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Hi, My name is Vickie and to tell you a little bit about myself, I was born and raised in Kentucky and the majority of my ancestors have been in Kentucky since the 1790’s. I have always loved history, a good mystery and puzzles and that is what Family History Research is all about. As a child we would take day trips on Saturdays and head down some dirt road looking for old cemeteries. A lot of the time we weren't looking for anyone in particular, we just like to read the epitaphs. We would have a picnic lunch packed and have lunch at whatever cemetery we were at. If the weather was bad my Dad and I would go to a court house and dig through old records in musty old basements looking for our ancestors. So as you can see I have had an interest in Family History for quite some time.View my complete profile

Friday, February 5, 2016

Some Bigham - Wills in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina

I have found four will abstracts in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina for some of my Bigham family who owned slaves.  I will be writing about them and stating their relationships to me from the oldest will to the newest will.  Just a brief little history about my Bigham family follows.  My oldest known Bigham family member was James Bigham and his wife Joan Reilley who were married at St. Catherine’s in Dublin, Ireland on December 1, 1713.  James and Joan were my 7th great-grandparents on my Dad’s side of the family through his father’s, mother’s people.  James and Joan were both born in Ireland, more than likely, but other than their marriage date, I don’t know a lot about them.  James and Joan had at least five sons, also born in Ireland that I am aware of and there could have been more children, but so far these five sons are the only ones I know about for certain.   Their names were: Robert, James, William, Andrew and Samuel.   James, Jr. was my 6th great-grandfather and he married Elizabeth Hayes in Ireland before coming to America. 

I do not know if the parents, James and Joan came to America, but I do know that their five sons came to America sometime after 1760.  From everything I have found so far it looks like they all came directly to Mecklenburg County, North Carolina because I have found land grants for some of them there starting in 1761.   The Bigham’s in Mecklenburg County were all members of the Steele Creek Presbyterian Church and quite a few of them are buried there at the adjoining cemetery.   I have often wondered if they might have come as a group with some Scotch-Irish Presbyterians from Ireland and help to start up this church.

This church is still in existence today and the following little history I found on their website located at: http://www.steelecreekpres.org/  “Steele Creek Presbyterian Church was organized in 1760 and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2010.  The first Sanctuary was a small log cabin located in what is the present-day cemetery.  It is the second oldest church in Mecklenburg County and was the largest rural Presbyterian Church in the country during the mid-twentieth century.  Five houses of worship have served the congregation, and the present Sanctuary was dedicated on April 17, 1889.  It is built of bricks handmade from materials in the surrounding area.  Both the Sanctuary and Cemetery are recognized as Historical Landmarks.   There are over 3,000 members, friends, and family resting in the Cemetery. Included are a signer of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, four Generals, numerous Revolutionary and Civil War patriots, more than twenty-five ministers, and the parents of Rev. Billy Graham.”  The following is a picture of the church and cemetery, taken from their website.



The following five pictures were at www.findagrave.com and you can see how old some of the tombstones are.  Also three of the five known sons of James and Joan have tombstones here at Steele Creek and I am pretty sure the other two brothers are possibly buried here as well, but apparently their tombstones, if they had one did not survive.  Find-a-grave has 86 Bigham’s listed as buried in the cemetery at Steele Creek.



The following are the tombstones for Robert Bigham, 1714-1777, James Bigham, 1719-1790, my direct line and Andrew Bigham, 1725-1788.  Aren't these tombstones cool looking.




Robert Bigham, Jr. 1748-1815

Now on with the wills starting with, Robert Bigham, Jr. born about 1748 in Ireland, who was my 1st cousin 7 generations removed from our common ancestors.  Robert’s father Robert Bigham, Sr. was my 6th great-granduncle and Robert Sr.’s parents were James Bigham and Joan Reilley.  Robert was married to a woman named Martha who died the year before Robert.  They apparently only had the two children, Jane Bigham who married James Turner and their son, Robert Bigham who married Jane Matthews.  Robert and his wife Martha are both buried at Steele Creek.

Robert Bigham wrote his will May 2, 1815 and it was probated in the August Term of Court in 1815.  He mentions the following people in his will, daughter: Jane Turner; son Robert Bigham, to receive a negro boy named Eli; and the will also mentions a negro woman named Rose who can have her choice of going with his daughter, Jane or his son, Robert and if she doesn’t want to go with either of them then she is to be sold, but if she stays she gets a spinning wheel.  He also mentions his brother, Joseph Bigham, and the executors were to be his son, Robert Bigham and his son-in-law, James Turner, and witnesses were: Thomas J. Greer and John Taylor.  

The following is the abstract I found in the following book at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City: Mecklenburg County, North Carolina Will Abstracts, 1791-1868, Books A-J, by Herman W. Ferguson, SLFHL Book #975.676 P2f


Samuel Bigham, 1753-1823

Samuel Bigham was born in about 1753 in Ireland and he was my 1st cousin 7 generations removed from our common ancestors.   He was the son of Andrew Bigham who was my 6th great-granduncle and Andrew’s parents were James Bigham and Joan Reilley.   Andrew Bigham married a woman named Agnes in Ireland and they are both buried at Steele Creek.  I believe Samuel may also be buried there but there is not a tombstone for him that I am aware of.  Also I don’t believe Samuel was ever married.

Samuel Bigham wrote his will in 1821, it was probated in the February Term of Court in 1823.  He mentions the following people: his brothers, William Bigham and John Bigham and his sister, Mary Bigham to divide the proceeds of the sale of his property which was consisting of the following: negroes, James, Julia, Sarah, Clarissa and Elias and their increase, the executors were: John Weeks and Samuel’s brothers, William Bigham and John Bigham and the witnesses were: Ephraim Kendrick and Robert Sturgeon.

The following is the abstract I found in the following book at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City: Mecklenburg County, North Carolina Will Abstracts, 1791-1868, Books A-J, by Herman W. Ferguson, SLFHL Book #975.676 P2f


William Bigham, 1756-1824

William Bigham was born February 19, 1756 in Ireland and he was my 1st cousin 7 generations removed from our common ancestors.   He was the son of Andrew Bigham who was my 6th great-granduncle and Andrew’s parents were James Bigham and Joan Reilley.   Andrew Bigham married a woman named Agnes in Ireland and they are both buried at Steele Creek.  I believe William may also be buried there but there is not a tombstone for him that I am aware of.  Also I don’t believe William was ever married.

William Bigham wrote his will on September 16, 1823 it was probated in the August Term of Court in 1824. He mentions his brother, John Bigham, who is to receive half interest in the plantation whereon we now live, and William’s interest in the Alabama lands, as well as the following negro girls: Harriett, July, Linda, Hannah, Amy and Myra, and boys Cato, William, Madison, Valentine and MingoOld Linda is to be set free, but she is to remain in the care of my brother John.  Should John marry, she is to have the choice of continuing to live in his home or to herself, in either case she is to remain under his protection.  The executors were: John Weeks and John Bigham and the witnesses were: Ephraim Kendrick and Benjamin Morrow.

The following is the abstract I found in the following book at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City: Mecklenburg County, North Carolina Will Abstracts, 1791-1868, Books A-J, by Herman W. Ferguson, SLFHL Book #975.676 P2f


John Bigham, 1755-1826

John Bigham was born about 1755 in Ireland and he was my 1st cousin 7 generations removed from our common ancestors.   He was the son of Andrew Bigham who was my 6th great-granduncle and Andrew’s parents were James Bigham and Joan Reilley.   Andrew Bigham married a woman named Agnes in Ireland and they are both buried at Steele Creek.  I believe John may also be buried there but there is not a tombstone for him that I am aware of.   John married a woman named Lavina in about 1824, but they did not have any children, at least any that may have lived.

John Bigham wrote his will on January 1, 1826 it was probated in the May Term of Court in 1826.  He mentions the following people.  To his wife, Lavina Bigham he gave the plantation on which they lived, all livestock, farming utensils, household and kitchen furniture, stores of grain and fodder, and the following negroes: boys, Jim, Jo, Cato, Mose and Mingo, and girls Harriett, Clow, July, Susannah, Hannah, Claicy and Miry (Myra).  It is my will that old negro Luce shall have her freedom and maintenance on my place.  (I wonder if the one called Linda in William’s will is the same as the one called Luce in this will???) Executor was his friend John Weeks, and the witnesses were: Benjamin Morrow and Eleazar Alexander.

The following is the abstract I found in the following book at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City: Mecklenburg County, North Carolina Will Abstracts, 1791-1868, Books A-J, by Herman W. Ferguson, SLFHL Book #975.676 P2f












1 comment:

  1. Great pictures of the Presbyterian churches. My late husband, a Presbyterian minister would have enjoyed seeing these old pictures. I found some pictures on line this past week of the Fillmore Presbyterian church in Corinth, Ms. He started out there as a young intern. Thanks for article.

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