Monday, September 21, 2009

Colemans of Pittsylvania County, Virginia

William Coleman (1740-1803) settled between Sandy River and Sandy Creek in Pittsylvania County. His land was located in the area of the Mount Cross Road above the Piedmont Mall in what is now Danville, Virginia.

William Coleman, son of Daniel and Patience Thompson Coleman, was born about 1750. On October 19, 1779, William married Chloe McDaniel. Just the summer before in July of 1778, Chloe’s father Capt. William McDaniel died. He was very wealthy. He owned over 3,500 acres of land in Halifax County, where he lived, and in adjoining Pittsylvania County. In the settlement of his estate 38 slaves are listed by name.

William McDaniel’s will directed that a 482-acre tract of land in Pittsylvania County be sold to pay off his debts and the cost of settling his estate. This was just over a mile up Sandy Creek from the present day Piedmont Mall in Danville, Virginia.

In compliance with the will, William McDaniel’s widow Ann Smith McDaniel sold the Sandy Creek tract to Col. John Wilson of Dan’s Hill for 1,850 pounds on October 20, 1782. This tract was “purchased in his lifetime of Alexander Gordon (Rector of the Church of England) by a deed… bearing date the 20th day of April 1762.” This land was in Halifax County at the time McDaniel purchased the tract. Pittsylvania was taken from Halifax in 1767.

Even with Revolutionary War inflation, the selling price was very high compared to other land sales of that day. Col. John Wilson was the County Lieutenant for Pittsylvania and McDaniel was a longtime Captain of militia in Halifax County. They were probably friends. Apparently, the widow preferred to live in southern Pittsylvania. The following spring, on April 15, 1783, at a public auction, she paid 1,800 pounds to buy back this 482-acre tract.

Ann Smith McDaniel, along with her unmarried children and slaves, moved to the Sandy Creek land. Her married daughter Chloe and husband William Coleman, perhaps at the same time moved to the same area.

William Coleman began buying land near his mother-in-law in 1784 when he bought 50 acres between Sandy River and Sandy Creek. This land was bounded by on the north by Clay, on the west by Gwinn and on the south by Sutherlin. The Sutherlin land was the area on Dan River and up Sandy River and Sandy Creek. William Coleman and Chloe lived just above where the Piedmont Mall is now located. In 1787, William Coleman obtained a land grant for 140 acres adjoining his property. After the Revolutionary War, some land, which was previously granted and not occupied and improved by the grantee, was again granted to applicants. In 1790, Chlow's sister Nancy McDaniel married William Beavers. He was later a colonel in the militia. For more on the Beavers property and grist mill go to:

In 1792, William Beavers built a water-powered grist mill on Sandy Creek, north of the Coleman property. By 1793, William Coleman was taxed on two tracts of 247 acres and his 140-acre grant.

William Coleman died and his estate was inventoried and appraised on September 2, 1803. His personal property, including 16 slaves, was appraised at 1,369 pounds 19 shillings and 6 pence. I am not sure why this long after severing ties with England, about twenty years before, they would not be using pounds instead of dollars.

One of William and Chloe Coleman's children was Stephen Coleman (1788-1857) who married Susanna Robertson on November 7, 1816. Here is his will:

Will of Stephen Coleman of Pittsylvania Co., VA, Will Book No. 2, page 248. Pittsylvania County, Virginia Courthouse.

Written: August 12th in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and Fifty seven.

Probated: 19th October 1857

In the name of God Amen I Stephen Coleman of the county and state aforesaid being of sound and disposing mind and body do make this to be my last will and testament as follows:

Item 1st I give to my Two Daughters Permelia M Coleman & Susan R Coleman and my son James E Coleman my tract of land in Caswell County, N Carolina supposed to be forty one acres be the same more or less.

Item 2nd I give also to my two Daughters and Son Permelia M & Susan R & James E Coleman seventy eight acres of land of the tract where I now reside including the house & s.

Item 3rd I have given to my son William D Coleman fifty acres of land in Caswell County N.C. valued at three Dollars per acre one saddle twelve dollars one bed & Furniture at twelve dollars & fifty cents.

Item 4th I have given to son James W Sawyers one young mare valued by me at Forty Dollars one cow & calf at twelve Dollars one bed & furniture fourteen Dollars.

Item 5th I give to my son George J. Coleman one Gray mare at thirty dollars.

Item 6th I give to my son Washington L Coleman one sorrel Horse valued at fifty dollars.

Item 7th I desire that all my just debts be paid our of my property that I have not given away in this my will & Testament and the residue if any equally divided between my sons & Daughters.

Item 8th I appoint my son Washington L Coleman Executor to this my last will and Testament, as witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal in the presence of this 12th day of August 1857.

Stephen Coleman (seal)

Witness: Milton Voss, Sylvester P. Adams, & R. J. West

At a county court held for the county of Pittsylvania on the 19th day of October 1857. The last will and Testament of Stephen Coleman was proved by Milton Voss and Sylvester P. Adams two of the subscribing witnesses thereto to be the act and deed of the Testator and was ordered to be recorded and on the motion of Washington L Coleman the Executor named in the said will who made oath and with Sylvester P. Adams and Milton Voss as his sureties entered into and acknowledged a bond in the penalty fourteen hundred dollars conditioned according to law certificate is granted him for obtaining probate of said will in due form.

Teste: L Scruggs