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The Welch and Wolfenbarger
Connection


From looking at the information that has been gathered to date, there seems to be a connection between the Welch and Wolfenbarger families. In his Revolutionary War pension application, Robert Welch states: I was living in Buckingham County Virginia when I entered the service from Buckingham I removed to Greenbrier from thence to Powells Valley from thence to Grainger County Tennessee where I now live. Peter and Joseph Wolfenbarger certified on the affidavit that they were well acquainted with Robert Welch. Both Peter and Joseph Wolfenbarger were residents of Grainger Co., TN at the time they signed the affidavit. The 1830 census of Grainger County includes the following:

NAME

MALES

FEMALES

Wolfinbarger, Joseph

120200101

102001

Wolfinbarger, Peter

111001

111001

This record indicates that in the Joseph Wolfenbarger household, there was one male under the age of 5, two males age 5 to 10, two males age 15 to 20, one male age 40 to 50, and one male age 60 to 70. There was one female under the age of 5, two females age 10 to 15, and one female age 30 to 40.

In the Peter Wolfenbarger household, there was one male under the age of 5, one male age 5 to 10, one male age 10 to 15, and one male age 30 to 40. There was one female under the age of 5, one female age 5 to 10, one female age 10 to 15, and one female age 30 to 40.

In the book Early Settlers of Lee County, Virginia and Adjacent Counties, Volume II by Hattie Muncy Bales, a brief history of the Wolfenbarger family is given. She states that Peter Wolfenbarger, Sr. was born about 1762. He and two of his brothers moved to Greenbrier Co., VA (now West Virginia), then later to Grainger Co., TN, Lee Co., VA, and Knox Co., TN. Peter Wolfenbarger had moved to Knox Co., TN by 1822 where he purchased land on December 24 of that year. He died in Knox County sometime prior to January 1834 as his will, dated February 1, 1831, was probated during the January session of that year's court.

According to Ms. Bales, Peter Wolfenbarger, Sr.'s son, Peter Jr., married Nancy Dyer on December 19, 1815 in Grainger Co., TN. Another son, Joseph, was born about 1783. His wife was named Nancy. He, too, was a resident of Grainger Co., TN.

Look at the above census record again. It indicates that in the Joseph Wolfenbarger household there was one male age 40 to 50 and one male age 60 to 70. If Joseph Wolfenbarger was born about 1783, he would have been approximately 47 years old in 1830. Who is the older man living in the household with him?

It has been proven by the pension record of Robert Welch that he was a resident of Grainger Co., TN as early as 1832. He was still a resident of Grainger County in 1835 when the Tennessee pension roll was taken. By signing the affidavit for Robert Welch to obtain his pension, Peter and Joseph Wolfenbarger swore that they were well acquainted with Robert Welch. In order for this to be true, either Robert Welch had already been living in the area for some time or the Wolfenbarger men knew him from some place other than the Grainger County area (or both). They also stated that he is reputed and believed in the neighborhood where he resides to have been a soldier of the revolution. Even if the Wolfenbarger men knew him from some other place, the residents of the neighborhood where he lived had to base their opinion on their knowledge of him after he moved to the area. This indicates that he had lived there for some time -- at least long enough for the neighbors to become acquainted with him and make a judgment as to his character and integrity.

Robert Welch does not appear on the 1830 census nor is he included on any tax list for Grainger County. Only heads of households were listed by name on census records until 1850. All males age 21 or over had to pay taxes unless they were exempt due to "bodily infirmities" or advanced age. Robert Welch is proven to be in Grainger County in 1832 and in 1835, yet he does not appear on any list. Why?

Robert Welch stated in his pension application that I was wounded . . . in my arm and forehand during the Revolutionary War, but he does not indicate whether or not it was a disabling injury. According to his affidavit, he was born in October of 1760, so at the time of the 1830 census, he would have been 69 years old. Look again at the above census record. There was a man age 60 to 70 living in the household with Joseph Wolfenbarger -- the same age as Robert Welch. This older man could not have been Joseph's father, Peter Sr., as he was living in Knox Co., TN at that time. Also, if it had been Joseph's father, his mother would have been living with him. It has been proven through Peter Sr.'s will that his wife, Milly, was still living as late as 1831. There was no older woman listed with Joseph Wolfenbarger on the 1830 census.

It is quite possible that the older man living in the household with Joseph Wolfenbarger at the time of the 1830 Grainger Co., TN census was Robert Welch. Older individuals who lived with younger families were usually, although not always, family members. Could Joseph Wolfenbarger's wife, Nancy, have been the daughter of Robert Welch?

The answer may lie in Greenbrier County.

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