One puzzle that has stumped Estes researchers for quite some time now concerns the identity of the father of John and Thomas Estes of Halifax Co, VA and then latter of Grainger Co, TN. In a recent issue of "Estes Trails", it was suggested that Micajah Estes, who died around 1800 in Grainger Co, TN, was their father. However little in the way of evidence was offered.
John Estes was born 14th October, 1751, in Louisa Co, VA.[2,5] While a boy, his family moved to Halifax Co, VA.[2,5] In February, 1776, he was still living in Halifax County and at that time enlisted in the 7th Virginia State Regiment under Captain Cooke and served for two years.[2,5] In 1781 he moved to Washington Co, TN (then known as the "Territory South of the Ohio River") and latter settled in Grainger Co, TN where he remained until his death in 1840.[2,5] John was one of the first legislators of the state of TN which was established in 1796.
Thomas Estes was born about 1760 and spent his early years in Halifax Co, VA. He enlisted at Williamsburg, VA, on the 1st January, 1777, in the 7th Virginia Regiment, under Captain Moody, served one year and was discharged with his brother, Thomas, in 1778. He enlisted for a further 6 months near Charleston, SC, in 1780 and another 6 months in 1781 in Halifax Co, VA. He moved to Tennessee at the same time as John and remained in the area of Grainger Co, TN for most of the rest of his life, dying in Lawrence Co, TN.
Abraham Estes was born in the early 1750's and spent most of his life in Halifax Co, VA, dying there in 1804. He enlisted 1776 at the same time as John Estes (above) and served for three years in the 7th Virginia State Regiment.
From the above Revolutionary War pension applications, it is clear that John, Abraham and Thomas were brothers and that their family was originally from Louisa County and moved to Halifax County sometime in the 1750's, where the family remained until at least the late 1770's when the brother's enlisted.
While there would be little or no trace of the three brothers in the Halifax County records prior to reaching adulthood, one would expect that their father would appear in those records and, more significantly, would appear in the records consistently from the 1750's up to around 1780 or even beyond.
I have recently examined a collection of early Halifax County records including "Court Orders 1755-1758" (Order Book 2), "Court Orders 1758-1762" (Plea Books 1-3) and "County Deeds 1759-1796" (Deed Books 1-16), courtesy of Leo Estes. (Halifax County was formed from Lunenburg County in 1752). From these records the following adult Estes were living in Halifax County up to the early 1780's (the dates given refer to the period in which each appeared in the Halifax County records):
Ambrose Estes, born 1734, son of Elisha Estes Sr. Ambrose was originally from Henry Co, VA.[8,9] His will lists only one child, a daughter.[8,9] Ambrose is not known to have ever been in Louisa County. He died in Virginia and there is no known Tennessee connection with his family (an important issue since Thomas and John both moved there). Thus he is not considered a feasable possibility to be the father of John, Thomas and Abraham, despite living in Halifax County throughout the entire time that the three brothers were there.Ambrose Estes (1764-1794)
Richard Estes (1758-mid 1760's)
Micajah Estes (1758-c.1780)
Elisha Estes (1758-1759, 1771-1772, 1776, 1779)
John Estes (1758-1761)
Thomas Estes (1759)
Thomas Estes (1768)
George Estes (1761)
Richard Estes, born 1728, son of Richard Estes Sr. Richard was living in Louisa County prior to moving to Halifax County in 1758/1759, however by 1764 he had moved again, to Albemarle County and by 1772 he and his family were in Caswell County, NC, where he died.[10,11] His will does not list a John, Thomas or Abraham. Neither Richard or any of his children ever lived in Tennessee. Thus despite having moved to Halifax County from Louisa County, Richard could not have been the father of the three brothers.
George Estes, born 1738, son of Robert Estes Sr. Prior to arriving in Halifax County, George was living in Hanover County, from which Louisa County was formed, however his late date of birth precludes him from fathering John, born 1751, despite having two sons who went to Hawkins County, TN, in the 1790's. George also had moved to Lunenburg Co, VA, by 1764 where he remained until his death.[12,13]
John Estes, born 1726 or earlier, son of John Estes Sr. Like his cousin, George (above), John was originally from Hanover County. He was living in Louisa County around 1750 before moving to Halifax County in the 1750's. John would thus seem to be an ideal candidate, however by 1764 he had moved to Botecourt Co, VA and then to Orange Co, VA by 1767, where he remained until his death.[4,14] John also had known sons, John III (born 1756) and Abraham, details on whom do not match those of John of Grainger Co, TN, and Abraham of Halifax Co, VA. John Jr. did not have a son, Thomas. Thus John could not have been the father of the three brothers.
Elisha Estes, born 1737 or earlier. Little is known of this Elisha other than that he appears in Halifax County between 1758 and 1779 (but not continiously) and that his wife's name was Jane.[3,4] Garmon Estes has suggested that he was the son of John Estes Sr. (father of John Estes Jr, above) and, indeed, given that Elisha was born before 1737, there seems little doubt of this claim.
Of the children of Abraham Estes Sr., only Sylvester was old enough to possibly claim Elisha as a grandchild, but Sylvester and his entire family had moved to Bertie Co, NC by the early 1730's. Of Sylvester's many grandsons, only two are known to have been named Elisha, one born about 1740, the other in 1763 - the former I suspect may well have been the Elisha who died in Roane Co, TN in 1819.
Of the other sons of Abraham Estes Sr., only John has a son, Elisha, whom I have discussed above. The other Elisha's of this generation can all be conclusively ruled out either by age or known locations and/or family as being the one found in Halifax County between 1758-1779. Could John's son, Elisha, have been the father of Thomas, John and Abraham? Whilst a conclusive case cannot be formed, given the sparsity of information, the evidence suggests that this Elisha was born in the mid 1730's. If this is true then he cannot be the father of John, Thomas and Abraham since he would've been too young to have fathered a child in 1751.
Working on the assumption that Elisha Estes' did not materialise, fully grown, on the face of the Earth (ie: applying Occam's Razor), despite many researchers suspecting that may well have been the case, it is likely that Elisha, son of John Estes Sr., was the Elisha who appears in the Halifax County records between 1758 and 1779. Further, there is another Elisha Estes, born about 1730 and who appears in the Lunenburg County records between 1772 and 1783 and who died 1806, Charlotte Co, VA.[18,19] Halifax and Charlotte Counties were formed from Lunenburg County and both border Lunenburg County. Applying the same logic as above (ie: to show that Elisha of Halifax County was probably the same person as Elisha, son of John Sr.), then it is possible, in fact likely, that the Elisha Estes who died 1806 in Charlotte County was the son of John Estes Sr. The Elisha Estes of Lunenburg County and latter Charlotte County had two known sons (only two are mentioned in his will), John (1753) and Thomas. Both were born in the mid-1750's, however John married in Lunenburg County and remained there until at least 1810. It is interesting to note that Elisha and Jane of Halifax County had dealings with a Nathaniel Hansen of Charlotte County and John Estes (1753) of Lunenburg County named a son Hensen.
While a conclusive case cannot be built for or against Elisha being the father of John, Thomas and Abraham, such evidence as there is, plus a dose of speculation, would suggest that he was not.
Thomas Estes. A Thomas Estes appears in two lawsuits between 1755-1759 in Halifax County. A Thomas Estes also appears as a witness in 1768. They may or may not be the same person. Either way, there is no suggestion in the wording of the court records that Thomas was a resident of Halifax County. A Thomas Estes is not listed in any of the Halifax County tax lists, nor was he a principle in any Halifax County deed. Only two (known) adult Thomas Estes were known to have been alive at this time: one lived in Orange Co, NC (son of Sylvester Estes), and the other lived in Orange Co, VA (son of Thomas Estes Sr.). It is likely that the references to Thomas Estes in the three lawsuits are one of these two Thomas'.
Thomas Estes of Orange Co, NC, had a son, Thomas Jr., who did serve in the Revolutionary War, however he spent his entire life in North Carolina and was killed in action during the war. He obviously cannot be the Thomas who appears in Grainger Co, TN, in the following decades. Thomas of Orange Co, VA, had only one confirmed son (there may well have been others). This was John Estes who died 1799, Orange Co, VA and so can hardly be the John Estes who appears in Grainger Co, TN, in the 1800's. As to which Thomas was the one who appears in the Halifax County records - that is impossible to tell, however Thomas of NC had brothers living in Granville Co, NC, which borders Halifax County, whilst Orange Co, VA is quite some distance away, suggesting it may have been the Thomas of NC.
Thus while just which Thomas Estes was the one who appeared in several lawsuits in Halifax County between 1755-1768 remains uncertain, both of the candidates for this Thomas have been ruled out as being the father of John, Thomas and Abraham.
Micajah Estes, born 1727
or earlier, son of John Estes Sr. Like
his brothers (above), John Jr. and Elisha, Micajah was originally from
Hanover County. He appears in a Louisa
County deed in 1748 and next appears in Halifax County in 1758 where he
remains until 1781. In 1782 he appears
in Hawkins Co, TN, where he remains until his death about 1800 (although
he appears in the 1799 Grainger Co, TN Tax List).
Note that Grainger County was formed from Hawkins County. Thus Micajah
was in Halifax County throughout the same time that John and Thomas were
there (one of only two Estes who was) and he moved to Hawkins/Grainger
Co, TN, the same year that Thomas and John also moved there. Abraham married
in 1780 and evidently elected to remain behind in Halifax County.
Whilst there is no evidence to prove that Micajah was the father of Thomas,
John and Abraham, taking into account what is know of their father (namely
from Louisa County before living in Halifax County and remaining in Halifax
County until at least around 1780 - Thomas was a minor when he enlisted
and so was likely still living with his father; Thomas was "of Halifax
County" when he enlisted, thus similarly his father), Micajah is the best,
in fact only, candidate for their father.
An examination of Halifax County records from 1755 to 1796 reveals only
two Estes living in that county from the 1750's until around 1780 (or longer).
The father of John, Thomas and Abraham Estes moved to Halifax County from
Louisa County sometime in the 1750's and remained there until at least
1778. Of the two Estes living in Halifax County, one, Ambrose, came from
Henry Co, VA, and is not known to have been in Louisa County (or it's parent
county) and his will lists just one child, Martha. The other Estes was
Micajah and, like Thomas and John, he moved to the area of Hawkins/Grainger
Co, TN, in 1781. Thus, by a process of elimination, Micajah Estes is the
most likely father of Thomas, John and Abraham.
 "Micajah Estes", Phyllis and Roy Estes, Estes Trails,
XVIII, No.4 (December), pp.5-7.
 "Estes Genealogies", Charles Estes, 1894, Eben Putnam Pub.
 Extracts from Halifax Co, VA, records including "Court Orders 1755-1758" (Order Book 2), "Court Orders 1758-1762" (Plea Books 1-3) and "County Deeds 1759-1796" (Deed Books 1-16), courtesy of Leo Estes, <email@example.com>.
 "John, Micajah, Elisha, Robert & James Estes", Garmon Estes, Estes Trails, 2000, XVIII, No.4 (December), pp.7-11. "Micajah Estes & the Name Game", Garmon Estes, Estes Trails, 1983, III, No.4 (April-July), pp.2-13. "Micajah Estes of Halifax Co, VA, Went West to Hawkins Co, TN: A New Dimension" Garmon Estes, Estes Trails, 1993, XIII, No.1 (Fall), pp.9-15. "A Relook at John, Micajah and Elisha Estes of Halifax Co, VA", Garmon Estes, Estes Trails, 1990, X, No.1 (Spring), pp.9-10.
 "Virginia Rev. War Pension Applications Vol.34", John Frederick Dorman; pp.48-51, ESTES, John S.3338. Also transcription of original pension records, transcribed by Phyllis Estes, <Estes73026@aol.com>. See also Estes Trails, 2000, XVIII, No.3 (september), pp.4-7.
 Undocumented information, from Phyllis Estes, <Estes73026@aol.com>. See also "Grainger County, TN, County Court Minutes 1796-1802", Lorraine Cates, Estes Trails, 2000, XVIII, No.2 (June), p.5.
 Will of Thomas Estes, 1833, Lawrence Co, TN. Also inventory and sale of estate. From Leo Estes, <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
 "Estes Genealogy: Estes families of Old Clay Co, MO, Their Ancestors and Their Descendants", by Edward and Annabelle McAllister, 1968.
 Ambrose Estes in "Estes 'A' filing cards", Lorraine Cates, Estes Trails, 1998, XVI, No.3 (September), pp.20-21.
 Will of Richard Estes (23Aug1799), Caswell Co, NC. From Estes Trails, 1990, X, No.1 (January), p.2. Also "Richard Estes of Louisa, Halifax Co's, VA, Caswell & Rockingham Cos, NC, and some of his Descendents", Garmon Estes, ibid, pp.2-7. Taken from "Caswell Co Wills: 1777-1814".
 Caswell Co, NC early tax lists, 1777-1790, census indices, 1800-1870. From Debra McCann, <email@example.com>.
 List of tithes, Lunenburg Co, VA, 1775; Lunenburg Co, VA, Public Claims, 1780-1784. From Debra McCann, <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
 Extract from "Lunenburg County VA, Wills 1746-1825", Landon C. Bell. From Debra McCann, <email@example.com>.
 Research by J. Quintus Massie of the Louisa Co, VA, Historical Society. Forwarded by Joe Giles, <JoeWGiles@aol.com>.
 "The English Ancestry of the American Estes", Niel Gunson, Estes Trails, 1992, XII, No.3 (whole issue).
 Research by Debra McCann <firstname.lastname@example.org> who has done extensive investigation of the descendents of Sylvester Estes.
 Rather than include a huge list of references here, I refer readers to my website and the individuals and references listen therein: <http://triode.net.au/~dragon/ft/estes.html>.
 "Sunlight on the Southside: List of Tithes, Lunenburg Co, VA: 1748-1783", Landon Bell, Gen. Pub. Co, 1974. Extract in Estes Trails, 2000, XIIX, No.4, pp.4-5.
 Settlement of Estate of Elisha Estes, deceased, Charlotte Co, VA, Court Order Book No. 17, p.175 (1808). From Donna Hull, <email@example.com>.
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