According to Orangeburg County SC Dukes family tradition, Thomas Edmund Duke went to the Neuse River area to visit relatives and met his wife Ann Ayler. The only Ayler family on the Neuse at the right time period was in Dobbs Co. NC, the family of William Ayler.
Many families in his immediate vicinity moved south to Orangeburg, South Carolina. For example, on 26 Jul 1777 William Aylor was drafted as a member of the Dobbs County NC militia, Capt. KennedyÕs company, along with John Aldridge, John Fontaine, Jesse Aldridge, Benja. Byrd, Robert Bird, Thomas Bird, Benja. Risher, Wm. Aldridge, Ezekial Creech and many others. In 1780 those drafted included Thos. Bird. All of these names reappear in Orangeburg. No specific connection has been found between the Aldridges of Lenoir County and those of Orangeburg, but branches of these specific Byrd, Risher, Fontaine, and Creech families moved to Orangeburg, all but the Creech family settling close to the Dukes family of Orangeburg. In addition, William AylerÕs Ratcliff neighbors moved to the Cattle Creek area in Orangeburg.
Benjamin Risher went on to found the Risher family of the Colleton/Orangeburg county area. John Fontaine, apparently the brother of Mary Fontaine who married Benjamin Risher before they moved to Orangeburgh, was also a member. (Francis Fontaine, her grandfather, was in 1721/22 minister of St. PeterÕs Parish, New Kent and James City Counties, Virginia.) Thomas and Benjamin Byrd are listed, and are probably brothers of the Nathaniel Bird of Lenoir County, NC, who founded the Orangeburgh/Colleton Byrd or Bird family. Nathaniel Bird appears in records with William Ayler.
William Ayler was a taxpayer in Dobbs County (now Lenoir County), North Carolina, in 1769.
Ayler sold land in Dobbs Co NC to Obediah Smith as early as 1757/58 (Old Dobbs Co VA Deed Book 5 - April 1757 – April 1758 p. 190). Not much later William Ayler sold land to Thomas Thompson in Dobbs Co. (Old Dobbs Co NC Deed Book 6, Apr 1758-1765, p. 563) and during the same period Thomas Williamson sold land to William Ayler (Old Dobbs Co NC Deed Book 6, Apr 1758-1765, p. 260). William Ayler or Aylor purchased several parcels of land from William Barwick in 1771-3 (Old Dobbs Co NC Deed Book 9, Apr 1771-Apr 1773, pp. 272, 275, 294). An additional deed represents a land sale from William Ayler to Shadrick Hartsfield (Old Dobbs Co NC Deed Book 13, Apr 1784 to Apr 1789, p. 16) and from John Hartsfield to William Aylor (Old Dobbs Co NC Deed Book 13, Apr 1784 to Apr 1789, p. 308). William Ayler sold land to Benjamin Lewis in 1789 (Old Dobbs Co NC Deed Book 18, 1798-1799, p. 95).
In 1780 William Ayler was listed with 400 acres of land in the Dobbs County tax list, District 1, Lenoir County, Kinston west, but north of the Neuse River. He was payee #16. The Birds were also present.
The following deeds mention William AylerÕs land:
JAMES M. (MADISON) HINES COLLECTION - NORTH CAROLINA ARCHIVES PC 152.1
1. No 12 - John CREECH to JESSE ALDRIDGE
Deed of sale for 100 acres of Land - name Benja Creech with no further information - beginning at a pine on ES of branch adj William Aylor, patent line - part of larger survey patented to WM. B. - torn
2. Grantee - Thomas Williamson - Grantor to John Barrs ? 200 acres - Jan Court on oath of William Aylor - Enrolled Dobbs Co – Charles Young, Regt
3. Samuel Thomas - patent and deed - (this documents is in a lot of small pieces) - 1745 - 20 April - this appears to be the patent date - NS Neuse
There is also, from Abstracts of Pre-1880 Lenoir county and Dobbs county deeds, Surveys, Land Grants, and Miscellaneous Documents in the Collection of Paul Arendell Hodges and Alma Dawson Hodges – North Carolina Archives:
Date: 5 March, 1779
Nature of document: Land survey
Surveyed for: John Creech
Surveyed by: C. Markland
Amount surveyed: 100 acres lying in Dobbs County
Adjoining lands: Jude Watters, William Ayler, and Benjamin Creech
NOTE: A small map of the land surveyed is drawn in the upper right corner of the document. Thomas House sold land to John P. White ((JOHNSTON/ DOBBS/ LENOIR COUNTIES GRANTOR INDEX – BOOK 1, 1746-1750, p.3).
Date: 11 June, 1781
Nature of document: Deed for sale of land
Grantor: Joshua Barwick
Grantee: John Hartsfield, blacksmith
Extent: 270 acres
In consideration of: 80 pounds specie money
Mentioned in description of bounds: William Ayler's corner, Creech's line
Witnesses: William Ayler, Shadrach Hartsfield
Date: 7 March, 1786
Nature of document: Deed for sale of land
Grantor: Simon Creech of Dobbs County
Grantee: Major Croom
In consideration of: 100 pounds current money
Extent: 150 acres, described as "being all that part of land left to
said Creech by his father..." Mentioned in description of bounds: line of patten granted Benjamin Creech, Joshua Barwick, Paul Hartsfield's line, all House's orchards
Witnesses: Isaac Croom, William Ayler, Ezekiel (X) Creech
In 1772 William Ayler was security, with Gershom Wiggins, for the estate of John Ratcliff, administered by Joseph Ratcliff (An Account of Letters of Administration Granted for Dobbs County in the Year 1772). In 1784 a 100 acre plat was registered for Samuel Ratcliff on the waters of the Edisto in Orangeburg County SC. Another 100 acre plat on Cattle Creek was registered in the same year. A fifty acre plat on Cattle Creek was also registered. Later grants were also made to the Ratciffs in the same area, including some immediately adjacent to Michael and Thomas Dukes.
Ratcliff family researchers have demonstrated that the Orangeburgh, SC, Ratcliff family was the same family that owned land adjacent that of William Ayler in Dobbs County NC. The following information was provided on August 23, 2003, by Frank Trowbridge, Ratcliff family researcher:
Descendants of Joseph Harrison Ratcliff
JOSEPH HARRISON24 RATCLIFF . . . . was born Abt. 1720 in Talbot Co., MD. on the family plantation, "Ratcliff's Choice", and died Bef. 1790 in Dobbs Co., NC (?). He married UNKNOWN.
Children of JOSEPH RATCLIFF and UNKNOWN are:
i. ISAIAH25 RATCLIFF, b. April 24, 1752, Johnston Co., NC., near Kinston, on the family plantation,"Ratcliff's Chance."; d. April 30, 1823, Indiana. The 1790 U. S. Census, Orangeburg Dist., S. C., indicates that Isaiah and Nancy Ratcliff had two sons and two daughters, but no slaves.
ii. WILLIAM RATCLIFF, b. Abt. 1752, Johnston Co., NC.; d. February 06, 1795, Orangeburg Dist., S.C.; m. AGNES. William Ratcliff was born about 5 miles west of Kinston, then Johnston Co., NC., probably on the Ratcliff plantation, "RATCLIFF'S CHANCE", a tract of some 900 acres, and close to the Lower Falling Creek Meeting House of Friends, as his name appears on the 1769 List of Taxables, Dobbs Co., NC. with the names of his father, Joseph, and his brothers, Isaiah and John Young Ratcliff. . . The U. S. Census of l790, Orangeburg, S. C., shows William the head of a household of one male over l6; 5 males under l6; l female and 4 slaves. William died in Orangeburg Dist., S. C., 6 Feb 1795.
iii. RICHARD RATCLIFF, b. Abt. 1755, Johnston Co., NC. His name appears appear on the 1790 U. S. Census, Orangeburg District, S.C., page 98, where he is shown as the head of a household having 4 males over 16, two males under 16, six females and 17 slaves. Old Ratcliff Book (#1007.851)
iv. SAMUEL RATCLIFF, b. Abt. 1757, Johnston Co., NC.; d. Aft. September 1812, Orangeburgh Dist., SC.
v. LEWIS RATCLIFF, b. Abt. 1760.
William Ayler is on the 1780 tax list for Lenoir Co NC, District #1, from Kinston west, north of the Neuse River along with Benjamin Bird, Reuben Freeman, William and John Aldridge.
William Ayler was later joined by William Ayler Jr. in the 1788 voting rolls for Dobbs Co (Annals of Progress, the Story of Lenoir County and Kinston, North Carolina, by William S. Powell).
Elinder Aylor later appears in the same area. Abiel Smith sold land to Elenor Ayler (Old Dobbs Co NC Deed Book 10, Apr 1773 to Apr 1775, p. 49). Reedy Branch was eventually in Greene Co NC, a little over a mile north of the boundary with Lenoir Co. The location was very near the land of John Duke, which must have been in the extreme southwestern portion of District 10 of Dobbs County. Elinder Aylor later sold that land:
3 December 1795
State of North Carolina, County of Lenoir
This Indenture made this Third day of December and in the Year of Our Lord One thousand Seven Hundred and Ninety five between Elinder Aylor of the State of North Carolina & County of Lenoir of the One part & Hardee Croom of the same place of the Other part - sum of Thirty Three pounds to her in hand paid by said Hardee Croom - sell a persel of Land on NW side of Gum Swamp beginning in Ready Branch - fifty acres
Signed Ellender (X) Aylor
Wit Will Croom, Nathan Green?, Joseph Pool
To Court Jany Term 1796, Lenoir County on oath of Joseph Pool
Signed Winston Caswell, Clk
Enrolled in the Registers Office of Lenoir County in Liber K pages 393 & 394 the 4th day of February Amo Dom 1796
Signed D. Caswell, Regr
The Aldridge and Byrd families were also on the boundary between Greene and Lenoir counties:
COLONIAL RECORDS OF LENOIR COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA ALSO KNOWN AS THE LOVIT
HINES COLLECTION - abstracted from Microfilm roll MF - 95 by Martha Mewborn Marble
INDENTURE - DREWRY ALDRIDGE SENR TO RICHARD BYRD
P 253 - 1 January 1800 - Indenture - DREWRY ALDRIDGE SENR of County of Greene to RICHARD BYRD of Lenoir - 20 pds - ES Falling Creek, NS Jumping Run, Sawpit Meadow in RICHARD BYRD'S corner of a patent granted to WILLIAM ALDRIDGE JUNR, adj THOMAS BYRD --- 17 1Ú2 acres, houses, gardens, orchards
Signed by mark
WIT JAM BYRD, JOHN (X) ALDRIDGE
To Court January Term 1800 on oath of JOHN ALDRIDGE S. BRIGHT, CC
Enrolled Liber B pages 153, 154 11 February 1800 JAS BRIGHT, Regr
Falling Run crosses the Greene-Lenoir county boundary immediately west of Institute, NC.
Another reference to William AylerÕs land:
Date: 23 December, 1817
Nature of document: Deed for sale of land
Grantor: William Croom
Grantee William Y.(?) Aldridge
Extent: Tracts of 150 acres, 200 acres, 40 acres, 77 acres, 77 acres, 27 and one-half acres, 40 acres, and 100 acres. Included is "the mill and plantation formerly owned by Paul Hartsfield, decd." In consideration of: 5,600 dollars
Mentioned in description of bounds: Simon Lovick and Barwick lands, Joshua Barwick, and William Ayler's corner. Witnesses: William Herring, John Sugg Aldridge
There is evidence that AnnÕs brother, William ÒEylerÓ Jr., moved to the Pen Branch area near Branchville, SC, where he acquired land near the Dukes family:
Description: SYFRETT, FREDERICK, PLAT FOR 1,000 ACRES ON PEN BRANCH, ORANGEBURGH DISTRICT, SURVEYED BY JOHN N. BARRILON.
Names Indexed: SYFRETT, FREDERICK/BARRILON, JOHN N./CANNON, JOHN/METZE, JOHN/METZE, CHRISTOPHER/FELDER, HENRY/RATCLIFF/SUMMERS, GEORGE/DUKES, MICHAEL/EDWARDS, JOSEPH/EDWARDS, RICHARD/GRIMES, JAMES/GRISSETT, E./EYLER, WILLIAM
Locations: ORANGEBURG DISTRICT/PEN BRANCH/EDISTO RIVER
This document is copyright © 2007 by Lynn Teague. All rights reserved. The copyright must appear on all copies.
 Ratcliff, Clarence E. 1984. North Carolina Taxpayers 1701-1786. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Page 8.
 Series Number: S213190. State Plats. Volume: 0010 Page: 00379. South Carolina Department of Archives and History.
 Series Number: 213190. State Plats. Volume: 0003. Page 00156. Item 1. South Carolina Department of Archives and History.
 Series Number 213190. State Plats. Volume 0003. Page 00158. South Carolina Department of Archives and History.
 Series Number 213190. State Plats. Volume 31. Page 00371. South Carolina Department of Archives and History.