It appears that all Alvis families in early Virginia descend from George Alvis and his only known son David, who was born ca 1714. Records from 1761 through 1790 reveal nine adult men: JOHN, GEORGE, FORESTER, DAVID, ASHLEY, SHADRACH, STANLEY, ELIJAH, ZACHARIAH. For clarity in this document, I will use capital letters to indicate these men. From 1786 another generation is documented, including three men who filed Revolutionary War pension applications: Jesse, Henry Harris (whose birth in 1769 is recorded in the Douglas Register), and John.
If Elizabeth Stanley was the mother of all of David Sr’s children, the couple followed this naming pattern: the first two sons, JOHN and GEORGE, were named for the couple’s fathers, John Stanley and George Alvis, FORESTER came from an unknown source, DAVID was for the husband, ASHLEY, SHADRACH and STANLEY were names in the Stanley family, and ELIJAH and ZACHARIAH were Old Testament names, perhaps reflecting a religious trend which reached this couple in the late 1750s.
It is also possible that the first three or even four sons had a different mother. No records we have found list the children of Elizabeth (Stanley) Alvis, although the three sons with Stanley-related names certainly seem unquestionable. If the oldest three sons had a different mother, then JOHN was not named for John Stanley, and FORESTER might be that first wife’s maiden name.
The first three sons were often in Hanover County, and the other six were usually in Goochland County. Even more suggestive that the nine men can be separated into two groups are the names they gave their sons.
The nine sons whose names were repeated among the brothers are DAVID, also the father’s name of course, ASHLEY, SHADRACH, STANLEY, ELIJAH and ZACHARIAH. These five are also the men who used these names. Neither JOHN, GEORGE nor FORESTER had known sons or grandsons with any of these five names, except David. Only GEORGE had a son or grandson named George, excepting one George Washington Alvis.
Among the other sons, ASHLEY had Ashley Jr, Shadrach and Elijah. I believe his son Charles had sons named Zachariah and possibly Stanley. Even two generations later John S Alvis, son of Shadrach, the son of ASHLEY, had sons named Zachariah and Shadrach. The sons of Ashley Sr’s second marriage, Ashley and Elijah, each named a son for the other; that is, Ashley Jr had Elijah and Elijah had Ashley Nolan.
ELIJAH had David, Ashley, Shadrach, and Stanley. Elijah’s son William E Alvis had a Stanley and a Shadrach Ashley.
ZACHARIAH had Shadrach and Elijah.
DAVID had David Jr and probably Zachariah. David’s oldest son Henry Harris Alvis also had a Shadrach.
James M Alvis of Vigo Co IN had a son Zachariah. I am still puzzling over where to place this man and need to study him more closely. Although his second son was named Zachariah, he does not fit as a son in the census record of ZACHARIAH Sr. He was not named as a son of ELIJAH. It is possible he might be SHADRACH Sr’s son Major (Shadrach’s wife was Judith, the daughter of Major Hancocke), since other men with two names used them interchangeably: Major is named once and not seen again after the 1814 tax list, and James M was in KY by ca 1818, when he married Lucy. In addition, SHADRACH Sr’s other sons were Henry Franklin, who named his first son Julian James, and Robert. James M named one of his sons Robert.
Other names show up from the fourth generation, such as Meredith, Spencer and Woodson, which may come from neighbors or a source unknown to us. William, Charles, Henry and Robert were also popular names in all branches of the family and probably only indicate popular boys’ names.
There was never another FORESTER Alvis. No one named a son Forester. And none of FORESTER’s sons named a son Forester.
I have no clear proof of any of the sons of JOHN Alvis Sr, other than Matthew who was listed with him in the 1791 tax list. It is clear, however, from tax lists that a new generation appearing in the 1790s included men who were his sons. He probably had Jesse, John, Robert, Charles Dabney, and David. None of the sons I have placed in his family used the typical Alvis names discussed above. It also appears that when they used the name John, they were naming their sons for John Jr, or in the case of Charles Dabney’s son John M Alvis, for someone we can’t identify. I also believe Mary Ann Alvis named her “natural sons” by Joseph Woodson for her brothers and their father: Matthew Woodson Alvis, John Woodson Alvis, and Robert Woodson Alvis.
Many Alvis researchers are descended from Charles Dabney Alvis or from Jesse Alvis. It is significant to me that neither of these men named sons Shadrach, Ashley, Stanley, Elijah or Zachariah. Neither did any of their sons.
This is a principle reason I stopped considering Jesse a younger son of David Sr. If he had been born, say, between ELIJAH and ZACHARIAH, why did he not use the names they used, and why did none of them have a Jesse?
Charles Dabney Alvis used unique names for his sons. Not only is he the oldest Alvis we know who himself had two given names, he gave all of his sons two names. He was named for a neighbor and Revolutionary War officer under whom some of the Alvises served. Two were named for famous men, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. A third had the middle name Jackson. Too bad no one knows the names behind the initials of his sons Joseph H and John M. None of his sons seem named for other members of the Alvis family, but I think his daughter Mary Ann Susan was named for his sister Mary Ann and his wife’s sister, later his second wife, Susan.
There are three patterns of residence or migration in the Alvis family, or any family. The family can all stay in one place, the sons can move together, or the sons can move to different places. We find that FORESTER’s sons stayed in Chesterfield Co VA, although one grandson went to Iowa.
Following the second pattern, ASHLEY Sr and probably his brother DAVID went west to Buckingham Co VA; one or two sons stayed in the area; most went on to Tennessee; some went on to Mississippi, Alabama and Texas.
ELIJAH Sr’s children are examples of the third pattern. One went to Georgia, one to Missouri, one to the part of Virginia that became West Virginia. Three sons stayed in Goochland County.
Placing Charles Dabney Alvis in a family needs a startegy that uses all of these clues—names, residence, migration. He was too old to be a son of STANLEY (see the 1782 tax list), ZACHARIAH or SHADRACH’s second marriage. He is not named in the list of ELIJAH’s children or among the children of SHADRACH’s first marriage. ASHLEY had a probable son Charles in 1798 in Buckingham Co and later in Smith Co TN; Charles Dabney was still in Hanover Co VA in 1810. All of FORESTER’s children seem to be in Chesterfield County by 1810. This leaves JOHN and GEORGE as possible fathers. Charles Dabney would be among the younger children of JOHN. GEORGE had five people in his household in 1782, which leaves room for Charles Dabney, who appears on the Hanover Co VA tax list for the first tiime in 1805. Also listed were JOHN Sr and GEORGE, as well as James (possibly a son of FORESTER), Robert and John Jr. After 1810, Charles Dabney went to Hawkins Co TN. GEORGE’s two likely sons, Henry and David, went to Louisa and Campbell Counties in VA. One of JOHN’s sons, Robert, stayed in Hanover County; others went to Kentucky and possibly Iindiana. If Charles Dabney was the youngest son, he went in a different direction from his brothers.
War of 1812 pay roll and muster roll lists show the following: MR #649 included Charles D Alvis, Lemuel, and Robert. Lemuel is otherwise unknown; Charles D and a Robert were in Hanover Co VA. PR #349 included Shadrach Jr and Shadrach Sr, Stanley, Cpl Thomas, and William. Thomas is unknown; all of the others were from Goochland County. Woodford and Zephaniah were on MR #360, and they were from Chesterfield County.
The fact that there were two Alvises in Kentucky by 1810, John and Jesse, lends a bit of weight to the theory that they were brothers, sons of John Sr. Both had sons named William.
© Kathy Alvis Patterson 2008