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Viles Family Genealogy

Last Updated 30 November 2009

Image: Leonard and Inez Viles

This is one of the few pictures available of my grandfather, Leonard O. Viles, and his sister, Inez Viles Cunning Dains. Because of the death of their mother, when Inez was a baby, Inez was adopted by Mary and Adolph Cunning. Fortunately for us Grandpa made it a point to keep in touch with his sister, allowing us to still have contact with her line of the family. This picture was taken in about 1912.

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Welcome to the Viles Family Genealogy Site. There is a great deal of change that will be occurring on this page, as much information is being found on this family. Although my branch of the family uses the surname of Viles, the majority of the other branches of the family use Voils, Voyles, or Voiles. Read on for the rest of the story.

In about 1755 Jacob Voils and his four sons, William, Thomas, James, and John, came to America from Wales. Many lines of this family believe they came from Denbighshire, Wales, but all of our best evidence negates that belief. Although we are still trying to find positive proof, the researchers I have talked to in England and Wales say most of the Voils families are found in Pembrokeshire. When a breakthrough occurs, I'll post it on this website. Jacob is supposed to have landed in the port of Charleston, South Carolina, although I'm still trying to prove that information. Apparently the family incurred some unexpected debt on the trip and William, a boy of fourteen, was indentured to the Ship's Captain for four years to pay off the debt. It is said that William was so upset with his father for indenturing him that when his service to the Captain was over he did not come back to South Carolina but settled, instead, in North Carolina. If there was a rift in the family, they must have mended it because on the first family land grant for my ancestor, Thomas Voils, it lists all four of the sons and the father living on adjoining land in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. This land later became part of Cabarrus County, North Carolina. The land grant states that Thomas Voils entered the request for 150 acres on 29 May 1779. Since this was in the middle of the Revolutionary War, no land grants were actually issued until after the war ended. The land grant was issued on 2 November 1784.

So far, the earliest government records I have found for William are DAR records and National Archive records listing him as being a soldier in the North Carolina Militia during the Revolutionary War. Just a couple of weeks ago I also received a copy of a pay voucher for my ancestor, Thomas. He is listed as receiving pay from the State of North Carolina for services during the Revolutionary War.

Image: Thomas Voyles pay voucher

The voucher states, “State of North Carolina, Salisbury District No. 1514 agreeable to an act of the general assembly paper in Wake County the 14th of July 1781. Thomas Voyles was allowed three pounds three shillings specci for militia service by the board of auditors Aug 28 1782 by order David Wilson, Will Carthey, Kinsey Trotter, CB”

Sometime around 1788 the brothers started moving away. By the time of the first Federal Census in 1790, William and Thomas were in Mecklenburg County, but their two other brothers, James and John were not. James moved his family to Rowan County, North Carolina and John moved his family to South Carolina. Although this is far from completely accurate, the information known about Jacob and his sons is:

Jacob Voils - born about 1718 in Wales. Death date unknown.

William Voils - born about 1741 in Wales. Death date was between January of 1798 and April of 1798. William's will was first listed in records in January of 1798 and he is listed as deceased in records by April of 1798.

  • Thomas Voils - born about 1745 in Wales. Death date is believed to be about 1816 as that is the last date he shows up in the tax records of Washington County, Kentucky. I'm still trying to prove that, as I wonder if he might have moved to another county since I can find no will for him.(This is my line)

    James Voils - born about 1750 in Wales. Died about 1790 in Rowan County, North Carolina. I have very little information on James so far and hope to continue to collect more after I finish researching Thomas.

    John Voils - born about 1750 in Wales. Died between 1820 and 1830 in South Carolina. James and John are believed to be twins.

    Recently there has been some controversy over who the children of Thomas Voils are and although that controversy has not been settled, for now I believe the children of Thomas and Sarah Voils are:

    George born about 1771
    Benjamin born about 1772
    James born about 1775
    Nicholas born about 1777
    Elizabeth born about 1788
    Female child born 1784 to 1790
    Joseph born about 1790
    Thomas born about 1794
    Levi born about 1796

  • William born 26 October 1797(my line)

    From here on the name in my branch of the family became Viles and family records are well documented, thanks in great part to Judy McKinney of Halfway, Missouri, who has written a book on William Viles and his descendants.

    Exciting News!!!

    If you would like to purchase a copy of this book please contact Judy at:

    Judy McKinney
    4308 S. 188th Rd.
    e-mail: Judy Mckinney
    Learn more about the book at: Judy's book site.

    William, who was born in Cabarrus County, North Carolina, was living in Washington County, Kentucky until 1819. He is listed on the tax records in that county. After that we find William on a marriage record in Vevay, Switzerland, Indiana, on 16 March 1820. William married Martha Banta. By the time of the Federal Census in 1820 he is in Ripley County, Indiana, but by 1830 and 1840 he is back in Switzerland County, Indiana.

    The children of William and Martha are:

    Nancy A. Viles - born about 1823

  • G. Perry Viles - born 20 April 1824 in Vevay, Switzerland, Indiana(my line)

    Henry Viles born 1 February 1828 in Switzerland County, Indiana (twin)
    Benjamin Viles - born 1 February 1828 in Switzerland County, Indiana (twin)
    John Wesley Viles - born 28 March 1832

    Image: John Wesley Viles family

    John Wesley Viles with his wife, Susan, and his children, Ed, John Foster and Lexie Blanche

    Moses R. Viles - born 20 December 1834 in Switzerland County, Indiana

    Image: Moses Viles and his wife Martha

    Moses Viles and his wife, Martha

    Washington Alonzo Viles - born 1839 in Switzerland County, Indiana
    Martha J. Viles - born about 1841

    Image: James E.and Martha Viles Mayfield

    Wedding Portrait of James E.and Martha Viles Mayfield

    When Perry Viles was 16 years old he moved to Polk County, Missouri, probably to check out the quality and availability of the land, and within two years, in 1842, the rest of the Viles family had joined him there. Halfway, Polk County, Missouri, was to become the final resting place for William and Martha, as well as for many of their descendants. William died 18 December 1870 and his wife, Martha, appears to have died about 1874. Both are buried in Polk County, Missouri, although the grave of Martha has not been found yet. Many of the graves of that time period were made out of a type of sandstone which did not weather the test of time.

    My ancestor, G. Perry Viles married Margaret Brown on 12 March 1844. They were the parents of:

    Richard Brown Viles - born 1845 in Polk County, Missouri
    William Henderson Viles - born 30 November 1845 in Polk County, Missouri
    Joseph Warren Viles - born 17 December 1850 in Polk County, Missouri
    Benjamin Warren Viles - born about 1851 in Polk County, Missouri
    Martha Mallisa Viles - born 4 May 1852 in Missouri
    Jackson Oliver Viles - born January 1853 in Polk County, Missouri
    Spillman Harvey Viles - born 28 March 1855 in Polk County, Missouri
    Greenberry Viles - born December 1856 in Polk County, Missouri

  • Mack Cord Viles - born 16 February 1861 in Goodson, Polk County, Missouri (my line)

    Margaret apparently died from complications of childbirth because her death date is 1 March 1861. This must have been a time of great pain in the family. Perry was left with 9 children to raise and a newborn baby. It was necessary for Perry to find a wife as quickly as possible to care for the baby and the rest of the younger children, and yet this necessity was not understood by Perry's oldest son, Richard. On 18 July 1861 Perry married a neighbor woman who was a widow and the mother of two children. Margaret Warren raised the children of Perry and Margaret Brown and also had two other children with Perry. Richard apparently never forgave his father for marrying so quickly after the death of his mother, causing a rift in the family which wasn't healed before the death of Perry in 1903. The two children born to Perry and Margaret Warren are:

    Commodore Perry Viles - born January 1869 in Polk County, Missouri
    Margaret Alice Viles - born in 1872 in Polk County, Missouri

    Image: Robert E. Lee Image: Abraham Lincoln Everything I've ever heard about the Viles family impressed upon me the belief that the Viles were a very strong-willed group of people. Some might say they were even stubborn. These strong feelings must have created some problems in the family during the Civil War because it was definitely brother against brother in this family. It was also father against son.

    Although many Missourians had strong southern sympathies, it was one of the border states that did not secede from the Union. Instead, it remained in the Union and in many areas action was taken against those who were known southern sympathizers. In Polk County there was a Rebel List which you were forced to sign if you were believed to be a sympathizer. If anything happened to the homes, farms, businesses, etc., of those who were part of the Union then those on the Rebel list would be forced to pay for the damages. They were also taxed at a higher rate. Within the Viles family there were both southern and northern sympathizers. Let me have Judy McKinney, who is writing a book about the Viles family tell it in her own words:

    "About the time Billy (William Viles)and Patsy had gotten their family pretty well raised, the Civil War was starting. Missouri was along the line which divided North and South and many families were divided because of this. History books say it was often neighbor against neighbor, and brother against brother. Billy's twin sons, Henry and Benjamin, were on different sides in this war. Henry fought in the Missouri Militia for the North, and his brother, Benjamin, was listed on a Polk County Rebel list. He probably also fought with the Rebels,but information on the less organized South is more difficult to find. Benjamin was also dragged from his home in front of his wife and 6 year old son and hanged from a tree in his front yard by carpetbaggers. They rode off,and his wife managed to get him cut down and revived. At any rate, those whose sympathies were with the south were required to sign a "Rebel List" identifying themselves as Southern supporters. Billy and his sons, Benjamin, John W., and Washington A., as well as his two sons-in-law, Elijah W. Roberts and James E. Mayfield, were all on the Rebel list, while his sons, Perry, Henry and John, and two of Perry's sons, fought for the North. To complicate things further, John, who was signed onto the list identifying him as a Rebel, and with the others on this list was taxed heavily by the county to help pay for damages, such as homes, lives and property lost in the war, also fought for the North. He joined under the spelling of Voiles. His record states he was a Corporal of Co. L, 7th Regiment Enrolled Mo. Militia, & subsequently 15th Regiment, Mo. Calvary, and that he enrolled on Nov. 1, 1863 at Bolivar, MO. Mustered out with the Co. on July 1, 1865 at Springfield, MO. He applied for and received a pension in 1907. These southern sympathizers who fought for the North were known as "galvanized Yankees" because they were Rebels with a thin coating of Yankee. I haven't been able to locate information as to what the other son, Moses, did about the war, but his children were listed on the census as born in Kansas up to his youngest who was born in Montana Territory in 1865, so apparently he took his young family out of the troubled area. This must have been a very difficult time for the Viles family, as it was for most families in America."

    If you would like to learn more about the American Civil War
    please visit:

    Image: U.S. flag Image: confederate flag
    The Civil War Home Page

    My gg grandfather, Mack Cord Viles, was a very stern looking man but from what my grandfather told me he loved his family very much. From what little I have been able to find out about him, that must have been the case because he had to fight it out in the courts to have the right to raise his children. Although information is very sketchy on this, apparently Mack Cord filed for divorce against his wife, Mary Elizabeth Arnhart, stating the cause was adultery. In copies of the divorce papers Mack even lists the men he claims committed adultery with his wife. At the time the papers were filed Mack had one daughter, and another son would be born in nine months. For some reason, perhaps because Mack found out he was going to be a father again, he withdrew his request for a divorce. Judy McKinney just recently found that information buried in the County Courthouse. I also just found a photo of Mack, with Mary Elizabeth and his son and daughter, Claude and Lacey. This picture is not dated but must have been taken about 1898. That is the last record I have of the family together as by 1900 Mary is no longer living with the family. Although efforts are still being made to find divorce records, at this time no verification of a divorce between Mack and Mary Elizabeth has been found.

    Mack Cord Viles family in 1898

    Mack Cord Viles married Mary Elizabeth Arnhart 18 September 1884.
    The children born of this marriage were:

    Lacey Viles born 19 May 1886 in Polk County Missouri

  • Claude Lee Viles born 14 June 1888

    Mack later married Lucy Janes Graves about 1901 and the children born of this marriage were:

    Mabel Mellisa Viles born 28 Feb 1902 in Taney County, Missouri
    Floyd Benjamin Viles born 7 December 1903 in Taney County, Missouri
    Arthur Landon Viles born 3 June 1905 in Taney County, Missouri

    There is another child listed with this family but as of this time we aren't certain if he is the son of Lucy Jane Graves from a previous marriage or if we have an incorrect date for the marriage of Mack and Lucy. This child is:

    Eddie Ray Viles born 21 July 1900 in Ozark County, Missouri.

    There is also no proof at this time that Mack and Lucy were legally married. It is possible that it was a common law marriage. Hopefully as more information becomes available from the various courthouses in the state of Missouri we will be able to solve this mystery.

    Mack and Lucy were also involved in the raising of my grandfather, Leonard Oswald Viles, as his mother died when he was just a little boy. Apparently the woman his father married after his mother's death did not get along well with the children from the previous marriage. Mack took him in for a while until things could be worked out.

    My mother told me one interesting story about Mack's life that she heard from her father. She said that there was a period of time when Mack worked for the railroad. He ran a train that travelled through Tombstone, Arizona and because of this he knew Doc Holliday. I found this especially interesting because my great- grandfather Chatham was a newspaper editor who once worked on the Tombstone Epitaph. He knew most of the individuals involved in the shoot-out at the O K Corral.

    Mack died September 7, 1939 in Thornfield, Ozark County, Missouri and is buried at the Thornfield Cemetery. Judy McKinney was kind enough to send me a copy of his obituary. It is as follows:

    M. C. Viles of Thornfield dies: Funeral services for 78 year old merchant held Friday at Church There. M. C. Viles died at his home in Thornfield, Thursday, September 7, at the age of 78. Funeral services were conducted Friday at Missionary Baptist Church in Thornfield with the Reverend C. F. Wimberly of Rayburn, officiating. Burial was in the Thornfield Cemetery under the direction of the Clinkenbeard Funeral Home.

    Mr. Viles was a merchant at Thornfield for a number of years. Mack Cord Viles was born February 16, 1861 in Bolivar, Polk County, Missouri, being the youngest son of a family of nine children of Mr. and Mrs. Perry Viles. Father, mother, seven brothers and one sister all preceded him in death. He was married to Mary Elizabeth Arnhart in September, 1884. To this union two children were born. Lacie Lewallen of Branson, Missouri and Claude Viles of Redwood City, California. The mother of these two children also preceded him in death.

    In 1899 he was married to Lucy Graves. To this union four children were born. Ray Viles of Jacksonville, Florida; Mabel Mellier of St. Louis, Missouri; Floyd B. Viles of Ava, and Arthur Viles of Thornfield. He leaves his wife, six children, 18 grandchildren, seventeen great grandchildren and a host of relatives and friends.

    He was converted about 30 years ago and joined the Missionary Church at Meramec, Oklahoma, later transferring his membership by letter to the Missionary Baptist Church at Thornfield, where he remained a member until his death.

    Image: Mack Cord Viles and family

    Mack Cord Viles and his family

    My great-grandfather, Claude Lee Viles, was born in Moundville , Vernon, Missouri, and married his first wife, Estella Rae Bates, 5 May 1908. So far I have not been able to track the actual marriage record for Claude and "Stella." My grandfather gave me the date from his personal information. To this marriage were born

  • Leonard Oswald Viles - born 6 February 1909
    Inez Marie Viles - born 16 January 1911
    Clarence Eugene Viles - born 7 October 1912.

    Image: Claude Lee Viles Family

    Claude and Stella Viles with two of their three children
    Leonard O. Viles and Inez Marie Viles

    Unfortunately, for the family, Stella died July 6, 1914 in Branson, Taney, Missouri, leaving behind a grieving husband and three very small children. For a while Claude packed up the children and took them to Colorado where his mother and her family were living. While there he apparently felt unable to raise all three children. Both Inez and Clarence were placed in homes for adoption. Inez was raised in another family as their daughter but at some point Clarence ended up being returned to his father.

    Claude later married Minta Brown but that marriage ended very quickly in divorce. Then on 26 October 1917 Claude married Ollie Allan. She was a widow with one son of her own. It was the marriage to Ollie Allan which caused problems for my grandfather. From the information he told my mother she would always blame my grandfather whenever someone did something in the home that she didn't approve of. For a while my grandfather would try to stand up for himself and then he realized that it was only making things worse. Rather than deal with that he accepted blame for anything that went on in the home, even when Ollie's son was responsible. Because of the strained relationship with his step-mother, my grandfather went to live with his grandfather for awhile.

    Claude Lee Viles died 1 July 1952 in Sacramento, California and is buried in the Cherokee Cemetery in Lodi, San Joaquin, California. My mother remembers visiting with her grandfather, Claude regularly until World War II broke out. Then, because of gas rationing, it was impossible to continue travelling from her home in Arizona and to her grandfather's home in California.

    While my grandfather, Leonard O. Viles was still in the Cavalry in Texas he met a woman who was several years older than he and who had several children from a previous marriage. Georgia McMillan Busby and grandpa dated for a few months and then married in El Paso, Texas on March 5, 1928. Unfortunately that marriage would end in sadness. In August of 1929, after grandpa had joined the Border Patrol, the home Grandpa and Georgia lived in was destroyed by fire. Grandpa was able to get two of the children out of the home but was unsuccessful in getting Georgia out, or her oldest daughter, Ida. Ida was rescued by others but died as they brought her out of the hotel where they lived. Georgia's body was recovered later after the fire was out. Grandpa made arrangements for the children to be returned to their father, Robert Busby, in Texas, and then tried to get on with his life.

    One interesting note to this is that it was the day of the funeral when my grandmother and grandfather first met. Grandpa went into a cafe in Tucson, Arizona. There was a waitress working in the cafe, who was my grandmother. Apparently she thought to herself that he was the best looking man she had ever seen and even remembered what he ordered. My grandmother apparently also wondered at the time why he looked so downcast, as if he did not have a friend in the world.

    The grieving period passed for grandpa and he got to know my grandmother and several of her sisters. Eventually he started dating my grandmother exclusively and on November 8, 1930 he married Agnes Rebecca Lofgreen in Tucson, Arizona.

    Image: Leonard O. Viles

    Leonard O. Viles and Agnes Rebecca Lofgreen Viles

    My grandparents were the parents of two children:

  • Estella "Yvonne" Viles
    Claudia "Eileen" Viles

    Image: Eileen Viles Turek and Yvonne Viles Chatham

    Eileen Viles Turek (with glasses) and Yvonne Viles Chatham

  • My grandmother died Dec 18 1959 when I was 5 years old so I don't have many memories of her. Fortunately for me I do remember my grandfather well. Grandpa died February 24, 1986 in Tucson Arizona.

    One final note on the life of my grandfather. On January 6, 1961 he married Agnes Emma Humphrey, whom he met while working for the U. S. Customs Department.

    I hope you've enjoyed the story of the Viles/Voils family in America. Fortunately for those of us who are related through the Viles/Voils family, the story is never-ending. We're still writing this story with our own families.

    Image: Leonard and Agnes Viles their first grandchild Leonard and Agnes Viles with their first grandchild.

    Image: Leonard Viles holding his granddaughterMy grandfather, Leonard Viles, holding me as a baby.

    Image: 3 Chatham children

    The three oldest grandchildren of Leonard and Agnes Viles,
    the Chatham children.

    Thanks for your visit and I hope you enjoyed the story.

  • Genealogy Links

  • Return to Debbie Chatham's Home Page

  • Leonard O. Viles' Story

  • Lofgreen Family History

  • Chenoweth Genealogy

  • David Viles' Newsletter Page

  • Kateira's Voyles genealogy site

  • My other genealogy website

  • Cindy's List of Genealogy Sites

  • Eastern Tennessee Voiles research
  • My Favorite Links

    Image: BYU CougarBYU Home Page

    Judy McKinney's Web Site

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