Andersons of Colonial N. Carolina

meant what they said, said what they meant

The Elizabeth Pitman conundrum… or… Good Lord Man! Why are you so consumed with these pesky Pitmans on this ANDERSON blog?

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I am confounded with two possible theories…

1. She was the daughter of Elizabeth Anderson d. 1733 and she had an illegitimate son William Anderson.  She later marries _______ Pitman.

2. She was the daughter of Thomas Pitman d. 1730 and she had an illegitimate son William Anderson.  She remains unmarried but is commonly recognized as the “Widow Pitman”.

Theory 1 is entirely plausible and is the generally accepted opinion.  Noted NC genealogist Hugh B. Johnston was of this camp.  An awkward problem for descendants of William Anderson is that we would not be “paternal” Andersons but perhaps some descendants of a nefarious scoundrel… a.k.a., unwanted redheaded stepchildren as it were. Gasp!   But an equally plausible theory for the timid is that a fair maiden married an Anderson who promptly died after the son William was born and the completely legit widow soon remarried  _____ Pitman.

Some researchers simply ADD the name Pitman after William Anderson’s name in the will.  Uh… you can’t do that folks, its against the rules.. you know its like, “Making Stuff Up”!

Theory 2 is a hard pill for most folks to swallow.  I have to tap dance and whistle silly tunes to explain how near neighbor Elizabeth Pitman can have an illegitimate son with the last name Anderson.  It flies in the face of colonial dogma… tsk, tsk.  But if grandma Elizabeth Anderson “knew” who the father of her grandson William was, then I don’t find it difficult for her to “claim” him in her will when she left him a cow. Think about it; there are two reasons for marriage: you get married in the eyes of God, or you get married in the eyes of the Law. To some folks simply scribbling the couple’s name in a bible was “good enough” and woe to anyone arguing the point- perhaps even in court.   But then that is unsubstantiated conjecture on my part and that simply can’t stand in the court of genealogy.

Some reasons I think Elizabeth Pitman “may” have been the daughter of Thomas Pitman d.1730…

An Elizabeth is listed as his daughter in his will and apparently unmarried as of the will date of 1728… she lived within a mile or so of the Carolus Anderson plantation on Meherrin River.

In 1728, while running the survey for the VA/NC border, William Byrd actually met Carolus and wrote about the event. In Byrd’s diary is his comment that there were no ministers in the area at that time.  It could be that the father of William Anderson was another son of Elizabeth Anderson who died before a marriage was performed.  Or, again Gasp!, one of the two known sons of Elizabeth Anderson could have inconveniently fathered him.  There is a “mystery” Thomas Anderson associated with a James Anderson property deal and also a “John” Anderson associated with a Carolus property deal…  just sayin’.

A pesky undocumented account of Elizabeth Pitman moving to Edgecombe Precinct in 1738 was written by Donald Gordon (a Pitman descendant).  I have found his account to be accurate but unproven. The closest thing I have found for proof is an Estate Sale account of an Elizabeth Pitman purchasing a trinket in 1744.  Unfortunately she cannot be refuted as a wife of one of the Pitman brothers in the area at the time.  Thomas Pitman’s wife was not an Elizabeth but Robert and John Pitman’s wives are so far undisclosed.

Regardless of the validity of either theory the fact is known that Elizabeth Pitman received a grant of 300 acres in 1749.

The most logical guess for the “mystery”  husband of the “widow” Elizabeth Pitman who acquired a grant in 1749 (Edgecombe) is James Pitman.  The trail of records for James ends in Sept, 1746 and he disappears.  His last appearance in Edgecombe is as a witness to a deed in Sept 1746.  Her survey for her patent is dated May 1748.  Assuming he fell off a horse and died in Sept 1746, what do you think of the odds that she could get an entry and a survey in her hands by May 1748?

A comment by Traci Thompson:     I’ve checked on what the land grant gurus, Margaret Hofmann and George Stevenson, have to say about the process:  

“To make an entry in Lord Granville’s office, it was necessary to make formal written application describing the vacant land for which a grant of deed was wanted…A warrant repeating the description given in the entry was then issued…the warrant was directed to the surveyor and required him to go to the land, survey it, and draw a plat of the survey.  The plat of survey was to be drawn in three copies and returned to the agent at the land office within six months of the date of the warrant. When the agent received the plat of survey, he had six months in which to cause a grant of deed to be drawn up in three copies…The deed was then put aside until all three copies could be signed and witnessed, the first copy was given to the grantee, the second copy was to be sent to Lord Granville in London, and the third copy (with its unattached plat of survey) was to be kept on file in the land office.”  (From “Introduction to the Series” by George Stevenson, introduction to Margaret M. Hofman’s The Granville District of North Carolina, 1748-1763, Abstracts of Land Grants Volume One [Weldon, NC: Hofmann, 1986].) 

I would think the timeline is plausible.  If the surveyor had to return the plat within six months, and Elizabeth’s plat is dated May 1748, then the surveyor would have done his work sometime between December 1747 and May 1748, and Elizabeth would probably have made application shortly before December. James could have died anytime from September 1746 to fall 1747.  Not that it much matters, but keep in mind that the copy of Elizabeth’s grant that we have access to is not her copy, but rather the one that was filed in the land office.  [Traci] 

Of course the riddle could perhaps be solved if the befuddling date could be resolved on this survey… I originally thought it was 1740 but almost everyone disagrees.  I now assume it to be 1748 after I’ve seen similar scrawlings of “8s” in other colonial writings.  But I can’t discount the fact that it may be a “6”… and in that case it would remove James Pitman from being her husband would it not?  Since he was still present in Sept 1746, how could Elizabeth get a survey in HER name and not his in 1746?

And so I sit straddled on a brick wall… I am 50/50 on the theories and can go either way any further proof may lead.  But I am convinced almost to the point of declaring that I have “proven” that the Joseph Pitman who acquired her property in 1761 or so was the son of the only Robert Pitman in the area which is revealed in a court document stating as much.  Logic dictates that she was not Robert’s widow.  The questions remain:  was she his sister?  or was she the widow of James?

Of course my initial supposition that William Anderson is the son of Elizabeth Pitman sits on a flimsy foundation although I find it compelling:

*The timeframe is reasonable for his birth.

*He acquired his first known property adjacent to her.

*He named a son “Carlos” which is strikingly coincidental to her possible relationship to Carolus Anderson (who could be her brother or brother-in-law and William’s uncle).

My hunch all along for years, and still is that Elizabeth Pitman was the daughter of Thomas Pitman and not the daughter of Elizabeth Anderson.  So the devil is in the details as I flesh out these folks…

Written by anderson1951

July 25, 2012 at 6:35 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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