Mathew Phips of Wilkes County, NC: A 1785 Land Grant

A 1788 Wilkes County, North Carolina deed, as abstracted, refers to property of Matthew Fips which was lost to satisfy Thomas Cook. The case of Thomas Cook v. Matthew Fips was heard in Wilkes County on 27 July 1786

Then in 1790, a Matthew Phipps appears in Surry County, North Carolina in the census. Was this the same person? An index to Surry County land entries from 1778 to 1795 shows Matthew Phipes/Fipps.

This Mathew or Matthew should not be confused with the later person of that name, born about 1810-1811, a son of Jesse Phips/Jane (“Jennie”) Spurlin of Ashe County, North Carolina. Jesse was a son of Samuel Phips, Jr. of Wilkes and later Ashe County. In both cases, it appears that the name was generally spelled with one “T.”

This Matthew has been suspected of possibly having been a son of the John Fips who died in 1768 in Charlotte County, Virginia. Regarding the Thomas Cook who sued Mathew or Matthew and apparently received his land as a result, it might be relevant to note that in 1767 in Halifax County, Virginia, John Phips of Charlotte County sold land in Halifax County to William Cook. This was land on both sides of the Pigg River near the mouth of Hatchet Run.

Survey Map

Survey Map

Mathew Phips received a land grant in Wilkes County, North Carolina in 1785. The records pertaining to the grant refer to him as Mathew Phips and as Marthew Phips. A small survey “plan” map accompanying the survey record shows a more or less rectangular tract of 200 acres with a stream flowing horizontally across it. The land description refers to the headwaters of Coleys Creek and “some of the waters” of Hunting Creek. The angle of flow of the creek in the map looks identical to that of Hunting Creek. In addition, the survey description refers to the county line. From the wording of the property description, it sounds as though the southern boundary of the property followed the county line.

If so, then this would suggest, would it not, that the property must have been along the southern end of Wilkes County. In 1785, Wilkes County was bounded on the south by Burke County toward the southwest and Rowan County toward the southeast.

We know where Hunting Creek is today, but where was this Coleys Creek? There is a Coley Creek in Gaston and Transylvania Counties, but that is far to the south. There is evidently also a Coley Creek around Raleigh, and a Coley Branch in Stanly County.

More immediately relevant, apparently, are references to Hunting Creek. This is a name that appears in various North Carolina counties, but one of those counties is present-day Wilkes. A “historical” place, in other words it doesn’t show up on modern maps otherwise, is a settlement named Hunting Creek in Wilkes County, which appears in the Gilreath quadrangle U.S. Geological Survey topo maps. Hunting Creek Cemetery and Hunting Creek Church appear in the same quadrangle.

A large tiff file of that map appears here. Note that the file might take a while to load on some devices, and might not show up as anything other than unintelligible blotches on some devices. On an iPad, it’s best to first import it into Goodreader or some alternative app.

The map shows both Hunting Creek and Little Hunting Creek. Interestingly, the southern edge of the present-day Wilkes County appears nearby, to the south of this creek. Using the scale on the map, the distance from the county line to Hunting Creek (which varies, of course) appears to be, very roughly, maybe about 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 miles or so. The southern edge of Wilkes County, on this present-day map, borders the counties of Alexander and Iredell.

In the same general area as the historical community of Hunting Creek, the map shows Vannoy Ridge, apparently on or near Brushy Mountain. Francis Vannoy appears in a Wilkes County bond in October 1798. Susannah Vannoy is supposed to have married John R. Long. Their daughter Anna married John H. Toliver and fathered Mathursa Toliver who married the later Mathew Phips (Matthew Phipps), who moved to Clay and Owen Counties, Indiana. John R. Long and Susannah (Vannoy) Long also were the parents of Jesse Long, who was the father of Mary Elizabeth Long who married John Meshack Phips, son of Jesse Phips/Jane (“Jennie”) Spurlin. John R. Long also fathered Owen Long, who moved to Owen County, Indiana and fathered John and Aaron Long, both of whom were hung in 1845 for the murder of Col. Davenport, for whom Davenport, Iowa is named. They were in the same outlaw gang as John Meshack Phips, with John’s father Jesse apparently being in association with the gang.

By the way, Libre Map Project is a great resource for genealogists. Here are links to North Carolina searches and Virginia searches.

The following are transcriptions of the North Carolina land grant records pertaining to Mathew Phips in Wilkes County in 1785:

Transcription of index card:

No. 737
County Wilkes
Name Phips, Mathew
Acres 200
Grant No. 733
Issued 22″ Feb 1785
Warrant No. [blank] Entry No. 1816
Entered 20″ Jan, 1785
Book No. 59 Page No. 342
Location On a ridge that divides the head waters of Coleys Creek & some of the waters of Hunting Creek
Remarks: [blank]

Transcription of grant:

State of N Carolina

James Fletcher
Entry Office of Claims for Lands in the County
Of Wilkes

To the Surveyor of sd. County Greeting
You are here by Required as soon as may Be to Lay [or Levy?] Off &c Survey for Mathew Phips A Tract or parcel Of Land Containing Two hundred Acres Lying in sd. County Beging. On the Ridge that Divides the head of Coleys Creek & Some Of the Waters of hunting Creek & [Runs?] The Various [for?]


Observing the p[rovit?]ions of the Act Of Assembly in Such Case made & Approved & for Running [Out?] Lands [Two?] Just [& for?] [?] of Such Survey With a proper Certificate Annexed to [Each?] You are to Transmit with this Warrant the Secretaries Office With [?] Given Under my hand [at Office?] This 20, Day of January
1785 James Fletcher

Transcription of back of grant:

Nr. 1816

Transcription of survey:

The plan Laid [& Drawn?] By Scale Of 100 pole To an Inch

Survey Map

Survey Map

[Inset map labeled “Area 200 Acres,” with “B” in lower left corner and “A” in lower right corner]

Surveyed April [of? or ye?] Anno 1785 for Marthew Phips A Tract Of Land Containing Two Hundred Acres Lying On the Ridge that Divides the head Waters of Coleys Creek & Some Of the Waters Of hunting Creek Begining On A Hicory in [or? or ye?] Roan [“Roan” appears clear] Line & Runs East Two Hundred poles to A Silverwood then South fifty Two pole to A Red Oak then East forty pole To A Hicory then South Ninety pole to A Chesnut on the Dividing Ridge Then West With sd. Ridge Along the County Line Two hundred & forty pole to A Stake then North one hundred & forty Two pole to the Begining [Pr. M.?]

[(abbreviation?)] Johnson [(abbreviation?)]
[Jos.?] Cerndon C S.

Job Coal
Jno. Combs

Transcription of back of survey:

Plan &
Jan. 20 – 1785


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