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

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Brown (Braun) Family Of Rowan & Surry County, NC...Part 1

Jacob "The Wagonmaker" Brown's 1760 land grant of 392 acres
from the Earl of Granville, viewed from the top of Dunn's Mountain
in Rowan County, NC. (city of Salisbury in the distance)

Of the many families that married into the immediate family of Isaac Jones, the earliest and probably most significant, is the family of his Surry County, North Carolina neighbor John Brown. With two marriages to this family's credit through the unions of Isaac's sons Thomas and Burrel, I think it was these marriages in particular that set the chain of events in motion leading to Isaac Jones and his entire family's eventual migration west. I also believe that despite the age difference between the two men, there is a very good possibility that Isaac Jones had crossed paths with John Brown at an earlier time in Rowan County, NC.

John Brown had migrated from Rowan County, NC to the Hunting Creek area of Surry County at some point shortly before April 3, 1780 when he received his first 100 acre land grant from the state. You generally see John's birth in Rowan County listed as circa 1767, but I believe that based on census records and his personal life events, he was more likely born circa 1762. John Brown was one of at least 11 children born unto German immigrants Johann Jacob Braun and Elizabeth Goettgen.

John's father, who was more commonly referred to as Jacob Braun, was born in Ruschberg, Germany in 1730 and had come to the Colonies as a boy with his father Stephan Braun (1701), his mother Maria Eva (Hamen) (1710), bother Johann Michael Braun (1732), and his sisters Christina Elisabetha (1734) and Maria Catherina (1736). The family arrived on the ship Glasgow at the port of Philadelphia on September 9, 1738 and eventually settled in the Lancaster County area of Pennsylvania. The original passenger list for the voyage can be viewed or obtained from the Pennsylvania State Archives and transcripts of the lists can be found fairly easily online.

The Braun family would spend the next 14 years at the most living in Lancaster County, PA. While living here, Stephen and Maria Braun would add 5 more children to their family: Anna (1739), Abraham (1742), Susanna (1746), Andrew (1748), and Mariah (1749). It is also while living in Lancaster County that Jacob Braun marries his wife Elizabth Goettgen, which is generally believed to have occurred around 1751 based on the 1752 birth of their first child Jacob Brown Jr. in Rowan County, NC. As with many German families living in Pennsylvania, the entire Braun family had decided to pack up and head south to the German Settlements in Rowan County, NC around this same time. The earliest mention in North Carolina state records of this particular Braun family finds itself in a land warrant for 640 acres in Rowan County from the Earl of Granville to Jacob Brown and George Smith dated April 10, 1752. To give you some idea of how long the land grant process took in the 18th Century; it was almost 5 years later that this land would be surveyed for a plat record dated January 7, 1757, and then Jacob Braun's 392 acre portion wasn't actually officially granted to him until July 29, 1760. The cost of the land was 10 sterling shillings and is described as being adjacent his brother Michael and "between John Dunn and the mountain". This mountain is more commonly known today as Dunn's Mountain and would put Jacob Braun's land on the north and south of modern day Stokes Ferry Road starting at Dunn's Mountain Church Road heading east. Most of this land today is occupied by the McCanless Golf Course. It is also important to note that once the family had arrived in Rowan County, NC, all county records begin to refer to the family as Brown instead of the original Braun spelling. For consistency and in an attempt to not create any confusion, I will do the same.

Despite not being listed on the earliest existing tax list for the county in 1759, Jacob Brown is listed on the Rowan County militia list for that same year. On May 25, 1759 he is called into service under Captain Morgan Bryan to scout the area for Indians involved in the killing of a local man named William Pincher. Two years after this event, Jacob Brown receives his second land grant from the Earl of Granville on April 4, 1761 for 479 acres on Crane Creek adjacent his previous grant and land belonging to Peter Smith. This parcel of land is located south of present day Bringle Ferry Road starting at the intersection of Earnhardt Road and heading east. Six months later he and his wife Elizabeth would turn around and sell 196 acres from his land holdings to his father Stephen Brown on October 22, 1761.

The year 1761 would also mark Jacob Brown's first appearance in the Rowan County court records. Apart from the usual proving of the aforementioned land transactions, one of the more interesting records from the minutes of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions for that year involves the court ordering on October 20, 1761 that Jacob Brown "deliver up Ann Kelley in discharge of his bail order" and that "the sheriff is to take her into custody." Unfortunately I have yet to find any further details involving this situation although I do know that Jacob Brown wasn't the sheriff being referred to in the minutes because that position was held by Benjamin Miller at the time. On this same day the court also ordered that an orphan named Mary Welsh be bound to Jacob Brown "for the term of 4 years and 6 months" on the motion of Jacob's neighbor John Dunn.

The following year on July 24, 1762, the county court minutes show Jacob as acting as a security along with Hugh Montgomery in the granting of letters of administration to Peter Mull in regards to the estate of Stuff'l Mull. What makes this even more interesting is that this Hugh Montgomery is the father of the Hugh Montgomery involved with Isaac Jones and the 1806 Rowan County loose estate document I discussed in my post "Thomas Jones of Frederick County, MD." This same year Jacob Braun and his wife Elizabeth would sell 134 acres of his land adjacent Peter Smith on January 22, 1762 to John Giliha (Gilihee) for the sum of 20 pounds.

Rowan County court minutes indicate that Jacob's father Stephen had passed away at some point prior to January 14, 1763 when the court ordered that letters of administration for his estate be granted to Eve and Jacob Brown. I feel this is an important document because researchers have generally felt that Stephen's wife  Maria Eva had died before him sometime around 1750, when in fact, the Eve mentioned in this document is most likely her.

The following year on April 10, 1764, Jacob and his wife "Eliza" sell another 157 acres of his second Granville Grant to Melker Eller for the amount of 15 pounds. Two years later Jacob would be appointed a constable by the courts on July 9, 1766, serving only six months before being replaced by Samuel Smith on January 15, 1767.

By March 16, 1772, Jacob had set his eye on the town of Salisbury where he purchased Lot 51 in the north square of town for the amount of 20 shillings from a man named Hugh Forster. This same year on February 8, 1772 he was appointed by the court to be the overseer of the road running from "Salisbury to the Dutch Meeting House." Two years later he would also be appointed the overseer of the road from "Town Land to John Hampton's." It is not until 1779 that you find any mention of Jacob Brown's renowned career building wagons which ultimately earned him the moniker "The Wagonmaker". The county court first alludes to it slightly on August 5, 1779 when it is ordered that George Hainline, the orphan son of John Hainline, be bound to Jacob Brown "to learn the trade of wheelwright until he is 21, being 17 years old last January."

Location of Lot #51 in the north square of Salisbury
owned by Jacob Brown from 1772-1797.

With the American Revolution in full-swing by this point, one might wonder if Jacob served in any fashion or lent his wagon-making skills to the cause. I have yet to find anything pointing to that, although his oldest son Jacob did serve with the North Carolina militia as proven by his pension claim registered in Washington County, TN. Rowan County court records from November 9, 1782 do have the elder Jacob Brown listed as an individual ordered to "shew court cause why their estates should not be confiscated" which would imply he had failed to swear the oath of allegiance to the state. The court record continues by saying that Jacob did appear in court and was discharged.

In the following years, the county court records continue to be peppered with Jacob Brown's name. On February 7, 1784 the courts once again bound another orphan named Frederick Sterns to Jacob Brown "for two years to learn the trade of waggonmaster." It is quite likely also this same Jacob Brown esquire, along with four other men, who produced for the court "a license to practice as attorneys, with certificate of  their having been qualified according to law and were admitted to the bar" on May 4, 1784. Continuing to branch even further out, on February 9, 1788 Jacob is granted a license to keep an ordinary (tavern) with his brother Michael acting as bail or security. This same year, Jacob buys another 100 acres on the South Fork of Crane Creek from Charles Dunn for 100 pounds on November 6, 1788. Two months earlier on September 23 1788, Jacob and his wife Elizabeth had sold 100 acres of land on the south side of the Middle Fork of Crane Creek to their son David Brown for the sum of 100 pounds. It is this deed where Jacob is first mentioned as "Jacob Brown, waggonmaker". The following year he is once again appointed as a road overseer, this time from the "Salisbury Mile Tree to Second Creek then to Fisher's Ferry." Also in 1789, Jacob sells the 100 acres he bought on the South Fork of Crane Creek from Charles Dunn to a man named Andrew Shobits on November 7 for the amount of 100 pounds.

By 1790, Jacob Brown was once again adding to his land holdings in the town of Salisbury by purchasing 20 acres adjacent the town lots in the north and west squares of town from Michael Troy on January 16, 1790. This land was most likely situated adjacent his Lot 51 because the deed mentions the land was once in the hands of Hugh Forster who had sold him the earlier purchase. Apart from one additional land purchase of 75 acres on Crane Creek from his brother Michael on July 7, 1792, the remainder of the 1790's is spent by Jacob selling off his land holdings in preparation for his move to Washington County, Tennessee.      

1760 Rowan County, NC Deed ~ The Earl of Granville to Jacob Brown (page 1)

1760 Rowan County, NC Deed ~ The Earl of Granville to Jacob Brown (page 2)

1760 Rowan County, NC Deed ~ The Earl of Granville to Jacob Brown (page 3)

1761 Rowan County, NC Deed ~ The Earl of Granville to Jacob Brown (page 1)

1761 Rowan County, NC Deed ~ The Earl of Granville to Jacob Brown (page 2)

1761 Rowan County, NC Deed ~ Jacob Brown to Stephen Brown (page 1)

1761 Rowan County, NC Deed ~ Jacob Brown to Stephen Brown (page 2)

1761 Rowan County, NC Deed ~ Jacob Brown to Stephen Brown (page 3)

1772 Rowan County, NC Deed ~ Hugh Forster to Jacob Brown (Lot #51 in the town of Salisbury)

1788 Rowan County, NC Deed ~ Charles Dunn to Jacob Brown (page 1)

1788 Rowan County, NC Deed ~ Charles Dunn to Jacob Brown (page 2)

1788 Rowan County, NC Deed ~ Jacob Brown to David Brown (page 1)

1788 Rowan County, NC Deed ~ Jacob Brown to David Brown (page 2)

1790 Rowan County, NC Deed ~ Michael Troy to Jacob Brown (page 1)

1790 Rowan County, NC Deed ~ Michael Troy to Jacob Brown (page 2)

1790 Rowan County, NC Deed ~ Michael Troy to Jacob Brown (page 3)

1792 Rowan County, NC Deed ~ Michael Brown to Jacob Brown (page 1)

1792 Rowan County, NC Deed ~ Michael Brown to Jacob Brown (page 2)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Bizzell Family of North Carolina & Virginia

Stony Creek ~ Nash County, NC
(formerly Edgecombe County)

I thought I might take a break from the Jones family for a short bit and focus on a few of the families that married pretty heavily into the Isaac Jones clan. With at least two marriages to their credit, first up is the Bizzell family from North Carolina, and more specifically the family of Hardy Bizzell.

Hardy Bizzell was born in Edgecombe County, North Carolina in the year 1769 and was one of 10 children born unto William and Hannah Bizzell. I have yet to discover much information on Hardy's mother Hannah, but his father William was born circa 1730 in Nansemond County, Virginia and eventually relocated to Edgecombe County, North Carolina at some point prior to October 12, 1763. On this day William can be found in the county records purchasing 400 acres on the north side of Stony Creek from David Braswell and his wife Nancy for the amount of 120 pounds. It is here where William and Hannah would spend the next nine years, until ultimately selling it all to a man named Richard Vick on January 6, 1772 for 160 pounds. A second deed from the year prior involving this same Richard Vick indicates that William Bizzell owned and most likely operated a gristmill during his time in Edgecombe County. Dated January 31, 1771 and involving Richard Vick purchasing 100 acres of land from Thomas Willis, the land is described as "beginning at the mouth of Bizzle's Mill Branch."

The Goshen Swamp ~ Duplin County, NC

By September 25, 1772, William and Hannah had moved to Duplin County where William can be found purchasing 470 acres on the north side of Goshen Swamp and east of  the White Oak Branch from a man named George Miller for the amount of 140 pounds. Five months later, William purchases another 40 adjoining acres from George Norris on February 17, 1773. In 1774 he receives a 90 acre land grant located on the White Oak Branch (Grant # 1570), rounding out his total acreage now to 600. A large portion of this 90 acre land grant lay between the fork of White Oak Branch and Hooppole Branch, which today can be viewed looking southeast from the intersection of Farrior Road and Albritton Road.

According to the book Revolutionary War Records of Duplin & Sampson Counties by Virginia and Oscar Bizzell, William served as a private with the minutemen of Duplin County and as a volunteer  in the Bladen County militia during the American Revolution. Ten years after his last Duplin County land purchase, William Bizzell is mentioned once again in Duplin County land records in a deed dated February 11, 1784 between Baker Bowden of Hanover County and John Bradley of Duplin County. The deed states that the particular piece of land in question lay in the vicinity of White Oak Swamp and bordered property belonging to William Bizzell. This location is confirmed even further a year later in a land deed dated July 19, 1785 between William Bizzell and Elisha Jernagan, in which William is selling 80 acres of land on the north side of White Oak Branch for the amount of 100 pounds. In 1791 William receives a second land grant on the White Oak Branch (Grant # 3167), this time for 100 acres located just south of the Wayne County line. The following year on March 24, 1792, William Bizzell purchases another 100 acres on the White Oak Branch from the same John Bradley mentioned earlier for the sum of 15 pounds. William would eventually sell this piece of land and a separate 110 acre tract to his son James on  August 29, 1795.

White Oak Branch (or Swamp) ~ Duplin County, NC
(where it crosses William Bizzell's 1791 land grant.)

Despite all of these land purchases and sales, Duplin County court records indicate that William Bizzell was not only a planter but a shoemaker as well. On October 23, 1793 the county court ordered that an 11 year old orphan named James Denmark be "bound apprentice to William Bizzell till age 21 to learn trade of shoe maker." This same James Denmark would later act as a witness to the writing of William Bizzell's will in 1800. While the more common definition of the word orphan would imply the child had lost both parents, the term was and is also used to describe a child who has only lost one parent. Although I can't say this with 100% certainty, based on the date of the court order I think there's a pretty good chance that this James Denmark was the son of William Batchelor Denmark and Mary Moye, which would also make him the brother of Margaret Denmark who later married William Bizzell's son Hardy. The reason I believe this to be a possibility is because it's commonly believed that Mary Moye Denmark died in 1793 and her husband William left the area, ultimately ending up in Warren County, Tennessee.  

William Bizzell would pass away in Duplin County, NC at some point between the writing of his will on August 6, 1800 and the date it was probated in court during the October term that same year. William had named his sons Hardy and Isaac the executors of his estate, the bulk of which was left to his surviving wife Hannah and the rest parceled out to his 10 children: Isaac, Hardy, James, Arthur, Rachel, Patte, Elizabeth, Sarah, Mary, and Nancy. Of these 10 children it would be Hardy Bizzell who would later cross paths with Isaac Jones in Williamson and Maury County, Tennessee. Hardy's mother Hannah would live at least another 10 years after her husband William's death as evidenced by her 1810 listing as head of household on the Wayne County, NC census.

As I mentioned earlier, Hardy Bizzell was born in Edgecombe County, NC in 1769. Hardy's first appearance in the Duplin County, NC records is on July 21, 1795 when he shows up in the county court records being charged with "begetting a bastard child of Zilphah Winders." Interestingly enough, court records also show on the very following day Hardy was appointed constable after having qualified and posted bond. Unfortunately I have yet to find anything further concerning this bastard child accusation except the interesting appearance of a Zilpha Bizzell on the 1860 Census for Wayne County, NC which is right next door to Duplin County. She can be found living in the household of Lewis Cogdill and although her stated age of 55 is about 10 years off from what it should be, I find this very intriguing and definitely merits a future closer look. Eventually Hardy would go on to marry Margaret Denmark in Duplin County on February 1, 1800. Three years earlier, Hardy made his one and only known Duplin County land purchase, buying 135 acres on Thunder Swamp from John Bradley in 1797. Based on later descriptions, this was most likely the northwest portion of the 300 acre tract that John Bradley had purchased from Baker Bowden in 1784 as witnessed by Hardy's father William.

1800 Duplin County, NC Marriage Bond
Hardy Bizzel to Margaret Denmark

Hardy Bizzell's new wife Margaret Denmark was born in Craven County, NC in 1784 to William Batchelor Denmark and Mary Moye. Her father William is thought to have been born circa 1735 in Hyde County, North Carolina and her mother Mary was born circa 1745 and also most likely in North Carolina. I think that William Batchelor was actually born no earlier than 1738, which is something I'll be discussing further later in this post. William Batchelor was the son of a blacksmith originally from Virginia named William Denmark who was born circa 1706. Little is known of William Batchelor's mother Mourning Moye, but interestingly enough she shared the last name of her son's wife. William and Mourning are generally believed to have relocated to Hyde County, NC sometime prior to 1735, but the earliest mention of them in county records that I've been able to find is a deed dated March 6, 1738 between John Barrow and James Barrow in which William Denmark acts as a witness. Three years later on June 3, 1741, William can be found once again acting as a witness for a land transaction between Deliverance Weeks and James Arthur.

The earliest deed I've been able to locate where William Denmark or his wife were a primary participant was on March 25, 1747 when William can be found purchasing 270 acres along Matchapongo Creek from Littleton Eborn for the amount of 250 pounds. Three years later they would sell 15 acres of land known as "Denmark's Point" to a man named Richard Leirmont for 14 pounds sterling on May 15, 1750. I would imagine this "Denmark's Point" was separate from their 1747 270 acre land purchase because the entire 270 acres eventually ended up in the hands of their son William Batchelor as seen in a Hyde County deed dated August 27, 1766. By this point in time William Batchelor is living in Pitt County, NC and the deed shows both he and his wife Mary selling the 270 acres to a man from Hyde County named Stephen MackDowell. The deed further states that "at Denmark's decease it fell to his son said William Batchelor Denmark as heir at law." Although the exact date of William Denmark's death is unknown to me, I do know that it occurred prior to June of 1758 based on a series of Hyde County court minutes from their "orphan book." They involve a man named Edward McSwain petitioning the court to grant him the ability to build a mill on Broad Creek (also listed as Deep Creek) on land owned by William Denmark's orphans and Isaac Sabanas orphans. The court grants his request and appoints three commissioners, one of which happened to be a Thomas Barrow, to lay off two acres of land for McSwain's mill and set a price on the land. With that being said, if one were to go with the 1735 birth date for William Batchelor Denmark, that would make him 23 at this point in time and would thus disqualify him for the legal definition of the term orphan which was reserved for children under 21.

Exactly when William Batchelor Denmark and his wife Mary ended up in Duplin County is unknown to me, but as I mentioned before, it is here where it is generally believed Mary Moye Denmark passed in the year 1793. In later years William Batchelor Denmark would end up in Warren County, Tennessee, coincidentally around the very same time Isaac Jones' sons Thomas and Burrel were in the area.

Following Margaret's marriage to Hardy Bizzell in 1800 the couple would have 10 children: John (1800-NC), Stephen (1801-NC), James (1804-NC), William (1805-NC), Michy (1808-NC), Henry (1811-NC?), Sarah C. (1812-TN), Betsy (1813-TN), Lucy (1815-TN), and Thomas G. (1817-TN). On February 25, 1811, Hardy would sell his 550 acre plantation on the east side of White Oak Swamp in Duplin County to his brother James Bizzell for $700 and pack his family up for the move to Williamson County, Tennessee. By 1840, the family had relocated just to the south to Maury County, TN and it could have been at any point between 1827 and the 1830 marriage of his daughter Sarah to Joshua Douglas Jones that the two families came into contact. Many of the Bizzells from this family would leave the area for western Kentucky with the Isaac Jones clan. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Hardy's son Thomas G. Bizzell would later marry Isaac Jones' granddaughter Nancy Caroline Sparks in Calloway County, KY on March 29, 1836.

Despite once owning a 550 acre plantation back in North Carolina, it would appear that by the time of Hardy Bizzell's death in Maury County, TN in 1848 he had fallen on hard times. The book Maury County Cousins: Family and Bible Records Vol. 2 written and published by the Maury County Historical Society contains a list of people in the county who were supplied "pauper coffins" and Hardy Bizzell ends up making the list. Court records indicate that a man named John C. Ware was reimbursed $5 "for one walnut coffin for Hardy Bizzell" and that "the coffin was 6 1/2 feet long and had a raised lid." Very strange situation considering he still had children living in the area. Having not been able to locate his wife Margaret on the 1850 Census I would assume that she had most likely died prior to Hardy's passing.

1738 Bath County, NC Deed ~ John Barrow to James Barrow (William Denmark as witness) page 1

1738 Bath County, NC Deed ~ John Barrow to James Barrow (William Denmark as witness) page 2

1738 Bath County, NC Deed ~ John Barrow to James Barrow (William Denmark as witness) page 3

1741 Hyde County, NC Deed ~ Deliverance Weeks to James Arthur 9William Denmark as witness) page 1

1741 Hyde County, NC Deed ~ Deliverance Weeks to James Arthur (William Denmark as witness) page 2

1747 Hyde County, NC Deed ~ Littleton Eborn to William Denmark (page 1)

1747 Hyde County, NC Deed ~ Littleton Eborn to William Denmark (page 2)

1750 Hyde County, NC Deed ~ William Denmark & wife Mourning to Richard Leirmont (page 1)

1750 Hyde County, NC Deed ~ William Denmark & wife Mourning to Richard Leirmont (page 2)

1763 Edgecombe County, NC Deed ~ David and Nancy Braswell to William Bizzell (page 1)

1763 Edgecombe County, NC Deed ~ David and Nancy Braswell to William Bizzell (page 2)

1766 Hyde County, NC Deed ~ William Batchelor Denmark & wife Mary to Stephen MackDowell (page 1)

1766 Hyde County, NC Deed ~ William Batchelor Denmark & wife Mary to Stephen MackDowell (page 2)

1771 Edgecombe County, NC Deed ~ Thomas Willis to Richard Vick

1772 Edgecombe County, NC Deed ~ William and Hannah Bizzell to Richard Vick (page 1)

1772 Edgecombe County, NC Deed ~ William and Hannah Bizzell to Richard Vick (page 2)

1772 Duplin County, NC Deed ~ George Miller to William Bizzell (page 1)

1772 Duplin County, NC Deed ~ George Miller to William Bizzell (page 2)

1773 Duplin County, NC Deed ~ George Norris to William Bizzell (page 1)

1773 Duplin County, NC Deed ~ George Norris to William Bizzell (page 2)

1792 Duplin County, NC Deed ~ J. Bradley to William Bizzell

1795 Duplin County, NC Deed ~ William Bizzell to James Bizzell (page 1)

1795 Duplin County, NC Deed ~ William Bizzell to James Bizzell (page 2)

1797 Duplin County, NC Deed ~ John Bradley to Hardy Bizzell (page 1)

1797 Duplin County, NC Deed ~ John Bradley to Hardy Bizzell (page 2)

1800 Duplin County, NC Will ~ William Bizzell (page 1)

1800 Duplin County, NC Will ~ William Bizzell (page 2)

1811 Duplin County, NC Deed ~ Hardy Bizzell to James Bizzell (page 1)

1811 Duplin County, NC Deed ~ Hardy Bizzell to James Bizzell (page 2)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The George Messick Family Cemetery, Yadkin County, NC

George Messick Family Cemetery
(Buck Shoals, Yadkin County, NC)

George Messick (????-1846)

John Brown Jr. (1785-1834)
(oldest son of John and Molly Brown)

 George H. Brown (????-1839)
(son of John Brown Jr.)


The Michael Braun Family Cemetery, Rowan County, NC

Michael Braun Family Cemetery
(Granite Quarry, Rowan County, NC)

Michael Braun (1721-1807)
(brother of Jacob "The Wagonmaker" Braun)

Margareta Shamback Braun (1734-1771)
(wife of Michael Braun)

John Brown (1754-1813)
(son of Michael Braun)

George A. Brown (1820-1852)
(grandson of Michael Braun through his son David.)

Solomon Brown (1811-1863)
(grandson of Michael Braun through his son David.)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Stranger Than Fiction!

When working on my degree in American history, one of the core principles of research that was always driven home was....not to view the past through the eyes of your own time or through what conventional history has passed down through time. It's very easy to fall into the trap of assuming that this person did this or this person did that based on how things might have been. While conducting my research I've come across numerous examples that fall under the category of what I like to call.....stranger than fiction.

These are situations or actions, that for whatever reason, have been swept under the rug for the most part in the historical record and completely fly in the face of how you might think people conducted themselves in the 18th and 19th Century. To kind of change things up a bit on my blog, I'd like to periodically share some of these instances with you.

First up, I'd like to share something that I ran across in the North Carolina records involving a man who was petitioning the state government to grant him a divorce from his wife. During the Colonial Era and the early part of our country's independence, divorce wasn't common at all and at the time had to be granted by the colonial or state government through a petition. In the instance that I had run across, a particular gentleman was petitioning the NC court on the grounds that his wife had an issue with her personal fidelity. Now extramarital affairs aren't exactly uncommon, then or now, but in this particular situation his wife had slept with and become pregnant through one of his slaves. The proof was pretty evident when she had the child. Amazingly for the time period, her husband was able to get past it and let the incident slide and even supported the child as his own. According to his petition, the straw that broke the camel's back came when she got pregnant again and had a second "mulatto" child and he just couldn't "stand by it" anymore. One would think that this would have been seen as an offense of the gravest order in the 18th Century slave-holding South and certainly earned her at least a trip to the stocks, but the divorce was summarily granted and the only punishment the woman suffered was being denied any further financial support from her ex-husband.

We've all heard probably time and time again how white male slave holders used to have sex with their female slaves for both personal and business reasons. But what exactly were the women of the 18th and 19th Century up to while all this was going on? I think you might find yourself very surprised!

Here's a link to a website that contains abstracts to numerous divorce petitions from the state of Virginia, most of which certainly qualify for the title of stranger than fiction.

Early 19th Century Divorce Petitions From Virginia.