Zachariah Petty is still something of a mystery. Definitive dates are very elusive. I can only estimate on some of the details of his life because I have not been able to find records that state information directly.
Connecting Zachariah to his Father
One of the best records to connect Zachariah Petty to his father, William Petty, is William’s will. William names his children in his will, which was proved in Kentucky in 1805. (See the original will.)
“Further I will that my Executors pay my Daughter Rhoda Cast Six Pounds in Property the rest of my Children Each Elizabeth Dodson Rachel Russel Hannah Ward Zachariah Petty William Petty Randdell Petty John Petty James Petty Sarah Steves Lias Petty one shilling Sterling and no more…”
Before moving to Kentucky, William lived in Surry and Wilkes Counties in North Carolina. The 1790 census taken in Surry County, North Carolina listed three of the names mentioned in the will, William Petty, Ranndall Petty, and Zachariah Petty. There was also a Wm [William] Petty listed in the Wilkes County, North Carolina census record.
Four years after the census, Zachariah bought land from his father on 5 April 1794 in Surry County, Virginia. William was living in Wilkes County at the time of the deed.
DB G, p 273 5 Apr 1794 WILLIAM PETTY of Wilkes Co, NC, to ZACHARY PETTY of Surry Co, NC. 60 pounds specie 309 acres on waters of North Hunting Creek adjoining Arnold. Wm Elliott; Thomas Wright; (wits) William Petty (seal) Proved in Surry Co Court Nov term 1797 by Thomas Wright & ordered to be registered. Test Jo Williams C C.
To figure out when the family arrived in North Carolina I found the earlier land grant records for William. William was originally granted the land in Surry County in 1778 and 1779 and at least part of his family had probably been living there for a while. One of the grants mentions “improvements.”
“No. 196. William Petty enters four hundred acres in Surry County lying on the waters of Hunting Creek adjoining the lines of Isaac Elsbery & Samuel Arnold including my Improvement whereon I now live for complement. June 18th 1778”
Zachariah’s Birth Date
To estimate the time and location of Zachariah’s birth, I looked at his brother. Zachariah’s brother, William, was a soldier in the Revolutionary War. In his application for a pension, he states that he was born on 13 March 1764 in either Fauquier or Stafford county in Virginia. He was drafted into the army when he was 16 and marched from Surry County, North Carolina. So Zachariah was probably born around the same time and location. So far, I have not seen anything that says whether Zachariah was older or younger than William or anything more specific than Virginia as the location of his birth.
Going back to the 1790 census, Zachariah had the following listing:
- 1 male under 16 years old – (William 3)
- 1 male over 16 years old – (Zachariah about 29)
- 5 females – (Lucinda 8, Letitia 5, Nancy ?, Elizabeth about 3, [wife] Nancy 25)
- 7 persons total
To estimate his birth date range, if his oldest child was about 8 in 1790, then he was probably married about 1781. If he was about 20 years old when he was married, that would make his birth date around 1761, which is about 3 years before William was born in 1764. (Please note that these are all estimates.) I am still looking for records in Virginia that mention William’s children. But with the estimates, I have an idea of where and when to look.
This is the timeline that I used to work out Zachariah’s early life.
Kentucky Probate Records, 1727-1990, database with images. FamilySearch.org (https://familysearch.org). Clark County, Kentucky courthouse, film 183,147, William Petty probate, Vol. 2, p. 41-45.
U.S. federal census. Year: 1790; Location: Surry County, North Carolina; p. 518.
U.S. federal census. Year: 1790; Location: Wilkes County, North Carolina; p. 164.
Carol Leonard Snow, Surry County, North Carolina Deed Abstracts Volumes G & H, 1795-1800 (Toast, North Carolina: C & L Historical Publications, 1995), p. 51.
North Carolina Land Entries, 1778-1795, database with images. FamilySearch.org (https://familysearch.org). County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, Surry County, film 19,957, Item 1.
Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files. Fold3.com (http://www.fold3.com). NARA M804, Group 15, roll 1921. Pension No. 17016, William Petty.