John Edwards, Jr.
of Orange County, NC

John Edwards, Jr., son of John EDWARDS, Sr., & Mary STOKES, was born c.1730's, maybe in Virginia, and died between Dec. 1817 and Feb. 1818 in Orange Co., NC. He married Lucy Cate, possibly a daughter of Thomas CATE, Sr., & Rebecca SYKES. She died after 1817 in Orange Co., NC.

Children of John Edwards, Jr.:

  1. +Young Edwards, Sr., born bet. 1750-1760, Orange Co., NC, or maybe VA; d. Oct. 1843, Ashe Co., NC.
  2. Allen Edwards, b. abt. 1757 in Orange Co., NC; d. 1846-1850, Chatham Co., NC; m. Charity LAUGHLIN, daughter of Hugh LAUGHLIN (b. abt. 1755; d. after 1846).  Allen Edwards is identified as an heir of Hugh LAUGHLIN in a deed dated Oct. 30, 1796. (Orange DB 5:790.)  In a deed dated July 25, 1805, Allen Edwards conveyed 84 acres to Enoch MCPHERSON on south side of Cain Creek adj. Thomas LINDLEY's mill tract, being part of a tract willed by Hugh LAUGHLIN to his daughters Feb. 24, 1765. (Orange DB 12, p.219.)  Listed in the Orange Co., NC, census, 1800, 1810, 1820, 1830, and the Chatham Co., NC, census in 1840.  He is probably the Allen EDWARDS who entered a claim for 400 acres on Collins Creek on Oct. 16, 1779; land grant issued Mar. 11, 1799. (Orange Land Grant No. 1424.)  According to a letter published in the Raleigh Star & North Carolina Gazette, July 8, 1846, page 1, col. 4, Allen EDWARDS was then 89 years old and his wife, Charity, was 91.  Child: Joanna Edwards m. David ANDREWS.
  3. Stokes Edwards, b. abt. 1760, Orange Co., NC; d. 1840-1846, Scott Co., IL; m. (1) unknown; m. (2) Winney, last name unknown.  Listed in the census of Orange Co., NC, 1800-1810; Wilkes Co., NC, in 1820; Grayson Co., VA, in 1830; Scott Co., IL, in 1840.  Winney m. (2nd) Peter HOOTS, May 21, 1846, Scott Co., IL.  Stokes Edwards applied for a Rev. War pension Sept. 30, 1833, in Morgan Co., IL, but his application was denied because no record of his service could be found.  There is a supporting affidavit from Allen Edwards of Orange Co., NC, which states that Stokes Edwards was underage when he enlisted in 1775 or 1776. (NARA Pension File No. R3265.)  The 1817 will of John Edwards names 7 children of Stokes Edwards by his first wife: Richard, Isaac, Allen, John, Nancy, Lucy, and Cathery.  Stokes also had a son, Wesley Edwards (b. abt. 1820), with 2nd wife Winney.
  4. John Edwards, III, b. abt. 1762, Orange Co., NC; d. 1855, Lawrence Co., IN; m. Mary BURTON.  Listed in the census of Orange Co., NC, 1800 and 1810; Ashe Co., NC, in 1820; Lawrence Co., IN, in 1830, 1840, and 1850.  Had a large family; the 1820 census shows 14 children in his household.  Children: Elizabeth (1802) m. John DOWNS; Sarah (1805) m. Henry MILLER; John Edwards (1807); William Edwards (1809) m. Elvira JENKINS; Nancy (1811) m. Nathan FARMER; Charles Edwards (1815); Mary (1817) m. Burford DAVIS; Young Edwards (1818) m. (1) Mary, (2) Catherine BRINEY; Henry Edwards (1819) m. Caroline WHEAT; Frances (1821) m. William BOHANNON.
  5. Rhoda Edwards, b. abt. 1774, Orange Co., NC; d. 1850-1860, Maury Co., TN; m. William Wilson BALL, son of James BALL, Sr., & Mary WILSON (d. Sept. 5, 1831, Maury Co., TN).  Children: James Ball (c.1794) m. Catherine COMER; John Ball (c.1794); Tandy Ball (c.1798) m. Margaret CRAIG; Young Ball (c.1800) m. Margaret SPRINKLES; Johnson Ball (c.1803) m. (1) Sarah PICKARD, (2) Eliza RHODES; Elizabeth Ball (c.1804) m. Micajah SPRINKLES; Ensley Ball (c.1805) m. Mary SPRINKLES.
  6. Elizabeth "Betsy" Edwards, b. c.1780's, Orange Co., NC; m. Phillip SIMPSON, Aug. 26, 1812, Orange Co., NC.


John Edwards, Jr., was probably the oldest son of John Edwards, Sr., of Orange County, NC.  There is a lot of conflicting information about him.  He was most likely born in the 1730's, based on the age of his son Young Edwards, who was born in the 1750's.  John Edwards, Jr., received 160 acres from John Edwards, Sr., (presumably his father) in 1764.  His name appears on an Orange County tax list in 1766, and he served in the Orange County militia in 1767.

According to some sources, John Edwards, Jr., married up to four times.  His only verified wife, however, is to Lucy, who is named in his 1817 will.  The will also names "brother Barny CATE" (sometimes transcribed as "Barry Cate") as one of the executors.  (Orange Co., NC, Will Book D, p.520.)  This suggests that John's wife Lucy was Barny Cate's sister.  "Barny" was probably a nickname for Barnard CATE, who is found in various records in Orange County and died testate in 1826 (Orange WB E:134).  He is supposed to be a son of Thomas CATE, Sr., and Rebecca SYKES, who arrived in Orange County from Prince George Co., VA, in the early 1750's and settled on Cane Creek.  Thomas Cate, Sr., had three brothers who also came to Orange County, and it can be challenging to decipher all the connections among their large extended family.  In later generations this surname is often spelled with an "s" (Cates) instead of Cate.

Thomas Cate, Sr.'s brother Capt. Robert Cate seems to have been the first member of the family to settle in North Carolina, receiving a grant on New Hope Creek in 1750 when Orange County was still part of Bladen County.  In 1760 Robert Cate obtained a grant on Collins Creek.  (View map.)  Thomas Cate, Sr., was in Orange County by Aug. 5, 1754, when he was appointed overseer of a road from "Camp Branch to the Western Path in Robert CATE's Dist."  (Orange Co., NC, Court of Pleas & Quarter Sessions.)  The Edwards family arrived in Orange County no later than Aug. 13, 1757, when we find John EDWARDS and Thomas CATE listed as the "chain carriers" in a survey of land for John STROUD on Collins Creek and Cane Creek.  Being a chain carrier was a young man's job, so this may refer to John Edwards, Jr., and Thomas Cate, Jr. (also known as Thomas "the Preacher" Cate), who would have been in their early 20's in 1757 and in fine shape to drag a surveying chain through the woods and fields.

The Edwards and Cate children were part of the same generation and it is certainly quite plausible that John Edwards, Jr., married one of Thomas Cate, Sr.'s daughters.  If nothing else, they were close neighbors.  For example, Thomas Cate, Sr.'s son Thomas Cate "the Preacher" (one of the founders of the Cane Creek Baptist Church) later received a land grant adjoining the Edwards land on Collins Creek.  (Land grant to Thomas Cate dated May 29, 1799, 50 acres on Collins Creek adj. John EDWARDS and others.  Orange Deeds Vol. 10, p.69.)

If Lucy Cate was a daughter of Thomas Cate, Sr., she could have been born any time between 1730 and 1750.  However, if she married John Edwards in the mid-1750's, we can narrow this to around 1735-1740 at the latest.  In my opinion, it's likely that Lucy was John Edwards's only wife and the mother of all his children—despite conflicting information in LDS records and other published family trees, there is no evidence I'm aware of that John Edwards married anyone other than Lucy!

Some sources claim that John Edwards married Lucy CURTIS in Northumberland Co., VA, on Nov. 30, 1802, but I believe this is an error.  Orange County, NC, is a very long way from Northumberland Co., VA.  Some long-ago researcher, probably unfamiliar with the local geography, went too far afield to locate a suitable marriage record.  There is no evidence that the John Edwards in Northumberland Co., VA, was related in any way to the Edwards family of Orange County, NC.

Many sources also include unverified marriages to Sarah PITMAN, unknown ALLEN and unknown STOKES.  The idea that John Edwards married women named Allen and Stokes appears to be based on the names of his sons, Allen Edwards and Stokes Edwards.  Although naming a son after his mother's family was a common practice, people also used other family surnames, such as names of grandparents or even great-grandparents.  Namesakes could also be friends, neighbors, or prominent men in the community.  For example, many men in Orange County, NC, were named "Ruffin" after Thomas Ruffin, who was a famous judge and politician in Hillsborough.  In western North Carolina, many men were named "Henderson" after an explorer named Richard Henderson.  Some researchers mistakenly assume that any unusual first name must be the mother's maiden name.  Although naming patterns can be an important clue, an unusual first name by itself is not proof of anything.  In the case of the Edwards family, "Stokes" probably comes from John Jr.'s paternal grandmother Mary STOKES, and "Allen" seems to have been a first name used in the Stokes family.

Was John Edwards, Jr., a Revolutionary War soldier?  Another mystery about John Edwards, Jr., concerns his Revolutionary War service.  The DAR accepts John Edwards, Jr., as a Revolutionary War ancestor.  However, the evidence of John Edwards' military service is somewhat confusing.  Most sources indicate that he served in the Revolutionary War with his sons John Edwards III and Stokes Edwards.  Unfortunately, there many different men named John Edwards in North Carolina during the Revolutionary War era.  Which one is "our" John Edwards?

Some clues come from a pension application which Stokes Edwards filed in 1833 in Morgan County, Illinois.  Stokes testified that he enlisted in the army during the summer of 1775 or 1776 in Hillsborough, NC, while a resident of Orange County, NC, and served in Lytle's Company of the 10th NC Regiment under Lt. Matthew McCauley, Capt. Wilson and Col. Shepherd.  [Note, Lt. Matthew McCauley was from Orange County, NC, and lived near the Edwards family on Morgan Creek.  Lytle's Company of the 10th NC Regiment drew men from Orange and surrounding counties.]  In support of his pension application, Stokes submitted affidavits from Allen Edwards and Henry Edwards in Orange County, NC.  Nevertheless, his application was rejected because he could not be found in any North Carolina military records.  (NARA Pension File No. R3265.)

The names John Edwards and John Edwards, Jr., (but not Stokes Edwards) do appear on rosters of Lytle's Company.  Therefore, it's certainly plausible that John Edwards, Jr., served in this company with his sons John Edwards (III) and Stokes Edwards.  I would be very interested in hearing from anyone who has any additional documentation concerning the Edwards family's Revolutionary service.

The following table contains information from the National Archives Compiled Service Records of Revolutionary War Soliders and the D.A.R. Roster of Soldiers from North Carolina in the American Revolution (Durham, NC: 1932).  For additional information about NC regiments, see the NC GenWeb webpage North Carolina in the Revolutionary War or

Name Rank Company Record Source
1st Reg't, NC Militia
The 1st NC Regiment of Militia, commanded by Col. Samuel Jarvis, was established in 1780. William Brinkley's Company drew men from Edgecombe, Nash, Halifax and surrounding counties.
EDWARDS, John Pvt. Capt. William Brinkley's Co., commanded by Col. Samuel Jarves On company payroll, not dated. NARA Compiled Service Records
2nd NC Reg't
The 2nd NC Infantry Regiment, commanded by Colonels Alexander Martin & John Patten, was organized during the fall of 1775 at Salisbury, Edenton and New Bern, NC, consisting of 10 companies.
EDWARDS, John Pvt. Capt. Robert Fenner's Co., commanded by Col. John Patten Muster roll, Jan. 1778, Feb. 1778. Remarks: Hospital. NARA Compiled Service Records
EDWARDS, John Pvt. Amstrong's Co., commanded by Col. Alexander Martin Enlisted June 1, 1776, for 3 years; died Feb. 15, 1778. DAR Roster of Soldiers from NC
6th NC Reg't
The 6th NC Infantry Regiment, commanded by Colonels Lillington & Gideon Lamb, was organized during the summer of 1776 in Wilmington, NC, consisting of 8 companies from Wilmington and Hillsborough Districts.
EDWARDS, John Corpl. Childs' Co., commanded by Col. Gideon Lamb Enlisted 1777, omitted Feb. 1778 DAR Roster of Soldiers from NC
10th NC Reg't
Col. Abraham Shepard
The 10th NC Regiment a.k.a. Sheppard's Additional Continental Regiment was organized in spring and summer 1777 at Kinston, Lenoir Co., NC.  Lytle's Company included many men from Orange Co., NC.
EDWARDS, John - Lytle's Company Enlisted Apr. 12, 1778, for 12 months, destd July 1781, mustered Jan., left svc. Apr. 12, 1782. DAR Roster of Soldiers from NC
EDWARDS, John Jr. Pvt. Lytle's Company Mustered Jan. 1782 DAR Roster of Soldiers from NC; NARA Compiled Service Records
EDWARDS, John Pvt. Sharp's Company Enlisted 1781 for 18 months, destd Apr. 30, 1783. DAR Roster of Soldiers from NC
EDWARDS, John - Jones' Company Enlisted Oct. 1781 for 12 months, time out Oct. 1, 1782. DAR Roster of Soldiers from NC
Capt. Turner Bynum was actually from Brunswick Co., VA, but commanded a militia company for a few months in 1781 in Northampton Co., NC.
EDWARDS, John Pvt. Bynum's Company of Militia Muster roll Apr. 7, 1781 NARA Compiled Service Records

After the War.  John Edwards and Stokes Edwards may have gone for a time to Laurens Dist., SC, where their names appear in the 1790 census.  Some sources state that John Edwards acquired land in Georgia and is listed there as a Revolutionary War veteran, but verification is needed.  "John Edwards" is a very common name, and I do not know if there is any evidence that John Edwards of Orange Co., NC, lived in Georgia.

In any event, John Edwards was back in Orange County by 1800.  He died sometime between December 1817 when he wrote his will, and February 1818 when his will was proved in court.  The will names his wife Lucy, sons Young, Allen, Stokes, John, daughters Elizabeth and Roda BALL; children of Stokes by his first wife, to wit, Richard, Isaac, Allen, John, Nancy, Lucy, and Cathery; and great-grandchildren Rhoda, William, and Mary RICKETTS, children of Richard RICKETTS and Rebecca.   Young Edwards to receive 60 acres in Ashe County on Dead Creek.  Execs: Allen EDWARDS, "brother Barny CATE," Reuben SMITH.  Wits: Elijah GRAVES, Ariana GRAVES.  (Orange Co., NC, Will Book D, p.520.)

Note that John identifies himself as John Edwards SENIOR in his will. According to the custom of the time, he became John Edwards, Sr., after the death of his father, because he was then the oldest John Edwards in the family.  During the 19th century, "Sr." and "Jr." were used as descriptive nicknames, not as a formal or permanent part of a person's name.  Confusion about the use of Sr. and Jr. has caused many researchers to mistakenly "merge" data on John Edwards (who died 1818) and his father John Edwards (who died 1801).

Other Records:

Aug. 13, 1757. Orange Co., NC. John EDWARDS and Thomas CATE were chain carriers for John STROUD, Jr., 522 acres on Collins Creek, Cane Creek, and Watery Fork, adj. William MEBANE. (NC Archives, State Records Collection, "Land Entries, Warrants, and Plats of Survey," Folder No.  [Note: this might be John Edwards, Jr., or his father John Edwards Sr., but "chain carriers" were often young men so I would guess this was John Jr.]

May 15, 1764. Orange Co., NC. John EDWARDS, Sr., deeded 160 acres to John EDWARDS, Jr.  (Source: Eve B. Weeks, Orange County, North Carolina, Register of Deeds, 1725-1768 and 1793 (Danielsville, GA: Heritage Papers, 1983).)

1766 Tax List, Orange Co., NC: JOHN EDWARDS, JR.

Sept. 26, 1768, Orange Co., NC. John EDWARDS, Jun., served on a jury. (Minutes of the Hillsborough Dist. Superior Court, Colonial Records of NC, Vol. 7, p.843.)

1779 Tax List, Orange Co. NC: JOHN EDWARDS, JR.

Oct. 23, 1779. John EDWARDS, Junr., entered a claim for 400 acres in Orange Co., NC, on the waters of the Haw River. The land grant issued on May 18, 1789. (Orange Co., NC, Land Grant No. 944.)

Feb. 1785. John EDWARDS, Jr., appointed guardian of Richard, Elizabeth, Mary, Edward, and Sarah EDWARDS, the orphans of Richard EDWARDS.

June 14, 1785. John EDWARDS deeded a slave to "friend Margaret EDWARDS at her death to her son Henry EDWARDS." Wits: John DURRAM [DURHAM], Sarah DURRAM. (Orange Co., NC, Will Book A, p.367.) Note this could be either John Sr. or John Jr.

Aug. 10, 1785. John EDWARDS, Jr., entered a claim for 100 acres of land in Orange Co., NC, beside Crow's & Woody's Ferry Roads. The land grant issued on July 16, 1795. (Orange Co., NC, Land Grant No. 1156.)

Nov. 1785. Jno. EDWARDS, Jr., appointed guardian of James EDWARDS and Henry EDWARDS, orphans of Edward EDWARDS.

1790 Census, Laurens Dist., SC:
• John EDWARDS (p.438), 3 w/m >16, no w/m <16, 4 w/f, 1 slave
• Stokes EDWARDS (p.435), 1 w/m <16, 3 w/m >16, 4 w/f, no slaves

1790 Tax List, Orange Co., NC, Caswell Dist.: JOHN EDWARDS, 2 white polls, 1 black poll, 1320 acres. [This was probably John Edwards, Jr., as there is a separate listing for his father John Edwards, Sr.]

April 2, 1796. John Edwards is named in his father's will. (Orange Co., NC, Will Book D, p.56.)

1800 Census, Orange Co., NC: 3 individuals named John EDWARDS are listed:
• John EDWARDS, 1 white male under 10, 1 w/m 10-15, 1 w/m 45+, 1 w/f 45+
• John EDWARDS, 1 w/m under 10, 1 w/m 16-25, 1 w/m 45+, 1 w/f 10-15, 1 w/f 16-25, 1 w/f 26-45
• John EDWARDS, 1 w/m 16-25, 1 w/f 16-25

May 1, 1804. Orange Co., NC. John EDWARDS to Thomas EDWARDS, 50 acres on Ellibee's Creek adj. John HALL, for £50. Signed: John (X) EDWARDS. Wits: Elihu GREEN, William EDWARDS. (Orange DB 11, p.340.)

Aug. 6, 1805. Orange Co., NC. John EDWARDS, Sr., to John EDWARDS, Jr., & John SHEPPERD, 160 acres on Ellibe's Creek adj. John HALL, John CABE, Charles STRAYHORN, & Benjamin RHODES, for £33.12.6. This deed will be void if John EDWARDS, Sr., pays the above amount by Dec. 25, 1805. Signed: John (X) EDWARDS, Sr. Wits: Mann PATTERSON, Robert SEAY. Proved Feb. term, 1806. (Orange DB 12, p.90.)

Dec. 9, 1805. Orange Co., NC. John CABE to John EDWARDS, 200 acres on a branch called Marcom's Branch & corner of Charles STRAYHORN's land, for £100. Signed: John CABE. Wits: William DENNIS, Nancy CABE. (Orange DB 12, p.147.)  Same date, John EDWARDS conveyed to John CABE, for £82, a tract of 241 acres adj. William CABE, a dividing line between Thomas & Joseph GUINN, & David COZORT. Signed: John EDWARDS. Wits: William DENNIS, Nancy CABE. (Orange DB 12, p.285.)

May 27, 1806. Orange Co., NC. John EDWARDS to John SHEPPERD, for £33.12.6, his right and claim to a tract of land containing 160 acres that John EDWARDS, Sr., conveyed to John SHEPPERD & John EDWARDS, Jr., where John EDWARDS, Sr., then lived. Signed: John EDWARDS. Wits: Thomas DOSSET, John HUDGINS, James LATTA. (Orange DB 12, p.197.)

1810 Census, Orange Co., NC: 2 individuals named John EDWARDS are listed:
• p.114: Jno. EDWARDS, 1 w/m 45+, 1 w/f 45+
• p.166: Jno. EDWARDS, 1 w/m <10, 1 w/m 26-45, 3 w/f <10, 1 w/f 16-25

May 17, 1817. Orange Co., NC. John EDWARDS, Sr., applied for a land grant 27.75 acres on Collins Creek. The grant was issued Dec. 22, 1819, probably to his heirs (since he died bef. Feb. 1818). (Orange Co., NC, Land Grant No. 1949.)  [Note: John Edwards Jr. is now known as John Edwards Sr. because his father was dead.]

Will of John Edwards, Sr.

Dated Dec. 1, 1817, Proved Feb. 1818
Orange Co., NC, Will Book D, p.520

In the name of my Heavenly Father, I, JOHN EDWARDS, SR., being weak in body, but of sound memory, do constitute this my last will and testament in manner and form following, to wit.

In the first place, it is my will and desire that all my just debts should be paid out of the debts due me, and the remainder out of such perishable property as my wife and Executors may judge can best be spared.

The balance of my estate I lend to my beloved wife LUCY EDWARDS, during her widowhood or natural life, except I give and bequeath unto my son YOUNG EDWARDS, at my death, sixty acres of land lying in Ash County, and all my mill utensils that are on that tract of land on Dead Creek.  And at my wife's death I wish the whole of my landed personal and perishable estate to be sold at public sale to the highest bidder, and after all necessary expenses and debts paid, the balance to be divided in the following matter.

Item, I give to my son YOUNG EDWARDS one sixth part of my estate, extra of the sixty acres.

Item, I give and bequeath to my son ALLEN EDWARDS, on sixth of this my estate.

Item, I give and bequeath to all and each of my son STOKES EDWARDS' lawful children by his first wife, to wit: to RICHARD, ISAAC, and ALLEN, thirty dollars each; to JOHN, one hundred dollars; to NANCY, SARAH, LUCY, and CATHERY, twenty-five dollars each.

Item, also I give to my great grandchildren RHODA, WILLIAM, and MARY, children of RICHARD RICKETTS and REBECCA, his wife, ten dollars each.

Item, I give and bequeath to my son STOKES EDWARDS, the balance of one sixth part of my estate after these legacies to his children and grandchildren, shall be taken out of the sixth part that would otherwise have fallen to him.

Item, I give and bequeath to my son JOHN EDWARDS, five hundred dollars, and extra of this the sixth part of my estate.

Item, I give and bequeath to my daughter ELIZABETH and her lawful children eight hundred dollars to be paid by my Executors in eight annual payments.

Item, I give and bequeath to my daughter RODA BALL one sixth part of my estate.

And finally, I appoint my dear and well beloved wife LUCY EDWARDS Executrix, and my son ALLEN EDWARDS, brother BARNEY CATE, and my friend REUBEN SMITH, Executors to this my last will and testament. In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 1st day of December 1817.



Will was proven in open court at the February term of 1818, and ordered to be recorded.