My role as administrator of the Pettypool DNA Project inevitably often directs my energies as a Pettypool family genealogist. Occasionally a descendant carrying the name “Pool” or “Poole” will join the DNA Project with a hunch or even evidence that he has Pettypool heritage but hasn’t been able to trace it to one of the early progenitors from the Colonial or immediate post-Revolutionary era.

As has been documented, William, the sole Pettypool immigrant to America (Virginia in the 17th century), had only one known son, also a William, who in turn left two sons, William (3) and Seth (3), also residents of Virginia.1

These two grandsons of the immigrant left behind large families, each including several sons. Although most of these fourth and fifth generation men began life in Virginia, many eventually migrated in the post-Revolutionary period either west to Kentucky and Tennessee or south to the Carolinas (or some combination of both). Although an exact accounting of the sons of William and Seth of this third generation is not totally resolved, all current descendants should, in theory, be able to trace their ancestry in a straight line back to William (3) or Seth (3).

A frequent hurdle in locating the missing links to either William or Seth of the third generation was the natural tendency of land-hungry men of the late 18th and early 19th century to undertake serial moves even further afield. These moves usually took them to lands opening in the deep south (Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana), the border states (Missouri and Arkansas), or later to Florida, Texas and Oklahoma, as lands opened there.

In these new settings frontier conditions sometimes favored looser conventions regarding the production and maintenance of records and a greater preoccupation with survival rather than attention focused on past familial connections. Thus, the physical separation from eastern families could leave children of the migrants in these new settings with little or vague knowledge of their antecedents.

I have had the pleasure of assisting one branch of contemporary Pettypool descendants in locating their Virginia ancestor. A recent correspondent had submitted the sample of his first cousin once removed for DNA testing. When the result came back with a clear match to others in the Pettypool DNA study, I was delighted when the submitter responded to the offer to join the Pettypool DNA Project. Both men were probable Pettypool descendants based on a quite complete pedigree that ended with a progenitor, Charles W. Pool, who had died in Baldwin County, Georgia in August 1847.

The pedigree interested me not only because of the family’s quite complete information but because the last known ancestor, Charles W. Pool, had strong connections in Halifax County, Virginia, the location associated with the origins of my mother’s Pettypool family. Although I had spent time pursuing the descendants of Seth Pettypool of the third generation, my mother’s most distant ancestor in Halifax County, I had not encountered Charles W. Where did he fit?

I began to gather clues. According to family descendants, Charles W. had married Temperance Yancey on 8 Dec 1834 in Halifax County, Virginia.2 Knowing this, I first checked the 1850 Georgia federal census enumeration for the Charles W. and Temperance Pool family. I found that Temperance, a widow, was then residing with a family of children in Putnam County, Georgia (Baldwin County adjoins Putnam on the Southeast).3

The birthplace of the two eldest children in the family, Lucy Jane (age 14) and George W. (age 12) was Virginia. Georgia was indicated as the birthplace of the four younger children, Jordan (age 10), Frances (age 9), Mary Ann (age 7) and Charles (age 5), suggesting that Charles W.’s family had moved to Georgia sometime before 1840.

Moving back to the 1840 Georgia federal census, I could not find an entry for Charles W., but there was an entry in Putnam County for a “Clabourn Pool.”4 This name certainly rang bells as my earlier research on the known sons and grandsons of Seth (3) had uncovered a son for him also called Seth and a grandson called “Clayborn.”

This Seth (4), son of Seth (3), was most closely associated with Granville County, North Carolina, the county bordering Halifax County, Virginia on the south and to which several of Seth (3)s’ descendants were known to have ventured. With his wife, Mary (probably Wood), Seth (4) had also produced a large family, including seven sons, the last called Clayborn.5 A quick check of probable birthdates ruled out this earlier Clayborn as the target individual I was now pursuing.

Moving back to Halifax County, Virginia records, I further discovered that my new target “Claibourn P. Pool” had married Eliza Yancey on 22 December 1835, a little more than one year after Charles W. was married to Temperance Yancey.6 Could we have a pair of brothers marrying sisters and moving in tandem to mid-19th century Georgia?

That speculation certainly seemed plausible and from then forward directed my research efforts. I quickly discovered that like Charles W., this putative older brother, Claiborn, also had not fared well after the move to Georgia. Claiborn died before July 5, 1850 in Putnam County, leaving Eliza, like Temperance, a widow after fifteen years of marriage.7

Since I had become convinced of Claiborn’s likely close relationship to Charles W., I thought a look at probate records from Granville County, North Carolina, the known site of the earlier 18th century Clayborn’s birth, might yield evidence of the two brothers’ parents. Although I had done considerable primary research in the probate records of Virginia because of personal family ties, by comparison I had somewhat neglected North Carolina.

My immediate reaction was to check the FamilySearch website to determine which Granville County, North Carolina films I should order for viewing at my local Family History Center.8 I was delighted to learn that many (although not all by any means) early records are now available online in digital format at the FamilySearch website, including some Granville County estate records.

Eureka! Because Claiborn and Charles had departed Virginia/North Carolina in the late 1830s, I began my search of the estate records for that decade, reasoning that an inheritance, even though small, might have at least partially funded their move. I read all cases labeled with any variants of the surname “Pettypool” and “Pool.” Within the hour success had been achieved.

There was a file for “Phillip P. Pool” that helpfully named his entire family consisting of the following children alive at his death: “Claiborn, Charles, Martha and Margaret, who are of full age and Phillip, William, Seth, Pendelton, John & Cary Ann Pool, infants under the age of twenty one years…”.9 My earlier work had confirmed that this Phillip, like his younger brother, Clayborn, was one of the sons of Seth (4) of Granville County.10

Although most of the sons of Seth (4) eventually migrated away from North Carolina to Greenville County, South Carolina, Phillip had married Anna Winfrey in Granville County on 7 April 1808 and continued to reside there until his death in March 1834.11 Subsequently, his two eldest sons made marriages within a family that held property over the line in Virginia and thereby disguised their place of origin by honoring the tradition of marrying in the jurisdiction of the bride’s family. Happily, the forename of one of the brothers held clues to their actual family and place of origin.

So, Charles W., brother of Claiborn and nephew to Clayborn, was the son of Phillip P., Clayborn’s brother, and was a grandson of Seth (4). Once again, our pre-20th century ancestors’ frequent inclination to name children for parents and favored siblings had helped solve a lineage mystery. And because of the recent availability of digital probate and other estate records at online venues, we don’t even have to wait for the arrival of film to test our suspicions.

  1. See p. iii from “The William Pettypool Family of Southside Virginia: Lineage Reconstruction Based on a Contemporary Review of Evidence,” by Carolyn S. Hartsough, available from the Pettypool Family in America website, <>. 
  2. Virginia, Select Marriages, 1785-1940 [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014, FHL Film # 31918; Reference ID: p. 148, accessed 25 Nov 2016. 
  3. U. S. Census Bureau, U. S. Federal Census: Putnam County, Georgia, 1850, population schedule, NA Film M432_81, 70th District, p. 303 (stamped), dwell 434, fam 434, lines 3–9. 
  4. U. S. Census Bureau, U. S. Federal Census: Putnam County, Georgia, 1840, population schedule, p. 9 (cursive). 
  5. Carolyn S. Hartsough, “The William Pettypool Family of Southside Virginia”, 15. 
  6. Virginia, Select Marriages, 1785-1940 [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014, FHL Film # 31918; Reference ID: p. 151, accessed 27 Nov 2016. 
  7. Georgia, Wills and Probate Records, 1742-1992 [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015: Administrators Bonds, Vol A-E, 1809-1917, Claiborn Pool probate, accessed 27 Nov 2016. 
  8. “FamilySearch.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., rev. 29 Mar 2017 (See <>, accessed 5 Apr 2017.) FamilySearch is operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The organization offers genealogical research assistance at more than 4,500 family history centers in 70 countries. The author is pleased to use this opportunity to express her gratitude to the members of this organization for their ceaseless efforts to make their genealogical resources and service available to all members of the public. Before the recent initiative to make selected digitized records available online, such a center in nearby Oakland, California had been a resource for over 30 years for supplying the film and microfiche resources containing the data that continues to be used for resolving questions regarding Pettypool family relationships. 
  9. Granville County, North Carolina Estate Records,” digital images, Family Search ( accessed 22 Nov 2016), Estate records 1746-1919 Pinson, Betsy (Betsey) – Puryear, John (folder no. 1); citing FHL film # 007641307; Phillip P. Pool estate document. 
  10. Carolyn S. Hartsough, “The William Pettypool Family of Southside Virginia”, 15. 
  11. Brent A. Holcomb, Marriages of Granville County, North Carolina, 1753-1868 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1981), 267.