An ancestral blog by Terrell Ledbetter; picture is of James River at Berkeley Plantation, Charles City, Virginia (site of original landing in America for Thomas Ledbetter)

James River at Berkeley Plantation at Charles City, Virginia
James River at Berkeley Plantation-Charles City, Virginia

I have seen many family trees with incorrect entries, “Find a Grave” entries with false imformation and numerous ancestral posts with false assumption concerning the Ledbetter tree.  Everyone’s tree is going to vary.  Not every Ledbetter descendent comes from the first to land in Virginia, but the first two generations of the first Ledbetter’s in America should be corrected.  The following blog states my arguments for the tree that follows below.  Everyone is certainly entitled to their own opinion based upon their own records and research. For example, after the second generation, the Ledbetters scattered. New Ledbetter immigrants began to settle in America thus, obviously, creating more Ledbetter lines.  My direct line and comments may be informative to some who share a common Ledbetter ancestor.

I was fortunate to have the basic generational Ledbetter tree handed to me by my great Aunt, Lillie Mae Ledbetter  who was born in 1909 and was the daughter of my great -grandfather, Higgins Ledbetter.  The tree had  been built, corrected, and handed down over seven generations when she gave me the tree in 1990. It gave the name of each grandfather, birth and death dates, and the spouse.  This was a direct line tree where most of the non-direct line siblings were not tracked.  I trust this direct line as the information was handed down directly from generation to generation, probably recorded in family bibles.  My dad had also told me stories over the years, some of which were of the five brothers who were the second generation.  My dad’s sister, Aunt Edith Ledbetter Fortune, also told me stories from her childhood memories of the Broad River Ledbetters from George Ledbetter/Lizer Murphy and Higgins Ledbetter/Lafaria Searcy. I also received confirmation of my findings from Stuart Nanney, married to Luther Ledbetter’s daughter, showing the true lineage back to Richard Ledbetter Sr.

There are a lot of Henry’s , Richards, Johns etc in the early years, so you have to be very careful with your tree. My Richard I, born in 1644 was the father to Drury, John, Charles, William and Richard II, all born just after 1700. Some trees shows my Richard Ledbetter I as the son of Henry’s son John.  Other trees disprove this. There are just too many Richards period thereby creating much confusion.

Tradition for naming sons were as follows, but be careful, some did not follow tradition:

• first son named after paternal grandfather

• second son named after mother’s father

• third son named after the father

• fourth son named after the father’s older brother

By the time the fifth (5) generation was born, around 1720-1735, I roughly calculate there were 150 Ledbetter males descending from Thomas, the first to come. 

 


 

1st Generation in America

Thomas Ledbetter (1600-1658) – Mary Molisse Thomas (1603-1673)

 

2nd Generation, child of Thomas and Mary

Henry Ledbetter (1625-1698) – Mary House (1624-1672)

John Ledbetter (1635-1698)  This is still to be reconciled as some trees claim that Henry was the only child to Thomas Ledbetter and Mary Thomas. I think there is enough evidence to suggest that John was the second son of Thomas and Mary. His reported birth year of 1635 indicates he was a second generation of the first to come.

Some people have speculation is that Henry was married twice, and the second wife was Sarah Tolman. This is not true: there is credible evidence that Sarah Tolman and another Henry Ledbetter  in the similar timetable were born, married, and lived in Massachusetts.  Also the information I had handed down to me confirms that Mary House was the mother of all the boys and that Mary lived until 1672 in Virginia. This is proof that blindly following the tree some people post is not always true.  In this case, is your Ledbetter ancestor from Virginia or Massachusetts?  Don’t attempt to combine the two.

 

3rd Generation, children of Henry Ledbetter

Francis Ledbetter (1653 -17430- Martha Jones (1648-1745)

Francis and Martha had a son, John born in 1690, that married Frances Tedstall

The LDS geneology confirms that Francis was the son of Henry Ledbetter and Mary House but claims his birth year as 1660. I have a direct line to Francis Ledbetter and Martha Jones as well as Richard I.

John Ledbetter (1662-1730)-Mary Frances Jones born 1648.  A second source says Mary Frances Vandivers

Henry Ledbetter (1664-1771)

Richard I (July 4, 1666-1759) – Hanna Honour (1675-1758)

Drury Ledbetter (1666-1740)

William Ledbetter (April 10, 1668-1743)

Martha Ledbetter

Note that Henry’s first three sons were names of sons born by his father, hence the confusion.  Uncles and sons with the same names are very confusing.  There were too many Johns, Henrys and Frances in the first few generations.

 

4th Generation, children of Richard Ledbetter I

Henry Ledbetter (1690)

John Ledbetter (1701)

Charles Ledbetter (1703)

William Ledbetter (1709)

Richard Ledbetter II (1700-1751) – Mary Walton (1720-1779)

 

5th Generation, children of Richard Ledbetter II

Issac Ledbetter (1732-1785)

Mary Ledbetter (1733-1741)

Drury S. Ledbetter (1734-1761)

Charles Ledbetter (1738-1774)

Richard B. Ledbetter III (1738-1841) – Nancy Ann Johnson (1745-1821)

Arthur Ledbetter (1740-1814)- Francis Brooks

William Ledbetter (1740-1818) _Mary Cheves

Captain George Ledbetter (1742-1803) – Elizabeth Walton (1740-

Captain George fought at the Battle of Kings Mountain on October 7, 1780.

Elizabeth Walton’s mother was Elizabeth Ledbetter (1730-1802) and daughter of Henry Ledbetter (1690-1751)/Edith Williamson (1690). Henry was the son of Francis Ledbetter (1653-1743)/Martha Jones (1648-1745).  This is my direct line to Francis and Richard I, both sons of second generation Henry.

6th Generation, children of Captain George Ledbetter

Elizabeth Ledbetter  (1773-1790) – James Bradley

George (Walton) Ledbetter (1775-1866) – Sally Goodbread (1780-1875)

Isaac Ledbetter (1776-1837)- Ursala Bradley/Nancy King

William H. Ledbetter (1783-1849) – Ruth Lewellen

Nancy Ledbetter (1784-1840) -James Murphy  Their daughter Eliza (Liza) is referenced with George Ledbetter death below.

I have a direct line to Nancy Ledbetter as well as her brother George Walton.  In colonial days cousins often married.

 

7th Generation, children of Walton Ledbetter

William (George) Ledbetter (1815-1864) – Eliza Murphy (1823-18970

George is shown by many people as George Washington Ledbetter (my own dad used this name) but George’s grandson Luther showed the name as William George Ledbetter in the family bible (source Stuart A. Nanney).  Stuart was the nephew of  Luther’s wifeKate and was confident that the real full name was William George.  The marriage bond on his marriage to Liza Murphy was simply signed “George Ledbetter”.

Madison Ledbetter (1809-1889)- Mary Lyda

Temperance Ledbetter (1816) – William Bertus Murphy

Squire Thomas Ledbetter (1819-1863)- Zillah Murphy/Malinda Gilliam

James Ledbetter (1830)

 

8th Generation, children of George Ledbetter

William Higgins Ledbetter (1862-1932) – Lafaria Searcy (1868-1925)

Katherine Ledbetter (1845-1914)- Watsell Avery Lyda

James Ledbetter (1842)

Aunt Harriet Ledbetter (1863-1963)

 

9th Generation, children of Higgins

Luther B. Ledbetter (1887-1969) – Kate Nanney

James (Jim) Lancaster Ledbetter (1880-1950) – Gardie Elliott (1891-1973)

Cletus L. Ledbetter (1894-1968) -Maggie Elliott

Ethel Pauline Ledbetter (1898-1994) -Charles Meese

John Long Ledbetter (1900-1957) – Hettye Nanney

Annie Eliza (1902-1998) – William Morris

Sam Ledbetter (1909-1927)

Lillie Mae Ledbetter ( (1909-1995) – Perry Melton (Mae was also married to my dad’s employer, Greg Sawyer).

Bryan Ledbetter (1896-1967)- Maggie Taylor

 

Discussion of each generation and background information:

1) Thomas Ledbetter (1600-1658)

As written by James A. Mc Clain in Ancestry.com, the Ledbetter family home was in Durham County, Northumbria, England from after 1570 until Thomas immigrated in 1621.  His family reportedly were French Hugenots who had fled France some years before the Massacre of St. Bartholomew in 1572.  A descendent of this family (in Seaham), William Leadbetter, had left the Seaham for Ireland in early 1740’s and his wife, Mary Shackleton, published a short history of the family in 1744 where she said the family had fled from France and their historical family name was LeBete. The family located at Seaham, an old Viking fishing village on the North Atlantic Coast of Durham County. The family apparently was in England for only two generations before Thomas immigrated.

My great Aunt’s records indicate that Thomas and his wife Mary Thomas immigrated to Charles City, Virginia in 1621.  Public records indicate that Edward Tunstall had sold 125 acres to Thomas earlier (probably 1637 when Tunstall moved to Henrico Country) and Thomas  had received an additional 99 acres due to arranging transportation of Margary Lucus and Mary House to America in 1638.  Governor Berkely transacted with 224 acres south of the Appamatox River on April 29, 1668 to Henry Ledbetter.  By this time, Thomas had been deceased by ten years.  Due to the fact that no immigration records have been found, nor land records until after 1637, it is my own personal theory that Thomas and Mary were endentures and only after working off their transportation costs, were they able to by the land from Tunstall in 1637.  Some have stated they were landed gentry and purchased land after they arrived in 1635.  I trust my information handed down to me on the immigration period so I do not agree they were landed gentry after 1635.

This land was south of the Appamattox River and between the current cities of Petersburg and West Petersburg, Virginia.  A branch of the Appamattox in this area was called Ledbetter Creek for years.  The first three generations lived here totaling  over ninety years.

In the late 1680’s, the family attended the Church of England, the Blandford Church in the Bristol Parish of Virginia.

It should be noted that the LDS indicate Mary Thomas to have been born in 1627 in Durham, England.  This is obviously incorrect as we have the above mentioned land transactions in 1637 in Virginia when Mary would be ten.

2. Henry Ledbetter (1635-1698)

I have seen Henry’s birthdate as early as 1625.  Due to lack of women in America, colonialists were granted land in exchange for transporting women to Virginia in the early 1600’s. Such was the case for Thomas as he received 99 acres for transporting Margry Linsal and Mary House (1624-16720}.  This is the Mary House that Thomas’ son Henry married in April, 1658. Henry and Mary had six sons and one daughter.

I have seen reports that Henry had a second wife named Sarah Tolman.  The Henry that married Sarah was born in 1633 and died in 1722.  This couple lived and died in Dorchester, Massachusetts.  I believe there is a big incorrect jump to assume the Charles City Henry Ledbetter was the same as the Massachusetts Henry Leadbetter.

The land deed to Henry Ledbetter by Sir Berkely in 1658 establishes his residency in the Appamattox River area of Virginia.

A judgement on record of October, 1673 to Mary Ledbetter verifies her continued presence in the area  and marriage to Henry, further proof that this line was Virginia and not Massachusetts in any way.

3. Richard Ledbetter I (1666-1759)

Richard lived in Appamattox River area until 1729 when many of the Ledbetter kin purchased land and moved to land adjoining each other in Brunswick County, Virginia near present day White Plains :

This property was in proximity to:

∗ both sides of the Meherrin River

∗ southward to Rattlesnake Creek

∗ near Fountain Creek

∗ near Swiss Creek, Little Creek and Hounds Creek

4. Richard Ledbetter II (1700-1751)

Richard II also made the move from the Appomattox River area to Brunswick County.  He produced a huge number of male offsprings in his short lifetime. He was the first Ledbetter to purchase land in the then the pioneer County of Brunswick.  Richard owned the most land followed by brothers William and Henry.  Richard became constable of the county in 1738 and oveseer in 1739.

5. Captain George Ledbetter (1742-1803)

George moved to Rutherford County in 1775. A well educated man who was involved with ratification of the continental congress. He also served as a Captain in the Battle of Kings mountain under Colonel Hampton.  He later served as a sheriff and Justice of Peace for Rutherford County after the Revolutionary War.

6. Walton Ledbetter (1775-1866)

Walton married into the Goodbread family, an immigrant family from Germany.  His wife Sarah Goodbread’s grandmother was Mary Ledbetter (1742-1625) who was the daughter of Richard Ledbetter III (1717-1751), thereby tying into the Ledbetter ancestry with a different grandfather. Walton lived in the Montford Cove area of McDowell County.

7. George Ledbetter (1815-1864)

My details on George Ledbetter were told to me by my dad and Aunt Edith who heard stories from their grandfather Higgins Ledbetter and grandmother Lafaria when they were children.

George was a very skilled craftsman, blacksmith and farmer who provided food and support for those in the region who needed help. His wife’s family, the Murphy’s, had a wagon road inn.  George was handy with repairing wagons and wheels as necessary.

murphy tavern

He was over thirty-five at the outbreak of the Civil War so he was allowed to continue farming while serving as a home guard.  In 1864, George was ambushed and shot in the head by a deserter.  His wife, Liza Murphy, picked up a rifle and shot the deserter.  Liza cleaned up George’s body and buried him.  At the time they had several girls and my great-grandfather Higgins who was two years old.  The death was a serious burden to the family and was felt for generations.

The family lived in the Broad River area which is now on Hwy 9 about a third of the way between Bat Cave and Black Mountain, North Carolina.

There is some varying information as to George’s full name.  My dad told me it was George Washington Ledbetter and many trees show the same.  However, Stuart Nanney, who was a close relative of Katie Nanney the wife of Luther Ledbetter told me that the family bible listed his name as William George Ledbetter.  All census reports and marriage document shows only the name George Ledbetter.

8. Higgins Ledbetter (1862-1932)

Like his father before him, Higgins was a skilled craftsman, blacksmith and farmer. Aunt Edith told me that his wife Lafaria was a likeable woman. They lived in the Broad River area. You can see by the picture below that Higgins housed his sister and aunt.

william higgins ledbetter family two

I believe the above picture was taken around 1905. My grandfather was Jim who died when I was five in 1951.  I remember visiting my dad’s uncles Bryan and Luther on Sundays during the 1950’s.  They all live in Broad River, Buncombe County, North Carolina.

9. Roy, Frank, Holly, Grady and Mary Elizabeth (Edith) Ledbetter children of Jim Ledbetter

The generation I have known well. May they all rest in peace.  They will be remembered.