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Alleghany County Family Genealogies

GAMBILL Family History

Henry Gambill was the first known in our line although there are some researchers who suspect that Thomas and Ann Gambill/Gamble.were. There are land records in 1729 from which could be drawn the inference that they were Henry's parents, but the records do not offer the absolute proof required of genealogists . So we will start with what we know of Henry and leave Thomas and Ann back there in those mists of time. Perhaps we will meet them again as additional research is done by new generations. .

Henry was born, we know not where, ca 1700. He died in Culpeper County, Virginia between 1762 and 1775.. He married Mary/Marie Davenport, the daughter of Martin Davenport and Dorothy Harralson around 1735, or earlier. They probably lived for a time in an area known as Gamble's Mountain in Culpeper.

We know that he and Mary had at least six sons and one daughter : William, Benjamin, Henry, John, Thomas, Martin and Sally.

The following legal records have been discovered, documenting his life:

He was a witness to the will of Martin Davenport of New Kent County, Va. in 1735.

On September 3, 1735, according to the records of Hanover County, Virginia, Henry bought 175 acres of land on Little Rocky Creek from Thomas Carr of Caroline County.

On October 22, 1735 he bought nine hundred acres in Culpeper County, Virginia from Thomas Kennerly of South Carolina.

Records show he sold land to Mr. John Minor of Spotsylvania, County. On September 17, 1761 Henry, in deeding 180 acres in Bromfield Parish to William, pointed to William as his son toward whom he bore "good will, love and affection." He deeded land to George Strother on August 19, 1762. This seems to be his last legal record.

On November 20, 1775, William Gambill, seemingly the eldest son, sold land to Alpheus Beale of Maryland, the record including the words " Henry Gambill, Deceased" Thus we know that Henry died in Culpepper County between 1762 and November 20, 1775.

In regard to the children, we have a record that his daughter Sally, born around 1745, married John White of Virginia. According to parish records of Lafayette, Louisiana, she died February 20, 1828..

Some of his sons' activities in Virginia are a matter of court and service- connected records during the 1760's and 1780's decades. Benjamin, Henry, John, and William are listed as witnesses in the 1764 Culpeper Court Minutes.
Henry and John were Sergeants in the Culpeper Militia under Colonel Thomas Slaughter. The group organized in August 1755. For their service of approximately one year, Henry and John were each paid 1,710 pounds of tobacco in April 1758.
A payment was made to Thomas Gambrell, an infantry soldier, on 24 July, 1786.

The 1782 Virginia land tax shows no Gambill's living in Culpeper County. Instead the family of Henry seems to have migrated to the western districts of the state and also, in one large contingent, to western North Carolina. Our interest lies in three brothers, William , Martin and John who disappear from Virginia records and appear at the same time in Surry County (later Wilkes), North Carolina.

Footnote: The above information was extracted from the Winter 1987 publication of the Wilkes Genealogical Society. It results from the research of the late William Perry Johnson of Raleigh, NC.


The North Carolina Contingent

I found quite a lot of written information about this trio of pioneers, William, John and Martin, especially Martin who was the youngest and most colorful ..

William, the oldest, may have carried leadership. Born around 1740, deed books show that he sold land to Joseph Poindexter in Culpeper County Va. in 1776, to Richard Parks in 1771, and to Alpheus Beale in 1775..Meanwhile in the New River area of what became Wilkes, Ashe, and Alleghany Counties, entries for land grants had been entered by the three men. William received several land grants totaling around one thousand acres of land near what is presently known as the west fork of Roaring River. Since Wilkes County was not formed until 1778 William's assets were first listed on Benjamin Cleveland's 1777 Surry County Tax List, with two improvements, along with four slaves, four horses, 11 cattle, and 75 pounds of money.

He was appointed Tax Assessor in Captain Allen's district in 1778, served as juryman, and was a planter and miller. According to family legend , the Gambill Mill was a landmark in Wilkes County for over 100 years . He donated land for the first Walnut Grove Baptist Church in the Gambill Creek area. The church is still there, but not the original building. Today, there remains a Cemetery adjoining the church. Many Gambill names are on the tombstones, but not William's.  Itis believed his grave was washed away in  a flood.

William also served in the Revolutionary War as a private in the First North Carolina Battalion under Major John Baptista Ashe and Colonel Thomas Clark in 1777 and 1778. I have read that proving direct lineage with him will merit membership in the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution).

William married , Mary Johnson Wash, daughter of Thomas Wash , probably in Culpeper County, Virginia around 1758, 1760. They had seven children, and this is what I have found written about them.

(1) Henry married Charity Morgan, daughter of Squire John Morgan, on Oct 6, 1778. This couple were settled in Davidson county, Tennessee by 1789.

(2) Thomas, born 1760, married Susey Brewer on April 8, 1780 . By 1783 he had sold out and probably was the Thomas Gamble or Gambill recorded on the Iredell County census for 1790. Also, there is a land deed in Georgia in the late 1700's involving Thomas and Susannah (Susey?).

(3) William, either left Wilkes County, or died during the Revolutionary War period.

(4) James married Alice Morgan, Charity's sister, in July 1785. James and Alice became pioneers in Robertson County, Tennessee.

(5) Sarah married John Nall on March 21, 1785.

(6) Jesse married Nancy Johnson around 1805/07. This Jesse removed from Wilkes County to Ashe County between 1810 and 1820. He is back in Wilkes for the 1830 and 1840 censuses. (More about him later).

(7) Mary married Fielding Lewis around 1790 and they resided in Claiborne County, VA.

William died young in 1779 at around 39 years of age. Mary lived at least well into her seventies.. Because it is important to our story and it is interesting, and because it provides insights to the man's character and the way our ancestors lived, his will is inserted verbatim here:


William Gambill of Wilkes County being very sick and weak in body but of perfect mind and memory. Thanks be giving unto Almighty God. Therefore calling to mind the mortality of my body and knowing it is appointed for all men once to die do make and ordain this my last will and testament: That is to say principally and first of all I give and commend my soul unto the hands of Almighty God that gave it and my body to the grave to be buried in a decent Christian burial at the direction of my executors, nothing doubting but at the general resurrection I shall receive the same again by the mighty power of God. And as touching such worldly estate wherewith it has pleased God to bless me in this life I give and devise and dispose of the same in the following manner and form.

In primis I give and bequeath to Mary Gambill, my dearly beloved wife, that plantation that I now live (on) and the land joining of during her life of widowhood, then to my son Jessey Gambill. I do give and bequeath to my son Thomas Gambill the lower part of the land beginning with the location, then running south, then east, than west and so to the beginning. I do give and bequeath to my son Hennery Gambill the part of that land that he now lives on beginning at the mouth of the branch he lives on running ( illegible). I do give and bequeath to my son James one hundred acres of land on New River Waters on the no-headed branch..

I do give and bequeath to my daughter, Sarah Gambill, one negro boy named Daniel.. I do give and bequeath to my daughter, Mary Gambill, one negro boy named Ben. If any one of the said girls should die with a lawful care of his body, her negro above named to belong to the surviving one and if both should die without lawful care of his body, the said negros above named to be returned to the estate.

I do give and bequeath to my beloved wife, Mary Gambill , the rest of my estate and mill that stands on my son Hennery Gambill land to be sold at her death or day of marriage and to be equally divided between all my children, namely Thomas Gambill, Hennery Gambill, William Gambill, James Gambill, Sarah Gambill, Mary Gambill, Jessey Gambill.. I likewise constitute my wife executrix, Thomas Gambill, Hennery Gambill executors of this my last will and testament.

Followed by signature and witnesses, James Ramey, James Gambill, and George Lewis.


Four beds and steds. A parsel of pewter. One case of knives and forks. A parsel of books. A pare of selyards. One chest. Three negroes. Two horses. Forty head of hogs. Ten head of sheep. Twenty head of cattle. One case and bottles. One slate. One waggon and gears. Three plows. Eight hose. Three pots and a Dutch oven. One mill, six jugs and butter pat and one hand bellows. Fore axes. Nine barrels. One hemp mill spindle. One gun shelf and parsel of other iron. One pare of fire tongs. Two sythe blades. One cross cut saw and a parsel of other tools, a parsel of files. One set of shew tools. One cutting knife and face. One box iron and one candle stick. One peper box. One box and wafers. One nuttermeg grater. One loome and gerse. Two pare wool cards. Two pare coten cards. One woolen wheel. Two spinner wheels. Three beehives. One table. Four water vessals and one chern. One market barrell, One frying pan. One flesh form and two saddles, Two raser and strap and hone. Seven repehooks. A curry comb. Five bells. One pare of wedges and groin stone.
The above inventory was returned to Sept. Court 1779 by Thomas Gambill, Exec.

Note. Spelling is exactly as written by the original researcher, Hazel Roche.  All of the data in this chapter was published by Hazel or William Perry Johnson.

John, the second brother who moved with William to North Carolina, was born around 1750, married around 1770 to Catherine, or Caty. They had at least four sons and four daughters. Most of them continued westward in various settlements.

Martin, born in the 1750's was the youngest, the most famous, the most dynamic, and the one whose pedigree all the Gambills tend to claim. He settled in Ashe County. For his role in the Revolutionary war, they call him the Paul Revere of the South... Enough is known about him to publish a separate account, but since we are not of his direct line I will summarize his life by quoting the Gambrella Newsletter, Winter 2002.

" Martin Gambill served in the Revolutionary War. John Hammon, in his pension application (N.C.. S9559, dated October 6, 1835} stated he was in a skirmish led by Capt Larkin Cleveland and when Cleveland was wounded, leadership was taken by Martin Gambill. John Hammon also stated he served under Capt. Martin Gambill at Kings Mountain, and elsewhere. After Ashe County was formed in 1799, Martin Gambill was elected its first sheriff and Tax Collector in 1806. His bond for each job was 2000 pounds--these bonds were signed by John Cox and Jesse Reeves. He also was elected in 1810 the first state senator from Ashe County and was a senator until his death. He was also interested in education, built the first school house in that area. His daughter Thursa Gambill, taught there."


This page was last updated August 18, 2007.