I have hit several brick walls in my genealogy research, however, Henry Pesterfield I is my most obstinate brick wall.
Family lore tells us that he came from Hanover, Germany and anglicized his name when he came into the U.S. 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.
What’s in a name?
I’ve seen variations of the name as Besterfield, Besterfelt, Besterfeld, Pistorfield, Pasterfield, Percifield, and Percival. One index erroneously labeled a Bisterfield record as Bristerfield. I’ve had to be diligent at looking for all kinds of variations on the name. So far I have found no mention of a Pesterfield or any variation of the name listed on any online immigration records. I have tried the databases on Ancestry, Family Search and My Heritage.
I found Henry Bisterfield in an estate inventory of Peter Spengler Sr. 8 Dec. 1801. 1
Henry Besterfelt purchased property in Wythe County, Virginia. 2
Henry shows up in the tax records of Wythe County for 1793-1800 as Henry Pestorfield. 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.
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.
He also shows up in a land grant for James Wilson as a neighboring landholder, also named are Groseclose and Davis. 3
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.
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.
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.
- Wythe County, VA Will Books 1, James L. Douthat, Malita Murphy, Roberta D. Hatcher, Signal Mountain, Tennessee : Mountain Press, 1986, c1984, https://dcms.lds.org/delivery/DeliveryManagerServlet?dps_pid=IE12203433, familysearch.org
- 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
- 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.