An ancestral blog by Terrell Ledbetter (8th great-grandson of Thomas Ledbetter, the first in America); the picture below is of James River at Berkeley Plantation, Charles City, Virginia (site of original landing in America for Thomas Ledbetter) and taken by me in 2018

James River at Berkeley Plantation at Charles City, Virginia

I have seen many family trees with incorrect entries, “Find a Grave” entries with false information and numerous ancestral posts with false assumption concerning the Ledbetter tree. Surely everyone’s tree is going to vary.  Not every Ledbetter descendent comes from the first to land in Virginia, however the first several generations of the first Ledbetter’s in America should be corrected.  The following blog states my arguments for the descendant tree referenced in this blog.  Everyone is certainly entitled to their own opinion based upon their own records and research. After the second generation, different Ledbetter lines began to immigrate.  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 (Melton/Sawyer) 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 1973. 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 (children of Henry Dawson Ledbetter).  My dad’s sister, Aunt Edith Ledbetter Fortune, also told me stories from her childhood memories of the Broad River Ledbetter family 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.

I am a direct descendant of two sons of Henry Dawson Ledbetter.  In addition, my tree indicates on several occasions Ledbetter cousins have married.  As a result I have strong Ledbetter DNA.

Revision August 8, 2022:

I have added an approximately 3000 named-descendant-tree from Thomas Ledbetter (1600).  This tree is on Ancestry and is entitled “Descendents of Thomas Ledbetter (year 1600) by Terrell Ledbetter.”  There will be occasional additions to this tree as more information is available to me.  I have not added many families past the early 1900’s because I do not wish to add a living person to the tree. Once a Ledbetter female married, I only carried to her grandchildren in the tree.  It is not my intention to carry the tree to living descendants, but you should be able to find you grandparents.

You will have to be a member of Ancestry to be able to log in and call up the tree.  Once on Ancestry, and after you call up the subject tree. you can move through the tree to find your ancestor. There is a search function that will get you to the part of the tree that has your ancestor.

Please do not use this information to feed any other site.  This is my work in establishing this information and the technology of Family Tree Maker and Ancestry to provide it.

There are a tremendous amount of Henry’s, Richards, and Johns 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 show my Richard Ledbetter I as the son of Henry’s son John.  Other trees disprove this. There are just too many Richards during a short time period thereby creating much confusion.  The third continued to generate a flurry of Johns and Richards all born within a short time frame of each other.  It is so easy to get confusing and incorrect trees because of this.

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 600 Ledbetter off springs descending from Thomas, the first to come.  The early families had six to twelve children.  It did not take long for the line to grow.

In the discussions below, I show the direct line to me through Richard Ledbetter I in bold letters.  As mentioned above, I have two lines from the second generation, Henry Dawson Ledbetter.  One line is from Richard Ledbetter I and the second line is from Frances Ledbetter.  I do not bold a lineage from Frances Ledbetter.

As noted above, all direct lines are available in the descendants I have added to Ancestry.


1st Generation in America

Thomas Ledbetter (May 11,1600-1658) – Mary Molisse Thomas (1603-1673)

As written by James A. McClain in Ancestry.com, the Ledbetter family home was in Durham County, Northumbria, England from after 1570 until Thomas immigrated after 1622.  His grandparents were French Huguenots who had fled France some years before the Massacre of St. Bartholomew in 1572.  The Huguenots were protestants who were being driven out of France by the Catholics.  In England, they were Episcopalian or members of the Church of England.

anglican church seaham

Anglican Church in Seaham, England

A descendent of this family (in Seaham), William Leadbetter, had left Seaham for Ireland in the early 1740’s and his wife, Mary Shackleton, published a short history of the family in 1744.  Mary Shackleton  wrote that the family had fled France and their historical family name was LeBete. The family had 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.  In short, the long-term ancestry of this family was northwest-Europe and the short ancestral surname was “Le Bete“, which translates to “beast.”

seaham, england countryside

Seaham countryside

My great Aunt’s records indicate that Thomas and his wife Mary Thomas immigrated to Charles City, Virginia after1622. Their names were not recorded as living or dead from the role carried out after the Indian massacre in 1622, so it is most likely that Thomas and Mary immigrated closer to 1625.  Public records indicate that Edward Tunstall had sold 125 acres to Thomas (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 Berkeley transacted with 224 acres south of the Appomattox 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 could have been indentures and only after working off their transportation costs, were they able to buy 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 that was handed down to me on the immigration period, so I do not agree with that.

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

2nd Generation, children of Thomas and Mary

Henry Dawson 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.  There is zero information on this John.  Any new information on him and family would be greatly appreciated.

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). The Henry that married Sarah was born in 1633 and died in 1722.  This couple lived and died in Dorchester, Massachusetts.  This is a big incorrect jump to assume the Charles City Henry Ledbetter was the same as the Massachusetts Henry Leadbetter.

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.

I have seen Henry’s birthdate as early as 1625 in Charles City, Virginia Colony.  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 (1624-1672}.  This is the Mary House that Thomas’ son Henry married in April of 1658. Henry and Mary reportedly had five sons and one daughter.  My father had information handed down to him from generation to generation and that information was that Henry had five sons.  I tend to believe the five- son information and that is what I show in the descendants tree.

The land deed to Henry Ledbetter by Sir Berkeley in 1658 establishes his residency in the Appomattox 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.

3rd Generation, children of Henry Dawson Ledbetter

Francis Ledbetter (1653 -17430- Martha Jones (1648-1745).  Francis and Martha had a son, John, born in 1690.  He married Frances Tedstall

The LDS geneology confirms that Francis was the son of Henry Ledbetter and Mary House but incorrectly 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) – Richard’s wife is possibly a Native American, a Siboney Indian 

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.  The was an overabundance of Richards.

More information on Richard Ledbetter I (1666-1759), fourth son of Francis

Richard lived in Appomattox River area until 1729 when many of the Ledbetter kin purchased land and moved to property which adjoined 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

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)

Richard II also made the move from the Appomattox River area to Brunswick County.  He produced a huge number of male off springs in his short lifetime. He was the first Ledbetter to purchase land in 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 overseer in 1739.

5th Generation, children of Richard Ledbetter II

Isaac 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.

More on 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.

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 Temperance Ledbetter (1784-1840) -James Murphy- Their daughter Eliza (Liza) is referenced with George Ledbetter death below.  Eliza and George Ledbetter were cousins

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

More on Walton George 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 George Ledbetter lived in the Montford Cove area of McDowell County.

montford cove

Montford Cove, Rutherford County, North Carolina

7th Generation, children of Walton Ledbetter

William George Washington 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 wife Kate 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”.  I am using the name William George Washington Ledbetter in my trees.

Madison Ledbetter (1809-1889)- Mary Lyda

Temperance Ledbetter (1816) – William Bertus Murphy

Squire Thomas Ledbetter (1819-1863)- Zillah Murphy/Malinda Gilliam. Squire Tom was not married to Zilla Murphy but got her pregnant not long before his marriage to Malinda Gilliam.  Squire Tom paid William Bertus Murphy, who had divorced from Squire Tom’s sister Temperance, a sum of ten dollars to marry Zilla.  Squire Tom and Malinda had more than their share of misery and pain.  More on that below.

James Ledbetter (1830)

broad river, nc (2)
Broad River Community, McDowell-Buncombe Counties, North Carolina

More on William 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.  When the inhabitants of Broad River began to have trouble getting food on the table, George provided abundantly for the valley.

murphy tavern

George 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, found and shot the deserter.  Liza cleaned up George’s body and buried him.  At the time they had many 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.

Now the story of Squire Tom Ledbetter (George Ledbetter’s brother and neighbor) and Malinda Gilliam:

Squire Tom and Malinda lost four of their children during a 51-day period in the spring of 1859.  On February 13, nineteen-year-old Mary Elizabeth died, followed by eighteen-year-old James W. on February 15.  Six-year-old Alfred Walton died on March 16 and his brother Richard O. (11) died on April 6, 1859.

Squire Tom and Malinda’s oldest son John England Ledbetter served in the Civil War in Company H of the 29th North Carolina Infantry.  He joined up in Asheville under Col. Robert B. Vance.  At the Battle of Stones River at Murfreesboro, Tennessee on January 2,1863 he was killed in an assault with 5000 confederates under Gen Breckinridge.  There were 10,266 Confederate casualties on that day.

Squire Tom’s brother and neighbor George was killed by a deserter in 1864, and his friend, cousin and neighbor, James H. Ledbetter was killed in the Civil War.

Three more of Squire Tom and Malinda’s children died before they were forty. Squire Tom outlived ten of his children.

Revision added September 1, 2022 for the effects of the American Civil War on the 8th Ledbetter generation– Males born from about 1830-1847 either enlisted or were conscripted to serve state regiments.  To honor the Ledbetter descendants that perished in the Civil War, I will list their names as well as the name of their parents. Note that of the Ledbetter descendants that served, about eighty percent died in combat, prison camp or by disease. There are twenty-seven of them, a shocking number.

Col. Daniel Alexander Ledbetter — 1825-Aug 29,1862 Manassas, Virginia Son of Abner Ledbetter and Sarah Ann Calhoun

William George Washington Ledbetter– 1824-May 13, 1864, North Carolina- son of Walton George Ledbetter and Sarah Goodbread

John England Ledbetter– April 28, 1837-Jan 2, 1863 Murphreesboro, Tennessee- son of Squire Thomas Ledbetter and Malinda Gilliam

James H. Ledbetter–1843-February 18, 1863- son of William George Washington Ledbetter and Eliza Murphy

Joe H. Hill– Aug 10, 1842=Oct 15,1861 Portsmouth, Virginia- son of Rev. Wade Hill and Temperance Ledbetter

Alonzo C. Ledbetter–1846 Georgia-Dec 2. 1864 Georgia – Served in Company C, 27th Battery Infantry- son of William Ledbetter and Elizer Barren

George J. Ledbetter–1837-death date not known- Served in 31st Alabama-son of Timothy Ledbetter and Charlotte Temple

Henderson Ledbetter–Jan 6, 1823=Jan 3, 1862-Illinois-son of James Ledbetter and Mahala Dillard

James M. Ledbetter–1833 Tennessee-April 24,1864 Mississippi-Served in 1st Infantry-son of Isaac Willy Ledbetter and Sarah Burden

John Turpin Ledbetter–1832-May 19,1864 Farmville, Virginia-Arkansas regiment-son of John Ledbetter and Susannah Williams

Pvt. John Walton Ledbetter–1834-February 28,1864 Point Lookout, Maryland-Served in Company C, 34th NC Infantry-prisoner of war-son of Barzilla Ledbetter and Sarah Elliott

Pvt. Samuel Hampton Ledbetter–February 13, 1838-Ocatober 4, 1864 Maryland-Served in 16th NC Infantry-son of Barzilla Ledbetter and Sarah Elliott

Jonathan Ledbetter–1845 Georgia-September 23, 1864 Sumpter, SC-son of Joseph Henry Ledbetter and Deliah Davis

Pvt. Thomas J. Ledbetter–1835 Georgia-May 3, 1863 Spotsylvania, Virginia-son of Martin Gilbert Ledbetter and Dicey Tribble

Pvt. William Overton Ledbetter–January 12, 1840-August 24. 1863 Chancellorsville, Virginia-Served in 34th Infantry, Company C NC–son of Barzilla Ledbetter and Sarah Elliott

Note: You now realize that three sons of Barzilla Ledbetter and Sarah Elliott died in the Civil War. Samuel and William Overton Ledbetter served in the same company and infantry as my great-grandfather William Harris Elliott.  William Harris was also wounded at Chancellorsville, Virginia but recovered at home in Rutherford County, North Carolina.  William Harris missed Gettysburg but returned to action shortly thereafter.

James Alexander Forrest–1836 North Carolina-May 1,1864 Richmond, Virginia-son of Alexander Forrest and Polly Taylor.

Pvt. Crawford Wheeler Gilmer-May17, 1840 Virginia-July 3,1862 Seven Pines, Virginia-served in 4th Infantry-son of Robert Gilmer and Jane Ledbetter

Pvt. John McDowell Harris- January 8, 1831-December 13, 1861-Stauton, Virginia-served in 16th Infantry-son of Zadock Harris and Mary L. Ledbetter

Pvt. John K. Raiford-1844 North Carolina-July 22,1864 Georgia-served in 4th Infantry-son of Robert Raiford and Caroline Spencer

Philip Thurmond-1830 Georgia-October 16, 1862-served in 13th Calvary-son of Philip Thurmond and Susan Ledbetter

Oliver Van Smith-1827 North Carolina-December 1864 Vicksburg, Mississippi-married to Zillah Ledbetter

John F. Spearman-August 31,1828 Pickens, Georgia-July 9,1862 Hanover, Virginia-served in 44th Infantry-son of Rev Gabriel Spearman and Martha Sarah Ledbetter

John L. Averett-1843 Georgia-February 7,1862 York, Virginia-son of John Averett and Mary Ledbetter

James Jones Bradley-1827 North Carolina-August 28,1863 Lauderdale, Mississippi-son of Richard and Arminta Bradley

Lt. John T. Chambless-August 27,1826- Georgia-September 9,1862 Cedar Run, Virginia-son of John D. Chambless and Obedience Ledbetter

Sgt. Murphy Elliott-1837-1865-served in Company B of 35th NC Regiment-son of Thomas Elliott and Mary Murphy

Commodor Decatur Epps-1835 North Carolina-December 20,1863 Murray, Georgia-served in 6th Calvary-son of James Epps and Rebecca Ledbetter

8th Generation, children of George Ledbetter (William George Washington 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)

More on Higgins Ledbetter (1862-1932)

Like his father before him, Higgins became 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 mother.

william higgins ledbetter family two

I believe the above picture was taken around 1905. My grandfather was Jim who died 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.  I have dated the picture to be about 1905 because Jim was born in 1890 and looks to be about fifteen in the photo.  The picture caption above was not done by me but probably some child of Higgins and Lafaria as they call Harriet, “Aunt Harriet.”  The older woman on the right that was captioned “Grandpa Higgins sister (name not known) is who I believe in Higgins’ mother Liza Murphy Ledbetter who passed away in 1912.  She would have been eighty-four in 1905 and that appears correct from the image.

9th Generation, children of Higgins

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

James (Jim) Lancaster Ledbetter (1890-1950) – 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

10th Generation, children of James

Roy, Frank, Holly, Grady and Mary Elizabeth (Edith) Ledbetter