The Family of

Nathaniel Gadberry

By Russell Gadberry

According to the 1800 Rowan Co. N.C. census Nathaniel Gadberry was born in North Carolina in 1755. According to our research this makes Nathaniel the earliest ‘documented’ Gadberry birth in America. Certainly Gadbury/berry children were being born in America before this time. As early as 1762 and 1763 we find interesting references to Gadberry’s and their children.


In 1762 Matthew Cole received 800 lbs. of tobacco for Lydda Gadberry’s keeping John Goodin from January 8, 1761, till October 29, 1762. Then in 1763 Matthew Cole received 1200 lbs. tobacco for keeping widow Gadberry’s child and John Goodin. Later in 1765 and in 1766 a Richard Linsey received 1200 lbs and 1400 lbs respectively for the care of the child of James Goodin and the child of William Gadberry, dec’d.


Which leads to a couple theoretical conclusions.


Conclusion 1: Even though no family line documentation has been found, there was an established Gadberry/bury family line in America prior to 1755.


Conclusion 2: There must have been other Gadbury/berry immigrants after 1704, whose records remain to be found.


Which brings us back to Nathaniel. We know very little about Nathaniel. We do not know his wifes name, or when he was married. We do know that he was not the first Nathaniel. In 1764 a Nathaniel Gadberry on July 22 in Chesterfield County Va. witnessed the will of Wm. Britton. Nathaniel (b. 1755) would have been only nine years old at this time, much too young to witness a will. Was this his father? When Nathaniel (b. 1755) named his third son Nathaniel was he following a family tradition?


Starting in 1779 there is a series of land transactions concerning a Nathaniel Gadberry. On May 13 of that year a Nathaniel Gadberry received a 200 acre land grant in Guilford Co. N.C. Then Dec 27, 1784 Nathaniel and wife Margaret sold the Guilford Co. land as recorded by the Guilford Co. Court in Feb 1785. A Nathaniel (Nathaniel of 1755) next appears in the 1790 Rowan Co. N.C. census with 4 male children 16 and under and 4 females. Many believe that all these references relate to the same individual and have named Margaret as Nathaniel’s (b. 1755) wife. This certainly is a possibility but presently is not documented.



Another clue to Nathaniels ancestry may be found in family tradition. A granddaughter of John Wesley Gadberry, a great-grandson of Nathaniel (b.1755) says that, "John Wesley was interested in genealogy, up to a point. He had jotted down on a sheet of paper some family information. This was on that paper.


‘Great-grandfathers (Nathaniel b. 1755), great-grandfather’s name was Isic (meaning Isaac).’


‘James Gadberry, son of Nathaniel Gadberry and Elizabeth Gadberry, grandson of Mary Gadberry of Virginia, ancestry from England.’ (James was the father of John Wesley).

I do not know who has this paper now. It was in the possession of one of my Dad’s brothers who is deceased now. The info was copied down and given to me by other researchers who had been in the genealogy long before me."


No documentation of Isaac or Mary has yet to be found. If true, Mary would have been Nathaniels (b. 1755) wife, or at least one wife, remember Margaret from the land transactions. Isaac as Nathaniels great-grandfather, and counting 20-25 years as a generation, would have been born around the years 1680-1705. Both Nathaniel (2) and James, sons of Nathaniel (b.1755), would name one of their male sons Isaac, lending some validation to John Wesley’s notes. So another Gadberry mystery looms, Where did Isaac and Mary come from? And more important, What happened to them?


A will for Nathaniel has not been found to date. It is only through census evidence that we are able to able to piece his family together. As mentioned above in the 1790 census we see Nathaniel with an established family. Four young sons and 4 females. In this census the spouse was counted with female children and her name was not recorded. We can assume then that at this time Nathaniel and his wife had three female children.


It would be expected that as the family aged the children would grow and establish households of their own. This certainly is the case with Nathaniel and his children. By the 1810 Rowan Co. census we find the households of James Gadberry age 26-45, Green Gadberry age 16-26, and the household of Nathaniel Gadberry age 16-26, all the proper age to be Nathaniel’s children. The household of Nathaniel in this census is interesting because residing with young Nathaniel is a male 45 + up, a female 45 + up, and a female 26-45. It very well may be that these individuals are Nathaniel, his wife and an older daughter, for there is no census reference for an older Nathaniel in this census.


In the 1820 census though, we can again find older Nathaniel Gadberry as head of household age 45 + up, residing with two females 45 + up. And the separate household of young Nathaniel age 26-45 with five young children, his wife and possibly his mother-in-law (1 female 45 + up).


You may have noticed that we have only mentioned three male children of Nathaniel. Who was the fourth? In all likelihood it was Thomas. In 1805 in Rowan County Thomas Gadberry married Sarah (Sally) McKie Smith on May 4. It wouldn’t be until 1850 that the census bureau would begin adding a place of birth to information requested as part of the census. In that census from Barren Co. Ky, Thomas listed North Carolina as his place of birth. Thomas would be the right age to be Nathaniels eldest child. This is not the only bit of evidence to tie Thomas with Nathaniel. In 1820, Green Gadberry, Nathaniel’s third son would move to the same area, possibly because of the presence of his brother. This certainly is not a ‘documented’ relationship, but the lack of any other Gadberry families in this area of N. Carolina, at this time, provides strong indication that these are all members of the same family.


Most Gadberry’s today who are able to trace their lineage back this far, trace back to one of the sons of Nathaniel, with the exception of those who trace to John Gadbury as discussed in the previous chapter. Basically these two families constitute the two main Gadberry/bury family lines in America today.


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