To descendants of Clinch River Nicholsons and their relatives from Orange/Culpeper County, VA:
After searching for many years, I believe I have found someone who may be a Nicholson sister born in the mid-1700’s.(We have several Nicholson men born in the mid-1700’s- but where are their sisters?)This Nicholson woman may be a daughter of John Nicholson who died on the Clinch River c.1790.Her name was Leanna or Ann Nicholson and she married Warrington Spiller.
I became interested in Warrington Spiller when I found him on records with our Nicholsons in the 1780’s down on the Clinch River in southwest VA.Then I read Spiller trees that claimed a Warrington Spiller married a woman with the last name of either Nicholas or Nicholson.
Spiller family descendants have published a family history and parts of it have been put on the internet.For the early years of the 1700’s, this family history relies on letters written in 1935 by a Spiller descendant, F. M. Sperry.This Sperry says that what he is writing down was told to him in 1879 by his grandmother Leannah (Tippy) Phillips.However, I have Leanna (Tippy) Phillips obit and she died in 1875.So it’s clear Sperry made a small mistake to begin with.Also, Sperry says that he was born 6 Mar 1856, so that would make him just 19 years old at the oldest when his grandmother told him this and now fifty years have passed as he is writing it down in the 1930’s.Moreover, it is difficult to tell from his letter exactly what his grandmother told him and what he may have added to what his grandmother told him and some of it is contradictory.His grandmother was likely in her 70’s when she talked to Sperry, so even if Sperry wrote it all down correctly, we can’t be sure that what SHE said was accurate in the first place.Thus all of what Sperry writes can’t be trusted entirely.None the less, according to Spiller genealogies, Sperry wrote something along these lines:
His grandmother Leanna (Tippy) Phillips was named after her grandmother who was Leanna Nicholas.Leanna Nicholas was the wife of Warrington Spiller.Leanna (Nicholas) Spiller was known for wearing fine dresses and she was the daughter of a John.This John was “a military man, and she thought a governor,” or may have been a clergyman.Another version states that he held some office under the English Government in Virginia or North Carolina and was a Revolutionary officer and had a brother who was a member of the Virginia Legislature.
To this story later Spiller researchers have added the following:They claim that this Warrington Spiller is the same Warrington Spiller who was in Prince William Co, VA records in the first half to mid-1700’s.They say that Leanna Nicholas was Warrington Spiller’s second wife.They claim that Leanna’s father John was John Nicholas of the famous and wealthy Nicholas family of Virginia (descendants of Robert Carter Nicholas).In another version they claim John Nicholas was an Anglican minister.They offer no records to prove these assertions (beyond the fact that there was a Nicholas who was the governor of VA – he from the famous Nicholas family).
I have been looking up original records in an attempt to prove or disprove this story.I have enough records to say it is unlikely that a Warrington Spiller who was married to Leanna was the same man who was in Prince William Co records of the mid-1700’s – this Prince William Co Warrington Spiller shows up as deceased on tax records by the 1770’s.I have a Warrington Spiller on the 1782 Washington County tax list with our Nicholson family down on the Clinch River.(When I say “with our family” I mean I believe I can show these Spillers were actually living with our Nicholsons, not just nearby our Nicholsons.)This Clinch River Warrington Spiller was likely the husband of Leanna.There were a whole bunch of Warrington Spillers in 1700’s Virginia, and thus far I have seen no proof of where the Warrington Spiller who is with our Nicholson family on the 1782 tax list originally came from.He may have come from Prince William Co, but may be of a later generation.There were also Spillers in Fauquier Co in the second half of the 1700’s and in the end of the 1700’s in Culpeper Co.
As for the assertion that Leanna was a descendant of the famous Nicholas family of Virginia.I believe that the grandmother or Sperry was getting mixed up with Governor Wilson Cary Nicholas of the famous and wealthy Nicholas family who descend from Robert Carter Nicholas.This famous family had two John Nicholas’ that lived at the right time period, but there is no evidence that either one ever had a daughter Leanna, much less ever had any dealings with Spillers, or even lived near any Spillers.A marriage into such a wealthy family would be unlikely.
Despite all these possible mistakes, I think that the Spiller descendants may have had it partially correct.It may be true that Leanna had a father John and she married Warrington Spiller and her name may have been Nicholson rather than Nicholas.
Records show that Leanna (Tippy) Phillips was the daughter of Abraham Tippy and Nancy Spiller.This Nancy Spiller was born around 1770.She was one of several Spillers who were born around this time or a little later who went from Robertson County, TN to what became Williamson Co, IL in the early 1800’s.These Spillers all settled near one anther and they were likely siblings.At least two of these other siblings have children with the middle name Nicholson.One is Benjamin Nicholson Spiller and the other is Elijah Nicholson Spiller.Some Spiller researchers have noticed this and have suggested that Leanna’s last name may have been Nicholson rather than Nicholas.I know from my research that at times our Nicholson name appears in historical records as Nicholls or Nicholas.
The 1782 tax list for Washington Co, VA has been transcribed and put online, but they mistakenly list the name “Wasorton Miller” when it should read “Warrington Spiller.”I have seen the original.There is a 1783 Washington Co record that puts Warrington Spiller in a court case with John Watts Crunk who lived next door to our Nicholsons.A William Crunk, who is believed to be a brother of John Watts Crunk, testified in a different court case that he lived with the Duncan Family at the ford of the Clinch River – which is next door to where our Nicholsons lived.There is strong circumstantial evidence that these Duncans had intermarried with our Nicholsons before they left Culpeper County for the Clinch River in the early 1770’s.There are a lot of records showing Duncan – Nicholson connections.
I have a lot of records that show that some of these Duncan descendants went down to TN, in an area that became Robertson County, in the mid-1780’s.One of these Duncan sons then married Lydia Spiller down in TN in the 1780’s.These Duncans, the same ones who are associated with our Nicholson from the Clinch River, are living and interacting on records with the Spillers in TN – the same Spillers who eventually move to Williamson Co, IL in the early 1800’s.There was more than one Warrington Spiller among the Spiller descendants who end up in Williamson Co., IL.And the Duncans also go to Williamson County, IL.One of these Clinch River Duncans was John Duncan who was killed by Indians in 1774 at a fort near the Clinch River, his son John Duncan Jr. wrote in his Rev War pension how his father lived at the ford of the Clinch and was slain and how he (John Jr.) went to TN and how he married Lydia Spiller and eventually moved to Williamson Co., IL, etc.Other Spiller relatives testify that they were there at the Duncan wedding.
Clinch River records show that the slain John Duncan had another son – Martin Duncan - who also went to Robertson Co, TN.There is a 1794 land record in Tennessee County - in the area that becomes Robertson County, that refers to land that Martin Duncan sells to Jonathan Tippy – land where Ann Spiller lives – this is likely Leanna.
Shortly after these Duncans go to TN, other Duncan relatives from the Clinch River join our Nicholsons in moving to what becomes Jessamine Co, KY – where they buy land from, and live next door to, our Nicholsons.
I think I will quit now.But these records show a good possibility that this Leanna (Nicholson) Spiller was a relative of our family.I would put her down as a likely sister to the Clinch River brothers Thomas, Benjamin, and Peter – all born in the mid-1700’s. -Julia Ince