Alfords and Their Kin in Early North Carolina, Part II


By James P. Alford, AAFA #0115


[This article was originally published in AAFA ACTION, Issue #9, June 1990.]


AUTHOR’S NOTE: Material in this article will be included in the text of one of the most complete works on Alfords yet attempted. If you find any omissions or inaccuracies, please send a note with copies of any documents that you have to the author. Don’t be quiet if you think there’s an error. It takes many critics to produce a good history book.


Part I, published in AAFA ACTION, March 1990, pages 14–17, covered the earliest days in the Carolinas from the 1680’s through 1760. Part II continues at 1760 and focuses on the Four Corners area where Franklin, Wake, Johnston and Nash Counties meet and attempts to identify and trace the movements of Lodwick Sr.’s children in that area.


First, who were Lodwick’s verified children? There are nineteen names listed. This is the number of children Lodwick was purported to have had.


                  1.            William Alford                    Proved by parish records

                  2.            Elizabeth Alford                  Proved by parish records

                  3.            Jacob Alford                      Proved by parish records

                  4.            James Alford                      Proved by tax roll

                  5.            Lodwick Alford Jr.             Proved by tax roll

                  6.            Julius Alford                       Proved by tax roll

                  7.            Warren Alford                    Proved by tax roll and his wil

                  8.            Winny Alford Rogers          Proved by his will

                  9.            Mary Alford Alford            Proved by his will

              10.            Anselm Alford                    Proved by his will

              11.            Lamuel Alford                    Proved by his will

              12.            Kinchen Alford                   Proved by his will

              13.            Susanna Alford Hobbs        Proved by his will

              14.            Goodrich Alford                 Proved by his will


Who were the unverified ones associated with him?


              15.            Isham Alford                      Close association

              16.            Drury Alford                       Close association

              17.            Lany Freeman                    Mentioned in his will

              18.            Susannah Freeman              Mentioned in his will

              19.            Sarah Cloe Mentioned in his will


The Four Corners Area, 1760-1778


Lodowick and John Ferrell had migrated slightly westward since their arrival in North Carolina about 1739. The county name had changed several times as the area was divided and subdivided into new political units causing a lot of confusion for researchers and creating an impression of constant movement.


By 1760 John Ferrell’s lands seemed to center between the Tar River and Crooked Creek in Bute and Edgecombe Counties. The Alford’s lands adjoined and encircled him in what are now Franklin, Nash, Johnston and Wake Counties. All, that is, except the loner William who settled in Dobbs and Wayne Counties, downhill toward the coast.


Lodwick’s sons were growing up and had begun appearing for the first time in adult records. Julius’ sons were considerably younger. We know nothing of Goodrich’s family after New Kent County, Virginia although there is a real probability that he had more children. Were some of Lodwick’s younger “children” really those of Goodrich? We’ll try to identify the possible ones as they appear.


Before going further into this period, let’s quickly review the age ranges at which poll taxes were assessed:


1.   If you were a freeman or an indentured servant between the ages of 16 and 60 government viewed you as a source of revenue. (They were lucky! Today, we’re Revenue from cradle to grave.) You were called a Taxable or a “White Poll.”


2.   If you were a negro slave between the ages of 12 and 50 you were a “Black Poll” and your owner was obliged to pay taxes for you.


Two James Alfords


In Part I, the existence of two James Alfords was initially identified. One was clearly visible in the legal records of the day before Lodwick’s son could have reached his majority. At that time the possibility of this being Lodwick’s brother was raised. Yet, a glaring problem existed. Why didn’t he appear in the Tax Lists?


Remember the ages at which a person was a Taxable? Rather than being Lodwick’s brother, the older James could well have been his father! In 1760 the old gentleman would have been 70+ years old which would explain his absence from the Tax Lists. Any negroes that he had would have likely been older than 50, so they wouldn’t have appeared either.


The first evidence of the presence of an older James in Bute County was in February 1760 when he witnessed a deed and in November, 1760 when he was defendant in a suit. Both of these events occurred before James the son could possibly have been an adult.


Now, let’s leave old James for a couple of columns and look at two of Lodwick’s sons:


On July 21, 1761 a significant family event was recorded: Both James Alford and Lodwick Alford Jr. bought Granville Grants in Bute County. James chose land adjacent to Lodwick Sr. and uncle Julius on Crooked Creek while Lodwick Jr. chose land about 8 miles north on Turkey Creek at Perry’s Branch.


While Lodwick Jr.’s grant omitted the suffix “Jr.”, numerous other references called it the grant of Lodwick Jr. He subdivided it years later and sold half to his younger brother Goodrich, probably for Goodrich’s 21st birthday.


Now, a person was required by law to be 21 in order to sell land but not necessarily to acquire it. However, prevailing custom seems to have required age 21 for all land transactions. Also, if it were a true minor’s transaction there should be mention of a parent or guardian in the deed.




So, what was the significance? Based on James the son’s obituary in 1812, we can calculate that his 21st birthday was between November 7, 1739 and November 6, 1740. One as yet unconfirmed source places it in May, 1740. This means that James the son would have just turned 21 when he received his Granville Grant. But, what about Lodwick Jr.? Conventional Wisdom has said that he was two years younger than his brother. Could it be that he was really the same age as James? Could it be they were twins? Nothing found so far disproves it.


Up until the time of James the son’s departure for Georgia, the two brothers seemed inseparable.


The 1762 Granville County Tax List of St. John’s Parish showed Lodwick’s household with James as a white poll and Frank and Venus as black polls. Lodwick Jr. did not appear. Neither had he appeared on the 1755 Tax List. This seven year gap was sufficient for him to pass from age 15 to 22 undetected. Since he had acquired land a distance from his father’s home it’s almost certain that he was living there and was on another tax list for 1762. James was 22 and still living with his father that year because his land was next door.


Between 1762 and 1771, it was apparent that either older James or James the son was practicing law in Bute Co. He was witnessing deeds, probably after he had prepared them, proving them in court and then later picking them up after the court clerk had recorded them. During this period, in April, 1766 and again in February, 1769, one of the James’ twice served briefly as Justice of the Peace for Bute County.


Considering that judges are selected for their maturity, experience and superior judgment, would he have been Lodwick’s son who would have been 26 years old, Lodwick’s brother who was 53 years old, or how about Lodwick’s father who would have been in his upper 70’s? Unless the county was terribly short of mature, literate freemen knowledgeable in the law, it’s doubtful that the good citizens would have stood for a youth of 26 passing judgment on them!


The brevity of the two terms as judge may indicate that the James who served was semi-retired and working in a part-time capacity.


In 1766 the Bute County Tax List for the Crooked Creek District was compiled (processioned) by James Alford Esq., and a James Alford was the last household on that tax list. This James was a white poll and had four black polls—Quash, Christmas, Jack, and Lucy. This was surely the same James who had received the Granville Grant on Crooked Creek in 1761. As a possible means of further identification, Lodwick Sr. had a negro named Pash (?) on the 1755 Granville Tax List. Were Quash and Pash the same?


An interesting pattern appears in the surviving court records that helps to further distinguish the two James Alfords. The one who practiced law often signed his name “Jas. Alford” while the one who prepared tax lists and later moved to Wake County always signed James Alford. The court clerk also referred to the lawyer as “Jas.” or just plain “J.” perhaps as a means to distinguish him from the other.


The final suggestion that there were two men named James would come much later in Wake County. The older James was gone by then, and James the son was an active Tax Assessor/Collector in Wake County. The rather complete court records found there do not indicate that he ever practiced law.


Another Bute County Tax List for 1766 (Cypress Creek?) listed Lodwick Alford, Lodwick Alford junr and Goodrich Alford living adjacent to each other but as separate households.


This was the first appearance of son Goodrich and provides some insight into housing customs of the day. Why wasn’t he on the 1762 Tax List if he was now old enough to live apart from his father? Probably the big house was crowded and Goodrich moved into a cabin on dad’s land before he was 21. Using the two tax lists we can conclude that he was no older than 15 in 1762 and 19 in 1766. His first land transaction was not until 1769 when he would have been no older than 22.


June 10, 1768. John Hancock’s trading ship “Liberty” is seized by Customs agents in Boston. An angry mob gathers and threatens the Crown’s representatives....


In Bute County during July, 1768, Lodwick Sr.’s brother Julius was apparently ill and summoned his attorney to prepare his will. Julius named Lodwick Alford and his son James as his Executors and the will was witnessed by James Alford. Were they the same James? It’s not likely. Very seldom do you see a legatee or an Executor witness a will. The witness was most likely older James the attorney who had drawn up the will.


Fall of 1768. Four Regiments of British Redcoats are marching about Boston, posing an open threat to the angered citizens....


Robert Cade Sr. died intestate some time early in 1769, and James Alford was appointed Administrator of his estate. Which James was this? Unlike Executors who were usually family members, Administrators were generally appointed from the legal community, so the best bet would have once again been the older James. At the estate sale June 3, 1769, Lodwick, Lodwick Jr. and James Alford were buyers. As in the majority of records, no distinction was made as to which James.


Lodwick Alford Jr., planter, sold 230 acres, or half of his Granville Grant, to little brother Goodrick, November 2, 1769. The deed was witnessed by Lodw. Alford. This transaction was likely an observation of Goodrich’s 21st birthday.


On March 4, 1770, a “Council of War” was held at Colonel William Bryan’s home on the Neuse River in Johnston County. (This area may have become Wake County shortly after.) Present was Captain Lodowick Alford. This was almost certainly Lodwick Jr. who would later rise to the rank of Major in the Wake County militia. Lodwick Sr. had served his militia duty as a Private and was too old by now to be active.


March 5, 1770. A Company of Redcoats stationed before the hated Boston Customs House opens fire on an unarmed mob....


On June 19, 1770, James sold his Crooked Creek land grant to neighbor John Ferrell. This signaled his imminent move a few miles south into the growing region that would shortly become Wake County. He identified himself as a “Planter” in the deed.


Like the year a decade earlier, 1771 was an eventful period for the Alfords.


First, it marked the emergence of Lodwick Sr.’s next set of sons, Julius and Warren. They appeared with him on the Bute County Tax List that year. Lodwick Jr. and Goodrich continued to live next door as heads of their own households. Son James no longer appeared in Bute County.


Wake County


Wake County was formed that year, largely from the upper half of Johnston County. Whether some of Bute was carved off is not known at this writing. The area in Wake County where the sons would settle was directly adjacent to the area in Bute County where the Alfords, Ferrells and Cades had lived for many years. Even as the sons migrated to new lands, they were never more than 12-15 miles from old dad. That was a short journey either on horseback or a morning affair with the wife and kids in a wagon.


James had moved into the area that was soon-to-be Wake County territory or had been annexed by Wake County sometime between June 19, 1770 and April 28, 1771 when “his dwelling house burnt.” Here we find the first evidence that an occupation begun in Bute County had been continued in Wake—James had lost some of the county’s tax money in the fire. This story can be found in The Colonial Records of North Carolina, Volume IX.


According to the first Wake County Quarter Court Minutes recorded on June 4, 1771, James Alford and John Rogers were sworn in as deputies of Sheriff Michael Rogers. Thus began a long Alford relationship with Michael, John and other members of the Rogers clan.


That November, James Alford petitioned the Assembly at Raleigh to replace the lost tax money from the Province’s Sinking Fund. Lucky for him they were in a good mood, or he would have been out 28 pounds and a few shillings!


At the Wake County Quarter Court Session of March 1773, James was appointed to a “jury” to lay off one acre for a mill. This is the first indication that he might also have some surveying skills. Of course, to be a Tax Assessor he had to be able to measure a person’s holdings. Olive Belle Alford Gunn (born 1875), paraphrased much later in The Compendium of American Genealogy, Volume VI, 1937, stated that he was a surveyor but didn’t mention tax assessing/collecting.


December 16, 1773. An unknown gang disguised as Indians boards a British trading vessel in Boston Harbor and throws the entire cargo of tea overboard....


Lodwick Jr. apparently moved into Wake County in the summer of 1774 and bought two tracts. Both deeds were proved by James Alford at the September Court. Near Christmas, he sold the remainder of his original 1761 grant in Bute County. Witnesses to that transaction were Lodwick Sr. and a new name, Drewry Alford.


Yet another new name appeared that year when Isham Alford and Lodwick (Jr.) witnessed a deed from Lodwick Sr. to Andrew Tanner in Bute County July 20, 1774. Drewry and Isham have never been proved to be sons of Lodwick Sr. and may well have been sons of the deceased Goodrich who were raised by Lodwick Sr. Since witnessing deeds required an adult, both Drewry and Isham would have been conceived or born before Goodrich’s death in 1753


September 5, 1774. The First Continental Congress convenes


James Alford made bond before the Wake County September Court to open a Public House. In March 1775, James was appointed a Processioner in Captain Michael Roger’s district, and Lodwick Alford Jr. and Josiah Crudup were appointed Patrolers or Processioners for Captain Fowler’s district in Wake County. The Colonies’ need for war funding was soon to become urgent.


April 19, 1775. Minute-men send the Redcoats packing at Lexington and Concord. The war is on....


May 10, 1775. The Continental Army is created by act of The Second Continental Congress and George Washington is appointed Commander....


In May Lodwick Jr. sold more land in Bute County, the deed being witnessed by Lodwick Sr. That June, Lodwick Jr., James and Josiah Crudup served together on the Wake County Grand Jury.


June 17, 1775. Redcoats engage the Massachusetts Militia at Bunker Hill....


In December 1775, James was appointed Overseer of the Road by Justice Michael Rogers.


May 10, 1776. The Continental Congress recommends that the former Colonies form new State governments as quickly as possible....


July 4, 1776. The Declaration of Independence is signed at Philadelphia....


On December 23, 1776, Lodowick Alford was first appointed a Justice of the Peace for Wake County. Probably mass resignations of Loyalist officials had forced the Governor to fill vacant offices with younger Patriots. Now, rather than being Lodwick Alford Jr., he became Lodwick Alford Esq. Now, Lodiwick Alford and Josiah Crudup were Patrolers in Captain Alford’s district!


Government jobs were all part-time, so willing citizens who could read and write often wore many hats. The lesser positions in local government were appointed by the Justices and since the Militia and the Continental Army were snapping up the available manpower, the Justices were having to assume the unfilled positions themselves. Thus, we see Lodwick Jr. being a Justice, Patroler, Processioner, Collector, and Captain of a tax district in Wake County.


The title “Captain” seems out of place for a tax collector and prompts one to wonder if perhaps the person didn’t derive that title from also serving as Captain of Militia. (Anyone know the answer?) In addition to all these new duties and titles, Lodiwick also found himself appointed Overseer of the Road “from Martin’s house to the Little River Bridge”!


December 25, 1776. On Christmas night George Washington and his Continentals surprise the Hessians at Trenton....


On May 8, 1777 the House of Commons passed a resolution to pay James Alford $800 that was due to him from the assignment of a Colonel’s pay voucher. Some time later he requested a copy of a War Claim filed in the Legislature’s papers according to comments found in the Delamar Papers. These events signaled that he too had become active in State affairs.


October 17, 1777. General Burgoyne surrenders at Saratoga to a determined New England force....


The manpower drain of the War was increasingly affecting the home front as Lodwick was appointed Tax Gatherer in both his district and Captain Mials’ district at a Quarter Court session December 3, 1777.


In February 1778, Lodiwick Alford acknowledged a deed to Warren Alford marking the move of yet another son to Wake County. Other records that year showed that Warren was living adjacent to Lodwick on the Little River at Cedar Rock Branch and Gale’s Branch on the north side of the Tarborough Road. This was about eight miles southwest of Lodwick Sr.’s house. At that same Court Lodiwick Alford Esq. and Michael Rogers Esq. became Securities for a bond.


February, 1778. Because of Ben Franklin’s efforts, France signs two treaties with the United States and prepares to enter the war....


The State Records of North Carolina, Volume XII provides a lot of eye-opening information about how active Lodwick Jr. had become during the War. In addition to his county work- load, we find that he had been elected an Assemblyman from Wake County. Then, we find that on April 24, 1778, he was appointed 2nd Major of Wake County Militia, and Michael Rogers was appointed Colonel. Lodwick Jr. was then given a leave of absence from the House of Commons, presumably to join his Regiment. He is identified variously in these records as “Lodowick Alford Jr.,” “Lodowick Alford Esq. Jr.” and just plain “Lodowick Alford.” The Esquire designation was recognition of his official county positions.


During 1778 James remained busy too. He served as Tax Assessor and Tax Gatherer in Capt. Powell’s district as well as Processioner in Capt. (Michael) Rogers district. He sold three tracts of land in Bute County and received warrants for two tracts on the south side of the Neuse River in Wake County. He too was divesting himself of his Bute County ties.


Warren returned to Bute County and entered into a Marriage Bond with Betty Ward, one of the younger daughters of Judge Benjamin Ward, on November 25, 1778. On December 23, back in Wake County, he received a warrant for 400 acres on both sides of Wilders Branch.