Shepherd Home | Table of Contents | Email Site Administrator

James Shepherd
1730 - 1805

James Shepherd Land
The land settled by James Shepherd is on the "North Side of the Yadkin River and opposite the mouth of the Moravian Creek". The point where Moravian Creek empties into the Yadkin River is pictured above along Hwy 421 in Wilkesboro, NC. It is the shaded spot to the right of the bridge between the two green signs in the middle of the photo. The North side is in the lower half of the photo.

James Shepherd Land
Modern businesses now occupy the former James Shepherd land including a Bojangles, Long John Silver and Mayflower Seafood.

James Shepherd was born about 1730 in Spotsylvania County, Virginia as the second son of George and Elizabeth Day Shepherd. James is the older brother of John Sr. and Robert Shepherd, who were both great, great, great grandfathers of brothers Grover and Harrison Shepherd.

The name of James' wife is not know for sure, but may have been Elizabeth Austin.

James and his family moved to the Colony of North Carolina near the beginning of the Revolutionary War, settling on the Yadkin River opposite the mouth of Moravian Creek in Wilkes County, North Carolina. This area is now in the town of North Wilkesboro. Deeds concerning James Shepherd in Wilkes County, North Carolina are:

Land Entries 1778-1781; #27; March 1778;
James Shepherd entered 150 acres on the North Side of the Yadkin River and opposite the mouth of the Moravian Creek.

Deed BK "A-1" pp. 77; For 50 shillings for every 100 acres James Shepherd granted 110 acres on the North Side of the Yadkin River and opposite the mouth of the Moravian Creek.

According to manuscripts of General William Lenoir published in Paul Gregory's Early Settlers of Reddies River, James fought in the Revolutionary War, participating in at least four campaigns. He served under Captain William Lenoir in the Expeditions to Ramsoners, June 17 - August 20, 1780. James served under Captain Lenoir in the Expedition to the New River, November 22, 1780. James was among the members of Captain Joel Lewis Company of light horse from Wilkes County on an expedition against Colonel Ferguson (Kings Mountain Expedition), September 7 - November 7, 1780. He also served under the command of Captain Herndon on a tour of duty to the Catawba River (Catawba River Expedition), August 30, 1780.

An 1787 census of Judd's District, Wilkes County, NC indicates that James owned two slaves. The Wilkes County tax list for the same year shows James with 210 acres of land. Beyond this date, James is not found in census or tax records, so it is believed that he died about 1788.

Seven Known Children of James Shepherd and unknown wife:

  1. James Shepherd, Jr
  2. John Shepherd
  3. Thomas Shepherd, Sr
  4. Peter Shepherd
  5. Amos Shepherd
  6. Mary Shepherd
  7. Elizabeth Shepherd

  1. James Shepherd/Sheppard, Jr., born Oct. 1, 1759; died Oct. 15, 1828 in Williamson, TN; married Phoebe Mastin, abt 1783; James was a captain in the Revolutionary War. After James married Phoebe, the couple made their home on Reddies River in Wilkes Co., NC near his parents and Shepherd cousins. The 1787 census of Wilkes County, NC shows that James was married with one child, and owned five slaves.

    In 1789, James purchased 400 acres from Colonel Benjamin Cleveland on Deep Gap Creek in present-day Ashe Co., NC, where the family moved to. James and family are found in the 1790 Federal Census living in the 8th Company of Wilkes County (present-day Ashe) with a wife, two children, and two slaves. James was living in the Old Fields area near present-day Idlewild along the South Fork New River. His closest neighbors were James and Elijah Calloway. James purchased another 150 acres on nearby Mill Creek from Roland Judd in 1794. He paid 100 Shillings for the property, then turned around and sold it for 200 Shillings to his first cousin, John Shepherd, Jr. in 1796. Many people speculated on land across the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains during this time. James also sold his 400-acre farm to George Gordan in 1796 and moved back to the Reddies River area.

    In 1797, James purchased the famous 560-acre "Roundabout" estate near Ronda, NC from Joel Lewis. "Roundabout" was made famous by it's original owner, a wealthy and controversial Revolutionary War solidier, Colonel Benjamin Cleveland. Cleveland had lost the estate to Joel Lewis in a legal battle about 1785. James and Phoebe were in the Reddies River area of Wilkes Co., NC in 1800 with six children and 14 slaves. James moved to "Roundabout" shortly after 1800, then was back in the Reddies River area by 1810 where he is listed in the 1810 census of Wilkes Co., NC with his wife, eight children, and 17 slaves. Another child, Austin, is listed in the next household with a wife, one child, and two slaves.

    James moved his family to Warren County, Tennessee about 1815 and began selling off his Wilkes County holdings. As a resident of Warren County, James sold the "Roundabout" estate to Meredith Thurman and sold 50 acres on the Middle Fork of Reddies River to Logan Woodie, both in 1815. James sold his other Wilkes County holdings in 1817 and 1819.

    In Warren County, Tennessee, James purchased 5,000 acres of land on Hickory Creek, a small tract of which is now in possession of his grandson Milton Gwyn. James moved next to near Riggs Road in Williamson County, TN where he died. His will was probabed October 16, 1828 leaving an immense estate of lands, negroes and money. Speaking of his grandfather, author William Sheppard Speer writes:

    "He (James Shepherd) began life very poor and had little education. He was a teamster in the Revolutionary war, and was at the battles of King's Mountain and Eutaw Springs. He married, in Virginia, Phebe Mastin, settled in North Carolina, was an Indian trader, a very successful money maker, owned sixty negroes, was an old Baptist, and died in 1828, the richest man of his day, in Williamson county, Tennessee, leaving one hundred and fifty thousand dollars to his children. He was a man very fond of fine stock; was a merchant, very jovial and convivial, especially in his little frolics, which he took on an average, three or four times a year, and in which he would call in all his children and grandchildren, but sign no papers nor transact any kind of business. His bibulous frolic over, he would dismiss his children to their homes, loaded down with presents." [1]

    Had nine known children:

  2. John Shepherd, born abt 1760; died abt 1830 in Carter Co., TN.

    Thomas Shepherd Descendants

    For more comprehensive listings of the Thomas Shepherd family, see The Descendants of Thomas Shepherd by Philip Underwood-Sheppard

  3. Thomas Shepherd, Sr., born Oct. 3, 1761; died Aug. 1, 1842 in Cowee Valley, Macon Co., NC; buried in Shepherd Cemetery, Frankin, NC; married Nancy Elizabeth Stanton, about 1780 in Virginia; The first record for Thomas is the tax lists for Montgomery County, VA, from 1782-1787 where he paid taxes and farmed in the New River valley. In 1787, Thomas failed to pay taxes, and it was noted that he "went to Georgia." Thomas never made it to Georgia. He bought land in 1787, in Wilkes County, NC, and sold it in 1791. In 1796, he bought land on the Cane River in Buncombe (now Yancey) County, NC (Said by some to have been the fourth white settler in Cowee District). Over the next 20 years, he acquired large land holdings and became a wealthy man, as evidenced by his Last Will and Testament. In 1823, he sold his Buncombe County land, and headed west where he settled on Cowee Creek by 1828. Had nine Known Children:

  4. Peter Shepherd, born ca. 1761 in Wilkes Co., NC; died abt 1822 in Henderson, NC; married Penelope Eleanor Merrill (b. Jan. 17, 1786 in Rowan, NC, d. ca. 1851), abt 1809; Had seven known children:

  5. Amos Shepherd, born abt 1770; died abt 1840.

  6. Mary Shepherd, born May 13, 1773; married Joseph Runyon?

  7. Elizabeth Shepherd, born Dec. 3, 1774; married Joseph Runyon?

Shepherd Home | Table of Contents | Email Site Administrator


  1. William S. Speer, Sketches of Prominent Tennesseans, (Southern Historical Press, Inc, 1888), pages 464, 465. Return


Along with information from the normal genealogical sources (Census Records, History Books, Cemetery Records, etc.) the following people have contributed family history information and/or photos presented on this page. If you have information/photos on the descendants of James Shepherd, and would like to see your family history added to this page, send an email to

James Shepherd, Sr - Thomas Hamm.

James Shepherd, Jr - Virginia Sheppard Lapham, Jan Lusk.

Thomas Shepherd, Sr - Sue Evans, Lesea Lowe, Mia Rollman, Ron Seymour, Melisa Thompson, Billie Cockman, Joyce House-Reeves, Julie Shepherd Shipman, Gina Purvis (Information on the descendants of Ara Mae Shepherd), Delores Williams (Information and photos on the descendants of Jacob & Angeline Shepherd Panther).

Peter Shepherd - Kay Greene Shepherd, David E. Shepherd (Information on the descendants of Jesse Merrill Shepherd, Jr. and sidebar article "A Galant Veteran!"); Larry Shepherd of Rocky Face, GA (Information and photos on the descendants of Jemima Shepherd Kilpatrick, Abner Shepherd and James R. Shepherd - children of Peter & Penelope Merrill Shepherd)