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Notley & Hillery Masters


Movement to North Carolina, South Carolina & Tennessee

     The selling of Thorough Fare in Frederick Co. on November 2, 1772
by Notley Masters marked an end to residency of his line of the Masters
family in Maryland.  This sale was the final step in disposal of the
estate of Robert Masters, Notley's father.

     Much earlier a Moravian Church had been established within about ten
miles north of the All Saint's Parish Church where Robert Masters was
probably a member.  This Parish was known as Graceham and its pastor from
1766 - 1772 was the Rev. Joseph Powell.   Charles Carroll had donated ten
acres of land for its establishment.

     During this period of time the Moravians in North Carolina were
experiencing an influx of new land holders into a region they called 
Wachovia, which was located on land between the Yadkin and Catawba 
Rivers.  Records of the Moravians in North Carolina, by Adelaide L.  
Fries, notes letters of introduction which were brought to Wachovia by 
families coming from Carroll's Mannor in 1772.  Among them were "Nodley 
Masters & wife Margaret".  The letter also noted that each family had with 
them cash to pay for their land.

    In a further letter of recommendation, the Rev. Joseph Powell says 
the party from "Carols Manor" will total nineteen, characterizing them as 
good fisherman, craftsmen and tobacco planters.  It would be pure 
speculation to suggest that Hillery was with this group but it would seem 
to be reasonable since he would have been about 21 years old.  Entries 
from a Wachovian journal show the party arrived, totaling twenty-two on 
December 11, 1772, about five weeks after the sale of Thorough Fair, 
traveling by wagons.  A December 28, 1772 entry in the journal would be 
the last documentation for several years for Notley Masters.  The entry 
notes that "Daniel Schmidt, his wife, four children, and two unmarried 
women, Johnson and Owen, and Nodly Masters with his family, left here 
today to settle on the 400 acres they have bought jointly, on this side 
of Douthit's, near Wachovia.  The other men who were able to work went 
with them, and they will quickly  build several cabins."

    Ted Darwin, a long time family researcher and direct descendant of
Hillery Masters, discovered the location of the 400 acres "this side of
Douthit" (meaning northeast).  John Douthit Sr. lived in the southwestern
most corner of present Forsyth County at or near what is now known as
Idol's Ford. (Idol's Dam)  Thus, the Smith/Masters tract apparently was
located southeast of the present town of Clemmons, North Carolina, near
the Davidson County line, which is on Muddy Creek.

     Salisbury, the Rowan County seat, was just a few miles southwest of
the Moravian settlements and Notley and Hillery were in the Yadkin Valley
town on December 23, 1779, to execute Hillery's marriage bond.  The bride's
name is given as "Mary Davies."  The signers were Notley Masters as joint
pledger of the required 500 pounds, and "B. Booth Boote" as the notarizing
official.  This bond is the earliest document located by Ted Darwin which
bears Hillery's name.

     Notley's Revolutionary War service is well documented.  No proof has
been located to determine Hillery's involvement, but family tradition holds
that he in fact did serve.  The 640 acres of land  Hillery secured in
Tennessee from the state of North Carolina was for his services as a 
soldier, according to family tradition.

     The audited account of Notley Masters' militia service is in South
Carolina archives at Columbia.  One entry credits him with "Military duty
as a private before & since the reduction of Charles Town."  This suggests
that Notley Masters saw militia service between 1780 and 1783.  Another
document states that Notley Masters served "duty of Col.  Anderson's
return"--seemingly a reference to the prominent South Carolina officer
Robert Anderson, who campaigned in the western South Carolina region where
Notley Masters is known to have settled at a later time.

     Some sixty years later a letter containing a pension application in
behalf of Mary Masters, widow of Notley, would be written.  In it a notary
states that Mary has told him that Notley "was a private in the War of the
Revolution and entered and was in the Battle of Musgroves Mills, and she
thinks he was under General Cazy (Casey?) and recollects to have heard her
husband speak of being in several battles."  The battle of Musgroves Mills
was fought against a British strong point on August 17, 1780, by
Carolinians and Georgians.  The Americans reduced an unexpectedly large
British force, and then dispersed at news of a large British advance.

     It appears that Notley, in the early 1780's moved his family to the
mountains of western South Carolina.  This region was relatively peaceful
after the Indian campaign of the war's early years.  In 1789 it became
governed as the Pendleton District, including what are now the counties of
Anderson, Pickens and Oconee.

     Notley married Mary Hembree in Pendleton District, South Carolina on
July 30, 1793.  The rites were performed by a Baptist minister, William
Bennett.  The marriage must have been fairly soon after the death of
Notley's first wife, Margaret Duckett.  Very little is known of his first
family other than the fact that he had at least three sons Richard, John
and William.

     Notley died on February 12, 1819, in Pendleton District, South
Carolina and according to family tradition is buried in an unmarked grave
at Mt. Creek Baptist Church Cemetery, which is now Anderson County, South
Carolina.  (Anderson County was set off from Pendleton District in 1826.)

     Notley's wife, Mary Hembree Masters, made application for a pension
due widows of the Revolutionary War by a congressional act of 1838, in
1846.  Mary received the pension, and in 1855, while living in Anderson
County she applied for bounty land recently authorized to dependants of
Revolutionary War veterans.  When hostilities broke out after South
Carolina's succession from the Union just prior to the Civil War, she
moved across the Savannah River to Georgia, where her daughter Charlotte
was married to Joseph W. Drennan.

     On December 6, 1867, after Mary's death on June 11, 1865, her 
daughter Charlotte Drennan reapplied for her mother's pension benefits.  
She stated that her mother had been "a pensioner on the Roll of the Agency 
at Charleston" before payments were interrupted by the war.  There is a 
certificate dated March 12, 1868, showing pension rights of $26 annually 
being restored to Charlotte Drennan, but only for the retroactive period 
up to the date of Mary Masters' death.

     Twenty-four years passed between Hillery's marriage and his move to
middle Tennessee.  The slender evidences of his whereabouts during the
period indicate he moved a number of times.   Many family historians have
noted that Hillery came from "Wiles County, Virginia."  There has never
been a Wiles County in either Virginia or the Carolinas.  It is possible
that the reference is to Wilkes County, North Carolina, which originally
was part of Rowan.  The name may have become altered in spelling and
pronunciation as it passed through generations in the recollections of
Masters descendants.

     There is evidence that Hillery lived in more than one state before
his eventual move to middle Tennessee.  An indenture deed in the Hawkins
County, Tennessee archives at Rogersville (Deed Book 2, p. 171,) shows
that Hillery and Mary paid $333 for some 240 acres from John Thompson on
Sept. 10, 1794.  Hillery's land was on Beech Creek on the south side of
the Holston River, not far from Rogersville.  Why he left is unknown, but
he stayed just a little more than a year, selling the land for $500 to
Andrew Smithers in a deed recorded Dec. 17, 1795 (Deed Book 2, p. 282).
It is possible that Hillery and Mary never took up residence on the land.

     Rogersville was close to two major trails, the "Daniel Boone Trace"
into Kentucky, where many North Carolinians had settled, and the "Great
Indian Warpath", the avenue to middle and western Tennessee.  A decade
later, according to tradition, Hillery and his family would travel this
second trace.

     Hillery Masters is known, by census records, to have been living in
Surry County, North Carolina in 1800.  Surry in 1800 also included what
is now Yadkin County, so it cannot be said with any certainty that Hillery
lived within the present boundaries of Surry County.  Earlier tax lists
(1788-89) locate him in nearby Montgomery County, Virginia.

     What ever the point of departure, Hillery removed with his family
into Jackson County, Tennessee in 1803 (Overton County was not established
until 1806 and is located in northern middle Tennessee). According to
family tradition  "He first settled in what is now the Second District of
Overton County, near what is known as the M.  A.  Hardy home place."
According to Oscar Eldridge, he later moved "to near Flatt Creek in the
Mt.  Gilead community, about four miles southeast of Hilham and five or six
miles west of Livingston." Cleo Long, who currently owns the old John S.
Masters (son of Hillery) property recalls family tradition as locating the
final homesite of Hillery as "just across the little road from the Oscar
Nivens place."  The Nivens built a house in the early 1900's near the exact
location of the John S.  Masters homeplace.  According to Mae Bilbrey,
Hillery's house was close enough to John S. that they used the same spring
for water.

     Hillery pursued farming here for the remainder of his life.  Records
of his ownership of land have not been discovered.  Apparently they were
destroyed in fires that consumed many records of Jackson and Overton

     Hillery's burial place is near Flatt Creek on what is known as the
Gore place or Charlie Allred farm.  Today the exact site of the grave in
the abandoned, overgrown burial ground cannot be determined.

    (My debt is gratefully acknowledged to Charles E. Burgess and to
publications in which his analysis of the Hillery and Notley Masters
information was presented.  The bulk of my summary is from these sources,
which contain full documentation: "Maryland-Carolina Ancestry of Edgar Lee
Masters," The Great Lakes Review 8 (Fall 1982-Spring 1983), 51-80, and
"Edgar Lee Masters' Paternal Ancestry: A Pioneer Heritage and Influence,"
Western Illinois Regional Studies 7 (Spring 1984), 32-60.)

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