Location: Anson, North Carolina, United States
Surname/tag: sullivant, gaddy, bennett, biles, williams
In the Sullivan family, a story is told that the family farm was lost to one of the brother-in-laws in the late 1800's. For the last 20 years, family and cousins have been researching the history of the Sullivan farm to find out how it passed out of the family and where it was located. This article documents the information discovered to date.
The farm was purchased by Isaac Sullivan, November 16, 1818 and is recorded in Anson County Deed Book S, page 280. The deed calls out 2 tracts, one of 684 acres and one of two acres which included Joseph Pickett's machine. The following is a transcription of the deed.:
This Indenture made this 26th day of November in the year of our lord 1818. Between William S. Spencer of the State of No. Carolina and County of Anson and Isaac Sullivant of the country & State aforesaid fo the other part. Witnessth that the said William S. Spencer for in consideration of the sum of three thousand dollars to him in hand paid by the said Isaac Sullivant the Receipt & payment whereof is here acknowledged hath bargained sold conveyed & confirm & doth by these presents bargain sell convey & confirm unto him the s'd Isaac Sullivant all that tract or parcel of land where on the said William S. Spencer now resides. Situate lying & being in the County of Anson on the Rocky Fork of Jone's Creek.
Beginning at a hickory on the Bank of said Creek and runs So. 4 W 22 chain and 50 links to a pine & pine pointers then No. 88 west 40 chains and 50 links to a pine and black jack pointer then No. 4 E 55 chains and 80 links to a red oak one Sweet gum & maple pointers then No. 79 E 32 chains & 50 links to a stake two pines & post oak pointers at the lower corner of Cash's old field on the East side and near Levertts old Road then So. 86 E. 43 chs & 86 links to a red oak and two post oaks pointer then No. 20 E. 11 chains and 50 links to a stake one spanish oak gum red oak & dogwood pointers then No. 76E. 6 chains and 40 links to a stake by a pine then S. 14 E. 5 chs and 60 links to a stake and three black jacks and post oak pointers then No. 75 E 42 chains to a stake in Stoke's line then with the said line So. 45 W 18 chains to a stake amongst four black jack pointer then So. 11 E. 28 chains and 50 links to a black jack Stokes third corner in Cash's line then with said line So. 67.5 W 22 chains and 22 links to a stake amongst three pines then So. 28 chains and 60 links to a stake by a hickory and post oak and large Rock. Then So. 87 W. 16 chains and 60 links to a Sweet Gum then No. 62 W 30 chains and 40 links to a hickory and one hickory pointer then No. 75 W. 5 chains to a stake by a maple and pine tree then No. 68 W 7 chains and 10 links to a white oak one red oak and dogwood pointers on the Bank of the creek then No. 75 W. 11 chains to the Beginning. Containing Six hundred and eighty four acres the same more or less. To have and to hold to him the s'd Isaac Sullivant his heirs Exus. admr. and assignee the said bargained premises & every part and parcel there of. Also another tract or parcel of land situate lying and being in the same State and County and Creek aforesaid Including the big faces of said Creek the place where Joseph Pickett formerly built a machine so as to include to the said machine seat containing two acres with all and singular the appurtenances there unto belong and he the said William S. Spencer doth hereby covenant and agree to and with the said Isaac Sullivant his heirs exer. adms. that he make from time to time and at all times hereafter have hold and occupy and enjoy the above described land and premise free and clear from all encumbrances whatsoever and the S'd William S. Spencer doth hereby warrant and defend the above land and premises to the said Isaac Sullivant against the lawful claim of all and every person whatsoever. In witness his hand and seal the day and date above written.
Signed sealed & delivered in the presence of us. W. Dismukes A. Lockhart
Wm. S. Spencer
Anson January Term 1810
For a plot of the land described in the deed above see Figure 1 Isaac Sullivant's 1818 Land Purchase Plat
By 1818 Isaac had all his children by his first wife Euridice. He was getting settled in Anson County after having married and lived in Halifax County, NC. During the next five years his wife Euridice died and he married Nancy Dawson about 1822-1824.
The next land transaction took place in 1822 when Isaac sold 200 acres of the tract for $800 listed in Anson County Deed U page 298 to Richard McBryde. This tract was the area west of NC 742 in Figure 2. The next record is in July 1823 when Isaac mortgages the land, 483 acres, to Burwell Benton and Daniel May. He also included the slaves Cato, Peter and Arny in the deed of trust in order to secure a note of $800 to Joseph Pickett. Apparently Isaac paid the note as there is no record of it going to Burwell Benton and Daniel May.
Isaac next added land to the eastern side of the tract when he obtained a grant of 100 acres for $10 from the state of North Carolina which was recorded in Anson County Deed Book W page 179. The next transaction took place in 1828 when Isaac bought 167.5 acres from Isaac Timmonds of Chesterfield, SC. The area was north of the original tract and is listed in Anson County Deed Book W, page 318. Another transaction made by Isaac concerning this tract was a land sale to Richard McBryde in 1835 for 190 acres for $867.57 in Anson County Deed Book Z, page 111. It basically sold the same land that Isaac had bought from Isaac Timmonds to Richard McBryde. The last transaction Isaac made was in June 6, 1839 to Mathilda Ingram. It is recorded in Anson County Deed Book 10, page 119 and was a sale of 29.5 acres on Cheraw Road for $103.25. This land was on the eastern side of the tract. See Figure 2 for how the tract looked at the end of 1839.
From the deed records and the fact that Isaac was in the 1840 Anson County Census, Isaac must have died between 1840 and 1842. The next mention of the property is in 1842 when Joseph Sullivant, Isaac's son, is buying his sister's shares of the property. Since this deed in Anson County Deed Book 11, page 197, proves that Joseph was Isaac's son plus gives Joseph's sisters, it is transcribed below:
This Indenture made on the 12th day of December AD in the year of our Lord 1842 Between Lucy Sullivant, James Plunkeett and wife Mary, Richmond L. Thomas and wife, Susan, Jesse Wallace and wife Frances and Willis Alsobrook and wife Martha on the one part and Joseph Sullivant on the other part all of the county of Anson and State of North Carolina witnessth that the said Lucy Sullivant, James Plunkett and Mary his wife, Richmond L. Thomas and his wife, William Edwards and Eurice his wife, Jesse Wallace and Frances his wife, Willis Alsobrook and Martha his wife for and in consideration of the sum of seven hundred and fourteen dollars and 16 cents to have in hand paid by the said Joseph Sullivant (several words too light to read) these presents the Receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged hath Granted Bargained and sold conveyed alien and confirmed and by those presents doth Grant bargain sell and convey alien and confirm unto the said Joseph Sullivant his heirs and assigns our undivided Interest being five sevenths in a certain tract or parcel of land in the county and state aforesaid situate on Rocky fork a branch or prong of Jones Creek adjoining the Lands of Walter R. Leak Benjamin T. Douglas and others being the Land descended to us as Heirs of Isaac Sullivant dec'd Bounded as follows. Beginning at Walter R. Leaks corner stake in the Cheraw Road 3 dogwood and a small pine pointers and pines with the vaious course of said Road 18 chains and 50 links to a corner in said Road then with Benjamin Douglas's line S13E 8 chains to his corner stake 2 red oak and a post oak pointer then No75E 4 chains and 50 links to Hubbard's corner in the Cheraw road one hickory pointer then with said road S55E 2 chains and 70 links then with said Road S74½E 12 chains and 50 links to Hubbard's corner in said road in the head of a hollow then down the courses of said branch to William B. McCorkle's line then with said line S69W 6 chains and 70 links to a stake 3 pine pointers William B. McCorkle's corner of his Coppedge tract then with his line S 1¼ W 33 chains to a stake by a Hickory and large Rocks then S88½W 16 chains and 50 links to a sweet Gum by 2 poplars Thomas Littles corner then with his line No61½W 30 chains crossing Rocky fork to a hickory 1 hickory and 3 dogwood pointers then No24W 5 chains crossing the creek to a stake near the Rocky falls on said creek 1 pine and 2 maply pointers and 1 sourwood pointer then No67W 7 chains to a white oak on the bank of said creek then up said creek No33W 15 chains to the old beginning corner on the east bank of said creek then with Thomas Little's other line S4W 8 chains and 50 links to Walter B. Leak's corner in the Camden road 2 red oaks 2 white oaks and dogwood pointers then with the various courses of said Road 33 chains and 20 links to Leak's other corner in said road a persimmon tree pointer then with his line No76E 8 chains and 50 links to his other corner stake one ash pointer then with his other line No49E 43 chains and 50 links to the Beginning containing Four Hundred and sixty seven acres be the same more or less to have and to hold all our interests being six sevenths as aforesaid in the said lands and premises and all and singular the tennants here ditaments ways mines minerals with the appurtenances thereunto Belonging or in any wise perataining to herein the said Joseph Sullivant his heirs assigns to his and their own proper or and behoof in fee simple for ever and the said Lucy Sullivant, James Plunkett and wife Mary Richmond L. Thomas and wife Susan Jesse Wallace and wife Frances and Willis Alsobrook and wife Martha and their heirs all and singular the premises hereby conveyed to the said Joseph Sullivant his heirs and assigns shall and will warrant and forever defend from the Lawful charges or claims of any and all personas whatever In Testimony whereof the said Lucy Sullivant James Plunkett and wife Mary Richmond L. Thomas and wife Susan Jesse Wallace and wife Frances and Willis Alsobrook and wife Martha doth hereunto set their hands and seals the date first above written signed sealed and delivered in presence of C. Myers Lucy Sulivant (seal) R. L. Thomas (seal) Susan Thomas (seal) Fanny Wallace (seal) Jesse Wallace (seal) James Plunkett (seal) Mary Plunkett-her mark-(seal)Willis Alsobrook (seal) Martha Alsobrook-her mark-(seal)
Anson County January Term 1843 I John Grady one fo the members of said court appointed by the court for that purpose this day proceeded to take the private examination of Mary Plunkett wife of James Plunkett, Susan Thomas wife of Richmond L.. Thommas, Frances Wallace wife of Jesse Wallace and Martha Alsobrook wife of Willis Alsobrook in open court touching their voluntary assent to the foregoing deed of conveyance separate and apart from their husbands wherefore the said Mary Susan Frances and Martha declare that they voluntarily assent to the within conveyance and that they executed the same freely and of their own accord without fear or compulsion of their husbands certified by me this 9th day of January AD 1843 John Grady (seal) member of the court.
January term 1843 Then the execution of this deed was duly acknowledged in open court by all except Lucy Sullivant and C. Myers the subscribing witness proves to all the signed sealed and delivered the foregoing deed for the purpoese therein ordered that the same be Registered with the examination made by John Grady Esqr. N. D. Boggan Clerk
The deed is plotted in Figure 3. Several lines in the deed are estimated as no specific lines are given in the deed. However, one can see that it is the same property that is in Figure 2. It looks like some of the eastern property was sold off or inherited by other family records but there was no record found for the missing pieces of property.
The next transaction occurs later that year when Joseph buys the last 1/7 from William Edwards and Euridice Edwards, Joseph's sister. This is recorded in Anson County Deed Book 11, page 152. It is not known whether Isaac Sullivant left a will although a news paper ad taken out by an A. Hester in the Raleigh, NC newspaper The Weekly Standard issue dated 28 June 1843, page 4, claims that there was an executor which implies a will. It also states that "Sullivant died and left an unencumbered estate of $25,000 to $30,000." Using the data from the deeds, Isaac Sullivant had the following children:
Isaac Sullivant, wife: Euridice Merrit
Their children were:
1-Martha Sullivant married about 1812 Willis Alsobrook died between 1867 and 1870 (as she is the only member of the family NOT named in Richard Merrits's property division, Halifax NC Deed Book 27 page 157 Division of the Land of Richard Merritt. Euridice may not have been her mother).
2-Lucy Sullivant married on 1845 to John Tarrant, died on May 8, 1861
3-Frances (Fanny) Sullivant married about 1829 to Jesse Wallace
4-Joseph Sullivant married about 1833 to Mary (Polly) Gaddy died about 1869
5-EuridiceSullivant married on 1829 to William E. Edwards died about 1894
6-Mary Sullivant married about 1840 to James Plunkett died on July 29, 1869
Isaac Sullivant, wife Susan Dawson Allen
7-Susan Sullivant married Richmond L. Thomas died about 1904
Many Ancestry trees also include Sarah Sullivant and Isaac Hunter Sullivant in the family. as well as the book Adam's Ancestors Volume 2. However, in the obituary of Isaac Marshall Williams in the The Messenger and Intelligencer,Wadesboro, North Carolina, 21 Jan 1897, Page 2 says that Sarah's father was Drewry Marshall Sullivan. Also there are three power of attorney deeds in Halifax County , Deed Book 32, pages 231, 241 and 381 that deal with a property division of the Brantley family that name Isaac Hunter Sullivant, Sarah (Sullivant) Williams, Mary (Sullivant) Russell and Elizabeth (Sullivant) Williams. Evidence indicates that these may all be Drewry (Drury) Marshall Sullvant's children as he married Elizabeth Brantley of Halifax County. Drewry Marshall Sullivant is thought to be Isaac Sullivant's brother as both are named in Rachel Sullivants Caswell County will. DNA evidence also supports this relationship.
Another land transaction occurs in 1842 when Joseph sells 52 acres of his land to his brother-in-law James Plunkett for $156. This is described in Anson County Deed Book 11, page 183. The property sold is on the eastern boundary.
The property was used to secure a loan of $773.08 on August 28, 1845 from Thomas Ashe and Calvin Myers to Joseph. Also included was a slave named George. The indenture is recorded in Anson County Deed Book 12, page 5. There is no record of the property being sold at auction as the loan was due on January 1847.
The last transaction recorded for Joseph is a sale of 15 acres to P. J. Coppedge in 1855. It was recorded on September 29, 1869 in Anson County Deed Book 20, page 205. This transaction also shows that the farm was not sold at auction and stayed in the Sullivan family. At this time, the property appears as shown in Figure 4. From the 1850 and 1860 census Joseph Sullivant's family is as follows:
Joseph SULLIVANT wife: Mary (Polly) GADDY
Their children were:
1-Silvesta Sullivant married John Ruscoe, died at age 20
2-Zilphy Ann Sullivant died at age 30, never married
3-Mary Elizabeth (Lizzy) Sulllivant married Robert M. Biles, died November 3, 1905
4-Isaac Sullivant died in the Civil War from illness, 1862
5-Richmond Thomas Sullivant died from pneumonia during the Civil War in the Elmira, NY prision camp in 1865
6-Lucy Frances Sullivant died 1862,
7-Joseph Sullivant married Mary Henrietta Mills, April 5, 1881 died January 1, 1895
8-James Sullivant bachelor died March 1933
9-John Tarrant Sullivant, married Agnes Allen before 1878, married Mary L. Gilmore, April 19, 1898, died 1921
10-Sarah Jane (Sally) Sullivant, married Will T. McIntyre, died April 25, 1924
The 1860 census showed that Joseph Sullivant had property worth $2660 and personal property worth $10,000. Joseph Sullivant is not listed in the 1870 census. Mary Sullivant is shown as head of household in the 1870 census. He is mentioned as owning adjacent property in a deed dated November 29, 1869.So he probably died late 1869 or early 1870 before the census. It is at this point that the mystery of what happened to the Sullivan farm starts.
As no record of the property being sold was found, a backward search of the property was done. The property was traced through the developer (it's a subdivision currently) and back through several deeds to a deed in Anson County Deed Book 35, page 122. In this deed D.N. (David Nevil) Bennett and Wife A. C.(Agnes Craighead) Bennett are selling the property shown in Figure 4 to A. E. Bennett on November 15, 1881 for $4,000.
An exhaustive search in the deed books between 1860 and 1890 was done, hoping to find a non-indexed deed. A local genealogist in Anson County, Steve Bailey, was hired to do the search. Unfortunately, he was not able to find any deed that fit the description. His suggestion was to take a look at the Stanly county deed records as D. N. Bennett and A. C. Bennett lived there. The Stanly County deed index in the Albemarle Libary was examined and two candidate deeds were found. One was available on microfilm and was not the property in question. There is one from Ingram to Bennett that was not available that was not examined. However, the odds of this being the property is extremely remote. The will index in Stanly County was also examined and there were no Bennett or Dunlap wills that were relevant.
Recently additional research has been done with the aid of on-line newspaper archives and census data being searchable via computer. It was found that Dr. John W. Bennett is next to Mary Gaddy Sullivan in the 1870 census implying they were neighbors. D. N. Bennett, who sold the land to his father and Dr. John W. Bennett were found to be first cousins once removed. Using Newspapers.com on Ancestry.com, an ad was found in the Pee Dee Herald, 9 Apr 1879, Page 4 advertising the Joseph Sullivant estate for sale for back taxes of $8 (about $200 in today's money) by the sheriff for May 5, 1879. Next D. N. Bennett is selling it to his father, A. E. Bennett, on November 15, 1881. So the conclusion is that Dr. John W. Bennett told D. N. Bennett about the property next to him going up for auction and D. N. probably bought the property at the sheriff's sale although it is curious no deed or record of the sheriff's sale has been found.
A. E. Bennett dies and leaves the land to his daughter, Mary Frances Bennett Gaddy (maybe D. N. Bennett didn't want it back!) whose husband Risden Bennett (R. B.) Gaddy is Mary Gaddy Sullivan's nephew. The Gaddys didn't sell or give the land back to the Sullivans, though. James and Joseph are in their sister's, Elizabeth Sullivan Biles, household in the 1880 Anson Census. Sarah Sullivant is in James M. Gaddy Jr.'s household. John T. has not been located in the 1880 census. At this point, these are the surviving heirs for the estate. It was never farmed again by the Sullivans. The last thing discovered was M. F. & R. B. Gaddy taking out ads in the Anson Times telling people to stay off the Sullivan property! M. F. does this twice in December, 1882 and R. B. runs the ad from November, 1885 to August 1886. See Figure 5 for the ad. When M. F. Gaddy dies, the land is sold by her executor to J. W. Odom for $7,000, Anson County Deed Book 37, page 564, on November 30, 1903.
So after all these years, a probable answer to the mystery of how the Sullivan property was lost can be made.
One thing that is puzzling , is why it remained the Joseph Sullivan estate for so long after Joseph died. It could have just been the term they used for the auction but it may have been the estate was unsettled perhaps until Mary Sullivan died and gave up her dower and the Sullivan children came of age. The executor or administrator would have been responsible for paying the estate taxes if the estate was not settled. Assuming there was no will, the administrator may have been Mary Gaddy Sullivant. When she died, a new administrator would have been appointed by the court. This new administrator may not have paid the taxes for some reason. Without the estate papers and court records this mystery probably can't be solved. It is also curious that property worth $4,000 and then later $7,000 was sold for $8 in taxes. However, there could have been other debts left by Joseph Sullivant that forced the sale. In the estate papers of Lucy Sullivant Tarrant and James Plunkett, promissory notes signed by Joseph Sullivant were found.
Comments or suggestions for research are welcome..
Dan Sullivan, Ralph Sullivan, Jane Will, July 10, 1999
updated April 21, 2021 with new research
updated October 4, 2021 with new research