Peter Elder of Virginia

Elder Notes ─ Generation 5 ─ James and Mary (Polly) Elder


James5 Elder (Joseph4, William3, Peter2, Peter1) probably was born in Brunswick County, Virginia, and died by 1824 in Rutherford County, Tennessee. He married Polly Mason in 1789 in Campbell County, Virginia. Based on Census records, they appear to have had at least ten children. I've found no record of land ownership.


These are the principal records for James5 Elder:

  1. James Elder appeared in marriage records of Campbell County, Virginia:

    9 Sep 1789 (bond) – James Elder married Polly Mason; consent by John Mason, father of the bride; bond Jesse Mason; witness Jesse Mason [record]

    17 Nov 1790 (bond) – John Wood married Patsy Mason; consent by John Mason; bond John Wood and John Mason; witnesses James Elder and John Mason; minister return 2 Nov 1790 Charles Cobbs

    22 Nov 1796 (bond) – William Mason married Jenny Ready; consent by Nathan Ready, father of the bride; bond William Mason and James Elder; witnesses John Elder and James Elder; minister return Nov 1796 Charles Cobbs

    [Baber and Williamson, Marriages of Campbell County, Virginia, 1782-1810, pages 33, 67, and 105]

  2. Francis M. Pettey sold 81 acres in Campbell County to John Elder, bounded by Joseph Elder, James Elder, and Jesse Mason, 1 Feb 1797 [Campbell County, Virginia, Deed Book 4, 1796-1799, page 199, Microfilm Reel 2, Library of Virginia]
  3. James Elder was named in the will of his father Joseph Elder, written 16 Jan 1800 and proved 8 Sep 1800 in Campbell County, Virginia [record | text]
  4. In the suit of John L. D. Johnson against Dorothea Henry, Edmund Winston and George D. Winston, executors of the estate of Patrick Henry deceased, the May 1801 Court ordered:

    that James Elder, witness for Johnson, be paid $1.06 by Johnson for two days' attendance

    that John Mason, witness for Henry's executors, be paid $4.26 by them for two days' attendance and for twice coming and returning 20 miles from Campbell County [Charlotte County, Virginia, Order Book 13, 1801-1803, page 16, Microfilm Reel 27, Library of Virginia]

    Note: this is Patrick "Give me liberty or give me death!" Henry who lived at Red Hill in Charlotte County at the end of his life. Get more information here.

  5. James Elder appeared in Personal Property Tax lists of Campbell or Charlotte Counties most years from 1790 to 1813 and not after:
    1789 not found 1802 not found
    1790 0-0-0-1 (Campbell) 1803 not found
    1791 0-0-0-1 (Campbell) 1804 not found
    1792 0-0-0-0 (Campbell) 1805 1-0-0-0 (Campbell)
    1793 0-0-0-0 (Campbell) 1806 1-0-0-1 (Charlotte)
    1794 0-0-0-0 (Campbell) 1807 1-0-0-1 (Charlotte)
    1795 1-0-0-0 (Campbell) 1808 no VA Property Tax
    1796 1-0-0-0 (Charlotte) 1809 1-1-0-0-0 (Charlotte)
    1797 1-0-0-0 (Charlotte) 1810 1-1-0-1-0 (Charlotte)
    1798 1-0-0-0 (Charlotte) 1811 1-1-0-1-0 (Charlotte)
    1799 1-0-0-0 (Charlotte) 1812 1-1-0-1-0 (Charlotte)
    1800 1-0-0-0 (Charlotte) 1813 1-1-0-0-1 (Charlotte)
    1801 1-0-0-0 (Charlotte) 1814 not found

    For meanings of numbers, see here [add link]. [Personal Property Tax Lists, Virginia State Library: Campbell County, Virginia, 1785-1814 and 1815-1829, Microfilm Reels 66 and 67; Charlotte County, Virginia, 1782-1813 and 1814-1827, Microfilm Reels 80 and 81]

  6. James Elder appeared as Head of Family in the 1810 Census of Charlotte County, Virginia:

    [1810 Census of United States, Charlotte County, Virginia, Microfilm series M252, Roll 68, page 1013] [record]

    Under 10 2 3
    10 – 15 2 3
    16 – 25 0 0
    26 – 44 1 1
    45 & over 0 0

  7. A note on James Elder appeared in the inventory of the estate of Jesse Mason deceased in Rutherford County, Tennessee, 1817 [record | text]
  8. James Elder appeared as Head of Family in the 1820 Census of Rutherford County, Tennessee:

    [1820 Census of United States, Rutherford County, Tennessee, Microfilm series M33, Roll 124, page 99R] [record]

    Under 10 1 0
    10 – 15 1 1
    16 – 18 1  
    16 – 25 1 5
    26 – 44 0 0
    45 & over 1 0

  9. An inventory of the estate of James Elder was presented by Joshua Elder in Rutherford County, Tennessee, 18 Oct 1824 [Wills, Inventories and Settlements of Rutherford County, Vol. 16, page 67] [record | text]

Click on a link to see an abstract or copy of the record.


Discussion of Records

What can one learn from these records?


James Elder probably was born between 1765 and 1768: the 1810 Census lists him as 26-45 (record 6), so he was born no earlier than 1765; he married without parental consent in 1789 (record 1), so he was at least 21 then – i.e. born no later than 1768. Judging from Brunswick County land records, his parents Joseph and Mary Elder resided in Brunswick County, Virginia, during this period.


James Elder's parents were Joseph4 and Mary Elder (record 3). More information on Joseph and Mary Elder is given here.


James Elder married Polly Mason in Campbell County, Virginia, in 1789 (record 1).

Wife's Family

Polly Mason was the daughter of John Mason (record 1). I haven't identified Polly Mason's mother. There were several John Masons in the Campbell/Charlotte area at the time. A John Mason (widower) married Francis Brooke (widow) in Sep 1794 [Baber and Williamson, Marriages of Campbell County, Virginia, 1782-1810]; if this was Polly's father, her mother had died by 1794. Mason family data is presented here.


Comparisons of the 1810 Census in Virginia (record 6) and the 1820 Census in Tennessee (record 8) show agreement as to numbers and ages of children. There appear to have been 5 boys and 6 girls altogether. The 1810 Census shows 2 boys and 3 girls aged 10 to 15; i.e., 5 children born in six years. Perhaps there were twins.

Researchers have listed the following children for James and Polly Elder:

Joshua Elder
James Elder Jr.
Sarah Elder
Elizabeth Elder
Lucy Elder
David Elder
William Elder
Frances Elder
Claiborne Elder
Nancy Elder
Susan Elder

The evidence for relationships is scanty. There's no James Elder will. Joshua Elder was administrator of the estate of James Elder in 1824, but no relationship was given (record 9). A James Elder, Junior, appears in the 1820 Census for Rutherford County (record 8), apparently living near James SeniorJames and Claiborne Elder moved to Obion County, Tennessee, where James was administrator of Claiborne's estate. Joshua Elder was guardian of daughters Susan Jane and Elizabeth of Claiborne Elder, deceased, in 1859. Nancy Elder married Richard V. Teer in Rutherford County in 1838. Claiborne's children seem to have lived with Nancy Tier and Susan Elder at the time of the 1850 Census. William Elder married Tabitha Nance (1828) and Frances Elder married David Baxter (1832), both in Rutherford County. Richard Teer was listed next to David Baxter in the 1840 Census. For details see notes on James and Polly Elder's children here.

James Elder and Polly Mason were married in 1789, but the 1810 Census shows no children born before 1794. There may have been children who left home or died by the time of the 1810 Census. There was an Elias Elder in Rutherford County who served in the War of 1812 along with a James Elder (see below).


James Elder lived in Brunswick, Campbell and Charlotte counties in Virginia and then moved to Rutherford County, Tennessee.


James Elder died by 1824 in Rutherford County, Tennessee (record 9).

Wife's death

Based on Census records, Polly Elder appears to have died after 1810 (record 6) and before 1820 (record 8).



James Elder resided in Brunswick, Campbell and Charlotte counties in Virginia and in Rutherford County, Tennessee. I've found no record of land ownership in deed books or in Virginia Land Tax lists.



Identifying and tracking James Elder's associates appears to be the only way to demonstrate that James Elder and family of Charlotte County, Virginia, moved to Rutherford County, Tennessee, by 1814.

  1. Mason connections

    James Elder and Jesse Mason seem to have been close associates in Virginia. Jesse Mason witnessed and provided bond for James Elder's marriage to Polly Mason, who was daughter of John Mason (record 1). Jesse Mason probably was Polly's brother (he's described as "son of my son John Mason" in the will of John Mason Senior 1796 [Campbell County, Virginia, Will Book 1, 1782-1800, page 309, Microfilm Reel 19, Library of Virginia]). Jesse Mason was a neighbor of James Elder in 1797 (record 2). Obediah Mason is in the 1812 Personal Property Tax list for Campbell County; John Mason, son of Jesse, is in the 1805-1807 lists. Jesse Mason and wife Susannah sold property in Campbell County in 1813 [Campbell County, Virginia, Deed Book 10, 1813-1815, page 242, Microfilm Reel 2, Library of Virginia]; Jesse Mason and James Elder (record 5) both appear for the last time in Virginia tax records in 1813.

    In Rutherford County, Tennessee, Obediah Mason and others were ordered to help an overseer of roads in July 1813 [Wells, Rutherford County, Tennessee, County Court Minutes, 1811-1815, page 69 (290) (at DAR)]. Jesse Mason having died without a will, Susannah Mason was appointed administratrix of the estate, having given bond with John Mason, Jesse Mason and Coleman Mason on 13 Jan 1817 [Rutherford County, Tennessee, Minute Book, volume K, 1816-1817, page 125]. An inventory of the estate returned at April Term 1817 included notes on Obediah Mason, James Elder and others, and accounts on Obediah and Coleman Mason (record 7).

  2. Mason-allied connections

    There are other links through Mason-Weatherford-Sublett-Akin family connections.

    In Virginia, three Mason boys married daughters of John Weatherford and wife Martha (Sublett) Weatherford:

    30 Dec 1803 – Joseph Mason and Elizabeth Weatherford

    20 Dec 1809 – Obediah Mason and Louisa Weatherford

    11 Mar 1812 – Jesse Mason [Junior] and Martha Weatherford

    [Knorr, Marriage Bonds and Ministers’ Returns of Charlotte County, Virginia, 1764-1815, page 55]. John Weatherford was the minister who married Ephraim Elder and Martha (Patsy) Matthews in 1787.

    Three Subletts married minor daughters of Joseph Akin:

    20 Dec 1787 – William Sublett married Sally Akin

    14 Nov 1791 – George Allen Sublett married Isabell Akin

    08 Nov 1797 – Benjamin Sublett married Mary Akin

    Also with her father Joseph's consent:

    2 Dec 1801 – Charles Puckett married Elizabeth Akin

    [Baber and Williamson, Marriages of Campbell County, Virginia, 1782-1810, pages 93 and 79]

    The will of Joseph Akin proved in 1812 names daughters Sarah (Sally), Ibey (Isabella) and Mary Sublett (Sublett spelled several ways!) and Betsy Ann Puckett. It also names son George Akin. Two sons-in-law in Tennessee, William Sublett and Charles Puckett were to be security [Hopkins, Campbell County Virginia, Wills and Inventories, 1782-1847, page 44].

    Now for the Tennessee connections:

    Sally and William A. Sublett witnessed a marriage contract in Tennessee dated 16 May 1806 (between Samuel C. McNees and Elizabeth Cummins) [Lynch, Rutherford County, Tennessee, Record Book A, 1804-1814, page 18 (page 37) (at DAR)]

    The sale of a slave by Susannah Mason, John Mason, Obidiah Mason, Jesse Mason and Coleman Mason was proved by witness William A. Sublett on 13 Jan 1817 [Rutherford County, Tennessee, Minute Book, volume K, 1816-1817, page 243].

    A George Akin is mentioned in the inventory of James Elder's estate (record 9).

  3. Wood connections

    James Elder witnessed the marriage of John Wood and Patsy Mason in Campbell County, Virginia, in 1790 (record 1). John Wood married Kesiah Franklin in Campbell County in 1793 [Baber and Williamson, page 105].

    In Tennessee Kisiah Wood, widow of John Wood, and others presented an inventory at January Term 1815 [Marsh and Marsh, Wills and Inventories of Rutherford County, Tennessee, Volume I (1804-1828), page 28 (Book 3, page 8)]. James Elder (Junior) married Peggy Wood 2 Jul 1816 [Col. Hardy Murphree Chapter, DAR, Marriage Record, Rutherford County, Tennessee, 1804-1850, page 5].

I could develop additional connections between Virginia and Tennessee (e.g. the Lenoir and Matthews families) but haven't made the effort because I think the connections described above demonstrate that James Elder of Charlotte County, Virginia, and James Elder of Rutherford County, Tennessee, are the same person.


Other Elders

Other Elders lived in Rutherford County, Tennessee, around the same time that James Elder lived there. It would be good to identify how they are related.


Contemporary Events

James Elder lived in eventful times.

There were two major wars in his lifetime, the War for American Independence and the War of 1812.

He lived under one King (George III, reigned 1760-1820) and five Presidents (Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe).

There were 24 states in the United States by 1824 when he died.

Tennessee was admitted to the Union in 1796 as the 16th state. The state capitol, at Knoxville from 1796 to 1812, moved to Nashville from 1812 to 1817, then returned briefly to Knoxville. From 1818 to 1826 the General Assembly met in Murfreesboro (in Rutherford County), and in 1826 the capitol moved to its permanent site in Nashville.

With the opening of former Indian lands, and the heavy migration into the state, the period from 1806 to 1819 was one of prosperity and rapid development in Tennessee.



Library of Virginia, Campbell County microfilm list

Library of Virginia, Charlotte County microfilm list