Casting Doubt on the Origins of Moses Halsey of Grayson County, Virginia

Moses Halsey, my gggg grandfather on my mother’s side, is the furthest back I can go in the Halsey line with certainty. The often copied book, Thomas Halsey of Hertfordshire, England, and Southampton, Long Island, 1591-1679: with His American Descendants to the Eighth Generation, by Edmund Drake Halsey and Jacob Lafayette Halsey, merely gives a Moses as one of the sons of Nathan(iel) Halsey and Mary, his wife. [p. 94] This Nathan(iel) died at Southampton, New York and mentions his son Moses in his will written in 1768.  Nathan(iel) Halsey wrote his will in 1762 and did not mention any guardian(s) for the children, indicating that they were likely of age. This would imply that this particular Moses had a birth year of 1741 or earlier. Nathan(iel)’s  will was proven in 1768, with no guardians mentioned, reinforcing the idea that this Moses Halsey was twenty-one. Even if we use the later date of 1768 as the age Moses turned twenty-one, it would give this Moses a birth year of 1747. This does not agree at all with later records for “our” Moses Halsey in Grayson County, Virginia.

Rufus Clinton Halsey seems to have found this Moses in the Halsey brothers’ book or perhaps in the records given in The History of the First Prebyterian Church, Morristown, New Jersey, which gives abstracts of the wills of several Halsey families from Southampton, New York stating merely that Moses was a son of Nathaniel’s and was mentioned by name in his will [see part II, p. 305], or he found him in some other records and figured him as the Moses Halsey that came to Virginia as the travelling companion of William Halsey of Morris County, New Jersey. This is all he states in his book, Halsey [p. 81A & 82A]. Rufus gives no sources for much of his information and we are left guessing at how he came to this conclusion.  Halsey Family Genealogy Since 1395 AD by David Halsey piggy-backs on Rufus Halsey’s work, just as I am piggy-backing on their work, and gives several references to Moses in Grayson County but seems to take it on faith that Moses son of Nathan(iel) is the Moses Halsey that came to Virginia, citing no proof of Moses’ parentage [pp.  19& 20] I have never seen proof that this particular Moses Halsey, son of Nathan(iel), sold the land his father bequeathed him (excerpt from will: “to my son, Moses Halsey, my lot of land lying down Mecox, in the neck that was Arthur Howell’s, and 1/2 of my wood land lying by Jonah Sandfords, and 1/2 of all the rest of my wood land and Commonage”), moved from Long Island, or moved to Virginia. Just because Nathan(iel) had a son named Moses does not mean that he was the only Moses Halsey or that he was the Moses Halsey that travelled to Virginia with William Halsey of Morris County, New Jersey. While I do not have PROOF as to who exactly this Moses was, I do have enough evidence to cast doubt that it was the son of Nathan(iel) Halsey.

It seems as if there were at least 3 Moses Halseys alive during this time frame, that is around the turn of the nineteenth century, say from about 1760 to about 1840. Two of these Moses Halseys were recorded on the 1790 census and lived on Long Island in 1790.

1790 Census, New York, Suffolk Co., South Hampton, p. 134

Moses Halsey   –  1 free white male 16+     1 free white male <16       3 free white females

1790 Census, New York, Suffolk Co., South Hampton, p. 138

Moses Holsey –  1 free white male 16+    2 free white males <16     1 free white female     1 other free person

The 1790 Census of New Jersey was lost or destroyed, but tax lists show a possible third Moses Halsey in Morris Co., New Jersey in 1790, paying personal property taxes there in March along with William  and several other Halseys. This is the only time I have found this Moses on records in Morris County, with the exception of the tombstone of Cynthia Haines Halsey, wife of Moses Halsey who died 1784 ‘in her 24th year’. If he were just twenty-one when he first began paying property taxes, he would have been born about 1769. This birth year agrees more closely with later census records than the date of 1759 given by other Halsey genealogies.

1790 Hanover Twp., Morris Co., NJ, March Tax List. p. 8 & 9

Ailar Holsey

Henry Holsey

Jabez Holsey

Joel Holsey

Moses Holsey

Nathaniel Holsey

Obadiah Holsey

Stephen Holsey

William Holsey

While I have not had the opportunity to go to Morris Co., New Jersey and do any search of the records there, from the records available at and other internet sources, this was the only time Moses Halsey paid taxes in Morris County. It would seem more likely that the William Halsey, whose pension file proves he was the one who migrated to Grayson County, Virginia, would have gone with someone from his hometown. This is not proof either, but it does point out that there was another Moses Halsey who was a more likely candidate to be the one who travelled with William to Virginia.

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4 Responses to Casting Doubt on the Origins of Moses Halsey of Grayson County, Virginia

  1. Owen says:

    do you have any further info on this moses halsey thanks

  2. spotisadog says:

    I have his children and grandchildren. He was my fourth great grandfather. Is there anything in particular you’re interested in?

    • Jessica says:

      I’m trying to find the father of Robert Holsey of Grayson, VA born 1828. (He later emigrated to Illinois) Any help would be appreciated!

    • Jessica says:

      I’m trying to find the family of Robert Holsey, born 1828 in Grayson County, VA. (He later emigrated to Illinois) Any info would be appreciated.

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