Arterburn DNA Project - News









Maryland State Archives: Guide to Government Records 




Maryland State Archives (MSA) has yet to be thoroughly searched

and not all records are online, although Paul Heinegg's research of

the Archives appears to have been very thorough (see links below).

The following leads and summary of current findings are presented

in addition to the ground work previously laid in my books, which I

hope may serve as a starting point for further research by others.





(Note:  RootsWeb reference links below are for Mike Marshall’s "1658-1758 Charles

County MD Families: The First 100 Years," and ID numbers listed below are for

the data files of those individuals named.  Because this RootsWeb site is continually

updated and expanded, the direct links provided below may eventually become 

outdated, but the ID numbers will remain permanent markers for locating these

individuals in Marshall’s compilation at RootsWeb.  These individuals can always be

located by using the main link above and selecting by name from the alphabetical

or surname indexes provided at the site.  Then, match the "RootsWeb/Marshall ID"

number below to the one that appears at the top of each individual's respective

page at RootsWeb to confirm that you've selected the correct individual, since 

different individuals may share the same or similar name.)






Additional to Supplemental Notes:  RE:  "Peter Atturburn alias Williams"  

and "John Williams" (see Appendix #1 of Supplemental Notes):



"East Indian servant John Williams" in Charles County Court  (search/find

"John William/Williams")  (Heinegg)



Was John Williams first in Talbot County, Maryland as the servant of

"Mr. [Edward] Mann" (and/or of "Capt. Richard Booker")?



Persons named "John Williams" in Maryland State Archives  (MSA online)

Persons named "John Williams" transported to Colonial Maryland  (MSA online) 


Persons named "John Williams" in Colonial Maryland  (RootsWeb/Marshall)


"Edward Mann/Man" in Talbot County, Maryland  (MSA online)


"John Williams (?) and Edward Mann" in Stafford County, Virginia 

(RootsWeb/Marshall ID: I048255)


"Richard Booker" (of Virginia) in Talbot County, Maryland  (MSA online):

ST. PETER'S PARISH-TALBOT COUNTY (Register) 1681-1744 [19,989-1;0-8-6-32], p. 6 Richard Booker and Sarah, married 5 December 1700 [1]. 01/09/89. Tracking No.: 47750. PD No.: 89-01431.

LAND OFFICE (Patent Record) 7 [MdHR 17,340;1-23-1-10], p. 474 Richard Booker of Virginia, 4 November 1664. 03/30/89. Tracking No.: 51896. PD No.: 89-02177

LAND OFFICE (Patent Record) 9 [MdHR 17,342;1-23-1-12], p. 75 Richard Booker of York River in Virginia, 7 February 1664. 03/30/89. Tracking No.: 51896. PD No.: 89-02177.


"Capt. Richard Booker (I & II) and Johanna Hudson [Hodgson]" in Gloucester

County, Virginia and Charles County, Maryland. 

(Booker I identified himself in one of these court records as a "militia captain.") 

(RootsWeb/Marshall ID: I032047, I032054)


Historical Society of Talbot County, Maryland


Talbot County, Maryland GenWeb  


Charles County, Maryland Genealogical Society





Did John Williams have more than one wife/family in Maryland, or

were the "Guy alias Williams" families otherwise related?



"Benjamin Guy alias Williams" (search/find "Guy") in St. Peter's Parish, Talbot

County, Maryland  (Heinegg):



"March 1730/1 ...  John Edmondson agt. Benjamin Guy als. Williams for that

Benjamin is a freeman prayeth your worships release and judgment against

the said Benjamin...."  (Underline and italics added)


This formulation of "Benjamin Guy alias Williams" used by Talbot County

Court is identical to that used about the same time by Charles County Court

(1736) to refer to "Peter Atturburn alias Williams."  The plaintiff in this case

noted that "Guy alias Williams" was a "freeman," thereby affirming Guy's 

legal and political status (i.e., as a person of color, Guy's status otherwise

could have been questionable) before the court.  This formulation may 

link Guy's status to that of the East Indian servant, John Williams, who

was declared free of his indenture (and thus a "free man," thereby) in

Charles County Court (1706/7).  John Williams may have resided in Talbot

County while formerly indentured to Edward Mann, and might possibly

have returned to Talbot County after the court granted his freedom from

Richard Hodgson of Charles County.



"Guy" Families (search/find "Guy") in Talbot County, Maryland  (Heinegg) :


"Joseph Williams alias Guy"  (1732/5)


"Richard Guy alias Williams"  (1732/5; 1735/7)


"Williams" Families (search/find "Williams") in Colonial Maryland  (Heinegg):


"Guy Williams," identified as a "Negroe planter" (i.e., a free man, probably)

was sued in Anne Arundel County Court in 1711/2.


Other "Williams" Families (search/find "Williams") in Virginia, North Carolina

and South Carolina  (Heinegg)   




If any of these research results of Mr. Heinegg for "Guy alias Williams" are of the East Indian

John Williams' family or of his relatives, the references to "Negro" and "Mulatto" in some of

the records suggest that there may have been intermarriages with African Americans within

this family.  If so, this would seem to be in accord with the fact that some East Indians are

known to have intermarried with and blended into the free African American population of

Maryland, as noted by Heinegg and other historians.  According to the historical society there,

Talbot County, Maryland, "had one of the highest percentages of 'free Blacks' in the country

in the years of slavery."  There were also intermarriages between East Indians and Native

Americans (or First Peoples)as evidenced by the tribal identities (e.g., "Nansemond")

later associated with some families that included intermarriages with East Indians.

Evidently, Peter Arterburn pursued a different course, since his

final marriage, at least, was with "Sarah," described by John

Elsea as a "fair skin woman"—thus, probably European.  Peter's

mother may also have been European, whether German or Swiss 

or British, and also the source of our surname, possibly.  Either

Sarah or Peter's first wife or Peter's mother could have been the 

source of our family tradition of German (or Swiss) ancestry.  



If Peter's surname came from his mother, could she have been the

daughter of "William and Jane Arterburn" who were married in London,

in 1676?  We still have no clue about what happened to William and Jane.  

Neither do we know with certainty that this William was even our relative, 

nor do we know where he came from.  The apparently identical renderings

of "William Arterburn" in London and "Peter Atterburn/Arterburn" in America

(two generations later, appropriately) with an elder son named "William," 

and the renderings of "Peter Arterbern/Arturberner" in Shenandoah County 

compared with "Peter Arter, Peter Bern," and "Peter Berner" in Switzerland

are all certainly suggestive, but we cannot be sure of any real connection. 

(I have discussed at length in Some Research Notes how both "Arter-"

and "Atter-" and "Otter-" spellings could have resulted from the pronun-

ciation of "Arter-," whether vocalized in English or German.)  The apparent

lack of any Old World history for "ARTERBURN" suggests that it might have

originated very late as a composite or compound name.  Both German and 

Swiss emigrants are known to have migrated to and through London, and 

some undoubtedly made their way to Maryland and Virginia.  Fred Painter's

claim to have found proof that the ARTERBURNS were Swiss notwithstanding,

a paper trail for our ancestors beyond Peter and William remains elusive

(cf. also Some Research Notes).



Nonetheless, the fact that the majority of ARTERBURN descendants

across the country who were interviewed by the authors of The Arterburn

Cousins believed they were of "German" descent should not be discounted. 

At the same time, it should be understandable to us that an East Indian

ancestry may have been quietly suppressed by some descendants, even

though a tradition of "Indian" ancestry did survive in William's family. 

German-speaking Swiss (e.g., "Stover/Stauffer" and "Booker/Bucher")

and Southern German (e.g., "Wolfe/Wolf" and "Spillman/Spielmann") 

immigrants or their descendants were certainly present in Shenandoah

County and some were associated with the families of Peter and William.    


For example, "Daniel (Hans) Stauffer," who was born in the

Canton of Bern, Switzerland, first migrated with his family to the

Palatinate of Southwest Germany before the family immigrated 

to America.  Daniel's grandson, "Samuel Stover (Stauffer)" of

Luray, in Shenandoah County (Page County, today), would

later sell the Flint Run farm to Peter and convey the Deed for

"current money" (i.e., down payment) without any witnesses

cited and without any further stipulation of balance or payment

terms (cf. Some Research Notes).  Do these facts point to 

a family or cultural tie?


Southern Germans and German-speaking Swiss shared similar cultures

and languages In the 18th Century, Germany and Switzerland were

not the modern nation-states we know today.  The turmoil of sectarian

wars and oppressive societies had uprooted people and spurred migration

across Western Europe.  Any or all of these factors could have resulted

in a blurring of the distinction between German and Swiss self-identity 

among some of those who came to America or among their descendants,

and might account for why both German and Swiss origins have been

attributed for the ARTERBURNS. 


There must be some truth to this widespread family tradition of a German

(or Swiss) ancestry for the ARTERBURNS.  However, both the genetic and

documentary evidence appear to agree:  Peter Arterburn's patrilineal (i.e.,

his father's) ancestors were almost certainly not German or Swiss or British. 

Thus, either Peter's mother or one of his wives seems the most likely candidate

as the source of this tradition.  The origin of Peter's surname may or may not

be directly related to the source of this tradition, but this seems a reasonable

hypothesis, given what we currently know.  Peter might simply have identified

with his mother's family and adopted her surname, similar to the case of his

great grandson, "Anderson Wolf(cf. also Supplemental Notes).  It's

also possible that among Peter's mother and wives, both German and

Swiss ancestries could have been represented. 



The Charles County Court case (1706/7) of the East Indian, John Williams,

suggests that he was very young when first indentured.  For example, 

compare the following from the court record:   


"In a matter Depending Between John William [sic] an East

Indian and Richard Hodgson ...," and "[A]bout fifteen or

sixteen years since Discourseing [sic] with Mrs. Johannah

Hodgson about buying the said East Indian ...," and "[William

Thompson] Declareing [sic] Likewise that the boy would some

time or other try for his freedom ...," and "Cleborne Lomax

allso sayes [sic] in open court that he heard the said Indian

boy tell his mistress he would try for his freedom ...," and 

"In a Matter Depending Between John Williams an East Indian

and Richard Hodgson, Henry Tanner Deposeth on the Holy

Evanjelist [sic] that about fourteen or fifteen yeares agoe [sic] 

he had the papers of Mrs. Johannah Hodgson in his hands

amongst which was an assignment Written in These Words:

a Negroe Girle [sic] Slave and an Indian Boy for the Time he

had to Serve ...  [underline and bracketed content added]."


These testimonies refer to remembered events concerning John Williams that 

occurred during a period 14-16 years earlier, and about the time that Johannah

Hodgson had initially purchased the contract of indenture of this "Indian boy"

servant.  That he was clearly and consistently identified as an "East Indian"

in the court record by the principals in his case, together with the implication 

that he may have been very young when first indentured, suggest that John

Williams probably had not been born in America, but we can't be certain of

this.  There remains the possibility that "boy" as used here might have been

a pejorative term as commonly applied to African male slaves—especially later,

regardless of age.  However, since this pejorative usage of "boy" is not readily

apparent in other similar court records from this era extracted by Heinegg,

the term as here used probably referred to a child or adolescent, or possibly

to a minora youth not yet of majority age.  There certainly seems to be

ample evidence from Heinegg's research that children were being used as

servants during this era. 


Since John Williams was described as a boy and already indentured when

purchased 15-16 years prior —about 1690—by Hodgson, he was almost

certainly of majority age (i.e., 21 or older) when he sued for his freedom

in 1706.  Thus, Williams must have been born no later than 1685—he must 

have been at least five years old in 1690, and possibly earlier (ca.1680 or

before).  Could the following archival record from Heinegg's research be

that of John Williams, or was this another "East India servant boy" in

Talbot County around the same time?



"Maryland Prerogative Court (Inventories) Microfilm Roll 63, CD 1,

ac 1238, Liber 2, 1676.  pp. 177-178 (CD pp.208-9)"


"[Estate] Inventory of Capt Edward Roe 3rd day of July 1676

1 East India servant boy - [valued at] 2500 pounds tobacco

(Talbot County)"



[Parentheses original to Heinegg.  MSA hyperlink, bolded text, 

and bracketed content added]


Edward Roe  (RootsWeb/Marshall ID:  I032443)




His apparently English name suggests the possibility that John Williams'

journey to the New World might have been via London, but we really have

no clue about how he got to America or the source of his name.  If a child

when first indentured, though, John was probably not marriageable until

after he arrived in America (see also Supplemental Notes, Appendix #1). 

All of the dates (1676, ca.1680, 1706, 1711) we have would accommodate

the likely ages of John Williams and his wife, vis-a-vis the date of marriage

of William and Jane Arterburn and Peter's date of birth.  Might William and

Jane and/or their daughter have found their way to Maryland or Virginia,

or could there have been some other scenario unimagined by us? 




From all appearances, Peter Arterburn lived among and was accepted by Europeans

in Virginia—from Prince William to Shenandoah County.  ("Arterburn/Atterburn" as

a surname is conspicuously absent from Heinegg's research results about mixed

families in the public records of Maryland and Virginia.)  Peter was always listed 

as "White" and never as "Black" or even "Mulatto" in tax lists and censuses, even

though a close family friend and contemporary of Peter, John Elsea, testified in

court in Tennessee (1843) that "James Arterburn's father" was a "very dark skin

man, as dark as a Cherokee Indian," who "came from the East India."  Also, some

of William's sons were apparently misidentified as "Black" in two Shenandoah

County Tax Lists.  (A dark or olive complexion has been reported among some

later descendants, as well.)  The tradition that the ARTERBURNS were "Indian"

persisted into the 20th Century not only privately among some descendants but

also publicly in Warren County, Virginia (e.g., the origin of "Otterburn School"

and Mrs. Good's account).  These separate strands of private and public evidence

essentially agree, and also attest that Peter's ethnic heritage was evidently 

known to his contemporarieseven though he was apparently regarded as 

"White" (see also Some Research Notes and Supplemental Notes).


By the 20th Century, this surviving tradition in Warren County

appears to have become garbled and to have morphed into the

meaning of "Indian" as Native American instead of an Asian

ethnicity, as suggested by the reference to a "tribe of Indians"

as the namesake for Otterburn School.  However, John Elsea's

explicit statement that James Arterburn's father "came from

the East India" makes clear that certainly some of Peter's

contemporaries in Shenandoah County were acquainted with

his true ethnicity and understood the difference.


Peter's "White" status, and that of his family, may have derived from this distinctive

difference of an East Indian or Asian origin (and physical features) rather than

African, in combination possibly with a European (maternal) ancestryor because

of his intermarriage(s) and resulting family ties, or some combination of these

factors.  As noted by the distinguished American historian, Ira Berlin, in his

Foreword to Heinegg's book:  "Heinegg's genealogical excavations reveal that

many free people of color passed as whitessometimes by choosing ever lighter

spouses over succeeding generations. ...  Heinegg's work points to the connections

of free people of color with kinsmen and neighbors (white and black) who could

provide access to property by loaning money, securing bonds, or simply testifying

to good character." 

The most recent major SNPs (Z93, L342, Z2123) of our Y-DNA that 

identify the ARTERBURN Y-Haplogroup agree with these findings

in the documentary record that point toward a more recent East 

Indian or Asian ancestry for Peter Arterburn—through his father’s

lineand definitely not African or Native American.  Although Z93

and Z2123 have been found outside of the subcontinent of India,

the cumulative evidence of John Elsea's testimony about Peter's

physical description and attributed origin (e.g., "from the East

India"), of both private and public traditions of "Indian" ancestry,

coupled with a probable link to the East Indian, John Williams,

in the public records of Charles County, Maryland (e.g., "Peter

Atturburn alias Williams")—all seem to add up and to make for a

compelling argument against any likelihood of a later migration 

of Peter's patrilineal ancestors beyond South Asia, before coming

to America.  Unfortunately, DNA testing cannot be of much help

for clues about the identity of Peter's mother.


If pursued, further SNP testing of ARTERBURN Y-DNA as new and more

recent SNPs/subclades are discovered and established (which could also 

reveal closer STR matches of more recent relatives) could serve to locate

more precisely the region or locale that Peter's immediate ancestors called




(See also: Free African Americans of Virginia, North Carolina, South

Carolina, Maryland and Delaware.  /  by Paul Heinegg.


Foreword by Ira Berlin 


East Indians in Colonial Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina


Acknowledgements and List of Families




Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina




Photos of some "Indian" (East Indian and Native American) Families






Who exactly was the "William Davis" who provided "security" for

Peter Atterburn's credit in Prince William County?


"Henry Tanner" and "William Davis" and "Priscilla (True) Davis" in

Charles County, Maryland  (RootsWeb/Marshall ID: I012916 and I009797)



Benjamin, son of William & Priscilla (True) Davis, later married

"Elizabeth Hodgson," (RootsWeb/Marshall ID: I017364) granddaughter

of Johanna Hodgson—who initially purchased John Williams' contract

from Edward Mann, and daughter of Johanna's son, Richard Hodgson—

master of John Williams when Williams sued for his freedom in Charles

County Court.   Although a "William Davis" and "Henry Tanner"—probably

the same Henry Tanner who testified in support of John Williams in

Charles County—testified about the same property boundary in Charles

County Court on the same day in 1728, we have no proof at present

of a direct link to Peter's "William Davis" of Prince William County. 


Note comments added to the above "William Davis" file from Tim Davis



"[A] 'William Davis,' age 13, appeared before Charles County Court in

Jan 1682, and was 'adjudged 13 years old' [sic] to be a servant for

tobacco planter and justice of the peace Major John Wheeler.  While

there is no definite proof this is my William Davis, the age fits; I

haven't yet found another Wm. Davis in Charles County which matches

this situation so closely.  Wheeler’s property, described as being on

the upper Nanjemoy River, would have been close to that of Richard

True. William didn't appear (again) in any known records 'til after

1694, around the time of Wheeler's death."  (Underline added)





Persons named "William Davis" in Colonial Maryland  (RootsWeb/Marshall)  


Persons named "William Davis" in Colonial Maryland  (MSA online)


Published genealogies of Davis Families of Prince William County, Virginia 

(Family Search)    


Other "Davis" Families (search/find "Davis") in Colonial Maryland  (Heinegg)



Persons named "William Davis, Isaac Davis, Jesse Davis, and Thomas Davis"

in the 1790 Tax Lists (pp. 1 & 2) of Virginia  (Binn's Genealogy)



"William Davis" named in Netherton’s 1775 Census of Dunmore County,

located in the district adjacent to that of Peter and William Arterburn

(see Supplemental Notes, Appendix #7, exhibit p. 598).





What connection if any between "Presley Davis" and Peter's

"William Davis" and "Presley Arterburn?"



Jesse Davis (1751-1818), b. Prince William County, VA  d. Nelson County, KY. 

Sons "Presley Davis" and "Elijah Davis" (executor) and "William M. Davis" 

were named in his Will, among others.  Nelson County is adjacent to Jefferson

County—where William Arterburn moved his family, ca.1798.  Note reference

here from Charles County land records to "Jesse Davis of CC [i.e., Charles


("Jesse Davis," RootsWeb/Marshall ID:  I051076)



From The Arterburn Cousins:


"Presley Arterburn"  (pp. 308, 371)

"Elijah Arterburn"  (pp. 104, 371)


"William Davis Arterburn"  (pp. 199, 380)







Is Peter Arterburn’s distinctive personal mark a clue that he himself had

once been a seafarer (sailor or fisherman) while a young man, or did

Peter's mark simply reflect his nostalgic memory of living near the

coastal waters of Maryland, or of something else entirely?


Might John Williams have left Maryland or the American Colonies after

attaining his freedom, and Peter have been born aboard ship


Might Peter have been born elsewhere and later have returned to Maryland


"John Gardiner" (1668-1742) of "None Such" in Charles County ["There

may be a connection here as Julian Gardiner married Thomas Mudd.  Maybe

John Gardiner was a brother.  That means he and possibly William d. 1674

were brothers and sons of Richard Gardiner."  --Mike Marshall]  

(RootsWeb/Marshall ID:  I002437, I013374)


Another and contemporary "Capt. John Gardiner" (1709-1743) in Charles

County identified as a "mariner"—son of "John Gardiner" (1683-1717) who

was son of "Richard Gardiner" (ca.1650-1687)—probably related to John

Gardiner of "None Such."    (RootsWeb/Marshall ID:  I053395, I002156,




Tobacco Coast: A Maritime History of Chesapeake Bay in the Colonial Era




From the "Talbot County History" page at the Website of the Historical

Society of Talbot County:



"Talbot County (pronounced "Tall-butt"), Maryland is one of the

oldest centers of European settlement in the New World. Talbot

County's long history has always been linked to the water that

surrounds it. With over 600 miles of tidal shoreline, the most of

any county in the United States, it retains a maritime flavor to an

unusual degree."







About Peter Arterburn’s age at the time of his tax exemption in Shenandoah

County, from Some Research Notes (p. 92):



"Shenandoah County Court Minutes has the following entry, dated December 25, 1783:


'On motion of Peter Arterburn, he is henceforth exempted from the payment

of the County Levy.'


[Underline added]"



From Supplemental Notes (p. 28):  



"'[A poll] tax [or "county levy," enacted in 1781] of ten shillings by every free

male person, above the age of twenty-one years, who shall be a citizen of this

commonwealth, and also upon all slaves, to be paid by the owners thereof,

except such free persons and slaves as shall be exempted on applications to

the respective county courts through age or infirmity.'


(Henings Statutes, v. 10, p. 504)"


[Underline and bracketed contents and bolded text added]




Peter's permanent (i.e., "henceforth") tax exempt or "levy-free (LF)" status was recorded

in Shenandoah County Tax Lists through 1801, his last year to be listed before his death.

As discussed more thoroughly in Supplemental Notes, the available evidence strongly

suggests that we had only one ancestor in Maryland and Virginia named, "Peter Arterburn/

Atterburn," and that William most likely was his son from a previous marriage.  Peter's

exemption was undoubtedly granted because of his age, which would have been about 72,

in 1783.  While we might think it unusual that Peter could have fathered children while

in his 50s/60s, such a circumstance is altogether plausible. 


One example of similar circumstance would be Peter’s grandson,

"Elzia Arterburn" (1801-1881) —my own great great grandfather. 

Elzia lost his first wife (after 11 children) in an accident, in 1860. 

At age 59, he remarried a young widow almost half his age—she

was 35 years old, and Elzia fathered three additional children with

her.  There are probably other similar examples among Peter’s

descendants to be found in The Arterburn Cousins without

reference to the general population or to that historical era.

We should remember that Sarah, Peter's last wife of record, appears to have been a

younger woman—as suggested by Peter's Will, and that her age and fertility would

probably have been the more important factor.  Although we can't be certain of 

whether all of the known children that were born before 1773—the first record of

Sarah, from Henry's baptism—were Sarah's children, we should also take note that

some of the children of record appear not to have been robust or long-lived, and

that Peter's advanced age might have been a factor.



Additional about Peter Arterburn’s age at the time of his tax exemption in

Shenandoah County, from The Arterburn Cousins (p. 192):




"Jeffery [Collins, who married Peter's daughter, Jemima] was a revoluntionary [sic] war

soldier and is listed in the Census of Pensioners in 1840, his age was 85.  Warren County,

Virginia Minute Book A, Page 189, Dec 26, 1839, On motion of Jeffrey [sic] Collins, an old

and infirm man, released from payment of parish and county levies in the future.  Jeffery's

will was administered 17 Nov 1851, which lists him as 96 years old. In the Russell family

Bible, there is an entry:  'In 1832, living in Shenandoah, born there 1756, and volunteered

1777, served with Russell.'"


[Underline and bracketed contents added]











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