Shaking the Tree
Chapter II: Elisha Scull - A Man of Property
According to Henry Clay Sharp, an early genealogist in the town of Harrellsville, North Carolina, who drew up charts based upon the memories and records available in his lifetime (1844-1927), Elisha Scull had two brothers, Edward Scull and Alexander Scull. It is unknown what this tradition is based upon, but the existence of both Edward Scull and Alexander Scull in late l8th Century Hertford County can be verified in courthouse records, Revolutionary War records and census records from the period. Using the same information Sharp should have also found a John Scull and a Joseph Scull. The fact that he did not note these other two names could indicate that this tradition is based upon a record or memory other than what is available today. Perhaps John and Joseph were related, but not brothers of Elisha Scull.
The first public records of the Scull family in North Carolina that mention anyone other than Edward Scull and his wife Faraba are two entries in the Bertie County Courthouse minutes for the year of 1772. I will print both of these entries in full:
The first of these two entries is the only record that I have found that identifies Edward Skull as a joiner as well as a carpenter. In this respect, it supports the theory that the Edward Scull identified in Pennsylvania as a joiner was one and the same as the Edward Scull in North Carolina identified as a carpenter. The only problem is that Edward Scull died five years earlier in 1767. Therefore, this has to be a second Edward Scull, probably his son. The fact that the recorder first identified the young apprentice as the son of Edward Skull, scratched out the name, and then changed it to John, indicates that there was some confusion, possibly because Edward was the son of Edward, and his father was also dead. As the master carpenter and joiner, Edward Scull, Jr. was probably the eldest surviving son, having inherited his father's tools and business connections. The young apprentice, John Skull, is shown to have been born in 1755 or 1756, which makes him the same age as Edward's son Elisha, who we know was born on August 25, 1755. It is very likely that Edward Scull, Jr. was much older than Elisha and John, perhaps by as many as four decades. The Quaker meeting house in Philadelphia recorded that Edward Scull, Sr. and his wife Sarah buried a son named James on April 29, 1717. The tremendous discrepancy between the date of James Scull's burial in 1717 and Elisha Scull's birth in 1755 suggests that Elisha was probably the son of the younger Edward Scull, whose wife according to the Elisha Scull Bible was Christian rather than Sarah or Faraba. (Elisha Scull Bible Record, film #1036950, item # 5, LDS Genealogical Service)(Encyclopedia of Quaker Genealogy, by Hinshaw, vol. II, p. 418).
John Skull Sr., who was the father of the apprentice John Skull may also have been a son of Edward Scull, Sr., and this may explain why he is not listed in courthouse records prior to the death of the elder Edward. However, there is no telling if he was born in North Carolina, Virginia, or elsewhere. In the Scull genealogy of Pennsylvania, there are two John Sculls from this period. It is known that John Scull the cordwainer died in 1738, so he died too soon be the father of the young apprentice. The sheriff and surveyor Nicholas Scull Jr. had a son named John whose life fits the expected profile most closely. Born on January 28, 1721, he married Ann Jones on March 10, 1744, and died on March 21, 1769, just three years before the orphan John Skull, Jr. was apprenticed to Edward Skull, Jr. in the Bertie County courthouse. His widow Ann Scull may be the Ann Scull, Sr., listed in the 1790 census for Berks County, Pennsylvania. (Scull Genealogical Chart in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania Library)(U. S. Census, 1790, Berks County, Pa.).
In Great Egg Harbor, Gloucester County, New Jersey, there was also a John Scull mentioned in the 1738 will of Peter Scull who could have been the father of the apprentice John Skull, Jr. The possible New Jersey connection is strengthened further by the simultaneous apprenticeship of the free mulatto Zedekiah Able. The fact that only one name is given to identify the father of Zedekiah in the Bertie County minutes indicates that the court recorder did not bother to clarify the information that he was receiving. It is not really clear if the father's first name or his last name was Able. There were no Ables in the surrounding counties of North Carolina at this time. The next person with the surname Able to be found in North Carolina was recorded in the 1790 Census in the New Bern district of Beaufort County. In the North Carolina tax records prior to this time, the surname Able does not show up at all. On the other hand, "Abel" was an unusually popular first name for the Scull family of New Jersey. My index cards indicate that there were possibly as many as fourteen persons in New Jersey given the name Abel Scull between 1700 and 1868 and this does not include the Abel Sculls who were born in other states as the New Jersey Sculls immigrated westward. In the Bertie County Courthouse it appears as though Edward identified his father as Edward and John identified his father as John. If Zedekiah's father had been Able Scull, then it would only have been natural for him to have responded "Able," rather than "Scull." The most likely Abel Scull to have been the father of Zedekiah Able was the Abel Scull in Gloucester County, New Jersey, who married his second wife Martha Shivers in 1758. This was just about the same time that Zedekiah was born. Ironically, Abel Scull is reported to have "died without issue in 1763, leaving a good estate." As an illegitimate mulatto, Zedekiah would have received nothing of the inheritance. Also, if Zedekiah Able really was the illegitimate son of Abel Scull, this may explain why he was sent off to North Carolina and bound as an apprentice to Edward Scull, rather than sold as a slave. The New Jersey Sculls were Quakers and Quakers were the only Christian denomination that officially took a stand against the institution of slavery during this period of history (Notes on the Scull Family of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, by William Ellis Scull, pp. 815-816).
The name Abel Scull can be traced back to Gloucester County, England, where it appears repeatedly in the surviving records of the established church in Bitton, a small hamlet on the road between Bath and Bristol. It is only about twenty miles from the location of the Quaker meeting house at Brinkworth. The following entries suggest that the New Jersey Sculls originated in Bitton rather than in either Amsterdam or Ireland:
Other names in the Bitton Parish register for the Seventeenth Century also have a familiar ring:
The only other names of Sculls recorded in the Bitton Parish register were Elizabeth, Joan, Margaret , and William and each of these only appear once. Nicholas, Edward, John, and Joseph were also the most common first names for the Sculls who settled in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. For this reason I believe that Bitton is the origin of all the early Sculls who settled in Ireland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and North Carolina. For a generation or two the American Sculls must have been aware of the existence of cousins in the other states, but over time this knowledge would have been lost, just like the knowledge of their origin in England was lost. At the time in which they served their apprenticeships, John Scull and Zedekiah Able may have known or at least suspected that they were cousins, but if this were so it must have been forgotten after Zedekiah died. His name does not appear in the 1790 Census in North Carolina or elsewhere.
Parts of the life of the carpenter/joiner Edward Scull, Jr. can be reconstructed by looking at the surviving deeds in Bertie County and the surviving tax records in Hertford and Bertie Counties. On January 29, 1773 Edward Scull purchased from John Augustus Wynns 150 acres along Spring Branch in Bertie County for £13 Proclamation money. In 1778 he sold the same 150 acres to his former apprentice, John Scull, for £60 Proclamation money and signed his name to the deed. Like his father, Edward continued to own land in Hertford County, as shown by surviving tax records from 1782 and 1784. In the tax list of 1782, he is recorded to have owned one horse and one mule and 129 acres in Hertford County. In the tax list of 1784 he is only recorded to have owned a "town lot" worth £50. According to the 1782 tax record, he was between the ages of forty and fifty at the time. This indicates that he was born at some time between 1732 and 1742, about twenty years after Edward Scull of Pennsylvania was first recorded as being Edward, Senior. The 1790 Census does not help in determining his age, for it only designates if the males in the household are sixteen years of age or older. Thus, it is not clear if the Edward Scull of Hertford County was the son or the grandson of the original Edward Scull of Pennsylvania. In 1790 he was living with three white females, two white males under the age of sixteen, and three slaves. He was not listed in the 1800 census, so he was probably dead by then. (Book of Deeds, Bertie County, N.C. vol. M, p. 394)(N.C. Tax List for 1782 and 1784)(U.S. Census Records for 1790 and 1800).
Details concerning the life of his apprentice John Scull, are also difficult to determine, except that we know that his approximate date of his birth was 1755, based upon his record of apprenticeship. In 1777 John Scull of North Carolina is known to have enlisted in "Brown's Company" for an unknown period of service in the American Revolution. He achieved the rank of lieutenant and the savings from his service may have helped enable him to purchased the 150 acres in Bertie County from Edward Scull in 1778. The tax record in 1782 listed him as owning 150 acres and two cows. The 1784 tax record listed him as owning 157 acres in Hertford County and 150 acres in Bertie County. A deed dated September 2, 1787 shows that he and his wife Fruzan Scull sold their 150 acres in Bertie County to Samuel Webb for £64 specie. Both John and Fruzan signed this deed. His wife Fruzan may have formerly been Fruzan Ward, listed next door to John Scull in the 1784 tax list and owning 300 acres. In the 1790 Census he was listed as living with six white females, one white male under the age of sixteen and three slaves. (Soldiers From North Carolina in the American Revolution, p. 56)(Book of Deeds, Bertie County, N.C., vol. M, p. 394; vol. P, p. 54)(N.C. Tax List, 1782, 1784)(U.S. Census Records for 1790)
John Scull was not recorded in the 1800 or 1810 Census Record in North Carolina, possibly because he moved on to Georgia, where a land lottery record places John Skull in Elbert County, Georgia for the first time in 1805. In 1811 there was a John Skull listed on a tax record in Franklin County, Georgia, just a little further northwest along the Savanna River. According to a deed dated May 8, 1816, John Scull purchased 100 acres on Shoal Creek in Franklin County, Georgia and he continued to acquire land there over the next few years. In 1819 he is recorded to have owned a total of 450 acres in Franklin County, plus an additional 202 1/2 acres in a portion of Baldwin County that later became Putnam County, Georgia. Records between 1820 and 1823 show that he was frequently delinquent in paying his taxes. In a legal dispute with the University of Georgia over Shoal Creek he lost and was required to pay $123. In the census of 1830 there was still a John Scull in Franklin County, Georgia, aged forty to fifty, living with four females. This is quite probably the son of the apprentice John Scull, for his age matches that of the white male under the age sixteen listed in the Hertford County Census index of 1790. In 1828 the younger John Scull was found guilty of fraud in the Harris County Superior Court in Georgia for claiming he had "served at least three months as a soldier in the late war with Britain and the Indians." No doubt, this refers to the War of 1812. There is no record of him after 1830. The last records of a Scull in Franklin County, Georgia appear in the deed books concerning a Catherine Scull, probably his widow, between 1835 and 1837. So the son of John Scull who served as an apprentice to Edward Scull, appears to have moved on to Georgia, where the line died out under less than honorable circumstances. There is a place called Scull Shoals not too far from Elbert County, but the reason for its name is not known Likewise, there is a Scull Creek Church at Garfield, Georgia in Emanuel County (Georgia Tax Digest for Franklin County, vol. III, pp. 7, 54, 109, 158, 259)(Book of Deeds, Franklin County, Ga., vol. DD, p. 43; vol. HH, pp. 36, 192, vol. HHH, pp. 13-14)(Franklin County Tax Digest) (Georgia Black Book, by Robert Scott).
Elisha Scull, born August 25, 1755, is the one we know the most about because a Bible Record of his family has survived for two centuries. The earliest surviving civil record on Elisha Scull is a tax record in 1779 that shows he owned four cows, but no land. The tax record in 1782 shows that he owned no more than two horses and a mule, but in the tax list for 1784 he was recorded as owning 200 acres and four slaves. No previous Scull in North Carolina or elsewhere had owned slaves. Although it is not clear how he suddenly became a man of property, I think it is most likely that he gained this new status through marriage. The date of his marriage to Ann Sun Speight was January 24, 1784, the same year in which the tax records first show him owning real estate and slaves (Elisha Scull Bible, film #1036950, item #5, LDS Genealogical Services)(N.C. Tax List for 1779, 1782, 1783, 1784).
Elisha's new in-laws, the Speight or Spaight family of North Carolina, were one of the most prominent families in the state at that time. Originally established in Nansemond County, where the Speights received a number of land patents in the 1650s along the northwest branch of the Nansemond River, they soon moved into North Carolina. A 1733 map of North Carolina shows the location of the original Speight plantation on the edge of the Great Dismal Swamp in Perquimans County. There is a historical house in Windsor, the center of Bertie County, called the Francis Speight House that was built in 1775. The owner, Francis Speight, is known to have been an "eminent artist." Richard Dobbs Spaight, the son of the personal secretary and son-in-law of Governor Arthur Dobbs, was one of the five North Carolina delegates to the U.S. Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787. Although his name is signed on the U.S. Constitution, representing the state of North Carolina along with William Blount and Hugh Williamson, he soon afterward took sides with the Anti-Federalists and thus was aligned with Thomas Jefferson against the more centralist policies of Alexander Hamilton during the Federalist Period. Between 1792 and 1795 he was the governor of North Carolina and he served in the U.S. Congress from 1798 until 1801. He served in North Carolina Senate in 1801 until September 5, 1802, when he was killed in a duel by a Federalist Congressman, John Stanly, in New Bern, North Carolina. John Stanly was the challenger in this duel, but the duel was forced by Spaight. An historical marker along the main highway through New Bern celebrates the event. Alexander Hamilton was also shot and killed in a duel by Aaron Burr two years later (North Carolina, by Hugh T. Lefler, pp. 184-85, 216)(Encyclopedia Americana, vol. XXV, p. 322).
According to the Elisha Scull Bible, the bride Ann Lun Speight was the daughter of John and Jemima Speight of Chowan County, which is directly across the Chowan River from Hertford County. Lou Mason, a member of the Harrellsville Historical Society, told me that the name was actually "Ann Sun" rather than "Ann Lun," because the "S" was mistaken for an "L." Ann Sun's father, John Speight, may have been the son of Francis Speight of Chowan, who left an inheritance to his "youngest sons Joseph and John" in 1749. In this will, John Speight received a "feather bed, two slaves, and the sheep on the plantation in Virginia." After 1749, John Speight appears to have left Chowan County, for his name does not turn up in subsequent deeds. In the 1790 census John Speight and John Speight Jr. are to be found in Hertford County. There is also a John Spight and John Spight, Jr. in Dobbs County, North Carolina, which at that time extended over the current Green and Lenoir Counties, just west of New Bern. These may be the same persons counted twice because they owned property in two different counties (Wills in the N.C. Archives)(Book of Deeds, Chowan County, N.C., )(U.S. Census, N.C., 1790).
In the Bible record of James Speight Scull, Elisha Scull was identified by the rank of "captain," but there are no military records for him in either state or continental units during the American Revolution. It is possible that he served as the captain of a militia unit in Hertford County at some time, but the records of this would have been destroyed when the Yankees burned down the courthouse in 1862. It is also possible that he served as the captain of a small riverboat. According to Hertford County resident, Lou Mason, who knew Sheriff Bismarck Scull during the 1920s, the Sculls of Hertford County were engaged in transporting merchandise along Wiccacon River during the 19th Century. A short tributary of the Chowan, this deep, narrow, and meandering river serviced the town of Harrellsville and provided access to the interior farms of the eastern third of the county. Throughout the 1780s and 1790s "Captain" Elisha Scull continued to prosper. In the 1790 Census he was listed as living with four white females and eleven slaves. In the 1800 Census he was listed as forty-five years or older with two white males under the age of ten, three white females under the age of ten, two white females aged ten to sixteen, one white female aged twenty-six to forty-five (his wife), and twenty-two slaves. He died on October 13, 1806 (James Scull Bible, Harrellsville Historical Society)(interviews with Lou Mason of Harrellsville in the 1980s)(U.S. Census, Hertford County, N.C., 1790 and 1800)(Elisha Scull Bible, film # 1036950, item #5).
The Elisha Scull Bible and the James Scull Bible are two of the best sources of genealogical information in early Harrellsville, North Carolina, not only for the Scull family, but also for many other families in the area. This is because Elisha Scull had so many daughters, most of whom married and had children with other surnames. Lou Mason told me that both she and her husband were descended from Elisha Scull and that she was descended from Elisha Scull twice. Stone is unavailable in the deep, alluvial soils of Hertford County, so tombstones were virtually non-existent there until the 1850s. Before that time graves would have been marked by wooden crosses, which do not endure the test of time. The fact that the Hertford County Courthouse was burned down in 1862, destroying almost all the county records except for a few from the 1830s, makes these Bible records even more valuable. For this reason, I am printing this Bible record in full, just as it was copied down by Raleigh James Baker, who died in Ahoskie, North Carolina on April 11, 1921:
Looking at the entries, it seems most likely that this record was written down by Jemima Scull, because it includes her children and none of the children of her brothers and sisters. However it may have originally been a record kept by her father Elisha or by her mother Ann Sun Speight. Somehow it passed from the family of Jemima Scull Norfleet to Penny Scull Hayes, who gave it to her granddaughter, Amanda Browne, who was the sister of Raleigh James Baker. Amanda may have given it to Raleigh J. Baker because he married Lilly Walton Scull on December 12, 1911. She was the stepdaughter of my great- grandfather Ethelbert Drake Scull, in whose house Jemima Scull Norfleet resided at the time of the 1860 Census. Raleigh J. Baker had a sincere interest in genealogy. He published an article in the June issue of North Carolina in 1958 on the ninety-eight missing wills and administrations from North Carolina listed in file #S.S.883. Baker's grandson, Major Haywood Laurence Robertson, found the Bible record in the pages of an old "ledger book" among Baker's "personal effects." Describing himself as "certified genealogist #78," Robertson sent a copy of the record to the LDS Genealogical Library Service, a network run by the Mormans (Latter Day Saints) that is probably the best depository to send such records, because it is open to the public and has branch libraries throughout the world. I discovered Robertson's contribution the first time I visited the LDS Library in Virginia Beach. It was the beginning of a genealogical addiction for me that has ultimately led to the writing of this story (Elisha Scull Bible, film #1036950, #5)("Wills and Administrations," by Raleigh J. Baker, North Carolina, June, 1958, vol. IV, pp. 432-36)(U.S. Census, 1860, Hertford County, N.C.)
The wedding of Elisha B. Norfleet of Edenton to Miss Jemima Scull on December 28, 1824 was recorded in the Raleigh Star in the issue dated January 14, 1825. This record also identified Elisha Scull as "captain." I first saw the reference to this marriage in the Abstract of Vital Records From N.C. Newspapers, but the date given was incorrect. Therefore, I could not find it. Later I saw a reference to the same notice in the Raleigh Star printed in Marriage and Death Notices >From Raleigh N.C. Newspapers 1796-1826. This source had the correct date and I was able to find it (Abstract of Vital Records From North Carolina Newspaper, 1720-29, #4334)(Marriages and Death Notices From Raleigh N. C. Newspapers 1796-1826, by Rev. Silas Emmett Lucas, Jr.).
Two contemporaries of Elisha Scull who were undoubtedly close relatives were Elizabeth Scull, who was listed as the head of a household in Hertford County in 1800 and Alexander Scull who was listed as living alone in the 1790 Census in the Newbern District of Wayne County, North Carolina and listed as the head of a household in the 1810 Census of Cumberland County, North Carolina. Elizabeth was aged forty-five or older in the 1800 Census, with four white children under the age of ten. Considering the age of the children, it is more likely that she was their grandmother than their mother. I think she is the widow of John Scull Sr., who died before 1772 and the mother of John Scull Jr., who headed a household in the 1790 Census, but was no longer in Hertford County, at the time of the 1800 Census. The John Scull who entered the land lottery in Georgia in 1805 very likely was her son. The forty- to fifty-year-old John Scull reported to be in the U.S. Census of Franklin County, Georgia in 1830 is the right age to be her grandson, who in the 1800 U.S. Census of Hertford County was aged ten years or less. By the time Elizabeth died, John Scull III, would have been old enough to go down to Georgia to claim the inheritance from his father (U.S. Census, 1790, 1800, and 1810, North Carolina).
According to Henry Clay Sharp, Alexander Scull was the son of Edward and Christian Scull and the brother of Elisha Scull. Born at some time before 1760, Alexander enlisted as a private in the Continental Army on April 20, 1777 for two and one half years and served under Colonel John Patton in the Second North Carolina Regiment of the Continental Line. He was discharged after only one and one half years of service in October of 1778 and received some compensation for delayed payments in Hillsboro, North Carolina on May 1, 1792. His life was not as fortunate as that of Elisha's. There are no records of him owning land in Hertford County, but he is known to have paid a poll tax there in 1782. In the 1784 tax list he is simply listed as a free man without land or livestock. There is a record of him participating in the sale of an estate in Bertie County in 1785. Sometime before 1790 he moved south to the Newbern district of Wayne County, where the 1790 Census listed him as living alone. He purchased land in Cumberland County, N.C. in 1794. In the 1800 Census he is no where to be found, but by 1810 he appears to have married a widow in Cumberland County. Both Alexander and his wife Mourning Scull were over forty-five years of age by the time of this census. There was a ten- to sixteen-year-old white girl living with them, probably his wife's daughter by a previous marriage. There were also seven slaves associated with this household, so in the end Alexander appears to have married a woman of property, just like his brother Elisha. Before his death in 1817 he wrote a will, which distributed his property in Cumberland and Robeson Counties, North Carolina to his wife Mourning and the family of William Bennett, who most likely was his son-in-law. (Henry Clay Sharp genealogical chart)(Soldiers in North Carolina in the American Revolution, pp. 161, 200, 231, 353, 610)(Tax Lists, Hertford County, N.C., 1782, 1784)(U.S. Census, 1790, Hertford County, N.C.; Cumberland County, N.C., 1810)(Will Book, Cumberland County, N.C., vol. A, p. 342).
His wife Mourning Scull was still alive as late as the 1850 Census when she was reported to be eighty-six years old and living in the home of Thomas McDaniel of Fayetteville. In the 1860 Census, she was still living there and reported to be ninety-six years of age. As one of the longest surviving Revolutionary War widows, she may have lived through the Civil War and seen Sherman's troops march through Fayetteville in the winter of 1865. By that time she would have been one hundred years old, but she was not recorded as still alive in the Census of 1870. In the Revolutionary War Pension Records there is a file on Mourning Scull, who first applied for her pension at the age of eighty-one as the widow of another Revolutionary War veteran, Arthur Graham. According to her unclear memory, she married Graham in 1791 or 1797 and he died in 1801. She later claimed she married Alexander Scull in 1798, but she never appears to have applied for a pension based on his war service. Instead, she filed for a pension based on her marriage to a third husband, "Sanders Scull," who she claimed she married after Alexander Scull died "without issue" in 1812. She claimed that the third husband, Sanders Scull, died in 1818. These various claims were made in a series of letters, each accompanied by signed witnesses. Evidently, she never was awarded a pension, perhaps because she could not remember which one of her alleged three husbands was the veteran. Also, her facts do not match the surviving records in Cumberland County, where Alexander Scull left a will in 1817, five years after she claimed that he had died. It intrigued me that she claimed to have married two different Sculls, first Alexander and then Sanders, but in searching through the other records of Cumberland County and elsewhere I could not find a single reference to Sanders. There is no such person as Sanders Scull in either the census records or the Revolutionary War rosters anywhere in the country. Thus, it is no wonder that she never received her pension. I was told by Molly Sanders of Raleigh, North Carolina that "Sanders" is a nickname for Alexander. Most likely, Sanders Scull and Alexander Scull were the same person (U.S Census 1850, 1860, Cumberland County, N.C.)(Revolutionary War Pension Applications, National Archives, Washington, D.C.)
Altogether there were about seventeen Sculls who are recorded to have served in military units against the British in the Revolutionary War. Considering the fact that there were only twelve Scull households listed in the 1790 Census (which does not include the lost New Jersey Census records), this was a very high turn out. From Pennsylvania there were seven Sculls who enlisted:
From New Jersey there were five Sculls who enlisted:
From New York there was one Scull who enlisted:
From North Carolina there were five Sculls who enlisted:
It has been estimated that among the thirteen colonies only about one-third of the people really supported rebellion against the British. The Continental Army never included more than 32,000 men out of a colonial population of 2,500,000 people. Support for secession from the British Empire was strongest in New England, an area where no Sculls lived. Secessionist sentiment was especially weak in the South, where British bounties subsidized the growing of indigo, and the production of ship masts and spars, tar, pitch, and turpentine industries. There was no draft in the American Revolution. The fact that the Sculls in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and North Carolina all enlisted in large numbers to fight the British, in spite of their pacifist roots as Quakers, supports the thesis that they were all related and shared a common dislike for British rule. Perhaps there was some remembered injury or insult form their past, the same incident that led a common ancestor to flee from Bitton or Brinkworth to Ireland at some time before 1685, that made them all especially receptive to the anti-British propaganda of the 1770s (The National Experience, by John Blum, pp. 32).
Looking at these records, my main interest was in the four Sculls who served form North Carolina. I knew that Alexander Scull was Elisha's brother and I knew that John Scull was Elisha's cousin, but who were John Gambier Scull and Joseph Scull?
At first I thought that John Scull and John Gambier Scull were possibly the same person. In the 1790 Census there was a John Scull recorded in Hertford County living with one white male under the age of sixteen, six white females, and three slaves. At the same time there was a John G. Scull living in New Hanover County, near Wilmington, with one white male under sixteen, five white females, one other free person, and eight slaves. It seemed to me that these two records could have been made on the same man if he had property in the two different counties. The two white households were similar and possibly the same, but there could have been three slaves attached to the property in Hertford County and eight slaves attached to the property in New Hanover County (U.S. Census, 1790, Hertford and New Hanover Counties, N.C.).
However, surviving records in New Hanover County indicate that there was a John Scull there as early as 1775, when he appeared as a witness in a lawsuit between George Palmer and Robert Walker. If this was the same John Scull as the apprentice in Bertie County in 1772, then he did not complete his apprenticeship under Edward Scull. In June, 1776 John Gambier Scull enlisted in the war against the British as an ensign and over a period of thirty-seven months service reached the rank of captain. In April, 1777 another John Scull enlisted as private in Brown's Company and eventually made the rank of lieutenant. In 1778 Edward Scull sold 150 acres in Bertie County to John Scull, indicating that he was still active in that county. In April 1780, there was a entry concerning a property dispute in New Hanover County between John Gambier Scull and Bryan Buxton. In 1781 John Scull of New Hanover County testified that the British had "destroyed" Henry Youngs' "papers and stock". . . and "taken" his slaves. In 1782 John Scull of Hertford County is listed with 150 acres and two head of cattle. In 1783 Captain John Gambier Scull was mustered out of the army. In 1787 John Scull and his wife Fruzan sold the 150 acres in Bertie County. In 1790 J. G. Scull qualified as a magistrate in New Hanover County and made a second appeal for a land grant based on his military service because he had "lost his patent for 1,127 acres on the Duck River when he fell overboard while going to his house in Wilmington." These are clearly two different lives, rather than one. (Bertie County Minutes, vol. IV, #54)(New Hanover Court Minutes, April 6, 1775; Jan. 3, 1780; April, 1790)(Soldiers From North Carolina in the American Revolution, pp. 46, 56, 259, 555, 604)(Book of Deeds, Bertie County, N.C., vol. M. p. 394; vol. P, p. 54)(N.C. Tax List, 1782).
John Gambier Scull appears to be a second cousin of John Scull and Elisha Scull of Bertie and Hertford Counties. I discovered this quite by accident while helping a friend look for records on her ancestors in the Clerk of Court's Office in Norfolk, Virginia. Inside an old ledger book there was a record of a business transaction between merchants in New Providence, Bahamas and Norfolk, Virginia dated March 22, 1757. The signature "Cantwell Scull" jumped out at me, causing me to instantly loose interest in the original project. Thumbing through the ledger, I searched for other references to the name, but this one signature was the only one to be found. I photocopied the page and can therefore print it here in full:
(Ledger Book, Clerk of Court Office, Norfolk, Va.)
Other entries in the ledger book clarified that Sam Bousch was the Clerk of Court in Norfolk at the time. This meant that Cantwell Scull had to be the Clerk of Court in the Bahamas, a British colony on the fringes of the Caribbean that was part of the jurisdiction of the government of the colony of Carolina from 1670 until 1729. I knew I had seen the name "Cantwell Scull" before, somehow associated with the Sculls of Pennsylvania. The reason I remembered it was because there had also been a "Mary Cantwell" listed as one of the seven servants who had come over on the Bristol Merchant with the "gentleman" Nicholas Scull in 1685. When I got home and looked over the genealogical chart on the descendants of Nicholas Scull I could see that Cantwell Scull was the oldest son of Joseph Scull, the husbandman. Born on April 14, 1726, he would have been forty-one years old at the time the document was signed. This was certainly the same person for there could not have been more than one "Cantwell Scull" of the appropriate age in the New World in 1757. I also could see that there were no known descendants of Cantwell Scull in Pennsylvania. The fact that Cantwell's nephew, Joseph Scull (also known as Jose Scull Berry), later married a Cuban named Luisa Rosa Audouin before 1820 and settled near Matanzas Ciudad, Cuba added credibility to the connection in the Bahamas, for the Bahamas were a notorious center of piracy in the early 1700s and a jumping off point for the illegal trade with the Cubans after the Navigation Acts were passed prohibiting any trade with the Spanish (Encyclopedia Britannica, 1963, vol. II, pp. 1039- 40)(Scull Genealogical Chart in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania Library)(IGI Batch #5001763, L.D.S. Genealogical Service).
Also of interest in this ledger book entry is the name of the merchant, John Gambier. No doubt, this was the origin of the name John Gambier Scull, the ensign from Wilmington, North Carolina who achieved the rank of captain during the course of the American Revolution. Soon after discovering this ledger entry I picked up a book on the history of the Bahamas and read that between the years 1758 and 1760 that Samuel Gambier was the Admiralty Court Judge and that John Gambier was the "acting governor" of the Bahamas. As the Admiralty Court Judge Samuel Gambier was supposed to be prosecuting the violators of the Navigation Acts, but evidently he was looking the other way. John Gambier was dismissed upon the arrival of Governor Shirley in 1760 because the Gambiers were violating the Navigation Acts by allowing direct trade in sugar between the Bahamas and Cuba. Despite the "salutary neglect" of the Gambiers, Samuel Gambier continued to stay in the Bahamas until his death in 1789. The record of the administration of his estate by Eleanor Gambier shows that he owned 4000 acres in the Bahamas on Cat Island, where at that time there was a place called Gambier's Bluff. John Gambier's son, Admiral James Gambier, was commander of the fleet sent to New York to assisted Lord Howe against the Americans in 1778. On two occasions he was actually placed in temporary command of Howe's army, so despite their salutary neglect in the Bahamas the Gambiers appear to have remained loyal to the British crown throughout the American Revolution (History of the Bahamas, by Michael Craton, 1962)(Will and Administrations, Bahamas, LDS Genealogical Service, film #223157)(Dictionary of National Biography, London, vol. VII, p. 833).
These bits of information led me to wonder if Cantwell Scull had married a daughter of John Gambier and named his son after his father-in-law. I could find no record of marriages in the Bahamas for the period in question in the LDS Genealogical Service, but when I shared this information on the phone with Commander Walter Gambier Scull, USN, a direct descendant of John Gambier Scull who is the leading genealogist of the Texas branch of the Scull family, he read to me from a Brunswick, North Carolina deed of Eleanor Neal, dated 1798, that had been found by Sharon Shaw, a genealogist in Los Angeles, California. I later found a copy of this deed in the Brunswick County, N.C., Courthouse:.
William Robinson, witness
Therefore it can be proven that John Gambier Scull was the son of the Clerk of Court, Cantwell Scull, the eldest grandson of the husbandman, Joseph Scull, and the great-grandson of the "gentleman," Nicholas Scull (Book of Deeds, Brunswick County, N.C., vol. D, p. 152).
After the American Revolution, John Gambier Scull became a leading politician in Brunswick County. He was elected to be a representative in the North Carolina General Assembly in 1791 and was elected Sheriff of Brunswick County in 1800. He served in the North Carolina House of Commons again in 1801, 1802, and 1803. The descendants of John Gambier Scull soon broke into two branches: one that stayed in the area around Wilmington, North Carolina and a second that moved to Texas by way of Alabama. However, these descendants lie outside the scope of this work because they were not descendants of Edward Scull. (Senate Record, North Carolina, 1790, 1791)( House Journal , 1791, 1795, 1801, 1802, 1803)(Descendants of William Drue Scull, by Cmdr. Walter Gambier Scull, USN).
The Joseph Scull who received 640 acres for eighty-four months of service in an unspecified unit in 1783 is more difficult to identify. The only other clue given about him is that his "accounts were settled" at Warrenton, North Carolina. There is no record of a Joseph Scull in Wilmington area early enough to have been a soldier in the American Revolution. Nor is there a record of a Joseph Scull in the Hertford and Bertie Counties from the appropriate period. However, there was a Joseph Scoals from Surry County, Virginia who purchased 125 acres in Northampton, County, North Carolina in 1749. His descendants in Northampton and Halifax counties, North Carolina can be traced through the deed records in those two counties until the early 1800s. The fact that the name Scoles cannot be found outside those three counties led me to consider the possibility that they were a branch of the Scull family, but after some research I located a immigrant name William Scowles, who received a land patent for fifty acres in Surrey County in 1710. This is clearly the ancestor of the Scoals clan. It is possible that the war veteran Joseph Scull was a member of this family, for he cleared his payments from the army in Warrenton, North Carolina, only a dozen or so miles west of one of the Scoals' farms in Halifax County. However, it is also possible that Joseph Scull was a younger brother of John Scull Jr. of Hertford County or John Gambier Scull of Wilmington. The name Joseph would be popular with both of these branches of the Scull family during future generations (Abstract of Deeds in Northampton County, 1741-1759, pp. 62, 64, 66, 69, 79, 84, 112, 142)(Books of Deeds, Halifax County, 1763-1774)(Cavaliers and Pioneers, vol. V, p. 255)(Minutes, Surry County, Va., October 1710).
The 640 acres that Joseph Scull received were located in what is now Middle Tennessee, according to an archivist I spoke with in the N.C. Division of Archives. According to a record in the North Carolina Secretary of State Office his descendants still owned property there in 1800. The 1850 census lists the family of a Joseph and Rachel Skull in Hardin County, Tennessee. By that time he was a farmer, forty-nine years of age, and claimed to have been born in Tennessee. Very likely, he was a descendant of the Joseph who served in the Revolutionary army, but I have not searched the counties of Tennessee to verify this. His two sons, Giles and Jonathan Skull do not show up in subsequent census records either so I am suspicious that he may have been a "Shull", rather than a "Skull." (Soldiers From North Carolina in the American Revolution)(Revolutionary War Records, N.C. Secretary of State Office, #484.1, #3489).
In conclusion, there were two branches of the family of Nicholas Scull that moved to North Carolina in the colonial period. The earliest immigration came at about 1749 and included descendants of Edward Scull, the joiner, who settled in Bertie County. Edward Scull Jr. and his descendants settled in a portion of Bertie County that later became Hertford County. Meanwhile, a son of Nicholas Scull Jr. became Clerk of Court of the Bahamas. In the years immediately preceding the American Revolution his descendants moved to Wilmington, North Carolina where they established a second planting of the Scull family in the South. Both of these plantings took root and would spread to Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas by the 1830s. The next chapter will cover the generation that included the migration of some of Elisha Scull's descendants to Mississippi.
Shaking the Tree or back to the top