Thursday, July 06, 2006


On February 24, 1951, John Wayland Maddrey married Virginia Olivia DeFord in the Fairmont Park Methodist Church in Norfolk, Virginia. Virginia – nicknamed “Molly” by members of her immediate family – was the older of two children of Robert Halstead DeFord and Virginia Oveda Williams. She grew up in the historic neighborhood of Ballentine Place in Norfolk, and graduated from Maury High School.

Robert Halstead DeFord (September 8, 1899 – January 11, 1995) was the seventh child of Willoughby Edward DeFord (July 1857 – 1932) and Emma Olivia Halstead of Princess Anne County. Based on census records, it appears that Robert Halstead spent the early part of his childhood in South Mills Township in Camden County, North Carolina, before the family relocated to Norfolk sometime between 1910 and 1920, and settled in the sparsely populated Tanner’s Creek area, east of the Lafayette River.

Willoughby’s father Robert (who died sometime around 1862, of yellow fever) grew up in Lower Norfolk County (now Chesapeake), on a farm that had been in the family for at least three generations. So far as I can tell, the earliest member of the DeFord family in Norfolk was John DeFord, Robert Halstead’s great great great grandfather. His name appears in a Norfolk County Order Book on June 10, 1751. John became a property owner in 1765, obtaining land in St. Brides Parish, Lower Norfolk County. He left a 55-acre plantation to his son Robert, who died on February 15, 1819, and presumably left it to his son John, who died in 1850 and presumably left it to his son Robert (Willoughby’s father)…. Confused yet?

Today, the DeFord family farm has been converted into the Triple R Ranch, a Christian summer camp. According to Triple R founder John Dunlap, the farm land was originally conveyed to the DeFords by the Exchequer of His Majesty King George III in the 1730s, but I have not been able to find any proof of this. (For more information, see: Another family researcher says that, among historical DeFord family papers, he found a land grant from Virginia Governor Robert Dinwiddie to a man named Caleb Woodard. It is possible that John or his son Robert married into the Woodard family, and obtained land through the marriage.

Emma Olivia Halstead was the fourth child of John Wiley Halstead (February 1, 1830 – September 22, 1895) and Ellen Callis Ferebee (September 30, 1836 – September 28, 1884). Both were descended from residents of the Norfolk area.

John Wiley was the great great great great grandson of Henry Halstead, born around 1626 in Middleton, Lancashire, England. According to family researchers: “Henry came to America as a child in 1635. His family arrived in Concord, Massachusetts, as members of the Bay Colony Company. Henry returned to England after his brother’s death in 1645. He later settled in Virginia in August 1651 on ‘head-right’ land granted to Christopher Burroughs by the Governor of Virginia (240 acres). Henry was a freeman so he apparently had the money to pay for his passage. Since no head-right was claimed for a wife, it is presumed that he married a local girl. Henry located in lower Norfolk County, on Indian Creek and below the eastern branch of the Elizabeth River, and east of the Green Sea, a part of the Dismal Swamp. On September 14, 1667, Henry received a grant of 58 acres in Lower Norfolk County on south side of Eastern Branch of Elizabeth River at the head of Indian Creek.”

Ellen Callis was the daughter of Princess Anne County resident Dr. Enoch Dozier Ferebee (September 8, 1797 – April 8, 1876), who owned the now-historic homes known as Broad Bay Manor and Upper Wolfsnare House. In her book Gateway to a New World: A History of Princess Anne County 1607 – 1824, Florence Kimberly Turner writes: “When Dr. Enoch Dozier Ferebee came to Princess Anne County before the War Between the States looking for a likely farm, he bought Broad Bay Manor on Broad Bay and, later, Upper Wolfsnare, which he gave to his son George Emory Ferebee with 343 acres. George was commissioned in the Confederate Army when the war broke out, and while he was away fighting and the Union Army was occupying all of Princess Anne County, Union officers suddenly galloped up to the house and demanded it for their use. Forced out, Mrs. Ferebee and the children moved in with Dr. Ferebee at Broad Bay Manor. After the war, finding the house intact, George and his family moved back in and lived there until Dr. Ferebee moved back to North Carolina. Then they took over the Manor. A later owner of Upper Wolfsnare found a Confederate uniform and some old Confederate money under the floor of an upstairs closet. After this, many owners came and went until the house was finally donated in 1964 to The Princess Anne County Historical Society.” Enoch Dozier was the son of Revolutionary War veteran Samuel Ferebee (June 20, 1761 – November 7, 1845) and Sarah Dauge (January 22, 1766 – October 27, 1801). Samuel was the great grandson of John Ferebee (1642 – 1715) -- possibly the same John Ferebee who was a surveyor for Lower Norfolk County, and who laid out the townsite for the City of Norfolk in 1680-1681. Sarah was descended from a prominent Huguenot family that settled on the Nansemond River prior to 1683.

My information on the Williams family of Prince George County is sparse. Virginia Oveda Williams (December 20, 1900 – August 29, 1948) was the daughter of George Ezekiel Williams (July 20, 1869 – October 27, 1940) and Wessie Virginia Peebles (September 24, 1879 – October 27, 1969).

George worked as a clerk for the Merchants’ and Miners’ Transportation Company in Portsmouth, Virginia, and raised his family in a house on Leckie Street in the now-historic district of Old Towne. According to his marriage license, George was the son of Thomas P. and Sarah J. Williams of Pulaski County, Virginia.

Wessie was the daughter of Civil War veteran George Washington Peebles (July 25, 1829 – December 28, 1887) and his second wife Wessie Indiana Smoot (March 19, 1856 – January 1938), and the granddaughter of “Parson” William Peebles of Sussex County, Virginia. Parson William was the son of Lemuel Peebles – who may be a descendant of Capt. David Peebles of Fife, Scotland. For more information, see:

1 comment:

  1. A local researcher in Virginia Beach offers the following information:

    Did a little census research and this appears to be your Robert Deford line. Let me know if the following is correct {{Living with Mary Deford, head of household, in the 1860 St. Brides District of Norfolk County, Virginia Federal Census are Eliza Halstead, domestic, age 55, John W. Deford, gentleman, age 22 and Frances Deford, lady, age 28, along with her children Samuel, age 8, Henry, age 6, Robert, age 4 and Willoughby, age 2

    Living with Mary Deford in the 1870 Pleasant Grove District of Norfolk County, Virginia Federal Census is Alcy Halstead, female, age 66 along with her children, Samuel S., age 18, John H., age 16, Robert N., age 15 and Willoughby, age 13

    Living with Mary Deford in the 1880 Pleasant Grove District of Norfolk County, Virginia Federal Census is Mary E. Goodman, niece, age 20, along with her children, John H., age 25, Robert N., age 24 and Willoughby E., age 22; also Argyl McCoy, servant, black, age 40 and family.

    If this is the correct family, Robert Deford's death is recorded in Norfolk County records as "1858" with no month or day listed. Cause of death was "bilious consumption", age 33 years, born and died in the St. Brides Didtrict; father: John Deford; reported by Mary Deford, widow. Since he, Robert, does not appear in the 1860 census, the 1858 date seems correct in lieu of the 1862 death date that you have (and that appears on his tombstone).