Benjamin and Sarah Stone and the Lewis Family ?Connection
Date: March 04, 2009 at 13:53:30
Benjamin and Sarah Stone and the Lewis Family ?Connection
The first record we find of Benjamin Stone is his purchase in 1768 of land in Orange (Caswell/Person) Co., NC from John Whistsett; however, his daughter, likely his firstborn child and certainly his first daughter was Susannah Stone, born in 1763 (m. Francis Howell/1780). It is my speculation that Benjamin was the nephew of John Burgess and his wife Elizabeth McConkey Burgess, and if that relationship did in fact exist, it is probable that Benjamin’s mother’s maiden name was Burgess.
It is a strikingly “telling” statement that Benjamin and Sarah name their firstborn son Burgess Stone, presumably for John Burgess. We are assuming here, after many years of research yielding only circumstantial evidence, that if there was a relationship between the Burgesses and the family of Benjamin Stone, that it existed through Benjamin, and not Sarah, who we have assumed for some time was Sarah Lewis, daughter of Jeremiah Lewis whose will was probated in 1796 in Anson Co., North Carolina.
The 1775 Orange Co., NC will of John Burgess leaves his estate to widow Elizabeth McConkey Burgess for life, then to three individuals, relationship not stated: BenjaminWilliams, Susannah Stone, and Lydia Breeze. We have no further information at this time on either Benjamin Williams or Lydia Breeze, though we surmise that Lydia was either the daughter or daughter in law of Thomas and Martha Breeze, progenitors of the Breeze family, and early settlers in Orange Co., NC. We do know that in 1777, the widow Burgess is living in St. Luke’s District of what became Casewell Co., NC along with Benjamin Stone, Benjamin Williams, and Samuel McConkey, the latter being one of the appraisers of the estate of John Burgess in Orange Co., NC in 1775. We also know that Susannah Stone Howell purchased a good many household goods at the estate sale of the widow Burgess, having credit with the estate for at least one-third of the total.
It is probable that young Susannah, out of Benjamin’s children, was singled out for this bequest because she lived close by (perhaps even on Burgess’s land before Benjamin acquired land of his own) and possibly helped the older couple around the farm, endearing her to the older couple in their time of need. At the same time, this would have cleared the Stone household of one mouth to feed at a time when Sarah was having a child probably every two years.
We find the only Stone at this point that seems like a possible candidate for the father of Benjamin Stone, is one Edward Stone, who first appears obtaining land grants in Granville and Orange Co., NC records as early as 1751. In the years 1752-1767. Edward serves as surveyor, grand jury, and so forth in Orange Co. records, and he appears in no other later records of counties formed from Orange. He was surety for a neighbor in 1767 as administrator of the neighbor’s brother. A curious document appears in the next year, 1768, as this neighbor pays “Ann Stone”, a sum of money. This is the only reference made to Ann Stone in Orange Co. records and given the context it would seem likely that she was the widow of Edward Stone. It is also worth noting that this Edward, like Benjamin, could evidently neither read nor write, making his “X” on documents, just as Benjamin and Benjamin’s sons were to do. Was this Ann Stone a sister of John Burgess, whose will was probated in Orange County in 1775? For now at least, that is one hypothesis to work with.
Due to the numerous references to the Lewis surname in the family of Benjamin Stone, and heavily involved as witnesses in various legal documents in the period of 1789-1800, it has long been speculated that Benjamin Stone’s wife Sarah was indeed Sarah Lewis.
In pursuit of the answer to that question, many hours have been spent researching the life of Aaron Lewis in order to find the point at which he and the Stones first seem to encounter each other. Was the Lewis family actively involved in the lives of the early Madison County Stone family because of geography? (i.e., there were no other witnesses to find and they had to depend upon their neighbors). Or, was there more to the story than geography. While there are no concete, verifiable documents to support this assertion, it is my belief after many years of research, that Sarah Stone, wife of Benjamin Stone was indeed the sister of early settler Col. Aaron Lewis, and both were the children of one Jeremiah Lewis whose will was probated in 1796, in Anson Co., North Carolina.
In 2008, we finally found a simple deed in Orange Co., North Carolina records:
28 February, 1772: John Blair (an Irishman) conveys to Ephraim Logue one black mare, bed and furniture for 15 pounds sterling. Witness: AARON LEWIS.
This places Aaron Lewis, then, in the same place and time as Benjamin and Sarah Stone, prior to their settlement in Kentucky fifteen or so years later.
Jeremiah Lewis, the presumed parent of Sarah Stone and Aaron Lewis, is also on the Granville Co., NC tax list for the year 1769. It is unknown at what point he removed to Anson County, further south, where he died ca. 1769.
It must have been about that time, 1772, that Aaron Lewis migrated into the frontier of what was then Washington County, Virginia, from which he served in the Revolutionary War, and where he made his home for the next fourteen or so years. Not long after migrating there, he met and married Sarah South, daughter of John South. John South was one of the original Fort Boonesborough settlers and likely the moving force behind Aaron (later styled “Colonel Aaron”) Lewis to migrate to Kentucky.
In 1783, Lewis was Assistant County Surveyor for Washington County, but by 1787 was one of the trustees of Boonesborough and had made the move from Washington County. He attended the Kentucky Convention in 1788 and in 1794 was representative to the Kentucky Assembly and he served on the County Court for about a decade. In the Court Minutes for October, 1798 was the statement that Aaron Lewis had moved. We know from other court documents that he moved to Logan County, Kentucky, where he died in 1821.
So what of the relationship between Aaron Lewis and the Stones? It is purely conjecture on my part based on the surviving documents, but this is what I think took place. In August, 1787, Benjamin Stone purchases land on Great Troublesome Creek in Guilford/Rockingham Co., North Carolina. In my opinion, he would not have purchased land with hard to acquire cash money if he had in any way anticipated moving to Kentucky, which he evidently did in the year, 1788. Did Benjamin become ill, or was he injured in some way? That would seem to be the case. There would seem to have been some compelling reason that would cause Benjamin Stone to uproot his entire family after acquiring land in Guilford/Rockingham Co., NC and migrate hundreds of miles into the Kentucky frontier. By 1784, we know that Aaron’s brother John Lewis, of whom nothing further is known, had migrated into the area of Madison County and had acquired a bond upon Zachariah Dozier requiring him to deliver a quantity of 66 barrels of corn to Louisville or provide the cash for which the same would bring, in February, 1785. Legal action was initiated by John Lewis for nonperformance by Dozier and this obligation was somehow assigned or otherwise acquired in the meantime by his brother Aaron Lewis. Litigation continued between Aaron Lewis and the Dozier family for a number of years. Eventually, Aaron Lewis deeded some of the land that remained to Thomas Dozer, after Lewis had already moved to what is now Logan Co., Kentucky.
Aaron Lewis had acquired land in the Hines Creek/Kentucky River vicinity before 1790 and invited the family of Benjamin and Sarah Stone to move there; in addition, we know that Aaron’s brother Jeremiah Lewis may have lived there as well for a time, with Jeremiah Lewis, Jr., leaving a will ca. 1822 in Green Co., Kentucky. When Benjamin Stone’s will was written, it was Aaron Lewis’s hand that actually wrote the document. His was a crisp, clean, sharp, symmetrical style of writing almost devoid of the spelling and punctuation errors common for the time, indicating that he had been well educated.
His family members witnessed the will and Aaron himself served as co-executor along with Sarah Stone. The Lewises also witnessed the marriage consent note that widow Sarah Stone signed for underaged daughter Fanny Stone to marry Isaac Orrey Lewis in Madison County in 1798. In 1796, Aaron Lewis and John Stone, son of Benjamin, had joint legal action brought against them to recover a promissory note for fifteen pounds that Aaron Lewis had presumably secured as co-signor or guarantor for John Stone. In January, 1798, two and a half years after Benjamin’s will was probated, Aaron Lewis finally recorded a deed to Sarah and Dudley Stone, stating that he had been paid cash in hand (75 pounds) for the subject property by Benjamin Stone. I think it is highly unlikely that if Sarah Stone had not been a sister to Aaron Lewis, that the Stone family would have allowed two and a half years to elapse before securing a deed of conveyance to property already paid for with a clear title, in a time when litigation was pandemic concerning land titles and overlapping boundary claims. I think this is a very telling piece of information.
Lexington bankers Robert and Andrew Porter, brought suit against Aaron Lewis and his sons in Madison County in 1804, which involved no small amount of paperwork. The object of the suit was to reclaim an indebtedness that Aaron Lewis evidently acquired on much if not all of the real estate that he had purchased in central Kentucky including the tract conveyed to Sarah and Dudley Stone in 1798. It is to be assumed that somehow or the other that Aaron Lewis made good on his promise in kind at least to provide acreage to each of the sons of Benjamin Stone in keeping with the terms of his 1795 will, which would have been in what is now Bourbon Co., Kentucky on Stoner Creek, 500 acres of a total tract of 1250 acres that had been entered in the name of James Crabtree, according to the 1795 will of Benjamin Stone. That conveyance was never made, so it is likely that Aaron Lewis, the presumed uncle of John and Samuel, Stone, made good on his end of the deal with cash or perhaps other conveyances in kind in Warren Co., Kentucky where Samuel and John migrated to. The net result of the Porter litigation was that Aaron’s son Thomas Lewis made good on the amount due, and the case was dismissed in 1807.
In the end, it is highly unlikely that any revealing Stone and Lewis documents will surface in the period from 1760 to 1800, proving the identity of Sarah Stone, wife of Benjamin, but in my mind the circumstantial evidence is overwhelming.
Todd D. Moberly, 6th great grandson of Benjamin and Sarah Stone.
3 March, 2009