Benjamin Hadley, son of Thomas and Mary Thompson Hadley, was reportedly born
in 1760 in what is now Fayetteville, North Carolina. Ben was the last of this branch
of the Hadley's to be raised in the Quaker religion. Ben's father and brothers
owned slaves and were active in the American Revolution. Those that had not
already left the Society of Friends were asked to do so.
The details of Ben's life are largely unknown and other writers of Hadley
history have presented conflicting tales. The earliest recorded evidence of
Ben's life was on April 25, 1780 when he served as a witness to a land purchase
by his brother, Joshua.1
During the Revolutionary War, after the Tories shot his father, Ben was taken
to an isolated island in the
Cape Fear River, bound securely, and left to be tortured by insects. He managed
to escape and get back to his home. By this time, the Tories had
defeated the Whigs in North Carolina and the Hadley men were most likely hiding
out and regrouping in the swamps. Ben was made the ward of a Mr. Farmer, no
doubt to protect him from further harassment. This is evidence that Ben was
born later than 1760. His brother Simon stated that his mother told him that he
was born in 1760, so it is unlikely they were both born in the same year.
On July 25, 1782 Ben's brothers, John and Thomas, were named executors of
Thomas Sr.'s estate.2 The estate was not settled until 1791,
when things had
finally calmed down. (The Tory wars continued long after the official end of the
Revolutionary war.) On January 18, 1791 the estate papers of Thomas Hadley
were processed and his
personal property was divided amongst his children. The original documents are
still preserved in the North Carolina Archives. Ben's signature and those of
all his brothers and sister, Jane, are clear and legible. Ben received two
slaves, a mother and son, named Amy and Charlie.
When Ben was between the ages of eighteen to twenty-one, it is believed that he
moved to Burke County, Georgia,
possibly to escape further persecution by the Tories. His brothers, Simon and
John, were involved in land transactions in Fayetteville in 1783,3 but Ben
doesn't appear in any records in North Carolina until December 13, 1788.
On this date he purchased 150 acres in the swamps of Locks Creek from William
Skinner.4 In the deed, Ben's residence is listed as Burke County, Georgia.
His sister, Jane, was a witness.
After his return to North Carolina, probably around 1785, he married Elizabeth
King of North Carolina and they had the following children:
1. Joshua Hadley (ca. 1786-1845) - married Obedience Cranthum.
2. Mary Hadley (ca 1788 - ??) - married James Thompson.
Benjamin was listed in the 1790 census in Fayetteville with his brothers Simon,
Thomas, Jesse and Joshua. All were listed as owning slaves. The census lists
twenty-one Hadleys who were heads of families in North Carolina at that date.5
From Mrs. Phillip W. Bryant, Surveyor General Department, State of Georgia,
"In the index to the headright and bounty grants, I find only that a person
named Benjamin Hadley was granted 250 acres in Burke County in 1793; 100 acres
in Burke County in 1789; and 100 acres in Burke County in 1789. In the 1805
Lottery a Benjamin Hadley, living in Montgomery County at the time, received
two draws, but both were blank and he received no land. A Benjamin Hadley,
living in Burke County, in this lottery also received two blank draws."6
On April 30, 1790 Ben provided some of his slaves to serve in maintaining the
road which serviced his mother's home as well as the home of his brother, John
In the January 1791 term of the Court of Pleas, Ben was chosen to serve as a
juror and a grand juror, his name being recorded in a number of cases heard.8
On October 13, 1795 Ben bought a parcel of land on the north side of the Cape
Fear River from Samuel Manley. One border was adjacent to his brother Thomas'
Along with the estate papers of Thomas Hadley found in the North Carolina
Archives, is an accounting of a trust, formed from Thomas' estate, for the
benefit of Benjamin Hadley. Ben Hadley was the ward of Benjamin Farmer, who
was his guardian. Apparently, Farmer "mishandled" the funds while Ben was
moving between Georgia and North Carolina, because Ben hired an attorney named
William Duffy in 1804 and sued Farmer. The judgment June 15, 1808 was in Ben's
favor and was for over 325 pounds.10
Ben probably lived in comfort on his land in North Carolina from 1795 until
1805 with his wife and two children. In 1805 a pestilence hit Fayetteville and
many people died. The epidemic killed Ben's brother Thomas, and his wife. It
has also been suggested that Ben's wife may have died and also his brother
Simon's wife and children. From records we have found in Georgia, it is now
apparent that Simon and his family survived the sickness, as we have photos of
their graves and records of their lives. Simon
Hadley became a state
representative from newly formed Thomas county, and his formerly unknown
history has now come to light.
In 1805, Ben left North Carolina with his brothers Simon and Jesse and the
surviving remnants of their families. They moved to Montgomery County, Georgia.
It is likely that Ben left his almost fully grown children with his wife's
family in North Carolina.
The records of the 1805 Georgia Land Lottery:
Ambrose Hadley, Warren County - 2 draws
John Hadley, Burke County - 1 draw
Benjamin Hadley, Montgomery County - 2 draws
Simon Hadley, Montgomery County - 2 draws
Benjamin Hadley, Burke County - 2 draws
Thomas Hadley, Montgomery County - 2 draws
Much speculation exists about there being two Ben Hadleys in Georgia in 1805.
There is a probable reason, not mentioned by other Hadley genealogies. It's
possible that there was only one Ben Hadley and he entered twice to improve his
odds for obtaining more land. He still owned land in Burke County, and settled
in Montgomery County with his brothers. Simon Hadley was listed in the 1820
census as a head of household in Montgomery County.11
Ben applied for and was granted a passport through Indian territory and into
the Mississippi territory in November 1806. It is interesting that on this
passport is listed a Frederick Hadley, of whom nothing is known. Sent to
John Hadley by John Dean of Alabama,
reads "Georgia Passports" page 213.
"EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT -
Wednesday 12th November 1806 (246)
On the recommendation of Patrick McGriff, Peter Thomas and H. Fulghum Esqrs.
That passports through the Cherokee nation be prepared for Benjamin and
Frederick Hadley, Thomas Travis, and Joshua Kemp, and through the Creek nation
for Thomas C. Holmes Which were presented and signed (247)"
Ben moved to Montgomery County, Mississippi sometime prior to 1810. There he
supposedly met and married Elizabeth (Bettie) Kenderson (Kennelson, Kinnison).
No marriage record has been found.
Ben and Bettie had the following children:
1. William (1808/11 - ca. 1863) married Sallie Stuart
2. Jane (1810 - ??) - married Elisha Boone
3. Jessie (1812 - 1897) - married 1) Julia Johnson, 2) Phoebe Smith
4. James M. (1813 - 1890) - married Elizabeth/Betty Stuart aka James M. Lindsey
5. Simon (1816/18 - ca. 1904) - married Carolina Stewart
6. Cynthia (ca. 1817 - ??) - married W.M. Isiah Duffle
7. John (1820 - 1907) - married Nellie Johnson
It is not known where the
children were born. Some writings say North Carolina, but this seems unlikely.
An Elizabeth Hadley is listed as head of household in Burke county Georgia in
the 1820 census. There is record of Ben Hadley in Burke county in 1821.
It possible that Ben and Bettie lived in the Mississippi territory from about
1807 until 1813. When hostilities erupted, Ben may have moved Betty
and the young children back to Georgia, where there was the
greater protection of family and friends. After the war, it likely that Ben
traveled to the
Mississippi territory to claim his land in Richland ponds. There is a record of
his early residence in Alabama from 1817.
From the book "Residents of the Southeastern Mississippi Territory" book four
by Strictland, found in the Foley Alabama library, genealogical section :
(this is an exerpt from a U.S. Navy study of the Alabama and Mobile river
systems looking for timber lands)
"Friday April 16th 1819
got under way soon after midnight in a west southwest and south and south
easterly direction the general direction being south westerly. at sunrise down
to a plantation owned by WETHERFORD the half Indian who claims Claiborn. here
we bought two pigs at seventy five cents each very cheap for the size about
thirty mi1es below Claiborne on the left hand side of the river went shore and
tried to get some pigs and fowls but could get none. the lands here is high and
stiff fit soil for wheat or corn or any kind of cultivation though not very rich,
about five miles farther down on the left hand side of the river went on shore
and got some eggs; saw an old negroe woman who told me she was upwards of a
hundred years of age she looked very well. the land on both sides of the river
here is tolerably high but not very rich. lands here still more above their
value than anywhere I have seen lands here sell from thirty to eighty dollars
per acre unimproved. the river here turns south a little easterly about two
miles thence southeasterly about two miles thence southeast three miles thence
west by south about forty miles below Claiborne a handsome sand beach on the
right hand side of the river. a little below which we went on shore at a Mr.
TAITS on the left hand side of the river who has a large Plantation he works
forty negroes and last year he made six thousand bushels of corn and three
hundred bales of cotton this is first quallity land. we stopt but a little
while and got under way again after dinner. the river from this place runs
about northwest. here are the prettiest banks along the river that I have seen.
generally about ten and twelve feet high and the lands very handsome there is
but few singing birds here some red birds and a great many paraguits and a
great number of crows blackbirds and buzzards. the country here abouts is but
thinly settled and but little land in cultivation. after we get down the river
a few miles from Mr. Taits the river turns south southeast. and from that to
southeast and in a few miles farther turns almost west. and after running a
mile or two in this westerly direction turns south where we come to a
Mr. HADLEY's on the left, this old gentleman is from the Oconie River in
Georgia and was originally from North Carolina he has been here a little more
than a year he is not pleased with this country he thinks it is very sickly
and subject to inundations. but said he was induced to move here from the
extravagant accounts he had heard of this country. but as he has only moved
part of his family yet he rather expects to return again to his own country.
Mr. Hadley lives at equal distances from Claiborne and Mobile sixty miles from
each. after we leave Mr. Hadley's the river soon turns nearly west. then south
and in about two miles turns east southeast and about a mile farther turns
south and about a mile farther turns southeast. then west about a mile. and
thence northwest at dark came too close in with the land on the left hand side
of the river along side of a plantation.' page 154 "
It is interesting that this land is exactly where the Hadley family cemetery
lies at Seven Miles Springs,
not Richland Ponds.
From Jane Melton, assistant Librarian, State of Mississippi, Department of
Archives and History, Jackson, Miss.:
"Our reference to the Kennisons, sometimes spelled Kinnison, as given in the
index to 1810 and 1816 census records place these people in Franklin County,
Mississippi at that time. Benjamin Hadley was also listed as being in
Franklin County in 1810."12 It is likely that earlier researchers did not
know about the moving back to Georgia part of Ben's life. It is possible that
Elizabeth Kenderson was from Georgia, or North Carolina. It would add to the
reasons for her return during the War of 1812."
From the Franklin County courthouse records in Meadville, Mississippi;
Hadley, Benjamin from Nicholas Greg Reg Certificate of entry NW 1/4, S 13,
T 7, R 4 March 23, 1816 Book A, p. 217
Hadley, Benjamin to Joshua Hadley
transfer of SW 1/4, S 13, T 7, R 4, July 21, 1817 Book A, p. 218
Benjamin to Joshua Hadley deed of gift to 2 slaves Feb 11, 1817 p. 162 Book
Ben's son Joshua, from his first marriage, was himself married in 1817, so it
is likely that the land and slaves were a wedding present. It would appear that
Ben wasn't sure what he wanted to do, or at least where he wanted to do it. In
1816, he buys land in Franklin county Mississippi. By 1817 he is in Alabama,
while the remainder of his family is in Georgia.
Family legend tells that Ben fought with Andrew Jackson in the Battle of New
Orleans, during the War of 1812. No records have been found to verify this,
however. There is a record of a Joshua Hadley coming from Baldwin county to
the battle of New Orleans. This was likely Ben's son from his first marriage.
Ben was also said to have received a Spanish land grant to 640 acres in
Escambia County, Florida, as a result of his service in the War of 1812. It is
known that Ben did have ownership of 640 acres in Escambia County, Florida,
prior to that area being officially surveyed and laid out once it became a
possession of the United States. This area was later transferred to the new state of
Alabama. Ben's original settlement in Escambia County was part of what was
called Richland Ponds.14
Bettie Kenderson died about 1826. There is some uncertainty as to her death
date, but it is probable she died before Ben, as she isn't mentioned in his
There has been confusion among writers of the history of the Hadleys as to the
date of Ben's death. Fortunately, William Moore Hadley was able to obtain the
original hand-written will of Ben Hadley
and his signature is dated February
17, 1830. It is claimed to be a "death bed" will and was dictated to and
written by Lee Slaughter and witnessed by him and Charles T. McConnico. The
signature of Ben Hadley is shaky but unique and distinguishable.
Ben was buried near his homesite known as Seven Miles Springs. The land is
now fenced and belongs to the Container Company of America. Anyone wishing to
find the burial site would need assistance from the overseer of the property.
There is no clearly defined road to the burial ground, but it is approximately
three miles south of Latham, on the road to Rabun, and one-half mile west, back
toward the Stockton road. Family legend relates that he wanted his faithful
old Negro slave buried at his feet. Although there are approximately twenty
graves in the family burial site, marked with large boulders as headstones and
smaller ones as footstones, there is only one where there is a marker facing
north; all others, as is the custom, face east. Negroes in Alabama at that
time were not buried among whites. It is rare to find such a practice now,
over 150 years later. In this case, however, the writer (William Hadley)
believes the grave facing north is that of the servant at the foot of his
master's grave. Could it have been Charlie, Amy's son, the slave boy he
inherited from his father's estate? Earlier writings have stated that the
fence in the graveyard has the date 1834 on the gate and therefore it houses
Ben Hadley and possibly his wife. This is incorrect. The fence was erected in
1884 by old man John Hadley
and his grandson Thomas.
The gravesite has been recently visited and
photographed and the date is definitely 1884. The fence contains
John Benjamin Hadley
and his stillborn child. Ben's grave and the perpendicular
grave of his servant are outside of the fence, along with about 20 other graves
of Hadley and related family.
Ben left behind a young family of orphan children and Negro slaves. The 1830
Baldwin County, Alabama census shows a listing for a Jesse Hadley as follows:
2 males over 5 and under 19 years of age (William and James); 2 males over 10
and under 15 years of age (Simon and John); 1 male over 15 and under 20 years
of age (Jesse); 1 female over 10 and under 15 years of age (Cynthia); 1 female
over 15 and under 20 years of age (Jane); 1 female over 30 and under 40 years
of age (?); 2 slaves - 1 male and one female.
In Ben's will there were five slaves listed, so it's very possible that three
were sold to help support the family income. The only individual in the 1830
census that doesn't fit is the one female between 30 and 40 years old. If this
was actually the mother, Bettie, no evidence has been found. Family legend has
it that Ben's children were raised by the older children and by the Negro slaves.