The Mystery of the William Woody in 1758 Bedford Co., Virginia

        In 1758, a Wm Wooddie was noted as a Private on a Bedford County, Virginia militia roster.  Also, a Henry Wooddy was noted in a letter dated 9 May 1758 sent by a Bedford County official to George Washington. In addition, a William Woody was taxed in Bedford from 1782 until 1814 when he died testate. His 1812 will mentions only the names of a wife and daughter. A Henry Woody was also taxed in Bedford from 1782 until 1792 when he moved to Franklin County Virginia and died there in late 1807. Both William and Henry bought and sold land in Bedford. Because we have more records pertaining to Henry, we can estimate his birth age to be about 1736, The birth age of William is more difficult to estimate, but we think they born about the same time. Strong evidence indicates that Henry Woody had a brother named William who died testate in 1814 in Lincoln County, Tennessee. His estimated birth date is about 1840. Descendants of Henry & his brother, William, have matching yDNA.
        William and "Lady" Sarah Percell/Purcell Woody are the alleged progenitors of a line of Woodys with a completely different yDNA than those discussed above. Although acknowledged by very few published lineages (online, print, etc.), the
William C. Berry Day Book is the one and only one source for the scant details that relate to this William and Sarah Woody, who allegedly traveled from England to the Potomac River in Virginia. This image is that of a transcribed copy made in 1940 by a descendant of William C. Berry. The history of the travels and transcriptions of the original Day Book are a little murky, but I have not found any dispute concerning the Woody lineage described by Berry. The Day Book names James, Jonathan, Talton and William Woody as sons of William and Sarah. Two of these men lived past 1850 and submitted  Revolutionary War Pension Applications. These applications are quite detailed and contain some very interesting information. The 1834 & 1853 Clinton County, Kentucky applications of James states that he was age 98 (bc1755), born in Bedford County, Virginia and "raised" in in North Carolina close to the Virginia line. This birth date is confirmed by the 1850 Clinton Co., Kentucky census. The 1847 Iowa application of Jonathan states that he was born 15 June 1756 in Surry County, North Carolina and that he had older brothers, James and William. Jonathan's birth age seems to be confirmed by his enumeration in the 70/80 age range (bc 1755) of the 1830 Macon County, North Carolina census. He seems to have died before the 1850 census in Wapello County, Iowa. Although no pension application seems to exist for William, his 12 December 1849, Raleigh, North Carolina newspaper (Raleigh North Carolina Standard) death notice notes that he died 17 Nov 1849 at the home of his son Silas in Buncombe County, that he was soldier of the War of Independence and that he was 114 years old (bc 1735) when he died; however, both the 1830 and 1840 Buncombe County censuses indicates that he was born about ten years earlier than his obituary shows (say bc 1745). Talton seems to have been born about 1755 in North Carolina and probably died before the 1830 Ashe County, North Carolina census. Before he died, William Woody Sr. seems to have been recorded in the 1790 Greenville County, South Carolina census, along with his son William Jr. Both were over sixteen and one had five other inhabitants under sixteen. William Sr. seemed to have died between 1790 and 1800 in Greenville and Sarah after 1800. In addition, between 1788 and 1791, James, Talton and William Woody purchased land in Greenville. All of the sons of William Sr. apparently moved back to North Carolina after 1800.
        Several descendants of William and Sarah  have had their yDNA tested and are part of the Woody DNA Project. Besides matching other descendants of William and Sarah, their yDNA is a very close match with descendants of Chumley males mentioned in the
Chumney/Chumley/Chumbley Family History web site and the Cholmondeley DNA Project. Some of the Chumleys were allegedly born in Virginia and some in England.
        Conclusion: There are several intriguing assertions in the above discussion. James stated that he was born about 1755 in Bedford County, Virginia, but was raised in North Carolina. Jonathan stated that he was born 15 Jun 1756 in Surry County, North Carolina and that he had older brother, James and William. William's obituary states that he was 114 when he died, but the censuses show that be was closer to 104 (bc 1745). This information seems to be relatively consistent and collaborative; however, the reference to Bedford County, Virginia is most interesting to us. Since the birth dates of all three brothers occurred about the time that Wm Wooddie was a militiaman in Bedford, it is possible that this Wm was the father of the four brothers mentioned above, but Wm could have been one of the other Woodys known to be in the area at this time. To us, the most plausible is the William Woody that is mentioned
in the 1766 estate settlement of of Henry Woody of Henrico, but that is the only reference to William Woody that we have found in Henrico in that time frame. This probably indicates that William did not own land in Henrico at the time of Henry's death and may have not lived in that county.
In any event, we have found very little to discredit the William C. Berry Day Book story and the apparent Woody-Chumley connection may have occurred in England before William came to the American colonies.

Created Apr 8, 2018
Revised July 10. 2019

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