In Search of William Hooper

Thank you Anne, for getting me started on this…

Who was William Hooper (c1750-60 – 1827) of Davidson and Montgomery Counties, Tennessee?

His ancestry is unknown but, as indicated elsewhere, we have a few useful clues:

  1. A brief biography of a grandson, James Obediah Ragland Hooper, states that William Hooper was born in North Carolina.  However, James. O. R. Hooper’s father, James B. Hooper, listed both parents as born in South Carolina in the 1880 census.  (The only other of his children to live to 1880, Asa W. Hooper, left the birthplaces blank.)
  2. He was born before 1764, as he served on juries in Davidson County, Tennessee beginning in July 1785.
  3. He was living in Davidson County, Tennessee by 1783, according to his 1824 deposition.
  4. He was closely associated with Absalom Hooper, whose family were the only other Hoopers in the Nashville area, for at least a dozen years.  He hunted with him in 1785, served on juries with him,  was sold land by Absalom adjacent to his own plantation, and later adjacent to Absalom’s eldest son and son-in-law.  Absalom Hooper was also security for William Hooper’s marriage bond in 1789.   We can be reasonably certain, however, that the relationship was not father-son, as William was born prior to Absalom’s marriage in 1765, was not mentioned in Absalom’s will, and apparently did not associate with Absalom’s family for the last thirty years of his life.
  5. For a decade beginning in 1800 he owned land quite near the brothers Churchwell and Thomas Hooper, who had moved to Davidson County from Georgia about 1796.  His purchase of that land in 1800 was witnessed by Churchwell Hooper. In 1811 he sold that land to Jesse Hooper, another arrival from Georgia who may have already been living on William Hooper’s land.
  6. He was security in 1803 for a bond of Ennis Hooper, who was evidently the same person who had served in the Revolution in North Carolina and who had arrived in the area shortly before 1800.  That Ennis Hooper had a brother named William.

There seem to be three possibilities:

1. Was he a son of Innes Hooper of Natchez and nephew of Absalom Hooper?

The only reason to consider this hypothesis is the close association of William Hooper and Absalom Hooper in Davidson County.  It is tempting to consider that the relationship, which was clearly not father-and-son, might have been uncle-and-nephew.

We have every reason to believe that Absalom Hooper and Innes Hooper of South Carolina and Natchez were brothers.  Innes Hooper’s land claim in Natchez credited him with a family of four, presumably including a wife and two children (unless he was a widower with three children.)  Innes Hooper was hanged in Florida in 1774, so must have left behind either two or three children who were probably quite young.  Could William Hooper have been one of those children who was old enough to refugee with Absalom Hooper to Georgia in 1781 and travel with him to Tennessee a year or two later?

Unfortunately there is no evidence of the presence of a William Hooper in Natchez, nor do we have any indication that Innes Hooper had a son named William.  That William and Absalom ended up in Tennessee at the same time could be as much a result of an association in Georgia as of one in Natchez.

We not only lack even a shred of evidence in favor of this theory, but we also have the plausible alternative that Innes Hooper had a son named Jesse Hooper, and possibly a daughter named Polly, who remained in Natchez.  That William Hooper left the area and they did not seemingly makes this hypothesis even less likely.

2. Was he the same person as William Hooper of South Carolina and Wilkes County, Georgia?

This is a tempting possibility, though the evidence is weak and entirely circumstantial.  A William Hooper was associated with the brothers Thomas and Churchwell Hooper in Georgia but disappeared from records of the area after 1778.

William Hooper, Thomas Hooper, and Church (sic) Hooper all enlisted in the 5th South Carolina Regiment on the same day, 11 June 1777.1. A year later, on 19 May 1778, William Hooper, Churchwell Hooper, and Jesse Hooper all paid fees for 200 acres each in Wilkes County, Georgia.2.  

Records of Wilkes County are almost entirely missing for the next half-dozen years, but Thomas Hooper and Churchwell Hooper subsequently obtained warrants in late 1783 and early 1784, and in 1784 were granted land on Pistol Creek, while Jesse Hooper located nearby on the Broad River a few months later.3  The 1785 tax list for the part of Wilkes County that was later Franklin County lists Thomas Hooper, Churchwell Hooper, and  Jesse Hooper consecutively.  

William Hooper also had a warrant, but either died or left the area, as a man named John Gamble obtained a warrant on 3 March 1784 for 200 acres in Wilkes County on the Broad River “in lieu of an old warrant (of) Wm. Hooper”.4

Obviously, the absence of William Hooper from Wilkes County records could be explained by his presence in Tennessee by 1783.  

We know that Absalom Hooper left Natchez in 1781 and in early 1782 was reported to have refugeed to Georgia, so It is certainly plausible that William Hooper might have accompanied Absalom Hooper (his first cousin in this scenario) in travelling from Georgia to Tennessee in 1783.  The brothers Churchwell Hooper and Thomas Hooper moved to Davidson County, Tennessee in the mid 1790s, followed a few years later by Jesse Hooper.  William Hooper, after associating with Absalom Hooper for several years, bought land quite near Churchwell and Thomas Hooper and sold some of that land to Jesse Hooper. 

So while temptingly plausible, we can’t actually prove that William Hooper of South Carolina was the same person.  Even if we could, his ancestry would still be a mystery.  Although see #3 below…

3. Was he William Hooper of William, orphaned before 1760?

William Hooper, son of the immigrant Thomas Hooper and Sarah Innes, died sometime after 1 June 1757 but before 1 July 1760 when his son James, age 15, chose a guardian in Frederick County, Virginia.5  His younger children seem to have somehow made their way to their grandmother’s second husband George Rust in Bedford County, Virginia where an inventory of William Hooper’s estate was filed on 25 August 1760.6  Several months later in March 1761 William and Ennis Hooper “orphans of Wm. Hooper” were ordered bound out to a James Campbell.7  William and Ennis were not yet 14, the age when they could choose their own guardian.

What happened to young William Hooper is somewhat mysterious, but it seems nearly certain that he was the “Will. Hooper” listed as one of 53 soldiers on the 10 September 1774 muster roll of Captain Philip Love’s Company during the Point Pleasant campaign of Dunmore’s War.8   He was not, however, on the subsequent roster of 7 October 1774, which listed only 41 men.9  Philip Love’s company was comprised of men from Botetourt County, which was adjacent to Bedford.10 Indeed, an account of militia pay to member of Love’s company identifies it as a Botetourt County militia company, and lists William Hooper as due £7:1:0 for 94 days service.11

It was surely the same William Hooper who enlisted in 1777 in a Bedford County company commanded by Capt. Gross Scruggs of the 5th Virginia Regiment, although it appears that he didn’t actually see active duty.  The muster roll for May 1777 indicates that William Hooper enlisted on 21 February 1777 but was “left (in) Virginia” when the company marched to New Jersey and New York.1213  William Hooper never rejoined the company.  He does not appear on monthly musters again until September and October 1777 when William Hooper was one of three men still listed as “left sick in Virginia”.14.  Pay rolls exist for that company for every month of its existence, but William Hooper appears on none of them, indicating that he never rejoined the company and was never paid for service.  In fact, only one of the three men listed as left in Virginia ever received a discharge.  William Hooper and Joshua Lee, the other two, were not mentioned at all in the final records of the company when it was disbanded and discharged in March 1778.15.

There are no further records found of this William Hooper.  Note that, since he did not actually participate in Capt Scruggs’ company, we can’t eliminate him from being the same person as #2 above.

Could it be that when he regained his health after February 1777, with his regiment far away in New York, he decided to join his cousins in Georgia?

An intriguing clue lies in the subsequent travels of the other orphan, Ennis Hooper. He was surely the same person who applied for a Revolutionary War pension in 1832 while living in Marion County, Tennessee, giving his age as 83 (see details elsewhere). He stated that he enlisted in Guilford County, North Carolina in 1777 for nine months service. His memory for dates was faulty; he received a discharge from Major John Armstrong for 9 months service on 7 August 1779.16  He further received three Revolutionary claim vouchers in 1781, 1782, and 1783, all issued in the “Upper Board” of the Salisbury district which served only the counties of Surry and Guilford. Indeed, all three vouchers were signed by two residents of Surry County.

He subsequently crossed paths with William Hooper.  Ennis Hooper obtained a military warrant for 274 acres in 1797, which he promptly assigned to a merchant of Davidson County, Tennessee.  He may have already been in the area, as the assignment was actually signed on his behalf by a clerk in Raleigh. He appeared in Davidson County in 1801 as bondsman for the marriage of a daughter of Churchwell Hooper and married himself there in 1802.

I think I need to know more about the third orphan, James Hooper.

Bottom Line?

Beats me.  The notion that #2 and #3 were the same person is tempting, since it neatly explains all the records we have.  But, of course, the same records can support other hypotheses as well.

I would like to find out what happened to William Hooper’s 150-acre tract on Pond Creek.  At the same time, it might be helpful to more precisely locate that tract relative to Churchwell Hooper’s land.





  1. Compiled Service Records of Soldiers Who Served in the American Army During the Revolutionary War, card file images online at []
  2. Georgia Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 17, No. 1 (Spring 1981), pp. 3 []
  3. Plats and warrants online at Virtual Georgia and FHL Film #005157612. []
  4. “Headrights and Bounty Documents…” LDS Film #005122121, image 433. []
  5. Frederick County Order Book 8, p92. []
  6. Bedford County Minute Book 1B, page 133. []
  7. Bedford County Minute Book 1B, page 149. []
  8. Reuben Gold Thwaite, Documentary History of Dunmore’s War, 1774 (1905), page 407.  The same muster was repeated in Lloyd DeWitt Bockstruck, Virginia’s Colonial Soldiers (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1990), page 152 and in William Armstrong Crozier, Virginia Colonial Militia 1651-1776, Vol. II, page 85. []
  9. Ibid., immediately following. []
  10. Thwaite, page 273, identifies Philip Love as a 1770 magistrate of Botetourt who had removed from Augusta County.  Colonel Lewis commanded a force of about 150 men at Point Pleasant consisting of Love’s company, Capt. Russell’s company of Bedford County, and two companies from Fincastle County. []
  11. “Augusta, Bedford, Botetourt, Culpeper and Fincastle Payrolls and Public Service Claims, 1775: Also Known as Dunmore’s War”, Handwritten manuscript online at, referenced as call number 975.5 M2au.pages 173-174.  The names are not all the same, nor are they in the same sequence as in the muster roll mentioned above. There is no specific date to this list, though it is 1774 or 1775.  It is in the section of the document devoted to Botetourt County militia pay and public claims. []
  12. NARA Microfilm M246 “Revolutionary War Rolls 1775-1783”, Roll 101, Jacket Nos. 132-144, image 441. []
  13. Interestingly, that muster roll listed 72 privates who had enlisted in 1776 and early 1777 of whom 30 were dead, 8 deserted, 2 discharged, 13 sick at one location or another, 1 AWOL and 1 confined.  Only 19 were present for the muster. []
  14. Ibid., images 453 and 456. []
  15. Ibid., images through 508. []
  16. North Carolina Genealogical Society Journal, Vol. 10 (1984), No. 4, page 238.  The record was sourced from the “Revolutionary War Service and Final Settlements, 1776-1792” file in the Military series of the Treasurers and Comptrollers Records at the North Carolina State Archives. []