Charles family genealogy

For a long time I’ve been interested in genealogy, and I dig into mine off and on. There don’t seem to be an awful lot of people in my particular Charles lineage, but I have found a few other researchers of my line and it’s been a great help as well as being generally cool to touch base with “relatives” around the country and even abroad. The line I am looking at came through Virginia and Kentucky, and some of us suspect Wales or England before that.

I’ve always had the intention of starting a website to share Charles family genealogy info, but I have never made the time. As I’m eyeball deep in working on a masters thesis, I doubt that will change, but I figured the least I could do was post something here on my blog to serve as a gathering point, and a place to post links to relevant documentation that we’ve collectively found. Hopefully this will get further fleshed out as time goes on. If you are also researching this line, please get in touch! I can be reached at jcharles00 on gmail or via comment below. Also, despite the fact that isn’t very user friendly, and their subscription model is very annoying, their surname forums are really the best place to chat with other researchers. you can find the Charles surname forum here:


Charles Lines I’ve encountered


Phillip Charles

The first is my line. For the sake of talking about these things, I’m going to call it the Philip Charles line. Many of us suspect this line is documented further back, (see below) but I’ve yet to see any hard evidence.

In my case, it looks like this:

Jesse Colter -> William Franklin -> William Franklin -> Sidney Lewis -> Benjamin Franklin -> Joseph -> Philip -> Lewis -> Lewis -> Thomas -> Thomas ->Henry
(everyone before Philip very much up for debate)

The questionable bits of the above can only be cited to the Thema Hansford book linked below which uses some leaps of faith, and this site:
Many of the more recent individuals in the tree seem to check out, so it’s easy to believe it, but at the same time, the author of that site doesn’t list _any_ sources. In fact, the site seems to be more a platform for playing with some genealogy web presentation layer that he wrote.. regardless, it’s the best lead that exists so far. I emailed the address attached to the site re: sources, but have yet to hear anything back.

I know that some people get weird about sharing their full research data / GEDCOM files, so for the time being, here is a PDF link to a document authored by the late Thelma Hansford regarding our line. My Cousin James Charles found it at the library of Virginia. I find many of her links in the first few generations listed to be questionable, but so far it is the most “official” documentation I have seen.

Charles Family Geneology-THansford


Hans Michael Charles

Another, more common Charles line is that starting with Hans Michael Charles, German in origin. I personally believe that this line is entirely unrelated to the above Phillip line. Since this is not my line, I don’t actively research it. I am glad to post info about it here though.

There is a document by “Clell E. Charles”, published in 1960 that has a lot of good info. Here is a copy with an updated 1979 foreword by Ethel Charles Hughes.



As I amass more data, I’m finding a few other resources that might be helpful to other folks..

Charles DNA project

I don’t know a lot about this. I submitted my info some time ago and haven’t seen anything new.. but maybe that’s only because no one else knows about it.


The John Wynne Society

I believe John Wynne is my 7th Great-Grandfather through his daughter Anne, who married Lewis Charles. (Born: 1730)  Like the earliest known folks in my paternal line, John was a York County Virginia resident and may have had dealings in Warwick County as well. Little solid information exists of John’s origins, but it’s thought he was from England and may have come to the United States on one of his family’s ships. The John Wynne Society has a great collection of newsletters full of information about John and the York County area.


Neff Historical Society I am of the D line of American Neff’s. Lots of good information on this site.


Callaway Historical Society I am of the “Joseph” line of the Callaway / Kellaway tree. This site is currently a little confusing as it references a .org site that no longer exists and links to some rootsweb pages that are currently down, but there’s still a lot of information to be found. The archive of newsletters are available to non-members.


Wolfe/Lee/Estill Counties in Kentucky

Rennick Manuscript Collection – Kentucky place names – This is really pretty cool. a collection of notes about place names, organized by county. They are very haphazard, sometimes citing witnesses or families associated with the areas. Really good from an ethnographic context as well.

Kentucky County Formation Maps – Kentucky County boundaries changed a lot up until 1939. It took me a while to figure out that my ancestors in Clark County were in the same location as later ancestors in Estill, Wolfe, Lee and Montgomery Counties. This animated map is a great tool for understanding such changes.


York County, Virginia

I have my paternal Charles line traced back to York County, VA in the 1600’s. Here are some resources for that area and time that may be helpful to you..

York County, VA cemetaries – list of links to find a grave sites for this area.



Finally for now, I’d like to give a mention to a few relatives/researchers who have been a great help:

Mollie Charles Pawlik
Rick Charles
James Charles
David Charles


Keywords: Charles, Surname Charles, Charles Family, Genealogy, Charles Genealogy, Ancestry, Virginia, Kentucky, Wolfe county, Estill County, Torrent,

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