Almost nothing is known of his origins. He was well regarded by the South
Carolina and Georgia governments, so we can be sure he was from England
and not a pauper. He worked in the Overhill villages of Great Tellico and Chatuga (across from each other on the Tellico River). He was associated
with William Kelly, Ludovic Grant, Robert Gouedy, John Watts, Thomas Nightingale and John Amory. Other associates were Samuel Benn and Anthony Dean. Ludovic Grant was the trader at Great Tellico from 1726-c.1734. He then went to the Valley town of Tomatly (probably following his father-in-law there as would be the custom.) Elder, Kelly and Nightingale took over the Overhill trade, followed by Gouedy, Benn and Dean. (Watts and Amory were minor players
in the trade.)
When James Oglethorpe of Georgia got the Creeks and Cherokees to join
together in 1740 for an expedition against the Spanish (see Thomas Ayres,
Samuel Brown references) the two tribes decided it would also be a good time
to take care of their mutual enemy the Chickasaws. But the Chickasaws were
at peace with the British so the Indian commissioners in Charleston, South
Carolina (which had authority over all Indian affairs in the southeast) scrambled
to send trusted messengers to prevent war. Alexander Wood and John
Sergeant, traders, were sent to the Creeks. William Elder and “a trusted
messenger of the Governor’s choosing” were sent to the Cherokee.
“And that his Honour be also desired to dispatch another Messenger with a
Letter to Mr. William Elder, and other Traders in the Cherokee Nation, to
acquaint us with their [= the Cherokees] Disposition, and what Measures are
most proper to be taken to secure their Fidelity to us. And that such Messenger
be agreed with to go constantly between us and the Cherokees for the bringing
[SC Commons Journal of 31 Jan 1740]
William Elder purchased some horses from John Amory, who was probably a
middle-man for Thomas Nightingale, who raised horses. The transaction was
witnessed by John Watts and William Winsmore:
May 4, 1744.
"Know all men by these presents that I, John Amory of the
Province of South Carolina, Indian Trader, have bargained,
sold and delivered and by these presents do bargain, sell
and deliver unto Wm. Elder all these geldings and mares
hereafter mentioned. . . . " Berkley County
Archives, 12 May 1744
Another transaction in Berkley County on 5 June 1745 involved the purchase
of horses and cows from Andrew Brown to be taken into the Cherokee Nation.
James Francis witnessed the transaction. [Ibid., p.347]
William Elder came back to Charleston in 1746, and apparently remained there.
In that year, a Cherokee slave girl was being auctioned on a trading ship and
the girl was complaining in the Lower Cherokee language that she was free and
she had papers to prove it. Since there were a few traders and a few Cherokee
in town around that time (Spring 1746) due to pending war talk against the
French, there was some commotion. A benefactor, probably Thomas
Nightingale, came forward and gave the ship’s master a token payment and
advised him to accept it. William Elder “comforted” the girl and took her to a
camp near Goose Creek. A few months later Thomas Nightingale and John
Amory would take her up to her village at Keowee. Nightingale sent letters from
the Cherokee Nation in September 1746 (he was with Ludovic Grant and James
Beamer, Ambrose Davis delivered the letters). John Amory died on this trip and
his body was returned to Charleston for burial. The young Cherokee girl (Nana)
accompanied the body, and would always speak of John Amory’s kindness.
The girl had another reason for returning: she was pregnant with William
In Spring 1746 William Elder served as a guide for Capt. John Vann, for which
[SC Commons Journal of 11 Jun 1746]
(Because this was more than Elder made as a trader in a year, it was probably
buffeted by the legislature’s gratitude for his other services.)
who sent a letter of that date to the Trustees of Georgia:
I met with in this Town two Indian Traders of the Cherokee Nation viz. Henry
Elders of great Tolicoa and Chatoogee, and William Kelly of Tenneson, Chothee
etc. (over the mountains) and very nigh the French who told me that on the 26 or
else on the 28th Day of March last Two French Men with 21 Savannah Indians in
the Interest of the French came to the Chothee Town and made a Peace with the
head Men of all the above named towns. . .
[Tenneson = Tanassee or Tennessee; Chothee = Chota, Savannah Indians were the Shawnee.]
[Col Recs GA, Candler XXV 55,56]
On 17 Aug 1747, at Saint Philip’s Parish Church, he married Sarah Amory, spinster. She was the daughter of Thomas Amory. (She would later marry
Thomas Nightingale.) Sometime after the marriage William Elder and William
Kelly escorted Nana, the young Cherokee girl, back up to Keowee. This was in early 1748. William Elder died shortly thereafter, but a letter from William Kelly
places Kelly in Keowee in June 1748. [SC Commons Journal of 20 Jun 1748.]
The estate of “William Elder, Indian Trader” was appraised 13 July 1748 by
Charles Russell, William Seawright, and John McCord.
In August 1748 the indomitable Sarah (Amory) Elder began disposing of her
To be sold, at the Congree [Congaree] old Garrison, on Thursday the 9th of September
next, the Remainder of the Stock of Horses and Mares, (with some Cattle) belonging
to the Estate of William Elder deceased – All Persons any Ways indebted to the said
Estate, are desired to pay immediately and prevent Trouble, there being an absolute
Necessity to make its Creditors easy. Those that have not yet given in their Demands
attested are desired to do it immediately that they may be provided for by
Sarah Elder, Administratrix
[SC Gazette Mon. Aug 15 to Sat. Aug 27, 1748, also Tues. Aug 30, 1748]
Not sure she was getting everything, she posted in February:
All Persons indebted to the Estate of William Elder Indian-Trader, deceased, are
desired to pay their respective Debts to the Subscriber – and all those to whom the
said Estate is indebted, are desired to bring their Accompts, properly attested, to
Sarah Elder, Administratrix
N.B. As there is great Reason to believe that some of the said Deceased’s Effects
are concealed, Notice is hereby given to any Persons possessing the same, that
unless they immediately deliver them to the Administratrix, or acquaint her therof,
they will be prosecuted with the utmost Severity.
[SC Gazette Mon. Feb. 1 to Mon. Feb. 8, 1749 (old style: 1748)]
There is no indication that he had any white children. He left at least two Cherokee children in Tennessee. He had nephews (William, Thomas,
James and John Elder) who had interactions with the Emory family in
lower South Carolina and in Spartanburg. (More on these below.)
Children born at Great Tellico (in what is now Tennessee):
ii. Will Elder(s) b.c.1740 d.bef 1794?
Chickamauga warrior, “Little Will”
father of Moses Elder(s) b.c.1780
Child born in South Carolina to Nana:
iii. Nani or Nancy (Jane?) Elder
b. 1747 Keowee, Cherokee Nation d.c. 1766 South Carolina
m. John Emory (Hembree) (1744 – 1809)
In September and November 1772 there are entries in the archive records
of Thomas Elder selling slaves, and on 13 November 1779 he sold two slaves
to a William McKinney. This Thomas Elder is called “Dr. Thomas Elder” and
was repaid 2000 pounds by the state for a loan to support the rebel government.
his service as a lieutenant in “Roebucks Regiment”
after the fall of Charleston.
A younger Thomas Elder was killed in that regiment c. 8 September 1781 and
Elder, his “next of kin” had Thomas Elder’s pay of
issued to Hugh Means.
(Believe Thomas and William are brothers of John Elder, below.)
Drury Hembree served under Lt. Thomas Elder against the Cherokee in 1777 and 1778 in the Spartanburg District. He also served under Capt. Joseph
Wofford. What becomes interesting is that Drury is later a neighbor of the
Roebucks, Capt. Joseph Wofford, and the family of Thomas Elder in 1790
Spartanburg. The Hembrees and Elders are mingled in Spartanburg:
NINETY SIX DISTRICT, SPARTANBURGH COUNTY p.87 (partial list)
Moore, William 2-4-3-0-0
Morrow, Capt. Samuel 1-2-3-0-0 (Murrow) father-in-law of John Elder
Hembree, Drury 1-0-3-0-0 (Hemery)
Morrow, David 1-0-1-0-0 (Murrow)
Elder, Robert 1-0-1-0-1 bother of John Elder
Elder, John 1-3-3-0-0 see below
Elder, Haman 1-1-1-0-0 son of Samuel
Elder, Samuel 1-1-3-0-0 d.1797 brother of John Elder
Morrow, Samuel 1-0-0-0-3 (Murrow)
Hembree, Abraham 1-0-6-0-0 (Hambray)
Sullivan, Rebecca 0-1-1-0-0 (she has John Hembree’s child)
Hembree, Joel 2-1-6-0-3 (Emry)
Elder, Alexander 2-0-1-0-0
Elder, William 2-4-5-0-0 d.1808 KY brother of John Elder
Father unknown, probably Thomas Elder Sr. (George Thomas Elder)
b.c. 1742 South Carolina d.21 Oct 1799 Caldwell County,
m. Mary Morrow (white), daughter of Samuel Morrow Sr. & Mary
McClure of Spartanburg, South Carolina
Was with John Emory in Spartanburg, South Carolina, in 1788.
They were involved in a civil suit together against William Weir.
On 16 Jan 1765 John Elder purchased 125 acres on Dutchman’s Creek of
the Tyger River from Robert Crowden, who received a royal grant of 600
acres there on 3 Sep 1753. In 1775 John Elder received a 450 acre grant
on the Broad River. He also had a small piece of land on the Enoree River,
which he sold on 18 Dec 1778 to William Hendrix. He was described as
“John Elder of Dutchman’s Creek, farmer”. The transaction was witnessed
by James and Sarah Elder and testified to William Gist, the Tory who lived on
the Broad and Enoree Rivers (SC).
On 4 May 1795 John Elder sold his 125 acres on Dutchman’s Creek to his
brother-in-law, Samuel Morrow Jr. He headed off to Kentucky. The Morrows
continued to live on Dutchman’s Creek alongside Abraham Hembree
(brother of Drury Hembree) and later William W. Hembree and Owen Hembree.
On 4 Aug 1796 Gideon Herralson and wife Elizabeth sold 50 acres on
Dutchman’s Creek bordering Samuel Morrow, Abraham Hembree, and others.
The land was part of a 1786 grant to William Weir.
On 3 Dec 1807 Owen Hembree (son of William Hembree) sold to his brother
William Hembree a 40 acre parcel on Dutchman’s Creek. John Morrow and
William Morrow witnessed the deed, which was proved before Samuel Morrow.
It is interesting to note that both John Elder and John Emory journeyed to
Kentucky in their later years and died there.
Will Elder(s) b.c.1740 d.bef 1794?. Chickamauga warrior: “Little Will”.
Father of Moses Elder(s) b.c.1780 and probably William (below).
This, rather than Will Emory, is probably “Will of Akoa” who signed the Treaty
of Hopewell (Keowee) in 1785, and perhaps the July 1791 Treaty of Holston
as “Long Will”. He is missing from records after that, perhaps he went with
Richard Fields to Texas in 1794.
Moses Elders – listed on the 1817 Reservation Roll in Georgia. On 27 Dec 1818
he, along with George Guess, John Murphy, John Watts, and John Brown (Sr. & Jr.) had damage claims sustained by a judge for losses they incurred in Georgia
due to Creek attacks. Moses went on the Trail of Tears in 1835. He was b.1780
and was the son of Will Elders, a grandson of the trader William Elder (d.1748).
He was the father of William Elders b.c. 1820, who was part of tribal leadership
in Indian Territory.
William Elders – listed on the 1817 Emigration Roll. Probably a brother of Moses. He is an Arkansas Old Settler, meaning he was of a Chickamauga