David Poythress Connection to Weldon Edwards Property in Warren County, North Carolina

In a recent post to the mailing list I mentioned the transcription of a contract executed in 1866-7 by the Freedmen’s Bureau in North Carolina between David Poythress and several freed persons of color to work as laborers on the plantation he was renting from a W.N. Edwards.
  • We already knew from census records that David was located in the Smith Creek district of Warren County (Manson area) and that in the settlement of his estate a sum of $125 was paid to M.J. (Marmaduke James) Hawkins – Hawkins Plantation.  This was in the mid-1870s.


  • M.J. Hawkins is confirmed as living near Manson in the 1870 census.  MJ. Hawkin’s father was Dr. William J, Hawkins (https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=41451836).  His grandparents were John Hawkins and Jane (nee Boyd) Hawkins.  Jane was the daughter of Alexander Boyd of Mecklenburg, VA.  Hang on to this tidbit –  comes in handy a few paragraphs down;).


  • The Hawkins family were large land owners and prominent in other respects for generations — family papers are in the archives of the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.


  • After seeing the mention of W.N. Edwards as the owner of the plantation David Poythress was renting in 1866 I starting looking to see who Edwards might be.  I very quickly learned that he was Weldon N. Edwards.


  • Weldon Edwards’ plantation (Poplar Mount) is the area where David is shown residing in the census records – just north and a bit west of Manson – likely spanning  both sides of I-85 today. There is a Poplar Mount Road where the remains of a small private Edwards cemetery still identifiable in a small grove of trees not from the road unmarked, unfenced on private property.



  • The link below confirms the ties between the Edwards and Hawkins families.  On this site is a photo of Mr. Edwards with his wife’s great nephew on his lap — Marmaduke Hawkins.  This establishes Edwards and Hawkins family ties.  W.N. Edwards died in 1873 at an advanced age, so it might be that the property David Poythress was renting from W.N. Edwards was inherited by M.J. Hawkins.   If a search of extant records enables us to trace ownership, then we could determine if David was still living on the property he know he was renting in 1866 when he passed away in 1876.


  • The family and business papers of both the Edwards and the Hawkins families are in university archives (Edwards mostly at Duke; Hawkins mostly at UNC).  These papers might contain information helpful to our study of David Poythress and his role as an overseer and farmer.


  • It is historically significant that Mr. Weldon N. Edwards was politically influential in North Carolina in the first half of the 19th century and that he was experimenting with new crops and farming techniques.


  • Here are some helpful links about his life and political career:





  • We know from the 1850 Federal Census we see David reporting his occupation as Overseer.  We also see David’s immediate neighbor is Charles Baskerville (age 29) and others who may have been others residing with the Baskerville family.  The family history below indicates Charles Baskkerville lived at Lombardy Grove.


  • “From a letter from Mrs. Alice Baskervill Young, youngest child of Charles Baskervill, I get the following information: In November, 1841, he was married to Margaret Haynes Freear, and lived at Lombardy Grove, Mecklenburg Co., Va. until about 1852, when he moved with his family to Mississippi. He travelled across the country with his people, the trip extending over forty days, and settled in Columbus, Miss.”  (pp 110-111)  Additional Baskerville genealogy; a supplement to the author’s Genealogy of the Baskerville family of 1912; being a miscellany of additional notes and sketches from later information, including a study of the family history in Normandy. By P. Hamilton Baskervill. (Patrick Hamilton), 1848- .Richmond, W. E. Jones’ Sons, 1917.


  • The Library of Virginia has survey notes about Lombardy Grove and even a few photographs of remaining structures taken in the 1930s.  Below is a more easily accessed overview of the place.



  • Charles Baskerville, was a young (age 29; born 1821) was the son of Charles and Elizabeth Ann (Coleman and grandson of a prominent Mecklenburg plantation owner, William Baskerville.


  • I don’t know think we know when David moved down to Warren County, NC. but my current speculation is that at the time of the 1850 census he was working as a Baskerville overseer, based on the location of his household in Lombardy Grove.  On the other hand, we see him purchasing 321 acres from Hartwell Arnold in Mecklenburg on Nov. 4th, 1852.  Just four years later, on 16 Dec 1856 David Poythress and Sally Poythress sold to Oswald M. Morse 321 1/2 acres for $1,150.00. Mecklenburg Cty. Deed Book p.233 #0032548.


  • I also noted that William Baskerville as a business partner of Alexander Boyd and Boyd’s daughter, Jane, married John Hawkins of Warren Co., NC.  (Recall the tidbit above);).  This is the same Hawkins family we see connecting to David Poythress and W.N. Edwards.  Boyd also seemed to have a business relationship with Joseph Speed.  We might ask if these hints of a network of relationships facilitated David’s move to North Carolina?
  • I’d welcome hearing from others more familiar with these family lines and the region.  I need to get all this documented into a working study of the relationships and look further to see if there might be links that could lead to other Poythress.
  • Obviously, these orbiting connections don’t add anything to the family tree yet, but it might eventually help us get a better sense of the relationships David had with the most prominent families in the region, perhaps even why he seemed so well connected, and eventually lead to the discovery of allied family ties that crack open new insights about his parentage.  Maybe;).
  • By the way, I think we may see David’s own signature on the Freedmen contract — no X and the signature is distinct from the scribe who wrote the contract.  If so, then he might have had the benefit of some formal education.