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The Early Fly Family of North Carolina

Tree 1 

"I was born in East Virginia
                      North Carolina
I did roam…….."
                                                            East Virginia Folk Song

Several Fly men appear in the records of Northampton County, North Carolina beginning in 1768.  This is a description of these early Fly family members and a discussion of their probable or known relationships.  Northampton County borders Southampton County, Virginia and these men came from Virginia to North Carolina, but some of their children seemed to have moved back and forth over the line well into the 1800s. The ties to Southampton County lasted for a very long time. In the description of each individual, I have referred to that person using either a birth or death date when there were two individuals of the same name living in the area.

The map below (
click on the thumbnail) shows the areas in Virginia and North Carolina where the earliest Fly families lived. The William Flye (d. 1679) at the top seems to have lived just east of Isle of Wight Courthouse. 

In the mid-seventeen hundreds, Elisha Fly seems to have lived near Jerusalem in Southampton County.  Jerusalem is now called Courtland. 

Just before the American Revolution, John (d.1804) and Elisha moved from Southampton County to Northampton County and lived somewhere near the curve of the Meherrin River very near the present town of Severn.  Severn was called Bethlehem Cross Roads, but later became Cross Lox.

William Fly (d. 1794) had moved to Northampton before John and Elisha and owned land on the north side of Kirby’s Creek.  A Meherrin Indian village was apparently located in this area on the banks of the Meherrin River.

Thumb Early Fly Locations

Map of Early Fly Family Locations

line divider

Children of John Fly and Unknown Wife

jane   1.  Celia Fly 4 (John 3, Jeremiah 2, William 1)

There is no evidence that Celia ever lived in North Carolina. She lived and died in Southampton County, Virginia.

jeremiah   2.  Jeremiah Fly 4 (John 3, Jeremiah 2, William 1)

Jeremiah, son of John, did not leave any records in North Carolina.  His fate is not known. He may be the Jeremiah Fly who died in Georgia in 1785.

William   3.  William Fly 4 (John 3, Jeremiah 2, William 1)

William was born before 1741, but the actual date is not known.  He died most likely in late 1793.  This man first appears in North Carolina records in 1762 as a witness to a deed from Julius Nichols to Joshua Ellis in Granville Co.

Aug. 10, 1762.  Julius Nichols to Joshua Ellis for 30 pounds, 310 acres of land on east side of Hawtree Creek on Sisson's line, at Hawkin's line, on Russell's line, in Granville Co.
Wit: Joseph Davenport, William Fly, William Ellis. 
Signed:  Julius Nichols.  Rec. Aug. Ct. 1762

In 1760, this county bordered Northampton Co to the west.  The area including Hawtree Creek later fell into the newly created county of Warren.   It is claimed by some that William’s wife was a Mary Nichols, but William’s act of witnessing a deed is not evidence of marriage between a supposed daughter of Julius Nichols and William Fly.  Julius Nichols, a land speculator, was a resident of Lunenburg Co., Virginia who received several land grants in North Carolina.  The name Nichols is unknown among the many descendants of John (d.1804) and Elisha & Peggy Allman Fly and very rare among the descendants of John (1772) and Jeremiah (1774). The Nichols deeds and wills of Granville Co., N.C. and Lunenburg County, Virginia. have been examined by the Rev. Norman Flythe and nothing connecting Nichols to Fly has been discovered.

In 1768 in Northampton Co., William Fly was a witness to three deeds:

1768. William Fly was witness to deed from John Inman to Robert Bagley, Jr. [2]

Feb 8, 1768. William Fly witness to deed from James Masingle to Abraham Massingle [3]

Aug. 6, 1768.  Samuel Edwards and Ann Johnson of Northampton Co. to Arthur Stevenson, Jr.  of same.  For 30 barrels of corn to be delivered next 16 Jan.   75 acres on south side of Kirby's Creek, Mandew.
Wit: William Fly, Joshua Johnson       
Signed: Samuel (X) Edwards, Ann (X) Johnson.  Proven: Mar. Ct. 1769      Rec.: May 3, 1769

Then, in a deed dated Sept. 15, 1772, William purchased his first land:

Sept 15, 1772.  John Wilkinson of Southampton (Co., Virginia.) to William Flye of Northampton Co.  For 18 pounds Virginia., 75 acres with all houses, etc.  which was a part of a patent to Isaac Starling in 1753, on north side of Kirby's Creek, joining Poplar Spring. 
Wit: Adam (X) Starling, James Williamson. 
Signed:  John Wilkinson. Proved: Sept. Ct. 1774.   Rec.: Oct. 6, 1774

William was a member of St. George's Parish and, in 1773 according to the Parish Vestry Book, he took in Chloe Boyd and Robert Thorp, who were probably orphans.

St. George's Parish.  William Fly was paid 4 pounds 12 shillings for keeping Chloe Boyle and Robert Thorp. [6]

It was a common custom then for some families, much in need of labor or willing to apprentice the young, to offer to provide training for these young people in exchange for the work they could perform as their skills developed.  The church would supervise the process and pay for the support of the poor young person. That same year William also sold to the church an acre of ground:

St. George's parish.  William Fly was ordered to be paid 1 pound 15 shillings for the acre of ground "whereon St. Paul's Chappel stands on" [7]

It is very clear that William Fly was an active member of the Established Church of England, but this particular deed was never recorded.

On Jan. 7, 1774, William purchased another tract of land near his first on Kirby's Creek not far from the Virginia-North Carolina border.

Jan. 7, 1774.  Arthur Stevenson, Jr. of Orange Co. to William Fly of Northampton Co.  For 30 pounds Virginia.  180 acres which had been part of a patent to Isaac Starling in 1753 & several conveyances to sd. Arthur Stevenson, on north side of Kirby's Creek, joining Prong Branch, Joseph Futrell, Poplar Spring, Adam Starling, William Sikes former line.
Wit: Jacob Boon, John Manons (?)  Signed: Arthur Stevenson.  Rec. June Ct. 1774

In the next year, William Fly and a Mary Fly were witnesses to a deed.

March 25, 1775.  Daniel Johnson of Northampton Co. to Adam Sterling of same.  for 50 pounds Virginia.  100 acres on north side of Kirbey's Creek, joining Wm. Fly, Odams' former line. 
Wit: Wm. Fly, Mary (X) Fly Rec. Dec. Ct. 1775

It would be an error to state as fact that William Fly was married to a Nichols or Stephenson female although both claims have been made.  William’s wife was probably this Mary, surname unknown, but no records uncovered so far give any proof about her maiden name.

It is quite likely that Mary Fly was Native American.  The tradition of Indian blood is very strong among the descendants of Elisha, Jr. (1769), John (1772), and Jeremiah (1774), sons of William. This claim has not been passed down at all among the descendants of John (d. 1804), Elisha & Peggy, or Jesse Fly. Because of the fragmentary condition of the few Indian census listings for the 1750s and 1760s in this part of North Carolina, we may never know.  If Mary Fly was Native American, she was probably not Cherokee, but a member of a tribe native to Hertford or Northampton County such as the Chowan, Meherrin or Tuscarora peoples.  We have no proof or any family stories stating that William, or for that matter any other Fly man, traveled to Cherokee territory in western North Carolina. If Mary was Native American, she was not counted in the appropriate column in the 1790 Census.[10] In 1896, a Sooter descendant of Jeremiah Fly applied for recognition as a member of the Cherokee Tribe, but was rejected.  This was approximately 130 years after William’s marriage and memory of their ancestor’s tribal membership may have been faulty.

The 1780 Northampton Tax list includes William, John and Elisha.[11]  I have not examined this tax list so cannot provide any information about the context of the Fly names.

In 1782, William was paid for services provided some time during the American Revolution (1775-1783).[12]  These particular pay vouchers do not automatically mean that the individual was a soldier.  They were also used to compensate patriots for supplies, such as horses or flour or for services, such as ferrying men across a river or keeping records rendered in support of the War effort.  This pay voucher was issued by district auditors, in this case John Branch and John Bradford.  Branch and Bradford were auditors for the Halifax district that included Edgecombe, Franklin, Martin, Nash, Northampton and Warren Counties.[13]  We cannot be sure who signed the voucher. The endorsing signature resembles the handwritten name, William Fly, on the front of the voucher.

In 1784, William was a co-signer on two bonds and also appears in two petitions.[14]  His signature is quite consistent, but an examination of the petitions raises questions about signatures in general.  An Elisha Fly also signed one of the petitions and the signature matches his Revolutionary War pay voucher.  However, just below Elisha Fly's name is the name of Elisha Lawrence and the handwriting is identical.  There are other groups of names on the petition that are also obviously written by the same hand.  It seems very likely that one person might sign a document for several friends or relatives.

The state census of Northampton County was collected in 1786.  William Fly had a household of 5 males over 21 & under 60, 0 males under 21 and over 60, and 2 females.[15] The August 1, 1790 Federal Census listed William with 1 male over 16, 3 males under 16, and 5 females.[16] This census did not distinguish between family members and boarders, friends, apprentices, or wards who lived in the household. This makes interpreting the differing household compositions of William Fly in the 1786 State Census and the 1790 Census Federal very difficult.  Readers familiar with the census of 1850 and later, where all names in a household were listed, will be familiar with the fact that people of differing surnames lived in the same household.  In addition, the census taker may not have gotten his information directly from the head of household, but from a friend or neighbor and the numbers of people in the household may not be accurate.   

William's final deed was for 10 acres and was a conveyance from Nathan Garner to William Fly, Decd.:

March 2, 1794.  Nathan Gardner sells to William Fly, Decd. 10 acres on the north side of Kirby Creek for 50 pounds. Bounded by Warren, Wm. Fly, Nathan Garner, Benj. Strickling, Wm. Fly.
Wit.: Jacob Boon, Brittain Garner  
Signed: Nathan Garner Proved: March Court 1796
Rec.: June 17, 1797

This 1794 deed was probably an attempt to clear the title to the land before it was sold. Obviously William Fly died before March 2, 1794.   In 1796, Jeremiah Fly signed over to John Darden land that was described as being in two tracts.  One tract contained 10 acres, the 10 acres of the 1794 deed!

The mention of William Fly as deceased is highly unusual in a deed.  A search of the N.C. Archives and the will books of Northampton Co. did not uncover any will, inventories, accounts, guardian bonds or other estate papers for a William Fly who died some time before the deed was dated in 1794.  At the time, the law required the filing of estate papers in Raleigh, but apparently this was not done.

If William Fly had more sons or some daughters in addition to Elisha, Jr., John, and Jeremiah, they would have had a legal right to some of William’s land.  An inventory and appraisal might have revealed their names.  William apparently died intestate and his sons did not appear in court in order to settle the estate. Simply stated, Elisha, Jr. (b. ca. 1769), John (b. ca. 1772) and Jeremiah ( sold William Fly's land and moved to Tennessee soon after.  They were his only sons.

John Fly (d. 1804) and Elisha Fly (b. bef.1746) are not associated with William Fly in any court documents in Northampton, and were not his sons.


William Fly d.1794 Signature


Children of William and Mary (mnu) Fly

  gw  3a. Elisha, Jr. 5 (William 4, John 3, Jeremiah 2, William 1)

This man, born about 1767, is referred to as Jr. only once—in the 1790 Federal Census for Northampton County.  The use of Sr. and Jr. in the Census did not necessarily mean father and son, but could be applied to uncle and nephew, or to completely unrelated individuals of differing ages but the same names.  Elisha the elder (b. 1746) and Elisha, Jr. are probably related since the name is so very rare.  They were almost certainly uncle and nephew.  No documents of any kind refer to an Elisha, Sr., including the 1790 Census where he is mentioned as Elisha Fly.  Only one Elisha appears in the 1786 State Census. 

In the1790 Census, Elisha, Jr.'s household composition was made up of 1 male over 16, 1 male under 16, 2 females and 1 slave. [18]  Of the three sons of William Fly, Elisha was the only one to own a slave at this time.  His wife Eliza may have been given a servant as part of her marriage portion.  

On March 14, 1796, Elisha and Eliza Fly sold to James Barnes of Southampton Co., Virginia. 85 acres of land on the north side of Kirby's Creek purchased by William Fly.[19]

March 14, 1796. Elisha Fly sells to James Barnes of Southampton Co., Virginia. for 40 pounds 85 acres bounded by John Darden, Henry Barnes, Kirby Creek, Silases line or Odom's present corner, and Mungar's line part of a grant to Isaac Starling in 1753 " by divirsements courses became vested in the said Elisha Fly".
Wit: John Darden, Benj. Strickland   
Signed: Elisha (X) Fly & Eliza (X) Fly.  Rec. June Ct. 1796.

It appears that William's son Elisha was selling his inheritance.  Eliza's name is on the deed in order to eliminate her dower right in the land. 

On March 5, 1796 in Davidson Co., Tenn., Elisha Fly purchased 480 acres from James Barnes.:

James Barnes of Southampton Co., Virginia. sells to Elisha Fly of Northampton Co., N.C. 480 acres for 72 pounds situated and lying within ceded territory south of the river Ohio late a part of the state of North Carolina in the Co. of Davidson on the water of Mill Creek and Big.... Beginning at Ebenezer Titus southeast corner... James Fergus ...... Being part of a tract of 4800 acres granted to said James Fergus by the state of N.C. for his services in the Continental Line... Grant bearing date March 14, 1786. 
Wit: Spencer Hill, Jno Fly, Jeh Fly.  Signed: James Barnes

Since they seem to have exchanged land, perhaps Elisha was related in some way to James Barnes, but no proof has ever been found.  Elisha seems to have purchased land in his new home state of Tennessee and then quickly returned to Northampton in order to dispose of his inheritance.

   quacker3b. Rev. John Fly 5 (William 4, John 3, Jeremiah 2, William 1)

This John Fly, born 1772, may be the John Fly who appears in Hertford County in the 1790 Census, [21] but there is also a John Fly listed in 1790 in the Tax Lists of Southampton Co., Virginia. [22] 

According to his tombstone, he was born in 1772,[23] but he did not appear in deeds or other Northampton County court documents until Jan.15, 1796 when John and wife Sarah Fly sold land on the north side of Kirby's Creek purchased by William Fly.

Jan. 15, 1796.  John Fly sells to John Mungar for 51 pounds & 6 shillings,   85 acres with houses, gardens, etc. on the north side of Kirby's Creek bounded by Moses Odom's line, Mill Branch, John Darden's line, Joseph Futrell, and M. Odom.
Wit: Henry Mungar, John Watkins, William Howell.
Signed:  John (his X mark) Fly,   Sarah (her X mark) Fly. Proven & Rec. June Ct. 1796

This land was probably made up of William's 1772 land purchase.  John and Sarah appear to have sold an inheritance.  Sarah was reportedly Sarah Jane Trader.  The Trader family lived in Hertford Co., N.C., but this is a "burned" county so records are not available.  Her ancestry is unknown.

On July 25, 1799, Elisha Fly of Davidson Co., Tenn. sold 100 acres to John Fly.

July 25, 1799. Elisha Fly of Davidson Co. sells to John Fly for 60 pounds, 100 acres.  Bounded by Ebenezer Titus line.  
Wit: Spencer Hill, John Warren.  Elisha (his D mark) Fly Rec.: May 9, 1800

John and Sarah lived the rest of their lives in Tennessee.  Sarah's life was short and John married again- twice.  Many of their descendants established families in Tenn., and states further south and west.  This John died in 1855.

pemberton   3c. Jeremiah 5 (William 4, John 3, Jeremiah 2, William 1)

Jeremiah Fly’s first appearance in the records of Northampton occurred in a list of apprentices:

March Court 1795.  Jesse Turner to Jeremiah Fly to learn to be a planter. [26]

It is estimated from the first mention of his name in a court document that he was born about 1774.  He does not appear in any Census records.  To accept Jesse Turner as an apprentice indicates that Jeremiah did have land to work.

Then, on March 15, 1796, he sold to John Darden two tracts of land, one of 75 acres and one of 10 acres on the north side of Kirby's Creek, both purchased by William Fly. 

Mar. 15, 1796. Jeremiah Fly sells to John Darden 2 tracts on the north side of Kirby Creek, one of 75 acres and one of 10 acres bounded by Warren's line..... in the possession of Jeremiah Fly by "devises conveyances" for 50 pounds.
Wit: Arthur Sherrod, John Wodkins   
Signed:  Jeremiah (his X mark) Fly   Proven:. Mar. Ct. 1796   Rec.: June 19, 1797

In a deed selling land, it was a legal requirement that the seller describe the differing tracts of land if they were not all purchased by the seller at the same time as one tract.  Jeremiah does this and appears to be selling his inheritance of part of William's early land purchase and also William's last purchase of 10 acres.

The Northampton land sale was apparently done in anticipation of a move to Tennessee.  On June 16, 1798 in Davidson Co., Tenn., Jeremiah Fly married Zilpha Pipkin.[28]  Like Elisha, Jr. (1767) and John (1772) many families descend from this couple.  Jeremiah died in Barry Co., Missouri in 1846. 

crockett   4. John Fly 4 (John 3, Jeremiah 2, William1)

This man was born before 1741 in Virginia and died Feb. 1804 in Northampton Co., North Carolina. He probably left Southampton Co., Virginia. and purchased land just over the line in North Carolina on or before June 1, 1776.  

June 1, 1776. Abraham Stevenson "Plaintiff" sells with all houses, orchards, etc. 50 acres to John Fly "defendant" for 30 pounds.  Land was part of a patent to Wm. Boon 1723 and is bounded by Abraham Stevenson.
Wit: Absolom Cook, Charles Stevenson. 
Signed:  Abraham Stevenson, Rebecca (her X mark) Stevenson.
Ackn. & Dower Relinq by Rebecca Stevenson: June Court 1776. Rec. : Jan. 1

By this time he had been married for quite a few years although his wife’s surname is not known.

John and his son John Dixon, like William, and Elisha of Northampton provided patriotic service in the American Revolution.

June 1782.  No. 6857.  State of North Carolina Halifax District.  This certifies that John Fly was allowed five pounds specie as per Report of the board of Auditors.   -- June 1782. Signed: J Branch, J Bradford.[30]

Archives at Raleigh, N.C. North Carolina Rev. Accounts Vol. 10, p. 110 (4):  John Fly paid five pounds. [31]

He was in the N.C. State Census of 1786 with a household of 1 male age 21-60, 4 males under 21 or over 60, and 3 females.[32]  Between 1786 and the 1790 Federal Census, his name appears on several documents including William Strickland’s will, a deed, and two notations that he was a purchaser at estate sales.

The Federal Census of 1790 shows for him a household of 2 males over 16, 2 males under 16 and 4 females.[33]  That same year he was named an executor to the will of Joseph Boon.  This implies that there may have been some sort of relationship between the two, but no proof has surfaced:

July 24, 1790.  Will of Joseph Boon.  wife: Savory Boon. Son: William Boon. Execs: my friends John Boon and John Fly
Wit: Bolling Boon, Salley (her mark) Boon. Prob. Dec. Ct. 1794

According to family stories, he was married more than once and there is weak evidence for that.  The identities of his wives are not definitively proven.  One of John's wives according to family stories was a Johnson, sister of Elisha Johnson.  John Fly's daughter Millicent did marry Elias Johnson, a son of Hezekiah Johnson, and it is possible that in telling this story, the descendants mixed things up a bit.  One court document (1794), a summons, requested both Susannah Fly and Polly Johnston to appear in court in reference to a case against Jennett Pipkin.[35]  Is this a reference to John's wife?  She may have been Susannah Johnson, but if so her Johnson relatives have not been identified. Susannah probably died about 1795, perhaps in childbirth with her daughter Susannah Driver Fly.  

His next wife was a Mary, probably Hutchings.  His estate papers name all his children and appoint William Hutchings as guardian of the younger ones. Close kin are usually selected to be guardians of underage children. 

In 1794, John Fly purchased slaves Leah and her child Bedford from William Bass Cheatham.

April 30, 1794.  William Bass Cheatham of Southampton Co., Virginia. sells to John Fly one negro woman named Leah and her child, Bedford, for 60 pounds.[36]

By the time of his death, John had also acquired the slave Ryke

In 1795, John purchased his second tract of land, this one from Carolus Judkins.

Nov. 14, 1794.  Carolus Judkins sells to John Fly, Sr. of Northampton Co., N.C., 75 acres for 55 pounds bounded by Cobb's line, Carolus Judkins, Joel Judkins being part of a tract of land formerly granted to Nicholas Judkins by Joseph Strickland. 
Wit: Joel Judkins, Young, George Murrell. 
Signed:  Carolus Judkins. Proven: Dec. Court 1794 Rec.: July 20, 1795 DB 10, p. 132)

The next year, John was involved in the courts again:

Mar. 17, 1795.  John Fly with others was asked by court to "divide and set apart to Martha Cobb Widow of John Cobb, Decd. 1/3 part of two tracts of land"
Signed:  John Fly

This time he was part of a commission charged with the job of allotting a dower portion to a widow.

Another document indicates John’s continued activity as a plantation owner in the county.

July 2, 1795.  Judgment granted to William Bass Cheatham against John Fly, Sr. for four pounds ten shillings and costs.  Suit was for non-payment by John Fly for four barrels of corn.  John Fly appealed the judgment and named John Watkins security for the court costs.[39]

The reason for John’s failure to pay for the corn was not given. 

John Fly's household on the 1800 Federal Census was made up of 1 male under 10, 1 male 16-26, 1 male over 45, 1 female under 10, 1 female 10-16, 1 female 16-26, 2 females 26-45 and 4 slaves. [40] Obviously, he had acquired another slave who does not appear in his estate inventory. 

In 1804, his widow Mary had to go to court in order to enforce her dower right to 1/3 of John's land. [41] 

June 1804.  To the worshipful the Justices of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions for Northampton Co.  The petition of Mary Fly.  That your petitioner's late husband John Fly departed this life sometime in the month of February last, intestate, being at the time of his death seized and possessed in fee simple of two tracts of land lying in the county aforesaid:  That on the death of the said John Fly the said tracts of land descended to his children John Fly, Cornelius Fly, Enoch Fly, Enos Fly, Rebecca Fly, Milley the wife of Elisha Johnson, and to William, Susan Driver Fly, Patsy Roberts Fly which said William, Susan and Patsy are infants under the age of twenty one years.  And your petitioner is desirous of having her dower laid off in the said two tracts of land, which cannot be done without the assistance of this Worshipful court and therefore your Petitioner prays your Worships to make the necessary order and decree for that purpose.  Signed: P.Brown, Jno. Pete

Mary Fly's Writ of Dower - to Sept. Court 1804 14 June,

Whereas on the petition of Mary Fly, widow, of John Fly, dec. who died intestate setting forth that the said John Fly died seized and possessed in fee simple of two tracts of land in the county aforesaid _____________ that her dower in the said land may be allotted and set off to her.  You are therefore commanded to summons 12 free holders connected with the part neither by consanguinity or affinity who upon __________ state allott and set apart to the said Mary Fly one third part of the said two tracts of land in which third to be included the mansion house and __________ house the agreeable to act of Assembly in such case made and provided and have you at our court to be held for Northampton County on the first Monday in September make thy writ and show you have executed same.  
Witness R.W. Friar, Deputy clerk of our said Court the 4th day of June, A.D. 1804.  This the 28th year of our Independence.  
Signed: R.W. Friar, D.Clk.

Pursuant to the annexed writ of dower we the underwritten persons have met on the premises mentioned in said writ who after being sworn agreeable to same did proceed to lay off and set apart the dower in Judkins line, thence E thro the Plumb Orchard, thence to a Persimmon tree, thence to a gum so....  thence N. along a line of Marked trees to Stephenson's line, thence along said line to Boon's line, thence along Boon's line to Cheatham's line, thence along said line to Cobb's line, thence along said line to Judkins line, thence along said line to the beginning, containing forty two acres more or less. 
Arthur Sherrod, Rich Long, Exum Liles, _____ Ricks, Elijah Johnson, Elisha _______, Wm. Clark, John Tyner, Moses Odoham, Jesse Liles, Kadar Parker, ___________ Long, Wm Blackburn.

He died without a will, but the law required the appointment of an administrator to settle his estate. Enos Fly was appointed Administrator with Elisha Johnson, Enoch Fly and Riddick Darden providing surety.

A letter written by Joe Flythe in 1928 contains a story that has been passed down in the family for years. The claim is that John Fly received a 3000 acre grant of land in the curve of the Meherrin River in Northampton County.  Many years ago the Rev. Norman Flythe checked the land documents at the court house and also walked the land with a local resident.  He did not find any record of such a land purchase or sale and John’s estate papers do not contain any information about acreage that large.  This was probably the result of a misunderstanding.  John may have purchased land that was once part of a 3000 acres grant to someone else! 

Likewise, Joe Flythe’s letter states that John was the father of Cornelius and Emelius and that they both moved to West Virginia.  Mary Fly’s petition for her dower mentions a son Cornelius, but not Emelius.  A Cornelius Fly does not appear in any records in Northampton County and apparently did not exist.  Emelius Fly died in Northampton County in 1831 and never lived in West Virginia.  He did live for quite a while in Southampton County Virginia not far from Northampton County, NC.

John Fly's inventory is extensive.  Five different auctions between 1804 and late 1805 were required to dispose of all of it.[43]  The estate inventory indicates that John was probably literate.  The inventory included a "parcel of old books".  It also included 5 feather beds, a shoemaker's bench and tools, carpenter's tools, a looking glass, a man's saddle, a woman's saddle (a side saddle), a sun dial, 2 spinning wheels, an indigo tub, one loom, one umbrella, one still, and one bayonet.  This is only a partial list.   His domestic animals included 11 geese, some fowls, two horses, 14 cattle, 9 sheep and 14 hogs.   Enoch Fly purchased the books, the side-saddle and the umbrella at the estate sales.  The widow Mary Fly purchased the Hymn Book and a cradle among other things.  John's son-in-law, Elias Johnson, purchased the shoemaker's bench and tools.

The widow Mary Fly purchased Leah.  Enoch purchased Ryke, and Bedford went to Fred Long.  In 1808, all of John's land was divided and distributed to each of his 10 children.  They are all mentioned in the estate division and in later deeds when they sold the land they had inherited.

Feb. 10, 1808.  Division of Land (abstract):

Pursuant to an order of the worshipful court of the County Northampton for dividing the lands of John Fly, Decd. between his legatees we the subscribers being appointed as Commissioners in Said order have met on the premises and divided it in manner and form following  Vizt-------

Lot #1 to John D. Fly valued to 11 pounds 11 shillings Virga. Money and pays to lot #3, 2 pounds, 5 shillings & 8 pence(?) and bounded as follows Vizt.  James Horseys Corner, Thomas Cobb's line, Abraham Stevens corner white oak in the Long Branch, Millicent Johnsons corner............... containing 11 acres.

Lot #2 to Millicent Johnson valued to 13 pounds & 10 pence Virga. Money and pays to Lot #3 9 shillings & 7 pence and to Lot #4 3 pounds, 15 shillings and 1 pence V. money and bounded as follows.  Beginning at John D. Fly's corner oak, James Horseys corner, Thos. Cobbs line, Emilas Flys corner, Stephens line, John D. Flys corner Turkey Oak........ containing 11 acres

Lot #3 to Emilias Fly valued to 6 pounds and 10 pence Virga. money and receives from Lot #1 2 pounds 5 shillings and 3 & 1/2 pence and from Lot #2  9 pounds 7 shillings and 2 pence Virginia. Money and from Lot #7, 4 shillings and bounded as follows Vizt. Millicent Johnson, Stephens line, Thomas Cobbs line, Enoch Flys corner, Stephens line..............containing 11 acres.

Lot #4 to Enoch Fly valued to 5 pounds and receives from Lot #2 3 pounds, 15 shillings, 1 pence Virginia. Money and from Lot #7 10/2 (10 shillings & 2 pence?) and Bounded as follows.  Emelias Flys corner, Stephens line, Thomas Cobbs line, William Flys corner........containing 11 acres.

Lot #5 to William Fly valued to 5 pounds and receives from #7, 7 pounds & 2 pence and from Lot #8, 1 pound, 10 shillings, 8 & 1/2 pence from #9, 14 pounds 8 shillings 2 pence and from #10 19 pounds, 8 shillings and 2 pence and Bounded as follows Vizt.  Enoch Flys corner, Thos. Cobbs line, Rebekah Flys corner, Stephens line...........containing 11 acres.

Lot #6 to Rebekah Fly valued to 9 pounds and receives from Lot #10, 5 pounds, 3 shillings, & 2 pence and bounded as follows Vizt.  William Flys corner, Stephens line, Richd. Longs line, John Boons line, ..........containing 11 acres

Lot #7 to Elizabeth G. Fly valued to 10 pounds & 16 pence and bounded as follows Vizt. James Horseys corner, Cobbs line, north side of the road, Henry Deberrys line, .........containing 6 & 1/2 acres.

Lot #8 to Susanna D. Fly valued to 10 pounds & 16 pence and pays to lot #5, 1 pound, 10 shillings and 8 & 1/2 pence and bounded as follows Vizt. Elizabeth G. Flys corner, north side of the road, James Horseys line,  Absolom Cobbs line, ...........containing 10 acres

Lot #9 to Patsey R. Fly valued to 10 pounds and pay to lot #5 14 pounds and 2 pence and bounded as follows Vizt. Susanna D. Flys corner, Absolom Cobbs line, James Horsey's line, Enos Flys corner...........containing 15 acres

Lot #10 to Enos Fly valued to 10 pounds 10 shillings and pay to Lot #5, 19 pounds & 8 and 1/2 shillings and bounded as follows Vizt. Patsey R. Flys corner, Absolom Cobbs line, James Horseys line..........containing 16 acres.

Given under our hands and seals this 10th day of February, 1808.  Signed: Arthur Sherrod, Kadar (his X mark) Parker, & James Mose (?).[44] 

(Plat drawn on original document-BGF)

Thumb John Fly's Plat

John was the father of John Dixon, Millicent, Emelius, Rebekah, Enos, Enoch, Susannah Driver, Martha Roberts, William H., and Elizabeth G. Fly.  Four of these children were under the age of 21 when he died and a guardian was appointed:

Mar. 2, 1807.  Guardian accounts for Martha Fly, Elizabeth Fly, William Fly and Susanna Fly were filed with the court by their guardian William Hutchings.  Balance due each orphan- 70 pounds, 13 shillings & 5 pence. [45] 

The William Hutchings may have been from Hertford County.  There was a William Hutchings living there in the early 1800s.  He may also have been the grandfather of the orphans.  

John Fly Senr Signature

sampson   5.  Elisha Fly 4 (John 3, Jeremiah 2, William 1)

He was born before 1746 and died some time before 1800 in Northampton Co., North Carolina. He appeared in the records of Isle of Wight County, Virginia beginning in 1767.  Elisha and his wife, Peggy Allman Fly, probably moved to Northampton with his brother, John Fly, but he never purchased any land. Although he provided service in the American Revolution from N.C., he first appears in Northampton Co. on the 1780 Tax list.[46] Elisha may have rented farmland or had another occupation unidentified to date.

In 1785, he was required to appear in court:

Sept. 1785  State of North Carolina, Northampton Co. September Session 1785.  The jurors for the State on their oaths present that Elisha Fly of the said county did with force and arms maliciously and wickedly on or about the fourteenth day of August in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred & eighty five, cut, deface, & destroy about eleven boxes made in pine trees in order to collect Turpentine belonging to John Parker of the said county which was to the great damage of the said Parker & against the peace & dignity of the State. [47]

Elisha had to provide assurance that he would appear in court, but the conclusion of the case is not known:

Sept. 30, 1785. Appearance bond in the amount of 100 pounds signed by Elisha Fly and Drury Strickling (his X mark) to guarantee Elisha Fly's appearance in court on the matter of the collection boxes.  Wit: Henry ---ad.  Signed: Elisha Fly, Drury (his X mark) Stricklin [48]

The dispute with John Parker seems to have been quite serious and it would be interesting to know what provoked Elisha to such an act.

Elisha's household composition in the 1786 State Census was 1 male between 21 and 60, 3 males under 21 and over 60 and 5 females.[49]   In the 1790 Census, his household was 4 males over16, 2 males under 16, and 4 females.[50] 

The date of his death is not known, but it was probably after 1792 when his son, Aaron Allman Fly, was born and before1800 when he was gone from the Census. He apparently died without leaving a will or estate papers.  

Margaret “Peggy” Fly appears first in the Federal Census of 1800 as a head of household.  For her to be a head of household, she must have been a widow.  This household was composed of 1 male under 10, 1 male 16-21, 1 female 26-45, and 1 female over 45. [51]

On March 1, of 1802, Peggy signed an unusual deed.  It is a deed of gift to her sons, John Fly and Aaron Fly.  John may have just come of age having been born about 1781.  Aaron was born in 1792 according to the 1850 Census. [52]

To all people whom these presents shall come. Greetings. Know ye that I the said Peggy Fly as well for & in consideration of the natural affection & motherly love which I do bear unto my well beloved children  Vizt. John Fly and Aron Fly as also for divers other good causes & considerations me at this present Especially moving have given & granted & by these presents do give grant & confirm unto the said John Fly & Aron Fly all and singular my goods, chattles, Debts, Ready money, plate, Towels, Rings, Household stuff & apparel, ---sets, Brass, Puter, Bedding. Moveable, quick & dead of what kind & nature quality whatsoever Moveable & Immoveable Quick & Dead of what Kind & nature Qualitity (Sic) of what or condition soever the same are to be or may be found as well in my own custody or possession, hand, power & custody of any other person or persons whatsoever to have and to hold all and singular the said good, chattle, debts (crossed through), Goods, debts & releases & other the aforesaid premises unto the said John Fly & Aron Fly their Exrs. Adms. or Assigns to their own uses & quietly to keep the same in possession without any matter of challenge Claim or demand of me the said Peggy Fly or any other person or persons whatever in my name.  Know ye that I the said Peggy Fly have put my sons John Fly and Aron Fly in quiet possession of the aforesaid premises by the Delivery of the same have hereunto set my hand & seal this 1st. March 1802.  Witness: Joseph Sikes 

Signed: Peggy Fly 

Northampton County 1st. March Court 1802.  This deed of gift was proved by the oath of Joseph Sikes & ordered to be recorded. Teste: R.W. Freer DCl. [53]

There was no mention of any dower right in land.  By this time in North Carolina, a widow did not have a dower right in the personal property of her deceased husband, but only in the land.  It seems that Peggy's deceased husband owned no land and therefore she had none to claim or to pass on to her sons.

John Allman Fly probably came of age about 1802 and that was the reason for the deed.  Circumstantial evidence points to a Milly Wells as a possible daughter of Elisha and Peggy.  John Allman Fly was guardian to an Anderson Wells in the 1820s. An earlier court petition was filed by Milly Wells as “next friend”[54] to Nanny and Francis H. Wells.  

Peggy herself was most likely the daughter of Aaron Alman (Almond, Allman, etc.) of Nancemond Co., Virginia and his first wife, Susanna Frith.  She was also the granddaughter of James Allman of Isle of Wight County, Virginia.[55]  James Allman of Isle of Wight County, Virginia wrote his will in 1757 and it was probated in 1757:

April 6, 1757.  Will of James Almand.  Leg. Son Moses: son Lewis: son Aaron, land in Nansemond County; granddaughter Mary Fleming; grandson James Fossith: grandson Perrin Almand; grandson Thomas Almand; Granddaughter Peggy Almand; daughter Sofia Rand; Daughter Millison Fleming; wife.  Exs.,sons, Moses, Lewis and Aaron Almand. Prob.-Dec. 2, 1757

Margaret was not Cherokee!  In fact, she had no Native American ancestry at all.

jesse   6.  Jesse Fly 4 (John 3, Jeremiah 2, William 1)

Jesse Fly was born before 1752 and died after 1773, but just when this happened is not known.  Jesse actually does not appear in any Northampton Co. court documents and he is mentioned here because, according to some members of one branch of the family, a Jesse Fly born 1789 in Northampton Co., N.C.[56]  This Jesse is said by some to be the son of a Jesse, Sr. and was an orphan.  The younger Jesse appears in association with John Dixon Fly in various court records in Tennessee.  Jesse is not, apparently, a son of John Dixon, but his tombstone has the 1789 date on it and indicates that he was born in N.C.  No documents in North Carolina prove that Jesse Fly of Virginia was the father of Jesse Fly of Tennessee.  Jesse Fly, the younger, is described later.

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Other Fly People mentioned in North Carolina:

A Charles Fly fought in the American Revolution from North Carolina and the only documentary evidence of his existence is associated with that.  He was in the Continental Line and in order to receive a land grant, he must have fought for 84 months.[57]  He died about 1785 and his bounty land in Tennessee reverted eventually to the University of North Carolina because he had no heirs. If he was related to the Northampton County family, they would have had a claim to his bounty land.  No such claim was made. There is actually no proof that he was ever in Northampton Co. and he may be from the Samuel Fley family that settled in South Carolina in the early 1700s.

There is no evidence to connect the above Northampton County individuals to any branch of the family in Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Georgia or Maine.  Records in those states would have to be searched carefully in order to prove any connection.

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crocket   John Fly Descendant Tree

1.   Celia Fly (bef.1735 - 1791)
2.   Jeremiah Fly
(bef.1738 - aft.1759)
3.   William Fly
(bef.1741 - ca.1794)
                m. Mary _______?

                        3a.  Elisha Fly, Jr.
(1769 - 1840)
                        3b.  Rev. John Fly
(1772 - 1855)
                        3c.  Jeremiah Fly
(1774 - 1846)
4.   John Fly
(bef.1741 - 1804)
                m. Susannah Johnson? (1747 - 1795)
                        4a.  John Dixon Fly (ca.1765 - 1813)
                        4b.  Millicent Fly
(1772 - aft.1830)
                        4c.  Emelius Fly
(1772 - 1831)
                        4d.  Rebekah
Fly (1775 - aft.1835)
                        4e.  Enos Fly
(1776 - 1855)
                        4f.   Enoch Fly
(1776 - 1864)
                        4g.   Susannah Driver Fly
(1794 - aft.1870)
                m. Mary Hutchings?

                        4h.   Martha Roberts Fly
(1796 - ?)
                        4i.    William H.
Fly (1797 - 1833)
                        4j.    Elizabeth G. Fly
(1803 - 1824)
5.  Elisha Fly
(bef.1746 - aft.1790)
                m.  Margaret (Peggy) Allman,  1755

                        5a.  John Allman
Fly (1782 - 1858)
                        5b.  Aaron Allman Fly (1792 - aft.1860)
                        5c.  Millicent Fly
(1784 - 1826)
6.  Jesse Fly
(bef.1752 - ca.1789)
                m. _______?
                        6a.  Jesse Fly
(1789 - 1872)

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[1] Undated letter of Rev. Norman J. Flythe to Faith G. Flythe, with photocopy

[2] Northampton County, North Carolina Deed Book # 2, p. 53

[3] Northampton County, NC Deed Book # 2, p. 49

[4] Northampton County, NC Deed Book # 2, p. 54

[5] Northampton County, NC Deed Book # 5, p. 392

[6] Northampton County, NC Minutes and Accounts, Wardens of the Poor 1772-1814, Vol. I, unpaged

[7] Ibid

[8] Northampton County, NC Deed Book # 5, p. 344

[9] Dr. Stephen J. Bradley, Jr. The Deeds of Northampton County North Carolina 1759-1774 (Keysville, Va.: Dr. S.J. Bradley, Jr., 1990), p. 6

[10] American Indians were to be placed in the column entitled “Number of all other free persons” in the Census of 1790.

[11] Letter, Norman J Flythe to Faith G. Flythe, ca. 1987

[12] Letter, Norman J. Flythe to Faith G. Flythe, ca. 1988 photocopies from "Revolutionary Pay Vouchers" (Raleigh, N.C.: N.C. Archives, nd) 

[13] Hofman, Margaret M. An Intermediate Short, Short Course in the Use of Some North Carolina Records in Genealogical Research (Rocky Mount,N.C. Margaret M. Hofman, 1990),38

[14] Letter, Norman J. Flythe to Faith G. Flythe, ca. 1988 photocopies of bonds and petitions.

[15] Mrs. Alvaretta Kenan Register State Census of North Carolina 1784-1787 (Baltimore, Md.: Genealocical Publishing Co., 1983) p. 113

[16] Fly Households, First Census of the United States: Heads of Families- North Carolina, Halifax District, Northampton County, pg. 75

[17] Northampton County, NC Deed Book # 10, p. 219

[18] Fly Households, First Census ….. pg. 75

[19] Northampton Co., N.C. Deed Book #10, 246

[20] Davidson County, Tennessee Deed Book Vol. D, 111

[21] Fly Households First Census of the United States: Heads of Families- North Carolina, Edenton District Hertford Co. pg. 25

[22] Letter, from Norman Flythe to Faith G. Flythe ca. 1987

[23] Letter from Ralph Hill  (New York) to Faith G. Flythe ca. 1989 Photo of Tombstone taken by Ralph Hill (descendant of Spencer Hill) circa 1985.

[24] Northampton County Deed Book #10, p. 243

[25] Davidson County, Tennessee Deed Book # E, p. 204

[26] David B. Gammon, Records of Estates Northampton County, North Carolina Volume II Estates Found in Court Records 1792-1816 (Raleigh, N.C.; David B. Gammon, 1988), 96

[27] Northampton Co., N.C. Deed Book #10,  216

[28] Letter, from Ralph Hill to Faith G. Flythe , ca. 1985 photocopy of bond.

[29] Photocopy of indenture sent to Faith G. Flythe by Rev. Norman J. Flythe 1988

[30] NC Archives, photocopy in Letter of Rev. Norman J. Flythe 1988 to Faith G. Flythe

[31] Ibid

[32] Register, State Census….,  113

[33] Fly Households First Census….., 75

[34] Hofman, Margaret M., Northampton County North Carolina 1759-1808, Genealogical Abstracts of Wills (Weldon, NC; The Roanoke News Co., 1975), p. 379

[35] Letter, from Norman J. Flythe to Faith G. Flythe ca. 1988, photocopy of summons Northampton County, NC.

[36] Northampton Co., N.C. Deed Book 11, 17

[37] Northampton Co., N.C. Deed Book 10, p. 132

[38] Letter, from Norman Flythe to Faith G. Flythe, ca. 1986

[39] Letter, from Norman Flythe to Faith G. Flythe, ca. 1986

[40] Letter, from Norman Flythe to Faith G. Flythe, ca. 1985 Fly Households, 1800 U.S. Census

[41] Northampton Estates Records, 1785-1929, John Fly- 1804,  (Raleigh, N.C.; N.C. Archives, nd.), Sept. 18, 1979[42] Northampton  Co., North Carolina Loose Estate Papers, John Fly 1804-1808 or 1818

[43] ibid, np.

[44] Northampton  Co., NC Loose Estate Papers, John Fly 1804-1808 or 1818

[45] Ibid

[46]  Letter, from Norman Flythe to Faith G. Flythe ca. 1987

[47]  ibid., photocopy of summons

[48] Letter of Norman J. Flythe to Faith G. Flythe, 1987

[49]  Register, State Census…, 113

[50]  Fly Households, First Census…., 75

[51] Letter, from Norman Flythe to Faith G. Flythe ca. 1987. Fly Households, Federal Census 1800…

[52]  Fly Households, 1850 U.S. Census, Eastern District, Stafford County, Virginia., CD309, Disk 6 Family Tree Maker's Family Archives, household #344

[53] Letter, from Norman J. Flythe to Faith G. Flythe, ca. 1987 photocopy from Northampton County, NC Deed Book 11, 203

[54] A next friend was a type of guardian who could act as a plaintiff in court for underage children.

[55] Blanche Adams Chapman, Wills and Administrations of Isle of Wight County, Virginia 1647-1800  (Baltimore, Md.; Genealogical Publishing Co., 1975),  186

[56] E-mail attachment from Walter B. Fly to Faith G. Flythe, 1999 Photo of Tombstone taken by Walter B. Fly

[57] Letter, from Norman Flythe to Faith G. Flythe, ca. 1988 

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