Sunday, May 30, 2010

Elizabeth England & Silas Morphew

Y-Dna Marker Tests for Different Morphew Descendants

To date (January 2009), two Morphew descendants have had their y-dna tested and their results are posted at under the Morphew surname. 35 out 37 y-dna markers matched proving their relationship.

Their most recent possible common ancestor should be J. Morphew (~1725 - <1783) and their descendant lines were:

1- J. Morphew (~1725-<1783), 2- Silas Morphew ~1752-1807, 3- Uriah Morphew/Murphy ~1780->1840, 4-Hiram Morphew/Murphy ~1815->1860, 5-Abijah F. Murphy 1847-1888, 6-William Robert Murphy 1877-1945 and on for 7 generations

1-J.Morphew (~1725-<1783), 2-James Morphew ~1750-1829, 3-Joseph Morphew ~1771->1820, 4-James Morphew 1805-1871, 5-Rev. William H. Morphew 1829-1912, 6-Riley H. Murphy 1853-1935 and so on for 8 generations.

Y-Dna marker comes from the y-chromosome and only males can pass this on. This makes for an excellent test confirming Morphew lines.

Adult Locations for Silas and Elizabeth England

Silas Morphew + Elizabeth England lived in the following locations, some still being speculative.

1775 Chatham County, N. C: Marriage of Silas Morphew to Elizabeth England.

1783 Guilford County, N.C: Guilford County Quakers mention Silas has moved.

1785/86 Surry County, N.C: tax lists

1790 Burke County, N.C: "Silas Murphy" on U.S. Census list with the Englands.

1807 Burke County, N.C: "Silas Murphey" recorded death near Morganton.

1810 Wilkes County, N.C: Elizabeth Murphey near sons Silas and Uriah.

1814-1823? Knox County, Tn: Children marry here: Silas, Obediah, and Jennie.

1830 Roane County, Tn: Elizabeth Murphey - head of household on U.S. Census.

Details about Silas and Elizabeth Morphew – 1775 to 1807

Silas married Elizabeth England at Chatham County, N.C. in 1775. Why Chatham County has been the source of much speculation, but it has not be researched yet. John England was clearly living in Rowan County, N.C. in 1768 (tithable record) and in the newly divided off Surry County in 1771 (tithable record). In fact, what were both doing in Chatham? Arlie Morphew speculated that John England, father of Elizabeth, traveled back and forth to his father, William England, in Chatham County.

Silas Morphew was considered a Tory by someone, at least enough to attempt to hang him. We don’t know the year, which could tell us more of the story. The years could be from 1775 to 1781. After the war, Tory lands and property were seized. In Wilkes County, Benjamin Cleveland hunted down his enemies for hanging. Cyrus Grubb states Silas was saved when a woman held him up by the legs till help came. In this case, Silas needed to leave the area for a safer site and, perhaps, we will find him living in an unusual location. He does give us one clue. The Quaker Church records at Deep River (Guilford County) note the following:

Deep River, Guilford County, North Carolina Quaker Meeting on their 7th month 1783: “Silas Murphy having been under the care of the preparative meeting, now requests to be joined in membership which this meeting grants (From Quaker microfilm records at Guilford Collage).” The Quaker Encyclopedia indicated he had moved.

The 1785 Surry County, North Carolina taxables list "Silas Murphy" and 1786 "Silas Murphew," but Silas has no acreage.

The 1786 Census of Surry County, N.C. lists Silas Murphy in Captain Wright’s district and shows 1 male 21-60 years of age, 3 males under 21 and above 60, 2 white females all ages. His brother James is also listed here.

The 1790 Burke County, North Carolina Census records Silas “Murphy” and in the same county is Daniel England, John England Sr., John England Jr., Joseph England, and Thomas England, all related to his wife Elizabeth. In July 1790, Silas Murphey is recorded present at the Wilkes County estate inventory sale of Youngs Coleman. His sister, Sarah, was Coleman’s widow. In 1791, a Yakin County Land Grant Map (formerly Surry County) shows “Silas Morphew” with a land grant near Forbis Creek (details not known). This may be seen at .

In 1795, Silas is mentioned in the will of John England, father of Elizabeth, which was probated at Burke County. It gives to Silas’s wife “one calf, one cow, no more, no less.” The wording suggests that John England had disapproved of Silas, but the reason is not known. Silas was probably living in Wilkes County at the time.

The membership list at Three Forks Baptist Church (formerly Ashe County, now Watauga County) includes Elizabeth Morphew. The list covered the years 1790 to 1810. If Silas was living there, he entered no land in the South Fork of New River area. The following is recorded:

"On 10 November (1807), Robert Craig, Esq. of Morganton, (died) of a sudden illness. Also Messrs Silas Murphey, John Bryant, Jonathon Duckworth, __ Moor, and Mrs. Mary Bradley, in the vicinity of the same place. All of whom were called in the course of four days of the disease which has proved so epidemical of late, in every quarter of the union." TM, Thursday, 10 December 1807, Volume 3, page 4, as entered in "Abstracts of Vital Records from Raleigh, North Carolina Newspapers 1799-1819," Volume One.

Silas' death was confirmed in the 1810 Wilkes County Census which lists Elizabeth Murphy head of the household, with possible names added:

Elizabeth Murphey - 1810 U.S. Census of Wilkes County:

2 females 0-<10; 1 female 10-<16; 2 females 16-<26 - Rhoda, Jennie, Peggy,Kizzy, and Sallie.

1 female 45+ - Elizabeth Morphew

3 males 16-<26 – Silas, John M., Aaron (Where is James?)

Comment: Note that one son is missing here and Uriah Murphy/Morphew has his own Wilkes Census. Some of Elizabeth's daughters seem rather young and that raises questions.

Last Years of Elizabeth Morphew (1808 – 1830+)

After this point in time, the trail of Elizabeth England Morphew becomes hard to follow. Until recently, she was thought to be the oldest female in the 1820 and 1830 household of Silas Murphy, who lived in the Burke County, North Carolina. Evidence is increasing that this Silas belonged to James Morphew (born ~1750) and that the correct Silas Murphy/Morphew, Jr. had migrated to Tennessee to become a Private in the War of 1812-1814. An 1830 Census of Roane County, Tennessee records an Elizabeth Murphy who must be our Elizabeth England Morphew. She was head of the household and was born between 1750-1760. This same 1830 Census lists Obediah Murphy and John McCarroll, who married Permelea Morphew. Elizabeth does not appear again, but by 1840, Uriah Murphy is now in the same county.

The Old Morphew Cemetery in Watauga County, North Carolina

It is not known where Silas or James were buried. However a very old Morphew cemetery is located in Watauga County, North Carolina, on a mountain top along the eastern bank of the South Fork of New River. Readable grave stones belong to descendants of Silas, including Cyrus Grubb, who furnished some of the earliest clues about the clan. As one inspects the rows of Morphew stones, the dates become older as one walks east. In the eastern-most gave stones, the writing is no longer legible, and one wonders if these belong to Silas and James and even Mary Morphew, wife of the first known Morphew who probably immigrated to America.

The cemetery is located 7-8 miles east of Boone, North Carolina, and approximately 3 1/2 miles north. Drive east from Boone, N.C. along route 421/221 to the church center called Laxon (still in Watauga County), turn Northwest on old state highway road for 0.7 miles, then north on county road 1353 (Hardin Road). As one drives north, a small creek will meander along the west side of the road. This creek suddenly turns west to empty into the South Fork of New River. Not far from this point may be seen the cemetery on top of a high hill along the west side of the road.

Letter by Mrs. Marion M. Ingram of Robbinsville, N.C. (1971)

“I am very much interested in the problems of the Morphews during and following the War of Independence. Because it was so much earlier than the Civil War, accounts are dim. As fond as I am of Silas, the first, I do not believe that the story is quite true, at least the hanging. The story my father told me is so vividly impressed upon my memory.”

“My father never told any of these gruesome tales about his forebearers, so when my brother, as a young boy, came home from Ash County and Watauga where he had been visiting, he had heard even wilder tales concerning the adventures of the Morphews and Greers and Grubbs. What Cleveland’s men had failed to do, the Yankees did! And to cap it all, the Grubbs told him that one Morphew, Silas, had been hanged! We had something at last, on the Wiggins and Deveres – none of them could match a tale like the one we had about Silas. When my father heard that my brother was telling this tale about Silas Morphew being in some big battle and getting hanged and rescued, he told us that it was not true. The reason I remember it so vividly, I was so disappointed! My father said that Silas Morphew and his wife were visiting cousins. Rumors were going around that rewards were being offered for the capture of Tory Spies. Some rough necks, my father called them, came to the house and accused young Silas of being a spy. They marched him out across the clearing and into the woods. His wife and cousin followed along begging and crying and entreating hard and fast, then they began to interrogate him. To each question they asked, Silas is reported to have answered with a riddle. Finally the men went off and left Silas, and no wonder, bested as they were at every turn with the riddles. Despite not being hanged, Silas seems to have emerged from his ordeal as a hero, for, according to my father, that spot where Silas was tried was named Riddle Gap. (Uncle Jim Morphew told me the men heard a noise and left Silas.) There is a Riddle Creek in Watauga County, a Riddle Gap in Yadkin, and a place once called Riddle in Surry.”

A Second Letter by Mrs. Marion M. Ingram (1971)

Greer Medicinal Herbs by Leah Greer Barrow

“The Morphews and Greers got their “cash money” by gathering medicinal herbs and roots high up in the mountains and carrying them many miles to the trading centers. In later years, several of the Greers and Morphews established a huge crude drug plant.”

Leah Greer Barrow added that her grandfather John U. Greer was born in Ashe County, North Carolina in 1867 and died 1972 in Pike County, Kentucky. Lean "grew up digging Mayapple and Bloodroot for my grandfather. He wouldn't let us dig the gensing. He would pay us a little money and then he would lay it out to dry. He then took it to his cousin for money. ...I ran into a girl in Aiken, South Carolina with the name tag of Greer. She married the grandson of R.G. Greer in Pikeville, Kentucky that had the herb business. She told me that they were back in business. My nephew lives in our home place and he sells the ginseng around $450.00 a pound. His first cousin had an herb company in Pikeville, Kentucky, and it is still in operation today." (e-mails courtesy Leah Greer Barrow, 9 and 10 April 2006).

Letter of Arlie C. Morphew, April 30, 1971

The England Link to Chatham County, North Carolina

“A descendant of John England, Bess A. Machtley of West Chester, Pa. has quite a book on the Englands, and I will quote a ...reason (why) John England went to Chatham County, N.C. before moving on to Burke County by 1790. Mrs. Machtley is a descendant of Aaron England, son of John England.”

“William England, born Tyrone Ireland, came with the first Scotch-Irish immigration to Chester County, Pa., and was the first known England to settle in America. He located in Somerset County, Maryland, after marrying 1st to Elizabeth Wilcox or Wilcoxin. One son was born - William England. He married 2nd to Mary Watson, daughter of William Watson, Gloucester, N.J. There were four sons to this 2nd marriage, all born in Maryland: Daniel, Joseph, Samuel, and John England. With the tide of immigration moving south, he took his family in 1760 to Chatham County, N.C. where he received a large land grant. (The reason John went to Chatham County to see his father before going to Burke County). Of course Silas went along to get Elizabeth, but was back in the vicinity of Deep River Quakers. Very shortly thereafter, Mrs. Machtley says there is some doubt about John England’s religion, maybe none, but we do know that Elizabeth was a member of Three Forks Baptist Church. Mrs. Machtley says she lived down the road from the land of Goshen Quaker meeting house and cemetery.”

In the same letter, Arlie changes the subject: “Another Morphew has popped up – Jesse Morphew, who died in 1810 and had 2560 acres of land in one tract and another 2500 acres, purchased in 1809, all in White County, Tennessee. On May 15, 1811, an inventory of his estate was made by Uriah Morphew and presented to the courts on that date (will book A-10). Now this is something else - for who was Jesse Morphew and why would Uriah Morphew be inventorying his estate?”

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