Sunday, August 24, 2014

Black Sheep Sunday: Unlawful Gaming

Woodlawn Plantation of Col. Henry Embry Coleman, Halifax Co, VA
Well, I am on a roll with blog writing and figured I might as well tell you more about my ancestor Henry Cheatham. An elderly Watts cousin of mine who resided in Halifax County, Virginia all his life warned me years ago that if you go back far enough in the family tree, you might find a horse thief or worse.

What records I have located on Henry seem to indicate that he often incurred trouble of one form or another.

The only reference to him I found in Halifax County, Virginia was in the General Index to Court Orders-Defendants.  Henry Cheatham was listed twice in Superior Court records for the years 1825 and 1826.  The records state the following: "Henry Cheatham for gaming at cards with one of Col.  Coleman's slaves, Phil, on the side of the Public Road, near the aforesaid Cheatham's in Halifax County, a place of public, on Sunday the 18th of the present month by the information of Peter Hudson called in by the Grand Jury and sworn for that purpose and the said Grand Jury having nothing further to present are discharged." "The Commonwealth against Henry Cheatham, defendant, upon a presentment of the Grand Jury for unlawful gaming.  The defendant having been duly summoned and failing to appear, on motion of the attorney prosecuting for the Commonwealth. It is ordered by the court that he make his fine with his Excellency John Tyler Governor of this Commonwealth for the time being, by the payment of 20 dollars to the use and benefit of the Literary Fund, and that he pay the costs of this prosecution and may be taken &c.”[Halifax County, Virginia Superior Court Record Book 4, p. 116 (year 1825) and p. 160 (year 1826). Transcript of original pages by Faye Tuck of South Boston, VA at the request of author.]

I don't know exactly where "near the aforesaid Cheatham's in Halifax County" but Colonel Coleman was undoubtedly Col. Henry E. Coleman who owned the plantation Woodlawn in Halifax County. See information here about Woodlawn and its owners. The above is a photograph of Woodlawn.

There was not much else I found for Henry Cheatham in Halifax County, but I did find other references to him in nearby Pittsylvania County. The Index to Court Orders-Defendants for Pittsylvania County, Virginia has Henry listed several times. Examining the microfilm of the original records, this court case was filed in 1802: John Spencer, plaintiff against William Barnett, John Barnett, Daniel Coleman, George Lumpkin Jr., Peyton Lumpkin and Benjamin Cheatham, father and next friend to Hall and Joseph Cheatham [emphasis added].  The suit was dismissed by order of the plaintiff.  In 1803, this court case was presented: Thomas Fearn [?] Jr., an infant under the age of 21 years who sues by Thomas Fearn [?] Sr. his father and next friend against Henry Cheatham (otherwise called Hall Cheatham) in trespass, assault and battery.  This suit abated by the death of the plaintiff).[Pittsylvania County, Virginia Plea Book 10, p. 252 and Plea Book 11, p. 507, microfilm of originals housed at the Virginia State Archives (VSA).  Emphasis added.]

Additionally, in 1813, Henry was a plaintiff in chancery against Richard Hart and Samuel M. Sovell/Sowell.[Pittsylvania County, Virginia Plea Book 15, p. 465 & 544 and Plea Book 16, p. 111, microfilm of originals, VSA.]

The most enlightening is the first two court cases which named his father as Benjamin and a brother Joseph.  It would appear that the two were underage in 1802, but Henry became of age by the time of the 1803 court case. I assume this meant he turned 21.


Henry was listed on Pittsylvania County's Index to Deeds-Grantor once (there was no listing for Henry in the Grantee index). On 1 July 1819 he mortgaged the following property to Alexander Carter of Halifax County because of his indebtedness to Bruce V. Hagood of Halifax for $45.38: one bay mare, one cow and calf, two feather beds and furniture, two bedsteads, two tables, two iron pots, two ovens, one skillet, two pewter dishes, one dozen pewter plates, two pewter casons, one spinning wheel, two pair cards, two pine chests, eight chairs and saddle and bridle. Carter was to sell the property to the highest bidder after the 1 July next and the residue was to go to Henry. This deed of trust was presented in court three times 2l September 1819, 20 March 1820, and again 22 March 1820.[Pittsylvania County, Virginia Deed Book 23, p. 146, microfilm of original, VSA.] 

Combining information from here and my other post on the Cheatham family (and my article from the VA-NC Piedmont Lineages), I have summarized the following: 

Henry "Hall" Cheatham born about 1782 to Benjamin Cheatham (and his wife Margaret Stoe/Stow) married Hannah --- before 1813 and had the following children:

(1) Elizabeth Cheatham, b. 1813; married Joseph Wyatt Chaffin 23 October 1837 Halifax Co, VA; died 8 October or November 1866.

(2) Martha R. Cheatham, b. 1815 (listed as age 35 in the 1850 federal census); married Elijah Moorefield by 1840; died before 1880. 

(3) Margaret S.[tow?] Cheatham b. ca. 1816; married Elisha B. Jeffress 14 October 1843 Halifax Co, VA; may have died before 1850.

(4) Possibly another daughter b. betw. 1820-1825 (1830 census for Hannah Cheatham)

(5) Possibly a son b. betw. 1810-1815 (1830 census)

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