Adair County was created from part of Green County in 1801 and Adams Creek is again in this new county. It has remained part of Adair County since that time.

Surveying was rather haphazard in this area in the early history of Kentucky, due in part to the fact that trees or other perishable landmarks were used for survey markers. Another factor was that the topography was very different from what surveyors were used to. Even water courses were uncertain, since the limestone that underlies the area resulted in sinkholes that caused them to disappear entirely. This is evident from the caves in the area, such as nearby Mammoth Cave National Park.

For these reasons, during the next several years, the property that William owns is listed differently in the tax records. In 1800, he is on the tax list with 166 acres on the waters of Beaver Creek in Barren County, 100 acres on the East Fork of Beaver Creek in Green County, and 1000 acres on the waters of Russell's Creek in Green County. In 1801 he is listed with 156 acres of Beaver Creek in Barren County, 100 acres on Adams Creek in Green County, and 1000 acres on Little Barren Creek in Green County.

In 1802 William is listed with 140 acres on Beaver Creek in Barren County, 100 acres on the East Fork of the Barren in Green County, and 1000 acres in Barren County. I am not sure why Adair County is not listed.

David Handy also appears on the 1802 tax list, with property on the East Fork of the Barren. This is undoubtedly the other son listed in the 1810 census. To have property at this time, he would have been born about 1780, which puts it at the appropriate time given in the census record.

In 1803 William HANDY, residing on Adams Creek in Adair County, placed an ad in the paper giving notice that he had found a stray cow.

In 1803 and 1804 William is again listed with 136 acres on Beaver Creek, 100 acres on Adams Creek, and 1000 acres on Russell's Creek. In 1805 he is listed with 200 acres on Adams Creek and 1000 acres "on the waters of Green River". That same year, on May 3, 1805, William deeded 200 acres on Adams Creek to Jesse Handy. This was said to be property that had been surveyed and patented to William Handy. This deed was recorded on December 5, 1805. I do not know if William retained any property on Adams Creek after this time or if he moved to a new residence.

In 1806 he is on the tax list with 1000 acres on Little Russell's Creek in Green County. In 1807 he is on the tax list with 100 acres on Greasy Creek in Green County. On October 19, 1807 he gives a power-of-attorney to James Hall to transfer 156 acres in Barren County to Francis Lattemore. In 1808, 1810, and 1811 he appears on the tax list of Adair County, but no acreage or location is given.

On the 13th of January 1815, William deeded livestock, farming utensils, and a lease of a tract of land "where I now live" in Barren County, to Thomas Hall (father-in-law to his son Jesse and 2nd husband of his daughter Sarah). This is the last time that William Handy appears in the records.

In 1820 a William Handy appears on the tax list as a new entry. Census and other subsequent records indicate that this is a younger person by the same name. Therefore, William Handy must have died sometime between 1815 and 1820. Since prior to 1815 he is shown divesting himself of property, I presume that he probably spent the last few years of his life with one of his children, and likely died there.

WIFE: [F193]. Wife of William HANDY [F192]. [PC H1]. She is not named in any of the records (census and land records) that refer to her. She is said to have been born in Virginia. The records that give an approximation of her age generally give it as somewhat younger than her husband, causing me to speculate that this wife as listed in the census records may have been a second wife.

CHILDREN of William HANDY [192] and his wife [193]: James Handy. Born between 1765 and 1775 in Virginia. From 1799 to 1801 he is on the tax list of Barren County with 200 acres on Peters Creek. In 1802 he is on the tax list of Barren County with 100 acres. {B15}. He made a Bond on 24 AUG 1809 to marry Nancy JEWELL. Nancy Handy is listed as head of household in the 1830 Census in Barren County, Kentucky, so presumably, James had died by this time. (S40). [F96]. Jesse HANDY. [PC H1]. Born about 1771 in Virginia. He married Elizabeth HALL [F97] on 23 June 1797. He died about NOV 1863. David HANDY. Born about 1778 to 1780 in Virginia. In 1802 he is listed on the tax list of Barren County with 100 acres on the East Fork of the Barren River. {B15}. Sarah HANDY. Born 24 MAY 1780, said to have been in what was later to become Adair County, Kentucky, but the cabin on Adams Creek was not built until l782. At that time in Kentucky, land was claimed and sometimes cabins were built before families moved in to permanently reside there, so even though the cabin was built in 1782 the family may not have even resided there for a year or two yet. Therefore it is not certain where she was born. It could have been in Virginia or an intermediate stop somewhere in Kentucky. It is probable, however, that she was born in Virginia where several of the other children were said to have been born. She apparently married (1) Hansel ALFORD about 1798 to 1800. He died before FEB 1807. She married (2) Thomas HALL [F194] on 24 MAY 1808. (S37). Polly HANDY. (called Handley in the marriage record-S38). She was probably born either about 1775 or else about 1782 in Virginia. She married 23 AUG 1801 Joseph SCOTT. John HANDY. Born about 1785 in Virginia. He married 26 MAR 1808 (1809-S38) Susannah BUNNELL. John and his family moved to Indiana (Montgomery County, Illinois-S39) and then to Missouri. He located first in Howard Township. John Handy pitched his tent near Muddy Creek in Gentry County, Missouri, on the 16th section. He afterwards moved to Athens Township, and upon the organization of the county, moved to the town of Athens, now Albany, and kept the first tavern that was ever opened to the public in the town. (S39). Joel HANDY. Born in Virginia. He never achieved legal independence as he was mentally retarded. He probably died young.

SOURCES: [S1]. Research notes of Dr. John F. Vallentine. [S2]. Family records of Robert A. Handy. [S3]. Handy Book for Genealogists. 7th ed. Everton Publishers, Logan, UT 84321. [S4]. 1820 Census, Green County, Kentucky. [S5]. 1850 Census, Green County, Kentucky. [S6]. 1800 Census, Barren County, Kentucky. [S7]. 1810 Census, Barren County, Kentucky. [S8]. 1820 Census, Barren County, Kentucky. [S9]. 1810 Census, Adair County, Kentucky. [S10]. 1850 Census, Gentry County, Kentucky. [S11]. 1860 Census, Gentry County, Kentucky. [S12]. 1796 Tax list, Green County, Kentucky. [S13]. 1799 Tax list, Barren County, Kentucky. [S14]. 1800 Tax list, Barren County, Kentucky. [S15]. 1801 Tax list, Barren County, Kentucky. [S16]. 1802 Tax list, Barren County, Kentucky. [S17]. 1820 Tax list, Barren County, Kentucky. [S18]. 1803 Tax list, Adair County, Kentucky. [S19]. 1804 Tax list, Adair County, Kentucky. [S20]. 1805 Tax list, Adair County, Kentucky. [S21]. 1806 Tax list, Adair County, Kentucky. [S22]. 1807 Tax list, Adair County, Kentucky. [S23]. 1808 Tax list, Adair County, Kentucky. [S24]. 1810 Tax list, Adair County, Kentucky. [S25]. 1811 Tax list, Adair County, Kentucky. [S26]. Green County, Kentucky Marriages. [S27]. Barren County, Kentucky Marriages. [S28]. Kentucky Marriage Records from the Register of the Kentucky Historical Society. Baltimore:Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc. 1983. [S29]. Abstracts of Green County Land Entries. by R. N. Smith and Laura Lee Butler. Burkesville, KY. 1975. [S30]. 1794 Tax list, Mercer County, Kentucky. [S31]. 1795 Tax list, Mercer County, Kentucky. [S32]. Land surveys South of Green River, Kentucky. [S33]. Land Grants South of Green River. [S34]. Kentucky Land Grants. by William Rouse Jillson. Baltimore:Genealogical Publishing Co. 1971. (Grants South of Green River, 1797-1866). [S35]. Adair County, Kentucky Deeds. 36) Barren County, Kentucky Deeds. [S36]. Methodist History of Adair County, Kentucky, 1782-1969. by Vista Royse Allison. 1969. [S37]. Letter from David Handy dated 17 JUL 1995 quoting Adair County Marriage Records, 1802-1840 and Barren County Order Book No. 3, 1806-APR 1812. [S38]. Census [S39]. History of Daviess and Gentry counties, Missouri; 1922. Leopard, John C; Hillman, Mary McCammon; McCammon, Robert McMillen, 1842-1922. Topeka:Historical Pub. Co. [S40]. United States Census, 1840," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 23 Mar 2013), Robert Handy, 1840. Page Number: 115 Affiliate Publication Number: M704 Affiliate Film Number: 103 GS Film number: 0007823 Digital Folder Number: 004410619 Image Number: 00238

This William Handy, who was born in Virginia and died in Kentucky, has been confused with two other men of the same name to whom he is not related; William Handy, of Worcester County, Maryland, who married first Mary Robins and second Comfort Riggin, and William Handy, also of Worcester County, Maryland, who married Mary King Henry Whittington. Neither of these men ever lived in either Virginia or Kentucky, and there is no apparent relationship between William Handy, of Virginia and Kentucky, and any of the Handys of Maryland.


Date: 1800
Place: Fed, census; Barren County, KY (w/James-Jesse in Green Cty)
Date: 1795
Place: Mercer County (w/Jesse)  ?
Date: 1810
Place: Fed. census; Barren County, KY, p. 53
Date: 1820
Place: Fed. census: Barren County, KY, p. 57
Date: 27 JUL 1821
Place: William applies for Land survey-50 acres
Date: 1830
Place: Barren County, KY (w/Jesse, Robert & Thomas)


Type: Land Sale
Date: 1831
Place: W/Jessie&Betsy, witness: Robert A. Handy
Type: Land Purchase
Date: 1799
Place: Barren County, KY (from Joel Handy)
Type: Property Tax
Date: 1795
Place: Mercer Cty ( 0 Blacks, 4 Horses, 8 Cattle)
Type: Land Grant
Date: 29 SEP 1796
Place: Green Cty, KY (200 Acres)[1]
Type: Land Warrant
Date: 1824
Place: Barren County, KY[2]
Type: Jury Duty
Date: SEP 1800
Place: Barren County, KY
Type: Witness
Date: FEB 1807
Place: Court Session-Barren County, KY (estate administration w/Jesse))[3]
Type: Court
Date: 1800
Place: Jury duty, KY (Barren County?)
Type: Land Surveys
Date: 1824
Place: Barren County, KY
Type: Property Sale
Date: 1815
Place: Barren County, KY
Type: Land Purchase
Date: 1824
Place: Barren County, KY


Note: #N38


  1. Source: #S50 Page: Book 1, p. 70 & Book 7, p. 507 Data: Text: Also; Land Warrents: CONT Book "N," p. 254 & Book "P," p. 211 CONT Grants south of Green River (1797-1866) and **Ky Land Warrants (1816-1873) CONT **must have been a VA soldier before 1797
  2. Source: #S37 Page: Book P, page 211. Data: Text: 50 acres, 1-15-1824 (Green and Barren Counties, KY)
  3. Source: #S13
  • Source: S13 Title: Barren County Order Book 3
  • Source: S37 Title: Keentucky Land Warrants (1816-1873)
  • Source: S50 Title: The Kentucky Land Grants (1782-1924)


Note N38-Must have been a VA soldier before 1797 to be elgible for his 29 Sept 1796 land grant...probably in Revolutionary War
-Found a William Handy, b. 24 June 1746 whose parents were Robert Handy and Rachel Kelly ?
-1796 Land Grant Info: William Handy enters 200 acres of land upon a certificate granted by the Commissioners (lying S. of Green on adams creek, etc.)
-1799 William Handy bought land from Joel handy, who bought it from James Handy (Barren County, KY {Handy Surveys-Beaver
Creek area, swearengen Fork-Barren Fork)
-29 August1799 William Handy - Land Survey - Beaver Creek (Cert ##1476
-First KY (state) census-1792, then 1798,1799,1803,1807,1811,1815,1819,1823, etc.
Kentucky Counties:
Green, organized: 20 Dec 1792
Parents: Lincoln and Nelson
Progeny: Adair(1801), Cumberland (1798), Barren (1798) & Pulaski (1798)
_Kentucky Solders of the War of 1812
Jesse, p.277
John, p.76
William, p. 262...Private in Cpt Joseph Straughan's Company...Commander: LTC John Francisco
(See also, Roll of Field and Staff, Second Regiment, Kentucky Mounted Militia, p. 28)
> 1815... William Handy (Adair County) sold cow and horse to Tho Hall (Barren County, KY)
> 1824 ...William Handy land purchase "near the Conner Lick Grove." Jessie & Robert A. Handy mentioned {Edward Rogers Surveys)
>11 Children - moved from MD to VA to KY ? check Pittsylvania County, VA in 1782 (p.42-4 white souls)
Others have him dying in 1825 ...have other possibilities in notebook

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It may be possible to confirm family relationships with William by comparing test results with other carriers of his Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA. However, there are no known yDNA or mtDNA test-takers in his direct paternal or maternal line. It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share some percentage of DNA with William:

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Comments: 9

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Or it's possible that two people with the same surname are not actually related, which seems a lot more likely.
posted by C Handy
No, misattributed paternity is cumulative over generations and can easily be over 50% that far back (see table in link I posted). May also exist on my side. So that is not evidence. It would be helpful to eliminate connection to Somerset Handys, but comparing our yDNA resolves nothing.
posted by Jamie Handy
Nope, it's not. Your Y-DNA doesn't match mine; I have a documented line, DNA-verified for five generations. The evidence is against your William Handy being from the Maryland family. (There are surname projects for several of my ancestral surnames; known descendants with an MRCA c. 300 years ago share the same Y-DNA with expected mutation rates, with very low rates of misattributed paternity.)
posted by C Handy
Comparing our yDNA is pointless, over 200-300 years chances of errors are quite high.

posted by Jamie Handy
It's certainly suggestive, considering that I have a documented line back to Samuel Handy, and you have someone with the same last name, of unknown antecedents and uncertain parentage. Y-DNA testing of more of the documented male-line descendants of Samuel Handy would settle the question. (NB that studies have determined a rate of "misattributed paternity" of around 1-2%; the odds are much higher that I carry Samuel Handy's Y-DNA than that I don't.)
posted by C Handy
Unless you have Samuel Handy's actual DNA results, Y-DNA is not reliable evidence. Paternity was not tested or questioned in colonial times.
posted by Jamie Handy
Evidence ruling out a connection: Y-DNA testing. I have a documented line back to Samuel Handy who died in Somerset County, Maryland (verified by DNA for 5 generations). My Y-DNA is R-U198. This does not match the Y-DNA of presumed descendants of William Handy who died in Kentucky (I-M253), and means they do not share a common ancestor in the male line.
posted by C Handy
Regarding C Handy comment, there hasn't yet to my knowledge been any evidence ruling out a connection between this William Handy and the Handy's of Maryland. His place of birth is uncertain.
posted by Jamie Handy
William Handy, who died in Kentucky, was not born in Maryland, and was not related to the Handy family of the Eastern Shore, as far as can be determined. He was also not married to a Comfort Atkinson. The William Handy who married Comfort (Riggin) Atkinson was married first to Mary Robins, by whom he had four children, none of whom married or have descendants; he had no children by his marriage to Comfort (she was the widow of Angelo Atkinson, a Tory sympathiser).
posted by C Handy

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