The Warrens of Sampson County

By Joel W. Rose

The first Warren known to settle in the colony of Virginia was Thomas Warren, who was born in Dover in Kent, England, sometime around 1624. The Warren’s were well-respected there, as Thomas’ father, his grandfather, and his great grandfather all served as the mayor of Dover. As one of 12 children, Thomas learned to be independent and resourceful at an early age. That would seem to be so, because as a very young man, Thomas left England with his great uncle, Daniel Gookin and sailed across the ocean to the settlement of Jamestown, VA to seek his fortune. Records indicate that the voyage occurred sometime before February of 1640, which would have meant that Thomas was no older than 16. The ocean voyage took about three months, and upon arriving, the ship sailed up the James River to the Jamestown settlement. Later, we find Thomas as living in Surry County, Virginia, just across the James River. Still later records reflect his grandson, Richard Warren, as living in lower Johnston County.

Richard Warren Sr. served in the American Revolutionary War. Afterwards he served as a Jus¬tice of the Peace in Johnston County. Records of the Union Primi¬tive Baptist Church on Brogdon Road, Johnston County show that Richard Warren Sr. became a member there in 1807. His known children were Elijah, Isaiah, George and Ruth.

Isaiah Warren was born in Johnston County in 1749. Early land deeds from his father, Richard, show that he was living in Sampson County as early as 1793. Practically all of the Warrens living in Sampson County today descend from this Isaiah Warren.

Isaiah Warren is said to have had three wives. The first, Susannah Wood, was likely from Johnston County. For his second wife, Isaiah traveled to Wilmington to meet his bride, Nancy McDougall, a newly arrived, redheaded immigrant from Scotland. Later records reflect that Isaiah married for a third time to Nancy McAlphin on October 30, 1832 in Fayetteville.

Nancy and Isaiah had no children, but it is believed that he had a total of nine children by his first two wives. There is no hard evidence indicating which children belong to which wife. However, the birth dates of the children show a nine-year break between the 4th and 5th child. The children were Needham (b. 1773 d. 1848), Richard (b. 1775 d. 1850), Pherebe (b. 1777 d. ?), Blake (b. 1778 d. ca 1855), Nancy (b. 1787 d. ?), Mary (b. 1790 d ?), Wright (b. 1797 d. ?), Handy (b. 1800 d. ?) and Isaiah Jr. (b. 1810 d. after 1850).

Isaiah was given 739 acres by his father Richard in Johnston County. Combined with his holdings in Sampson County, he was clearly one of the larger landowners in the area.

Isaiah Warren also served in the Revolutionary War, though very little is know about his service. The late Abel Warren, a descendent, believed that Isaiah left Smithfield, NC with 300 men on a militia assignment into South Carolina. He also named his oldest son after Needham Bryan, the local militia recruiter for Johnston County.

Isaiah must have lived briefly in Wayne County because he owned two tracts of land there in 1792. He moved back to Johnston and then on to Sampson in 1793. Later, Isaiah settled in the area near where the old Herring High School still stands. His home was located on Bud Johnson Road, just east of Hwy 421. A stone marker was erected by his descendant in his memory was in 1937 nearby and was later moved. A reunion in his memory has been going strong every year since its inception in 1931.

Isaiah’s oldest child, Needham, married Nancy Daughtry. He moved to Johnston County after his grandfather, Richard Warren, Sr, gave him 300 acres there.

The next oldest child of Isaiah was also named Richard, and he married Minty Weeks. They settled on a farm near Isaiah in the Herring community.

The third child of Isaiah Warren was Pherebe who married Duncan Campbell McPhail. Pherebe and Duncan lived in the area between Hopewell Methodist Church and Hwy 421, and are themselves progenitors of a large, extended family in north central Sampson County. Their son, Isaiah McPhail secured the land and furnished the logs and money to build the first Hopewell Churchhouse. He also built Glenco Academy school.

The fourth child of Isaiah was Blake who married Nancy Weeks. He owned land near his father and later settled in the Seven Mile Primitive Baptist Church area. Their son, Bennett Warren, married his second cousin, Ann Eliza McPhail, daughter of Duncan Campbell McPhail and Pherebe Warren McPhail.

The fifth child, Nancy, married William Ervin Jackson and many of their descendants live in the Midway and Mount Elam Baptist Church area.

The sixth child, Mary Warren, married Thomas Williford, and many of their descendants still live in northern Sampson County.

Wright Warren was the seventh child of Isaiah Warren, and he married Rachael Williford. One of their daughters, Nettie Warren, later married Ivy Lee and they lived three miles southwest of Newton Grove. According to family history, Ivy was shot on his front porch by Sherman’s Union troops as they made their way through Sampson County in March of 1865. Then they forced Nettie to cook chicken and pastry for them but first made her eat some to assure that it was not poisoned. Like his father, Wright Warren was a large landowner.

The eight child of Isaiah Warren, Handy, married Mary Weeks. They lived in what was called Warrentown located be¬tween U.S. highway 421 and Spring Branch Church. There are many descendants of Handy Warren living in northern Sampson and Harnett Counties.

The ninth child of Isaiah Warren was Isaiah Jr. who married Elizabeth Dawson. Isaiah Jr. and his family lived near his father. Upon his death, Isaiah Warren Sr. left all his land to Isaiah Jr. Soon thereafter, Isaiah Jr. died, too, and his brother, Handy, became administrator of Isaiah Sr.’s estate. Handy contested the will in court, but he, too died before it was ever settled. The estate was settled and completed by a court-appointed administrator, Thomas Mossett Lee.

Isaiah Warren Sr. had many grand and great grandchildren in the Confederate Army. Many of them lost their lives. You will find that most of Isaiah’s descendants were involved in farming for many years, but now you will find them in almost all professions such as doctors, lawyers, ministers, druggists, businesses of many kinds, teachers, and government workers. Warrens have always been civic minded. You will find them in all Christian religious faiths.