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A.1.d. George Berry

 

     George Berry was born about 1766 in Augusta County, Virginia, and can be traced, primarily through tax and census records, for a period of 29 years from 1786 to 1815. Other than the sketchy information provided by these legal footprints, very little else is known about his life. He appears to have gotten married sometime between 1794 and 1800, more likely closer to 1794, but the identity of his wife is completely unknown. They had at least six children, but other than knowing that they were all born in Augusta County, Virginia, precious little information has been found for them. The date and place that George Berry and his wife passed away are also unknown. About the only definitive statement that can be made on the subject is that George Berry passed away sometime after 1815, which is the last time he appeared in Augusta County records.

 

Timeline of George Berry

 

~1765

Birth of George Berry, Jr

2 April 1788102,501

Augusta County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
District 1-- James Ramsey Commissioner
George Berry
Person Charged with Tax: George Berry
White Males > 21: George Berry Sr & Jr (23)
0 white males 16 – 21
2 Blacks > 16
9 Horses

1789501

Augusta County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
District 1-- James Ramsey Commissioner
George Berry
2 White Tithables      George Berry Sr and George Berry Jr (24)
2 Blacks > 16
8 Horses

27 Mar. 1790501

Augusta County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
District 1-- James Ramsey Commissioner
George Berry
2 White Tithables      George Berry Sr and George Berry Jr (25)
2 Blacks 12 - 16
9 Horses

24 May 1791501

Augusta County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
District 1-- James Ramsey Commissioner
George Berry
2 White Tithables      George Berry Sr and George Berry Jr (26)
1 Black > 16
7 Horses

21 Mar. 1792501

Augusta County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
District 1-- James Ramsey Commissioner
George Berry
2 White Tithables     George Berry Sr and George Berry Jr (27)
1 Black > 16
6 Horses

13 Mar. 1793501

Augusta County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
District 1-- James Ramsey Commissioner
George Berry
2 White Tithables      George Berry Sr and George Berry Jr (28)
1 Black > 16
11 Horses

9 July 1794501

Augusta County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
District 1-- James Ramsey Commissioner
George Berry
2 White Tithables      George Berry Sr and George Berry Jr (29)
1 Black > 16
10 Horses

1795501

Augusta County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
District 1-- James Ramsey Commissioner
George Berry
2 White Tithables      George Berry Sr and George Berry Jr (30)
2 blacks > 16

12 horses

20 Jan. 1796400

Augusta County, Virginia Deed Book 29, pages 105-106
[Margin Notation; Berry to Berry, exam.d ; delv.d to George Berry Jr May 25th 1798]
An artical of agreement made and concluded on this twentyeth day of January one thousand seven hundred and ninety six between George Berry Sen. and his Son George Berry junior, both of the County of Augusta and state of Virginia: Witnesseth that the said George Berry Sen. doth bargain and agree with the said George Berry Jun to give him full possession of part of the Plantation the Parties now lives on viz. the fields and woodland that lyeth on the South east side of Creek, to croop and improve on as he pleases, and shall receive the proffites of the same except the benefit of two acres of the new field one year, and one acre another year, also three fiffths the Medow and Cowpasture, and said George Jun. shall have liberty to improve and make what Medow he can on MCains run so as not to affect the fields that the stethouse now stands in, and to have the whole of the proffites of the same, also priveledge to build a dwelling house for himself to live in on the side of s.d MCains run oppiset to the ---?--- with the priveledges of the necessary appindeges thereto, also three tifthes of the fruits of the orchard and the same of the Croop now in the ground except the pack ---?---- run, both parties assisting in repairing the fences that the hold in conjunction in proportion to their interests, also in building a Barn not to be of any grate sixe larger than the present, and to act in the above proportion, and in Case the s.d parties should mutually agree to sell said premises the precedes shall be divided in the above proportion Viz George Berry Jun three fifths, and George Berry Sen two fifths, neither party to be rated to sell thir Interests in the primmises without the consent of the other, and in Case the s.d George Jun continues to live on and improve s.d land untill the death of the s.d George Berry Sen the right and title of the whole of s.d land shall then become the property of the s.d George Berry Jun and his heirs forever, on the said George paying or giving his bond with good Security to pay as may be divested by the will of s.d George Sen any Sum not to exceed two fifths the value of s.d place; but if the s.d George Jun leaves s.d primmises and moves his affects without the consent of the s.d George Sen then the above Obligation shall be totaly void.
And for the true performance of the above article or articals we the said parties do hereby bind Ourselves and each of us our heirs ex.r and adm.n unto each other in the ---?-- sum of Twenty thousand dollars.
In witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands and seals the day and year above written.

George Berry Sen (Seal)
George Berry Jun (Seal)
 

Signed sealed and acknowledged
before us
John Tate
Katrin (her mark) Fox
James Berry
At a Court held for Augusta County September 20th 1796
This article of agreement between George Berry and George Berry Jun was proved by the oath of John Tate one of the Witnesses thereto.
Augusta County to wit
This day came before me a Justice for the County aforesaid James Berry a witness to the within writing, and made oath that he saw George Berry Senr & George Berry Jun signe seal and acknowledge the same as their act and deed for the purpose therein mentioned. Given under my hand this 17th day of Nov. 1796
A. Humphreys
At a Court continued and held for Augusta December the 21st 1796.
This article of agreement between George Berry & George Berry Jr having heretofore been proved by oath of John Tate a witness thereto, was further proved by the Oath of James Berry another witness thereto before Alexander Humphreys Esquire as affixed by his certificate and being present in Court is ordered to be recorded.
Teste Jacob Kinney Clk.

1 Apr 1796502

Augusta County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
District 1-- James Ramsey Commissioner
George Berry Jr
1 White Tithable      George (31)
1 Black < 16
3 Horses

20 Sept 179621

Augusta County, Virginia, Order Book No. 24, page 66
John Michael recommended Ensign in 1st Battalion, 32d
Regiment George Berry, as Captain in 2d Battalion, vice John McCutcheon, resigned. John Scott, as Lieutenant, vice John Wilson, resigned. James Ewing, as Lieutenant, vice John Sharp, resigned.

17 January 179721

Augusta County, Virginia Order Book No. 24, page 97
George Berry qualified as captain in 2d Battalion, 32d Regiment.

1797502

Augusta County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
District 1-- James Ramsey Commissioner
George Berry Jr
1 White Tithable     George (32)
1 Black < 16
5 Horses

7 Apr 1798502

Augusta County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
District 1-- James Ramsey Commissioner
George Berry Jr
1 White Tithable     George (33)
5 Horses

1799502

Augusta County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
District 1-- James Ramsey Commissioner
George Berry Jr
1 White Tithable     George (34)
5 Horses

1800104,502

Augusta County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
District 1-- James Ramsey Commissioner
George Berry Jr
1 White Tithable     George (35)
5 Horses
Total Tax: .60

1801502

Augusta County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
District 1-- James Ramsey Commissioner
George Berry Jr
1 White Tithable     George (36)
1 Black > 16
6 Horses
Total Tax: 1.16

14 May 1802502

Augusta County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
District 1—M. Austin, Commissioner
George Berry (Captain)
2 White Tithables     George (37), ? brother ?
3 Blacks > 16
10 Horses
Tax: 2.12

8 April 1803202

Augusta County, Virginia Will Book 9, page 375
In the name of God amen this eight day of April in the year of our Lord 1803 I George Berry of the County of Augusta and State of Virginia aling to mind the certainty of death my judgment the same or equal to what it is formerly thanks to God I therefore make this my last will and testament in the way and manor folowing my body to the earth my soul to God that gave it and is touching my worldly goods I devise them in the manor foling and first I give to my son George Berry the plantation that I hold in fee simple on both sides of the middle River bounded by the Glabe and Lewis Shoes(?) and Davy Bratons(?) to him and his heirs forever and to my son John Berry I give and bequeath the land on ---?--- for which I have obtained a paten the number of acres I don't remember but the contents of the paten is to him and his heirs forever and to James Henry my son in law I leave to him walnut chest and one basket the remainder of my Estate when my Debt is paid to be equaly divided to my nine children or their heirs and I appoint(?) my two friends James Berry and James Henry to be executors of this my last will and testament and I disavow all former wills made by me the day and year above mentioned Given under my hand and seal
George Berry (seal)
David Bratton
William Thompson
Robert Mayes
The articles to be devided will wrote on the other side. There is, three slaves Sambo Rood and Lip(?), one horse one mare and fole three cows and some young cattle two beds two pots one large and --?- --?-- and two pair of fire (?) dogs and I now apint and desire that if any disputes should fall out amongst my heirs about these trifels that is shall be determined by an arbitration of three good men chosen by the partys disputing this given under my hand the day and year mentioned on the other side.
George Berry
David Bratton
Robert Mayes

12 May 1803502

Augusta County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
District 1—M. Austin, Commissioner
Capt. George Berry
2 White Tithables     George (38), ? brother ?
3 Blacks > 16
1 Black < 16
9 Horses
Tax: 2.84

19 July 180321,202

Augusta County, Virginia Will Book 9, page 315
James Scott's will--To wife Rebecca; son, William; son, Alexander; to daughter, Sally Trotter; sons, John, Thomas, James; to daughter, Gibly (Ibby); daughters, Rebecca, Julianna, Jean. Executors, wife Rebecca, son John, Wm. Wilson.
Teste: Wm. Burgess, George Berry. Proved, 26th December, 1803. Wilson refuses to execute. Others qualify.

13 June 1804502

Augusta County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
District 1—M. Austin, Commissioner
Capt. George Berry
1 White Tithable     George (39)
3 Blacks > 16
1 Black < 16
10 Horses
Tax: 9.96

27 November 1804202

Augusta County, Virginia Will Book 9

At a court cont.d & held for the said county
On the motion of James Berry and James Henry the Executors named in this last will and testament of George Berry deceased who made Oath according to Law and together with George Berry and Michael garber(?) --?-- their securities entered into and acknowledged their Bond in the penalty of two thousand dollars conditioned as the law dictates certificate is granted them for obtaining a probat in due form.
Teste Chesley Kinney CC

1 May 1805502

Augusta County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
District 1—M. Austin, Commissioner
Capt. George Berry
1 White Tithable     George (40)
2 Blacks > 16
9 Horses
Tax: 1.96

26 May 1806502

Augusta County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
District 1—M. Austin, Commissioner
Capt. George Berry
1 White Tithable     George (41)
3 Blacks > 16
9 Horses
Tax: 2.40

8 June 1807502

Augusta County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
District 1—M. Austin, Commissioner
Maj. George Berry
1 White Tithable      George (42)
3 Blacks > 16
9 Horses
Tax: 8.40

3 April 1809502

Augusta County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
District 1—M. Austin, Commissioner
Maj. George Berry
1 White Tithable     George (43)
3 Blacks > 16
10 Horses
Tax: 2.52

7 April 1810502

Augusta County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Lists
District 1—M. Austin, Commissioner
Maj. George Berry
1 White Tithable      George (44)
3 Blacks > 16
7 Horses
Tax: 2.26

1810503

Federal Census Augusta County, Virginia
George Berry
2 males between 3 and 10
2 males between 10 and 16
1 male between 26 and 45                 George (~44)
2 females < 10
1 female between 10 and 16
1 female between 26 and 45              Polly
5 slaves

181521

Circuit Court Records, Section “I” Judgements, page 199
Circuit Court Records
George Berry vs Michael Gabbox

 

Analysis of the Timeline

 

     That George Berry, Jr. was born sometime between 1766 and 1767 can be determined indirectly from Augusta County, Virginia personal property tax records for both George Jr. and his father, George Berry, Sr. In 1786, the latter Berry was recorded as having two white males under the age of 21 living in his household. According to his will, George Berry, Sr. had a total of nine children, but only six are known by name – three daughters and three sons. Two of the sons, William and John, most likely the oldest ones, are well documented through primary source records. Both were over 25 years old in 1786, and, thus, were definitely not the two males in the 1786 tax record. Based on tax data for subsequent years, one of these young males is probably George Berry, Jr., but the identity of the other one is not known – probably another brother. If one of these males is, indeed, George Berry, Jr., then 1766 can be calculated as being a minimum date for his birth. From 1788 through 1795 there are two white males over the age of 21 in George Berry, Sr.’s household, one, of whom, is obviously George Berry, Sr. Beginning in 1788 for William Berry and in 1790 for John Berry, these two older sons of George Berry Sr. can be documented as living in Fayette County, Virginia, so neither of them were the males recorded in their father’s household during the 1788 through 1795 time period. Assuming that it was, indeed, George Jr., then he was at least 21 years old by 1788, placing an upper limit on his birth date as 1767. What really confirms the interpretation that the second 21 year old male in the household is George Berry, Jr., however, are three facts. One, the second male disappears from George Berry Sr.’s household after 1795. Two, In 1796 George Berry Sr. sells an interest in his property to his son, George Berry, Jr. and three, beginning in 1796, George Berry, Jr. is taxed in his own household. It seems apparent, then, that George Berry, Jr. was living with his parents until sometime in 1795. Shortly after that he acquired property in his own name, and was taxed in his own household. Furthermore, as will be shown below, he also got married about this time. The entirety of this data seems to clearly point to George Berry, Jr. as being the second male in George Berry, Sr.’s household from 1788 through 1795.

 

     George Berry Jr.’s birthplace can be determined with a fairly high degree of certainty. In the summer of 1755, George Sr. purchased 149 acres of land along the Middle Branch of the Shenandoah River along the western side of the Beverley Grant from his father, the elder James Berry, who had originally purchased the land from Robert Campbell, an original Beverley Grant purchaser. For the next 45 years, from 1756 through 1801, George Sr. was taxed on that land and the 80 acre addition he purchased in 1775. It was here that George Sr. and his wife, Agnes (Hall) Berry, raised their nine children. George Berry, Jr., obviously, grew up on this family farm, and, no doubt, married a daughter of one of the local Scotch-Irish landowners. As noted above, George Jr. purchased a share of the original homestead in 1796, which probably indicates that he was the oldest son remaining in the area at the time. His two older brothers, William and James, had moved to Kentucky years several years before. Although no marriage records have been found, federal census records show that George Jr. and his wife were living in Augusta County, Virginia with a family of four sons and three daughters by 1810. The oldest three children were born sometime between 1794 and 1800, suggesting that George got married not long before 1794 when he was about 28 years old. As noted above, it is interesting to note that it was only a few years later, in 1796, that George acquired his own plot of land from his father’s holdings. The fact that George Jr. ended up getting the plantation in his father’s will further supports the notion that he was, indeed, the oldest son remaining in Augusta County.

 

     In early 1796, a few years after he got married, George Jr. entered into a land contract with his father in which the younger Berry assumed ownership of a part of the family plantation. Apparently, George Jr. was already living on the southeast side of the creek, probably since he had gotten married, and since his father stipulated that he could build his own house, it seems that young George was living in an existing house – possibly the homestead of the now deceased elder James Berry. The contract said that neither party could sell without the express permission of the other party, and that the son would inherit all of the land if he was still living there when the old man died.

 

     In the fall of 1796 George Berry, Jr. was appointed to the rank of captain of the 2nd battalion of the 32nd militia regiment of the Augusta County militia following the resignation from that position of one of his neighbors, John McCutcheon. Having been granted the rank of captain in 1796 suggests that George had been a rank and file member of the Augusta County militia for some time already. By early 1797 his new rank was approved. Tax records record him as Captain George Berry until 1807 when he was promoted to the rank of major. From 1796 through 1801 young George was always referred to as George Berry Jr. in the tax records in order to differentiate him from his father, who was listed as George Berry, Sr. In 1802 his Father is absent from the records and Captain George Berry is listed without the Jr. reference. This suggests that his father was in failing health, and, possibly, was no longer considered to be a taxable male. His will was presented to the Augusta court in the spring of 1803, which indicates that he had passed away either in late 1802 or early 1803. In his father’s will, it was stipulated that George Jr. was to inherit the plantation along the Middle Branch of the Shenandoah River. As an interesting side note, George Berry, Sr. last appears in Augusta County tax records in 1801. Up until that time both George Berrys were listed in the tax roles and differentiated by the junior and senior designation. After his father passed away in late 1802 or early 1803, young George was no longer referred to as George Berry Jr.

 

    Once George Jr. became established in his own household, the tax records documented his life through the lense of his taxable property in Augusta County. Such property included land, horses and African slaves, and the latter two items reveal some interesting information. From a comparison of the number of slaves and horses that George Berry owned from 1796 through 1810, depicted in Table XXV, one of the first things that stands out is the sudden increase in both “holdings” in 1802. In that year he went from owning one African slave over the age of 16 to three, and from six horses to ten. His taxable slaves and horses remained at or near these levels for the remainder of the time period covered by the tax data. When George Jr.’s father passed away in late 1802 or early 1803, he had stipulated that three slaves, Sambo, Rood and Lip (?) be distributed among his children, and if any disputes arose, he designated the outline of an arbitration panel. He also noted that two horses, one being a mare, were also to be distributed in the same manner. From the sudden increase in George Jr.’s slaves and horses, it would appear that he received the lions share of these items. With one of the horses being a mare, it is quite possible that there was some natural increase in the number of these animals.
 

 

Table XXV

George Berry, Jr.'s Taxable Property  1796 - 1810

 

Year Slaves > 16 Slaves < 16 Horses
1796   1 3
1797   1 5
1798     5
1799     5
1800     5
1801 1   6
1802 3   10
1803 3 1 9
1804 3 1 10
1805 2   9
1806 3   9
1807 3   9
1808 3   10
1809 3   7

 

     Based on the primary source records that have been found so far, there seems to be a sudden disappearance of George Berry from Augusta County records after 1810, but possibly as late as 1815. Several possibilities can explain this phenomenon. It could be that not all of the available records for George Berry, Jr. have been located at this time. There are also two other explanations. He appears to be missing from the 1820 Augusta County federal census records, and this could mean either that he had passed away by that time or he had moved from the area. Since he would only have been about 54 years old in 1820, the latter possibility seems more likely.
 

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