Revision Of Virginia Dilley Genealogy

By Jay D. Andrews

10 December 1993


The sudden death of Don Dilley of CA was a great loss for the genealogy of Virginia Dilleys. He was the major, early collector of information on this puzzling clan with help from Susan King Murphy on the Potomac River branch of Stafford and Loudoun counties in northern Virginia, This latter group became the Belpre Dilleys in 1810 when the three brothers John, Richard and Joseph moved to that township in Washington Co., OH. On a visit to Guernsey Co., OH in 1985, I found some VA-born Dilleys in the SW corner of that county near Cumberland who did not fit into Ephraim's clan there. I found a newspaper clipping entitled "Tales of Old Cumberland" by May Stranathan which described a mix of the two clans in Guernsey Co. My large collection of census records showed a lot of Dilleys in OH and IN who were born in VA. The main living sites were Lawrence Co., OH; Lawrence Co., IN; Morgan, Muskingum, and Noble counties OH all bordering Guernsey Co.; Allen Co., IN; and Licking Co., OH; Also, descended from VA Dilleys were Joel E. & James G. in Barren Co., KY, and Steven in Campbell Co., KY. have written several summaries about these various clans, but their parentage and relationships remain obscure.

The VA Dilley research network was expanded when Neville Dilley of Louisville, KY, a descendant of James b 1807, with professional help expanded the knowledge about one branch of the Cumberland Dilleys. This branch was descended from Jesse Dilley who was born in NJ in 1770 according to his age of 80 in the 1850 census. Jesse was an important factor because he appeared in the 1810 census for Loudoun Co., VA with a young family. He married before 1790 Ann Smallwood, a member of a MD family living in Loudoun Co., VA. Then Jesse moved to Shenandoah Co. VA and appeared in the 1820 & 1830 censuses with a large family and five sons. His son, Judge Jonathan, stated in a published biography that he was born near the Potomac River, but reared in Shenandoah Co. In 1830, James and Jonathan, Jesse's two oldest sons, were back in Loudoun Co. for the census. In 1839, Jesse and four sons moved to Morgan Co., OH near the southern border of Guernsey Co.

The earliest known Dilley to settle in Virginia was John of Shenandoah who acquired 400 acres of land in 1773 on a site in the valley between the two branches of the Shenandoah River, and a river and a mountain away from Woodstock the county seat on the west. Neville Dilley obtained a professional report on John's land with a map of its location; a sale of two parcels of land in 1780 was documented. Since those land sales, no clear information has been found on John except that he had a son John born in 1774. Jesse left no other records of his residence in Shenandoah Co. except the two census entries. Apparently Jesse was not related to John Sr. A Frederick Dilley appeared in the 1810 census for Shenandoah Co. with an advanced family. We suspect that he was a son of John Sr. but no proof has been found.

By living sites alone, I had speculated that both Jesse and Frederick were probably sons of John Sr., but data obtained by Thelma Reeder and her network of VA Dilley descendants, challenge my conclusion. Her records show a German immigrant, Johan Dilli living in Manchester, Carroll Co., MD who was naturalized in 1762. IGI entries show two children of this German Dilly christened in the Reformed Lutheran Church at that place: 1. Anna Maria dau of Johannes Dilly & Anna Maria Heerin in May 1763; 2. Christian Dilley, son of Jon. and Catherine Himpin Dilley christened Jan 1769. It seeks probable that this early German Dilley became John Dilley of Shenandoah Co., VA. who purchased land in 1773. No census record has been found for John Sr. of Shenandoah Co.

It is necessary to describe some changes in boundary lines for counties in western Virginia during the period 1790-1920 (see Thorndale & Dollarhide) Bath was a big county in western VA in 1820. By 1830, Pocahontas Co. was erected from Bath and Pendleton counties, and it became a part of W. VA in 1861. Shenandoah Co. was a large county in 1820 on the present border of VA; by 1840, the eastern part became Page Co. & part of Warren Co. By 1850, the northern part of Bath Co. became Highland Co. protruding into W. VA. Augusta Co. remained the same from 1800 to 1920 after its original status as everything west of the present VA boundary. Greenbrier Co. remained the same from 1790 to 1860 and it was always in present W. VA. It is situated opposite Allegheny Co. VA just south of Pocahontas Co. on the present VA line.

To understand the apparent frequent moves of W. VA Dilleys, one must understand these changes in county boundaries. I suspect that most of the Pocahontas Co. Dilleys (Martin & Henry clans particularly) may have lived at the same sites for a generation while boundaries around them changed. My compilation of census records for 1810 to 1840 shows these changes of county boundaries occurring.

Martin and Henry Dilly were living in Bath Co. in 1810, which decade is the earliest for census records anywhere in VA, because 1790 and 1800 censuses were destroyed. These were Young men (Martin b 1780 by 1850 census), and only Martin had a family. A Catherine Dilly, alone and over 45 years of age was living in Bath Co. in 1810. It is probable that this was the widow of John of Shenandoah. Our VA Dilley Timeline shows a John Dilley on a list of military eligibles in Dunmore Co., in 1775. This was probably John Sr. of Shenandoah Co. Also, from 1782 to 1787, a John Dilley paid taxes in Augusta Co. VA. No later record of John Sr. has been found. Caty Dilley appeared in the 1820 census in Pocahontas Co., again over 45 years of age. John Sr was probably the only known Dilley in old enough to have produced these records. I calculate that he must have been born by 1740 to sire the children proposed for him. There were older couples living with Martin Dilley in 1830 & 1840, but they were unlikely to be old enough to be John Sr. and Catherine.

An important source for the Martin & Henry branches is the book by Wm T. Price, 1901, whose ancestors probably lived in Pocahontas Co. near the Dilleys (census records). He provided biographies for Martin and Henry with detailed lists of their descendants. According to Price, these Dilley clans began as four brothers from Maryland who were quarters and of French descent. Thelma Reeder believes that these four brothers were Martin, Henry, John and Christian. John and Christian were married about 1795 in Bath Co., VA. Their wives were Elizabeth Ackland and Mary Hevelar, respectively. Christian Dilley appeared in the 1810 census for Kanawha Co. (later Greenbrier Co.), and John was involved in court records there about 1809. John was the father of the Lawrence Co. Dilleys--Joseph, Barnett, James and Abner for whom good family records are available. Joseph returned to Maryland before 1814 and became a prosperous land-owner and prominent citizen. Thelma Reeder presents strong evidence that John was the progenitor of the Lawrence Co., IN clan.

The timing of recorded events fit John Sr. as the father of the four brothers who all were born before 1780 as Martin was the Youngest son. Presumably, the John Jr. b 1774 in Shenandoah Co. was the same one who married in Bath Co. in 1795. If Frederick, who appeared in the 1810 census for Shenandoah Co. was a son, he was older than the others because he had an advanced family in the 1810 census with one male over 26 yrs and two females over 16 Years of age. Frederick was over 45 years of age in 1810 which would make him born before 1765. This makes five sons and one daughter that may be assigned to John Sr. and Catherine of Shenandoah Co.

There remain a lot of Dilleys born around 1780 whose parentage is unknown. There was a Robert C. Dilley age 85 in the I850 census for Pocahontas Co. which would make him born about 1765. Here is a list of the VA-born Dilleys for whom no parentage is evident:


  1. Michael in 1810 tax list for Bath Co.
  2. Jesse b VA 1770, a Cumberland Dilley; lived Loudoun Co. 1810; Shenandoah Co. census 1820 & 1830; Morgan Co. 1840 & 1850
  3. John in 1810 census for Prince Wm Co., VA
  4. John of Stafford Co, VA, rented land 1789, to Wash. Co. OH by 1810
  5. Joseph & Richard of Stafford Co. m McCoys in 1801 & 1802
  6. John & Moses to Morgan Co. OH, abt 1812; in 1820 census with families; Moses to Muskingum Co. OH where several VA Dilleys lived. Moses married 5 Aug 1813 Jane McGill in Morgan Co., OH
  7. Aaron of Morgan, OH; personal tax records 1830-34
  8. Aaron m Mary Fletcher in Berkley Co. VA
  9. Aaron & wife Mary of Allen Co., IN ages 70 & 60 in 1850. (may be same as 7 & 8)
  10. Steven b 1781 m Rebecca Trimble, Culpepper Co. VA; lived in Campbell Co., & moved to Lawrence Co., IN about 1815.
  11. Ichabod 1812-14 Guernsey Co.; enlisted for War of 1812
  12. Frederick of Shenandoah Co. in 1810 census with advanced children

I have compiled census records for all Dilleys marked as VA-born including those in VA from 1810 to 1860 at least. A compilation of the families of descendants of Martin and Henry has been initiated from census records and Price's biographies. Marvin Hill a resident of W. VA. has compiled families of Martin and Henry and their descendants. The Dille book and Thomas Ray Dille's records provide additional data. George E. Dille used the T. R. Dille records extensively in his Dille Family book. I have over 1000 microfilmed pages of T. R. Dille's records which have all been summarized by extracts. Thomas Ray Dille was a lawyer who lived in Morgantown, W. VA; he collected genealogical Material from many states from 1920 to 1939 including records from his own state where there was a town named Dille.

It is apparent that the VA Dilleys probably moved down the Shenandoah Valley as did many German immigrants from NJ, PA and MD. The Cross-Roads Church, which was built on land bought from John Dilley, was non-denominational, but the only list of members appeared to be mostly German names. This may be further evidence that John of Shenandoah was German. I am left with the problem of connecting the Stafford Co. Dilleys and Jesse to possible New Jersey clans. The only link I have to New Jersey Dilleys at present is the birth of Jesse there. There was another Jesse Dilley in NJ whose family is known but not his relationship to other NJ Dilleys


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