Cornelius Autry was born about 1720, possibly in Ireland, and died in the late 1770’s in Edgecombe County, NC. His wife is unknown, but nine of their children have been identified, all of whom were born in Edgecombe County. Cornelius first appeared in records in 1746 and by 1756 he was a well-established planter, and the one for whom Autry Creek was named. By 1790 five of the children had moved to Sampson County and were recorded in the US Census, one had moved to Georgia, one to Tennessee, one to Alabama, and one remained in Edgecombe County.
The oldest child of Cornelius was Absalom (he retained an e in Autrey) who was born about 1740 and died in 1827 in St. Clair County, Alabama. He is listed as a Tory Officer (or Loyalist) in Colonial Records, Vol. 22, page 196, and had eight children, all born in NC. Later they all migrated to Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, or South Carolina.
The second child was John Autry, born about 1741 and died in 1778, who married Elizabeth Ann and had twelve children. He was killed on February 2, 1778 by Creek Indians near Skull Sholes, GA. All of the children were born in NC except for the last three. A record of this family may be found in Mahan Blair Autry’s book, “The Family and Descendants of Captain John Autry. “
James Autry, the third child, was born about 1742 and died before 1830 in Tennessee. There were two known children, and from this family came the famous Gene Autry of Los Angeles, CA.
William Autry was the fourth child. He was born in 1745 and died before 1790 when his wife, Rachel, is listed as the head of the household. According to the 1790 census, there were at least five children. Newsom was one of these children. He married first Nancy Pharis and second Clary Culbreth. His will of July 12, 1853 names Clarry and thirteen children. From this family came many Sampson County Autrys who married into the Neil Culbreth family.
The fifth child, Cornelius Autry, born 1747 and died 1810, is falsely credited to be the father of all N.C. Autrys. From this family came Theophilus Autry who married Elizabeth Crumpler who, according to his will, had nine children. Micajah Autry, of the Alamo fame, was the most outstanding.
Drury Autry, the sixth child, born about 1749 and died after 1808, the date of his will, had six children named in his will. His wife was not named. Many of these children married into the Neil Culbreth family and lived in Sampson County.
The seventh child, Isam, born about 1750, has no record other than the 1790 Census, which lists his household with two males and four females.
The eighth child, Martha Autry, born 1753 and died 1852, married Neil Culbreth.
The ninth child, Sarah Autry, born about 1755, married George Vickers and remained in Edgecombe County, NC. In Deed Book D of Edgecombe County, p. 388, Cornelius deeds 260 acres to “my daughter Sarah”.
Although the spelling of Autry has passed through many forms such as Autrey, Aughtry, Aughtrey, Ottry, and Daughtry, most Autry researchers say that Cornelius of Edgecombe County was the original progenitor of North Carolina Autrys, and they are all related to a degree regardless of a claim that five brothers came to America and went their separate ways.
* From the Sampson County Heritage Book, 1984