GENERATION #2: John Owsley and Ann Stephens
John Owsley born ABT 1732, probably Prince William County, Virginia, married ABT 1752, in Virginia, Ann Stephens, born 1730/35, (daughter of Robert Stephens and Ann ________) died AFT 1810, Tennessee. John died -Oct-1764, Loudoun County, Virginia.
John Owsley was definitely raised as a son of Thomas Owsley II, who died in 1750 in Fairfax County, Virginia. Thomas Owsley II left a will naming all of his ten children. It is believed the children were named in order of birth. John Owsley was named second after Thomas Owsley III, who was born about 1731. The Owsley family resided in Prince William County, Virginia at the time.
John Owsley inherited 100 acres of land from his father. This land adjoined the 180 acres of land inherited by his elder brother, Thomas Owsley III. The land was located in the part of Fairfax County, Virginia, which later became Loudoun County, Virginia in 1757. Today, the land is located near the Dulles International Airport.
From 2003 through 2005, twenty-one Owsley descendants participated in the Owsley Surname DNA Project. This DNA Project produced unexpected results for the Owsley family. The Y-Chromosome DNA of direct male descendants of John Owsley did not match with the Y-Chromosome DNA of the direct male descendants of John’s brothers: Thomas Owsley III, Newdigate Owsley and Weldon Owsley. It is clear John Owsley was not a biological son of Thomas Owsley II.
It is now believed Thomas Owsley II was married twice. Thomas married his first wife (name unknown) around 1730 and they had a son named Thomas Owsley III, who was born about 1731. The first wife died leaving Thomas Owsley II with an infant son needing a mother. Thomas Owsley II immediately started searching for a new wife, who could also be a mother for his infant son. Soon thereafter, Thomas found a young lady named Ann Hudson in neighboring King George County, Virginia. Ann was a recent widow with an infant son (or was pregnant with a son) at the time. Thomas and Ann were married around 1732 and Ann's baby boy suddenly became known as John Owsley. Thomas Owsley II and Ann Hudson went on to have several more children. John Owsley was born about 1732 and may have never known about his true biological father.
It is believed Ann Hudson Owsley had a special relationship with her son, John Owsley. It appears Ann may have shown some favoritism toward John since he was her son by her first true love. For example, John came into possession of the land his mother had inherited from her husband, Thomas Owsley II. It is most likely Ann gave the land to John before her death around 1756. On December 12, 1763, John Owsley and his wife, Ann, sold a tract of land to his brother, Thomas Owsley III, for L70. This land had originally been purchased by Thomas Owsley Senior from the Rev. Charles Green and was described as "being the land whereon the said John Owsley did live lying on Goose Creek it being all the land left of the said John Owsley by his father also his mothers thirds of the said land."
John Owsley also came into possession of some family heirlooms (certain items which once belonged to Thomas Owsley I and Thomas Owsley II). The heirlooms were passed down in John Owsley's family to a great grandson, Thomas Owsley (1806-1882), who settled in Pike County, Illinois. Thomas had a daughter named Rachel Owsley Barton (1830-1916) who wrote down her "reminiscenses" in the 1890's and 1914. On January 1, 1895, Rachel wrote about the heirlooms, which were kept in a chest. She noted her sister, Mary Owsley, married Mr. John Chambers and took the chest, After Mary's death, Mr. Chambers moved to Missouri and all trace of Mr. Chambers and the chest were gone.
Based upon the DNA results, it appears the true biological father of John Owsley may have been of Irish origin, with a possible connection to the legendary Fifth Century Irish King Niall of the Nine Hostages. For more information on the DNA project go to the following website:
Sometime in the early 1750's, John Owsley married Ann Stephens, daughter of Robert and Ann Stephens. Although the marriage record of John Owsley and Ann Stephens does not exist, the evidence of their marriage can be found in the Loudoun County, Virginia Deeds. Robert Stephens of Cameron Parish "for the natural love and affection which I have and do bear unto my well beloved daughter Ann Owsley, widow" gave her a negro slave named Winney.
On February 20, 1755, John Owsley filed a lawsuit against John Murrey. On July 17, 1755, John also filed a lawsuit against Holland Middleton (Fairfax County Minutes 1754-1756).
On November 16, 1756, John Owsley attained the wardship of his orphaned brother, Pine (Pointz) Owsley.
In 1757, John Owsley served in the Loudoun County Militia under Captain Nicholas Minor for which service he and William Stephens, probable the brother of his wife, each were certified for reimbursement by the Loudoun County Court in July 1758. This militia service took place during the French & Indian War of 1754-1763. John Owsley was paid 15 shillings for his militia service.
John Owsley was listed in the 1758 Tithables of Cameron Parish, Loudoun County, Virginia. Others listed were Thomas Owsley, William Owsley (Constable), Pines Owsley, Robert Stephens, William Stephens, and Edward Garrett.
On September 10, 1759, brothers John Owsley and William Owsley appeared before the Loudoun County Court. John Owsley was administered the oath as Vestryman of Cameron Parish and "... to his Majestie's person and Government and subscribed to be Conformable of the Doctrine and Discipline of the Church of England." Loudoun County Sheriff Nicholas Minor administered the necessary oath to William Owsley as his new Under-Sheriff. As Vestryman John Owsley followed in the footsteps of his elder brother, Thomas Owsley, who had taken the same oath on August 14, 1759. John Owsley held this post for the remainder of his life. As Vestrymen, Thomas Owsley and John Owsley were responsible for assisting the minister and churchwardens in the administration of parish affairs. This included guarding public morality, laying the parish levy, and caring for the poor.
(Loudoun County Minutes 1757-1762)
Between 1759 and 1763, John Owsley frequently appeared as a plaintiff, defendant and witness in a variety of court cases heard in Loudoun County.
On November 12, 1761, John was referred to as a "Planter" a certain social distinction indication a man of some means. A close examination of the court cases in which John Owsley was named a defendant reveals a disturbing pattern, a dark side of an otherwise respected young man.
On May 12, 1762, ordinary (tavern) keeper John Moss Jr. obtained judgments against John Owsley and David Davis averaging L3.10 for "Debt due by account," the case of a tavern keeper suing his delinquent clientele.
On September 14, 1764, John Heryford, another ordinary keeper, sued a number of his open accounts, including John Owsley.
On November 9,1763, John Owsley was charged with Breach of the Peace. His own brother, Thomas, was a witness against him. William Chelton was also charged with the same offense.
On December 12, 1763, John and Ann Owsley sold a tract of land to his brother, Thomas Owsley, for L70. This land had originally been purchased by Thomas Owsley Senior from the Rev. Charles Green and was described as "being the land whereon the said John Owsley did live lying on Goose Creek it being all the land left of the said John Owsley by his father also his mothers thirds of the said land." John Owsley may have sold the land in order to obtain funds needed to pay off debts incurred through his drinking.
On March 16, 1764, a suit was brought against John Owsley by William Chilton for Trespass and Assault & Battery. Also on the same date, a suit was brought against William Chilton by John Owsley for the same charges. John Owsley died in late September or early October 1764, when he was killed by Francis Kennedy. John's untimely and violent death was recorded in the Loudoun County Court Minutes at a special session of the court: "At a Court held at the Courthouse of Loudoun County on Monday the 8th day of October one thousand seven hundred and sixty-four for the examination of Francis Kennady on suspicion of his being guilty of the murder of John Owsley of this County. Present, Nicholas Minor, John McIlhaney, Charles Tyler, Philip Noland, Gent."
The said Francis Kennady was set to the Bar and it was demanded of him whether he was Guilty of the Murder aforesaid or not he said he was not thereof Guilty and thereupon Newdigate Owsley, Sarah Owsley, and William Patterson were sworn and examined as witnesses against him and he heard in his defense. On consideration whereof it is in the opinion of the Court that the said Francis Kennady is Guilty of the Murder aforesaid and that he ought to be tried for the same at the next Court of Oyer and Terminer to be held at the Capitol in Williamsburg on the second Tuesday n December next and thereupon is remanded to Goal.
Newdigate Owsley, Sarah Owsley and William Patterson were then required to acknowledge their indebtedness to the Crown for L50 each to ensure their appearance before the Justices of Oyer and Terminer in Williamsburg on the set date. (Francis was probably confined in a goal or jail in Leesburg. On November 13, 1764, William Bowling was paid L2.25 for "guarding the Goal over Francis Kennady" for 9 days then turned this task over to Joseph Tanney. Francis Kennady would spend 2 months behind bars before his scheduled trial on Tuesday, December 11, 1764.)
The records of the Court of Oyer and Terminer, the predecessor of today's Superior Court, responsible for the more serious cases to include murders, have not survived. These records, among others, were transferred to Richmond for safe keeping during the Civil War and were lost when Richmond was burned in 1865.
Despite the loss of the original court records, details surrounding the untimely death of John Owsley are known from a memorandum of the trial of Francis Kennedy contained in The Official Papers of Francis Fauquier, Lieutenant Governor of Virginia 1758-1768 (edited by George Reese, Charlottesville: University Press of VA, 3:1270): "On the Trial of Francis Kennedy for the Murder of John Owsley. The case by the Evidence of Sarah Owsley Wife (sic-Sister) of the deceased and one other Witness (who were the only Witnesses against the Criminal) appeared to be as follows. The said Owsley, his Wife (sic-Sister) and the said Kennedy with several others happening in Company, a Quarrel ensued, upon which they all got to fighting. Kennedy receiving a blow from some of the Company with a Club; he in order to defend himself drew his knife, with which he cut the forehead of the said Owsley, and then stabbed him in the Thigh which unfortunately cut some principal Artery, the bleeding of which not being stopped, the said Owsley in a few hours died. As it appeared from the whole Evidence that the Affair was transacted in passion, the Said Kennedy not having time for cool reflection, and no premeditated Malice between them, It was the Opinion of the Court that his Case was favorable and that the Jury should have found him guilty of Manslaughter and not of Murder."
On December 20, 1764, just nine days after having learned of the verdict, Francis Fauquier wrote to James Abercromby, Virginia's agent in London, in an endeavor to secure a pardon. His efforts met with success and a pardon was issued on October 10, 1765: "George R. - Whereas Francis Kennedy was at a Court of Oyer and Terminer held at Virginia in America tried for the Murder of John Owsley and being convicted thereof had Sentence of Death passed upon Him for the same. And Whereas We have thought fit upon a Representation of his Case transmitted by Our Lieutenant Governor of Virginia to Our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations and which They our said Commissioners have caused to be laid before Us to extend Our Grace & Mercy to Him and grant Him Our Free Pardon for the said Crime. Our Will and Pleasure therefore is, That You cause Him the said Francis Kennedy to be inserted in Our First and next General Pardon that shall come out for the poor Convicts of Newgate And for so doing This shall be your Warrant. Give at Our Court at St. James the 10th Day of October 1765 in the Fifth Year of our Reign. By his Majesty's Command, H S Conway; To our Trusty and Welbeloved James Eyre Esqr, Recorder of Our City of London; The Sheriffs of our said City and County of Middlesex, and all Others who it may concern."
Even after John Owsley's death, two further cases involving trespass, assault and battery were brought before the Loudoun County Court on May 16, 1765, and dismissed due to his death.
Following the death of her husband, Ann Owsley was left to her own devices in raising her five young children. Her husband had left her an estate of little value. On March 12, 1765, Ann Owsley was summoned to appear in court and asked if she would take upon herself the burden of administering her deceased husband's estate. She declined. That same day a deed was recorded in which "Anne Owsley of the parish of Cameron, Loudoun County, widow of John Owsley" sold all rights to her remaining land to Thomas Owsley for the sum on L10. This was the same land her husband had sold to his brother in 1763, but Ann had not been examined for her right of dower and to clear up this legal technicality, Thomas Owsley paid her the L10.
After Ann Owsley declined to be administrator of her husband's estate, no further action was taken by the court for two years. Finally on March 10, 1767, the court appointed William Furr as administrator, and directed Nehimiah Ferguson, Matthew Adams, John Adams and Josiah Little to inventory and appraise the estate. This was accomplished on May 7, 1767, and recorded on August 12, 1767. Nearly two and one-half years after his death, John Owsley's estate and its value was reduced to: One Rifle Gun L3.0.0 and One Millstone L1.0.0. for a total of L4.0.0.
On November 19, 1769, Robert Stephens of Cameron Parish (for the natural love and affection which I have and do bear unto my well beloved daughter Ann Owsley, Widow) gave her a negro female slave named Winney. Shortly afterwards, Ann married John Adams. John Adams started paying taxes on the slave, Winney in 1770. John Adams continued paying taxes on Winney through 1775. Robert Stephens died in 1773, leaving most of his estate to his wife who probably died around 1783. In 1784, it is recorded in the final estate administration of Robert Stephens that Ann Adams received of her mother a certain sum of money.
By 1777, Ann and her husband, John Adams, had moved south from Virginia to North Carolina. They moved to Rowan County, North Carolina around 1777, where John was listed as a taxpayer in 1778. Ann's son-in-laws, William Rice and Joshua Botts and her son, John Owsley, were also listed as taxpayers in Rowan County in 1778. They lived near Salisbury, North Carolina. It is almost certain that the Owsley and Adams families traveled the Great Wagon Road from Virginia to North Carolina.
John and Ann later moved to Wilkes County, North Carolina around 1784. John Adams paid taxes on land in Wilkes County from 1784 through 1800. John Adams was listed as living in Wilkes County in the 1787 and 1790 census records. They lived in the Roaring River community. The following can be found in the minutes of the South Fork Roaring River Baptist Church: "Satterday ye 13th of August, 1785", "The church meeting in order Bro. John Adams and sister Ann Adams joined the church by experience and Baptism". Also living in the Roaring River community were three children of Ann and John Owsley (Sarah and husband Joshua Botts, Mary and husband William Rice, John Owsley and wife Charity). The five children of John Adams (by his first wife whose name is unknown) also lived in Roaring River and owned vast amounts of land. They were John Adams Jr., Jacob Adams, Benjamin Adams, Spencer Adams and Frances (Franky) Adams who married Stephen Caudill. John Adams Sr. and John Adams Jr. had previously paid taxes in Rowan County in 1778.
The last account of John Adams was in October of 1803 when he conveyed his 172 acre home tract in Wilkes County to his eldest son, John Adams Jr. It is believed John Adams died shortly thereafter and that Ann moved to Claiborne County, Tennessee to live with either her son, John Owsley, or her daughter, Sarah Botts. A Bill of Sale from Anny Adams to her son-in-law, Joshua Botts, is recorded in Claiborne County, Tennessee (Deed book C, page 229) on December 10, 1810. It is believed Ann died shortly thereafter in Claiborne County.
CHILDREN OF JOHN OWSLEY AND ANN STEPHENS:
I. Sarah Owsley born 1753/56, Loudoun County, Virginia, married Joshua Botts, born 1740/50, Loudoun County, Virginia, died 18-Jan-1840, Linn County, Missouri, buried: Botts-Ogan Cemetery, Linn County, MO. Sarah died 1830/40, Linn or Howard County, Missouri. Sarah is probably buried beside her husband at the Botts-Ogan Cemetery in Linn County, Missouri. Joshua and Sarah moved from Loudoun County, Virginia to Rowan County, North Carolina where they payed taxes in 1778. They were living in Wilkes County, North Carolina in 1787 and 1790 according to census records. Joshua and Sarah later moved to Claiborne County before 1800 where Joshua and his sons were named in several land transactions. After 1820, Joshua and Sarah moved west to Howard County, Missouri where they were recorded in the 1830 census records. The Botts family moved to Linn County, Missouri after 1830.
II. Mary Owsley born 1753/56, Loudoun County, Virginia, married William Rice. William and Mary were living in Rowan County, North Carolina in 1778 where William Rice was listed as a tax payer. They were later living in Wilkes County, North Carolina in 1790 according to census records.
III. John Owsley born 6-Nov-1757, Loudoun County, Virginia, married 16-Aug-1778, in probably Rowan County, North Carolina, Charity Barton, born 12-Feb-1760, North Carolina, (daughter of John Barton Sr.) died 20-Feb-1848, Claiborne County, Tennessee. John died 19-Dec-1845, Claiborne County, Tennessee.
IV. Robert Housley born ABT 1759, Loudoun County, Virginia, married Lydia Ann ________, born ABT 1763, died BET 1843-1850, probably Hamilton County,Tennessee. Robert died BET 1835-1840, probably Jefferson County, Tennessee.
Robert Housley (Owsley) was the second son of John Owsley and Ann Stephens. He was born about 1759 in Loudoun County, Virginia.
Robert Housley was a Revolutionary War soldier. He entered the War in 1776, when he was drafted as a Minuteman in Loudoun County, Virginia. He served under Colonel Triplett, Captain Combs, and Lieutenant Hously for six months. On June 11, 1833, while a resident of Jefferson County, Tennesseee, he applied for a pension (R.5267) which was subsequently granted. John Ousley of Claiborne County, Tennessee, provided an affidavit stating he knew of Robert's war service and served with him. Robert Housley was listed on the 1835 Tennessee Revolutionary War Pension Roll, aged 75 years old.
Robert's widow, Lydia Ann, applied for a widow's pension on May 6, 1843, while residing in Hamilton County, Tennessee. Letters written with the pension application state "at the request of her grandson," the person visited Lydia Ann, who "has been living in this county for some two years and upward and she is aged eighty _____," and she remains a widow of Robert Housley, etc. The papers said her husband had been dead for several years. Lydia Ann's pension application was rejected because it was stated that Robert didn't serve six months. Lydia Ann's grandson mentioned in the application is believed to have been George W. Housley Junior, who was residing in Hamilton County, Tennessee in 1843.
Robert Housley (Howsley) was living in Rowan County, North Carolina in 1780. He was the Bondsman at the marriage of his sister, Ann Howsley, to Matthew Adams on February 20, 1780, in Rowan County, North Carolina. It is believed Robert married Lydia Ann in the late 1770's or early 1780's. No records have been found, which would provided Lydia Ann's maiden name.
By 1796, Robert and Lydia Ann had moved to Sullivan County, Tennessee. Robert Housley is listed on the 1796, 1797 and 1812 tax lists of Sullivan County, Tennessee. Robert and his family settled in the Hickory Tree area of Sullivan County near the present site of the South Holston Dam. Their land was located next to the beautiful Holston Mountain.
On December 25, 1801, Robert Housley purchased (for $450.00) 100 acres of land from John Buckles (Sullivan County, TN Deed Book 3, Page 453). The land was located on the south side of the Holston River. On March 10, 1806, Robert sold the 100 acres of land to William Odell (Sulllivan County, TN Deed Book 3, Page 781).
In February of 1806, Robert Housley and his son, John Housley, were indicted by the Sullivan County, TN Grand Jury. Robert Housley, John Housley, and several other men, were charged with committing a riot by "fighting and breaking the peace against the dignity of the Commonwealth." The alleged incident occurred on December 25, 1805. Robert and John were both found guilty of the charge, but later appealed the decision.
On March 7, 1807, Robert Housley purchased (for $1,000.00) 174 1/2 acres of land from Jacob Weaver (Sullivan County Deed Book 5, Page 50). The land was located on the south side of the Holston River. On May 14, 1808, Robert sold the land to Thomas Rockhold for $750.00 (Sullivan County, TN Deed Book 5, Page 110).
On November 17, 1810, Robert Housley purchased (for $500.00) 100 acres of land from John Shell and Andrew Shell (Sullivan County, TN Deed Book 6, Page 156). The land was located on the south side of the Holston River. On May 19, 1821. Robert Housley of Sullivan County, TN and his son, John Housley, of Jefferson County, TN, sold the 100 acres of land to Jacob Boyd and Andrew Boyd (Sullivan County, TN Deed Book 9, Page 210). This was the land Robert had purchased in 1810. It appears this was the time Robert and Lydia Ann moved from Sullivan County, Tennessee to Jefferson County, Tennesseee. Robert and his family settled in the Strawberry Plains area of Jefferson County near the Holston River.
On March 14, 1825, Robert Housley, Jacob Dick, and Reed Cox were held accountable in a Jefferson County Maintenance Bond for the sum of $500.00. The condition of this Bond is that "Jacob Dick hath been charged with being the reputed father of a base begotten child on the body of Rebecca Housley." Robert signed the Bond with an X. Apparently, he could not write.
On July 19, 1826, Thomas Housley, by his father and next friend, Robert Housley, sued Edward Stiff for a stolen horse in Jefferson County. The court found in favor of Thomas Housley. According to census records, Robert Housley was living in Jefferson County, Tennessee in 1830. Robert Housley applied for his Revolutionary War pension in 1833 in Jefferson County, Tennessee. Robert died before 1840.
According to census records, Lydia Ann was living with her daughter, Rebecca Housley, in Sevier County, Tennessee in 1840. Lydia Ann was living in Hamilton County, Tennessee in 1843, when she applied for a Revolutionary War widow's pension. It appears Lydia Ann died before 1850.
Several Housley families, descended from Robert and Lydia Ann, moved to Hamilton County, Tennessee around 1840. They settled north of Harrison in the Long Savannah area of Hamilton County. A few of the families lived in nearby Bradley County.
V. Ann Owsley born ABT 1761, Loudoun County,Virginia, married 20-Feb-1780, in Rowan County, North Carolina, Matthew Adams. Ann's brother, Robert, was listed as the bondsman at her marriage to Matthew Adams. It is believed that Matthew Adams was the son of Matthew Adams who died in Rowan County in 1781. Matthew Adams Senior's will was probated in 1781 and named a wife, Elizabeth, and several children including Matthew Adams Jr. Matthew Adams Sr. and John Adams, husband of Ann Stephens Owsley, are believed have been brothers, both of whom moved from Virginia to North Carolina.
1790 Wilkes County, North Carolina Census
1 male - over age 16
1 female - all ages
0 males - over age 16
4 males - under age 16
2 females - all ages
2 males - over age 16
2 males - under age 16
2 females - all ages
1 male - over age 16
4 males - under age 16
4 females - all ages
It is believed the Owsley and Adams families traveled the Great Wagon Road,
when they moved from Loudoun County in northern Virginia to Rowan County,
North Carolina, just north of Salisbury. John Owsley and others later moved their
families across the Blue Ridge Mountains from North Carolina to east Tennessee.