A comment arrived recently about a blog post from December 2013 about William Pannill III (1738-1804?) and his wife, Ann Morton Pannill (1736-1804).

They were the subjects of the post The Perils of Genealogy: When did William Pannill III die (published December 2, 2013)?

The Culpeper (Virginia) Times had published a story  from a recently opened archive in London about an English claims agent. The agent had written about the hospitality offered him by Ann and William in 1800 as he travelled through Virginia to collect debts owed by Americans after the Revolution.  Unusual for the time, he discussed Ann Morton Pannill, a woman, by name.

William had been a member of the Orange Committee of Public Safety, which was the revolutionary steering committee for Orange County, together with six other men from the county.

Under George III, all had been members of the County Court. The youngest member was James Madison, Jr., who became secretary. His father chaired the court.

William had sworn allegiance to the monarch in 1768 when he became a vestryman of the Anglican church of Orange. He might well have been hanged had the Royalists defeated the colonials.

FullSizeRender(1)A new-found Pannill cousin, Ann Marshall, of Charlottesville, Virginia, owns an artifact from a daughter of William and Ann. (Charlottesville lies less than an hour south of Orange.) She told about the sampler made by her forebear Mary Pannill, 14th child of William and Ann .

Ms. Marshall writes:

“I inherited from my mother an heirloom sampler made by Mary Pannill (‘born January 29th 1789′) in honor of her parents, ‘William Pannill and Ann Morton married March 3?’ It depicts a house which might represent Greenlevel [the original Pannill family home and farm in Orange County] and possibly the gravestones of her parents (marked ‘AP’ and ‘WP’). I would be happy to send you a photo if you email me.”

The photo is above. Mrs. Marshall and her husband removed the sampler from its frame for conservation and reported:

“[I]t clearly says the following:

“‘William Pannill and Ann Morton married March 3
Mary Pannill born January 29, 1789
Tis education forms the youthful mind just as the twig is bent the trees inclin’d’”

“Note as well the monuments at bottom right labelled ‘AP’ and ‘WP.’”

The survival of a piece of needlepoint for 227 years seems remarkable in itself. But the report of the English claims agent in 1800 proves that William Pannill III survived into the 19th century.

Ancestry.com gives the marriage date of William and Ann as 1761. The sampler says it was March 3, but apparently does not give the year. One source in Ancestry.com shows William’s death as 1789. Another source shows the death of husband and wife both in 1804.

William would have been 51 in 1789 and 66 in 1804. Ann would have been 68. Either death date for him is possible, of course. But the couple’s having produced 17 children (by Ancestry’s count) argues against his death in 1789.

Ancestry shows two more Pannill children, Polly and Nancy Pannill, born after 1790. (The Marshall family counts Mary Pannill as the 14th child, while Ancestry counts her as 15th.) But Ancestry gives no dates for the last two births. Presumably they occurred after 1789, which shows he did not die in 1789.

Facts are slippery things. There are two cemeteries at Green Level, but many of the gravestones have been lost or obliterated by time.

The descent of Ann Marshall has its own fascination. She gives it thus:

“Ann Morton m. William Pannill

“Mary Pannill (author of sampler; 14th child of WP & AM) m. Jacob Herndon,

“[their child] Margaret Herndon m. James Fife,

“[their child] Robert Herndon Fife m. Sarah Ann Strickler,

“[their child] William Ormond Fife m. Sarah Maupin,

“[their child] Ann Garland Fife m. David Barhydt Marshall,

“[their children] Sarah, D[avid] B[arhydt], Jr., William Fife, and Ann Herndon Marshall (keeper of Mary Pannill sampler in Charlottesville [Virginia]).

Thus only six generations of the family trace back to a couple who were active in the American Revolution. What a keepsake that makes of this sampler.

Charlottesville is 28 miles south of the city of Orange, but Green Level, the 300-acre farm where Ann Pannill was born, lies at the northern end of Orange County near the Rapidan River. The distance to the town of Rapidan is 35 miles.

This was territory much marched over in the American Civil War. Yet the sampler moved fewer than 50 miles in all this time.

But what is most remarkable: can anyone imagine a 21st-century American couple producing 16 or 17 children?