He probably married at age 27, as his first child was born in 1765.
In 1776, when the American Colonies declared there independence from England, William Gulley was 39 years old, 12 years married with five children (and a sixth on the way). Nevertheless, he enlisted in the Newbern District NC Militia and was a North Carolina soldier in the Revolutionary War.
After the war he was recorded in a state Census as living in Duplin County NC. Since Duplin was in the Wilmington District, he had evidently moved. As evidenced by U.S. Census records, land deeds, and his will, he continued to reside in Duplin County and died there.
William had brothers who lived in Johnston County NC. From the will of Robert Gulley we know that he and John Gulley of Johnston County were brothers of William Gulley of Duplin County The brother in Johnston County, and descendants, spelled their name Gulley. So did William Gulley at first; at least that is the way his name is written in four documents prior to 1791. After 1792 William's name is consistently spelled Gully.
William's son John also used Gully, but John's sons all changed to Gulley and later generations continued this spelling.
William Gulley, Sr. was a "North Carolina Planter." He owned 836 acres of valuable land located in the extreme NW corner of present day Duplin County about two miles SE of the small town of Calypso. State Highway 403 transverses the northern edge of his property. The land where he resided, and also a tract which he owned about 2.5 miles to the north, were on the north bank of Goshen Swamp, and are so described in four deeds. Actually Goshen Swamp is a river -- "the main tributary of the NE Cape Fear River in Duplin County"
In 1793 William Gulley, Sr. started disposing of his land. In March of that year he sold 70 acres to one Michael Kinnard. In January 1794 he gave 175 acres to his oldest son Jesse, perhaps as a wedding gift. In January 1801 he gave his second son William, Jr. 296 acres. William, Jr. was about two yeas married at the time. In April 1807 he gave his youngest son John 363 acres "where he the said William now lives, Assuring to himself and wife Bethany Gully the use and benefit thereof during both or either of their natural life... it being the whole of the land said Gully is possessed of." John was 19 years old and unmarried in 1807.
This land was sold by John in December 1815; (John was preparing to leave North Carolina). We speculate that prior to the sale Bethany had died and William, Sr., who was 78, was living elsewhere (probably with a daughter). In any case William, Sr. must have agreed to relinquish his life tenure. He signed the deed as a witness.
William Gulley, Sr. wrote his will 19 Feb. 1819. It is clear from the wording of the document that his wife Bethany was dead and that he had previously distributed most of his property and was just confirming the disposition. The will bequeaths no land. He had transferred all his real estate to his three sons by deed many years before. This will provides insight into William Gulley, Sr.'s Family.
It names ten of his eleven children. The only one missing is number three daughter Bethana.
Supposition is that 2 17 January 2005 she died without issue before Feb. 1819. Two others who had died, Sally and William, Jr., are named and he gives something to their sons.
Nine of children were married. Only "Patsey," age 18, was still single. Seven of the nine marriages are
confirmed by Duplin County Marriage Records in addition to the will. He appointed two Son in Laws (sic) as executors, indicating that both of his surviving sons had moved from North Carolina prior to Feb. 1819.
The will is signed "William X Gulley;" but this does not imply Illiteracy.
Deeds and other documents executed earlier were signed "William Gully." We speculate that William may have been too ill to sign his name; however, the illness was not terminal as he lived several more years. In the will, William and his son John are Gulley. Sons Jesse and William, Jr., and William, Jr.'s two sons, are Gully. daughter Patsey is Gulley in line six and Gully in the fifth line from the end. The full text of the will follows:
In the name of God Amen. I, William Gulley of Duplin County & State of North Carolina aware that it is
allotted for all men to die, therefore deem it prudent at this time, being possessed of a sound and disposing mind
and memory, blessed be God for the same, to express and direct in what manner my Temporal Estate shall be
disposed of after my decease. It is therefore my will and desire that the same be in manner and form following:
Item, I give and bequeath to my daughter Patsey Gulley one feather bed and furniture with curtains & one cow
and calf and six earthen plates. Item, I give and bequeath to my son John Gulley one sorrel mare called Fancy
which he now has in possession, a feather bed, bedstead & furniture and a cow and calf which he also has in
possession. Item, I give and bequeath to my daughter Elizabeth Byrd one negro girl by the name of Candas to her
Heirs for ever, which she now has in her possession. Item, I give and bequeath to my daughter Patience Hines
one negro boy by the name of Hinton to her and her Heirs for ever, which she now has in her possession. Item, I
give and bequeath to my daughter Edith Frederick one negro by the name of Allis to her and he Heirs for ever,
which she now has in possession. Item, I give and bequeath to my daughter Nancy Gilmore one Negro girl by the
name of Clarissa to her and her heirs for ever, which she now has in possession. Item, I give and bequeath to my
daughter Mary Wilson one Negro Girl by the name of Ally to her & her Heirs for ever, which she now has in
possession. Item, I give and bequeath to my daughter Patsey Gully one Negro Woman by the name of Asha &
her Two Children, a boy called Buster and a girl by the name of July, to her and her heirs for ever. Item, I give
and bequeath to my son Jesse Gully one negro girl by the name of Anna to Him and his heirs for ever, which he
now has in his possession. Item, I give and bequeath to my two grandsons James and Henry Gully sons of
William Gully Jr dec'd one silver dollar each and no more. Item, I give and bequeath to my grand son William
Daniel, son of Sally Daniel, one hundred dollars to be raised out of estate to him and heirs for ever and no more.
Item, my will and desire is after all my just debts are paid the whole of the residue of my Estate, personal and
movables of every description, shall be equally divided between the following representatives: Elizabeth Byrd,
Patience Hines, and my Daughter Edith Frederick and my Daughter Mary Wilson and my daughter Nancy
Gilmore and my Daughter Patsey Gully to them and their Heirs for ever. And I do here by revoke and make null
and void all and every other will or wills by me here to fore made. And I do here by nominate and appoint my
two Son in Laws Joel Hines and Thomas Wilson executors to this my last Will and Testament signed sealed and
acknowledged in the presence of us this 19th day of February 1819 Test John Beck, Thomas Bennett, Polly A
William X Gulley seal
State of No Carolina, Duplin County, January Term 1822
Thus was the within will proved in Court by the oath of Thomas Bennett
and Ordered to be recorded. Certified by order of Court.
Jas Pearsall Clk
As evidenced by the probate date (Jan 1822) William Gulley, Sr. did not die until 1821, at which time he was in
his 85th year, a venerable age indeed for that day and ti