From: TOM B
Dear Sellers Mailing List,
I'm new to the Sellers rootsweb list, though I believe I've had
correspondence with some of you, especially those of you working on the
Brunswick Co., NC Sellers families and beyond to Alabama and Texas. I've
tried to catch up some by reading the threaded archive of messages, and
certainly noticed some interest in the origins of the Brunswick Co. NC
Sellers -- from Matthew (d. 1740) and his son Benjamin (d. 1761,
Co. NC) -- and that by now the "William Sellers of Tarboro" myth has been
This first entry into the Sellers list fray is a forward of a
sent to Ed Sellers recently, answering some questions for him. One
the alleged mother of Elisha Sellers, Brunswick Co. Rev. War Patriot
(c.1740-1801) -- it is maintained by some that his mother was a Sarah
Hickman, wife of Benjamin Sellers. Another question concerned Elisha's
3rd wife Mary Willets, by whom he had several children, including my
Samuel Sellers (1788-1857). My arguments (especially questions 4 & 5)
be of interest to all researchers with these folks in their files. Hope
hear from others of you soon.
-- J. Thomas Buchanan
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Glad to see that you got the last message
and attachment I sent you,
though I'm puzzled as to what happened to the MS-Word file. 18 pages is
what it should have been -- it should end with Mary Willetts' ancestor
Washbourne who died about 1547 in England. It sounds like you got it,
with alot of junk too -- ?????? Anyway, I'm glad you're pleased.
I'm going to answer your easier questions
first, and save the
ones for last, for these involve some reasoning based on primary record
evidence -- not something you can document without explanation.
(1) First, your question about Henry Leonard: the Henry Leonard who
about 1774 in Brunswick Co., NC (who left his will in Brunswick Co. and
was the maternal grandfather of Mary Willetts Sellers) had a few
one of whom was a son Henry who died about Sept. 1760 in Brunswick Co.
will is recorded in Cape May Co., NJ, but that document clearly says that
death occurred in NC where the Leonard family had settled. Another child
the older Henry (and so sibling of Henry Jr.) was a daughter Ann Leonard,
was the mother of Mary Willetts Sellers.
(2) The Sellers family is probably of English descent, based on the
origin of our Sellers line in America -- probably a William Sellers who
transported (he embarked from England) to Isle of Wight Co., VA in 1657.
Don't be confused: this William is NOT to be confused with the fictional
"William Sellers of Tarboro," reputed falsely to be the father of Elisha
Sellers, Rev. War soldier. The historical William of 1657 set out from
England, probably as an indentured servant. Of course, he could have been
Scottish or Irish, but we know that he left from England. He was possibly
grandfather (though this has not been proven) of our Matthew Sellers who
about 1740 in NC. See Marlowe's excellent work showing the series of
connections between the Isle of Wight Co., VA and northeastern NC Sellers
(3) I'll be glad to send a copy of the letter, but I need your snail-mail
address! I'm not clear on just who the recipient is ("Dr. Thomas B.
Sellers"), but the real value of this letter sent by W.W. Sellers is that
is dated right around the date of the publication of the Marion Co. SC
history by him. The book is significant because it is the source of the
"William Sellers of Tarboro" nonsense -- he says in it that the father of
Elisha Sellers was this William (not Benjamin as the facts show). The
importance of the letter is that in it he says Elisha's father was a
or Henry" -- the point is that he really didn't know who Elisha's father
and was relying on mistaken family traditions. He certainly had never
consulted original source records. See my letter to Marie Sellers
posted at "www.netins.net/showcase/sellerfamily/tombuc.htm" for further
comments on this letter.
(4) THE SARAH HICKMAN QUESTION
The issue of Sarah Hickman is somewhat more complicated. Understand
that I would love for Sarah to be the mother of our Elisha, but it just
terribly likely. This conclusion is based on putting together the
evidence and drawing reasonable inferences from it. First we know that a
Sarah Sellers, widow of Benjamin according to Edgecombe Co. NC court
married Thomas Dixon in Edgecombe Co. June 15, 1763 (NC Marriage Bonds).
Then, two key Edgecombe Co. wills come into play: first, Nathaniel
will dated March 10, 1790 and probated Nov. 1795 names a daughter Sarah
Dixon, among several other children -- with Sarah named in the middle of
series of daughters; secondly, Thomas Dixon's will dated Sept. 14, 1790
probated in November of that year names among other children a son
Dixon and a witness "Sally Dixon," who we learn from subsequent court
(at least up to April 1802) is the widow of Thomas Dixon.
Now, to review, we see that this Sarah, widow of Benjamin Sellers
1761) and who subsequently married Thomas Dixon in 1763, was the daughter
Nathaniel Hickman who died in 1795 -- and almost certainly not one of the
oldest of his children, based on the wording and order of the will. If
Nathaniel had reached the grand old age of 95 when he died, he would have
been born in 1700, and so could reasonably have had a middle daughter no
earlier than about 1725 (PLEASE NOTE: 95 is very old, especially for this
time and place!). Another consideration: HICKMAN Dixon is obviously a son
Sarah (the best explanation for his name) -- and he could not have been
before about 1765, so if Sarah was 40 (a bit old for having children),
her birthdate comes down at no earlier than 1725. It should be noted also
that the reports of Marvin E. McDougal and Jeffrey A. Showell on the user
home pages of the Family Tree Maker website have Sarah's birthdate as
These late birth date possibilities make Sarah's motherhood of
extremely unlikely. Elisha was clearly at least 21 when he appears in his
father Benjamin's 1761 will, meaning that he was certainly born by 1740.
There is also an Elisha Sellers who appears as a witness to a Granville
land plat dated August 1756 -- while this may be some as yet undocumented
brother of Benjamin's (though I have found no other mention of such a
person), it is probably Elisha, the son of Benjamin, and so would push
Elisha's birthdate back to 1735 or earlier. If we hold to the 1725
for Sarah Hickman as the earliest possible for her, the OLDEST she could
been at the birth of Elisha is about 15, though she probably would have
younger -- and it's quite possible that Elisha was older than Sarah, if
above-mentioned Dixon/Hickman researchers are correct!
In sum, the best explanation of all the available evidence is that
was Benjamin's second wife, and possibly the mother of Benjamin's younger
children, but not of Benjamin Jr. or Elisha.
(5) OTHER QUESTIONS AND ISSUES
As for sources for the rest of it, the key is my contention that
is the daughter of Samuel Willets and his wife Ann Leonard. The name of
ancestor Willets Sellers is one of the best clues as to the maiden name
his mother Mary, 2nd or 3rd wife of Elisha. There is of course the family
tradition related in Watters and in numerous DAR applications of Mary's
maiden name being Willets. Finally, there is the monumental work on the
Willets -- The Willett Families of North America -- which is the only
published work I know of which actually makes the Elisha Sellers
(Vol. 1, pp. 344-345). In it the author Albert James Willett has Elisha
Sellers marrying as his 2nd or 3rd wife Mary Willets, the daughter of
Willets of Brunswick Co., NC who left a will there in 1766. It's funny
he says that she was the daughter of Hope, because in the next paragraph
inadvertedly disproves that Hope's daughter Mary was the one who married
Elisha -- by citing a 1787 Brunswick Co. deed in which Hope's widow is
deeding land to her daughter Mary Beasley! But wasn't Elisha's wife Mary
Willets? If she wasn't Hope's daughter (and Hope is clearly the
the Willets families of Brunswick Co.), then who is Mary's father? Based
chronology, the only one possible would be Hope's son Samuel Willets
about 1782 in Brunswick Co. according to court minutes), who married Ann
Leonard (Samuel is named as a son -in-law and husband of Ann in Henry
Leonard's will probated in 1774).
But is this correct? Is Mary Sellers' parents Samuel and Ann
Willets? Remember that we have every reason to believe that she was a
Willets, and that Samuel is the only one of Hope Willets' sons who could
been her father (and Hope is the ancestor of all the Willets there).
note that in the 1784 Brunswick Co. NC tax list Elisha Sellers is named,
just four names down (a close neighbor) is Ann Willets, who we know is
Leonard, widow of Samuel Willets (who died in 1782 as said before). Now,
at the names of the first four children of Elisha and Mary: ANN (b. Nov
1782), WILLETS (b. abt. 1783), BENJAMIN (b. abt. 1785), and SAMUEL (b.
17, 1788). It's just a little too much to be a coincidence! Take out the
Benjamin, the name of Elisha's father, and you have an obvious pointer to
Mary's parents. They must be Samuel Willets and Ann Leonard!
Their ancestries are fairly well-documented. I had about three
New Jersey to research it and materials were fairly to easy to come by.
Leonard work is from piecing together NJ original records, which are bit
complicated to cite in a short way (and this letter has gone on for a
while!). The Willets work is from the aforementioned work by Albert James
Willett (which unfortunately has a few minor errors), and better material
he New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, vol. 80, pp. 112-118.
sources point then to all the maternal lines such as Seaman, Linnington,
Langdon, Buck, and Swain, which I would be glad to source for you if
Hope all this isn't too imposing --
it's alot I know, but I trust
will enjoy wading through it all. If there is anything else I can help
please let me know.
-- Tom Buchanan
RE: HICKMANS/DIXONS = I'm not real sure what you ended up saying?
That Our Sarah-----SELLERS , wife of Benj died 1761 and remarried 1763 to
Dixon might be the mother of Hickman DIXON born ca1763/5 and died bef
I show Hickman DIXON 1763/5 as son of Thomas DIXON JR and SARAH HICKMAN,
( dau OF
NATHANIEL and SARAH HICKMAN) who married 6-15-1763 Edgecombe
I show SARAH SELLERS married 6-17-1763 Edgecombe to Thomas DIXON
I do NOT have originals of any of these documents-would Like-
SARAH and BENJAMIN SELLERS died 1761 youngest child was SIMEON
SARAH had Not had any living children for 13 yrs before he died.
Its possible it wasn't her fault/age OR we have two THOMAS DIXONS, which
But only show One died/will of 1790 Edgecombe
Will Post Any Info we have on these families - All Comments welcome -
don't have to Agree Now - Its the end result that counts - with as much
documentation as we can find!
Thanks, marie, iowa
> Dear Sellers Mailing List,
> I'm new to the Sellers rootsweb list, though I believe I've had
> correspondence with some of you, especially those of you working on the
> Brunswick Co., NC Sellers families and beyond to Alabama and Texas.
> tried to catch up some by reading the threaded archive of messages, and
> certainly noticed some interest in the origins of the Brunswick Co. NC
> Sellers -- from Matthew (d. 1740) and his son Benjamin (d. 1761,
> Co. NC) -- and that by now the "William Sellers of Tarboro" myth has
> demolished. Finally!
> This first entry into the Sellers list fray is a forward of a
> sent to Ed Sellers recently, answering some questions for him. One
> the alleged mother of Elisha Sellers, Brunswick Co. Rev. War Patriot
> (c.1740-1801) -- it is maintained by some that his mother was a Sarah
> Hickman, wife of Benjamin Sellers. Another question concerned Elisha's
> 3rd wife Mary Willets, by whom he had several children, including my
> Samuel Sellers (1788-1857). My arguments (especially questions 4 & 5)
> be of interest to all researchers with these folks in their files. Hope
> hear from others of you soon.
> -- J. Thomas Buchanan
I'm not clear on what your question to me is -- if it's to clarify
the Sarah Hickman issue, then it's that it is almost chronologically
impossible for the Sarah Hickman who was a daughter of Nathaniel Hickman and a wife
of Benjamin Sellers (d.1761) and then of Thomas Dixon (m.1763), to be the
mother of at least Benjamin's oldest sons, Benjamin (d.1817) and Elisha
(d.1801). The bottom line: descendants of Elisha Sellers who claim Sarah Hickman as an
ancestor are doing so against the evidence.
I'm not particularly concerned with Hickman Dixon, except insofar as
he is a son of Thomas Dixon and his wife Sarah (Hickman) Sellers, and
therefore is a piece of evidence that his mother was still of childbearing age in
1765, making it very unlikely that she was born before 1725. And as I noted,
most Hickman researchers I've seen put her birth at about 1738 -- way too late
to be the mother of Elisha Sellers.
Hope this helps.
-- Tom Buchanan