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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Story

Apparently, many unrelated West families are found in North Carolina.  However, many present-day individuals, who are paternally or maternally related to this line of Wests, remain in the Wilkes County and surrounding areas of North Carolina.

The story of this West family begins with the earliest ancestor known at this time, Alexander West I.  He and his unknown spouse likely had the following sons:  Alexander West II (1751 Orange County, NC-1834 Burke/Caldwell County, NC) and John West (about 1760 Orange County, NC-about 1800 South Carolina), possibly an Isaac West (born c1745-1770), and possibly a William West.  In addition to these, other children may have been born to Alexander and his wife.  Alexander West I appeared in the vicinity as early as 1752 in land records of Orange County where his sons were born, in 1778 in land records of Surry County (present Wilkes) on Glady Branch, and in 1787 in land records of Wilkes County on Glady Fork.  By 1790 according to the census, he was apparently living with his son, Alexander West II, in Burke County (now Caldwell).  References indicate that his father may have been a John West.  Naming patterns practiced during these early years indicate the existence of ancestors with the names of John and Alexander in this West family.
Alexander West II married Hannah Langley and had six children: Bethias Beulah, Margaret, Alexander III, Elizabeth, Thomas Jefferson, and Mary.  Having served in the Revolutionary War and being approved for a war pension, Alexander West II and his wife and children are well documented in the research.  However, his parents are not referenced in these documents.  Many researchers often confuse these three Alexander Wests.
John West married Margaret “Peggy” Witherspoon and had three children: John Balus, Melinda, and another daughter (name unknown). Other than the date of his marriage to Peggy, very little is known about John West.  After their marriage, they apparently moved from Wilkes County, North Carolina, to South Carolina where he died sometime after the three children were born.  Census records indicate that Peggy returned to Wilkes County with the three young children.
John Balus West married Mary Ann “Polly” Swanson.  They had nine children: Franklin W., Margaret “Peggy,” Alexander Balus, John Witherspoon, William Thomas Jefferson, Melinda “Linda,” Elizabeth, Mary Ann, and Lucy. John Balus and Mary Ann lived their lives on their farm in the Stony Forks-Mt. Zion community of Wilkes County.
Alexander Balus West married Nancy Land.  Their only child was a son, Thomas Harvey West.  Alexander Balus was killed in action fighting with the Confederate Army at Winchester, Virginia, in 1864.  Nancy Land West continued to live in the Stony Forks-Mt. Zion community near her family, the William Thomas Land family, until she moved with her son and his family to Banner Elk, North Carolina about 1902.
Thomas Harvey West married America Ann McNeil.  They had thirteen children: Nannie Lou, A. Judson, Martha Alice, Milton McNeil, Rosa Belle, William Charles [Sr.], Sallie Jane, Robert Leonard [Sr.], Ethel Elizabeth, Willard A., Flora Annie, Guy Harvey, and Viola N.  Two of the children (A. Judson and Willard A.) died at young ages and were buried in the Stony Forks-Mt. Zion community of Wilkes County.  The Thomas Harvey West's family, along with his mother, Nancy, moved to Banner Elk, North Carolina, about 1902. 
William Charles West [Sr.] married Ada Beatrice McQueen and settled in Johnson City, Tennessee.  They had three children: William Charles [Jr.], Alzenia Helen, and Christine “Jack.”
William Charles West [Jr.] married Ruth Stella Hughes and had two daughters.  They lived in Kingsport, Tennessee, most of their lives.
The children of the descendants of these families are numerous and are spread all across the United States with, at least one, living in another country.
Presently, my greatest challenge is to discover more about Alexander West I, who was the progenitor of this immense family, and his son John West. Without further information, I cannot proceed any farther back in time with this genealogy.  I solicit the support of other members of this family who may have specific knowledge about these two men and their spouses. Most of the information that I have obtained about Alexander West, I and his son, John West, is from oral family history which has been recorded and published by two individuals, John Foster West in 1976 and Irene Hendrix Basey in 1982.  Surely, someone, somewhere, has information about these two men.


  1. Hello, I am doing an extensive study on early North Carolina settlement trying to prove my ancestral Revolutionary War Grandfather Nathan Blevins who was born on the Haw River in 1763. I am very interested if you have any info on your Mary Ann "Polly" Swanson. Nathan's ancestral grandmother was Susannah Swanson who married George Wells and their siblings, Joseph Wells and Margaret Swanson also moved to Orange co NC in the 1750s. I am wondering if there is a connection.

  2. Hello Vivian,

    I have very little information about 4th great grandmother, Mary Ann “Polly” Swanson. I believe that her parents were William Swanson and Elizabeth Stalions or Stations. The 1790 Census and the 1800 Census indicate that William Swanson was living in Wilkes County in the vicinity of some other ancestors of mine, namely the Carltons and Lands. In 1790 he was living in Wilkes near Tho’ Calton, which I believe should be Carlton, and near Jonathan Land. The 1800 Census shows him in Morgan, Wilkes, NC, living near Jesse Tripile, who, I believe, was Jesse Triplett.

    Some family trees on indicate that Richard Swanson and an Olive were William’s parents. I cannot locate any documentation to provide any validity to their being his parents.

    The Carltons, Barlows, Lands, Wests, Tripletts, Fergusons, McNeils, Witherspoons, and Swansons all lived in about the same area of Wilkes County. After several trips to the area, I find that Stoney Fork, Ferguson, Mt. Zion, Beaver Creek, etc. must have been quite isolated especially during those early years of the late 1700s and the 1800s. The residents were likely a close-knit group that relied on each other in times of hardship and need, formed close ties, attended church and school together, and married among themselves.

    My 4th gr grandmother, Mary Ann “Polly” Swanson, was born in 1799 in Mt. Zion Wilkes, NC, and married my 4th gr grandfather, John Balus West on 21 Aug 1818 in Wilkes, NC. They had 10 children (Franklin W., Margaret “Peggy,” Alexander Balus, William Thomas Jefferson, Melinda “Linda,” Elizabeth, Mary Ann “Ann,” John Witherspoon, Lowery, and Lucy. Alexander Balus West and Nancy E. Land were my 3rd gr grandparents.

    You referenced a Susannah and Margaret Swanson. A connection with Susannah Swanson, Margaret Swanson, and my Mary Ann Swanson could exist. Since I am not really sure where all of my ancestors started in their migrations, they could have come from Maryland, too. My West ancestors are first documented in Orange, NC. Then they moved to a part of Surry, NC, that later became Wilkes. In the 1750s, Orange County was apparently on the edge of the western frontier.

    Again, I wish I could give you more. If you would like us to exchange information through e-mail, please give me your e-mail in a comment. I will not post the comment which has your e-mail address.

    Please keep me posted concerning the Swansons. I am most interested in them, also. Thanks, Vivian.


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