William Spiller, born circa 1750, married Catherine Wright Turner, daughter of James Turner and Orianna Russell.William Spiller died in 1800.
Kentucy Court records, bounty land claims, and newspaper obituaries made identifying the children of this marriage fairly easy. The Kentucky Court of Appeals had a case that stated that this William Spiller wrote his will in 1797 and at that time had four children. After he wrote the will he had another son identified as George A. Spiller, born in 1799. One son was identified as B. C. Spiller in the court documents and a daughter named Mary was mentioned.
George A. Spiller, William H. Spiller, and Colin C. Spiller applied for additional bounty lands in 1831 and were certified as the only surviving and legal heirs of William Spiller, deceased. This makes sense because the Richmond Enquirer carried the following obituaries:
“Died- On June 18, at her mother’s residence in King William County, Mary Spiller, only daughter of the late Major William Spiller.” (July 11, 1826, p. 3, c. 5 ), and,
“Died- At his residence in King William County, on Thursday, Sep 20, in his 23rd year, Benjamin C Spiller, a lawyer. (November 13, 1827, p. 3, c. 5).
The year following their application for additional bounty lands another obituary was published, this time for Dr. George A. Spiller of King William County, dated July 24, 1832.
Another entry which identified these children positively was found in Virginia Genealogist, Vol. 2, p. 110 in a section titled “Some Virginia Revolutionary Veterans and Their Heirs” by Wm H. Dumont. It stated that veterans received bounty land warrants for their service. They had to turn in the warrants to get scrip which could be turned in for land. “Only Virginia veterans whose heirs received scrip are included in the list. Those who were alive . . . or who had transferred their warrants to others have been omitted.”
Spiller, William, Capt State Line, pp. 181, 194; 1835-1836, heirs: George A. (deceased), William H. and Colin C.
This last, being the most compelling, is presented verbatim from its source. It even gives us the name of one of William’s grandsons.
Genealogical Abstracts Revolutionary War Veterans: Scrip ACT 1852 by Margie G. Brown, p. 79 –
“Application: 321 William Spiller, Captain Virginia State Line
King William Co., Virginia Court 22 Nov 1832
William Spiller d. before 1832
1. William H. Spiller
2. Colin C. Spiller
3. George A. Spiller, d. 17 June 1832, will in King William Co., Virginia devising his effects to his nephew William A. Spiller
Depositions Peter Foster (RWS), Claiborn Morris b. ca 1759 (RWS), John Woollard b. ca 1760 (RWS), Benjamin Figg, William Burns b. ca 1768” Copies of this application are online at the Library of Virginia website for those interested.
So we see that the children from this marriage were:
i. Capt. William H. Spiller was born in 1793 in King William Co., Virginia and died on 30 Mar 1837 in King William Co., Virginia at age 44. William married Elizabeth S.C. King, date unknown. According to Karen Lawless, she was the daughter of Miles and Mary Quarles King.
There were two William H. Spiller’s of about the same age in Virginia at this time. William Hickman Spiller, son of Hickman Spiller and his first wife, Catherine Markham Smith, and cousin of this William H. Spiller, was born in 1800 and great care must be taken to NOT confuse records for the two men. Luckily, William Hickman Spiller spent most of his time in the Wytheville, Virginia area making it easier to keep them straight.
We can be fairly certain that the William H. Spiller that served as a 1st Lieutenant in the War of 1812 was this William because the other William H. Spiller would surely have been too young, only having been born in 1800. Colin C. and Benjamin C. Spiller, his brothers, served as well.
The Religious Herald dated 31 March 1837, carried his obituary. “Died at his residence, in the county of King William, on Monday evening, the 30th inst, after a painful and protracted illness, Capt. Wm. H. Spiller, in forty fourth year of his age.”
A Mrs. Elizabeth Spiller, William’s widow, married Robert Johnson, 6 July 1844, in Chesterfield County, Virginia. They were living in King William County in 1850. Robert was listed as thirty-two and Elizabeth was forty-eight. Elizabeth King Spiller Johnson died 13 December 1862.
Children of William and Elizabeth (King) Spiller were: Colin C. Spiller, 1821-1893 (md Sarah Crouch, served in Civil War, steamboat captain. He died and was buried in Alabama.); Mary Catherine Spiller, 1828-1903 (md William Samuel 1848. She died in Chatanooga, Tennessee); Robert Miles Spiller, ca. 1827-1878 (md Anna Augusta Maltby 1857 in New York City. He died in Baltimore, Maryland.); William A. Spiller, ca 1829-aft 1880 (md 1) Elizabeth Francis Shadwick 1847 and after her death md 2) Adeliza T. Shadwick, her sister. He died King William Co., Virginia.); Benjamin George Spiller, 1835-1844, died King William Co., Virginia.
ii.Colin C. Spiller, born 27 Nov 1796, most likely in King William County, Virginia, died before 6 June 1842 in Albemarle County, Virginia when his brother-in-law, George C. Gilmer, was granted administration of his estate and the guardianship of George C. Spiller, ‘infant son of Colin’. Colin married Georgeanna (or George Anna) Gilmer, daughter of George and Elizabeth Hudson Gilmer of Albemarle County, Virginia, 15 April 1829. Georgeanna Gilmer Spiller died 20 September 1840, at the age of thirty.
Colin served with his brother, William H., in Captain Charles Braxton’s Company of Cavalry during the War of 1812. A Benjamin C. Spiller also served but it is unclear if this was the younger brother of William H. and Colin or perhaps their cousin. Colin, at least, was in the Battle of the Thames. For those of you who, like me, have no idea when or where this happened, the Battle of the Thames, also known as the Battle of Moraviantown, was an American victory in the War of 1812. It took place on October 5, 1813, near Chatham, Ontario in Upper Canada. The Indian leader Tecumseh was killed there in hand to hand combat. Many Kentuckians fought in this battle and having been told to expect no quarter from the British and to avenge the massacre at Raisen River, fought with a certain desperate fierceness.
It seems that there was great debate over who actually killed Tecumseh. The October 1996 issue of Military History carried an article by William Francis Freehoff that told of some of the controvery.
“To this day, details of Tecumseh’s death remain unknown. Legend has it that Richard Johnson killed Tecumseh, and the colonel-congressman was to get credit for a deed he himself never claimed credit for. Johnson shot and killed an Indian who came at him with a tomahawk, but no one could say for certain that the Indian was the great Shawnee chief. Nevertheless, the following jingle became part of Johnson’s later political campaigns: ‘Rumpsey dumpsey, rumpsey dumpsey, Colonel Johnson killed Tecumseh.’
“Another of the grisly legends that grew out of that battle was the skinning of Tecumseh. For years afterward, Kentucky veterans of the battle would show their friends strips of leather they claimed were made from the hide sliced from the recumbent form of Tecumseh himself. Some of Tecumseh’s braves later told a different story. His face stained with blood from a head wound, Tecumseh shouted encouragement to his warriors until he was mortally wounded by a bullet in his left breast. A few followers then carried him from the field and secretly buried him. His body was never recovered, at least not by white men.”
William Galt wrote a letter in 1866 to the editor of The Historical Magazine and Notes and Queries Concerning the Antiquities, History, and Biography of America regarding “Who Killed Tecumseh?” He offered a different view entirely of who killed Tecumseh. I quote the letter because it will surely be of great interest.
“To Henry B. Dawson, Esq., Ed. Historical Magazine.
Norfolk, Va., Aug. 15th ’66.
In the No [?] of your Magazine for July, I find a statement of facts relative to the death of Tecumseh.
It is in my power to furnish you with a corroboration of that very circumstantial narration, were any needed.
An intimate friend of my youth, Mr. Colin C. Spiller, of the county of Albemarle, Virginia, was in the battle of the Thames, and he related to me the following facts, which I give you in almost his very words.
He told me that after the battle he walked over the field with a Kentuckian, a red-headed man; and I am very sure that he said that his name was King. As they went on, they came to three Indians lying dead. The Kentuckian remarked, “I killed that fellow,” pointing to the Indian lying between the two others. King did not know who the savage was, and it was not till afterwards that he was identified as Tecumseh. The conversation was introduced by my own assertion that I believed that Col. Johnson had killed the Indian chief, as was then the general opinion, and Mr. Spiller gave me the above account to prove that I was mistaken.
I may add that Mr. S. [Spiller] was a gentleman of the strictest sense of honor, and I know that his narration was true.
Very respy., Wm. R. Galt.”
I did find a Coalman C. Spiller, 3rd Seargent, in a company of Kentucky Mounted Militia that was raised by Governor Isaac Shelby, lending perhaps some credibility to the story that Colin C. Spiller was present at the battle, but not to who actually killed Tecumseh.
When Georgeanna’s father died in 1836 he left her five hundred dollars “to be so conveyed and settled as not to be in the power, possession, or interest of her husband CC Spiller (for which purpose I appoint my executor sole Trustee).” It would seem that his father-in-law had little faith in him.
Colin and Georgeanna had two sons, both of whom died without issue. Benjamin C. Spiller was born 22 January 1831 and died on the 4th of June of the same year. George Gilmer Spiller was born 16 August 1832. His uncle, George C. Gilmer, was given guardianship of young George when he was orphaned by his father’s death at the age of ten. The accounting of the estate of George G. Spiller begins in August 1842 and continues until December 1851. There are entries for tutors or schooling each year and clothing but there are also several interesting items. There are several entries reading “To cash paid expence (sic) of Ward to King Wm Co: Ho:” It seems as though he was transported several times to see relatives in King William county. In September of 1849, seventeen year-old George set out on a trip recorded when his guardian paid $55 for his expenses to Missouri. The details of his trip and where he went are tied up in that statement. In December 1851 there is a record of $25.50 paid for “Wards expenses from Guyandotte” and then a small amount paid that same month for “Ward home sick.” He may have died shortly after he returned home. His account was settled out in October 1853. There is a chancery court course that was settled in Albemarle County in 1873 involving G.G. Spiller but I have not had an opportunity to look this up yet.
iii.Mary Spiller, was born before 1797 when her father’s will was written as he states he had previously given her a slave. She died 18 June 1826 in King William County, Virginia. Her obituary identifies her as the “only daughter of the late Major William Spiller.”
iv.Benjamin C. Spiller. The Kentucky lawsuit brought by George Spiller says that all the children of William Spiller except for him were born before William wrote his will in 1797. However, the obituary of Benjamin, published in the Richmond Enquirer and available on the Library of Virginia website, stated that he died 20 September 1827, stated that he was “in his 23rd year” meaning that he was twenty-two years old. If that was true, he would not have been born until 1804 at the earliest. Perhaps this was a typo and should have read he was in his 33rd year, giving him birth year of 1794. But that is just speculation and not proven. It would definitely make more sense when looking at the possibility of his serving during the War of 1812. At any rate, Benjamin was described as a lawyer and no marriage record for him has been found.
v.George Augustus Spiller was born 1799 in King William County, Virginia. He died 17 June 1832. He married Agnes Dandridge Dabney in 1821 in King William County. They had one child before George died, but that child died very young.
Karen Lawless, a longtime Spiller researcher and descendant of the line of George Spiller and his wife, Polly Spears, provided the obituary of George from the Richmond Enquier, 24 Jul 1832-
“Died, on Monday the 16th inst. after a long and painful illenss, at his residence in King William county, Doct. George A. Spiller, in the 25th year of his age. He was a gentleman of the kindest and most urbane manners, of fine intellectual endowments, and great eminence of his profession. His loss will be deeply felt and lamented by a large circle of friends and relatives, and particularly by his distressed widow, who but a short time before, had sustained another most afflicting dispensation of Providence, in the loss of her only child, a very interesting infant, only a few months old.” His will left his effects to his nephew, William A. Spiller.
Again, we see a discrepancy in the ages of a son that was mentioned in the lawsuit brought in Kentucky. In both instances the boys were listed as much younger in their obituaries than the lawsuit. Possibly the date of the death their father is incorrect. We may not have the dates correct, but at least we have the children assigned to their proper parents.
George’s wife, Agnes, went to marry again the following year to Mr. John P. Boughton. She and her husband moved to Missouri and I wonder if her nephew by marriage, George G. Spiller, son of Colin C., was visiting her on his trip to Missouri.
I must point out that George Augustus Spiller (aka George A. Spiller) was not the same man as George Anderson Spiller (also aka George A. Spiller), who was the son of George and Polly Spears Spiller of Buckingham County, Virginia. That George A. Spiller was considerably younger, having been born in 1818, and later moved to Texas where he died and was buried.