Celia Jane Mahaffey Holloway



Jason Duncan

222 Sundance Cir

Statesville, NC 28625



January 2007



            Celia Jane Mahaffey married John Holloway in Wilkes Co according to their marriage bond dated 4/24/1833.  The bondsman was Thomas Mahaffey who signed with his mark.  John and Celia lived in Traphill and are my 5X-great grandparents.  John’s first wife was Elizabeth Wheatley and they had at least five children born in the 1820s.  John and Celia had at least eleven children born between 1833 and 1858.


            But who was Celia Jane Mahaffey?  Her handcarved headstone on Wiles Ridge says she was born on 5/8/1811 and died on 8/8/1890.  Who were her parents?  There was not a tremendous number of Mahaffeys in the area, but there were enough to make identifying her parents difficult.  The next clue can be found in the John A. Holloway Manuscript.  This John was born in 1881, a grandson of John and Celia.  In 1947 he wrote down as much information on his Holloway ancestors as he could remember.  With punctuation added later, here is an excerpt from what he wrote:


Dad had a brother to die when he was almost 18 years old, his name was James Holloway. He was buried on left of Highway 268 from Elkin to Wilkesboro.  Just before you cross Rock Creek on top of a ridge, left side of highway on one Wiles man's land now. Old Great Grandma Patsy Mahaffey & her man also burried there & Dad had another Bro, William Hampton died when a child; also one sister Nancy Ann. I don't know where they was buried.


            Here we find out that Celia Mahaffey’s mother was Patsy Mahaffey.  What I find interesting is that John refers to his great-grandmother “and her man” which suggests that “her man” was not his great-grandfather.  So now we have a name with which to work.  Before we move forward, it’s important to remember that the names Patsy and Martha are often used interchangeably in old records with one name being a nickname for the other.  The next place to look is in the 1850 Wilkes Co census where we find the following:


household #455            Thomas Mahaffey (67, born VA)

                                    Martha (68, born Wilkes)

                                    Cynthia (26)

                                    William (24)

                                    Sally Brown (17)

                                    Sallie Wilkey (87)


            This looks promising.  Martha listed here would have been born in 1782, making her 29 years old in 1811 when Celia was born.  Now, we need to know more about Thomas Mahaffey who was born about 1783.  Recently, Stephanie Gilchrist of Knoxville, TN, sent me some Mahaffey marriage records that have been very helpful.  One of those Wilkes Co records was for the following marriage:


            Marriage Bond date:     11/13/1830

            Groom:                         Thos. Mahaffey

            Bride:                           Patsey Mahaffey

            Bondsman:                   Samuel P. Smith


            I have several reasons to believe that this is my Patsy Mahaffey ancestor.  First, this is the name provided in the John A. Holloway Manuscript.  Second, it appears from the Manuscript that Patsy’s husband late in life was not the father of her early children.  This is supported by the 1830 marriage date.  Third, the marriage bond for Celia Mahaffey and John Holloway had bondsman Thomas Mahaffey who (I believe) was Celia’s step-father.


            The fun thing about genealogy is that as soon as you solve one mystery, another one (or maybe several) suddenly appears.  At this point, I’m not sure whether Mahaffey was Patsy’s maiden name or if she had first been married to a different Mahaffey.  Either one is a possibility.  There is one more piece to this puzzle that was also sent to me by Stephanie Gilchrist.  This is the will of Thomas Mahaffey and the application for its execution.  While the will does not provide as much information as the application, I will begin with the will since it occurred chronologically first.  (Punctuation is added for clarity.)


Thomas Mahaffey’s Will

July 18th, 1868


I, Thomas Mahaffy of the County and State aforesaid, being in my proper State of Mind and knowing the uncertainty of life and the certainty of death, I do this day (?) to make my last Will and Testament.


First, I do will and bequeath my land in which I now live being sixty one acres to my beloved wife Patsey Mahaffey to dispose of as she may think proper during her natural life and after her death that my executor shall sell said land and the proceeds of said land shall be equally divided equally between all my children and my wife Patsey Mahaffey children.


Second, I do will and bequeath all of my stock of cattle, hogs, sheep, household, and kitchen furniture to my wife Patsey during her natural life for her Support to be Seen and to be taken care of by my Executor Wm. Cheek.  I do hereby (?) and appoint Wm. Cheek my lawful executor.  (?) (?) in the presents of


J. E. Reynolds                                                                            his

I. N. Haynes                                                                Thomas  X   Mahaffey



Here is the application for execution of the will, dated 12/3/1870.


In the matter of the will of Thomas Mahaffey.


William Cheek, being sworn doth say that Thomas Mahaffey late of said county is dead, having first made and published his last will and Testament and that William Cheek is the executor named therein.  Further that the property of the said Thomas Mahaffy consisting of both real and personal is worth about $80 so far as can be ascertained at the date of this application and that Celia Holloway, Mary Pardue, Wm. Mahaffy, the children (of) Cynthia Longbottom decd, Thomas Mahaffy Jr, John Gambell and wife, John Stone and wife Elizabeth and others names and residences not known at this time are the parties entitled under said Will to the Said property.


                                                                        Wm. Cheek


            From these documents, it is clear that there is a relationship between our Celia Mahaffey Holloway and both Thomas and Patsy.  It also seems evident that Patsy had children that were not Thomas’.  What is not clear is which children belonged to whom.  From the 1850 census, it seems that Cynthia Longbottom and William Mahaffey were their children (at least by marriage), being born about 1824 and 1826, respecively. 


            Finally, here are other census records for a Thomas Mahaffey.  The (*) indicates the one I suspect to be the step father of Celia.


County             Name               males and females (to age 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60)


Wilkes     Thomas     2 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 – 1 0 0 0 0 1 0

Wilkes     Thomas*    0 0 0 2 0 0 0 1 – 0 0 2 3 0 0 1


County             Name               males and females (to age 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80)


Iredell    Thomas     0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 – 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 1

Surry      Thomas     0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 – 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0

Wilkes     Thomas*    0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 – 4 1 2 2 0 0 0 0


County             Name               males (to 10, 16, 18, 26, 45, +) & females (to 10, 16, 26, 45, +)


Surry      Thomas Sr  0 0 0 2 0 1 – 0 0 3 0 1

Wilkes     Thomas*    0 0 0 0 1 0 – 4 1 0 1 0


County             Name               males (to 10, 16, 26, 45, +) & females (to 10, 16, 26, 45, +)


Surry      Thomas     1 0 1 0 0 – 1 0 1 0 0


None found in 1800.


County             Name               males over 16, males under 16, females


Surry      Thos.      1 4 5

Wilkes     Thom.      3 0 3


County             Name               males (21-60), males (NOT 21-60), females


Wilkes     Thomas     1 2 4


            Notice that the 1830 census shows only one Thomas Mahaffey (in his 40s) in Wilkes Co.  He is living with one young boy and nine girls under the age of 20.  (For his sake, I hope this was a mistake in the records!  However, the numbers are clearly written.)  This census would have been taken only a few months before his marriage to Patsy Mahaffey who was either his cousin or his in‑law. 


            I wish I could conclude this with an answer to the question of who was Celia Mahaffey Holloway, but I can only provide the information I have found so far.  I’m sure there are others out there who can offer more pieces to this puzzle, and I would appreciate hearing from you.  Anything that I receive I will submit for later inclusion in the bulletin.