Lewis Scalf

Recorded in the records of Pasquotank County, North Carolina in the book, "Pasquotank Births, Marriages, Deaths, Brands And Flesh Marks, 1691-1797" is the birth of a Lewis Scalf on August 21, 1745. This name appears to be spelled SCARLF, as do the names of the parents of this Lewis. However, it is hard to determine here if one or the other (R or the L) was supposed to be there or not. These old writings are often hard to distinguish. This was written in script and what appeared to be an R may have simply been a lead-in to the L in these old writings. A simple stroke of the pen could have caused it to appear to be an R. The same could hold true for the L. This is just a suggestion as to why the name appeared to be SCARLF.

Whichever the case, this was most certainly a Lewis Scarf or Scalf and does appear to be the same Lewis Scalf who we know as the father of John Scalf Sr. Lewis' parents names were given as James SCARLF and Sarah RICHARDSON, daughter of Labron and Abigail. Not too far down the page is listed a John SCARLF as receiving a mark in the left ear of a "shallow fork and spoon." For many years I wondered about this. I had read that pirates received marks so others could recognize them as pirates. I had read that indentured servants were sometimes marked. However, there was no logical reason that I could determine as to why this John Scarlf was marked in such a way.

If he were the son of John Scarfe (1719) then he was certainly not an indentured servant. Even if he were the son of James Scarlf, he would not have been indentured and I doubt very seriously that he was a pirate for known pirates didn't live long on the Carolina Coast. After searching the history books on everything I could find about marks and flesh brands, I finally read a story about the markings of livestock during this period. Apparently, the livestock was marked by flesh brands in case they wandered away from their homes, as was customary at that time. There were no fences or boundaries to keep them in, so they often ended up many miles away. With the use of flesh brands, the neighbors could then recognize them and return them to their proper owners.

However, the book leads one to believe that John received a flesh brand. I have concluded that this book was used to record the flesh brands of the animals and this was the brand that John had recorded, which is most likely the case for I don't believe that John was receiving a flesh brand himself.

This John could have been the brother of James and uncle of Lewis, or he may have been James' father, John (1719). Since we have no indication of which one he was, we would have to take the logical approach and assume that it was John, the son. The reason being for this would be that John the elder, died just six years later and most likely would have had his brand recorded many years earlier. Son John was probably starting his own family and farm.

We also have no proof that John Scarfe (deed of 1719 and will of 1751) was the grandfather of Lewis SCARLF/SCARF/SCALF. Although we have reference to it from the book of Henry P. Scalf and the book of Elmer D. Scalf, no concrete evidence exists in either book to document this. If we believe the symbols mentioned in both these books, then we could say that the name was previously Scarfe/Scarf/Scarff. This has been the only link that I have seen that could place these folks in the same family.

Lets think about the symbols and analyze the evidence for a moment. In my research, I copied the 1719 deed of John Scarfe and the 1751 will. Notice that John Scarfe (the elder) used what appeared to be a ladder as his mark. This mark is one vertical line with three horizontal lines. It also looks more like a one-strand, barbed-wire fence or a railroad track than a ladder.

On page two and three of the "Scalf Family History" by Elmer D. Scalf, Elmer states that James used a J as his mark when signing documents. I also found that to be correct in some of the documents. However, it is my belief that James used this because it was the only letter he could make and had seen it often when his name had been written for him on documents.

Rather than use the common X, James preferred to use the first letter of his name. I have found this to be the case in early deeds, wills, etc., when someone had a name such as John, James, Jacob, Josiah, etc. Often, the first letter was used as their mark. I have also seen this done with other names of that time frame, but the J was much easier to make, just a simple stroke and curve.

It is also stated that this J was used down through descending generations and is a key to identifying this family. I have not found that anyone else used these symbols after James and no one used the ladder other than John, the elder. At least, not on the documents that I have or have looked at. I find John Scalf Sr. using the J one time, and as I stated before, I believe the reason for this was the fact that he also had seen this letter made so many times and it was the one letter he could write.

John Sr. would have been the great-grandson of John Scarfe of the 1719 deed if they were actually from the same family. I would think that if this symbol was used as family symbol, then James and son Lewis would have used it also and of course, John Sr. would have carried it on. The fact that they did not, leads me to believe that it was merely a mark that John Scarfe used himself for some reason that is unknown to me.

It is my opinion, and only an opinion, that it had nothing to do with anything hereditary from the family. These folks were very illiterate and most likely felt proud that they could make at least one letter of their name, since the X was such a commonly used mark of the time. I did not find this to be a key factor in identifying any of these family members if in fact, they were family. I don't mean to sound critical, nor do I mean to cast doubt on anyone's research, but I'm not thoroughly convinced that this is enough to accept that the name was previously Scarfe.

It does appear that way from the birth record of Lewis and the fact that James Scarfe was a son of John Scarfe, but if the letter R were not actually an R, but was merely a lead-in to the L, then that would shed a whole different light on the Scarfe theory I would think. Either this letter was a lead-in to the L or it was an R, but I don't think it was intended to be both. That is one of my reasons for starting with Lewis Scalf instead of the early John Scarfe of Pasquotank County, North Carolina.

It is very strange indeed that a marriage record for Lewis Scalf and his first wife has not been found, nor any mention of her name on any records. In over 200 pages of the full pension file of John Scalf Sr., he does not mention his mother at all. Neither do his family members. I'm sure she died when he was a young boy and possibly during the war, but he never mentioned his mother, only his father.

Although some believe that Elizabeth Blackburn was the mother of John Sr. and his brothers and sisters, that would not be logical. Her marriage to Lewis Scalf was in February of 1777, not long before her father died and left his will naming Elizabeth Scalf. Lewis' oldest children, John Sr., Benjamin, David, and possibly Sarah were all born before this time. At least John, Benjamin and David were if the census records are near correct on their ages. The following is a compilation of Lewis' movements from his birth in 1745.

1745---The birth of a Lewis SCARLF is listed in the records of Pasquotank County, NC and can be found in the book, "Pasquotank Births, Marriages, Deaths, Brands and Flesh Marks 1691-1797" on page 42. I have a copy of this record from the Archives of Raleigh, NC. Elmer D. Scalf, author of the "Scalf Family History" on page 15, also lists this information in his book.

1779--From the birth of Lewis, I followed Elmer's lead and tracked Lewis to the 1779 Cumberland Co. NC tax list where the name is spelled SCALF.

It would seem that somewhere in North Carolina that Lewis would show up before 1779 for he surely married at least by 1760 if John Sr. were born 1760-1765. Lewis was age 34 before he shows up on the tax lists of North Carolina. I don't find a marriage record for a Lewis SCALF/SCARFE/SCARF/SCAFF/SCOFF or any spelling of the name in the North Carolina records, but we do know he had son, John Sr., from the pension affidavits filed in Hawkins County.

If the Lewis SCARLF listed in the above birth record, was in fact this Lewis SCALF, he was only 15 years old when his son John Sr. was born (according to previous works) which is not likely. John was surely born around 1765 or 1766. This would have put John's age around 15-16 years old when he joined the Revolutionary Army and would be more likely than Lewis being 15 at John's birth.

The legal age was 21 and most men married at that time. Women were allowed to marry at that age without consent, but before 21, they must have the consent of a parent or guardian. Men could not purchase land before the age of 21 and was not considered of age until then. John did state in his affidavit that "he was very young" when he enlisted in the army.

John was very young and if Lewis married at the common age of 20 to 21, then John was most likely born about 1765 or 1766 and joined the Revolutionary Army at age 15 or 16 in 1781 and he would have been young as he stated in his pension papers. It was not at all uncommon for boys age 10 and above to fight in the Revolutionary War. There was no age requirement as we have today.

If Lewis married at age 21, then he is missing for 13 years on the records. I, nor anyone else to my knowledge has found the marriage of Lewis and his first wife.

1784-Lewis is in the Johnston County, NC tax list of 1784. He is listed in John McCuller's Company with 300 acres and one free white poll. He is now 39 years old. The name is again spelled SCALF.

1787---Lewis is found in the Johnston County, NC State Census of 1787 and he is 42 years old now. He is listed with 11 whites (6 sons and 3 daughters) 7 males 21-60 years old and 4 females of all ages.

We know that at least three of these males were probably John Sr., Benjamin and David and probably one of the females is Sarah Scalf Capps from the court records, who was charged with the death of her infant son.

That leaves three sons and two daughters unidentified and one of them could possibly be William, since Lewis married Elizabeth Blackburn in 1777 and descendants place William's birth date around 1780. It's possible that three sons and two daughters belong to Lewis and Elizabeth or they may be by the first wife. I have been unable to determine this at this point.

1790---Next, we find Lewis over in Edgecombe County, NC in 1790. He is shown with 10 white persons. As we know, from the pension records of John Sr., John is now married and this is the area where the Carlisle family lived. The name is spelled CALF on this record. I believe this spelling was due to a transcribing error.

1800---Lewis is next found in Surry County, NC on the 1800 census and he is now 55 years old. John is also listed. Lewis' family is listed as follows: 2 males 10-16; 1 male 16-26; 1 male 45 and up and a female 45 and up. John is listed with one white poll.

1805---By 1805, Lewis is in Wilkes County, NC at age 60 on the Wilkes Co. NC tax list. He has 150 acres and two white polls. Probably Elizabeth and son, William.

1810---In the 1810 Federal Census of Wilkes Co. NC, Lewis is now 65 years old and listed as 1 male 45 and above; 1 female 16-26 and 1 female 45 or above. This might indicate that Lewis and Elizabeth had at least one daughter. The reason for her not being shown on the 1805 tax list might have been the fact she was under the age of 21.

1814---The next record of Lewis is in Greenville, SC where he purchased 50 acres in 1814 at age 69.

1820---Lewis is still in Greenville, SC in 1820 on the Federal Census and the name is spelled SKELF. There is 1 male 45 and up and 1 female 45 and up.  Lewis also has four boys and one girl in the home on this census which will be discussed in another chapter.

1826---By 1826, he is found in Habersham Co. GA where he purchased 250 acres. He would be around 81 years old now.

1830---Lewis is still in Habersham Co. GA in 1830 at age 85 and listed on the Federal Census at age 80-90. The name is spelled SCELF.

1836---The last record I find of Lewis is a deed where he sells land. He does not show up in the 1840 census of GA and I assume he had died. This was obtained from my notes on Lewis. I had a copy of this deed at one time, but it has been lost in my moving in the past years. However, I'm sure a copy could be obtained from Georgia.

My analysis of the above information leads me to believe that Lewis probably married around 1765 with John Sr. being born around 1765 or 1766. In my opinion, this would be the most logical explanation of Lewis' birth and John's birth verses Johns military time.

It should also be noted that two or three years (give or take) should always be allowed concerning these records unless the record states the day, month and year, such as a birth record. Most census records will often be off by at least two-to-three years and sometimes more. Although a death record or a death certificate will ultimately be the document that takes precedence over any record other than a headstone, it should be noted that they are not always accurate either.

I have found this to happen in my own immediate family. A record is only as accurate as the person giving the information for it and in some cases no one is available to do that. In the event that no one is available to give information, or does not know anything about the individual, information is either left blank, or it is taken from other records that are less reliable.

A good example of this is the fact that my own father thought he was born May 24, 1910. When I found him on the 1910 census, he was 11 months old, therefore; he could not have been born in May of 1910 even if the census had been taken in December of 1910. These numbers were clear on the census and left no room for speculation. I would have to assume that his mother had forgotten by the time he was old enough to ask how old he was.

To expand on this issue, another example of inaccurate records was found when my grandfather, John Eli Scalf was listed as James Scalf on his death certificate. His second wife was the person who gave the information. One would think she would know. For this mistake, there is no explanation.

I knew his second wife personally and she knew him to be John Eli Scalf, as did our family. He died in the hospital at Johnson City, Tennessee. Someone taking down his information when he checked into the hospital probably registered his name as James in error and this information was pulled from that record for the funeral home when the body was picked up. This information ended up with the State of Tennessee for his death record. Mae did not recall being asked anything at his death. Johns name is listed on the birth records of Scott County, Virginia as John Eli Scalf. His mother gave this information.

John's mother, Matilda Virginia Pierson, was listed as Elizabeth on her death record by her grandson who later told us he had no idea what her full name was. These are just examples of things I have found in my research. Remember that somewhere in the middle lies the truth and consider that records (even official) will sometimes not be accurate.

Copyright (C) 2001-2008 by Margaret Fleenor, All Rights Reserved.