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

Monday, April 23, 2012

The 1st Wife.....???

Original Center Methodist Church Cemetery (est. 1796)
a.k.a. Cranberry Flats Cemetery

By the year 1810, Isaac Jones now had seven children: Thomas (1788), Wiley (1789), Alvina (1793), Burrel (1795), Lydia (1800), Jane (1803), and Joshua Douglas (1810). So who was Isaac's wife and mother to all these children? Unfortunately that question still remains unanswered. It's most likely the couple were married around the year 1787, but a thorough search of marriage records in Rowan and all surrounding counties has come up empty-handed. Apart from a family bible entry or church record, at this point in American history the only other documentation of marriage would have come in the form of a marriage bond. The marriage bond system was set up primarily to protect the rights of the woman getting married. If she already owned property or stood to eventually inherit property from her family, the marriage bond would be taken out in the county of her residence and paid for by bondsmen representing the groom to help ensure that the marriage was legitimate. A marriage bond wasn't required to get married and the cost alone, as much as five hundred pounds in 1817, caused many to simply bypass it and many churches to exclude it's use.

Despite not being able to nail down a positive ID for Isaac's first wife, my search has produced some interesting clues to her possible identity. Faced with a definite "needle in a haystack" type of situation, I figured the best place to start was with Isaac's earliest known land purchase from John Hill in 1798. What is most interesting about John Hill is that he married a woman named Margaret Logan in Rowan County on June 2, 1769 and the consent to marry was given by a James Logan. This instantly throws up a red flag due to the fact that Isaac's son Burrel named one of his sons John Logan Jones, and Burrel's oldest daughter Jeannette also used the name Logan when naming some of her children. Not only had John Hill married a Logan, but his brother Robert was married to a Mary Logan and his brother James to a Jane Logan. When James Hill died in 1780, the executors of his estate were John Hill and David Logan. Estate records also show that prior to his death, James and his brother John Hill had been the executors of the estate of James Douglas, another interesting name to pop up considering Isaac's youngest son was named Joshua Douglas Jones. I've seen where two sons of Robert Hill named Abram and Hugh had left behind extremely thorough accounts of their extended family histories written in 1837 and 1820; unfortunately there is no mention of a Jones in either man's account and the wills for most of these men mentioned have turned up nothing.

There is one other Hill of interest from Rowan County although I'm not certain of his connection, if any, to the Hill family mentioned above. His name was Henry Hill, and based on his 1799 will I would say he definitely had ties with the Methodist church. Not only had he named Hardy Jones and James Parks the executors of his estate, but as a stipulation of keeping her inheritance, if his wife Nancy were to remarry it had to be "a Christian man with the consent of her parents, James Parks, and Joshua Caton." Unfortunately his daughters are only mentioned as Margaret and Jane in the will.      

Another possible set of clues to the possible identity of Isaac's first wife are found in the Surry County Court Minutes involving a lawsuit first mentioned on November 13, 1804 and finally resolved on February 12, 1806. It involves two individuals by the names of Patterson and Erwin who are the plaintiffs and listed as assignees versus John Edwards and Isaac Jones the defendants. Two later listings of the case in court records dated February 12, 1805 and February 12, 1806, show the plaintiffs' names as Pattern and Erwin. The court minutes fail to reveal the grounds for the suit but it was decided by jury, who awarded the plaintiffs the sum of 47 pounds, 1 shilling, and 3 pence in damages. Witnesses for the plaintiffs were George Sparks, John Rose, and John Campbell. Of the three witnesses, Sparks and Rose were both locals to the area but court records indicate that John Campbell "proves 1 day and 300 miles" which I would interpret as being a round trip travel total. Prior to 1850, the Surry County courthouse and county seat were located along the Yadkin River in the town of Rockford which lay roughly 45 miles to the north of the town of Salisbury in Rowan County. Having possibly traveled the distance of 150 miles one way to appear in court, it becomes difficult to determine exactly where John Campbell lived. What is interesting though, is that a will exists in Rowan County for a John Campbell and is dated February 15, 1838. In this will, John Campbell is leaving some money to his nephew Adlai Cowan, the same Adlai Cowan mentioned in one of my earlier posts involving the loose estate document from Rowan County that also mentions Isaac Jones and Hugh Montgomery. Adlai Cowan's father was named Samuel Cowan, who was married to Jane the sister of Hugh Montgomery. After the death of Hugh Montgomery, Jane would next marry a David Campbell. And here's another interesting connection I should note in regards to the Cowans. You may recall me mentioning earlier in my post concerning Thomas Jones of Frederick County, MD, that the man who was appointed guardian to the daughter of the Thomas Jones who died in 1789 was named Samuel Barkley and that there was record of a Thomas Cowan marrying a Mary Barkley. The oldest daughter of Thomas and Mary eventually married a man named Joseph Erwin, one of the two surnames listed in the Surry County lawsuits against Isaac Jones. A marriage record also exists in Rowan County showing a John Edwards marrying a Francis Patterson in 1796.

I've seen where some Edwards and Patterson family researchers believe that the Francis Patterson mentioned above was the daughter of James Patterson and Francis Knox who lived on the south side of Third Creek in Rowan County. Third Creek was just north of Winthrow Creek and the School House Branch where the Thomas Jones who married Polly Lock was overseer of the road. Francis Knox was the daughter of John Knox Jr. who was the brother of the James Knox who married Lydia Gillespie (the grandparents of Pres. James Knox Polk) that were mentioned in an earlier post. If Francis Patterson was indeed the daughter of James Patterson and Francis Knox, this would once again somehow tie Issac Jones to these families through the Surry County "Patterson~Erwin" lawsuit. 

This situation gets even more intriguing when you look at the 1832 Revolutionary War pension application for a man named John Allison, who was living in Nicholas County, Kentucky at the time. In his application he states that he was born in Rowan County in 1759 and lived there up until moving to Kentucky shortly after the war. In regards to individuals who can testify to his "veracity", two of the men he chooses to list are named John Campbell and John Hill. Although he is an entirely different person, you may remember me mentioning that it was a John Allison who witnessed Isaac's initial land purchase in Williamson County, TN. The connection to this family becomes even stronger when you see a 4 year old girl named Amanda C. Ellison living in the home of Isaac's son Burrel on the 1850 Census for McCracken County, Kentucky.

Even Isaac's old Rowan County neighbor on Cedar Creek, Andrew Hunt, can't be completely ruled out as a possible father-in-law candidate. A will for Andrew Hunt dated February 13, 1801 does exist, but unfortunately despite some of them being married at the time, his five daughters are only mentioned by their first names.

One final place that may hold the key to cracking the identity of Isaac's first wife is the 1810 Census for Surry County and the fact that Isaac is shown owning a slave. As of now, no record has surfaced addressing how Isaac came to own this slave. There is a Rowan County deed dated February 15, 1796 showing an Isaac Jones and Thomas Dickey purchasing three slaves, as well as other items from a John Troy, but nothing else exists to link this purchase to the slave Isaac Jones owned in 1810. The possibility is also still out there that the slave was left to either Isaac or his wife through the estate of a parent. If there was one thing people made a point to keep excellent record of during this point in history, it was the transfer of slave ownership, so it's odd that nothing has yet to surface concerning this matter.

About all that is known about Isaac Jones' first wife is that she was born sometime after 1766 and died at some point after the birth of their son Joshua in December of 1810 and Isaac getting remarried in late 1818 or early 1819. Based on how little time Isaac waited to remarry before getting married his third and fourth time, I would expect his first wife may have lived even as late as 1818.

The quest to locate a grave for her has yet to produce any results either. The area of Surry County where they were living is located in the southern part of what became Yadkin County in 1850. During the early part of the 19th Century before public cemeteries came into fashion, most people had only the choice of burying their dead in a graveyard at a church or in a family cemetery on their own land. Often times, neighbors would have prior agreements with each other to bury their loved ones together in a sort of multi-family cemetery. With Isaac most likely involved with the church to some degree at this time, the nearest Methodist church would seem like the ideal place to start. If Isaac was in fact living in the area that I mentioned in my last post, it would put the Center Meeting House as the nearest Methodist church with a cemetery. The church was originally established in 1796 and lay just to the east of Isaac along the waters of Cranberry Creek which led to the cemetery being known as Cranberry Flats Cemetery. This seems like an even more likely burial site for his wife when Methodist records indicate that Isaac attended a quarterly conference at this church in July of 1825. Unfortunately the church would eventually relocate during the mid-19th Century, about two miles to the east, and the cemetery would fall out of use and become abandoned. Today the cemetery has for the most part been reclaimed by the forest with only a small handful of headstones from the 1850's actually having any sort of legible inscription. The remainder of the graves are either unmarked or marked solely with a worn or plain field stone, and church records are nonexistent for the time period. Reportedly, the earliest known burial in the cemetery was for Martha Vestal and her newborn infant in 1811. Martha was the first wife of Jesse Vestal who was a preacher at Center Meeting House and is listed on the quarterly conference minutes along with Isaac Jones in 1825.

It's just as likely that Isaac's wife was buried in a family cemetery that has long been lost to the general public's knowledge. Many of the people mentioned who lived near Isaac Jones and died around this time, or even as much as 20 years later, have yet to have their grave locations discovered. Unfortunately in these parts, farming and Mother Nature are pretty quick to destroy or reclaim a lot of these family cemeteries. The upside to all this is that during the short period I was volunteering with the Yadkin County Historical Society, I was told that the current Society president had been working on an update to the county cemetery book and had located over 100 new family cemeteries or single graves. So there's still some hope yet!

George Messick Family Cemetery, Yadkin Co., NC

George Messick Family Cemetery, Yadkin Co., NC
(the right side of that downed tree is balanced on top of the tombstone it landed on)


No comments:

Post a Comment