Genealogy Travel,  Pesterfield,  Tombstone Tourist

Henry Pesterfield Sr. A Mystery

I have hit several brick walls in my genealogy research, however, Henry Pesterfield Sr. is my most solid brick wall.

Born around 1753, family lore tells us that he came from Hanover, Germany. Supposedly he anglicized his name when he came into the states. There is no mention of what the original may have been. My research goals are to determine when Henry immigrated to the U.S. and from where, and what his last name truly was. Eventually, I hope it leads to his parents’ identity.

Pesterfield Family Line

What’s in a name? 

I’ve seen variations of the name as Besterfield, Besterfelt, Besterfeld, Bristerfield, Pesterfield, Pistorfield, Pasterfield, and maybe even Percifield, and Percival in various sources. However, I have found no mention of a Pesterfield or any variation of the name, listed on any online immigration records. So perhaps the rumor of the name change is correct, I just don’t have any idea what the original name would have been. I have tried the various spellings on immigration databases at Ancestry, Family Search and My Heritage. I’ve found nothing, not even a maybe, so far. 

The earliest record of Henry I’ve been able to find is in 1793 where a Henry BESTERFELT purchased property in Wythe County, VA. Henry purchased the property from the Custards of Wilkes County, North Carolina. I’m wondering if there might be a family connection or it was simply a business deal.

Yet another spelling is found, Henry PESTORFIELD in the Wythe County, Virginia tax lists for the years 1793-1796 and 1798-1800. Listed above him on the list are John, Jeremiah, Peter and William Percifield. Which leads me to wonder if they are related and the name was recorded as to how it sounded to the tax collector. Maybe, maybe not. 

Quick and Dirty Trees 

I plan on making experimental (aka quick and dirty) family trees on the Percifield’s to see if they connect somewhere.

I found Henry BISTERFELD in an estate inventory of Peter Spengler Sr. 8 Dec. 1801. 

Henry Pesterfelt shows up in an 1802 land survey for James Wilson as a neighboring landholder, also named are neighbors Groseclose and Davis. Areas mentioned are Rich or Ricks Valley,  Walkers Mountain and Staggerhill.

The reason the name Groseclose is significant to me is that I have several DNA matches with the Groseclose surname and since they were neighbors I’m exploring their family tree for possible clues.

Recently I went on a heritage trip to Bland and Wythe County, Virginia to the area where Henry was on the tax list. The Groseclose family is still living in the area.

Ceres, Bland County, Virginia – formerly in Wythe County. 

Walker Mountain View
Crossroads near Ceres
Colorful drive through Ceres

Migration from Virginia to Tennessee

Henry Sr. moved from Virginia to  Tennessee. On June 13, 1809, he purchased land in Blount County, Tennessee.


The landowners surrounding his land were named in the document; Morris Baker, Daniel Bonine (Henry Sr.’s grandson John Pesterfield married Aquilla Bonine in 1826 in Blount County), Luke Hall, Peter Key, Alexander Stewart, G. Miser.

Will of Henry Pesterfield Sr. dated December 1838.

Michael Miser was one of Henry Sr.’s estate executors along with Matthew Whittenbarger. The witnesses to his will were William Henderson Sr., Hiram Jones, and Matthew Whittenbarger.

So, I plan to build Q&D trees for Michael and George Miser, Matthew Whittenbarger, Hiram Jones, William Henderson, and Daniel Bonine to see if there are any family connections.

Here are a few pictures from Miser Station where the Pesterfields lived and the Shady Grove Cemetery where they are buried. 

Shady Grove Cemetery
Old Store at Miser Station, Blount County, Tennessee
Crossroads of Miser Station & Miser School Road
Breckill-Johnston House Est. 1849 in Miser Station
  1. Wythe County, VA Will Books 1, James L. Douthat, Malita Murphy, Roberta D. Hatcher, Signal Mountain, Tennessee : Mountain Press, 1986,c1984,,
  2. Page 300 #186 John and Elizabeth Custard of Wilkes County, NC to Henry Besterfelt. Elizabeth relinquishes dower to 192 acres sold to him. “1800 Tax List & Abstract of Deeds 1796-1800 of Wythe County, VA” Page 300, #186, Lawton Public Library, Lawton, Oklahoma
  3.  Land Office Grants No. 51, 1802-1803, p. 520 (Reel 117).
    Part of the index to the recorded copies of grants issued by the Virginia Land Office. Archives at the Library of Virginia.