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Norfleet Family Genealogy

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Early Norfleet Settlers in Kentucky

by Phil Norfleet


Section 1 - Introduction

The first Norfleet families to settle in Kentucky were those of James (1767-1849), David (c. 1770-1824) and John Norfleet (1786-1873). The estimated arrival dates for these men and their spouses are as follows:

Names Year of Arrival
James and Elizabeth Norfleet 1798
David and Catherine Norfleet 1806
John and Catherine Norfleet 1820

All three of these families were originally from Nansemond County, Virginia and all initially settled in the White Oak Creek area of Pulaski County.

Section 2 - Land Grants of the First Three Norfleet Settlers in Kentucky

All three Norfleet families initially settled in the western part of Pulaski County, Kentucky near Kings Creek; The Creek was subsequently renamed White Oak Creek.

Pulaski County (see map) was established in December 1798 with an effective date of 1 June 1799. The county was created out of Lincoln County only a few months after James Norfleet had his land surveyed in the White Oak Creek (then called Kings Creek) area. In June 1799, Pulaski County was formed and James’s land fell within that County.

The earliest land acquisitions by the three families were accomplished by land grants from the State of Kentucky. They acquired the land pursuant to an act of the Kentucky General Assembly, dated 21 December 1795 (effective date 01 January 1797), which provided for the grant of up to 200 acres in the region south of the Green River to any persons with a family, who were over 21 years of age. The area south of the Green River had previously been reserved for Virginia/Kentucky soldiers who had served in the French and Indian War and/or the Revolutionary War. Accordingly, until 1797 no person could enter a survey in this region, except a soldier. In all, the three Norfleet families received eight land grants pursuant to this Act of the Kentucky General Assembly, for a total of 1333 acres.  This table summarizes these "South of the Green River" land grants.

Section 3 - James Norfleet (1767-1849) of Pulaski, Wayne and Russell Counties, Kentucky

By conjecture I have concluded that James Norfleet, the first Norfleet to settle in KY (1798), was the brother of David Norfleet and thus was the son of John Norfleet and Judath (Holland) Norfleet of Nansemond County, Virginia. James was also the grandson of John Norfleet (1699-1753) and Elizabeth (Riddick) Norfleet of Chowan County, North Carolina. The family bible of Larkin Norfleet (youngest son of James) indicates that James Norfleet was born on 28 April 1767 and died 22 November 1849. [1]

James was the first Norfleet to settle in Kentucky, arriving in Lincoln County about the year 1798. He entered a 200 acre tract of land on Kings Creek (later renamed White Oak Creek) on 24 August 1798, and had it surveyed on 12 February 1799. The entry date on the survey document for James Norfleet’s land is incorrectly stated; it should be 24 August 1798, not 1799.

In August 1804, James entered (see Pulaski County KY Order Book 2, Page 42) an additional 200-acre tract of land in Pulaski County, on the headwaters of Goose Creek (a tributary of White Oak Creek). Based on the Pulaski County tax records, James never had the Goose Creek land surveyed and he retained the land for only a few years as the tract is shown accountable to James Norfleet for only the years 1805, 1806 and 1807.

In 1815, James seems to have turned over the original 200-acre tract on White Oak Creek (James had still not yet obtained patent to this land) to his eldest son John Norfleet (1794-1869) and acquired 105 acres of first rate land in Wayne County. He obtained the land by assignment from a certain Nathaniel Buchanan on 15 April 1815 (Buchanan had surveyed the land on 30 January 1810). Immediately thereafter, James received title to the 105-acre tract by Kentucky Patent Number 10567, dated 20 April 1815. The land was located directly on the north bank of the Cumberland River. At this new location, James established a ferry a few miles down river from Mill Springs. This ferry, for many years, was a major Cumberland crossing point on the road from Jamestown, which became the County Seat of Russell County in 1826, to the Wayne County Seat, Monticello. Effective in June 1826, Russell County was formed and James’s 105-acre property on the Cumberland fell within the boundaries of the new county.  A map of the Jamestown - Monticello area, showing modern roads, is appended at this hyperlink.

Per the 1828 Russell County tax records, James was listed as having 105 acres and a total taxable worth of $1310. Later that same year, James conveyed his 105-acre tract on the Cumberland to his nine children by an indenture, dated 29 July 1828 (see Russell County KY Deed Book B, Page 19). Subsequently, Larkin Norfleet, youngest son of James, acquired sole title to this land from his siblings by an indenture, dated 08 October 1846 (see Russell County KY Deed Book F, Page 181). Larkin later sold the tract to William Heriford by an indenture, dated 03 March 1853 (see Russell County KY Deed Book F, Page 102). Due to the effect of the Wolf Creek Dam Project, this land is now under the waters of Lake Cumberland. In January 1862, the Civil War Battle of Mill Springs was fought a few miles north of this area, at Logan’s Crossroads. This map depicts the White Oak Creek – Mill Springs area as it existed circa 1862.

Relationship between David (c. 1770-1824) and James (1767-1849) Norfleet

There is a considerable amount of circumstantial evidence supporting the conclusion that James Norfleet is an older brother of David Norfleet.

1) Family Traditions: A few years before his death, my uncle, Robert Lincoln Norfleet (1897-1993) of Englewood, Colorado, told me that it was his understanding that there were three Norfleet brothers (from Virginia) who first settled in Kentucky: James, Madison and John.  This tradition contains some errors. We now know that James Madison Norfleet was the son of David Norfleet and thus was a nephew of James, not a brother.  For reasons stated below, I believe that the John Norfleet mentioned by my uncle was also not a brother of James, but rather was a nephew of both James and David.

I also have been told that the descendants of Jesse Norfleet (a son of James) of Wayne County, Kentucky believe that the first three Norfleets to settle in Kentucky were brothers.

2) Naming Conventions: The naming custom prevalent among most of the English immigrants to Virginia Colony in the 17th Century, who like the Norfleets were from the southern counties of England (the Norfleets having come from Kent in southeast England), was to name the first born son after the paternal Grandfather, not the Father. Recent studies done by social historians of colonial VA indicate that this southern English naming custom was retained by at least a majority of the 17th and 18th Century Virginians. The eldest son of James Norfleet was named "John" (born 1794), thus implying that the Grandfather's name was John.

Also, the second born son of James was named "David" (born 1797), presumably after James's Brother. These sons were born 1-4 years before James came to Kentucky and 9-12 years before David Norfleet arrived in Kentucky. The name "David" was not commonly used among the early Norfleets. In fact, the earliest reference to a David Norfleet of which I am aware dates back to only December, 1804, when a David Norfleet of Nansemond County, together with a John Norfleet (David's Father?) and an Edward Norfleet, signed a Petition to the VA Legislature. This David is probably the same person who came to Kentucky circa 1806. Lastly, the fourth oldest son of James Norfleet of Kentucky was named Abraham, possibly after Abraham Norfleet, the younger brother of James and David.

3) Co-Location in Kentucky: David Norfleet initially settled in the same county (Pulaski) as James, and his earliest land grant was located on Kings Creek, having been surveyed in David's name during November 1806. This location was almost adjacent to the farm where James was then living. James Norfleet's land had been surveyed during February 1799 and was also on Kings Creek, which was later renamed White Oak Creek.

4) Co-Location in Virginia: Larkin Norfleet, youngest son of James Norfleet of Kentucky, during an interview with one of the staff writers for a Lafayette County, Missouri history, stated that his parents (James and Elizabeth) had both come from Virginia. Review of the Vestry Minutes for the Upper Parish Of Nansemond County VA, indicates that John Norfleet lived in Land Processioning Precinct Number 8 of the Parish. In 1791, a James Norfleet was cited as having conducted a land processioning in this Precinct, including the property boundaries of John Norfleet. I believe this indicates a possible father-son relationship. This is the first reference to a James Norfleet living in that area.

5) Census Data: The detailed 1790 Federal Census data for Virginia has been lost. The book published by the Bureau of the Census for the 1790 Virginia Federal Census is really a composite of four (4) state enumerations conducted in 1782, 1783, 1784 and 1785. Data for Nansemond County is extant only in the enumerations for 1783 and 1784. In both of these state enumerations, only one (1) John Norfleet Household is listed for Nansemond County, the household containing a total of 7 people - an amount large enough to include the three conjectured sons (James, David and Abraham) who presumably were still living with their Father at that time.

6) Land Conveyance from James Norfleet to David Norfleet: This conveyance involved the 200 acre tract on White Oak Creek which James Norfleet, conjectured brother of David, had originally entered in August 1798 and surveyed in February 1799; James did not patent this tract until 18 December 1826, two years after David’s death! This was the land originally provided to Washington Norfleet ("John Norfleet’s Place") by David Norfleet’s will. The "John Norfleet" cited must have been John (1794-1869), the eldest son of James Norfleet (1767-1849).

As mentioned above, in 1815 James patented 105 acres in Wayne County on the north bank of the Cumberland River. In the 1815 tax lists for Wayne County, James Norfleet’s name first appears for both the poll and the land tax on the 105 acres; hence he must have moved his residence to that location during that same year. John Norfleet (son of James) appears in the Wayne tax lists for the year 1816 for the poll tax and also is shown as the owner of record for the 200 acre tract of land on White Oak Creek in Pulaski County. Accordingly, I surmise that James must have turned over his old 200-acre farm to his eldest son John in 1815 or early in the year 1816. Similar entries are recorded for James and John Norfleet in the Wayne tax lists for 1817. The 1818 tax lists for Wayne are no longer extant; however, the 1819 list for Wayne does show James Norfleet but not John Norfleet. However, John is shown, for poll tax purposes only, in the 1819 list for Pulaski. That same year, 1819, David Norfleet is shown as the owner of record for the 200 acre tract on White Oak Creek. Based on this information, I surmise that John Norfleet must have gotten into financial difficulties about 1818 and had to convey the 200 acre tract to his "rich uncle" David in return for his financial support. Subsequently, for a time, John must have continued to work the 200-acre tract as a tenant of his Uncle David.

Neither the patent documents nor the Pulaski County deed records show any conveyance of title to this land from James Norfleet to John and/or David Norfleet. I consider this to be strong additional evidence that James and David were brothers and that they, therefore, did not believe that land transactions between them needed to be recorded in the county deed books to protect the transfer of title. Even though the patent for the 200 acre tract was given to James Norfleet in 1826, the land was always treated as if it had been owned by David Norfleet since 1819.

7) Family Letter: Last, but not least, I have a family letter in my possession, dated 10 August 1863, written by Archibald McPhaill to my great-grandfather, John W. Norfleet (son of Reverend Abraham Norfleet). The salutation given in the letter is "Dear Cousin," thus indicating that John was a cousin of Archibald’s wife, Sophia Norfleet (a daughter of David Norfleet). Assuming that James and David Norfleet were brothers, John W. Norfleet would be a second cousin of Sophia, while John’s father, Reverend Abraham Norfleet, would be a first cousin. The cousin relationship further supports the conjecture that James and David were brothers. A transcript of this letter is provided by the hyperlink.

Wives of James Norfleet

Elizabeth _____: The maiden name of James Norfleet’s first wife, Elizabeth, is unknown. He probably married her in Nansemond County about the year 1793. Unfortunately, due to Courthouse fires, virtually all the Nansemond records from before the Civil War have been lost. There is a record from Bertie County, North Carolina, dated 14 November 1797, of a marriage bond between a James Norfleet and an Elizabeth Hayes. However, the James Norfleet referred to in the bond is probably James B. Norfleet, the son of Philishia Norfleet, who removed to Montgomery County, Tennessee from Bertie in about the year 1806. The James Norfleet, who is the subject of this sketch, already had two sons born to him (John and David) prior to the date of the Bertie marriage bond. From information contained in Larkin Norfleet’s family bible (Larkin was the youngest son of James), Elizabeth Norfleet died on 6 May 1826.

Caty Duncan: On 12 April 1828, James married Catherine ("Caty") Duncan, in Wayne County. In some printed marriage records for Wayne County the marriage date is given as "12 April 1826." However, this is an error; the original minister’s return is still on file in Monticello, and the correct date is 1828.

The marriage was performed by "Raccoon John" Smith, a famous Disciples of Christ (originally Baptist) preacher of that time. Caty Duncan was the widow of George Duncan, a descendant of William Duncan of Halifax County, North Carolina, whose 111-acre farm was also in Wayne County, just across the Cumberland River from James, on Sinking Creek. George Duncan had died in 1826. Caty Duncan’s maiden name was Smiley (daughter of George Smiley). It is possible that Caty’s mother’s maiden name may have been Whitaker. This would help explain the legend that James Norfleet’s wife was called "Smiley Whitaker!"

Children of James Norfleet

James Elizabeth Norfleet had nine children, six sons and three daughters (see their family group sheet). The names of these children are identified in a Russell County, Kentucky indenture, dated 29 July 1828, wherein James Norfleet conveys his 105 acre tract of land on the Cumberland River to all of his nine children. These children are as follows:

1. John Norfleet (1794-1869): John, the oldest son of James, was born in Nansemond County, Virginia on 28 September 1794 and died in Collin County, Texas on 31 March 1869. He usually was known as "Jack" Norfleet. When James Norfleet moved to Wayne County, on the north bank of the Cumberland River, his 200-acre farm on White Oak Creek was taken over by his son John, who worked it for several years. Like his father, John was primarily a farmer and raiser of livestock. In 1852 he and his brother-in-law, William Shumate, immigrated to Collin County, Texas, where John died on 31 March 1869. He and his wife, Virlinder Shumate, appear to have had only one child, Thomas, who was born about 1835. In the 1860 Federal Census for Collin County, Texas, Thomas is listed as being a physician.

2. David Norfleet (1797-1868): David was born in Nansemond County, Virginia in 1797 and died in Burnet County, Texas in 1868. He was a farmer and a merchant for most of his life. He farmed land and ran a dry goods store in Russell County, Kentucky for many years. In 1838, he immigrated to Polk County, Missouri where he established another dry goods store. Shortly before the Civil War, David again emigrated, this time to Burnett County, Texas. He first married in 1824; his first wife was Elizabeth Shackleford, by whom he had four children. Elizabeth died in Missouri in 1852. He subsequently married Nancy L. Dresser in 1854. Unfortunately, Nancy died a short time later, in 1855, at the age of only 27.  On 03 November 1857, in Burnet County TX, David married for the third and last time to the widow of a certain John Thomas (d. ca. 1855).  The widow's maiden name was Louisa Magill. David had no children by his second and third wives. Two of David’s sons, James and William S. Norfleet, were the first Norfleets to reach California, having gone West in the Spring of 1850, during the California Gold Rush.

3. Ivy Norfleet (1799-1883): Ivy was born in Pulaski County, Kentucky on 29 October 1799 and died in Miller County, Missouri on 5 June 1883. I believe that Ivy was probably named after Ivy Langford (also sometimes spelled Lankford). The Langfords were early immigrants to KY from North Carolina having arrived in Lincoln County in about 1787. However, Ivy Langford settled in Pulaski County at about the same time as James Norfleet. Ivy Langford was a close neighbor of both James Norfleet (when he still lived in Pulaski County) and David Norfleet. James Norfleet and Ivy Langford both surveyed 200 acre tracts of land on the same day (12 February 1799) and each served as a chain carrier for the other during those surveys. Ivy Norfleet was the first child born to James Norfleet after he had arrived in KY and the name "Ivy" had never been used previously by any Norfleet of whom I am aware.

Ivy Norfleet primarily was a stock raiser, although, like most other people of the time, he also was a farmer. For about a twelve-year period, during the late 1820’s and 1830’s, with the help of his younger brother, Larkin, he raised both cattle and horses. When they were ready for sale, the two bothers would drive their stock overland to market them in Montgomery, Alabama. In about 1839, Ivy permanently left Kentucky and immigrated to Missouri. In Missouri he surveyed (8 June 1839) and patented (10 November 1841) land in the Hickory Hill region of Cole County. He remained in Cole until his death on 6 June 1883. On 1 June 1838, he married Martha Ann Thomason, by whom he had nine children. During the Civil War, Ivy, like his brother Abraham, was a supporter of the Union. Two of his children, John (a corporal) and Thomas W. (a private), served in the Union Army, in the 9th Provisional Missouri Regiment of Infantry. Two of Abraham Norfleet’s sons (John W. and Adam C.) were also in the same regiment. In 1864, also like his brother Abraham, he freed all of his slaves.

4. Reverend Abraham Norfleet (1802-1870): Abraham was born 21 January 1802 in Pulaski County KY and died in Cole County, Missouri on 13 September 1870. Although his father was living in Russell County, the Pulaski County tax records for 1825 and 1826 indicate that Abraham was living in Pulaski County during those years; he probably was working for his elder brother John and/or his aunt Catherine Norfleet (Widow of David). In June 1825, Abraham was converted to Methodism. Immediately thereafter, he commenced studying for the Methodist ministry and was licensed to preach in 1826.

In 1827 he immigrated to Missouri; he was the first Norfleet to settle in that state. During his first three years in Missouri, he was a Circuit Rider for the Methodist Church. In 1827 he was in the Cape Girardeau area; in 1828, he was on the Saline and St. Francois Circuit. In 1829 he was on the Boonslick Road, near where the town of Old Franklin had once been located. Franklin had been the outfitting point for traders using the Santa Fe Trail during the years 1821-1825. Unfortunately, in the spring of 1826, a flood destroyed the town.

While on the Saline and St. Francois Circuit, the famous Methodist Preacher, Jerome C. Berryman was assigned under him. Berryman, years later, had this to say about Abraham Norfleet:

"He was a poor preacher and a hypochondriac but a devout Christian and a man of much prayer." [2]

In 1830, Abraham was ordained in Saint Louis by Bishop Soule and was located in the Callaway County, Missouri area. To supplement his income as a minister, Reverend Norfleet patented two 40 acre tracts of land in Callaway, which he farmed on a part time basis.

In 1832, Abraham married Margaret Campbell in Callaway County. Margaret was the daughter of David Campbell, who had recently located in Missouri from Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. Abraham and Margaret had three (3) sons and two (2) daughters: John Watson (b. 1833), Adam Campbell (b. 1835), David Campbell (b. 1841), Eliza Jane ((b. 1837) and Ann Hite (b. 1838).

In 1848, Abraham relocated to Cole County, Missouri, acquiring land in the same area where his brother Ivy Norfleet’s farm was located. Abraham remained here for the rest of his life. During the Civil War, Reverend Norfleet was a staunch Unionist. [3]

Two of Abraham’s sons, John Watson (a sergeant) and Adam Campbell (a private), served with the Union forces, in the 9th Provisional Missouri Regiment of Infantry.

Several of Abraham’s descendants continued to be active in the Methodist Episcopal Church. His son John Watson Norfleet (1833-1922) became a licensed Exhorter in the Methodist Church. Abraham’s grandson (son of John Watson), Abraham Lincoln Norfleet (1867-1956), became an ordained Methodist minister, in the 1890’s.

5. Jesse Norfleet (1804-1889): Jesse was born in Pulaski County, Kentucky on 22 April 1804 and died in Wayne County, Kentucky on 5 January 1889. He is the only son of James to remain in Kentucky. He was a successful farmer in Wayne County both before and after the Civil War. He had two wives: 1st - Amelia Gann in 1830, and, 2nd - Minerva Beckman, in 1874. He had twelve children by his first wife; two by his second.

6. Mary Norfleet (b. c. 1806): Mary (Polly) Norfleet was born in Pulaski County, Kentucky about the year 1806. She was the oldest daughter of James Norfleet and was usually known as "Polly." On 28 July 1825 she married Edward Sanders, the son of John Sanders of Wayne County, Kentucky. Soon thereafter they emigrated to Illinois.

7. Elizabeth Norfleet (b. c. 1808): Elizabeth was born in Pulaski County, Kentucky about the year 1808 and was usually called "Eliza." She apparently never married; however she had an illegitimate son named Ivy, who was born about the year 1830. Elizabeth apparently died before October 1846, as a Russell County indenture, dated 8 October 1846, cites her son Ivy as being her heir. After Elizabeth’s death, her older brother, Ivy Norfleet, raised her son as one of his own children.

8. Jane Norfleet (1812-1878): Jane was born in Pulaski County, Kentucky on 9 December 1812. On 13 October 1831, she married William C. Duncan in Russell County, Kentucky. William C. Duncan was the brother of Henry Lee Duncan, husband of Nancy Norfleet (daughter of David Norfleet), and the son of John Duncan. William Duncan’s great-grandfather, Benjamin Duncan, was an officer in the American Revolution. About the year 1839, Jane and William emigrated to Cole County, Missouri and settled on a farm adjacent to the land of Jane’s brother, Ivy Norfleet. Jane died in Miller County, Missouri on 16 April 1878. This hyperlinked chart identifies the Duncan ancestors of William C. Duncan and his son, William J. Duncan.

9. Larkin Norfleet (1815-1904): Larkin Norfleet was born on 30 September 1815 in Wayne County, Kentucky. He was the youngest child of James Norfleet. He was educated at home using the subscription schools of the era. As stated above, he worked with his brother Ivy in the stock raising/droving business for a period of twelve years. In 1839, he married Frances Gann (the daughter of Thomas and Frances Gann) in Wayne County, Kentucky, by whom he had ten children:

Larkin acquired his father’s old 105-acre tract on the Cumberland River, from his siblings, by Russell County indenture, dated 8 October 1846 (see Deed Book F, Page 181). Larkin’s father James died on this farm in 1849. Larkin sold the old 105-acre homestead to William Heriford by indenture, dated 3 March 1853 (see Russell County Deed Book F, Page 102).

In 1852, Larkin and his family moved to Miller County, Missouri and there acquired some excellent farmland. His farm was very prosperous in the years before the Civil War. However, during the War, Miller County was the scene of much guerrilla warfare and he and his family suffered greatly. In 1869, he moved to Lafayette County, Missouri where he acquired another farm in the Mayview Township area. He remained in Lafayette County until his death on 17 August 1904. Larkin was a licensed Exhorter in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South and, later in life, was a member of the Prohibitionist Party.

Section 4 - David Norfleet (c. 1770-1824) of Pulaski County, Kentucky

David Norfleet (c. 1770-1824) was the second member of the Norfleet family to settle in Kentucky. David and his wife Catherine King (c. 1780-1828) arrived in Pulaski County, Kentucky about the year 1806. In November and December of 1806, he obtained by assignment and/or survey four tracts of land amounting to a total of 820 acres, all located in Pulaski County (see land grant table shown in Section 2 above). However, David does not appear on the Pulaski tax rolls until 1808.

Economic Status

After his move to Kentucky, David became a prosperous farmer and livestock raiser. The inventory of his estate, taken in 1824, strongly implies that he also was a merchant (see Pulaski County Will Book 2, pages 193-197). As an indicator of his livestock holdings, David’s estate inventory lists 35 sheep, several cows and calves, 43 head of geese and several sows and pigs. In 1824, the year of his death, the Pulaski County tax records indicate that he had accumulated eleven tracts of land totaling 1360 acres, owned seven slaves and had a total taxable property worth $4312. As a benchmark, the average taxable worth per white poll (voter) in Pulaski County for the year 1825 was just $784.

Slave Ownership

After his death, David’s personal estate was inventoried on 6 August 1824 and the following seven slaves (see Pulaski County Will Book 2, Page 194) were identified:

One Negro man named Pompey
One Negro woman named Juda
One Negro woman named Lucy
One Negro boy named Louis
One Negro girl named Rhoda
One Negro girl named Winny
One Negro boy named Jacob

Last Will and Testament of David Norfleet

David Norfleet left a will, dated 25 October 1823, which was probated in Pulaski County KY on 7 June 1824 (see Pulaski County Will Book 2, Page 179). The will named his wife Catherine, two sons and five daughters (see below for discussion of the children).

Land Devised by David Norfleet’s Will: The real property cited in David Norfleet’s will consisted of eleven tracts, which may be treated in three portions or parcels as follows:

1.  First parcel: This was the land originally provided to Washington Norfleet in David Norfleet’s will (two tracts). This parcel included the 200 acre tract on White Oak Creek ("John Norfleet’s Place" per David’s will) which James Norfleet, conjectured brother of David, had originally entered in August 1798 and surveyed in February 1799; James did not patent the tract until 18 December 1826, two years after David’s death! The John Norfleet cited must have been John (1794-1869), the eldest son of James Norfleet (1767-1849). In the 1850’s, James Norfleet’s original 200 acre tract was sold by David Norfleet’s daughters to Henry Norfleet (b. 1812), eldest son of John Norfleet (1786-1873) - see Pulaski County Deed Book 17, Pages 141 and 253 and Deed Book 18, Page 101. In 1877, Henry Norfleet conveyed the land to his sons Ivy (b. 1840) and Daniel (b. 1847) - see Pulaski County Deed Book 27, Pages 278 and 295). The old 200-acre tract must have been good land if so many generations of Norfleets kept the ownership within the family!

2.  Second parcel: This was the land provided to Madison Norfleet in David Norfleet’s will (two tracts). The title to this land would have passed to Madison when he reached the age of 21 in 1830. However, the Pulaski County tax lists for 1830, 1831 and 1833 (the 1832 tax records are not extant) show James M. Norfleet for poll tax purposes but do not indicate that he owned any land. Accordingly, the land must have been sold prior to the issuance of the 1830 tax list, presumably by Madison or his guardian (name unknown). This is curious, as the Pulaski deed records do not show the sale of these two tracts before or during 1830, or at any other time thereafter. It is possible that the land was sold but the sale was never recorded, although this would be very unusual.

3.  Third parcel: This was land not explicitly identified in David Norfleet’s will (seven tracts). David Norfleet’s daughters, Mary and Kizziah, sold their interest in this seven-tract parcel to a certain Thomas Durham in December 1855 (see Pulaski County Deed Book 17, Page 130). I have not yet located any deeds that conveyed the interest of the other children of David, in this land parcel, to Durham or anyone else.

Death of Catherine and Washington Norfleet

Both Catherine (King) Norfleet (wife of David) and Washington Norfleet (eldest son of David) probably died in 1828, before the 1828 Pulaski County Tax List was issued. Catherine was separately identified in the Pulaski County tax lists as the owner of record for the eleven tracts of land owned by David Norfleet at the time of his death, for the years 1825, 1826 and 1827. In the 1828 tax list, the land entries are all given under the heading of "Norfleet David’s Heirs," thus implying that Catherine was now dead. Also, Catherine Norfleet, along with Samuel Hays and Charles Hays, had been appointed as executors of David Norfleet’s will. However, only Samuel and Charles Hays are identified as the presiding executors at the sale of David’s personal estate in 1828 - a further indication that Catherine was now deceased. I think that the reason the personal property of David’s estate was sold in 1828, was due to the recent deaths of both Catherine and Washington Norfleet. All of the other children of David Norfleet were still under age 21. It is quite possible that his death and that of his mother were related in some way, such as death in the same accident or, more likely, by the same infectious disease such as typhoid, smallpox, etc. Death by such diseases were very common in those days.

Guardians of David Norfleet’s Children

Washington Norfleet and his mother apparently died intestate; Therefore, the two tracts of land given to Washington per his father’s will would have been, under the prevailing Kentucky laws, equally divided between his six surviving siblings who were all under age at that time. Being under age and heirs to real property, Kentucky law would have required that male guardians be appointed for five of the six siblings. The sixth sibling, Ann (Nancy) Norfleet, had already married Henry Duncan in 1827, thus, no guardian would have been required for her. Unfortunately, the Pulaski County guardianship records prior to the Civil War are no longer extant.

Hays Family: Per orders of the Pulaski County Court (Book 5A, Pages 375-376) in May 1839, William Hays was appointed guardian for his two children by his recently deceased wife Martha (daughter of David Norfleet), to wit, Eliza Ann and James Madison Hays. At this same time Kizziah Norfleet, youngest daughter of David, also chose William Hays as her guardian. I have not been able to find any records which provide the names of the guardians for the other three children of David Norfleet, who were underage in 1828, i. e., James Madison, Mary and Sophia Norfleet. As mentioned above, Samuel Hays and Charles Hays (1781-1860, father of William) were executors of David Norfleet’s estate and were the executors of record at the sale of David’s personal estate in 1828. Thus, it is possible that one or both of them may have been the initial, court appointed guardian(s) for David’s under age children. Samuel and Charles Hays, and a third individual, Isaac Hays, were all probably brothers. This is only conjecture on my part based on study of the Pulaski County tax lists. They were all relatively wealthy men; their Pulaski County tax statistics for the year 1825 are tabulated below:

Name No. of Acres Slave Polls Total Worth
Charles Hays 639 8 $12,600
Samuel Hays 451 14 $12,700
Isaac Hays 705 12 $10,800

Wife of David Norfleet

As mentioned above, David Norfleet’s wife was Catherine King. They probably married in Nansemond County, Virginia in the 1805-1806 time frame, just before they migrated to Kentucky. In Nansemond County, the King family was of above average socio-economic status. In the Virginia State Census conducted in 1783, two King families were identified: William King with a family of seven whites and 17 slaves, and Michael King with a family of two whites and five slaves. Michael King was also a Captain of the Nansemond County Militia. It is probable that Catherine was the daughter of one of these men. It is interesting to note that William King’s name was listed next to that of Joseph Norfleet, in the 1784 Virginia State Census enumeration. Joseph Norfleet lived in the Holland Village area, near the mill owned by John Norfleet (1729-1812).

Children of David Norfleet

David Norfleet and his wife Catherine had eight children, two sons and six daughters (see family group). The two sons were Washington (b. 1808) and Madison (b. 1809), and five daughters Nancy (b. 1811), Sophia (b. 1815), Martha (b. 1817), Mary (b. 1819) and Kizziah (b. 1823). A sixth daughter, Sarah (Sally) was born in 1814 but lived for only about two weeks.

Information concerning David’s wife and children, including the children’s dates of birth, has been obtained from notes originally written by one of David Norfleet’s granddaughters, Mary Ellen Norfleet Wermelskircher (1842-1915). Mary Ellen Norfleet was a daughter of James Madison Norfleet; she married Godfry Wermelskircher in 1867. Her original notes have been lost, but a copy, made by Archie Wermelskircher in 1939, remain in the possession of the Wermelskircher family. I quote from these notes as follows:

" … David Norfleet married Catherine King; 8 children were born to them in Pulaski County Kentucky.

"Washington Norfleet was born Jan 20, 1808, never married, died young.

"James Madison Norfleet was born June 1, 1809.

"Nancy Norfleet was born Feb 12, 1811; married Henry Duncan; they lived in Cole Co. Mo. And raised a family of 8 children: Madison, John, Lee, Joseph, Lucinda, Martha, Kezziah and Caroline. John Duncan, son of Henry and Nancy [married] Addie Sanborn; Lucinda Duncan married John Walser; Martha Duncan married Carze (?) Walser.

"Sally Norfleet was born June 14, 1814 and died the 2nd day of July following.

"Martha Norfleet was born Sept 28, 1819; married a man by the name of Harris.

"Sophia Norfleet was born June 30, 1815; married Archie McPhail; lived near Lexington [Missouri]; had no children. [See letter of Archibald McPhail to John W. Norfleet]

"Kezziah Norfleet was born A[pril] 22, 1823; married a man named Skiles; they lived in Kentucky; had a family, don’t know [the names] except John who came to Mo. To live with Aunt Sophia after Uncle Archie died; after she [Sophia} died, he got her property; she was wealthy."

A brief discussion of the children follows:

1. George Washington Norfleet (1808-1828): The eldest son of David Norfleet was born 20 January 1808, never married and died young. Washington Norfleet’s name never appeared in the Pulaski County tax lists, even as a white poll, thus indicating that he died before reaching the age of 21. The last record indicating that Washington Norfleet was still living, of which I am aware, is the Pulaski County marriage bond, dated 28 June 1827, where he stood as surety for his sister Ann (Nancy) re her marriage to Henry Duncan. He probably died sometime in 1828 at about the same time as his mother Catherine.

2. James Madison Norfleet (1809-1844): Madison (full name - James Madison) Norfleet was the only son of David to have progeny (all daughters). He is shown in most Pulaski County, Kentucky tax, land and marriage records as James M. Norfleet. Madison was born in Pulaski County, Kentucky on 1 June 1809 and died in Saline County, Missouri on 25 February 1844. On 17 October 1833, he married Mary Allison Beatty, daughter of James Gilmore Beatty (see Appendix B for his Family Group Sheet). They had five children - all daughters (see below). In January 1837, he went into partnership with a certain Thomas M. Doolin, and subsequently with Walter W. Owsley, in the coal mining/coal transportation business, e. g., see the business agreement cited in Pulaski County Deed Book 9, page 132. Unfortunately, in about 1840, the partners got into serious financial trouble and were involved in several lawsuits involving their creditors. Madison went to Saline County, Missouri about 1841 and died in 1844 before the lawsuits were resolved. However, essentially all of the land and equipment owned by Madison and his partners ultimately was lost to their creditors.

Shortly after Madison’s death, his widow Mary sued in Pulaski Circuit Court on behalf of her five children by Madison Norfleet: Elizabeth, Catherine, Martha, Ann (Nancy) and Mary Ellen. She was partially successful by a court decision issued on 6 November 1849 (see Pulaski County Circuit Court Order Book 14, Page 397). On 16 June 1846, Mary Allison Norfleet, married John E. Etter; they had one child, John Henry Etter who was born on 21 April 1848. Mary’s second husband died about one year later, on 17 October 1849.

3. Ann (Nancy) Norfleet (b. 1811): Nancy Norfleet was born in Pulaski County, Kentucky on 12 February 1811. In June 1827 she married Henry Lee Duncan. Henry was a brother of William Duncan who married Jane Norfleet (daughter of James). In about 1839, both brothers and their families moved to Cole County, Missouri, where they spent the rest of their lives. The Duncan brothers were the sons of John Duncan (see Appendix B of this book for his Family Group Sheet), a successful Pulaski County Farmer. Per the Pulaski County tax records, John Duncan’s taxable worth in 1826 was $3638. John’s grandfather, Benjamin Duncan, was a Virginia Revolutionary War officer who had removed to Madison County, Kentucky prior to the year 1787.

4. Sarah Norfleet (1814-1814): Sarah was born in Pulaski County, Kentucky on 14 June 1814. She died about two weeks later on 02 July 1814.

5. Sophia Norfleet (b. 1815): Sophia was born in Pulaski County, Kentucky on 30 June 1815. In 1841, she apparently moved to Saline County, Missouri with her older brother Madison Norfleet and his family. In about the year 1848 she married Archibald McPhaill in Saline County, Missouri. Archibald McPhaill was a successful Lafayette County, Missouri farmer, owning at least 12 slaves. Sophia and Archibald suffered greatly during the Civil War (see Appendix C). Both died sometime after the end of the Civil War, probably in Lafayette County. They had no children.

6. Martha Norfleet (1817-1839): Martha Norfleet was born in Pulaski County, Kentucky on 10 June 1817. In March 1836, she married William Hays (see Appendix D, Chart 9). They had three daughters: Mary A., Eliza A. and James M. Hays. Martha died young, in about April 1839. A few months later, in October 1839, William married, as his second wife, Mary Ann Buster.

7. Mary Norfleet (b. 1819): Mary was born in Pulaski County, Kentucky on 18 September 1819. In September 1838, she married Alexander C. Harris in Pulaski County. Soon thereafter, they removed to Warren County, Kentucky. They had a total of seven children: Amanda J., William (died as an infant), David M., Harvey A., Mary E., Thomas M. and James W. Harris. In the 1850’s, the family moved to Illinois, where Alexander died in McLean County on 26 March 1887. Mary also died soon thereafter, probably also in McLean County.

8. Kizziah Norfleet (1823-1863): Kizziah, the youngest child of David Norfleet, was born in Pulaski County on 23 April 1823. With her sister Mary and brother-in-law Alexander C. Harris, Kizziah moved to Warren County, Kentucky about the year 1839. In March 1840, she married William Hamilton Skiles in Warren County, Kentucky. They had a total of ten children: John L., Mary E., Henry C., Margaret, Sarah C., Charles W., Martha C., Lavinia, Dora and Thomas M. Skiles. Kizziah died in Warren County on 4 April 1863 and her husband died (also in Warren) on 15 July 1880.

Section 5 - John Norfleet (1786-1873) of Pulaski County, Kentucky

John Norfleet was the third Norfleet to settle in Kentucky. John’s Bible indicates that he was born 11 October 1786 in Nansemond County, Virginia and that his parents were Henry and Elizabeth (nee Everett) Norfleet. He, thus, was Henry Norfleet's eldest and perhaps his only son. For reasons previously set forth, I have also concluded that Henry was an elder brother of David and James Norfleet of Kentucky. Accordingly, Henry’s son, John, was the nephew of James and David Norfleet.

John Norfleet may have temporarily relocated to Muhlenberg County, Kentucky shortly after his father’s death in about 1803 or 1804. I base this conclusion upon a land claim, dated 23 July 1804, from the Muhlenberg County, Kentucky Land Claim Book. The entry states the following:

"James Willis this day claims a right to 200 acres of land…..Beginning on Pond River where John Norfleet’s line crosses the same running down the river to Wilson Holeman’s line….."

A thorough search of the Kentucky land grant lists and the Muhlenberg County land records failed to reveal any other mention of a Norfleet, John or otherwise, with respect to this location and time frame. Therefore, the identity of this particular John Norfleet remains a mystery. If this John Norfleet is the son of Henry, he would have been only about 18 years old at the time. One reasonable explanation for John Norfleet’s absence from the Kentucky land patent and/or Muhlenberg County indenture records would be that he had obtained the land by assignment (before the land had been patented) and later sold it, also by assignment. Another, although less likely possibility, is that he only rented the land, and thus was never the owner of record.

John Norfleet, son of Henry, first appears in the Nansemond County, Virginia land tax lists in 1812 (when he was about 25 years old) as the owner of 108 acres of land in the Upper Parish. His last appearance in the Nansemond land tax lists is for the year 1820. Bobbie Jones’s letter, cited above in the sketch of his father Henry Norfleet, states that John Norfleet, son of Henry sold 108 acres of land to James Barnes in 1821.

Military Service in War of 1812

John, while living in Nansemond County, served two tours of duty as a private in the Virginia Militia during the War of 1812. From his service records, on file in the National Archives, these two tours were: 1) in the 2nd Regiment of Virginia Militia, Captain Ezekiel Powell’s Company, from 17 February to 3 March 1813; and, 2) in the 2nd Regiment of Virginia Militia, Captain John Laycock’s Company, from 4 September to 24 October 1814. The normal Nansemond County militia was the 59th Regiment. However, during the War of 1812, several special regiments were formed from companies provided from many counties to defend the militarily significant Norfolk area. One of these was the 2nd Regiment commanded by Lt. Colonel William Sharp of Norfolk Borough. The above cited companies were raised in Nansemond County but placed under Sharp’s command in the 2nd Regiment and served in the Norfolk/Craney Island area. In his "Declaration of Surviving Soldier for Pension" application, dated 21 April 1871, John Norfleet stated that he spent his tours doing picket and garrison duty near Norfolk. It is interesting to note that John’s Captain during his first tour, Ezekiel Powell, was cashiered by General Court Martial on 31 July 1813 (see A Guide to Virginia Militia Units in the War of 1812 by Stuart Lee Butler, page 147).

Emigration to Kentucky

John and his wife Catherine (maiden name unknown) apparently immigrated to Pulaski County, Kentucky in about 1820. John acquired 118 acres of land in Pulaski County on White Oak Creek by assignment from Benjamin Kissee on 6 May 1820. His name appears for the first time in the Pulaski tax records with the 118 acre land tract in the year 1821. Like his uncle (James Norfleet) before him, John Norfleet did not obtain patent to this, his first land acquisition, until many years later, on 22 November 1839.

Bible Record of John Norfleet

As previously mentioned, John Norfleet's Bible record has survived and, to the best of my knowledge,  the original is still in the possession of his descendants in Pulaski County, Kentucky.  I have a photocopy of the pertinent pages of the Bible and I offer the following trancription:

" ... October the 11[th] day in the yr 1786, John Norfleet Son of Henry Norfleet and Elizabeth his wife.

" ... John Norfleet and Catherine his wife was married June the 1st in the year of our Lord 1809 & in the 23rd year of his age. ... Daughter Elizabeth Norfleet was born Oct. the 13, 1810.  ... Henry Norfleet son of the above was born Octr 14th 1812.  John Norfleet son of the above was born Augt. 6th 1816.  Eliza Jane Norfleet was born the 15 day of Sept. in the year of our Lord 1817.  Mary Ann Norfleet was born the 9 of March 1822.  Everet Norfleet was born the 11th day of November 1824.  Cerina Norfleet was born the 2nd day of January 1827.  James M. Norfleet was born the 31 day of March 1829. ... "

Family of John Norfleet

John and Catherine Norfleet had a total of eight children, four sons (Henry, John O., Everett and James M.) and four daughters (Elizabeth, Eliza Jane, Mary Ann, and Cerina) - see his family group. John's first wife, Catherine, died sometime during the 1846-1850 time frame.

Second Wife of John Norfleet

On 10 September 1855, in Pulaski County, John married, as his second wife, a widow, Catherine West (her maiden name was probably Watson); he had no children by his second wife. There is some confusion as to Catherine’s last name. The minister’s marriage return, on file at the Pulaski County Courthouse states:

"I hereby certify that John Norfleet was married to Catherine Watson on the 10th day of Sept. 1855 at the residence of Catherine West. He was about 70 years old and she was about 52 years old & was both widders at that time. He was born in Va. Ginsen County. She was born in Pulaski Cty. Ky. Present James Raney & Bresen Coomer – It done by

William Waddle M. G. S."

My interpretation, very tentative, is that Catherine West is the maiden name and that Watson is her married name. However, other interpretations are certainly possible. If anyone has other information re Catherine’ name, please let me know!

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1.  The present location of this Bible is unknown to me. The last documented person known to have had access to the Bible was Celeste Gertrude Dixon Enfield (1883-1969), a granddaughter of Larkin Norfleet, who used the information in her application to join the National Society Colonial Dames XVII Century (National Number 6972).

2.  D. R. M’Anally, History of Methodism in Missouri (1881), Volume I, page 338.

3.  History of Cole, Moniteau, Morgan, Benton, Miller, Maries and Osage Counties, Missouri, Goodspeed Publishing Company, Chicago (1888), page 988.

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