From Mecklenburg to Moore: Four North Carolina Families

Silas Nelson Stilwell & Mary (Polly) Williamson

John Stilwell &
Jane Aspey Beckett,
parents of Silas Stilwell
Silas Nelson Stilwell
& Mary Williamson
Jonathan Williamson
& Margaret Hudson,
parents of Mary Williamson
Children of Silas & Mary Williamson Stilwell:
John James Benjamin Margaret Frances Mary Thomas W.

Gravestone of Silas Nelson Stilwell Silas Nelson Stilwell was born May 30, 1812 in Mecklenburg County. His parents were John Stilwell and Jane Aspey Beckett.1 He was a farmer and owned land in the Morning Star section of Mecklenburg County, near the present-day town of Matthews.2 He served at least twice as bondsman, for the weddings of William H. Williamson and Elimina Wentz on April 12, 1836 and Jeremiah Wentz and Margaret Stilwell on March 30, 1854.3

Around 1836 Silas married Mary (Polly) Williamson. By the 1850 census, when they were both about forty years old, they had six children. Silas's mother, Jane, lived with them, on a property worth about $600. Their children were John,13, James, 9, Benjamin, 6, Margaret and Frances, 4, and Mary, 1 month old.4 A son named Thomas W. was born in 1855.5

Further evidence of Silas's civic involvement was his election in November of 1867, along with fellow Republican candidate E. Fullings, as a delegate to the state of North Carolina's constitutional convention, in a vote of 790-520.6

Mary Williamson Stilwell would have been born about 1810, in Mecklenburg County, and died before 1862. Apparently she was called Polly, a common nickname in her time for women named Mary. Her father was Jonathan Hugh Williamson, born in 1783 in Campbell County, Virginia and died in Mecklenburg County, N.C. September 9, 1843, and her mother was Margaret Hudson, born in 1790 and died April 10, 1857 in Matthews.7

Information about Mary Williamson's family can be found on the
Williamson Genealogy Page on the Internet.

Margaret Matilda and Frances M. Stilwell were identical twins, born January 16, 1847.8 Frances married William McCall, a farmer, on February 6, 1868 at Pleasant Grove in Mecklenburg County.9 On August 18 of the same year, Frances joined Sharon Presbyterian Church, near their home.10 Margaret lived with them at the time of the 1870 census,11 and she married John Smith Alexander in 1873. Her story and photograph may be found by clicking on her name. Also in 1873, William McCall joined Sharon Presbyterian Church.12 He and Frances had children named John, Walter, Emsley, Gelise, and Charles.13 On June 17, 1882, William and Frances McCall became charter members of Amity Presbyterian Church. They were buried in the church cemetery at their deaths, William in 1906 and Frances in 1924.14

A story about Frances' funeral: "The Neighbors See a Ghost."

Gravestone of Thomas W. Stilwell

Thomas W. Stilwell was born April 29, 1855 and died May 12, 1896. His grave is in the New Hope Cemetery along with his father's.15 He married Emma Washington Elliotte of Virginia, who died January 24, 1934 and was buried at Mt. Harmony Baptist Church, near New Hope.16 They had at least four children.17

In 1862, on December 18, Silas N. Stilwell married again, to Jane White. The bond was posted on December 8.18

Silas and Mary's daughter Margaret and her husband, John Smith Alexander, bought land in Morningstar Township from Silas and wife Jane Stilwell in 1881.19 About three years later, on February 28, 1884, Silas died and was buried at New Hope Graveyard on Mt. Harmony Church Rd., originally the cemetery for Stillwell Grove Methodist Protestant Church, in Matthews.20

Stilwell History

The Stilwell family originated in England. The first to come to America was Lieutenant Nicholas Stilwell I, who went to Virginia around 1639 and moved to Manhattan Island in New York. He married twice, and died in 1671 in Staten Island, New York.21

His son, Nicholas Stilwell II, was a Captain in the militia in New York. He lived in Gravesend on Long Island, New York, when his father moved to Staten Island. He owned property at Jamaica, Long Island and may have lived there during his first marriage. He was married three times. In 1675 he became Constable of Gravesend. He also served as a member of the New York Colonial Assembly and as a magistrate. He died between Jan. 19, 1715, when he wrote his will, and March 5, when the will was proven.

Captain Nicholas Stilwell married Rebecca Bayles between 1646 and 1656. They had a son named Elias, who was possibly their only child, around 1663. Elias worked as a miller and yeoman, or land-holding farmer. He was married around 1698 in Kings County, New Jersey. He died before 1715, and his children may have been cared for afterward by his brother Capt. Jeremiah Stilwell.

Elias' son Richard was born in Monmouth County, New Jersey and moved to Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, where he died in the community of Crooked Neck. He married Margaret Abbott in 1760 and had children named John, Jesse, Hannah, Elijah, David, and Richard.

John Stilwell was born June 20, 1761 in Mecklenburg County. During the American Revolution, he served under Captain Richard Springs. He was sixteen years of age, and was at General Sumterís defeat near Rocky Mount, South Carolina, in August of 1780. With his first wife he had five children. Jane Aspey Beckett was his second wife, whom he married March. 13, 1806, and with whom he had two sons and five daughters. Jane was also called Jinsey, and she was born February 17, 1781. Her children were John F. Stilwell, born December 11, 1806; Rachel Lynn Stilwell, born December 12, 1807; Silas Nelson Stilwell, born May 30, 1812; Jinsey Elvira StilweIl, born October 15, 1817; Elizabeth Araminta Stilwell, born March 23, 1820, died September 7, 1847; and Sarah Mesalina Stilwell, born May 22, 1823. Jane Beckett Stilwell died around 1856, and her husband John died circa November 10, 1848, in Mecklenburg County.22


1. Gravestone in New Hope Cemetery, Matthews, N.C.; John E. Stillwell, M.D., The History of Captain Nicholas Stillwell: son of Lieutenant Nicholas Stillwell and His Descendants, (New York City, 1930) Vol. 3., pp. 54-55; Herman W. Ferguson, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina: Will Abstracts, 1791-1868, Books A-J, (Rocky Mount, NC: H.W. Ferguson, 1993) p. 148.

2. Population Schedule of the Seventh Census of the United States: 1850, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, Sardis District (Washington: National Archives and Record Service), Dwelling #1403, Family # 1410.

3. D. A. Tompkins, History of Mecklenburg County and the City of Charlotte, (Charlotte: Observer Printing House, 1903) p. 211, p. 215.

4. 1850 Census, cited above.

5. Population Schedule of the Tenth Census of the United States: 1880, North Carolina, Mecklenburg County, Morning Star Township, (Washington: National Archives and Record Service) Enumeration District 115, p. 11.

6. Tompkins, cited above, p. 145; Journal of the Constitutional Convention of the State of North-Carolina, at Its Session 1868, (Raleigh: Joseph W. Holden, Convention Printer, 1868) pp. 5, 7, 12.

7. David Williamson, Williamson Genealogy,, June 30, 2001, (accessed 1-20-05.); Ferguson, cited above, p. 149.

8. 1850 census, cited above; Family Bible of Margaret Stilwell Alexander; interview with Henry Smith Alexander in 2001, by the author.

9. Marriage License of Wm. McCall and Frances Stilwell, Microfilm # C.065.62001, NC Archives, p. 376.

10. Records of Sharon Presbyterian Church, 1830-1960, Reel HF 202, (Presbyterian Historical Society, Montreat, N.C.: 1969.) Vol. 1855-1873, p. 105.

11. Population Schedule of the Ninth Census of the United States: 1870, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, (Washington: National Archives and Record Service) p. 290.

12. Sharon Church Records, cited above, p. 105.

13. Population Schedule of the Tenth Census of the United States: 1880, North Carolina, Mecklenburg County, Sharon District, (Washington: National Archives and Record Service) Vol. 14, ED 117, p. 2.

14. Mary Frances Fincher, "History of Amity Church," April 21, 2001, (April 21, 2002); S. Janelle Karchaske, Mecklenburg County, NC Cemetery Records, version 2, (Charlotte: Family History Researchers and Publishers, 1995).

15. New Hope Cemetery, Matthews, N.C.; Family Bible of Margaret Stilwell Alexander.

16. Donna Killough Smith,, July 11, 2000; "Emma Stilwell," North Carolina Death Collection, 1908-1996 Record,

17. Population Schedule of the Thirteenth Census of the United States: 1910, North Carolina, Mecklenburg County, Morning Star Township, Enumeration District: 135, p. 1A.

18. Mecklenburg County, N.C., Marriage Bonds, M-Z vol. II, (Genealogical Society of Utah, 1942).

19. Mecklenburg County Register of Deeds, Deed Book 31, p. 529.

20. Gravestone in New Hope Cemetery, Matthews, N. C.

21. John E. Stillwell, M. D., Vol. 1, The History of Captain Nicholas Stilwell: Progenitor of the Stilwell Family in America, (New York City, 1929) pp. v-vi, 35, 38.

22. Stillwell, The History of Captain Nicholas Stillwell: son of Lieutenant Nicholas Stillwell and His Descendants, cited above, pp. 1-55.

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From Mecklenburg to Moore: Four North Carolina Families    /Silas Nelson Stilwell & Mary (Polly) Williamson
© 2001 by Glenda Alexander, updated May 6, 2013        Standard copyright restrictions apply.

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