Sara Binkley Tarpley
[copyright 2004 - 2005]

JOHN BINKLEY [1743 - abt. 1801]

John Binkley was born on 26 March 1743 in Codorus, York County, Pennsylvania. The eleventh child of Peter Binkley and Anna Maria Salome Werle, he was the third son and the first to survive to adulthood. Before 1 December 1762, he had married Johanna Jacobina Leedy, the daughter of John Leedy and his wife Elizabeth. Like the Binkleys, the Leedys were originally from Switzerland. Unlike the Binkleys, they were not Moravians but were rather members of a Plain group, the German Baptist Brethren, commonly known as Dunkards.

John and Jacobina evidently moved to Frederick County, Maryland, in 1763, when the rest of Peter's family moved there. It is believed that their first three children, Peter, Elizabeth, and Jacob, were born in Maryland. [Evidence is ambiguous as to whether the fourth child, John, was born in Maryland or North Carolina.] Late in 1772 John followed his father to Bethania, Surry County, North Carolina. On December 1 of that year a Moravian record keeper noted that "John Binkley Jr. with his wife and three children, have come from Manakasy, and wish to live for a while in Shause's house in Bethania." [It is not clear why the "Jr." was affixed as no other John Binkley is known to have lived in the area at that time.] On April 12, 1773, the record reports that "All freeholders of Dobbs Parish met in Salem...New Vestry Men were elected as follows: Brn. Bagge, Meyer, Geo. Holder, Geo. Schmid, Blum, John Ranke, Grabs, Spoenhauer, George Hauser, Michael Hauser, Binkley, and Pfaff. Br. Bonn administered the oath to these 12, and to the Church Wardens, Reuter and Spoenhauer, elected by them, and then they held their first conference. It was considered good for the Parish that a Parish's God's Acre should be laid out in Salem, and that the one near Bethabara should be put in good order." [While sharing this record with a Binkley family member in 1934, Moravian Archivist Dr. Adelaide Fries assumed that this vestryman was John Binkley although it certainly seems possible that it could have been his brother Adam or even his father.]

Wherever their fourth child was born, the North Carolina records show that seven more children were born to John and Jacobina between 1774 and 1786: Frederick, Abraham, Daniel, Henry, George, Maria Catherine, and Sarah. Although the Moravians were officially pacifists, three of John Binkleys brothers and half-brothers fought in the Revolution. John did not.

In September 1789 John's sister Christina and her husband Caspar Fischer left Bethania for the Cumberland, as Middle Tennessee was then known. There had been tension between the Fischers and the Moravian Church although the exact nature of the problem is not known. About 1790 Adam Binkley came to Tennessee, settling in what is now Cheatham County, and his brother Jacob came at some later date, probably between 1791, when he was still in North Carolina, and 1799. On December 31, 1789, John Binkley of Surry County, North Carolina, paid William Hughlet, also of Surry County, 500 pounds for a tract of land described as "containing 640 acres on Caleb's Creek in Davidson County, now Tennessee, on both sides of the second large branch above Caleb's preemption, on the south side of Richland Creek." The deed was proved in January 1791 with Jacob Binkley as witness. Although presumably the purchaser of this tract was John Binkley, son of Peter, there is no evidence that he ever took possession of it. It would be ten more years before he came to Tennessee. [The Caleb's Creek deed raises perplexing questions, however. Tennessee County became Robertson County, which contains no known Richland Creek. There is a Caleb's Creek. However, records pertaining to John Binkley's estate indicate that he owned land on Carr's Creek, not Caleb's Creek.]

In 1799 two Moravian missionaries Abraham Steiner and Frederick C. De Schweinitz travelled throughout Tennessee seeking to determine whether the Moravian Church should establish a mission. While in Middle Tennessee, they visited their old friends from Bethania including the families of Adam and Jacob Binkley and Caspar Fischer. [Steiner was the Fischers' former son-in-law. Their daughter Christina had married Steiner in 1789 and had died in 1791 after giving birth to stillborn twins.] John Binkley arrived in the area while Steiner and de Schweinitz were visiting. As a result, his arrival was documented in their account of their travels:

From a traveller we learned today [November 24, 1799 - sbt] that there were several wagons from our neighborhood in Wachovia not very far off. We wished to spend the night with them, but the rain which began soon after noon and became more violent toward evening compelled us to think of a lodging place for the night...

Toward morning, on the 25th [of November - sbt], the wind turned toward N. W., and it became clear and cold. Now the wolves began to howl fearfully, but several rifle-shots at some distance soon silenced them. Soon after we had started on our way we saw the tracks of the wolves nearly up to the place where our neighbors had spent the night and where the wolves had been frightened away by the rifle shots. This place, a well known camping spot, is called The Flat Rock, from a great rock shelf that here juts out into the open. Within several miles we overtook our Wachovia neighbors, John Binkley and his sons with their families, who were moving to the Cumberland Settlements. The joy at meeting one another in the wilderness was mutual. Yesterday evening they had shot three bears, of which they had the meat in the wagons...

In the evening [of December 2 - sbt] John Binkley, from the neighborhood of Wachovia congregations, arrived here. He was told by his friends that he was very welcome, but that we were more welcome because we brought the good news with us.

John Binkley's son Frederick was already in Tennessee, having come to Tennessee earlier with his uncle Adam. Other sons who are known to have come to Tennessee were Peter, Jacob, John, Abraham, Daniel, Henry, and George. Peter, Jacob, and Daniel were already married with families, George married in 1807, and Henry and Abraham are said to have married in Missouri, where they evidently went very early in the nineteenth century. Son Joseph remained in North Carolina. Daughter Elizabeth, wife of Joseph Childress, came to Tennessee at an early date, perhaps at the same time as her parents. Sarah and Maria Catherine were young teenagers and most likely unmarried at the time they came to Tennessee.

John and his family settled on Carr's Creek in Robertson County, but he was not to enjoy his new home for long. He died late in 1800 or early in 1801. Jacobina evidently survived him. A note in his estate inventory, dated 28 September 1801, is due from Mrs. Pinkley [Binkley]. Given the status of women at that time, it seems unlikely that any other Mrs. Pinkley would owe the estate money. Perhaps the note represents money that she had borrowed from the estate for personal needs until such time that the estate was settled. In any case, the exact date of Jacobina's death is unknown.


Bridget McCartney Rogier, Compiler, Peter Binkley, Born 1704 and His Descendants, 1997.

Pat Smith, e-mail

Genealogies of Pennsylvania Families from the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, (Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, 1981), p. 840, citing "York County, Pennsylvania, Genealogical Notes 1780" from Vol. XXXI, 1907, p. 243.

Pennsylvania Vital Records from The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine and The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, , (Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, 1983), Vol. 1, p. 231, citing "Records of the Moravian Church, York, Pennsylvania, Soul Register of the Congregation and Society and their children in Yorktown in the year 1780."

James Hunter Chapter, National Society Daughters of American Revolution, Early Families of the North Carolina Counties of Rockingham and Stokes with Revolutionary Service, (Madison, North Carolina, 1981), Vol. II, p. 9.

James B. Leedy, Jr., e-mail:, e-mail dated 8/24/1998, citing records of the York County, Pa., Orphans Court.

Gordon M. Connelly, Compiler and Editor, The Leedy Family History, (Gateway Press, Inc., Baltimore, 1990), p. 52.

Extracts from Day Book, Baptismal Register, Etc., of Bethania Moravian settlement, kept in Archives at Home Church, Salem, North Carolina. Translated by Dr. Adelaide Fries, Archivist, and by her dictated to Ruth Carver Gardner, June 24, 1934.

The Records of the Moravians in North Carolina, Volume 2 (1752-1775), Adelaide C. Fries, Editor, North Carolina Historical Commission, Raleigh, 1925, p. 718, 757.

The Records of the Moravians in North Carolina, Volume 3, Adelaide C. Fries, Editor, North Carolina Historical Commission, Raleigh, 1925, p. 1195.

Robertson County Court Minute Book I, 1796 - 1807, p. 65, 66, 158, 165, 173, 174, 189. Estate records of John Binkley

Robertson County Wills, Inventories and Bonds, Robertson County, Tennessee, Court Minutes, Book 1, p. 65-66, 165, 173-174. Estate records of John Binkley.

"Report of the Journey of the Brethren Abraham Steiner and Frederick C. De Schweinitz to the Cherokees and the Cumberland Settlements (1799)," published in Early Travels in the Tennessee Country, 1540-1800, With Introductions, Annotations and Index by Samuel Cole Williams, The Wautauga Press, Johnson City, Tennessee, 1928, p. 504, 505, 511. ANCESTOR BIOGRAPHIES HOME