Gallery of a Flowers family genealogy:

General History of Ralph/Rafe/Rolfe Flowers who is known to have arrived in America from Ulster Ireland


Ralph Flowers was the progenitor of a branch of the Flowers family. According to family records he married Betsy Stinnett (Ref. 1), and they had four sons, Valentine and Austin, twins, William, and James, and three daughters, Elizabeth who married Benjamin Hardwick, Mary who married Stewart Doss, and a daughter who married a Dr. Durham in Smith County TN. About 1810 Ralph Flowers moved from Buckingham County VA to Smith County TN, where he died. Valentine moved to Hickman County TN, William to Smith County TN, and James and Austin moved to KY, where they died. (Ref. 2).

Ralph Flowers witnessed a deed in Halifax County, VA on 27 May 1762 (Ref. 3). No other contemporary Ralph Flowers is known, so this would appear to be our man. If so, then he was over age 21 in 1762 and hence born before May 1741.

Ralph Flowers next appeared in known public records in Buckingham County, VA when his farm was surveyed on 12 Nov 1772. This survey was for 150 acres on both sides of Middle River of slate River, and it refers to the "old lines of Ralph Flowers,' indicating that he had been in Buckingham County for an undetermined period of time before 12 Nov 1772. There was another survey for Ralph Flowers property on 16 Nov 1779, consisting of 302 acres on Pick Shin Road and the south branches of Middle Slate River, and he is mentioned as the owner of land adjoining a survey for a William Spencer on 12 Aug 1786. Among the other surveys was one for William Flowers on 18 Mar 1795, where one of the adjacent land owners was Andrew Flowers, and in the index of the Surveyor s Plat Book this William is identified as "son of Ralph'. (Ref. 4).

Ralph Flowers appears on the tax rolls of Buckingham County VA starting in 1773 (Ref. 5, p 15), and continues on the tax rolls at least through 1810. The original tax roll of 1782 lists the tithables as (Ref. 6):

Ralph Flowers 1 male tithe above 21 years of age

Valentine Flowers, Austin Flowers, 2, white tithes under 21 years of age (and over age 16 to be counted, i.e. Valentine and Austin were age 16 20 at the time of the 1782 tax list)
Jane 1 Negro tithe
Cattle 22
Horses 7

Ralph Flowers rendered "public service.' to the State of Virginia during the Revolutionary War, consisting of supplying 270 pounds of grass fed beef to the Army, for which he was given a receipt for 2 pounds, 5 shillings, 4 pence on 7 Aug 1781. (Ref. 7).

The 1800 Tax list of Buckingham County VA (Ref. 5, p 42) District #2 lists "Ralph and son', white male tithes 2. James would appear to be the second tithe, as Rev. Wm. Flowers also appears in Buckingham County VA, Valentine was in the 1800 tax list of Campbell County VA (Ref. 8), and Austin had just been appointed constable of Botetourt County VA (Ref. 9).

Ralph Flowers bought 40 acres of land in Smith County TN from Ben Roe and 16 acres from John Gann in 1815 1817 (Ref. 10).
On 19 Sep 1820 Ralph Flowers deeded property in Smith County TN to William F. Flowers for $224 (Ref. 11).
Ralph Flowers appears in the 1820 census of Smith County TN with a household of one male over age 45, one female over age 45, and two slaves (Ref. 12).
Ralph Flowers died between April 1821 when his will was made and November 1821 when it was filed at the November term of the court in Smith County TN. His will (Ref. 13) reads as follows:

"In the name of God, Amen. I Ralph Flowers of Smith County and state of Tennessee do make this my last will and testament, in manner and form following, viz. I lend to my beloved wife Rachel all my estate both real and personal during her natural life, and after her death it is my will and desire that my son-in law Stewart Doss be paid the sum of two hundred dollars, which sum he has paid for me in buying the land whereon I now live, and after paying said loan it is my will and desire that all of the rest of my estate both real and personal be equally divided between my two daughters Elizabeth Hardwick and Polly Doss, having given my sons their portions before and I hereby nominate, constitute, and ordain William Flowers Jun. and Stewart Doss, my sole executors of this my last will and testament, Revoking all others heretofore by me made, in Confirmation whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal, this day of April 1821.

Ralph (his mark) Flowers

Ezekiel Evans, Benjamin Garrison, James Garrison


State of Tennessee November Term 1821

Smith County Court

The last will and testament of Ralph Flowers decd. was provided and proved on Open Court by the oaths of Ezekiel Evans and Benjamin Garrison, two of the witnesses thereto, and ordered to be recorded. Attest J. Pickett

Clerk of Smith County Court
Recorded 24th Jany 1822


(The inventory of the will of Ralph Flowers shows that he had three slaves consisting of one old Negro woman and one young Negro woman and her child. He had an assortment of household and farming equipment, a large Bible and one religious book, a shotgun, numerous tools and materials for carpentry, shoemaking, logging, and weaving, plus a "fire still.")

settlement of R. Flowers Exrs. (page 226)

Agreeable to an order from the worshipful court of Smith County to us directed at their August term, we have proceeded to settle with Wm. Flowers and Stewart Doss Exrs. of Ralph Flowers and I find that there was paid by them the sum of $152.68 3/4 cents to said Doss also the sum of $6.12 0 cents to said Flowers, also the sum of ten dollars allowed to said Flowers for his services rendered. Leaving the sum of $929.87 0 cents which sum according to the will of the decd. is equally divided between Elizabeth Hardwick and Mary Doss, daughters of said decd. Given under our hand and seal this 12 Augt 1822.

Patrick Moore
Willie Whitly
Jesse C. Clatan Corns.
Rendered Aug term 1822, Recorded 24th Sept 1822


While family records give Betsy Stinnett as the wife of Ralph Flowers, his will mentions a wife Rachel. It is later discovered that her complete name is Rachel Elizabeth “Betsy” Stinnett. Nothing more is known of her, but she evidently died before August 1822 when Ralph’s estate was settled.

Family records are verified by public records in several particulars. There is proof of sons Valentine and Austin in the Buckingham County VA Tax List of 1782, for William in the Index to the Buckingham County VA Surveyor’s Plat Book 1762 1858, and for Elizabeth and Mary/Polly in Ralph Flowers' will. The 1800 Tax list of Buckingham County VA listing "Ralph & son" (Ref. 5 p 42) is evidence for the fourth son, James, but no public records have been found to date for the daughter said to have married a Dr. Durham in Smith County TN.

Ralph's name was spelled "Ralfe" in the 1782 Tax List (Ref. 6) and generally as "Rafe" in family records, but also Rolf, Rolfe, and Rofe. (Ref. 1 and 2). The spelling "Ralph" was found in all of the other references cited (Ref. 3 5 and 7 13), but his grandson Rolfe K. Flowers must be considered a namesake of Ralph. Ralph Flowers and Betsy Stinnett had seven children, the eldest of who were the twins Valentine and Austin. Like any new parents, they probably gave serious consideration to the selection of suitable names. If we note that Rev. Austin Flowers also used the name Orson, then the source of the names of the twins can be recognized as the story of Valentine and Orson from early French literature:

In this tale attached to the Carolingian cycle, twin brothers were abandoned as infants in the woods. One, Valentine, was found by his uncle and brought up as a knight at the court of Pippin, while the other, Orson, i.e., bearson, called "nameless" in the older versions, grew up in a bears den as a wild man. Orson was eventually found, tamed, and trained by Valentine, and together they rescued their mother, Bellisant, from the power of a giant. (See, for example, Encyclopedia Britannica, 1950 Edition, Vol. 22, page 949, article titled Valentine and Orson. The earliest known English translation was "The Historye of the two Valyannte Brethren: Valentyne and Orson," by Henry Watson, 1550.)

(Another Flowers family had a son Roland born about the same time as the twins, whose name was also chosen from French literature, from the legend of Roland of Roncevaux, who led Charlemagne's rearguard in a forlorn battle with the whole Saracen army.)

The children of Ralph Flowers and Betsy Stinnett were:

2. i Valentine Flowers b 19 Jul 1765
3. ii Austin Flowers b 19 Jul 1765, twin of Valentine
4. iii William Flowers b ca 1767 1768
5. iv Elizabeth Flowers b ca 1770
6. v James Flowers probably born ca 1772
7. vi Mary (aka Polly) Flowers b ca 1777 in VA
8. vii Miss Flowers who according to family records (Ref. 2) was married in Smith County TN to a Dr. Durham. As she is not mentioned in Ralph Flowers will, she would have been deceased before April 1821. No public record of her has been found (But note that Elizabeth Flowers' daughter Nancy Hard¬wick #35 married Joab Durham, and that Elizabeth Flowers' grandson John James Hardwick #135 "read medicine" and worked in his uncle's drug store in Carthage TN)