JOHN FERGUS AND ASSOCIATED FAMILIES:

FERGUS, MELTON, BATTLE, WELCH, & STILES


George Baumbach, 902 Beddingfield Drive, Knightdale, NC 27545
Duane Oliver, Box 394, Hazelwood, NC 28738

This article was originally published in The Bone Rattler, The Bulletin of the Swain County, North Carolina Genealogical and Historical Society, Volume 8, No. 1, pp. 14-28 (1991), and has been updated.
updated 10 November 2013


This article is about John Fergus, J.P. (1752-1837), an early white settler of Oconolufty Creek and Scott's Creek in present day Swain and Jackson Counties, North Carolina. We have followed the trail of this pioneer from Pennsylvania to the "new frontiers" in the New Acquisition District of South Carolina, into the "Ceded Lands" of Wilkes County, Georgia, to the Meigs Survey lands of Western North Carolina (Buncombe County), and the Hiawassee purchase lands of Monroe County, Tennessee. John was a Revolutionary War veteran, South Carolina state legislator, a Justice of the Peace and founding father of Waynesville, Haywood County, North Carolina, and a civic leader in Haywood County, North Carolina. We have also trailed his brothers, William Fergus and James Fergus, both of whom served as representatives to state legislatures: William in the South Carolina State Legislature, and James in Kentucky.

In this article we also present documentation that John Fergus and Milly Melton Welch (c1780-1867) were husband and wife. Furthermore, we will show rather convincing evidence that Milly Melton Welch and her first husband, David Alexander Welch (1780 to 1816-29), son of Thomas and Agnes Alexander Welch, were the parents of David Alexander Welch, Jr. (who married Malinda Wilson) and Thomas Jackson Welch (who married Ester Tabor and Melvina Morgan). These proofs lay to rest a recent controversy concerning the parents of David A. Welch, Jr. whom we previously thought were JOSEPH WELCH, (brother of David A. Welch, Sr), and his wife, Catherine Deck Welch.

However, like most genealogical research, these recent discoveries ask more new questions than give answers. We will speculate on Fergus connections to the early Buncombe-Haywood County family of John Stiles, Revolutionary War Soldier from Georgia. Also, we present evidence which suggests that John Fergus' first wife was Ann Battle, widow of John Battle, and mother of Holliman Battle, Sr., John Battle, and Littleberry Battle, all residents of early Buncombe County, North Carolina.

The Fergus Brothers from Pennsylvania in the New Acquisition District, South Carolina

The Fergus family from Pennsylvania can be partially reconstructed from the Revolutionary War pension applications of John Fergus (1) and James Fergus (2). William Fergus was a brother of John. James was a son of John and Martha Fergus of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania (2), and were listed on the 1762 tax roll of Middleton Township (3). Circumstantial evidence suggests that James and John, and therefore, William were brothers.

John (Jr.) was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania, on 1 September 1752 (1). Immediately prior to the Revolutionary War, John was living in the New Acquisition, Camden District (now York County, South Carolina). In John's Revolutionary War pension file is a receipt from the South Carolina Comptroller General for payment for John's Revolutionary War service as a wagon master during February through March 1779. John had moved to Wilkes County, Georgia, immediately following the war and William Fergus collected the payment for John. This payment documents that John and William Fergus were brothers: (1, 4)

"Issued the 8 of June 1785 to Mr. John Fergus...Received 8 June 85 full satisfaction...For my brother. Mr. William Fergus, member House of Representatives.

William Fergus (b. ca1746) (5) was living in the New Acquisition District, York County, South Carolina in 1778 where he was an elder in the Presbyterian Church at Fishing Creek (6) (now in Chester County, South Carolina). He claimed service to the militia of South Carolina for 1780 and 1782 (4). William served three terms in the South Carolina House of Representatives from the New Acquisition District, York County, from 1785-1790 (7-9). He had a wife and possibly six children in 1790:

1790 Camden District, York County, South Carolina
p. 196
William Fargus 2mo16, 2mu16, 4f, 1 slave
John Robinson 1mo16, 1mu16, 3f
Edw'd Morhead 1mo16, 2mu16, 3f, 4 slaves

James Fergus was born in November 1756 in Chester County, Pennsylvania, to John and Martha Fergus. John, Martha and James were living in Sherman's Valley, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania at the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War (2). In the spring of 1778 James went to the New Acquisition District, "where he had a brother" (not named, but we assume this to be John or William Fergus). John Fergus (and possibly William) was already living in the District by 1775. James arrived in South Carolina with Dr. William Clunie. In 1775, Dr. Clunie had boarded at the Fergus farm in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania and taught medicine to James. James was Dr. Clunie's assistant and they had spent time in December 1777 in Augusta and Albemarle Counties, Virginia, inoculating citizens against smallpox during an outbreak of the disease. James returned to Pennsylvania a short time after arriving in South Carolina when Dr. Clunie "took to hard drinking". James' brother convinced his parents to sell their farm, and James moved with his parents to South Carolina in the autumn of 1778. James married in Sherman's Valley, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania on 24 July 1783 to Susan Robinson, daughter of a noted government surveyor (10). James was in York County in 1790, with children:

1790 Camden District, York County, South Carolina
p 197
James Fagus 1mo16, 3mu16, 4f, 1 other person, 0 slaves

John and Martha Fergus, parents of James Fergus, were in his household in 1790; there was no John Fergus recorded as head of household in 1790 South Carolina. In his pension file, James stated that he remained in York County, South Carolina after the war until his mother and father died. In 1794 James moved to the outskirts of Lexington, Kentucky, and then in 1800 to Cumberland County, Kentucky. He served in the Kentucky Legislature as a representative from Cumberland County (10). He moved to Carroll County, Tennessee where he died on 2 April 1839. James married a total of three times and had at least eight children.

Both James and William Fergus were active in civic affairs in York County. James served as the county coroner from October 1787 through 1789 (11). William was a Trustee of the County, a commissioner to build the York County courthouse, an auditor, and appraiser. They were from "Fergus Crossroads", at the "old Fergus' place", today known as the York, South Carolina. William and James were in York County at least through 1794.

1790 US Census, York County, South Carolina
Wm Fargus 2mo16, 2mu16, 1f, 1slave

John and James Fergus: The War Years

John enlisted four times during the war, each time from the New Acquisition District, South Carolina. He entered service on the rebel side under Capt. John Anderson in December 1775 for six weeks where he was involved in capturing Tory prisoners in the Ninety-Six District of South Carolina.

James Fergus, on the other hand, enlisted twice in Pennsylvania prior to moving to South Carolina, where he has at least three more enlistments (2). James first served under Captain Thomas Clark and Colonel Frederick Watts in the Pennsylvania Militia (8th Company) from Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, in June 1776 (12). He was marched to Perth Amboy to guard against an attack from the British on Staten Island, NY (2). He was promoted to Sergeant (Ensign) from private soldier during a second enlistment (31 July 1777 to 6 February 1778) in the same group. He fought in the battle at Brandywine, Pennsylvania (25). After moving to South Carolina in 1778 James served under Captain Andrew Love and this unit pursued Captain Coleman in northern South Carolina.

In January 1779 John and James Fergus answered a call for men to go to Georgia to free Augusta (1, 2). They enlisted in a regiment of militia under Colonel Thomas Neel, Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Watson and Major Francis Ross. John was in a company under Captain William Byers, and James was under Captain James Martin in a company from North Carolina (13). John, promoted to wagon master when his superior discharged the previous wagon master for intemperance, was in charge of 24 wagons of provisions and one of munitions (1). In March 1779 they marched under General Andrew Williamson from South Carolina to near Augusta, Georgia, at Briar Creek, a tributary of the Savannah River, to join General John Ashe. Apparently Major Ross located his troops in a position vulnerable to the British under Lieutenant Colonel James Marc Prevost. James Fergus was one of a party of soldiers sent to reconnoiter British troop positions (2). Their report was disregarded by superiors and, thus, the British were able to quickly defeat the militia. One hundred sixty Americans were killed by enemy fire or drowned in the river trying to flee the rout (14, 15). James escaped into the swamp and John was located with his wagons about 18 miles from the fighting (2). Following the defeat at Briar Creek (3 March 1779), James Fergus was given command of 12 wagons of flour. James and John brought their wagons upstream from Augusta (1, 2). John's enlistment time ran out in March 1779 and he left the militia.

John and James Fergus re-enlisted in May 1779 under Colonel William Hill and Colonel Thomas Neel (1, 2, 13). They transported Governor John Rutledge and 28 wagons loaded with munitions and howitzers to Perrysburg, South Carolina and on to Charleston. Later, John was a quartermaster in the cavalry under Colonel Carson and Captain Howe and was in the battle at Hanging Rock, South Carolina (August 1780). John mentioned marching through York and Chester Districts under General Sumpter. John did not claim military service after December 1781. James served in Sumpter's Brigade until the close of the war.

John Fergus: South Carolina Legislator

John Fergus served in the lower house of the General Assembly that was convened in January 1782 by Governor Rutledge in Jacksonboro, South Carolina (16). John stated in his pension application that he was unaware that he was a candidate for the legislature until the voting began on the first day of the election in December 1781 (1). He was elected in recognition of his military service.

The election of 1781 was apparently a strange one (17). Several other well known public figures were also unaware of their candidacies. Charles Cotesworth Pinkney was in Philadelphia when elected by two different parishes, and Henry Laurens was elected while imprisoned in the Tower of London. Charleston was still in the hands of the British, and in Charleston, only 15 voters appeared to elect 30 men.

The General Assembly at Jacksonboro met January 8 to February 26, 1782 (16, 17). It had been scheduled to meet at Camden but British activities forced a move to Jacksonboro, located on the Edisto River some 20 miles upstream from Charleston. Only 19 of 28 elected senators and 117 the lower house were able to attend, since most of the representatives who showed were from the rural areas not under British control. The rural areas, including Allison and Fishing Creeks, were plundered and ravaged in 1781 by the British scorched earth policy, which was in retaliation for rebel brutalities (18). Legislators sought retribution by passing the Confiscation Acts which opened courts to punish loyalists who lived off property of the rebels.

The diary of Josiah Smith is the only extant record of members of the assembly (16).

"The following persons were elected on the___1781 as members of the Senate and House of Representatives, to be convened at Camden Jany 1782...New Acquisition District: Col. Watson, Senator. John Fergus, William Hill, Joseph Howe, William Howe, David Lench, John McDow, Joseph McKinney, John Moffat, John Pattons and Frame Wood [members of the Lower House]".

John Fergus: Marriage to Ann Battle in Rutherford County, North Carolina

On 7 January 1783, one month before the signing of the temporary peace treaty in Paris, John Fergus married Ann BATTLE in Rutherford County, North Carolina (19). Ann Battle was the widow of John Battle who died in about 1779 (20). This John Battle was the son of John and Sarah Capell Battle of Sussex County, Virginia, and Rutherford County, North Carolina. Estate records at the Superior Court of Law and Equity at Morgan District, North Carolina, showed that John Fergus was an administrator of the estate of John Battle of Sussex County, along with the widow Sarah, and Scrope Edgerton and Mumford Wilson, son-in-law of John and Sarah (21).

North Carolina, Morgan District: Superior Court of Law and Equity. Sept. Term 1784. Elias Morgan vs Scropa Edgerton, Sarah Battle, Mumford Wilson & John Forgey, Exrs. of John Battle. Elias Morgan by Waightstill Avery his Attorney complains of Scropa Edgerton, Sarah Battle, Mumford Wilson & John Forgey Executors of the Testament and last Will of John Battle deceased (otherwise called John Battle of the Province of Virginia and County of Sussex) in custody of the Sheriff &c of a Plea that they render to him One Hundred and seven pounds twelve shillings & eight pence Proc. (of the value of the same sum in Specia) which they unjustly detain from him; For that, to wit, that whereas the said John Battle in his life time, to wit, on the fourth day of January in the year of our Lord One thousand seven hundred and seventy four, in the County of Rutherford within the District of Morgan aforesaid, by his writing Obligatory sealed with the Seal of the said John Battle in his life time, and to the Court here shewen the Date whereof is on the same day & year, acknowledged himself to be held and firmly bound to the said Elias Morgan in the said sum...Yet the said John Battle in his Life Time, and the said Scrope Edgerton, Sarah Battle, Mumford Wilson and John Forgey, or either of them after the Death of the said John Battle, although often required &c have not yet paid nor has either of them paid the said one Hundred and seven pounds twelve shillings & eight pence to the said Elias Morgan, but the said John Battle in his Life time intirely refused to pay the same to the said Elias Morgan and the said Scrope Edgerton, Sarah Battle, Mumford Wilson and John Forgey, after the Death of the said John Battle, still intirely refuse to pay the same....John Doe & Richard Roe. Waightstill Avery, Atto. for plf.

I John Battle of ye province of Virginia and County of Susex Do bind myself my heirs Executors and administrators by These presents unto Elies Morgin of North Carolina and County of Tryon To him his heirs or asigns in the soum of one hundred and seven pound twelve shilling and eight pence Prock. money of North Carolina, at or upon the Twenty fifth Day of April in ye. year one Thousand sevin hundred Sevinty five for value recived I also by These Presentes do authorize and Impower aney Attorney to confess Judgment against me for the obove soum as witness my hand this fourth Day of Jenewerey one Thousand sevin hundred and sevinty four. John Battle (seal). Sined sealed and Delivered in Presentes of one Jas Cook, Charlis Whit (his x mark).

State of No. Carolina, Morgan District Ss: Superior Court of Law & Equity, September Term 1786. To James Pyne & John Willis Esquires of Warren County Greeting: Know you that we trusting to your fidelity & ability in examining a Witness in Behalf of Elias Morgan against Sarah Battles & the Admorx. of Jno. Battles Sen. Decs'd. we therefore and impower you to call and cause to come before you Charles White and diligently examine on the Holy evangelist according to law...Wm W. Erwin C.S.C.L.E.

We do not know the maiden name of Ann Battle, wife of John Fergus. In April 1783, John Fergus was appointed guardian of "the orphans of John Battle, Dec'd" (22). One of the orphans named was Holliman Battle, who was born in Albemarle Parish, Virginia, in 1772 (23). The other orphaned sons were Littleberry and John Battle.

John Fergus was thought to be in Rutherford County at least through September 1783, as shown in the following criminal show cause judgment arising from the estate suit of John Battle (24, 25). Note, however, in the second summons of 1784, Sheriff J. Lewis noted "not found" in February 1785, meaning that John Fergus was no longer living in Rutherford County.

10 Sept 1783 Scire facias, The State vs Wm Ramsey, John Fergus & Wm Walker. To Sheriff of Rutherford County. Whereas William Ramsey, John Fergus and William Walker, planters, heretofore on 8 March 1783 before Jonathan Hampton entered into recognizance... Conditioned that they Would appear Before the Hon'ble Sup'r Court of Law & Equity to be held at Burke Court house in the First day of March next ensuing...to prosecute James Armstro[ng] & James Cocke for robbery that they Would not De[part] the same court without leave...being Solemnly Called failed to appear... whereupon in our said Court Judggment was entered against them the said William Ramsey, John Fergus & William Walker..shew cause. Issued Octr 15th 1783. To March Term 1784.

11 September 1784 Scire facias, [The State] vs William Ramsey & John Fergus. To the Sherrif of Rutherford County Greeting. Whereas William Ramsey Prinl. John Fergus Security late of your county of Rutherford lately heretofore to wit, on the 8th day of March AD 1783 before Jonathan Hampton Esqr....entered into a recognisance...Conditioned that they Would appear before the Honorable Superior Court of law & Equity to be held for the district of Morgan at Burke Court house on the first day of March next ensuing..& that they would prosecute James Armstrong and James Cook for robbery & not depart the same without leave on which same day the Said William Ramsey & John Fergus Being Solemnly Called said to appear according to their Recognisance so entered as aforesaid Whereupon in our said Court Judgment was entered against them the said William Ramsey and John Fergus...[to show cause]. Retur'ble. to Morgan Sup'r. Court March term 1785. Iss'd. decr. 30th 1784. Not found Feby 26th 1785. J. Lewis Shrff.

John and William Fergus: Residence in Wilkes County, Georgia

Wilkes County was opened for white settlement as part of the Ceded Lands of 1773, whereby the Creek and Cherokee Indians were forced to give up more land (26). Before the close of the war (1777), the Governor of Georgia offered 200 acres of land to any veteran willing to farm in Wilkes County for just the cost of the survey, with additional acreage for each white member of the household, for building a mill, bloomery or forge, and in later years (1780), for each person, black or white, in the household (27). John Fergus was drawn to this new frontier. Briar Creek was within an easy day's ride from where he settled. Part of his lands bordered on the Broad River, a tributary of the Savannah River. The earliest record of John Fergus in Georgia was in 1786. John was a Justice of the Peace in Wilkes County (28).

1 July 1786. Benjamin Tweedle of Wilkes County, to Samuel Emmison of Lincoln County, North Carolina, 150 acres on Broad River including the forks of the same adjoining John Fergus. David Adams, Francis Beatty, Test. Wilkes County. Deed Book CC, p 15 [1787]

28 January 1790. David McClesky to Leonard Winters for love and affection and diverse acts of hospitality, a slave Peg. John Forgus, J.P., John Montgomery, Test. Wilkes County Deed Book HH

15 January 1791. David McCluskey and wife Mary to Bazil Brawner, 150 acres on Falling Creek agreeable to a grant 1788 to said David. John Fergus, J.P. Wilkes County Deed Book GG p. 44 

John acquired a very large plantation. It was located near the county line between Wilkes and Franklin County (29, 30).

1790 Tax Returns: Capt. Higginbotham's District:
29 John Fergous Wilkes County: 2400 acres 2 slaves, Franklin County: 980 acres

1791-94 Remnant Tax Digest: Capt. Black & Hall's District: John Forgus 1 1/2 polls, 1 slave, 2706 acres, Wilkes County.

17 February 1794. John Fergus to Armstrong Herd 300 acres on Scull Shoal Creek, originally granted to said Fergus.

17 February 1794. Armstrong Herd and wife Jenny to James Coffee 200 acres part of an original grant to John Fergus.

22 February 1794. John Fergus of Elbert County, to William Butt of Halifax County, North Carolina, 100 acres on branches of Broad River adjoining the Franklin County line and Milly Mann. James Herd, John Coffee, test.

4 May 1796. John Fergus of Franklin County to Benjamin Burton of Elbert County, part of a tract of land on Broad River on which said Benjamin now lives, including the Fishery. Little B. Battle, William Cain, test.

Census records of 1790, 1800 and 1810 were burned during the War of 1812. Fortunately, his land warrant in Elbert County (formed from Wilkes County in 1790) showed that there were four persons in the family in 1794 (31).

7 April 1794 John Fergus, 4 in family, 100 acres to issue to J. Tuttle, Esq.

John Fergus was also a justice of the Land Court (31).

1 October 1792 John Fergus, old warrant 500 acres

7 April 1794 [Justices] Present, R. Hunt, F. Cook, John Fergus, Esqr.

6 October 1794 [Justices] Present, R. Hunt, F. Cook, John Fergus, Esqr.

7 October 1794 [Justices] Present, R. Hunt, John Fergus, M. Woods, Esqr.

6 July 1795. John Cameron, self and 2, to John Fergus.

3 August1795 Joseph McConnell, self and 6,400 acres to issue to John Fergus, 100 to John McConnell

5 September 1796 John Conyers, self and one in family, on the affidavit of John Fergus that he lost a warrant of Francis Baty of 250 acres.

The Battle step-sons settled in the Wilkes County area, although, it is not clear whether they were in the household with John and Ann Fergus in 1794 (30, 31).

4 May 1796 John Fergus of Franklin County to Benjamin Burton of Elbert County, part of a tract of land on Broad River, on which the said Benjamin now lives, including the Fishery. Witnesses: Little B. Battle, William Cain, Test.

24 January 1799 Little B. Battles of Franklin County to William Caldwell, $200...on both sides of Stephens Creek...Adjoining land sold by John Fergus

25 January 1799 John Fergus of Franklin County to John Battle of Rutherford County, North Carolina, $250, 250 acres on Webs Creek; Witnesses: Holiman Battle, Little B. Battle, James Terrell, J.P.

25 January 1799 John Battle of Rutherford County, North Carolina to George Pettigrew of Franklin County; Witnesses: Little B. Battle, Holiman Battle, John Fergus

John Fergus held land in his brother William's name in Elbert County, Georgia.  William Fergus and wife (either Margaret, the widow Armstrong; or Eliza Ann Armstrong) moved there after 1791 as indicated by land warrant and court records (30, 31).

6 June 1791 William Fergus, old warrant 400 acres, Jo. Fergus

7 November 1796 William Fergus, self and 8 in family

4 September 1797 William Fergus, self and 8, renewed from November 1796

3 December 1810 William Fergus, renews old warrant for 400 acres into two of 200 acres each 10 September 1799 Ismael Vineyard, dec'd. Inventory. William Fuges, Edward Ware, Allen Leiper, Appraisers. [Returns of Administrators & Guardians, Elbert County, p 13]

John Fergus also owned land in Franklin through at least 1807 when he was living in North Carolina.

1807 Franklin County Tax List
J Fergus

A known daughter of William Fergus, Rachel Fergus (born 20 July 1786 South Carolina), married Colonel Samuel Groves (born 24 August 1776, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania) in Elbert County on 14 July 1808 (32). Another daughter, Sarah Fergus, married Robert Groves. William Fergus died in his home in Madison County, Georgia on 3 April 1841 (5).

John Fergus: Residence in Rutherford County, North Carolina

John Fergus stated in his pension application that he moved to Wilkes County, Georgia, at the close of the war and then to Rutherford County, North Carolina, in 1798 where he resided for one or two years. Records indicate that John Fergus was in Rutherford County, North Carolina, at the close of the war prior to moving to Wilkes County, Georgia (33).

29 August 1799 John Fergus enters 100 acres in Rutherford County on both sides of Second Broad River between Coburns & Huddleston's old line; granted to Alixander

14 January 1800 John Forgey enters 100 acres in Rutherford County on both sides of Second Broad River between Coburn and Hedelston's old line, granted to "Alixd'r'

John Fergus: Early Settler of Scott's Creek, Buncombe County, North Carolina

John Fergus moved to Buncombe County, North Carolina after a brief stay in Rutherford County, North Carolina. He was one of the earliest settlers in western North Carolina. John Fergus was listed in the 1800 census enumeration of Buncombe County, North Carolina.

1800 Buncombe County, North Carolina:
John Fergus 1m16-26 (son Pliney), 1m45+ (John), 2f10-16 (daughter Sarah, ?, b.1784-1790), 1f45+ (Ann), 5 slaves

He settled on Oconolufty and Scott's Creeks as evidenced by seven land grants for a total of 950 acres in Buncombe County issued between 1804-06 (34). This area of Buncombe County became a part of Haywood County in 1809. There are five land deeds for a total of 450 acres on Scott's Creek for John Fergus registered in January 1810 (35).

All three Battle step-sons moved to Buncombe-Haywood County. Holliman and John owned land in Buncombe County, North Carolina, adjacent to John Fergus (34-36) .

10 December 1804 State of North Carolina grant #1348 to Holliman Battle, 200 acres on Scott's Creek; recorded 24 Mar 1807

21 June 1806 John Fergus to John Battle, 100 acres on Scott's Creek; recorded 10 Apr 1807

29 November 1806 State of North Carolina grant #1517 to John Battle, 100 acres on Scott's Creek; recorded 21 Jun 1807

07 April 1810 William Gunter enters 150 acres of land lying on Scots Creek including both sides of said creek joining the place where John Fergus lives and running down to join Holoman Battles for complement. (#156, p 24)

19 February 1813 John Fergus enters 200 acres of land on both sides of Scots Creek betwixt his own and John Battles land including the heads of the Shoal Branch (#56, p 53)

17 September 1813 Stephen White enters 100 acres of land lying on the head of a branch running into the Road Fork of Scots Creek appiset to Little B. Battles plantation including the improvement whare on David Adams formerly did live (#78, p 57)

John Fergus: Fergus and Stiles Children

John Fergus had a household of four persons, presumably John and Ann Fergus plus two children, Pliney and Sarah, in 1794 in Wilkes County, Georgia (30). John and Ann Fergus had at least two children who were mentioned in his will (37). He stated "to my son in law William Styles and the heirs of my son Pliny Fergus. I have already given more than would be their share...". In 1800 Buncombe County, there were three presumed offspring, one male and two females, in the household.

1800 Buncombe County, North Carolina:
John Fergus 1m16-26 (son Pliney), 1m45+ (John), 2f10-16 (daughter Sarah, b.1784-1790, daughter?), 1f45+ (Ann), 5 slaves

1810 Buncombe County, North Carolina:
John Fergus 1m16-26 (son Pliney), 1m45+ (John), 1f45+ (Ann), 5 slaves

1820 Haywood County, North Carolina
p. 220 Pliney Firgus 1m26-45, 1f26-45

Pliney Fergus (b. c1785) was apparently dead by 1830.  Earlier, in 1830, the Sheriff of Macon County ordered the widow Nancy Fergus to appear in court, who was likely Pliney's wife and relict (38). We do not know the surname of Pliney's wife, Nancy.

22 September 1830. Ordered the Sheriff to bring into court in December session the children of Nancy Fergus, a widow: John Fergus, William Fergus, Loocus [Lucius] Fergus & Omi Caroline Fergus.

Nancy Fergus was enumerated in the 1840 Macon County census. Close to Nancy Fergus was John Battle, Jr., son of John and Ann Battle. Nancy Fergus remarried to Jeremiah George on 2 September 1840 in Haywood County (39).

1840 Macon County, North Carolina
p. 152 John Battle 1m60-70, 1f0-5, 1f15-20, 1f20-30, 1f60-70)

p. 154 Nancy Fergus 3m15-20, 1f10-15, 1f40-50 next household:
p. 154
Zach'r Cabe 3m15-20, 1m50-60, 1f50-60

The unnamed daughter referred to in the will of John Fergus married before 1810 to William Styles. There were two William Stiles enumerated in 1810 in Haywood County:

1810 Haywood County, North Carolina
p. 72 William Stiles 1m0-10, 1m26-45, 1f16-26 (b1784-94), 1 slave
p. 73 William Stiles 2m0-10, 1m26-45, 3f0-10, 1f26-45 (b1765-1784)

John Fergus' son-in-law, William Styles (Stiles), was likely the son of John Stiles (b 1 February 1757, d 1 September 1833) (40). John Stiles was a Georgia Revolutionary War veteran (41) who lived in Wilkes County, Georgia, in 1790 (29), Oglethorpe County, Georgia (adjacent to Wilkes County) in 1800 (42) and in Buncombe County, North Carolina (41) on Scott's Creek by 1807 (34). John Stiles and his wife Sarah (b. 1754, d. 17 October 1818) had at least ten children, one of whom was William Stiles (b. 177?). Stiles genealogists do not list a name for the wife of this William. He was most likely the William Stiles (b. 1778 North Carolina) living in Henry County, Tennessee (1840-1850) with wife Sarah (b. 1788 Georgia), and children John W., William Fergus, James, Thomas, Sarah, Allen, Elizabeth and Charles. This record suggests that John and Ann Fergus' daughter was named Sarah.

1840 US Census, Henry County, Tennessee
William Stiles 1m5-10, 1m10-15, 1m15-20, 1m20-30 (William F. Stiles), 1m60-70 (William Stiles), 2f15-20, 1f20-30 (Elizabeth), 1f50-60 (Sarah Stiles nee Fergus)

1850 US Census, District 12, Henry County, Tennessee, 12 November 1850
HH 94/94 William F. Stiles 34 MW $420 N. Carolina farmer
Eliz. 30 FW N. Carolina
John W. 7 MW Tennessee
Robert 5 MW Tennessee
Dovey 4 FW Tennessee
Wm B. 2 MW Tennessee
Mary E. 4/12 FW Tennessee

HH 95/95 William Stiles 72 MW $550 N. C. farmer
Sarah 62 FW Georgia
Sarah Jr 26 FW N. C.
Elizabeth 25 FW N. C.
Charles 19 MW N. C. farmer
Thomas 29 MW N. C. farmer

HH 97/97 Allen G. Stiles 25 MW N. C. farmer
America 20 FW N. C.

The Fergus family, and in particular the Revolutionary War soldier John Stiles and his family, can be connected in time and place by the following Buncombe and Haywood County land deeds (34-36, 43).

19 November 1801 Holliman Battle to Zachariah Cabe, 200 acres on both sides of Scott's Creek joining and above John Stiles land agreeable to a survey made of the same by John Fergus, D.S.; registered 27 September 1808. [The Zachariah (Mc)Cabe mentioned in the deed was the brother of Mary and Jane Cabe, who married James and Thomas Stiles, respectively, brothers of William Stiles. (44)]

13 January 1810, #119, p 20 William Stiles enters 50 acres of land in Haywood County waters of Scots Creek joining his own land on the east side including a Timber Cove.

17 June 1811 Ordered by Court that the following persons view & lay off a way for a waggon road from or Near Capt. James Wheeler's the foot of Ochre branch hill & report the same to the Next Court (Viz.), John McCrackin, Amos Brown, James Wheeler, Solomon Nettles, John Bryson, Wm. Stiles, John Battle, James Hughes, Solomon Mercer, Zachariah Cabe, George Cunningham, John Stiles, Wm Gunter, Amos Cabe, & David Watson, Wm. Black, Golman Ingram, Elijah Johnson, & George Cunningham, Jr.

We have no information as to the second young female in John Fergus' household in 1800. It is possible that she died young since she or her heirs were not mentioned in John's will of 1836. Also, the second female in the 1800 Census entry was too young to be a daughter of John Battle.

John Fergus: Civic Leader in Haywood County, North Carolina

John Fergus was active in the civic affairs of Haywood County (36, 45-46). He and Holliman Battle were Justices of the Peace at the first session of the county court on the 27 March 1809. The court directed the laying out of Waynesville, the new seat of the county. He also served as a tax collector.

At the beginning of this article we mentioned that John Fergus was a surveyor. The 1801 Buncombe County deed mentioned above for Holliman Battle and Zachariah Cabe made mention of a survey by John Fergus. In the March 1811 session of the court is the following entry (36):

The court ordered and appointed Robert Turner, John Peck, William Minges, Jeremiah Stilwell and William Welch Commissioners to assist the processioners in running a disputed line between John Hide and Robert Reed, and Robert Reed appoints and calls on John Fergus as his Surveyor.

This order was repeated at least twice more by the court at later sessions.

We have not exhaustively investigated John Fergus' activities in Haywood County after 1811. He was still a Justice of the Peace in Haywood County in July 1828 as indicated on a testament to a letter of transmittal for Absalom Hooper (47).

We the subscribers were acquainted with Absalom Hooper (whilst he lived in the State of Georgia) from the close of the Revolution for a long series of years and can testify that while he lived in that State he supported the character mentioned within; and in the time of the Indian war which immediately followed the revolution in that state was a good soldier and was much respected by the officers under whom he served. This we certify from our own personal knowledge.
[signed] John Fergus J.P. and was such in the State of Georgia at the time when Mr. Hooper resided there.
[signed] H. Battle Scott's Creek (one of the many signers of the main letter of transmittal was John Stiles, Senr.)

 

John Fergus was enumerated in 1820 Captain Robert Love land survey of Haywood County, in preparation for the sale of lands ceded by the Cherokee Nation west of Haywood County in what is now Macon County (48). John resided in District 1, Section 15 (present Jackson County, Scott's Creek). In fact, John Fergus was a surveyor of Districts 1 and 10.

1820 Robert Love's Survey
District 1
     John Fergus, resident, section 15
District 3
     improvements of Holloman Battle & S__ Elliott, section 1
District 12
     Zachariah Cabe, section 5

John Fergus: Husband of Milly Melton Welch

We have not found John Fergus in an extant 1820 Census extraction and do not know when Ann Battle Fergus died. It must have been prior to 1829 since we now know that he married Mildred (Milly) Welch in 1829 (1).

Milly Melton (b. c1780 North Carolina) had married first to David Alexander Welch, Sr. (b. c1778) on 9 September 1799 in Rutherford County, North Carolina (19). They had sons David A. Welch, Jr. (b. 1809 Illinois) and Thomas Jackson Welch (b. 1816 Tennessee) and an older daughter (b. c1790-1800 North Carolina) (49). David Welch and Milly Melton Welch can be found in the 1800 Rutherford County Census.

1800 Rutherford County, North Carolina
David Welch 1m16-26, 1f0-10, 1f16-26

David and Milly Welch apparently moved from Rutherford County, North Carolina, to Barrens County, Kentucky, to Illinois (where David A. Jr. was born c1809), and then to Tennessee (where Thomas Jackson was born c1816) (50), David A. Welch, Sr. died between 1816 and 1829. We have not located where he died. However, there are Kentucky State Penitentiary records (51) of a David Welch from Hopkins County, Kentucky, who entered prison in 1817 for 6 1/2 years for a felony. A David Welch from Lincoln County entered the prison in 1828 for horse stealing for four years. It is not known if this was our David A. Welch, Sr.

Milly Fergus applied for widow's benefits from John Fergus' Revolutionary War pension on April 17, 1853 (1). In her application she provided a marriage license which stated her maiden name as Milly Welch. She and John Fergus were married at "Equonectly", Macon County, North Carolina on 25 October 1829. Joel Sawyer, Joseph Welch (Milly's brother-in-law), and Alexander Crisp stated "her maiden name was Milly Melton then married to David Welch and after his death married the said John Fergus". Milly stated that she and John Fergus did not have children together. John and Milly Fergus are found in the 1830 Macon County census, as is David A. Welch, Jr.

1830 Macon County, North Carolina
p. 7 Holomon Battles Jr 1m20-30, 1f0-5, 1f15-20
p. 7 John Fergus 1m 70-80 (John), 1f 50-60 (Milly), 2mslaves 24-36, 1fslave 24-36

p. 23 David Welch 1m10-15 (brother, Thomas Jackson), 1m20-30 (David A., Jr.), 1f0-5 (daughter, Elizabeth Jane, b1829 Tennessee), 1f 20-30 (Malinda Wilson Welch)

Thomas Jackson Welch, as executor of her estate, applied for the arrears of her widow's benefits on 15 July 1867 (1). In his deposition he stated that he and David A. Welch were the only surviving children of Milly Welch. Milly was survived by three grandchildren whose parents were dead (none named). These are probably offspring of David and Milly's first child, a female (b. 1790-1800) for whom we have no further information.

John Fergus: The Closing Years in Monroe and Blount County, Tennessee

John stated in his Revolutionary War pension application that he and Milly Fergus moved from Macon County, North Carolina to Monroe County, Tennessee in 1831. They apparently moved onto newly opened lands of the Hiawassee Purchase (52). The Cherokees had been removed or deeded reserved land in this area in 1818-19, however, white settlers encroached on the land prior to legal settlement. Those who encroached included Hugh Ghormley, as he was summoned to pay for his land in Monroe County in 1819.  In his pension application filed from Monroe County, Tennessee in 1833, John Fergus mentioned that his neighbors were Hugh Ghormley and John Strutton (1). Hugh Ghormley was in the 14th Civil District on the 1836 Tax Rolls (52). This would place John and Milly Fergus on lands between Ball Play and Coker Creeks, former Cherokee lands.

While in Monroe County, Tennessee, John received his full pension for a total of 11 1/2 months of service during the Revolutionary War (1). He was "weak of body but of sound mind" when he wrote and filed his will on 14 February 1836 (37). John died 16 January 1837 in Tennessee of old age "while in the services of the United States and in the line of his duty" (1). His will and last will and testament was probated in Blount County, Tennessee in 1837 , where he owned 133 acres on the Little River, approximately 4 miles due east of Maryville. John and Milly apparently resided in Blount County, but we have not yet discovered when they came across the Little Tennessee River from Monroe County, Tennessee. We assume John died in Blount County, Tennessee, but there is no record of his burial.

Milly Fergus: The Closing Years in Macon County, North Carolina

Milly moved back to Macon County, North Carolina prior to 1839: "Milly Fergus & David Welch of the County of Macon & State of North Carolina" sold the land in Blount County, Tennessee in 1839 (53). Milly Fergus was in the household of her son, Thomas Jackson Welch, in the 1850 and 1860 Macon County Census. Enumerated next was the family of her son, David A. Welch.

On 7 November 1853, Leon F. Siler, J.P., of Franklin, Macon County, North Carolina, stated that Milly "is blind, almost helpless and yet entirely worthy of a much larger pension" (1). He mentioned that her name was Mildred. Thomas Jackson Welch stated that Milly Fergus died 28 May 1865 in Macon County, North Carolina.

Concluding Remarks

John Fergus was an interesting man who, because of his many public positions, has left us many records. Much is still not known about the family of this man. The authors would like the help of anyone who could possibly shed more light on the Battle and Stiles connections to John Fergus.

In 1850 census of Soco Creek, Jackson County, North Carolina, which is adjacent to Scott's Creek, was a John Forgy (b. 1817 North Carolina), Hannah 31, Sarah 7, William 5, Thomas 2, John 1 (John Fergus married Hannah Watson, 24 November 1841, Haywood County, North Carolina) (39). John was the grandson of John and Ann Fergus, a son of Pliney and Nancy Fergus.

In the 1850 Monroe County, Tennessee, census in the Ball Play Creek area close to John Strutton's descendants was a William Forgus (b. 1825 Tennessee), Permelia 33 Tennessee (W.W. Faugus married Amelia Brannum, 5 July 1850, Monroe County, Tennessee) (54). It appears quite unlikely that they were related to John Fergus, since there are no records of John having another son.

Most Welch genealogists, including the authors, believed that David A. Welch, Jr., was the son of Joseph Welch and Catherine Deck and that Thomas Jackson was a son of David Alexander Welch and Milly Melton. From the evidence presented here, it is clear that David Alexander and Milly Melton Welch were the parents of both David A., Jr. and Thomas Jackson Welch. Additionally, now we can safely assume that Milly Melton is the Granny Forgey Welch buried next to her son and daughter in law, David and Malinda (Lindy) Wilson Welch, in the Welch Cemetery, Swain County, North Carolina (55). Her headstone reads "Granny Forges Welch, Milly Forges".


References Cited

(1) Fergus, John. Revolutionary War Pension File W8807

(2) Fergus, James. Revolutionary War Pension File W25573

(3) History of Cumberland County (1886) In: History of Cumberland and Adams Counties, Pennsylvania. Warner, Beer & Co., Chicago, Part II, Ch II, p 28

(4) Sally, AS Jr. (1917) Stub Entries to Indents Issued in Payment of Claims Against South Carolina Growing Out of the Revolution, Indenture 446, Book R, Historical Commission of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, p 74

(5) Bailey, NL & EI Cooper (1981) Biographical Directory of the South Carolina House of Representatives, 1775-1790, University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, p 231

(6) Holcomb, B (1975) Ruling Elders of Fishing Creek Church. South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral Research, Vol. 3, p 177

(7) Adams, LE & RS Lumpkin (1979) Journal of the House of Representatives, 1785-86, University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, p 603

(8) Stevens, ME & CM Allen (1981) Journal of the House of Representatives, 1787-88, University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, p 634

(9) Stevens, ME & CM Allen (1984) Journal of the House of Representatives, 1789-90, University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, p 380

(10) Fergus, MF & JF Fergus (1945) History of the Descendants of Francis Fergus, privately published manuscript, 1991 update made available through the kindness of Mrs. Bernice L. Klenk, 215 Pondoray Pl, Dayton, OH 45440

(11) Wells, LK & BH Holcomb (1981) York, SC, Minutes of the County Court, 1786-1797, p 1 [2 Jan 1786, Book A, pp 1, 2], p 3 [3 Jan 1786, Book A, p 10], p 7 [12 Apr 1786, Book A, pp 23-24], p 9 [11 July 1786, Book A, p 31], p 36 [11 Oct 1787, Book A, p 120], p 59 [15 Apr 1789, Book A, p], p 83 [14 July 1790, Book A, p 276]

(12) Lynch, TM (1906) Muster Rolls Relating to the Associators and Militia of the County of Cumberland, Pennsylvania Archive Series 5, Vol. 6, Harrisburg Publishing Co, Harrisburg, PA, pp 454, 469

(13) Landrun, JBO (1897) Colonial and Revolutionary History of Upper South Carolina. South Carolina Heritage Series, No. 1

(14) Davis, RS Jr. (1986) Georgians In The Revolution: At Kettle Creek (Wilkes County) and Burke County. Southern Historical Press, Easley, SC

(15) M'Call, H (1811) The History of Georgia. Reprinted in 1909, AB Caldwell, Atlanta, GA, p 405

(16) Webber, ML (1933) Josiah Smith's Diary, 1780-1781. South Carolina Historical & Genealogical Magazine, Vol. 34, p 202

(17) Nadelhaft, J (1979) Ending South Carolina's War: Two 1782 Agreements Favoring the Planters. South Carolina Historical & Genealogical Magazine, Vol. 80, pp 50-52

(18) Nadelhaft, JJ (1981) The Disorders of War. The Revolution in South Carolina. University of Maine-Orono Press, p 61

(19) Holcomb, B (1986) Marriages of Rutherford County, North Carolina 1774-1868, Genealogical Publishing Co, Baltimore, MD

(20) Information on the Fergus-Battle connection was kindly supplied by Mr. Jack C. Battle, PO Box 1875, Pasadena, TX 77501-1875

(21) Haun, WP (1987) Morgan District Superior Court of Law & Equity Book I 1779-1806, Durham, NC, pp12-14

(22) Newton, HH (1974) Rutherford County, North Carolina. Abstracts of Minutes of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions 1779-1786, Liberty Press, Rutherfordton, NC

(23) Richards, GRB & FM Leonard (1958) Register of Albemarle Parish Surry and Sussex Counties 1739-1778. Southern Historical Press, Easley, SC, p 143

(24) Philbeck, M (1987) Morgan district court criminal action papers, 1783-1784. Bulletin of the Genealogical Society of Old Tryon County, North Carolina, Vol XV, p 63

(25) Haun, WP (1995) Morgan District, North Carolina Superior Court of Law & Equity Part 1. Criminal Action Papers -1789 Book IV, Durham, NC, pp 13-14

(26) Rice, TB & CW Williams (1979) History of Greene Co, Georgia, 1786-1886. Reprint Co, Spartanburg, SC

(27) Johnson, A (1970) Georgia As a Colony and a State. Cherokee Publishing Co, Atlanta, GA

(28) Davidson, GG (1932) Early Records of Georgia, Vol I and II: Wilkes Co. JW Burke Co, Macon, GA , Vol. II, pp 68, 93, 116

(29) Hudson, FP (1988) A 1790 Census For Wilkes County, Georgia. The Reprint Co., Spartanburg, SC

(30) Davidson, GG (1930) Records of Elbert Co, Georgia. In: Historical Collections of the Georgia Chapters of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Georgia Genealogical Reprints, Vidalia, GA, pp 63, 175, 191, 192, 205, 216, 219, 221, 222, 231

(31) Acker, MW (1976) Deeds of Franklin County, Georgia 1784-1826, Birmingham, AL [Book N, pp 50,51 and 56,57], pp 121, 122

(32) Ingmire, FT (1981) Elbert County, Georgia Marriage Records, 1804-1859

(33) Pruitt, A B (1989) Abstracts of Land Entries: Rutherford County, North Carolina 1795-1803, pp 87, 129

(34) Wooley, JE & V Wooley (1978) Buncombe County North Carolina Index to Deeds 1783-1850. Southern Historical Press, Easley, SC

(35) Beck, ES (1985) Haywood County, North Carolina land entries, 1809-1810. The Bone Rattler, Vol 1 No 2, Swain County Genealogical and Historical Society, Bryson City, NC, pp 5-23

(36) Beck, ES (1985), Haywood County, North Carolina land entries, 1809-1810. The Bone Rattler, Vol. 1, No 4 , Swain County Genealogical and Historical Society, Bryson City, NC

(37) Blount County, Tennessee Wills and Administrations, Book I, p 45

(38) Information kindly provided by Barbara McRae, Teresita Press, PO Box 1114, Franklin NC 28744.  bamcrae@smnet.net

(39) Wooley, JE & V Wooley (1978) Marriage Bonds of Haywood and Jackson Counties, North Carolina, Southern Historical Press, Easely, SC

(40) Ratledge, SB (1987) The John and Sarah Stiles family, In: J Sutton, ed., The Heritage of Macon County- North Carolina, Macon County Historical Society & Hunter Publishing Co, Winston-Salem, NC (#648)

(41) Camin, BJ (1991) Revolutionary war pension applications at the North Carolina Archives: John Stiles. North Carolina Genealogical Society Journal, Vol XVII, No 1, p 34

(42) Olglethorpe County, Georgia 1800 Census, Heritage Press, Danielsville, GA

(43) Keener, MC (1987) Early history of the Cabe (McCabe) family. In: J Sutton, ed. The Heritage of Macon County, North Carolina, 1987, Macon County Historical Society & Hunter Publishing Co, Winston-Salem, NC

(44) Cabe, RB (1987) Zachariah Cabe line-first generation. In: J Sutton, ed. The Heritage of Macon County, North Carolina, 1987, Macon County Historical Society & Hunter Publishing Co, Winston-Salem, NC (#100)

(45) Battle, JC (1987) Minutes of Haywood County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, 1809-1810-1811. The Bone Rattler, Vol 4, No 1, Swain County Genealealogical & Hististorical Society, Bryson City, NC, pp 10-50

(46) Battle, JC (1987) Minutes of Haywood County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, 1809-1810-1811. The Bone Rattler, Vol 4, No 2, Swain County Genealealogical & Hististorical Society, Bryson City, NC, pp 9-19

(47) South Carolina Archives, Audited Account of Absalom Hooper, No. 4011 [AA 3738A, No. 2, pp 14 vv B], provide to the authors by Mr. Jack C. Battle of Pasadena, TX through the kindness of Ann Goodwin, Cheyenne, WY

(48) McRae, B The First Settlers of Old Macon County, Teresita Press, PO Box 1114, Franklin, NC 28744.  bamcrae@smnet.net

(49) Oliver, FD (1990) The children of Thomas and Agnes Alexander Welch. Bulletin of the Genealogical Society of Old Tryon County, North Carolina, Forest City, NC, Vol XVIII, pp 119-121

(50) Oliver, D (1990) Early records of the John and Thomas Welch families. The Bone Rattler, Vol. 6, No 3, Swain County Genealogical & Historical Society, Bryson City, NC, pp 47-61

(51) Sneed, WC (1860) A Report on the History and Mode of Management of the Kentucky State Penitentiary From Its Origin In 1758 To March 1, 1860, Frankfurt, KY, pp 159, 215

(52) Sands, SGC (1980) History of Monroe County, Tennessee Vol. I, Gateway Press, Baltimore, MD

(53) Blount County, Tennessee, Wills and Administrations, Book 1, pp 307-309

(54) Boyer, RB (1969) Monroe County, Tennessee Records, 1820-1870, Vol I, p 32;  Also, information from George Clifton Forgus has identified this family in Bell County, Texas by 1880. No proof of relationship to John Fergus has been found.

(55) Tennessee Valley Authority (1943) Cemetery Removal Records: Fontana Reservoir, Welch Cemetery, No. 35. Reprinted In: The Bone Rattler, Vol. 7, No. 3, Swain County Genealogical & Historical Society, Bryson City, NC, p 48

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