Parents of Reuben Dalton of Grayson County VA and Grainger County TN

The Myth

Reuben Dalton of Grayson County VA and Grainger County TN, who died in 1823 in Grainger County, was the son of Timothy Dalton of Bedford County VA.

Source of the Myth

Obscure.  A long ago professional genealogist seems to have gathered up all Daltons in early Bedford and Pittsylvania Counties VA and listed them on a family sheet as children of Timothy.  Several errors, obvious from records, were included on that sheet, which also identified Timothy's son Reuben as Reuben of Grayson and Grainger.  There is basis for this as an inference:  a Reuben did buy at Timothy Dalton's estate sale (that record does not indicate he is Timothy's son), and Reuben did name a son Timothy.  But to the present, no documentation has been found to support this parentage.

Straightening the Record

Fact 1:  Document and inference. Timothy Dalton of Bedford County VA left minor children when he died in 1775.  The estate papers of Timothy Dalton examined by the Bedford County Court in 1783 reported the provision of a barrel of corn for "the widow and children."  (Bedford County Will Book 1:444-45)  Unless there was some hitherto unknown funereal ritual involving a barrel of corn, this entry indicates that Elizabeth the widow was the caregiver for  minor children.  The date of this provision is not clear from the papers filed in 1783.

Fact 2:  Document and inference. One of these minor children was named Reuben.  The Bedford County Court, in July 1778, "ordered that Reuben Dalton be bound by the Church Wardens to Robert Brown according to law."  This order indicates that Reuben was a minor because if he were of age he would have been able to legally contract with Robert Brown without intervention of the court and board.  Although this record does not indicate that Reuben is one of the children of Timothy, he would appear to be an orphan since he is in the power of the court and parish board.  When he died in 1775 Timothy was the first Dalton since 1751 to have died in Southside Virginia and no other Daltons that appear in records had died by 1778.

Fact 3:  Document: A Reuben Dalton, of age by 1772, was living in Pittsylvania County VA.  In August 1772, Reuben Dalton filed suit against John Cleveland (Pittsylvania COB 2:41).  In November 1772, Reuben administered the estate of John Wheeler in Pittsylvania (COB 2:87).  Either of these acts required that this Reuben be of age.  This Reuben last appeared on Pittsylvania County VA tax lists in 1778.

Fact 4:  Document. Reuben Dalton of Grainger County TN had a son Enos born by 1772.   Enos was named as a son in Reuben's will probated in Grainger County TN in 1823.  Enos was age 78 in the 1850 census, thus born in 1772.  Birth in the 1770s is confirmed by the 1830 and 1840 censuses.  Enos paid his first tithe in 1796 which would indicate a birth in 1774 or 1775, also consistent with the 1830 and 1840 censuses. 

What the facts tell us about the myth

There were two Reuben Daltons along the Staunton River in Bedford and Pittsylvania Counties VA in the 1770s, one of age by 1772, the other a minor in 1778.  Although both of these Reubens disappear after 1778, it is doubtful that a Reuben who was still a minor in 1778 was the father of Enos.  The Reuben in Pittsylvania County of age by 1772 would be far more likely to be his father.  The minor Reuben who was in Bedford County and whose affairs were in control of the courts and parish board in 1778 was likely the son of Timothy Dalton of Bedford.

Prepared by James F. Klumpp with research assistance from Melanie Crain and others and critical review by Sharon Wehry.

Last revised 14 March 2001

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