Who was John Estes of Louisa Co, VA?

by David Powell
The following article appeared in Estes Trails. It is based on an article I wrote for the Rootsweb Estes mail-list. It was slightly rewritten by Larry Duke, editor of Estes Trails, for inclusion in that magazine.
(Ed. Note - The following is by our good friend and top researcher David Powell of Australia, <roots-boots@hotmail.com>.  David first posted this to the Internet and has given permission to reprint it here.  David hopes to flush out some debate and or proof of all the claims being made.  Thanks David, for giving us all something more to have to think about and try to prove!)

    John Estes, died 1771 in Louisa Co, VA (from his will).  No wife was given but children listed in the will were: Abraham, John Jr., Molly, Barbarey and Sarah.  John Jr. and wife, Ursula, were executors.

    The marriage record for Mary Estes states she was born 1767 and was the d/o John and Ursula Estes. Thus John and Ursula married before 1767.  That means John was born (almost certainly) before 1747.  However, John was the son of John Sr who died in 1771, thus John Sr. would have been born before 1727.  A latter date would mean anomalously short generations between John Sr. and Mary (b.1767).

    John Sr.'s date of birth can be pushed back even further.  The marriage record for Abraham Estes who married Sarah Timberlake in 1787 says that he was the son of John Estes, either Sr. or Jr. Abraham would have been born 1760-1765 (his list of children and their date of births indicates this is almost certainly a first marriage for him).  If Abraham was the son of John Sr., then his father would have been in his 60's when he was born and there is no evidence that John Sr. remarried and had any children as recently as the 1750's, let alone the 1760's.  The logical conclusion is that Abraham was the son of John Jr. This pushes the most recent possible date of birth for John Sr. back a few years to the early 1720's.

    So who was the father of John Sr.?  Speculation has suggested it was Richard Estes (1701).  But Richard married in 1727, which would seem to clearly rule him out.  Richard's will also does not mention any son by the name of John, though he died in 1799, so John Sr would have been already dead (d.1771).  But why no mention of John Sr.'s heirs then?

Moses Estes (b.1710) had a son, John.  But he was born in 1732 and is well documented.

Sylvester Estes had a son, John, but he was in Orange / Warren Co., NC, by 1750.

Thomas Estes (b.1688) had a son, John, but he was born and died in Caroline Co, VA, and is well documented and married Mary Marshall.

    That leaves the generation before that, i.e.: John Estes, born 1701, son of Abraham (1647-1720).

    From the Louisa Co, VA, Road Orders Books, 1742-1748, there is mention of a John Estes who had a "race ground" on his property in 1742.  In the same year he was also tithed for "highway tax". In 1743 John was appointed the "surveyor of highways in the room of Richard Estis, deceased".  From my records, Richard, son of Abraham, died in 1744.  I'll not quibble over a year difference at this point over Richards year of death, especially if it was early in the year.

    So in 1742 there was a John Estes in Louisa Co who owned property, upon which was a race track, and whom also held public office.  This is not consistent with a minor (i.e.: born after 1721) and in fact it would be more suited to a gentleman of means and status in the local community, that is, no youngster.  Maybe in his 30's or 40's or even 50's.  That is, he was born before 1710.

    Sylvester certainly could have had a child by 1710, but his son John went to NC before 1750.  Samuel may have had a son before 1710, but nothing at all is known about Samuel, other than his wife's first name, Rebecca.  None of Abraham's remaining children could have fathered a child born before 1710, they married after that date.

    This pretty much proves, to me at least, that the John Estes Sr. who died in Louisa Co, VA in 1771, was in fact John (b.1701), son of Abraham Estes (1647-1720).

    The above information is based on a letter sent to Joe Giles by J. Quintus Massie of the Louisa Co., VA, Historical Society; from Wills, early court records, the Louisa Co, VA Historical Magazine, Louisa Co., VA Road Order Books and marriage record books.

    An article in the June 1999 issue of Estes Trails gives a very different story.  The article is by Kitty Estes Savage and mentions:

John Estes (Son of Abraham Estes 1647-1720) died 1732 married Mary ?, she died 1751.
They had eight children:
1. Abraham, d.1751, m. Elizabeth Tulley ?
2. Thomas
3. John, d. 1752, unmarried
4. William, d. 1770, m. Catherine
5. Mary
6. Lydia
7. Ann
8. Sarah
    This is inconsistent with the information from Louisa Co., VA, records.  Note also that the above details on John (?-1732) are in Hyde Co., NC.  So who was this John?

    My first guess would be that he could be John, son of Sylvester.  However, this would seem to be impossible as far as dates go.  John would have been born after 1701, thus there'd not be enough time for him to have had 8 kids by 1732.  For that matter, John, born in 1701 would be hard pressed to produce 8 kids by 1732.  Kitty's John made his Will in 1732 and it was proved in 1733.

    Abraham (?-1751) died with several children, so he was born before 1725, which in turn indicates that John was born before 1700.  Which would fit with the son of Abraham, if not that he seems to be otherwise accounted for.  As for the northern Estes, there are no obvious candidate for John there.

    I suspect that this John may be an immigrant. Although I am normally wary about making such conclusions since it's usually the "easy way out".

    Abraham Estes did have a brother, John Eastes, born 1644, of whom there is no further mention in the English records that I have been able to find, neither a marriage or a death.

    If the Hyde Co., NC, John is in fact the son of Abraham, then that would mean that the John Sr. of Louisa Co., VA who died in 1771 would have to be Abraham's grandson and the only possibility there would be John, son of Sylvester - and the information indicating he went to NC is then incorrect, which seems unlikely since it is documented in tax list etc. records.

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