An Inheritance of Ghosts

Elijah W. Colley and Catherine Mayo Ligon

Posted in Catherine Mayo (Ligon) Colley, Catherine Mayo Ligon, Elijah W. Colley by Gregg Mattocks on 3 September 2009

Elijah W. Colley [96]

Father: William Colley [192]

Mother: Martha —– [193]

Mattocks Family Heritage entry

Catherine Mayo Ligon [97]

Father: Leonard Seth Ligon [194]

Mother: Jannett Mayo [195]

Mattocks Family Heritage entry


Elijah W. Colley [96] was born about 1790 at Cumberland County, Virginia.

Valentine Corley, grandfather of Elijah, composed his will on 10 November 1801.  An Elijah Corley was a witness to this will. Our Elijah would have only been about 11 years old at the time, so it is unclear if he were the witness to Valentine’s will. However, I know of no other “Elijah Corley” living at the time, so it is possible the boy was the witness.

On 5 January 1811, Stephen and David Simmons sold to Elijah W. Corley of Cumberland County, for $207, 207 acres at Franklin County, Viriginia.  The property was described as:

… a certain tract or parcel of land lying in Franklin County and bounded as followeth (viz) Beginning at a crooked white oak on a road thence N 31 degrees W 182 poles to a white oak N 8 degrees W 60 poles to a White oak in Simmonses line, thence with his line 180 degrees W 26 poles to a White oak corner of Simmons. S 4 degrees W 20 poles crossing a branch to a White oak in Amonses line, thence with his line, N 51 degrees […] poles to a red oak on said road, thence with the said road a conditional […] to the beginning containing by Estimation two hundred and seven acres the same more or less….

Elijah married, 16 February 1815, at Powhatan County, Virginia, Catherine Mayo Ligon [97].  Horatio G. Saunders provided surety for the marriage.  Catherine was born about 1795 at Powhatan County, the daughter of Leonard Seth and Jannett (Mayo) Ligon.

Catherine’s father died when she was about 14.  On 24 August 1812, Catherine’s mother sold 575 acres at Powhatan County to John Radford.  The sale was approved by Catherine and her brother Leonard, both of lawful age.

Son William S. is presumed to have been born about 1816.  Daughter Julia Ann Elizabeth was born about 1818.

On 22 March 1819, at Cumberland County, Elijah was deeded by John P. and Dicy Palmore.

In the 1820 Census for Cumberland County, Elijah Colley was listed as the head of a household consisting of one male aged 26 to 45 [Elijah himself], one female aged 26 to 45 [Elijah’s wife Catherine], two males aged 10 to 16, three males under the age of 10 [one of whom was probably son William], and one female under the age of 10 [daughter Julia]. The identities of four of the boys in the household is not known at this time, though the two elder boys were two old to have been born after the marriage of Elijah and Catherine.

On 30 August 1820, at Cumberland County, Elijah gave surety for the marriage bond of Joseph S. Ligon and Adeline E. Palmore.

Son Elijah Walker was born about 1821.

On 27 March 1826, at Cumberland County, Elijah exchanged property with William Bellamy.  Reportedly there is also record of a sale of Cumberland County land from Joel M. and Eleanor Boatwright to Elijah.

Elijah’s last years were spent at his farm on Willis Creek in Cumberland County, a farm of about 216 acres.

The will of Elijah W. Colley was dated 10 October 1826.  As his wife was not mentioned, it is assumed she sometime between the census of 1820 and the date of the will.

I Elijah W Colley of Cumberland County being in Sound mind and memory do make and Constitute this my Last will and Testament.  Item I give and bequeath unto my Sister Elizabeth Durrum one tract of Land lying and being in the County of Prince Edward being the Land which I purchased of Joel Mann Containing one hundred and Six acres during her natural life and at her death. I give the Same to her Children to be equally divided between them. Item I give and bequeath unto my daughter Julia Ann Eliza Colley one negro girl named Fanny. Item I give all the rest and residue of my property to my three Children Viz. Wm. S. Colley Julia Ann Eliza Colley and Elijah W Colley to be equally divided among them.  Lastly I Constitute Maurice Langhorne and William W Thornton my Exors to this my Last will and Testament. In witness whereof I have hereunto Set my hand and Seal this the tenth day of October Eighteen hundred and twenty six

Elijah W Colley   (seal)

At a Court held for Cumberland County the 23rd day of March 1829. This Last will and Testament of Elijah W Colley decd was presented in Court and proved to be wholly in the hand writing of the decedent by the oaths of Laurence Blanton and William Colley and was thereupon ordered to be recorded and Maurice Langhorne and William M Thornton the Exrs named therein refusing to qualify as such on the motion of William W Colley who made oath thereto and entered into bond with Security in the penalty of Five thousand dollars condition as the Law directs administration is granted him on the Estate of the said Elijah W. Colley decd with his will annexed.

Teste P H Nunnally   D C

On 27 June 1836, Elijah’s children sold to Peter T. Phillips, for $1800, land that had been owned by Elijah.  The property was described as:

… a certain tract or parcel of Land, supposed to contain two hundred acres, be the same more or less, and lying in the County of Cumberland and State of Virginia, adjoining the lands of Edwd J. Carrington, Benjamin Price and others, and being the same tract or parcel of Land owned and possessed by the late Elijah W. Colley Decd….

On 4 April 1840, at Clay County, Missouri, Elijah’s daughter Julia, along with her husband Joseph Jenkins, sold, for $600, to Peter T. Phillips “one undivided third part of the farm and tract of land on which Elijah W. Colley was living at the time of his death,” that is, one-third of about 216 acres.  The terms of this deed would seem to be no more than a repeat of the terms of joint deed of 27 July 1836.  Why the original sale needed to be repeated is unclear.

Children of Elijah W. and Catherine Mayo (Ligon) Colley:

  • 96.1. William S.
  • 96.2. Julia Ann “Julian” Elizabeth, born about 1818.
  • 96.3. Elijah Walker [96], born about 1821.


  • —, Cumberland County, Virginia, Deed Book 23, page 68, transcribed by Luster Earl Colley.
  • —, Cumberland County, Virginia, Deed Book 24, page 59, transcribed by Luster Earl Colley.
  • —, Cumberland County, Virginia, Deed Book 25, page 70, transcribed by Luster Earl Colley.
  • —, Cumberland County, Virginia, Will Book 3, page 216, transcribed by Luster Earl Colley.
  • —, Cumberland County, Virginia, Will Book 8, page 547, transcribed by Luster Earl Colley.
  • —, Franklin County, Virginia, Deed Book 6, pages 103-04, transcribed by Luster Earl Colley.
  • —, Powhatan County, Virginia, Deed Book 4, page 438, transcribed by Luster Earl Colley.
  • Julie Williams Coley, “WilliamsC,” at, accessed 13 September 2009.
  • Katherine B. Elliott, Marriage Records, 1749-1840, Cumberland County, Virginia (Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1969), assorted records, transcribed by Luster Earl Colley, no page numbers given.
  • [Nadine Hodges, Audrey L. Woodruff, Howard Woodruff, Missouri Pioneers of Clay County (Bowling Green, Missouri: Infotech Publications, 1992), page 60.
  • Catherine Lindsay Knorr, Marriages of Powhatan County, Virginia, 1777-1830 (published by the compiler, 1957), as transcribed by Luster Earl Colley.Nita [Rueth], “The Colley Surname Message Board,” at, posted 3 August 2000.