Francis Hester (c1760? – 1812)

Francis “Heaster” appears in the 1786 North Carolina state census of Granville County, as one of 70 persons enumerated in the Oxford district, with a household of one male aged 21-60, one male under 21, and three females.   In the same district were his brothers William Hester and Zachariah Hester, and his widowed sister-in-law Constant Hester.   This state census is a  substitute for the federal census of 1790, which was lost for Granville County.

In the 1800 federal census, Francis Hester’s household consisted of two males under 10, two males 10-16, one male 16-26, one male 26-45, one female under 10, two females 16-26, and one female 26-45.    By 1810, the eldest son Garland Hester was head of his own next-door household, and the two elder daughters had married.  Francis Hester’s 1810 household included one male under 10, two males 16-26, one male over 45, one female under 10, one female 10-16, and one female over 45.

He is mentioned infrequently in Granville records, though he appears in a few court records.mainly as a juror and in his capacity as guardian of his brother Robert Hester’s children, Lucy and Bennett, in 1793.

Francis Hester died intestate in 1812, with his brother Benjamin Hester recording an inventory and estate sale.1  According to his estate records he left a widow named Mildred, whose maiden name is unknown.2   Buyers at his estate sale included his widow Mildred, brother Benjamin, and several others who appear to be his children.  Although his children are not explicitly identified by the records of his estate, they are identified in the estate records of his brother Benjamin Hester.

Benjamin Hester’s will left land to “Francis Hester sun (sic) of Francis Hester” and to “William Hester sun (sic) of Francis Hester”. It also bequeathed one hundred pounds to be divided among “my brothers & sisters children.”    Finally, any of the estate remaining after the specific bequests was to be “equally divided amongst my brother Francis Hester children” after the death of his own wife Mary.3

Benjamin Hester’s widow, Mary Dyer Hester, contested that will. In a petition for dower filed after her husband’s death, she named a total of 71 children of Benjamin Hester’s brothers and sisters. Among them were: “…children and heirs-at-law of Frank Hester, the brother of said intestate who died before him, namely Garland, William, Robert, Alfred and Thomas Hester and Francis Hester, Polly Hayes, Milly Hayes who married Solomon Hayes, Nancy Gordon who married William Gordon, & the said Frank Hester has another daughter by the name of Betsy who intermarried with a man by the name of Morris, both of whom are dead and she shows that Garland Hester & Solomon Hayes and his wife Milly live beyond the jurisdiction of this State.”4

The settlement of Benjamin Hester’s estate lists the same children, but omits Thomas Hester, a son of Francis Hester, who had died in the meantime.5    Note that these records neatly account for all the children suggested by Francis Hester’s 1800 and 1810 census households.

  1. Garland Hester (c1778 – c1847?)   He married Charlotte Parham by bond dated 11 December 1799 in Granville County.  ((The bride’s name is mis-transcribed in abstracts as “Parker”.))    He was in the 1810 census of Granville County next to his father, and was still in Granville as late as 1818.6    However, he was in Warren County, Tennessee in time to be enumerated in the 1820 census.7   He was in Smith County in 1843 when he gave a power of attorney regarding Benjamin Hester’s estate, and was still alive in late 1844 when he purchased land.  He was dead by 1847 when his estate sale was recorded in Smith County, Tennessee.8   His widow Charlotte is in the 1850 census of Smith County, age 80, living with her daughter Francis Hester (c1802) the wife of William Montague Knight.   The settlement of his estate identifies four additional heirs:  Avery Hester (c1805), John S. Hester (c1807), James Hester (c1809), and Rhoda Hester (c1813), wife of Henry Montague Knight. 
  2. Elizabeth Hester (c1780 – by 1831) She married Tyne Morris by bond dated 12 December 1800 in Granville County.   Mary Dyer Hester’s petition of 1831 states that Betsy Morris was dead, and had left children named Henderson Morris, Asa Morris, Coley Morris, Matilda Morris, and Jincy Morris.
  3. Mary Hester (c1785 – 1840) She married Simeon Hayes, son of Joseph Hayes, by bond dated 5 October 1804 in Granville County.   Simeon Hayes was dead by 1830 when Mary Hayes recorded the first of several guardian accounts for her children.9   Mary Hayes “widow of Simeon Hayes” was living in Granville County when she was listed among the heirs of her uncle Benjamin Hester.   She died in 1840 according to an 1844 petition by her heirs, which names her “only living children” as Mary Hayes (wife of James Tippet), Stephen Hayes, Archibald Hayes, Frank Hayes, and Mildred Hayes (wife of Henry Hobgood).10   The petition also names a deceased child, Alfred Hayes and his two children.
  4. William Henry Hester (15 December 1784 – 13 August 1836) He married Judah Hester (1 January 1786 – 14 December 1834), probably the daughter of Henry and Oney Hester,  on 21 December 1808 according to a family Bible which recorded his birth and death dates.11    According to the records of his uncle Benjamin’s estate, he remained in Granville County.  The children are listed in the Bible as:  Rebecca Hester (23 September 1809 – 15 May 1881), Francis Kendrick Hester, Thomas D. Hester, Stellarah Hester, William Henry Hester, James H. Walter Hester, and Harriet Hester.
  5. Mildred Hester (27 March 1797 – ?) She married Solomon Hayes 9 November 1814. (See HAYES pages.)
  6. Robert Hester (c1795 – March 1841)  He was still living in Granville County when Benjamin Hester’s estate was settled, but deceased by 1843 when the slaves were distributed.   He was evidently the same Robert Hester who married Nancy Hart in Granville by bond dated 28 February 1828.   Nancy Hester, his widow, entered a petition for a dower land partition in May 1841, which mentions one child: Nancy Hester (15 July 1816 – 25 August 1862), who had married Daniel Terry Gooch on 20 December 1831.12
  7. Alfred Hester (c1795 – c1840)  He married Mary Smith by bond dated 31 May 1816 in Granville County. He was still living in Granville County when Benjamin Hester’s estate was first settled, but was deceased by 1843 when the slaves of Benjamin Hester were distributed.
  8. Nancy Hester (c1802 – ?) She married William Gordon by bond dated 25 February 1818 in Granville County. They were still living in Granville County when Benjamin Hester’s estate was settled.    The 1850 census enumerates Nancy as age 48.   Her children are thought to have been Francis Gordon, Mildred Gordon, Willis Gordon, Alfred Gordon, Alexander Gordon, Nathaniel Gordon, Rebecca Gordon, Thomas N. Gordon, Sarah Gordon, Fanny Gordon, Samuel Gordon, and Isaac Gordon.  In 1860, Nancy Hester (age 54) and her younger children Samuel, Sarah and Isaac were in the household of her son Thomas N. Gordon in Nash County, North Carolina.
  9. Francis Hester   He was still living in Granville County when Benjamin Hester’s estate was settled.

Thomas Hester  He is mentioned among the heirs in Mary Dyer Hester’s petition of 1831, but was not listed among the heirs of Francis Hester to whom Benjamin Hester’s estate was distributed a few years later.  He evidently had died in the interim, leaving no heirs of his own.


  1. Granville County Will Book 7, p286 (inventory), 307(widow’s support), 320 (estate sale). []
  2. Granville County Will Book 7, p307(widow’s support). []
  3. Granville County Will Book 16, p63. []
  4. Granville County Will Book 12, p287. []
  5. North Carolina Archives, Granville County, loose probate records. []
  6. Granville County Deed Book Y, p132. []
  7. 1820 Warren County census, p283:  Garland Hester 020100-10201. []
  8. Smith County Inventory Book 1840-1846, p476. []
  9. Granville County Estate Records (Box CR044.508.77). []
  10. Ibid. []
  11. The Heritage of Surry County reports that all these dates came from a family Bible, but does not identify its owner.   A copy of the Bible’s entries was possessed by Mrs. Jennie Hester Griswold of Rich Square, NC in 1965, according to a 1965 typed genealogy of this family filed in the reference section of  the Granville County Library. []
  12. Nancy Hester Gooch is said to have a gravestone in the Gooch Family Cemetery in Granville County, upon which are the dates July 15 1806 – 25 August 1862.   However, the 1850 and 1860 censuses list her as 34 and 44 respectively, and the 1840 census lists her as aged 20-30, suggesting that the year was probably 1816 rather than 1806. []