There have been three men who have done excellent and admirable research on the Watts Families of Culpeper, Orange and Stafford Counties of Virginia. These men are Charles B. Heinemann, Edward Watts and Dr. Wade Watts. While I agree with many of their conclusions and have had the benefit of seeing their research and conclusions, I have also had the benefit of YDNA results of the Watts DNA Project with Familytreedna and have also followed the land grants and deeds, thus reaching my own conclusions which are in some cases quite different.
It has been frequently said that Edward Watts and his son Thomas Watts are the progenitors of the Watts families from Culpeper County VA. Edward Watts was granted 900 acres on the branches of Black Walnut Run. Beginning and extending standing in Robert Slaughter’s line on 28 September 1728. Spotsylvania County VA. Thomas Watts, son of Edward Watts was granted 250 acres on the branches of Black Walnut Run on 28 September 1728 Spotsylvania VA .( Library of VA Archives). Orange County was formed from Spotsylvania County in 1734 and Culpeper County was formed from Orange County in 1749. Black Walnut Run was then in Culpeper County and in St. Mark’s Parish.
Edward Watts of St. Mark’s Parish Orange County sold 900 acres to Richard Mauldin of St. Margaret’s Parish Caroline County, the whole of a patent granted to Watts adj. Robert Slaughter, John Lee, Thomas Watts Recorded 2/24/1736. Edward Watts last will and testament was filed for probate in Culpeper County on 10 March 1749 according to David Lewis Ramage.
Thomas Watts the son of Edward Watts married Esther and after his land grant in 1728 obtained another land grant for 350 acres on 28 January 1733, a grant for 333 acres with John Zachory on 7 July 1735, and also continued to buy land adjacent to his own. Library of VA Archives, Orange County Deed Book 3 p. 16, 18. All or most of the land appeared to be on or near Walnut Run later in Culpeper County VA. Thomas Watts who was living in St. Thomas Parish of Culpeper County wrote his last will and testament on 22 December 1748 and it was probated 15 March 1749. In his will he named the following children: sons Edward Watts, John Watts, Benjamin Watts, Thomas Watts, Jacob Watts, and William Watts, daughters Sarah Watts, Esther Watts, Mary Watts, Elizabeth Watts, Frankey Watts and Ann Watts. He also mentions his wife Esther. The land bequests to his wife and children in the will indicate that Thomas Watts had acquired a considerable amount of land during his lifetime. Part of St. Mark’s Parish became St. Thomas Parish and later part of St. Thomas Parish became Bromfield Parish. The land deeds for Thomas Watts children that reflect property they were selling that they inherited from their father indicates it was on or near Black Walnut Run in Culpeper County VA.
The other Thomas Watts family that is in Culpeper County can safely be tied to three brothers Robert Watts, Thomas Watts and William Watts. I cannot with any certainty tell who their parents were. According to Edward Watts in his book The Descendants of Thomas Watts of Stafford County VA, Robert Watts in a deed of King George County on 22 August 1732, identified as a planter, bought 400 acres in Spotsylvania County “by a glade of Potato Run”
Robert Watt’s will was undated but was recorded in Orange County in May 1741. Orange County was formed from part of Spotsylvania in 1734. Robert gave his brother Thomas all of his land except 100 acres and gave him a horse and his stock. His brother William was given 100 acres of land. Thomas and William Watts were executors of the will. On 13 October 1727 Joseph Bloodworth was granted 400 acres in the fork of the Rappahannock River, beginning and extending by a glade of Potato Run. Library of VA Archives. This appears to be the same parcel of land bought by Robert Watts in 1732 and willed to his brothers Thomas Watts and William Watts in 1741. Will Book 1, 1735-1743, pages 144-146, Inventory p.157-158 Orange County Library of Virginia Archives.
Thomas Watts, in all probability the brother of Robert Watts and William Watts, made his last will and testament in January of !761 and the will was proved in court in Culpeper County VA 19 April 1764. The inventory of his estate was done 17 May 1764. His estate not including property was evaluated at L70-2-6 or 70 Pounds, 2 Shillings and 6 Pence. He left 100 acres to his brother William. The land was west of the Pattin (probably referring to the Patent Line of the original patent or land grant) and west of the Malee Road (probably referring to the Amelia Road which occurs often in land deeds signed by the descendants of both Thomas and William Watts. The 100 acres Thomas willed to his brother William was “joyning the Plantation wheron he now lives”. Could this parcel of 100 acres be a gift that made the uneven arrangement of land left to Thomas and William by their brother even now? This indicates that the brothers Thomas and William and their families lived close together and had started out and remained on land that their brother Robert Watts had left them. They evidently added to this original land from time to time as we will see.
Other men who received land grants on Potato Run from the Colonial Land office were Joseph Kooper-404 acres, Frederick Cobler (Kabler)-289 acres, Connorat Ambyon-445 acres, Alexander McQueen-200 acres all on 28 September 1728, Christopher Zimmerman 440 acres 7 July 1735, James Connor 726 acres 18 December 1760, and Frederick Watts 75 acres 6 November 1805. The land grants made through 1728 were in Spotsylvania County, the grant in 1735 to Zimmerman was in Orange County and the rest in Culpeper County, reflecting changing county lines. Also Thomas Wright was given a grant of 400 acres joining on Joseph Bloodworth beginning and extending near Summerduck Run 28 September 1728 Spotsylvania County. This reflects the close proximity of Potato Run and Summerduck Run. Above the grant to Frederick Watts was in Culpeper County but did not mention a landmark other than that it was adjoining William Kabler and others. William Kabler lived in the vicinity of Potato Run and Summerduck Run. (Library of VA Northern Neck Grants)
It would probably be good to go through the Watts family wills in Culpeper County that are related to the three brothers Robert, Thomas and William Watts. In Thomas Watts will he mentions his wife Elizabeth, sons William and Thomas, daughter Elinor Cox, grandson Richard Watts (son of William), brother William Watts and Joel Watts, presumably a nephew, is a witness. The will of Thomas Watts, son of Thomas Watts above, mentions wife Ann, sons Aron and Robert, daughter Eleanor Morriss, and granddaughter Prissey Watts. Will probated 12/19/1796. We have seen that a direct male descendant of Robert Watts and his wife Susanna Lewis m 5/5/1788 in Culpeper County Virginia and Richard Watts the presumed son of William Watts, both grandsons of Thomas Watts died 1764, have matching YDNA. Will of Joel Watts recorded 8/20/1781 names wife Isabel (daughter of Frederick Kabler), son Frederick, and daughters Lettie Brown and Barbara Thomas.
The probable Watts family relationships at this point, deduced from wills, land grants and deeds are as follows:
Robert Watts, Thomas Watts and William Watts – Brothers
Family of Thomas Watts d 1764 wife Elizabeth (brother of Robert and William Watts)
Family of William Watts Sr. m Ann (brother of Robert and Thomas Watts)
There is a Gideon Watts who appears in Guildford County, NC with Peter Watts and his parents William and Elizabeth Watts. He is a Revolutionary War Veteran as is Peter Watts and is found in Kentucky in the same vicinity with Peter Watts and his cousin Richard Watts during the same time period. However I don’t think anyone has ever found any definitive documents that tell who Gideon’s parents were, although it is clear that he is closely related to both Peter and Richard Watts.
The will and inventory of the estate of Thomas Watts (died 1764) are included in the documents section of this book.
Additional deeds will help further clarify the relationships of this Watts family and the location of the land they lived on and farmed.
OCDB=Orange County Deed Book. OCDB 4, p.449. William Hackney, Gentleman, of Prince William Co. to William Watts, Sr. and William Watts, Jr. of St. Mark’s Parish, O. C. 400 acres in O. C. on Summerduck Run in the Great Fork of the Rappahanock (This is in current day Culpeper Co.) Recorded 5/29/1741.
CCDB=Culpeper County Deed Book. CCDB G-88 William and Elizabeth Watts to John Wharton, all of Culpeper Co. 200 acres old William Hackney, dec, land adjacent Joseph Bloodworth, Joel Watts. Dated 7/31/1773 recorded 9/20/1773.
CCDB II-53 Frederick Watts and John Wharton, both of Culpeper County, to divide old William Hackney land, conveyd to William and Ann Watts, rec in Orange Co., 7/28/1741. 400 acres in the Great Fork of the Rappahanock River. John Wharton purchased the moiety of William Watts Jr, w/simple plat. Dated 7/31/1773, recorded 7/17/1817.
CCDB A-415, 416 Lease and release from Jacob Kindrick to Joel Watts, both of CUL. Co. 52 acres in St. Mark’s Parish in the great Fork of the Rappahanock, adj. Bloodworth old land, Cabler, the Amelia Road. Wit. Thomas Watts, John Hackley, Thomas Doggett. Dated 2/5/1752, recorded 5/21/1752
CCB L-219 Frederick and Elizabeth Watts to Timothy Wale of Cul. Co., 50 acres in Cul. Co. on the old Amelia Road, adj. William Cabler, Richard Chelton, Potatoe Run. Dated and recorded 11/18/1782.
CCDB Aaron and Margaret Watts of Stafford Co. to William Richards of Cul. Co., 84 1⁄2 acres obtained by Aaron Watts as legatee to Thomas Watts, dec., who died on the premises, adj. the run, Bruce and Wallace, Robert Watts. Dated 8/2/1797 recorded 9/18/1797
CCDB EE-58 Robert Watts of Cul. Co. to Humphrey Hume of same, all the land devised to Robert by his father, Thomas Watts, dec. will, 84 1⁄2 acres, adj. Aaron Watts, John Wharton. Dated 9/28/1810, recorded 10/15/1810
We can see that the families of brothers Thomas and William Watts continued for some time to live, and buy and sell property in the area between Potato Run and Summerduck Run on old Amelia Road in Culpeper County Virginia. In addition Peter Watts supposed son of William Watts. Jr. sold land for his father in Culpeper Co. that was adjacent to Amelia Road and Watts Branch.
CCDB L-179 Peter Watts att’y in fact for William Watts of the State of North Carolina, Guilford Co., 128 acres in Culpeper Co., to Reuben Doggett of Culpeper Co., adj Amelia Rd., Watts Branch, John Megannen. Dated 7/20/1782, recorded 9/16/1783.
CCDB T-185 Aaron and Margaret Watts of Stafford Co. to William Richards of Cul. Co.,84 1⁄2 acres obtained by Aaron Watts as legatee to Thomas Watts, dec., who died on the premises, adj. the run, Bruce and Wallace, Robert Watts. Dated 8/24/1797, reforded 9/18/1797.
We have seen that Richard Watts of this family moved to Kentucky and from the above two entries we can see that the move out of Culpeper County of the descendants of Thomas Watts and Elizabeth had begun. Currently their known descendants live all the way from California to New York State in the United States. The descendants of Thomas Watts died 1749 and Esther stayed in the area for a while and then some moved to other counties and then some to Kentucky. The family of Richard Watts of Bedford County Virginia stayed in the Bedford Co. area for a while also but some wound up in Georgia.
It would perhaps be interesting to see as closely as we can what life was like for our Watts family in the 1700’s in Colonial Virginia. It was quite different from our lives today but perhaps not any less complicated or dangerous.
In the 1700’s the Colony of Virginia had some local government but was essentially controlled by England with its Monarchy and established Church of England. The Colony was originally established on the coast and as more people came and more land was needed, the people moved westward, the old large counties were divided and new counties were established. Stafford County was established from part of Westmoreland County in 1664. Spotsylvania County was established from parts of Essex/King and Queen and King William in 1721. Orange County was established from part of Spotsylvania in 1734. Culpeper County was established from part of Orange County in 1749. One could live in the same place for some years and live in three different counties which can be quite confusing for genealogists. Culpeper County originally contained what is now Culpeper, Madison (cut off from Culpeper in 1792) and Rappahanock (cut off in 1831). The current town of Culpeper was originally called Fairfax after the grandson of Lord Culpeper, Colonial Governor of Virginia. The town was also called Culpeper Court House (Culpeper C. H.).
Culpeper was heavily involved in the Revolution and the resulting war. In 1765, 16 of the 20 Members of the County Court of Culpeper, holding commissions as Justices of the Peace from King Gorge III resigned in protest of the Stamp Act. As instructed by the Virginia Convention in 1775, Culpeper County formed a battalion of 350 men called the Minutemen who took part in the Battle of Great Bridge, the first Revolutionary battle fought on Virginia soil.
Culpeper County is located in the Piedmont Region of Virginia with rolling hills. It rises from 300 feet in the east to about 600 feet on the west. It is bounded by the Rapidan (Rapid Ann) River on the south and the Rappahanock on the north. The great fork is where the Rappahanock and Rapidan meet. The county is well watered by these and other streams. The temperature is moderate and the average rainfall amount is 40.98 inches. The inhabitants of Culpeper in the mid to late 1700’s were made up of large land owners, small landowners, merchants, professional men, skilled laborers, indentured servants and slaves. The ethnic and racial groups consisted of English, Germans, Scots-Irish, and Irishmen together with indentured servants of Indo- European descent and slaves of American Indian as well as African descent. As we can see it was a mixed and complex society with complicated relationships. The land was well wooded in addition to having many fields for crops. The Germans specialized in working iron and carpentry work. They made barrels for hogsheads of tobacco that were rolled down” rolling” roads to a waterway to be taken to market. People were busy holding courts to take care of the county business-cutting roads, keeping roads clear, building bridges, seeing that the King’s Peace was kept, widows, the ill and orphans were cared for, any orders by the King’s government or the House of Burgesses were carried out, deeds were recorded and any disputes handled, and trials for criminal cases and civil cases were carried out.
The Church of England was the official church of the Colony of Virginia. All people were required to attend the Church and were fined for nonattendance. There were other churches such as Baptist, Presbyterian etc., however even if you attended one of these you were fined for being absent from the Church of England. Most of the large land owners were usually attending members of the official Church. Our family of Watts may have been what was known as dissenters-not members of the official Church. As we have seen Robert Watts married to Susanna Lewis in Culpeper County (a first cousin of our Richard Watts) was married by a Baptist pastor according to Culpeper records. Richard Watts and his wife Sally joined the Shawnee Run Baptist Church in Mercer County Kentucky by letter after they arrived there and then joined the Baptist Church in Washington County Kentucky when they moved again. These are not proof that the whole family was Baptist but are certainly indicators.
Germans were encouraged to settle in the area of Culpeper County near the confluence of the Rappahanock and Rapidan Rivers in 1714. Their settlement came to be known as Germanna. A second group of Germans came at a later date and settled near Mount Pony in Culpeper close to Summerduck Run and Potato Run. They were close neighbors of our Watts family and Peter Watts married a descendant of the Fisher and Garr families who were from Germany. His in laws, the Fishers, moved to Mercer County Kentucky also.
It is now time to consider Richard Watts and the information pertaining to the three Richard Watts as we move out of Culpeper County Virginia.
(NOTE: If you have stories to contribute from your branch of one of these families, please email Marian Franklin. firstname.lastname@example.org.)