Saferight dimensions

William Hodson (1768- February 6, 1849) married, circa 1790, Diannah Saferight (1768-before May 17, 1852), the daughter of Henry (or Heinrich) Sigfred/Sigfried/Saferight. John K. Hodgin also lists a Nancy as the given name for Henry’s wife. William died intestate, Guilford County. Four or eight reported children, possibly ten.

Before I had any indication of my great-great-great-great-grandmother Diannah’s maiden name, I suspected that her four children I had listed at that point hinted at her parents’ first names: Henry and Diannah. Curiously, her first name – that of a Greek goddess – would not have been common among these Quaker lines. I began sifting through the appropriate Census tables for Henrys who headed households in Guilford and Randolph counties, eliminating those that lacked daughters in Diannah’s age range. At last I was down to Ford, Davice (Davis), Kirkman, and Sigfret. Eventually, Clay Hodgin’s Early History of the Quaker Hodgson-Hodson-Hodgin Family (Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina; 1988) arrived, containing tables that named her as Dianna Saferight. (A word of caution: those tables do mangle several generations in this line, leading to unnecessary confusion.) Again, this is not proof, but it is plausible.

Little is known of Diannah’s ancestry. With her, though, we may also consider the extent of German-speaking settlement along the Great Appalachian Valley. It’s been said that when Quakers began arriving in the Carolina Piedmont, they were more likely to be greeted in German than in English. As Guilford County was settled, the eastern side was principally German – eighty-five percent Lutheran and fifteen percent Reformed, according to Fred Hughes’ calculations. To the west was the important Moravian settlement in what is now Winston-Salem.

The Saferight family appears to emerge from Henry Saferight, born before 1743, and documented variously as Henry Sigfret, Henderick Sigeret, Henry Sackfret, and Henerich Sigfried. He signed his name in German. When he purchased 200 acres and another 202 acres on South Buffalo Creek just south of the New Garden Friends meetinghouse, 1764 and 1765, his neighbors included the Quakers George Hiatt and David Edwards; he signed his name as Henry Sigfret. In 1773, he sold a section of his land to Eleazer Hunt, another Quaker. In time, members of the Saferight family begin to appear in the Quaker minutes as well. Some of the family remained in Guilford County and joined Centre Friends, where they are buried in the meetinghouse yard.

In other transactions, a Henderick Sigeret witnesses the November 14, 1768, will of Samuel Edwards in Guilford County.

The marriage of William and Diannah’s possible daughter, Rebecca, to Henry Albright would be another example of the German presence in Guilford County.


SAFERIGHT: A 1978 query in The Guilford Genealogist sought information on Saferight ancestors, “especially Henry, a landowner in 1799; John Sr., m 1820 to Anne Edwards; John Jr. m 1814 to Wilhelmetta Fields; Henry m 1812 to Catherine Wilson; Abner m 1830 to Fanny Hall; William m 1820 to Abigail Brown.” This pointed me to Fred Hughes’ map of early Guilford County, which designates a Henry Sigfret settling in 1764 at Buffalo Creek, south of New Garden Friends meetinghouse and near George Hiett. This finding fit my expectation that Diannah’s father would be named Henry, based on naming patterns: William and Diannah, after all, name their second son Henry.

The 1790 Census presents only a Rowan County widow (she is not listed in the Guilford County Census published by the Guilford County Genealogy Society); in 1800, however Jonathan [John?] Saferight appears near a cluster of Hodgins, and has three males under age 10, one 10-16, one 26-45, and one over 45, as well as one female under age 10, one 10-16, one 16-26, and one 26-45. In 1810, a J. Saferight is named, with one male under 10, one 10-16, and three 16-26, plus two females under 10, and one each 10-16, 16-26, 26-45. The last decade would indicate to me a household in which the young adult sons were caring for their widowed mother. Moreover, it would appear that John, not his father, was the head of household in 1800; curiously, in 1810, we are somehow missing males over the age of 26.

Further research turned up variant spellings of the name. In The Safewright Family (privately published, January 2002), Sherman Robert Safewright argues that the name was originally Sigfrid. Because of difficulty reading German script, in part, the “d” became confused into a “t.” When that version combined with Southern dialects, which tend to draw out vowels, the middle of the name apparently softened – “Sieg-fright” into “Saig-fright” into “Safe-right.” Considering similar mutations in the German and Swiss ancestry of both my Hodson grandmother and great-grandmother, the theory is plausible.

The free-form spellings found in the lists of the head of households for Palatine passengers arriving in Philadelphia include these: Hans Michael Seafredt and Hans Jorg Seafredt, on the Anderson in 1751, and Hans Martin Seyfrid, on the Shirley in 1751. Whether they relate to our Saferight lines is unknown, but if you try saying the surname from those phonetic spellings, the transition to Saferight seems rather direct.

The will of Henerich Sigfried, probated February 1802 in Guilford County, includes: “my daus Catherine, Mary, Neomi – my moveables. Son John – my land along his line. Exrs: William and John Hodgson. Witness: Isaac Frazier and Rebeccah Frazier.”

William Hodson was, of course, Dianna Saferight’s husband; Rebeccah (Saferight) Frazier was Isaac Frazier’s wife, and they were the parents of William’s nephew’s wife, Ann.

Combining the will with other material, we can construct this model:

S1. Henrich Sigfred (before 1722 – before 1790). For a long time I have wondered whether the 1802 will represented a second-generation Henry Saferight in Guilford County, a model that would help explain the lack of a Henry Saferight household in the 1790 Census. The listing of a Widow Saferight in that Census has me returning to this theory. Thus, this first Henrich/Henry would be the one purchasing and selling land in the 1760s and 1770s.

S1A. Henry Saferight (before 1742-1802) and wife, presently unknown. Mormon records list her as Nancy Nannie. (Is the “Nannie” a nickname for “Nancy”? John K. Hodgin uses Nancy.) Daughter Suzanna/Susanna names her second son Henry, her second daughter Nancy. Daughter Diannah, however, instead seemingly ignores Nancy altogether. Assuming their children to be born 1765-1790, to them these children:

S1A1. John ( -1833). He is the only known son. Married, first, Anne Edwards; married second, according to his estate, a Nancy. The gravestone for Nancy Saferight in the New Garden burial ground give the dates, 11-18-1772 and 2-10-1850. Sherman Robert Safewright believes the stone is for John’s second wife; her maiden name is unknown.

In addition to son John Jr., some believe that John had a son Henry, born before 1791, and that he married Catherine/Katherine Wilson, the daughter of Jeremiah and Elizaberth (Saferight) Wilson, below. (Spelling here appears as Seekfret.)

John also had a son Zachariah (ca 1790 – ). Marriage bond in Grayson County, Virginia, August 31, 1826, names John as the father.

S1A2. Henry ( – ). Sherman Robert Safewright takes the 1800 purchase of land by a Henry Saferight as the foundation for an argument that John had a younger brother. According to this line of reasoning, the elderly Henry would not have been interested in purchasing new land in his own name; if anything, the Quaker practice, which appears in many German lines as well, was to disperse the wealth, helping to establish children in their own properties before the parents’ death. Because this property was closer to Centre Meeting than to New Garden, having a Henry Junior settling there would help explain the number of Saferight descendents who became active at Centre. Why, though, is there no Henry found in the 1810 Guilford County Census?

In 1812, this Henry or perhaps a son of John, also named Henry, purchased land from Joshua Hodson (a son of Joseph Hodgson/Hodgin, and thus a first cousin-once-removed of William Hodson).

S1A3. Nancy. She appears in a Carroll County, Virginia, history (including Grayson County, which comes up frequently in Guilford County genealogy: what was the reason for this nexus?). There, a Capt. William Williams from Pittsylvania County, born in the 1750s, is believed to have married a Nancy Saferight (she is from England, according to that account). He sold 155 acres to Isaac Edwards in 1812, and died in 1838; she died in the 1840s. Among their six sons is a Henry. Edwards, we should note, are among the Guilford County neighbors of our first Henry Saferight. Other Saferights also appear at later dates in the Carroll/Grayson history.

S1A4. Diannah (1768-before May 17, 1852); she married, ca 1790, William Hodson/Hodgin.

S1A5. Suzanna/Susanna, born ca 1770. She married, 10-1-1788, Peter Osborn (1769-1843), the oldest son of Daniel and Margaret (Stout) Osborn. Peter remarried by early 1810. Based on Henry’s will, it appears she died before 1802.

S1A6. Elizabeth ( – ). She married Jeremiah Wilson; their daughter married a Henry Saferight – apparently a first-cousin.

S1A7. Rebeccah (ca 1780 – ). Married Isaac Frazier. In 1802, at Centre, their daughter Ann married Isaac Hodson.

S1A8. Naomi.

S1A9. Mary.

While some Saferight genealogists venture that Henry/Henerich was originally Lutheran, I wonder whether he was among the Dunkers (Brethren) who settled briefly in Guilford and Randolph counties before moving on to Tennessee and Kentucky and eventually Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. That, or possibly Moravian. Also, considering the ease with which Henry/Henerich moved among Friends, the possibility has been raised that his wife was originally a Quaker, or that he had been among the Germans who joined the Society of Friends, many of them through the preaching of William Penn and other traveling ministers.

For now, we are left with only questions regarding the family before their appearance in Guilford County. Even his wife’s given and surnames are a mystery. Based on naming patterns, Diannah is likely.

Some Quaker Saferight connections also appear. As noted, a gravestone at New Garden’s burial ground names Nancy Saferight, 11-12-1772 to 3-18-1850. At Centre Friends Meeting, a Jeremiah Saferight is received by request, 1864; he dies in 1871. Gravestone records in the Centre Friends Meeting Cemetery lists these Saferights: Abbie, 1814-1880; Albert Wilson, 1888-1964; E.W., 1856-1929; Elizabeth (Yates), 1831-1849; Etta Irene, 1874-1972; Fracy, 1808-1894; Ida Shelley, 1885-1964; Illa M., 1903-1906; J. Elmer, 1894-1951; Lorenzo D., 1853-1906; Mary J., married Osborne, 1857-1944; Samantha J., 1858-1940; Sarah Elizabeth, daughter of Jeremiah and Nancy, 1866-1945; Sarah Esther, 1869-1951; T.A., 1881-1919; and William Wesley, 1861-1941.

Other Saferights surface among the Methodists: Wilma (Holton), died 1912, and Grady Wilson Safewright, died 1908, are buried at Vickrey Methodist in Jamestown Township.

Saferights also appear in various spellings (including Saferite, Safrit, and Safrite) among the Guilford marriage bonds: William, as a witness 1819 and 1820; Abner, as witness in 1827 for Henry Ozburn, whose parents were Peter Osborne and first wife Susanna Safrite. The marriage of Pete Ozbun, son of Daniel Osborne and Margaret Stout, to Suzanna Saferet is recorded October 1, 1788. Elisha Osborn, whose daughter Eunice will marry William and Diannah’s grandson Pleasant, witnesses the 1832 marriage bond of Jonathan Edwards and Elizabeth Saferight.

Crucial points for further research

The Saferight lineage, especially, requires much work.

A clearer picture of William’s life – milling, mining, land dealing included – would be welcome. As would something of his wife’s experiences. Details regarding their children are needed, beginning with a definitive number, their names, and their destinies.


14 thoughts on “Saferight dimensions”

  1. My Great Grandfather was William Marion Saferight. He was born in Wythe County, Virginia. He came from a large family and I do not know any of their names except his brother, Harry Saferight. He married Mary Helen Webb and lived in Carroll County, Viginia. He is buried in the J. P. Webb cemetery in Carroll County. He passed away before was born,

    1. He was likely from this line, then. Wythe and Carroll counties are not that from from Guilford … in effect, just over the state line.
      I hope this adds to your understanding of your roots.

  2. I would love to speak with anyone who has any information on Susanna Saferight Osborn wife of Peter Osborn.

    1. Maybe others will see your query. I’ve posted what I have on the Saferights, but as you can see, there’s much to add.
      So I gather we share both Saferight and Osborn/Ozbun ancestry?

  3. I have since found out that Zacariah Saferight is probably my great grandfather’s (William M Saferight) great grandfather. Zacariah Saferight moved from Guilford Couny, NC to Grayson County, VA. He was well known because of the Virginia Beauty Apple. Guess I will find out things in bits and pieces ! Thanks

  4. Hello im a direct descendent of Heinrich Siegfried and i would like to thank you for taking the time to gather all of this info on some of our common ancestors.

    Without your work and Jennifer Taylors my family an I wouldn’t have much to research except for the scans here and there of documents and books uploaded to the web.

    From what was passed on to me at least was that the Saferights descended from Germans who were maybe Quakers who had been in the Piedmont and parts of Virginia for a long time.

      1. I have found out that I am related to Zachariah Saferight who created the Virginia Beauty Apple. My grandfather was Golden Saferight, his father was William Marion Saferight and they are buried in the J. P. Webb Cemetery in Carroll County, Virginia. William’s father was William Alfred Safewright and he is buried in the Safewright Cemetery in Barren Springs, Virginia.

  5. Mary Dalton do you know where the Safewright Cemetery is located in Barren Springs? My aunt just passed the other day and her parents Stella Virginia Thornton Harrell and George Lawrence Harrell are buried there. She has no other family and we would like to scatter her ashes with her parents.

    1. It is just off of Route 100 near the New River Bridge. I honestly do not know the name of the road, but there is only one road that turns near the bridge. When you are on that road veer to the right and go past the house (only one) and the cemetery is past that. The road goes to the river, but the cemetery is before that. The house belongs to a Saferight relative and she has passed away, but I think her daughter still lives there. The Saferights grew up on that river. Hope this helps because I am terrible about giving directions. Sorry about your Aunt !!!

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