Monday, August 19, 2013

Help from Facebook Cousin

Chancery Court Case naming all of the heirs of Benjamin Wray

Newspaper listing
regarding the court case
I've connected with many cousins at Facebook. My cousin Christy noticed my Thurman family surname and referred me to an administrator of the Thurman DNA Project at Family Tree DNA. As it turns out I have a mystery John Thurman line they never heard of before. I introduced them to my John Thurman who died in 1821 in Franklin County, VA. They introduced me to two different Thurman lines in the same area. One goes back to Joseph Thurman, the immigrant, born February 11, 1697 in Westminster, London, England and died 1774 or 1775 in Prince William, Virginia.  The other line goes back to a Richard Thurman born 1680 and died 1710 in Hanover County, Virginia. So I came to the conclusion I am probably related to one of these lines or neither? Still need to establish where my John Thurman fits?
I was put in touch with a descendant of Joseph Thurman who has an outstanding, well documented, tree for this family at As it turns out he is also a Wray family descendant. He also descends from Revolutionary War veteran Benjamin Wray. This got me back into researching this line again. I shared what I had collected for the Wray family with him. I searched Virginia Memory again. Found several family Deeds. I made an incredible find in the Chancery Court records which provided me with irrefutable proof that my ancestor Anderson Wray was the son of Elias Wray and Elias Wray was the son of Benjamin Wray. All of the heirs of Benjamin Wray were named in an 1849 Chancery Court case.
Now that my line is proven beyond a doubt to Benjamin Wray I felt confident enough to move forward; or backward, as we are want to do in genealogy. I have a copy of the 1802 Will of Moses Wray of Franklin County, VA, and Benjamin Wray is listed as his son. I am confident this Moses is Benjamin's father. A wife Elizabeth is mentioned in the will, but I am not certain whether she is Benjamin's mother since it was common for women to die young?
Doing a lot of searching at my usual places Ancestry, Rootsweb, Familysearch, Archive, USgenweb,and the most useful Virginia Memory I found a great deal of speculation about the family, and some concrete facts.
What can be established:

  1. Benjamin Wray son of Moses was born in a place called James River Virginia about 1757 according to his Revolutionary War Pension File.
  2. According to a map of early Franklin County, Virginia settlers Moses Wray had a land grant dated 1762 on Magotty Creek next to a Joseph Wray who settled there in 1747.
  3. A Moses Ray appeared on a 1745 Taxlist list with 5 slaves, and on later tax lists for Albemarle County, VA owning up to 12 slaves.
  4. A 1748 Tithe list for Lunenburg County, VA includes a Joseph, Benjamin, and Moses Wray. At this point in time the Magotty Creek area was in Lunenburg County, Va. I believe this Moses is the one who died in 1802, my ancestory.
  5. A Benjamin Wray was living on Magotty Creek in 1753 when a Moravian traveller, using the established Moravian Trail, came upon a Benjamin Reh and his wife living there. They were said to be 90 or 100 years old which is likely an exaggeration. He must have been too old to be taxed by 1749 because he doesn't appear on that tax list?
  6. A Moses Ray filed a will in 1768 in Amherst County, Va. Amherst was in Lunenburg County, VA in 1747, so this is likely the same man on the 1747 Tax List.
  7. A Moses Ray purchased several tracts of land on and around the James River in the 1740's and 1750's. He willed property on Bear Creek in Rich Cove to Moses Wray Jr..

One researcher believes that Benjamin Wray living on Magotty Creek was Moses Wray's father. A vast majority of the Wray researchers believe Moses Wray Sr., whose will was filed in 1768 Amherst, is Moses Wray's father since this man did mention a Moses Junior in his will. I tend to side with them. Although more research is needed to rule out Benjamin, and Joseph as his father. It sounds like a wife Elizabeth was mentioned on one Moses Wray deed, so this again points to our Moses inheriting land from his father and later selling it.
Well connecting with new distant cousins and collaborating always seems to lead to new information. It also spurs me to get more of my paperwork collection digitized.

1757 Deed Moses Ray Rich Cove

Benjamin Ray Revolutionary War Pension statement

Franklin County, VA Early Settler Map

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