by Jeffrey L. Thomas
Descendants of Robert Council (Adobe .pdf file)
This page represents my efforts to chronicle the descendants of Robert "Bobbie" Council and his wife Rebecca "Becky" Weathers of Chatham County, North Carolina. The two genealogy reports above are an update to my original genealogy of the Council family published privately in 1992. There have been many corrections and additions to that eariler effort, which was written using a combination of census returns, cemetery records, records from the State archives in Raleigh, North Carolina, and a healthy dose of family tradition. This updated genealogy relies less on family tradition, and more on census research, and therefore at this point in time, contains fewer individuals than similar treatments. I encourage anyone who has corrections or would like to add information to this record to contact me at the e-mail address given below.
Throughout the decades most researchers have felt that Bobbie Council was a direct descendant of old Hodges Councill (d.1699) of England and colonial Isle of Wight county, Virginia, however lacking any genealogical records, this connection has never been proven, until now. Recent information from the Council family DNA project initiated by Bobbie's descendant Theresa Longley, has produced some remarkable results. The results of recent DNA testing have produced a perfect 37 marker match between a male descendant of Bobbie Council and a male descendant of Hodges Councill's son John, born in 1680 in Isle of Wight county, Virginia. Therefore, although the generations between John Councill (b.1680) and Bobbie Council (b.1768) have yet to be filled in, this result proves that Bobbie was indeed descended from Hodges Councill (the Elder), and his son John. The family owes a great debt of gratitude to Theresa for her work on this project, and for solving a family mystery that has eluded other researchers for decades.
Where the Hodges-to-Bobbie link breaks down
Most family genealogies repeat the same mistakes in connecting Bobbie to old Hodges, the lineage typically taking the following form:
- Hodges Council (1643-1699)
- John Council (1680-bef. 1747)
- Robert Council (1700-1778)
- Robert "Bobbie" Council (1768-1861)
What is clear in the above scenario that there is a generation (or two) missing between the Robert Council born in 1700 and Robert "Bobbie" Council born in 1768. Some genealogies even refer to Bobbie Council as "Robert Council of Isle of Wight, Virginia and Chatham County, North Carolina," contradicting census information indicating Bobbie Council was born in North Carolina. There is a Robert Council in the records who was born in Virginia and apparently moved to North Carolina, however at this point in time there are no conclusive records to prove that this individual was the father of Bobbie Council. Other genealogies skirt the problem by inserting another Robert Council in between Robert and Bobbie, but here again there is no evidence supporting such a claim. The problem is that by the mid 1700s there were several individuals in Virginia and North Carolina named Robert Council, and it remains difficult to determine which of these "Roberts" the various records are referring to. The good news is that because of the DNA results mentioned above, new efforts are being made to reexamine old records and search for new records that might shed light on Bobbie's true lineage.
With the connection from old Hodges to John to Bobbie still uncertain, we turn our attention to what is known about Bobbie Council of Chatham county, North Carolina. Robert and Rebecca Council are both present in Chatham County in census returns for 1850 and 1860. Using the ages given by the returns, it appears that Bobbie was born circa 1770. A Robert Council begins showing up in census returns for Chatham County in 1800, and by following the ages of the family members in subsequent returns, there is little doubt that this individual is our Bobbie Council. It appears that Bobbie was also a veteran of the War of 1812, because a Robert Council is listed as being among a regiment raised in Chatham County to help fight in that conflict (National Archives, Washington D.C., and the State Archives, Raleigh, NC). What is significant in making the claim that the Robert Council identified in the census and in the military records of the War of 1812 is our Bobbie Council, is the fact that there is only one individual named Robert Council identified by early census returns for Chatham County.
Circa 1800 Bobbie married Rebecca "Becky" Weathers and the first of their nine children was born the following year. Bobbie and Becky settled in eastern Chatham County near the western border of Wake County. Consequently the marriage bonds of their children are found in both Chatham and Wake counties. The children of Bobbie and Becky Council were as follows; Kimbrel, Chesley, Dilly, Ensley, Lemuel, Henderson, Robert, Addison and William.
The record shows that Councils were farmers of some consequence, as the census of 1850 and 1860 demonstrates that Bobbie and at least two of his sons were slave owners. Although the family profited from slave labor, they also paid a heavy price for supporting the Southern cause during the Civil War. The family lost numerous sons and husbands in the conflict, Bobbie's son Kimbrel alone losing a total of four sons.
By 1860 Bobbie Council was in his early 90s. He composed his last will and testament on October 20th, 1861, and the will was probated in early 1862. (Book D, page 88, Chatham County). In it, Bobbie appoints his son R.C. Council as his sole executor. Since the will fails to mention wife Becky, we can assume that she died sometime between the 1860 census (where she is present) and the drawing of the will in October of the following year. In his will Bobbie gives equal shares to his children, and provides that the share of his deceased son Lemuel go towards the payment of his "just debts" that had been outstanding since his death in 1854. The exception to this equal division was Daughter Dilly, as Bobbie states that "I want my daughter Dilly Dowdy to have fifty dollars more than the rest of my children." Bobbie signed the will using an "X" for his mark.
Bobbie and Becky Council were buried in the cemetery at Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church. Bobbie and Becky were charter members of this early Chatham County church founded in 1814, and a granite stone in the cemetery marks their final resting place, and reads as follows:
MT PISGAH CHURCH
Although Bobbie and Becky Council were gone, their descendants continued to live and prosper in Chatham and Wake counties and beyond. In addition to the Mt. Pisgah Church cemetery, Bobbie's descendants can also be found in Green Level Baptist Church Cemetery, Salem Church Cemetery, Olive Chapel Baptist Church Cemetery, and Martha's Chapel Cemetery, all near Apex, Wake County, North Carolina.
Jeffrey L. Thomas
Updated June 2006
P.S. Although I am not a member of the Council family, my wife, who assisted in the research and preparation of this genealogy, is a descendant of Bobbie and Becky's son Lemuel Council (1810-1854) and his wife Delia Whitehead.
Visit the Council family DNA project web site
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