Wyatt Woody Jr. Legend


Margaret Norris Heinek (1921-2011) was born in Ashville, Buncombe County, North Carolina, but lived most of her life in New Carlisle, Indiana. She was a descendant of George Robertson and Susannah Woody. Susannah was the sister of Wyatt Woody Sr., who married Mary Robertson, the sister of George Robertson. That is, brother and sister married brother and sister. The Robertson and Woody families moved from Franklin County, Virginia to Buncombe County, North Carolina about 1800. Margaret Heinek was also an avid family historian and did extensive onsite research in Yancey and Mitchell counties, North Carolina and the surrounding areas. She spent many hours recording the memories of some older descendants of Woody, Robertson and other families. She contributed several articles to Lloyd Bailey who published them in the "Heritage of the Toe River Valley", a series of eleven contributor based family history books, mainly covering Avery, Mitchell and Yancey counties. These books can be found at many libraries and contain the history, lineages and photos of many families that lived in the area. In a article entitled "Henry & Susannah (Martin) Woody". Margaret names the children of Wyatt & Mary Robertson Woody. Among the other children proven by censuses, marriage records, cemetery records and other records, Margaret names " (a) Wyatt (1800-1873), m. Sally M. _____ ;  (b) Samuel (ca. 1800-3/2/1873)". In my decades of family research, we have discovered many family lineage stories that we classify as legends, lore and such.  In researching these legends and the origins of these legends, we usually find that they are totally bogus; however, we sometimes find at least a grain of truth and sometime information that can useful. Only very occasionally we have confirmed, to some degree, that legend has any credibility at all.

Although we have never found any hard evidence of the existence of either Wyatt Jr. or Samuel, we have always been intrigued by Margaret's assertions concerning these  unverified children. One item that supports her Wyatt Jr. assertion is the "Last Will and Testament of Wyate Woody". A transcription is below:

North Carolina Yancey County in the Year of Our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty eight. Wiatte Woody Senr. of the state and county aforesaid being in my perfect mind and memory do make this my last will and testament this is to say that I give my wife Polly Woody all my lands and property arising therefrom and all my moveable property for her support during her life time and at her death what there remains shall be equally divided among the lawful heirs of the said Wiatte Woody. Signed sealed and delivered in the presence of us February the third one thousand eight hundred and forty eight.

Wiatte Woody, his mark (x)
Attest: Jason B. Masters (Jurat)
J. C. Bailey
H. C. Garland
Blake Phillips

Having read many such wills, we know the significance of the title "Senr" appended to Wiatte's name. It meant that another adult Wiatte Woody lived in the surrounding area and that he was younger than the testator; however, this standard procedure did not necessarily mean that the "Junior" was the son of the "Senior". There were two grandsons of Wyatt in the area named Wyatt Woody, but neither was of age when Wyatt signed his will. Since no appropriate Wyatt Woody has been found in the 1850 census or any later censuses, we assume that a Wyatt Woody Jr, son of Wyatt Woody Sr. died after the will was signed, but before the 1850 census. This proposition seems to be confirmed by the Wyatt Woody family enumeration in the 5 October 1850 Yancey census:

Wyatt Woody, 76, VA
Mary Woody, 65, VA
Marinda Woody, 30, NC
George Woody, 2, NC
Hosea Woody, 5, NC (This was almost surely Posey Woody.)

This information can be interpreted in several ways; however, we propose that Marinda was the widow of Wyatt Woody Jr. and that George & Posey were their sons. An analysis and comparison of the North Carolina censuses from 1810 until 1850 infers the Wyatt and Mary Robertson Woody had at least six or seven male children that lived to be enumerated. Since only four have been confirmed by records, it seems very likely that there were two or three more males that either died or departed the immediate area before 1850.

North Carolina County Formation Dates

1777 - Burke formed from Rowan
1790 - Buncombe formed from Burke
1833 Yancey formed from Buncombe & Burke
That is, Burke, Buncombe and Yancey have been adjacent since their formation.

1810 - 1840 Census Enumerations & Our Analysis

1810 Buncombe - Wiat Woody: 4,0,0,1,0/0,0,0,1,1
    John, bc 1800; Henry, bc 1805; Edward, bc 1808; Josiah, bc 1810

1820 Buncombe - Wiatt Woody: 3,2,0,1,0,1/2,0,0,1,0
    Same as above with 2 adds in 0/10 range

1830 Buncombe -Wyatt Woody: 1,0,1,0,1,0,0,1/1,1,1,0,0,1
1830 Buncombe - E. Woody: 0,0,0,0,1/0,0,0,0,1. (Edward married in 1829)  
1830 Burke - John Woody: 0,0,0,0,1/2,0,0,0,1.
1830 Burke - Henry Woody: 2,0,0,0,1/0,0,0,1
    Josiah with Wyatt. One in 10/15 range from 1820 census. One add  in 0/5 range (A daughter's son?). One of the 1820 adds is gone. He was born 1810-1820

1840 Yancey - Wiatt Woody: 2,0,0,0,1,0,0,0,1/0,0,0,1,1,0,0,1.
1840 Yancey - Henry Woody: 0,2,1,0,0,1/1,1,0,0,0,1
1840 Yancey  - Josiah Woody: 2,0,0,0,0,1/1,0,0,0,1
1840 Yancey - Edward Woody: 2,1,0,0,0,1/1,0,0,0,0,1
1840 Burke  - Jno Woodey: 2,0,0,0,0,0,1/1,2,2,0,0,1
    One of the 1820 & 1830 adds in the 20/30 range. 2 in 0/5 range could have been his children, but we can't account for them in 1850 census.

We think that the Woodys that we have listed are all connected to the same genetic family; however, there were Woodys from different genetic Woody lines enumerated in the time of the early censuses. At this time, the North Carolina counties were very large, so that these lines can usually be separated by geographical location; however,  it is possible that we have confused some of the enumerations. Also, please remember that there are errors in all censuses. Sometimes the census enumerator and/or sometimes the information giver made errors. Older children often gave information when their parents were absent. Birth dates near the census age break points can lead to significant analysis problems and conclusions. Also, the males shown in the censuses could be the husbands of the daughters. The younger children could be the children of the daughters enumerated or not. Lots of variables for the analyst.

Our Conclusions: The male in the 20/30 range in 1840 was Wyatt Woody Jr. He was also in the 1820 and 1830 censuses. He was born c 1820. The Marinda Woody, age 30, living with Wyatt Woody Sr. in the 1850 census was his widow and Posey and George were their sons. They may have had other children, but we doubt it. Margaret Heinek alleges that Wyatt Jr. was born 1800, but the census data does not support this assertion. She also alleges that Wyatt Jr. lived until 1873. We do not see how he could have avoided be named in at least one of the censuses of  1840, 1850, 1860 and 1870, but it is possible.

We have also investigated the Samuel Woody allegation. The 1830 Wyatt Woody Sr. census enumeration appears to show that one of the 1820 additions has disappeared. This person was born between 1810 and 1820, so he could well have been an adult by 1830. If this man did not die, he seems to have left the western North Carolina area where he was born. This would have been quite unusual for this family and for any of the families of this region, especially at this time. We have found one Samuel that is a candidate for Margaret Heinek's assertion.  He is the Samuel Woody that apparently married Anna Tyree/Pruett. He is named as the father in two of his son's 1874 marriage records in West Virginia. Their marriage record also show Wilkes County, North Carolina as their birth place; however, they differ on their mother's surname. One names Anna Tyree and the other Anna Pruett. Anna Woody and her children were enumerated in the 1870 Logan County, West Virginia census. They were all enumerated as being born in North Carolina and Anna was 48 years old (bc 1822, NC). Their oldest son, Sidney was enumerated as 18 (bc 1852, NC). Some of this family, but not Samuel or Sidney, seem to have been enumerated with Billingsley and Nancy Roberts in the 1860 Tazewell County, Virginia census. Samuel seems to have died or left his family before about 1852. Based on his wife's birth date of c 1822,  Samuel was probably born c 1820. This would fit well as another son of Wyatt Woody Sr. The birthplace of Samuel's children was Wilkes County, North Carolina. This county is northeast of the Yancey County area and is also in the Appalachian hills. Wilkes is also very close to  Tazewell County, Virginia, which is close to Logan County, West Virginia; however, Wilkes was the one time home of a very large number of non-related Woodys. The 1850 Wilkes census enumerates many of this line, but Samuel Woody is not among those enumerated. Most of these Woodys had moved on when the 1860 census was taken. Also, Verl Weight (deceased) did much onsite research on the Woodie (Woody) family of this area and his book, subtitled "The Genealogy of the Woodie (Woody) Family of Northwestern North Carolina ..."), does not mention a single Samuel Woodie/Woody. Even more interesting to us, is that only a very few people have seriously researched the Samuel and Anna Woody trail. Some have alleged that Samuel was connected to the Wilkes line, but offer no proof of this. Others assert that Samuel was the son of Fleming Woody of Virginia and West Virginia; however, the wife of this Samuel was Margaret Carr and this marriage is very well documented. So we are left with a dilemma. We have a moderate amount of weak circumstantial evidence that Samuel was the son of Wyatt Woody Sr; however, we do not consider this evidence to be nearly sufficient to make that call. The yDNA from a male Woody descendant of Samuel would likely connect this person to one of the four major unrelated Woody lines.

Created Aug 6, 2017

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