Homepage of Sandra Lee Oliver



Updated July 1, 2011


When I was a young woman I did an oral history of my Grandmother, Ella Frances Payton Oliver. She told me the names of her parents, the names of her aunts and uncles, the names of her brothers and sisters and the name of her grandfather, Randolph Payton. For years that was all I could find until another researcher told me about the book PEYTONS OF VIRGINIA VOL II which had the father of Randolph Payton as Cornelius Payton. He is first found as an adult in Georgia in 1805. Where was he and his family before then? Who were his ancestors? In order to answer these question I have reserched state and county records, family histories, the files of other researchers and our YDNA matches. The link below will take you to a report with the results of my research.

I leaned a lot while researcing my family history

1. Marriages before the Civil War were really contracts between two families, not love matches between individuals.  A lot of was riding on finding a "suitable" spouse for a son or daughter:  Land, slaves, livestock and other goods of value were at risk.  Many sons and daughters were written out of the will and disinherited for marrying the wrong person. "Suitable" usually meant someone the bride or groom were already related to either directly or through in-laws.  The reputation of a relative was already known.  First Cousin marriages were common

2. Once someone was married into a family, all his/her relatives became "suitable" as marriage partners for the children of the other family as well. If you were "sutable" then all your relatives were also considered "suitable" as well.  This made family relationships very complicated.  You might know you were related to someone but not how.  "Cousin" was a title used loosely.  And, if you were really smart you named children after relatives to keep track of who they were related to.

3.  Related families moved in herds, like buffalo.  Maybe one family moved first and other followed later but if you find one member of a group of related families in a location, chances are that you will find several members of other related families there as well.  Moving in groups assured that a support network was always available.  Families were the main source of socialization and often provided financial support for members in need.  Moving in groups meant a person and his immediate family were never alone in a strange place.

4. Both men and women, even in the upper classes, had affairs often resulting in out of wedlock children. Read THE BASTARDY BONDS OF NC for an eye opening lesson.  Women had to name the father of the child in court and he had to post a bond to insure that the child never became a burden on the courts. If she refused to name the father, a male relative of hers would have to post the bond.  Unsupported Bastards were often bound out to learn a trade as young as 4 or 5.

5. Once a person migrated to another location, this did not mean that they did not have communication with family who stayed behind or wandered in another direction.  There visits and letters.  I enjoy reading letters between family members in different locations. The letters are filled with news of other relatives, births, deaths, the weather, politics, crop success or failure.  Often a father or mother would ask if a cousin were married yet or not in order to find out if they were available as a marriage partner for a son or daughter.  A family member may even name a child after an absent brother or sister to keep the relationship close despite the miles between them and the fact that they may never see each other again.

6. Family names used as given names almost always means a relationship with that family.  My Payton family used the family names of Randolph, Shelton, Asbury, Cleveland, Mayfield and Jarrett as given names.  John Shelton Payton was named after his mother's grandmother Lucy Shelton.  I have found connections to the other families through families related to Payton. Leroy Payton, Jr. named a son Isaac Mayfield Payton. Unless there were a family connection to Mayfield on either the maternal or paternal line, naming a son after a Mayfield seems implausible. 

Using the above six lessons, I have been able to fill in many blanks. There are so many blanks in my Payton family tree.  THE PAYTONS OF VIRGINIA VOL II has Cornelius Payton as the son of William II who was the Son of William I who was a descendant of Thomas Payton of Horsley Parish in England.  YDNA has invalidated this ancestry to a degree. Some of the descendants of William I do not match the YDNA of descendants of Cornelius.  It is still uncertain of the identity of the ancestors of Cornelius Payton and his brothers.  There are YDNA matches for descenants of Cornelius and his brothers Moses, Leroy and William C. to descendants of a Humphrey and a Prichard.  I have researched both families for connections to any Payton/Peyton family.  The results of my research can be accessed with the link below.

1.  Reuben Payton (son of Gabriel who was brother of Cornelius) is my 4th cousin four times removed

2.  Jemima Humphrey (from the line of our Humphey YDNA match) was his wife

3.  Her fourth great-grandfather was Humphrey ap Hugh the ancestor of our Humphrey YDNA match

4.  Jemina's grandfather, William Humphrey (a descendant of Humphey ap Hugh) married Elizabeth Threlkeld

5.  Elizabeth Threlkeld's aunt, Susannah Threlkeld married James Peyton

6.  They had daughter Ruth Peyton who married James Thompson

7.  James Thompson was the son of William Thompson and Mary Patton, granddaughter of Henry Patton and Sarah Lynn

8.  Henry Patton's third great-grandson Edward Patton married Malinda Jane Sherrill

9. Malinda Sherrill's niece, Eleanor Elizabeth Sherrill married James Brantley Prichard, ancestor of our Prichard YDNA match 

The world of Southern Genealogy research is a twisted wreckage of intermarriages over many centuries.  It is not easy to understand the many relationships that create a Southern family,  Knowing who married whom and who migrated to to same areas as whom helps us to understand how twisted it can really be.  If Threlkeld married Peyton and Peyton married Thompson and Thompson married Patton and Patton married Buchanan and Buchanan married Mayfield and Mayfield married Coffey and Coffey married Cleveland and Cleveland is a given name on the Payton pedigree does that make Payton and Peyton the same family? See what I mean?  Add YDNA to the mix and it becomes even more complicated. I have tried to unravel it as much as I could during my research.

However, there comes one of those AH HA moments when everything clicks and it all makes sense.  That Ah Ha moment came for me when I realized that there are several family groups that make up One Big Family. 

It all started early in Essex County, Virginia with the Mayfield family (see pedigree).  The Mayfield family intermarried with the Coffey and Cleveland families.  The Coffey family then migrated to Amherst County, Virginia where members of the Peyton/Thompson/Patton/Humphrey/Threlkeld intermarried families from Stafford County, Virginia settled at the same time (see Stafford Co, Va and Amherst Co, Va records). Humphrey is from the same line as the Humphrey YDNA match to Payton and Prichard.  Members of the same Coffey families then migrated to Burke Co, NC where they settled with the intermarried Mayfield/Buchanan/Patton/Edminston/Boone families. Also there are the Sherrill families who later intermarried with our Prichard YDNA match in Wilson Co, TN.  This Sherrill family then migrated to Schulyer Co, Ill where they settled at the same time as a Humphrey from the family of our Humphrey YDNA match. By 1805 for the Land Lottery the Payton family is in Georgia

THEN came the AH HA moment

The Payton family has 11 given names the same as the Mayfield family.  Are they related?

Mayfield has Coffey descendants on the pedigree and Boone families.  Coffey also married Boone in Burke Co, NC. 

Coffey has Asbury and Cleveland given names.  Cleveland Coffey was born in Burke Co, NC.Cornelius Payton had Randolph Payton who had Thomas Asbury Cleveland Payton

Coffey has the given name Chesley and Leroy Payton, Sr. had a Chesley Payton

The descendants of Matthew Patton were in Burke Co, NC at the same time as many families that married into the Mayfield family

Coffey and/or Mayfield is probably one of the unknown maternal ancestors of Moses, Leroy, Cornelius, Leroy and Gabriel Payton

Gabriel Payton is found in Hardin Co, KY at the same time as William Humphrey and William Humphrey, Jr from the Humphrey line of the YDNA match to Payton.  William Humphrey married Elizabeth Threlkeld.  Their daughter married her cousin Moses Threlkeld.  Also in Hardin Co, KY are Squire Boone from the Boone line that married Coffey and Mayfield.  And, one more person in Hardin Co, KY was Alexander Bryant sho married Anne Peyton the daughter of James Peyton and Susannah Threlkeld, the aunt of Elizabeth Threlkeld who married William Humphrey, from the line of the Humphrey YDNA match to Payton. 

The Patton family has descendants who married into the Randolph family (see Randolph Payton the brother of Cornelius Payton and Randolph Payton, th son of Cornelius Payton), the WIlson family on the Sherrill pedigree that intermarried with the Prichard YDNA match to Payton, The Thompson family who married both Patton and the Peyton line of James and Susannah Threlkeld, The jarrett family (Payton has Jonathan Jarrett Payton), the Sherrill family who intermarried with the Prichard family of the YDNA match to Payton, Lynn who married Wilson on the Sherrill pedigree and Lynn from the Patton pedigree married a Humphrey from the Humphrey line that has a YDNA match to Payton. 

See the pattern.  It is more apparent when you go to the pedigree files at Rootsweb, find the patriarch and then do a descendancy report.  All of these families intermarried with each other and with related families ad infinitum. Also, check out the State and County records accessed through the link below.

Pedigees have been moved to the rootsweb file:


There are also records from PENNSYLVANIA, VIRGINIA, NORTH CAROLINA, SOUTH CAROLINA, TENNESSEE, INDIANA and ILLINOIS where members of these families are found in the following link.


IF you have trouble following all the interwoven, intermarried pedigrees in the report above I have added some pedigree charts with the relevant connections between families.  CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW








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