Benjamin Sneed

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Benjamin Sneed

Birthplace: Shadwell, Albemarle County, Province of Virginia
Death: April 28, 1819 (98)
Danville, Mercer County, Kentucky, United States (injury from a fall or walking injury)
Immediate Family:

Son of William Sneed and Mary Ann Sneed
Husband of Mary Sneed
Father of John Mills Sneed; William Sneed and Patsey Meek
Brother of Zachariah Sneed

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Immediate Family

About Benjamin Sneed

First schoolmaster of Thomas Jefferson. Built "Fancy Hill"

Benjamin Sneed Mr. Benjamin Sneed, a native of Virginia, died on the 23d ultimo, near Danville, six or seven days subsequent to the middle of his ninety eighth year. He lived in the county of Albermarle as a teacher of the English language seventy-one years, and was the first instructor of Thomas Jefferson. Abut three years ago he removed to this country and settle in the vicinity of Danville, amongst a number of his descendants, his mental faculties little if at all impaired, and his bodily activity sufficient to enable him to ascend Clunch mountain on foot. When he arrived he could read the smallest print fluently without spectacles, and until about nine months previous to his decease was in the daily habit of walking from three to five miles for exercise and recreation-at that time he received an accidental hurt which confined him to his bed, and no doubt hastened the event, which he met with stoical indifference. The most remarkable circumstance in the life of this old gentleman is, that he was not only of a slender delicate form, but very unhealthy from his birth until about his 50th year, after which he enjoyed perfect and uninterrupted health to the last; for he went off with mere debility, without pain or struggle. He has left about one hundred and forty or fifty descendants, and seen the fifth generation. [The Alexandria Herald, May 5, 1819 - Submitted by D. Whitesell]

_________________________________________________ ... Benjamin Snead (sometimes spelled Sneed, 1721 - March 28, 1819) was a schoolteacher and weaver who lived not far away from Monticello, about two miles east of Shadwell. He provided instruction at various times to Randolph Jefferson, some of the younger Jefferson sisters, at least one of Jefferson's grandchildren, and possibly even one or more of the slaves at Monticello.[1] It was Snead who read the burial service for the first Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge, the only one of Martha Jefferson Randolph's children to die in infancy. Snead's wife, Mary (Polly), was a midwife, who was called upon often to attend births in the enslaved community at Monticello, including that of Harriet Hemings. Snead's property was called Fancy Hill; the Snead family later sold the property in the mid-nineteenth century to the Porters, who eventually sold it to General Edwin "Pa" Watson; the property was eventually renamed Kenwood, and is now the site of the Jefferson Library and the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies.[2] Snead lived in Albemarle County for most of his life before moving to Danville, Kentucky to be near his family. He died at the advanced age of 98; his obituary remarked that his "mental faculties [were] little if at all impaired and his bodily activity sufficient to enable him to ascend Clinch mountain on foot."[3]

- Anna Berkes, May 17, 2010


A Short Biography of Benjamin Sneed (1721 - 1819) of Albemarle Co., VA and Danville, KY Reportedly the First Tutor of Thomas Jefferson

Editor: Richard B. Baldauf Contributors: Trueman Farris and Susan Stewart January 2005

Bio Benj Sneed.pdf ... Acknowledgements.pdf ... Like many of his peers, Benjamin Sneed's origins are wrapped in uncertainty. The destruction of local Virginia records by fire and war has made it difficult to piece together the many facts relating to his long life. From his obituary in the Kentucky Reporter, Lexington, KY dated April 14, 1819, we know that Benjamin Sneed was born in 1721 (presumably in Virginia) and died in the Danville, KY area in 1819. A copy of his obituary follows.

"He lived in the county of Albemarle as a teacher of the English language seventy-one years, and was the first instructor of Thomas Jefferson. About three years ago he removed to this county, and settled in the vicinity of Danville, among a number of his descendants, his mental faculties little if at all impaired, and his bodily activities sufficient to enable him to ascend Clinch mountain on foot. When he arrived he could read the smallest print fluently without spectacles, and until nine months previous to his decease was in the daily habit of walking from three to five miles for exercise and recreation -- at that time he received an accidental hurt which confined him to his bed, and no doubt hastened the event, which he met with stoical indifference. The most remarkable circumstance in the life of this old gentleman is that he was not only of slender delicate form, but very unhealthy from his birth until about his 50th year. After which he enjoyed perfect and uninterrupted health to the last, for he went off with a mere disability, without pain or struggle. He has left about one hundred and forty or fifty descendants, and seen the fifth generation."

A shorter version of this obituary, probably copied from the Kentucky Reporter, appeared in the Virginia Herald in Fredericksburg, VA, where Benjamin spent most of his adult life. It reads: "Died -- Mr. Benjamin Sneed, a native of Virginia, died on April 28 near Danville, age 97 years, 6 months and 6 or 7 days. He lived in Albemarle County where he taught the English language for 71 years and was the first instructor of Thomas Jefferson." (page 3, C4) Date of publication: Wednesday, May 12, 1819.

Tradition names William of Hanover County, VA, as Benjamin's father. (1) However, no documentary evidence of his parentage has ever been found. This seems remarkable in view of the fact that Benjamin lived to be 97 years of age and left "about one hundred and forty or fifty descendants," some of whom must have left a Bible record.

Similarly, there is no direct evidence as to the maiden name of Benjamin's wife, Mary Ann. (2) Her given name appears in two deeds, one in 1801, the other in 1805. "This indenture made this [7th] day of May eighteen hundred and one between Benjamin Sneed and Mary Ann his wife, and John Sneed son of sd. Benj. and Sarah his wife and also George Faris and Susannah his wife daughter of the sd. Benj. and Mary Ann ..." Albemarle Co. Deed Book (3) And "This Indenture made the ninth day of November in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and five between Benjamin Sneed and Mary Ann, wife of the One part and also (?) Thomas Eston Randolph (all of the county of Albemarle) ..." Albemarle Co. Deed Book, p. 345. Recorded the 6th day of January 1806, Albemarle Co. Court.

Thus we know that Mary Ann was alive until 1806. Jefferson's Memorandum shows that a "Mrs. Sneed" was actively engaged in tutoring and in household affairs at Monticello during the years between 1768 and 1802. A query to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc., as to a more precise identification of "Mrs. Sneed" referred us to a foundation filing card headed: Snead, Mary (Polly), midwife. The writer continues: "We were very strict about not assigning names / relationships unless we had good proof. I am almost certain we got the Mary / Polly information and the relationship to Benjamin Sneed from TJ's indexes." (4)

Thelma F. Prince has recently unearthed the will of a John Sorrell of Amherst County, VA, which would seem to provide a partial answer to the question of this Mary Ann's identity. (5) A clause of that will reads as follows: "To my granddaughter, Mary Ann Sneed, and her two oldest children, Frances and John Sneed ten pounds currency to them and their heirs forever to be paid three years after my death." The will was written on 25 March 1780 and probated 1 September 1783.

Within this will we find a name similar to that of Benjamin Sneed's wife, Mary Ann Sneed, together with the names of Benjamin's two oldest children, Frances and John. Time, place, and association are all in place. Examination of county records reveals that Benjamin Sneed and John Sorrell were involved in business and legal matters over a period from about 1750 to 1770. Of significance to us are the implications of the following two deeds. "23 Oct. 1749 Deed Bk 1 p. 139: Thomas Meriwether of Hanover to John Sorrell for 40 lbs. 200 acs both sides Mychunk or Beaverdam fork adj. Benj. Wheeler, patented to Thos. Meriwether 10 June 1740. Wits: Thomas Walker, Jno. Lewis, Wm. Hill." (6)

"13 February 1750, Deed Bk 1 p. 277: Jno Sorrell to Benj. Sneed for 5 lbs, 200 acs Beaver Dam, fork of Machunk Creek, formerly that of Thos. Meriwether. Wits: Jno Morris, Jas. Defoor, Wm. McGhee, Robert Hardwick." (7)

Clearly, the fact that John Sorrell bought property on 23 October 1749 for 40 pounds and sold it four months later to Benjamin Sneed for five pounds suggests that this transaction was in the nature of a gift. And since the granddaughter and grandchildren of John Sorrell match the wife and two children of Benjamin Sneed, it follows that this gift was probably a wedding present or dowry. (8) Benjamin Sneed was 29 years old in 1750. His son, John, was born on 2 February 1755. We have no birth date for Frances, but since she is listed first in the will, she may have been born prior to 1755. The Garth files of the KY Historical Society (p. 375) support this view: "Frances was born by 1755 according to the 1800 Census." Thus we estimate that the marriage of Benjamin Sneed and Mary Ann occurred early in 1750, the time of the 1750 transaction, though it could well have been earlier. As to Mary Ann's age, we have no clue. She could have been anywhere from 14 to 21 at the time of her marriage. A recent review of her possible children suggests that she may have been married on the younger side of that time frame.

While documentary proof of Mary Ann's maiden name has not been found, Sneed family papers refer to her as Polly Perry. In view of her long and active life, and the even longer life of her husband, the opportunity for knowing her name was certainly available to her descendants. But is there any supporting evidence for this conjecture?

The earliest support comes from deeds showing that a William Perry was a neighbor of John Sorrell over a period from 1738 to 1750, and that each bought and sold property to the other. Further, the names of John Sorrell's daughter, Prysilla Dawson, and two sons-in-law, Martin Dawson and John Howard (all named in the will of John Sorrell), appear on two sales agreements between John Sorrell and William Perry. Thus there is a proven relationship between the two families. (9)

Additionally, there is this reference to material in the Garth files at the Kentucky Historical Society: "About 1772 David [Garth] married Frances Sneed, the daughter of Benjamin Sneed and his wife, a Miss Perry of Albemarle Co. ..." The source of this, too, appears to be based upon family papers. Of greater significance, perhaps, is the fact that Frances (Sneed) Garth named her first child Sarah "Perry" Garth, as is indicated in the Payne / Mattingly Family Files, updated as of October 2001: "Sarah Perry Garth b. 1770-1775, prob. Albemarle Co., VA; m. 23 Oct. 1790 in Louisa Co. John Coates, b.c.1765."

Dorothy Payne Krumpleman adds this comment: "Susan Garth d/o David Garth & Frances Sneed ... Susan's middle name [Perry] came from her marriage bond ... no consent given, so may have been of age ... m. by the Rev. John Lasley. Surety was William Price. Susan m. John Coates 10/23/1790 Louisa Co."

Another possible Perry connection appears in this clause in the will of John Garth of Louisa Co., VA: "Executors, sons Thomas Garth & David Garth & friends Henry Garrett & Thomas Johnson, Jr. Witnesses, Roderick Perry, Richard Johnson, John Perkins. W.B. 3, p. 153" (10) At this writing no connection has been established between this Roderick Perry and the aforesaid William Perry, let alone as between Benjamin Sneed and William Perry, as one might expect. Thus it would seem that while the family tradition that Mary Ann was a Perry may have merit, any tie with a particular parent has yet to be found.

It has been asserted that Benjamin Sneed b.1721 had two wives, Jemimah Harris and Polly Perry. (11) This is based upon the existence of a 1785 deed showing a Benjamin Sneed with a wife Jemimah. (12) However, the existence of the Sorrell will and the fact that Mary Ann, still living in 1805, had a daughter Susannah proven to have been born in 1776, makes this impossible. This is proved by the testimony of marriage witness William Lyon that Susannah Sneed was 21 years of age in December of 1797. Also, there appear to have been two Benjamin Sneeds living in Albemarle Co. at this time, and this other Benjamin may have been the soldier who married Jemimah.(13)

According to the Sneed family papers of Miss Frances Trader, Benjamin Sneed had four children: John Mills, Frances, Peggy and Susannah. (14) John and Susannah are proved to be children of Benjamin Sneed by the 7 May 8101 indenture referred to on page 1. Peggy is confirmed as a daughter by this 1798 document: "Indenture made this day of February in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred ninety-eight between Benjamin Sneed of the one part and Richard Johnson of the other part witnesseth that Benjamin Sneed for the affection that he bears to his daughter Peggy ...." (15)

 We have no document directly showing Frances as a daughter of Benjamin, but a relationship to the Sneed family has been established. It was Frances who named her eldest child Sarah "Perry" Garth, thereby suggesting a Perry / Sorrell connection. Said to have been born about 1753 or 55, she would meet the requirement of being one of "the two oldest children" of Mary Ann Sneed. Tradition, moreover, has consistently called her a daughter of Benjamin, and the appearance of her name in the Sorrell will, along with that of Mary Ann and John Sneed, would seem to confirm this belief. Of interest is the fact that Peggy Johnson, sister of Frances, also named a daughter "Frances."

A more difficult decision must be made with respect to a William Sneed, born in 1768. William was never accepted by Frances Trader as a son of Benjamin. Indeed, it is not clear that Lucy Walker Sneed, the genealogist for William's branch of the family, was herself sure about this connection. She writes of a vestry meeting in 1763 where "... it was ordered that a church be built near the foot of the mountain from Mr. Beal's where it enters the three notched road near Mr. Ben Sneed's." She then adds: "This may have been the father of our Benjamin I, who was born about 1745 and would have been eighteen years at the time of the vestry meeting and thirty at the outbreak of the Revolutionary War." And again: "I hold a copy of the Land Bounty warrant in the Virginia State Library to Benjamin Sneed's I for services in the Revolutionary War." (16)

These references are clearly to a different Benjamin Sneed. As mentioned above, this younger Benjamin may have been the soldier who married Jemimah Harris. It is also possible that he may have been a son of Benjamin b.1721 by an earlier marriage, although so far no evidence to support this hypothesis has been produced. It must be noted, however, that numerous descendants of William believe that they are descended from this Benjamin (b.1721). The merits of that claim have yet to be determined.

Thus the question arises: Did Benjamin and Mary Ann have more than the four children mentioned above? When one considers that John was born in 1755 and Susannah was born in 1776, we have a span of 21 years with only four proven children. Eight or ten would seem a more likely number. A search of Albemarle and Goochland County records reveals at least four other possible children: 1. Patsey Sneed, who married Silvanus Meeks 28 Dec 1799 (a Benjamin Sneed gave

    his consent);
	2. Ally Sneed, who married Julius Chandler 9 Feb 1792 (a John Sneed -- son of Ben? -- 
    was bond security); 3.  Elisha Snead, who married Polly Barker, spinster, 9 Feb. 1792 (a John Snead / Sneed 
    -- son of Ben? -- was bond security); 4.  Sally Sneed & Jo: Peik, who had their first known child, Pattie "Perry," born 19 Dec 
    1785. [p.119, Douglas Register] (17}

Finally, Thelma Prince believes that the Mary Ann (Sneed) mentioned in John Sorrell's will "may have been a daughter to William Perry and his unknown wife" -- possibly an unknown daughter of John Sorrell -- making the Mildred Sneed (b.1746) who married Richard Sorrell in 1773 another daughter of Benjamin Sneed. (18) Her date of birth, however, would seem to be too early. Additional candidates can be found, but none that carry connecting clues.

Consideration of any of these possibilities is limited by the fact that we do not know the exact date of Mary Ann's birth or marriage. Because of the Sorrell deed of 13 February 1750, virtually giving that piece of property to Benjamin Sneed, we tend to believe that the marriage took place prior to February 1750. Assuming that Mary Ann was 20 years old at the time, she would have been born about 1730. That would make her 46 years old in 1776, when Susannah was born. However, that creates a problem in the case of Patsey Sneed, who married Sylvanus Meeks in December of 1779. Since Benjamin Sneed had to give his consent, we know that this Patsey was under the age of 21 at the time of her marriage, making her birth about 1779. Mary Ann would have been close to 49 years old in that year, which is pushing the age of child bearing to its limits.

Based upon these considerations, we now believe that Mary Ann may have been married at a younger age -- possibly 16. In taking this position we have been influenced by a study indicating that a considerable number of colonial women were married as early as 16 -- and even 14 -- while their husbands married in their upper 20s. Such a situation would make our birth date for this possible Sneed daughter named Patsey more realistic. (19) Ally and Elisha Sneed, along with Sally Sneed, fit easily into the pattern.

Questions persist as to where Benjamin Sneed, born in 1721, lived in the Charlottesville area of Albemarle Co., VA. Members of the Sneed Association originally believed that he lived at "Fancy Hill," an historic estate abutting Monticello on the southern bank of the Rivanna River south of Charlottesville. However, the Memorial Foundation at Monticello now says that this is incorrect, based upon a master's thesis by a student at the University of Virginia asserting that "Fancy Hill" was built later than 1750 by a different Benjamin Sneed, born in 1795. Indeed, it is now believed that the Benjamin Sneed b. in 1721 lived on the opposite side of the Rivanna River, perhaps as far as a day's horseback ride from Monticello.

Mr. Farris has further assembled data based upon vestry books (20) , road orders (21), deeds (22), and processioning records that clearly support the belief that Benjamin Sneed, b. in 1721, lived on the Three Chopped Road near Carroll's Creek on property adjoining that of Thomas Randolph. This was on the north bank of the Rivanna River, not the south bank where "Fancy Hill" was situated. In an important essay on this subject, Mr. Farris proceeds to add additional evidence supporting this conclusion from an article written by Lucy Walker Sneed some time before 1900, as well as material published in the Memorandum Book of Thomas Jefferson. This material provides interesting reading for those interested in the Charlottesville area during this period, aside from its connection to Benjamin Sneed and his family.

Research by Susan Stewart has just unearthed exciting new evidence relating to the location of Benjamin Sneed's home, as well as his activity as a Revolutionary War patriot. I quote from her notes: "I found the widow's application pension file of a lady named Keziah Perry of Albemarle Co., widow of a William Perry. In her application, she mentions her deceased husband 'having been ordered and (illegible) at a Mr. Sneed's, a little below a place or village now called Milton.' Her application is then backed up by various affidavits including one by her brother F. Benjamin Sowell."

In his affidavit dated 13 June 1843, is included this information: "I do hereby certify that the said William Perry and myself were drafted at the same time to perform duty and were ordered to rendevous at the house of a certain Benjamin Sneed (a schoolmaster) not far from a little village now called Milton in Albemarle."

The identification could not be clearer. Our Benjamin Sneed (b.1721) was a patriot. We now await copies of the original documents as supporting evidence. Also of interest is William Perry, who just happens to bear the name of the suggested father of Mary Ann, wife of Benjamin Sneed.

The most notable feature in Benjamin Sneed's life is his association with Thomas Jefferson. His property, as well as that of some of his children, bordered land owned by Jefferson, and his name, with that of Mary Ann, appears several times in the Jefferson Memorandum. (23) & (4) His name is also found with that of Jefferson on processioning lists (20), as well as on a document approving a grain mill for the President. (24) From Cousin Frances Trader we learn that Ben received two oak chairs as a gift from Jefferson. (25) On another occasion Ben was involved in a lawsuit with that same neighbor. Most significant, of course, was his role as first tutor of the child, Thomas Jefferson, at the English school.

There are those who have questioned Benjamin's role as first tutor of the president. And indeed Peter Jefferson's account book "shows payments to John Staples for teaching Thomas Mann Randolph," while no mention is made of Thomas Jefferson. However, we have Thomas Jefferson's own word for his presence at the English school where Benjamin Sneed taught: "He [Peter Jefferson] placed me at the English school at five years of age; and at the Latin at nine, where I continued until his death." [Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson; Hutchins, Frank and Cortelle.] Support for this statement is the presence of his name upon the wall of the white schoolhouse in Tuckahoe. Years later he would recall telling his offspring of his intense dislike of the school, and of his prayer that this burden should be removed. "Five years old at the time (1748), he wanted his school to end for the day and impatiently went out, knelt behind the schoolhouse and there repeated the Lord's Prayer, hoping thereby to hurry up the desired hour." [Randolph p. 23] That his prayer went unanswered was perhaps meant to be a message that prayer is not always the solution to a problem.

There is no doubt that Benjamin Sneed taught Thomas Jefferson's younger brother Randolph and his sisters [Albemarle Co. Deed Book, p. 405] (26) A note in Peter Jefferson's Account Book shows payments in 1758 and 1761 to Sneed for teaching his children. Unfortunately, the records of the English school are missing for this period. Since Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Sneed were at the school at the same time, however, there would seem to be no reason to doubt that Benjamin was the first tutor of the future President. [For a fuller account of this relationship, see Trueman Farris' essay: "Benjamin Sneed (b.1721) the School Teacher"]

William of Hanover has traditionally been named as the father of Benjamin Sneed. There is, however, no evidence beyond proximity to support this belief. Mrs. Virginia Snead Hatcher, author of The Sneads of Fluvanna tells us that "There is a well founded tradition that the children of William Snead, who came over with his father, Samuel, were named Charles, Zachariah, William, and Robert. The Kentucky Sneads of Diamond Springs are descended from Zachariah. Others in Louisville have Charles for an ancestor. It is thought by some that William is the ancestor of the Fluvanna branch. From the following item it is seen that William was living in Henrico in 1740: "The attachment obtained by William Snead against the estate of Story Hall is dismissed at the Plaintiff's costs -- 1758" [Hatcher: The Sneads of Fluvannna p. 33-34]

It also stated in the Albemarle records that "Charles Snead witnessed a will in 1740 in the presence of David Lewis and Abram Musick." [Ibid. p. 34]

We must note before proceeding further that the William mentioned by Hatcher and others as the father of the brothers is the wrong William. That William, who was presumably a child in 1635, could hardly have been living in 1740, as stated above. Moreover, we have this record in the Register of St. Peter's Parish, New Kent Co. VA: Henry, son of Jno Snead bapt ye 8th day of May 1687 William, son of John Snead bapt ye 9 Novemb 1690 This William, born in 1690, would seem to be the likely father of the brothers. Note that Hatcher names only four sons for William and gives no birth dates. With the passage of time, additional brothers are added. [The Parish Register of Saint Peter's -- New Kent County, Virginia p. 35.]

In a handwritten note by Ms. Frances Trader of Sedalia, MO, we have this reference: "William Sneed had son (sic): -- Grayson Benjamin b. 1721 [?] d. 1819 Danville, KY Alexander 1736 will 1818 Zachariah 1737 Sneeds of Diamond Springs, KY Charles 1738 Louisville, KY Sneeds William 1734 Hanover Co. & Louisa Co., VA Robert 1740 12 chidlren Benj. of Fauncey Hill Ref. Virkus Compendium 1925 p. 834; 1937 p. 461 [Note:] Our Sneed line is from Fredericksville Parish, Albemarle [Dated:] 12/2/1981

Elsewhere we have a second typed record from Frances Trader showing much the same data on the brothers. In this version William of Hanover, living in 1740, is also shown as the son of William b. 1630.

In a typed version by Lucy Walker Sneed (b.1852), we have this version: "William Snead born probably in England but living in Hanover Co., Virginia in 1740." Benjamin Sneed b. about 1735 [corrected to read b. 1721 d. 1819....Wm Sneed of Louisa Co.VA] M. 1st -- Jemimah M. 2nd -- Mary Ann [Corrected to read: 1755-1856 ... John Sneed, secretary to Jefferson]

                                          [corrected to read: Sarah  {Peggy} & others (names not known)] 
    Alexander Snead / Sneed Executed deed in Albemarle Co.,VA in 1762 from Jacob Snead, etc.
    Zachariah Snead/Sneed
    Charles Snead/Sneed b. 1738
    William Snead / Sneed of Hanover Co, VA
    Robert Snead / Sneed b. 1740 ... Thomas Loundes Sneed & Rev. Ed Sneed are grandsons of 
           this Robt. Sneed, Jesse Sneed, Albert Snead & others (check)            
As one can see, there are several versions naming the children of William of Hanover. And yet, with all of these children, Zachariah is the only one who appears to have a documented claim. (27)  Benjamin was not on the original list, and when he does appear, his birth was originally given as 1735 by Lucy Walker Sneed, who later  converted it to 1721, presumably after the Sneed Obituary was found. Thus Benjamin was born about 14 years prior to the birth of the next oldest brother, presuming their birth dates are correct.

In 1929 Frank M. Sneed of Chicago hired Mrs. Jennie T. Grayson, a genealogist from Richmond, VA, to research the Sneed family. This is the note that Frances Trader has left: "Samuel Snead d.1643. B. -- ? and wf Alice & son William (b. about 1630) Came to 200 acres (land grant) at head of Heath's Creek, James River Co. VA in 1634 Son Wm. returned to England to be educated -- Married & died there. His 2 younger sons returned to The Virginia Plantation of their grandmother (Alice Sneed) Ref. St. Peter's & St. Paul's Parish Records in New Kent Co. VA

Efforts by Frances Trader to find the supporting data for this material failed when Mrs. Grayson replied that she was blind and her material was spread about the house in different rooms. And so we have no supporting data. But Mrs. Hatcher, who also fails to provide documentation, gives us this account: "Samuel was accompanied to the colony by his wife Alice, his son William, and by a servant, Henry Vincent. Since the term was then loosely used, he may have been a kinsman, even a brother of Alice, or a far-sighted friend who had indentured himself to Samuel for passage money." Hatcher goes on to say: "Samuel Snead was survived by his son William, or William's descendants, of York County, and by at least two other sons, Henry and Samuel, Jr., of New Kent. 'The Sneads of Fluvanna' are descended from Henry." [The Sneads of Fluvanna p. 99 ]

Thus we have two different sources providing us with two different lines of Snead / Sneed descent:

[Grayson: Samuel, William b.c1630, John d.c1715-19,  William b.1690,  Benjamin b.1721]  
[Hatcher: Samuel, Henry, John d. c1715-19, William b.1690, John b. bef 1715 -- Ibid p.143]

Hatcher ignores our line of descent, though she indicates that "This chart by no means indicates that there were not other children of the generations before Archibald Snead of Fluvanna County." She then goes on to say: "We have to rely on circumstantial evidence in assuming that John was the son of William. There is a clear documented line of descent from Samuel 1636 to William, who was living in Hanover County when John was born. We have found three generations of Sneads, g-father, father, and son, owning and living on the same land. When we find a fourth generation of the same name on the same land -- it seems natural to assume that the fourth generation on the same land is the son of the third ... John had a younger brother William who in 1752 was living in Henrico, but before his father's death returned to Hanover." (Hatcher p. 108/9)

The logic of this would seem to be acceptable, making William of Hanover (b.1690) the probable father of John Snead (b. bef.1715). This John Snead produced two known sons: John Snead Sr., who married Jane Winn, the daughter of Jesse (See will dated September 10, 1793); and Archibald, who married (1) Sarah Holman and (2) Sally Pope (See Fluvanna Co. Will dated 17 Jan 1781). This is the chart that Hatcher provides: [Hatcher p. 142]


William_____________Henry ______________Samuel
                     (York)                      (New Kent)                        (Stafford)
                                  I                                                          I
                               John                                                Thomas
                   (New Kent & Hanover)
       I                                            I                               I                                I
   Henry                                  William                      John                       Samuel
                                   I                                                          I
                                John                                                  William 
		          I                                                         I
                               John                                              Archibald 						(Hanover & Fluvanna)
    I                      I                  I                  I                   I                      I                    I Holman        Archibald        John          Burwell       Elizabeth         William        Matilda
 I                  I                       I                    I                   I                      I                          I John          Sarah             William            Jane           Polly             George            Benjamin

3 bros chart.pdf I would like to suggest that Benjamin Sneed (b.1721) was a younger brother of John Snead b. bef.1715. This is not only in accordance with tradition, but it is supported by the apparent Holman relationship that exists between the descendants of John Mills Sneed and those of Archibald Snead. Under these circumstances John Mills Sneed, son of Benjamin, would be first cousin to Archibald Snead. To understand the nature of this relationship, it is necessary to examine the following Sorrell document. "20 March 1737: recorded 21 March 1737. John Sorrell of St. James Parish, Goochland Co., to Thomas Wadlow of same, for 800 pounds tobacco 100 acres on north side of James River on broad Branch of Tuckahoe Creek, next to corner of Thomas Wadlow purchased of John Woodson, next to Mathew Collins. Witnesses: George Payne, Henry Holman, James Holman. Signed: John Sorrell Mary, wife of Sorrell, relinquished her dower right." [Weisiger p. ]

This shows that a personal relationship existed between John Sorrell and Henry and James Holman. The people who signed personal documents in those days were your neighbors. We have already established the family relationship between Benjamin Sneed and John Sorrell. The following chart shows the relationship of the various parties to each other.

Benjamin Sneed m. ca.1750 Mary Ann .............. gr/dau. of John Sorrell

                         I                                                                             I 	John Mills Sneed			 	(Wit. to 1737 deed) 	               I					 James Holman 	John Holman Sneed				 Henry Holman
  					___________________I_______ 					I				I 				Sarah Holman (dau)   		Nathaniel Holman (son) 				m. Archibald Snead   		  m. Ann  Winn 					I				I 				Holman Snead			Nathaniel Holman Jr. 				Archibald Snead     		      m. Alice Snead 				      Et al

With James and Henry Holman as neighbors of John Sorrell, and with the children of Henry Holman marrying into the Snead family, there is a proven connection between the Benjamin Sneed line and the Holman / Snead line. In the course of my genealogical research I have never run into any other Holman line.

As indicated above, if John Snead (b. bef 1715) is the brother of Benjamin Sneed (b.1721), it follows that Archibald Snead and John Mills Sneed are first cousins. And whom did Archibald Snead marry as a first wife? He married Sarah Holman, dau. of Henry Holman and Mourning Bowles. (See chart above.) And what did John Mills Sneed name his eldest son? John Holman Sneed. For a comparison of Snead / Sneed names we show the following chart:

William of Hanover (?) I

Benjamin Sneed (b.1721)

          I                            I                                      I                                  I               Frances                   John Mills                          Peggy                    Susannah
      m.                            m.                                    m.                             m.    David Garth           Sarah Johnson           Richard Johnson        George Faris
      I                                I                                       I                                I Sarah Perry		John Holman                  Mary                      Minor J. Elizabeth		Alexander	             Elizabeth	     Calvin Martha			Matilda			Richard E.	 Amelia Emily Mary			Cynthia Mims		Frances E.	     Grenville William			Mary (Polly)		Rebecca	     Matilda John			Jane			Ellen Benjamin		Martha (Patsey) Nancy			Sarah Susannah

An examination of the given names of the descendants in both groups shows a surprising similarity. Most noteworthy, of course is the use of the Holman name. Note also that Archibald Snead, John Mills Sneed and Susannah Faris each named a child Matilda. There are no Matildas in the Sneed background. (Matilda was the daughter of Sally Pope, the second wife of Archibald.)

But this question is brought into even more focus when the given names of John Mills Sneed's children are compared with those of John Snead, son of Archibald. Each has a John, as one would expect. And each has a Jane, no doubt after Jane Winn. (There is no "Jane" in the Benjamin Sneed background.) Both have a Polly. (There is no "Polly" in the John Snead background.) And what is most interesting is the inclusion of the names George and Benjamin in this John Snead grouping. There is not one Benjamin on that side of the house, suggesting that the name relates to the Benjamin born in 1721, grandfather of John Holman Sneed. And finally there is the name George, rare in this period, that may well relate to the George Faris who married Susannah Sneed, daughter of Benjamin Sneed. The names of the children of John Snead, brother of Archibald, who lived in Hanover County, are totally different.

As we have indicated earlier, these are weak links in our support system, but when all documentary records have been destroyed, we must rely on our common sense to produce the most likely relationships.

One final incident relating to Benjamin Sneed (b.1721) may be worthy of mention. The records show that on Dec. 1, 1806, in the Court of Albemarle in Chancery "a certain George Faris became indebted to your Orator [Benjamin Sneed] in the sum of seventy three pounds ..." To guarantee payment, "[George Faris] created the accompanying deed bearing date of the 2nd of September 1806 by which he transferred to a certain Larkin Harlow a considerable number of articles of personal property, in trust ...." "The said sum being due and unpaid the trustee at the request of your Orator proceeded to sell the property according to law." "Your orator further represents to the Court that on the day of the sale of the property by the Trustee a certain David Higginbotham ... to whom your Orator pray may be made Defendant to this bill (?) sent out an circular against George Faris and although he warned the said Defendant of his right, under pretense that your Orator's claim was leavened with fraud proceeded to have his Exc'n (?) levied ..." Before moving on, note the archaic writing style of the period. The quote is from a copy of the original document.

There appears to have been a counter suit, and the affair dragged on until 20 March 1811, when the court record refers to "Benjamin Sneed late in your bailiwick." Higginbotham and his associates were awarded the verdict. It appears, however, that Benjamin Sneed never got around to settling up. He probably journeyed with George Faris and wife Susannah (Sneed) on their trip west in 1810, [newspaper article], since his name disappears from the Albemarle records after this date.

No doubt the Farises passed through Danville, KY on their way to Missouri, but if so, we have no record of it. In any event, Benjamin himself, now about 89 years old, did not arrive in Danville until 1816 [see obituary], where he likely settled in the Quisenberry Farm area. He certainly did not go alone. William Benjamin Sneed writes: "I went to the Virginia State Library in Richmond to find information of that sort ... I found a record that said old Ben arrived in Danville, KY in 1816; the information came from the Kentucky Advocate, a newspaper in Danville. It [went on] to say that John lived on the old Quisenberry farm, land now owned by Jim and Nancy Davis ..." [From a personal letter.]

From the Sneed pedigree sheet written up by Frances Trader, we are told that "Alexander Sneed and [his wife] Elizabeth Campbell 'built the Quisenberry homestead.'" Alexander was the grandson of Benjamin. From the Kentucky Reporter, Lexington, KY, April 14, 1819, we get this information: "The Sneeds were among our most prominent families a hundred years ago. Alexander lived upon the western limits of the town -- later 'Quisenberry place.' His brother John upon an adjoining farm." Then it states: "Alexander's daughter Sallie married George Graham Vest, so long senator from Missouri. John Sneed Sr., their father, and son of Benjamin, was one of our Revolutionary veterans." [Personal File]

One has to wonder, then, where Benjamin was living between 1810 and 1816. A fortunate reference in his obituary to daily walks on Clinch Mountain suggests that he may have stopped off in Russell or Washington County along the Wilderness Trail. Since his grandson's wife, Elizabeth Campbell, came from Russell County, and her husband Alexander may have briefly lived there, it is conceivable that Benjamin may have stopped off there during this lost interval. He may have even bought property there, as we have Treasury Warrants for a Benjamin Sneed owning property on Clinch Mountain in 1818. (28) It seems likely, however, that this Clinch Mountain property belonged to another Benjamin in a collateral line. 

Where Benjamin Sneed is buried remains unknown. It seems likely, however, that he was buried in the old Presbyterian churchyard in Danville. "During the first seventy years the old Presbyterian churchyard was the only place of interment ..." writes Calvin Fackler in his Early Days in Danville. That would cover the period from 1774, the date of the town's founding, to 1847, when the new cemetery was laid out. Fackler continues: "When the Presbyterian Church ceded it to the town for the Ephraim McDowell Memorial, it was crowded with tombstones. Then there appears to have been a wholesale attempt at dispossession. Most of the families had already moved their dead to the present cemetery, or did so then. So the graves were leveled and many stones carted off, with a shocking disregard for decency." [Fackler, Early Days in Danville p. 212.] But unless he is buried in one of the few private cemeteries, this is hard to account for, since there is neither stone nor record of Benjamin Sneed in the new Bellevue Cemetery where the second generation of Sneeds are laid to rest.

And so we bring to a close this search for the identity of Benjamin Sneed (1721-1819). There remains much to review and verify. Please accept my apologies for errors and omissions. It is my hope that my colleagues will continue to research these data, making the needed corrections and adding new material to this project. January 12, 2005

[Continuation of Richard Baldauf's A Short Biography of Benjamin Sneed is found at

See: Part II: Sneed Notes Refs -- detailed footnotes that appear within this biography

        Part III:  Benj Sneed Descendants
        Sneed Charts in pdf format -- includes:  	Part I: 		Cover page 		Front or "documentation" page 		Acknowledgements 		Snead Relationship Chart 		Three Charts in one:  Three Snead Brothers 				         Benjamin's relationship to John Sorrell 				         Comparison William & Benjamin  	Part II: 		Trader's Chart -- repeat of top page 2,  Sneed Notes/Refs 	Part III:  		Afterthought 		Four Charts from Appendix in one: 				 	 Holman Sneed Chart 					Snead Poindexter Chart 					Mills Chart 					Alexander Snead Chart

Be sure and check out the other reports in this section.

In my experience, limiting the length of reports to about 10 pages has many advantages and Dick graciously agreed to my dividing his biography into these shorter files. I apologize to those who feel otherwise and accept all blame for this decision. Charts included within the text files are also reproduced in the pdf files. Dick gets full credit for the content found within these reports; I accept blame for all typos. Linda Sparks Starr]

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Benjamin Sneed's Timeline

April 14, 1721
Shadwell, Albemarle County, Province of Virginia
February 2, 1755
Albemarle County, Province of Virginia
Shadwell, Albemarle County, Virginia, United States
April 28, 1819
Age 98
Danville, Mercer County, Kentucky, United States