Moses "Manassa" Woodruff, Sr.,
& Phebe Marsh

Moses "Manassa" Woodruff, Sr., son of "Deacon" John WOODRUFF & Eleanor DONNINGTON, was born Sept. 12, 1734, in Westfield, Essex Co., NJ, and died Oct. 28, 1817, in Ashe Co., NC. He married (1) Phebe Marsh, abt. 1759, probably in Essex Co., NJ. She was born Dec. 19, 1737, in New Jersey, and died June 19, 1806, in Surry Co., NC. He married (2) Elizabeth Collins, June 29, 1806, in Surry Co., NC. She was born before 1765, and died in 1837. Moses "Manassa" Woodruff is buried at the Manassa Woodruff Cemetery in Glade Valley, Alleghany Co., NC.

Children of Moses "Manassa" Woodruff, Sr., & Phebe Marsh:

  1. Lydia Woodruff, b. Aug. 25, 1760, Westfield, Essex Co., NJ; d. in Rutherford Co., NC; m. Burwelll (Burrell) Pope PACE (b. 1758; d. 1816); bur. Old Mountain Baptist Cemetery, near Saluda, Rutherford Co., NC.
  2. Jennett Woodruff, b. Sept. 6, 1762, Westfield, Essex Co., NJ; d. Sept. 14, 1800, Spartanburg, SC; m. her 1st cousin (once removed), Samuel WOODRUFF, son of Nathaniel WOODRUFF, abt. 1785 (b. Dec. 23, 1763; d. Jan. 8, 1836); bur. Bethel Cemetery, Woodruff, Spartanburg, SC.
  3. +Gideon Woodruff, b. Aug. 6, 1764, Westfield, Essex Co., NJ; d. Oct. 24, 1820, Surry Co., NC; m. Prudence Day PHILLIPS, daughter of Abner & Elizabeth PHILLIPS (b. 1760-1770; d. abt. 1845); bur. Gideon Woodruff Cemetery, Yadkin Co., NC.
  4. +John Allen Woodruff, b. Apr. 28, 1766, Westfield, Essex Co., NJ; d. May 1832, Ashe Co., NC; m. Jane MCBRIDE, daughter of John MCBRIDE, Sr., abt. 1789 (b. abt. 1769; d. aft. 1850).
  5. Hannah Woodruff, b. Mar. 28, 1768, Westfield, Essex Co., NJ; m. William MOORE.
  6. Mary Woodruff, b. Mar. 15, 1770, Westfield, Essex Co., NJ; m. John MCBRIDE, Jr., son of John MCBRIDE, Sr. (b. abt. 1765; d. 1833).  Children: Lydia, Moses, Samuel, Francis, Hannah, Keziah, Sally.
  7. +Moses Woodruff, Jr., b. Jan. 30, 1772, Westfield, Essex Co., NJ; d. May 1803, Surry Co., NC; m. Sarah PHILLIPS, daughter of Abner & Elizabeth PHILLIPS, abt. 1795 (b. abt. 1776; d. abt. 1855).
  8. Elizabeth Woodruff, b. 1773, Surry Co., NC; d. 1777.
  9. Jonathan Woodruff, b. Aug. 26, 1774, Surry Co., NC; d. Aug. 16, 1776.
  10. +Phoebe Woodruff, b. Aug. 22, 1777, Surry Co., NC; d. Mar. 9, 1856, Ashe Co., NC; m. Francis BRYAN, Aug. 9, 1796, Ashe Co., NC (b. June 25, 1770; d. Feb. 10, 1863); bur. Francis Bryan Cemetery, Glade Valley, Alleghany Co., NC.

Notes

The Woodruffs of New Jersey have been studied by genealogists for more than a century.  The most important published works are The Woodruff Chronicles, Vols. 1 & 2, by Ceylon Newton Woodruff (Glendale, CA: Arthur H. Clark Co., 1967, 1971), and The Woodruffs of New Jersey by F.E. Woodruff (NY: Grafton Press, 1909).  The family is descended from John WOODRUFFE (1604-1670) and his wife Ann, who came to Lynn, Massachusetts, from Canterbury, England, in about 1639.  The following year (1640) they joined a group of Puritan settlers who founded the village of Southampton, Long Island.  Later generations of the Woodruff family settled in Elizabethtown and Westfield, Essex County, New Jersey.  For more information, see the website "The Woodruffs of Elizabethtown" by Linda Epstein.

John Woodruff's Gravestone

Deacon John Woodruff
Westfield Pres. Ch., Westfield, NJ
"[Here Lies t]he body of
De[acon] John [Woodruff] who died
[September 24th] A.D. 1768"

Moses "Manassa" Woodruff, Sr. (1734-1817) was the eldest son of "Deacon" John Woodruff (1704-1768) and Eleanor Donnington of Westfield, NJ.  Moses was named in his father's will, proved Sept. 14, 1768, in Essex County, NJ, along with his mother Elinor, and brothers John and Cornelius.  (Essex Co., NJ, WB I, p.341; C.N. Woodruff, supra, Vol. II (1971), pp.174, 190 et. seq.; F.E. Woodruff, supra, fn. 107.)

Moses' middle name (or nickname), "Manassa," is reportedly the name on his gravestone at the Manassa Woodruff Cemetery in Glade Valley, Alleghany Co., NC.  (See Alleghany County Cemeteries Through 1986, published by the Alleghany County Hist.-Gen. Society.)  Manassa is a Biblical name, also spelled Manasseh (Gen. 41:51) or Manasses (Rev. 7:6).

Moses "Manassa" Woodruff married Phebe Marsh about 1759, probably in New Jersey.  Although her parents have not been identified, she was doubtless a member of the large Marsh family of Elizabethtown in Essex County, New Jersey.

Moses "Manassa" and Phebe Woodruff joined the Westfield Presbyterian Church in 1761 (C.N. Woodruff, supra, p.14), and baptised seven children at the Westfield Presbyterian Church in New Jersey, the last being Moses Woodruff, Jr., on Apr. 1, 1772 (id., p.190).  After that, there is "no further data documented and no burial records" for this family in Essex County, New Jersey (id.)  In other words, Moses and his family appear to have left New Jersey sometime after 1772 and C.N. Woodruff did not know what became of them.  Later researchers located them in Surry County, North Carolina.

The following are the children of "Mr. & Mrs. Moses Woodruff" baptised at the Westfield Presbyterian Church in Westfield, NJ, as reprinted in Commemorative History of the Presbyterian Church in Westfield, New Jersey 1728-1928 by William K. McKinney (1929):

After moving to North Carolina, Moses Woodruff and his family settled in Surry County on the south side of the Yadkin River in the vicinity of Fox Knob, Pipes Creek, and the headwaters of the South Fork of Deep Creek.  (Fox Knob is now known as Star Peak; Pipes Creek is called Lineberry Creek.)  This part of Surry County became Yadkin County in 1850.  He also acquired land on the north side of the Blue Ridge, in the part of Wilkes County that became Ashe County in 1799 and Alleghany County in 1859.  Near the end of his life, Moses "Manassa" moved to Ashe (Alleghany) County, probably to live with his son John Allen WOODRUFF who owned land on Brush Creek and Bullhead Mountain, and to be near his daughter Phoebe who lived in the Bullhead area with her husband Francis BRYAN.  Moses died in 1817 at the age of 83.

Moses Woodruff's will, dated July 29, 1816, was recorded in Surry County in the Nov. term 1817.  It identifies his wife Elizabeth, daughters Mary MCBRIDE, Jennett WOODRUFF, Lydia PACE, Hannah MOORE, and Phebe BRYAN, sons Gideon WOODRUFF and John Allen WOODRUFF, and refers to three children of son Moses WOODRUFF.  The executors were John Allen WOODRUFF, John MCBRIDE, and Obadiah MARTIN. The will was witnessed by Obadiah MARTIN, Samuel MCBRIDE, and Daniel COCKERHAM.  A codicil dated Apr. 17, 1817, was witnessed by Aaron WOODRUFF.  (Surry WB 3, p.130.)

Records

1777 Tax List, Surry Co., NC, Jabez Jarvis' Dist.: Moses WOODRUFF

Undated [1778]. Surry Co., NC. Moses WOODRUFF entered 40 acres of land in Surry Co. on the head of John PIPE's Creek including the said WOODRUFF's improvement. (Surry Co., NC, Land Entry Book No. 442.)

Aug. 25, 1778. Wilkes Co., NC. Baker AIRS entered 300 acres on Brushy Creek of Little River on path that leads from HOLDBROOK's to New River Settlement. Baker AIRS marked out, Moses WOODRUFF written in. (Wilkes Land Entry No. 288.)

Note: The above land was located in the part of Wilkes County that became Ashe County in 1799 and Alleghany County in 1859. The parcel was originally "entered" by Baker AIRS [AYERS?]. The claim was taken over by Moses Woodruff at an unknown date.

Sept. 4, 1779. Wilkes Co., NC. Thomas HAMMON entered 100 acres on Roaring River adj. William HARGUS. Thomas HAMMON marked out; Moses WOODRUFF written in. (Wilkes Land Entry No. 1154.)

Sept. 7, 1779. Wilkes Co., NC. 150 acres on New River, small branch below the Beaver Dam. First enterer illegible; Thomas HIGHSMITH marked out; Moses WOODRUFF written in. (Wilkes Land Entry No. 1164.)

Log Cabin

An old cabin in Yadkin Co., NC
photo from the Pipes Genealogy Page

Jan. 29, 1784. Surry Co., NC. Land belonging to Moses WOODRUFF is mentioned in a deed from Michael HENDERSON, gentleman, to Frederic MILLER, gentleman, for 600 acres called Fox Knobbs. Also mentioned, property of Samuel GENTRY & John SWIMS. (Surry Co., NC, DB B, pp.303-304.)

Note: Fox Knob is now called Star Peak and is located in Yadkin Co., NC.  View a Google map.

Nov. 3, 1784. Surry Co., NC. "Agreed line" between Samuel GENTRY & Moses WOODRUFF mentioned in a land grant to Michael HENDERSON for 400 acres head of Deep Creek. (Surry Co., NC, DB C-1, p.113.)

1785. Surry Co., NC. Moses WOODRUFF served as a juror on Feb. 18 and Aug. 11, 1785. (Surry Co., NC, Court Minutes.)

1786 Tax List, Surry Co., NC.  For some reason, Moses Woodruff does not appear on the Surry County tax list of 1786, but we do find Nathaniel WOODRUFF Jr. (300 acres) and Samuel WOODRUFF (300 acres).  Nathaniel was possibly Moses's uncle Nathaniel (1719-1790), who did not stay in Surry County but went to SC where he died in 1790.  Samuel may have been Nathaniel's son or another cousin.

Aug. 9, 1787. Surry Co., NC. Land grant to Moses WOODRUFF, 200 acres on the waters of Pipes Creek adj. said WOODRUFF's former tract. (Surry Co., NC, DB D, p.23.)

Note: Pipes Creek is now called Lineberry Creek.

Aug. 9, 1787. Surry Co., NC. Land belonging to Moses WOODRUFF mentioned in a land grant for 1,000 acres to John DUNN & Adley OSBORNE. Also mentioned: land of Michael HENDERSON, James JONES, William HANKINS, and MCMICKLES. (Surry Co., NC, DB D, p.228.)

Aug. 9, 1787. Wilkes Co., NC. Land grant to Moses WOODRUFF, 200 acres on Pine Swamp Branch, South Fork New River. (Wilkes Co., NC, DB C, pp.79-80.)

Note: The above land grant Pine Swamp Branch in Wilkes County was probably located in the area that later became Ashe (Alleghany) County.

Nov. 9, 1787. Surry Co., NC. Moses WOODRUFF & John Allen WOODRUFF witnessed a dead from William Terrell LEWIS to John MARSH for 150 acres on Little Knob, Brushy Mountain, left hand Swan Pon Creek. (Surry Co., NC, DB D, p.387.)

1790 Census, Surry Co. NC: MOSES WOODRUFF
3 white males over 16
3 white females

Dec. 20, 1791. Surry Co., NC. Land grant to Moses WOODRUFF, 400 acres on Fox Knob adj. HENDERSON and Samuel GENTRY. (Surry Co., NC, DB D, p.220.)

Dec. 24, 1792. Surry Co., NC. Land belonging to Moses WOODRUFF mentioned as adjoining 400 acres granted to Samuel GENTRY, head waters Deep Creek, north side Fox Knob Mountain. Also mentioned, property of Michael HENDERSON. (Surry Co., NC, DB E, p.195.)

Nov. 3, 1797. Wilkes Co., NC. Land grant to Moses WOODRUFF, 500 acres in Wilkes County near the Bull Head between Glade Creek & Brush Fork of Little River; by warrant dated May 3, 1792. (Land Grant No. 1389; Wilkes Co., NC, DB D, p.379; Alleghany Co., NC, DB 30, p.598.)

Note: The above land was located in the part of Wilkes County that later became Ashe, then Alleghany County. It was probably located near the land grants that Moses Woodruff took over from Baker AIRS (see above).

1800 Census, Ashe Co., NC: MOSES WOODRUFF
1 w/m over 45
1 w/f over 45
6 slaves

May 7, 1801. Surry Co., NC. Humphrey COCKERHAM of Wilkes Co., NC, to Moses WOODRUFF, 100 acres in Surry Co. on Fox Knob adj. Moses WOODRUFF's land, being part of a tract formerly granted to Samuel GENTRY, dec'd. Wit: John COOK, W. PATTERSON. (Surry Co., NC, DB I, p.149.)

Feb. 16, 1805. Surry Co., NC. William COOK to Moses WOODRUFF, 148 acres on the mouth of Pipes Creek adj. Samuel MCBRIDE, Daniel COCKERHAM, & Gideon WOODRUFF. (Surry Co., NC, DB L, p.76.)

May 12, 1806. Ashe Co., NC. A deed from Moses WOODRUFF to Larking PUMPHREY for 200 acres proven in open court by the oath of John MCBRIDE. (Ashe Co., NC, Court Minutes.)

June 29, 1806. Surry Co., NC. Moses WOODRUFF and Elizabeth COLLINS posted a marriage bond with bondsman Obadiah MARTIN.

Aug. 11, 1806. A deed from Moses WOODRUFF to Allen WOODRUFF for 500 acres was duly proven in open court by the oath of J- MCBRIDE. (Ashe Co., NC, Court Minutes.)

1810 Census, Surry Co., NC, p.194: MOSES WOODRUFF
1 w/m over 45
1 w/f over 45
2 slaves

1812 Tax List, Surry Co., NC, Capt. Martin's Dist.: Moses WOODRUFF, 475 acres, 1 poll

1817 Tax List, Surry Co., NC: Moses WOODRUFF, 400 acres, no white polls, 2 black polls.

Note: The above tax record suggests that Moses Woodruff was over the age of 60, because he was not listed as a "poll."

July 29, 1816. Will of Moses WOODRUFF, dated July 29, 1816, rec. Nov. 1817, Surry Co., NC; names wife Elizabeth, daughters Mary MCBRIDE, Jennett WOODRUFF, Lydia PACE, Hannah MOORE, & Phebe BRYAN; sons Gideon WOODRUFF & John Allen WOODRUFF; 3 children of son Moses. Wife Elizabeth to have Negro wench Sarah. Son John Allen Woodruff to have fellow Jack. Execs: John Allen WOODRUFF, John MCBRIDE, Obadiah MARTIN. Wits: Obadiah MARTIN, Samuel MCBRIDE, Daniel COCKERHAM. Codicil dated Apr. 17, 1817; wit: Aaron WOODRUFF. (Surry WB 3, p.130.)

Legal Disputes.  There is an interesting legal controversy that continued for many years after Moses Woodruff's death.  In June 1824, the North Carolina Supreme Court heard a case brought by an African-American man named "Free Jack", probably the "fellow Jack" mentioned in Moses Woodruff's will.  Jack sought his freedom on the basis that his mother, Jean SCOTT, had been a free woman and not a slave.  The case states that in 1784, "the Plaintiff [Jack] was indented by Surry County Court, as a free boy, to one MEREDITH, who frequently said he was free, but at length sold him to one Moses WOODRUFF; Woodruff afterwards sold him, and stated, that as he was reported to be a free boy, the purchaser must take him at his own risk."  Although the case is a little hard to decipher, it appears that Jack's lawsuit was successful, because on appeal the defendant (i.e., Free Jack's purported owner) argued that certain evidence had been improperly admitted, and the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled that the evidence was proper, thus upholding the verdict.  (Free Jack v. Woodruff, 3 Hawks 106, 10 N.C. 106, 1824 WL 327 (N.C.), June term 1824.)  Note, forty years earlier, on May 13, 1779, the Surry County Court heard a case brought by Jean Scott asserting that she had been born a free woman and was being unlawfully kept as a slave by Abraham CRESON.  The court found in her favor and ordered that she be freed and her children bound out for their support and education.  See North Carolina Court Minutes Abstracts, Volume I (1768-1785) by Mrs. W.O. Absher.  Unfortunately, the Salisbury Superior Court later reversed the order, finding that the Surry County Court had no jurisdiction to free a slave.

The other slave mentioned in Moses Woodruff's will was also the source of a legal dispute which ended up in the North Carolina Supreme Court in June 1843.  (Mary MCBRIDE v. Richard CHOATE, Adm'r, et al.)   According to the case, "Moses WOODRUFF, of the county of Surry, died in the year 1817, having by his last will and testament bequeathed to his wife Elizabeth 'the labor of his negro wench Sarah, so long as the said Elizabeth should live, and at her death, the negro wench to his daughter Mary MCBRIDE.'  The case further relates that Mary McBride was the wife of John MCBRIDE, who died leaving a will dated Oct. 2, 1821, in which he attempted to dispose of the said Sarah, then in possession of his mother-in-law, to his three sisters-in-law, Lydia PACE, Hannah MOORE and Phebe BRYAN.

Then, in 1837, Elizabeth WOODRUFF (widow of Moses Woodruff) died.  In 1839, Mary MCBRIDE filed suit against Aaron WOODRUFF and Richard CHOATE, alleging that Aaron WOODRUFF and one Isham CHOATE had conspired to deprive her of her right (under Moses Woodruff's will) to have Sarah and her children after the death of her mother.  She claimed that Aaron Woodruff and Isham Choate had convinced Elizabeth Woodruff, who was aged and very weak of intellect, to sell Sarah and her 2 children to them for $300.  Isham Choate then took them clandestinely to Georgia where they were sold.  Elizabeth Woodruff died in 1837, intestate and insolvent; Isham Choate died in Georgia "recently" and Richard Choate was appointed his administrator.  A witness, Samuel BAUGUS, claimed to have seen the deed of sale among Isham Choate's papers.  The case was dismissed on the ground that there was no evidence against Aaron Woodruff and that Richard Choate had fully administered that portion of Isham Choate's estate that was in North Carolina.  (Report of Cases in Equity Argued and Determined in the Supreme Court of North Carolina, Dec. 1841-June 1843.)  [Note, Aaron Woodruff may have been Mary McBride's nephew, the son of John Allen Woodruff.]

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