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

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Brown (Braun) Family Of Rowan & Surry County, NC...Part 3

Brown Road in Yadkin County, NC
(vicinity of John Brown homestead)

Of the eleven children of Jacob "The Wagonmaker" Brown, it was his son John who decided to pass on the family migration to Tennessee and remain behind in North Carolina. As I mentioned in an earlier post, John Brown had been born in Rowan County, NC around the year 1762 and quite possibly left for Surry County, NC in 1780. I say "quite possibly" because it is on April 3 of this year that a land grant of 100 acres in Surry County is issued to a John Brown by the governor at the time, Richard Caswell. Unfortunately, the grant makes no mention of any indentifying waterways or names of bordering landowners to definitively say it was this John Brown; although, the 1786 county tax list for Captain Sanders' District would indicate the possibility because John Brown is shown owning 300 acres by that point in time. Of these 300 acres, apart from this possible land grant, only 100 acres can be accounted for definitively through deed by the year 1786. This transaction occurred on December 8, 1786 when John Brown purchased 100 acres on the actual bank of North Little Hunting Creek from Philip Britain and his wife Mary for the amount of 60 pounds. The deed describes the land as running "down the meander" of the creek, which is still visible to this day, and places this land at the end of modern-day Cliff Road off of Brown Road in the North Buck Shoals area of Yadkin County. There is a vacant land entry on record that was made by William Elsberry on June 14, 1787 involving 100 acres on Hunting Creek. The land is described as being "between Christian Brown, land Thomas Kell sold to Rotan, and a branch of Hunting Creek." The land entry also mentions that it was transferred to John Brown.

The way the vacant land entry system operated in the state of North Carolina at the time was that first an individual would find an unoccupied piece of land, pay a small fee, and then file a land entry, or vacant land entry, at the county land office. A waiting period would then follow to allow any individuals who may already own all or part of the land to come forward and dispute the individuals entry. If there were no issues at this point, a land warrant was issued and sent to the county surveyor to have the land surveyed. Once the land was surveyed and all fees were paid, which included the cost of 10 pounds per 100 acres at this period of time, a grant was issued from the governor. From this point forward, the land usually changed hands through deeds on the county level. No corresponding deed seems to exist for this transfer between William Elsberry and John Brown and I'm not really sure how it could have been transferred prior to the actual land entry, but the transaction is later backed up by a land entry made by John Brown on October 12, 1794 when he files for 50 acres on the waters of North Hunting Creek that border "Christian Brown, his former entry  No. 251, and Joshua Tolbert." It is mentioned once again almost eight years later in 1802 when John Brown enters a 150 acre land entry which includes "the plantation he purchased of William Elsberry."

Part of John Brown's 100 acre 1786 land purchase
from Philip Britain.
(North Hunting Creek is just beyond the trees.)

Despite being shown owning 300 acres on the 1786 tax list, by 1790 John Brown is only being shown taxed for 100 acres in what is now known as Captain Hudspeth's District despite him actually owning at least 200. With the constant discrepancies involving these tax lists, it may very well be that he was issued the 1780 grant. Another important fact to mention concerning the 1790 tax list is that it marks the first appearance of John Roark in Surry County. As I discussed in my post about Burrel Jones, the John Brown being discussed here did not marry Molly McCulloch in Rowan County as has long been believed, and it is this John Roark who has been put forth as a likely father-in-law. There are actually quite a few factors that could possibly validate this claim. First would be the fact that John's older brother David married John Roark's daughter Sarah in Rowan County. Despite the lack of a marriage record, the union is documented in a Washington County, TN deed dated December 1, 1796 between John Roark and his "loving son in law David Brown." The second piece of evidence pointing to this possibility is the fact that the Surry County court granted the administration of John Roark's estate to John Brown on November 14, 1804. Odd considering  there is no further mention of John Roark in Surry County after 1793, apart from this court minutes entry, and John Brown's eventual sale as estate administrator of 50 acres of land belonging to John Roark on the Long Branch to William Tulbert on November 8, 1817. Tax records from 1790-1793 show John Roark owning a varying amount of 240-340 acres without any existing deeds to cross-reference. It may be that John Brown was merely a co-administrator of the estate and chosen solely based on his proximity to the land still owned by John Roark in Surry County after he left for TN. Unfortunately, I've never been able to locate any other deeds or estate related documents involving John Roark in Washington County, TN either, apart from the single deed from 1796 involving David Brown. With all that being said, one must still ask the question why John Roark chose to relocate from Rowan to Surry County in such close proximity to John Brown in the first place. About all that is known about John Brown's wife with any certainty, is that her name was Mary, or sometimes Molly, and that she was born in Pennsylvania around 1764 as per the 1850 Census for Surry County, NC.       

Administration of the Estate of John Rowark to John Brown.
November 14, 1804 ~ Surry County, NC

On August 16, 1796 John Brown makes a second 100 acre purchase from Philip Britain who had since relocated to Burke County, NC. The land was most likely adjacent the 1786 purchase and is described as being "on the north bank of the North Fork of Hunting Creek" and starting on "Rotten's ford on said creek." The deed was witnessed by a George Brown and John Pettyjohn. Roughly six months later John Brown acquires an additional 46 acres on Hunting Creek from his neighbor Christian Brown on February 4, 1797. Once again the deed is witnessed by a George Brown, who I expect was most likely a son of Christian Brown based on their age difference and the sheer number of deeds involving the two men together. Unfortunately, Christian Brown's connection to John Brown remains illusive; although, I expect there is some sort of family connection between the two men considering John's grandfather was named Stephen Christian Braun and the the two men arrived in the same area of Surry County around the same time. If there is a family connection, I would guess that Christian was most likely a cousin to John Brown.

For the next three years John Brown would continue to purchase more land along North Little Hunting Creek, starting with 179 acres he bought from Jacob Roughton on August 28, 1799 for the relatively cheap amount of 40 pounds. The land is described as being adjacent land already owned by John Brown and once again mentions "the meander" on the creek. The deed was witnessed by Josiah Roughton and Windle Cook. It is generally believed that Jacob and Josiah Roughton were brothers and the sons of the David Rhoton that witnessed John Brown's 1786 land purchase from Philip Britain. The Roughtons were one of several tightly interwoven families who had come to the area from Sussex County, Delaware. Jacob and Josiah's sister Eunice Roughton had married George Messick who was also originally from Sussex County, and their sister Pollyanna Roughton had married a man named Joseph Roark Salmons also from Sussex County. Isaac Jones' son Thomas owned land adjacent Joseph Salmons in 1818, and it was Josiah's son James Roughton who later purchased land owned by Isaac's son Wiley in Warren County, TN in the 1820's. This same James Roughton had married Nellie Messick who was the daughter of George Messick's brother Richard.

May 15, 1799 Surry County, NC Court order 
to lay off a road in the vicinity of Hunting Creek.

John Brown certainly had a very close tie with the family of George Messick, considering his oldest son Henry married George Messick's daughter Lucia (Luah) on October 7, 1808 in Surry County. With no existing county marriage bond, it's very fortunate that the event was seen as an affair worthy of having announced in the October 20, 1808 edition of the Raleigh Register newspaper. Twelve years later on July 14, 1820, John's son John Jr. married one of George Messick's other daughters named Lovey Messick. Lucia and Lovey's brother Leonard Messick went on to marry a woman named Elizabeth Verlinda Windsor, who also shared the same surname as their father George's mother Rebecca Windsor. Elizabeth's father Isaac Windsor lived adjacent to a man named Iley Denny who has a somewhat bizarre connection to Isaac Jones. Iley, also known as Azariah, had a sister named Elizabeth who married a man named Priddy Meeks. Priddy and Elizabeth's granddaughter Keziah Meeks Carter married Isaac Jones' grandson John Logan Jones some 40 years later in Arkansas. Not only this, but Keziah's son James Carter was the second husband of Isaac Jones' great-granddaughter Lucy Jones Gist, which also happened some 50 years after Isaac and his family had left Surry County.

Both George Messick and Josiah Roughton would act as witnesses for John Brown's next purchase of 50 acres of land from Jacob Roughton on October 23, 1800. Once again the land was located on the north side of Hunting Creek and listed adjacent John Brown's prior purchase from Jacob Roughton and the property of a man named William Wooldridge. Three days prior to this transaction on October 3, John Brown had purchased 100 acres for 60 pounds from Noel Wadel (Waddel) which lay adjacent to the 50 acres he would soon buy from Jacob Roughton. This deed was also witnessed by George Messick and Josiah Roughton and this purchase is most likely what led to John Brown acting as a witness for Noel Waddel's sale of land to Isaac Jones in 1801. John would eventually sell this 100 acre parcel to his son Daniel on October 28, 1816 and Isaac Jones would eventually sell his second 1814 purchase from Noel Waddle to Daniel Brown in 1823. John Brown's last known land purchase in Surry County would be a state land grant for 50 acres issued on December 9, 1802. The grant was derived from the 150 acre land entry I mentioned earlier dated February 10, 1802 and described as "joining his own land, Christian Brown's and others, including the plantation he purchased of William Elsberry." Due to the inclusion of the 100 acre William Elsberry plantation he already owned, the end amount granted was only 50 acres. What is interesting about this particular 50 acres is that it is the exact same 50 acres he filed a land entry for in 1794 which can be seen in the corresponding original entry date of October 12, 1794 on the grant. Based on known land purchases only, by 1802 John Brown owned at least 725 acres along North Hunting Creek in Surry County. There is mention in the Surry County Court Minutes of a "bill of sale" from James Frazier to John Brown being "proved by the oath of Thomas Wright", but there is nothing more to indicate that it involved the purchase of any land and could have been for just about anything.

1815 Surry County, NC Tax List
Capt. Jones District
(John Brown Sr. ~ bottom left)

One document of particular interest from 1800 involving John Brown is the federal census for that year. What makes this census stand apart from any of the others he is listed on, is the fact that he is shown with one free person of color and two slaves in the household. At no point prior to or after 1800 is there any mention found of John Brown purchasing, inheriting, or owning slaves. A Brown family researcher named Cindy Schroeder had pointed out to me that the 1815 county tax list shows a Mary Brown listed above John Brown Sr. and being taxed for one black poll, opening the possibility that John's wife Mary was the actual owner of the slave/slaves. While I suppose possible, it would certainly mark a rare occurrence of a married woman being taxed on individual property considering that in most cases that would only occur if the woman were an unmarried adult or widow. The 1800 census listing in question is most certainly the correct John Brown based on other individuals listed in the district, as well as, the number and ages of the family members is dead on in accounting for the eight children they had at the time: Henry (ca 1784), John Jr. (ca 1786), Daniel (ca 1787), Susannah (ca 1792), Isaac (ca 1794), Nancy/Polly (ca 1795), Elizabeth (1799), and James (1800). John and Molly would have their last child Thomas A. in 1803. I have John Jr. listed as being older than Daniel primarily based on how they are named in their father's will, although, if the information is accurate, the 1820 Census would seem to indicate that Daniel was actually the older of the two.

To be continued...........      

1780 NC Land Grant to John Brown in Surry County (page 1)

1780 NC Land Grant to John Brown in Surry County (page 2)

1786 Surry County, NC Deed ~ Philip Britain & wife Mary to John Brown

1796 Surry County, NC Deed ~ Philip Britain to John Brown (page 1)

1796 Surry County, NC Deed ~ Philip Britain to John Brown (page 2)

1797 Surry County, NC Deed ~ Christian Brown to John Brown (page 1)

1797 Surry County, NC Deed ~ Christian Brown to John Brown (page 2)

1799 Surry County, NC Deed ~ Jacob Roughton to John Brown

1800 Surry County, NC Deed ~ Jacob Roughton to John Brown & 1800 Surry County, NC Deed ~ Noel Wadel to John Brown (page 1)

1800 Surry County, NC Deed ~ Noel Wadel to John Brown (page 2)

1802 NC Land Grant to John Brown (page 1)

1802 NC Land Grant to John Brown (page 2) 


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