Isaac Jones homestead (1837-1851) Calloway County, KY

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The 1790 Federal Census

Knowing that Isaac Jones was definitely in Rowan County, NC as early as 1798 and living somewhere in the state as early as 1788, the next logical step would be to have a look at the 1790 Federal Census. At this point in time in his life, counting only his known to exist children, Isaac would have had two sons (Thomas & Wiley). Instantly a challenge presents itself here because in 1790 there are two individuals named Isaac Jones residing in Rowan County, and as many as seven others statewide. These additional seven are for the most part easily eliminated based on the household information that was given being grossly out of proportion to what Isaac's would have been at the time, or due to them showing up in the same location on the subsequent 1800 Census and beyond. Despite being one of the seven to fall into this category, the Isaac Jones residing in Rutherford County, NC is an interesting candidate and has some intriguing aspects to him which I'll be discussing at a later time.

Unfortunately, neither of the two Isaac Jones listed in Rowan County come up as a match either. One of them being a Major Isaac Jones who was living in the same general area of interest, although in the Dutchman's Creek and Bear Creek area. He remained in the county until his death in 1801 and is buried in the town of Mocksville. The other being an Isaac Jones who was living in the southeastern part of Rowan County in the vicinity of Abbotts Creek which is now currently part of Davidson County. As with the other Isaac mentioned, records indicate that he also continued to live in the same area up until his time of death.

The thing to keep in mind here is that this was the very first federal census, so there is really no guarantee that every head of household would've been counted, especially in what was then still considered the frontier region of North Carolina. The other thing to keep in mind is that if we are to assume Isaac was in fact born in 1769, he would've only been 21 at the time, easily leaving open the possibility that he was living in someone else's household such as his parents, his wife's parents, or even possibly an older sibling; something that was quite common at the time.

While only having listed two on the 1790 Census, Rowan County records indicate that there were actually as many as four men named Isaac Jones living in the county between the years 1767-1798. The earliest record being a land deed between Thomas Powell and his wife Elizabeth conveying one hundred and fifty-one acres of land on Polecat Creek to an Isaac Jones on January 14, 1767, obviously being too early to involve the Isaac which is the subject in question. Polecat Creek would end up in Guilford County with it's formation in 1771, further eliminating this Isaac Jones from any further discussion.

The next Isaac Jones to appear in the Rowan County records would be in 1778, as shown in a vacant land entry for one hundred and fifty acres along Hunting Creek. This is in fact the same Hunting Creek mentioned in an earlier post, although the section mentioned here is much further south and runs through present day Davie County, in the vicinity of Bear Creek. Although still too early to be the Isaac Jones in question, this vacant land entry does mark the first appearance of Major Isaac Jones in Rowan County, and serves as an excellent means to differentiate between the thirty-seven other subsequent land deeds that mention an Isaac Jones in some capacity between the years 1786-1797, the exact period in question. Of these thirty-seven deeds, thirty-six of them can be positively attributed to this Major Isaac Jones through connection to additional names mentioned in the deeds or through location of lands mentioned. Having arrived in Rowan County from Maryland around 1778 at the age of 22, he would go on to enlist as a private in 1781 with the 10th North Carolina Regiment during the American Revolution. After ending his service in 1782 he would eventually marry Eleanor "Nellie" Gaither in 1787. Nellie was the daughter of a nearby wealthy planter and war veteran named Basil Gaither. By August of 1789 he would be appointed deputy sheriff and eventually sheriff of Rowan County for the years 1790 and 1791. As sheriff, his primary responsibility was to act as the county tax collector. This gave him the power to confiscate property involving unpaid taxes which was then sold at auction and conveyed to the winner by him through deed. Many of the thirty-six deeds mentioned earlier and attributed to this Major Isaac Jones involve just this sort of thing.

The one Rowan County deed out of the original total of thirty-seven that does not seem to involve Major Isaac Jones dates to April 17, 1793 and shows an Isaac Jones acting as a witness for the sale of a lot in the town of Salisbury. On this day, Charles Hunt and his wife Elizabeth are selling part of Lot 3 in the west square of Salisbury to an Albert Torrence. The deed further states that "the lot is adjacent to the grantee Charles Hunt, Corbin Street, and Lot 11." This would be the same Charles Hunt who founded the town of Huntsville and was brother to Isaac's 1798 Cedar Creek neighbor, Andrew Hunt. I would imagine also that the Albert Torrence mentioned in the deed is somehow related to the Robert Torrence who is listed alongside Isaac Jones on the roster of local Freemasons that was discussed in my last post. Further analysis of this deed shows that it may very well hold the key to Issac Jones' earlier life, in addition to the possible identity of his previously unknown father. If one digs a little deeper into this deed you find that four years prior to this transaction, on May 9, 1789, part of Lot 4 right next door was purchased by a Thomas Jones from Michael Troy and his wife, with the deed specifically stating that the lot is adjacent Charles Hunt's Lot 3 on Corbin Street. This lot sits at the northwest corner of what is now South Main Street and West Bank Street in downtown Salisbury.

So we now have a Thomas Jones purchasing a town lot right next door to Charles Hunt from Michael Troy, another individual listed alongside Isaac Jones on the Old Cone No. 9 lodge roster of Freemasons. So who exactly is this Thomas Jones?

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