Brodnax part II: Mildred Ezell’s book, Emma Brodnax Rankin, a pie chart, & coming attractions

Here is the remainder of a now-deleted Brodnax post. It has information about the authoritative compiled history of the family and a bit about my own Brodnaxes. It also has an irrelevant and irreverent meme I cannot resist sharing, as well as a preview of upcoming posts.

 The definitive Brodnax book and where to find it.

Mildred Seab Ezell[1] wrote the authoritative compiled genealogy on this family. It is titled Brodnax: The Beginning  and is available at the libraries  listed here. An Addendum was published in 2005. So far as I have found, the only place to purchase The Beginning and the Addendum is on Ebay.[2]

Fortunately, LDS has digitized The Beginning  and it is available online  here. You can only access the book if you have an account with FamilySearch.org and you are logged in when you click on that link. Accounts are free, and you can create one here. FYI, a FamilySearch account is far and away the best bargain in genealogy for family history researchers. The website has images of millions of original county and other records, including deeds, probate and tax records – if the LDS has filmed it, you can probably find it at Familysearch.org. Some of the records can be viewed only at an LDS “Family History” center, but many are available online from your own kitchen table.

My own Brodnaxes

My father’s mother was née Brodnax: Emma Leona Brodnax (“Ma”) Rankin. She lived and died in small town north Louisiana from 1878 – 1968, and she was a card-carrying, equal-opportunity bigot. Sadly, that particular insanity was almost certainly the norm in the Caucasian population when and where she lived. On the positive side, she was evidently much admired by her Eastern Star sisterhood. She raised my father, as kind and decent a person as I’ve ever known.

Ma Rankin may have smiled once or twice in her life, although none of her grandchildren mentioned ever having seen that happen when we got together at the first Rankin cousins’ reunion in 1995. The adjective of choice for Ma was “strict.”

The Rankin cousins were late getting together as adults. I am the youngest of the six first cousins, and I was just shy of fifty in 1995. Butch, the host, had to ask a P.I. friend to find me. I had last seen a Rankin cousin at my father’s funeral in 1979.

There was a good historical reason for this. Family occasions at Ma Rankin’s absurdly overheated house in Gibsland, Bienville Parish, Louisiana were torture for attendees of all ages. “Conversation” consisted mostly of long silences, punctuated by desultory remarks about the state of someone’s health. I first heard the term “gall bladder” in Ma Rankin’s living room. I gathered it was an unnecessary anatomical feature, since someone was always having one removed.

Occasionally, someone attempted to break the silence. Uncle Louie once made a feint at lively repartee during a Thanksgiving get-together in 1957. He said something about Sputnik, the satellite Russia had launched the previous month. Ma Rankin stopped that conversation dead in its tracks, a bullet through its heart, like so: “If God had meant for man to be on the moon, he would’ve put him there.” The grandkids bolted outdoors, where the temperature was cold enough to see your breath and was a welcome relief. I was 11, and my cousins were ages 16-19. I think we had a pecan-throwing war, although that may just be me romanticizing my Rankin cousins, whom I like.

Ma did not have an easy adult life, having married a penniless Rankin. At that first reunion, I asked Butch what our grandfather did for a living. “Anything he could, hon … anything he could.” Butch hit the nail on the head. Once I discovered census and other records, I learned that our grandfather worked at various times as a driver of a dray wagon, restaurant waiter, and parish sheriff, all while raising four kids and living in a rented house. There was a dusty old popcorn wagon under the Rankin pier-and-beam house in Gibsland, which was built on a fairly steep slope from front to rear. The rear of the house had sufficient headroom underneath for an adult to stand up, and that is where the popcorn wagon rusted away. As a child, I thought my grandfather’s profession was selling popcorn. It seems he did that, too. Ma Rankin took in mending to supplement his earnings.

Fate intervened to improve family finances. Ma’s brother, Joe Brodnax, died and left part of his estate to her. Great-Uncle Joe owned mineral rights in considerable land sitting atop a prolific gas field in north Louisiana. Ma Rankin’s inheritance allowed the family to buy a home and send three of their four children to college. After that, according to my father (the youngest), “the money ran out.”[3] Joe’s bequests also allowed another Brodnax sister, Great-Aunt Effie, to remain unmarried and live in Washington D.C., where she single-handedly raised an orphaned niece. Effie always had a smile and a big, welcoming embrace for her great-nephews and nieces, who were concerned only that we might suffocate in her ample buxom. I think (but am not positive) this is Effie Theo Brodnax as a young woman.

And here is a picture of James Harper Tripp Brodnax and Susan Demaris Harkins Brodnax, the parents of Ma Rankin, Great-Aunt Effie, Great-Uncle Joe, and seven other children. J.H.T. Brodnax and Susan married in Perry County, Alabama in 1865 after he returned from the Civil War. He enlisted as a Corporal, but mustered out as a Private. There is bound to be a good story in there somewhere, but I haven’t found it.

Finally, here is the meme I cannot resist. Someone posted this in response to a stupid tweet about the Notre Dame fire by the junior senator from Texas. Politics aside, the tweet was tone-deaf and dumb, something about Disney princesses in new Notre Dame stained glass windows. I won’t be able to use it, because I don’t tweet. But one of you out there can perhaps put it to good use.

 

 

Coming attractions on this blog include an article Gary is working on about a Foster Willis. From me, a continuation of a series of articles about the family of John Burke of Jackson County, Tennessee. Then Parrotts, Graves, Rivers or all of the above.

See you on down the road.

Robin

[1]Mrs. Ezell died in 2015. Here is her obituary.

[2]Here is the book at Ebay.

[3]My father did say exactly that, but he was probably being facetious. Ma Rankin remained in that house until she died, and she certainly didn’t have a pension on which to draw. I would bet that Uncle Joe’s bequest was sufficient to provide for her old age.

Revised Post & Apology: What Does the Name Brodnax Mean?

This revision is necessary to correct and apologize for a mistake I made in the original post. At best, it was merely boneheaded. At worst, it was unthinkingly racist.

The text of the original post follows. I will point out the problem when I get to it. I have also abandoned the clumsy Brodnax/Broadnax duplication. They are the same name with different spellings.

As for the question posed in the title: “What does the name Brodnax Mean?” 

I haven’t found anything definitive online. However, a reader posted a comment suggesting it is a derivation of “broad ax,” which makes sense. Wikipedia defines a broad ax as “a large axe with a broad blade, once used as a weapon and also used for hewing timber.”

Google responds to a question about the name’s meaning  with links to commercial or genealogy websites. Google also offers a link to “Names.org,” which invites you to define what Brodnax means to you.

In a more constructive vein, Wikipedia has this to say (I added the links and one name to Wikipedia’s list):

“Broadnax is a surname. Notable people with the surname include:

Here is where I went off the rails in the original post: “If you are genetically related to a Brodnax/Broadnax, these men[1]are probably your relatives (assuming they are also genetic Brodnaxes). It is possible that every genetic Brodnax in this country descends from a family that emigrated to Virginia in the 17thcentury.”

Let’s talk about “genetically related,” using another surname to illustrate. In the Willis DNA project, there are a number of genetically distinct Willis families whose Y-DNA doesn’t even remotely match each other. If they ever shared a common ancestor, it was thousands of years ago. They aren’t “genetically related” in any meaningful sense, i.e., within a genealogical timeframe. Nonetheless, a group of Willis men whose Y-DNA matches are all “genetic Willises” if they trace back to any Willis ancestor. That is so even if they don’t match other Willis lines. (I am ignoring possible NPE issues here for the sake of simplicity).[2]

Why are there genetically distinct families who share a common surname? The explanation has to do with the origin of surnames themselves. When given names became inadequate to distinguish among men (yes, I mean “men,” not “people”), men acquired surnames based on, among other things, occupations. That gave us families named Cooper, Smith, Miller, and Forrester, for example. Perhaps it also gave us Brodnax, for men who hewed timber (possibly also forresters). Other men had a surname based on his father’s name, such as Davidson, Johnson, and Williamson, or shortened versions such as Wilson, Wills, or Willis. There are also toponymic names based on where one lived, such as a name ending in field, brook, or wood. Finally, in the feudal system of late antiquity and most of the middle ages, many serfs wound up with the name of the lord they served.

Serving a common master, or having a common profession, doesn’t imply a genetic relationship, of course. The bottom line is there is no reason to believe that everyone who shares a surname also shares a common ancestor. 

Back to my own error. Keep in mind that some Brodnax researchers believe that all Caucasian Brodnaxes in this country are descended from the Brodnax family of Kent described later in this post. 

Now click on the links for the seven people in the above list. Five of them are African-American. If they descend from enslaved persons, it is possible that the first free people in each one’s family adopted the surname of his or her former “owner.” Somehow, I forgot that was often the case, if not the norm. There is no more reason to believe that those five African-American Brodnaxes were related to each other than there is to believe that everyone named Willis is related to each other. Likewise, there is no reason to think the Brodnaxes in that list are all descended from a Caucasian Brodnax in Kent.

Nor is there any reason to question whether they are all genetic Brodnaxes. If each of them descends from an ancestor named Brodnax, he is a genetic Brodnax (again, ignoring a possible NPE issue). He just might not genetically match other men named Brodnax.

I am not certain how I fell into these stupid mistakes. What I evidently did was take the Caucasian Brodnax assumption – the likelihood that we are all descended from the Kent family – and apply it to five African-Americans. This effectively makes the parochial and essentially racist assumption that the Caucasian experience applies to everyone. Incredibly, I managed to make that assumption while entirely forgetting the way many formerly enslaved people acquired a surname. 

When some old white lady says that the given name “Ta-Nahesi” (for example) is a “strange” name, what she really means is that it isn’t a typically Caucasian name. Her statement is racist because she is assuming that Caucasian names are normal

That’s a perfect analogy to what I did in my original Brodnax post, so I apologize. Especially to a new third cousin, a charming woman descended from enslaved people. She and I are related through a Brodnax, and we found each other through DNA testing.

So … go take an autosomal DNA test and find out how connected we all are. That is still good advice. You will meet some nice people.

Back to the original post. It originally contained (1) a brief history of the early Brodnax line from Kent, England to colonial Virginia, (2) information about the most authoritative compiled genealogy on the family, and (3) a bit about my own Brodnaxes. Because this has now become so long, I will make the second and third items a separate post. Besides which, I have a number of other pictures I need to share.

Brodnax history[3]

Just to be clear: this is Caucasian Brodnax history, largely unchanged from the original post except to correct errors.

The family can be traced to a Robert Brodnax who was born in the early 1400s in Kent, England.[4]Circa 1590, the family acquired land in Kent that had formerly been in the possession of Canterbury Benedictines. The estate on that land is called Godmersham Park. It still remains in private ownership, although it is no longer owned by a Brodnax.[5]

In 1727, a Thomas Brodnax who was then in possession of Godmersham changed his surname to May in order to inherit an estate from a relative named Thomas May. The name change required an act of Parliament. In 1738, an additional inheritance further enriched Thomas Brodnax-May. It required that he change his surname to Knight – again needing Parliament’s permission.

As a result, some wag in Parliament suggested passing a bill to allow Thomas “to change his name to anything he pleases.”[6]Two name changes evidently sufficed: Thomas Brodnax-May-Knight died in 1781. Godmersham passed to his son Thomas, presumably Thomas Knight. In 1794, the estate passed from Thomas Knight’s widow to Edward Austen, brother of novelist Jane Austen. Edward Austen also took the surname Knight. Jane Austen often visited and wrote at Godmersham, which is surely the best part of the Brodnax story in Kent.

The estate is impressive. Here is an image of the “house” (mansion?).

Godmersham Park, Kent, England

 

The colonial part of the story begins with Major John Brodnax (1608-1657), a descendant of the original Robert of Kent. He was a Royalist Cavalier during the English Civil Wars. Since the Parliamentarians (“Roundheads”) prevailed, Major John fled to the colonies, either to escape Cromwell’s ax or because he was exiled. He died in York County, Virginia. The William & Mary Quarterly published an inventory of his estate, which included three pair of gloves, five broadcloth suits, three periwigs, one rapier and belt, ribbon, slippers, cuffs, et al.[7]The wardrobe apparently identifies him as a Cavalier, as does his heritage – try to imagine a Brodnax from Godmersham as anything but a Royalist – and the fact that his family remained behind in London. 

William and Mary Quarterly and Virginia Magazine of History and Biography have both published Major John’s will, either in its entirety or abstracted.[8]The will evidently mentions his wife Dorothy, eldest son Thomas, who “lives in ye Golden Griffin with Mr. Thomas Turges in Fenchurch St.,” son John “living with Mr. Joseph King at the Golden Sonne in Gracious St.” (now Gracechurch St.), youngest sons William and Robert, and daughter Elizabeth, to whom he bequeathed his“Bible-booke and my Eare ring with a Dyamant in itt.”

A 1676 suit in chancery styled Brodnax v. Gibbonproves that Major John was a son of Thomas Brodnax and his wife Elizabeth Taylor of Godmersham (descendants of the first Robert of Kent). It also proves Major John was the grandfather of the next Brodnax immigrants to Virginia.

They were John and William Brodnax, sons of Robert of Holborn. John (1668 – 1719) was a goldsmith, like his father. He lived in Williamsburg and left a will naming three sons and two daughters. The will directed that two sons be sent home to England and “bound out to such trades as my executors” see fit. According to the Virginia Magazine, “it is not believed that John Brodnax has any descendants to-day [1916] in Virginia.”[9]

William I, also a son of Robert of Holborn, settled in Jamestown. He married Rebecca Champion, widow of Edward Travis. It is possible, perhaps likely, that William Brodnax I and Rebecca Champion Travis are the ancestors of all Caucasian Brodnaxes in the U.S., including two presidents.[10]

William I brought with him from England his father’s Bible and paintings of his parents. There are also extant portraits of William I and his wife Rebecca, as well as their son William II, daughter Rebecca Elizabeth Brodnax, and son Edward Brodnax. There are eight Brodnax portraits in all, now in the possession of the Richmond Museum of Fine Arts. Several of them are terrible portraiture, even to an untrained eye. Here are images of the Brodnax family portraits:

William Brodnax I of Godmersham Park and Jamestown Island, VA

Rebecca Champion, widow of Edward Travis, wife of William Brodnax I of Jamestown

William Brodnax II, son of William and Rebecca Champion Travis

Edward Brodnax, son of William Brodnax I and Rebecca Champion Travis Brodnax

Elizabeth Rebecca Brodnax, daughter of William Brodnax I and Rebecca Champion Travis Brodnax

Robert Brodnax of Holborn, London, father of William Brodnax I

Wife of Robert Brodnax, goldsmith of Holborn, London

William Brodnax, son of William Brodnax II and Ann Hall Brodnax

Rebecca Champion Travis Brodnax was surely more attractive than her portrait suggests. She and William I were buried in the Travis burying grounds on Jamestown Island. Their tombstones are gone, but a marker and large slab for two John Champions, presumably Rebecca’s kin, remains. There is also a marker and tombstone for Edward Travis, first husband of Rebecca Champion Travis Brodnax. Here are some pictures I took in the Travis graveyard: 

Marker on grave of two men named John Champion

Champions’ tombstone

Marker, grave of Edward Travis, first husband of Rebecca Champion Travis Brodnax

Edward Travis tombstone

Oops! A picture of an attractive silver-haired dude slipped in here somehow …

Whew! That’s more than enough for this installment. I will promptly re-post the information about how to find the definitive Brodnax book, as well as some information about my own Brodnax family.

See you on down the road.

Robin


[1]I can’t find any notable women named Brodnax, although one of the men in the list was transgender, female-to-male.

[2]This discussion ignores non-paternal events” such as adoptions. Here is a provocative discussion of  that topic by my friend Roberta Estes.

[3]This history is taken from facts in Mildred Seab Ezell’s book, Brodnax: The Beginning (1995),  a UK website about English parks, the William and Mary Quarterly, Series I, Vol. XXVII 181, and The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography,Vol. 24, No. 4 (Oct. 1916) 417.

[4]According to the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, a pedigree of the Brodnax family may be found in Berry’s Visitation of Kent. I haven’t looked at either that august tome, Berry’s Kentish Genealogy, or Burke’s Peerage, so I have no helpful citations.

[5]Godmersham Park.

[6]I cannot find a citation, although I am certain about my memory. If a member of Parliament didn’t say that, someone should have.

[7]William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. XXVII, Series I, at 181. The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography published a slightly different list. My notes aren’t entirely clear, but I may have viewed the original and come up with a third interpretation.

[8]The published versions differ in some respects, and I haven’t seen the original will.

[9]Id. Mildred Ezell said that John Brodnax’s eldest son, Robert, lived and died in Pennsylvania. I haven’t seen any information about him. 

[10]Several sources say that William and Rebecca Champion Travis Brodnax were the ancestors of Presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush. See, e.g., this website.

Ancestry.com: a new beef

If you have come anywhere close to this blog before, you have heard me grouse about online family trees at Ancestry, Family History Search, and other websites. I have preached ad nauseam that “information” on such sites does not prove anything.[1] It is not even evidence, much less proof. Actual family history evidence — which leads to proof — comes from original sources such as county probate records, deeds, tax lists, state birth and death records, and so forth. Online trees are, at best, clues. For the most part, they aren’t worth the paper it would take to print them. (See, e.g., this post: http://digupdeadrelatives.com/2019/03/01/reprise-what-is-proof-of-family-history/).  

I obviously haven’t bitched and moaned enough. It’s time to kick it up a notch.

A friend with considerable DNA expertise advised Gary and me to take the autosomal DNA test at Ancestry, although we had already tested at FTDNA. He said Ancestry has a larger database and that (at the time) their autosomal results featured something useful called “circles” of people to whom you are genetically related. The “circles” are now gone. What is left is something called “thru lines.”

I haven’t looked at “thru lines.” What I found out right off the bat (according to Ancestry) is that one’s autosomal results aren’t worth a spit unless you have a family tree at Ancestry.

Accordingly, I began to create one. Ancestry purportedly makes it easy by providing “hints.” For example, when I entered the name of a grandparent, a census record in which the grandparent appeared popped up. For the first few generations of a new tree, Ancestry’s suggestions are probably mostly accurate and harmless. There is good information in plenty of readily accessible information in twentieth-century census, marriage, birth and death records. More importantly, most of us know from personal experience the names of our parents, grandparents, and perhaps some great-grandparents. When that is the case, Ancestry’s suggestions, even if erroneous, don’t really matter. No harm, no foul for, say, the twentieth century.

The wicket gets a bit sticky as you make your way into the 19th century. It gets worse the further back in time you go. Let’s assume you have already done a good job researching your family history via conventional paper research in county and other primary records. You will be well-equipped to know whether Ancestry is providing accurate information when it suggests the names of an ancestor’s parents … or whether it is just providing names obtained from other family trees.

I eventually gave up on my autosomal results because of the arrant nonsense Ancestry was suggesting as possible parents for my relatives. Here are examples:

  • Ancestry suggested that the mother of my ancestor “Nancy” Ann Allen Winn Estes (wife of Lyddal Bacon Estes of Tishomingo Co., MS) was Lettice “Letty” Stone. This misinformation gets the “SAY, WHAT?” award. Other than the fact that Letty may also have been from Lunenburg and may have married a Winn — Lunenburg was awash in Winns and Stones in the nineteenth century — that is pure fiction, not fact. There are a million Lunenburg County records proving that “Nancy” Ann Allen Winn’s parents were Benjamin Winn and that his wife’s name was Lucretia (Andrews). Please forgive my hyperbole.
  • Ancestry suggested that Nancy Winn Estes’s husband Lyddal Bacon Estes (“LBE”) married Sally Alston Hunter. We need an emoji here for a big Bronx cheer. Sally Hunter did marry a Dr. Lyddal Bacon Estes (“Dr. LBE”). Dr. LBE and LBE were different men. I wrote about “same name confusion” about these two men here: http://digupdeadrelatives.com/2016/06/04/same-name-confusion-sorting-out-three-men-named-lyddal-bacon-esteslyddal-estes/ The Lunenburg couple — LBE and Nancy Winn — married there in March 1814. Dr. LBE died November 1814 in Maury Co., TN, and his widow was named “Sally” in at least two county records. LBE continued to appear in Lunenburg tax lists after Dr. LBE died. A comment by Shirley McLane’s character Ouizer Boudreaux in Steel Magnolias comes to mind: “these are not difficult questions!”
  • Chesley Estes, son of Benjamin and Frances Bacon Estes of Lunenburg, was not the father of the LBE who married Nancy Winn. Chesley died in Maury Co., TN, having never married and having lived with his parents most of his life. This one at least gets a “close, but no cigar” award: Chesley’s sister Mary Estes was LBE’s mother. Her identity is, I confess, a more difficult question, although Chesley’s lack of children  is not.
  • Benjamin and Frances Bacon Estes were the parents of Dr. LBE who married Sally Alston Hunter and died in Maury Co., TN in 1814. They were not the parents of LBE who married Nancy Winn in Lunenburg in 1814 and eventually settled in Tishomingo Co., MS. LBE died there between December 1844 and March 1845, and Nancy was his administratrix. I’ve written about LBE and Nancy Winn Estes’s family here: http://digupdeadrelatives.com/2017/05/28/identifying-the-children-of-lyddal-bacon-estes-and-nancy-ann-allen-winn-the-follow-the-land-theory-of-genealogy/

When Ancestry tells you it may have identified a parent for one of your ancestors, you can click on a link for the source of the information. You get only one guess for the source. And the winner is: someone else’s family tree. I made the mistake of messaging one of the tree owners about an error (yes, I was kind), but I should have known better. Correcting someone else’s family tree is like trying to teach a pig to sing: it is a waste of your time, and it just irritates the pig. 

I still don’t have any idea what “thru lines” are, or even how to find them. Fortunately, a good genetic genealogist and blogger has explained them here: https://dna-explained.com/2019/03/11/ancestrys-thrulines-dissected-how-to-use-and-not-get-bit-by-the-gators/.

Here’s the bottom line. It has always seemed obvious that many, if not most, family trees on Ancestry and other genealogy sites are constructed by copying other people’s family trees. This is a fast way to spread both bad and good information. Ancestry has now exacerbated and accelerated that process by helping people rapidly construct family trees with information obtained primarily? exclusively? from other peoples’ family trees. Ancestry, bless its heart, is killing credible family history research. That may not be a good long-term business model.

Gary, who likes to predict comments I will receive on my posts, says I’m going to get one saying, “No, Ancestry is just killing antiquated effete intellectual ‘researchers’ who think solving genealogical puzzles by digging through actual records is ‘fun.’”

One final note: if you aren’t familiar with Southern idiom, “bless her/his/its heart” means “what a total idiot.”

See you on down the road.

Robin


[1]Some online trees do provide sources such as census and probate records. Such information is obviously worthwhile provided it is associated with the right person! I can’t tell you how many references to probate records I have seen attached to Mr. X, when the will in question was actually written by Mr. Y, who lived a generation later and lived 6 counties west. Both Mr. X and Mr. Y were named John Smith, but that doesn’t mean they were the same man!

Will the “correct” David Rankin of Franklin Co., PA please stand up?

I told my husband at breakfast several days ago that I was working on an article to correct bad information about some Rankins in the Pennsylvania Archives 5th Series.

He put down his fork, arching his eyebrows. “Are you kidding me? You’re taking on the Archives? That’s practically sacred scripture among Pennsylvania family history researchers.”

“Well,” I said (yeah, I realize this sounds prissy), “the Archives has confused two men named David Rankin who were contemporaries in the late 1700s – early 1800s.”

“So,” said Gary, “who would care, anyway?” 

“Hmmmm,” I temporized, “perhaps descendants of either of the two men? Or someone who is trying to track early Rankin families around, as I am doing? Perhaps people with D.A.R. or S.A.R. aspirations? One of these two men was a soldier in 1780, but the other was too young.”

“You realize you will receive a dozen comments from people saying there are ‘many online trees’ showing you are wrong?”

At this point, I dug in. I’m not a Scots-Irish Rankin for nothing. “You’re undoubtedly right,” I responded, “but I’m writing the article anyway.”

Here ‘tis. It includes (1) a very brief chart, (2) the Archives’ misinformation, (3) the bottom line, (4) the argument supporting the bottom line, and (5) an Epilogue about where one of the men migrated. 

(1) A brief Rankin family chart 

Let’s start by putting the two men in their Rankin family context.

Adam Rankin was the immigrant ancestor in this Rankin line and was the grandfather of both Davids. He died in 1747 in Lancaster Co., PA. His wife was Mary Steele Alexander, widow of James Alexander.[1] Adam’s 1747 will named his sons James, William, and Jeremiah, and a daughter, Esther Rankin Dunwoody.[2] We’re only concerned with James and William in this article. I’ve written about Adam’s family on this blog before, see this link: http://digupdeadrelatives.com/2018/07/27/adam-d-1747-lancaster-mary-steele-rankins-son-william-follow-land/

James Rankin, son of Adam and Mary Steele Rankin, died in 1795 in Montgomery Township, Franklin Co., PA. James’ wife was Jean, whose maiden name is unproved so far as I know. His will named sons William, Jeremiah, James and David #1, and two daughters, Esther Rankin Smith and Ruth Rankin Tool.[3]

William Rankin, son of Adam and Mary Steele Rankin, died in 1792 in Antrim Township, Franklin Co.[4] His wife was Mary Huston, daughter of Archibald and Agnes Houston.[5] His will named seven sons and one daughter: Adam, Archibald, James, William, Betsy, David #2, John, and Jeremiah.[6] (A quick aside on a case of “same name confusion” in this line: William Rankin, son of Adam and Mary Steele Rankin, was most emphatically not the same man as the William Rankin who married Victoria Alcorn or Alcoran. That  William migrated to Orange Co., NC by 1765.[7] “Many online trees” incorrectly identify Victoria as the wife of William who died 1792.)

I will continue to distinguish these two David Rankins by number simply because it helps me to keep them straight.

(2) What the Pennsylvania Archives got wrong

Here’s what the Archives says about one of these two Davids:

 “David Rankin is shown in 1780, as a private under Captain William Smith. The will of David Rankin of Montgomery Twp., was dated 1829 and prob. 1833. He names wife Molly and two children, James and Betsy. To Mary Elizabeth Sellers, only child of daughter Molly, who had married Alexander Sellars, Oct, 7th 1824.  Miss Molly L. McFarland of Mercersburg stated the above David was the son of William Rankin of Antrim Township who died 1792.[8]

(3) The bottom line

With all due respect to Miss Molly L. McFarland of Mercersberg, the man the Archives describes was David #1, son of James and Jean, not David #2, son of William and Mary Huston Rankin of Antrim Township. 

Here are the key factors for telling the two men apart: age, wife’s identity, and – the pièce de résistance – location. As epilogue, we’ll see where David #2 went when he left Franklin County.

(4) The argument

Age. Although the law or custom varied from time to time, men were typically required to serve in the militia beginning at age sixteen (although sometimes boys served as early as 13).[9] Thus, the David Rankin who was a private in 1780 must have been born by 1764, and certainly no later than 1767. According to county tax lists, David #1, son of James and Jean Rankin, was born no later than 1767-68.[10] On the other hand, David #2 was most likely born about 1776-1777, and definitely in the 1770s. Estimating his birth year was tedious, as this supporting footnote illustrates.[11] In short, David #2 was too young to have been a member of a militia in 1780. Strike 1, Archives.

Wife’s identity. We know the wife of the David Rankin who died in 1833 was named Molly, maiden name unproved. We don’t know how long they were married, although it was apparently long enough to have three children including a daughter, also named Molly. I have found no deeds or other records identifying the wife of David #1. We have better luck with David #2, because deeds conclusively establish that he was married to Frances (“Fanny”) Campbell, daughter of Dongal Campbell.[12] Frances and David #2 were grantors in a deed dated August 1827, not long before the David who died in 1833 wrote his June 1829 will.[13] In short, the evidence strongly suggests that Molly’s husband was David #1. Strike 2, Archives.

Location. Here is the pièce de résistance: a deed dated 27 May 1818 from James Rankin (brother of David #1) to Jacob Kline conveying a tract in Montgomery Township. Part of the tract was surveyed per a warrant to Adam Rankin dated 11 Nov 1742 and devised by James Rankin, dec’d, to grantor 25 March 1788.[14] The tract clearly passed from Adam Rankin to his son James Rankin Sr. (whose will was dated 25 March 1788), then by will to James Sr.’s son James Jr., the grantor in this 1818 deed. The conveyed tract was adjacent to David Rankin, inter alia. That would be David #1, who inherited the Montgomery Township tract where his father James Sr. lived.

The deed proves that David #1 owned a tract adjacent to Jacob Kline (the grantee in the above deed) in Montgomery Township at some point in time. There are two other relevant facts:

  • In the 1830 federal census for Montgomery Township (three years before David #1 died), David Rankin was listed adjacent Jacob Kline, grantee in the above deed.[15] He was the only David Rankin in Montgomery.
  • David Rankin’s 1829 will, proved in 1833, referenced his Montgomery tract adjacent Jacob Kline.

Plaintiff rests. The David Rankin who died in 1833 was David #1, son of James Sr. and Jean Rankin, and not David #2, son of William and Mary Huston Rankin.

(5) Epilogue

This is a long post, so I will cut to the chase. Some genealogists (the ones who didn’t believe the Pennsylvania Archives about which David died in 1833) believe that David #2 went to Greene Co., TN.[16] He didn’t. He went to Des Moines Co., Iowa with at least three of his children.

Here’s the thing. While he lived in Franklin, David #2 almost certainly attended the Presbyterian Church of the Upper West Conococheague,”[17] as did his brother Archibald.[18] On the other hand, David #1 and his brothers were pew holders in the Welsh Run Presbyterian Church, also known as the “Lower Conococheague” Church.[19] Ironically, I am relying on the Pennsylvania Archives for that fact. 

The Upper West church kept baptism records, although they are plainly not complete.[20] Four children of a David Rankin who is almost certainly David #2 are listed: Frances Rankin (baptized 9 May 1814), David Huston Rankin (28 Apr 1817), Archibald Rankin (10 Oct 1819), and Adam John Rankin (13 Feb 1822). The family names are compelling, aren’t they? In light of David Rankin’s entry in the 1820 Franklin census (seven children in the household), you would expect other children.[21] 

The family left Franklin between 1827 and 1830. I didn’t find David again until the 1840 census in Iowa Territory.[22] The 1850 census in Des Moines County lists him as age 73, born in Pennsylvania about 1777.[23]  Here is a link to an image of his tombstone in the Round Prairie Cemetery in Des Moines County. It says he died 14 Mar 1853, age 77, making him born about 1776.

Also buried in the Round Prairie cemetery: Adam J. Rankin, born 29 Dec. 1821. I will bet my right arm that his full name was Adam John Rankin, and that he was baptized in the Upper West church on 13 Feb 1822 at age six weeks or so. See tombstone image here.

Here is another tombstone in Round Prairie cemetery: D. C. Rankin, 1812 – 1885. Iowa death and burial records identify him as Dugal Campbell Rankin, a male, born 1812 in Franklin Co., PA.[24]  Can there be any doubt that he was a son of David #2 and Frances Campbell Rankin, daughter of Dongal (or Dugal) Campbell? 

Finally, the Kossuth Cemetery in Des Moines County has a tombstone for Archibald Rankin, born  1 Aug. 1819. I’m betting that Arch was baptized in the Upper West church on 10 Oct 1819 at about two months of age. See tombstone here.

Quit drilling, Robin. You’ve struck oil.

See you on down the road.


[1] For evidence establishing that Adam Rankin’s wife was Mary Steele Alexander, see the text accompanying the footnotes and the source citations in notes 5, 6, and 7 of this article.

[2] Lancaster Co., PA Will Book J, Vol. 1: 208, will of Adam Rankin dated 4 May 1747 proved 21 Sep 1747.

[3] Franklin Co., PA Will Book A: 345, will of James Rankin of Montgomery Township dated 25 Mar 1788, proved 20 Oct 1795.

[4] Franklin Co., PA Will Book A: 256, will of William Rankin of Antrim Township dated 20 Oct 1792, proved 28 Nov 1792.

[5] Franklin Co. WB A: 110, will of Agnes Huston, widow of Archibald Houston, dated 15 Nov 1776, proved 14 Mar 1787. Her will names William Rankin, husband of daughter Mary, as an executor.

[6] See Note 4.

[7] The William Rankin who m. Victoria lived in Hamilton Township, Franklin Co. and is fairly easy to distinguish from William, son of Adam, who lived in Antrim Township. See Pennsylvania land grant to William Rankin dated 8 May 1751, 100 acres in Hamilton Township, Cumberland Co., adjacent Thomas Armstrong (image available online at Ancestry.com); Cumberland Co., PA Will Book A: 79, will of Joseph Armstrong of Hamilton Township dated 1760 proved 1761 devising “land between Robert Elliot’s and Willm Rankins,” establishing that a William Rankin lived in Hamilton Township; Cumberland Will Book A: 88, will of James Alcoran naming daughter Victoria and husband William Rankin; and Franklin Co., PA Deed Book 6: 124, deed dated 30 Oct 1765 from William Rankin of Orange Co, NC, farmer, to James McFarlan of Cumberland, 2 warrants by Rankin for a total of 250A in Hamilton Twp., Cumberland, adjacent Thomas Armstronget al.

[8] Pennsylvania Archives, 5th Series, Volume 6: 275. Betsy was a nickname for Elizabeth Rankin, see Franklin Co. Deed Book 16: 507.

[9]  There are several online articles about militia here and  here and here.

[10]David #1 was listed on the Montgomery Township tax list for 1789 along with his father James (Sr.) and brothers William, Jeremiah, and James Rankin. David was a “freeman,” meaning that he was age 21 or older and not married.

[11] BIRTH YEARS OF THE CHILDREN OF WILLIAM AND MARY HUSTON RANKIN. I’ve listed William’s children in the order he named them in his 1792 will, which is almost certainly their birth order.

  1. Adam was born 1760 – 1763. Adam first appeared on the 1785 Franklin Co. tax list as Dr. Adam Rankin. At minimum, he was of age by 1785 and born by 1764. He was definitely born before 1763-64, when his younger brother Archibald was born. Dr. Adam went to Henderson Co., KY and married Elizabeth Speed in Danville, KY on 1 Nov 1792. In the 1810 Henderson Co. census, he is listed as > 45, and therefore b. by 1765. My age range for Dr. Adam is just a reasonable guess, since children seem to have born quite regularly in this family.
  2. Archibald was born 1763 – 1764. Records from the Upper West Conococheague Presbyterian Church (images available online at Ancestry.com) establish that Archibald died 24 Jun 1845 at age 81.
  3. James was born about 1767 – 68. James is listed in the 26 < 45 age category in the 1810 Centre Co., PA census, and was thus born 1765 – 1784. That’s no help. Based on his birth between Archibald and William, whose birth years are known, 1767-68 seems a reasonable estimate for James.
  4. William was born 5 Nov 1770. Commemorative Biographical Record of Central Pennsylvania: Including the Counties of Centre, Clearfield, Jefferson and Clarion (Chicago: J. H. Beers, 1898) at 100-101.
  5. Betsy was born about 1773. She was less than 21 when her father William’s will was executed on 20 Oct 1792, so she was born after Oct 1771. I’ve estimated Betsy’s and David’s birth years by spacing them out more or less evenly between their siblings William and John, whose birth dates are established by credible evidence.
  6. David #2 was born about 1776-77. It is certain that David was born sometime between 1775 (see the 1790 Franklin Co. census, when he was included in his father’s household and was < 16) and early 1778, a year prior to the birth of his younger brother John.
  7. John was born 1 May 1778 or 1779. See his tombstone in the Bellefonte Cemetery: John Rankin, 8 May 1778 – 22 Apr 1848, 69Y 11M 4D. Another source, John Blair Linn, History of Centre and Clinton Counties, Pennsylvania (Louis H. Everts, 1883, reprinted Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1975) at 222-223 says that John Rankin was born 1 May 1779.
  8. Jeremiah was born November 1783 according to his Centre Co., PA tombstone.

[12] Franklin Co., PA Deed Book 9: 288, deed dated 8 May 1807 from David Rankin of Franklin and wife Fanny conveying land devised to David by the will of William Rankin dated 20 Oct 1792. Frances/Fanny’s father is also conclusively proved by a deed, see Franklin DB 14: 245.

[13] Franklin Co., PA Deed Book 14: 266, deed dated 28 Aug 1827 from David Rankin and wife Frances of Montgomery Township, 54 acres in Peters Township, deed witnessed by Archibald Bald.   

[14] Franklin Co., PA Deed Book 12: 28.

[15] 1830 federal census, Montgomery Township, Franklin Co., household of David Rankin, 0000101-000010001 adjacent Jacob Kline. There are two people age 20 < 30 in David’s household, as one would expect: his daughter Molly was already married when David #1 wrote his will in 1829. The age category for the eldest male is clearly erroneous. He should be in the same age category as the eldest female, age 60 < 70 (born in the 1760s).

[16] See, e.g.,  an example here.. Please be advised that the application for historic site designation at that link contains Rankin history errors and unproved assertions.

[17] The archaic spelling was Conogogheaue with, as you would expect, several variants.

[18] The Upper West church records show Archibald’s marriage to Agnes Long, as well as his death date. Recall that David and Archibald each inherited a part of their father William’s “Mansion Place,” so they originally lived next to each other. You would expect they would both choose the nearest Presbyterian church.

[19] Pennsylvania Archives, 5th Series, Vol. 6, p. 262, 269, 274, 282, 374. “Jeremiah Rankin, Ranger on the Frontier, served in 1778, under Capt. John McConnell and as Ensign, 1780-81, with Captain Wm Huston; a son of pioneer James Rankin of Montgomery Township. He mar. Mary, dau. of James Clark. His will was dated June 1803 and prob. August 1803, [named] only son James Clark Rankin and three daus: Nancy; Mariah; Esther. The widow Mary later married Charles Kilgore. James, Jeremiah, David and William Rankin were pewholders in the “Lower Conococheague” or Welsh Run Church.”

[20] Some records of the Upper West Conococheague church are available online at Ancestry.com. They name only one child of Archibald and Agnes Long Rankin, a daughter Franny who died the same day as Agnes. The Franklin census records suggest that Archibald had five or six children.

[21] David #2 was then living in Peters Township and is listed as age 26 < 45 (born 1775 – 1794). There were seven children in his household, including 1 male and 2 females age 10 < 16 (born 1804 – 1810), plus 3 males and one female under age 10 (born 1810 – 1820).

[22] 1840 federal census for Iowa Territory, Des Moines Co., David Rankin, age 60 < 70 (born 1770 – 1780).

[23] The 1850 census for DesMoines Co. for David Rankin’s household includes Dugald Camel, 30, b. PA, and Frances Camel, 14, b. Indiana. Given the spelling perversions one finds in the census, I read “Dugald Camel” as Dugal Campbell. Not quite Dongal Campbell (the name of Frances Campbell Rankin’s father, see Franklin Deed Book 14: 245), but it’s close.

[24] Ancestry.com. Iowa, Deaths and Burials, 1850-1990 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.

Rankin, Upton County, TX

Want to see two characters from Lonesome Dove taking a selfie? Get yourself to Rankin, Texas. The town is perched atop the Edwards Plateau in the Middle of Nowhere, population 778.[1]

I have no idea what the town is best known for, but I’ll put my money on an old corrugated tin building decorated with a funky Texas flag and portraits of Augustus “Gus” McCrae and Woodrow F. Call of Lonesome Dove. Someone with a puckish sense of humor painted the pair on horseback, with Call taking a selfie.[2] Tommy Lee Jones would probably approve.

Google says the town is named for F. E. Rankin, a “local rancher.”[3] In fact, F. E. did receive a grant of 640 acres in Upton County in 1911.[4] However, he apparently never lived in Rankin. Instead, he and his family lived in Midland County. He is listed in the 1910 census there as “Finis E. Rankin” with his wife Eliza and son Porter, age 20 (born about 1890). The name Porter Rankin rang a tiny bell, but I wasn’t sure why. Finis, Eliza and Porter were born in Tennessee, and the couple’s parents were also born in Tennessee.[5] The 1900 Midland census reveals that F. E. was born in January 1856 and was a “cattle raiser.”[6]

The “Findagrave” website often has errors in its unsourced obiter dicta, but the tombstone pictures and obituaries posted there are pretty good evidence.[7] The Fairview Cemetery in Midland has a tombstone for F. E. Rankin (“father”), 1856 – 1916, and Eliza Rankin (“mother”), 1862 – 1953.[8] Better yet, there is a Midland County death certificate for Robert Porter Rankin (1890 – 1 Nov 1962). It identifies him as a son of F. E. Rankin and Eliza Smith. Best of all, it says Porter was born in Belt Buckle, TN. That town is in Bedford County, telling us where to go look for Finis et al. before they came to Texas.

With a name like “Finis” and the additional information, tracking this line was a piece of cake. There is a marriage record for F. E. Rankin and Elizabeth Smith for 27 Jul 1879 in Bedford County, TN. At age 5, Finis and his younger brother Porter were listed in the 1860 census for Bedford County with their presumed parents Robert and Matilda Rankin.[9] The 1850 Bedford census adds a middle initial: his name was Robert D.Rankin, and there was a David G. Rankin, a child, in the household.[10] The 1880 census identifies David G. Rankin as a son of Robert D. and Matilda.[11]

At this point, bells began to ring in earnest. The names David G. Rankin and Porter Rankin are firmly planted in my memory … and in my family tree software. David G. Rankin was a son of Samuel and Eleanor (“Ellen”) Alexander Rankin of Lincoln Co., NC – my ancestors. I have written several article about Sam and Eleanor on this website. Here is one of them: http://digupdeadrelatives.com/2017/10/22/samuel-rankin-abt-1734-abt-1816-m-eleanor-alexander-new-post-replace-old-ones/ David. G. Rankin’s wife was Anne Moore Campbell, and they had a son, Rev. James Porter Rankin, who died at age 26.[12]

David G. and Anne Rankin migrated from Lincoln Co., NC to Rutherford Co., TN. A deed there identifies a Robert D. Rankin as a resident of Bedford Co., TN; other records make it clear that Robert D., father of Finis, was a son of David and Anne.[13]

And that’s enough for Rankin, TX: I’ve just written more words than there are people in the town. And whoda thunk I’d find relatives near there.

See you on down the road.

Robin


[1]Rankin’s population of 778 is per the 2010 census. https://www.google.com/search?ei=M5lkXIi3H42Q0PEP3_GU-Ag&q=population+of+rankin+texas&oq=population+of+rankin+texas&gs_l=psy-ab.3..0i22i30.409200.413316..421342…0.0..0.231.2861.10j15j1……0….1..gws-wiz…….0i71j0j0i67j0i131i67j0i131j0i22i10i30j33i22i29i30j0i13i30.Uev8UFzyER0

[2]A friend who writes a travel blog called Wanderwiles took these two pictures and kindly sent them to me.

[3]See Note 1.

[4]Texas Land Title Abstracts, Certificate No. 982, file No. 85690, 640-acre grant to F. E. Rankin dated 26 Oct. 1911.

[5]1910 federal census, Midland Co., TX, household of Finis E. Rankin, age 54, b. TN, parents b. TN, with wife Elisah (sic, Eliza), 48, TN/TN/TN, and son Porter Rankin, 20, TN/TN/TN.

[6]1900 federal census, Midland Co., TN, T. E. or F. E. Rankin, b. Jan 1856, age 44, married 20 years, cattle raiser. Household includes wife Eliza, b. Feb 1862 who has had 3 children, all living, daughter Maud, b. Apr 1880, son P. B., b. Dec 1881, and son Porter, b. Feb 1890.

[7]The deceased isn’t ever around to give his/her date of birth, and my experience is that children often haven’t a clue what year their parents were born. Tombstones are subject to that possibility. AND, once in a while, people have been known to shave a few years off their ages, a frequent occurrence in census records.

[8]https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/18412790/finis-ewing-rankin  

[9]1860 federal census, Bedford Co., TN, District 4 has household of Robert Rankin, 45, farmer, $16,500 realty, $15,000 personalty, b. TN. Also listed in the household (all born in TN, and all with the surname Rankin, were Matild (sic, Matilda) 35, Nancy 21, David 19, Thomas 17, Jame 16, Ellen 13, Susanah 11, Malinda 9, Virginia 7, Finis, 5, and Porter, 1. 

[10]1850 federal census, Bedford Dist. 4, Robert D. Rankin, farmer, $7K real property, b. TN. Matilda Rankin, 33, Nancy A. Rankin, 10, David G. Rankin, 9, William Thomas Rankin, 8, Janes? C., female, 6, Martha E., 4, and Susannah M., 1. 

[11]1880 federal census, Bedford Dist. 5, David G. Rankin, 38, farmer, b. TN, parents b. TN, wife Laura T., 30, NC/NC/NC, sonsRobert E. Rankin, 12, Wm A Rankin, 10, Leon Augustus Rankin, 7, Albert E. Rankin, 2, and Osman G. Rankin, 1.

[12]Rev. James Porter Rankin, born May 10th, 1805, died Sep 11th, 1831, aged 26 years 1 mo. & 1 day. (obit in National Register & States Gazette, Sept. 17, 1831, says Rev. J. P Rankin died in Rutherford Co.). Tombstone in the Old City Cemetery in Murfreesboro, TN shows May 10, 1805 – Sep 11, 1831. His parents David G. and Anne M. C. Rankin are buried in the same cemetery. https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&amp;GRid=24947618&amp;ref=acom

[13]Rutherford Co., TN Deed Book Z: 93, bill of sale dated 15 Jan 1842 from Robert Rankin of Bedford Co., TNto Martin Alexander of Rutherford, an enslaved person. See also Rutherford Co., TN Deed Book 1: 523, Robert D. Rankin and William C. Rankin, administrators of the estate of their sister Mary (Rankin) Montgomery. Mary M. Rankin married Joseph A. Montgomery in Rutherford County in 10 Sep 1831.

Reprise: Who Are the Scots-Irish, Anyway?

This article, originally published in June 2016, has generated more views than anything I’ve written on this blog. That makes me think I’m not the only one who has spent some time on Google learning about the Scots-Irish.  Here it is again, just in case you missed it.

Happy 2019! May your brick walls crumble …

Robin

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

Introduction

This is a non-academic discussion of Scots-Irish (or Scotch-Irish) history from about 1600 to roughly the mid-eighteenth century. The focus is on Scots-Irish migration. The objective is to provide family history researchers 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 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

We need to start with a bit of Irish political history and geography.

Ireland was traditionally divided into 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 comprising 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 – which included England, Wales and those parts of Ireland controlled by the English – was united with the Kingdom of Scotland. King James VI of Scotland became James I of England and Scotland.

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 whose existence can be traced back to James I (more on that shortly) wanted no part of a predominantly Catholic Ireland. Those Protestants were concentrated in Ulster. 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 most northeastern 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.

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.

But it would almost certainly be correct to say that your ancestor was Presbyterian. Solid fact #1: it is almost 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” seems to be a cautionary tale 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 an effort to stop the expansion of English power in Ireland. 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.

James also ordered thousands of remaining Irish Catholic tenants to move from Ulster to other parts of Ireland. This 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 correctly predicted that more Scots than English would relocate to Ulster, a fairly barren place (then), too rough for what James perceived to be 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. The feeling was mutual.

The Irish Rebellion of 1641

It didn’t take long for this simmering caldron to boil over. Beginning in October 1641, a bloody episode called the “Irish Rebellion” began. It first erupted in Ulster, when native Irish Catholics 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. “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.

Not long thereafter, other religious persecution blossomed across the channel in Scotland. 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. This created conflicts between Presbyterians and the Bishops of the Anglican establishment. It 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 1683 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. Both the English and Irish parliaments contributed, as did Mother Nature.

The first legislative targets were beef and beef products. 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 government swung into action. In 1698, under pressure from the English, the Irish Parliament placed heavy duties on Irish export of manufactured wool. In 1699, the English Parliament passed an act forbidding 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 at approximately the turn of the century. Most of those early immigrants settled in New England.

Meanwhile, taxes on the Ulster Scots were going up, as were rents. “Rack renting” became the practice. This means that landlords raised rents on land, evicted tenants who couldn’t pay, then rented 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, requiring 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. 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. 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 in all as many as 25,000 passengers. They were virtually all Presbyterian.

Pennsylvania was the primary destination: the Pennsylvania Secretary of State expressly invited settlement by new immigrants. By 1720, “go to America” from Ulster meant migrating 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, Delaware. Most of these 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, because land ownership conferred voting rights. Fortunately, Lord Granville was advertising cheap and abundant land for sale in North Carolina. The result was a huge migration from Pennsylvania to the Piedmont Plateau of North Carolina via the Great Wagon Road of the Shenandoah Valley. One landowner on the Great Wagon Road route estimated that 5,000 wagons crossed the James River in Virginia in 1755, mostly bound for the huge area that was then Rowan County, North Carolina. Some dropped out and settled along the way, especially in Augusta County, Virginia.

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, prevailed. 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 knowledgeable 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 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 had Scots-Irish ancestors in 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. Unfortunately, I clicked rapidly among websites looking for information, e.g., Googling “when was the Restoration,” without making decent notes of my sources. This list undoubtedly omits dozens of other credible websites containing historical information which I used to help prepare this post. 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
  2. “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/
  3. Kenneth O. Morgan, The Oxford History of Britain (Oxford: The Oxford University Press, 1999, upated edition 2010). 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.
  4. 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).
  5. “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.
  6. “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/
  7. Ulster Historical Foundation retrieved June 25, 2016: http://www.ancestryireland.com/history-of-the-irish-parliament/background-to-the-statutes/manufacturing-mining/

 

 

Andrew Willis of Washington Co, MD

A researcher contacted me about an Andrew Willis who died in 1823 in Washington County, Maryland. My contact wondered if we could trace Andrew back to the immigrant John Willis who owned “Wantage” in Dorchester County and died in 1712. The answer is no. Revolutionary war pension files, census records, deeds, and probate filings prove that Washington County Andrew is not related to Wantage John.

Washington County Andrew served as a private in the 5th Regiment of the Maryland Line. While in Washington County he was awarded a pension paid from 31 Mar 1818 through his death on 4 Dec 1823. Beginning in 1825, his pension was paid to his wife Lettie Willis from the date of the last payment to Andrew. In an 1820 court appearance related to his pension, Andrew stated he resided in Washington County, that he was 68 years old (thus born in 1752), was impoverished, and that his wife was old and frail. He stated they lived with a son whom he did not identify.[1]

Census records in Washington County support Andrew’s statements in his pension application.

  • Andrew appears in the county for the first time in the 1800 census. That census lists Andrew heading a household with three other males and three females. The census shows that he and his wife were 26-44 years old and with two sons under 10, one son age 10-15, and two daughters under 10.[2]
  • The 1810 census shows Andrew with the same family members, whose ages track almost perfectly from a decade earlier.[3]
  • As expected from his pension application, Andrew is living with a son at the time of the 1820 census. That census lists Edward Willis as a head of household in the county for the first time. His household contains two men age 26-44 and one over 45, and three females … one 15-25, one 26-44 and one over 45.

The older man and woman in the 1820 census are Andrew Willis and his wife Lettie. The two younger men are their sons Edward and Isaac. The youngest female is their daughter Elizabeth. The woman age 26-44 is Isaac’s wife Nancy LNU.

By 1830, the family has disappeared from Washington County. Andrew died in 1823, Edward died in 1825, Lettie died probably between 1825 and 1829, and the surviving family members moved to Ohio.

A second Revolutionary War benefit application proves Isaac Willis as a son of Andrew. Isaac applies in 1850 for bounty land due Andrew for his service in the war. Isaac files from his home in Ohio on behalf of himself and the other the heirs of Andrew Willis.[4]

Deed and probate records prove Edward died with no wife or children and the name of Isaac’s wife and his sisters. In 1812, Edward purchased a small tract of land on Antietam Creek.[5]I suspect that he became head of household at about that time. He died intestate in 1825 with a very small estate.[6]

In 1829, Edward’s heirs at law sold the Antietam Creek land. The participating heirs included Hezekiah Donaldson and his wife Sarah, Nehemiah Hurley and his wife Elizabeth, and Isaac Willis and his wife Nancy.[7]Since Edward died intestate, his estate would go to any existing wife or children. Absent either, his estate would go to his siblings.

Clearly, Sarah Donaldson, Elizabeth Hurley, and Isaac Willis are Edward’s living sisters and brother. Conversely, anyone not included in the deed is not a sibling. That last point is important in eliminating as Edward’s possible siblings two Willis males who lived concurrently in Washington County. William Willis and Levin Willis who appear in census and deed records of the era are not children of Andrew and Lettie Willis. Likewise, an unnamed son of Andrew and Lettie appears with them in the 1800 and 1810 censuses but is absent from the 1820 census of Edward’s household. I conclude this son has died. If alive, he would have participated in the 1829 sale of land with the other siblings.

In sum, the evidence in Washington County proves the following nuclear family:

  • Andrew Willis       b 1752         d 1823
  • His wife:
  • Lettie LNU Willis  b 1756-65    d likely between 1825-29
  • Their children:
  • Edward Willis       b 1785-90    d 1825
  • Isaac Willis           b 1785-90    d after 1850
  • Sarah Willis          b 1791-94    m in 1818 to Hezekiah Donaldson[8]
  • Son FNU Willis     b 1791-99    d before 1820
  • Elizabeth Willis     b 1800         m between 1820-25 to Nehemiah Hurley
  • Their daughter-in-law:
  • Nancy LNU           b est. 1790   m before 1820 to Isaac Willis

We cannot track this group back to Wantage John Willis even though he had two great-grandsons named Andrew, one in Caroline County and one in Dorchester. The ages of the children in Washington County Andrew’s family disprove any connection to either great-grandson.

Caroline County Andrew

One great-grandson Andrew (the son of Isaac Willis, son of John, Jr.) lived in what became Caroline County. With a father named Isaac, this Caroline County Andrew seems a likely candidate to be the same person as Washington County Andrew, who named one of his sons Isaac. Furthermore, Caroline County Andrew appears in the 1790 census in Caroline and disappears from the county before the 1800 census. Could he have moved to Washington County?

Sure. But records argue against that possibility. The 1783 Tax Assessment shows Caroline County Andrew with no land and a household of one male (himself) and three females. That does not fit the nuclear family above where the male children are older than the girls, and where no child was born before 1785. The 1790 census for Caroline County Andrew also records a family inconsistent with the one shown in Washington County and the Caroline County 1783 Tax List. The 1790 census in Caroline lists Andrew’s household with five males age 16 or older, six males under 16, a total of four total females, and one slave. Arguably, the household could balloon from the 1783 to the 1790 level if another family (or two) moved in with Andrew. Regardless, the numbers don’t match the man who appears a decade later in Washington County with a relatively young family and no slave. I think this rules out Caroline County Andrew.

Dorchester County Andrew

The other great-grandson Andrew (son of John, son of Andrew Willis) lived in Dorchester County. One of Dorchester County Andrew’s brothers (Jarvis Willis) served during the Revolution in the same regiment and at the same time as Washington County Andrew, although in a different company. A logical theory is that after the war these two former soldiers left the Eastern Shore together. Dorchester County Andrew and Jarvis appear in the county in the 1783 Tax Assessment. Andrew has 60 acres of land called Fishers Venture with a household of seven people. Jarvis owns no land and has eight people in his household. And voila! Neither Jarvis nor Andrew appears in the 1790 census in Dorchester.

They both appear to be in Stokes County, North Carolina by 1790. That census lists Jarvis Willis with his family of eight, including two males younger than 16 years and five females. Andrew Willis does not appear in that census but shows up on a tax roll in Stokes County in 1791 with 250 acres of land.[9]By 1793, Andrew shows up on the Stokes County list of “insolvents” owing £5.10 in taxes. Often this meant that the party listed had abandoned their land and left the county.[10]It is possible, though highly unlikely, that Dorchester County Andrew had migrated back to Maryland. However, his family does not match the ages of the Washington County clan. Dorchester County Andrew apparently had six children born before 1783, per that year’s Tax Assessment, while Washington County Andrew had none.

Friendship Regulated Andrew

There is a third Andrew related to a Quaker family that lived near Federalsburg. Thomas Willis gifted 87 ½ acres of a tract called Friendship Regulated in Caroline County to his brother Andrew Willis in 1778.[11]The Tax List of 1783 shows Andrew in possession of that land and with a household of five males and five females. Andrew and his wife Sarah sell the land in 1784 to George Hutton of Sussex County, Delaware and do not appear in Caroline County again.[12]

Conclusion

None of the three men named Andrew Willis in Caroline and Dorchester Counties head a family that matches the size and structure of Washington County Andrew. That issue alone argues strongly that Washington County Andrew is not one of these three men. Additionally, the 1850 letter sent on behalf of Isaac Willis seeking bounty land states that Isaac believes his father was from Kent County. There is another Willis family in Kent that is not related to Wantage John. In sum, the evidence does not support any connection between Washington County Andrew and Wantage John.

[1]See Pension File S35141

[2]If born in 1752 per his pension application, the census understates Andrew’s age by four years, which is not a serious discrepancy.

[3]Ages of all family members track to the next appropriate age category except for the youngest daughter who remains at age under 10. I suspect she was an infant in 1800 and is actually 10 years old in 1810.

[4]31 Dec 1850 letter from Bennington & Cowan on behalf of Isaac Willis, online at Fold 3 pension file of Andrew Willis.

[5]Washington County, MD Deed Book Y: 439

[6]Washington County, MD Bond Book C: 427 and Administrative Accounts Book 7: 413. Nehemiah Hurley was administrator, Nehemiah Hurley, Hezekiah Donaldson and Isaac Willis were bonded.

[7]Washington County, MD Deed Book KK: 610

[8]Morrow, Dale W., Marriages of Washington County, Maryland, Volume 1, 1799-1830, Traces: Hagerstown, MD, 1977, D64.

[9]Harvey, Iris Moseley, Stokes County, North Carolina Tax List, 1791, Raleigh, NC, 1998, p 11

[10]Harvey, Iris Moseley, Stokes County, North Carolina Tax List, 1793, Raleigh, NC, 1998, p 43

[11]Deed Book GFA: 269

[12]Deed Book GFA: 777

Martin & Buckley, Part 5: William Buckley of Fairfax/Loudoun, VA

Previously in this series, we looked at the Martin and Buckley families of Elbert and Oglethorpe Counties, GA and Perry Co., AL. Now let’s head to Virginia. Here are the questions:

  • Why is this blog heading to Virginia, and where?
  • Who was the family of William Buckley Senior of Fairfax/Loudon VA?
  • Was William Buckley Junior a Revolutionary War soldier?
  • Was Elijah Buckley, son of William Junior, the same man as Elijah Buckley of Elbert Co., GA, Perry Co., AL and Jasper Co., MS?
  • Who were the children of William Buckley Junior?

Why Virginia, and where?

In Part 4, we saw that Elijah Buckley, Sally/Sarah Buckley (wife of Gibson Martin), and Frances Buckley? (wife of Claiborne Martin) were all born in Virginia in the 1770s. Both the Martin and Buckley families lived on Falling Creek in Elbert County (and then Oglethorpe), GA from the 1790s through 1819-ish. Some of these Buckleys and Martins then migrated to Perry Co., AL. Based on those facts and other circumstantial evidence, I concluded that Frances, Sally and Elijah Buckley were probably siblings.

So it’s time to head for Virginia to look for the Buckley siblings’ family of origin. Where to begin? Schlepping around early census records, I found a concentration of Buckley families in Fairfax and Frederick Counties. I decided to look in Fairfax county for the sole reason that Clayton Library (online research wasn’t worthwhile then) has a bunch of abstracts of Fairfax records.

The first Buckley record I found in Fairfax County confirmed that I would rather be lucky than smart any ol’ time. It was an abstract of a 1743 lease and release from John Thomas to William Buckley of Fairfax County, including the “plantation” where William Buckley then lived on Little Rocky Run of Bull Run.[1]

Well, well, well. We speculated in Part 4 that Frances Martin’s father might have been William Buckley because she and Clay named a son William Buckley Martin. However, William Buckley in the 1743 lease was born no later than 1722. He may be the wrong generation to have fathered Frances, Sarah and Elijah, all born in the 1770s. Perhaps William had a son or nephew named William? Yep!

The Family of William Buckley Senior

William Buckley Sr.’s family appeared in Fairfax County records through 1756, and then began appearing in Loudoun County when it was created in 1757.[2]Deed records conclusively prove three sons of William Sr.: John Fryer, William Jr., and Joshua Buckley. Joshua was expressly identified in one lease as William Sr.’s “fifth son.” Tax records and William Sr.’s will prove another son, Samuel.

Here are the birth years for William Sr.’s four known sons. These are my estimates, based on deed and tax records (see footnotes for explanation).

(1) John Fryer Buckley, the eldest son, was born circa 1741 – 1743;[3]

(2) William Buckley Jr.,born circa 1745 – 1746, but in any event no later than Dec. 1751;[4]

(3) Samuel Buckley, born circa 1746 – 1750;[5]and

(4) Joshua Buckley,[6]born circa 1752.

William Junior, our focus, appeared on Loudoun County tithable lists in 1771, 1774, 1775.[7]His last appearance as a tithable was in 1780, when he was specifically identified as “William Buckley Jr.”[8]He was on the same tax list as his brother Joshua.

Then William Jr. up and died. The Loudoun County court minute book for December 11, 1780 records that administration of his estate was granted to Amy Buckley, who posted a bond for her performance as administratrix.[9]The court identified the decedent as “Wm Buckley Junr dec.d.” Securities on Amy’s bond were John Buckley and Joshua Buckley, brothers of William Jr.  William Jr. must have died in 1780 because he appeared on a 1780 tithable list.

As for his widow Amy, please recall that both Frances Buckley Martin (wife of Claiborne)[10]and Sarah Buckley Martin (wife of Gibson)[11] named a daughter Amy. It wasn’t a common name. The family of William Jr. starts to look interesting.

William Jr. died intestate, i.e., without a will, and I found no distribution of his modest estate.[12] Fortunately, William Buckley Sr. did have a will, dated 12 July 1786 and proved 8 June 1789.[13]He left the land where he lived to his son Joshua and devised the rest of his estate in equal parts to his children John Buckley, Samuel Buckley, Elizabeth Buckley Harris, Sarah Buckley Harris, Catherine Buckley Harris, and Rosanna Halbert … and to his grandson Elijah Buckley, son of his deceased son William Buckley.

Family History Library (Salt Lake City) decorum undoubtedly frowns on twirling around in a chair in the microfilm reader section while pumping one’s arms in the air. Decorum be damned, I succumbed to the temptation when I read the film of that will. Other evidence suggests that Elijah, son of Amy and William Buckley Jr. of Loudoun County, Virginia, was the same man as Elijah Buckley of Elbert County, Georgia, Perry County, Alabama, and Jasper County, Mississippi. Hang on, we’ll get there, but first …

Was William Buckley Junior a Revolutionary War Soldier?

Some online trees say so. This is another case of “same name confusion:” Private William Buckley, Revolutionary War soldier, is emphatically not the same man as William Jr., husband of Amy and son of William Buckley Sr.

Military records prove that some William Buckley enlisted in Capt. Thomas Berry’s Company of the 8thVirginia Regiment of Foot. (If you have an Ancestry subscription, you can view the original here.) The 8th Regiment  was organized in early 1776 at the Suffolk Co. courthouse with men from Augusta, Berkely, Culpepper, Dunmore, Fincastle, Frederick and Hampshire Counties (but not Loudoun and Fairfax). The regiment  was “completed,” whatever that means in organizational terms, in Frederick Co.

Among the list of privates in Capt. Berry’s Company (which isn’t alphabetized), William Buckley’s name is immediately adjacent to an “Abra” (sic, Abraham) Buckley. Both of the Buckleys enlisted as privates on February 22, suggesting they lived in the same geographic area. The list states that William Buckley died 16 Sep 1776.

The 1776 death date for Private Buckley is compelling evidence that he was not the same man as William Buckley Jr., husband of Amy. That William Buckley Jr. was still alive for a Loudoun Co. tax list dated 1780.

This “same name confusion” has produced some bad information about William Jr.’s dates of birth and death in online trees. Because this is already an overlong post, I’m just going to put links to some trees in the footnote at the end of this sentence.[14] Once again, internet trees prove to be a crummy substitute for evidence in actual county records.

Was Elijah Buckley, son of William Jr., the same man as Elijah of Elbert GA, Perry AL, and Jasper MS?

We have seen circumstantial evidence that Sally/Sarah, Frances and Elijah Buckley were siblings. Some Elijah Buckley is conclusively proved as a son of William Buckley Jr. (d. 1780) and Amy, maiden name unknown. The question boils down to whether Elijah, son of William Jr., was the same man as the Elijah who was probably the brother of Sally and Frances Martin.

Luck intervened again. I connected with a researcher who posted a comment in a genforum about Amy Buckley. She was the sort of researcher who visited courthouses and looked at original county records, and therefore had instant credibility. She told me this: Amy, the widow of William Buckley Jr., married James Huff in Loudoun County. She said the couple appeared in the Loudoun court on the question whether they were properly administering the estate of William Buckley (Jr.) on behalf of his son Elijah. I haven’t seen that record yet, but I will.

James Huff, bless his heart, provides the thread of continuity from the northern neck of Virginia to Elbert County, Georgia and Perry County, Alabama, weaving together these Buckleys, Martins and Skinners.

So let’s follow James Huff around a bit. He first appeared in Georgia in Elbert County. A sheriff’s deed dated July 1803 conveyed all rights of James Huff to 100 acres on … wait for it … Falling Creek.[15] If you have followed this series of posts from the beginning, you know that it’s getting downright crowded on Falling Creek. There is a growing extended family of Martins, Buckleys, Skinners, and now Huffs, who owned land on that creek.

Here is the best part: James Huff applied for a Revolutionary War pension conclusively establishing that he lived in Prince William County, VA (from which both Fairfax and Loudoun Counties were created), Elbert County, Georgia and Perry County, Alabama.[16]Here are excerpts from my transcription of his testimony supporting his application. The emphasis is mine.

The State of Alabama Perry County. On this 24thday of October 1832.

Personally appeared in open court … James Huff, a resident of the said County of Perry and State of Alabama, aged seventy-three years,who being first duly sworn according to law, doth in his oath make the following declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the Act of Congress passed 7thJun 1832.

Question first propounded by the Court: Where and in what year were you born?

Answer: I was born in the county of Hopewell in the state of New Jersey in the year of our Lord 1759.

… Question 3rd: Where were you living when called into service?  Where have you lived since the Revolutionary War? And where do you now live?

Answer: I was living in Prince William County in the state of Virginia when called into service … then I removed about the year 1792 into Elbert County and State of Georgia where I resided about twenty seven years and then removed into Perry County, Alabama where I have resided ever since.

Question 7th: State the names of persons whom you know in your present neighborhood and who can testify as to your character for veracity, and good behavior, your services as a soldier of the revolution?

Answer: I am known to George G. Garriar, Esq., Claiborne Martin,John Edward Tubb, Gent., Jessee B. Nave, clerk of the County Court, Seaborn Aycock, Sheriff of Perry County and John Tubb, Gent., a minister or clergyman who will testify as to my character for veracity and good behavior. I know of no person now living who can testify as to my serving as a revolutionary soldier.

End of application testimony.

James Huff moved to Perry County from Elbert County, Georgia about 1819, at the same time as the rest of the Martin-Skinner-Buckley extended family. Moreover, he was confident that he could count on my ancestor Claiborne Martin to testify to his character for veracity and good behavior. Claiborne was not a local bigwig like the justice (identified by the honorific “Esq.”), the rich man (identified as “Gent.,” a person who need not work for a living), the court clerk, the sheriff, and the clergyman. Claiborne was the only regular Joe on James Huff’s list of character references. Claiborne was undoubtedly on that list because he had known James well for a long dang time. Probably ever since James moved to Elbert County in 1792, or for about four decades.

Let’s try to sum up. The last several posts comprise a web of circumstantial evidence based on dates and places of birth, family names, migration patterns, deeds, wills, tax lists, and a Revolutionary War pension application – all stretching from the northern neck of Virginia to Oglethorpe Co., GA and Perry County, AL. It is difficult to sum it all up neatly, which is why this has been a multipart series. Each piece of evidence, per se, is unassailable. What the cumulative evidence proves is the hard question (see this article about standards of proof). I think it is more likely than not that the evidence proves that Frances Martin, wife of Claiborne, was a daughter of William Buckley Junior and his wife Amy, maiden name unknown, and a daughter-in-law of James Huff.

Last question: who were the children of William Buckley Jr. and Amy MNU?

If you view the evidence as I do, we have identified their children as Frances Buckley Martin, Sally/Sarah Buckley Martin, and Elijah Buckley. There is one more to add.

I found her with another bit of luck. I was searching the online Buckley family genforum for any postings on the identity of William Buckley Jr.’s children. I didn’t find anything about Sally Buckley Martin or Frances Buckley Martin. I did, however, find a reference to Ann Buckley Moseley, wife of Reverend Elijah Moseley of Georgia.

 There are Moseleys all over the records of Wilkes and Elbert Counties, GA around the turn of the century. Moseleys have been a longstanding thorn in my side. Here’s the deal: Amy Martin, daughter of Claiborne and Frances Buckley Martin, married Isaac Oakes in 1819 in Dallas Co., AL. Isaac and Amy named a son Elijah Moseley Oakes. Because of that name, I had been looking for an Oakes-Moseley connection, or a Martin-Moseley connection, in northeast Georgia. I never found one. I had not looked for a Buckley-Moseley connection, but there was one staring me right in the face: Ann Buckley Moseley.

I promptly emailed Joseph Moore, the man who posted a question about Ann Buckley Moseley, asking him for more information on her. He is a careful researcher, much published, and a very nice man. He agreed (this was 12-14 years ago?) that Elijah Buckley, Sarah/Sally Buckley Martin (wife of Gibson), Frances Buckley Martin (wife of Claiborne), and Ann Buckley Moseley (wife of Reverend Elijah) were siblings, and that they were the children of William Buckley Jr. and his wife Amy.

As it turned out, Joseph Moore had no conclusive proof that Ann Moseley was née Buckley. However, he had compelling evidence in the form of oral family history and family naming patterns. Specifically, two great-grandchildren of Elijah Moseley identified Elijah’s wife as a Buckley, and the two families with that oral tradition didn’t know each other, said Joseph. Further, the name Buckley appears twice as a middle name among Elijah Moseley’s grandchildren.

Ann Buckley Moseley died about 1801, shortly after the birth of her third child, so she did not live long enough to appear in a census that would identify her state of birth. Joseph Moore estimates that she was born in the 1770s, the same decade that Elijah, Sarah/Sally and Frances were born in Virginia.

Anyone who has read this far and is still compos mentis can surely guess (1) the name of the creek where the Moseleys owned land in Elbert County, Georgia, and (2) the name of Ann Buckley Moseley’s first son.

The answers, of course, are Falling Creek and William. I will include in the footnote at the end of this sentence four Falling Creek/Elbert County deeds that demonstrate a dizzying array of links among the Moseley, Buckley, Martin, Skinner and Huff families on Falling Creek.[17] I have added Ann Buckley Moseley to the list of children of William Buckley Jr. and Amy Unknown Buckley Huff.

And that’s all I have to say about the Martins and the Buckleys. See you on down the road.

* *  *  * *  *  * *  *  *

[1]Ruth & Sam Sparacio, Deed Abstracts of Fairfax County, Virginia (1742 – 1750) (McLean, VA: 1986), abstract of Fairfax Deed Book A: 146, John Thomas to William Buckley of Fairfax, lease and release for 100 acres on Little Rocky Run of Bull Run, the plantation where William Buckley now lives.

[2]The family didn’t move; the jurisdiction in which they lived just changed. John T. Phillips, II, The Historian’s Guide to Loudoun County, Virginia Volume I Colonial Laws of Virginia and County Court Orders, 1757 – 1766 (Leesburg, VA: Goose Creek Productions, 1996), abstract of Loudoun Co. Court Minute Book A: 228, record dated 16 Mar 1759, lawsuit in which “John Fryer Buckley … is represented … by William Buckley his Father & next Friend…”

[3]Ruth & Sam Sparacio, Deed Abstracts of Fairfax County, Virginia (1750 – 1761) (McLean, VA: 1986),abstract of Fairfax Deed Book C1: 276, lease of 224 acres on Rocky Run dated December 1751 identifying John Fryer and William as sons of William Buckley Sr. John Fryer was the only son to be listed as a tithable in 1761, so he wasat least 16 by then (possibly older, because there are no earlier extant tax lists that included this family). He was clearly the eldest son since no other sons were of taxable age in 1761, and he was born by at least 1745. However, a 1766 tithable list described him as an overseer, a fairly responsible position. I estimatethat John Fryer was b. 1741-43.

[4]Ruth & Sam Sparacio, Tithables Loudoun County, Virginia 1770 – 1774 (McLean, VA: The Antient Press, 1992). William Jr. was first listed in his own household in 1771. Colonial planters generally married and/or had their own households around age 25, suggesting that William Jr. was born circa 1745-46.

[5]Id. Samuel and Joshua both first appeared as tithables in a 1768 list. Both were thus born by 1752. I assumed that Joshua, identified as the fifth son (see footnote 6) was b. abt. 1752. Samuel was born sometime between William Jr. and Joshua.

[6]Sparacio, abstract of Fairfax Deed Book D: 368, deed dated August 1, 1756, a life estate conveyed to William Buckley for 267 acres in Fairfax County on the branches of Bull Run. The term of the lease was for the life of whomever lived longest among William Buckley, William Buckley Jr. and Joshua Buckley. Joshua was identified as lessee’s fifth son.

[7]Some tithable lists are missing or incomplete, explaining the gaps between years.

[8]Ruth & Sam Sparacio, Tithables Loudoun County, Virginia 1775 – 1781 (McLean, VA: The Antient Press, 1992); Sparacio, Tithables Loudoun County, Virginia 1770 – 1774.

[9]FHL Film 32,349, Loudoun County, Virginia Court Order Books, Volumes F – G, 1773 – 1783, Order Book G: 313, Amy Buckley granted administration of the estate of William Buckley Jr.

[10]FHL Film 1,290,344, item 3, Perry County, AL Will Book A: 302, will of Claiborne Martin naming his children including Amy Martin Oakes. See also FHL Film 1,522,395, administration of the estate of Claiborne Martin after his widow Frances died. Distribution to heirs included a payment to Amy (Martin) Oakes.

[11]Frances T. Ingmire, Oglethorpe County, Georgia Marriage Records 1795 – 1852 (St. Louis: 1985, reprinted by Mountain Press, Signal Mountain, TN), marriage record dated 22 Sep 1800, Gibson Martin and Sally Buckly; marriage record dated 24 Oct 1827, Amy Martin and Frederick Butler; FHL Film 158,679, Oglethorpe Co., GA Deed Book N: 390, deed dated 4 Mar 1830 from Frederick Butler to John Martin and Elijah Martin, all of Butler’s interest in land as an heir of Gibson Martin’s estate.

[12]I haven’t made much headway in the court records of Loudoun County, but did find one entry about William Jr.’s estate. FHL Film 32,349, Loudoun Co., VA Order Book G: 514, 14 Apr 1783, inventory and appraisal of the estate of William Buckley Junr dec’d returned and recorded.

[13]FHL Film 32,276, Loudoun County, Virginia Will Books D – F, 1788 – 1802, Will Book D: 36.

[14]One frequently cited source for information about William Buckley’s family is the S.A.R. application of Joseph Indus Lambert. It says that William Buckley Jr. (son of William Sr.) was born 11 Nov 1752 and died 16 Sep 1776. It also identifies a son Elijah, born 1775. We know, however, that William Jr. was born no later than December 1751, probably during the 1740s. We also know that William Jr. died in 1780.  Elijah’s date of birth is 1779 in the 1850 census, although census errors are admittedly common as dirt. Elijah’s tombstone in the Buckley cemetery in Jasper County, MS says that he was born in 1775. Please note, however, that the stone was installed by none other than … Joseph I. Lambert. See the newspaper article about the tombstone installation on the Findagrave website . here. If you have an Ancestry.com subscription, you can access Mr. Lambert’s SAR application here.

There are several Buckley trees at FamilySearch.org, the LDS website. Some of them also claim that William Jr. was born in 1759 and died in 1776. Similarly, there are trees at Ancestry.com (e.g.,the Slay Family Tree) claiming William Jr. was born 11 Nov 1755 and died 16 Sep 1776.

And here’s a real goodie: a tree at Rootsweb says that William Jr. was born in 1755, died in 1776, and had a son Elijah born in 1779 … 3 years after he died. Oops!!!! All of these trees (except for the SAR application) say that William Jr.’s wife was named Amy and that his father was William Buckley Sr., so they are all dealing with the same William Buckley.

[15]Farmer, abstract of Elbert County Deed Book H: 151.

[16]Revolutionary War Pension File No. 22419, soldier S13476. SeeVirgil White, Genealogical Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files Volume II: F- M (Waynesboro, TN: The National Historical Publishing County, 1991), at p. 1750.

[17](1) January 1793, deed from Henry Mosely and wife Polly to Henry Hunt, all of Elbert County, 180 acres on the waters of Falling Creek granted to Henry Mosely in 1787, adjacent George Mosely’s survey, Robert Moseley, Henry Moseley, and Joseph Bell. Michal Martin Farmer, Elbert County, Georgia Deed Books A – J 1791 – 1806 (Dallas: 1997), abstract of Elbert Co. Deed Book B: 10. (2) November 1795 deed from Joseph Bell & wife Elizabeth to Henry Mosley, all of Elbert Co., £200 for 279 acres on the waters of Falling Creek, part of 579 acres granted to George Martin in July 1786, the whole tract having previously been sold to Joseph Bell by George Martin. Joseph Bell already sold the other 300 acres to David Martin. The 279 acres not sold to David Martin is here conveyed to Henry Mosely. Grantor also conveys 200 acres on Falling Creek granted to George Martin on 4 February 1785 and sold by him to Joseph Bell on 26 Dec 1789. Grantor also conveys another tract containing 360 acres that was granted to Archer Skinner on 23 Jun 1790. Id., abstract of Elbert County Deed Book D: 78. (3) December 1803 deed, Lewis Moseley sold 100 acres on Falling Creek that had formerly belonged to James Huff. Michal Martin Farmer, Elbert County, Georgia Deed Books K-R 1806 – 1819 (Dallas:  Farmer Genealogy Co., 1997), abstract of Elbert Co. Deed Book K: 9. (4) November 1808 deed, Henry Moseley to Abner McGehee, 1,000 acres on Falling Creek which was part of three surveys, two of which were originally granted to George Martin and the other to Archer Skinner. Id., abstract of Elbert Co. Deed Book M: 87.

 

Martin & Buckley, Part 4: Claiborne Martin’s Wife Frances

A friend and very distant cousin told me gently that stories about research don’t generate much enthusiasm. In her experience, people are more interested in essays/articles that tell a story. Another friend and cousin, Bill Lindsey, writes a blog featuring great stories about his family.  I’m green with envy.

I have two problems writing stories about my ancestors, having already used the one about “love at first sight during the Civil War.”  First, my family of origin had no oral history worth a hill of beans. The Rankins only talked about who had died, or whose gall bladder had been removed, or “race relations.” They were, to a man and woman, horrible bigots. The Burkes talked mostly about each other, including who was not speaking to whom. Also, a couple of the Burkes were famous as  tellers of tall tales, to put it in the best light possible. The result is that I only have a few good family stories, and some are unprintable because they would get me in hot water with my first cousins.

The second problem is that I want to focus in this blog on (1) errors in the conventional wisdom (here’s an example about a Rankin myth), (2) information that hasn’t yet been made widely available (e.g., a newspaper notice and lawsuit identifying a bunch of Burkes), (3) information of any sort about the Rankin family, and (4) family connections that appear to be new news (such as Eleanor “Ellen” Rankin’s family of origin).

Claiborne Martin’s wife Frances falls into the last category. I did a search on Ancestry.com family trees using a few established facts: Claiborne Martin, born about 1767 in North Carolina, died 1851 in Perry Co., AL, lived in Oglethorpe Co., GA, wife’s name Frances.

That search returned only three Ancestry trees that included Claiborne’s family. They identified his wife as (1) Sarah Ford, (2) Frances Oakes?, and (3) Frances Oakes. The latter two get a “close, but no cigar” award. Although Clay’s wife Frances was not née Oakes, two of his daughters, Haney and Amy, married brothers named Oakes. See also Claiborne Martin at WikiTree. That website doesn’t identify either Clay’s wife or parents and names only two of his eleven children.

Hmmmm … I just realized I am avoiding writing about Frances Martin’s family of origin. There is good cause for my reluctance. Identifying her family was a difficult search that lurched willy-nilly among geographic locations and time frames, going clear around the block several times. Research rarely takes a straight line, especially when one makes rookie mistakes as I did in this case. And, after all that, my conclusions about Frances Martin’s family are supported only by a complicated web of circumstantial evidence.

The only way I know how to write about the evidence with even a modicum of clarity is to follow the path my research took. I fear it will bore many people to tears.

Instead, let’s just jump straight to the bottom line. If you want to sift through the evidence I’ve got and decide for yourself whether it is sufficient to prove Frances Martin’s family of origin, please read on after this short chart.

1 William Buckley Sr., b. circa 1715, VA?, d. 1789, Loudoun VA. Wife unproved, probably Elizabeth Fryer/Fryor, d/o John Fryer.

2 William Buckley Jr., b. circa 1745, VA, d. 1780, Loudoun VA.  Wife Amey MNU, dates of birth and death unproved. She m. #2 James Huff.

Sarah/Sally Buckley, b. 1770 – 1780, Loudoun VA, d. 1863, Oglethorpe GA. Married Gibson Martin in 1800, Oglethorpe GA.

3 Frances Buckley, b. abt. 1775, Loudoun VA, d. 1865, Perry AL. Married Claiborne Martin abt. 1794, Elbert GA?

Ann Buckley, b. abt 1775, Loudoun VA, d. abt. 1801, Elbert GA. Married Elijah Moseley.

3 Elijah Buckley, b. 1779, Loudoun VA, d. 1855, Jasper MS. Wife Nancy MNU.

Those are the “short answers.” Now, if you wish, let’s wade through the research trail. (Much more fun than the bare facts, right?)

We’ll begin in Oglethorpe County, GA with three facts pertinent to Frances Martin’s maiden name. First, Frances and Clay named their eldest son William Buckley Martin.[1] Buckley immediately becomes a favorite for Frances’s maiden name, with William a strong possibility for her father’s given name. Second, Clay’s brother Gibson married Sally (Sarah) Buckley in Oglethorpe County in 1800.[2] Third, both Sally Buckley Martin and Frances Martin were born in Virginia in the 1770s.[3]

In my rookie ignorance, I figured all I had to do was sort out the Oglethorpe Buckleys around the turn of the century and I would nab Frances Martin’s family of origin. Piece of cake. Hahahaha …

One small problem: there were no Buckleys in Oglethorpe about that time. No Buckleys in either the 1800 census, the tax lists from 1796 through 1820, or the deed records from 1794 through 1820. Also, the marriage bond of Sally Buckley and Gibson Martin is the sole mention of any Buckley, male or female, in the Oglethorpe County marriage records from 1795 through 1852.

The absence of Oglethorpe Buckleys seems peculiar, because Georgia marriages were usually recorded in the county where the bride resided.[4] Gibson’s bride Sally Buckley almost certainly lived in Oglethorpe in September 1800. But there were no Buckleys living in Oglethorpe in 1800.

I concluded that the family with whom Sally Buckley was living in September 1800 was not named Buckley. Either that, or she parachuted into Oglethorpe County from Mars. Looking for a family “not named Buckley” has some serious limitations as a research theory, though (as does the parachute notion). Had I not been a rank rookie when I did this research, I would have looked for Buckleys in Elbert and Wilkes Counties, even though Sally was probably living with an Oglethorpe family in 1800. Think county formation, Robin … Oglethorpe and Elbert were both created from Wilkes! Instead, I went back to Perry Co., AL, where Claiborne and Frances Martin moved circa 1820.

Forgetting about county formation history has tripped me up more than once.

Happily, there were enough Buckleys in Perry County to provide grist for the research mill. The patriarch was Elijah Buckley, who was listed in the age 50 to 60 category in the 1830 census, born between 1770 and 1780.[5] A later census says he was born about 1779.[6] His birth year indicates he belongs to the same generation as Frances Martin (born about 1775), and Gibson Martin’s wife Sarah/Sally Buckley Martin (born during the 1770s).

Perry County family names suggest a relationship between Elijah Buckley and the Martins. In January 1832, Archibald (sic, Archer) Buckley filed a bond as administrator of William Buckley, deceased.[7] Archer was Elijah’s son.[8] Archer’s securities on his administrator’s bond included Martin M. Buckley – another son of Elijah’s.[9] The dead William Buckley was almost certainly another son of Elijah. Thus, Elijah Buckley likely had sons William, Archer, and Martin Buckley. Dizzying, isn’t it? Men named William Buckley Martin (son of Frances and Clay) and Martin M. Buckley (son of Elijah) both lived in Perry County.

The Buckleys appeared consistently in Perry County records until about the mid 1840s, then disappeared.[10] I searched for familiar Buckley names in other Alabama counties in 1850, then headed west when Alabama didn’t pan out. I didn’t have to go very far. The 1850 census for Jasper County, Mississippi has entries for Elijah and his son Archer, as well as Joseph E. Buckley and Benjamin M. Buckley (two other sons).[11]

The 1850 census listed the name of every member of a household and each person’s age and state of birth – the first federal census to do so. The 1850 Jasper County census has two nuggets. First, Archer Buckley, age 43 in 1850, was born in Georgia about 1807. (Oops … so there were Buckleys somewhere in Georgia around the turn of the century!) Second, the entry for Elijah Buckley, age 71, says he was born in Virginia.[12]

Belatedly, I searched for Buckleys in Georgia counties other than Oglethorpe, where Sally Buckley married Gibson Martin in 1800. I must blush. There was Elijah Buckley, big as Dallas, in Elbert County. That is where George, David, Claiborne and William Martin had first appeared. In 1801, Elijah bought land in Elbert County on Falling Creek.[13] More blushing. As you know, that is the creek where the Martins lived.[14]

Goodness gracious sakes alive, as they say in Claiborne Parish, LA! Not only were Elijah Buckley, Sally/Sarah Buckley Martin, and Frances Martin all born in Virginia, they were all born during the same decade. And the Martins and Buckleys both lived on Falling Creek in Elbert County, Georgia before the families of Elijah Buckley and Frances Martin migrated to Alabama. Do you think those three were Buckley siblings?

I am reminded of a “Magic 8 Ball” toy I once had. It was a black plastic sphere with a round, flat piece of glass about 1 ½” in diameter on the bottom. There was an “8″ in a white circle on the top, like the eight ball in pool. The ball was filled with liquid. Floating in the liquid was a multifaceted solid, each face of which was a small white triangle. Each face contained a terse little saying. Here’s how it worked: one “asked” the Magic 8 Ball a question, then turned it upside down and read the triangular “answer” facet that floated up to appear in the glass circle.

My all-time favorite answer was “all signs point to yes.” Delicious. Not unequivocally affirmative, just very, very encouraging – suggesting a positive answer, but with an air of uncertainty. (Consequently, it was always right, no matter what the answer turned out to be). I asked it earth-shaking questions such as, “is Walt going to ask me for a date?”

If I still had that Magic 8 Ball, and asked it whether Frances Martin, Elijah Buckley and Sarah (“Sally”) Buckley Martin were siblings, it would undoubtedly respond with that exact phrase – qualified, perhaps, with “so far.” However, we need more evidence. Lots of people were born in Virginia in the 1770s – although, frankly, most of them did not wind up living on the same obscure little creek in northeast Georgia near the end of that century.

That’s enough for this installment, even for those of you who like to evaluate evidence. We will pick up the search for Frances (Buckley?) Martin’s family of origin in the northern neck of Virginia near a little creek known as Bull Run.

See you on down the road.

[1]FHL Film 1,578,227, Perry County Deed Book B: 56, deed of 8 Sep 1830, Claiborn Martin to Buckley Martin, his son, for love and affection (gift deed); FHL Film 1,509,297, Perry County, Alabama Probate Records – Lockett, Napoleon to Martin, George M., File #53-022-1069, estate records of Claiborne Martin (hereafter “Martin Estate Records”), record of distribution to William B. Martinand other heirs.

[2]Fred W. McRee, Jr., Oglethorpe County, Georgia Marriage Records, 1794-1852(Lexington, GA: Historic Oglethorpe County, Inc., 2005), citing Oglethorpe Marriage Book A: 127.

[3]1850 federal census, Oglethorpe Co., GA, listing for Sarah Martin, 70, b. VA, dwl 279; 1850 census, Perry Co., AL, listing for Claiborne Martin, 83, b. NC, and Frances Martin, 74, b. VA, dwl. 61.

[4]Jordan R. Todd, Georgia Marriages, Early to 1800(Bountiful, Utah: 1990, Liahona Research, Inc.). Georgia did not require marriages to be registered in counties until 1804. Prior to that date, counties which did record marriages usually recorded them in the county where the bride resided.

[5]1830 federal census, Perry Co., AL, listing for Elijah Buckley, 01101001-0000001.

[6]1850 federal Census, Jasper Co., MS, listing for Elijah Buckley, age 71.

[7]FHL Film 1,509,046, Perry Co. Estate Papers, “Boyd, Drury S. – Buckley, William,” estate file of William Buckley.

[8]Jasper Co., MS Will Book 1: 2, will of Elijah Buckley Sr. of Jasper Co. proved 5 Jul 1855, naming wife Nancy and “lawful heirs.” Sons M. M. Buckley (Martin M. Buckley) and A. Buckley (Archer), executors. Witnesses J. E. Buckley (Joseph E.) and B. M. Buckley (Benjamin M.).

[9]Id., estate file of William Buckley.

[10]Elijah, Martin M., and Archer Buckley were all enumerated as heads of household in the 1840 census for Perry Co., AL. The last record I found for a Buckley in Perry Co. is a deed of 1 Jan 1845 witnessed by Martin M. Buckley. FHL Film 1,578,229, Perry Co., AL Deed Book G: 745.  By 1850, they were in the census for Jasper Co., MS.

[11]See note 8; see also 1850 federal census, Jasper Co., MS, had listings for Ellijah Buckley, 71, b. VA, Arch Buckley, 43, b. GA, Joseph E. Buckley, 29, b. AL, and Benjamin M. Buckley, 27, b. AL.

[12]Id., Ellijah [sic] Buckley, 71, farmer, b. VA.

[13]Farmer, abstract of Elbert County Deed Book G: 65.

[14]Id.,abstract of Elbert Co., GA Deed Book A: 128, deed of 29 Dec 1792, Joseph Bell & wife Elizabeth to David Martin, all of Elbert Co., £200, 300A in Elbert on both sides Falling Cr., part of 579A granted to George Martin dated 20 Jul 1786.

Martin & Buckley, Part 3: Gibson Martin & sister Sally Martin Herrin, Oglethorpe Co., GA

Gibson Martin is one of four Martin men – William, David, Claiborne (“Clay”) and Gibson – who were most likely sons of George and Elizabeth Martin of Elbert & Oglethorpe Counties, GA. See these links for prior articles about Clay,  David, and William Now it’s Gibson’s turn.

His first appearance in the records was when he witnessed a 1799 Oglethorpe deed from George to Clay.[1] Gibson was probably George’s youngest son, because he was the grantee in the last of George’s deeds and he received the home place – a 175-acre tract on Big Creek.[2]

In 1800, Gibson both acquired the home tract and got married. There were two Martin marriage bonds in Oglethorpe dated September 22, 1800: one for Gibson Martin and Sally Buckley, and another for Sally Martin and Elisha Hernie, sic, Elisha Herrin.[3] Is that a coincidence, two Martin marriage bonds on the same day? Seems improbable. It is more likely that there was a double wedding involving two Martin siblings. Keep reading …

Beginning in 1800, Gibson paid taxes on the 175-acre tract he bought from George.[4] The last year Gibson paid land taxes was in 1809, the year he died.[5] During 1810 through 1813, the 175-acre tract on Big Creek was listed in the name of Gibson Martin, deceased, with tax paid by Claiborne Martin. Also in 1811, the tax list in that district shows a payment by “Claborn Martin for Elisha Herrin, no poll, 150 acres Big Cr.” Those tax lists are short on explanations, but “no poll” means that there was no taxable male on that tract. This suggests Elisha was either dead, no longer living there, or exempt from tax.

Clay’s tax payment for Elisha Herrin, plus the marriage bonds for Gibson Martin and Sally Martin on the same date, are good circumstantial evidence that Sally Martin Herrin was a sister of Clay and Gibson. I haven’t found a trace of the Herrins after 1811, when Elisha sold the Big Creek tract and Clay paid the tax thereon.[6]

As for Gibson’s 175-acre home tract, it was listed in the name of Sally Martin (nèe Buckley) beginning in 1814.[7] Sally remained in Oglethorpe her entire life, dying there in 1863. She never remarried.[8] Although I found no probate records for either Gibson or Sally Buckley Martin in Oglethorpe, their children are nonetheless conclusively proved – by deeds, of course! They are (1) John, (2) Elijah, (3) Smithfield, (4) Anny or Amey (probably Amy/Amey, although she appears both ways in the original records), and (5) Catherine. All are proved by one deed and confirmed by several others, with assists from two marriage records for the daughters:

  • 29 October 29, 1818 Oglethorpe County marriage bond for Catherine Martin and William Edwards.[9]
  • January 1,1827 deed from grantors Sarah Martin (Gibson’s widow), William W. Edwards, Anny Martin, John Martin, Elijah Martin, and Smithfield Martin, all of Oglethorpe, to Martha Callaway, 15 acres on the waters of Big Cr. All grantors signed.[10]
  • 24 October 24, 1827 Oglethorpe County marriage bond, Amy Martin and Frederick Butler.[11]
  • March 4, 1830 deed, Frederick Butler to John Martin and Elijah Martin, all of Oglethorpe, all of Butler’s interest as an heir of Gibson Martin’s estate in the land where John and Elijah Martin now live.[12] Butler’s interest “as an heir” does not suggest that he was Gibson’s heir – Butler’s wife  was Gibson’s heir but, as a married woman, she had no legal capacity to own property.

Only two of Gibson and Sarah’s five children – John Martin and Amy Martin Butler – stayed in Oglethorpe.[13] Elijah probably left about 1834, after he sold his Oglethorpe land to his brother John.[14] I don’t know where he went, although Lumpkin County, Georgia is a possibility. Catherine Martin and her husband William Wade Edwards were definitely in Lumpkin County by 1835, and appeared there in the 1850 census.[15]

Smithfield Martin married an Elizabeth Martin (I don’t know who her parents were) in 1825 in Oglethorpe County. They were in Walton County, Georgia by 1830, and then appeared in the 1840 census in Coweta County.[16]

So … what do you think? Is there enough evidence to justify concluding that Gibson was a son of George and Elizabeth Martin and a brother of Claiborne, David, and William Martin and Sally Martin Herrin? Summing it up: George and Elizabeth sold Gibson the plantation where they lived, reserving the right to remain there for life; Gibson Martin and Sally Martin obtained marriage bonds on the same day; Gibson witnessed the conveyance in which Clay acquired his tract from George; Claiborne paid the tax on Gibson’s tract for several years after Gibson died and on Sally Martin Herrin’s tract once; David and William, proved brothers, both owned tracts on Big Creek adjacent to the other Martins; and David also acquired his land from George. Deeds involving the Martin tracts on Big Creek involve all five Martin men as parties, witnesses, and/or adjacent landowners.

Ordinarily, the fact that Clay paid property tax on behalf of Gibson’s estate would be enough by itself to justify concluding that Clay and Gibson were brothers. In this case, though, there is a complicating factor: Gibson’s wife Sally Buckley Martin, and Clay’s wife Frances, were almost certainly sisters. Please stay tuned … that’s coming in the next installment.

First, though, there is one more possible child of George and Elizabeth: Clara Martin Skinner of Wilkes and Elbert counties, Georgia, wife of Archer Skinner. The evidence is all circumstantial. It consists of family names, connections in the deed records, and migration patterns. IMO, it’s sufficient to consider Clara a proved sibling of the William, David, Clay and Gibson.

Here are the Elbert and Wilkes County deed and tax records establishing the Martin-Skinner connection:

  • Archer Skinner witnessed the 1792 conveyance of George Martin’s former tract to David Martin.[17]
  • Archer Skinner and his wife Clary of Wilkes Co., GA conveyed land to Joseph Bell of Elbert in the 1792 deed witnessed by David Martin.[18]
  • David Martin acquired land in Wilkes County from Lewis Clark in a 1792 deed witnessed by Archer Skinner and Matthew Huff (more on the Huffs later).[19]
  • David Martin and his wife Alcy exchanged land in 1792 with Archer Skinner, who obtained land in Wilkes County in the exchange; David acquired land in Elbert County. Claiborne Martin witnessed the deed.[20]
  • The 1787 tax list for Wilkes County, Georgia, Captain Clark’s District, included George Martin, David Martin and Archer Skinner.[21] In the 1792 tax list, David Martin was listed adjacent Archer.[22]

Finally, there is Archer Skinner’s Elbert County 1813 will naming his wife Clary and “all my children,” a lazy phrase that makes me grind my teeth.[23] Archer’s will expressly named only his sons James Skinner, Morris Skinner and George Martin Skinner. Two of the proved Skinner children – James and George M. Skinner – turned up later in Dallas and Perry counties Alabama along with their likely siblings Claiborne Skinner, William G. Skinner, and Clara Skinner.[24] At least Claiborne Skinner was definitely born in Georgia.[25]

Hitting the highlights: the evidence that Clary Skinner was George Martin’s daughter and Clay’s sister includes (1) the names of Clary’s sons Claiborne and George Martin Skinner, (2) the multiple Skinner/Martin connections in the deed records, (3) the fact that some of the Skinners migrated to the same area as Claiborne, and (4) the fact that Claiborne and Frances Martin named one of their daughters Clara. That is certainly not conclusive, but is a nice web of circumstantial evidence.

And this concludes the likely children (so far as I have found, that is) of George Martin and his wife Elizabeth of Oglethorpe County:

  1. David Martin, who married Alay Unknown and died in Baldwin County, five children;
  2. William Martin, who died without children in Baldwin County;
  3. Claiborne Martin and wife Frances of Oglethorpe, Georgia and Perry, Alabama, eleven proved children;
  4. Gibson Martin and wife Sarah Buckley of Oglethorpe County, five proved children;
  5. Sarah Martin and husband Elisha Herrin of Oglethorpe County; and
  6. Clary/Clara Martin and husband Archer Skinner of Elbert County, Georgia (3 proved and six likely children).

Next, on to Claiborne’s wife Frances, and a trip back to the Northern Neck of Virginia. See you on down the road.

*  *   *   *  *   *   *  *   *   *

[1]FHL Film 158,674, Oglethorpe Deed Book C: 434, deed of 15 Aug 1799 from George Martin to Claybourne Martin, 147 acres.

[2]FHL Film 158,674, Oglethorpe Deed Book D: 5, deed of 29 Jan 1800 from George Martin to Gibson Martin, 175 acres.

[3]Ingmire, Oglethorpe County, Georgia Marriage Records, marriage bonds dated 22 Sep 1800 for (1) Gibson Martin and Sally Buckley and (2) Sally Martin and Elisha Hernie (sic).

[4]FHL Film 177,698, Oglethorpe County, GA Superior Court Tax Digests, 1795-1803, 1805; FHL Film 177,699, Oglethorpe County, GA Superior Court Tax Digests, 1806 – 1815.

[5]Historic Oglethorpe Co., Inc., Cemeteries of Oglethorpe County, Georgia (Fernandina Beach, FL: Wolfe Publishing Co., 1995). Gibson’s tombstone reads “Gibson Martin, 10 Sep 1770 – 2 May 1809, grandfather.”

[6]FHL Film 158,675, Oglethorpe Co., GA Deed Books E – G, 1806 – 1812, deed of 14 Feb 1811, Elisha Herren to John Mitchell, both of Oglethorpe, 150 acres on the waters of Big Cr. adjacent Widow Martin and Pope. Deed Book G: 49. Widow Martin might be either Sally Buckley Martin, Gibson’s widow, or Elizabeth Martin, George’s widow.

[7]FHL Film 177,700, Oglethorpe County, GA Superior Court Tax Digests, 1816 – 1824.

[8]Historic Oglethorpe, Cemeteries of Oglethorpe County, Georgia, abstract of Sally Buckley Martin’s tombstone: 21 Aug 1770 – 1 Feb 1863, “grandmother.”

[9]Ingmire, Oglethorpe County Marriage Records.

[10]FHL Film 158,687, Oglethorpe Co., GA Deed Books L and M, 1823 – 1823, Deed Book M: 289.

[11]Ingmire, Oglethorpe County Marriage Records.

[12]FHL Film 158,679, Oglethorpe Co., GA Deed Book N, 1829 – 1834, Deed Book N: 390.

[13]See, e.g., 1850 census, listing for John Martin, 44, dwl 205; Anna Butler, 49, dwl 280; FHL Film 1,894,009, noncupative will of John Martin given on 23 Oct 1863, witnesses included Amy Butler.

[14]FHL Film 158,680, Oglethorpe Co., GA Deed Books O and P, 1834 – 1841, Oglethorpe Deed Book O: 214, deed of 30 Dec 1834, Elijah Martin of Oglethorpe to John Martin of same, $1,000, a tract adj Benjamin Blanton, John Harris, Wilie Pope, Elisha Strong, Benj. Pope and Blanton M. Hill.

[15]Id., Oglethorpe Deed Book O: 212, deed of 26 Oct 1835, William W. Edwards of Lumpkin Co., GA to John Martin of Oglethorpe, $100, Edwards’ claim to “the Martin lot” adjacent Pope, Blanton and others; 1850 census, Lumpkin Co., GA, p. 38, dwl 104, listing for W. W. Edwards, 50, b. GA, Catharine Edwards, 46, b. GA, and Ann Edwards, 25, b. GA.

[16]Id., Oglethorpe DB N: 391, deed of 10 Mar 1830, Smithfield Martin of Walton Co., GA to John & Elijah Martin of Oglethorpe, Smithfield’s interest as an heir of Gibson Martin to land where John & Elijah live, $100. Interestingly, a 14-year-old male named Smithfield Martin was enumerated in the 1880 census in Austin, Travis County, Texas. Smithfield was born in Alabama, and both of his parents were born in Georgia. Odds are that Smithfield of Austin was the grandson of Smithfield Martin of Oglethorpe, Walton & Coweta, Georgia. It is probably possible to connect those dots, I just haven’t tried to do so.

[17]Farmer, abstract of Elbert Co., GA Deed Book A: 128.

[18]Id., abstract of Elbert Co., GA Deed Book A: 50.

[19]Farmer, abstract of Wilkes Co., GA Deed Book OO: 60.

[20]Id., abstract of Wilkes Co., GA Deed Book PP: 1.

[21]Frank Parker Hudson, Wilkes County, Georgia Tax Records, 1785 – 1805, Volume Oneand Volume Two(Atlanta: 1996).

[22]Id.

[23]Grace Gillam Davidson, Georgia DAR, Historical Collections of the Georgia Chapters, Daughters of the American Revolution, Volume III, Records of Elbert County, Georgia(Atlanta: Stein Printing Co., 1930, reprint by Georgia Genealogical Reprints, Vidalia, GA), abstract of Elbert Co., GA Will Book K: 55

[24]Several Skinners appeared in Perry Co., AL along with the Martins, including James and George Martin Skinner, proved sons of Archer and Clara Skinner of Elbert Co. Other Skinners in the Perry Co. records included Claiborne, Clara, and William G. Skinner. Claiborne and William G. Skinner were both born in Georgia and would have “fit” in the 1820 census profile for Clara Skinner in Elbert Co., GA, which included three males not identified in Archer’s will.

[25]Claiborne Skinner was listed as a head of household in the Perry Co. census for 1840, see p. 268 (born 1800 – 1810). In 1850, he was enumerated in Kemper Co., MS, p. 198, dwl 869, listing for Claiborne Skinner, 44, b. GA.