The earliest mention of a Thomas Jones in Rowan County finds itself in the Minutes of the Court of Pleas & Quarter Sessions and dates back to October 21, 1757. It involves a lawsuit between Joseph Bryan plaintiff and a Thomas Jones as defendant. This is most likely the same Thomas Jones that shows up on numerous land deeds between the years 1758-1761, acting as a witness along with a man named William Churton for the sale of lands owned by the Earl of Granville. From the sheer number and consistency of these deeds it would appear that this Thomas Jones may have been an assistant surveyor to William Churton or a land agent of some fashion for the Earl of Granville.
It is unclear whether they are one and the same, but around this same time another Thomas Jones is believed to have migrated down to Rowan County, North Carolina from Frederick County, Maryland. First mention of this Thomas Jones also finds itself in the Minutes of the Court of Pleas & Quarter Sessions of Rowan County from 1764. On this particular occasion, the court has appointed Thomas Jones, Frances Taylor, Matthew Sparks, William Sparks, James Whitaker, and several others "to lay out" a road between John Howard's ferry to the Salisbury-Bethabara Road near Reedy Creek and then from the ferry to Squire Boone's road. Interestingly, all the individuals I've specifically chosen to name had migrated to Rowan County form Frederick County, Maryland. The William Sparks that is mentioned would later move to Surry County where his son Matthew would be Isaac Jones' direct neighbor. Matthew Sparks' son named John would eventually marry Isaac's daughter Jane around 1819.
During this point in history, if one were assigned to take part in laying out a road by the courts, it is generally safe to assume that the individual either lived or owned land along the road's proposed route. The area mentioned for the road involving Thomas Jones is located in present day southeastern Davie County, right where the South Yadkin River connects with the main Yadkin River; leading people during this time to refer to this area and all of what is now Davie County as the Forks of the Yadkin. The John Howard's ferry that is mentioned, once ferried people across the South Yadkin just to the west of where Matthew Sparks lived. Later deeds show that Thomas Jones lived in the vicinity of Reedy Creek and Peeler's Creek just to the north. Further evidence that Thomas Jones actually lived on this road appears five years later in 1769, when the Rowan County court issues Thomas Jones a license to keep an "ordinary" at his house. Ordinary was the common term used for a tavern in the late 18th Century. Frances Taylor who was also mentioned in regards to the road, acted as a security for the license, as did an individual named Moses Peares.
Interestingly enough, four years prior to Thomas Jones getting his license he acted as a security along with Frances Taylor and William Giles, when the courts issued a license to "keep an ordinary" to a James Jones on October 9, 1765. It's important to note that the William Giles that is mentioned, later acted as the bondsman when Isaac Jones' Cedar Creek neighbor Andrew Hunt married Lucy Giles on September 27, 1764. William Giles was married to a woman named Mary Ellis who had a sister named Lucy that had married a man named Thomas Foster in 1763. Thomas and Lucy Foster had a son named Robert who would eventually act as a witness to a deed along with Isaac Jones when William Giles sells a parcel of land to a woman named Polly Freeman on January 29, 1798. Foster family researchers believe that it is also this Lucy Foster who would go on to marry a Joseph Jones in Rowan County on October 3, 1785 after the death of her husband Thomas Foster. The bondsman for Joseph and Lucy's marriage was James Foster, a man who had been appointed one of the first pastors of the newly formed Salisbury Circuit of the Methodist Church which had been formed from the larger Yadkin Circuit in 1783. There appears to be a strong connection between Thomas Jones and both Thomas and James Foster. Rowan County land entries for 1778 indicate that Thomas Jones and one of the Fosters set up a land claim together prior to 1778, which was eventually sold to William Johnston. The Foster involved in the land claim was most likely James due to the fact that he and Thomas Jones are listed adjacent each other on the 1778 tax list for the county.
There definitely appears to be a familial connection between the two tavern keepers, Thomas and James Jones. Rowan County court records indicate that the two men acted as "sureties" for the estate of the recently deceased John Jones in 1769. The records further state that John Jones' wife was named Catherine and that he was leaving behind a fourteen year old son named John. A 1778 vacant land entry record for a William Bailey, involving two hundred acres on the south side of the main Yadkin River, shows their close proximity to each other when it states the piece of land is "adjacent Thomas Jones, Joseph Jones, Zachariah Adams, Michael Dumpard, and James Jones." This close proximity is further illustrated in the 1778 Rowan County Tax list for Captain Lyon's District in which the following names are mentioned together: Thomas Jones, Henry Shouse, Michael Dumport, Zachariah Adams, James Foster, Thomas Foster, James Patterson, Benjamin Bentley, Francis Taylor, William Giles, John Jones, James Jones, and an Ezekial Jones, another James Jones, and another John Jones who are only paying a poll tax.
A closer look at some of the other individuals listed on the 1778 Rowan County Tax List for Captain Lyon's District produce even more connections to Thomas Jones and later Isaac Jones. The first person of interest is Henry Shouse, who a year later would marry an Elizabeth Jones on March 5, 1779 and Thomas Jones would serve as the bondsman. Later that year court records show both Thomas Jones and Henry Shouse acting as securities for Joseph Jones, who has been charged 2000 pounds by the court for being named "the father of the bastard child of Agnes Adams." If modern currency converters are to be believed, it comes as no surprise that Joseph eventually made a motion to appeal the charge, considering 2000 pounds has the same spending power as $287,000-$322,000 would today. The connection between Thomas Jones and this Joseph Jones is somewhat unclear and a case could be made that he is possibly a son or more likely a brother to Thomas based on his age. Either way, the pair is listed together as "Thomas and Joseph Jones" on a list of people having shown up at the Rowan County court on February 8, 1783 "to shew Cause under the Act of Assembly why their Estates Should not be Confiscated." This would imply that the two men had not sworn the Oath of Allegiance to the state as required after the onset of the Revolutionary War and declared by the Rowan County court on August 7, 1778. For those who failed to swear the Oath of Allegiance to the state, the courts decided, "All persons who have neglected or refused to appear before the respective Justices of the Districts where they may be resident, to take the Oath of Allegiance to the State as required by Law & have neglected to appear at this Court & offer Excuse for such Neglect or Refusal, depart this State within 60 days after the Rising of this Court to the West Indies or Europe-this order to be advertised." The two men must have eventually taken the oath because nothing ever came out of this and both men remained in the county for years to come. It may be that Thomas had already sworn allegiance to the state because county court records show that a Thomas Jones had actually done so on November 4, 1777.
Another individual of interest on the 1778 tax list for Captain Lyon's District is James Patterson. His son, also named James Patterson, was another popular early Methodist minister. He and his father would eventually relocate to northern Iredell County, North Carolina, just across the county line from where Isaac Jones lived in Surry County, where the younger James Patterson would serve as a local elder and steward of the Iredell Circuit of the Methodist Church with Isaac Jones in the 1820's.
Eight years prior to this tax list, county court records show that Thomas Jones was appointed constable of the district on February 16, 1770, replacing a Daniel Lewis and serving only a year before being replaced himself by Benjamin Bentley who is also listed on the 1778 tax list for Captain Lyon's District. I would assume that the general vicinity of Captain Lyon's District lay in the same area as many of these men could be found later in 1784. A vacant land entry from 1784 shows a man named Benjamin Buckner entering a claim for 200 acres on Peeler's Creek in the Forks of the Yadkin "adjacent Thomas Jones, William Copeland, and James Foster." Peeler's Creek lay just to north of where Thomas Jones and others had been ordered by the court to lay out the road near Reedy Creek back in 1764 that I mentioned earlier. An even later vacant land entry from 1793 states that an Obadiah Smith has entered a claim for 238 acres on the north side of Reedy Creek in the Forks of the Yadkin "adjacent James Andrews and Thomas Jones"; further proving that these two Thomas Jones are one and the same.
Unfortunately there is never any mention in the Rowan County records of the identity of Thomas Jones' wife. It may be that he married in Frederick County, MD prior to coming to Rowan County, NC. There is one marriage record in Rowan County that I find to be very intriguing and I feel it may be the key to connecting Isaac Jones as the son of Thomas Jones originally of Frederick County, MD, or possibly it sheds light on one of Isaac's previously unknown siblings. Dated October 23, 1788, the document shows a Thomas Jones marrying a Polly Lock with a Matthew Lock acting as the bondsman. Later records indicate that her real name was Mary Lock which comes as no surprise considering Polly was the common nickname for Mary. In 1788, there was only one Matthew Lock who would have been old enough to act as a bondsman to a marriage and that was Matthew Locke (1730-1801). At this point in time, Matthew Locke was a member of the North Carolina House of Commons and would later be elected to the 3rd United States Congress. He did have a son named Matthew, but he would have been too young to act as a bondsman in 1788 being at the most only 17 at the time. The only Mary Locke known to be connected to Matthew Locke Sr. is his daughter who was born in 1765 and his 1801 will indicates that she would've instead been married to a man named Edward Richardson. It may be that the Mary "Polly" Lock who married Thomas Jones was actually a sister of Matthew Locke Sr., definitely making the marriage more appropriate as far as age difference is concerned. Although, it was hardly uncommon to see marriages with a 10 year or more age difference during this time in history and well onward.
What is most significant about this marriage between Thomas Jones and Polly Lock is that it is this Thomas Jones who eventually buys the lot in Salisbury from Michael Troy that I discussed in my last post "The 1790 Federal Census". The same lot located next door to the one owned and eventually sold by Charles Hunt which Isaac Jones witnessed the sale of in 1793. Proof that these two Thomas Jones are one and the same can be found in the Rowan County court records where you find "the administration of the estate of Thomas Jones" being "issued to wife Mary Jones who must appear before a justice, qualify, and give 600 pounds with security" on November 6, 1789. Six months later on May 4, 1790, Mary would qualify and provide bond as "administer of the estate of Thomas Jones" with a man named William Cowan acting as "security". This connection is further made by the fact that Thomas Jones, along with Joseph Foster and Samuel Jones, had witnessed the writing/signing of William Cowan's will on August 14, 1789. This same William Cowan would've still been alive to act as a "security" for Mary Jones in 1790 because his will wasn't probated until 1791. William Cowan's son, William Cowan Jr., would eventually marry Ann Foster, the daughter of the Thomas Foster mentioned earlier in connection with Thomas Jones and the sister to the Robert Foster who along with Isaac Jones co-witnessed the 1798 William Giles land deed.
It's important to now take a closer at the Joseph Foster who also acted as a witness to William Cowan's will. Rowan County Vacant Land Entry records show Joseph Foster entering "100 acres on the ridge between Sills Creek and Cathey's Mill Creek adjacent his own line, George Gillespie, William Bowman, Hugh Montgomery, and perhaps William Cowen and John McConahy" in 1789. George Gillespie was the brother of David Gillespie who would later cite Isaac Jones as someone "I can refer to...for my character for veracity and their belief of my services in the revolution", when applying for his Revolutionary War pension in July of 1834 while both men were living in Williamson County, Tennessee. An interesting side note about David and George Gillespie is that their sister was the grandmother of future president James Knox Polk, who was representing the state of Tennessee in the U.S. House of Representatives during Isaac Jones' time in Williamson County. David and George also had a brother named Thomas Gillespie whose daughter married John Allison, the man who witnessed Isaac Jones' first land purchase when he moved to Williamson County, Tennessee. Two more Gillespie siblings had married into the Graham family, leading one to wonder if the William Graham that Isaac sold his Cedar Creek land to in 1801 bears any relation.
Another important name listed on the Joseph Foster vacant land entry is Hugh Montgomery. Based on the date, this is most likely the son of Hugh Montgomery Sr. who also had a daughter named Rachel who married Montfort Stokes, another man listed as a member of the Freemason Old Cone No. 9 lodge along with Isaac Jones. What is even more interesting is that a single receipt exists in the Rowan County loose estate documents dated November 6, 1806 showing that the sum of twenty-five pounds had been received from Adlai Cowan, "being part of a judgement", and seems to list Hugh Montgomery as executor and Isaac Jones as administrator. I use the word "seems" because my words executor and administrator are based on abbreviations next to their respective names on the document, and my own assumptions to their meanings in the context that this is a loose estate document. There is high probability that this is in fact the correct Isaac Jones despite him having left Rowan County by this time, due to the lack of any other existing Isaac Jones in the area at the time. Even having removed to Surry County, Isaac was still relatively close and within easy traveling distance of the area where these families lived. Unfortunately no other documents have surfaced in relation to this single receipt to help cast any further light on the matter.
It's also unfortunate that the Thomas Jones who died in Rowan County in 1789 didn't leave any sort of will and his estate was eventually probated in court. Court records indicate that an inventory and receipt of the sale of the estate was submitted to the court, although these documents apparently no longer exist. The settlement of the estate seems to have continued for quite some time because it's not until February 9, 1799 that the courts appoint Samuel Barkley as the guardian for Thomas Jones' daughter. Her name is difficult to make out on the document but it looks to read Kathy or possibly Hetty. The document is also signed by John Locke. This information is confirmed with another court record the following year in 1800 when the courts show once again that Samuel Barkley is the guardian for Thomas Jones' heirs and that Nathan Chaffin, the sheriff at the time, had seized the lot in Salisbury most likely due to unpaid taxes. This leads me to believe that the lot was being used as a business and not a place of residence...possibly another tavern?
The only other mention of Thomas Jones' estate in Rowan County records is a letter to the "inferior court" dated May 4, 1790 concerning "resolving dispute between the executors of Thomas Jones' estate and the executors of Lemeul Dotey's estate." This is interesting because in 1789 Thomas Jones was replaced by a Moses Dotey as overseer of the road near School House Branch of the Yadkin River. Although any creek with a school house somewhere along it could be referred to as the "school house branch", the only other mention I've ever seen of a School House Branch in county records is the School House Branch of Withrow's Creek which would certainly put this Thomas Jones down amongst the Gillespies, Allisons, and Cowans. Beyond this, nothing more has made itself known in regards to Thomas' estate and the connection and reasons for selecting Samuel Barkley as the guardian remain unclear. The name Barkley can be linked to the Cowans from an earlier time as evidenced by the 1773 marriage in Rowan County of Thomas Cowan and Mary Barkley. Records seem to indicate that the Barkleys were Baptists living in the Jersey Settlement area of Rowan County and that a Samuel Barkley died in the county prior to 1803. Barkley family researchers believe that Samuel Barkley also had a son named Samuel born in 1763, making it uncertain as to which one was actually the guardian of Thomas Jones' daughter.
With all this having been said, I have very little doubt in my mind that Isaac Jones is the son of Thomas Jones who migrated to Rowan County from Frederick County, Maryland sometime prior to 1764, and hence, was not born in Maryland as commonly believed. The only uncertainty I have is whether the Thomas Jones who married Polly Lock and died in 1789 is this same Thomas, or possibly instead the brother of Isaac Jones. While I'm sure many genealogists would be quick to say that what we've got here is just a mountain of circumstantial evidence, at the same time, if this was a case of easy answers wouldn't somebody have long ago figured it out? I know I'm not the first person to try to tackle this. Unfortunately when faced with a situation of nonexistent wills, bibles, or marriage records, you may have to settle for what on the surface seems circumstantial. Eventually that circumstantial evidence is going to pile-up to a point which pushes the scenario more into the realm of probable, and I believe this connection to be extremely probable. Often times I believe people, in their modern view of things, tend to forget how interconnected and extended familial relationships could be during the 18th Century especially in the American South. Sometimes it is these relations that can answer the questions just as clearly as having it spelled out in a will or family bible. As further proof of this, I'll leave you with this...
Polly Hunt, the granddaughter of Isaac Jones' 1798 Cedar Creek neighbor Andrew Hunt, was the second wife of a man named James Sneed. James Sneed was previously married to the cousin of Isaac Jones' second wife Bethania Bostick Hampton Perkins, who was named Bethania Hardin Perkins. All of whom, except Andrew Hunt, end up living in Williamson County, Tennessee around the same time.
See what I mean?
1799 Court Document Establishing Samuel Barkley As Guardian To Orphan Of Thomas Jones
1806 Rowan County Estate Receipt Showing Isaac Jones As Administrator
Map Showing The Western Half Of Rowan County, NC And It's Watercourses Circa 1790
Historical Currency Converter
(If any of these documents appear too small to view in the photo viewer, feel free to download them. They're high-resolution, so you should be able to zoom in and still retain clarity.~Chris)