William Hester (c1717 – 1774)

In 1748 William Hester received 200 acres on both sides of Christopher’s Run in Louisa County by deed of gift from his brother Robert Hester.1   He may already have been occupying the land, and he evidently remained there for another dozen years.  A 1754 deed from his brother David Hester to John Pasley mentions both William Hester and John Wicker as adjoining landowners.2  The land lay in Fredericksville parish, where vestry book records show it was processioned several times in his name through 1760.3   There are no subsequent records for him in Louisa County, nor could I find any record of his sale of the land.

The move to Granville County, North Carolina

However, the following year, 1761, William Hester appeared just over the Virginia state line on the Granville County, North Carolina tax list along with his presumed brother-in-law Thomas Wicker, who had moved from Louisa County to Granville County a few years earlier.

On 11 July 1763 William Hester, now “of Granville County”, mortgaged a 300-acre tract  in Granville on the south side of the “Trading Path” to Henry Eustace McCulloch of Halifax County for £24:10s due in three years.4  This was one of several mortgages by others to McCulloch; how he had obtained this tract is not clear but it was evidently part of a larger tract owned by McCullock.  Five years later, on 10 April 1768, he bought another 200 acres from Jeremiah Anderson with his brothers-in-law John Wicker and Benjamin Wicker among the witnesses.5   Although neither deed mentions watercourses, deeds to neighbors place the land in the vicinity of Tabb’s Creek near what was later the county line between Grnville and Franklin Counties. 6  On modern maps, Tabb’s Creek lies partly in Vance County and partly in Granville County.

The 1769 Granville tax list shows William Hester with three white tithables (presumably Robert and WIlliam Jr.) along with several of his brothers.7 The 1771 Granville tax list shows William Hester with three tithables, probably including his sons William and Benjamin, as Robert Hester was separately enumerated.8

William Hester appears relatively few times in the records of Granville County, but he is clearly the same person as the son of Robert Hester.   He witnessed a deed from an adjoining landowner named George Anderson to his brother-in-law Benjamin Wicker in 17699, and witnessed Benjamin Wicker’s sale of the same land in 1772.10  He and his brother-in-law John Wicker were named executors in the will of George Anderson in 1770.11

William Hester’s will was dated 18 July 1774 and proved in November 1774, with his brother-in-law John Wicker and John Currin, a neighbor, serving as witnesses.12  He left his entire estate to his “beloved wife Mary” for her lifetime, then “after her decease to be equally divided among my ten children Robert, William, Benjamin, Francis, Mary, Zachariah, Temperance, John, Nancy, [and] Lucy.”   Robert Hester, who was named co-executor with Mary, was charged to “live with his mother and act and do for her with the estate as he thinks proper to do the best that he can during her life.”  This latter item seems to prove that Mary was the mother of all ten children, as Robert Hester was clearly the eldest.  William Hester signed his will with his mark.

The widow Mary Hester later moved several miles west into Stokes County with her daughter Temperance and son-in-law Sowell Frazer, where she died in early 1808.   Her own will was written 7 July 1807 and proved in March 1808.13   She left her estate to “my trusty & faithfull son in law Sowel Frazer…he having maintained me these twenty years without any compensation.

Was his wife Mary Wicker?

William Hester’s wife is widely reported to have been Mary Wicker, though this is closer to being a theory than a proven fact.   The purported bible record mentioned elsewhere (which is highly suspect) lists his wife’s name as “Mary Wicker”.  If true, we might infer that she was a daughter of Benjamin Wicker and sister of the Thomas Wicker who married William Hester’s own sister Mary.   This is, as far as I know, the only evidence of her identity — but the errors in that bible record make all of its information suspect.

There was certainly a close relationship between William Hester and  some of Benjamin Wicker’s children, although that relationship might be explained by the marriage of his sister to Thomas Wicker and the fact that they were apparently lifelong neighbors.   Some of Benjamin Wicker’s children’s baptisms are noted in the St. Peter’s Parish vestry book, including that of Thomas Wicker who married Mary Hester, William’s sister, and who lived next to the Hesters in both Louisa County and Granville.

Ten children

The ten children named in William Hester’s will appear to be named in order of their birth.  His son Benjamin Hester also left a will in which he made bequests to his brothers and sisters and their children, and Benjamin Hester’s estate records help differentiate his siblings from other Hesters of the same names.

(The following is an abbreviated version of a genealogy that I published on a predecessor website back in 2001.  I am not entirely certain about some of my conclusions, and therefore have abbreviated my remarks about the children’s own children.)

  1. Robert Hester (c1745 – 1785)   He apparently lived with his mother, as requested by his father’s will, but died long before her.  Robert Hester died intestate sometime before 7 November 1785 when his widow Constant was appointed administrator of the estate, with his brother William Hester a surety.   Constant Hester is in the 1786 state census for Granville County with one male 21-60, one male under 21, and three females.   Thomas Hicks posted bond as guardian of Lucy Hester and Bennett Hester, orphans of Robert Hester, in November 1792, but just a few months later in February 1793 Francis Hester and Benjamin Hester were appointed as their guardians.14   Thomas Hicks was evidently replaced as their guardian because he married the widow Constant Hester — they were married by January 1793 when he asked for her dower interest.15   She and Thomas Hicks had one child, Thomas Iverson Hicks, whose descendants have a family Bible which identifies her maiden name as Constant Parham, as well as her children by Robert Hester.16

    The 1831 petition of Mary Dyer Hester (see below) confirms the children; it states that Robert Hester left four children who were alive at that time: “…Charity Snipes being in Tennessee, Bennett and Robert Hester and Nancy who married Thomas Voss who resides in this county…

    The eldest son, Robert Hester Jr., was the product of a first marriage to an unknown wife.   He was likely dead by 2 December 1822 when Charity Snipes, Bennett Hester, and Thomas and Lucy Voss sued Thomas Hicks over slaves in the estate of their father.17  The children by Constant Parham included a son named William Hester who apparently died without heirs prior to 5 March 1823.18   Charity Hester married John Snipes in 1795 and, according to his 1816 will, had seven children.  She is buried at Zion Church in Columbia, Tennessee.  Lucy Hester married Thomas Voss (or Vass) and remainted in Granville County where they appear in the 1850 census with a son named Robert Hester Voss.  Her husband left a will in 1853 naming several children.19  Bennett Hester married Isabella Howard and also remained in Granville County.

  2. William Hester (c1750 – 1816/17) He was apparently the same William Hester who served as a Lieutenant in a Granville County militia company during the Revolution.  He married Mary Frazier in Granville County by bond dated 27 December 178020 and appears in the 1786 state census heading a household consisting of himself, a male under 21, and three females.  As William Hester “Senior”, he wrote a will on 9 November 1816, proved February 1817, naming as executors “my son Robert Hester and my brother Benjamin Hester”.21  The will left his 162-acre home plantation and eight slaves to his wife Mary Hester.   After her death or remarriage all but one of the slaves and the personal property were to be distributed equally among “all my children then living”.  The will made minor bequests of five shillings to son-in-law John Hunt and four slaves to “my daughter Affire Hunt” and five shillings to son-in-law William Elliot, husband of “my daughter Patsy Elliot”.  On 12 September 1818 his ten children filed a petition to sell two tracts of 320 and 22 acres and divide the proceeds among the heirs.   This petition named the seven additional children as: Jane Hester (a minor whose guardian was Howell Frazer), Lucy Hester (a minor whose guardian was Mary Hester), William Hester, Jeremiah Hester, Benjamin Hester, John Hester, and Mary Hester. Guardian bonds in Granville County show that Polly “Diah” Hester, Lucy Ann Hester, and “Jinny” (later Jane) Hester were minors at the time of their father’s death. The widow Mary Frazier Hester may have died not long after the petition was filed, for Charles Harris became Lucy Ann Hester’s guardian in 1819. On 28 September 1828 eight of the ten children gave their power of attorney to sell nine slaves from the estate, that document showing that Jane Hester and Phillip Yancy were living in Williamson County, Tennessee.

    In the settlement of Benjamin Hester’s estate, all ten children were still alive; Mary Hester was the wife of Phillip Yancy, Lucy was the wife of Absalom Fields.In the settlement of Benjamin Hester’s estate, all ten children were still alive and there whereabouts in 1843 was identified.  William Hester had married Eliza Hester in 1810 and was living in Granville.  Jeremiah Hester had married Polly Minor in 1815 and was living in Tennessee in 1843.  John Hester, who had married Frances Bates in 1812, was living in Granville County.  Martha Hester, who married William Elliott in 1813, was also living in Granville.  Affire Hester had married John Hunt and was living in Granville.  Robert Hester, who was apparently the same person who married Sally Voss (or Vass) in 1812, was living in Pitt County in 1843.   Mary Hester married Phillip Yancey in 1818 and was living in Tennessee in 1843.  Lucy Ann Hester was married to Absalom Fields and living in Tennessee in 1843.  Benjamin Hester was living in Rutherford County, Tennessee in 1820 when he deeded his interest in his father’s estate to Thomas B. Littlejohn.22; he was still in Tennessee in 1843.  Jane Hester (sometimes called Jinney) was single and living in Tennessee in 1843.

  3. Benjamin Hester (c1755 – 1830)   He was frequently referred to as “Captain” Benjamin Hester in Granville records.23  Benjamin served in the same Revolutionary militia unit as his brother William.   He married Mary (Molly) Dyer in Granville County by bond dated 23 December 1778.    Despite being listed with young persons in his census households, Benjamin evidently had no children of his own.  He amassed a fairly large estate which his will distributed among his living brothers and sisters, and the heirs of his deceased siblings.24  His will is undated, but the inventory of his estate is dated 21 August 1830.25   The will and subsequent estate records name all of his brothers and sisters (except Lucy Hester who apparently died without heirs) and a large number of children of his deceased siblings.

    His will, unfortunately, was poorly constructed in that it failed to leave to his wife Mary at least as much personal property as would have been due to her if he died intestate, as required by the state inheritance law.   The will left nothing to her outright, rather she was given a life interest in the personal property and the ability to dispose of twelve slaves at her own death.  His widow Mary contested the will, filing a petition in August 1831 demanding the one-third share of the personal estate due her by law.26   Since the other two-thirds would be distributed to his heirs, her petition listed Benjamin’s eight siblings (excepting Lucy) and the children of the deceased siblings — a total of 74 heirs.  Mary left her own will, dated 4 March 1838 (amended by a codicil of 9 April 1839) and proved on August 1842.27

  4. Francis Hester (c1760 – 1812) He died intestate in 1812.28  See separate page.
  5. Mary Hester (c1760? – aft1831)   She married Hugh Currin 3 August 1777 and remained in Granville County.   The 1800 through 1830 censuses suggest that she was born before 1774 and probably before 1770.29  Hugh Currin left a will dated 9 November 1818 and proved in November 1823 which named his sons (but not his daughters), and appointed his son Larkin Currin and brother-in-law Benjamin Hester executors.30   A different Benjamin Hester and Alfred Hester were witnesses.   Benjamin Hester’s estate records list their children as John Currin (of Washington County, Virginia in 1832, Lemuel Currin, Wyatt Currin, James Currin, Larkin Currin, Benjamin Currin, Fannie Currin, Nancy Currin (wife of Lambert Huddleston), Elizabeth Currin, Keziah Currin, Susannah Currin (wife of Samuel Badgett), Mary Currin (wife of Risdom Knott), and Francis Currin, all of whom resided in Granville County at the time.   Mary Hester Currin was still alive when Benjamin Hester’s widow filed her petition in 1831, for it states that Benjamin Hester “also left a sister Mary Curry (sic)”.
  6. Zachariah Hester (c1761 – 1837?) He was apparently the Zachariah Hester who married Elizabeth Frazer, sister of Sowell Frazer, by bond dated 11 September 1782.31  He was granted 300 acres on Belews Creek in Surry (later Stokes) County on 3 November 1784.32  His brothers-in-law Claiborn Watson and Sowell Frazier later bought land on the same creek in Stokes County.   It is not clear whether Zachariah  ever lived on that land, for in 1795, Zachariah Hester, was still “of Granville County” when he sold the 300 acre grant to his brother John Hester with brothers-in-law Claiborn Watson and Sowell Frazier witnesses.33

    His wife Elizabeth may have died around 1810, as he seems to be the same Zachariah Hester who married again to a middle-aged widow named Druscilla Padgett on 1 June 1814 in Granville County.34 (Druscilla Hester was age 82 in the 1850 census, so she would have been about 46 at the time of the marriage.) His children by Elizabeth Frazer were: Nancy Hester, John Hester, Jeremiah Hester, Benjamin Hester, Faithy Hester, Elizabeth Hester, Mary Hester Affire Hester, and Hamilton  Hester.

    Five of the nine children — all five residing in Tennessee — were called out in the will of his brother Benjamin Hester, which specifically denied any share of his estate to “John Hester, Jeremiah Hester, & Benjamin Hester suns of Zachariah Hester, & Patrick O’Briant [husband of Faith] & John Bats [husband of Elizabeth] for they are good for nothing”. They were the only relatives denied bequests in Benjamin Hester’s will.

    Faith Hester married Patrick O’Brian(t) in Granville by bond dated 19 March 1808. They remained in Granville County, where Faith was enumerated as age 60 in the 1850 household of her brother Hamilton Hester. John Hester married Frankey Bates in Granville by bond dated 6 June 1812. Although his uncle left him no legacy, he was listed among the children of Zachariah Hester in the settlement papers, his residence given as “Tennessee”.  Jeremiah Hester was listed among the children of Zachariah Hester, his residence also given as “Tennessee”.   Hamilton Hester (c1806 – 4 July 1860) was married three times. He first married Francis Hunt, the widow of Michael Hunt, by bond dated 25 October 1821. She died in 1832 and he remarried by bond of 28 March 1837 to Theresa M. Badgett. She died in 1849 and he married for the final time on 4 May 1854 to Sarah E. Whitmore in Person County. He was residing in Granville County when his uncle’s estate was distributed. Benjamin Hester was listed as “of Tennessee” in his uncle’s estate papers but was not further traced. Nancy Hester married Willis Curry by bond dated 21 February 1806. Her uncle’s estate papers refer to her as the widow of Willis Curry residing in South Carolina.  Affire Hester married Isaac Dunkin by bond dated 19 June 1821 and was living in Granville County in 1843. Elizabeth Hester was married to John Bates and was residing in Tennessee in 1843. Mary Hester married John Gordon in Granville by bond dated 2 November 1813 and was living in Granville as late as 1843.

  7. Temperance Hester (c1765 – by1833) She was married to Sowell Frazer, son of William and Mary Frazer.  Sowell and Temperance Frazier apparently moved to Stokes County in 1793 when they bought land near John and Zachariah Hester35, and later recorded a grant on the same creek in 1796.36  Sowell Frazer applied for a Revolutionary War pension on 5 September 1832 from Stokes County, North Carolina.37  He stated he was born on 9 April 1764 in Bertie County, and that his parents moved to Granville County within six weeks of his birth. He further stated he was married in 1783 at the age of 19, and removed to Surry (later Stokes) County at the age of 20 in 1784. Temperance Hester Frazier was deceased by 29 April 1833, when Sowell Frazer remarried to Sarah Davis in Stokes County. Sowell Frazer himself died on 18 March 1851 in Yadkin County. Children of Sowell and Temperance, from Benjamin Hester’s estate records and Frazier family records were: Nancy Frazier (1785, wife of Jacob Smith of Alabama in 1843), John Frazier (c1791), Charity Frazier (c1791, wife of Charles Barham in 1843), Martha Frazier (c1793, wife of Thomas Walker in 1843)), Arthur Smith Frazier (c1795, of Alabama in 1843), Mary Ann Frazier (c1798, called Anna, wife of John Redmon in 1843), Smith Frazier (1801), Bennett Frazier (1803), and William Frazier (c1804, of Guilford County in 1843). The children were all living in Stokes County in 1843 unless otherwise noted.
  8. John Hester (? – 1819) He was apparently the John Hester who followed Sowell Frazier into Stokes County. He is first mentioned in Surry (later Stokes) County on 15 May 1788 when he was appointed overseer of a road “to place of his present residence at the Cross Roads”.38  His will in Stokes County is dated 7 January 1819 and proved March 1819.39   It names his wife Martha and seven children: Robert Hester, William Hester, Benjamin Hester, Faithy, Martha, Betsey, and  Polly Wicker. Mary Dyer Hester’s petition added a son named Elijah Hester and a daughter Lucy Voss (the wife of Phillip Voss). The petition also adds that Elizabeth [Betsy] was then the wife of Jacob Frazier, Faithy the wife of Smith Frazier, and Martha the wife of Drury Watson. It calls Polly “Nancy”, the wife of William Wicker.
  9. Nancy Hester (c1765 – bef1830) She married Claiborn Watson in Granville County by bond dated 27 August 1785, for which Sowell Frazer and Isaac Gray were bondsmen.  Clayborn Watson was living in Stokes County by the 1790 census within a few years in Guilford County.  Nancy may have died sometime in the 1820s for the only female in Watson’s 1830 census household was aged 40-50.  The dower petition of her brother Benjamin Hester’s widow dated in February 1832 states that Benjamin Hester “had a sister by the name of Nancy who married Henry [sic] Watson, she died before intestate leaving the following children…40  Her brother Benjamin’s 1832 estate records list among his heirs nine children of Claiborn Watson:  William and Drury Watson of Stokes County; Allen, John, Henry, Mary, and Susannah Watson of Guilford County; Anna the wife of Ebenezer Perry of Stokes; and Charity the wife of William Luffman of Stokes.
  10. Lucy Hester (c1767 – ?)  She was the tenth and last child listed in her father’s 1774 will, so was probably just a few years old at his death.  She probably died young, as neither she nor her heirs are mentioned in the estate records of her uncle Benjamin Hester.  Nor is there a marriage record for her in either Granville or Stokes County.
  1. Louisa County Deed Book A, p319. []
  2. Louisa County Deed Book A, p319. []
  3. Fredricksville Parish Vestry Book Indentures and Processioning Returns 1742-1787, Vol. II, Rosalie Edith Davis (1981). []
  4. Granville County Deed Book G, p198. A transcript of this deed called him “Kestor” but the name is clearly “Hester”. []
  5. Granville County Deed Book H, p415. []
  6. For example, Granville County Deed Book H, p528. []
  7. David, Zachariah, John, James, William and Benjamin Hester were also on the 1769 tax list. All had a single white tithable except James who had two.  Only William and Benjamin owned taxable slaves. []
  8. North Carolina Archives.  Zachariah, James David, and John Hester appear in the same tax list, all with a single taxable. []
  9. Granville County Deed Book H, p528. []
  10. Granville County Deed Book K, p111. []
  11. History and Genealogies of Old Granville County 1746-1800, Thomas McAdory Owen (Southern Historical Press, 1993), p34. []
  12. Granville County Will Book 1, p96. []
  13. Stokes County Will Book 2, pp88. []
  14. Granville County loose guardian bonds. []
  15. Granville County Court Minutes, page not noted. []
  16. The original Bible was in the possession of Mrs. V. Lawrence of Brooklyn, New York, in 1936 when the DAR copied the entries and placed a copy in the NC Archives. []
  17. Granville County Deed Book 1, p306. []
  18. Granville County Deed Book 1, p306. []
  19. Granville County Will Book 20, pp244. []
  20. Granville County Marriage Bonds (loose papers), NC Archives. []
  21. Granville County Will Book 8, pp18. []
  22. Granville County Deed Book Z, p155. []
  23. Granville County Deed Book 3, p15 for example. []
  24. Granville County Will Book 16, pp63. []
  25. Granville County Will Book 12. p535. []
  26. Granville County Will Book 12, pp287. []
  27. Granville County Will Book 15, p299. []
  28. Granville County Will Book 7, p286, 307, 320. []
  29. She and Hugh Currin were both aged 26-45 in both the 1800 and 1810 censuses.  In 1820 they were presumably the male and female aged over 45 in the household of their son Lemuel Currin.  In 1830 she is probably the Mary Currin enumerated as age 70-80 (surely a decade too old) with four adult females and a teenaged female in the household. []
  30. Granville County Will Book 9, p247.  The will is dated 9 November 1818, with a codicil dated 21 January 1823. []
  31. Granville County Marriage Bonds (loose). []
  32. Surry County Deed Book C, p160. []
  33. Stokes County Deed Book 2, p289. []
  34. Granville County Loose Marriage Bonds. []
  35. Stokes County Deed Book 2, p54. []
  36. Stokes County Deed Book 2, p368. []
  37. Revolutionary Pension File R-3767 []
  38. Surry County, North Carolina Court Minutes, Volumes I and II, 1768-1789, Mrs. W. O. Absher (Soputhern Historical Press, 1985), p139. []
  39. Stokes County Will Book 3, 30. []
  40. Dower petition of Mary D. Hester. []