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William Randolph Mayfield and his wife Sarah Amanda Davis ca. 1900.

Mayfield Family Genealogy

Tombstone of Micajah Mayfield (1748-1838), Revolutionary War Veteran.

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Southerland Mayfield (d. 1789) - Indian Fighter of VA and Middle TN

By Phil Norfleet


In my opinion, this Southerland Mayfield was the son of the James Mayfield who was killed by Indians at Eaton's Station (near the modern city of Nashville, Tennessee) in about August 1780.   For the purposes of this essay I have chosen to use the spelling of "Southerland;" however, his name is spelled in many different ways in the official records -- frequently appearing as "Sutherland" or "Sutherlin."  To the best of my knowledge, this Southerland, who was killed by Indians in 1789, is the first Mayfield to carry that name.  Many other younger Mayfields were given the same name, presumably in his honor. Analyses of pertinent deeds, court minutes, tax records and information concerning Southerland written by the principal historians of early Tennessee, allow me to establish several major milestones in his life.


Milestones in the Life of Southerland Mayfield (d. 1789)

About 1755:  Southerland Mayfield was undoubtedly born in Albemarle County, Virginia (VA) some time during the 1750's.  My best guess is that his year of birth was about 1755.  We do know that he had a younger brother named Elijah Mayfield who, per his Revolutionary War pension application, was born in 1762.

1761:  Amherst County is created out of Albemarle County.  The area where James Mayfield (father of Southerland) and family reside becomes a part of this new county.

09 July 1768:  James Mayfield executes a mortgage deed for 26, as collateral, James conveys all his personal goods, chattels and utensils to a certain Joseph Higginbotham.  [See Amherst County VA Deed Book B, pages 354-355.]

About 1777:  Southerland, his parents and siblings move from Amherst County to the New River region of Southwest VA which, in 1776, had become a part of the newly formed Montgomery County.  They probably settled in the Bluestone Creek area, a northern tributary of New River (see below).

08 September 1778:  James Mayfield and his wife Ellender, convey to James Rowsey, for 100, a tract of land containing 100 acres, lying on the north branch of Buffalo River in Amherst County VA.  Southerland (spelled "Sutherlin")) Mayfield signs this deed as a witness.  [See Amherst County VA Deed Book E, page 57.]

Link to Map of the Buffalo River Region - Amherst County VA  

About 1781:  Southerland Mayfield enters 200 acres of land on Bluestone Creek (a northern tributary of New River), Montgomery County VA.  The entry indicates that Southerland was the assignee of William Butler, assignee of Fortunatus Elliott, assignee of James Mayfield (father of Southerland?).  The entry states that the land was first settled in 1777 (perhaps by James Mayfield?).  [See Montgomery County VA, Entry Book A, page 82.]

Link to Map of the New River Region of VA

1782:  Southerland Mayfield appears on a tax list for Montgomery County VA; he is taxed for 1 tithe, 5 horses and 14 cattle.  A certain James Mayfield (brother of Southerland?) appears on the same list and is taxed for 1 tithe, 3 horses and 7 cattle.

1782:  Southerland Mayfield appears on the militia list for Captain James Moore's Company as a sergeant.  On the same list a certain James Mayfield also appears as a private.

21 February 1783:  James Moore writes a letter to Colonel William Preston, the County Lieutenant of Montgomery County VA.  In the letter Moore writes the following:

"Sir, I have sent the money that is collected in these two Districts.  I could not send it sooner on account that Wm Davidson one of the Collectors was taken sick and rendered senseless that he could not give any account of what he had done.  Sutherland Mayfield the other collector moved out of this State. ... "

[See Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Volume XXIX, Number 1 (January 1921), pages 29-30.]

About 1783:  Southerland Mayfield removes from Montgomery County VA and settles in the Cherokee Creek area of Washington County, North Carolina (now a part of eastern Tennessee).

12 May 1783:  John Terry conveys to "Sutherland" Mayfield, for 40, a tract of land containing 100 acres located on Cherokee Creek and the Nolichucky River.  [See Washington County NC, Old Deed Book C, pages 112-113.]

Link to Map of the Cherokee Creek Area of Washington County

About 1785:  Southerland Mayfield appears to have removed to Davidson County in Middle Tennessee sometime during this year.  He gives his power of Attorney to Charles Robertson (see below) to settle his affairs in Washington County, in particular, the sale of his land on Cherokee Creek.

03 November 1785:  Sutherland Mayfield executes a bond "unto my brother Isaac Mayfield" where he promises to provide Isaac with a "Right and Title" for 320 acres of land lying on Mill Creek as soon as the grant can be obtained.  The bond was recorded on 13 August 1793 by the oath of Robert Hays, one of the witnesses thereto.  [See Davidson County NC, Will Book 1, page 281.] 

Link to Digitized Copy of Southerland Mayfield's Bond

This bond is genealogically significant as it clearly indicates that Sutherland is a brother of Isaac and thus is a son of the James Mayfield who was killed by Indians in 1780.  It should be noted that Southerland Mayfield died before satisfying this bond.  This matter became the subject of much litigation over the years and was not finally resolved until a Davidson County Court Decree in 1810 -- 21 years after Southerland's death and 16 years after the death of Isaac! Also, this same decree is the only source, of which I know, that states the exact date of Southerland Mayfield's death - 10 March 1789.  [See Davidson County TN, Court Decree Book L, page 201.]

07 November 1785:  A power of Attorney from Southerland Mayfield to Charles Robertson, Esquire is acknowledged in the Washington County Court.  It should be noted that Charles Robertson, a brother of Colonel James Robertson, was one of the principal leaders of early Washington County.  He was among the first justices of the peace to be appointed by the North Carolina Legislature; indeed, the first session of the Washington County Court, held in 1778, met in Robertson's home on Sinking Creek. [See Washington County NC, Minutes of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, page 264.]

07 March 1786:  "Sutherlin Mayfield" receives Land Grant Number 103 for 640 acres in Davidson County on Mill Creek.  Southerland was the assignee of Joseph Copeland.  [See Davidson County NC, Deed Book A, page 96.]

07 March 1786:  "Sutherlin Mayfield" receives Land Grant Number 242 for 640 acres in Davidson County on the east fork of Mill Creek.  Southerland was the assignee of Robert Morrison.   [See Davidson County NC, Deed Book A, page 97.]

1786-1789:  Southerland Mayfield, with the help of a few others, constructs a small fort at the head of the west fork of Mill Creek.  This fort came to be called Mayfield's Station and is the subject of a separate essay appended to this web site.

1787:  Southerland, as a captain in the Davidson County militia, participates in an expedition against the Chicamauga Indians.  His name appears on a payroll list of men who were paid for their services on this expedition.  The records indicate that the payment, serial number 80, was not made until 12 January 1790, almost a year after his death! [See North Carolina Treasurer's and Comptroller's Papers (Military Papers -- Indian Wars 1788-1798), originals located in the North Carolina State Archives in Raleigh.]

10 March 1789:  Southerland Mayfield and his eldest son, William, are killed by Creek Indians.  Another son, George, is taken captive and lives among the Creek for more than 10 years.  Two accounts of the death of Southerland and his son are presented below.


Southerland Mayfield, son of James Mayfield, was killed by Creek Indians on 10 March 1789. The earliest published account of Southerland's death was written by Judge John Haywood, in his book "The Civil and Political History of the State of Tennessee" (published 1823), at pages 248-249. Judge Haywood's syntax is a bit confusing, but his version is the one used as a basis by all the later historians, such as Putnam and Ramsey. Judge Haywood's account, with my comments shown in brackets, is as follows:

On the South side of the Cumberland the Indians did mischief also in this year. They attacked the station of Southerland Mayfield, upon the head of the west fork of Mill Creek, four miles above its junction with the east fork. They were in a body of ten or twelve men. In the evening they came to a place near the station, where Mayfield and his two sons [William and George] and another person were making a wolf-pen, together with the present Col. [Benjamin] Jocelyn, then a private man. The Indians, unperceived, got between them and their guns. They fired upon and killed Mayfield and one of his sons and another person [Andrew Martin] who acted as a guard at that station.

They fired upon the soldier and the son as they went toward the guns to bring to the pen something that was there, and jumped over a log from where they had lain behind it, to scalp them in the presence of Jocelyn and Mayfield.

Jocelyn ran for his gun and got amongst the Indians, who fired upon him and set fire to his clothes, and drove him back pursuing him, a string of them being on both sides in the form of a half-moon. At length they drove him to a very large log, over which, if he could not have jumped, he was completely penned. Beyond his own expectations, he jumped over it and fell upon his back; but, despairing of taking a man of so much activity, they desisted from any further attempt and left him. He took a circuitous route, and got into the station.

Some bullets, not aimed at Southerland Mayfield, had glanced and wounded him, for the Indians did not see nor follow him when he ran. He did not return to the station, however, and looking for him the next day in the direction he had run, he was found dead, by a bullet which had penetrated his body.

They took George Mayfield, the son of Southerland Mayfield, prisoner, and led him to the Creek Nation, where he remained ten or twelve years. The Indians made no attempt upon the station, but went off with their prisoner and the guns they had taken.

Those who were in the fort removed to Capt. Rains's, near Nashville, their situation being deemed too exposed and dangerous for them to remain where they were with any hope of safety. The Indians who committed this massacre were Creeks.


Colonel Benjamin J. Joslin (sometimes spelled Jocelyn) was " ... one of the most noted men of that day, who lived at a place called Hillsboro. He held the mail contracts leading to New Orleans, and was familiarly known as 'Old B. J.' ..." [Quote is from page 75 of the "History of Davidson County, Tennessee" by Prof. W. W. Clayton]

On 27 January 1824, Benjamin Joslin (spelled Joselin in the court record), in connection with a lawsuit (John and George Mayfield vs. William Haggart), made an affidavit concerning Mayfield's Station in which he stated that:

I was well acquainted with Sutherland Mayfield in Virginia, was raised near him and lived with him in the station at Davidson County now Williamson County, after moving to Tennessee. He is now dead. His admr. was appointed April 1789. Mayfield had a station which was burnt by the Indians about the time of the date of this bond (1786). John Haggart, John Campbell and myself made a contract with Mayfield to go to live with him in his station for 2 years to clear 10 acres of ground each and build a new station. We built the station and all moved our families into it. When we were burning the logs to plant the first crop the Indians came and fired on us. We were putting up a wolf pen about half a mile from the station. Southerland Mayfield and Andrew Martin, a soldier, was killed. George Mayfield taken prisoner and William Mayfield was killed. In a few days we all left the station at the request of Mrs. Mayfield. John Haggart was also killed a few days before or after Mayfield. We cleared no part of the land.


Family of Southerland Mayfield

Land and Court records from Davidson and Williamson County TN indicate that Southerland's wife was named Margaret; unfortunately I have not been able to obtain her maiden name.  Based on an analysis of the court records and land records of both Davidson and Williamson Counties TN, I can identify six children for Southerland and Margaret Mayfield as follows:

Child Name (Spouse)


William Mayfield (Never Married)

Killed with his father in 1789.

George Mayfield (Married Elizabeth Ann McAlpin)

Captured by the Creeks in 1789; father of Dr. Sutherland S. Mayfield (1804-1879).

Jenny Mayfield (Married Robert Sconce)

Jenny and Robert ultimately removed to KY.

James Mayfield (Never Married) 

James died young in 1807.

Mary (Polly) Mayfield (Married John Champ)

John Champ died young in 1810; Polly and John had only one child, named Sutherlin,

John Mayfield (Married Polly Martin)

Father of James S. Mayfield of Texas (1808-1852).

Details regarding the last five of the above six children may be found in the book by Marymaud Killen Carter entitled Fifteen Southern Families that was published in 1974.  Mrs. Carter's book discusses the family of Southerland Mayfield at pages 155-160.  Her work is reasonably well documented and I consider it one of the best published Mayfield narratives that I have seen.

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