Isbell History by John R. Ward of the Isbells
Isbell Families How did It all begin
Posted by: Date: November 13, 1998 at 00:01:16
John R.Ward wrote this from report of his cousin Mary Jane of Utah.
This genealogy report was compiled by my cousin Mary Jane of Utah, and several of her friends.
ISBELL FAMILIES HOW DID IT ALL BEGIN?
According to "sources" the "alleged" Isbell descent is as follows: In France there was an
ancient family with the name of Isabelles. This family was of Medieval Norman-French
origin, perhaps taking their surname from a royal female ancestor (Isabella?).
About one thousand and sixty-six years after the death of Christ (1066), a Sir William Isbell
went to South west England with William the Conqueror. It is "said" that all of the Isbells
of England descend from this Sir William Isbell of France.
WHAT IS IN A NAME?
In Surnames of the United Kingdom, Henry Harrison gives a "dictionary" explanation of
Isbell: "ISABELL -under - Isabelle seems to be commoner in France as a surname than
Isabel. The French word isabelle, 'dun-coloured,' 'dove-coloured,' is said to be due to the
name of the Archduchess Isabelle, daughter of Philip 11 of Spain, who, when her husband
was besieging Ostend (1601-1604) fit voeu de ne pas changer de chemise arant la prise de
la ville, qui eut lieu apre's plus de trois ans. Le nom de la princesse serait reste' a la
couleur que sa chemise avait prise dans cet intervalle.' (Stappers)." I don't understand
French - something about the princess -taking control , grabbing his shirt, going through
or into the town, something about "the third", and somehow changed into or becomes
something, thus the color? It doesn't matter, however It is interesting to note that it always
seems to denote "under," no matter what the origin, as you will soon be reading.
In an article , "Historical and Biographical Record of Los Angeles and Vicinity", 1901,
James Fletcher Isbell (my g. grand father's half-brother) : "the ancestry on the f@ther's
side (Isbell) being Scotch-English, and on the maternal side (Wright) Scotch-Irish."
I have pages of Isbelis in Scotland and lsbells in England. The most common first names
were John, William and Thomas. According to Scottish surnames, ISBELL means "under
(is) the pool." Also found is "ISABELSON, 'son of Isabel.' Geoffray Isabelsone of
Berwickshire, rendered homage, 1296." A Handbook of Cornish names lists the following:
"Isbell is from Ys-bell, meaning lower, distant, some distance down the hill."
From a book entitled, "English Origins of New England Families," "we find in the extracts
from a rental of the manor of Ormesby, County. Norfolk, England, 1610: "Of John lsbelle
for landes late John Hannye unde Tho. Palm ft di. p; rt vj d. ob. Rob'tus Palm the resid."
This might shed significance on a John Isbell in "New England." You see the years of
To continue quoting from the above source: "all these colonists were from
Ormesby, County, Norfolk, England and most of them sailed from Great Yarmouth,
County, Norfolk, for New England in April 1637. Of the two parishes in Norfolk named
Ormesby, Ormesby St. Margaret (with Scratby) lies on the coast of the North Sea, about
five miles north from Great Yarmouth, and its parish registers prior to 1675 are lost;
Ormesby St. Michael adjoins Ormesby St. Margaret on the west, and its registers date
Some Isbell names are found in the early days of English Counties like Oxford, Norfolk,
Suffolk, York, Lincoln and Sumerset. They are mostly of yeoman and merchant class. In
the next paragraph you will find some of those names.
1273 A.D. Oxfordshire, England was Walter Isabelle and about the same time John Isabela
of County Norfolk: those of Walter Filius "son of" Isabelle in Lincolshire: 1327 William
Isabell of Somersetshire: 1379 Matilda and Johannes Isbell: 1523 County of Norfolk
William Isbelle. Living in Ormsby: 1699 Suffolk County, John Isbell of Wickhambrook
married to Marion, daughter of Samuel Ray: 1607 London, Ann Isbell married at St.
Antholin to Thomas Brickell and 1711 Thomas Isable Major (Register of St. Column).
"Homes of Family Names in Great Britain," by Henry Brougham Guppy, M.B. Isabel[,
occurring also in the different forms of Isabelles, Isbells, etc., was a Norwhich name in the
16th century. Isbell is now found in East Dereham and Attleborough. The name was
represented as Isabell and Ysabell in the same country in the 13th century, as well as in
Kent, Cambridgeshire, and Lincoishire. It is now rare or extinct in its early homes.
"A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames" : "Isabell, Isbell - Bapt. 'the son of Isabel,' a
very popular font-name in its day."
JAMESTOWN - WAS AN ISBELL HERE?
A few years after the original landing at Jamestown, Virginia, most of the population
moved up the James River to a settlement known as Charles City and Prince George
County. They were proud Englishmen, loyal to their Church and to their King. These
settlements were the result of Captain Christopher Newport's discovery afte r/ he brought
his three little ships, The Susan Constant, and The Discovery The@G 0 dspeed, across the
ocean and up the James River to explore the banks.
After the landing at Jamestown (1 607) Newport set out again to further explore the river.
They traveled as far as the falls of the James. When they returned they found that only the
day before 200 Indians had furiously attacked the fort, killing a boy and wounding eleven
Captain Newport returned to England, leaving 104 men at Jamestown. He brought with
him, to England, the first documents written by Anglo-Saxons on the banks of the James
River in America.
Six months later, when Newport returned to America (1 607) only 38 of the 104 men were
still alive. Indians, malaria and other diseases had taken their toll. Of those 38, few would
be able to survive the cold winter that was getting ready to settle in.
Newport brought 100 men and needed supplies. Three days later a fire destroyed all the
buildings, the ammunition, the storehouse of supplies and the church. Talk about
A second supply of needed goods arrive one year later, in 1608, adding 70 settlers making
the population total of 120, with still the problems of Indian attacks and diseases.
During the summer of 1609 the 3rd supply arrived with 400 settlers, and rather low
"quality" at that. These settlers brought more trouble to the struggling colony with fevers
and plague and the supplies had been ruined by the severe storm the ship had
The winter of 1609-1610 was bleak! Out of five hundred, only 60 remained when the winter
had ended. This led to a new settlement near Henrico. Sii- Thomas Dale, between the
years of 161 1 and 1616, drove the Indians from their native habitat on the south side of
the river (near Henrico) and across to the falls of the Appomattox River, five miles by land
and fourteen while curving around the river. This gave them many miles of good rich soil.
They built fifty houses ("faire houses") and used the land for their "hogges and cattell."
Thus began Charles City.
The year 1610 brought the Dutch, and In 1620 we all know about the voyage of the
Pilgrims, Plymouth, the Mayflower Contract, and the settlement of Maryland. In 1624 we
have the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Company. In 1629 Englishmen were
colonizing the Carolinas.
VIRGINIA GROWS -WERE OUR ANCESTORS A PART?
Sir Thomas Yeardley, governor, with instruction from the Virginia Company of London,
established four political divisions of the colony: Jamestown, Charles City, the Burrough
or Kiccowtan (Elizabeth City) and Henrico. Interestingly enough, the settlement of the
Virginia Company was primarily a business venture, rather than an "escape," because at
that time there was no unrest in England. The settlement of Virginia had originally been
planned for plantation and exploration and the discovery of gold, and instead became a
center for natural and agricultural resources, "for the glory of God, for the honor of the
King, and for the welfare of England."
The growth of the colony received a set back in 1622 when the Indians massacred many of
the inhabitants. Out of the 1,240 settlers, 340 were killed. King James dissolved the
Virginia Company in 1624 and designated Virginia a Crown Company.
Newly arriving emigrants from England, along with needed supplies kept the colony going.
Increasing trade in tobacco, furs and other commodities helped the new colony to
prosper. By 1634 the population was 5,000 and the "unrest" in England helped to increase
those number of arrivals in Virginia.
WE FIND THE ISBELL NAME IN AMERICA
Somewhere within the time frames already discussed, the first of the Isbells were arriving.
Whether or not they are "our" ancestors is a question that no one can answer. By 1649
Virginia's population had reached 15,000, and by 1670 almost 38,000 which was
accelerated by the Civil War going on in England.
In the 1600's Southern colonies became the "dumping grounds" for convicts. Thieves,
especially, were pardoned on condition of being transported to America. Isn't that an
encouraging thought? Many of them came from the prisons of Newgate and Old Bailey in
England. In addition to those who came voluntarily, English authorities transported
vagrants, paupers, orphans and military and political prisoners as well as "undesirables."
Young men were often kidnapped as slaves from England and brought to America.
A "headright system" was in effect. This meant that a person who imported a slave or an
indentured servant received a grant of 50 acres of land for each person. A "headright" was
an emigrant whose transportation was paid for by someone else. This successful plan
was a means to populate the colony. Every shareholder (stockholder) in the Virginia
Company (a business venture) who transported an emigrant (headright), free or indebted
or slave, to the colony received a claim to 50 acres, if that person remained in Virginia for
a period of three years. The "patentee" was expected to furnish each headright with the
necessities of life plus a small piece of land. The contract specified the terms of the
"indenture" When the required time was up, the "indentured servant" (headright) became
free to acquire his own land. In the year 1704 it cost "one shilling for every fifty acres,
payable in tobacco at the rate of a penny per pound and was imposed upon all land when
You'll have to put yourself into the shoes of your ancestors wanting to come to America
but lacking the money. What a fantastic opportunity for those who were unable to pay
their own passage across the Atlanic in addition to a piece of land to work on and
necessities of life supplied. They received it all by binding themselves as indentured
servants. The "headright" information is often confusing and incomplete, the recorded
"headrights" were often issued years after immigration, and they were also traded, sold
and inherited, thus making it that much more confusing to unravel after all of these years.
Between the years of 1650 and 1700, 4,431 English "convicts" were "pardoned" and sent
to America. Until 1660, indentured servants who had "served their term" were allowed to
acquire land. In 1642 there had been a "Puritan rebellion" in England and during this time,
9,500 Englishmen and women and children came to Virginia and Maryland. Englishmen
came to the new world to be free of "nobility" and to own land themselves! These settlers
lived in cabins with dirt floors, they had a hoe, some beans, squash, corn, hogs, and they
could fish and hunt deer.
WHAT IS GOING ON IN ENGLAND?
Now that we have set the scene, let us go back to "merry old England." Under King Henry
the 8th, Englishmen were to do and believe exactly as told. They were not to think for
themselves. Prosecutions and persecutions were the order of the day. Religious, social,
economic and political implications played heavily in everyday matters. In Cambridge,
London the following account was wriften: "Hangman publicly drawing and quartering
some poor person caught stealing a few pence." In King Henry's church whose who
wouldn't conform had their heads chopped off, were burned, or were thrown into
In 1649 the very unpopular King Charles I was dethroned and executed. For eleven years
the English government was run as a commonwealth and in 1660, the exiled Charles 11
(who had fled to France) returned to claim the English throne. He had an indebtedness to
many English leaders during his exile, but he had no money with which to pay them. He
did have land in America to give to his friends. New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey,
Pennsylvania, and North and South Carolina were granted to creditors and friends of the
king. In fact, No. and So. Carolina were given as a single grant to eight Lords.
He allowed the people in those area the right to appoint judges, raise an army, deal with
Indians, have all government power. Laws had to be agreed to by an assembly
representing the people and must fit the laws and customs of England.
In return, the King was to receive all income from custom duties, one fourth of all gold or
other precious metals found, and the residents were subject of the king with all rights of
free-born Englishmen. The governor was appointed by the king. The principal crop of
these colonists was corn. They ate it boiled, roasted, and ground it into meal for hominy,
grits and bread. The sticky sap from pine trees made turpentine and rosin which gave
North Carolinans the nickname of "tar heels."
THREE ISBELL BROTHERS?
Somewhere, "allegedly" in Cornwall, England, lived "our" particular line of Isbells. There
has been a long-standing story or belief that three Isbell brothers were being chased by
the sheriff (in England) for stealing some sheep, which was a death sentence if caught,
according to the story told by my great grandfather, John Wesley Isbell.
Other Isbell researchers have come up with a similar version that "three brothers came to
America from England and settled in the Virginia's and Carolina's." I believed it too, until
one day I was reading literature in the Genealogical Library and the author of this
particular book on family traditions, said that everyone "claims" ancestors who were three
brothers coming to America. This is a part of the puzzle we haven't proven yet.
Early Virginia immigrants from England were: Sandie "Issabell" 1655; Timothy "Issal,"
1656, brought over as a "headdght" by Capt. Wm. Canfell, into Surry County, Virginia. It
has been "alleged" that "our" Isbell in America could have been a John Isbell.
Two sons of John Isbell were given land grants in 1699, (William and ?) in Virginia. A
Henry Isbell was the executor of a William (died in 1760), and a John Isbell (died in 1767).
Could it be that William and John were the sons of John Isbell and Henry was the
grandson? "Our" Daniel Isbell died within a couple of years of John Isbell who died in
1767. A James Isbell dies a few years later than "our" Daniel Isbell-perhaps they are all
from the same father or two brothers? Our "connection" could be closer than we think.
Ahh, such are the mysteries of genealogy. And you thought this would be boring?
The Isbelis of Georgia claim that John Isbell is their ancestor. The Georgia Isbells have the
Revolutionary ancestor, Pendleton Isbell (b. 1757),who was one of General George
Washington's guards and who they say is descended from John Isbell ( of a Virginia 1664
land grant). We do not have any Pendletons in our family names, but we do have a LOT of
One reason for so much confusion is the matter of available records. It appears that
during the Revolutionary War so many of records were destroyed by fire.
A JOHN ISBELL IN VIRGINIA IN 1664
March 23, 1664, a John Isbell acquired land in Gloster (Gloucester) , Virginia. This
information comes from Patent Book #5 of Cavaliers and Pioneers. John Isbell along with
John Pickering, William Jones, John Darby, Alice Wellmay and (??) Dirbishire were the
indentured servants of Richard Renshaw. He paid their way to America, and they arrived in
Virginia in 1664. The land Mr. Renshaw received (300 acres) was "on the Bryre br. which
issued into the head of Ware River in Mob(?) jack bay, beginning by the branch side N.W.
by same and c. to Mrs. Cockland &c."
A ROBERT ISBELL IN MASSACHUSETTS IN 1637
This information about Robert and his family may not all be entirely correct as there have
been varying differences among published Isbell researchers. My information is from a
variety of sources from which I have attempted to put together for you.
A few years earlier and also farther north, in Gloster (Gloucester) Massachusetts, the first
settlers arrived from Dorchester, England, in 1623, to set up a fishing port in what is now
Gloucester. There were few traces of savage Indians and little evidence of Indian
occupation, although they did once inhabit the area.
The reason for the Indians not actually still inhabiting the area has always been a mystery.
All the English settlers found, to indicate they had lived there, were great heaps of clam
shells on the northerly side of the Cape. The town was thus spared from the terrors of
Indian warfare, so common an experience with the early settlers in other sections.
The first settlers received a clear title to their lands. It is interesting to note here that part
of the first settlers (1 623) went back to England or to Salem (Massachusetts) in 1626, and
only a few remained on the Cape. The waters of the Cape (today called Cape Cod) were a
wonderful supply of codfish, and in fact, they were so thick they "pestered" the ships. At
this same time Plymouth and Weymouth were the other settlements.
This area, known as "Cape Anne" is where the Pilgrim "warrior," Capt. Miles Standish,
"squared off" with the captain of a semi-pirate ship named Hewes, concerning the fishing
waters. As a result of this confrontation the cape was forever plagued with fishing
troubles . By 1625 the Dorchester company had given up its project and most of the
Pilgrims went home to England. A few did remain but moved to Salem a year later.
I have gone into detail here to set the stage for a piece of information concerning an Isbell
who might possibly be related to the John Isbell (1664 land grants). In 1640 (only 13 years
after the Pilgrims left Cape Anne for England or moved to Salem) an Eleazer Isbell is born
in Killingworth, Conneticut. Salem and Cape Anne, Massachusetts and "Killingworth,"
Conneticut were probably not that far from each other. He could be descended from an
Isbell who was from this original Glouster Company in "Cape Anne."
Robert Isbell received land grants in Salem, Massachusetts in 1637. He is probably the
father of Eleazer born in 1640.
The Eleazer Isbell (b. 1640 in Ct.) married Elizabeth French, Dec. 11, 1668 in Killingworth,
Conneticut. Their son was Robert Isbell (b. 1675) who had a son Eleazer Isbell (b. 1705)
who had a son Robert Isbell (b. 1736) who had a son, Robert Isbell (b. 1766) who had a
son, and here they break tradition with the name of Harlow Isbell (b. 1804) Killingworth, Ct.
Settlers had house lots by the spring of 1651. The house lots were six acres each! The
area that had reached more inland than Cape Anne (Cape Cod) was now called, New
"April 25, 1650. 1, Unquas, Sachem of Manhekon, doe give freely unto Jonathan Brewster
of Pequett, a tract of land, being a plaine of arable land, bounded on the south side with a
great Coave called Poccatannoc ke, on the north with the old Poccatuck path that goes to
the Trading Coave, etc. For, and in consideration thereof, the said J. B. binds himself and
his heirs to keep a house for trading goos with the Indians." (600-700 acres). As a note of
interest, Mr. Brewster had been trading all along the coast from New England to Virginia
and had met with heavy losses. When he came up here to Pequot his bay creditors had
stripped him of his estate.
Early in 1653, a series of farms were laid out adjoining Brewster's land, namely, the farms
of Allyn, Avery, Coite, Isbell, Picket and others which were called the Pocketannock
grants. (A George Geer bought the Isbell farm in 1665 which was the same year that the
owner, Robert Isbell, died).
Robert's son, Eliazer Isbel's will (1677): Communicated by D. Williams Patterson, Esq., of
West Winsted, Ct. “I will & bequeth unto my son Robart my housings & all my Lands hear
in Kennellworth: and unto my daughter Elizabeth I will teen pounds & unto my Louving
wife I will unto hear the whoell improuement of this my housing & Lands dewring the time
of hear widdowhood: & in case that she maries again before my son has attained unto the
aige of one & twenty years that then he shall injoy the housing and Lands onley he shall
pay unto his mother teen pounds within a year after in case that she lives untell that time:
and in case that my son Robart die before that he is of aige: that then the housing and
Lands shall be my daughter Elizabeths at hear mothers deseas and not before: and if
Elizabeth dies before hear mother: that then it shall be my wifes to be at hear dispose and
my louving wife i macke my sole execitrix as witness my hand August 27th: 1677 Eliazer
Ann Isbell (widow) married William Nicholls and they raised the two Isbell children. William
Nicholls died in 1673 ( 8 years later). He was an early and substantial settler at Pequot;
often on committees, and sustaining both town and church offices, and also had land
given to him in Salem in 1638. The fact that Robert Isbell, Ann's first husband, had so
much written about him, and that she married another man who seemed to be "important"
enough to have a lot written about him, tells me that Robert Isbell must have been a well
respected man in the area.
According to the sources I read, Robert Isbell was listed as a yeoman. According to
Webster's Dictionary a yeoman is "an attendant, a gentleman attendant in a royal or noble
household, subordinate in rank to an esquire, a freeholder; a man born free." Other
sources merely say a yeoman is a lowly farmer. These were the days one was , born into"
a social class, and rarely did that class change to "move up."
FIRST ISBELLS IN AMERICA
John Isbell (1 664) came under the "headright system" as 300 acres went to his headright,
Richard Renshaw, for bringing him and, presumably five or six other "indentured
servants" from England.
In this same county (Gloucester) a Sandie Isbell was known to be a resident in 1655.
Sandie's sponsor (headright) was Lt. Col. Anthony Elliott. Interestingly enough, there are
no Sandie Isbells in any of the families. Either he died without children or they weren't
named after their father. My guess would be that his brothers would name some of their
sons "Sandie" to carry out tradition, unless....... the story about the three brothers stealing
sheep is correct, and they changed their names when they came over as headrights so
that they had a "new start." (theory only) This is the first and the last we ever hear of
In 1637 Robert Isbell had his land granted to him in Salem, Massachusetts. (This has to be
the father of Eleazer b. 1640). 1 mention these Isbell names as they are the first to pop up
in America. Now that I have been studying genealogy I see the importance of naming
children after mothers, fathers, etc., as it certainly makes it easier to locate families.
If John is the ancestor, I might guess that he had many children, perhaps among them a
William (Sr. born aboutl 670, who was granted 150 acres in St. John's Parish, King William
County, Va., in 1699). It is very probable that one son was named John, after his father. In
1767 a Henry Isbell (born 1739, a son also?) runs a John Isbell's estate in Caroline County,
ISBELLS EVERYWHERE BUT IS ONE "OURS"?
The land grants (in those early days) were to: Robert Isbell (1637), John Isbell (1 664) and
William Isbell (1 699). They could have been three brothers but the dates are spaced too
far apart (27 and 35 years apart) or grandfather, father and son? It is believed by some that
John Isbell (1 664 land grants) is the father of William Isbell who surveyed the northern
neck of Virginia in 1699. In 1687 a George "Isdell" died in Northhampton, Co. Virginia. I
have a copy of his will but I cannot make any of it out. It is also possible that he (we do
have George's in our family line) could have been a brother to John or even the ancestor
of "our" lsbells. Some researchers who believe in the " 3 brothers theory" say "the three
brothers" could have been Sandie, John and possibly William Isbell.
William Isbell had a son or grandson who was a real character in colonial Caroline, County
and it would be exciting if we could discover that he was in "our" line! In 1744 William
Isbell was fined 5 shillings or 50 lbs. of tobacco for not frequenting his church for two
months; 1745, William Isbell, for going to church drunk, fined 5 shillings; and 1749,
William Isbell fined 5 shillings for being drunk in church.
BACK IN TIME FOR A HISTORICAL SUMMARY
How about going back to the 1600's for a little more background. The Southern colonies
were settled by two different socioeconomic types of individuals: (1) Cavaliers (common
foot soldiers or tradesmen) and the (2) aristocrats. Between 1649 and 1660, the population
of Virginia doubled after King Charles I had been beheaded. One-half of all white
immigrants arrived as indentured servants, and, I'm willing to bet my last nickel that "our"
Isbelis came to America under those conditions.
The 'first families" of Virginia came from middle class origins, particularly the merchant
class in England and Scotland. In 1624 Virginia was a royal colony of England and a
population of 1,275, mostly from the central and southeastern portions of England. It is in
this early part of history that Robert Isbell received his land grant in Salem, Mass., in 1637.
We are not directly descended from Robert that we know of, however I do wonder about it
Many of the farmers were bothered by the "Virginia sickness" (malaria) and in 1671 the
planters learned of and used peruvian bark or quinine as a remedy. At this time the
population of Virginia was 45,000 (of which 6,000 were white slaves, 2,000 were black
slaves, and 34,000 were free). "Our" Isbells were most probably among the "free" men
during this period in time.
The "pilgrims 'were brave, strong, positive and ready to sacrifice. They enjoyed their beer
and Virginia's reputation of "land tippling, gambling, dancing and swearing" was spread
about. Ninety percent were farmers (of course, I'm positive "our' Isbelis were), and by
1700, 65% had no slaves nor indentured servant
By the late 1600's, the governor of Virginia had a salary paid by a special tax. It was during
this time of tax discontent that farmers and back-country-men engaged in armed conflict
with those in charge to obtain justice from the then governor, William Berkley. Mobs were
formed as well as the Virginia Militia, by the governor. The militia consisted of every
able-bodied free man between 18 and 45 and required attendance at muster or be fined.
Militia according to Websters dictionary is an "army composed of citizens rather than
professional soldiers, called out in time of emergency."
The "regulators" (mob) had many grievances such as under representation, excessive
legal fees, corruption of government officials, collections of and payments of taxes, and
the building of Governor Tyron's "palace" at New Bern, Virginia. A Captain Zachariah
Isbell was the founder of New Bedford, Virginia. ( this took place so many years ago?
Things haven't changed much have they!) This started in the early 1700's and became full
fledged in the late 1700's. Where do you think "our" lsbelis stood?
In the late 1600's there were only two free schools. By the 1700's free schools were formed
by religious groups in Charleston, New Bern and other southern towns. The education of
youth was a private responsibility, sometimes assumed by the owner/manager of
plantations who either taught them himself or employed a tutor or sent them to schools in
The area bordering Virginia was called the "Province of Carolana." The Church of England
was the "official church." Some of our Isbell ancestors probably belonged to St.
Margaret's Parish in Caroline County, Virginia. "The residents of St. Margaret's were
predominately homesteaders, only a generation removed from frontiersmen. In
accordance with their backwoods background, they resented any restraint of their
liberties," from "Colonial Caroline and the Rule of Sir William Gooch," who was the very
unpopular governor at the time. The dead were buried in family graveyards and they lived
in "parishes" with a church located in every parish. Sunday attendance was compulsory
and swearing or "sabbath-breaking" was punished. (Remember the "character," William
Isbell I referred to above?)
The Anglican church did not meet the needs of the common people. Because of this the
Quakers, Baptists, and Presbyterians popped up. In fact most people were no religion at
all, but of those who were, the most active body was that of the Quakers. The Methodist
Church was introduced into southern colonies by John Wesley (founder) and George
Whitefield in the 1730's. (We have always asumed that "our"
John Wesley was named after him). In 1740 a "great spiritual awakening" occurred with
revivals, religious and political, as opposition to British taxation began to come to a
boiling point. Family life was marriage for girls at ages 13 and 14, they had 15 to 19
children and many, many babies and infants died.
In 1702 a" Robert Carew (Carey?) of New Kent, miller, conveyed to John Isbell of King and
Queen County, Virginia -some land (from Virginia Land Records by Parks, Page 288). This
was deed 29-30, Thomas Baker and Mary, his wife, to Henry Fox. Part of land given them
by their brother, Elias Downs. Also Robert Carew to John Fox and John Isbell, land bought
of Thomas Baker and Wife, from above tract. William Isbell (possibly John's son or
younger brother) was a witness."
In 1703 a John Isbell is on 2700 acres belonging to John Woodson. William Jr. (possibly
the son of William Sr.) was born in 1709. These perhaps, are the two who have been
written about in a book entitled: "Co4onial Caroline.
A John Isbell was witness to a deed for Henry Slaughter in 1702 in King William County.
John and William were surveyors of land in 1667, 1669. The two of them could have been
brothers, sons, uncle and nephew.
II-This is a continuation of my first posting.
People have asked for copies and I'm not sure how I will handle that, but please drop me
e-mail and I will see how it goes.
Please remember this genealogy follows a line basically to the descendants of John Wesley
Isbell, was born in Texas and then migrated to Southern California, in 1868. But it is filled
with extra stuff that would intrest anybody reading.
HERE COME "OUR' ISBELLS
About 1700 our line of lsbells comes out clear for us in the name of @r ancestor. Daniel
Isbell, as we assume his birth was in the early 1700's. We don't know for sure who his
parents, brothers or sisters were.
Sarah H. Coon, another Isbell researcher feels that two of Daniel's brothers could have
been the "early Henry Isbell" (in Caroline County) and William Isbell Jr., "the character".
The alleged Isbell descent for "our" line be: (this is fiction only)
Isabelles the ancient French family Sir William Isbell - went to England 1066 A.D. a William
Isbell in England who had son John, b. in England? John Isbell born in England died in
His sons? (1) "our" Daniel (2) William Jr. (3) Henry
their sons: James James b. 1720
George m. Mary Daniel Capt. Zachariah
William m. Ann Dillard
Benjamin m Leitita Hickman
Henry Jr. m Hannah
Remember the above "lineage" is just another guess - just something to keep our minds
functioning and working to "solve the puzzle."
The question still remains: did the lsbells arrive in the 17oo's? Did they arrive in the
1600's? Were they among the early Virginia families along the James River? Were there
three brothers or just many lsbells coming to America?
From the time of the earliest settlers in Virginia, to the Civil War, there could have been
approximately ten generations on the land.
DANIEL ISBELL (birth about 1720 ?? - died 1770)
(first generation) Daniel Isbell is Albert Wesley Isbell's great, great, great, great
grandfather. Daniel married Ann or Anne and we do not know her last name or anything
about her family.
Their 5 children that we are aware of were:
1. James Isbell (born Halifax County) who married Sarah George and had l.Daniel (named
after his father),2. Mary , and 3. Anna Isbell (named after his mother).
Miss L. Evadine Parker, also descended from Daniel and Ann Isbell and an Isbell
researcher, located Daniel lsbell's will under the name "George" which was his
daughter-in-law's maiden name. It appears that James Isbell died and Sarah's brother,
Reuben George, became guardian of the three young children of James (deceased) and
Sarah (George) Isbell. It was the way of doing things in those times that if a father died
some male member of the family was appointed guardian of the small children even
though their mother was still living.
These records can be found in the Halifax (County, Virginia) Books. There (under Sarah
(George) Isbell) is the will of Daniel Isbell. There was a lot of hassle in the settlement of
Daniel's personal property and of settling the "property" which included the men and
"negroes" that he evidently had working for him. After a few years the personal estate was
divided among the children and grandchildren. Miss Parker is sending the copies of these
2. Susannah Isbell (born Halifax County) who married a man with the last name of Foster
3. Lucy Isbell (born in Halifax Co.) who married (1) (?) Woodfolk and (2) George Hunt (any
4. Martha Isbell, born in Halifax County, in Christian County, Kentucky. She married
William Collins (he died in Sumner County, Tennessee). They had 1 -Elizabeth Collins
(who married Benjamin Graves); 2. Thomas Collins; 3. George Collins; 4. Daniel Collins; 5.
6. William Collins 2nd; 7. Samuel Collins; 8. Martha Collins; and 9. Barba Collins who
married (1) Martha Johns and had 12 children then married (2) Sally Chick Reade, the
widow of Will Reade, then married (3) Serena Hays McMurty. Martha and William had a lot
of interactions with "our" Isbells. There is more information to be found about Barba
Collins in his biography in "Goodspeed's History of Missouri." It is interesting to note here
that when Martha (Isbell) Collins died, the children produced the will but the Christian
County Court refused the will until probated in Sumner County, Tennessee. Fortunately,
three of the five witnesses went into the county court and "proved the will." Afterwards
Christian County Court accepted it and the lenathy settlement of the large estate
proceeded. One of her sons and administrators died during those years but the estate was
finally accounted for to the satisfaction of the court. (from notes of L.E.P.)
*5. (second generation) Our ancestor, Georae (b. abt 1740's? some say 1749) married Marv
Daniel of the Daniel family of Caroline County, Virginia. (more about him later)
Durina Daniel's life time the Virginia landseekers penetrated the northeast corner of
Tennessee. This settlement was known as the Watuga Valley. Most came from the
Piedmont area called the "old west." Most of these settlers were the defeated regulators
(or mob). Even in the Civil War one of the most important reasons for the existence of
unionism in the Appalachian Highlands was the influence of the deep scars of regulators
and back country farmers vs aristocrats rather than any devotion to the cause of
preserving the union.
Patrick Henry (born 1736 in Hanover County, Virginia) was a leader for some of these back
country patriots. By the years 1772 and 1773, thirteen settlements had been formed in
Watuga. One of the early Watuga settlers was Daniel Boone.
These regulators wanted reform and marched off to Hillsborough (Tenn>) and seized
Sheriff Fanning in order to gain that control. Governor Tyron called out the Militia and
turned them on their own country men.
George Washington (born Feb 22, 1732 in Bridges Creek, Westmoreland County, Virginia)
had become the colonel of the Virginia Militia, and would later become commander of the
Revolutionary Army. A part of the French and Indian War was fought on Tennessee soil in
1754 with a Lt. Col. George Washington in charge. Could they have ever guessed what
was in store for that man? It was during these French and Indian Wars that problems
began to show up between England and the colonies. Two of the biggest problems
concerned the British proclamation of no travel west (into Indian land) and higher taxes
due to the French and Indian war cost. The colonists began to rebel.
In 1736 a John "Isdell" died in Northampton County, Virginia. Any relation .
LIFE IN VIRGINIA AND 'YOUR" DANIEL ISBELL
On October 12, 1750, recorded on page 235 of Caroline County Order Book, part 3,
Richard Crutchfield and his wife Catharine acknowledged a deed to Daniel Isbell. Then in
1762 Daniel was among the executors for Williams Jones, deceased (from T. E.
Campbell's book "Colonial Caroline.") In 1764, (only a few years before his death), the
following could possibly have been written about" our" Daniel Isbell as it comes from a
book "Colonial Caroline" and
Daniel lived in that county and would have been in his 40's or 50's : "Unfortunately,
verdicts rendered by juries were as often as biased in favor of the plain people as the
verdicts by the magistrates were biased in favor of the great landlords. While one jury sent
John Holmes, the great landlord, to jail for debt, another refused to convict George Wiley,
a small planter, and Henry Mills a crossroads trader, for breaking out of debtor's prison.
The court took judicial notice of this arbitrary miscarriage of justice, and angrily
dismissed the jury, which was composed of Samuel Ree, a rich man, who made his own
fortune as merchant at Chesterfield and a planter on the north Anna, and William Kidd,
Thomas Taylor, Thomas Jones, John Pemberton, James Gatewood, Thomas Pittman,
Thomas Coghill, John Garnett, Abraham Wilson, Anthony Sale and Daniel Isbell, who were
all thrifty small planters, for failing to perform its duty."
During this era in Daniel Isbell's life, civil cases as well as criminal clogged the docket of
the local court. "The people were quarrelsome because of the strain under which they
lived, and filed a multitude of suits, based on slander and assault and battery. Times were
hard and the war with France unpopular. The morale of the people was low and a crime
wave swept the country."
"The most noteworthy of these suits was an action for slander by Samuel Gist, George
Washington's friend and business associate, against Samuel and Caroline Riddick,
alleging that they ridiculed his efforts in the French and Indian War. Witnesses '
preoccupied with their personal problems and not wishing to become engaged in these
controversies, ignored summons to court at will. To break up this lawless arrogance, the
Caroline magistrates fined four absentee witnesses, William Isbell, William Buckner, Dr.
John Southerland and Philip Johnston, the huge sum of 2,000 pounds of tobacco each,
and one term of court for contempt." from "Colonial Caroline."
Another interesting item about a William Isbell was found in the "Colonial Caroline" book:
"In 1759 one deponent, William Isbell, aged 50 and upward was illiterate while another, his
son, Henry Isbell, about 20 years, wrote his name with a flourish." (This William died one
year later and Henry was the executor of his estate). The well to do had private tutors and
the upper crust sent their children to college.
In 1766 a John Isbell died and a Daniel Isbell became executor of the will. Could this be an
ancestor of ours?
One year later, on November 26, 1767 our Daniel Isbell wrote his will in Caroline County,
Virginia and we assume he died that year or shortly thereafter, in 1769 or 1770. His son,
"our" ancestor, Georae Isbell, was under aae 21, according to the will. Daniel Isbell died
in.Caroline County and listed his children in the will with his wife, Ann Isbell as the
executor of his estate.
In May of 1769 George Washington introduced a set of resolutions asserting that the sole
right of taxing Virginians lay with the governor and provincial legislature, he censured the
British ministry and condemned the idea that American "malcontents?" be brought back
to England for trial under Henry the 8th.
A speech to the king was drawn up by Patrick Henry. A meeting was held the next day in
Williamsburg's Raleigh Tavern and those in attendance adopted the Virginia Association,
an agreement banning the imports of British goods (except paper), of slaves, and of
European luxury goods.
On March 5, 1770 the Boston Massacre occurred, and involved the famous names of John
Adams, Josiah Quincy and Paul Revere. Three years later the Boston Tea Party would take
place. The English punished the colonists for this act by closing the harbor until all of the
tea had been paid for. Names of famous Virginians during this time period were again
Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson who were appointed as part of a committee for
In 1774 The first continental congress had met and the following year in 1775, British
troops marched to Lexington and Concord to capture patriot leaders and their supply of
gunpowder. They met bands of volunteer colonial soldiers. Fighting broke out, the British
were driven all the way back to Boston and the American Revolution had begun. Daniel
had died a few years before the outbreak of the Revolutionary War (1773 - 1788).
"OUR" GEORGE ISBELL (born ABT 1740's? - died 1794)
My great grandfather, John Wesley Isbell, wrote, "This is a story of my life, bringing out
incidents in the way that I think may be of interest to my children and grandchildren. My
great grandfather Isbell fought with the United States Army during the Revolutionary War."
This could be none other than Daniel and Ann's youngest livina son, and our ancestor,
Miss L. Evadine Parker says, "I firmly expect us to find in Halifax County, Virginia, claims
that George Isbell furnished supplies, etc. The families there provided nursing, housing,
supplies, horses and guns AFTER Nathanael (correct spelling) Green and his men 'battled'
the British, just over the state line in North Carolina."
This is extremely possible as Halifax County is directly on the Virginia - North Carolina
border and Greene's army was in Halifax County in mid-February of 1781 ( only 13 years
before "our" Georae Isbell dies in Halifax County). Greene was using Boyd and lrwin's
ferries to the west in his passaae of Dan River, while Cornwallis was in close pursuit. An
Edward Carrington of Halifax, County collected the boats for the crossing.
There is a saying among modern genealogists that every section had its tradition: "There
were 3 brothers. One settled in Prince Edward, one in Charlotte and one in Halifax
County." This is probably true as many locals have kissing cousins in the others. In 1755
the Halifax Co. Militia was organized and it is probable that "our" Georae was a member
after he moved there from Caroline County as a young man to farm in the rich, agricultural
area. Remember also, all young men from age 18 to 45 had to show up at muster or be
fined, and GeoLge was still in his 30's in 1781.
Nathanael Green (b. 1742, the same approximate birth date as for "our"
George Isbell, was a Revolutionary general who carried out an extensive program of
reorganization and refitting of the army so that it was a superior group of soldiers that
drained British strength under Lord Cornwallis in the Southern states. His brilliant
leadership took place from Oct. 14, 1780 to September 8, 1781 and could have included
the Battle of King's Mountain. Earlier, Nathanael Green had spent the terrible winter at
Valley Forge with General George Washington.
It was on March 23, 1775 that Patrick Henry gave his speech and declared "Give me liberty
or give me death!" I can't help but imagine "oue' George hearing this speech.
Patrick Henry was in the Continental Congress of 1 775 and helped draft the Virginia
constitution of 1776; was governor of Virginia after Daniel's death but during the lives of
Daniel's children, (1776-1779 and (1784-1786); dispatched the 1778 Rogers Clark
expedition to Illinois territory and was a leader in the movement for the Bill of Rights.
A resolution was offered that the United Colonies "are, and of right ought to be, free and
independent States." Congress voted for independence and on July 4th, 1776, the
amended Declaration of Independence was approved without dissent and signed by
Hancock, and Thomson. On Aug. 2 most of the 55 signatures were affixed. Such were the
neighbors and fellow Virginians our ancestors rubbed elbows with.
THE BATTLE OF KING'S MOUNTAIN
During the year 1780, Isbells fought in the Battle of King's Mountain. Zachary Isbell (from
Virginia) was an early Watuga settler along with Daniel Boone and other lsbells in
northeast Tennessee. These mountain men came from North Carolina, South Carolina,
Tennessee and Virginia. There were 1,900 men. They came from all directions to meet at
Sycamore Shoals. One of the leaders was William Campbell, a brother-in-law to Patrick
In "Tennessee Cousins," by Worth S. Ray, the following is written: 'They were mountain
men, fighting on a mountain. They were woodsmen, engaging in a wooded area. They
were unregimented individualists, meeting in man-to-man combat."
ISBELLS - HILL-BILLIES?
There is an old family saying that "all Isbelis have sand in their shoes" which could mean
their home on Sand Mountain near Albertville, Marshall County, Alabama, or if could also
have been referring to their wanderings as they did move about quite a bit. In the novel
"Addie Pray" which was made into the movie,"Paper Moon" the little girl (who was played
by Tatum O'Neil) tries to pass herself off as Addie Isbell, and one of the characters in the
movies says, "If you want this little girl to pass for an Isbell, you will have to run her
through the briar patch a few times. Pretty country, are they,7 Countrier than razor-back
hogs and just as ornery. Can't even get an Isbell to wear his shoes unless you fill 'em full
of sand." At this time we cannot locate the ancestors of the "Alabama Isbell, or discover
whether or not we are even related.
Now, back to "the battle." If you have not read about the Battle of King's Mountain you
have missed, perhaps, the most important battle in the Revolutionary War. This battle was
won by the cunning back-country "hillbillies" (volunteer army) who fought against the
English Redcoats. These Redcoats didn't know about back-country fighting. Because of
this victory the Americans were given a new pride and enthusiasm towards their cause
and the result came as the winning of the Revolutionary War.
American history has no other instance of a thousand frontiersmen coming together of
their own free will to be a volunteer army. Their only equipment their rifles, their own
horses, and a pocketful of parched corn for each. These men did not know professional
warfare, but they knew how to keep tories and Indians from their settlement.
England's sharpshooter colonel sent word to the settlers that they had to join him and the
king or be hanged. The brave men decided to take care of this colonel, Patrick Ferguson,
who had chased the Americans in the South to the Blue Ridge and sent the insolent letter
which caused his ruin.
During thirty-six hours the riflemen from North Carolina, South Carolina and Washington
County, Virginia, never alighted but once and then at Cowpens. They had little to eat but
parched corn. A persistent rain made them wrap their guns and ammunition in sacks,
blankets, and even their hunting shirts. It was necessary to keep their powder dry, even
though their bodies were drenched by the cold downpour. When they did catch up with
Colonel Ferguson, they went into the fight with neither rest nor refreshment.
The battle lasted only an hour. The haughty Freguson was slain and his army wiped out of
existence. This happened on October 7, 1780 and became the turning point of the
American Revolution. These volunteers took Ferguson's horse, and "dogged" Cornwallis,
cutting off his foraging parties.
Cornwallis had led a British invasion of North Carolina with a Loyalty force of about 1,100
led by this same Major Patrick Ferguson. They were caught atop King's Mountain on the
border between the Carolinas by a 900-man force of American frontiersmen. Can't you just
picture these "hillbillies" hiding under the bush, letting the Redcoats climb the steep
mountain, just waiting p atiently until they got to the top? Their marksmanship prevailed
over the bayonet charges. The Americans lost 28, with only 62 wounded in killing or
capturing the entire enemy force. Cornwallis retreated back into winter quarters.
James, Francis, Livingston, Thomas and William were Isbell brothers who were said to
have been in the same company at King's Mountain. Zachary Isbell, an early Watuga
settler was also in the battle. He was one of thirteen commissioners elected by the
convention of 1772 to formulate laws.
It was also the year of 1780 when George Washington's army spent the winter in
Morristown, New Jersy and it turned out to be even more critical than at Valley Forge, as
supplies failed to arrive and rations were cut to one eight of normal quantity.
Many (including the Pendleton Isbell, who had been George Washington's guard)
"deserted" the army here. Some say the soldiers needed to get home. The "desertion" was
not a formal charge.
1780 and 1781 were also the years that Benedict Arnold was found to have committed
treason by leading the British in raids against Virginia.
GEORGE AND MARY ISBELL
Our ancestor George Isbell married Mary Daniel the daughter of Thomas Daniel of Caroline
County, Virginia. They made their home in Caroline County, Virginia, and owned land in
Halifax County, perhaps inherited from George's father, Daniel Isbell.
In 1782 our ancestors, Georae and Ma[y were listed in the census as having 6 whites and 9
blacks. The only Isbells listed as Virginia Tax payers during the years 1782 - 1787 were:
Christopher Isbell (Goochland Co), George Isbell ( Berk. Co.), "our" George Isbell
(Caroline Co.) , James Isbell (Goochland Co), Joseph Isbell (Loui. Co.), Lewis Isbell
(Goochland Co.), and William Isbell (Goochiand Co.). In the 1785 census the George Isbell
family listed 8 white souls, 2 dwellings and 2 other dwellings.
Two years later, in 1787, George Washington had been nominated as president and by
1788 Virginia had become the 10th state. Previous to 1790 our ancestor, George Isbell and
his family had moved to Halifax County and listed 8 white souls in that county's 1790
census. This included the parents and all children listed next, except our ancestor who
was not to born until two years later
George and Mary (Daniel) Isbell had the following 7 children that we are
1. Sarah (Sally?) Isbell who married Lewis Ragsdale on Dec. 22, 1796. Sarah died
in Logan County, Kentucky. They had one son (that we know of), George Isbell
Ragsdale. After Sally's death, Lewis Ragsdale remarried but "they soon parted."
2. John Isbell (b. about 1763 -d. Dec. 28, 1807 in Halifax County, Virginia) who married
Mary "Polly" Foster. Their children were: 1. James, 2. Nancy, and 3. George Daniel Isbell.
#3 - George Daniel married Sabret Susan Hutcheson and their children were: 1. Mary
Elizabeth Isbell (b. 1840) 2. John Hutty Isbell (b. 1842), 3. Ferdinand Selden Isbell (b. 1844),
4. Sarah Arminta Isbell (b. 1846), 5. Nancy Josephine Isbell (b. 1849), 6. Lucinda Brown
Isbell (b. 1851), 7. James Thomas Isbell (b. 1854), 8. (Willie) George William Isbell (b. 1856)
and 9. Walter Clay Isbell (b. 1 859). Sarah Arminta Isbell (#4) married Reuben T. Towe.
Lucinda Brown lsbel (#6) married Willis Jonas Parker and their child was George Edward
Parker (b.1879) who married Leslie May Carlisle. George and Leslie (Carlisle) Parker had a
daughter Leslie Evadine Parker who lives in Texas and is very involved with Isbell
genealogy and is very helpful. I have read many of her letters and had a chance to begin a
correspondence with her through letters and phone calls. She has many of these Isbell
dates and names memorized and has an enormous storehouse of knowledge. She is a
retired University professor and loves genealogy as a retirement "hobby."
3. George Isbell (Jr.?) born Oct. 5, 1787 in Caroline County, Va., married Mourning
W. Medley (born Jan. 12, 1789) on February 23, 1807 in Halifax County, Virginia.
James died June 7, 1873. They had (1) James Medley Isbell (b. 1807 in Kentucky) who
married Virginia Campbell Marshall (b. 1814) and their child was Anna Marshall Isbell; (2)
Mary D. Isbell (b. 1810 in Kentucky) who married Orlando Flowers in 1832; (3) Lucinda
Isbell (. 1812 in Kentucky - died Oct. 17, 1865) who married Addison H. Brown in 1831 and
their child was George Isbell Brown; (4) Nancy Isbell (b. 1813 in Kentucky) who married
John B. Wisdom in 1850; (5) Martha Isbell (b. 1815 in Kentucky) who married John Carter
Marshall in 1834; (6) George Isbell (b. 1821 in Kentucky died March 26, 1900) who has no
record of ever marrying; (7) Eliza Isbell (b. 1817, Ky.) who married Benjamin T. Marshall in
1838; (8) Rebecca Isbell (b. 1825 in Ky.) who married Gideon D. Grisby in 1847; (9) Paul
Isbell (b. 1822, Ky.) who married Jane Grady in 1849; (10) Sarah Isbell (b. 1829 Ky.) who
married Atiass Knott in 1849; and (1 1) Mourning Mariah Isbell (b. 1833) who married
James W. Mitchell.
4. Nancy (Anna?) Isbell who married Obadiah Ligon on October 16, 1799;
5. Mary "Polly" Isbell who married (1) Richard Walden, (2) William Yates.
6. Agatha Isbell who married John Charles Yates
7. and finally "our" ancestor, Thomas Daniel Isbell born October 27, 1792,
Halifax County, Virginia.
The previous two postings had may spelling mistakes and other errors due to the
scanning process. Even though you might of noticed I can't spell "it" correctly in the
subject, I was able to make that correction, and numerious other corrections using a spell
checker. This is a very long document to spell check.
Part III- THOMAS DANIEL ISBELL (born 1792 - died 1855)
"Our" Thomas Daniel Isbell was only two years old when his father, Georae ("Sr.") died in
1794. His father was probably in his forties or early fifties.
George Isbell (father of Thomas Daniel Isbell made his will out on May 15, 1794, it was
probated on September 22, 1794, so we presume he died in September. George Isbell's
"In the name of God, Amen. / George Isbell of Halifax County, being sick and weak in body
but of sound and disposing mind and memory and calling to mind the mortality of all flesh
knowing that it is appreciated for all men once to die do think it necessary to make and
ordain this my last will and Testament that is to say principally and first of all / give and
recommend my soul to God and my body to the Earth to be buried in a Christian like and
decent manner at the discretion of my Executor hereafter named and as touching such
worldly goods as it hath pleased Almighty God to bless me with / give ("deon ies?)and
dispose of in manner and form following (item?) INPRIMIS: ft is my will that the land /
purchased of John (?Fofler or Taylor?), lying on Caroline County and also that part of my
land in Halifax County lying on the "bridge"? path adjoining Reuben Pickett, William
(Stephenson", Athepson?) and others together with my negroe boy Gilbert may be sold by
my estate hereafter named and the land conveyed to the purchases by my "executor"? by
deed, and the money arising from such sale to be applied to the payment of my just debts
and if any money remain after the payment of the afore said debts it is my will that my
executor purchase a negroe with the same such a one as they (concern?) will be most
sociable to my wife and children and if any money still remains after the purchase of said
negroe / give the same to my beloved wife Mary Isbell to her and her heirs forever. "
"(Item?) It is my wish that my beloved wife Mary Isbell have the use and benefit of all my
Estate real and personal not heretofore mentioned during the natural life or widowhood
which Estate it is my will that she live on freely, Enjoy and Improve, the free? (?) (?) from
the (same?) to be applied to her support as also the raising M??? (??) and Educating MY
children. It is also my will that if any of my children marry during the life or widowhood of
my wife and my Estate should so (??) that my wife can spare them any part or parts of any
Estate that she be at liberty so to do provided they be any usable at the division of my
Estate for such grant? or ?? sold by my wife. Further it is my will that if my wife should
marry after my decease she may have negroe Sam, our feather bed and furniture which ??
and ?? ?? her during her natural life and at her death to be equally divided among the
children that by ?? ?? ?? and their heirs '2'2 Item, this is my will that at the death or
marriage of my wife my land Whereupon is to be equally divided among my three sons,
namely John Isbell, George Isbel, Thomas D. Isbell, to them and their heirs forever. Item, it
is my will that my four daughters namely Sarah Isbell, Nancy Isbell, Polly Isbell and Agatha
Isbell each have a horse and saddle as they come of age or marry which / give to them and
their heirs forever. Item, It is my will that at the death or marriage of my wife all my Estate
be it so what so ever kind it may that is not heretofore finally listed disposed of be equally
divided among my children namely Sarah, John, George, Nancy, Polly, Agatha and
Thomas D. Isbell to them or the survivors of them or their heirs lawfully begotten of their
body I give it forever. / constitute and appoint my beloved wife Mary Isbell Executrix and
lsac Oakley, William Collins and Jacob Faulkner Executors of this my last Will and
Testament Revoking all other wills by me made in witness whereof I dot my name and seal
this 15th day of May 1794. George Isbell
(a dot "." and a fancy seal is next to his name written, I presume by the person who wrote
(D??? ) in Presence of -
Rick ?? Holland
?Coty J. Fulhener?
'At a court held for Halifax County the 22nd Day of September 1794
The within Last Will and Testament of George Isbell died was presented in court and
proved by the (?) two witnesses therefore to be the (?) and will of the said Isbell and was
(?) to be recorded and for the making of William Collins one of the Executors therein
named and Mary Isbell the executrix therein also named who made oath thereto recording
to law and together with Reuben Picket, Joseph (Stonell?) and John Adams "there"
securities enter into and acknowledge their bonds in the penalty of "five?" Thousand
pounds condition as the Law direct Certificate for obtaining probate of said Isbell is
granted them in our form of Law Liberty being Reserved to the other Executors to join in
the probate when they shall so cause-"
By the year 181 0, George Isbell (who is older than his youngest brother, "our" Thomas
Daniel) was back in Caroline County as a Virginia taxpayer. . I'm Wondering if George
Isbell and Thomas Daniel ( now age 18) voted for some of the following presidents: l.
George Washington, 2. John Adams, 3. Thomas Jefferson, and 4. John Madison.
Louisiana had been purchased (Louisiana Purchase), Lewis and Clark had taken their
expedition, Pike's Peak had been conquered and climbed, and the Creek Indian War was
about to happen.
Our ancestor, Thomas Daniel Isbell (perhaps named after his grandfather, Daniel, and his
mother's father, Thomas Daniel, was about 18 years old at this point in history. It was
sometime before 1810 that our ancestor, Thomas Daniel (as a small child about age 8),
had moved with some of his brothers, John Isbell and George Isbell his sisters, and his
widowed mother, Mary Isbell, to Tennessee. The people of Tennessee had earned the
nickname of "the volunteers" after the Battle of King's Mountain. These rugged
individualists who settled this area believed in the Bible, their gun and themselves. For the
past twenty years literally thousands of farmers and hunters had been moving into
The George Isbell family had been living in Halifax County, Virginia (although they also
owned land in Caroline County) at the time of George's death in 1794. The widow Mary and
younger children left ( 6 years after his death) from the beautiful valley of Cumberland
River to move to Robertson County, Tennessee about 1800.
Mary Isbell (widow) had purchased land in Robertson County from Thomas Yates, and
land that adjoined William Yates. It was here that Thomas Daniel grew up and met and
married Rebecca Yates, who was probably still a teenager., The Yates family had three
siblings who married the youngest three children of George (deceased) and Mary Isbell.
Thomas Daniel's older sister, Mary (Polly), married Rebecca's brother, William Yates; and,
his sister, Agatha, married Rebecca and William's brother, John Charles Yates; and
Thomas Daniel, himself, married Rebecca Yates, all children of Thomas Yates and
Since George (deceased) and Mary's oldest daughter, Sarah (Sally) Isbell had married a
son from the Ragsdale family, Lewis Ragsdale, (whose family just happened to be
Rebecca Yates grandmother’s side), I assume they lived in close proximity.
In 1812, Mary (Daniel) Isbell, widowed now for 18 years, married a Ragsdale, quite possibly
her son-in-law's father? She married William Ragsdale Sr. One can only assume they were
all closely related and living closely together for so much "interaction" to take place
between Sarah (Sally), Thomas Daniel, Agatha and the Ragsdales and Yates, and their
widowed mother, Mary. In 1812, in Robertson County, "our" ancestor, the widow, Mary
Isbell, and William Ragsdale Sr. made a prenuptial contract by deed bond stating that
each and heirs would retain their property (before) their marriage
Mary and George's eldest daughter, Sarah (Sally) and spouse Lewis Ragsdale, were
settled across the Tennessee state line in South Logan County, Kentucky, and must have
lived near Sarah's brother, George Isbell and his wife, Mourning W. Medley. By 1802 (Sarah
(Isbell) Ragsdale was probably in her early forties), and had reared a large family. After
Sally's death, Lewis married Nancy Foster and "they soon parted" as seen by a deed of
trust made to two Foster males "all properties of which said Nancy brought with her when
she intermarried with said Lewis Ragsdale." Sarah and Lewis named a son, George Isbell
Ragsdale. I do not know about the other children they probably had.
In four more years Thomas Daniel Isbell will be around 22, already married with at least
one or two children and going off to fight. It was in Tennessee that he might have been a
part of the militia in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. My great grandfather, John Wesley
Isbell, writes in his biographical sketch (when he was 76, in 1940), "My grandfather,
-Thomas Daniel Isbell, participated in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend against the Indians.
This battle is mentioned in an old school book we had in the days of my schooling."
THE BATTLE OF HORSESHOE BEND
The actual "Battle of Horseshoe Bend" took place on March 27, 1814. A party of U.S.
settlers clashed (July 27, 1813) with some Indians at Burnt Corn, 80 miles north of
Pensacola, and this led directly to the Creek War which was opened by the Creek Indian
attack on Fort Mims (about 35 miles above Mobile, Alabama). Of 550 persons in the fort,
250 were massacred and many others burned to death.
It seems that the surrounding states had organized a militia to march against the
"anti-American Creek Indians" ( a war faction of the Creeks known as the Red Sticks), and
five separate volunteer generals took the field, one of these being an obscure backwoods
politician from west Tennessee named Andrew Jackson (to become a future President of
the United States - the 7th - in 1829 and 1833). (Be sure to read the "Isbell tid-bit" at the
end of this genealogy for information concerning an Isbell who saved Andrew Jackson's
life when he was a small boy.)
The Indian chief, Menewa, had dug in some 900 Red Stick warriors on a tongue of land
surrounded by the Tallapoosa River, except for a narrow neck fortified by a breastwork of
logs. A number of women and children were in a village at the river's edge. Tennessee
militiamen were several hundred Creeks under William Macintosh and Timpoochee
Barnard, chief of the Yuchi who united with the Creeks, and perhaps 600 Cherokee, and
with them a tall, young, white man who had been living with the Cherokee Indians up in
Tennessee, by the name of Sam Houston.
Before the battle started, General Jackson's Indian guides and "spies" were able to place
his 2,000 men so as to surround the Red Stick position on both sides of the river. The
"artillery", which consisted of two cannon, were placed to strike at a range of 80 yards and
those cannon signaled the open of the attack with a two-hour barrage. The Cherokee and
American Creeks then attacked repeatedly from across the river, burning the Red Stick
village in one of the first attacks.
When it was clear the Indian troops would not be able to overcome the Red Sticks alone,
the main body of militia stormed in. The remaining Red Sticks were driven to a thicket in
the center of the peninsula and the cannon was brought up to finish them off in another
barrage of several hours. A length the battered thicket was on fire and the few survivors
were shot down as-the flames drove them out.
More than 300 women and children were taken prisoner, all captured by the Indian troops.
Of the 900 Red Stick soldiers, only 70 were left alive and of this 70 only one escaped,
unwounded - he had jumped into the river and escaped at the first shot. General Jackson
lost 49 (23 were Indians), and 154 wounded, of which 47 were Indians. One of the
American casualties was Sam Houston whose wounds from this battle plagued him the
rest of his life.
The Red Stick Chief, Menewa, fell, hit seven times by rifle fire. He recovered
consciousness some time after the battle was over, shot a soldier passing nearby and
was in return shot in the head, the bullet going in one side of his face and out the other,
tearing away several teeth. He came to again in the night, crawled to the river, found a
canoe, and floated down-stream to a swamp where other Red Stick wives and children had
remained hidden. By the time his wounds were healed the Creek War was long ended and
the Red Stick's land had been opened to white settlement.
It was this battle that gave Andrew Jackson the nickname of "Old Hickory."
As if this Indian War hadn't been enough trouble for our new settlers, they had just gone
through the Yazoo land fraud, and their country had declared war on Great Britain.
In 1814 (the time of the Battle of Horseshoe Bend), Mary (Daniel) (Isbell) Ragsdale made a
gift deed to sons George and our ancestor, Thomas Daniel Isbell and to the heirs of John
Isbell, deceased in 1809, (he must have died in his forties -his heirs were not listed by
name nor did she list any of the property) but made fact of her 1812 marriage to William
In 1817, Logan County, Kentucky, (deeds), George Isbell (about age 30) sold his share ( of
personal property) to Thomas Daniel Isbell, and neither man stated place of residence,
however records show that they did not reside in Logan County, Kentucky.
It could have been near this time frame that George Isbell of Christian County, Kentucky,
(older brother of Thomas Daniel), bought land in Halifax County, Virginia, which Thomas
Daniel of Robertson County, Tennessee, had inherited from their father, George Isbell,
deceased. Thomas Daniel and Rebecca (Yates) Isbell signed the deed and Rebecca
released her dower.
THE FAMILY OF THOMAS DANIEL AND REBECCA (YATES) ISBELL
The (9 that we know of) children of Thomas Daniel and Rebecca (Yates) Isbell ( who were
born in Robertson County, Tennessee) were:
1. Lucinda who married (?) Turner and moved to Texas
2. Mary Matilda who married (?) Kelly
3. John (b. 1819) who married Nancy J. Wormington on May 30, 1839, and had at
least one son, George Isbell (b. 1848) who marr