Last time, we looked at the estate administrator’s defense of his handling of the estate. He included a detailed summary of the heirs that he had located up to that point. Two of the entries on his list were actually Daniel’s in-laws, pointing us to some new and interesting findings about the Dill family.
I mentioned early on (in both the first and second posts of this series) that there’s a cryptic record on Ancestry.com about a marriage between a Daniel Dill and a Mary Ann Dill in 1832 in Augusta, Georgia1. On Ancestry, it looks like this –
It’s worth reading the complete source description. This record is from some research done by competent professional researchers using microfilm records from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Unfortunately, the database extracts do not cite the exact microfilm source for the entries. I do think it’s a credible record coming out of Richmond County; I’ve just been unable to locate the original source.
I’d like to see the original source because at first, I questioned this record. The bride and groom have the same surname – really, a Dill marrying a Dill? My first assumption was that probably the bride’s maiden name was not stated in the original so the record transcribers just substituted her new married name. But as you shall see, I think a Dill really did marry a Dill (and I don’t think the professional researchers would make that kind of error). And presuming that Daniel and Mary Ann are cousins, we may have some new insights into the Dill family heritage.
Gould’s petition of March 1, 18582 [ref 1240-1241] identifies two persons who I could not find anywhere in my known list of Daniel Dill’s siblings, nieces and nephews:
Nancy Wall claims to be a sister lives in Hylven P.O. Chatahouchie County Georgia.
Daniel D. Massey – claims for a sister or half sister his wife. They live in Thomas Co., Georgia
A little bit of digging around on Ancestry reveals a family tree that includes these women3. They are both daughters of Phillip Dill of Lincoln County, Georgia. Phillip had four daughters with this first wife. One of the other daughters was Mary Ann Dill. I also noticed that Nancy, the oldest, was born in Columbia County, Georgia in 1811 – the same county where Daniel himself was born in 1800. This strongly suggests kinship between Phillip Dill and Daniel’s father Peter Dill. (A brief caveat that the Ancestry tree is completely unsourced so I will have to do some work to confirm these findings.)
Phillip’s probate file is available on Ancestry4. It is dated November 7, 1837. In it, he leaves some of his assets to “Nancy Walls and Lucy Massy”. He also sets aside some money for another daughter Elizabeth even creates a trust for her – I’m assuming that she must have had some sort of disability. Here are some specific bequests in the will:
Article 3rd: Unto my beloved daughter Nancy Walls and her children I give my negroe boy Jack, that she now has in possession
Article 4th: Unto my beloved daughter Lucy Massy and her children I give my negroe girl Phillis with her increase she has her now in possession
There are other bequests to his second wife and the children they had together. Many slaves are mentioned by name. But what’s really interesting is this little paragraph:
Article 2nd: Unto Daniel Dill that married my daughter Mary A. Dill, I give the sum of one dollar.
Oh SNAP. That hurts. Giving someone one dollar is a strategy to prevent your will from being contested on the basis of a claimed oversight. It says to the court, “no I didn’t forget about that person. I gave them exactly what I wanted them to have.” The implication here is that May Ann has died, and I guess Daniel has done something terrible and has been cut off from the family.
If Daniel and Mary Ann were cousins, what can we learn about the Dill family by examining Mary Ann Dill’s ancestry? I have not yet found any proof of Phillip’s birth date and place (but believe me, I’m looking!). A couple of researchers have indicated that he was born in Virginia, based on census records for his children. I also noted that he was in Georgia as early as 17755. Another interesting Virginia nexus is Nancy Wall’s husband, Maddox Wall. He is descended from the Wall family of Botetourt County, Virginia which later became part of Augusta and then Montgomery Counties.
Wall’s family may have been associated with what was called “The New River German Settlement” on the banks of the New River in what was then Augusta County, Virginia. From the original records of Augusta County7 we find that there was a Peter and John Dill there in 1746 and they were commissioned to help fund and build a road (presumably because they were landowners in the area):
And yet another interesting Virginia nexus is that Daniel’s brother Andrew (the one in Iowa who borrowed money from Daniel) was married to a Polly Kessler whose ancestors were from Botetourt County, Virginia6. Note the German name “Kessler”. And the second wife of Peter Dill 2 – after Phebe Brown died – was Sarah Wimmer, another German from Virginia!
So here’s a working theory:
- It’s possible that Lola’s notes about three German brothers is in fact correct – but they first came to Virginia, not Georgia. Were Peter and John two of the three brothers? Did they belong to the New River German Settlement?
- It’s possible that the Peter that was building the road in 1746 is in fact our “Peter Dill 1”: the father of Peter Dill 2 who was born in about 1770 (who married Phebe Brown). That would fit with Lola’s notes also and is the best candidate I’ve yet found for Peter Dill 1.
- If we accept that the road-building Peter is our “Peter Dill 1” and road-building John is his brother, it’s possible that one or the other of them had a son named Phillip. If Peter Dill 1 had sons named Phillip and Peter, then Daniel and Mary Ann would have been first cousins. If it was John who had a son named Phillip, then Daniel and Mary Ann would have been second cousins.
- It’s possible that a contingent of the German settlers from Virginia moved as a group to Columbia County, Georgia.
- The Phillip Dill family is definitely slave-owning and has considerable wealth. This would explain how Daniel came to own slaves and to get in business for himself.
- This line of thinking also provides a reason for Daniel to return to Georgia after his family relocated to Ohio – he had quite a bit of extended family living there apparently.
- This theory moves us away from the Delaware Dills who were also living in Georgia at the time. It also moves us away from the “Diehl” family that arrived in Georgia in 1740. I actually wasn’t very comfortable with either of those family lines being ours.
Well clearly this is a huge amount of conjecture and there’s a lot more digging to be done. But at least I have a few more puzzle pieces to work with now.
And finally, just for fun, here are a couple newspaper clippings I found on a newly-enhanced Georgia Newspaper website. The articles are from Augusta, Georgia and they give us some insight into Daniel’s “missing years” and his longtime profession.
Next time we’ll resume our study of Daniel’s probate file and learn whether Peter was successful in throwing Gould out as administrator.
1“Georgia, Compiled Marriages, 1754-1850 – Ancestry.Com.” Accessed July 11, 2017. http://search.ancestry.com/
2All references to the probate file are image numbers from Ancestry’s online version. See Original Will Records, Daniel Dill, Pigeon Hole No 85, Files 9-41, 1814-1946, Index, 1813-1957; Author: Alabama. Orphans’ Court (Mobile County); Probate Place: Mobile, Alabama.
3Profile for Phillip Dill posted by Ancestry member jonestracy10 https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/34799848/person/19326127365/facts
4Wills and Estate Records, 1796-1936; Author: Georgia. Court of Ordinary (Lincoln County); Probate Place: Lincoln, Georgia. Entry for Phillip Dill.
5A legal advertisement appeared in the Savannah Georgia Gazette, June 28, 1775: “to be sold at Savannah on Thursday the 27th July next–the usual hour, for cash: 100 acres in the parish of St. Matthews, joining lands of Philip Dill (?) and William O’Bryan originally granted to Sir Patrick Houston. 100 acres on Horse Creek, originally granted to William Colson. 100 acres joining to above tract, originally granted Abraham Minsay. The whole property of Jacob Blount.”
6Kessler, Morris S, and A. Dean Kesler. Out from the Blue Ridge: A Genealogical History of the Kessler/Kesler Families of Botetourt County, Virginia. Champaign, IL: M.S. Kessler, 1984, p. 274.
7County (Va.), Augusta, and Lyman Chalkley. Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia: Extracted from the Original Court Records of Augusta County, 1745-1800. Printers: The Commonwealth Printing Company, 1912, p. 24