Joshua Jones saw the Balsam Range for the first time about 1795.   He was age forty-seven, and he may have remembered, and thought, "here is a place like home," we could stay here.  And he did stay.  These mountains were  home for Joshua and his wife Elinor for the rest of their lives   And several of their nine children lived and died here. Joshua came as a boy across the sea from Ireland between 1750 and 1755 to a settlement along Priddy's Creek in Albemarle County, Virginia, about fifteen miles north of the old town of Charlottesville.  During the Revolutionary War the Jones family moved into the frontier counties of Burke and Wilkes Counties, North Carolina. By 1800 Joshua and Elinor lived in Buncombe County, North Carolina.

Joshua Jones - Ulster, Northern Ireland c1745
 Elinor Medley - Culpeper County, Virginia  

lived Albemarle County, Virginia -
Burke, Wilkes, & Buncombe Counties, North Carolina

by Iris Teta Eubank Wagner
4th great granddaughter


The ancestral home of this Jones family was Scotland.  In centuries before, Joshua's ancestral family may have lived near a village in the Glasgow area, Govan, Scotland, before a move to the Ards Peninsula in north Ireland.  The given name Govan appears as a given name in the Buncombe County generations of this Jones family.  Below is a map showing the River Clyde and Glasgow area during the middle ages.  Both Meikle Govan and Little Govan are now part of the City of Glasgow.  The historic Govan Parish Church, researchers believe, was the site of one of the earliest Christian settlements in mainland Scotland.

Medieval Map : Glasgow and Govan areas along the River Clyde 


The Ulster Plantation in northern Ireland grew from 13,000 Protestant settlers living there in 1622 to 100,000 in 1641.   We might use those twenty years to say this is the time within which our Jones ancestors immigrated from Scotland to northern Ireland.  The fact is this Scots-Irish lineage with the surname Jones spans almost four centuries from the time of their immigration from Scotland to the present time.  They have been in America for over 250 years.  Old Joshua Jones came to America in Virginia as a young boy, and died more than ninety years later in 1838 in west Buncombe County, North Carolina.

The Twentieth Century in Buncombe
My mother Bonnie Jones,
born in 1907, told me she was a young girl living with her grandparents on North Fork, Swannanoa, in east Buncombe.  As an interested little girl, she listened as her grandfather Mark Jones talked about his Jones ancestors with sisters Nora Jones Stinnette and Frances Jones.  On one point my mother wanted to make sure I understood, "Now it was not Grandpa's grandfather who first came over, it was his great grandfather.  He came as a little boy with his family from Ireland."  And she remembered grandpa saying they lived in . . . she couldn't remember the first part of the word grandpa had said, but, "it was something  . . . patrick."  The town of  Downpatrick, County Down?  She knew they had lived in Albemarle in Virginia, and told me that "they didn't stay there long."

Mark Jones and friend Malcom Slagle at a Civil War Reunion in 1909, Buncombe, NC

With more detailed research in County Down, we may find this Jones family's home in northern Ireland. There were Jones families living in County Down according to The Book of Ulster Surnames by Robert Bell, p 106 - Perhaps, not surprisingly the Joneses are now found mainly in areas of English settlement at the time of the Plantation, namely counties Antrim and Armagh and in northwest Down. 

Beginning research in Buncombe County, and researching back to Wilkes and to Albemarle, where my mother Bonnie had told me her Jones family had lived, I found the same Jones first names in Albemarle and later Wilkes and Buncombe.  (See Albemarle deeds list for Jones, below.)

Arriving at the Port of Philadelphia
Joshua's family arrived  in America in mid-18th Century, probably at the port of  Philadelphia; it was the busiest port by far in those days.  The family hired wagons and gear and traveled across Pennsylvania, through Lancaster County, turning south into Maryland, going through the town of Frederick, and gradually reaching the Virginia piedmont in Orange and Albemarle Counties. 

1864, Jedediah Hotchkiss.  Section from Albemarle County Map.  Library of Congress, 
    Geography and Map Division, Washington, D.C.

Priddy's Creek area - Albemarle County  

With its head in Culpeper (afterwards Madison, now Greene County), Priddy's Creek touches the southwest corner of  Orange County, before dropping down through the northeastern section of Albemarle, flowing into the North Fork of the Rivanna River.  The tracts of Stephen, Thomas, and Russel Jones (deed list below) were located along Priddy's or along its branches, and was fifteen miles north of Charlottesville.

Joshua probably grew up in northern Albemarle County, along Priddy's Creek just south of Orange and Culpeper Counties.  Albemarle County deed records show Stephen, Jr., Thomas, and Russel Jones bought land along Priddy’s Creek.  They lived near a small village called Petersburg, as described by John Hammond Moore in  his book, Albemarle : Jefferson’s County . . . Petersburg is the appellation of a hamlet on Priddy’s Creek . . . !  Moore adds that the first water mill built by Thomas Jefferson’s father, Peter Jefferson, for which we have record was located on Pretty’s (Priddy’s) Creek in 1742.  Peter's Mountain at right in the map was named for Peter Jefferson. 

                    Land Deeds - of north Albemarle County 
                        Stephen, Thomas, and Russel Jones

 Ruth and Sam Sparacio, Albemarle County Deeds 1761 - 1782
1765 - Stephen Jones, Jr. bought 200 acres on Priddy’s Creek, by oath
            of Thomas Jackson.
1767 -Thomas Jones bought 320 acres on branches of Priddy’s Creek.
1775 Russel Jones bought 200 acres at the head of Meadow Creek on south side Rivanna.
1776 Stephen Jones and wife Sarah sold 236 acres eastside Priddy’s Crk, up the Meadows.
1777 Thomas Jones of Orange County, Virginia, sold 57 acres on Priddy’s Creek.
1779 Stephen Jones and wife Sarah sold 74 acres on Priddy’s Creek
1779 Russel Jones and wife Anne (Beasley) sold 208 acres on Meadow Creek.

A Theory for Parentage of Joshua Jones
Considering the first deed in the list above where Thomas Jackson gives oath on a deed of Stephen Jones, Jr., Joshua may have been a son of Stephen Jones, Jr.   Joshua's mother's surname may have been Jackson.  The first son  born to Joshua and Elinor was named Stephen, and the second eldest son was named Jackson.  Using the customary naming pattern of first son named for the father's father and the second son named for the mother's father the first son Stephen and the second son Jackson would nicely conform to this pattern.

John Medley, Planter - Culpeper,Virginia

Elinor Medley’s father, John Medley, was a planter and lived in Brumfield Parish, Culpeper County, Virginia.  This would have been the southeastern corner of Culpeper, near Ruckersville. One of four colonial churches in Culpeper was located at Burton and later at Ruckersville.  The will of  John Medley was entered for probate in Culpeper County on October 20, 1763.  He named his wife and children.  His wife Elizabeth named in the will, was one of four co-executors with Jacob Ward, Charles Brooking, and son John Medley.  Daughters Elizabeth, younger daughters Elinor, Mary, and Martha are also named.  The appraisal of the will mentions Capt. Thomas Jones, promissory note to John Medley. 

The will of  Robert Medley,  John Medley's brother, was entered in probate on Sept. 20, 1759 in Culpeper County.  Evidently unmarried, Robert willed his estate be divided among his mother, Eleanor, his brothers and  members of their families named in the will.  Family members mentioned in the will are brothers John, Isaac, Jacob, and James; brothers-in-law May Burton, Sr. and Reuben Shelton; nephews May Burton, Jr.,  Ambrose and Reuben Medley (sons of Jacob), Thomas Shelton; nieces Susannah Eastham and her sister Elizabeth.  Robert Medley's estate was settled July 11, 1761. 

Among the legatees being paid in the estate settlement of Robert Medley was James Medley, Sr. receiving payment for Eleanor his wife.  This seems to indicate that James Medley, Sr. was the father of the Medley brothers and sisters in this Culpeper County family.  Elinor Medley was named for her grandmother, Eleanor.

Using references from Maryland and Virginia, it is likely that  this Medley line lived first in Maryland and later in Essex County, Virginia, before moving to Culpeper County in the 1750's/60's.

Burke County, North Carolina

Joshua and Elinor married in the early 1770's in Culpeper or Albemarle.   They had at least three children before their move to Burke County, North Carolina in 1778. Their son Russel Jones was  born after the move from Albemarle.  Russel's descendant, the late William Nathan Jones of Cocke County, Tennessee, wrote in his book By the River and Beyond that  Russel was born in Burke County, North Carolina, on December 29, 1780.  Nathan was a gggrandson of Russel.  Russel moved from Buncombe County to Cocke County, Tennessee, in 1819.  The three children of Joshua and Elinor born in Virginia were Stephen Jones (lived south of Asheville in Buncombe), Mary Jones, (married Jesse Israel, lived in Buncombe),  and Jackson Jones (lived Cherokee County, North Carolina.)

Eldest sons of Joshua and Elinor, Stephen Jones and Jackson Jones  lived into their 80's.  The longevity of  our Jones ancestors is quite remarkable in a time when it was fortunate, and rare, for a person to live beyond age fifty.  In modern times the prevalence of medicines can allow an average life-span of seventy-five years.  My longest lived ancestor of whom I'm aware, was my grandfather, I am proud to say, Winfred Lee Jones, my mother's father, who was born in 1881 and lived into his 106th year.  He died in January, 1987, at his home and farm near Brevard, North Carolina. 

 Stephen and Jackson  gave their place of birth as Virginia on the 1850 and 1860 U.S. Federal Censuses.  On the 1860 census of Fort Hembree, Cherokee County, North Carolina, the census taker, in addition to noting the state of birth for each entry, also named the county.  Jackson Jones was born in Albemarle County, Virginia.  After my mother's telling me that the family had lived in Albemarle, Virginia, this 1860 entry for Jackson was my first recorded proof.

                          Burke County Land Abstracts
    1778 -
# 1398, p. 461 - Archelos Coffey, 250 acres on main Mulberry Fork of John's River, beginning at   Thomas Hyrises (Harris) upper line, up fork for complement including improvements Joshua Jones lives on.   Entered  Dec. 29, 1778. Warrant ordered.  Transferred to James  Blare and to Thomas Hayes.
     1779 - # 1473, p. 486 -  Reuben Brown, "on the  Mulberry Fork of John's River  joining Joneses line and on both sides of said Fork for complement."  Entered Jan. 25, 1779.  Transferred to Thomas Hoyle (Hayes?)

                      Wilkes County, North Carolina

The map below shows both the John's River and Mulberry Fork area in Burke County, and also shows the Lenoir/ King's Creek area of Wilkes County.   Joshua lived first in the John's River area of Burke and after the Revolutionary War he lived on the middle fork of King's Creek.  Col. William Lenoir built the original Fort Defiance on the North Carolina frontier.  Between 1788 and 1792 he built the home which he named also Fort Defiance in honor of the old fort that had protected him and his neighbors as they settled the area.  About five miles northeast from Lenoir is King's Creek.  Joshua lived on the middle fork of King's Creek.

1791 - 26 April - From Wilkes County Court Minutes, 1789-1797, Vols. III & IV, Mrs. W. O. Absher - Deed from Joshua Jones to Laurence Bradley, 100 acres, oath of Samuel Tucker.

1794 - From Wilkes County Deed Book D, 1795-1815, Absher.
1794, Nov. 16 - Between John Grayson and Ann Wisdom . . . 55 lbs . . . 100 acres both sides middle fork King's Creek. Thomas Stepp's line . . . Joshua Jones line.  Wits :  William Durham, Larance (Laurence) Bradley & John Walker.  Signed :  John Grayson.  Page 84.   (In 1867, Thomas Stepp's great-granddaughter Rachel Jane Stepp would marry Joshua Jones's great-grandson Marcus Maloney Jones.)

Joshua may have bought land previously owned by Tories at King's Creek.   On the map below, a Jones family was a neighbor of William Lenoir.  Russel Jones, who served as a Justice of the Peace in Wilkes County from 1785 until 1788, may have lived at this residence.  As a Justice, Russel would have been of some influence in the decisions of the county.  He may have helped Joshua secure old Tory land on King's Creek. 

Nancy Alexander writes about the Tory and Whig situation at King's Creek, Wilkes (later Caldwell) during and after the Revolutionary War.  From Here Will I Dwell : The Story of Caldwell County, Nancy Alexander, page 47.

There are said to have been almost as many Tories as Whigs in this section of the State.  King's Creek, reportedly, was the home of a number of Loyalists who had a drilling field there. . . . After the war there was much resentment toward the Tories and most of them were forced to flee from their homes and land, either selling them for almost nothing or having them confiscated by Whigs.

    Library of Congress American Memory Collection
.  Part of a complete map of North Carolina
     engraved by H. S. Tanner in 1833 from original surveys. Published in Fayetteville, NC.

                       Burke and Wilkes Counties -
                   map drawn from original surveys

This map shows the John's River and the main Mulberry Fork where Joshua's family lived in Burke County. The map also shows the Lenoir area and King's Creek where Joshua lived at the time he moved to Buncombe about 1795.

Note: The Jones residence along the road just west of Lenoir.  Russel Jones was an officer of the county.  He likely lived there with wife Anne Beasley. 

From Johnson J. Hayes's book The Land of Wilkes, p 37
October 26, 1785.  As several Justices of the Peace in said County are about to remove out of this state, it becomes necessary to have some others appointed, the court taking the same into consideration does recommend to the Legislature of this State to nominate and appoint Major Jesse Franklin, Robert Cleveland, Russel Jones,  Benjamin Elledge, and Ambrose Hammons to
that important office, as we look upon them to be the most suitable for that purpose.

From State Records of North Carolina, p181
Dec. 6, 1788.  Mr. Brown presented the resignation of Russel Jones, one of the Justices of the Peace for Wilkes County, which was accepted and sent to the Senate.
Russel later lived in Buncombe, then Franklin Co., Georgia 

1790 U.S. Federal Census Wilkes County, North Carolina
Below is a partial list of Thomas Ferguson's 1st company


Joshua Jones and neighbors :
Note: Jesse Israel (daughter Mary's family), and other Israel families.  At the lower end  of the right column are neighbors Zebulon Baird and Thomas Steep (Stepp).  Zebulon Baird was grandfather of Zebulon Baird Vance, North Carolina's govenor during the Civil War.  Zeb Vance's father, David Vance, settled in northBuncombe at Reems Creek.  Thomas Stepp was the father of Joseph Stepp who settled in northeast Buncombe.

William Lenoir was the entry taker for this area on the State Census of 1784-1787. It may have been Lenoir who entered the names on this U.S. Federal Census  of 1790.                                                                                                                        
                Buncombe County, North Carolina
Joshua and Elinor are enumerated on the 1800 U. S. Federal Census for Buncombe County, and they are listed on each subsequent federal census  through 1830 Joshua and Elinor gave their ages on the 1830 census as being between eighty and ninety years.  Both died before the1840 census was taken, probably between 1838/40.   In 1841 twenty-nine heirs signed a deed transferring a tract of land west of the French Broad River, including the mouth of Hominy Creek, to John Reynolds of Buncombe. In 1841 several children and grandchildren of Joshua and Elinor still lived on farms in the rich valley land along the north and south side of Hominy Creek in west Buncombe County. Later in the 19th century a part of Joshua's original land became a part of  George Vanderbilt's wide-ranging preserve and Biltmore Estate. 

Kenneth Israel is a descendant of Mary Jones Israel, second child of Joshua and Elinor.  Kenneth Israel's research, which was published subsequently in his book, Children of Israel, identifies nine children.  And too, Israel researched and identified the locations in Buncombe County where each child with his family resided in 1819 before several moved from the area.  In 1819 Joshua and Elinor and nine children and their families lived on land along Hominy Creek.  Joshua and Elinor's home was near the mouth of Hominy Creek at the French Broad River. 

I have visited the Joshua Jones Burying Ground, which is now well inside the Biltmore Estate boundary.  Having cleared with the security office our visit to the Estate, myself and a fellow researcher were  guided by author and guide Bill Alexander, who drove us several miles inside the Estate boundary.  We passed hillsides planted with rows and rows of grape vines.  We came to a stop at the base of a wooded hillside, and from there hiked our way to the top to the burying ground.  Kenneth Israel and several descendants placed a memorial gravestone there years ago.  The stone can be viewed on

Kenneth D. Israel.  Children of Israel,
The map also appears in
By the River and Beyond by William Nathan Jones. 

                            Children of Joshua and Elinor

Stephen Jones, b 1773 in Virginia
Stephen gave his birthplace as Virginia on the 1850 U.S. Census, and his age as 77.  His wife was Jane "Jennie" Hayes born 1775,  North Carolina.  In 1859 through a Deed of Gift in Buncombe County, gave each of his seven sons $250.00.  All the sons lived in Buncombe, except Wilt or Wyatt, who, like his Uncle Russel, moved to Cocke County, Tennessee.  In addition to Wilt, the sons were Thomas, Joshua, Russel, Ransom, William, and Stephen, Jr.

Mary Jones Israel Rogers Jesse Israel and Mary Jones married in Wilkes County, and moved to Buncombe with the family about 1795.  Kenneth Israel's book Children of Israel  has some detail of this Jones lineage in Buncombe County.

Jackson “Jacky” Jones, b 1775 in Albemarle County, Virginia
By 1840 Jackson had moved from his land along Hominy Creek in Buncombe County. He moved  to  Cherokee County, North Carolina, which was established after the Cherokee removal of 1838.   Jackson is between 60 and 70 years old on the 1840 U.S. Census for Cherokee County.    Living in the same household are two males between 20 and 30 years old.  On the 1850 U.S. Census of Cherokee County, taken June 1, Jackson’s age is given as seventy-five. On the 1860 census Jackson’s age is given as eighty-four, his birthplace as Albemarle County, Virginia.

Thomas Jones, b 1781
Thomas Jones left a will in which he names his wife Ann, his children Rachel, William, Patsy, Russel, Jincy, James, Nancy, Thomas, Anna, Polly, and Nelly.  The will was written in 1825 with probate in 1832.  Executors of the estate were Thomas's brother William Jones and William Israel. (This memorial stone is placed in Sardis Cemetery in west Asheville.)

                                                                                                      Hendrix photo


    Original Narrative Genealogy and Site © Iris Teta Eubank Wagner 2006-2014

Sources: 1790 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2000. Original data: 1830 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA:, Inc., 2004. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fifth Census of the United States, 1830. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1830.M19, 201 rolls. 

Thomas Perkins Abernethy, From Frontier to Plantation : A Study in Frontier Democracy, Southern Historical Publication #12, University of Alabama Press, p 174.

Nancy Alexander, Here Will I Dwell : The Story of Caldwell County, Rowan Printing Comapny, 1956, Salisbury, N.C.

Dorothy R. Hyde, Old Buncombe County Heritage, Article # 411, The Joshua A. Jones Family [son of Stephen Jones, Sr.], Old Buncombe County Genealogical Society, Asheville, North Carolina.

    Johnson J. Hayes, The Land of Wilkes, p. 37

John Hammond Moore, Albemarle: Jefferson's County

Ruth and Sam Sparacio, Albemarle County Deeds 1761-1782

Robert Bell, The Book of  Ulster Surnames, p 106

Culpeper County Courthouse, Culpeper, Virginia, Culpeper  County Register of Deeds, Will Book A ; 1759-61  Estate Probate of Will of Robert Medley, pp 203-205, 263-264 ; 1763 Estate Probate of Will of John Medley, pp352-354.

Buncombe County Courthouse, Asheville, NC, Buncombe County Register of  Deeds, Deed Book 26, page 449, Deed of Gift of Stephen Jones to  his sons, April 9, 1859.

Kenneth Israel, Children of Israel.

William Nathan Jones, great-great-grandson of Russel Jones [ Joshua and Elinor's son ], By the River and Beyond, a history of the Del Rio community in Cocke County, Tennessee. Copyright by the author, 1996.  Printed and Distributed by Newport Printing Company, Newport, Tennessee. 1850 United States Federal  Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA:, Inc., 2005. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Seventh Census of the United States, 1850. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Adm. 1850. M432, 1,009 rolls.

USGenWeb, Burke County, North Carolina page, History of Burke County, North Carolina, Burke County Annexation to Wilkes County, 1789.

 W.W. Scott, The Annals of Caldwell County [North Carolina].  Originally published in 1930.  Reprint of the manuscript in 1996 by The Caldwell County Genealogical Society, Caldwell County, North Carolina. 1860 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA:, Inc., 2004. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Eighth Census of the United States, 1860. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1860. M653, 1,438 rolls.

Carolyn C. Aslund & Billie C. Ledbetter, compilers, Cemetery Inscriptions of Buncombe County, N.C., Vol. 1, 1984.

Mrs. W. O. Absher, Wilkes County, N.C., Deed Books D, F-1, G & H,1795-1815.  Pages 154, 213, 233, 244.