52 Ancestors, Week 32: William Blanchard

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We don't know when the Blanchards came to America, quite possible from England, sometime before 1760.  There are some who say Blanchard meant someone who had a white beard, or wore white clothes, or one who rode a white horse.  The name could have French origins, or German.

"The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Blanchard, which was dated 1177, during the reign of King Henry II. (1)

Benjamin Blanchard was born around 1762 possibly in North Carolina.

His son, William Blanchard was born in 1780 in Gates County North Carolina. William showed up in the Gates County, NC censuses of 1810, 1820, and 1830. These census records only list the head of household's name and then give age ranges and numbers of persons for the rest of the family members.

William married Mary Rawls on 26 Sept , 1801 in Gates County, NC.

In 1810, there are 7 household members:
  • Presumably, William (30) and Mary (30)  (aged 26-44) 
  • 3 boys (under 10)  One of the kids could be Absolum, *(our ancestor) (the dates match up)
  • plus 2 other boys are enumerated aged 10-25. (don't know who these boys could be...possibly younger brothers of William and Mary?)
In 1820, there are 8 household members:
  • Presumably: William (40) and Mary(40)  (26-44) 
  • Six kids.  Absolum was 18, and Elisha (who raises Absolum's kids when Absolum dies young)  was 5.  (those dates match up)  
  • Plus 3 slaves (I hate when I find this, but the blurb below, is of some comfort)

Excerpt from the History of Gates County to 1860

In 1830, there are 5 household members:
  • Presumably, William (50) and Mary (50) (50-59)
  • and 1 male age 20-29
  • and 2 kids under age 14
  • plus 7 slaves, including children
In 1840, William Blanchard of Gates County is named, but this time there is only:
  • 1 white male aged 15-19 years, 
  • plus 10 slaves.
  • Could this be a very young son, and the parents have died:
    • Mary did die in 1837, and 
    • perhaps William died in 1840 before the census was taken, instead of 1842,  and 
    • the siblings have moved away?
It looks like William's will was probated in 1841.

Something happened: an epidemic, or just high mortality among the white residents of Gates County:
  • Mary died in 1837, 
  • William died in 1840. 
  • son Absolum and his wife Elizabeth  died in 1841 and 1840, respectively. 
  • Elizabeth's step-mother/aunt Lucy Walton died in 1837.  
  • All of them in Gates County, NC.



  1. By the 1830 / 1840 years the slaves far out number the Blanchard household. It seems like they could have just walked away, but of course, where would they go. Even if they weren't held by force they were forced to submit by social situation.

  2. Many people died from yellow fever epidemics during the late 1830's and early 1840's in Gates Co, NC. Both Absolum and his wife died during this time. His brother, Elisha and wife Mildred (Milly) raised the orphans as there own. Milly was sister to Absolom's wife, making the children of both families double first cousins.

    I am a direct descendant of Elisha and Milly. I grew up on the family farm which we believe was William's. Both the Blanchard and Walton Cemeteries are near our home. Benjamin Blanchard the first was in Virginia before 1700. He is recorded in the Chowan-Gates records as a land owner before 1710. This parcel of land included land on Catherine's Cree k which is also near our home. Walton land adjoined tjis property.
    John Blanchard came to Berkeley, Va in 1619 on the Margaret of Bristol. Robert Blanchard was a member of the East India Company and donated money to the School in Henrico, Va. Research in England is indicating that we are descendants of these early immigrants.

  3. Many people died of yellow fever during this dreadful time. Everyone had to help each other . I have often heard that the slaves were treated as family.
    Elisha and Absolom were brothers who married Walton sisters. Absolom and wife died of the fever leaving Elisha and Molly to raise the orphans as their own. The children were double first cousins.
    Elisha was my great, great, great grandfather and I grew up on the homeplace where they all grew up.


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