Earliest Records


Unknown forebears of Joseph Wood.

(2010) The earliest ancestor known to the writer who bore the name Wood was Joseph (~1740-1816; [R002]). Knowledge of Joseph’s wife’s line, the Eppersons (or Appersons), reaches one generation farther back to her father Francis (?-1785; [R200]). These ancestors lived for some time in Prince Edward and Charlotte Counties in the Virginia Piedmont (Fig. R001a), soon after those counties were formed (Prince Edward in 1754, from Amelia County; Charlotte in 1765, from Lunenburg County). Francis Epperson died in Charlotte County.

There is some information about the family before this time. A reconstructed census of Virginia in 1740 [S016] lists 40 Wood households in the Commonwealth. They were most concentrated (8 households) in Goochland County. There is only one Epperson household (William Epperson; no Appersons) in the census, and it is in Goochland County. This suggests our line came that way. The Virginia land patent records [S110] show Woods acquiring land in Goochland County between ~1737 and 1746: Michael W. and Archibald W. in 1737, Henry W. in 1739, Thomas W., Archibald W., and John W. in 1741, Edmund W. in 1743, and James W. in 1746.

Cumberland County, which lies between Goochland and Prince Edward Counties, was created in 1749 from Goochland. Deeds in that County show Francis Apperson bought land there in 1754, and sold land in 1762, 1763, 1768, and 1772; Thomas Epperson sold land there in 1762; and on 12/7/1769 Francis Apperson and Joseph Wood witnessed a will there [S077].

The Prince Edward County deed books and marriage records speak of the following Woods, most of whom must have been close relatives, because they often witnessed one another’s deeds and marriages:

Ann Wood, b. ~1768
Betsy Wood, b. ~1765
Edward Wood, b. ~1750
James Wood, b. ~1750
John Wood, b. ~1750
Joseph Wood, b. ~1745
Mary Wood, b. ~1764
Sarah Wood, b. ~1770
Thomas Wood, b. ~1735

Here the birth dates are crude estimates, made from the times when they married or began to buy and sell land. The birth dates suggest two generations of Woods, with the older generation consisting of Edward, James, John, Joseph [R002], and Thomas. Because of the evidence that they were related, it is likely they were brothers, sons of the unknown parents of Joseph Wood alluded to above. The younger of the Woods listed were all women. (It is interesting that Joseph Wood [R002] used the same set of male names as these for his children, except John.) Little can be said about these early Woods:

Ann Wood married James Brooks, 5/31/1785 [S035]. He is not listed as a Head of Family in the 1810 census of Prince Edward County.

The Edward Wood referred to, who was old enough to buy property in Prince Edward County as early as 1776 (DB6[1]-81), was not the Edward of [R003] who lived in Bath County as late as 1848. (He may have been the latter’s uncle.) In 1776 Capt. John Morton’s Company of Regulars, the 4th Virginia, a Prince Edward County unit, included an Ensign Edward Wood. The 1783 census of Prince Edward County listed 4 whites and 3 slaves in Edward’s household.

Sarah (or Saray) Wood was a daughter of James Wood. She married Aaron Brooks, 9/27/1788 [S035]. The 1783 census of Prince Edward County showed one white and 9 slaves in James Wood’s household. The 1810 census lists Sarah Brooks (widow of Aaron?), over 44, with one man and one woman between 16 and 25 in the household, no slaves.

John Wood’s wife was named Sally. The 1785 census listed 7 whites in John Wood’s household; slaves were not counted that year. He signed his deeds with an “x.”

More is said about Joseph Wood in [R002]. [S064] notes that in 1759 Thomas Wood and Joseph Wood each owned four slaves in Prince Edward County; only a John Nash, with seventeen slaves, had more. Taking ages into account, this could be the Thomas Wood spoken of in the present section, but not the Thomas Wood of [R252]. Nor could it be the Joseph Wood of [R002], who was too young in 1759 to own slaves. The slave-holding Joseph appears to be a member of an earlier generation, and it is possible that he was the father of the brothers (?) listed above. (In the 1790 census, Prince Edward County had 4092 free whites and 3986 slaves.)

Mary Wood married Ezekiel Hendrick, December 23 1781 [S035]. The 1783 census of Prince Edward County lists Ezekiel Hendeake as a head of family (7 whites, 5 slaves), but he is not listed in the 1785 census.

Thomas Wood’s wife was named Elizabeth, and he was sometimes called Thomas Sr., so they had a son named Thomas. Betsy Wood was a sister of Thomas Sr. She married William Preston, 1/25/1786 [S035]. In a 1791 deed Thomas granted land to Betsy and her husband, stating that he was Betsy’s brother (DB11-3), so Betsy was not really of a younger generation. The 1783 and 1785 censuses of Prince Edward County do not list Thomas Wood; he had moved elsewhere before transferring land to the Prestons. The 1810 census shows for William Preston’s household one man and woman over 44, two men and one woman between 16 and 25, and 4 slaves.

Many of these Woods joined the westward tide of migration, but others stayed behind in Prince Edward and Charlotte Counties. The 1810 census lists no Woods in Prince Edward County, but the first map of the County (Fig. R001b) was drawn in 1820 by a John Wood [S064], and it shows several properties owned by Woods. [S064] notes that a James D. Wood ran “a successful store” in the County about 1812.

The line of Michael and Archibald Woods (there were several Michaels and Archibalds; they recycled the same names repeatedly, just as our line did) settled in Albemarle County Va. (which was part of Goochland County until 1744), and some of them came to the Looney’s Mill Creek area of Botetourt County, near Buchanan. The heritage of this line can be traced to Scotland in the 1600s. Some researchers of our family line (e.g., [S079]) have claimed the same beginnings for it. However, I have seen no evidence that the two Wood clans were actually related.

DNA Research

Recent (2012) research has shown a close correspondence between the DNA of Dr. William Wood of Richmond, Va., and the writer (John Wood, R606). We are both in the rare yDNA haplogroup j2a4d M319+, and we both had forebears who lived in Goochland County, Va. in the eighteenth century. Unfortunately my "paper trail" does not go back in quite enough detail to confirm our connection (eighth cousins??) in that county.