Solomon born 1680 England
.....unnamed daughter and Samuel Finley
..........John #1 died 1792
...............John #2

“No Leaf Unturned”


Larry W. CATES

Joseph Allred born 1772
Report by Dawnell Griffin 

New Report:  No Leaf Unturned: Revisited and Revised
Published:  November 2018

The study that follows is offered with two purposes in mind.     In the larger sense, I intend to illustrate a situation in which careful attention to a fragmentary document may lead to a tentative identification of a previously unidentified individual.     In this case, an undated personal letter found in a private collection offers hope where no marriage record or probate survives to clarify the family of origin for the wife of Joseph ALLRED (1772–1856.)     Yet, I had read this document many times without being aware of the subtle clues conveyed by it. It was only after reading it several more times and examining its entire surface and margins that its true value became evident.     In this larger sense, the following study is instructive for all of us who find ourselves backed against a brick wall in our research.     In its more narrow purpose, however, the write-up is a bit less useful.     Although vital clues have been isolated to identify Rachel ALLRED, no conclusions seem provable until some other private document comes to light.     I can only end this examination with a tentative identification based on a conjunction of evidence from various sources.     However, that conclusion is far from definitive and I would caution anyone from disseminating it out of context and without conveying the full range of doubt and imprecision left by the sources.     By no means should anyone identify Rachel ALLRED’s parentage in his or her family tree without an obligatory and emphatic question-mark.


The family history of Joseph ALLRED (1772–1856) provides a perfect example of how conventional sources do little justice to the full and complex lives of our ancestors. From the census, land and probate records, I had a picture of a quiet rural family, only a bit more prosperous than its neighbors in that it owned slaves. But apart from this fact, there seemed no evidence to question its conventional Piedmont Carolina respectability–that is, until I began to look a little deeper.

When I did so, I discovered that Joseph ALLRED not only farmed, he was also swept into the fury for gold mining that had been a fixture of Piedmont North Carolina industry for several decades.  He seemed to be a person of enterprise and cunning.     Much to my surprise, by searching the catalog of Perkins Library Special Collections at Duke University, I found that a handful of his private papers and those of his daughter Martha Ann PATTERSON survived in two collections there.1     When I read those papers carefully, many other details began to fall into place.

In the first place, the gold mine property seems to have been obtained by fraud. At least its previous owner, Samuel H. HALE, seemed to think so.     He had committed the sale of his property to his old friend, Joseph ALLRED, upon removing to Wilmington, Ohio.2     Apparently, Joseph sold it to his own son, James ALLRED, perhaps for less than its true value. HALE wrote an angry and confused letter to Joseph ALLRED, whom he had previously thought his most disinterested friend, demanding an explanation and threatening suit. Joseph ALLRED seems to have cultivated connections with respectable folk in local government as well, and usually got them to see things his way, so the suit came to nothing.

The whole tenor and tone of this correspondence reflects an avidity for the accumulation of wealth. It was a passion that Joseph passed to his sons.     Jonathan ALLRED was believed to have defrauded his wife’s family in the settlement of the Samuel ALLEN estate.3     He concealed both a copy of the original will (which had been destroyed in Montgomery’s courthouse fire of 1843) and certain notes due the estate for his own benefit–including one note upon himself.     James ALLRED traded in mules and worked the gold mine that his father left him. He seems to have been idolized by his nephews, Isaac ALLRED of Richmond County, Jesse MILLER and James and Joseph PHILLIPS.4     John ALLRED of Richmond County, another son, amassed quite a slaveholding by marrying into a prosperous Pee Dee basin family.5     A letter6 he wrote about his niece, Rachel CHISHOLM’s death expresses fear that his nephew John CHISHOLM would squander the estate and leave his poor mother, John’s sister, Polly CHISHOLM, destitute.

There is also strong evidence of sickness and aberrant behavior in the family. Two sons never married–Balaam ALLRED, who was a schoolteacher, and James ALLRED.     James, however, felt no compunction about spreading himself far and wide. Bastardy documents previously published in our Journal prove that he fathered at least four illegitimate children by four different women. A letter of protest from one unfortunate young woman’s brother is preserved in the collections.     A reference in the letter7 from a Quaker friend in Indiana to Joseph ALLRED tells us that one of his daughters was sorely afflicted with some mysterious ailment in 1841.     “I must acknowledge my feelings were very much hurt when I read thy Letter on Learning the sore affliction of thy Daughter and the great privation and suffering you have been doomed to undergo.”     What exactly was the nature of this ailment?     Whatever it was, it seems to have been chronic in nature.     Perhaps it was the very ailment which had previously driven another daughter to suicide. Randolph County coroners’ inquests reveal that Peggy ALLRED hanged herself from a dogwood sapling in the woods near Joseph ALLRED’s house on 30 November 1830.8     Joseph ALLRED himself went mad nearly three years prior to his death.     A guardian, Isaac FOUST, had to be appointed to care for his estate.9

A final, most interesting aspect of the ALLRED legacy are the traces left by the slaves belonging to the family.     At the death of the patriarch, “Old Boss” as he was known among the slaves, there were fourteen in all.10     At least two others, mother and child, were sold prior to that time.     On the whole, the ALLREDs seem to have attempted to keep their slaves in the family, even though they had fallen on hard times.     Henry and Judy may have been the oldest black members of the family     and parents or grandparents to some of the others.     Judy was originally purchased by Joseph ALLRED from Hannah ALLISON and Willoughby NICHOLS in 1809 for $312 (Randolph County Deedbook 12, p. 204.)     She fell to the lot of Polly CHISHOLM of Montgomery County, NC, at the division of the estate, but when Polly died soon afterward, she was purchased by Polly’s nephew, Isaac ALLRED of neighboring Richmond County.     A deed preserved in the Joseph ALLRED Papers shows that Isaac resold her to his uncle James ALLRED in Randolph County for $75 in 1858.     At that time, she was about 70 years old, (so born c. 1788.)     Perhaps James purchased her so that she could return to her old homeplace and be close to her children. Certainly, Jesse A. MILLER, one of Joseph ALLRED’s grandchildren, spoke fondly of her in a letter to his uncle James dated 10 Aug 1860.11     “Mr. ALLRED I want you to come     [Do] not forget me because I have got a wife     come and see her and see if it [is?] so     till [sic] Calvin to come and Judy too....”     Apparently, some of the ALLREDs thought of     their slaves as members of their extended family.     This was not so uncommon an outlook with small slave holders.     The black and white people had to live within close confines.     They shared work and sustenance together.     So bonds of attachment grew, albeit qualified by inequality and necessity on the side of the unfree.

The ALLREDs do seem to have defied the laws prohibiting them from educating their slaves. Some of the letters in the collection are written by slaves–particularly, by Calvin ALLRED during time he was leased to John REITZEL while the Civil War was raging, and by Violet LESTER, who was sold South prior to 1853.     Perhaps Balaam ALLRED was their teacher.

James ALLRED apparently set great store by Calvin and committed many affairs to his oversight. John REITZEL, in a letter12 to James, tells him that Calvin would like to have some plug tobacco when James next comes to visit and that he should bring it at that time.     Calvin’s own letters13 are couched in the most respectful terms.     Nevertheless, this was not, in every respect, the sort of relationship we might expect to exist between a master and a slave. It was an unjust relationship, but one lightened by small signs of affection and regard.

Violet LESTER’s letter has very explosive ramifications.     So many mixed emotions are expressed there that it has caught the notice of its custodians at Perkins Library.     They placed a facsimile of it on the cover of a guide to materials concerning African American women in the Collection.     Violet wrote to her young mistress, Martha Angeline PATTERSON, from Bullock Co., GA, in August of 1857.0     She expressed great sorrow at having been separated from friends and family and from the countryside she knew best.     She then recounted her travels as she passed from hand to hand in the unforgiving slave market. After passing through Rockingham, NC, to Goldsboro, she finally stood for sale at Richmond, VA, where she found her final purchaser, a Mr. James B. LESTER, who took her to his home in Bullock Co., GA.     “...[H]e has owned me four years and says that he will keep me til death seperates us without some of my old North Caroliner friends wants to buy me again.”

She had this to say of her black and white family.     “...I cannot tell my fealings nor how bad I wish to See you and old Boss and Miss Rachel and mother [Judy?]     I do not [k]now which I want to see the worst Miss Rachel or mother.     I have thought that I wanted to see mother but never before did I [k]no[w] what it was to want to see a parent and could not.     I wish you to gave my love to old Boss Miss Rachel and bailum and gave my manafold love to mother brothers and sister and pleas to tell them to Right to me So I may here from them if I cannot see them.”     She asked if old Boss was still living and whether Baalam ALLRED had married yet.

Then she got to the heart of her errand.     She was worried about her “presus little girl” who had been retained by the slave trader. She told Martha that her new master was very kind and wanted to make her happy by buying the young girl for her. Could Martha lend her aid in finding the child?     The slave trader had indicated that he might give her to his sister in Rockingham. In a deferential extension of her heartfelt plea, she signed herself, “...your long loved and well wishing play mate as a Sarvant until death....”

This letter is remarkable in many ways.     It shows the ambivalence of feeling in this poor, bereaved woman’s heart. She missed and loved her family, both white and black. She was wounded to the core that they could ever have sent her away.     Probably, she was angry that they could have allowed such a thing to come to pass. All these feelings mingled in her breast as she wrote, but she seemed to transmute the negative energy into a deferential and anxious plea to her old mistress and playmate. We do not know if she succeeded in her quest.

Why did the ALLREDs sell Violet and her child?     This conduct seemed uncharacteristic of the family, who were otherwise relatively concerned about the welfare of their slaves.     Perhaps the answer lies embedded in the letter itself.     We note that Violet inquired twice about Balaam ALLRED in the letter.     Considering that Balaam was an educator, the remarkable literacy of Violet serves to support the notion that a strong affinity existed between them. Violet and her child were initially marketed in Rockingham, Richmond County, NC, far away from Randolph County, but in the vicinity of Joseph’s oldest son John’s plantation.     Was the family seeking to cover up a scandal?     Is it possible that either Balaam or the notoriously promiscuous James ALLRED had fathered Violet’s child and that the youngster looked so much like an ALLRED that the pair could not be suffered to remain in the neighborhood? Much like Hagar and Ishmael, were they exiled because no other alternative seemed likely to restore peace to the household?     Violet seems to have felt that she still had claims of sympathy on the ALLREDS and perhaps she could stir their feelings of guilt and responsibility to get her child back. We might also ask how Violet came to have such a hold on her new master, James B. LESTER, who had vowed to let nothing but death separate them.     Perhaps, Violet had decided to use sexual favors to lighten the heavy burden of bondage for herself and children—a choice that many women in her predicament made in that era of gross racial disparity and injustice. Who could blame her?

The children and grandchildren of Joseph ALLRED (15 Sep 1772–27 Feb 1856) and his wife Rachel (1773–3 Mar 1856) were:

  1. John ALLRED (c. 1795–9 Jul 1890) m. Amelia ARMSTRONG (1798–1871) and lived in Richmond County, N.C.     He was buried in old Buffalo Cemetery in Richmond County.

1.1 Isaac ALLRED (c. 1821–1879) m. Eliza Jane BOSTICK (1831–1905)

1.2 Christine ALLRED (1822–1876) m. K.C. CHISHOLM

1.3 Mary Ann ALLRED (1824–1871), unmarried

1.4 Rachel J. ALLRED (c. 1825–1900), unmarried

1.5 Martin J. ALLRED (1828–1864) m. Mary Ann NEWBY

1.6 Elizabeth ALLRED (1835–1859) unmarried.

1.7 Martha Little ALLRED (b. c. 1839)

  1. Mary “Polly” ALLRED (1797–1858) m. (1821) Daniel CHISHOLM of Montgomery County, NC (c. 1795–27 May 1849). Buried in Chisholm Family Cemetery.

2.1 John CHISHOLM (6 Feb 1822–24 Jul 1905) m. Mary HAYWOOD

2.2 Rachel CHISHOLM (c. 1832–1858)

  1. Martha Ann “Patsey” ALLRED (1799–1881) m. c. 1829 James PATTERSON (1794–1871).

3.1 Joseph Allred PATTERSON (1830–1902) m. Sarah ALLRED (1831–1891)

3.2 Mary C. PATTERSON (1833–1909) m. Jacob Philip HEDRICK (1824–1896)

3.3 Martha Angeline PATTERSON (1838–1926) m. 1858 John H. KIRKMAN


  1. Delilah ALLRED m. Stephen PHILLIPS (b. c. 1798) in 1819. Stephen married secondly Elizabeth BRAY, 1847.

4.1 Lusada PHILLIPS m. 1838, Orrin WILLIAMS

4.2 Martha Ann PHILLIPS (b. c. 1826) m. 1846 John HENRY

4.3 Mary PHILLIPS (b. c. 1827) m. 1843, Riley VESTAL

4.4 Rachel PHILLIPS (b. c. 1829) m. Thomas VESTAL

4.5 Joseph H. PHILLIPS (b. c. 1832) Carpenter, Farmer in Stanton Twp, Miami Co., KS, 1860 Census. Married Maria H. (b. c. 1841 in IN).

4.6 James A. PHILLIPS (b. c. 1835) Attorney in Paola, Lykens Co., KS, 1860 Census.

4.8 John Franklin PHILLIPS (b. c. 1842)

  1. Balaam ALLRED (20 Jun 1803–2 Oct 1857) Buried at Patterson’s Grove Christian Church, Randolph County, NC, next to his parents. Schoolmaster.     Never Married.
  2. Peggy ALLRED (c. 1806–30 Nov 1830) A suicide.
  3. Anna ALLRED (b. c. 1808) m. Lewis HAYES, c. 1857.     No issue.
  4. James ALLRED (b. c. 1810) Was apparently still living in 1882 on Sandy Creek when Mahala ALLRED’s estate was settled.     Never married but had issue:

8.1 child BURGESS (b. c. 1843) by liaison with Polly BURGESS.

8.2 child STOUT (b. c. 1853) by liaison with Martitia Jane STOUT.     Martitia later married John ROUTH (1819–1864)

8.3 child COX (b. c. 1858) by liaison with Dorinda Caroline COX, daughter of James COX and Mary McCOLLUM. Dorinda later married Daniel SILER. Her second marriage was to O.C. SILER and she was living with him in the 1880 Census of Fentress Township, Guilford Co., NC. Also living with her was her child by the liaison with James ALLRED—Mary Ellen COX.   Mary Ellen married Thomas CARMACK, 15 Sep 1880, in Guilford County, NC.   Strangely, the birth estimates for Mary Ellen range from 1859 (1900 Census) to 1861 (1880 Census). Dorinda’s brother James K. COX wrote an incensed letter to James ALLRED about his conduct in a letter dated 6 May 1858 (Joseph ALLRED Papers.) Could it be there were prior children by ALLRED. If Mary Ellen was born in August 1859, as the 1900 census states, Dorinda could not have been pregnant with her in May 1858. I suspect that the other child may have been Martha Ellen LEDNUM MARLEY (wife of Eli MARLEY) who was born 16 Dec 1856, and grew up a member of Dorinda’s sister Ellen COX LEDNUM’s household. Neither the 1860 or 1870 LEDNUM household shows any evidence of Ellen LEDNUM MARLEY’s presence, even though she believed herself a daughter of Ellen LEDNUM.

8.4 child HAY by liaison with Susan HAY.   Child b. c. 1862.

  1. Jonathan ALLRED (1812–1872) m. Nancy ALLEN (1819–1884), daughter of Samuel and Elizabeth ALLEN of Montgomery County. Both were buried at Gray’s Chapel Methodist Church.

9.1 Elizabeth C. ALLRED (1840–1908) m. Augusta ROUTH (1850–1906)

9.2 James Madison ALLRED (1842–1915) m. Ruth C. COWARD.

9.3 Martha Jane ALLRED (1846–1901) m. William Manley ROUTH (1843–1914)

9.4 Rev. Josephus Franklin ALLRED (1848–1928) m. Lorena CRAVEN

9.5 Thomas ALLRED (b. c. 1850, d. bef. 1860)

9.6 John ALLRED (b. c. 1851)

9.7 Celia Ann ALLRED (b. c. 1853) m. William Dennis MCDANIEL (c. 1881.)   Died in childbirth and buried in unmarked grave at Gray’s Chapel.

9.8 Jane ALLRED (b. c. 1860) Died in childhood.

9.9 Lydia Margaret ALLRED (1861–1904) m. Gaston M. REDDING (1861–1921).

  1. Rachel ALLRED (c. 1814–1885) m. Riley MILLER (d. c. 1881) of Uwharrie River, miller.

10.1 Evelina MILLER (b. c. 1837) m. William MARSH

10.2 Jesse A. MILLER (b. c. 1840) m. Susannah YOUNTS

10.3 Joannah MILLER (b. c. 1844) m. Benjamin GRAY

10.4 Martha M. MILLER (b. c. 1845) m. Martin V. WALL

10.5 Ellen MILLER (b. c. 1852) No issue.

10.6 Mary MILLER (b. c. 1855) No issue.

10.7 John MILLER

                                10.8 Benjamin F. MILLER (b. c. 1858)

10.9 Rachel MILLER, No issue.

10.(10) Rebecca M. MILLER m. Nelson SUMNER

  1. Elvina ALLRED (c. 1816–c. 1845) The only source I have for her is the roster of Archibald BENNET.   Perhaps she was the afflicted daughter of the 1841 Quaker’s letter to Joseph ALLRED.

Rachel ALLRED, (1773–1856), seems to have been a much beloved figure in her family. Both Violet LESTER’s kind references to her and the four grandchildren named after her, point to her central place in the hearts of her family, both white and black.   There is little doubt that she was the mother of all Joseph ALLRED’s children. Even his eldest children, John ALLRED and Mary ALLRED CHISHOLM each named a daughter Rachel.     Furthermore, there is no hiatus in the steady birth of children and the census records for Joseph ALLRED are consistent when it comes to the age of his wife.

Tradition appears to have held that Rachel ALLRED was a first cousin to her husband, Joseph. Rulon ALLRED, in his magisterial book, The Allred Family in America, (Salt Lake City, 1965, p. 5-2) states as much. His roster, however, indicates that her father was Thomas ALLRED (m. Elizabeth DIFFEE), a brother of Joseph’s father John. For years R.C. ALLRED’s statement was taken as orthodox by succeeding researchers.   Finally, however, someone noticed the text of Thomas ALLRED’s will (C.R. 081.801.1) which, though written 8 Nov 1809, refers to a daughter named “Rachel BROWN.” The conventional line of thought then adjusted itself to state that Joseph’s wife was first married to a BROWN, but took as her second husband her cousin, Joseph (who was a witness to Thomas ALLRED’s will.) But once again, the date of the will seems to disturb this theory. If Rachel ALLRED ALLRED was still Rachel BROWN on November 8, 1809, this would mean that only the very youngest of Joseph ALLRED’s children, or perhaps none of them, were Rachel’s offspring. How do we then explain the consistency in Joseph ALLREDs family or the popularity of Rachel’s name among the grandchildren?

Later, when it was found that Rachel BROWN’s husband, Robert BROWN, had moved to Franklin County, GA, and was living there near two of her brothers, Moses and William ALLRED by 1801, the old orthodoxy about a double marriage could no longer hold water. Rachel ALLRED ALLRED’s father must have been someone other than Thomas ALLRED.16

Nevertheless, would it be correct to discard the cousin marriage tradition entirely? From internal evidence within the family, I happen to think that Joseph and Rachel were, in fact, first cousins, and that the tradition is, indeed, authentic. The children of Joseph and Rachel ALLRED did prove to have some problems that may be attributable to first cousin marriage. Two of the daughters seem to have met an early death--one by suicide.   The other was described as “afflicted” by a friend of the family and appears to have died within a few years. Two of the sons remained unmarried and one of the daughters did not take a husband until after she came into her inheritance, well into middle age.   The one photograph I have of a child of Joseph and Rachel , (that of Jonathan ALLRED), shows the face of man who may have suffered from some congenital defects resulting from consanguineous marriage.   At least one of the grandchildren of Joseph and Rachel was described as an idiot in a census record17 --Mary Ann, daughter of John and Amelia ARMSTRONG ALLRED.   She never married and died at quite an early age.   Two of her sisters, likewise, never married.   In all, at least ten of the ALLRED grandchildren either died in childhood or reached maturity, but failed to marry. In other families I have studied, particularly the MCRAE family of Montgomery County, NC, these characteristics were markers of a first cousin marriage.


If not Thomas ALLRED, who could have been the father of Rachel ALLRED?   An answer did not seem apparent at the start.   But one day, I reread a mysterious document I had   copied from the Joseph ALLRED Papers at Duke University.   It was an undated letter signed only “M. WILLIAMS.”   The top margin of the letter (which probably bore a date) had been mostly torn away, leaving only the body, as follows:

I now drop a line to you in compliance with my promise on my arrival home   I was much surprised to find Dr. MCLEOD quite sick and I must say with much regret 4 days terminated his existance on earth, Sister Ann is now a widow the second time with 6 Children,   he left a will providing well for her,   he has left a good property amongst his Children.   I now inform you that I recd a letter from home lately   all was well, James I want you if you please to purchase that match of mules that we ware speaking about   if you do not neglect it. I will pay the cash for them, myself and Martha are engaged to marry. the time I can not state   come down in a weak or two, yours truly.                                                                                                                                                              M. WILLIAMS

  1. S. Keep a look out for any negroes that may be for sail. M.W.

At the bottom of the letter and written upside down, the name “James ALLRED” appeared twice. I had despaired of making anything of this document. I believed that it had been written to James ALLRED by a relation, but what was the probability of finding out which M. WILLIAMS had signed himself   out of so many of that name? The intimate tone of the letter, the fact that visits had recently been exchanged and that family news on WILLIAMS’ side was important to the recipient suggested that M. WILLIAMS was a relative of James ALLRED.   Then I began to look along the torn margin of the note, to see what if anything remained of the greeting line. There I discovered five letters or their remnants.   The first was apparently the lower curve of a capital letter with a small, visible loop to the right. By comparison to other capital letters used in the body of the note, I felt certain that it was the lower part of a “C” like the “C” in “Children” a few lines down. It did not at all appear to be like a capital “D” (as in “Dr. McLeod”), assuming that a conventional opening would begin “Dear ------.”   The second letter adjacent the capital “C” was a complete lowercase “o.” There was a considerable space between the “Co” and the next visible remnant.   That was the lower loop of a capital “J” cutting through the word “compliance” in the next line. It matched the “J” in “James” that appears lower down in the text.   The second letter was totally obscured but was followed by a distinct three letter succession-- “mes.”   So part of the greeting at least probably read “Co[----] J[-]mes.”   It was a simple matter to supply the intervening letters and read “Cousin James”as the greeting. The tenor of the letter itself certainly justified this reading.

Now that I felt I knew M. WILLIAMS was James ALLRED’s cousin, I became more determined to find out who he was, where he lived and how he connected to James. I, of course, hoped that the link would be a maternal one. There were a few clues in the letter. I knew that M. WILLIAMS lived some distance from James and that they were in the habit of visiting one another. I knew that M. WILLIAMS had a sister named Ann who had been married twice and that her second husband, a Dr. McLEOD, had died shortly after WILLIAMS’ return.   I knew that Ann had six children in all and that Dr. MCLEOD had been a reasonably prosperous man. I also believed, given the name MCLEOD, that WILLIAMS probably lived in some area of North Carolina densely settled by Scots; Montgomery, Moore, Anson, Richmond or Cumberland Counties seemed to offer the most promise.   Since I did not even know the exact time period of the letter, I had to estimate somewhere between the time when James would have become a grown man (c. 1830) and before the outbreak of the Civil War (1861), since slaves were discussed in the postscript. An initial search of the 1850 census for MCLEOD medical men led to only one potential candidate and that one proved a dead end.   There were several potential M. WILLIAMS in the counties I targeted, but none of them were obvious. I put the project away in disgust for a few months.


Finally, I got the idea to search the abstracts of Fayetteville newspapers for references to a Dr. MCLEOD or an M. WILLIAMS. After all, the family seemed relatively prosperous and the papers would surely have taken notice of them. I was not disappointed. The following entries from Bessie HUBBARD TYNER’s Abstracts from the Fayetteville Observer proved extremely relevant.

(2 May 1848) Died on 24th instant, Dr. John MCLEOD, aged upwards of 50, leaving wife and a large family of children.

(22 Aug 1848) Married in Richmond County on the 15th of June, Mr. Martin WILLIAMS of Louisiana to Miss Martha E. MCLEOD, daughter of the late Dr. John MCLEOD of Richmond County.

I felt almost certain that I had the correct family, so I consulted wills and estate records of Richmond County, North Carolina. I found two wills as follows:

[From the estate of John MCLEOD, C.R. 082.508.41]

In the name of God Amen, I John MCLEOD of the County of Richmond and state of North Carolina, being in a low state of health but of sound mind and disposing memory and knowing that it is once appointed for all men to die do make, publish and ordain the following as my last will and testament hereby making void all former will or wills heretofore by me at any time made, First I give my soul to God, who gave it and desire that my body should be buried in a decent and Christian like manner, at the discretion of my friends.

Item 1st I give and bequeath unto my beloved wife Ann T. MCLEOD Three hundred dollars in cash three horses or mules of her choice Four cows and calves of her choice two sows and pigs of her choice   Eighteen killing hogs of her choice My Black smith shop, a sufficiency of farming tools to carry on her farm all my household and kitchen furniture except such as I may dispose of in subsequent clauses of this my will.   I also loan unto my beloved wife Ann the following property during her natural life (viz. the lands which I bought from the heirs of William BOSTICK, Senr decd including my dwelling and all the appurtenances thereunto belonging also an other tract which I purchased of William BEARD adjoining both of which tracts contains about two hundred and thirty acres more or less.   Also thirty acres on Little River and Buffalo Creek beginning at the mouth of said creek and running down the river to the mouth of a branch my lower line thence up the branch far enough so as to forma   convenient square running through a straight line to Creek.   It is my will and desire that my beloved wife shall have a good pass way to and from the said lot across my other land.   It is further my will and desire that my beloved wife shall have the free use of any timber on any part of my lands which she may need to make and repair fencing & C. It is further my will and desire that my beloved wife have allotted and set apart to her a years provisions for herself and family out of my crop stock or money & C which may be on hand at my decease.

Item 2nd   I also loan unto my beloved wife during her natural life the following negroes viz Hercules, Comfort, Vice, Margarett, Big Bob & Big Henry

Item 3rd   I give and bequeath unto my son William one hundred and fifty dollars in cash to be paid him by my executors

Item 4th I Give and bequeath unto my son John MCLEOD a negro boy which he has in possession named Alek under such re[?] and restrictions as I shall mention in a subsequent clause of this my will.

Item 5th I Give and bequeath unto my daughter Harriett the following negroes (viz. Melia Viney Mary Judith Little Bob and Jacob.

Item 6th I Give and bequeath unto my daughter Martha MCLEOD the following negroes (viz Mariah little Henry Jim Sophia Harrison and Betsey, also a bed and furniture

Item 7th   I Give and bequeath all the rest of my negroes not heretofore mentioned in this my will together with those I have loaned my beloved wife at her death together with their increase to be equally divided between my children Stephen MCLEOD, Helen MCLEOD, Bela MCLEOD, Dela MCLEOD, Wilton MCLEOD and James MCLEOD, being the children of my present wife which negros I wish to remain in common among the aforementioned children. The increase and benefits arising from their labor I desire shall constitute a common fund to defray the common expenses in raising educating &C until such time as I shall hereafter mention.

Item 8th   It is also my will and desire that all the lands which I have loaned to my beloved wife shall be equally divided between the aforesaid six children by my present wife at her death; except the thirty acres on Little River.

Item 9th   It is my will and desire that all the balance of my land including the above mentioned 30 acres after the death of my beloved wife shall be equally divided between all of my sons. It is my will and desire further that the portion which may fall to my two sons William and John in the aforesaid division shall not be sold by them or any of their creditors for any debts which they have or may contract, but that the lands shall remain for the sold benefit & use of themselves and family during their natural lives and at their deaths to be equally divided between the lawful issue of their bodies. It is also my will and desire that the negro boy named Alek which I have bequeathed to my son John in a preceding clause of this my will shall not be sold or disposed of in any way for any purpose by any person but shall remain for the sold use and benefit of my said son and family John during his natural life and at his death to be equally divided between the lawful issue of his body.

Item 10th   It is my will and desire that all the balance of my property such as stock of different kinds, Books, Medicines, shop furniture of every kind and every thing not heretofore bequeathed be sold by my Executors on a twelve months and out of the proceeds of which sale together with the debts due me I wish all my just debts paid and the bequests which I have heretofore made in this my will, and the balance I want equally divided between all my children share and share alike.

For the purpose of carrying the provisions of this my last will and testament into effect I hereby nominate, constitute, ordain and appoint my friends Nathan T. BOWDON and P.M. POWELL my Executors, signed sealed and published in the presence of us who have become subscribing witnesses to the same this 23d day of April in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty eight (1848.)

w/ Jno BOWDON, Samuel CROUCH                                                                 Jno. MCLEOD

There was a codicil to this testament which laid out the exact terms by which each younger child should have his or her portions laid off.   A petition for division dated July Term 1851, revealed that Martin WILLIAMS married one of the older daughters of Dr. John MCLEOD, i.e. Martha. Taking into consideration the   names and the six younger children mentioned in the will, it   became apparent that the second wife of Dr. John MCLEOD, Ann T., was Martin WILLIAMS’ sister and that these were the individuals appearing in the James ALLRED missive. The letter itself must have been written in April or May of 1848, at about the time of MCLEOD’s death and before the marriage between Martin WILLIAMS and Martha MCLEOD took place.

It was a short step to find the father of Martin WILLIAMS and Ann MCLEOD.   His will appears in Richmond County original wills, (C.R. 82.801.12), as follows:

In the name of God Amen   I Stephen WILLIAMS of [blank] Being sick in body but of sound mind and memory and knowing the mortality of my body do make publish & ordain this my Last will & testament in manner & form following. (Viz) after My burial expences are discharged---- I Leave to my beloved wife Delilah the plantation on which I now Live with the privilege of Improving as much of my woodling lands as shall be necessary for the support of her & family during her Life including my mills & gins   Except the part of said gins and mills I leave to my son James WILLIAMS   also I Leave to her the negroes Jack & Vilett.   I wish the negroes Peter, Ned, Seth, Pegg & Patience sold and the money arising from the sail to be placed on Interest which I wish to be Equally divided among my heirs as Each comes of age.   Excepting my son Henry. I design that he shall have no part of said money.   To my son Henry WILLIAMS I give the land on which he now lives say 125 acres and the negro man Jacob and one cow and calf   To my daughter Elizabeth BALDWIN I give the negro girl Rhoda together with the part already given to her.   To my son Wilson WILLIAMS I give the Land on which he now Lives say 150 acres and the negro boy Sam besides what I have already given him.   To my daughter Ann HARRIS I give the negro girl Comfort together with what she has already received also a young Bay mare ----   To my son James WILLIAMS I leave an equal share of the Ballance of my lands with the rest of my sons also the negroes Daniel & Tamar also the horse which he now claims a bed & its furniture.   As I do not feel able at this time to give each of my young children their distributive shares, my will is that they shall have each of my younger sons an equal share of the Land & negroes which may remain after my wife’s death and previous to her death   I leave it with my executors to allot Each of them as near Equal shares as they may think advisable so as to leave enough of help with my wife to support the rest of the family. I wish my wife to keep possession of the negroes Ephraim, Lett and harriett for the support of her & family during her natural life to gether with the stock of all kinds household and kitchen furniture, carriages and all other necessaries for the support of the family. Excepting such as will be thought by her & the rest of my executors necessary to give to any of my younger children whenever they shall marry or become of age.   I would wish them to have proportionate with those who have already married--- All the land & negroes and all the property which I have Left to my Beloved wife or which may remain at her death I wish it sold or equaly divided between my younger children (viz) Stephen my son   Robert my son Rachel my Daughter Lewis my son Martin my son Delilah my daughter     As to the negro David who now lies in jail for the crime of Murder my will is should he escape the Gallows that he shall be the property of my son Wilson WILLIAMS on his paying all charges which may arise.   I appoint and constitute my beloved wife Delilah and my two sons Henry & Wilson Executors to this my last will and testament which was by me made this 1st day of June one thousand Eight hundred and thirty.   I wish it understood that my younger daughters shall not have any part of my Land and that it is to be divided equally between my son James and my younger sons whose names I have mentioned above.

w/ A. MARTIN, James ARMSTRONG                                                                      Stephen WILLIAMS

This was the same Stephen T. WILLIAMS who was buried at Old Concord Cemetery in northern Richmond County.18 He was born 4 May 1774 and died 1 June 1830, according to his tombstone.   Also buried there was a granddaughter, but most of his children and his wife Delilah seem to have been interred elsewhere.   As it so happened, many of them, including Martin WILLIAMS, removed to Ouachita and Jackson Parishes, Louisiana by 1850:

From a variety of records19, the children of Stephen WILLIAMS (1774--1830) and his wife Delilah (born c. 1779/1780) were:

  1. Henry WILLIAMS (b. c. 1804) m. Sarah T. -------- (to Ouachita Pa, LA)
  2. Elizabeth WILLIAMS m. -------- BALDWIN
  3. Wilson WILLIAMS (13 Sep 1807–24 Jan 1877) m. Ann CRAWFORD, dau of John (to Jackson Pa and Caldwell Pa, LA.) These two are buried at Brooklyn Cemetery in Jackson Parish.
  4. James WILLIAMS (b. c. 1810) m. Ann M. (to Jackson Pa, LA)
  5. Ann T. WILLIAMS (b c. 1811) m. (1) -------- HARRIS, (2) Dr. John MCLEOD (d. 24 Apr 1848.) His first wife was Ann LEGRAND. Lived in Richmond Co., NC
  6.   Stephen WILLIAMS (b. c. 1813) m. (1) Jane THOMAS, dau of George, (2) Phebe ------- (to Ouachita Pa, LA)
  7. Robert T. WILLIAMS (b. c. 1816) m. Nancy ------- (to Ouachita Pa, LA)
  8. Rachel WILLIAMS m. 10 Dec 1835, Stephen PANKEY, Jr. in Richmond Co., NC
  9. Lewis C. WILLIAMS (b. c. 1820), to Jackson Parish, LA
  10. Martin WILLIAMS (b. c. 1821), m.   15 Jun 1848, Martha E. MCLEOD of Dr. John and Ann LEGRAND MCLEOD (to Jackson Pa, LA)
  11. Delilah WILLIAMS m. 22 Dec 1849, Martin MCLEROY of Jackson Pa, LA.

It became my next task to consider how Martin WILLIAMS might be deemed a cousin of James ALLRED. One fact immediately captured my attention. Stephen and Delilah WILLIAMS and Joseph and Rachel ALLRED both named a brace of daughters “Rachel” and “Delilah.” Both also named sons James. This seemed an important set of facts which, in light of Martin WILLIAMS’ note, couldn’t be marked down to mere coincidence. Technically, there were only a limited number of ways in which the two men could have been first cousins:

  1.   Stephen WILLIAMS and Rachel ALLRED were siblings
  2.   Joseph ALLRED and Delilah WILLIAMS were siblings
  3.   Delilah WILLIAMS and Rachel ALLRED were siblings

Option B could be set aside safely, since the will of Joseph ALLRED’s father, John ALLRED, was extant and mentioned no daughter named Delilah.   An early deed of Richmond County shows that Stephen WILLIAMS originally settled there from neighboring Montgomery County   (Richmond Deed Book L, page 433.) The near total destruction of records in Montgomery prior to 1843 made it difficult to explore Option A further, even though many WILLIAMS families lived in the Mt. Gilead area neighboring the Richmond County line.   One head of household there was suspiciously named James WILLIAMS.

Additional factors had to be weighed.   One curious aspect of the Joseph ALLRED family was that, although Joseph lived in northeast Randolph County, his eldest son, John ALLRED, moved to this same region of Richmond County in the late 1810’s and married Amelia ARMSTRONG. Amelia’s brother James ARMSTRONG, who died without issue in 1849, was already married to an Elizabeth ALLRED.20   This lady was likely a granddaughter of Solomon ALLRED who had settled in the vicinity of Big Mountain Creek in the mid-1770's.   Solomon, who died about 178221, had a wife named Mary and came to Richmond County from Randolph.   He was a brother of John ALLRED (d 1792), father of Joseph, and also a brother to the Thomas ALLRED (d. 1809) mentioned earlier.   Two other children of Joseph ALLRED married in Montgomery County.   One of them, Polly CHISHOLM, lived in an area within a few hours’ ride of where John ALLRED resided in Richmond County.   It must also be stated that much of Stephen WILLIAMS’ property on Big Mountain Creek and Buffalo Creek abutted the lands of Solomon ALLRED and his sons, Jonathan and Phineas. In 1809, Stephen purchased 200 acres on Big Mountain Creek from Jonathan ALLRED, son of Solomon, who was moving to Barnwell District, SC (Deedbook L, p. 219.)

Immediately, the possibility suggested itself that Joseph ALLRED and Stephen WILLIAMS had married daughters of Solomon ALLRED, Joseph’s uncle.   That was the only explanation that would also support the tradition that Rachel’s maiden name was ALLRED and that she was the first cousin of her husband. Solomon died without a will and almost certainly had daughters, although only his sons are known:   Theophilus, Phineas, Solomon, Jonathan, John and Francis.   It would also explain the resettlement of John ALLRED in the Buffalo/Big Mountain Creek community, so far from his birthplace in Randolph County.   It could be assumed that he was used to visiting his mother’s kin in the region and had picked out a bride for himself there.

However, it must be stated in the interests of pure logic, that other potential solutions exist. It could be that only Delilah was Solomon’s daughter.   That in itself would explain the cousinage between Martin WILLIAMS and James ALLRED, though not the use of both Rachel and Delilah as given names in the two families, nor would it uphold the cousin marriage tradition.   It is also possible that Solomon, Thomas and John ALLRED, the original ALLRED siblings from Pennsylvania may have come south with a sister or two.   Rachel and Delilah could have as easily been children of this sister as of one of the brothers. By the same token, Stephen WILLIAMS himself could have been Rachel’s brother, and the pair of them, children of an ALLRED sister.   The LDS International Genealogical Index22 does claim that Stephen was born in Randolph County. Finally, it must be admitted that the cousinage could have been more distant in nature.

The Martin WILLIAMS letter does not absolutely resolve the issue of Rachel ALLRED’s identity, but close attention to its details and diligent searching for its context does yield very important leads for further research.   Let no leaf go unturned in your investigations. Examine and re-examine every scrap of evidence in context. Your breakthrough may be lurking right in front of your eyes.

                1The Joseph ALLRED Papers (1819–1864, hereinafter referred to as JAP) consisting of 37 items, are housed as collection #88. The James PATTERSON Papers (1853–1864), consisting of an additional 14 items are housed as collection #4075.

                2Samuel HALE to Joseph ALLRED, 12 Sep 1847, JAP.

                3For details, see the estate of Samuel ALLEN in Randolph County loose estate records, C.R. 081.508.1. ALLEN was resident in Montgomery, but some of the legal documents worked their way into Randolph County records. This material was partly reprinted in the RCGS Journal (Vol. XII, No. 3, Summer, 1988) beginning on p. 16.

                4See their letters to James ALLRED in JAP.

                5For the ARMSTRONG marriage, see the Richmond County estate of James ARMSTRONG which includes a copy of his will, in Myrtle N. Bridges, Estate Records (1772-1993): Richmond County, North Carolina.       Vol. I, 14-15. Hereinafter referred to as Bridges, Estate Records.

                6John ALLRED to undisclosed sister, 12 May 1858 in JAP.

                7Unknown Friend to Joseph ALLRED, 1 Feb 1841 in JAP.

                8The original inquest is to be found at North Carolina State Archives, Randolph County Miscellaneous Records, C.R. 81.928.7 in the appropriately dated folder.

                9See the Joseph ALLRED estate file, Randolph County loose estates (C.R. 081.508.1).

                10The names of these slaves are found in Joseph ALLRED’s estate file at N.C. State Archives in Raleigh (C.R. 81.508.1.) They were Henry, Judy, Abram, Bill (or William), Esau, Calvin, Riley, Henry, Hetty (pregnant with a child later delivered and named Elihu), Julia, Eliza, Emeline and John.

                11In JAP.

                12John REITZEL to James ALRED, 18 Feb 1864 in JAP.

                13See Calvin ALLRED to James ALLRED, 15 Dec 1864 in JAP.

                14 29 Aug 1857 in JAP. The 1850 through 1870 censuses of Bulloch County, GA, show James B. LESTER’s household. In 1870, on p. 220, we see one Violet LESTER, a black female in household 205/203 aged 40 years old with Georgia LESTER aged 20, Troy LESTER aged 15, Caroline LESTER aged 14, Ben LESTER aged 12, and Commodore LESTER aged 10.       Perhaps Georgia was the lost daughter of 1857, aged seven when Violet wrote to Martha, requesting assistance.       There is certainly a five year gap separating her from the younger children. It would be nice to think this story had a happy ending. Were some of the younger children J.B. LESTER’s progeny? The recipient was more likely Martha ALLRED PATTERSON’s daughter than herself because of the playmate reference.

                16Research concerning this family taken from the Allred Family Organization’s roster of ALLRED descendants at <>.

                17Federal Census of Richmond Co., NC, 1850, p. 310.

                18See Carol E. H. BENTON, Richmond County Grave Yard Record and Tombstone Records (1996), p.80.

                19The ages and marriages of the children were taken from the 1850 Census Records of Jackson (p. 367, 378, 388) and Ouachita Parishes, LA (p. 253.)       Rachel and Delilah’s marriage dates came from Bessie Hubbard Tyner’s Abstracts from the Fayetteville Observer.       The marriages of Wilson and Stephen, Jr. come from Bridges, Richmond Estates. Vol. 1, p. 285 (note), 291.

                20This is proven by an affidavit in the estate file of James ARMSTRONG. See BRIDGES, Richmond Estates, Vol. I, p. 16 (William USSERY’s affidavit.)

                21His minimal estate file is found in Richmond County Loose Estates, C.R. 82.508.1.

                22See their website at <>.