William Bynum (c1723 – aft1800)

He first appears as “William Bynum Jr.”, of Fishing Creek, on 30 December 1745, buying land in Edgecombe County on the south side of Fishing Creek, with William Bynum Sr. a witness.1  This seems to place his year of birth at or before 1724, and suggests that he was the eldest son.

By 1752 he was several miles west in Johnston County, which had been carved out of Craven County in 1746. He had probably recently moved, for he does not appear in the 1750 or 1751 quit rents for Johnston County. On 15 August 1752 William Bynum of Johnston County sold 300 acres on the south side of Fishing Creek in Edgecombe County, owned as an “estate of inheritance.”2  Unfortunately, the earliest deed records of Johnston County were burnt, but there exists a partial index to grantees and grantors which contains an entry for a 9 January 1761 Granville grant to William Bynum of 659 acres on both sides of Middle Creek, which was recorded in the Johnston deed books on 9 April 1761.3   Middle Creek was a tributary of the Neuse River which ran through both Orange and Johnston counties; the grant being on the Johnston County side roughly 35 miles southwest of Fishing Creek. By the time this grant was recorded, William Bynum was apparently living in the part of Orange County which had been formed from the western part of Johnston in 1752.  As William Bynum of Orange County, he almost immediately sold his 1761 patent in three transactions: 334 acres to Benjamin Clements and 175 acres to John Smith Sr. in March 1761.4, and 160 acres to William Gibson in June 1764.5  There was no relinquishment of dower noted in any of these transactions, though he was surely married by then. In May 1761 he was named to a road jury in Orange County, confirming his residence and land ownership there.6  Unfortunately, a unknown number of early deeds of Orange County were lost during the Revolution. One of these lost deeds must surely have been a purchase by William Bynum, as jury service of all types was restricted to landowners.

Orange County was one of the fastest-growing parts of the South at this time. In 1748 there were fewer than 100 settlers in the area, which covered more than six present-day counties. Within four years, there were almost 4,000 residents, and by 1767 it was the most populous of all North Carolina counties with about 16,000 residents.

On 8 October 1761, William Bynum of Orange County sold 300 acres on the south side of Fishing Creek in Edgecombe County in two pieces, this apparently the land he had purchased sixteen years earlier. One tract, 100 acres sold to James Bynum of Edgecombe County, was described as the land where James Bynum then lived.7  The other, of 200 acres, and also described as land “where James Bynum now situate”, he sold to Nanny (sic) Bynum of Northampton County, with James Bynum a witness.8  James Bynum was probably his younger brother, who perhaps had stayed in Edgecombe while his mother was still living. The identity of Nanny Bynum is a mystery; she may have been a sister or sister-in-law, but there are no further references to her in Northampton County.

On 25 October 1765 William Bynum “of Orange County…son and heir of William Bynum late of Edgecombe County deceased” sold to Cullen Edwards 290 acres in Halifax County described as “part of a patent granted to my father Wm. Bynum for 595 acres” dated 1 February 1726.9  Since his father had died nearly twenty years earlier and William Bynum Jr. himself was long gone from the area, one can’t help but wonder if his mother had been living on this land.

As noted above, there was surely at least one deed in 1761 or earlier for William Bynum among the lost deeds of Orange County – most likely both a purchase and a sale. We know there were two other missing deeds, both dated 31 January 1763, for the purchase of two contiguous tracts which are referenced in a later sale of the land.10  He bought 382 acres from John Hatley and 252 acres from John Falconer adjoining a 700 acre grant which Luke Bynum had obtained a year earlier, located on New Hope Creek in the part of southeastern Orange County that would shortly become Chatham County. William Bynum most likely lived on this land until selling it twelve years later. Despite being a fair distance from the courthouse, he served on a petit jury in Orange County on 22 September 1768.11  After the formation of Chatham County, he served on a grand jury in 1774.12

This entire tract of 634 acres was sold by William Bynum and his wife Mary to Jacob Flowers on 15 February 1775.13   Both appeared in court the same day to acknowledge the sale. There follows an eight-year period when William Bynum is absent from the records of Chatham and Orange Counties and apparently owned no land there. It may not coincidental that this period overlaps the Revolutionary War and that it coincides with the disappearance of his presumed brother James Bynum and several other residents of the area.

A plausible scenario is that William Bynum moved to or near Wilkes County, Georgia. According to his pension application, his eldest son John Bynum enlisted in the militia in 1776 in Wilkes County and served with Georgia troops until 1780. For a brief time, James Bell and Daniel Murphree Jr. were also there. His brother James Bynum also appears to have been in same the general area during the 1780s. It may be that they lived along the Savannah River, which was the border between Wilkes County, Georgia and the Abbeville portion of the old Ninety-Six District of South Carolina. Georgia had relatively few residents at the time of the Revolution and imported most of its militia and troops from other states.

By 1783 William Bynum was back in Chatham County. On 31 July 1783 he bought 100 acres in Orange County just above the Chatham County line from John Hightower with James Bell a witness.14  On 13 October 1789, as “William Bynum of Chatham County”, he bought an adjoining 300 acres from the same John Hightower (who was by then of Wilkes County, Georgia) with Benjamin Bynum and James Bell as witnesses.15  William Bynum sold this 400 acres in two transactions, both dated 26 January 1791.16   In both cases his wife Mary relinquished her dower right to the land, and his son John Bynum witnessed.

North Carolina conducted a state census in the 1780s, but the return for Chatham County was either never made or was later lost. The federal census for 1790 does exist, and William Bynum appears in it, with two males under 16, one male over 16 (himself), and two females. His son Isaac appeared as head of his own household nearby. One or two of his sons were likely occupying the Orange County land, but unfortunately the 1790 census for Orange County was destroyed. The Orange County tax list for 1790 does survive, and does list John Bynum. He was surely William’s son, occupying his land in Orange County since there is no record of John Bynum’s having acquired land of his own there.

William Bynum also bought land on Cubb Creek about two miles south in Chatham County, adjoining John and Levi Murphree. This area is now largely under water as a result of the formation of Jordan Lake. He bought 100 acres there from Jacob Flowers on 16 December 1784 and sold it on 7 November 1788.17  He bought another 200 adjoining acres on 7 August 1786 and 20 acres on 7 February 1787.18  He sold these two remaining parcels in Chatham County on 9 May 1791 and 22 September 1791, thus leaving him with no land at all in North Carolina.19   There was no relinquishment of dower in any of the three sales in Chatham County, but this appears to have been normal for Chatham deeds of the era. William Bynum’s children also disposed of all their lands in the 1790s. By 1800, the only Bynums remaining in the Chatham/Orange area were Luke Bynum and his children.

William, who was surely in his late sixties by this time, apparently moved into Pendleton District, South Carolina along with his children and several other Chatham County families. Pendleton had been formed from Cherokee Indian territory in 1789 and the availability of land there was evidently a powerful attraction. Pendleton was briefly reorganized as Washington District from 1791 to 1800, after which it became Pendleton District before being split into several counties several years later. At least a couple of dozen families from Chatham and Orange Counties, including Murphrees, had moved to Pendleton in time to be enumerated in its 1790 census. It appears that the entire William Bynum family moved in the early 1790s.

William Bynum surveyed 1,000 acres in Pendleton on Rice’s Creek in 1792 which was granted to him in 1794.20  We also know that two of his sons, Isaac and John, were in Pendleton by 1794, Jesse Bynum was there by 1797, and so was his son-in-law James Powell. There were also literally dozens of former Chatham County residents who moved into Pendleton at about the same time. Unfortunately, many early deeds of Pendleton were either never recorded or were lost. Most deeds remain, but not enough to reliably follow the succession of land. Apparently the same William Bynum bought 740 acres on Wolf Creek on 20 December 1799, with two Chatham County Murphrees as witnesses.21  The same William Bynum sold 540 acres of this land to Joseph Stephens on 28 August 1801.22  In the 1800 census of Pendleton County we find John Bynum, Benjamin Bynum, James Powell, and, adjacent to Isaac and Jesse Bynum, a William Bynum aged over 45 with a female over 45 and one male 16-26. This appears to be William Bynum, still alive in 1800.

William Bynum probably died shortly thereafter, although there is no indication of his death in the Pendleton records that remain. A William Bynum was a witness to deeds by Jesse Bynum in Pendleton County in 1802 and early 1804. Late in 1804 we find a “William Bynum Jr.” witnessing a deed from John Bynum to Benjamin Bynum.23  The need to style himself “Junior” implies the presence of a “Senior.” Thereafter, there may have been only one William Bynum in Pendleton. On 20 January 1807 we find a William Bynum and wife Elizabeth Bynum selling to Joseph Glover 128 acres on Rice’s Creek that had been purchased in 1801.24   It may be that this is William Bynum Jr., no longer needing the “Jr.” because his father is dead. If this is “old” William Bynum, he must have remarried to Elizabeth before 1801. If this is a son, it would likely be the young male in the 1800 household. Since most of his children migrated into Tennessee in that decade, it is possible – if he was still living – that old William did as well. There is no 1810 Tennessee census, but there is an 1812 tax list for Franklin County, Tennessee on which his son John Bynum appears along with a “William Binon”.25   I could not find any evidence of William Bynum’s death in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, or Alabama.

Who was his wife Mary Bynum? We haven’t a clue. He evidently married her around 1755 or so, probably when he was residing in Johnston County. His son John Bynum later stated in his Revolutionary War pension application that “his parents” told him he was 19 when Independence was declared, implying that his mother was alive in 1776. We know that William Bynum was married to a Mary as early as 1763 and as late as 1791, so it seems likely that all the children were by one wife.

The children, by circumstantial but nonetheless adequate evidence, were the following.

[Note that the level of detail on these children and grandchildren may be greater in the e-book]

  1. John Bynum (c1757 – 1841) John was apparently living on his father’s Orange County land in 1790 and witnessed the deed for the sale of that land a year later, as noted above. He is mentioned several times in Pendleton County records. He applied for a Revolutionary War pension in 1832 while living in Rutherford County, Tennessee.26   He stated that he didn’t know his age but his parents told him he was 19 when Independence was declared. He declared that he was born in Chatham County, North Carolina, enlisted on 2 July 1777 while living in Wilkes County, Georgia, returned to Chatham County, North Carolina in 1780 after concluding his service, and later lived in South Carolina, then Tennessee. His widow’s application for a pension identified her as Elizabeth Sear. John and Elizabeth Bynum appear in Pendleton District, South Carolina as witnesses to a will in late 1795 and he recorded a grant on Wolf Creek in 1798 which adjoined William Bynum. He and Elizabeth apparently left there after selling off their lands in several transactions in March 1807.

    He evidently went, with his brother Benjamin, to Bedford County, Tennessee, probably to the part that became Franklin County, for one of his sons was married there in 1810 and . John appears in the 1820 census of Franklin County. The 1800 Pendleton census shows him with three males and one female, all under 10, and two females 10-16. The 1820 census for Franklin County shows he and his wife, both over 45, and a single female under 10, with three known sons living nearby. By 1830 he was in Rutherford County, aged 70-80, with his wife and one female 15-20. The 1840 Cannon County census shows John and his wife, with a marginal note that John Bynum was aged 83 years. John Bynum appears adjacent to his son George Bynum on one side and Mary Bynum, the widow of William Bynum, on the other.John Bynum died intestate in Cannon County, Tennessee. He was alive in October 1840 when the census was taken, but dead by June 1841 according to the pension file. Jonathon Marchbanks (possibly a son in law) was granted administration of his estate in September 1841.27  As an interesting sidelight, he stated in his pension application that he “has lost his discharge papers…and he knows of but one person, if he is now living, by whom he can prove the said service, and that person now lives in the State of Alabama, and when he last heard from him he was alive – he was an old man, about the same age or older than himself Could this be a reference to his brother Isaac Bynum? Subsequent records identify the children as:

    1.1.  Sarah Bynum (c1785 – ), the wife of Jonathan Marchbanks, although one record has her name as Mary.28

    1.2.  Pumphrey Bynum (c1788 – 27 July 1846) married Elizabeth Wright, who (as Betty Bynum) was a heir of her mother Johanna in 1843 He appeared in the 1820 census in Bedford County and in the 1830 census in Rutherford. In 1836 he moved to Jackson County, Missouri where he died intestate in 1846.

    1.3.  William Bynum (c1790-c1829) was in the 1820 Rutherford census but not in the 1830 census. His widow Mary Bynum was adjacent John Bynum in 1840, and his widow Mary and children were legatees of his father’s estate in 1841. The widow and children later sold his land.29

    1.4.  George Bynum (c1793-1840s) was near his father in 1830 and 1840, but apparently died not long after his father. His widow Rebecca Thomas (a second marriage) is in the 1850 and 1860 Cannon County censuses with several of his children.

    1.5.  Mila Bynum (c1795 – 1880s), the wife of John Ferrill, is thought to have been a daughter.

    1.6.  Elizabeth Bynum (c1810-?) is probably the younger daughter in the 1820 and 1830 censuses, and is probably the Elizabeth Bynum living with children of her brother William in 1850 and 1860.

  2. Isaac Bynum (c1758 – 1840s) See separate page.
  3. Benjamin Bynum (c1765 – 1820s) He appears as a witness to William Bynum’s Chatham County deed of 1787 and his Orange County deed of 1789, which was recorded in 1791 on Benjamin’s oath. This suggests (but doesn’t prove) that he had reached the age of 21 by 1787, thus placing his birth year at or before 1766. However, it also means he probably was not one of the males under 16 in William’s household in 1790. Since he wasn’t in the Chatham County census, Benjamin may have been living with his brother John Bynum on their father’s land in Orange County in 1790. He is apparently the Benjamin Bynum in the 1800 census of Pendleton County adjacent John Bynum (although his age is listed incorrectly as 16-26), with one male and three females all under 10. There is nothing in the deed records until 6 December 1804, when he purchased 240 acres in Pendleton from John Bynum with William Bynum a witness.30  He sold that land on 18 December 1809 as Benjamin Bynum of Bedford County, Tennessee, with James Powell a witness.31  He is apparently the Benjamin Bynum in the 1820 census of Lawrence County (formed from Bedford County), aged over 45, with one male 10-16, one male 16-26, and one female 10-16. Two females aged over 45 are in the household. His son Enoch Bynum is adjacent. All three sons can be identified, but the daughters are unknown.

    3.1.  Enoch Bynum (c1791 – 1867) was listed adjacent to Benjamin in 1820, sold land in Lawrence County32  and obtained a grant in 1824 for land in McNairy County.33  The 1830 McNairy census shows him near William, adjacent Kinchen Ross, and three households from Eli Bynum. He sold his land in 1836 and moved across the county line into Panola County, Mississippi, where he appears in the 1840-60 censuses.

    3.2.  William Bynum (c1805 – ?) He claimed land in McNairy County in 1825 nearly adjacent to Enoch Bynum, and they made consecutive claims in 1826.34  William was in the 1830 census, aged 20-30, with a wife and a single male under 5. He is apparently the same person in the 1840 and 1850 census of McNairy County, age 44 with a wife named Celia and several children. One of the children was named after Kinchen Ross above.

    3.3.  Eli Bynum (c1801 – ?) was located three households from Enoch Bynum in the 1830 McNairy census, aged 20-30, with two males under 5 and two males 5-10. He appears to be the same Eli Bynum in Marion County, Illinois in 1840, Pope County, Arkansas in 1850, and Coryell County, Texas thereafter. Descendants say he married Rachel Lewis. Like his brother William, he also named a son Kinchen Ross Bynum.

  4. Rebecca Bynum (c1770 – 1850) She was probably the second female in William’s household in 1790. Her son George Powell wrote in 1855 that his parents were Rebecca Bynum (c1770-1850) and James Powell (1759-1855).35  (Note that Rebecca Bynum, daughter of James Bynum, was significantly too old to have been this person.) Their children’s ages indicate they were married shortly after 1790, and the Blount County 1850 census shows she was born in North Carolina. Descendants have tracked them back to Pendleton District, South Carolina in 1800 – from which they moved to Tennessee, then Alabama. George Powell also stated that James Powell’s parents were John and Alice Brewer Powell. There is a deed in Chatham County dated 1795 from William Myrick to James Powell and a 1799 deed from James Powell to Henry Brewer disposing of that land. In 1802, James Powell of Pendleton District, South Carolina gave a power of attorney to his friend William Powell to discharge his debts in Chatham County. Therefore, it seems certain that this Rebecca Bynum was from Chatham County.
  5. Jesse Bynum (c1772 – c1848) Jesse Bynum was probably a younger son of this family.36  He first appears in the records when he and James Powell witnessed the 1794 sale of land in Chatham County by Isaac Bynum.37   On 21 August 1797, Jesse Bynum purchased 640 acres in Pendleton County. He sold this land in three parcels over the next several years to Solomon Murphree, Asa Bynum and a James Bynum. The first of these sales, to James Bynum with William and Asa Bynum as witnesses on 10 March 1804, included a release of dower by his wife Elizabeth.38  The rest of this land, without a dower release, was sold to Asa Bynum on 3 August 180439  and to Solomon Murphree.40  He appears in the Pendleton 1800 census, adjacent to William Bynum, with two males under 10. In 1810, by when his cousin Jesse Bynum had arrived, he is apparently the Jesse Bynum with two males under 10, one female under 10, and three females 10-16. He must have left Pendleton after selling his land, probably to join his brothers in Tennessee. Two of his children later deposed that they were acquainted with James Bynum (his nephew) in 1814, a time when James Bynum was known to have been in Warren County, Tennessee. He apparently was in Jackson County, Alabama by 1820 for he is not in the 1820 Tennessee census. He is in the 1830 census of Jackson County, where he died about 1848, leaving a widow named Sarah and several children. Solomon Easley was appointed administrator of the estate in October 1848 and a settlement was made in 1850. He seems to have children by both wives. The estate was distributed in six equal parts to the following children:

    5.1.    Martha Bynum (c1797 – ) the wife of Solomon Easley.

    5.2.    William Bynum (c1798- )

    5.3.    Mary Bynum (c1802 – 1850) the wife of Alexander Riddle, who had moved to Cherokee County, Texas where they appear in the 1850 census, Mary as age 48.

    5.4.    John William Bynum (c1804 – ) married Rachel Campbell according to descendants.

    5.5    Elizabeth Bynum (c1810 – ?) who was called Elizabeth Gattis in the settlement. She was in the 1840 Jackson census, age 20-30, with two young females. In the 1860 census she was age 50.

    5.6.   Barbara Bynum ? (c1812 – ?) apparently the wife of James Potter, who was located near the Bynums in the 1830-50 censuses.

    5.7.   Keziah Bynum (c1804 – ?) the wife of Humphrey Bates Mitchell, may have been another daughter though she may have been a daughter of Isaac Bynum Sr.’s second family. She is not mentioned in the estate settlement but Mitchell is listed adjacent Jesse Bynum in the 1830 census. In 1850, Jesse Bynum’s widow is adjacent the Mitchells, and is in their household in 1860. Keziah is 36 in 1850 and 40 in 1860.

  6. William Bynum ? (c1775? – ?) He appears to have been a younger son, one of the two males under 16 in William Bynum’s household in 1790, and the male 16-26 in William’s 1800 household. A William Bynum Jr. witnessed a deed in Pendleton in 1804.41 He may have been the same William Bynum who bought land in Pendleton in 1801 and sold it in 1807 with a wife named Elizabeth relinquishing dower. I found no trace of him after 1807.

It seems likely that there were additional daughters. Since women married at a much earlier age than men in those times, the additional daughters (if any) were apparently out of the household by 1790.

  1. Halifax County Deed Book 5, p439. []
  2. Halifax County Deed Book 4, p 292 []
  3. Entry states this was filed on 9 April 1761 in Johnston County Deed Book 14, p191. The grant was clearly earlier, as he sold the land in March. []
  4. Johnston County Deed book A-1, p165 and p 167; both deeds proved per Johnston County Court Minutes, Vol. I, p62. []
  5. Johnston County Deed Book D-1, p168 and proved April 1764 per Johnston County Court Minutes, Vol. I, p188. []
  6. Abstracts of the Court of Pleas, Orange County. Note that road juries were comprised of landowners. []
  7. Edgecombe County Deed Book E-1, p217 []
  8. Edgecombe County Deed Book E-1, p358 []
  9. Halifax County Deed Book 9, p304 []
  10. Chatham County Deed Book B, p3. []
  11. The Colonial Records of North Carolina, Vol. VII (1765-8). []
  12. Chatham County Court Minutes May 1774 – May 1778, p13. This is the earliest court record of Chatham County. []
  13. Chatham County Deed Book A, p3.   It was then described as 382 acres from Hatley and 252 from Falconer. []
  14. Orange County Deed Book 4, p411 []
  15. Orange County Deed Book 4, p406 []
  16. Orange County Deed Book 4, p605 and p649. []
  17. Chatham County Deed Book D, p83 and Book F, p210, respectively []
  18. Chatham County Deed Book F, p72 and Book D p211, respectively, the latter witnessed by Benjamin Bynum and Joseph Bell. []
  19. Chatham County Deed Book E, p158 and Book G, p442, respectively []
  20. Settlement of Pendleton District, SC 177-1800, Frederick Van Clayton, 1930, p 70.  This source gives a date of 1794, but a summary of the plat book, Vol. 32, p265, shows a survey date of 1792. []
  21. Pendleton Deed Book G, p18 []
  22. Pendleton Deed Book M, p216 []
  23. Pendleton Deed Book H, p481. William Bynum (no “Jr.”) proved the deed three months later. []
  24. Pendleton Deed Book I, p22 []
  25. I have seen two different transcriptions of this tax list. One contains this name and the other does not. []
  26. Pension File No. S3111. []
  27. Cannon County Court Minutes, p9. []
  28. DAR Tennessee Yearbook 1941-2, p97. []
  29. Cannon County Deed Book D, p131. []
  30. Pendleton County Deed Book H, p481. []
  31. Pendleton County Deed Book L, p324. []
  32. Lawrence County Deed Book B, p139. []
  33. Grant #1551, RWT #6038. A separate occupant claim was made in 1826, entry #517. []
  34. Grant #1775, RWT #5782. A separate occupant claim was made in 1826, entry #518. []
  35. History of Blount County, George Powell, 1855 Transcript provided by Dewel C. Lott. []
  36. A lengthy analysis published elsewhere differentiates this Jesse Bynum from the Jesse Bynum who was evidently his uncle. []
  37. Pendleton County Deed Book F, p85. []
  38. Pendleton County Deed Book H, p25. []
  39. Pendleton County Deed Book M, p65. []
  40. Pendleton County Deed Book M, p321. This is in the deed index, recorded in 1814, but I did not find the deed at that location. []
  41. Pendleton County Deed Book H. p481. []