Friday, June 18, 2010

Edmund Floyd and William Cornelius Land Grants

Edmund Floyd and his son-in-law William Cornelius received original Colonial land grants in the area now within the City of Danville, Virginia.

At top is U.S. highway 58 and the Danville, Virginia Airport is at right.

View of the same area from the air

Because of the great distance to the courthouse, the area around the present Danville, Virginia, which was Brunswick County, the General Assembly divided that large county. In February 1745, the legislature created the new county of Lunenburg. To encourage settlement, the act gave “persons who within ten years after the passage of the act….should be exempted from all levies.”

Among the first to receive a grant along the choice Dan River lands was Edmund Floyd. His grant, dated 25 Jan 1747, was for 180 acres on the north side of Dan River in what is now the city of Danville, opposite the 15-acre Reedy Island and two smaller islands. The present 265 by-pass runs through this tract, with the Dan Daniel Park and Veteran’s Memorial on the northeast. It is not known when Floyd moved to his land here.

In 1752, this area was again sectioned off as a part of the new county of Halifax. William Cornelius, who married Edmund Floyd’s daughter Margaret, along with neighbors Hance Hendrick and James Hogan returned a report of processioning these large tracts. These processioners traced the lines of the plantations with the owners and confirmed the property lines. The court settled disputed boundaries. On 2 March 1763, William Cornelius claimed one of the two nine-acre islands below Reedy Island in Dan River.

In 1767, the new county of Pittsylvania included this same area. In the first list of tithables that year, William and Moses Cornelius are named. There is no record of Moses owning property. It is possible that they are brothers. On 24 June 1768, William Cornelius sold Henry Dixon 60 acres on the north side of Dan River. This property was in the lines of Edmund Floyd and William Hogan. At this time, it is not clear how he obtained this land.

William Cornelius probably lived on the land north of his father-in-law Edmund Floyd for a long time before he received a grant for 170 acres along Edmund Floyd’s northwest line on 5 July 1774.

By a deed dated May 15th 1777, Edmund Floyd, "For the love and affection that said Edmund Floyd has for William Cornelius who married my daughter (Margaret)," gave him the 180-acre tract which he then lived on and all his estate, except for three feather beds and furniture which he gave to his three daughters Ann Cornelius, Elizabeth Cornelius and Rebecka Cornelius. They were probably grand daughters by William and Margaret.

Combined with his land grant, William and Margaret now owned a 350-acre plantation on Dan River. On November 16, 1779, they sold William Binion of Cumberland County a tract of 350 acres, "being the land and plantation where he now lives." Binion paid a hefty price, even considering the waretime inflation. The price agreed upon was "Three thousand one hundred pounds" for the two tracts adjoing the Dan River, along the lines of James Dix and Joshua Worsham.

William Binion and wife Susannah had a son William Binion Jr., who was born on August 28, 1763 in Buckingham. William Junior served during the Revolutionary War in the Company of Capt. Robert Payne. William Cornelius was an Ensign in the same company. Robert Payne lived on a nearby 200-acre tract on the southside of Dan River.

William Binion decided to join the migration to South Carolina and sold his plantation at a great loss on December 18, 1786. Col. John Wilson, who was County Lieutenant during the Revolution, paid 500 pounds for the 350 acres which Binion bought in 1779 for 3,100 pounds. Col. Wilson gave this land to his son Col. Nathaniel Wilson. When Nathaniel died in 1857, he owned 1,495 acres including this tract and the three islands in the Dan River to the south.

Another William Cornelius is thought to be a son of Moses and nephew to the William who owned the above land. John Cargill recieved a 210-acre land grant adjacent to Edmund Floyd's grant on 12th of January 1746. John Cargill migrated to South Carolina about 1765. William married Lettice Cargill in South Carolina on June 5th 1774. It seems that William followed the Cargills and others from this area to South Carolina. John Cargill was likely Lettice's grandfather.

Their first child Ann Cargyle Cornelius was born on July 12, 1776. Just two days later, according to the company muster roll, William Cornelius entered the North Carolina artillery during the Revolutionary War.

William Cornelius is listed as number 29 of 44 enlisted men in Capt. John Kingsbury's Independent Company or North Carolina Artillery. On May 1, 1778, his time of enlistment is given as July 14, 1776. He was a matross or gunner's assistant in loading, firing and sponging the guns. On the payroll list later in the month of May 1778, he is listed as "absent without leave." He is said to have been wounded in 1778, which would account for his absense. His monthly pay is shown as 8 1/3 dollars or 3 pounds 2 shillings and 6 pence.

Capt. John Kinsbury's men were at Charleston during the seige. On May 12, 1780, the entire company was captured when the entire city of Charleston, which served as the capital of South Carolina 1790, surrendered to Sir Henry Clinton and Gen. Cornwallis. A British force of 7,600 men surrounded the city and took 5,500 prisoners and occupied Charleston. Prisoners included three signers of the Declaration of Independence: Edward Rutledge, Arthur Middleton and Thomas Heyward Jr. Prisoner-of war camps were established in the countryside and many were held on prison ships in the harbor. Gen. Benjamin Lincoln, who was in command of the American forces lost 92 men who were killed and 148 wounded. 311 artillery pieces, 9,178 artillery rounds, 5916 muskets, 33,000 rounds of small ammunition, 212 hand gernades, 15 regimental colors, 49 ships, 120 boats, 376 barrels of flour and large mazagines of rum, rice and indigo.

In about 1818, the Cornelius family moved to Blount County, Alabama. William and Lettie had a total of eleven children:

1. Ann Cargyle Cornelius b: 12 JUL 1776
2. Ilsie Jesse Cornelius b: 20 NOV 1778
3. Elizabeth "Betsey" Cornelius b: 12 OCT 1781
4. Moses Cornelius b: 20 NOV 1784
5. Aaron Amos Cornelius b: 12 AUG
6. William Cornelius b: 21 AUG 1789
7. Champion Cornelius b: 31 MAR 1792
8. Bevely Cornelius b: 12 JUL 1794
9. Lettice Cornelius b: 3 APR 1797
10. Tabitha Cornelius b: 30 DEC 1800
11. Abner Cornelius b: 1802

Isaac Hampton Waid and his wife, the former Anny Cornelius (daughter of No. 6 above). They were married on October 5, 1837 in Blount County, Alabama. Isaac was born November 12, 1813 and died January 10, 1897 in Etowah County, Alabama. Annie, the daughter of William Cornelius Jr. (son of the Revolutionary soldier) and Elizabeth Bethel Cornelius, was born October 17, 1817 and died October 13, 1885. This circa 1860 tin type photograph belongs to descendant Lonnie Wiggins. Thanks Lonnie for sharing.

William Cornelius was buried in Oneonta, Blount Co., Alabama in 1842.

For more on the Cornelius family, including a 1780 land grant to Ann Cornelius in Pittsylvania County, look at: