Sorting the Saunders by First Name: Lemuel

I have recently come upon information that I am a close relative of the late Otis E. Saunders of Louisiana, whose descendancy from a Lemuel Saunders of Pittsylvania County, Virginia is genealogically proven.

The next step is genealogically to establish the links between Otis’ ancestor Lemuel and other Saunders lines (or in the lines of Surnames of families who have intermarried with and/are closely associated with the Saunders lines) in which the first name Lemuel recurs. There are a number of records that researchers have found with that name or that appear indexed official records. This exercise is designed to place these records in chronological order.

In addition to placing these references in chronological order, I believe it constructive to note the geographical areas that these records reference, in preparation for a more thorough analysis of migration patterns of various branches of the Saunders family through Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina.

This exercise is proving instructive, suggesting new places to concentrate research, and noting some obvious and some probable errors in information currently available on the Internet and elsewhere.

Such areas of further research, are:

  1. the identification of the religions in whose services each person participates, particularly those demoninations that in the English colonial period would have been considered “dissenters”, especially Quakers and Baptists.
  2. the influence (or attempted influence) of the English Quaker movement on the colonial Quakers.
  3. the tenets of the Quaker faith in conflict with existence of slavery in the colonies, and to the Revolutionary spirit of th 1770s.

I invite other researchers interested in this exercise, who have information not shown here to contact me at


Lamuell Saunders, male, son of Francis Saunders

Christening Date, 6 April 1619 Saint Andrew Parish, Enfield, London, England

[WHB – Note that the name Lemuel appear in the 17th century in England and


Lemuel Saunders, son of Francis Saunders and Isabell, christened 16 January 1675, in Saint Andrew Parish, Enfield, London County, England


Lemuel Saunders, born in Virginia, later marries Martha Selling (1748-1800), has nine children (Sarah, 1770; Mary, 1771, Edward, 1774, Samuel, 1777, Lemuel, 1779, and Jessee, 1780).

[WHB – See my remarks for 1740 entry. Note also that the surname “Selling” does not appear in the index of heads of household in the 1790 Virginia or North Carolina census documents. The surname “Salling” (which also does not appear in either index does occur Bedford County, Virginia records.]


This entry from Joyce Emalene (Little) Graham, dated from 2010, appears on Geni:

Lemuel Saunders, born 1740 in Augusta County, Virginia, died October 26, 1795 in Lincoln County, NC. Husband of Martha (Self) Saunders and Martha Self. Father of Lemuel Saunders, Thomas Saunders and Lemuel Saunders.

[WHB(1): On the Geni Timeline it shows Lemuel Saunders born 174o in Augusta County, and son Thomas Saunders born Augusta County 1765, the first son named Lemuel Saunders born in Lincoln County, NC in 1769 with unknown dates for Lemuel Saunders (b. 1740) marriages to first, Martha Self and then Martha Saunders, and no date for an unknown date for his second son named Lemuel. In Emmalene Graham’s documentation on son Thomas Saunders (born in Augusta County), she shows him as the brother of Lemuel and half-brother of the other Lemuel, then as father of Elisha Saunders.]

[WHB(2) – In the second entry below for the year 1767, refer to Bill Browder’s speculation (made in 1998) on the information that a Lemuel Saunders showed on a delinquent tax role in Augusta County. Although unproven, this was perhaps the source of the belief that Lemuel Saunders (died 1795 in Lincoln County NC) was born in Augusta County, Virginia.]


Lemuel Sanders, son of Daniel Sanders (?-1816) and Mehitable Pratt Sanders (1720-1746) born 7 Jun 1746 in Rutland, Worcester County, Massachusetts. Married Thankful Mason Watson (1742-1818) c. 1770. Died February 5, 1800.


The following is from Alfred Nixon’s The History of Lincoln County, North Carolina, a series of newspaper arciles published in 1935 in the Lincoln County News which indicates that attributing the birthplace of Lemuel Saunders (died in Lincoln, N.C. in 1795) as having been born in Lincoln in 1735 is suspect:

“The first pale face (WHB-sic!) to set foot on the soil of Lincoln was the bold pioneer, John Beatty. One of his land grants bears the date of July 17th, 1749, He settled on the west bank of the Catawba . . .”


From Quaker records: Gunpowder, Maryland

Monthly Meeting, Baltimore County, Maryland, “Richard Belt, son of John Belt, of Gunpowder in Baltimore County married Keturah Price, daughter of John Price of Gunpowder in Baltimore County on 24th day of first month called January 1760.” Among those in attendance was a Lemuel Saunders. 


Brethren historian Roger Sappington and John Scott Davenport research deeds and other land records to find out more details about the Carolina Brethren. They noted that Christopher Guice (or Guss) purchased land along Middle Creek, west of the Catawba River in 1756. Guice sold is land in 176. Edwards reported that Samuel Saunder, not Guice, was the minister at Catawba, so Guice must have moved away. Samuel Saunder (or Saunders) appeared in land records in 1767. Thereafter he appears as Lemuel Saunders, who was named in land transactions in the same are in 1772 and in the 1790 census.

Religious Traditions of North Carolina: Histories, Tenets and Leaders, edited by W. Glenn Jones, Jr., p. 50

[WHB: There is evidence of a tendency of some researchers to assume that the “Samuel” and “Lemuel” are simply misspellings of the same name. Both, however, are Biblical names. “Lemuel” mean “for god” in Hebrew, is the name of a king mentioned in the Book of Proverbs, and (although, it seems less likely that it would influence the naming of Quaker boys in mid-Atlantic colonies), it was the first name of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver of Gulliver’s Travels (1726). The Hebrew name “Samuel” often is translated “God has heard”. It became a popular English name associated with Protestantism.]

[WHB: Catawba, NC is in the Piedmont at 886′ elevation. It is 125 miles Southeast of Martinsville, VA (1017′ elevation), county seat of Pittsylvania County.]


“Lemuel Saunders witnessed a deed in January of 1767 in what is now Lincoln Co., N.C. (A Lemuel Saunders appeared on a delinquent tax list for Augusta County, VA. that same year but we’re not sure it was the same one.) Lemuel Saunders died in 1795 leaving a widow (Martha), five sons and at least four daughters. The sons were identified in the estate settlement as Thomas, Lemuel Jr, Edward, Samuel and Jessee. The daughters were not identified but w are sure they included Mary (No record of birth, death or marriage. Witnessed deeds and other papers along with Lemuel), Sarah (married John Self), Elizabeth (married Jacob Henry Painter) and Martha “Patsey” (married Hezekiah Beaver) . . . There are some researchers who believe that Lemuel’s parents could be Thomas and Juduth? Saunders. Thomas was a descendant o the Edward Saunders who came to Virginia on the ship “Safety”. Thomas married Juduth about 1742 and after selling land he inherited from his father in 1755, moved to southern Maryland.”

Bill Browder, Selmer TN, Sanders Sifting, No. 15 October/98


Lemuel Saunders is born August 29, 1769 in Lincoln County, North Carolina. He is the son of Lemuel Saunders and Martha Self Saunders. He marries Willy Ann Abernathy (1772-1860), daughter of James Abernathy and Elizabeth. She is the mother of Joseph Thomas Saunders, born January 25, 1803 (died 1881 in Sherrills, Ford, Catawba County, NC)

Sources: Tricia Leazur Beaver and Rosemary Moore (Descendants of Lemuel Saunders Sr. of Lincoln County, NC).


” . . . Lemuel [Saunders] first appears in the land records [of Lincoln County, NC].

The Brethren in the Carolinas: the history of the Church of the Brethren in the District of North and South Carolina, Duke University Library.


Lemuel Saunders (1779-1843), born in Lincoln, North Carolina on 29 August 1779. He was son of Lemuel Saunders (1735-1795) born in Virginia, and Mary Selling (1748-1800). According to entries on Lemuel Saunders married Willey Ann Abernathy (born in Lincoln, NC in 1813, daughter of James Abernathy and Elizabeth Cox). and had nine children.

WHB – The record includes the information that Lemuel Saunders and Willy Ann Abernathy had nine children Joseph Thomas Saunders (1804-1892), Louisa Saunders (1805-1847) and Amy Maria Saunders (1808-1894), Ann Saunders (1808-unknown) and Miles A. Saunders (1812-1840) were born prior to their mother’s birth and one Hiram Casson Saunders (1816-1849) was born when Willy Ann was an infant. The only plausible child listed is Martha Salina Saunders (1831-1850).


Jessee Saunders, son of Lemuel Saunders (born 1735 in Virginia) and Mary Selling, born, dies in 1830). He marries Willy Ann Abernathy (1813-1850).


The following entries from the 1783 census of Virginia County (Richmond County on Virginia’s Northern Neck (no proximity to the state capital). This is apparently the only county in the state in which families surnamed Saunders or Sanders and surnamed Self appear.

The following entries are possibly related to Lemuel Sa(u)nders who married Martha Self, prior to the birth of their first son Thomas Saunders in Lincoln County, N. C. The two figures after each name represent “whites” (first numeral) and “blacks” (second numeral)

Richmond County Port of Toluskey: Jeremiah Self (3-0)

Upper District of Lunenberg Parish: William Sanders Jr (7-0), William Sanders Sr (3-0), Almond Sanders (2-0), Alexander Saundeers (2-0), Presley Self (4-0)


From Heads of Families, North Carolina – North Morgan District, Lincoln County – Ninth Company, p. 114

[WHB – numbers following each “head of family” are the count of 1) free white males 16 and over; 2) free whit males less than 16; 3) free white females; 4) all other free persons; and 5) slaves. Heads of families are listed alphabetically rather than the order appearing in the list.]

Abernathy, B 1-2-3-0-1; Abernathy, Charles 1-3-3-0-1; Abernathy, David, Sr. 3-1-2-0-18; Abernathy, David 1-2-3-0-2; Abernathy James 1-0-4-0-0; Abernathy, John 1-0-6-0-1; Abernathy, Robert 1-1-5-0-1; Abernathy, Sarah 5-0-1-0-11; Abernathy, Tarnu 2-2-1-0-2; Abernathy, William, 1-3-3-0-0

Sanders, Lemuel 3-4-5-0-0; Sanders, Thomas, 1-0-1-0-0


That Lemuel was a minister was indicated in 1794 when he was listd as the elder of the Long Creek Baptist church at the time of its re-organization. This congregation which is thought to have been in existence at least as early as the 1770’s may well have been the successor of the Catawba Brethren congregation.

From The Brethren in the Carolinas” the history of the Church of the Brethren in the District of North and South Carolina, Duke University Library


Jane, wife of Lemuel Sanders, buried 23 Jan 1794 at Mitcham, Surrey, England


In 1794, Lemuel Saunders was listed as the pastor of the Long Creek Baptist Church.


At the time of Lemuel Saunders’ death on October 26, 1795, he had at least six children: Thomas, Lemuel Jr, Edward, Samuel, Jesse and Martha.

From The Brethren in the Carolinas” the history of the Church of the Brethren in the District of North and South Carolina, Duke University Library

[WHB: There is considerable confusion around the birthplace and birthdate of Lemuel Saunders, who died in August 1795 in Lincoln, North Carolina. Various family trees show Lemuel Saunders as born “in Virginia” in 1735, or in Lincoln, North Carolina in 1735, or in Augusta County, Virginia in 1740. I think the claim of a birth in Lincoln in 1735 is erroneous (see the WHB note o the 1749 entry), and the claim of a birth in Augusta County very suspect (see the entry for 1740, note WHB(2).]


Lemuel Saunders (1798-1849), son of Edward Saunders (1775-?) and Elizabeth Goodson (1774-?) and grandson of Lemuel Saunders (1740-1795) born in Lincoln County, NC


Joseph Thomas Saunders, born 25 January 1803 in Lincoln County, North Carolina. He was the son of Lemuel Saunders (1769-?) and Willy Ann Abernathy Saunders (1772-1860).

He was the father of Wade Lemuel Saunders (1852-1933) by his first wife Margaret (Saunders) (1829-1911)

The information appears on Geni, added and managed by Suzanne Marie Saunders in 2010.

[WHB – The birth and death dates for Willy Ann Abernathy Saunders are plausible, whereas the dates appearing on are impossible.]


Purchase of land by Lemuel SAUNDERS in Lincoln County, North Carolina, then sold in 1811.

belonging to said tract which was sold Apr 12, 1808
by Richard WALKER to Lemuel SAUNDERS. [signed] Lemuel
SAUNDERS; witness John B HARRY jurat & Jacob MICHAELS.
Rec. Jul 1812 Bk 25 p 347


Lincoln County Deed Book 23:

1036. Nov 2, 1811 Lemuel SAUNDERS to John HOKE; for $180
sold 393 ac in two tracts: (a) 354 ac on waters of Buffaloe Cr &
Little Cr of Buffaloe Cr; border: SAUNDERS, WALKER & a branch;
and (b) 39 ac on Little Cr of Buffaloe Cr and in the forks of a branch
of said creek; belonging to said tract which was sold Apr 12, 1808
by Richard WALKER to Lemuel SAUNDERS. [signed] Lemuel
SAUNDERS; witness John B HARRY jurat & Jacob MICHAELS.
Rec. Jul 1812 Bk 25 p 347


Lemuel S. Saunders born 9 May 1829 in Lincoln County, North Carolina, son of Samuel Saunders (1810-1860) and Mary Miller ()


Macon County Poll Books Scroll of 1835 Voters for Congress

Entry 166 p. 233 Lemuel Saunders

[WHB – Macon County (county seat, Franklin) is located in the Great Smoky Mountains, 282 miles Southeast of Martinsville, VA]


Marriage Bonds of Bedford County, Virginia

  • Dec. 5, 1836; Lemuel Saunders & Polly McGhee, dt Martha N.; Flail P. Payne, Surety.


Lemuel S. Saunders (1829-1909), son of Samuel Saunders (1810-1860) and Mary Miller (1791-?), marries Mary Elizabeth Keys in Flint District, Indian Territory, Oklahoma about September 1875.

Source: Rosemary Moore, Descendants of Lemuel Saunders Sr of Lincoln County, North Carolina


Lemuel M. Sanders, son of Willis Troy Sanders (1853-1938) and Ella Moye (1855-1911), born in Wilson, North Carolina. Married Bernadette Cheevers (1878-1936). He died in Mobile, Alabama in 1941.


From The Baptist Home Mission Monthly, Volumes 3-4

Missionaries appointed in January 1881:

Rev. Lemuel Sanders, Pilgrim Rest Church, Flint, Indian Territory


Branson’s North Carolina Business Directory …: Volume 7

List of Farmers – Currituck County – Poplar Branch: Lemuel Saunders

[WHB: Poplar Branch is on North Carolina’s Atlantic Coast on Currituck sound.]

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