Who Are the Scots-Irish, anyway?

© June 2016 Robin Rankin Willis

Introduction

This article is a non-academic description of Scots-Irish (or Scotch-Irish) history from about 1600 to roughly the mid-eighteenth century, with emphasis on the factors influencing Scots-Irish migration.[1] I wrote it for family history researchers who want an overview regarding where their Scots-Irish ancestors came from, and when and why they migrated.

When I started doing family history research, I had no idea what “Scots-Irish” meant. I had a vague idea (I must blush) that it meant one had mixed Irish and Scottish ancestry. Turns out that I am an awful student of history. The Scots-Irish were Protestant Scots who settled in northernmost Ireland – specifically, in the province of Ulster – and later migrated from Ireland to the colonies.

Background

First, a bit of Irish political history and geography.

Ireland was traditionally divided four provinces: Ulster, Connaught, Leinster, and Munster. Ulster, the focus of interest in this article, was located in the northernmost part of Ireland. Nine counties made up Ulster: (1) Antrim, (2) Down, (3) Armagh, (4) Derry, (5) Fermanagh and (6) Tyrone, plus (7) Cavan, (8) Monaghan, and (9) Donegal.

Here is a map showing the four traditional Irish provinces and the counties which comprise them.

The history of the relationship among Ireland, Scotland and England is way beyond my expertise. Suffice it to say that, in 1603, the Kingdom of England – including England, Wales and those parts of Ireland controlled by the English – was united with the Kingdom of Scotland.[2] King James VI of Scotland became James I of England, Scotland, and Ireland.

King James is a big star in this narrative.

Fast forward in time two centuries. In 1800, the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland” came into being, composed of all of Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England. In 1922, the Republic of Ireland gained independence from the United Kingdom. Oversimplifying the matter considerably, a vocal Protestant minority concentrated in Ulster – whose existence can be traced back to James I (more on that shortly) – wanted no part of a predominantly Catholic Ireland. To prevent civil insurrection, the British allowed the nine Ulster counties to decide by vote whether they wanted to remain part of the United Kingdom. The very northeasternmost part of Ulster (the first six Ulster counties in the list above) voted to remain a part of the United Kingdom. The British partitioned those six counties to form Northern Ireland. The remaining three counties which had been part of the province of Ulster – Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal – became a part of the Republic of Ireland. After the partition and Ireland’s independence, the U.K. was composed of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.[3]

Perhaps you have an ancestor with a classic Scots-Irish name – Alexander, Rankin, Gillespie, Ewing, Steele, Kerr, Caldwell, McQuiston, Denny, or Wallace – who was born, say, in Letterkenny, County Donegal in the 1600s. In light of Irish history, it would be correct to say he or she was born in Ulster (the province), or (more colorfully) the “Ulster Plantation,” or (geographically) the northern part of Ireland. It would not be correct to say he or she was born in Northern Ireland, a country that didn’t come into existence for another three centuries. I am still trying to correct all the instances in which I have made that error.

It would, however, almost certainly be correct to say that your ancestor was Presbyterian. Solid fact #1: it is redundant to describe someone as a Scots-Irish Presbyterian.

The factors that drove the migration of the Scots-Irish from Scotland to Ulster and then to the colonies are more complicated. What ultimately became known as the “Irish Troubles” is a cautionary tale, I suppose, about unintended consequences.

Original settlement of the Ulster Plantation

As noted above, James I of Great Britain, aka James VI of Scotland, became the first king of England, Scotland, and Ireland in 1603. James was a Protestant rather than a Catholic or an Anglican (the official church of England after Henry VIII’s dispute with the Pope over his divorce).

Also in 1603, the leading Irish Catholic families of Ulster surrendered to end the Nine Years War, which had been waged in an effort to stop the expansion of English power in Ireland.[4] Large Irish landowners fled the country, leaving behind estates of roughly 500,000 acres. James appropriated those estates for the crown. In 1607, James claimed almost six counties of additional land. Not surprisingly, many of those who lost their land had been the leading opponents of English control of Ireland. They were native Irish and Catholic.

While he was at it, James ordered thousands of remaining Irish Catholic tenants to move from Ulster to other parts of Ireland. James thus created the opportunity to repopulate land taken from rebellious Irish landowners with more reliably loyal Protestants from England and Scotland. The crown made liberal offers of land and other inducements to accomplish that end. People heard; they came.

James predicted, correctly, that more Scots than English would relocate to Ulster, a fairly barren place (then), too rough for what James perceived as the more delicate English temperament. A sizeable population – notable primarily for their Presbyterianism – made the short trip across the channel from Scotland into the northern part of Ireland. During 1610 through 1612, an estimated ten thousand Scots, mostly from the Scottish Lowlands, settled in Ulster. As many as 50,000 Lowland Scots had settled in Ulster by 1620.

Needless to say, the remaining native Irish Catholics thoroughly detested the Protestant Scots settlers, and vice versa. By 1922, when Ireland was partitioned, nothing much had changed in that regard. Wow.

The Irish Rebellion of 1641

It didn’t take long for the simmering Ulster caldron to boil over. Beginning in October 1641, a bloody episode called the “Irish Rebellion” began. It first erupted in Ulster, when native Catholic Irish surprised Protestant settlers and killed them in large numbers. The Irish were apparently afraid that the English Parliament was going to gin out some new repressive anti-Catholic legislation. The attacks may have been preemptive action to “disarm” the Ulster Protestants, who would have been charged with enforcing any such laws. Considering the “legacy of hatred built into the Ulster Plantation,” the violence – says The Oxford History of Britain, in a masterful case of British understatement – “inevitably got out of hand.” A Covenanter army arrived from Scotland to help protect the Ulster Scots, to little avail.[5] “Massacre” is the appropriate term. Although estimates vary wildly, a BBC website suggests that thirty percent of the Protestant population in Ulster died.

The Irish Rebellion lasted for almost ten years, spreading to other areas of Ireland during the English Civil Wars. It ended when the armies of Oliver Cromwell landed in Ireland and slaughtered the inhabitants of Drogheda and Wexford, Irish Catholic towns on the east coast. Cromwell, apparently an Old Testament kind of guy, evidently still believed in the “eye for an eye” theory.

Not long thereafter, across the channel in Scotland, other religious persecution blossomed. Following the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, Charles II and James II set about trying to force Episcopacy down the throats of the Scottish, leading to conflicts between Presbyterians and the Bishops of the Anglican establishment. This culminated in an intense phase of persecution in the 1680s, a period appropriately referred to as “the killing times.” The victims were Presbyterian Scots.

The killing times gave rise to the second large migration of Protestants from their homeland in Scotland to the relatively safe Ulster. Imagine thinking of Ulster as safe, after that 1641 massacre! This second migratory wave took place from about 1663 to 1689, when William and Mary (Protestants) assumed the throne.

Economic troubles

It wasn’t just religious persecution that drove these migrations. Economic issues also played a major role, of course. Government – both the English and Irish Parliaments – got in the act, as did Mother Nature.

Beef and beef products were the first legislative target. After the Cromwellian civil wars of the 1640s, the export of cattle from Ireland to England increased substantially, as did exports of beef, cheese and butter. This adversely impacted English cattle raisers, who persuaded the Parliament of Charles II (after the restoration of the monarchy in 1660) to pass an act prohibiting the shipping of cattle, beef, cheese and butter from Ireland to England or to any of the English colonies. I imagine that cut into the profitability of raising Irish cattle, although I haven’t found any relevant data.

The next legislative blow was to the Ulster wool industry, which had grown rapidly in northern Ireland in the late 1600s. Irish wool and wool product exports hurt sheep raisers in England, so Parliament swung into action. In 1698, under pressure from the English government, the Irish parliament placed heavy duties on Irish export of manufactured wool. In 1699, the English parliament passed an act forbidding (among other things) the export from Ireland of all goods made or mixed with wool – except to England and Wales. This immediately crippled the wool industries in Ulster: woolen factories closed down virtually overnight. This started the first migration of the Scots-Irish to America, right at the turn of the century. Most of those early Scots-Irish immigrants settled in New England.

Meanwhile, taxes on the Ulster Scots were going up, as were rents. “Rack renting” became the practice, i.e., raising the rent on land and evicting tenants who couldn’t pay, then renting to the highest bidder. By the early 1700s, most of the leases granted to settlers in the 1680s migration from Scotland to Ulster were expiring, making this practice widespread. Annual “rack rents” were sometimes equal to the total value of the land.

1717: the “Great Migration” to the colonies begins

Religious persecution reared its ugly head again, with Anglicans back in charge in England. In 1704, the English Parliament passed the Test Act, which required all government officials, and all town, county and army officers, and all lawyers, to take communion according to the forms and rites of the Church of England. This effectively wiped out most of the civil service in northern Ireland. Then, in 1714, the Schism Act required all school teachers to secure a license from a bishop of the Anglican Church. A bishop could grant a license only to those who conformed to the Test Act. Goodbye, teaching jobs.

Nature piled on. There was a serious drought in Ireland caused by six years of insufficient rainfall during 1714 through 1719, and that was undoubtedly the final straw. The first wave of the “Great Migration” began in earnest during 1717-1718. During 1717, more than 5,000 Ulster residents left for the colonies. During the next three years, nearly a hundred ships sailed from ports in the north of Ireland, carrying as many as 25,000 passengers – virtually all Presbyterian.

Most of these original migrants settled in the Delaware River Valley, primarily in Pennsylvania. It was attractive because of encouragement by that colony, whose Secretary invited settlement by the immigrants. The process of elimination probably also played a role. Virginia, where the Anglican Church of England was established, was not attractive. Neither was Maryland, which had an established Roman Catholic church. Land in the Hudson River Valley of New York was owned in great estates. By 1720, “go to America” from Ulster meant taking a ship to one of the Delaware River ports. For most of the Great Migration, the majority of Scots-Irish entered the colonies through Philadelphia, Chester, or New Castle. Most of the early immigrants settled in Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester and Lancaster counties, Pennsylvania.

During 1725 through 1729, the exodus from Ulster became so large that the English Parliament appointed a commission to investigate the cause, fearing a loss of the entire Protestant population in Ulster. The main problems were identified as rack rents and general poverty.

The largest wave of migration began in 1740-41, when an estimated 400,000 Irish died in the famine of those years. For the next decade, Scots-Irish arrived in the colonies in huge numbers. By then, the power elite in Pennsylvania had become alarmed at the prospect that the Scots-Irish would take over the government. Consequently, Pennsylvania landowners quit selling land to the immigrants. Lord Granville, however, was advertising cheap and abundant land for sale in North Carolina. Thus began a huge migration from Pennsylvania down the Great Wagon Road of the Shenandoah Valley, heading for the Piedmont Plateau of North Carolina. One landowner on the Great Wagon Road route estimated that 5,000 wagons crossed the James River in Virginia in 1755, bound for the huge area that was then Rowan County, North Carolina.

In 1771, a final large wave of immigration from Ulster began, again caused by rack rents. There was some violent and ultimately useless resistance to rent increases by Ulster residents, all Presbyterians, known as the “Hearts of Steel” or “Steelboys.” Landowners, with the law and the army on their side, won. In the few years left before the Revolution, an additional 30,000 Ulster residents reportedly left for the colonies.

Estimated numbers of Scots-Irish in the colonies vary wildly, and I have no basis for discriminating among them. One source estimates that, by 1776, 300,000 people — one-sixth of the (white) population of all the colonies — was Scots-Irish. Yet another source puts the number of Scots-Irish in the colonies at the start of the Revolution at 230,000. In any event, with a total white and black population of about 2.5 million in the mid-1770s, even the smaller of those estimates is a significant percentage of the total.

Those Ulster immigrants obviously had no love for the English. They became the heart of the American Revolution – not the intellectual heart, but the muscle. George Washington said that, if the Revolutionary cause was lost everywhere else, he would make a last stand among the Scots-Irish of Virginia. Captain Johann Henricks, a Hessian mercenary in the British army, wrote, “[c]all it not an American rebellion, it is nothing more than an Irish-Scotch Presbyterian Rebellion.”

Solid fact #2: “Scots-Irish” and “Tory” are mutually exclusive terms. If you have a male Scots-Irish ancestor who was in his twenties or thirties during roughly 1775-1785, you almost certainly have a Revolutionary War veteran on your family tree.

Rankins and Alexanders

My Alexander family was among those who left the Pennsylvania and Maryland area about 1740-ish, settled in Virginia during 1742-1749, and then arrived in Anson/Rowan County by 1752. See my article about them here.

My last known Rankin ancestor probably arrived in Rowan a bit later, but in any event by 1759. If you have Scots-Irish ancestors from south-central North Carolina, I would bet they also left Scotland for the Ulster Plantation in the 1600s, departed Northern Ireland for Pennsylvania between 1717 and 1750, and arrived in North Carolina about the middle of the eighteenth century. If you have a story along those lines, I would love to hear it.

Sources. As usual, I careened among websites looking for information, e.g., Googling “when was the Restoration,” without making good notes of my sources. This list undoubtedly omits dozens of other credible websites containing historical information which I used to help prepare this post, and I apologize for failing to list them.

  1. “Scotch-Irish.” Dictionary of American History. 2003. Retrieved June 19, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3401803772.html
  1. “Henry the VIII and Ireland.” 2015. Retrieved June 24, 2016 from The History Learning Site.co.uk: http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/tudor-england/henry-viii-and-ireland/
  1. Kenneth O. Morgan, The Oxford History of Britain (Oxford: The Oxford University Press, 1999, upated edition 2010).
  1. Online excerpts at various websites from James G. Leyburn, The Scotch-Irish, A Social History (Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 1962).
  1. “Wars and Conflict: the Plantation of Ulster.” Retrieved June 25, 2016: bbc.co.uk. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/plantation/planters/es10.shtml. This location has been archived and is no longer being maintained.
  1. Scottish Covenanters Memorial Association, retrieved June 24, 2016: http://www.covenanter.org.uk/WhoWere/
  1. Ulster Historical Foundation retrieved June 25, 2016: http://www.ancestryireland.com/history-of-the-irish-parliament/background-to-the-statutes/manufacturing-mining/

[1] Some people prefer the term “Scotch-Irish” rather than “Scots-Irish.” I’m agnostic on the issue, and either one works for me. I frankly don’t know which, if either, is considered correct.

[2] In 1707, the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland merged. I don’t know the difference between the 1707 “merger” and the 1603 “union,” described in a couple of the articles I read as a “personal union” under the crown.

[3] After the disaster known as Brexit, Scotland may depart the U.K. to rejoin the European Union. Likewise, predominantly Protestant Northern Ireland – in what now seems like fine irony – may reunite with the predominantly Catholic Republic of Ireland, which remains part of the European Union.

[4] The Nine Years War officially ended with the surrender of the earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnel, chiefs of the O’Neills and the O’Donnells, the leading Irish Catholic families of Ulster.

[5] “Covenanters” were Scots who were opposed to interference by British royalty in the affairs of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. See Scottish Covenanters Memorial Association, retrieved June 24, 2016: http://www.covenanter.org.uk/WhoWere/

 

 

The Case of the Unhelpful Mutant Marker

by Gary N. Willis

Rapidly mutating DNA markers can be extremely helpful for genetic genealogists. These mutations can identify sublineages that differentiate relatives within only a few generations and can sometimes solve mysteries where there are gaps in the written record. I recently thought I had discovered such a useful mutation. My Y-DNA test results differ from other members of the Maryland Group of the Willis DNA Project at position 439. That location is noted for being rapidly mutating. The genealogical paper trail indicates that seven of the nine members in the Maryland Group descend from Andrew Willis, son of John Willis the immigrant. The other two of us descend from John, Jr., another son of Immigrant John.

If the anomalous marker at 439 originated with John, Jr., it would clearly separate descendants of Andrew from descendants of John. However, the other group member who descends from John, Jr. does not share the anomaly. The mutation must therefore have originated in one of John, Jr.’s descendants rather than John himself. The paper trail shows that the line of the other John, Jr. descendant and my line diverge at Zachariah Willis, a great-great-grandson of Immigrant John. I am descended from Zachariah’s son Henry Fisher Willis, while the other Maryland Group member descends from Zachariah’s son Francis Asbury Willis. The mutation at 439 obviously occurred with Henry Fisher or his descendants, since Francis Asbury’s line lack the mutation.

Mutant Marker Chart

One of my brother’s test results are identical to mine, including the anomaly. The mutated marker at 439 therefore did not begin with my generation. It must have first occurred with one of three men: our father Noble Sensor Willis, his father Henry Noble Willis, or Henry Noble’s father Henry Fisher Willis. This conclusion is illustrated in the Mutant Marker Chart linked above. Unfortunately, this knowledge has limited value because there are so few male descendants of Henry Fisher. Henry Noble Willis was the only son of Henry Fisher, and Noble Sensor was one of only two sons of Henry Noble. The other son of Henry Noble was Harry McMaster Willis who had no sons. Absent actually digging up a dead relative, it is not possible to determine exactly where the mutation occurred. Thankfully, it is not necessary to be more precise. The remaining males in the entire line of Henry Fisher Willis are the three sons of Noble Sensor (my two brothers and I), plus our five sons and four grandsons. We should all share the mutant marker. No mysteries to be solved there.

Had the mutation occurred with Zachariah rather than further down the line, it would have been extremely useful in identifying kin. Zachariah had a number of sons including some who left the Eastern Shore of Maryland to establish families elsewhere in the country.

(For more information on this family, see “The John Willis Family of Dorchester and Caroline Counties, Maryland” and “The John Willis Family … The Second Generation” recently posted on this site.)

The John Willis Family of Dorchester and Caroline Counties, Maryland … The Second Generation

by Gary N. Willis

An earlier article on this site concluded that John Willis, the Court Cryer of Dorchester County Court and owner of “Wantage” several miles from Cambridge, had six children at the time of his death in 1712. He made a will on 18 September 1712 and died soon thereafter.[1] In his will, John devised or bequeathed the following to his children:

  1. To son William and his heirs, all of John’s land and a mare, a cow, three yearlings, and a frying pan;
  2. To daughter Grace, 2 cows, three yearlings, a young horse, bed & furniture, and his “Great Chest”, and all of John’s land if William died without issue;
  3. To daughter Elizabeth, a mare and colt; and
  4. To son John, 12 pence.

The will named four children … William, Grace, Elizabeth and John. Probate records prove an additional son, Andrew,[2] and circumstantial evidence points to a fourth son named Thomas.

Assigning accurate dates of birth to the children is difficult. Andrew was born about 1690 based on his testimony in a 1730 deposition.[3] Another deposition proves John Jr. was the eldest son.[4] A third deposition establishes that William was born between 1694 and 1700.[5] Grace was named before Elizabeth in the 1712 will, suggesting she might be the elder of the two. It is unclear whether Thomas was older than William. I suspect William was the youngest child. It was not uncommon for the youngest son, the last to leave the household, to serve as a caregiver for aging or ill parents. Such service would put him in good stead with regard to inheritance. The same is true of unmarried daughters who remained in their parents’ household.

Although establishing a birth order is not necessary to this discussion, it provides a picture of the family consistent with the known facts. A feasible order of birth satisfying that criterion is:

1683 – John, Jr.                     1690 – Andrew

1685 – Grace                           1692 – Thomas

1688 – Elizabeth                      1694 – William

Records indicate that of these children, only John and Andrew had offspring. This article discusses the four siblings who had no children before turning to John and Andrew.

Elizabeth Willis

Beyond the 1712 will there is no further mention of an Elizabeth Willis in the Dorchester County records in the early 1700’s. However, one item of interest is a corrected interpretation of her name. Several abstracters have called this daughter Eliza, but a close review of the Dorchester Will Book entry suggests otherwise. The hand-written record shows the letters “Eliz,” followed by a colon, and then followed by a superscript that appears to be “th.” I interpret this writing as shorthand for Elizabeth, not Eliza.

Thomas and Grace Willis

A Thomas Wallis [Willis] bought 50 acres of land from John Sharpe in 1717 on Marshy Creek. This land was half of a 100-acre tract called “Sharp’s Prosperity” that Sharpe patented a year earlier.[6] Thomas’s purchase adjoined the other half of the same tract that Sharpe sold on 10 Mar 1717 to John Willis.[7]

There is no record of a marriage or children for either Thomas or his sister Grace.[8] I speculate that neither brother nor sister married and that they lived under the same roof on the land Thomas bought. Thomas Wallis [Willis] died intestate five years later and a Grace Wallis [Willis] administered his estate.[9] Nothing further is known of Grace, except that she likely died before 1734, based on the sale of Wantage mentioned below.

William Willis

William married Judith (likely Seward/Soward), and they probably lived at Wantage, devised to William by his father in 1712. In 1734, William and Judith sold Wantage to Richard Seward for six pounds. Two weeks earlier, William’s brother John Willis sold the same land to Henry Ennalls for 20 shillings.[10] It is unclear from the extant records how John and William could both sell that same land to different people. The de minimis price paid to John suggests his transaction may have been to clear the title rather than to sell the land. John had filed a will contest back in 1712, which must have been unsuccessful. Otherwise, John would have been in possession of Wantage rather than William. But, that old suit may have been enough to cloud the title. I speculate that the document missing from the record is a Power of Attorney whereby Henry Ennalls acts on behalf of William to buy any claim John might have to the property. That action would clear the way for William to sell to Seward.

The sale of Wantage also suggests that sister Grace Willis may have died before the date of the transaction. The 1712 will devised the land to Grace if William died without heirs. There is no record of Grace having signed away that conditional interest, which would have descended to her heirs, if any. Two possibilities exist to explain William being able to sell the land without a quitclaim deed from Grace. Either William and Judith had children, or Grace died before 1734 and without issue, extinguishing her potential ownership. In the absence of a quitclaim deed or proof of children of William and Judith, it would be more likely that Grace had died. However, William and Judith likely had at least one son, as we shall see.

Between 1746 and 1752, William and Judith each testified regarding the boundaries of a tract of land located in Casson’s Neck or Ross’s Neck. [11] The so-called Neck Region of Dorchester County is on the north side of Little Choptank River about 10 miles west of Cambridge and 14-15 miles from Wantage. Ross’s Neck lies east of Hudson’s Creek with Casson’s Neck to the west. William and Judith must have lived nearby to give credible testimony about those property boundaries. While there is no record that they bought land in this area, a William Willis is definitely living on Hudson’s Creek at the head of Willis’s Cove.[12] With no evidence of any other Willis family in the vicinity, I conclude that this is the home of William and Judith.

Either the Willis’s deed for that land is lost or they rented the land, possibly from a relative. In that regard, various facts suggest a family connection between Judith and the Sewards. First, William and Judith sold Wantage to Richard Seward. Second, a woman named Mary Seward testified in the 1746 boundary proceeding along with William and Judith. Mary was 68 years old at the time of that deposition and Judith was 50, so Mary was old enough to be Judith’s mother. It is probably not a coincidence that the Willises sold land to a man named Seward, and then, a dozen years later, lived near a woman named Seward. The following records suggest a family connection rather than a coincidence:

  1. In 1669, a tract called “Bridge North” located west of Hodson’s [Hudson’s] Creek was first surveyed.[13]
  2. In 1710, John Seward and his wife Mary conveyed an interest in land called “Bridge North” on Hudson’s Creek to a sister Clare and her husband.[14]
  3. In 1749, Richard Seward administered the estate of John Seward, deceased.[15]
  4. In 1750, widow Mary Soward [Seward] made a will leaving land on Hudson’s Creek to her son Richard Seward.[16] The devised tract was named “Bridgeworth” [“Bridge North.”]

Those facts establish that John and Mary Seward were husband and wife, and they had a son named Richard. Mary named him as a son and executor in her will, and he was administrator of John’s estate. The Sewards owned land west of Hudson’s Creek, which qualified Mary to testify in the boundary dispute. William and Judith sold Wantage to Richard Seward for only £6, a favorable price suggesting a “brother-in-law” deal. Finally, after selling Wantage, William and Judith Willis lived in the vicinity Richard’s parents John and Mary Seward.

One explanation for the Willises’ sale of Wantage and move to the Neck Region might have been to help farm Bridge North and to care for Judith’s parents as they aged. Perhaps to assist in the Willises’ transition, the family arranged for Richard to buy Wantage. At her death, Mary gave Bridge North to Richard, and William and Judith may have lived at the head of Willis’s Cove until they died. In any event, I believe there is enough circumstantial evidence to conclude that Judith who married William Willis was the daughter of John and Mary Seward and the sister of Richard. Richard Seward still possessed Wantage as late as 1755.[17]

Circumstantial evidence also suggests William and Judith had a son. A Thomas Willis gave a deposition in 1784 about the boundaries of Bridge North, owned by William Seward. At the time of that deposition, Thomas was 70 years old, meaning he was born about 1714. He testified that he was shown the boundary markers in about 1754. Therefore, Thomas was definitely the right age to be a son of William and Judith Willis and to have come with them to the Neck Region of Dorchester County as a young man in 1734. If so, he had been a resident of the area for 50 years at the time of his deposition.[18] With no evidence of another Willis family in the area, it is highly likely that Thomas was a son of William and Judith. We can also speculate that Thomas’s parents were deceased by 1784 (they would have been 88 – 90 years old) or they also would have been deposed about the boundaries. Possibly, Thomas was living at the head of Willis’s Cove.

John Willis, Jr.

Even before the death in 1712 of John Willis, Sr., his eldest son John had established a large family. He married Mary (last name unknown) probably by 1702, and they had several children. He was a carpenter and likely also farmed on rented land. Five years after the unsuccessful contest of his father’s will, John Willis, Jr., bought a 50-acre tract of land from John Sharpe on Marshy Creek Branch, about 15 miles from Cambridge upstream on the Choptank River.[19] As noted previously, less than five months later, Sharpe sold an adjoining 50 acres to Thomas Wallis (Willis).[20] In 1723, John expanded his property. That year, John sought a warrant to survey an additional 50 acres that he named “Willis’s Right;” the patent for the land issued in 1726.[21] In 1728, John Willis engaged John Edmondson to build a new house, probably on this new land. A lane from his new home opened onto Marsh Creek Road, which ran westward from Hunting Creek Mill past John’s property.[22]

John eventually discovered that some of his land encroached on earlier surveys. In 1736, he resurveyed Willis’s Right and his half of Sharp’s Prosperity. The resurvey found Willis’s Right ran into an elder tract called “The Plains” to the south and east. Furthermore, Sharps Prosperity ran into an elder tract to the north and east called “Bennett’s Purchase.”[23] About half of Willis’s 50 acres purchased from Sharp fell within the Bennett survey, and a few acres of Willis’s new land overlapped The Plains. The consolidated resurvey compensated for the loss of land to the elder surveys and added some vacant land for a total of 111 acres. The new patent, named “Willis’s Regulation,” included some of the land that now falls within the town of Preston.[24]

John and Mary had at least eight children who were alive in 1764: John, Mary, Judeath [Judith], Elizabeth, Isaac, Richard, Joshua and Dorcas. There is no record of Mary’s death, but she probably died between 1720-1725 based on John’s subsequent marriage and children. After Mary’s death, the senior John Willis married Elizabeth Sharpe, a daughter of his neighbor John Sharpe.[25] John and Elizabeth had two children, a son also named John born in 1731 and a son Jarvis born about 1735.[26]

John Willis’s 1764 will named all of these children.[27] Significantly, his will referred to him as a planter rather than a carpenter. “Planter” most often applied to those who had others working the land for them, and denoted a more elevated status than “carpenter,” “farmer,” or “yeoman.” John’s will left a very small amount of money to the children of his first wife: five shillings to John, Jr. and two shillings, sixpence to each of the other seven. He devised a life estate in his land to his second wife Elizabeth and then to their son John 3rd after her death. Also after her death, John 3rd and Jarvis were to split the remaining personal property.

All the children of his first wife were not only grown but were relatively old by the time John passed away. In effect, he had two families separated by almost a generation in age. Most of these children lived to see the formation in 1774 of Caroline County from parts of Dorchester and Talbot Counties. Some were involved in governance of the new county. Others added land to Willis’s Regulation or established other farms in the region. They also witnessed or took part in the formation of a new country as the Colonies declared their independence from Great Britain and established a new republic.

Andrew Willis

While John, Jr. moved his family north up the Choptank River and further into the county, Andrew initially remained closer to his father’s original land on the headwaters of the Little Blackwater River. Andrew married Jennett Jones, the daughter of neighbor William Jones, who was one of the executors of John, Sr.’s will. The 1718 will of Thomas Ennals and a 1722 land sale both mention Andrew Willis and William Jones as having previously lived on adjacent tracts at head of Shoal Creek.[28] That location is about three miles from Cambridge (near the current Cambridge-Dorchester Airport), and a mile or so from the headwaters of the Little Blackwater River. Those records establish that, prior to 1718, Andrew occupied a 50-acre tract owned by Thomas Ennals called “Ennalls Purchase.” Presumably, Andrew was a tenant farmer. There is no record of Andrew’s family residence for ten years after leaving the Ennals tract. He may have moved to new farmland purchased by his father-in-law, or he may have rented elsewhere. In 1718 and 1719, William Jones bought 250 acres on Cabin Creek, which flows into the Choptank River further upstream of Cambridge and Shoal Creek, but not as far upstream as Marsh Creek where brothers John and Thomas had moved.[29]

Andrew’s and Jennett’s four children were Andrew, William, Thomas and Sarah. Doubtless they named the sons for Andrew and two of his brothers, and daughter Sarah for one of Jennet’s sisters. Jennet died about 1725. William Jones died in 1729 and devised 100 acres of his land on Cabin Creek to his son William, and 150 acres to his daughters Sarah and Elizabeth. He gave 1 shilling each to his four grandchildren by Andrew and Jones’s deceased daughter Jennet.[30]

Shortly after Jennet died, Andrew married Rebecca Goostree, daughter of Richard and Rebecca Goostree. It is unclear where Andrew and Rebecca met. Later generations of the Goostree and Willis families attended Old Trinity Church at Church Creek.[31] It is possible Andrew and Rebecca attended as well and their names are just not in the record. In any event, the couple had three sons, Richard, George and John. Those names honor her father, her brother George, and Andrew’s elder brother and father John. In 1728, Rebecca’s father died, and she inherited half of a 100-acre parcel named “Newtown” near the Great Beaver Dam.[32] I have not located the deed record for Goostree’s acquisition of Newtown. However, land records indicate in 1694 he surveyed 100 acres called “Goostree’s Delight” between Cattail Marsh and Russell Swamp, which he devised to his wife during her lifetime.[33] Current Maryland maps show Russell Swamp and Beaverdam Creek located close together about 12 miles southeast of Cambridge west of State Highway 335. Richard Goostree’s Newtown property was in that vicinity, some 20 miles or more from Cabin Creek.

Within two years after Rebecca inherited the 50 acres from her father, she and Andrew had established their residence on the land. At that time, Andrew patented an adjoining 45 acres named “New Town.”[34] The land office record locates the new 45 acres on the west side of the Blackwater River, east of the Cattail Swamp and adjacent Andrew’s dwelling plantation, presumably the inherited land.

 Andrew Willis, Sr., died in 1738 leaving a will naming his wife and all seven of his children. He devised New Town, divided equally, to his sons Richard and George. If either died without issue, his share would descend to son John. Andrew gave a pewter plate each to Sarah, William, Thomas, Andrew, and John. He left a featherbed and iron pot to Richard. Andrew named his wife Rebecca executrix and left her the residue of the personal estate as long as she was single. If she remarried, the remainder of the personal estate was to be equally divided among Richard, George, and John.[35]

Some of Andrew’s children would expand New Town and occupy the land for almost another 50 years. Some of the children and grandchildren were active supporters of the coming revolution, while at least one opposed it. However, those are all stories for the next generation.

 

[1] Cotton, Jane Baldwin, The Maryland Calendar of Wills, (Baltimore: Kohn & Pollock, 1904, reprinted Westminster, Maryland: Family Line Publications, 1988), IV:23 – The date given in this source for the submission to probate is 24 Nov 1714. This date conflicts with the date John Willis, Jr., filed a protest to the will and the dates of activity in the Perogative Court records. I conclude the correct date for submission to probate is 24 Nov 1712. Dorchester County Will Book 14:12.

[2] Wright, F. Edward, Judgment Records of Dorchester, Queen Anne’s and Talbot Counties, (Lewes, DE: Delmarva Roots, 2001), 33, L36A:203, Inventory of John Willis, Dorchester County – £23.14.1 – Appraisers John Kirke, Arthur Smith. Next of Kin: Andrew Willis (son), William Willis (son). FHL 975.2 P28w

[3] McAllister, James A., Jr., Abstracts from the Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 5 (Libers Old No. 7 – Old No. 8), (Cambridge, MD, 1962), V:145. 8 Old 404, 13 Jun-30 Sep 1730 – Commission to John Hodson, Mark Fisher, Thomas Nevett & Henry Ennalls, Jr to perpetuate bounds of Patrick Brawhaun’s land at the head of Blackwater called “Hoggs Island.” Deposition of Andrew Willis, about age 40, regarding the first bounder of “Littleworth” or “Stevens.”

[4] McAllister, Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 9 (Liber Old No. 13: Liber Old No. 14, folios 1-373), (Cambridge, MD, 1963), IX:36, 14 Old 130, 14 Mar 1746 – Deposition of Thomas Pierson, planter of Dorchester County, aged about 60 years, states that John Willis now living in St. Mary’s White Chappel Parish near Hunting Creek was to the best of deponent’s knowledge the eldest son of John Willis who lived on Blackwater River about 4-5 miles from Cambridge, and who was formerly Cryer of Dorchester County Court.

[5]  McAllister, Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 10 (Liber Old No. 14, folios 374-741), (Cambridge, MD, 1963), X:74. 14 Old 658, 11 Nov 1746 to 27 May 1752, Commission to perpetuate the bounds of John Harrington’s land called “Rosses Range” and “David Ropies”, and Return. Nine men and women give depositions regarding this land on Hobson’s Creek. Among them are William Willis, age about 52; Judah (Judith) Willis, age about 50; and Mary Seward, age 68.

[6] FHL 13080, Maryland Land Office, v. FF 7:23 – Survey Certificate 22 Nov 1716 for 100 acres to John Sharpe called “Sharp’s Prosperity” in Dorchester County beginning at a red oak in the woods on south side of the head of Marshy Creek Branch that issues out of south side of Great Choptank River above Hunting Creek. Beginning at a red oak, then S 13 deg E 80 perches, then S 85 deg E 80 perches, then N 38 deg E 145 p, then N 13 deg W 46 p, then by a straight line to the beginning. Patent issued 6 Aug 1718

[7] McAllister, Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 5 (Libers Old No. 7 – Old No. 8), (Cambridge, MD, 1962), at 23, 7 Old 68, no day or month 1717 – John Sharp of Dorchester Co sold to Thomas Wallis, of the same county, 50 acres, part of “Sharps Prosperity” on south side of the head of Marshy Creek branch out of Great Choptank River above Hunting Creek. Bounded on one side by land sold to John Willis. Wits Jerem? Thomas, J Lookerman. Acknowledged 19 Aug 1718

[8]  The land on Marshy Creek was located within St. Mary’s White Chapel Parish. Unfortunately, the church records for that locale which might prove the marital status of Thomas or Grace do not survive.

[9] Skinner, Testamentary Proceedings of the Prerogative Court, XVI:60, 61 and 151. Filings by John Pitts, gentleman, of Dorchester County, bond of Grace Wallis, administratrix of Thomas Wallis, and inventories of the estate of Thomas Wallis, and Skinner, Administration Accounts of the Perogative Court, Libers 1-5, 1718-1724, (Westminster, MD: Family Line Publications, 1995), 138. L5:38, Account of Thomas Wallis of Dorchester dated 13 Mar 1723 – Account total £12.17.7, Payments totaled £18.5.2 made to Patrick Mackalister, Mr. Charles Ungle, John Sharp, John Pitt, Edward Billeter, William Edmondson. Administratrix Grace Willis.

[10] McAllister, Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 6 (Liber Old No. 9), (Cambridge, Maryland, 1962), 9 Old 223, 30 Jul 1730 [or 1734], John Willis of Dorchester County, planter, for 20 shillings to Henry Ennalls, of same, gentleman, “Wantage,” 50 acres, originally taken up by John Willis, dec’d, on Blackwater Riv., adjoining “Littleworth.” Signed by mark, John Willis. Witnesses: William Murray, Bw. Ennalls. Acknowledged 30 Jul 1734, and 9 Old 214, 15 Aug 1734, William Willis and wife Judith of Dorchester Co., planter, for 6 pounds to Richard Seward, of same, “Wantage,” 50 acres near head of Blackwater River adjoining “Littleworth.” Signed by marks, William Willis, Judith Willis. Witnesses: Henry Trippe, Cha. Lowndes. Dorchester County Court (Land Records) MSA CE46 10, http://mdlandrec.com

[11] McAllister, Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 10 (Liber Old No. 14, folios 374-741), (Cambridge, MD, 1963), X:74. 14 Old 658, 11 Nov 1746 to 27 May 1752, Commission to perpetuate the bounds of John Harrington’s land called “Rosses Range” and “David Ropies”, and Return. Nine men and women give depositions regarding this land on Hobson’s Creek. Among them are William Willis, age about 52; Judah [Judith] Willis, age about 50; and Mary Seward, age 68.

[12] McAllister, Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 15 (Liber Old No. 19, (Cambridge, MD, 1964). 19 Old 343, 11 Jun 1764, John Taylor Sr. of Dorchester Co, Merchant, to Nicholas MacCubbin of Annapolis, Merchant: ½ of “Rosses Chance” containing 42 A. Also 200 A, being part of “Addition to Rosses Chance” on Hudson’s Creek, laid out to said John Taylor for 400 acres. Also “Littleworth” on east side of Hudson’s Creek, at the head of Willis’s Cove near where Wm. Willis lives, 49 A. (Mortgage). Wit: Thomas Taylor, Thos. Harwood. Ackn: Robt. How and Jno. Anderson, Justices.

[13]         Keddie, Leslie and Neil, Dorchester County, Maryland, Rent Rolls 1659 – 1772 Volume #1, (The Family Tree Bookshop, 2001), 35, “Bridge North” surveyed 8 Apr 1669 for John Tench, lying on the west side of Hodsons Creek.

[14] McAllister, Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 4 (Liber Old No. 6), (Cambridge, MD, 1961), 6 Old 154, 13 Jun 1710 – John Seward of Dorchester County, planter, and Mary his wife, to their sister Clare and to Aaron Tunice of said county, planter, her husband, part of two parcels of land of the west side of Hudson’s Creek called “Bridge North” and “Addition”, containing 98 acres more or less. Conveyed to Aaron and Clare Tunice for the lifetime of Clare, and after her death to Edward Tunice their son. Wit: Jno Snelson, Theo. Bonner, Jno Hambrooke. Acknowledged 14 Jun 1710

[15] Skinner, V.L., Jr., Abstracts of the Inventories and Accounts of the Perogative Court, 1744-1750, (Westminster, MD: Family Line Publications, 1994), 131 – Admin Accounts of John Soward, dec’d, of Dorchester County, 10 Sep 1749 – Account Balance £29.9.6, Payments £35.3.1; Received from: Joseph Harrington; Payments to: Foster Cunliff & Sons per John Caile, Thomas McKeel, Henry Ennalls, Henry Hooper, Jr.; Administrator Richard Soward.

[16]         Cotton, v. 10 at 218, Will of Mary Soward, widow of Dorchester County, 5 Oct 1750 – To son Edward Soward 1 Shilling; to son William Soward 1 Shilling; to son Richard Soward dwelling house and plantation, which is part of two tracts “Bridgeworth” and “Addition”. Executor: son Richard. Wit: Thomas Calwell (or Caldwell), Abraham Walker, and Cornelia Jones. Probate 4 Nov 1751. 43. V.10, P 218 28:323

[17]         McAllister, Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 11 (Liber Old No. 15, folios 1 – 368), (Cambridge, MD, 1963), XI:52, 15 Old 247, 11 Aug 1754 -15 Mar 1755, Commission to perpetuate the bounds of Richard Soward’s land called Wantage. A deposition of Thomas Soward, about 30 years old, mentions the widow Brawhawn; John Stevens grandfather of the present John Stevens; Richard Soward, brother of the deponent; and a bounded tree of Littleworth and Wantage between Roger Woolford’s plantation and Brawhawn’s, about 15-16 years ago.

[18] McAllister, Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 27 (Liber NH No. 5), (Cambridge, MD, 1967), 5 NH 259, 12 Oct 1784 – 8 Oct 1785, Commission to Charles Eccleston, Nathaniel Manning, Stanley Byus and John Trippe of Dorchester Co, Gent., to perpetuate the bounds of Wm Soward’s land called “Bridge North”, and Return. Deposition of Thomas Willis, aged about 70 years, concerning a bounder on a cove of Hudson’s Creek, shown about 30 years ago by Joseph Blades who had possession of the land. Mentions Henry Claridge who was also present when Blades showed the bounder, and who has died in the last two years. The land where the said Joseph Blades lived 30 years ago is the same land where Wm. Lee now lives, called “Bridge North”.

[19] McAllister, Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 5 (Libers Old No. 7 – Old No. 8), (Cambridge, MD, 1962), 16. 7 Old 51, 10 Mar 1717 – John Sharp of Dorchester Co sold to John Willis, of the same county, carpenter, 50 acres, part of “Sharps Prosperity” on Marshy Creek Branch above Hunting Creek. Wits Thomas Noble, Jane Noble. John Nichols, attorney for John Sharp. (Note that Thomas Noble and John Nicols co-owned “Hampton” located on west side of Hunting Creek, bought from Richard Bennett 15 Jan 1713, 6 Old 230)

[20] Clerks frequently varied the spelling of the name Willis, sometimes within the same document. Those variants include Wallis, Wallace, Wallice, Willace, Willes and Willous. In fact, John Willis Sr. appears in early rent rolls as John “Wallis” in possession of “Wantige.”

[21] Maryland Land Office – Warrant for 50 acres surveyed, called “Willes’s Right,” beginning at red oak standing in the woods on south side of Great Choptank River and west side of main road from Hunting Creek Mill [Murray’s Mill] to Parsons Landing, then N 82 deg W 40 perches, NNW 30 perches, SW 24 perches, SE 26 perches, SW 66 perches, SE 98 perches, NNE 11 perches, and then straight line to the beginning. Patent issued 5 Jul 1726

[22] Mitchell, Dora, A History of the Preston Area in Lower Caroline County, Maryland, (Denton, MD: Caroline County Historical Society, 2005), 122

[23] Maryland Land Office – Warrant granted John Willis 1 Jul 1736 for resurvey of “Willis’s Right” of 50 acres and one moiety of “Sharp’s Prosperity” of 100 acres. Resurvey of 14 Oct 1736 found: 1) “Willis’s Right” was adjacent Sharps property but ran into an elder tract called the Plains; 2) “Sharps Prosperity” began on the south side of the head of Marshy Creek and two legs ran into an elder tract called “Bennett’s Purchase.” The consolidated survey for John Willis contained 111 acres including some vacant land and is called “Willis’s Regulation.” It adjoins “Bennett’s Purchase.” Patent examined and allowed 21 Nov 1737; fees collected and patent issued 21 Oct 1743.

[24] Mitchell at 122

[25] Mitchell at 122, in 1732 probate records for John Sharpe, deceased, indicate a next of kin as Elizabeth Willis.

[26] Mitchell at 123

[27] Maryland Calendar of Wills – 23 Jan 1764 – Will of John Willis, Sr., Planter, Dorchester County – Wife Elizabeth; Children: elder son John Willis, Jr. (born of first wife, Mary) (5 shillings), Mary Clift, Judith, Elizabeth Killingsworth, Isaac, Richard, Joshua, Dorcas Nichols (each 2 sh, 6 p) Wife Elizabeth got all remaining personal property for her life, and then to be divided equally between John Willis 3rd, son of Elizabeth, and son Gervey [Jarvis]. Wife Elizabeth to have all land known as “Willis’s Regulation” for life and then to go to John 3rd. Executrix: Wife Elizabeth Willis, Wit: Henry Turner, John Barton, 33. V.13, p.58; WB 33:27

[28] Cotton, Maryland Calendar of Wills, IV:167-9 – Will Book 14:631, Will of Thomas Ennals dated 7 May 1718 – To Thomas Hayward and heirs, 50 acres part of “Ennalls Purchase” (plantation where Andrew Willis lived), at head of Shoal Creek, and on branch lying between Wm Jones and Andrew Willis’, proved 13 Aug 1718, and, McAllister, Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 1 (Libers Old No. 1 – Old No. 2), (Cambridge, MD, 1960), I:71. 2 Old 161, 13 Mar 1722 – Land sale from Thomas Hayward to Henry Ennalls, land devised to grantor by Col. Thomas Ennalls, dec’d, at head of Shoal Creek where Andrew Willis lived adjacent land where William Jones lived, part of “Ennalls Purchase”, 50 acres more or less.

[29] McAllister, Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 1 (Libers Old No. 1 – Old 2), (Cambridge, MD, 1960), 2 Old 16, 2 Feb 1718 – Thomas Gray and Mary his wife to William Jones: Goodridges Choice on Cabin Creek containing 101 A more or less. Wit: Richard Hooper, Bartholomew Ennalls, and Henry Ennalls. Acknowledged 2 Feb 1718 before Henry Ennalls and Levin Hicks, Justices, by Thomas Gray, And, McAllister, Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 1 (Libers Old No. 1 – Old 2), (Cambridge, MD, 1960), 2 Old 27, 15 Nov 1719 – Jacob Gray, planter, and Isabell his wife to William Jones: Part of “Guttridg Choice” on Cabin Creek containing 150 A of land. Wit: Edward Verin, Goovert Loockerman. Assignment from Philadelphia Williams to William Jones of her “third part of ye within mentioned lands,” dated June 15, 1720.

[30]                     Cotton, Maryland Calendar of Wills, VI:127 – Will Book 19: 765 – Will of William Jones, planter, Dorchester County, 10 May 1729. 1) To son William and heirs, 100 acres on north side of Cabbin Creek being part of a tract bought from Jacob Gray; he dying without issue, to daughters Sarah and Elizabeth; and personalty; 2) To daughters Sarah and Elizabeth, 50 acres of afsd tract; they dying without issue, to son William; and 100 acre dwelling plantation illeg., bought of Thomas Gray; and personalty; 3) To daughter Rebecca Vearing, personalty; 4) To four grandchildren, issue of daughter Jennet Willis, deceased, 1 shilling each; 5) To wife Jennet, executrix, use of dwelling plantation illeg., and residue of personalty during life; at her decease to pass to son William and daughters Sarah and Elizabeth. Probate 5 Sep 1729.

[31] Palmer, Katherine H., transcribed Baptism Record, Old Trinity Protestant Episcopal Church, Church Creek, MD, (Cambridge, Maryland), 7 and 19.

[32] Cotton, Maryland Calendar of Wills, VI:80 – Will Book 19: 501 – Will of Richard Goostree, planter, Dorchester County, 30 Apr 1728 – To wife Rebecca, executrix, dwelling plantation “Goostree’s Delight” during life; at her decease to son George and heirs; he dying without issue to pass to grandson Robert, son of Robert Johnson; and 1/3 of personal estate – To son George, personalty; – To two daughters, viz, Elizabeth, wife of Robert Johnson, and Rebecca, wife of Andrew Willis, and their heirs, 100 acres “Newtown” near the great Beaver Dam – To children of son-in-law Phillip Phillips, 1 s each – To son George and daughters Elizabeth Johnson and Rebecca Willice, residue of personal estate – Overseers: Sons-in-law Robert Johnson and Andrew Willice. – Test: Redman Fallen, John Shenton (Shinton) Acknowledged: 12 Nov 1728 –

[33]         Keddie, Rent Rolls 1688-1707 Volume #3, 7 – 2 Mar 1694, Goostree’s Delight, 100 acres surveyed for Richard Goostree, lying in the woods between Cattail Marsh and Russell Swamp.

[34]         FHL 13086, Maryland Land Office – Book EI 2:164 – Warrant for 45 acres called New Town granted Andrew Willis 8 Oct 1730, in Dorchester County on west side of Blackwater River and on the east side of Cattail Swamp and on the west side of Andrew Willis’s dwelling plantation. Survey certified 21 Oct 1730, Henry Ennalls, Deputy Surveyor Dorchester Co. Patent issued 13 Jun 1734

[35] Cotton, Maryland Calendar of Wills, VII:259, Will Book 21: 918 – Will of Andrew Willis, Dorchester County, 24 May 1738. 1) To two sons Richard and George, “New Town” divided equally, should either die without issue to pass to son John; and personalty; 2) To sons John, William, Andrew and Thomas, and daughter Sarah, personalty. He left a pewter plate to each child plus a feather bed and iron pot to Richard; 3) To wife Rebecca, executrix, residue of personal estate, should she marry to be divided between sons Richard, George and John. Test: Robert Johnson, Mary Carway (Carriwy), John Pritchett Fisher. Probate 23 Aug 1738.

died without issue, his share would descend to son John. Andrew gave a pewter plate each to Sarah, William, Thomas, Andrew, and John. He left a featherbed and iron pot to Richard. Andrew named his wife Rebecca executrix and left her the residue of the personal estate as long as she was single. If she remarried, the remainder of the personal estate was to be equally divided among Richard, George, and John.[35]

 

Some of Andrew’s children would expand New Town and occupy the land for almost another 50 years. Some of the children and grandchildren were active supporters of the coming revolution, while at least one opposed it. However, those are all stories for the next generation.

 

 

 

[1] Cotton, Jane Baldwin, The Maryland Calendar of Wills, (Baltimore: Kohn & Pollock, 1904, reprinted Westminster, Maryland: Family Line Publications, 1988), IV:23 – The date given in this source for the submission to probate is 24 Nov 1714. This date conflicts with the date John Willis, Jr., filed a protest to the will and the dates of activity in the Perogative Court records. I conclude the correct date for submission to probate is 24 Nov 1712. Dorchester County Will Book 14:12.

[2] Wright, F. Edward, Judgment Records of Dorchester, Queen Anne’s and Talbot Counties, (Lewes, DE: Delmarva Roots, 2001), 33, L36A:203, Inventory of John Willis, Dorchester County – £23.14.1 – Appraisers John Kirke, Arthur Smith. Next of Kin: Andrew Willis (son), William Willis (son). FHL 975.2 P28w

[3] McAllister, James A., Jr., Abstracts from the Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 5 (Libers Old No. 7 – Old No. 8), (Cambridge, MD, 1962), V:145. 8 Old 404, 13 Jun-30 Sep 1730 – Commission to John Hodson, Mark Fisher, Thomas Nevett & Henry Ennalls, Jr to perpetuate bounds of Patrick Brawhaun’s land at the head of Blackwater called “Hoggs Island.” Deposition of Andrew Willis, about age 40, regarding the first bounder of “Littleworth” or “Stevens.”

[4] McAllister, Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 9 (Liber Old No. 13: Liber Old No. 14, folios 1-373), (Cambridge, MD, 1963), IX:36, 14 Old 130, 14 Mar 1746 – Deposition of Thomas Pierson, planter of Dorchester County, aged about 60 years, states that John Willis now living in St. Mary’s White Chappel Parish near Hunting Creek was to the best of deponent’s knowledge the eldest son of John Willis who lived on Blackwater River about 4-5 miles from Cambridge, and who was formerly Cryer of Dorchester County Court.

[5]  McAllister, Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 10 (Liber Old No. 14, folios 374-741), (Cambridge, MD, 1963), X:74. 14 Old 658, 11 Nov 1746 to 27 May 1752, Commission to perpetuate the bounds of John Harrington’s land called “Rosses Range” and “David Ropies”, and Return. Nine men and women give depositions regarding this land on Hobson’s Creek. Among them are William Willis, age about 52; Judah (Judith) Willis, age about 50; and Mary Seward, age 68.

[6] FHL 13080, Maryland Land Office, v. FF 7:23 – Survey Certificate 22 Nov 1716 for 100 acres to John Sharpe called “Sharp’s Prosperity” in Dorchester County beginning at a red oak in the woods on south side of the head of Marshy Creek Branch that issues out of south side of Great Choptank River above Hunting Creek. Beginning at a red oak, then S 13 deg E 80 perches, then S 85 deg E 80 perches, then N 38 deg E 145 p, then N 13 deg W 46 p, then by a straight line to the beginning. Patent issued 6 Aug 1718

[7] McAllister, Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 5 (Libers Old No. 7 – Old No. 8), (Cambridge, MD, 1962), at 23, 7 Old 68, no day or month 1717 – John Sharp of Dorchester Co sold to Thomas Wallis, of the same county, 50 acres, part of “Sharps Prosperity” on south side of the head of Marshy Creek branch out of Great Choptank River above Hunting Creek. Bounded on one side by land sold to John Willis. Wits Jerem? Thomas, J Lookerman. Acknowledged 19 Aug 1718

[8]  The land on Marshy Creek was located within St. Mary’s White Chapel Parish. Unfortunately, the church records for that locale which might prove the marital status of Thomas or Grace do not survive.

[9] Skinner, Testamentary Proceedings of the Prerogative Court, XVI:60, 61 and 151. Filings by John Pitts, gentleman, of Dorchester County, bond of Grace Wallis, administratrix of Thomas Wallis, and inventories of the estate of Thomas Wallis, and Skinner, Administration Accounts of the Perogative Court, Libers 1-5, 1718-1724, (Westminster, MD: Family Line Publications, 1995), 138. L5:38, Account of Thomas Wallis of Dorchester dated 13 Mar 1723 – Account total £12.17.7, Payments totaled £18.5.2 made to Patrick Mackalister, Mr. Charles Ungle, John Sharp, John Pitt, Edward Billeter, William Edmondson. Administratrix Grace Willis.

[10] McAllister, Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 6 (Liber Old No. 9), (Cambridge, Maryland, 1962), 9 Old 223, 30 Jul 1730 [or 1734], John Willis of Dorchester County, planter, for 20 shillings to Henry Ennalls, of same, gentleman, “Wantage,” 50 acres, originally taken up by John Willis, dec’d, on Blackwater Riv., adjoining “Littleworth.” Signed by mark, John Willis. Witnesses: William Murray, Bw. Ennalls. Acknowledged 30 Jul 1734, and 9 Old 214, 15 Aug 1734, William Willis and wife Judith of Dorchester Co., planter, for 6 pounds to Richard Seward, of same, “Wantage,” 50 acres near head of Blackwater River adjoining “Littleworth.” Signed by marks, William Willis, Judith Willis. Witnesses: Henry Trippe, Cha. Lowndes. Dorchester County Court (Land Records) MSA CE46 10, http://mdlandrec.com

[11] McAllister, Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 10 (Liber Old No. 14, folios 374-741), (Cambridge, MD, 1963), X:74. 14 Old 658, 11 Nov 1746 to 27 May 1752, Commission to perpetuate the bounds of John Harrington’s land called “Rosses Range” and “David Ropies”, and Return. Nine men and women give depositions regarding this land on Hobson’s Creek. Among them are William Willis, age about 52; Judah [Judith] Willis, age about 50; and Mary Seward, age 68.

[12] McAllister, Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 15 (Liber Old No. 19, (Cambridge, MD, 1964). 19 Old 343, 11 Jun 1764, John Taylor Sr. of Dorchester Co, Merchant, to Nicholas MacCubbin of Annapolis, Merchant: ½ of “Rosses Chance” containing 42 A. Also 200 A, being part of “Addition to Rosses Chance” on Hudson’s Creek, laid out to said John Taylor for 400 acres. Also “Littleworth” on east side of Hudson’s Creek, at the head of Willis’s Cove near where Wm. Willis lives, 49 A. (Mortgage). Wit: Thomas Taylor, Thos. Harwood. Ackn: Robt. How and Jno. Anderson, Justices.

[13]         Keddie, Leslie and Neil, Dorchester County, Maryland, Rent Rolls 1659 – 1772 Volume #1, (The Family Tree Bookshop, 2001), 35, “Bridge North” surveyed 8 Apr 1669 for John Tench, lying on the west side of Hodsons Creek.

[14] McAllister, Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 4 (Liber Old No. 6), (Cambridge, MD, 1961), 6 Old 154, 13 Jun 1710 – John Seward of Dorchester County, planter, and Mary his wife, to their sister Clare and to Aaron Tunice of said county, planter, her husband, part of two parcels of land of the west side of Hudson’s Creek called “Bridge North” and “Addition”, containing 98 acres more or less. Conveyed to Aaron and Clare Tunice for the lifetime of Clare, and after her death to Edward Tunice their son. Wit: Jno Snelson, Theo. Bonner, Jno Hambrooke. Acknowledged 14 Jun 1710

[15] Skinner, V.L., Jr., Abstracts of the Inventories and Accounts of the Perogative Court, 1744-1750, (Westminster, MD: Family Line Publications, 1994), 131 – Admin Accounts of John Soward, dec’d, of Dorchester County, 10 Sep 1749 – Account Balance £29.9.6, Payments £35.3.1; Received from: Joseph Harrington; Payments to: Foster Cunliff & Sons per John Caile, Thomas McKeel, Henry Ennalls, Henry Hooper, Jr.; Administrator Richard Soward.

[16]         Cotton, v. 10 at 218, Will of Mary Soward, widow of Dorchester County, 5 Oct 1750 – To son Edward Soward 1 Shilling; to son William Soward 1 Shilling; to son Richard Soward dwelling house and plantation, which is part of two tracts “Bridgeworth” and “Addition”. Executor: son Richard. Wit: Thomas Calwell (or Caldwell), Abraham Walker, and Cornelia Jones. Probate 4 Nov 1751. 43. V.10, P 218 28:323

[17]         McAllister, Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 11 (Liber Old No. 15, folios 1 – 368), (Cambridge, MD, 1963), XI:52, 15 Old 247, 11 Aug 1754 -15 Mar 1755, Commission to perpetuate the bounds of Richard Soward’s land called Wantage. A deposition of Thomas Soward, about 30 years old, mentions the widow Brawhawn; John Stevens grandfather of the present John Stevens; Richard Soward, brother of the deponent; and a bounded tree of Littleworth and Wantage between Roger Woolford’s plantation and Brawhawn’s, about 15-16 years ago.

[18] McAllister, Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 27 (Liber NH No. 5), (Cambridge, MD, 1967), 5 NH 259, 12 Oct 1784 – 8 Oct 1785, Commission to Charles Eccleston, Nathaniel Manning, Stanley Byus and John Trippe of Dorchester Co, Gent., to perpetuate the bounds of Wm Soward’s land called “Bridge North”, and Return. Deposition of Thomas Willis, aged about 70 years, concerning a bounder on a cove of Hudson’s Creek, shown about 30 years ago by Joseph Blades who had possession of the land. Mentions Henry Claridge who was also present when Blades showed the bounder, and who has died in the last two years. The land where the said Joseph Blades lived 30 years ago is the same land where Wm. Lee now lives, called “Bridge North”.

[19] McAllister, Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 5 (Libers Old No. 7 – Old No. 8), (Cambridge, MD, 1962), 16. 7 Old 51, 10 Mar 1717 – John Sharp of Dorchester Co sold to John Willis, of the same county, carpenter, 50 acres, part of “Sharps Prosperity” on Marshy Creek Branch above Hunting Creek. Wits Thomas Noble, Jane Noble. John Nichols, attorney for John Sharp. (Note that Thomas Noble and John Nicols co-owned “Hampton” located on west side of Hunting Creek, bought from Richard Bennett 15 Jan 1713, 6 Old 230)

[20] Clerks frequently varied the spelling of the name Willis, sometimes within the same document. Those variants include Wallis, Wallace, Wallice, Willace, Willes and Willous. In fact, John Willis Sr. appears in early rent rolls as John “Wallis” in possession of “Wantige.”

[21] Maryland Land Office – Warrant for 50 acres surveyed, called “Willes’s Right,” beginning at red oak standing in the woods on south side of Great Choptank River and west side of main road from Hunting Creek Mill [Murray’s Mill] to Parsons Landing, then N 82 deg W 40 perches, NNW 30 perches, SW 24 perches, SE 26 perches, SW 66 perches, SE 98 perches, NNE 11 perches, and then straight line to the beginning. Patent issued 5 Jul 1726

[22] Mitchell, Dora, A History of the Preston Area in Lower Caroline County, Maryland, (Denton, MD: Caroline County Historical Society, 2005), 122

[23] Maryland Land Office – Warrant granted John Willis 1 Jul 1736 for resurvey of “Willis’s Right” of 50 acres and one moiety of “Sharp’s Prosperity” of 100 acres. Resurvey of 14 Oct 1736 found: 1) “Willis’s Right” was adjacent Sharps property but ran into an elder tract called the Plains; 2) “Sharps Prosperity” began on the south side of the head of Marshy Creek and two legs ran into an elder tract called “Bennett’s Purchase.” The consolidated survey for John Willis contained 111 acres including some vacant land and is called “Willis’s Regulation.” It adjoins “Bennett’s Purchase.” Patent examined and allowed 21 Nov 1737; fees collected and patent issued 21 Oct 1743.

[24] Mitchell at 122

[25] Mitchell at 122, in 1732 probate records for John Sharpe, deceased, indicate a next of kin as Elizabeth Willis.

[26] Mitchell at 123

[27] Maryland Calendar of Wills – 23 Jan 1764 – Will of John Willis, Sr., Planter, Dorchester County – Wife Elizabeth; Children: elder son John Willis, Jr. (born of first wife, Mary) (5 shillings), Mary Clift, Judith, Elizabeth Killingsworth, Isaac, Richard, Joshua, Dorcas Nichols (each 2 sh, 6 p) Wife Elizabeth got all remaining personal property for her life, and then to be divided equally between John Willis 3rd, son of Elizabeth, and son Gervey [Jarvis]. Wife Elizabeth to have all land known as “Willis’s Regulation” for life and then to go to John 3rd. Executrix: Wife Elizabeth Willis, Wit: Henry Turner, John Barton, 33. V.13, p.58; WB 33:27

[28] Cotton, Maryland Calendar of Wills, IV:167-9 – Will Book 14:631, Will of Thomas Ennals dated 7 May 1718 – To Thomas Hayward and heirs, 50 acres part of “Ennalls Purchase” (plantation where Andrew Willis lived), at head of Shoal Creek, and on branch lying between Wm Jones and Andrew Willis’, proved 13 Aug 1718, and, McAllister, Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 1 (Libers Old No. 1 – Old No. 2), (Cambridge, MD, 1960), I:71. 2 Old 161, 13 Mar 1722 – Land sale from Thomas Hayward to Henry Ennalls, land devised to grantor by Col. Thomas Ennalls, dec’d, at head of Shoal Creek where Andrew Willis lived adjacent land where William Jones lived, part of “Ennalls Purchase”, 50 acres more or less.

[29] McAllister, Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 1 (Libers Old No. 1 – Old 2), (Cambridge, MD, 1960), 2 Old 16, 2 Feb 1718 – Thomas Gray and Mary his wife to William Jones: Goodridges Choice on Cabin Creek containing 101 A more or less. Wit: Richard Hooper, Bartholomew Ennalls, and Henry Ennalls. Acknowledged 2 Feb 1718 before Henry Ennalls and Levin Hicks, Justices, by Thomas Gray, And, McAllister, Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 1 (Libers Old No. 1 – Old 2), (Cambridge, MD, 1960), 2 Old 27, 15 Nov 1719 – Jacob Gray, planter, and Isabell his wife to William Jones: Part of “Guttridg Choice” on Cabin Creek containing 150 A of land. Wit: Edward Verin, Goovert Loockerman. Assignment from Philadelphia Williams to William Jones of her “third part of ye within mentioned lands,” dated June 15, 1720.

[30]                     Cotton, Maryland Calendar of Wills, VI:127 – Will Book 19: 765 – Will of William Jones, planter, Dorchester County, 10 May 1729. 1) To son William and heirs, 100 acres on north side of Cabbin Creek being part of a tract bought from Jacob Gray; he dying without issue, to daughters Sarah and Elizabeth; and personalty; 2) To daughters Sarah and Elizabeth, 50 acres of afsd tract; they dying without issue, to son William; and 100 acre dwelling plantation illeg., bought of Thomas Gray; and personalty; 3) To daughter Rebecca Vearing, personalty; 4) To four grandchildren, issue of daughter Jennet Willis, deceased, 1 shilling each; 5) To wife Jennet, executrix, use of dwelling plantation illeg., and residue of personalty during life; at her decease to pass to son William and daughters Sarah and Elizabeth. Probate 5 Sep 1729.

[31] Palmer, Katherine H., transcribed Baptism Record, Old Trinity Protestant Episcopal Church, Church Creek, MD, (Cambridge, Maryland), 7 and 19.

[32] Cotton, Maryland Calendar of Wills, VI:80 – Will Book 19: 501 – Will of Richard Goostree, planter, Dorchester County, 30 Apr 1728 – To wife Rebecca, executrix, dwelling plantation “Goostree’s Delight” during life; at her decease to son George and heirs; he dying without issue to pass to grandson Robert, son of Robert Johnson; and 1/3 of personal estate – To son George, personalty; – To two daughters, viz, Elizabeth, wife of Robert Johnson, and Rebecca, wife of Andrew Willis, and their heirs, 100 acres “Newtown” near the great Beaver Dam – To children of son-in-law Phillip Phillips, 1 s each – To son George and daughters Elizabeth Johnson and Rebecca Willice, residue of personal estate – Overseers: Sons-in-law Robert Johnson and Andrew Willice. – Test: Redman Fallen, John Shenton (Shinton) Acknowledged: 12 Nov 1728 –

[33]         Keddie, Rent Rolls 1688-1707 Volume #3, 7 – 2 Mar 1694, Goostree’s Delight, 100 acres surveyed for Richard Goostree, lying in the woods between Cattail Marsh and Russell Swamp.

[34]         FHL 13086, Maryland Land Office – Book EI 2:164 – Warrant for 45 acres called New Town granted Andrew Willis 8 Oct 1730, in Dorchester County on west side of Blackwater River and on the east side of Cattail Swamp and on the west side of Andrew Willis’s dwelling plantation. Survey certified 21 Oct 1730, Henry Ennalls, Deputy Surveyor Dorchester Co. Patent issued 13 Jun 1734

[35] Cotton, Maryland Calendar of Wills, VII:259, Will Book 21: 918 – Will of Andrew Willis, Dorchester County, 24 May 1738. 1) To two sons Richard and George, “New Town” divided equally, should either die without issue to pass to son John; and personalty; 2) To sons John, William, Andrew and Thomas, and daughter Sarah, personalty. He left a pewter plate to each child plus a feather bed and iron pot to Richard; 3) To wife Rebecca, executrix, residue of personal estate, should she marry to be divided between sons Richard, George and John. Test: Robert Johnson, Mary Carway (Carriwy), John Pritchett Fisher. Probate 23 Aug 1738.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

James and Ann Alexander of Anson – Rowan County, NC: someone please knock down this brick wall!

© Robin Rankin Willis June 2016

One of the things that surprised me about family history research is that I started liking some of my ancestors. Amazingly, one can learn a great deal about people who lived a couple of centuries ago, including their fundamental character and even specific personality traits. A fertile imagination helps, but is not essential. Even ostensibly dry county records are often revealing, and the occasional personal record can be a fabulous find. I love my great-great uncles Napoleon Bonaparte Rankin (“Pole,” a house painter) and Washington Marion Rankin (“Wash,” a “clever engineer”), who wrote each other letters in the 1880s. Their correspondence revealed a shared wicked sense of humor and considerable affection. Letters from one of their aunts, Martha Estes Swain, to their mother, Mary Estes Rankin, are full of family gossip – one can almost hear them tut-tutting. Concern for “the connection,” as they called their extended family, also comes through clear as a bell.

Other ancestors are patently obnoxious. I will save examples for another post.

Fortunately, likeable ancestors abound. My ancestors James and Ann Alexander of Rowan County are among them for two main reasons. First, they executed sweet gift deeds to five of their six children. Second, Ann Alexander bested William, their eldest son, on at least one legal issue. Eighteenth century women rarely appeared in county records, making it difficult to learn much about them. Courtroom victories by females were even less common. Ann, who appeared in several records, clearly had some mettle. I admire her determination, and imagine that having an adverse relationship with her son was not easy.

Moving on, this article contains: (1) links to some websites that provide a great deal of information about Alexanders; (2) a brief description of some major unknowns about James and Ann Alexander’s family; and (3) what the records do reveal about them.

Let’s start with the links, including two for the Alexander DNA project.

The first link summarizes Alexander family lineages for all y-DNA project participants. The line of James and Ann Alexander is designated the “Spartanburg Confused Family,” or “SpartCons” for short.[i] Find the SpartCons here:

https://www.familytreedna.com/groups/alexander-y-dna/about/results

The next link tabulates the Alexander y-DNA project results. It also refers to the line of James and Ann as “Spartanburg Confused.”

https://www.familytreedna.com/public/ALEXANDER-Y-DNA?iframe=ycolorized

Finally, here is the website of my distant cousin and fellow SpartCon John F. Alexander. It has a wealth of information about the line of James and Ann. John asks me to add that it is a work in progress and that readers are welcome to send him comments, corrections and additions that are supported by evidence.

http://www.johnandval.org/genealogy/AlexFamHist.html

As for the major unknowns about James and Ann, I really hope that someone can fill in some of these blanks. The Alexanders qualify for me as what genealogists call a “brick wall,” meaning that my efforts to identify their parents have been unsuccesful. In fact, I don’t even know where or when James Alexander was born, much less who his parents were. Ditto for his wife Ann. They are both undoubtedly Scots-Irish, but … were they the original immigrants, or were they born here, and their parents were immigrants? I don’t know the answers to any of those questions, although it’s not for lack of trying.

I do think I know where James and Ann came from before they arrived in Anson/Rowan County. They most likely lived in Amelia County, Virginia in the 1740s. Admittedly, the only clue regarding their origin in the North Carolina records was that James had some Virginia currency among the assets of his estate.[ii] That’s pretty thin circumstantial evidence, but better than none. In any event, some James and Ann Alexander lived in Amelia County from about 1742 through 1749.[iii] The timing is perfect, since that is just before James and Ann appeared in Anson County, NC some time before 1752. James and Ann were the only Alexanders who appeared in the Amelia records during that time period, except for a William Alexander who witnessed one deed and who may have been their eldest son.[iv] The absence of other Alexanders raises the inference that James and Ann may have migrated with Ann’s family of origin rather than James’s.

James and Ann lived near several other Scots-Irish families in Amelia, including Ewings, Wallaces, Gillespies, and Cunninghams, and appeared in records with several of them.[v] James Ewing, one of their Scots-Irish neighbors, came from Cecil County, MD, where he owned land.[vi] James and Ann undoubtedly also came to Amelia from the area around Philadelphia/Wilmington, where many Scots-Irish arrived from the Ulster Plantation of northernmost Ireland during the eighteenth century. Their families most likely first lived in Chester or Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Cecil County, Maryland, or New Castle County, Delaware. I have no proof, although there are many Alexanders, Gillespies, Ewings and other Scots-Irish in the records of those counties in the 1700s.

The last entry for James and Ann in the Amelia County records was in September 1749, when they sold their tract on Fort Creek adjacent the Gillespies and Ewings.[vii] In 1750, James first appeared in the records of Anson County, North Carolina, in a land grant and a survey there.[viii] The family was clearly living in Anson County by 1752, when James received a Granville grant for the 640 acres on Kerr Creek (also known as James Cathey’s Mill Creek) that had been surveyed for him in 1750.[ix] The deed referred to him as “James Alexander, Gent., of Anson County.”

In early 1753, James and Ann executed deeds giving land and livestock to five of their six children (all except William).[x] James may have been getting his affairs in order, since he died later that year. All five deeds are dated January 7, 1753, and all of them recite love, goodwill and affection for each child as the consideration. Although there are similar recitations of consideration in many other colonial gift deeds from parent to child, it continues to strike me as a lovely thing to put in the permanent records. Also, Ann Alexander, although not named as a grantor in any of the deeds, signed at least four of them with her mark.[xi] As a married woman, she had no legal existence of her own and consequently no legal right to convey that land. Adding her signature simply put her stamp of approval on both the conveyance itself and the love and affection recited as consideration.

Each of the four deeds to their sons – gifts to James Jr., John, David and Robert – refers to the grantee as “planter.” This was a designation of one’s profession: e.g., planter, blacksmith, trader, or just “gentleman.” In January 1753, David was probably just teetering on the brink of adulthood. He was definitely not more than eighteen, and probably a year or two younger than that. Robert was about age ten. Their parents may have been taking pains to treat their younger sons as adults, and perhaps there was a twinkle in the parental eyes when they executed those deeds.

Eleanor, the only Alexander daughter, did not receive land, which isn’t unusual. A colonial female rarely owned a fee simple interest in land. If a woman owned any interest at all in real property, it was usually just a life estate in some or all of her deceased husband’s land. Instead of land, James and Ann gave Eleanor a “gray mair” [sic] and three “cow yearlings.” Her appearance in that deed is important for more than proof of her parents and siblings, because her name is a source of minor controversy among family history researchers. Most call her “Ellen,” which is the name on her tombstone and what she was probably called.[xii] They may be right, but I will just say this: a court record identified her given name as Eleanor;[xiii] at least three deeds (one with her signature as “Elender”) do the same;[xiv] and she had a daughter and at least five granddaughters, all named Eleanor rather than Ellen.[xv] Those facts surely establish that her given name was actually Eleanor. Her nickname was Ellen. For the record, Eleanor, daughter of James and Ann Alexander, married Samuel Rankin about 1759 – early 1760.[xvi] Eleanor’s brother David (not her father, as the author of one Rankin family history incorrectly speculated) sold Samuel his 320-acre tract on James Cathey’s Mill Creek in 1760.[xvii]

Back to James and Ann. A deed from William Alexander to his brother Robert states that James died on June 15, 1753.[xviii] Ann was appointed guardian for David, Eleanor and Robert on October 22, 1755, proving they were underage on that date.[xix] David and Eleanor were allowed to choose their own guardian, establishing that they were at least fourteen but not yet twenty-one. The court appointed Ann guardian for Robert, stating that he was then about age twelve.

The Rowan county deed and court records prove one more son, William. He wasn’t a grantee among the 1753 gift deeds, which may just mean that James and Ann had already provided for him in some fashion. In 1756, William executed confirmation deeds to his two minor brothers, David and Robert, for the land they had received as gifts.[xx] As the eldest, William was James’s heir under the North Carolina law of intestate descent and distribution, and would have been entitled to inherit James’s land had James owned any when he died (assuming, of course, that James had left no will: the rule of primogeniture only applied if a deceased did NOT leave a will). James, however, had given it all to his other four sons. Ann paid William something more than the standard gift deed price of five shillings (although still substantially less than the land was worth) to obtain those confirmation deeds. The “conveyances” insured that her sons had good title and that William would not dispute it.[xxi] I have seen a number of similar confirmation deeds, and the consideration recited was always “love, goodwill and affection.” William apparently preferred cash.

The records leave no doubt about the state of Ann’s relationship with William. In 1755, she had hauled him into court, asserting that he was withholding assets belonging to his father’s estate.[xxii] Ann’s attorney also charged (undoubtedly on her authority and behalf) that William was abusing an indentured servant. I don’t know how the claim regarding the estate assets turned out, but the court sided with Ann on the abuse issue and discharged the indentured servant.[xxiii]

The records suggest that the six Alexander children were born on approximately the dates shown below. The birth dates are estimates, except with respect to David, Eleanor and Robert, whose birth years are reasonably supported by various records: [xxiv]

– William, born by 1728

– James Jr., born about 1730

– John, born about 1732

– David, born about 1736

– Eleanor, born 1740

– Robert, born about 1743

I haven’t found any record of William Alexander’s family (if any) or his whereabouts after Rowan County. James Jr. lived in Spartanburg, SC; John Alexander married Rachel Davidson and went to Burke/Buncombe County, NC; David married Margaret Davidson in Rowan in 1762 and went to Pendleton District (now Anderson Co.), SC; and Robert married Mary Jack and remained in Lincoln County, where he was a justice of the county court.[xxv] Perhaps I can persuade some of the SpartCons to collaborate with me on an outline descendant chart for James and Ann which I can post on this site. I confess that I have not tracked any of James’s and Ann’s children except for Eleanor Alexander, wife of Samuel Rankin. Samuel and Eleanor are probably my ancestors, although an additional y-DNA test of one of Sam and Eleanor’s descendants is needed. Without DNA evidence, I can prove Samuel and Eleanor as ancestors only through a family legend and very strong circumstantial evidence. I will save that story for another day!

* * * * * * * * * * 

[i] The name ‘Spartanburg Confused’, or SpartCon, was assigned long ago, before discovering that James Jr., John, David and Robert were all sons of James and Ann. There are now so many references to SpartCons that changing the designation would be difficult, even though the family is not exclusively from Spartanburg (and the confusion has abated!).

[ii] Jo White Linn, Abstracts of the Minutes of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, Rowan County, North Carolina, 1753-1762 (Salisbury, NC: 1977), Order Book 2: 92, entry of 25 Oct 1755, inventory of the estate of James Alexander, dec’d, included £52.11.2 Virginia money.

[iii] Gibson J. McConnaughey, Court Order Book 1, Amelia County, Virginia, 1735-1746 (Amelia, VA: Mid-South Publishing Co., 1985), abstract of Order Book 1: 281A, entry of 19 Aug 1742, James Alexander paid for attending court to testify in a lawsuit; Gibson J. McConnaughey, Deed Book 3 and Deed Book 4, Amelia County, Virginia Deeds 1747-1753 (Amelia, VA: Mid-South Publishing Co., 1988), abstract of Deed Book 3: 531, 30 Sep 1749 deed from James Alexander and wife Ann conveying a tract on Fort Creek.

[iv] McConnaughey, abstract of Deed Book 3: 278, 19 Jul 1749 deed witnessed by William Alexander. The grantor was a resident of Augusta County, and the witnesses may have lived there. If the witness was William, the eldest son of James and Ann, then he had probably arrived at legal age and was born by 1728.

[v] FHL Film #1,902,616, tax lists for 1744 through 1749 for the upper part of Amelia from Namozine Cr. to Cellar Cr. included James Alexander, several Cunninghams, Samuel Wallace, Samuel Ewing and Gillespies; 1744 deed to Robert Gillespie for land on Fort Creek adjacent to James Alexander (I have lost the deed book citation for that deed); McConnaughey, abstract of Amelia Deed Book 2: 315, 1746 deed from James Alexander to James Ewing, land on Fort Creek. Grantor’s wife Ann relinquished dower.

[vi] McConnaughey, abstract of Deed Book 3: 371, power of attorney from James Ewing of Amelia County to Joshua Ewing to sell a tract of land in Cecil Co., MD.

[vii] Id., abstract of Deed Book 3: 351, deed of 30 Sep 1749 from James Alexander to John Reed, 300 acres on the north side Fort Creek adjacent Robert Galaspye [sic, Gillespie], James Ewing, Samuel Ewing and James Parks, with all houses, etc., witnessed by John Cunningham et al.

[viii] NC Land Grants Vol. 4: 1040, grant dated 7 Apr 1750 to James Alexander, two tracts on both sides Rocky River; Patent Book 11: 1, survey dated 12 Nov 1750, 640 acres in Anson adjacent Andrew Kerr.

[ix] Jo White Linn, Rowan County North Carolina Deed Abstracts Vol. I 1753 – 1762, Abstracts of Books 1 – 4 (Salisbury, NC), Deed Book 3: 547, Granville grant dated 25 Mar 1752 to James Alexander of Anson Co., Gent., 640 acres adjacent Andrew Kerr. Witnesses included William Alexander. Notation in the margin: “to his widow.” This tract was on Kerr/James Cathey’s Mill Creek.

[x] Copies of Anson County, NC Deed Book B: 314, deed from James Alexander (also signed by Ann) to James Jr., 320 acres on Cadle (sic, Coddle) Cr. and 250 acres on the Catawba River; id. at pp. 314-315, deed from James (also signed Ann) to son John, the other half of the two tracts given to James Jr.; id. at 315, James Sr. to son David, half of the tract where I live (the tract on James Cathey’s Mill Cr.) and livestock; id., deeds from James to daughter Elener and son Robert (the other half of the tract on James Cathey’s Mill Cr.). An abstract of Anson County deeds omits the second deed, a gift of land and livestock to John Alexander. See Brent Holcomb, Anson County, N. C. Deed Abstracts Volume 1: 1749-1757 (Clinton, SC: 1974). I have copies from the deed books, however, so am confident that John is a proved son of James and Ann Alexander.

[xi] The deed from James Alexander to their daughter “Elener” doesn’t mention Ann’s mark, although these deeds have been transcribed from the original deed books and are now typed.

[xii] Microfilm at Clayton Genealogical library titled “North Carolina Tombstone Records, Vols. 1, 2 and 3,” compiled by the Alexander Martin and J. S. Wellborn chapters of the DAR; transcribed lists filmed 1935 by the Genealogical Society of Utah. Tombstone of Ellen Rankin, b. 16 April 1740, d. 26 Jan 1802. Other researchers give the birth date on her tombstone as 1743, although that is not consistent with the court allowing her to cloose her own guardian in 1755. That required her to be at least fourteen.

[xiii] Linn, Abstracts of the Minutes, Order Book 2: 90, entry of 22 Oct 1755, David and Elinor Alexander (spelling per abstractor) came into court and chose their mother Ann Alexander as their guardian.

[xiv] Copy of Rowan County DB B: 315, gift deed from James Alexander to his daughter Elener; Linn, Rowan County Abstracts, Deed Book 6: 225, deed dated 31 Aug 1765 from Samuel Rankin and wife Eleanor (spelling per the abstractor) to John McNeeley, 320 acres on James Cathey’s Mill Creek; original of Lincoln Co. Deed Book 1: 703 (viewed by me at the courthouse, although my notes do not say whether it was Gaston or Lincoln County), deed of 26 Jan 1773 from Samuel Rankin of Tryon to Philip Alston, 150 acres on Kuykendall Creek signed by Samuel Rankin and Elender Rankin (two other deeds the same day, see DB 1: 702 et seq. were not signed by “Elender,” although she is identified in both as “Elen,” a grantor).

[xv] At least five of Samuel and Eleanor Rankin’s children named a daughter “Eleanor” (not “Ellen”), including Samuel Rankin Jr., Jean Rankin Hartgrove, Robert Rankin, David G. Rankin, and Eleanor Rankin Dickson. See, e.g., the tombstone of Eleanor, wife of Joseph Dickson, Ellis Cemetery, Shelby Co., Ill., died 4 Apr 1848, age 62, at www.findagrave.com.

[xvi] Virgil D. White, Genealogical Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files, Volume III: N-Z (Waynesboro, TN: The National Historical Publishing Co., 1992). Abstract of the pension application of William Rankin, the eldest son of Samuel and Eleanor Alexander Rankin, states that he was born January 1761 in Rowan County.

[xvii] Jo White Linn, Rowan County North Carolina Deed Abstracts Vol. II. 1762 – 1772 Abstracts of Books 5, 6, 7 (Salisbury, NC: 1972), Deed Book 5: 272, 14 July 1760 deed from David Alexander to Samuel Rankin, for £29 NC currency, 320 acres on both sides James Cathey’s Mill Creek.

[xviii] Jo White Linn, Rowan County North Carolina Deed Abstracts Vol. I 1753 – 1762, Abstracts of Books 1 – 4 (Salisbury, NC), abstract of Deed Book 3: 495, deed of 10 Jun 1756 from William Alexander, described as the eldest son and heir of James Alexander, to his brother Robert Alexander, reciting that James died intestate on 15 June 1753.

[xix] Linn, abstract of Rowan Order Book 2: 90, David and Elener Alexander chose their mother Ann as guardian and the court appointed Ann the guardian of Robert, about age 12.

[xx] Linn, abstract of Rowan Deed Book 3: 495, deed dated 10 Jun 1756 from Wiliam Alexander, eldest son and heir of James Alexander, to Robert Alexander, orphan of James, under 21 and brother of James (who died intestate 15 Jun 1753), for 75 shillings paid by the widow Anne Alexander, mother of Robert and William, 320 acres on both sides James Cathey’s Mill Cr.; Deed Book 3: 498, William Alexander to David Alexander, orphan of James Alexander, under 21 and brother of William, by Anne Alexander, for 7 shillings sterling, 320 acres both sides James Cathey’s Mill Cr.

[xxi] I don’t know why similar confirmation deeds were apparently not needed for the gifts to James Jr. and John, who were of legal age at the time of the gift in 1753. North Carolina law at that time apparently treated conveyances of realty to minors differently than conveyances to a grantee of legal age. Other Rowan County records establish that Ann Alexander had an attorney, see note 22, and it seems likely that she would have obtained advice about the ability of an heir to challenge a conveyance of land via deeds of gift.

[xxii] Id., abstract of Rowan Order Book 2: 77, entry of 16 Jul 1755, ordered on motion of Edward Underhill, Esq. (Ann Alexander’s attorney) that citation issue against William Alexander returnable immediately to give an account on oath what estate he has in his hands or had which were of James Alexander, dec’d, and account with Ann Alexander, administratrix for same.

[xxiii] Id., abstract of Order Book 2: 78, ordered on motion of Edward Underhill, Esq., that James Nicholas be discharged of his indenture to William Alexander due to ill usage. Discharged. The next day, the court ordered William to produce James Nicholas in court or else to “stand committed.” Order Book 2: 81. I don’t know what “stand committed” means, but suspect that it means held in contempt of court and committed to jail.

[xxiv] See note 12 (tombstone showing Eleanor’s birth year as 1740), note 19 (in 1755, Ann Alexander chosen as guardian by Eleanor and David and appointed as guardian of Robert, about age 12) and note 20 (1756 deed reciting that David Alexander was still a minor).

[xxv] https://www.familytreedna.com/groups/alexander-y-dna/about/results, see lineages for those members of the “Spartanburg Confused Family” who trace their line back to James and Ann.

Same Name Confusion: Sorting Out Three Men Named Lyddal Bacon Estes/Lyddal Estes

by Robin Rankin Willis

Occasionally, I despair. The amount of lousy information “out there” on the internet about my ancestors is distressing, especially considering that it is available for all the world to see for infinity (or until The Donald accidentally activates a nuclear attack while searching for a flattering picture of his coif on his desktop). I have talked to a couple of my favorite family history researchers about this – you know who you are, Jody and Roberta – and we share a certain undesirable trait of character: we take offense when people publish absolute crap about our ancestors. I don’t need my cousin Diane Rankin, a genuine psychiatrist, to tell me that this is a silly thing to get het up about. What difference can it possibly make that some people publish bad information on our ancestors?

I don’t know. None. All I know is that it incites me to publish articles to correct erroneous information. This is one of those posts.

The stuff one can find on the web about Lyddal Bacon Estes provides a great example of bad information. In this case, the errors are partly attributable to the understandable confusion caused by the fact that a number of men shared that name or a close variation, and three of them were alive at the same time. Throw in some incomplete research on top of that, and you’ve got the makings of a really funky family tree. I will resist the temptation to provide examples, including a couple of my own errors (blush). Instead, here is an updated version of an article I wrote that was originally published in June 2010 in Estes Trails, Vol. XXVIII, No. 2.

I doubt seriously that this post will change anyone’s mind who seriously believes that Doctor Lyddal Bacon Estes of Maury County, TN married Ann (nickname Nancy) Ann Allen Winn in Lunenburg, VA while simultaneously being married to Sally Alston Hunter in Maury, or that Dr. LBE and Sally Alston Hunter were the parents of Mary F. Estes Rankin (they were not). I can only hope that someone who is struggling with an ancestor who traces his or her Estes line back to that unusual name will find some help in here.

Here’s how I stumbled onto these three confusing Estes. Early in my family history research, I learned that Mary F. Estes Rankin, the wife of my ancestor Samuel Rankin, was a daughter of Lyddal Bacon Estes of Tishomingo County, Mississippi (hereafter, “LBE”). I was absolutely delighted to learn this. Having dealt with ancestors who recycled the same men’s given names ad nauseam – John, William, Thomas, Richard and Samuel – finding the parents of a man who had two unusual surnames for given and middle names looked to me like a potential research cakewalk.

I was dead wrong. There was nothing easy about identifying LBE’s parents. I immediately found myself entangled in a genealogical hazard called “same name confusion,” because there were three men alive in the early 1800s who shared the name Lyddal Estes or Lyddal Bacon Estes. Thus, my first task in finding LBE’s parents was to sort out these three men: (1) Doctor Lyddal Bacon Estes, who died in Maury County, Tennessee; (2) Lyddal Estes, who died in Troup County, Georgia; and (3) my proved ancestor LBE, who died in Tishomingo County, Mississippi. It soon became clear that these men have frequently been conflated by family history researchers. Let’s start untangling the confusion with a look at Doctor Estes, who is relatively (but not entirely) uncontroversial.

Dr. Lyddal Bacon Estes (1775 – 1814) of Lunenburg Co., VA, North Carolina, and Maury Co., TN.

Estes Trails has had several articles over the years mentioning Doctor Lyddal Bacon Estes (hereafter, “Doc Estes”). He is the man who married Sarah (“Sally”) Alston Hunter in Warren County, North Carolina in 1805.[1] He is identified in Charles Estes’s 1894 compiled history Estes Genealogies as a son of Benjamin Estes and his wife Frances Bacon Estes of Lunenburg County, Virginia.[2] So far as I can tell from my own research, that is 100% correct. Doc Estes was undoubtedly born and raised in Lunenburg, since Benjamin and Frances lived there from at least 1758 until 1811, when Benjamin last appeared on the Lunenburg tax lists.[3]

There is very little trace of Doc Estes in the Lunenburg records, except that he appeared on the personal property tax lists from 1798 through 1802 in the same district as his father Benjamin.[4] It is certain that the Lyddal Estes on those lists was not LBE of Tishomingo, who wasn’t born until the early 1790s (see discussion below). Further, this Lunenburg tithable was not the Lyddal Estes who died in Troup County, GA, because that man was already in the Carolinas by 1790 (also discussed below). In short, the man on the Lunenburg tax lists was Doc Estes, son of Benjamin and Frances Bacon Estes.

In 1805, Doc Estes appeared in Warren County, North Carolina long enough to marry Sally Hunter. He was in Columbia, Maury County, Tennessee by 1807.[5] He was appointed Columbia postmaster the same year. In 1809, he was a justice of the Maury County court. He owned three lots in the town of Columbia, two of which he mortgaged in 1813.[6] He died there in 1814 owing fairly substantial debts, although a host of people owed him money, as well. A list of the debts due his estate contains more than 150 names, including his brothers Chesley Estes and John H. Estes, first cousin and brother-in-law Bartlett Estes, and brothers-in-law John and Josiah Alderson.[7] The obituary for Doc Estes published in the Nov. 15, 1814 issue of The Tennessee State Gazette of Nashville says simply that “Estes, Dr. L. B. of Columbia, departed this life Sunday last on ‘the day he completed his 39th year of his age.’ Husband … father … public officer.”[8]

Doc Estes has not escaped the “same name confusion” problem. Several GEDCOMs on Ancestry.com and family trees posted on the web confuse him with LBE of Tishomingo County by asserting — incorrectly that Doc Estes also married Nancy/Ann Allen Winn of Lunenburg. However, Doc Estes was still married to Sarah Hunter, his wife since 1805, when he died in 1814. She appeared in the Maury County records as Sarah or Sally Estes, clearly identified as his widow in November 1814 (when she received her widow’s provision and was appointed administrator of his estate) and in March 1815 (appearing as Doc Estes’s administrator in a lawsuit).[9] The other LBE married Nancy A. Winn in Lunenburg in March 1814. Because that was during the time when Doc Estes was married to Sarah, it follows that Doc Estes of Maury County was definitely not Nancy Winn’s husband.[10]

Doc Estes and Sarah’s children, all identified in Estes Genealogies, were (1) Edwin Chesley Estes (1806 – 1886), (2) Alston Bacon Estes (1808 – 1888), (3) Ludwell Hunter Estes (1810 – 1887), (4) William Isaac Addison Estes (1812-1893), and (5) Martha Louise or Louisa Estes (1814 – 1878). After Doc Estes died, Sarah married Buford Turner, also of Maury County, and had several more children.[11]

Lyddal Estes (1763 – 1850) of Amelia and Henry Co., VA, Stokes Co., NC, Chester Co., SC and Troup County, GA (1763 – 1850).

An “Editor’s Note” in the September 2001 issue of Estes Trails briefly mentioned the second Lyddal Estes, a man who died in 1850 in Troup County, Georgia. This Lyddal’s application to the state of Virginia for a Revolutionary War pension (reproduced in a 1984 issue of Estes Trails) provides some good information about him.[12] He was born in Amelia County, Virginia in 1763 and enlisted in Henry County, Virginia in 1780, at about age seventeen. After the war, he lived in Henry County, in North and South Carolina, and in Troup County, Georgia. He applied for a pension from Troup County in 1843. According to the Editor’s Note in Estes Trails, Lyddal married Martha Thomason on 7 April 1789 in Henry County, Virginia.[13]

Census and other records flesh out the information in Lyddal’s pension application, which was rejected for failure to serve the requisite six months. He was enumerated as “Lyddle Estes” in the 1790 census for Stokes County, North Carolina.[14] He was taxed as a free white poll owning no land in the Stokes County tax lists for 1791, 1792 and 1796, in the same district as his father-in-law John Thomason.[15] Since Lyddal was the only Estes included in either the tax lists or the 1790 census for Stokes County, he apparently migrated initially with his Thomason in-laws rather than with his family of origin. The 1826 Stokes County will of John Thomason named his daughter Patsy (a nickname for Martha) “Easty,” per the abstractor.[16]

Lyddal was not listed in either North or South Carolina as a head of household in 1800. He may have been living in the household of his father, William Estes, in Chester County, South Carolina.[17] By 1810, Lyddal was definitely in Chester County, where he was listed in the census adjacent his mother Elizabeth.[18] The Chester County will of William Estes Sr., dated August 11, 1807, names Lyddal as one of his sons.[19] Lyddal was still in Chester County in 1820, and is probably the man listed as “L. Estes,” born in the 1760s, in the 1830 Chester County census.[20]

Lyddal’s pension application says that he moved to Troup County, Georgia in about 1838, and he was enumerated there in the 1840 census.[21] His widow Martha, age eighty and born in Virginia, was listed as a head of household in the 1850 Troup County census.[22] I have not found any probate records identifying their heirs, but information at my library for Troup County is limited. The census records suggest seven children, probably including daughters named Elizabeth and Mary.[23]

Some researchers believe that LBE of Tishomingo was a son of Lyddal Estes of Troup County. That is highly unlikely, if not totally impossible. Lyddal Estes was living in Stokes County, North Carolina by the 1790 census and was there through at least 1796. LBE of Tishomingo, on the other hand, was unquestionably born in Virginia during 1790-94 (see discussion below). Moreover, Lyddal was in Chester County, South Carolina by no later than 1810 and was still there twenty years later. The other LBE, however, was a resident of Lunenburg, Virginia when he married there in 1814.

Lyddal Bacon Estes (“LBE”) (b. 1790-94, d. 1845) of Lunenburg, VA, Madison Co., ALA?, McNairy Co., TN and Tishomingo Co., MS

Estes Trails has provided considerable information about LBE’s family. He is the man who married Ann Allen Winn (nicknamed “Nancy,” the name she was known by) in Lunenburg in 1814. The marriage bond – which gave their names as “Lyddal B. Estes” and “Nancy A. Winn” – described him as “of Lunenburg.”[24] The evidence establishes that the LBE who lived in Tishomingo County, Mississippi was the same man as the LBE who married Nancy in Lunenburg. LBE appeared as “Lyddal B. Estes” in the Tishomingo probate records in 1845, and his widow is identified as “Nancy A. Estes.”[25] The names of their children, which include some distinctive Winn family names, and the family cluster with which LBE and Nancy migrated (including some Winn families), help confirm that they are the same couple who married in Lunenburg in 1814.[26]

After marrying Nancy, LBE appeared on the Lunenburg personal property tax lists in 1815 and 1816 as “Lidwell B. Estes,” one of many variants of the spelling of his given name. Their first son, Benjamin Henderson Estes, was born in Virginia in 1815.[27] After 1816, LBE and Nancy disappeared from the Lunenburg records. They probably moved initially to Madison County, Alabama, along with Nancy’s mother Lucretia Andrews Winn and Nancy’s siblings.[28] However, I have not found LBE or Nancy in the Madison County records, although three of their children were most likely born in Alabama.[29]

By at least 1826, LBE and Nancy had arrived in McNairy County, Tennessee, because he obtained two McNairy land grants in January 1826 and their son LBE (Jr.) was born in Tennessee in September of that year.[30] LBE and his family were enumerated in the 1830 McNairy County census near Gideon B. Winn, one of Nancy’s brothers.[31] LBE began appearing in the records in Tishomingo County in 1836, the year the county was created.[32] He died there in 1845, and Nancy died some time after 1860, when she last appeared in the census.[33]

There is at least one Tishomingo record which expressly gives LBE’s middle name as Bacon.[34] Interestingly, he was a hog farmer: his estate inventory listed over 300 head of hogs.[35] My husband Gary, who is occasionally irreverent about our ancestors (among other things), has dubbed LBE “Little Sizzler.” For my part, I admire the fact that the man managed to survive and prosper in a business that, unlike cotton and tobacco growing, did not require slaves. He owned no slaves when he died.

He did own several tracts in the northeastern corner of Tishomingo (now Alcorn) County totaling 800 acres.[36] The land remained in the estate until Nancy and Benjamin petitioned the court in 1854 for permission to sell it to make distribution to the heirs.[37] LBE (Jr.) bought the entire acreage for $4,392 on twelve months credit.[38] He then resold parts of it to family members, including his sister Martha Estes Swain, his brother Benjamin Henderson Estes, his mother Nancy and brother Allen W. Estes, and Riley Myers, a relative of Nancy’s youngest sister Alsadora Winn Looney.[39] My husband and I visited the area in late 2006. Nancy and LBE are probably buried somewhere on their acreage, although the landowner wasn’t aware of any cemetery on the property. Their tombstones, if any, have undoubtedly long since disappeared.

LBE and Nancy’s children, most of whom are conclusively proved by Tishomingo deeds, were (1) Benjamin Henderson Estes (1815 – 1897), (2) Mary F. (Frances?) Estes Rankin (abt 1818 – after 1888), (3) Martha Ann Estes Swain (1819 – 1905), (4) Lucretia Estes Derryberry (abt. 1822 – after 1888), (5) John B. Estes (abt. 1823 – ??), (6) Lyddal Bacon Estes (Jr.) (1826 – 1903), (7) Alsadora Estes Byers (abt. 1829 – ??), (8) William P. Estes (abt. 1830 – ??), and (9) Allen W. Estes (1832 -1864).[40]

And that’s that, except for one piece of unfinished business … who were LBE’s parents? That’s up next.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

[1] Frances T. Ingmire, Warren County North Carolina Marriage Records 1780-1867 (Athens, GA: Iberian Publishing Co. reprint, 1993).

[2] Charles Estes, Estes Genealogies 1097 – 1893 (Salem, MA: Eben Putnam, 1894), reprint available from Higginson Book Company, Salem, MA. Charles incorrectly stated that Benjamin Estes and Frances Bacon were married in Maury Co., TN, which is not possible since they were married by at least 1758 (see following note), before the state of Tennessee was created.

[3] Benjamin and Frances Bacon Estes were married before October 1758, when her father John Bacon named them both in his will, see Lunenburg Will Book 1: 258. Benjamin appeared regularly on the Lunenburg land and personal property tax lists through 1811. He and Frances sold their Lunenburg tract in 1810, Lunenburg Deed Book 22: 134. They reportedly moved to Maury Co., TN, where some of their children lived, including Doc Estes.

[4] Clayton Library Film Nos. 180, 181, 238 and 239, microfilm of Lunenburg County, Virginia Land Tax Records and Personal Property Tax Records for various years beginning in 1782.

[5] D. P. Robbins, Century Review of Maury County, Tennessee, 1805-1905 (Easley, SC: Southern Historical Press 1980).

[6] Virginia Wood Alexander, Maury Co., Tennessee Deed Abstracts Books D, E, and F (Columbia, TN: 1972), abstracts of Deed Book C: 10, 13 and Deed Book E: 229.

[7] Jill Knight Garrett & Marise Parrish Lightfoot, Maury County, Tennessee Will Books A, B, C-1, D and E, 1807-1832 (Easley, SC: Southern Historical Press, 1984), abstract of Will Book A-1: 220, list of debts due the estate of L. B. Estes. Bartlett Estes was a son of George Estes, a brother of Doc’s father Benjamin Estes. Bartlett married Susannah Estes, a sister of Doc Estes. Sarah Estes, another sister, married John S. Alderson in Lunenburg, bond dated 15 Jan 1801. Doc Estes’s sister Alla or Alley (probably Alsadora) Estes married Josiah Alderson, also in Lunenburg, bond of 12 Jul 1803. Emma R. Matheny and Helen K. Yates, Marriages of Lunenburg County Virginia 1746-1853 (Richmond: Clearfield Company, 1967). Charles Estes’s book Estes Genealogies incorrectly identified Sarah Estes Alderson’s husband as Mr. Turner, see note 11.

[8] Marise P. Lightfoot and Evelyn B. Shackleford, They Passed This Way, Maury County, Tennessee Death Records, Volume II (Mt. Pleasant, TN: 1970).

[9] Garrett & Lightfoot, abstract of Will Book B: 84; Katharine Curtice, Records of Maury County, Tennessee, Minute Book, Volume A 1810 – 1815 (Houston: Ann Poage Chapter of the DAR, 1991), abstract of Minute Book A: 225, 266.

[10] Matheny and Yates, Marriages of Lunenburg County.

[11] Estes Genealogies states that the Sarah Estes who married a Turner was Sarah, daughter of Benjamin and Frances Bacon Estes. However, Maury Co. records prove that Buford Turner married Doc Estes’s widow Sarah rather than Doc Estes’s sister Sarah. Maury Co. Minute Book A: 24, lawsuit styled William Bradshaw v. Wade v. Admrs of L. B. Estes, dec’d, Buford Turner admr in wright [sic] of his wife Sara A. Turner in estate of Lydville B. Estes, dec’d. See also Estes Trails, Vol. XIX No. 3, Sept. 2001 at p. 3.

[12] John Frederick Dorman, Virginia Revolutionary Pension Applications, Volume Thirty-Four (Washington, D.C.: 1980).

[13] The marriage bond abstract for Henry County available at my library does not include any record for Lyddal and Martha. Virginia Anderton Dodd, Henry County, Virginia, Marriage Bonds, 1778 – 1849 (Baltimore: Clearfield Company reprint, 1989; originally published Richmond: 1953). There is little doubt, however, that Lyddal’s wife was Martha Thomason, a fact established by her father’s Stokes Co., NC will.

[14] 1790 census, Stokes Co., Salisbury Dist., NC, p. 552, listing for Lyddle Estes, 1 male > 16 and 2 females.

[15] Iris Moseley Harvey, Stokes County, North Carolina Tax List 1791 (Raleigh: 1998). Ms. Moseley has also abstracted the tax lists for 1792 through 1797. She abstracts Lyddal Estes’s name as “Suddle Eastus” (1791), “Suddle Eustus” (1792), and “Lydwell Estees” (1796).

[16] Mrs. W. O. Absher, Stokes County, North Carolina Wills Volumes I- IV 1790 – 1864 (Easley, SC: Southern Historical Press, Inc., 1985), abstract of Stokes Co., NC Will Book 3: 162.

[17] 1800 census, Chester Co., SC, p. 77, listing for William Estes, 30111-32211.

[18] 1810 census, Chester Co., SC, p. 292, listing for Lydal Estes, 11001-30210.

[19] Brent H. Holcomb, Chester County, South Carolina Will Abstracts 1787-1838 [1776-1838] (Columbia, SC: 2006), abstract of the will of William Estes Sr. of Chester District naming wife Elizabeth, sons Liddal, Silvanus, William (Jr.) and John, and daughters Polly Carter, Peggy Gather, Betsy Lockart and Sally Walker; grandson William Clement. Will dated 11 August 1807.

[20] 1820 census, Chester Co., SC, p. 110, Lyddal Estes, 000101-11101; 1830 census, Chester Co., SC, p. 293, L. Estes, 010000001-111201001.

[21] 1840 census, Troup Co., GA, p. 362, listing for Lyddel Esters.

[22] 1850 census, Troup Co, GA, p. 102, household of Martha Easters, 80, b. VA.

[23] Martha’s household in the 1850 census (see prior note) included Mary Sanders, 23, and Elizabeth Hoyl, 20, both b. SC, with two children, M. K. Sanders and Martha E. Hoyl.

[24] Matheny and Yates, Marriages of Lunenburg County.

[25] FHL Film 895,897, Tishomingo Co., MS Probate Record C: 391, administrators’ bond dated 3 Mar 1845, Benjamin H. Estes and Nancy A. Estes, administrators of Lyddal B. Estes, dec’d, securities Samuel Rankin and H. B. Derryberry.

[26] LBE and Nancy had a daughter named Lucretia (for Nancy’s mother, Lucretia Andrews Winn), a son named Allen (Nancy Winn’s middle name), and a daughter Alsadora (the name of Nancy’s youngest sister). Nancy’s sister Alsadora Winn Looney and brother Richard B. Winn also resided in Tishomingo, and Nancy’s brother Gideon B. Winn lived near LBE and Nancy in McNairy Co., TN in 1830.

[27] E.g., 1850 census, Tishomingo Co., MS, p. 42, listing for B. H. Estes, b. VA; Robinson Cemetery, McLennan Co., TX, tombstone of “B. H. Estes, Dec. 12, 1815 – Jan. 6, 1897.” Central Texas Genealogical Society, Inc., McLennan County, Texas Cemetery Records, Volume II (Waco, TX: 1973).

[28] Mary Chandler, who wrote an ET article about LBE and Nancy’s family, states that their marriage was also recorded in Madison County, AL with the same date as the Lunenburg marriage. Estes Trails, Vol. XIX, No. 3 (Sept. 2001), “More on Lyddal Bacon Estes,” p. 6.

[29] Although the census records are inconsistent, LBE and Nancy’s son John B. Estes, and their daughters Mary F. Estes Rankin and Martha Ann Estes Swain, were probably born in Alabama. See, e.g., 1870 census, Jefferson Co., AR, p. 575, Mary F. Rankin, b. AL; 1860 census, Nacodoches Co., TX, p. 122, John B. Estes, b. AL; 1850 census, Tishomingo Co., MS, p. 40, Martha Swain, b. AL. Other census records give their states of birth as TN or MS. What is now Alabama was originally part of the Mississippi Territory, which is one possible source of confusion.

[30] http://www.glorecords.blm.gov/ (BLM land grants); 1860 census, Tishomingo Co., MS, p. 87, listing for Lyddal Estes, b. TN; McLennan County, Texas Cemetery Records, Volume II, tombstone of L. B. Estes giving birth date of Sept. 20, 1826, Fletcher Cemetery.

[31] 1830 census, McNairy Co., TN, p. 119, line 12 (Lyddal B. Estes) and line 15 (Jiddeon B. Winn). Nancy Allen Winn’s siblings are identified in the Lunenburg Guardian Accounts, FHL Film 895,897 at p. 136, account dated 1 Jan 1808 filed by the guardian of Nancy Allen, Elizabeth, Sally Washington, Susanna Moor, Banister, Richard Bland, Gideon Booker and Alsodora Abraham, orphans of Benjamin Winn; eight children.

[32] Fan A. Cockran, History of Old Tishomingo County, Mississippi Territory (Oklahoma City: Barnhart Letter Shop,1969), Lyddal B. Estes was surety for the Tishomingo tax collector in May 1836.

[33] FHL Film 895,897, Tishomingo Co., MS Probate Record C: 391, 3 Mar 1845 bond of Benjamin H. Estes and Nancy A. Estes, administrators of the estate of Lyddal B. Estes; 1860 census, Tishomingo Co., MS, p. 87, listing for Nancy A. Estes, 71, b. VA.

[34] Original of Tishomingo Probate Book K: 4, viewed by the author at the Chancery Courthouse in Corinth, annual account of the estate of Lyddal Bacon Estes, dec’d, by B. H. Estes and Nancy Estes, Aug 1846.

[35] FHL Film 895,897, Tishomingo Probate Vol. C: 428, inventory of L. B. Estes, 27 March 1845.

[36] FHL Film 895,898, Tishomingo DB R: 15, 30 May 1854 deed from B. H. Estes and Nancy Estes, administrators of L. B. Estes, identifying LBE’s tracts by section, township and range.

[37] Original of Tishomingo Probate Book M: 484 viewed by the author at Corinth, MS, 14 Mar 1854 order for sale of land refers to the Administrators’ petition and finds sale is needed to divide the estate among the heirs.

[38] FHL Film 895,878, Tishomingo Deed Book R: 15.

[39] FHL Film 895,878, Tishomingo Deed Book R: 18, 19; FHL Film 895,881, Deed Book U: 155, 531.

[40] Robin Rankin Willis, Estes Trails, Vol. XXIV, No. 1, March 2006, p. 5-7, “More About the Family of Lyddal Bacon Estes and Nancy A. Winn.”

Ancestor Charts for John Allen Rankin & Siblings

Here are two ancestor charts for John Allen Rankin. They have the same information, although in two different formats. I’m trying them on for size. Both show three generations of ancestors for John Allen Rankin; one chart also identifies his siblings. There isn’t much information on any individual. This is just a “big picture” of John Allen’s family tree.

The first tree is an unsophisticated chart that I drew using Word, at considerable cost to my sanity. I tried several times simply to paste the chart in this post, but could not make that work. Instead, I accidentally created a link to the chart. A potential problem here is that I am not sure I can duplicate the process … <grin>

Here is the link for that ancestor chart: Rankin chart 1

The second chart is one that Family Tree Maker drew for me with the click of a mouse. Much easier on the blood pressure, but not nearly as colorful. Ultimately, not very satisfying, either. Here is the link to the FTM tree chart:

JARankin Tree Chart

Here’s hoping that some of the innumerable people clinging to the mistaken belief that Mary F. Estes Rankin was the daughter of Lyddal Bacon Estes and Sally Alston Hunter see these charts and reconsider the error of their ways. Mary Estes Rankin’s mother was Ann Allen Winn, nickname “Nancy.” Sally Hunter was married to a different Lyddal Bacon Estes, a doctor who lived in Maury County, Tennessee. Next, I will publish an article describing the “same name confusion” error that surrounds Dr. Estes and his namesake, a nephew, who was actually Mary Estes Rankin’s father. Cheers!

Robin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Allen Rankin & Amanda Lindsey — Another Family Legend

by Robin Rankin Willis © June 2016

My ancestor John Allen Rankin and his wife Amanda Lindsey, daughter of Edward Buxton Lindsey, have a good story. (See http://digupdeadrelatives.com/category/articles/lindsey-articles/ for my article on the legend concerning Edward Buxton Lindsey.) From one vantage point, John Allen and Amanda’s story is a war story, pure and simple. It is also a love story. The love story and war story intersect in both my family’s legends and the verifiable facts.

My father’s “how to” genealogy book advised that the best place to start compiling one’s family history is by interviewing family members. A goodly part of the oral family history is invariably wrong, but even the misinformation contains clues aplenty, says the book. In my experience, the book is dead right.

As I noted in another article on this website about Edward Lindsey, my father promptly took that “how to” advice when he was “bitten by the genealogy bug.” He and his sister, my Aunt Louise, set out to talk to all their north Louisiana kin to see what they could learn about the Rankins et al. Here is what Daddy wrote to me in a 1969 letter – yes, we actually did once communicate via snail mail in writing — telling me the latest he had learned about his family. This qualifies as my favorite family legend, bar none:

“Dearest Robin Baby: ….Cousin Norene Sale Robinson at Homer told us that Grandma [Amanda Lindsey] was living in Monticello, Arkansas in 1863 when she met John Allen [Rankin]. He came to their door one night looking for a sister who lived there in town. Grandma said that she went to the door and ‘there stood the most handsomest soldier that she had ever seen and that she fell in love with him right there.’ They were married some time after that.”

There is a wealth of information in that legend. One of its chief virtues is that its essential objective elements – location, date, a soldier’s uniform, the people involved – are readily subject to verification among actual records. The legend also comes from an unimpeachable source, because Cousin Norene, who was twenty-eight when Amanda died in 1920 and had lived with Amanda for some time, had actually heard that story straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. This legend was not subject to the vagaries of multiple oral retellings.

When I starting digging around amongst my Rankin and Lindsey relatives, I set about trying to confirm the objective facts about that legend.

First, Amanda’s father, Edward B. Lindsey, was living in Monticello, Drew County, Arkansas in 1860.[1] During the war, he was a member of the Monticello “Home Guard,” so he was still in Monticello in 1863. So far, so good – Amanda’s family was right where the legend says they would be in 1863.

However, John Allen did not have a sister who was old enough to be married or living on her own when he was knocking on Monticello doors in (according to the legend) 1863.[2] John Allen did have a married older brother, William Henderson Rankin, living in Drew County.[3] William, I discovered as I looked at the 1860 census for Monticello, was listed just a few dwellings down from Amanda’s father Edward B. Lindsey.[4] However, William was still off fighting in the War in 1863.[5] Thus, John Allen was almost certainly looking for his sister-in-law rather than a sister. As legends go, that’s close enough.

It is also certain that John Allen was a soldier. My father’s 1969 letter to me continued with the war part of the family legend.

“Cousin Norene said that [John Allen’s] war record was never discussed by the family. It does seem funny that he was out of it in 1863. I have always thought that he was wounded in the war and that was one reason that he died at a fairly young age. It seems that was what we were told. So there could be a body hidden in the closet. Anyway we will find out for I am going to send off for his war record tomorrow, and if he did desert we will keep that out of the record.”

When I started writing short articles about my ancestors to preserve the history for our children, I looked for John Allen’s war records among my father’s materials. I couldn’t find them anywhere. Perhaps, I thought, the National Archives had lost John Allen’s records, and Daddy never received anything. Many records from the Civil War have just flat disappeared. However, I had a clear recollection about Daddy telling me about some of the information he learned from those war records.

Unable to find anything in his materials, I started sending off for records of my own. Amanda Lindsey Rankin’s Confederate pension application, a certifiable heartbreaker, arrived by mail first. She filed the application from Haynesville, Claiborne Parish, Louisiana in April 1910.[6] She was living with her daughter, Anna Belle Rankin Sale (Cousin Norene’s mother), as of 1900.[7] I cannot find her in 1910, although she was obviously still alive. Amanda signed the application in the quavery handwriting of an old person although she was only sixty-five, which, at this point, doesn’t seem at all old to me. The rest of it, though, is filled out in a strong feminine hand.

Amanda swore in her application that she had no source of income whatsoever, no real property, and no personal property worth a spit. That is all unquestionably true, from what I know of my north Louisiana relatives: that didn’t change until my father’s generation. She certainly couldn’t get much help from her son John Marvin (“Daddy Jack,” my grandfather), who at that time was struggling to make ends meet with a wife and four children, a rented house, and a job driving a dray wagon.

Amanda stated further that John Allen volunteered to serve the Confederate Army in Pine Bluff, Arkansas on March 14, 1862 (turns out that was the wrong year), that Captain Henry was his company commander, and that he was in the 9th Arkansas Infantry. She also swore – under oath, mind you – that he was honorably discharged on April 10, 1865, which just happens to be one day after Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House.

Here we have an apparent disconnect between the legend and the pension application. The legend says that John Allen and Amanda met in 1863. Amanda swore that he was discharged two years later.

The Office of the Board of Pension Commissioners of the State of Louisiana sent Amanda’s application off to the War Department in Washington, D.C. The War Department had this to say in response.

“The records show that John A. Rankin, private, Captain Phillip G. Henry’s Company C, 9th Arkansas Infantry, Confederate States Army, enlisted July 25 (also shown August 9) 1861. On the muster roll covering the period from November 1 to December 31, 1863 (the last on which his name is borne), he is reported absent in arrest in Canton, Mississippi by order of the Provost Marshal. No later record of him has been found.”

With that information in hand, the Louisiana Pension Board Commissioners rejected Amanda’s application. “Absent in arrest” means “AWOL.”

I don’t think Amanda ever knew the truth about her husband John Allen’s service, unless she figured it out after her pension application was denied. What do you think?

I wonder who came up with a discharge date one day after Appomattox? In my imagination, which badly wants to give the destitute Amanda the benefit of the doubt, some nice female clerk was helping Amanda fill out the application (it is, I surmise, her handwriting on the forms, although it might have been Amanda’s daughter, Anna Belle Rankin Sale). The clerk asked when John Allen was discharged, to which Amanda responded truthfully that she did not know. The clerk, who knew her history, said, “well, everyone was discharged by April 10, 1865, why don’t we just use that date.”[8] Fine, said Amanda. The clerk naturally assumed that John Allen received a normal discharge, or why else would Amanda even bother to apply?

John Allen’s entire military record arrived in the mail shortly thereafter.[9] Here are the facts, along with some great images from records that are more than 150 years old. Ironically, when I retrieved these records from my own notebooks, I found my father’s copies stashed in the same clear plastic page cover. So I have a spare copy of these records, if anyone in the family needs one!

Amanda did have some of the facts about her husband’s war record down pat. John Allen Rankin did enlist in the Confederate army at Pine Bluff, Arkansas – near where his family farmed, in Jefferson (now Cleveland) County. He was a private, and is shown as having served in both C and K companies of the 9th Arkansas Infantry. He enlisted for a one-year term on July 25, 1861 and served under Captain Henry.

At the beginning of the Vicksburg Campaign, the brigade of which the 9th Arkansas Infantry was a part was located at Port Hudson, Louisiana. It was ordered to Tullahoma, Tennessee on or about 15 April 1863, but was recalled on 18 April 1863 and sent to what was called the Battle of Champion Hill on 16 May 1863.[10]  Here is a weird historical coincidence. I have looked at the Confederate military history of only two families among my ancestors: the Confederate Estes brothers and John Allen Rankin’s family (John Allen’s mother, Mary Estes Rankin, was a sister of the Confederate Estes crowd). John Allen was in a different unit than his three Estes uncles, who served in Ham’s Calvary, from Tishomingo Co., Mississippi.  The Estes brothers and John Allen were nonetheless commanded by the same incompetent Confederate general — at two different battles. Gen. Stephen Lee (no relation to Robert E.) was the commanding Confederate general at both Champion Hill and the Battle of Ezra Church, where Capt. Allen W. Estes was killed. See my article about the three Confederate Estes brothers here:

 http://digupdeadrelatives.com/category/articles/estes-articles/

At Champion Hill, about 4,300 Confederate soldiers and 2,500 Union soldiers were casualties. That battleground is just east of Vicksburg, where the main action took place. It was considered a Union victory and an important battle in the Vicksburg campaign. I find it difficult to grasp applying the term “victory” to that carnage.

On our way home from a trip to the Tennessee Archives in Nashville, Gary and I drove around the area of the battle of Champion Hill, a backwoods area east of Vicksburg. It has been almost entirely forgotten by history: no park, no historical markers, nothing except a decent-sized stone monument where Confederate Brigadier General Leonard Tilghman died.

On 19 May 1863 – near the end of the second year of his one-year enlistment – whatever was left of John Allen’s division after Champion Hill arrived at Jackson, Mississippi. He was in the 1st Mississippi CSA Hospital in Jackson from May 31 to June 13, 1863. Here is an image of the explanation for his hospital time that appeared in his military record:

 

Confed 2

The problem, in case you cannot read that record: “diarrhea, acute.” Can’t say that I am surprised. I’d have diarrhea, too, if someone had been shooting at me, and I was getting a pretty good fix on which side would win, and the Confederate general in charge at Champion Hill had — incredibly — marched my unit piecemeal straight into Sherman’s entrenched troops. However, the records certainly don’t provide any support to the “war wound” theory that somebody in the family concocted to explain John Allen’s reluctance to talk about The War.

On September 1, 1863, now in Selma, Alabama, the Army of the Confederacy issued John Allen a new pair of pants, a jacket and a shirt, all valued at $31.00. Good wool and cotton stuff, presumably. Probably the best suit of clothes John Allen ever had in his young life. Here is the record:

Confed 3

There is more. On October 14, 1863, the Confederate States of America paid John Allen $44 for the pay period from May 1 through August 31, 1863. I assume that he was paid in Confederate dollars. Whatever — he was paid in something. Here is the record of his last pay:

Confed 4

And that was the last the CSA saw of my great-grandfather John Allen Rankin, who evidently just walked away. His original enlistment for twelve months was long up. By November 1, 1863, he was listed as absent. They finally quit carrying his name on the muster roll after December 1863.

It probably wasn’t too long after he was paid in Selma in October 1863 that John Allen met his future wife at the front door of Edward B. Lindsey’s home in Monticello, Arkansas. That had to have been about the middle of November 1863, assuming he made about twenty miles per day on the 400-mile walk from Selma to Monticello.

With that, the legend turns happy. He was wearing an almost brand-spanking new uniform, he was the most handsome soldier Amanda had ever seen, and she fell in love with him on the spot.

Here are the last two records – “muster rolls,” a regular record of who showed up in a military unit at periodic intervals – for John Allen’s Confederate service.

Confed 1

The last record says “absent in arrest in Canton by order of Provost Marshall.” That means the equivalent of an arrest warrant was issued after he was declared AWOL. John Allen never did any time in the pokey, or there would be other records in his file. By the time that AWOL order was issued, he was undoubtedly already in Monticello, Drew County, Arkansas, making Amanda Addieanna Lindsey swoon.

I once had a huge Rankin portrait that hung in my grandmother Rankin’s house in Gibsland, Bienville Parish, Louisiana, where my father graduated from high school in 1925.[11] My cousin Ellis Leigh Jordan (son of Aunt Louise Theo Rankin Jordan) gave it to me in consideration of my promise to photograph or somehow reproduce it for all the Rankin cousins. The man in the photograph is definitely good looking – no big ears or nose like his son John Marvin. He did have the classic male Rankin receding hairline and “topknot” that is shared by the Lincoln County, NC Rankins. He had a fabulous mustache. My Rankin cousins were unanimous that our grandmother positively identified this man as a Rankin, but the cousins don’t know which Rankin he is. We all agreed that the picture cannot possibly be our grandfather John Marvin (“Daddy Jack”) Rankin. It follows that it must be John Allen or his father Samuel Rankin. However, it cannot conceivably be John Allen’s father Samuel, who died in 1861-62. The quality of the photograph was just too good, and Sam hadn’t been as young as the man in that picture since the 1840s.

Besides, it seems highly unlikely that our grandfather would display a huge portrait of his grandfather, rather than his father, in his parlor. That photograph must have been John Allen Rankin, probably in the early 1880s at about age forty, not long before he died. Unfortunately, that fabulous photograph was lost, which breaks my heart. I would pay a small ransom to have it back.

Back to the story. In 1870, John and Amanda were living in Homer, Claiborne Parish, with their two eldest children, Anna Belle Rankin, age three, and Samuel Edward Rankin, age one – the latter undoubtedly named for his two grandfathers, Samuel Rankin and Edward Buxton Lindsey.[12] John Allen and Amanda listed $400 in real property and $350 in personal property in the census enumeration, and John Allen identified himself as a farmer. They apparently owned some land, although I cannot find a deed of purchase or a land grant to John Allen. I do know, however, that he and Amanda sold nine acres in Claiborne Parish for $33 in August 1870.[13]

The sale of land is perhaps a clue that farming did not work out well. By 1880, John Allen and Amanda were living in Webster Parish.[14] John Allen, age 36, was Deputy Sheriff. By 1880, he and Amanda had six children, including my grandfather John Marvin “Daddy Jack” Rankin, who was born in 1875. Their seventh and last child, Mary Alice, was born in September 1880, too late to appear in that census.

The deputy sheriff job apparently did not work out well, either. A letter that was saved by the family of John Allen’s brother Elisha Rankin reported that John Allen and family went through Homer in October 1882 on their way to Blanchard Springs (north of Shreveport) to run a barber shop.[15] I don’t know what happened to the barber shop, but the Rankins wound up moving back to Claiborne Parish, where they stayed.

The next thing you know, John Allen was six feet under. According to Amanda’s pension application, John Allen died of “congestion of the brain,” an obsolete medical term. It most likely means that John Allen had a stroke. He was only forty-five years old. There were five children age fifteen and under still at home.

Amanda obviously did not have an easy time thereafter. She expressed her anguish in a letter she wrote to one of John Allen’s brothers, Elisha (nickname “Lish”) Rankin, and Elisha’s wife Martha, who lived in Arkansas. Amanda wrote the letter three months after John Allen died on Sunday, October 13, 1888. She was forty-four years old. Here is a transcription, with spelling and punctuation (or lack thereof) exactly as transcribed, and question marks where the language is uncertain or totally illegible.[16]

“Dear Brother and Sister, it is with pleasure tho a sad heart that I try to answer your kind letter I received some time ago   Would have written sooner but I was in so much trouble I could not write soon   We had to move   Dear brother you have no idea how glad I was to get a letter from you   I feel like one forsaken   My happiness on earth is for ever gone of course I know you grieve for the Dear (?) house (?) but oh what is the grief to be compared to misery when a woman loses her husband. How sad I feel today for the dear one was a corpse on sunday. how long seems the days and nights to me.

Brother Lish you wanted to know how we are getting along   We are in det over one hundred dollars and no hom. I have moved to Mr. Weeks to work on ????? Jimmy Burton my Nephew is going to ??? after the little boys and show them how to manage this year. Eddie [Amanda’s son, Samuel Edward] is at Harrisville [Haynesville?]. I could not depend on him to ?????? He is not settled yet. I will ???? ???? me and the children a longe time to pay our det. It was the oldest children that caused me to be so bad in det. If I was young and able to work I would feel like maybe in two or three years we wold get out of det. I will do all I can to help the boys make a crop. Joe [Amanda’s son, Joseph D. Rankin] is 16 but he don’t now how to work much. I have got a few hogs and cowes all I have got. Annie and Lula [her daughters Anna Belle and Lula, both of whom married men named Sale] married brothers. They have got good homes. They live 3 miles from me. They live in site of each other.

Brother Lish be sure to write as soon as you get this   it does me so much good to get a letter from any of you how proud I was to think you thought enough of me to inquire after my welfare tho it is quite different to what you thought it was   some times I all most give up and not try to work then I think of the poor little children and no father to provide for them   I try to pick up courage to work all I can for there was ????? she is no longer a pet we sent her to school last year   teach come to see me about the pay I told him I could not pay it. He said he would wait untill next fall or the next year untill I could pay it ?? ??? ??? ???? ?? ???? ?? ????with me for it   if she had a ??? and out of det maybe we could make a living but in det and no home ???? and little childern no father oh lord father give me

Brother Lish I am a fraid you cant read this. It has been so long since I wrote a letter. Give Mother my love [presumably, “mother” refers to Mary Estes Rankin, the mother of John Allen and Elisha] and tell her to pray for me that I ???? ???? my children ???? I will have to be Father and Mother both. Give my love to all the connection and tell them to write. My love to Martha and the children write soon and often I remain ever ?????? ???? Sister.

Amanda Rankin”

Goodness gracious. Her anguish is overwhelming. Wouldn’t you like to see Elisha’s reply, if any? I wonder how he handled Amanda’s letter. Did he read it as a plea for funds? Or did he just see it as someone describing her feelings in the context of a desperate financial situation and emotional loss? No telling. May you rest in peace, Amanda and John Allen. Both are buried in the “Old Town” Haynesville Cemetery in Claiborne Parish, Louisiana. Be careful if you visit there – no matter where you step, I will guarantee you are treading on someone to whom I am related at least by marriage!

J A & Amanda Rankin 3

[1] See “Edward Buxton Lindsey: One of My Family Legends” on this website under “Lindsey Articles.”

[2] John Allen had two sisters, Mary and Elizabeth (“Lizzie”) Rankin. 1860 census for Jefferson Co., AR, p. 848, dwl. 549, listing for Samuel Rankin included Mary Rankin, age 10; 1870 census, Jefferson Co., AR, p. 575, dwl. 17, listing for Mary F. Rankin (Sam’s widow) included Elizabeth Rankin, 8. The elder daughter, Mary, would only have been about thirteen in 1863.

[3] Jennie Belle Lyle, Marriage Record Book B, Drew Co., Arkansas (Little Rock: Democrat Printing & Lithography Co., 1966), William H. Rankin, 20, married Eliza Jane Law, 21, July 1, 1858.

[4] 1860 census, Drew Co., AR, p. 101, dwelling 155, listing for William Rankin and p. 103, dwelling 167, E. B. Lindsey.

[5] William H. Rankin’s service record at the National Archives indicates that he enlisted from Monticello in the Confederate Army on 8 Feb 1862 for three years or the duration of the war. He was listed as present on his company’s muster roll through Oct. 31, 1864.

[6] Louisiana State Archives, “Widow’s Application for Pension” of Amanda A. Rankin, widow of John A. Rankin, P.O. Haynesville, LA, filed 4 Apr 1910.

[7] 1900 federal census, Haynesville, Claiborne Parish, LA, p. 55, household of A. C. sale with mother-in-law Amanda Rankin, wife Annie Sale, and children.

[8] That’s not accurate, of course. Some fighting continued after Lee’s surrender on April 9.

[9] National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., Civil War record for Rankin, John A., Companies C and K, Arkansas Infantry, Private.

[10] I will add a brief description of the Battle of Champion’s Hill at the end of this article. On second thought, I will write a separate article about that battle.

[11] Unfortunately, John Allen’s portrait is now lost, as is a portrait of his mother, Mary Estes Rankin, which was taken at the same time, in (probably) the early 1880s.

[12] 1870 census, Claiborne Parish, LA, Homer PO, p. 59, dwl #39, listing for John A. Rankin, 27, b. MS, Amanda Rankin, 25, b. MS, and the two children, both b. LA.

[13] LDS Film # 265,980, Claiborne Parish Deed Book J: 226.

[14] 1870 census, Webster Parish, LA, p. 219, dwl 255, J. A. Rankin, wife Amanda Rankin, and children Anna Belle, Edward, Lulu, Joseph, Marvin, and Melvin.

[15] Letter from Washington Marion Rankin (“Wash”), who lived in Homer, to his brother Napoleon Bonaparte (“Pole”) Rankin dated October 1882.

[16] I do not own, and have never seen, the original of this letter. I obtained a transcription from Megan Franks, a descendant of Elisha Rankin, John Allen’s brother. Another distant cousin reportedly owns the original of Amanda’s letter, as well as several other Rankin letters from the 1880s. I have called and written him (he lives here in Houston) but he never responded. That is a shame, because I could probably clarify some of the “X”ed material.