The following was originally published in the March 31, 1989 printed version of “Ratliff’s Ferry” (Vol. 6, No. 1)



James Henry Radcliffe, Sr.

Grandson of

William Henry Ratliff

Researching the “Ratliff’s of William Henry” has taken my wife, Joanne, and I to Anson County, North Carolina on two occasions. Also, we have spent numerous hours in the court houses and libraries of Wadesboro, NC, Chesterfield, SC, and Louisville and Waynesboro, GA. 15-20 cemeteries over the three states have been visited, and hundreds of letters were written seeking help and information from family members and others.

Last October, we visited Anson County for the Annual Ratliff Family Reunion, as we had never met any of the North Carolina family. This proved to be an excellent weekend. We met so many fine young and old family members for the first time. On a trip to Great-Granddaddy William Gaston Ratliff’s old home place near Cason’s Old Field, we followed Cousin Phyllis Steagall through a field of tall weeds for 300 yards, only to find a kudzu covered old home where Granddaddy William Henry may have lived as a child. Phyllis is the granddaughter of Carl Lacy Ratliff, Granddaddy’s younger brother. Visiting the old home place, as well as Great-Great-Granddaddy John Perry Ratliff’s old home, proved to be some of the highlights of our weekend in Anson County.

A visit to the old Ratliff Family Cemetery on Bill and Betty Ratliff’s farm proved to be meaningful as well. Bill is Phyllis’ dad and Carl Lacy’s son. Bill (William Henry) may have been named for my granddaddy, William Henry, who was seventeen years older than his brother, Carl Lacy. Bill, Betty and their family’s acceptance of Joanne and I really expressed the true southern hospitality the Ratliff clan is known to exhibit.

Between November, 1922 and March 1924, Henry and Atha moved to Jefferson County, Georgia, with most of the children. Gertrude had died in 1918, and Uncle T.G., a lad of 15-17, apparently remained in Anson County because he married there and three of his five children were born there. He did later move to Burke County, GA.

Aunt Marjorie Lamar (Marjorie Alice), was born in 1924 in Jefferson County after the family moved to Georgia. Aunt Marjorie is now 65 years young and lives in Port Wentworth, GA, on the coast near Savannah. She has two children, both girls. Aunt Marjorie and Aunt Eula are both in excellent health and visit each other regularly, although they live some 125 miles apart. About once every month or so, they drive about 250 miles to Atlanta to visit Aunt Irene who is presently in a nursing home in Lake City, a suburb of Atlanta. According to her oldest daughter, Mary Atha Hudlow, Aunt Irene has good and bad days, but the three “girls” enjoy a reunion at each visit.

Worth Donald, also born in Jefferson County in 1926, died in 1986 at the age of sixty. He has three children; Don, Kaye and Gina. Uncle Worth is buried in Waynesboro, GA.

Determining why the family moved to Georgia, and changed the name from RATLIFF to RADCLIFF and RADCLIFFE, continues to be somewhat of a mystery. My dad Woodrow’s birth certificate from Anson County states he was born RATLIFF, and his dad William Henry was a RATLIFF. So did all of his other Anson County brothers and sisters. But, when my mama and daddy married in Aiken, SC in 1935, he was a RADCLIFFE. I can remember from childhood that some of daddy’s brothers dropped the “e” while Uncle Russell spelled his name RATCLIFF. It should be noted that Russell lived in North Carolina most of his life.

As for the family name change, the remaining three children of Henry and Atha have stated the name was changed by an elementary school teacher in Jefferson County – from RATLIFF to RADCLIFFE because Radcliffe was the “proper English spelling”. This has also been indicated to Ed Ratliff of Alaska who has been “told” a school teacher made the name change. In addition, several of the grandchildren of Henry and Atha confirmed they were told by their parents the school teacher made the change. We do know definitely the family was born as RATLIFF in Anson County, and changed the name while living in Jefferson County, GA. I believe we may say “definitely” the name change was initiated by a public school educator in Georgia.

On our first visit to Anson County, we met Aileen Ratliff, Marion’s widow, in Morven. Aileen took us to visit an old cemetery several miles away, even tho she did not previously know us. Again, that southern hospitality beamed through.

When our search began, Cousin May Burch MacCallum of Cheraw, SC was the first relative I contacted. I didn’t know May was a relative at the time. She has been most helpful every time we have needed her assistance. May ended her first of many letters saying, “Welcome to the world of those amazing Ratliff’s”. No truer words have ever been spoken. May is the Great-Granddaughter of Susan Harriett (Hattie) Ratliff, a younger sister of Great-Granddaddy William Gaston Ratliff.

The search for the family of William Henry began in 1987 because nothing was known about daddy’s Anson County family. It was our desire to provide our three children with a heritage of their granddaddy’s family from North Carolina.

William Henry Ratliff was born near Cason’s Old Field in Anson County on 18 Sept 1881. He was the second oldest son of William Gaston Ratliff and Susan Rebecca Gulledge, and the fourth of twelve children. Henry grew up in Anson County and, in 1903, married Atha Eulalia Russell, also of Anson County. The two began their family in March, 1905, with the first of their five daughter’s, Gertrude Beatrice. Their first son, Thomas Gaston (Uncle T.G.), was born two years later. He lived for 73 years and raised a family of three girls and two boys. Uncle T.G. died in Burke County, GA in 1980. A total of eleven children were born to Henry and Atha.

Aunt Irene Holton (Irene Rebecca), the oldest living child, was born on 1 Nov 1908 and herself bore four children, three girls (including twin girls) and a boy. One of the twins also had twins. Then in succession the children came: Henry Bennett in 1910, who had a boy and a girl, and died in 1985; Russell Roland, in 1912 who had only one son, and died in 1974; my dad, Woodrow Wilson was born in 1914 and died of accidental electrocution in 1953 at the age of 39. Daddy and Mama had two children.

Aunt Annie Lee Holland was born in 1916 and died 40 years later without having children. Aunt Eula Radcliff Hughes (Mary Eulalia) was born in 1919, and is in excellent health living in North Augusta, SC at the age of seventy. She has one child, a girl.

The last child born in Anson County, Drannon Wilcher, was born in 1922 and died at the age of fifteen.

Determination has also been made that Granddaddy Henry moved to Georgia in search of work to support his family and better living conditions (according to Aunt Irene Holton). Most of the family remembers Henry was a farmer in Jefferson County (and probably a farmer in Anson County). Although, at the Ratliff Family Reunion in Anson County last October, Johnsie Evelyn Bowman Ratliff, now 82, remembered Henry and Atha leaving Anson County in the early 1920’s. Henry was going to work in a saw-mill with a relative who had already moved to Jefferson County, GA. She could not recall the relative’s name.

William Henry died in Jefferson County in 1927 at the age of forty-six and was buried in the city cemetery in Louisville, GA. Atha and the children moved back to Anson County and lived for approximately two years before their house burned. Then they moved to Burke County, near Atha’s oldest daughter, Irene Rebecca. Aunt Marjorie Lamar shared with me a poem entitled “This Dismal Place”, which Grandma Atha supposedly wrote while living in Burke County. In part, the poem relates to Grandma’s love of Anson County and yearning for a return.


If I had some flowers to bloom

I would chase away some of this gloom.

If living here behind these woods

I’d leave this old place if I could.

For neighbors here we have the frogs

Which sit among these old wet boggs.

And croak and croak both night and day

As if these swamps were bright and gay.

Our loved ones all have moved away

Back here they could not bear to stay.

I hope that we may also go

Before next winters cold and snow.

So now that spring with mantle green

On every tree and branch is seen.

We hope the Lord will guard us all

For He even notes the sparrow’s fall.

Grandma Atha died in Burke County, GA on 4 Sept 1952 at the age of Sixty five. She is buried in Waynesboro, Georgia along with six of her children.

Researching the “Ratliff’s of William Henry” has taken many hours, but hours well spent. Enjoyable hours. Joanne and I can truthfully say we have learned an enormous amount about our family that we would not have known otherwise. This genealogical record about the Ratliff’s can now be passed down to our children and, hopefully, to many generations in the future.



Many years of effort, study, research, travels and discussions regarding the parents of our William Ratliff (1777 Anson Co., NC will) have not yielded any results. Well, at least any definitive results. So after another trip to Maryland and visits with the Upper Shore Genealogical Society and Prince George’s Genealogical Society along with additional time in the Hall of Records in Annapolis, it seemed appropriate to establish in writing at least a circumstantial case for the parentage of our William. Therefore, what you read following MUST NOT be accepted as fact. Additional documentation must be developed to provide a more definitive link with the individuals you will find below.

First, there are 3 Williams involved in this analysis. They are:

William Ratcliff (1696) – son of Quaker Richard Ratcliff and Mary Caterne of Talbot Co., MD.

William Ratcliffe (1741) – married to Hannah Cook(e) and a County Judge in Queen Anne’s Co., MD.

William Ratliff (1777) – our relative who wrote the Anson Co., NC will.

William (1777) – date of birth given is 19 Feb. 1727 in Talbot Co., MD. Others have listed his place of birth as Queen Anne’s Co., MD. For the purpose of our presentation, we will use a birth year of 1727 and a place of birth as Queen Anne’s Co. although there is no documentation of either listing.

Early in my efforts, I became acquainted with Clarence Earl Ratcliff who had done extensive research into his Ratcliff Family and had published several volumes of his work. As we developed our friendship by correspondence, I grew to love this man. He was a retired Methodist minister who loved his family and worked for over 30 years to put together what he claimed was a very exhaustive study of his Richard Ratcliff ancestor who came to Maryland in 1682 aboard the ship “Submission”. Richard landed in the Talbot Co. area of Maryland and married Mary Caterne. Their marriage produced several offspring.

One of the major characteristics of Richard and Mary Ratcliff was their Quaker faith (Society of Friends); the Quakers being very detailed record-keepers. Their records have been used to prove, or disprove many genealogical links.

I had the joy and privilege to personally visit with Clarence on two special occasions. He was in declining health and suffering from Parkinson’s disease which ultimately took his life during the 1990’s. During the course of my relationship with him, he asked if I would digitize his records. The Internet was becoming an active source for genealogical information and Clarence wanted to have his work available for all to see. Many months were spent putting most of his genealogical information in a digital format. Once that was done, the information was sent to Pauline Brandy in Florida who actually established Clarence’s information in the format you see today online:

Potential Genealogy Conflict: When Clarence published his 1988 version of his book (before the information was made available online) he included our William Ratliff (1777) information as a son of his William Ratcliff (1696) and Mary Fellows. There is no known relationship between our William (1777) Ratliff and Clarence’s William (1696) Ratcliff. We may be related but until we can find more definitive proof, we have been reluctant to make this claim. Any such listing found anywhere should be examined cautiously before accepting as fact.

In 1987, Howard Hazlewood and Betty Ratliff Carson published a well-researched work called:

The William Ratcliff/Ratliff Family




Anson County, North Carolina

A link to that work can be found at the following:

This work provided the framework and research path for others to follow in pursuing further Ratliff family research. In the course of their work, several “possibilities” of parentage for our William (1777) were put forth. But caution was made to secure definitive documentation regarding any claims before putting forth something as fact.

During the course of understanding genealogical research and the establishment of more definitive or conclusive proof, a research method called FAN (Family – Associates – Neighbors) has been developed. When all else fails, look to others in the family or neighborhood for information. What follows attempts to establish what can only be described as “circumstantial” possibilities of just who might be the parents of our William (1777) using this FAN approach.

One of the “possibilities” Howard and Betty put forth for parentage of William (1777) was outlined on pages 6 and 7 of their book. Records of a Richard Ratliff were located in Prince George’s Co. where Richard was releasing his administration of his parent’s estate in 1741 to his uncle, Richard Touchstone. Readers of Ratliff’s Ferry will recall our writing regarding this couple in our posting dated 14 Oct. 2014. Please refer to that posting for a discussion and documentation of this “possibility”.[1]

Mention was made of the rather complete work done by George Ely Russell on the Touchstone Family[2]. While Mr. Russell only mentions Robert in reference to Mary Touchstone marrying Robert Ratliff and living in Prince George’s County, it is the history of the Touchstone family that bears some additional consideration.

In his discussion, Mr. Russell states that daughter Mary Touchstone married Robert Ratliff. Nothing is mentioned regarding “where” Robert came from or how he might relate otherwise to the Touchstone family. Several Touchstone family members (Richard and Henry Touchstone) moved from Cecil Co., MD to Prince George’s Co, and are found in 1733 tax records. Why the move to Prince George’s Co. is unknown.

Before 1733, Richard Touchstone (possibly a son of Richard & Christian Touchstone) settled in Monacacy Hundred in Prince George’s Co., MD. Richard’s name appears on the 1733 List of Taxables for Prince George’s Co., along with that of Robert Ratcliffe who reported paying a tax for one taxable adult male. According to the Prince George’s County Genealogical Society, only those individuals who produced work were counted for this tax. The women and children were not considered as persons who worked. However as slaves did work they were counted in the levy of the tax. According to the 1733 tax roll, Robert Ratcliffe only reported tax for 1 unit. Therefore, he probably did not have any slaves and his wife and children were not considered for the payment of this tax.

So who was Robert? How did he get to Prince George’s Co., and from where did he come? Those questions still remain to be answered. Mr. Russell points out in his Touchstone history the first Touchstone, Richard came from Ireland in 1679 to Cecil Co., MD. Richard may have been an indentured servant of Thomas Taylor of Dorchester Co., MD. That had us consider whether Robert Ratliff may have been an indentured servant as well. A review of all of the published materials in the Prince George’s County Genealogical Society Research Library did not reveal any such listing of a Robert Ratliff as an indentured servant.

But looking at what has happened as a result of the death and administration of the estates of both Robert and Mary, some “considerations” can be made about the “possibilities” of just how Robert & Mary might relate to our William Ratliff (1777).

As related in our 14 Oct. 2014 posting, Robert died in 1739 in Prince George’s Co. Mary was assigned to be the administratrix of his estate. She did make one accounting to the court in 1740. Richard Touchstone (brother of Mary) and James Hyat were sureties on the £150 bond posted for Mary. Mary did not make further filings as she apparently had passed away by 1741. Richard Ratcliffe assumed the role of Administrator for both estates.

On 24 June 1741, Richard Ratcliffe, son of Robert and Mary “signed over” his rights in his parents estate to his Uncle Richard Touchstone and asked that Richard manage the estates and take care of Richard Ratcliffe’s brothers. The brothers were never named in the court filing. Richard Touchstone filed his £100 administrator bond, and it was signed by Humberstone Lyon and Henry Touchstone.

Why had Richard Ratcliffe renounced his administration responsibilities? Where did he go and what did he do? To this date, no record of what happened to Richard has been found. However, in examining the records of St. Luke’s Church, some “possibilities” arise.

St. Luke’s Parish records a marriage of Richard Ratcliffe to Mary Newton was performed 16 Feb. 1750. The next year on 14 Jun. 1751, St. Luke’s records the birth of a son Richard to Richard & Mary Newton Ratliff. No further births for this marriage are found in the records of St. Luke’s Parish.

According to Mr. Russell’s work, the Touchstone family left Maryland in 1752 for Anson Co., NC. No further mention of the Touchstone family is found in the records of St. Luke’s Parish. But the question bears asking, “Is this Richard Ratcliffe the same Richard Ratcliffe who renounced his administration responsibilities for his parents estate in 1741 in Prince George’s Co.? If so, “why” would he migrate to Queen Anne’s Co., which meant he would have moved east rather than south and west as was the migration pattern at the time? Also, he had a rather large body of water (Chesapeake Bay) to cross which had to be somewhat of a difficult barrier considering the transportation facilities available at the time. Questions still unanswered.

Consider these possibilities:

  1. Robert and Mary Touchstone Ratliff were deceased by 1741 when their son Richard released his administration of their estates to his Uncle Richard Touchstone. Now, why would he do that?
  2. William Ratcliffe (1741) of Queen Anne’s Co. was deceased at that time. His widow, Hannah had to care for five daughters. Is it “possible” that William (1741) had a brother Robert who lived in Prince George’s Co. and nephew Richard went to help his Aunt Hannah?
  3. If so, were Robert Ratliff of Prince George’s Co and William Ratcliffe (1741) of Queen Anne’s Co. brothers? They died within a couple of years of each other and could have been about that far apart in their ages.

Mr. Russell also discusses the 16 Feb. 1757 NC will of Richard Touchstone. Among other provisions, Richard leaves £15 Maryland money to be paid to William and [Anselus?] Wratliff. We have not discovered just who Anselus might be. But in examining other handwriting done during these colonial times, the W before the ratliff could be just a fancy way of beginning writing the name. However, further examination should be done to discover if there is actually anyone with the last name Wratliff. But because Richard Touchstone is leaving money to his “presumed” nephews could link back to the administration of the Robert and Mary Touchstone Ratliff estate relinquished to Richard from Richard Ratliff in 1741.

Many who have posted their family trees on Family Search and Ancestry have placed William (1777) as the child of Robert and Mary Touchstone Ratcliff in Prince George’s Co., MD. But as Howard and Betty point out, much research remains. But records are scarce or nonexistent.

William Ratcliff (1741): In the course of doing Ratliff family research, many found a William Ratcliffe (1741) of Queen Anne’s Co., MD. who owned a pew at St. Luke Parish Church. Who is this William and how, if any connection, is he related to our William?

This William Ratcliff (1741) was married to Hannah Cook(e) and was of some prominence in Queen Anne’s Co. He was also active in the church community having been a member of St. Paul’s Church and then one of the original vestrymen of St. Luke’s Parish Church when it was established from St. Paul’s in 1728[3].

In 1739, he was listed as one of the Justices of the County Court of Queen Anne’s Co.[4]

Many have suggested this William Ratcliffe (1741) might be the father or grandfather of our William (1777). An examination of the will of William Ratcliffe (1741) reveals he and wife Hannah Cook(e) had five daughters. No sons were listed in the will. The established legal inheritance law in Maryland at this time was called “Primogeniture”the right, by law or custom, of the legitimate, firstborn son to inherit his parent’s entire or main estate, in preference to daughters, elder illegitimate sons, younger sons and collateral relatives implied that the eldest son did not have to be named in the will. Therefore, did William (1741) have a son and, if so, did he obtain any of the property of William (1741) upon his death?

The land acquisitions of William Ratcliffe (1741) were examined and all of his known land acquisitions were listed in William’s (1741) will and given to his wife, Hannah and daughters named in the will. No known land acquired by William (1741) was omitted from his will. So there does not appear to be any male heirs from this marriage of William Ratcliffe (1741) & Hannah Cook(e).

An outline of William’s (1741) will and his land acquisitions are listed in the addendum at the end of this summary.

Hamer Family Possibility: Upon examining the genealogy of William (1741) Ratcliffe and Hannah Cook(e), you will find a marriage of a Hannah Ratcliffe to John Hamer. Family researchers have had conflicting positions regarding whether this Hannah is the daughter or the widow of William (1741). Noted researchers Catherine Stein and her son, Jay, have stated that Hannah is the widow of William (1741), not the daughter. This marriage occurred in 1742, after the death of William (1741). William (1741) and John Hamer also appear to have known each other, and it was usual for widows to marry within two years of becoming a widow.

The Stein’s also put forth another marriage for a Hannah Ratcliffe and a James Benson dated 9 Aug 1748.[5] A couple of observations regarding that “possibility”. From what we have seen regarding William Ratcliffe (1741), he was very loyal and faithful to both St. Paul’s and St. Luke’s Church. All of the other girls in this family were married in St. Luke’s Parish. But this Hannah Ratcliffe was married to James Benson in Talbot Co., MD. It seems a little unusual for all of the girls to be married in their father’s church except for one.

However, if you consider that Hannah who married John Hamer was the “daughter” of William (1741) and Hannah Cook(e), then the children of James Ratliff and Frances Hicks Hamer have a direct blood relationship to this William (1741). If the Hannah was the “widow” of William (1741) then, obviously this relationship cannot be claimed. In either example, a “relationship” to the William (1741) would seem to be in order.

Some Hamer genealogists have also mentioned that another daughter of William Ratcliff (1741) and Hannah Cook(e), Elizabeth Ratcliff, married Thomas Hamer, possibly a brother to John Hamer who married Hannah. This connection needs further proof but needs to be listed as a “possibility”.

Vanderford Family Possibility: Because of references to the Vanderford family found in some of our Anson Co., NC Ratliff land records, additional research was given to how this Vanderford family may relate to our Ratliff family.

In our posting to this blog of 12 Jul. 2013, the Vandiford[6] name was found in the sale of some land. Anson Co., NC land owned by Richard Ratliff was sold 14 Oct. 1811 and the many heirs of Richard’s land were listed. Included are James and Rachel Vandiford. So we have a Richard Ratliff dying and leaving his land to his heirs, one of which is named Rachel who was married to a Vanderford. That sent us looking for Vanderford Family history and we found a rather lengthy and detailed history at the following link:

In the course of that history, we came across a James Vanderford marrying Rachel Ratliff. Rachel was listed as the daughter of Richard and Mary Newton Ratliff with a date of birth estimated between 1755-1774. Rachel died in Hickman Co., TN in 1848. No documentation is provided for this marriage or the connection with Richard and Mary Newton.

Was this Richard Ratliff the same Richard Ratcliffe that renounced his administration of his parent’s estate in Prince George’s Co., MD in 1741?

Was this Richard Ratliff the same Richard that married Mary Newton in Queen Anne’s Co., MD in 1750?

Was this the same Richard Ratliff whose wife Mary had a son Richard in 1751?

Is it possible that this Richard maintained a relationship with his Uncle Richard Touchstone who migrated to Anson Co., NC in 1752?

Did this Richard’s wife Mary have a daughter Rachel who married James Vanderford?

All of those and more are questions that still remain to be answered. But for the sake of discussing “possibilities”, let’s consider that this Richard IS the same Richard mentioned in all of those possibilities mentioned above. He did go to Queen Anne’s Co, to “possibly” help with Aunt Hannah and her 5 daughters. He met and married Mary Newton and they had Richard and Rachel as children. Rachel then married into the Vanderford family.

Was the Vanderford family in Queen Anne’s Co.? Yes! Michael Powell Vanderford and Charles Vanderford were listed as early land owners in Queen Anne’s Co. in 1707. Charles was also very active on the vestry of St. Paul’s church. Among others who also purchased land around 1707 were John Pratt, John Hamer, Jr., Thomas Everett, Trustram [Tristram]? Thomas, just to mention a few last names found in our Ratliff heritage. These are family names associated with the Ratliff’s in Maryland and North Carolina. All of these individuals were either residents or owners of property in what was then Queen Anne’s County (which included the present county of Caroline) prior to and including 1726[7].

St. Paul’s Church, Queen Anne’s Co., MD: Several references to Charles Vanderford are found in the early records of this church. This is also the church in which William Ratcliffe (1741) was an active member as mentioned earlier.[8]

While the above information does not answer the original question of just “who” are the parents of our William (1777), it does outline what additional work has been done these past few years and where possible additional work needs to be done. Howard and Betty said it best: “Much research needs to be done”.

Sincere thanks to Tom & May MacCallum for their help in editing the above and for providing much of the leg work in putting together our Anson Co., NC Ratliff family picture. Such precious family connections have been created and are cherished.



Executed 10 Jan 1740

Queen Anne’s Co., MD


Item 1          My soul to Almighty God & body to be buried in a Christian like manner.

Item 2         To wife Hannah – my now dwelling plantation with all the lands there unto during her natural lifetime. After her death, daughter Hannah to have possession & enjoy the same plantation & lands & premises forever.

Item 3         Daughter Mary wife of Thomas Hackett 150 acres of land lying on Jones Creek being part of Shepherds Fortune which William purchased from William Shepherd, forever.

Item 4         Daughters Jane & Frances – all land called Lloyd Freshes which lies main county road and the ____to be divided equally in quantity & quality.

Item 5.        Daughter Elizabeth – all my land which runs from the Church Landing being part of Spread Eagle & part of Lloyd’s Freshes and is that part which runs and is bounded on one side with White Hall & on the other side with the Spread Eagle aforesaid and running up with said lands by the church to the main road as above said and also with the main road to the Spread Eagle & White Hall as aforesaid, forever.

Item 6         Daughter Elizabeth – my lot of land and dwelling thereon lying & being in Angle Town in Queen Anne’s County, forever.

As for my personal estate I leave to be divided between my wife & 5 children. Negro Ann & Negro Peter, I give to Jane which she is not to have before her day of marriage. And two other Negroes named Sam & Chester I give to daughter Frances on her day of marriage.

The residue of my personal estate to be divided between daughters Hannah & Elizabeth.




Queen Anne’s Co., MD

Shepherd’s Fortune – purchased from William Shepherd 12 Sep 1728[9]. Willed to daughter Mary (wife of Thomas Hackett) Jan 1740 will.

Collins Mill – purchased 8 May 1727[10] for 400 lbs. of tobacco. Land on Smith Creek branch of Chester River being part of tract of land called Spread Eagle.

Lloyd’s Freshes – purchased originally 16 Mar 1679 by Phillemon Loyd. William Ratcliffe purchased part of Lloyd’s Freshes 27 Sep 1730




[2] Maryland Genealogical Society Bulletin, Vol. 37, #3, Summer 1996, pp 289-298

[3] Queen Anne’s County Maryland, Its Early History, Frederic Emory originally published in the Centreville Observer 1886-1887, PP 162-209.

[4] Queen Anne’s County Maryland, Its Early History, Frederic Emory originally published in the Centreville Observer 1886-1887, p 128.

[5] Maryland Marriages, 1634-1777, Robert Barnes.

[6] Spelling found in document. Later spelled as Vanderford.

[7] Queen Anne’s County Maryland, Its Early History, Frederic Emory originally published in the Centreville Observer 1886-1887, pp 48, 49

[8]Queen Anne’s County Maryland, Its Early History, Frederic Emory originally published in the Centreville Observer 1886-1887, pp 157-159, 164, 165, 200.

[9] Maryland Land Records, Annapolis, MD RT B 207-208

[10] Maryland Land Records, Annapolis, MD IK C 119-120





Many have taken the DNA test not only at our request, but in the interest of enhancing one’s own understanding of their heritage. As a result of these tests, some family connections have been made and understandings have grown regarding the makeup and background of this Ratliff family.

Recently I was contacted by an individual who had taken the DNA test. Their DNA results indicated we had a relationship that would be 2nd to 4th cousin. A search was made and they found the Howard Hazlewood/Betty Ratliff Carson book published in 1988. In that history, they found Zachariah Ratliff migrating from Anson County, North Carolina through Stewart County, Tennessee, ultimately found in Washington County, Alabama.

This person had an old family hymnal that had some information penciled in the pages of the hymnal. The information mentioned a Jane Ratliff born 21 January 1809 in Stewart County, Tennessee. Jane married McClellan Carson in 1827 in Washington County, Alabama. The handwritten information further revealed that Jane was married in the home of her father, Zachariah. Those notes are provided below for your review and for confirmation of the information provided.

Jane Notes

As many of you know, Zachariah Ratliff and family did leave Anson County, North Carolina on or shortly after 1800 and was found in Stewart County, Tennessee along with the Denson family. They remained in Stewart County until sometime between 1815 and 1820 when the family migrated and settled in Washington County, Alabama.

This handwritten notation in the family hymnal sounded too familiar although we have no information regarding Zachariah Ratliff & Elizabeth Thomas Ratliff having a 6th child, much less one a daughter named Jane. There was no discovery of an additional Zachariah in either Stewart County, Tennessee or Washington County, Alabama during the time mentioned in those hymnal notes. So this sounded like a good “possibility” of Jane Ratliff being the 6th child of Zachariah & Elizabeth Thomas Ratliff. The record of the birth of each of their children will be shown at the bottom of this post.

A record of the marriage was requested and it was emailed to me and is shown below.

Ratliff Carson Marriage

So, maybe there was a 6th child of Zachariah & Elizabeth Thomas Ratliff. The next effort was to determine if McClellan Carson owned any land in either Washington County, Alabama or Madison County, Mississippi. In checking with the “HistoryGeo” database, no McClellan Carson owned any land in Washington County, Alabama. Another Carson did own some land but it wasn’t McClellan. (As Washington County was divided into Choctaw County is 1847, you would need to examine the Choctaw County, Alabama records to find this information). Also, you can see from the marriage notation that McClellan Carson was from Madison County, Mississippi so he was already in the Mississippi area at the time of their marriage.

We next examined the Madison County, Mississippi land records and found the Ratliff family (Zachariah, William & John) purchasing land in Madison County as early as 1827 with most of the acquisition occurring after 1830. Also found purchasing land in Madison County after 1830 was the Carson family (McClellan, Robert, Armstrong, Joseph). The time frame seems to fit with the marriage of Jane & McClellan (1827). You will also find McClellan Carson family in Madison County, Mississippi Federal Census for 1830, 1840, etc.

Therefore, it would seem appropriate to add the name Jane Ratliff as the 6th child of Zachariah & Elizabeth Thomas Ratliff. Proof points:

Family notation of birth & marriage date in family hymnal

  1. Marriage record of Jane & McClellan Carson
  2. Land ownership in Madison County, Mississippi
  3. No other Zachariah Ratliff’s found in Stewart County, Tennessee or Washington County, Alabama from 1800 to 1830.
  4. Then the DNA seems to confirm that this individual and I are 2nd – 4th cousins.

Sincere and heartfelt thanks go to my new found relative. As this revelation may be new to some of you and you may have Family Group Sheets for Zachariah & Elizabeth Thomas Ratliff that only reflect 5 children, you will find revised Family Group Sheets below. For those of you who are keeping your Hazlewood/Carson book as the current family information, you may wish to add a copy of this revised Family Group Sheet to your book.

Oh, some of you may ask. Betty Ratliff Carson and the McClellan Carson family are not related. Betty’s husband Lee Carson’s family took a completely different migration route so there was no connection to this new found relative.

As this is one indication of a good result from taking the DNA test, each one is encouraged to do so. You may access information and apply for the test at the following links: & If you do register, please let me know so I can help you with the results once they are known.

Zachariah FG #1

Zachariah FG #2Carson Children #1

Carson Children #2

The May 2015 edition of the “North Carolina Genealogical Society Journal” (Vol. XLI, No. 2) contains information reported by Larry W. Cates regarding several Coroner’s Inquests. Page 169 & 170. One item mentioned an item of interest regarding a coroner’s inquest held in 1784 on the body of William Ratliff. What made this of interest is the date and the manner of death.

According to Mr. Cates’ report of the inquest, a William Ratliff was killed while pursuing a robber. He was shot 5 times in the left hip and died from his wounds. As we have no firm death date for our William Ratliff (1777 Anson Co., NC will) this raised the question of whether this would have been our William or possibly some other William Ratliff. So a request for a copy of the actual inquest report was made to the North Carolina Archives who have provided a copy of this report. The report is difficult to read but in an attempt to make the information clearer to the reader, time was taken to copy it down (spelling and grammar) and it follows.  The poor spelling and lack of punctuation makes it difficult to read.

William Ratlef Inquest 1784


This inquest taken at the home of John Cotney in the county of Anson on the 30 day of August and in 9 years of American Independence over the body of William Ratlef ——-

We the jures do say on our oath that the said William Ratlef was wounded on the 29th day of August he being with a lawful officer in sarch of George Burlew suspected of having commited a Robery and in sarching the woods nere suspected splashes (?) was heard to say George surrender at which time a gun was heard to fire by the Rest of the party which was in sarch of the said Burlew Then running to the place saw a man Running from the said Ratlef lay wounded with five shots in the lef hip of which mortal wound the said William Ratlef died on the 30 day of August and are the ? for the day that Elisbeth Burwell was there present in the woods with the person that commited the murder which we believe to be gorge.

This inquest taken before John Dejarnett one of the Justes of the said County this 30 day of August (?).

Then the members of the jury were listed although the document calls them  “Burlers(?)”:

John Ingram

Samuel Philips

William Yeo

Thomas Tallant

George Dood

Gorge Harrel

John Huton

John Bloodwworth

Thomas Lawhed

Abner Lefever

Ralph Vickers

Joshua Birmingham

Now several things come to mind when reading this report.

First, a definite crime has been committed – murder.  There has to be some type of a criminal report on this matter and George Burlew had to have been given a trial.  This obviously needs to be researched further but wanted to make this information available for those who may be interested.

Several questions also arise:

Why was William pursuing old George?

Was William the one that was robbed?

Was William some type of a deputy for law enforcement?

All questions that need to be addressed.

The Anson Co., NC William Ratliff’s on which we have some information that would have been alive in 1784 in Anson Co. were reviewed:

William Ratliff (1727 to 1777) – our William. (1777 Anson Co., NC will)

William Ratliff (1760 to 1819) – son of our William and Susannah.  This William married ca. 1781 and sired children after 1784, ultimately moving to Wilcox Co., AL where he died about 1819.

William Ratliff (1785 to 1839) – son of Thomas Ratliff & Sarah Diggs.  Born too late to have been the William who was killed in 1784.

William Ratliff (1794 to 1884) – son of Zachariah and Elizabeth Fields.  Obviously the dates don’t fit the 1784 situation.

There was one William Ratcliff who was one of the Quakers in Johnston/Dobbs Co. but his death was listed as 1795 in Orangeburg District, SC.

So unless we can locate any other William’s in Anson Co., that were alive in 1784, wouldn’t the process of elimination fit our William (1777 Anson Co., will)?

Next, it seemed appropriate to examine the names on the Inquest report.

  1.  Couldn’t the Burlew name have been misspelled and could have been Belew or Belyeu?
  2. The George Dood could have been misspelled from George Dodd. Considering the poor spelling in the written inquest report, this could be a possibility.

An examination of the land transactions for the Ratliff family in Anson Co., NC reveals similar names where a possible relationship could be made with the parties named in the inquest.  Three transactions could lend some support to the idea that relationships did exist between our William (1777 Anson Co., will) before he died in 1784.

Nov 1790: George Dodd sold Mary Ratliff 150 acres on Spring Branch of Cedar Creek.  One of the adjoining land owners was Abraham Belew (similar to Burlew?). Notice the Abraham Belyeu as a witness in the following land transaction.

Nov 1791: Richard Ratliff sold Maliciah Gould 100 acres on branch of flat fork of Brown Creek adjoining Ralph Vickers (one of inquest jurors) land.  One of the witnesses was Abraham Belyeu.

Oct. 1810: George Dodd sold Jesse Ratliff 65 acres of land lying on N/S of Savannah Creek surveyed by John Newton (possible father or brother of Mary Newton).

The Justice of the Peace at the inquest was John Dejarnett (how it is spelled in the article and the handwritten coroner’s inquest report).  Did the Dejarnett family have any possible connection to the Ratliff’s? There are some “interesting” possibilities.

John DeJarnette (how we have it spelled) may have been John Thomas DeJarnette (1748-1799).  He married Jemina Owen (1752-1821).

One of their children was Phoebe DeJarnette (1778- 1840).  Phoebe married James Watkins (1770-1840).

One of their children was John Fletcher Watkins (1794-1859).  Guess who he married? Sarah Ratliff (1800-1852).  Her father was William Ratliff (1760-1819) the son of our William (1777 Anson Co., NC will) who married Mary (Polly) Henson (1764-1841).  Thus the grandson (John Fletcher Watkins) of John Thomas DeJarnette married the granddaughter (Sarah Ratliff) of our William (1777 Anson Co., NC will). This son William immigrated to Wilcox Co., Alabama after 1810 where he died about 1819.

According to our records, Sarah Ratliff and John Fletcher Watkins were married about 1821 in Alabama (site is undetermined).

So this would at least provide some “circumstantial” evidence of at least an acquaintanceship between the DeJarnette and Ratliff families.  But then was our John Thomas DeJarnette a Justice of the Peace in Anson Co. in 1784?

Looking through Mary Medley’s “History of Anson County, North Carolina” we find mention of a Captain John DeJarnette joining the Anson militia along with Captain James Marshall (page 41).  Mention is also made of General Francis Marion (Swamp Fox) visiting Capt. DeJarnette’s house (on page 61).

Page 63 mentions a Captain John DeJarnette, along with other able leaders turning their attention to the creation of a new county seat after the revolution.  Obviously Capt. DeJarnette was someone of high standing within the population and it could be conceivable that he would have been appointed (or elected) as JP.

On Page 64 we find reference of Capt. John DeJarnette again assisting in the creation of the new county seat of Anson.  In looking through the appendix for Medley’s book, I cannot find any listing of the Justices of the Peace.  I would strongly “suggest” that the John DeJarnette who presided over the coroner’s inquest for William Ratliff in 1784 was the same Capt. John DeJarnette who was prominent in the Revolutionary War in North Carolina and in the establishment of the new county seat of Anson.

This is certainly is “very interesting” regarding the relationship of the party’s mentioned in this inquest.  While it’s not definitive proof that the inquest is for our William (1777 Anson Co., NC will), there is certainly strong “circumstantial evidence” of this possibility.

All comments and suggestions are requested and would be greatly appreciate

In their monumental work, Betty Carson and Howard Hazlewood briefly addressed the “possible” parents of William of Anson County as Robert & Mary Touchstone Ratcliff of Prince George’s County, Maryland [i].

In September of this year (2014) my daughter Janet Starkey (Jacey) and I went to Maryland and spent some time in the Hall of Records. One of our objectives was to try and prove, or disprove, that Robert & Mary Touchstone Ratcliff were or were not the parents of our William of Anson County. While the results confirmed much of the information in the Carson/Hazlewood work, it was surprising regarding how the determination was made to not consider this couple as potential parents of William of Anson Co., NC.

First, we were able to confirm much of the work done by Carson/Hazlewood. One of the more interesting pieces was the renunciation of Richard Rattcliffe from his parent’s estate (both deceased in 1741). Here is a copy of that renunciation found in the court file:




Several things are evident from this document alone:

  1. Richard has a brother or brothers, it isn’t clear from the handwriting.
  2. Both parents named Robert & Mary are deceased.
  3. Richard has an uncle, Richard Touchstone.
  4. Richard cannot write.
  5. Richard apparently did live in Prince George’s County at the time of this renunciation.

From an Administration Bond filed with the Prince George’s Prerogative Court dated 13 August 1739, Robert Ratcliffe is deceased as wife Mary, along with Richard Touchstone and James Hyet[iii] are posting a bond for the administration of the estate of Robert, deceased. Mary also provided an inventory of the estate dated 21 June 1740 listing the disbursements from the estate as of that date.[iv] The date of this filing becomes important as it indicates that Mary was still alive.

By July 1741, Mary was deceased and Richard Rattcliffe had renounced his interest in the estate to his uncle, Richard Tutchstone as mentioned earlier. Thus Richard Tutchstone was required to post a bond to the Prince George’s Prerogative Court that provides the information that Mary was deceased. It also establishes that Richard Tutchstone had assumed the administration of the Robert Rattcliffe estate that Mary had left “unadministrated by Mary Ratlif, his administratrix” as per the comment in the following bond. The bond is posted in separate segments to make the reading of the bond much easier.







This bond listed Richard Tuchstone, Humberstone Lyon and Henry Tuchstone as parties to the bond. Richard made “his mark” and Humberstone Lyon and Henry Tutchstone signed their names. Now “why” would Richard Rattcliffe renounce his interest in the estate?

  1. He was leaving Prince George’s Co.
  2. He felt he wasn’t competent to handle the job.
  3. There wasn’t enough in the estate to interest him.
  4. He was genuinely concerned about the well-being of his siblings and wanted to provide for their care.

We then went searching for any property that Robert Ratcliffe might have owned in Prince George’s Co. A search in Prince George’s Co. (also Frederick County as parts of Prince George’s Co. was divided in 1748 into Frederick Co.) could find no land holdings owned by Robert and/or Mary Ratcliffe.

With that information known, we examined a very well researched paper on the Touchstone Family written by George Ely Russell[vi]where he provides a paper trail for the Touchstone family as Richard Touchstone came to this country in 1679/80 probably as an indentured servant. This research outlines a paper trail to the Ratcliffe family in Prince George’s Co. and his sources are listed. Thus there is a link between the Touchstone family and the family of Robert & Mary Touchstone Ratcliffe of Prince George’s Co. But does that connect Robert & Mary as possible parents of our William of Anson County?

Several references were found in Prince George’s Co. regarding the Touchstone Family owning land in what was called “Monocasy Hundred”. A search of tax lists revealed a 1733 tax list for Monocasy Hundred that listed Richard Touchstone, Humberstone Lyon and Robert Ratcliffe. A copy of that record is shown below:

MD 1733 List of Taxables Monocasy 100 #2

MD 1733 List of Taxables Monocasy 100 #3

Again, this places Robert Ratcliffe in Monocasy Hundred in 1733 paying a tax only on himself. He was also in the same area of Prince George’s Co. as was Richard Touchstone and Humberstone Lyon so they probably knew each other. Mr. Russell traces the various land holdings of Richard Touchstone, including his brother Henry in Prince George’s Co. Therefore, a case can be made for the relationship of the Touchstone Family and the Robert Ratcliffe family of Prince George’s Co., MD. But a review of the known land records does not provide any “hint” of a relationship of Robert & Mary Touchstone Ratcliffe to our William of Anson Co.

Mr. Russell does list possible children of Robert & Mary Touchstone Ratcliffe as:

Daughter – name unknown. Married James Hyett/Hyat, Prince George’s Co.

Daughter – name unknown. Married William Gooden.

Richard Ratcliffe

William Ratcliffe

[Anselus?] Ratcliffe

Questions still remain:

What happened to Richard Ratcliffe when he rescinded his interest in his parent’s estate in 1741?

What relationship, if any could Richard Rattliffe have to William Ratliff of Anson Co. whose record of marriage is found in the records of St. Luke’s Parish Church, Queen Anne’s Co., MD in 1759?

While researching at the Hall of Records in Annapolis, we noticed they were having a “Family History Day” on Saturday, October 4. One of the features of the event was the opportunity to spend 15 minutes with one of several professional genealogists who were giving of their time for the day. We came prepared to present our thoughts on why Robert & Mary Touchstone Ratcliff should be considered as “possible” parents of William of Anson County.

With our charts and references in hand the genealogist almost immediately stated that the migration from Prince George’s Co. (western side of the Chesapeake Bay) to Queen Anne’s Co. (eastern side of the Chesapeake Bay) was probably not something that would have normally occurred. They would have gone either west or south as lands opened up. But not east across the bay. As we could not find any evidence of Richard Ratcliff or Richard Touchstone owning any land in Queen Anne’s Co., MD, that piece seemed to fit with what the professional was sharing. So his suggestion was to pursue other areas as possibilities for finding the parents of William of Anson Co.,

The Russell history of the Touchstone Family says that the Touchstones left the Maryland area in 1752 and migrated to Anson Co., NC where they settled on the northeast side of the PeeDee River. No mention is made of them owning land in Queen Anne’s. Co., MD which would seem to confirm there was no stop for the Touchstone’s in Queen Anne’s Co.

Also the professional shared that there was a big migration of Quakers out of Maryland and Virginia to the Carolinas between 1740 and 1760. This may become more important as we further examine “possible” Quaker connections to our William of Anson Co.,

In the Richard Touchstone’s will dated 16 February 1767 in Anson Co., NC, one of the provisions was for 15 pounds Maryland money to William and [Anselus?} Wratlif[vii]. Why these persons and “why” Maryland money?

The genealogist says these could be the same nephews from Robert & Mary Touchstone Ratcliffe. Also, the “W” at the beginning of the last name in that Richard Touchstone will could be a spelling error considering how the last name of Ratcliffe has been spelled down through the years. Also, there is no known evidence, or any circumstantial evidence that these men are related in any way to our William of Anson Co.

Therefore, the above evidence does not provide any evidence (direct or circumstantial) that there is any possible relationship between Robert & Mary Touchstone Ratcliff of Prince George’s Co., MD and our William Ratcliff/Ratliff of Anson Co., NC.

So the search goes on….

In response to a question regarding difficulty in crossing the Chesapeake Bay, the genealogist said people normally traversed the bay all the time. But to move families east was just not something that normally was done.

I asked regarding our not finding any land holdings for Robert Ratcliffe in Prince George’s Co.? Could he have been a tenant farmer to Richard Touchstone? “Possibly” was his reply but felt we needed to follow the land holdings to see who the possible parents of William of Anson Co. might be.

Therefore, from what is presented above it is hoped to put on hold the “possibility” of Robert & Mary Touchstone Ratcliffe as parents of our William of Anson Co., NC. There are a couple of other areas to possibly pursue but we wanted to put our work, “on the record” for today and future genealogists who might wish to pursue Robert & Mary Touchstone Ratcliffe as possible parents for our William of Anson Co., NC.

There is another William Ratcliff in Queen Anne’s Co., MD around the same time as William of Anson Co. Who is he and how does he relate, if any, to our William of Anson Co.?

Look for further postings to Ratliff’s Ferry for additional research in this area.

[i] The William Ratcliff/Ratliff Family of Maryland and Anson County, North Carolina, privately published, Page 6

[ii] Prince George’s County, Maryland, Administration Bonds, Original, Box 11 Md. HR 8925-11-1/75 1-26-7-13, Folder 68.

[iii] Prince George’s County, Maryland, Original Bonds, Box 10 (MdHR 8925 57122, 1/26/7/121), folder 48.

[iv] Prince George’s County, Maryland Administration Bond, Box 1, folder 73, Maryland State Archives

[v] Prince George’s County, Maryland Administration Bond, MSA C1147-11

[vi] Maryland Genealogical Society Bulletin, Vol. 37, #3, Summer 1996, pages 289-298

[vii] Original will, Craven County, NC.

Many are aware of the research and work that has been done by John & Diane Ratliff to publish the factual account of the life and family of John’s Great grandfather, William Pinkney Ratliff (1847-1927) who lived in Kosciusko, Mississippi. The book includes many photos of the family that will enhance any Ratliff family members library.

John now tells us the book is listed for sale at! Go to the URL link below, or go to Books on and type in The William Pinkney Ratliff Family Saga.

This work has been researched and the photos included will add to any Ratliff family members understanding of their Ratliff heritage.

For you history buffs who enjoy a good, factual report of events that impacted not only this Ratliff family but the entire region in and around Kosciusko, this book is a “must” for your personal library. Please pass this along to those local libraries and historical societies who would also wish to know the “rest of the story” regarding these events in Mississippi history.

Enjoy this fine piece of Ratliff history.