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William Henry Blackburn was born February 12, 1757. He was born in Virginia, probably in Fairfax County. His parents were Edward Lewis Blackburn Jr. and Margaret Harrison. Their marriage at Overwharton Parish is noted in Marriages of Some Virginia Residents 1606 - 1800 by Dorothy Ford Willfich. Overwharton was in Stafford County, but all references state that the family was from Fairfax county.  Prince William county was between Stafford and Fairfax counties by 1742.  I do not know what took them to the Overwharton Parish.

William married Sarah Baird in 1782 in the same parish as his parents. A record of their marriage is found in the Overwharton Parish Register, page 81. Her family came from New Jersey. It would be interesting to know how they met.

A Blackburn Family History written by William H. Wilson for the Caldwell County newspaper states that William Blackburn served in the Continental Army from 1776 -1779. He lost the sight in one eye. He attained the rank of Sergeant in the Fifth VA Regiment. In 1781 he headed west, seeking adventure. At Pittsburgh he re-enlisted and guarded public stores there for 7 months. For this service he qualified in later years to draw a pension of $96.

It is possible that he met Sarah's father, Zebulon Baird, during the war. Zebulon Baird also served in the Continental Army. We do know that from 1782 to their death, William Blackburn and Zebulon Baird were close. The DAR Patriot Index gives William's date of birth, death, wife's name and his rank of Sgt, VA PNSR

The family tradition stated that the Blackburns, Bairds, McChesneys and Asherst moved together with their families to North Carolina and then Tennessee and finally Caldwell County Kentucky. Their paths must have crossed and one family may have encouraged another to move on to the next spot. However, a study of the census records shows the families in different spots. In 1790 the Blackburn and Baird families were in Wilkes County NC. The Ashersts and McChesneys were in Surry County NC just to the east of Wilkes. The Ashersts moved to western Kentucky as early as 1797. The Blackburns  moved to Caldwell county Kentucky nearly 20 years later. They may have known each other. More understanding of the history of those western NC counties may shed light on how neighbors related to one another.

William Blackburn was awarded two land grants by the State of North Carolina in Wilkes County. He paid 10 pounds for each 100 acres.  So the 350 acres cost him 35 pounds.   Grant #933 was for 150 acres "lying on a ridge between Howards Creek and Meat Camp Creek."  Grant #988 was for 200 acres laying on the waters of Howards Creek.  I have a copy of both grants . The grant for 150 acres was dated May 18, 1789.

I've walked the lands where many of my Blackburn ancestors have lived.  All but this one looked the same, whether in England, Virginia, Tennessee or Kentucky their land was along a small river stream in a gentle valley of rolling hills.  Great for farming and cattle.  Finding Meat Camp Creek took me to a completely different type of land.  It is on steep rugged Appalachian moutain stream in a tight valley with almost no flat land for gardens.  It's name, Meat Camp,  tells the tale.  Cratis Williams gave a lecture at Appalachian State University on April 13, 1984 on "the New River Valley NC in Settlement Days. "   It is quoted in A Fmaily History of Watauga County by Bud Altmayer.   Mr. Williams said   " The Old Buffalo Trail, tramped out over the centuries by the migration of the Piedmont of thousands of buffalo, entered NC near Trade, Tennessee and crossed the valley of the south Fork of the New River a few miles east of Boone.  ....Prior to settlement of  the region beginning in the 1780's hunters, herdsmen and explores flowed the Buffalo Trail from the Yadkin River Valley through Deep Gap and into the mountains and beyond.  The Daniel Boone Trail follows roughly the buffalo Trail.  Early land grants tended to cluster along this trail,..... Among families living along the trail prior to 1800 were Blackburns............."

 In the July term 1789 of the Wilkes County Court  Deed Book B-1 page 42, William Blackburn bought 200 acres from Andrew Baird on the North side of the Yadkin River.  I believe this Andrew Baird was the uncle of Sarah Baird Blackburn.  The Yadkin River was south of the location of his land Grants.   Perhaps the land along the Buffalo Trail was for hunting purposes and the family lived on more tradition farm land.

While the Blackburns and Bairds lived in the same county, Wilkes in 1790.  By 1799 Zebulon Baird had moved on to Wilson County, Tennessee. Both families stayed put for
20 + years, but then they come together again as the 1820 Census finds both families in Wilson County Tennessee.

Sarah and William Blackburn had seven known children:
1. John Blackburn born 1787, married Cathy Carver
2. Margaret Blackburn born 1789 married Solomn Ray
3. Zebulon Blackburn born 1793, died 1863 married Lois Asher
4. Lewis Blackburn born 1799 died 1869, married 1st Rosanna Laughlin, 2nd Elizabeth Jane Street
5. Lydia Blackburn born 1803, died 1883, married Walter W. Asher
6. Henry Harrison Blackburn born 1805 died 1874 wed 1st Mrs. Jane E. Asher Wales, 2nd Mahala Campbell, 3rd Hester Ann Shirley
7, Washington Blackburn born 1808 married Levina Sullivan

To track just this family, the 1787 Census of Virginia has William Blackburn in Charlotte County, Virginia on Tax list A. All it tells us is that William was over 21 and had no horses or cattle. He also owned no slaves. Charlotte County is south central Virginia.

Three years later William Blackburn is listed in the NC Heads of Families 1790. He is in the Morgan district of Wilkes County along with Zebulon and Andrew Baird. His listing says the family consists of :
1 Male over 16 – (William-Head of Household)
1 Male under 16 –( son John)
3 females – (Sarah – his wife)
(Margaret – daughter)
( possibly another daughter who died as a child)

The 1800 NC Census page 28 shows the family of William Blackburn to still be in Wilkes County::
1 Male over 45 (William- Head of Household)
3 Males 10 & under
(John must have been listed in this category for no other option is given, unless he has moved out on his own)
1 Female over 45 (unknown)
2 Females 26-45 (Sarah- Wife)
(other unknown)
3 Females 10-16 (Margaret)
(2 Unknown)
1 Female under 10 (Unknown)

This implies the sad story of a number of children who died. It does fit better with the long gaps between children in the known list. The bigger question is, who were the 2 unknown women living with the family at this time? Or this could be a different William Blackburn. The Blackburn Family History says that our Blackburn's moved to Wilson County about 1798.

Tax Lists of Wilson County Tennessee 1803-7 and Court Record 1802-1822 lists the land owned by William and Zebulon.
1803 William Blackburn 320 acres on Stoners Creek.
Zebulon Baird 100 acres on Stoners Creek.
1804 William Blackburn 320 acres on Cedar Lick|
1805 William Blakcburn 320 acres on Stoners Creek
Zebulon Baird 100 acres on Stoners Creek
1806 same data as 1805
1807 William is the same as 1805, 6
Zebulon Baird 300 acres on Suggs Creek

Wilson County Tennessee Land records show that on October 31, 1806 William Blackburn and Zebulon Baird bought a track of land on Cedar Lick Creek from Jack Spickard.  It is probably that this is Jacob Spickard that married the oldest daughter, Annie Baird, or Zebulon and Lydia.  However,  I have a from Wilson County Deed
Book D, page 265-6 a deed that states William Blackburn and Zebulon Baird bought 640 acres from Martin Armstrong of Davidson County through mr. Armstrong's lawyer, Alexander McCall.  It looks to be the same land.

It is interesting (confusing) that there are a number of land records involving William Blackburn and Zebulon Baird between 1803 - 1809.  Is it the same land or additional land in the same area?

On March 20, 1808 William Blackburn sold to William Baird, attorney for Zebulon Baird, for $2,  340 acres lying in the headwaters of Stoner's Creek.  Most important for us, the deed states "William Blackburn of the state and county afore mentioned"  that county being Wilson in Tennessee.  Wilson County Deed Book D, page 484

On Sept 12, 1809 William Blackburn and Zebulon Baird paid $9 for 638 acres that the county had acquired because of nonpayment of taxes by Robert Morrison in 1807.  The land was on the west branch of Cedar Lick creek.  Wilson County Deed Book D, pages 237-8.

William was clearly buying land in Tennessee and was considered a resident by 1808 and very likely from 1803. It is unclear when he moved his family there. No data has been found yet for 1810 census in Tennessee.

By 1811 William Blackburn has become a member of the Mt. Olivet Baptist church in Leesville TN. This is from the Tennessee Archives, probably a history of churches in Wilson County.

The 1820 Tennessee Census for Wilson County, page 387 lists the family as 110201 01000
1 Male over 45 (William – head of household)
2 Males 18-26 (Lewes)
1 male 10-16 (Harrison)
1 Male 10 & Under (Washington)
1 Female 10-16 (Lydia)
Their son John had his own family living nearby at that time. Margaret was probably married at that time. The one missing is Sarah. Where is she?

                                        On Dec. 21, 1821 William H. Blackburn sold 204 acres, "where he lived" to Lewis BlackburnDeed Book I, page 126, Wilson County Court house records. The deed states t                                        that the land is on Cedar Lick Creek and Stoners CreekAndrew Baird and David Baird owned some of the adjacent properties. 

Their son Zebulon Blackburn had moved to Caldwell County Kentucky by 1815. Eventually all their children but John and Washington, would move to Caldwell County. Those two stayed in Tennessee

Family history says that Sarah died in Wilson Ct. Tennessee in before March 1826. The March Term 1826 of the Wilson County Court, page 273 has the inventory of her estate returned by Lewis Blackburn. It lists 4 head of cattle, 2 beds, 7 hogs, 8 chairs, 5 books 3 hats and misc. William then joined his son, Zebulon in Caldwell County Kentucky.

On page 5, Section 4 of Caldwell county Kentucky Pensioners is found the deposition of William H. Blackburn given on October 15, 1832.

"Wm. Blackburn age 75 deposes: Enlisted 1776 under Capt. Andrew Russell of 5th Virginia Regt., commanded by Col. Scott. Deponent was 2nd Sergeant of the company. Then resided in Fairfax county VA and entered the service there. In 1781 started out to view the western country and at Pittsburgh volunteered and was appointed Sergeant under Captain Bruce and served 7 months. There guarding the public stores. Was born Fairfax county VA 12, Feb. 1757. After the Revolutionary war lived in Wilkes county, NC a good many years, in Tennessee several years and for the last four years have lived with my children in Caldwell County, KY. James W. Mansfield, clergyman, Samuel Black and John Weeks give neighborhood testimony. Charles Lewis Broadwater, Fairfax County VA made oath October 23, 1826 that he was intimately acquainted with William Blackburn of the company from his infancy and that he enlisted in the continental service (he thinks) 1776 under Captain Andrew Russell of 5th Virginia Regiment .........."

Charles Broadwater served as a Justice in Fairfax County with William's father Edward Blackburn. William was enrolled to received $95 a year beginning March 4, 1831.

William's grandson, William W. Blackburn wrote a sketch of his family in 1900. He writes that William Henry Blackburn was a strong Jackson man and a staunch Baptist.

 William H. died in Caldwell County on March 13, 1841. He is buried in the Morse Cemetery near Farmersville KY.  On November 14, 2015, The Col. Stephen Trigg Chapter of the  Sons of the America Revolution held a Patriot Grave Marking Service in honor of William Blackburn in the Morse Cemetery.

In the Blackburn Surname file of the Caldwell County History Center is a court order from Book HC that states  "Satisfactory proof was made to the court, that William Blackburn late of this county, a Revolutionary pensioner of the United States on the Kentucky Agency , died in this Caldwell County Kentucky on the 12th day of March 1841, leaving Zebulon Blackburn, Lewis Blackburn, Harrison Blackburn and Lydia Asherst, wife of W. W. Asherst and daugther of said Wm Blackburn, pensioner as aforesaid, his children who still survive him.  Proof, Declaration of Zebulon Blackburn and the affidavit of Jefferson G. Morse and James C. Weller, all made in Open Court."


If you know the answer please CONTACT US

  1. How did Sarah and William meet?
  2. Why wasn’t Sarah on the 1820 census?
  3. Where was Sarah buried?



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