Chapter 21: How Would You Divide an American Pie?

I want to fill in some blanks from the last post about Richard Ledbetter, III. In 1780, Richard and his wife Nancy Johnson took their infant Richard IV back to their Virginia origins as told in his deposition. But he didn’t mention that in 1792 he returned to Montford Cove in NC and rejoined his brothers and his sister. (Many pronounced it “Mumford” but the area was named for Montford Wilson who was given a land grant in Tryon County which became Rutherford County. In 1842 the county lines and name changed again to McDowell County. Got it?)

Richard’s sister Mary Bradley was made a widow in 1778 but remained in her NC home on Cedar Creek. Their mother Mary Walton Ledbetter of Virginia made a will in November of 1778 that stipulated the Ledbetter family property on Broad River in NC be given to Mary and brother Richard IF they had a contract between themselves. “If my said daughter Mary should not make my son Richard her heir or assigns a good right to the said land on Broad River, then I give my land and plantation to my son Richard his heirs or assigns forever.” Mother Mary left all the land on the south side of Little Creek to her son George whom she made executor of her will.

I wondered what Mama was thinking until I discovered that Mary Ledbetter Bradley’s neighbor on Cedar Creek was John Goodbread who served in the old Tryon County Militia and was one of the largest land and slave owners in Rutherford County. (From the Heritage of Rutherford County, pg 217)

Mary’s first husband John Bradley had died in June of 1778, and I think Mama was anticipating a family conflict of interest. She was right. Her daughter Mary married John Goodbread in 1779 which is when he purchased more land on both sides of Cedar Creek so he had a very large spread. (I’m thinking the Ponderosa with Hoss Cartwright.) Anyway, John Goodbread and Mary had a daughter Sarah in 1780 and a son John, Jr, in 1781, heirs who might have preempted the claim of the Bradley children. However, John Goodbread, Sr., died in 1803, and when Mary died in 1825, she left her property to both her sons, John Bradley, Jr., and John Goodbread, Jr. The latter took his name across the mountains to the Tennessee frontier.

Another question I had about Mary Walton Ledbetter’s will, which was proved in July of 1779 (i.e. she died), was the meager share to her son Isaac who got “two hogshead of tobacco that I left in the hands of my son Isaac Ledbetter… should be sold and a sufficiency of my estate to pay all my just and lawful debts.” He also was bequeathed “one Negro fellow named Thomas and five pound good and lawful money of Virginia.” I have read that ten times and still don’t understand the inequity. I know that in old Wales the eldest son was the one who got the property and the second son pretty much got the boot. But in the 18th century, there was a strong Biblical influence: Numbers  26:53: “To these the land shall be divided as an inheritance, according to the number of names. To a large tribe you shall give a larger inheritance, and to a small tribe you shall give a smaller inheritance.” (NewKJV) Of course three tribes stayed east of the Jordan because they wanted to but that meant their brothers had to fight for that area too. And Reuben and Gad and Manassas fought for the other nine tribes of Israel under Joshua while their families settled. All for one, one for all. (Exception was gender based.)

At least Isaac Ledbetter’s brother Richard III showed some love by naming one of his sons Isaac in 1796. This Isaac was a Messenger for Beulah Baptist Church in 1820 to the French Broad Association, according to historian Mary Glenn’s contributors. However, this divine connection did not keep him from misfortune. On July 10, 1837, he returned home from a hunting trip, drank cold water and died. His pregnant wife Sarah Goodbread Bradley died forty-eight days later, and the Ledbetter-Bradley clan was left with fifteen orphaned children. (I don’t know if this coincides with John Goodbread leaving for Tennessee.)

Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States (completed in 1940) Artist: Howard Chandler Christy (1873-1952) Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States (completed in 1940)
Artist: Howard Chandler Christy (1873-1952)
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

On the other hand, Brother George, executor of Mama Mary’s will, went on to do big things. He fought in the Revolutionary War, and commanded a company under Andrew Hampton at the Battle of King’s Mountain. A big event in these parts. His powder horn is on display at the park’s museum. According to Clarence Griffin’s History of Old Tryon and Rutherford Counties, George was a member of the convention who represented North Carolina at Hillsboro in 1788 to ratify the Constitution of the US . After eleven days and a heated discussion, the meeting was adjourned, leaving NC out of the Union, but deciding the seat of state government should be in Wake County. The representatives of the state convened again in November of 1789 in Fayetteville, and this time created a historic moment in ratifying the US Constitution, 194 in favor and 77 opposed, and supporting a resolution that a declaration of States Rights be included as an amendment for the unalienable rights of her people. A very big event worldwide.

George Ledbetter served the county as a justice of the peace until his death. He is buried in a recently discovered graveyard on Cove road near the county line, along with his daughter Rebecca Ledbetter Bradley and his nephew Richard Bradley, Sr.

Maybe Mama knew best.

Perhaps I should mention that in John Bradley’s will (the guy who fell off the fort) he left five shillings to each of his twelve children and the land, cattle, horses, furniture, etc. to his wife. Since I am critiquing wills, one big problem for me was that he had three sons named John. John Bradley, Jr., by his first wife Diana Corntassle (Indian chief’s dtr) and a John Bradley, Jr., by his second wife, Mary Ledbetter. And just to make sure a John survived, they named their youngest son John W. Bradley (Some say Johnson.) But it becomes more confusing for genealogists when everyone is named Mary, John, Richard, or Isaac. Not many were named George for awhile until the unpleasantness with England blew over.

Of all the names in this post, I am partial to George. But Montford Wilson is one of a kind.

Map of Territorial Growth 1790 courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Map of Territorial Growth 1790
courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


Copyright, 2014, Georgia Wilson


This entry was posted in Nanney Saga, Setting and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Chapter 21: How Would You Divide an American Pie?

  1. Chivous Bradley says:

    You are right! What confusion for old John Bradley’s descendants. I think his son, John W. is my ancestor but how does one separate all these John Bradleys?

    • georgia ruth says:

      Diligent use of resources found in the libraries of McDowell and Rutherford counties. The Carson House in Marion also has a research room they are generous to share, and the historical society in Rutherfordton has an offsite research center with local information. I can’t remember the name, but it is off the road that passes by Staples. Good luck with your hunting. Please let us know what you find out. Someone else might need the same answer.

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