ALVIS, Ashley, of Goochland and Buckingham Counties VA and Sumner Co TN

Approved Patriot Ancestor for Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR)

Approved Ancestor for the National Society, Daughters of Founders and Patriots of America (the Patriot)

Ashley Alvis was born in Virginia, probably Hanover County, say 1752,[1] the son of David and Elizabeth (Stanley[2]) Alvis.[3] He died between 29 Aug 1808 and 27 Dec 1809 in Sumner Co TN.[4]

            On 17 Dec 1772 in Goochland Co VA, Ashley married Elizabeth Knolling.[5] She was born say 1755, probably the oldest daughter of David and Mary (Ferguson) Nowlin, and died before her husband’s second marriage, say 1789. Ashley married second about 1789 Martha –?–,[6] said by a grandchild to have been Martha “Nolan.” She may have been a niece of Ashley’s first wife.

            Ashley Alvis served in the Revolutionary War,[7] although no record has been found. He suffered losses to the British.[8]

            In 1789 in Goochland Co VA, Ashley witnessed the marriage of Stephen Nowlin, whom I believe to be his brother-in-law.

Ashley was on tax lists in Goochland County from 1782 to 1793.[9] He next appears in Buckingham County, Virginia, from 1794 to 1805. He continued a close relationship with the Nowlins who were there in the same years.[10]

            By 1804 Ashley and his family were in Sumner Co TN.[11] Part of the identification of Ashley Alvis’s children is the fact of their being in this county from 1804 through the 1820s. When the family moved to Tennessee, it appears that at least two sons, John and Charles, stayed in Virginia. Charles came later to the same area of Tennessee.

            In 1820 Edmund and Abraham Alvis were in Smith Co TN; Shadrach Alvis had moved to Lawrence Co TN. There were one or two Charles Alvises in Sumner Co in 1830; one of them was Ashley’s son. Martha Alvis’s 1815 will names her children: Ashley Jr, Elijah and Mary.[12]

            Several of Ashley’s sons served in the War of 1812 from Sumner Co TN: Edmund, Abraham, Shadrach, Ashley Jr.[13]

            Two pages of notes on the Alvis family of Tennessee and Illinois were dictated by Edmund Young Alvis, born 27 Feb 1844 in Sumner Co TN, son of William Carroll and Lucinda Simmons; married 31 Dec 1869 to Phoebe E Stonecipher in Marion Co IL; died 11 Mar 1940 in Benton, Franklin Co IL. Edmund Y. Alvis dictated the notes to his son, Edward Carroll Alvis, born Feb 1871 in Marion Co IL.[14] This letter both confirms what I had surmised and provided additional details.

            Ashley’s children with his first wife, Elizabeth Knolling, or Nowlin, were:

1. Edmund ALVIS was born about 1778 in Goochland Co VA and died in Macon Co TN, on 25 Jan 1864. Before 1809, he married Phoebe DOVER in TN. Edmund was named in Buckingham Co VA tax lists in 1801-1805 and received a land grant in Sumner Co TN in 1817. Born in 1782 in NC, Phoebe died on 11 Jan 1860. They had the following children:

                        i.            Elizabeth Dover (1809-1882)

                        ii.            William Carroll (1815-1881)

                        iii.            David (1817-<1850)

                        iv.            (daughter)

                        v.            Aury (1822-1858 )

                        vi.            James B (1821-1861)

                        vii.            Sarah Melinda (1827-1892)

2. John ALVIS was born about 1780 in Virginia. About 1800 he married Lucy STRANGE in Buckingham Co VA.

They had the following children:

                        i.            Susan (1801-1876)

                        ii.            William Walker (1808- )

He may have married a second wife, Carolina, who was a widow in the 1820 census, Buckingham Co VA: 010000/00102.

3. Abraham ALVIS was born in 1781 in Virginia. He died in Macon Co TN, in 1854. In 1810 Abraham first married Love VENTRESS possibly in Sumner Co TN. Love died in 1836 in TN. They had the following son plus an infant who died young:

                        i.            Asa (1812-1897)

Abraham second married Elizabeth –?–, who was born in 1806 in TN.

4. Charles ALVIS was born in Virginia in the 1780s. He was probably still in Campbell Co VA in 1810 (30010/10100), in 1820 (210001/11010), and in Smith Co VA in 1830 (00202001/002101). His assumed children were:

                        i.            Zachariah (1803-)

                        ii.            Meredith (1802-)

                        iii.            (Alice?) (1800-)

                        iv.            Thomas S (1814-1894)

                        v.            Caroline (1820-)

5. Shadrach ALVIS was born about 1788 in Virginia and was living in Jefferson Co IL in 1860. On 21 Oct 1804 when Shadrach was 16, he married Nancy HAIL, daughter of James Edmonson HAIL & Jane CRAIGHEAD, in Sumner Co TN. Born in 1792 in VA. Nancy died in prob Jefferson Co IL, aft 1850. They had the following children:

                        i.            Jenny Jane

                        ii.            James Woodford/Woodson (1808-1844)

                        iii.            John Spencer (1814-1867)

                        iv.            Mathilda

                        v.            Harriet Katherine (1820-1843)

                        vi.            Sarah

                        vii.            Tabitha

                        viii.            Nancy Caroline

                        ix.            Rachael D

                        x.            Joshua B (1832-1903)

                        xi.            Mary (1834-)

            Ashley’s children with his second wife, Martha, probably Nowlin, were:

6. Ashley ALVIS was born 7 Mar 1791 in Virginia. He died in Marengo Co AL, on 20 Oct 1883; he was 92. On 2 Dec 1827 when Ashley was 36, he first married Polly Ann SIMPSON in Lawrence Co TN. Born in 1811, Polly Ann died on 19 Nov 1830; she was 19. They had one child:

                        i.            Elijah S (1830-1882)

On 11 Nov 1833, Ashley second married Esther Elizabeth EDMISTON/EDMUNTON possibly in Lawrence Co TN. Born on 9 Mar 1811 in VA, Esther Elizabeth died on 10 Oct 1851. They had the following children:

                        i.            Martha J (1842-1891)

                        ii.            Caroline (1849-1891)

7. Nancy ALVIS was born 27 Sep 1793 in Virginia. He probably died in Washington Co IL. Her first child was a son with Joab Alexander KEELING:

                        i.            Tyra Perry (1820-1896)

On 17 Jul 1821, Nancy married Robert GALBRAITH in Sumner Co TN. Born on 6 Sep 1787 in NC, Robert died in Wayne Co IL, on 9 Nov 1870. They had the following children:

                        i.            Elizabeth Jane (1822-1901)

                        ii.            A T (1828-1870)

                        iii.            Martha J (1833-1901)

8. [possibly] Elizabeth ALVIS was born ca 1795 and married 27 Oct 1819 in Maury Co TN to George Dreskill. It is possible she was the widow of another Alvis, say, Moses Alvis, who is otherwise unknown.

9. Mary ALVIS was born say 1796 and married Eli GILES 11 Apr 1809 in Sumner Co TN. They lived in Marengo Co AL, as did her brothers Ashley Jr and Elijah Alvis.


10. Elijah ALVIS was born in 1801 in Virginia and died in Marengo Co AL. About 1833 Elijah married Mary Ann –?–. They had the following children:

                        i.            Joseph P (1833-)

                        ii.            Ashley Nolan (1836-)

                        iii.            Elijah Thomas (1840-1861)

                        iv.            Mary A (1842-)

                        v.            Sarah C (1847-)

                        vi.            George W (1850-)

                        vii.            Nancy B (1852-)

© Kathy Alvis Patterson 2008

[1] Calculated from his age at first marriage.

[2] Elizabeth Stanley’s sister, Agatha Stanley, married Ashley Johnson, 15 Dec 1746. This family name is a piece of the evidence which goes toward establishing that Elizabeth Stanley was the wife of David Alvis and the mother of Ashley Alvis.

[4] Ashley Alvis was alive 29 Aug 1808 when he was reported to have found a stray horse (The Impartial Review & Cumberland Repository, 1805-1808, 229). He was probably dead by the time of a deed, recorded in Joyce Martin Murray, Sumner Co TN Deed Abstracts, 1806-1817, p 49: “Page 132 in Deed Book at Courthouse, 27 Dec 1809, Patrick McBride, Franklin Co TN, to Patsey Alvis, Ashley Alvis & Elijah Alvis, $100.00, tr[act] on branch of W fork Goose Creek, part of an entry made by him sd McBride, being 50 acres. Wit: John Carr, Hugh Stephenson.”  Also, on 3 Mar 1810 Mrs. Martha Alvis was reported to have found a stray (The Democratic Clarion & Tennessee Gazette, 1810-1811, 121).

[5] The Douglas Register. These entries from the Douglas Register are some members of Elizabeth’s likely family: Children of David Knolling and Mary fferguson: 1. Joseph, b 8 May 1758. 2. Milly, b 1 Sep 1760. 3. Abraham, b 3 May 1763. Other probable family members included: Christopher Norden (Nowlin) m 13 Jun 1754 Mary Emmerson. Children: 1. William, b 13 Jun 1754 [same date?]; Martha, b 28 Oct 175x, bapt. 11 Apr 1757; James Knowling who married 10 Mar 1776 Sarah Webster. Children: 1. Samuel, b 23 Dec 1777. 2. Ann, b 5 Sep 1781; Ann Knolling m 26 Aug 1762 John Webster; Elizabeth Knolling m 16 Dec 1772 Ashley Alvis (whose brother Zachariah also married a member of this same Webster family); either Sarah Knolling who married 29 Dec 1774 Tucker Woodson, or Sarah Knowling, who married 25 Dec 1775 Jacob Johnson; and John Knolling m 22 Nov 1765 Mary Patterson. Children: 1. James Pugh b 22 Nov 1765 [same date again]. 2. Sarah m 15 Oct 1767. 3. Susannah b 15 Oct 1767.

            Further evidence that this is Elizabeth’s family includes the family name given Abraham given to one of her sons, the other Nowlins who moved to Buckingham Co VA at the same time as Ashley Alvis and his family, and other intermarriages between Alvis, Nowlin and Webster individuals. Members of the Nowlin family used spellings Knolling and Knowling.

[6] Second marriage. Martha —, ca 1790, assumed from her existence and children; her will, Sumner Co TN, signed 21 Mar 1816, proved Nov 1816. Data on his children in Kentucky, a History of the State, 1885, p. 809. The Alvis Exchange, 16-2: “More about the TN Alvises.” An additional reference, Paul Edwin Power, The Garrison and Allied Families, no date, gives data based on this article and other family records:

a.     That other sons of Ashley Alvis Sr. moved to Sumner Co TN.

b.     That Edmund was a likely brother of Abraham.

c.     That the widow Martha was probably connected with this family, as evidenced by her sons being named Ashley and Elijah.

d.     That Asa Alvis died 27 Jan 1897.

e.     That Abraham Alvis signed the marriage bond of William Carroll Alvis.

f.That Edmund’s wife was a Miss Dover.

[7] Kentucky, A History of the State, 1885, p. 809. Paul Edwin Power, The Garrison and Allied Families.

[8] The Virginia Genealogist, “British Depredations in Goochland County,” Vol [?], p 217: “At a court held for Goochland County (agreable to an act of assembly) for Ascertaining the losses to the inhabitants of sd county by the British Army under the Commd of Earl Cornwallis, Sept 27th 1782…” Among the names of those making declarations was Ashley Alvis.

[9] These younger males were in his household: 1798: w/Charles, C [David?], John, 1799: same, 1800: w/son 16+, Charles, David & David Jr, 1801: Charles, Edmund, Meredith & 2 others, 1802: w/Charles, Edmond, Abraham, 1803: w/son, Meredith, 1804: Edm & Abr, 1805: same.

[10] Virginia Genealogical Society Quarterly XXXII, #2: Ashley Alvis signed a petition in Buckingham County (near Abraham Nowlin), 7 Dec 1799.

[11] On 21 Oct 1804, Ashley’s son Shadrach married Nancy Hail in Sumner Co TN.

[12] Sumner County, TN Abstracts of Will Books 1 and 2 (1788-1842). “ALVIS, Martha—March 21, 1816 Will—Sons Ashley and Elijah, daughter Nancy. Ashley and Nancy executors.”

[13] Walter T. Durham. Old Sumner. Nashville: Parthenon Press, 1972. Also, War of 1812 index cited by Harry O. Alvis.

[14] The Alvis Exchange, 51-1, 4: “Evidence of Families of Ashley and Edmund Found.” Subject: Re: William Carrol Alvis, 26 Mar 2000, from:

You will be very disappointed to know that the letter does not mention Ashley. It starts with the four brothers. Don’t recall how I got Ashley as the father-probably from talking to someone in the family-EY and most of his children lived to be very old. Since Ashley is not mentioned, probably not worth xeroxing the letter to you, plus it is almost too fragile to copy [although he later did send a copy to me. KP]. So I will just give you the text of the letter here:

Asa Alvis; Edmund Alvis; Shadrick Alvis; Bill Alvis; Four Brothers Came from Virginia to Tenn Sometime before 1800

1. Bill Alvis moved down into Mississippi [The identity of this man is still uncertain. KP]

2. Shadrick Alvis moved to Ill and settled west of Mt Vernon and his Son Butch Alvis moved into the Northern part of the State.

3. Asa Alvis moved into Ky and located across the river from Golconda, Ill.

4. Edmund Alvis married a girl whom it is claimed was found in a dutch oven after an Indian Massacre and was adopted by a Soldier by the name of Harris.

Their children were 1. Betsey or Elizabeth who married Barney Wells and moved to Jeff Co, Ill.           2. Dave who married a woman named Woodcock-he died her children John Alvis died in

Infancy-Dave moved into Northern Ill. 3. Margaret or Aura was never married. 4. Malinda Married Wash Simmons of Eula Tenn

[5] Jim Alvis lived in Westmoreland Macon Co Tenn-his son Jasper still lives there.

[6] Carroll Alvis Married Lucinda Simmons Daughter of Long Tom Simmons of Macon Co Tenn and moved to Marion County Ill about 1849.

This is the history of our family so far as my father is able to give me. He does not remember any of the Wells family Except Barney.

The Wilkins and Alvis families are not related until my youngest Sister married Roy Wilkins. They live in Alto Pass Ill. He might tell you of Uncle Byrd (Byod?).

Sometimes the name Alvis was Pronounced with a broad A and sounded like Olvis. My father will be 88 on the 28th* day of Feb. he is well and fine.  I think you will find questions mostly answered in the above report. Dad says tell Matthew B. Hello for him.Think we will go back to Tenn next Spring and if I find out anything new will let you know.       Yours Very Respectfully, Ed Alvis

The date was later changed to the 27th in pencil. I have typed the letter exactly as written, except for my inability to  decipher Byrd or Byod-maybe Boyd, but not written that way. Ed Alvis’ father, from whom the information came, was Edmund Young Alvis, (Wm) Carroll’s son.  I have no idea to whom the letter was written. Matthew B is unknown to me. Ed Alvis died in about 1937. I have had the letter since 1940 or earlier. I assume it was never sent.          Ed Bostwick

Published on September 30, 2008 at 7:58 am  Comments (6)  

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hi —
    I’m a Bolling researcher. One of your Pedigo’s married the daughter of John Bowling whose will is dated 1834 in Pittsylvania County, VA. We do not have a DNA sample from this line of Bollings.

    James Bowling was transported to New Kent in 1700 by George Alvis/Alves. George Alves married the widow of Capt. Harris and they had one son: David Alvis.

    Would be willing to help you make further connections between these two families if you are interested…. please contact me directly.

  2. Hi,
    I’m not sure if this will get to you but I would like to talk to you concerning the Alvis’s.
    My Step-Grandfather was Jim Alvis b. 1900 who lived in Smith county, Tennessee.

  3. Hi
    Do you by chance have any information about who Nancy B. married? My Great grandfather married a Nancy B. Alvis. His name was William Allen Davidson. I do not have her birth date but I do have the marriage date it was 23 Jan 1873 in Alabama. She died 1890 in Oil Trough, Independance Co, Arkansas. I have her as the daughter of a George but the information I have found so far has her as the daughter of Elijah, son of Ashley Alvis.

  4. Hi,
    I descend from Polly Ann (Simpson) Alvis and was thinking that your Polly Ann (Simford) is one in the same. You also write that Ashley Alvis married his 2nd wife in Lawrence County, TN., and I’m thinking maybe that is Lawrence County, Alabama instead.

    • Thank you for the correction. Ashley had a brother in Lawrence Co TN, but it is certainly possible the brothers lived in different Lawrence Counties.

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