Bob Hembree             11819 Maple st.     Whittier, ca. 90601


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A Family Newsletter



1st Edition


For sometime now I have been in the process of writing a book about the Hembree family in America.  From the first family immigrant to set foot on these shores until the present day.


The job however grows larger and larger, and I now know that it will require several books to do the job.  Much more research is needed before writing the books.  In the meantime I believe a newsletter will allow contact with those interested in genealogy, while at the same time be a source of research for each of us.


The newsletter will succeed only if:  1. There is an interest by those receiving it. 

2.  Those receiving it contribute to it by writing articles, or asking questions and answering others questions.  3. Those receiving it do so without critical acclaim. Time does not permit a lot of editing, spelling checks, etc.  4. News notices of Reunions, Travels, etc. are received with ample time to make the next newsletter.  5. Writer reserves the right to edit any article, and select which articles, inquiries, etc. to be used.


COST AND PUBLICATION DATES:  The cost is one 25-cent postage stamp.  It may be necessary to charge for postage later if it should happen that a large number of people participate, but the first stamp is my way of getting a response from those who wish to receive the newsletter.

Publication will be 4 times annually. Approx. Feb., may, Oct., & Nov., or any date that others may choose to prepare the letter.  Articles sent to me may be written or submitted on Micro Floppy Disk for the Macintosh Computer.  Editions can be anything you wish to write about concerning family history, or even a series of questions on some part of the family your working on.  Thus, it is hoped that your reply, will either state you will handle an entire newsletter or that you wish certain persons or geographical areas be covered, or you will be submitting some matter for inclusion in a later edition.


A later edition will include a list of the names and addresses of all those who choose to receive the newsletter, in order the greatest amount of contact between researchers may be achieved.  When replying to others with answers to questions or corrections of data it will be appreciated if a copy of your communication is forwarded for my information.


If you know others who might wish to receive the newsletter, please provide them with a copy of this edition in order they might participate without a great deal of extra communication on my part.  If you are surprised by receiving this letter, I must admit I do not have an up to date list of researchers.  I have gathered the names over time from various sources.  Some addressees’ may not even be living today, others may not have been contacted in several years but the return postage should give a starting point to determine interest.


Many of you receiving this letter, know on my interest in our family history.  To the others let me merely say that I was bitten by the genealogy bug a few years back, and since I retired, it consumes a great deal of my time-both studying data and traveling around doing research.  My G G G G-Grandfather was James Hembree; b. ca. 1730 in Va., m Sarah abt. 1852 and the family migration was the usual southern path of N.C., S.C., Tenn., and Mo. And from there points west.  My line from Mo. To Kan. To Okla. And I wound up in Calif.  It appears most of the Hembree line went from Va. To N.C. to S.C. and for reasons unknown either returned to N.C. & Va. or moved on to other states, particularly Ga., Tenn., & KY.


There is no particular format for the newsletter, and it will contain a lot of statements without answers with the hope that others can & will fill in the spaces.  I will start off with attempting to cover the earliest Hembree by using some of the material from the book I’m working on.


The beginning must first be defined since there are variant spellings of the name.  At this point I am still uncertain which if any are the same line as the first spelled Hembree, thus I will work from that point, whether simply mistakes or otherwise is unimportant here, as long as I can establish that they are in fact the Hembree family line.

In 1727 Hanover Co. Va. was partitioned and the county of Goochland was formed.  Named after the then Governor of Va., Sir William Gooch.  Originally it covered both sides of the James River and was the new lands being opened for settlement about that time.  Most records indicate it was settled between 1730 and 1740.  It is reported that in 1728 caterpillars swarmed over the area and threatened to destroy all plant life, which was the first of what the colonists called the “plagues”.  Later because of the forest food supply being denuded, the animals, primarily deer, started harvesting the crops for the planters which resulted in the planters slaughtering the deer, in excess of their need for food, leaving the carcasses to liter the country side.  This brought about the wolves, which not only ate the carcasses but also the livestock and reportedly even attacked some children.  This caused the Virginia Legislature, House of Burgess. To enact a law setting the bounty of wolf scalps to 100 pounds of tobacco for each scalp.  A very good sum for the day and age if you compare it against wages etc.  Thus, the reason you will find in the list of Tithes not only the head count of the family, but also the number of scalps and hides.  They were not scalping Indians.  In this setting some 40 or fifty years before the American Revolution, was the first of our family found.  One James Hembree, a landowner on the So. Branches of Deep Creek, a branch of the James River, in Goochland Co., Va. in 1736. (Present day Cumberland Co.)  I have not found his Deed or Patent but I have located patent records for two of his neighbors, which state their land is bounded by James Hembree.  Both patents are dated 17 mar 1736 so we know that James was already there as of that date.  Assuming he was at least 16 when he became a landowner he was born 1720 or prior.  (Va. Land Patent Book 17 pages 238, and 279).  In my records I refer to him as the elder James.


In Hanover Co. from which Goochland was formed, was a river called the Contrary River.  To date I have not found that river and thus do not know its present name, however in 1739 John Hembree (Spelled Hembrow) owned land there.  (Land Patent Bk. 18, Hanover Co., Va. 22 Sept 1939.)

Whether or not this is the same James and John Hembree we find owning land sough of the Hyco River in Halifax Co. Va. in 1764 I can not say for certain but I do not believe they are the same, but rather descendents.  One reason I don not believe the James are the same is that in 1749 James appears unmarried, when shown on the Lists of Tithes for Lunenburg Co., Va. (Cornelius Cosgills List) – 1 Tithe 5 Scalps & Heads.  (Sunlight on the Southside.)  This James is my GGGG Grandfather and was born ca. 1730 but I’m uncertain as to his father.  In 1750 James appears on the Granville Co., N.C. list of Taxables, Johnathan Whites list as James Hambree – 2 polls ((From Original filed at N.C. Archives Stock File #C.R. 044. 701.23.) N. Caro. Gen. Society Journal Feb 1982, pg 29) which indicates he married during the year or had a son over 16.  You can never be sure with the old records.

In the previously mentioned book “Sunlight on the Southside” David Hembree spelled Emray, appears in 1749-tax list.  Both David & James are in N.C. and S.C. later.

Thus, we have the elder James, possibly the elder John, and James, David & John all in Va. before 1750 and all either spelled Hembree or if we track them out we find the spelling as Hembree.


James Hembree built a gristmill at the mouth of the Hyco River.  The dam necessary for the water supply to the mill stopped the fish from going upstream and a few years later the people living above the dam began to complain because the fishing had been ruined by the dam.  In the meantime James and wife (Sarah signed dowers release so we know James wife was named Sarah) had sold the land containing the mill to Howard Hurst (220 acres on Hyco River, Bk 5 page 124) on 17 March 1763.  Incidentally Sarah on June 21, 1764, (well after the required 7 day threat period) signed by her mark X so we know she was illiterate.  The body of the document spelled the name Hembre and James signed the document James Hembrie.  Either the name was still not set in final form or the copy work is not clear.  Back to the gristmill – which tells us there isn’t much new in government because the people petitioned the House of Burgess to have the mill removed.  Va. Journals, House of Burgess 1761 – 1765 page 182, Thursday, the 26th of May, 3 Geo. 111, 1763 (Note reference to George 111 in date.  If memory is correct that means the 111th day of the reign of King George 3rd) read as follows:

“Also a Petition of divers Inhabitants of that Part of the County of Halifax situated on Hyco River, praying that the Water Grist Mill near the mouth of the said River, in the Year 1761, by James Hembrie, and now in the possession of one Howard Huft, may be discontinued, the same being a great obstruction to the Passage of Fish up the said River, which wholly deprives the Petitioners of the Advantage of that Support for their Families, and that an Act may pass for that Purpose, was presented to the House and read.”  (I took the liberty to change the old English f to s to make it easily readable.)

Other records list James as a planter and different deeds tell us he was a large landowner or a real estate speculator.  However, since the family moved on to another area following the sales it is assumed his land holdings were for planting purposes.  The Lunenburg Co., Halifax Co., Va. and Granville Co., N.C. areas were just across the borderline and were not a change in the general location of the main plantation but merely a division of county and state lines as they occurred.  Note that all the land references are situated on creeks or rivers.  Travel in that day, particularly freight was mostly by water and settlements were along the waterways.  Also, we can be sure those planters new something about the rich loam, which occurs near rivers and creeks, or bottom land as it is known.  Since the lands were rich it is a little confusing why they migrated on, unless flooding was too much of a problem.


The map enclosed may be of some assistance in tracking the areas referred to above, but remember the map shows current county lines and they were much different in the 1750s, further the map is a guideline only and not to any scale.


In this edition I have stayed with what is proved as per the references given.  At a later date I’ll get into some maybe and what if stuff for you to consider.


One reunion I know of which will occur after you receive this letter is the Hembree gathering at Sparta, Tennessee on Aug 26-27, 1989.  I may be presumptuous in extending this invitation, but I don’t think so.  Although I have yet to meet her personally, my contact there Martha Ricks Bond, has been most gracious and helpful, and reading their invitation I’m certain they would welcome you with open arms.  However, they did ask for a reply in order to know how many to expect as they plan a tour of Hembree places and need to plan accordingly.  There have been Hembree’s in White County, Tenn. For nearly 200 years so it should be a great experience.  For distant kin that must travel a distance to get there, they suggest a cash contribution to help defray expenses of the hall, paper products, etc. in lieu of bringing food.  It’s a Hembree reunion so naturally there will be a dinner not to be missed.  Further information contact:  Martha Ricks Bond, 6704 Stone Mill Rd., Knoxville, Tn. 37919, phone (615) 588-1132.  I’ll let you guess what line of the family this is.


Hoping to hear from you.




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