Family Tree Fact Check: Elial Edwards, son of Emanuel Edwards

by | Feb 3, 2019 | 3 comments

Oh my goodness.

How does this even happen!? 

Just look. 

Wait… let me help you zoom in closer so you can see the level of crazy that we’re dealing with here…

So which is it, Ancestry? Am I in the Lovie HOLMES circle, or am I in the Sinah HILL circle? Because they are two completely different women and it makes no sense for you to call it the Lovie HOLMES circle while describing Sinah HILL. 

Alas, I suspect I know what happened here.

The Elial Edwards Crowd

There’s a whole crowd of folks who have understandably confused the two Elial EDWARDS from Beaufort County, North Carolina. It can boggle the mind when there are multiple men in a family with the same name that is ALSO unusual.

The names Elial and Emanuel were used in more than one generation in the EDWARDS family and other names were reused as well. It would be an easy mistake to make and one I know I’ve made in other branches that have similar issues. 

In the case of the two Elial Edwardses, one stayed in Beaufort County and the other moved west to Indiana. 

Here’s what I know about each of them: 

I. Elial Edwards (NC to Indiana)

This Elial Edwards was born about 1774 in North Carolina (based on his age given on the 1850 Federal Census in Posey County, Indiana.)

His wife’s name is Sinah. She was born about 1772 according to the same census. (We know she’s Sinah HILL, the daughter of John HILL and Keziah GRIFFIN.)

Also from that census, we know they had a son named Jesse EDWARDS. In addition, I do know they had another son named Wiley EDWARDS, but beyond that I don’t have much information on their descendants.

II. Elial Edwards (Born in NC, died in NC)

This Elial EDWARDS was born about 1800-1801 based on his age in the 1850 Federal Census of Beaufort County, North Carolina. His wife’s name was listed as “Lovey” and their children are listed as follows (I will take the liberty of naming the spouses they eventually married, as well as children, if I know them):

  • Frances EDWARDS. I’ve been unable to track her past the 1850 census.
  • “Barbary” EDWARDS. Barbara EDWARDS was born 12 May 1825. She married John CAMPBELL and they had the following children:
    • James CAMPBELL (1851–1943)
    • William Henry CAMPBELL (1854–1911)
    • Thomas Archibald CAMPBELL (1855–1940)
    • Fanny CAMPBELL(1857–)
  • Harvey EDWARDS. Harvey EDWARDS was probably born on 26 Apr 1824, though his tombstone says 1820. Every census has him born somewhere around 1825. He married Jane HOLMES, daughter of John HOLMES and Celia AVERITT. They had the following children:
    • Sallie Edwards (1854–1932)
    • Isaac Edwards (1855–1929)
    • John Edwards (1857–1933)
    • Henry A. Edwards (1859–1940)
    • Frank Edwards (1862–1947)
    • Harvey Edwards (1864–1943)
    • Noah Nash Edwards (1867–1960)
    • Serenia ‘Renie’ Edwards (1869–1922)
  • Emanual EDWARDS (b. abt 1827). Emanual EDWARS married Nancy MORRIS. I am not 100% certain, but she may have been the Nancy MORRIS who spent at least a couple of decades in the household of Laban MORRIS, although I don’t know who her parents were. They only had one son before Emanual was killed at Drury’s Bluff, Virginia during the Civil War. Their only son was:
    • William Henry EDWARDS (b. 29 Oct 1863, d. 11 Nov. 1840)
  • Thomas EDWARDS (b. abt 1828). I’ve been unable to confidently track Thomas past the 1850 census.
  • Elial EDWARDS Jr. (b. abt 1830). I’ve been unable to confidently track Elial Jr. past the 1850 census.
  • Henry EDWARDS (b. abt 1832). I’ve been unable to confidently track Henry past the 1850 census.

This Elial EDWARDS’s father was Emanuel EDWARDS of Beaufort County. But how can we be sure? There was an Emanuel EDWARDS who left a will in 1828 and he names a son, Eliel. How do we know it’s the one who stayed in Beaufort County rather than the one who moved to Indiana?

Emanuel EDWARDS was too young to be the father of the Indiana Elial…

Emanuel Edwards named the following children in his will:

  • John EDWARDS (b. abt 1790)
  • Thomas EDWARDS (b. abt 1794)
  • Elizabeth “Betsy” EDWARDS (b. 12 Jan 1796) m. Robert WALL, son of Joel WALL and Elizabeth (LNU)
  • Mary “Polly” EDWARDS (b. abt 1800) m. William BOYD
  • Eliel EDWARDS (b. abt 1801) m. Elizabeth FORNES(?)

All of the children named in Emanuel EDWARDS 1828 will were born within a couple of years of each other, in succession, starting around 1790 or so.

The Elial EDWARDS who moved to Indiana was born in 1774. That would mean for the Emanuel EDWARDS who wrote his will in 1828 to have been his father, he would realistically need to at least have been born by 1758 in order to father him at age 16, but a more likely scenario would be that he would’ve had to be born around 1752, at a minimum, to father that Elial at age 21 or 22.

That doesn’t work with the census. No census suggests that Emanuel EDWARDS was born prior to 1755. In fact, he was likely born around 1764.

Emanuel EDWARDS in the census

We can guess at Emanuel EDWARDS’s age based on the ages of his living children at the time he made his will, as well as his and his wife’s ages as given on various census records. (Note: He may have had other children born earlier who didn’t survive until he made his will, but we have no way of knowing that. Also, on a couple of census records, there are some individuals in the household who I can’t identify, but I hope to figure their names out soon.)

1790 United States Census – Beaufort County

  • 1 white male 16+ (Emanuel, b. abt 1764*);
  • 2 white females (wife Elizabeth, b. abt 1760 and unknown female)

*I arbitrarily chose the year 1764 because it works with all subsequent census records and it’s about halfway between the necessary birth years for the age ranges given on the 1800 census. Also, given the fact that it seems he and his wife started having children around 1790, the age is a typical age for the birth of a first child.

1800 United States Census – Beaufort County

  • 1 white male 26-44 (Emanuel, b. abt 1764);
  • 2 white males 10-15 (son John, b. abt 1790, and unknown male);
  • 1 white male under 10 (son Thomas, b. abt 1794);
  • 1 white female 26-44 (wife Elizabeth, b. abt 1764);
  • 1 white female under 10 (daughter Betsy, b. 1796).

1810 United States Census – Beaufort County

  • 1 white male 45+ (Emanuel, b. abt 1764);
  • 1 white male 16-25 (son John);
  • 2 white males 10-15 (maybe sons Thomas and Elial);
  • 1 white female 45+ (wife Elizabeth, b. abt 1764);
  • 1 white female 26-44 (? none of his daughters are old enough to fit this age group);
  • 1 white female 16-25 (daughter Betsy);
  • 1 white female 10-15 (daughter Mary)

1820 United States Census – Beaufort County

  • 1 white male 45+ (Emanuel, b. abt 1764);
  • 1 white male 16-25 (son Elial, b. abt 1801);
  • 1 white male under 10 (? – I’m wondering if this might be a grandchild);
  • 1 white female 45+ (wife Elizabeth, b. abt 1764);
  • 1 white female 16-25 (probably daughter Betsy)

In Conclusion…

The Elial EDWARDS who moved to Indiana is not the son of the Emanuel EDWARDS of Beaufort County who left a will in 1828. I’m not sure who his father was, but it was probably one of Emanuel’s brothers.

There is also deed evidence that supports the conclusions I’ve mentioned above, but I don’t think that information is necessary to make the point. At some point, however, I may document those deeds here just for everyone’s benefit.

If you have any questions or comments, please respond below.

A semi-relevant update about Betsy EDWARDS WALL: In the past, I was (wrongly) certain that Elizabeth “Betsy” EDWARDS was married to Joel WALL because Emanuel EDWARDS mentions his daughter, “Elizabeth WALLS” and Joel WALL’s widow’s name was Elizabeth. Beaufort County deeds and Robert WALL’s Bible record cleared it up for me, though, so I now know that Elizabeth EDWARDS was married to Joel’s son, Robert. She was not married to Joel. I just wanted to mention that here in case I led anyone else astray with my previous error! 😬


  1. kenneth aycock

    elial sr. moved to indiana…..fathert of emmanuel that was killed may 1864 at drewys bluff….william was son of emmanuel…….coley is son of william….coley is my gran father….i researched for yrs…i got lots of dates …info…on my edwards side

  2. kenaycock

    it seems as though im not off of elial who moved to indiana but im off of the elial who lived in beaufort county that married lovey….his son emmanuel that was killed at drurys bluff va was my great great grandfather…his son william henry is my great grandfather..who had my grandfather fred coley edwards….both are buried at juniper chapel church side by side….at vanceboro nc

    • Sara Whitford

      I’m off of the Elial son of Emmanuel, as well, so we’re cousins. 🙂 I come from his son Harvey Edwards.


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