State of NC and Payne vs. Dills

I ran across this interesting tidbit a few weeks ago while indexing Superior Court Minutes 1869 – 1872 (Macon Co., NC). From page 46:

Warrant Issued 7th day April 1870 Returned 7th April 1870 with the defendant [J. M. Dills] arrested by W. A. Shepherd. She [Mary E. Payne] come up on evidence of the prosecuter that the said child was born in the State of Georgia where its mother was at the time domiciled.

The child’s name is not mentioned, and repeated attempts to find Mary Payne in the 1870 US Census in both Macon County and nearby Rabun Co., GA, have proved fruitless.

What is interesting is that a Jeremiah M. Dills (1842 – 1924) married on February 7, 1863 in Macon County to one Rachel Lou Payne (1843 – 1882). Whether Mary and Rachel were related is unknown at this time, nor can it be said for certain that Jeremiah M. Dills is the same man as the J. M. Dills mentioned in the above suit. The coincidences between the families are too similar to ignore, however; further research should reveal the name of the child in question, the relationship between Mary and Rachel (if any), and whether Jeremiah M. Dills and J. M. Dills were the same person. Possible avenues might include:

  • Bastardy Bonds, Macon Co., NC, held in the North Carolina State Archives in Raleigh, NC.
  • Court Minutes. Until Mary’s child came of age, he or she would probably have been appointed a guardian by the court to see to his or her welfare. This is especially true if Mary or her family had any property to which the child might have been entitled by law. The problem is that the appropriate court records cannot be searched, or even named, until Mary’s residence is located.
  • 1870 US Census, Macon Co., NC, Rabun Co., GA, and surrounding counties. Searches should be made both for Mary Payne, and for J. M. Dills. A thorough researcher might also wish to look for the Jeremiah and Rachel Payne Dills family, and for likely candidates for Mary’s parents.
  • Marriage records, Macon Co., NC, Rabun Co., GA, and surrounding counties. Mary may have married, and so she may be listed in other records under a different surname.
  • 1880 US Census, Macon Co., NC, Rabun Co., GA, and surrounding counties. Mary’s child would be about ten years old in this census.
  • Probate records, Payne family. If Mary’s parents can be located in the 1870 US Census and their dates and places of death determined (with further research into census, land, and other records), then the probate records for her parents’ estate should be searched for clues to Mary’s child’s name, and to determine how or if Mary and Rachel were related.
  • Probate records, Macon Co., NC, for Jeremiah M. Dills. Such records should name this man’s heirs, even if he died intestate; if so, then he could be either ruled out as being the father of Mary Payne’s child, or he could be definitively proven to be her child’s father.

Note: Jeremiah and Rachel were buried in the Dills Family Cemetery located in the Cartoogechaye section of Macon County.


12 Comments to “State of NC and Payne vs. Dills”

  1. Hi,

    I ran across this post while googling Macon County, NC bastardy bond records, of all things. (completely unrelated research)

    I am connected to Jeremiah Dills through his brother Henry Harrison Dills. Henry H’s daughter Addie was my g-grandmother. I am also connected to another person that I believe will help to solve this mystery. He is John Joshua Shepherd. John Shepherd married Mary Payne. Mary Payne was Rachel Payne’s sister.

    In book Macon County, NC Marriages 1829-1939 by John E Wooley

    Joshua Shepherd and Mary Paine married on 8 July 1870 with J.K Bryson, Reg. Three months after the warrant you mentioned was issued.

    In 1870 John and Mary are living with John’s father Calvin G Shepherd in the Cowee Township of Macon County.

    C G Shepherd age 45, Farmer, b. NC
    Ferebee (Farebee ? 1860 spelled Fereby) age 41, b. NC
    Jehu K age 17, at home, b. NC
    Gracy E age 15, at home, b. NC
    Martha N age 11, b. NC
    Henry B age 0, b. NC
    Nancy J age 7, b. NC
    Ferrcher (? spelling) A (female) age 5 b. NC
    Sarah F age 3, b. NC
    Mary M age 1, b. NC

    It looks like Rosa Lee may be Jeremiah’s daughter.

    In the book Macon County Marriages 1829-1939 by James E Wooley there is a marriage for a:
    Joshua Shepherd age 40 and Rosa Lee Payne age 21(b abt 1870)
    on 31 Aug 1891. W. J. Jenkins, J.P.

    Hope this helps. I will keep digging on this, as you have peaked my interest with your post. Gosh, you just never know what you will run across when you google something, huh?

    Tina Wyatt

  2. @ the moderator. Please forgive my previous post. I did not realize that this was a case study. I thought this was an inquiry. Please disregard my post on this topic!

    My apologies, Tina Wyatt

  3. No, it’s ok! Thanks for leaving a comment. I found that tidbit while indexing Superior Court minutes for Macon County. I’m not directly related to these families, but found the case interesting enough to use as a focus for an article here. I appreciate the research you posted, especially as it answered the question of why I couldn’t find Mary in the 1870 US Census; as I suspected, she had married, but I didn’t expect her to have married so shortly after the court case. Once again, my thanks for your comments.

  4. Ok. When I saw case study, I thought you were posting it as a challenge to someone and that you already had the information. I did dig into this some more. I’ll post what I found in case someone else wants the info.

    It looks like Rosalee married her step-father Joshua Shepherd.

    1880 Macon County, NC Cowee Township

    Shepherd Joshua age 29, farmer, nc,nc,nc
    Mary E age 30 nc,nc,nc
    Julia A 7 nc,nc,nc
    Samuel A 5 nc,nc,nc
    Calvin G 3 nc,nc,nc
    Rosa L 11 (step daughter) nc,nc,nc

    Then Rosalee and Joshua marry in 1891.

    1900 Macon County, NC Cowee Township Dist 62

    Shepperd Jo(can’t read the rest) b Feb 1867, married 10 yrs
    nc,nc,nc farmer, owns farm
    Rosa L b Jan 1869, mother of 5/5 living
    Calvin b Mar 1878 nc,nc,nc farm laborer
    Clyde b Dec 1891 nc,nc,nc
    Gruly or Greely b Jan 1893 nc,nc,nc
    Ada M b Mar 1896 nc,nc,nc
    Nellie J b Mar 1898 nc,nc,nc
    Joseph H Apr 1899 nc,nc,nc

    1910 Macon County, NC Cowee Township Dist 108
    Sheperd Joshua 59, marr 2 times, 18yrs present marr.,
    nc,nc,nc farmer, owns farm
    Rosalee 41, marr 1 time, 18 yrs, 9 children 8 living nc,nc,nc
    Clyde 19 nc,nc,nc farm laborer
    Greely 17 nc,nc,nc farm laborer
    Ada 18 nc,nc,nc farm laborer
    Nellie 18 nc,nc,nc farm laborer
    Howard 11 nc,nc,nc farm laborer
    Dillard 9 nc,nc,nc
    Leo 8 nc,nc,nc
    Carey (son) 7/12 nc,nc,nc

    1920 Macon County, NC Cowee Township Dist 154

    Shepherd Joshua age 68, farmer nc,nc,nc
    Roslee 50 nc,nc,nc
    Dilliard 18 nc,nc,nc
    Leo 15 nc,nc,nc
    Carey 10 nc,nc,nc

    1930 Haywood County, NC Beaverdam Dist 5

    Rosa L Shepherd (renting) 59 widowed ga (her) ga (father) nc (mother)
    Carrie (son) 20 nc,nc, ga laborer in Pulp Mill
    Lester (g-son) 9 nc,nc,nc

    NC Death Certificates 1909-1975 #

    Mrs Rosa Lee Sheppard
    Residence: Canton, Haywood Co., NC
    b 15 July 1873 in Macon County NC
    age 75 yrs, 6 mons, 18 days
    d 23 Jan 1949 at home
    Canton, Haywood Co., NC Beaverdam
    Injuries from fall in the floor of home
    Widowed: Joshua Sheppard

    Mother: Mary Payne b in Macon Co., NC
    Informant: Carey Sheppard, Canton, NC
    Burial in Sheppard Cemetery Cowee Section, Macon Co., NC
    Garrett Funeral Home

    Shepherd Memorial Cemetery
    Joshua J Shepherd b 22 Feb 1851 d 30 Apr 1926
    Rosalee Payne Shepherd b 5 July 1867 d 23 Jan 1949

    Couldn’t find Mary in this cemetery.

    Looks like many of the things you sited will still have to be checked to help link Jeremiah Dills to Rosalee.

    Thanks for posting what you found. Isn’t it strange how you can run across something when researching someone totally unrelated to the topic?

    On a side note, I explored your website and realized that I had seen your work many times beforea as have some of the same family ties. I am connected to the Hastings through Jewan Hastings. He was Albert Hastings grandson. I am also connected to the Ledford’s through Mary Jane Ledford. She was the daughter of Lucinda Ledford. She’s too long of a story to post here about and was illegitimate as Rosalee Payne was. So, thanks for all your hard work in the Macon County area!

    Thanks again for posting what you found. Maybe someone else will run across this, as I did, and find it useful.

  5. Tina,

    I wanted to take a moment to thank you once again for looking up this family in census and other records. When I went to verify the information you’d presented, I found a small error in your transcription of the 1900 US Census: Joshua Shepherd was born in 1851, not 1867 (his age was given as 49; when I took a second look at the date given, it was clear that the last two digits were “51” rather than “67”, but the writing did make it difficult to discern between the two). The 1867 you had listed threw me a bit, especially when compared to the ages stated for Joshua in later US Censuses.

    Here’s what we have so far:

    1. Mary Payne and the State of North Carolina sued a J. M. Dills in April, 1870, for the support of an unnamed illegitimate child.
    2. Mary “Paine” married in July, 1870, to Joshua Shepherd.
    3. In the 1870 US Census, “John J.” and Mary Shepherd were enumerated with “Rosalie” Payne, aged 1.
    4. In the 1880 US Census, “Joshua” and “Mary E.” Shepherd were enumerated with Calvin G. Shepherd (son to the head of the household) and Rosa L. Shepherd (step-daughter to the head of the household).
    5. Rosa L. Payne married in 1891 to a Joshua Shepherd.
    6. The Joshua Shepherd enumerated as Rosa’s husband on the 1900 US Census was approximately the same age as Rosa’s step-father, Joshua Shepherd.
    7. A Calvin Shepherd was enumerated in 1900 along with Rosa and her husband, Joshua, as Joshua’s son.
    8. This Calvin Shepherd was the same apparent age as the Calvin Shepherd who was enumerated as the son of Joshua Shepherd and Mary Payne in the 1880 US Census.

    The reasonable conclusion does seem to be that the Federal census records and local marriage records “prove” that the Joshua Shepherd who married Mary Payne was the same one who later married Mary’s daughter, Rosa.

    I would urge researchers to dig deeper before definitively stating such, and here’s why:

    1. The Shepherd family in Macon County during this era was large and numerous. There were several Joshua and Calvin Shepherds, who must be sorted one from another before we can reach a definite conclusion.
    2. A full survey of available records has not yet been made on this family. Other records may indicate a different relationship amongst the parties involved, thus negating our “key proof” of Joshua’s identity as shown in numbers 7 and 8 above (the apparent relationship between Joshua and Calvin Shepherd), upon which our entire tentative conclusion (that Rosa Lee Payne married her stepfather) rests.
    3. Rosa Lee Payne was raised as Joshua Shepherd’s daughter. The fact that this family seems to have resided in the same, small township over the vast majority of Rosa’s life indicates that there was little or no community backlash from the consumation of what would probably be seen as an incestuous relationship.

    Once again, thanks for looking all this up. Like you, I hope it helps another researcher down the road. And, of course, if you (or anyone else) finds anything further, please do post it!


  6. Tina,

    I ran into your conversation with Dawn. Jeremiah McNally Dills was my Great Great Grandfather. I’m related through his son Thomas Satterfield Dills.

    If you would like to chat offline let me know? Until two years ago I knew nothing of my grandparents and their family. Long story, my father was raised by his sisters/brother and a lot of family history was lost. When my father joined the Army his birth certificate had to be reproduced from the family bible since the courthouse in either Franklin (or Hayesville) burnt down. His sister Betty dropped the “s” of the Dills name since she thought it sounded more proper. The same way the name was before the family came to NC from England (I believe Devonshire) by way of Sommers Island (now called Bermuda). Lawrence Dill moved to Sommers Island in 1673 and it looks like his son Joseph moved to NC either 1703-04. I’m still trying to put it all together.

    I’ve been researching Jeremiah’s military service, he was a 2nd Lieutenant in the 114th Infantry Regiment, North Carolina Militia (28th Brigade, Macon County) before the Civil War, then after the War broke out he resigned his commission and joined the newly formed D Co, 62nd North Carolina as part of the Confederacy, along with his brother Bartlett. Jeremiah was wounded three times in action. I haven’t seen any military records on Henry, but I’ll keep my eyes out.


    NC Confederate Militia, Officers Roster as contained in the Adjutant General Officers Roster. Page 300 – 301. Stephen E. Bradley.

    National Archives Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers who served for North Carolina, Roll 221.

    Have a great weekend,

  7. am researching my family line,,,on my fathers side,,

    my father william donald morris / beckett

    my grandmother ethel mae searcy / morris / maxwell / morris / beckett

    great grandmother cora ann galloway Cherokee indian
    great grandfather john morris / searcy
    i dont know who john morris parents are as of yet..

    great great grandmother julia ann galloway
    great great grandfather eddard alonzo (lonzo) galloway

    great great great grandmother mary e payne
    great great great grandfather joshua j shepherd

    i don’t know who marys parents are as of yet..

    i have an indian blood line but having a hard time tracing it,,

    my grandmother’s mother cora died when she was a little girl and the maxwells took the childern in..destroying records and pictures…

    my grandmothers oldest brother lived with alonzo and julia great uncle boyd galloway ,,this is how we got the one and only picture of cora…my grandmothers grandmother has pasted and all we have left are the stories she would tell us…about growing up…

    anyone with information or leads would be wonderful..

    all of my people are from macon county and the surrounding area,,,to this point…

  8. I am the great granddaughter of Rosa Lee Payne through my grandmother, Bertha Shepherd. When I ran across your post I asked my dad if he remembered any story about his grandmother (Rosa Lee Payne) and he gave the story just as you have described it…that his great grandmother (Mary Payne) had Rosa Lee by an unknown man and then married Joshua Shepherd who adopted Rosa Lee. After Mary died Joshua married Rosa Lee and had many children with her including my grandmother…..

    • hello pam,
      i was so excited when i got your email posting..
      my personal email is
      you are my first link to a direct link to rosa lee payne
      and mary e. payne…i have so many questions to run by you and your dad to see if anything may ring a bell in old family conversations..names, places, indian , pictures, etc..
      again my direct email is
      i would love to talk with you about information on the family..if i could get your email address that would be great..
      some questions i have..
      did rosa lee ever talk about her mother mary e. payne
      does anyone know who mary’s parents are…i think i know who they are but i can not confirm it as of yet…(asa p. marion payne and nancy hollenshead (full blood indian))if so i have documents connecting to the american indians..
      do you know when mary e. payne died and where?i can not find this information…
      do you know if mary e, payne had a brother named green berry payne. that married franice abegil harkans they had a daughter named tina payne , crisp.
      was there any talk about being Indian…
      my grandmother ethel mae searcy , morris , beckett was indian
      her mother my great grandmother cora galloway, searcy, morris ,stepp was indian..i have a picture of her..and have always been told she was Cherokee Indain by my grandmother…
      her mother my great great grandmother julia ann shepherd , galloway
      her mother my great great great grandmother mary e. payne that married joshua j. shepherd and rosa lee payne (mary’s daughter)..
      i will throw some other names out there further down the family line to see if any ring a bell…..
      asa p. marion payne married nancy hollinshead
      john payne married philadelphia ayers
      william payne married ?
      thomas trader payne married judith mottley? (Full Indian)
      again i would love to catch up with you…
      i live here in north carolina …i have been researching the family for about 16 years now…
      hope to here from you soon
      my email again is
      or maybe we can get together and compare our records..
      teresa geib

  9. hey pam,
    would love to chat more on the family with you..
    you are my first connection with rosa lee payne , mary e. payne , joshua shepherd..
    have so many question to run by you and your dad..
    my email is
    looking forward to hearing from you

  10. teresa….I am so sorry I am just reading this…I will try to email you so we can get our stories together.


  11. Teresa…my email address is

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