James Love, Senior
and the life record of his family


Have you ever experienced the difficulty of putting together a bicycle in time for Christmas using poorly written instructions? Not fitting together as well as it should, much time is spent pondering over the significance of left over parts spread about your feet. The task of putting together the life story of James Love and family is similar in nature. Our James Love was a man of means who moved about or at least had holdings in different places. James and his children appear to migrate westward across Virginia before relocating to Stokes County NC where he eventually died. From his last will and testament, we capture a glimpse of the closing chapter of James Love’s story. And from that information, we can look back to records in Virginia where we begin piecing together the family tree. But as with other families, ours also honored itself in the naming of offspring. As the children carried forth, the family names grew in number overwhelming an already confusing story line. And relocating to neighborhoods with others of the same name, we are left trying to prove kinship beyond that which is held in traditional belief. Acknowledging now that many of the life attributes cannot be positively linked, the following is an ongoing evaluation of records believed pertinent to the Love family history. I welcome any thoughts, additions, or concerns.

Records in Brunswick County, Virginia

From the vital statistics of his children and grand children, and by dating his appearance in land records, we believe James Love Senior was born ca. 1720 in Virginia. From records in Brunswick County VA, we know that James’s wife is named Elizabeth. Her maiden name is yet unknown. James Love Senior appears in the early land grant records and deed books of Brunswick County VA. As follows, he first acquired land in that county in 1745:

Grant (patent # 23, page 1118, 1741-1751 series, Virginia). Issued 20 Aug 1745, James Love received a grant for 154 acres situated on the north side of Waqua Creek in Brunswick County. The tract adjoined lands owned by Charles Goldston and Richard Taliforno.
Grant (patent # 29, page 459, series 1741-1751, Virginia). Issued 5 Jul 1751, James Love received another grant being 280 acres in Brunswick County. The land was situated on “The Great Branch of Waqua Creek” adjoining lands owned by James Vaughan and Henry Wilson.

In 1748, James Love appears in Drury Stith’s list within the tax lists for Brunswick County, Virginia. Dated 26 Jul 1757, James (I) Love & wife Betty sold 100 acres (6-174, Brunswick VA) to John Love for 5 shillings. Likely a portion of James’s grant # 23, the land was situated on the north side of Waqua Creek adjoining the lands of Charles Golston and Richard Taliferro. From the cheap price of the land and timing of the transaction, it appears this was James Love Senior giving land to his son John Love. If so, the transaction signals that John was likely coming of age and therefore could have been born ca. 1738-1840.

On 28 Apr 1760, James Love Senior recorded a transaction (6-462, Brunswick VA) in which he purchased a slave and household goods from Frazzell McTeer. One of the witnesses was James Love. Indicating James Love had a son with the same given name, this record further points that he was now of legal age and able to act as witness. In the winter of 1760, Amey Short, William Short, and John Short sold 231 acres (7-244, Brunswick VA) to Nicholas Robinson. Charles Clayton, James Love Jr., and Nanny Clayton witnessed the deed. So for the first time we now see the name James Love Junior used as a means of distinguishing the father and son. This is also an important record in that from his 1800 Stokes County NC last will and testament, James Love Senior names a daughter Nancy who is named to be the wife of Charles Clayton. We now know Nancy Love married Charles Clayton before the 28 Apr 1760 transaction date.

Being the last known record for James Love Senior in Brunswick County VA, dated 24 Apr 176_ and recorded 24 Apr 1769, James (I) Love, Elizabeth (x) Love, John Love & Ruth Love their wives of Brunswick County VA sold unspecified acreage (9-442, Brunswick VA) to James Crook. The land was situated on the north side of Waqua Creek joining Charles Goldston and Richard Talliferrro. We know that John Love married Ruth Crook. This deed signals they were married prior to 1769. In the next transaction in the deed book, Samuel Burch sold 225 acres to James Crook. The land adjoined that belonging to William Averis decd, Richard Talliferro, and Peter Jones, Davis.

On 17 Feb 1768, John Love of Brunswick Co. purchased 394 acres (9-157, Brunswick VA) from William Merriott of Dinwiddie County. Situated on Possum Quarter Branch, the land adjoined that owned by Robert Dunkley, Henry Wilson and James Love. Dated 26 Mar 1770, John Love & wife Ruth (x) Love sold 197 acres to John Lattimore. Situated on Possum Quarter Branch and adjoining lands owned by James Love and Henry Wilson, it appears this may be part of the 394-acre purchase.

Though our Love family continues to appear in later Brunswick County records, I believe these deeds by John and his father James Love mark their probable removal from the county.

Records in Charlotte County, Virginia

Dated 4 Mar 1770, John Love of Charlotte purchased 237 acres (2-422, Charlotte VA) from Robert Bromfield and wife Susannah. Adjoining the lands of David Logan, Robert Ham and David Madox, the transaction was recorded one year later on 4 Mar 1771.

In October of 1770, Drury Stith of St. Andrews Parish, Brunswick County VA sold six tracts of land situated in Charlotte County VA. Remember that James Love [Sr] appeared in the 1748 Brunswick County tax list taken by Drury Stith? In Drury Stith’s six transactions, James’s son John Love and son-in-law Charles Clayton appear as witnesses. In particular, three of the deeds are important in that they confirm our Love family is on the move. The deeds are as follows:

Deed (2-385, Charlotte County VA) 15 Oct 2001, recorded 4 Feb 1771. Drury Stith of St. Andrews Parish Brunswick VA to George Clayton of same. Being 200 acres in Charlotte on the branches of Little Roanoke River. Granted to said Stith 16 Dec 1769 and adjoining the lands of Worthy. Charles Clayton, John Love, Britain Clayton, and Joseph (x) Cook [Crook?] witnessed the transaction. Note that John Love and Charles Clayton are brothers-in law. What relation is George to Charles Clayton?

Deed (3-387, Charlotte County VA) 16 Oct 1770, recorded 4 Feb 1771. Drury Stith of St. Andrews Parish Brunswick Co. VA to Anthony Hundley of Lunnenburg Co. Being 295 acres on the branches of Roanoke River adjoining Charles Clayton’s land. Part of a larger tract granted to said Stith on 16 Dec 1769. Charles Clayton, John Love, Britain Clayton, and Joseph (x) Cook witnessed the transaction.

Deed (3-393, Charlotte County VA) 15 Oct 1770, recorded 4 Feb 1771. Drury Stith of Brunswick County VA to James Love of Charlotte County. Being 300 acres on Wallace’s Creek, the land is part of a larger tract granted to said Stith on 16 Dec 1769. Charles Clayton, and Britain Clayton witnessed the transaction.

Early the next year, John Love of Charlotte purchased 237 acres (2-422, Charlotte VA) from Robert Bromfield. The transaction date is 4 Mar 1770 and it was recorded one year later on 3 Mar 1771. It appears the clerk made a mistake and the transaction date just very well may be 4 Mar 1771. A year later, on 7 Dec 1772, James Love [Senior] sold his 300 acres (3-165, Charlotte VA) purchased earlier from Drury Stith. Being identified as “James Lovis of the Parish of Cornwall & C,” he sold the land to Charles Hundley Jr. of Nottoway Parish Amelia County. There are no witnesses. As with earlier transactions in Brunswick County, James Love signed his name (James I Love). His wife “Elizabeth” relinquished her right to dower.

The court order books provide further information on James Love in Charlotte County VA. In Nov 1771, “Thomas Moore, James Love, John Love, and John Cox, or the first sworn before a Magistrate of this County are ordered to view the best and most convenient way for a road from Cobbs ferry into Stewarts Road and report to the next court…” In Dec 1772, “James Love is appointed surveyor of the road from Cobb’s ferry to Logan’s Road and …is ordered.. that he together with Thomas Bedford’s hands at his quarter on this county do furtherwith clear and keep the same in repair according to law.” In 1770, John Love purchased land adjoining David Logan. In Feb 1773, “John Love is appointed Surveyor of the road whereof James Love was late Surveyor & it is ordered that he Together with the usual hands that worked on the said road and with the same James Love do furtherwith clear & keep the same in repair…” There is no signature or information distinguishing this James Love. But it appears he is John’s father, stepping down to offer his son responsibility for this civic duty. Court orders of this type are a sign of stature and sought after by the more prominent residents. Note that James Love and son were in Brunswick County VA shortly before acquiring land in Charlotte County in late 1770. It took less than a year for the two to be picked for service within the county.

I am not yet sure of the Virginia laws of the day, but in North Carolina citizens were exempt from paying taxes after they reached the age of 50. Believing our James Love [Senior] was born ca. 1720, he would be exempt and therefore fall from tax lists at some point in the mid 1770’s. I imagine he was also made exempt from being required to perform public service at that same time. Could the transfer of duty from James to his son John have marked James’s aging out of being required to perform public duty? In Apr 1774, “on motion of James Love, leave is granted him to keep an Ordinary at McGraw’s old store in this County he giving security whereupon he together with Paul Carrington Gent. his security entered into and acknowledged their bond according to law for that purpose.” The next entry in the court book is an established appointment of costs or rates for the sell of liquors.

The above court action is the last solid appearance of James Love [Senior] in the records of Charlotte County VA Actually, his last record may be the 1772 transaction in which he and wife Elizabeth are selling land. Could he have moved or was he still living in the county? On 4 Jan 1774, Drury Stith of Brunswick sold 190 acres (3-554, Charlotte VA) to George Lawson of Charlotte County, Cornwall Parish. Situated on the east side of Wallace Creek, the tract adjoined lands owned by Richard Crews, William Brumfield, the Courthouse road, William Williams, Fegan, and Alexander Brown. James Love, Jno. Ingram, Charles Clayton, and Nathan (x) Lawson witnessed the transaction. Is this James Sr. or Junior? Note that James Love Junior married Mary Ingram, the daughter of John Ingram of Brunswick County. And note that James Jr.’s brother-in-law also witnesses this transaction. The aforementioned Wallace Creek empties into the nearby Staunton River that serves as county line between Charlotte and Halifax Counties VA. Opposite Wallace Creek, Hunting Creek empties from Halifax into the Staunton River. We believe a James Love who lived there is the son of James Love, Senior.

James Love [Senior] removed to North Carolina sometime from 1772 to the late 1780’s. This happened likely around 1780. The exact date of arrival is not known, as records in North Carolina do not clearly distinguish him from others with the same name. The legal annals of Charlotte County VA record his son John though 1785. This was a year before John’s death in Surry County NC. John’s daughter Sarah and her husband James Middleton also moved to Stokes County NC before returning to Charlotte County VA where they lived out their lives.

Records in Surry and Stokes Counties North Carolina

Dated 13 Dec 1797, Thomas Tucker and wife Ann deeded one acre of land (3-96, Stokes NC) to James Love Senr., Edmund Jean, William Jean, James Love Junr., Edward Cooley, Robert Fulton, and Archibald Campbell. As trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church, these seven men received the gift deed for one acre situated on Rocky Branch of Muddy Creek for the purpose of erecting a meetinghouse. The land adjoined that owned by Vincent Brown. With built-in checks and balances for keeping the investment safe, the deed also gives a glimpse of early Methodist governance. It was deemed important that a group of seven trustees be maintained at all times. The minister would nominate new members to the board of trustees, but was restricted from voting on the same unless the vote was needed to break a tie. And the deed, likely written with guidance from denominational authority, stipulates actions to be taken if the church should sell land or find itself in debt. Recorded March 1798.William and Robert Walker witnessed this conveyance of land for building a Methodist Church.

Researching the internet, I found a website dedicated to the history of Bethel Methodist Church in Guilford County NC. Several of the seven people listed in the above deed appear to be also active in the formation of Bethel Church. But more important, a goldmine of information is found in an excerpt of Bishop Francis Asbury’s diary as presented on Bethel Methodist Church’s web site. Tracing his 1799 tour through North Carolina, Bishop Asbury wrote:

On October 3, we rode twelve miles to Convey's in Guilford County. Friday, October 4, we rode twelve miles to Mrs. Campbell's on the south fork of Haw River. We had to work our way through woods and on Sunday we attended the quarterly meeting at Bethel upon Belews Creek where I ordained five deacons; preached on 1 Timothy 6:11-12. We had a gracious time and rode only twelve miles in two days. I lodged at McDaniel's and on Monday I rode through Stokes County and attended the meeting at Loves Church, which had glass windows and the yard was fenced in."

Bishop Asbury’s tour took him through the point where Stokes, Rockingham, Forsyth, and Guilford Counties now come together. Belew’s Creek rises just north of Kernersville and runs north along the Forsyth/Guilford County line before continuing through Stokes and Rockingham until emptying in the Dan River. About five miles west of Belew’s Creek, Love’s Methodist Church stood just southwest of Walkertown in present Forsyth County. So shortly after Thomas Tucker deeded the land, in 1799, Bishop Francis Asbury passed through the region and took note of what he knew to be Love’s Church. With “glass windows and a yard was fenced in,” it appears the trustees did not waste time in making good their agreement to build a suitable place to worship.

Shortly after meeting one of the more noted leaders of religion in America, James Love Senior passed from this world. At Christmas time on 26 Dec 1799, James [Sr.] wrote his last will and testament in Stokes County NC. The will was probated September session 1800 indicating he died sometime between Christmas of 1799 and September 1800. The 1800 census for Stokes County lists two James Loves 26- 45 years old, but neither was old enough to be James Sr or namesake son James Jr. Apparently James Love Sr. died prior to the census enumeration. Looking at the will, James Love Senior’s wife Elizabeth was not mentioned, indicating she had likely died earlier. Appearing prominently as the first item of the will, James Love bequeathed two slaves named Aaron and Magg to “Edmund Jean, William Jean, Seth Coffin, and James Campbell of Stokes County and George McKinny Junr, Reuben McDaniel and Travarse Jones of Guilford.” He stipulated that in the case of the death of one of the named legatees, the slaves would not be allowed to “descend to the heirs of the deceased.” In item five, James Love again mentioned the seven persons. To them he bequeathed “a sorrel Colt (commonly called Aaron’s colt).” Before naming his own family, James thought first of these seven men. Likely trustees of Love’s Church, it appears James Love had already stepped down and votes taken for new trustees had occurred as stipulated in the church deed. Note that these names are also fundamental to the founding history of Bethel Church. And knowing of the deed and will, was James Love merely a trustee, or had he been a preacher at the church that carries his name?

Clear of mind, James Love also named his sons and identified his daughter in relation to her husband. In item three, his “Son in Law Charles Clayton [was bequeathed] a certain bay horse, to him and his heirs, children of his wife Nancy my Daughter forever.” Son James Jr. was bequeathed five shillings in the fourth item. In item six, the remaining residue of the estate was equally divided among James Love Jr., Charles Clayton and wife Nancy, and the “children of my son John Love by my daughter in law Ruth Love.” Son James Love was named Executor. Robert Wilkerson and A. Campbell witnessed the will. As found in all previous records, James Love [Sr.] also signed this document with an “X.” Note that his son James Love Junior did not sign the will.

So shortly after the 1799 visit by Bishop Francis Asbury, James Love Sr. died and was likely buried at Love’s Church. It is clear that the Love family was deeply rooted in Methodist ways. Looking back to Virginia, there was a great movement of religious awakening in 1778. Within that state, there were two early conferences. One was called the Sussex and the other Brunswick. It is known that Asbury had also visited Brunswick County VA earlier. I wonder about the visit and how it influenced our Love family?


James Love senior died in 1800 and is likely buried at Love’s Methodist Church on Rocky Branch in now Forsyth County NC. Forsyth grew from Stokes County in 1849 and Stokes grew from Surry County in 1789. Looking back through James Love’s 1799 will, note that he mentions a daughter in law Ruth, who is the widow of his son John Love. Ruth appears in the 1790’s tax lists for Stokes County. And found in earlier Surry County Court minutes, a __November 1786 entry reads:

Admr Estate of John Love, decd, granted to Ruth Love, widow & relict of sd. Decd; James Middleton security; James Love & Wm. Campbell securities
Signed by Ruth (x) Love and James Middleton, the surviving inventory includes many common household items, John’s estate in Virginia, and Virginia notes and currency. The estate paid out to Frederick William Marshall, Joseph Banner, James Love Senr, Christopher Kinast, George Stophnar, Moses Martin, Anthony Bitting, Hasty & Company of Virgina, and John Binkley. Sheriff Richard Goode provided an account of the estate sale. From the items listed, it appears John was a farmer or possibly a carpenter by trade. Looking back to earlier records in Virginia, John and Ruth and James and Elizabeth Love jointly sold land in Brunswick County. John married Ruth Crook ca. 1760 in Brunswick County VA. John and Ruth moved to Charlotte County VA where their daughter Sarah married James Middleton in 1781. Note that James Middleton paid security for settling the 1786 estate. John and Ruth also had a son James who may have signed in witness of his sister’s 1781 marriage bond. Looking through the tax lists of Stokes and Surry Counties, it is easy to first believe the documented James Love Junior is the son of James Sr. But he is not. As proved by land records, James Love Junior who appears in Stokes County tax lists is the son of John and Ruth.

James Love Senior named son James Love Junior to be the Executor of his 1799 last will and testament. But was it his son or grandson of same name who actually settled the estate? The loose estate records indicate that “James Junior” called in several people to answer questions concerning debts owed to the estate. Examining vouchers and providing an account balance, a committee was appointed to settle with James Love junior who was documented as “Administrator” of the estate of James Love, Senior. If James Junior was named executor, then why is he identified legally as “administrator?” We know that at the time of James Sr.’s death and estate settlement, his son James was active in the Rocky River region of Cabarrus/Montgomery Counties NC. James Sr.’s other son John died in 1786 leaving his oldest son James to grow under the watchful eye of his mother and grandfather. Appearing beside his grandfather in tax lists through the 1790’s, it seems only natural James’s Sr.’s oldest heir still living nearby would take on the responsibility of settling his estate. It makes sense that as the son of James Love Sr. did not sign the will, then he may not have participated in settling the estate. If he lived far away, James Junior may not have been able to meet the demands of the court and may have been forced to operate under supervision of the court. At any rate, the use of the term “James Junior” really confuses the record. Documents do not distinguish the term as meaning “James the younger” or “James, son of.”

The 1790 Stokes County census lists the following:

Thomas Love, Page 178,
1m16+, 1m16-, 3f

James Love, Page 181,
1m 16+, 2f

James Love , Page 181,
1m 16+, 1m16-, 7f, 7 slaves

One of the above is James Love Sr. and the other is his grandson. I believe James Senior is the first as he is enumerated in all tax lists as owning two slaves. The second entry reflects Ruth and her youngest son John C. Love living at the home of her oldest son James. That makes sense as on 1 Sep 1791, Frederick William Marshall, Esquire of Salem in Wachovia sold 402 acres (1-99, Stokes NC) to James Love also of Wachovia. Acting as trustee of the Moravian Church, William F. Marshall held legal authority controlling church holdings in the settlement known as Wachovia. James Love’s tract is described as lying “on the head branches of a Branch of the middle fork of Muddy Creek called the Rocky Branch.” The land was situated in the “north east corner of Wachovia Tract.” Found in The Records of Moravians in North Carolina, a map and list of owners in Wachovia [1779 and later] locates James Love’s purchase as lot No. 160. Comparing the early map to the present day Forsyth County map, we can locate James Love’s land on Rocky Branch Road to be just south west of Walkertown.

Looking at the tax lists of Surry/Stokes County, we see that James Love Jr. holds on to his land until late in the 1790’s. Dated 21 June 1800, and for natural love and affection, James Love, Junior of Stokes County gave 200 acres (3-331, Stokes NC) to his brother “John Crook Love, a minor.” Being part of James’s 1791 deed, taxes were paid on this gift land by his mother Ruth until James’s brother John C. Love came of age. This record is the key to distinguishing this James Love Junior to be the son of John and Ruth. And Ruth’s maiden name is Crook, and so we know John Crook Love is her son. Therefore James Love Junior in the tax records is also the son of John and Ruth. We also know this family appears in the 1790 census, tax lists for the 1790’s, and the one deed and plat of Wachovia. There are three other records that positively tie the genealogy. First, James Love Senior wrote a will in 1799 mentioning his children and others. Second, in 1787 Surry County, Ruth administered the estate of John Love who appears to be her husband and son of James Love Sr. And third, back in Brunswick and Charlotte Counties VA, deeds positively link the Love family as being the same ones living in Stokes County NC.

We know that James Love Senior lived in Brunswick County VA before moving to Charlotte County VA ca. 1770. He is identified by his mark (I) in selling land in both counties with his wife “Elizabeth.” He may have moved from the state ca. 1772 as in that year he sold land in Charlotte County. However, as hinted at in a court order book, he may have stayed longer as operator of an Ordinary in Charlotte County. Knowing for sure that James Love’s son James ended up in Mecklenburg, County North Carolina, the records of a James and Elizabeth in that county raises the possibility his parents may have also lived there. But as will be shown, this James Love found in Mecklenburg County NC moved there earlier from Cumberland County NC. Though we have not been able to determine what eventually became of this other James Love, the following attempts to dispel the thought of there being any immediate relation to our Love family. I have put together some information on this other James Love of Cumberland County NC.


With all said and done, it appears James Love Senior married a Elizabeth and raised a family in Brunswick County VA. As their children reached legal age, the extended family began a migration carrying James and Elizabeth with them. They first moved to Charlotte County VA before settling in Surry/Stokes County NC. James Senior lost his wife at some point while living in Charlotte Co. VA or early in Surry/Stokes County NC. His son John died in Surry County NC just before the formation of Stokes. John’s wife Ruth stayed in the area and apparently lived near James Love Senior. James’s daughter Nancy married Charles Clayton and they moved to Georgia where Charles left a will naming his wife Nancy. James Love Junior moved to Wilkes County NC before settling in Cabarrus County NC. His son John remained in Wilkes where he served in the revolutionary war. By moving to Cabarrus County NC, James Love Junior’s nephew James Love was freed to use the title James Love Junior within the annals of Stokes County. So living beside his grandfather, this James Love likely settled the estate of James Love Senior who died ca. 1800. Love’s Methodist Church was built on lands likely adjoining the Love Family. In fact, further tracing of the land may show it to once be owned by the Love family. Even the last will and testament of our James Love Senior is proof to his faith as held to the beliefs of the time.

And as for the slaves named Aaron and Magg, I was wonderfully stunned when I recently read of two petitions in support of their emancipation. Not long after the death of James Love Senior, six of the legatees (one dieing prior) petitioned the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina for the liberation of slaves Aaron and Magg. The men stated that James was a quiet and gentle man who was aged and sickly. The slaves displayed uncommon character and industriousness in how they supported their dieing master. Asking for the slaves to be known hence forth as “Aaron Moses and Mary Magdalene,” the men requested that the wishes of James Love be honored by the state. And yet in further support of the freedom of Moses and Magg, locally residing heirs at law and acquaintances raised yet another petition. Though times were not enlightened in such way for the state to act upon James Love’s last wish, I can only hope and imagine that somehow Aaron and Magg gained their freedom. But yet another diary entry dated 15 Feb 1803 tells of the likely outcome:

It was noted that the Negro Aaron Moses, who has been working in the tanyard, must be sent away, as certain persons who lay claim to him are seeking to take him by force.
Noting that the Moravian Church owned five businesses including the tanyard, in that same year, the church body voted to uphold a law from long ago which forbid the owning of slaves within the "congregation town." And a few pages from this entry, the diary records that gold has been found in Cabarrus County.


The following are the children of James Love Senior and his wife Elizabeth:

A. John Love
B. Nancy Love
C. James Love, Junior


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