and William Yancey of early North Carolina

[ Yanceys West ]
[ Family Chart ]

Copy of a letter written in the early 1990's by Dennis J Yancey - - a desendant of Austin Yancey.

Dear Friends:

It has been quite some time that I have been meaning to get back with all those of you who are descendants of Austin Yancey, like myself, and have done research on the family. Although, in all my research I have not made any breakthrough in tracing the lineage of our Austin Yancey line back any farther and connecting it in to the main branches of the early Yancey families of Virginia & North Carolina, I have, due to my extensive research been able to make some general deductions as to the relationship of our line to the rest of the family.

It was some time ago when I was quite young that I became interested in genealogy. Most of my ancestral lines had been traced out of the United States into the Old World - except the Yancey line. I therefore decided I would begin doing original research on this line (although having little genealogical experience at the time) and although, discovering a few items of interest that other people had skimmed over, I was never able to discover much more than any other researchers of the Austin Line - such as my great Aunt Bertha Jensen. After a couple years of having little real success at determining the parentage of Austin Yancey, I became, like I think many others have become, somewhat burnt-out. But still having a deep interest in the Yancey family - I decided to come at it from a different angle. I decided that I would begin researching the Yancey family as a WHOLE - and not just the Austin Line. I figured that if I started with the very earliest Yanceys and worked forward in time I might be able to link up with Austin Yancey. After years of research I think I have come up with what would seem to be the most comprehensive collection of Yancey material. I still cannot say that I have discovered for sure the parentage of Austin Yancey - but believe that the extensive research I have done has by no means been in vain. And I have been able to make some general discoveries concerning the Austin Yancey line - and will - in this report try to get everyone excited again about doing Austin Yancey family research again - pointing out some areas that I feel may yield some new discoveries and bringing out some points that I feel have been skipped over. I am quite interested in "drumming" up more interest again in the Austin Yancey line and hope you all will get more excited about Austin yancey research and try to work together so that between all of us we can find the answers to the puzzle.


Much of the this report will be based on some assumptions which would seem to be true, but for which no concrete evidence has been found. Therefore I caution you not to take this report as gospel truth - but only an educated guess of the most probable theories based on a limited amount of evidence.

I would ask all of you at this point to make sure you have handy my report EARLY YANCEYS OF AMERICA which I will use somewhat as a guide and refer to.

1) My first basic assumption is this: (and I warn you that this is not necessarily a proven assumption) All research to date would indicate that ALL Yanceys descend from a common group of families found living in Virginia in the early 1700's. It would seem that from the beginning the family has been divided into two main branches (as stated in the EARLY YANCEYS REPORT) - the Lewis Davis Yancey branch of Culpeper and the Hanover Branch headed by one Charles Yancey. No evidence has ever been found showing a Yancey family to descend from any other than these two main branches (although many Yancey families have never been able to trace their lines back this far). There have been stories telling of various Yancey immigrant families coming to America at different times - but there seems to be no evidence whatsoever to prove or even imply this. It is therefore my assumption that all Yanceys do indeed descend from either Lewis Davis Yancey of Culpeper or one Charles Yancey of Hanover. And it would seem that these two Yanceys were very closely related and seem to have descended from one immigrant ancestor who may have come over at the time of William Berkeley in 1642.

2) My second assumption is that extensive research over the years has given us the names of ALL the children (or at least ALL the male children) of Lewis Davis Yancey and Charles Yancey. Now this is a very shaky assumption - at least as far as the Charles Yancey line is concerned. The will of Lewis Davis Yancey is extant and from this and other documents it would seem that in the EARLY YANCEYS report is listed ALL the children of Lewis Davis. Now concerning the Charles Yancey line - Store account records show him to have at least 7 seven sons. It seems a little strange that he had seven sons and no daughters. But extant records of this time period did not often reveal the names of wives & daughters and it would not be unreasonable to assume that he very well might have had daughters who married (and thus did not carry the family name). Extensive research of the records of Hanover,Louisa, Mecklenburg and various other counties has not uncovered any mention of Yanceys by any other names living in these counties at this time. If Charles Yancey did have any other sons - there seems to be no record whatsoever. Also I might mention, that when I have said children in this last paragraph I have meant "children who grew to adulthood" - infant deaths were quite common during this time period.

3) We know from research that has been done, that the children of Lewis Davis Yancey were born over about a twenty year period from about 1730 to about 1752. And many of this branch of the Yancey family remained in the Culpeper area until the late 1700's and early 1800's. The two branches - the Culpeper & Hanover County branches did not seem to mix or intermarry - but kept distinclty seperated.

There have been birth dates given for the children of Charles Yancey (taken from IGI records submitted to the LDS Church) - the validity of these dates is very questionable and it would be very possible that these dates are not the true dates. But it would seem that most of them were born in the very early 1700's and most of them marrying in the 1730's and 1740's. Various in this family moved out of Virginia to North Carolina in the 1750-1760's and others later to Kentucky, Tennessee and other states.


4) Records concerning Austin Yancey record him being born in Tyson/(Tryon) County North Carolina in 1752. Records show him marrying one Sarah Garrison in 1775. It should be noted that there were various county boundary changes and that at various times parts of this area where Austin is to have come from, may possibly have been considered part of Rutherford, Lincoln, & maybe even Anson counties at various times.

Now there is some question as to the validity of the dates given for Austin Yancey and I will discuss this later. But even if the dates are not exactly correct it would seem that Austin would almost have had to be either a grandson or great grandson of either Lewis Davis Yancey or Charles Yancey - most probably a grandson.

So which main branch of the family does Austin belong to and who could have been his father??? Well the answers aren't all that concrete - but through some analysis and elimination of those who could NOT have been his father - the remaining possibilities of those who COULD have been his father are really quite small.

Now one thing I bring up at this point which may seem very much inconclusive to many - concerning the naming of members of the Yancey family during this time period. Naming of a child was taken much more seriously during the 1700's & 1800's than it is today and fewer names were used than the many names that exist today. Some examples of various naming techniques and points follow: It was almost always the case that a father would pass on to one of his sons ( usually the oldest or next to oldest) his given name or the name of his father (the child's grandfather) . The same was the case for the mother's name. The names that were given to the other children were often names of uncles, aunts, grandparents, cousins etc. One other very common practice which seems somewhat strange to us today was the practice of giving the child the mother's maiden name (or that of some other maternal ancestor) as his christian name. Bartlett Yancey, Thornton Yancey, Kavanaugh Yancey, Wiley Yancey are examples of this. Among allied lines it was very common for Yancey to be used as a given name. Richard, James, Mary, Robert, Charles, Lewis, John Elizabeth are names most commonly used among and common to both branches of the Yancey family. Why do I bring this up - because often I have noticed that there were distinct naming practices among branches of the family that could be used as clues in determining how they fit in to the rest of the family. There are various names which are unique (or almost unique) among certain branches of the family. The names Eleanor, Mildred, George, Birkett, Kavanaugh, Layton, Winifred, Ambrose, Gabriel, Judith are names used almost exclusively by the Lewis Davis Yancey branch during this early period. Among the Charles Yancey branch exclusive name use is less common - but names such as Archelaus, Absalom, Thornton, Tryon, Zachariah, Hezekiah, Bartlett are names not used in the other branch.

Now analyzing the above information and comparing it to the names used in the Austin Yancey family - no real conclusion can be made - none of the exclusively used names are used in the Austin Yancey family. But it would seem that the names that are used in the Austin family correspond slightly more to the Charles Yancey branch.


4) Now, at this point, we will start to go one by one among the children of Lewis Davis Yancey & Charles Yancey trying to determine who could have been the father or grandfather of Austin Yancey. We will start with the Lewis Davis branch and then go to the Charles Yancey branch.

The report EARLY YANCEYS OF AMERICA will be quite useful in using as a companion going along with the following analysis.

A) CHARLES YANCEY (son of Lewis Davis Yancey)

The will of Charles Yancey - found in Culpeper county records and probated in 1805 shows him having three sons and two daughters who lived to maturity. The children of this Charles seem to have been born in the 1760's and 70's and during the 1700's his descendants stayed in the Culpeper area. There seems to be no chance that Austin was a son of this Charles.



Information concerning this John Yancey is quite scant. No will of his is extant. Two children William Layton & Ludwell have been documented. Three other children: John, Frances & Mary Elizabeth have been reported (without documentation). It would seem that John may have had other children. But their is no record of any of his descendants living in North Carolina. The chances of Austin Yancey being a son of this John seem almost nil.


Information about Philemon Yancey is scant also. He is known for sure to have had two sons: Lewis & Philemon born in the 1750's but Philemon was never in the North Carolina area and most of his descendants of the 1700's were in Culpeper later moving to Kentucky & Tennessee. The chances of Austin being a son of Philemon seem quite slim.


Information concerning Lewis Yancey Jr. is more complete. He left a will probated in Culpeper County in 1784 mentioning his children. It seems evident that Austin was not a son of Lewis Yancey as Lewis was born in 1737.


Information concerning Richard Yancey is scant. But he did leave a will probated in Culpeper county in 1804 mentioning his four children. It is evident that Austin was not a son of Richard Yancey as Richard was born in 1748.


Robert could not have been Austin's father as he was born about 1750.


James could not have been Austin's father as he was born about 1752.


Most of the children of Charles Yancey of Hanover were married in the 1730's and 40's and would thus (in that one sense) be prime candidates for the father of Austin - but other evidence rules out most of them.

A) JAMES YANCEY (Son of Charles Yancey)

At first glance, James Yancey would seem to be a prime candidate for Austin's father. He was probably married in the 1730's and during the 1750's purchased land and moved to North Carolina. His will was probated in 1779 in Granville County, North Carolina. Many researchers have noted that James did not mention all of his children by name in his will and it would seem plausible that Austin Yancey could have been a son not mentioned. But an Austin Yancey was not mentioned in the estate records of James Yancey recording its division and the records show that James' estate was divided among ten children which all seem to have been documented. After analyzing this family more extensively it would seem that Austin was probably not a son of this James Yancey.


Robert Yancey died in Louisa County in 1746 leaving possibly 4 children. Austin could not have been his son.



Richard Yancey would also at first glance seem to be a candidate. He did own land on the Virginia/North Carolina Border in Mecklenburg and Granville counties. He seems to have been married in the 1730's. His will, probated in Mecklenburg County Virginia in 1781, however, seems to mention all of his children. His wife died in about 1795 and her will was probated in the same county and mentioned the same children (except for some children who were deceased). Court records of a later date record all the children and grandchildren of Richard and there seems to be no possibility that Austin was a son of Richard.


Archelaus Yancey was married in the 1730's and lived in Louisa county Virginia. He died and his will was probated in that county in 1764. His will, however, does not mention all of his children by name and it may seem plausible from the dates, that he could have been Austin's father. But Archelaus never seems to have traveled to North Carolina and most of his descendants of the 1700's stayed in the Hanover/Louisa area. The names of his descendants are also very distinctive and none of these names are used in the Austin Yancey family. It seems quite improbable that Archelaus Yancey was Austin's father.


For years this Yancey was recorded as "Ensign" Charles Yancey and was to have married a Miss Dumas and had various children. Recent research, indicates that there is no evidence that he was ever married. And it would seem that the "Ensign" Yancey on various Virginia records is not this same Yancey. If this Yancey did marry he would be a candidate for Austin's father. But so little factual data is known about this Charles Yancey that there is no way to judge. It should be noted, however, that the name Charles is not common among the Austin Yancey family.


Without doing much research this would seem to be the most probable candidate for Austin's father. Jechonias traveled into North Carolina at an early date (1740's or 1750's) and settled in Edgecombe (from which was formed Halifax County). His children that we know of were born in the 1750's. But information is somewhat scant concerning Jechonias. He seems to have died at an early date leaving young children. His will, probated in Halifax count North Carolina, mentions his wife Hannah and daughters (not mentioning them by name) An early report concerning the family records five daughters and this has been verified by various deed records. Bible records show that one daughter: Grizzel was born 11 April 1752. If the birth date of Austin is correct as 29 August 1752 then it would seem that Austin could not have been the son of Jechonias. There is no evidence indicating that Jechonias ever had any sons.



No Yancey researcher to date has ever recorded any information concerning the family (if he ever had one) of this John Yancey. Information is so scant on this Yancey that without further research one could not really say whether John is a valid candidate for being the father of Austin. The only information collected by researchers concerning this John is an inventory of his estate taken after his decease in 1762 in Lunenburg County. Without further research of the Lunenburg County records one cannot very well determine whether John Yancey left any descendants or not.




So in summary, there are only a couple of the children of Lewis Davis Yancey or Charles Yancey that could possibly have been Austin's father. The only ones who have not yet been ruled out are Charles Yancey Jr. and John Yancey (son of Charles) and both of these have not been ruled out only because information concerning them is almost non-existent. It is interesting to note, however, that the name JOHN does appear among the descendants of Austin (but with the name JOHN being such a common name this could just be coincidence).



Although the number of the above mentioned Yanceys that could have been Austin's father is quite small. Research has shown that there are other Yanceys of the time period who have not yet been tied into the main branch of the family and who it would seem were probably closely related to Austin Yancey. The following is a list of persons possibly closely related to Austin:




The early records of Tryon & Rutherford Counties in North Carolina record a William Yancey and a Sophie Yancey as well as Austin Yancey. Some have stated that the William must have been a brother, others think he may have been the father. In 1768 Austin Yancey signed as a witness on a deed record of William Yancey. In one place William is referred to as "of Mecklenburg County" (Virginia). The Sophie Yancey listed on Tryon County records would seem to be the wife of William Yancey. The Will records of Granville County (across from Mecklenburg County - both bordering the state line) show one Richard Davis of Granville County who's will was probated in 1761 and he referred to one Sophie Yancey as his daughter and her descendants (not named). It would seem this must be the same Sophie Yancey - wife of William. It should also be noted that a William Yancey is listed as owning land in 1762 in Hanover County. It would seem that this in most probability is the same William and therefore must have been born before 1741 (also listed on the 1762 tax records is Hannah Yancey - widow of Jechonias); If William Yancey was born some time before 1741 - it would seem from the difference in dates from 1741 to 1752 (Austin Yancey's birth date) quite a possibility that William was Austin's father. The name William occurs a little too often among the Austin Yancey family and it would seem that this was probably due to some close family of Austin bearing the name. It is my opinion that this William must, indeed, have been a brother or father of Austin. (I think its more probable that he was a Father). It would seem that the names Sophia & William being used among Austin Yancey descendants is more than just coincidence.


Land records of early Tryon county record one James Yancey. The name seems to appear only once and no other mention is made in the county records. Whether this is James Yancey (son of Charles Yancey & (Mary Bartlett?> or whether this is a different James who could possibly have been Austin's father is uncertain. But, if this James was the father of Austin - than who was the father of James (he could not have been a son of the Charles Yancey of Hanover because we already know he had a son named James who had ten children - all documented). So it would seem that if Austin is a descendant of the Charles of Hanover that this James must not have been his father - but was probably the James who died in Granville. It should be noted that many records show Austin Yancey as having a son named James.



Recently, upon searching DAR documents I found record of one Fanny (Frances) Yancey of North Carolina who married a Nathan Dobbs about 1790. The family moved (probably) right after the marriage to Georgia and settled in Gwinnet County where they had various children. Upon looking closely at the documents I noted that Nathan & Fanny Dobbs had at least four children among whom two were named Austin and Sophie Dobbs. This is something I have not yet been able to research in depth - but believe (due to the names) that this may well be a close relatives of Austin's - possibly a sister.


Austin Yancey in his Revolutionary War pension application states that in 1781 he was in South Carolina visiting relatives. Who these relatives may have been is uncertain. Their is no record of any of the descendants of Charles Yancey living in South Carolina (although at least 1 did apparently own land). There were a few descendants of Lewis Davis Yancey in South Carolina at the time -but I have never seen any evidence showing them to have lived in this specific area. It would seem very possible that the relatives referred to may have been his in-laws.





I am sure that all of you are aware of Austin Yancey's Revolutionary War pension application. I have found it to be quite interesting, even though it does not give any indication as to his parents. But one item that has totally confused me is that an Austin Yancey is also found among Loyalist records - and I quite seriously doubt that there were more than 2 Austin Yanceys for whom we have already accounted for. In the book "Loyalists in the Southern Campaign of the Revolutionary War" we find the name of Austin Yancey as well as one Mayville Yancey and also a "widow" Yancey. How can this be explained?? I really don't know. This is the only record of ANY Yancey I have ever found to be among Loyalist records - all the Yanceys were staunch patriots. It is interesting to note, however, that I have never found any proof of Austin Yancey's service in the Revolutionary War - except for his pension application. Do any of you have any explanation for the seemingly contradicting Military records of Austin Yancey. This definitely needs more research.



D.A.R. records show the wife of Austin Yancey Sr. as one Sarah Garrison and records them as being married in 1775. It would seem that whatever research that has been done on the Garrison family has produced little results. I have noticed, however, a letter that was written to Lillian Bogardus in 1967 which has information concerning a Garrison Line. The letter indicates that the Father of Sarah Garrison may have been one Christopher Garrison of New York. Upon first seeing this letter some time ago, it seemed to me that we were getting desperate to find the parents of Sarah and were just slashing out in the air and the first thing grabbed was made to fit our Yancey/Garrison line - It just seemed to me at the time way too simple and naive to assume that this was our Garrison line out of the many Garrison families of America. But after thinking about it for some time and also noting that Benjamin Franklin Kelley (who married Nancy Yancey - daughter of Austin) named a child Christopher G. Kelley - I really have begun to wonder if this could be our Garrison line. By any means, more research must be done on this family to determine whether there really is a reason to believe that they may be related. Any info that any of you may have on this Garrison line would be much appreciated.




One item of interest that most all Austin Yancey have skipped over is the fact that Austin Yancey and his descendants according to records searched, never owned any slaves. This is strange because, most of the Yancey family of Virginia and North Carolina, being planters owned at least a few slaves. If one analyzes the family there are really very few lines of the family that did not own slaves - and in those that did - the slaves were passed on from one generation to the next. I have not really done much research concerning this point - but believe this might be a clue in determining the relationship of Austin to the rest of the family. This needs more research.



I have always wondered how much we can trust the information that we have concerning Austin Yancey Sr. His birth date and marriage information has been obtained from D.A.R. records and it would seem the original source was/is material found in the RLDS archives in Independence, Missouri. I wonder if those records at the RLDS ARCHIVES are original primary documents (bible records etc.) or whether they are secondary documents (compilation of Yancey history etc.) I am quite unfamiliar with the records held at the RLDS Archives and am wondering what the rest of you know about these and the D.A.R. records. But, by any means, it would seem to me that we are putting a lot of trust in some rather questionable information - albeit - the only information we have. I have also heard by some, that some records show different dates for Austin. I have always seen the birth date as recorded as 29 August 1752 - if any one has seen different, please, let me know as to where and what date. Are the RLDS records and the DAR records and other documents we have in agreement as to all the dates?? Much of the above mentioned assumptions and theories begin to fall apart if we do not assume that Austin was born in 1752. Would like to know of any inconsistency any of you have noted in the dates related to Austin yancey.


After extensive research being done by many members of the family, it has somewhat surprised me that we know so little about most of the children of Austin Yancey Sr. In fact after many years of research many researchers are still uncertain whether Hiram John Yancey (the ancestor of most of us) was a son of Austin Yancey Jr. or Sr. It is my opinion that we are descendants of Austin Yancey Jr. - he having 5 children. I have little evidence to really back this up and am interested in knowing what the rest of you think. But what about all the children of Austin Yancey Sr. We know about Austin Jr.; and Nancy - who married Richard Kelley; and Sophie who married Burrell Bell; But their were at least 3 or 4 more possibly including Elizabeth, Sarah, Mary & James Yancey. I have seen some records that indicate that some members of the family thought that one Elizabeth Yancey who married Isam Farris (9 Jan 1806 - Knox co., KY) was a daughter. The son James may be the same James found living in Gwinnet County, GA in 1850 with wife Sarah and various children.


In the 1930's one Ella Anderson was admitted to the D.A.R. after submitting her information concerning the Austin Yancey line. I have heard that because of lack of proof they no longer accept members claiming descent from Austin Yancey. I would very much like to know if anyone has looked into this. If this is the case - it somewhat bothers me - as I have researched various D.A.R. records and have seen various accepted lineages - much more shaky than ours. In fact, even in view of the fact that many religiously trust D.A.R. records because of their "documentation" requirements - I have really been surprised at the number of errors I have found among accepted D.A.R. applications. I really have become quite wary of trusting D.A.R. records. I have heard that they are getting much stricter as to documentation - but their will always be a lot of errors on the old records.