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

Monday, October 29, 2012

The James Whitlock Family of Rowan & Surry County, NC...Part 3

Surry County, NC Court Minutes ~ February 12, 1801
James Whitlock  "road overseer"

Of the several children born unto James Whitlock and Sylvia (Jones) Whitlock, the child that merits a closer examination in regards to the topic of my blog, would be their son James Whitlock Jr. because of his son Bowen's marriage to Isaac Jones' daughter Alavina. As I mentioned in my first Whitlock post, based on census records James would have been born sometime between 1766-1770 and most likely in Rowan County, NC. With his first appearance on a tax list being in the year 1791 and only being taxed a single white poll, I would tend to believe his birth was most likely in 1769 or 1770.

Not long after relocating with his family to the Hunting Creek area of Surry County, NC in the late 1780's, James would marry Nancy Bowen the daughter of Thomas and Sarah Bowen. Based on census records, Nancy was born at some point between 1770-1774. Unfortunately an actual marriage record has yet to surface, but I would imagine it occurred in either 1789 or 1790. The 1790 Surry County census listing for Thomas Bowen would certainly lend itself to the possibility of the newlywed couple living in his home at that time. It's not until the 1793 tax list for Capt. Hudspeth's District that you see James Whitlock being documented owning any land, which at that point in time was 100 acres. I have yet to be able to locate any sort of document indicating how he came by this land. This would also be the case for the additional 100 acres he shows having acquired by the time of the 1800 tax list. My theory is that this additional 100 acres is the same 100 acres purchased by his father-in-law Thomas Bowen from Ashley Johnson Sr. on May 31, 1800 that I mentioned in my post concerning Achilles Whitlock. That would certainly explain how James Whitlock came to live near the Johnsons for the next 40+ years. If it wasn't just transferred by a now lost deed between the two men, it's possible that the land was part of the "two thirds of my estate real and personal" Thomas Bowen left to his grandson Bowen Whitlock "as soon as he is of age" in his will written later that same year on September 19. Despite Thomas further stipulating in his will that the land remain in the care of his wife until Bowen was of age, I would imagine that being Bowen's father, James would have to assume the tax liability on the land until that time came. With the remaining third of Thomas Bowen's estate going to his wife Sarah, this would seem to indicate that James Whitlock's wife Nancy was an only child. This notion seems to gain further weight when Nancy's stepfather Phillip Howard writes his will eight years later on July 28, 1808. In it he stipulates that "the eight children of Nancy Whitlock, grandchildren of my present wife are to have three dollars each to be paid to their father James Whitlock." With no other children or grandchildren of his wife Sarah mentioned, as also with the Thomas Bowen will, that would seem to indicate to me that Nancy (Bowen) Whitlock was an only child.

Although he doesn't mention them by name, it's very fortunate that Phillip Howard makes mention of "the eight children of Nancy Whitlock" when trying to determine James and Nancy's children. The 1800 Census makes it pretty clear that by 1800 the couple had three boys and one girl all under the age of 10, but by the 1810 Census and forward, there is always the presence of a possible second married couple in the home making it difficult to attribute children to James and Nancy. Of these eight children born prior to 1808, I've only been able to positively identify three: Bowen Whitlock, James J. Whitlock, and John Whitlock who married Hannah Padgett in Surry County on January 10, 1819. Other individuals I believe to be likely candidates are William Whitlock who married Nancy Myres on January 4, 1823 and Samuel Whitlock who married Theney Bowles on July 28, 1829. With James Whitlock's brother Thomas having most likely relocated to Warren County, TN by 1820, I feel the Thomas Whitlock mentioned as a buyer in the 1828 estate inventory for Sarah Howard is also a likely candidate as a possible son of James and Nancy. There's also a pretty good chance that the Rowland Whitlock seen nearby Bowen Whitlock on the 1830 Census for Lincoln County, TN is another son of James and Nancy, although, Rowland could just as easily be a son of James Whitlock's brother Thomas.

James Whitlock's undocumented land acquisitions appear to have continued, because by 1812, county tax lists for Capt. Hatley's District now show him owning 318 acres. Of these 318 acres, only a single 18 acre tract can be explained by any sort of existing documentation of transfer. This section of land located on Hunting Creek was acquired through a state grant issued to him on December 5, 1804 which he had entered a vacant land entry for back in 1800. A good indicator of the area where the Whitlocks were living can be found in the Surry County Court minutes where the court orders on February 12, 1801 that James Whitlock be "appointed overseer of the road in the room of Jacob Bolen from the Pole Branch to the Wilkes Line." Nine months later he would act as a witness along with John Brown for Isaac Jones' first land purchase in Surry County on October 10, 1801.

After scouring every deed book in Surry County, I've only managed to locate a single deed where James Whitlock acted as a primary participant either as a grantor or grantee. This lone deed was written up on August 20, 1814 and involved James Whitlock selling 100 acres on the Rocky Branch of Hunting Creek to Ephraim Padgett for the amount of 100 pounds. The deed was witnessed by James Parks and an indecipherable Whitlock which appears to possibly read as "Bo Whitlock". The selling of this land definitely corresponds with later tax lists for Capt. Denny's District now showing James Whitlock with only 218 acres of land.

The final mention of James Whitlock in the Surry County land records finds itself in a pair of deeds of mortgage involving his son James J. Whitlock in 1835. The first of these dated June 17, 1835 involves James J. Whitlock securing payment on two separate debts through the transfer of personal property. The initial debt involves a "judgement" against him by John Jones for the amount of $14. In exchange for a loan on the amount, made by Elisha Roughton and Jinkins R. Felts, James J. Whitlock puts up the following property as collateral: one bay horse about two years old, two cows and calves, and a yoke of small stears (sic). Once the judgement is paid off, the property is to then act as security against "four notes" totaling to the amount of $28.04 held against him by J. F. Dowthit (John F. Dowthit). In addition to the property already mentioned, additional collateral put up by James J. for these notes include: five head of hogs about two years old, two feather beds and furniture, one cotton wheel, one flax wheel, two pots, and all his household and kitchen furniture. The following month on July 24 James J. Whitlock writes up a second deed of mortgage to John F. Dowthit to secure "certain debts to the amount of thirty dollars." As security this time he puts up "all my crop of oats which I now have on hand and all my interest in the crop of corn and fodder now growing on the plantation where on my father now lives."

Both James and his wife Nancy (Bowen) Whitlock, now in their 70's, can still be seen alive and well five years later on the 1840 Census for Surry County. I've examined all the county estate records from 1840-1857, of which there is no mention of either James or Nancy, and neither of them appears on the 1850 Census for Surry County so I don't know what ultimately became of them. There is an intriguing listing for an 80 year old Nancy Whitlock on the 1850 Census for Alamance County, NC though. She is found living in the home of her daughter Rebecca who had married Robert Cheek in Orange County, NC on May 28, 1841. Now I've seen where there are some who have made the connection that this Rebecca was the daughter of James Whitlock and Nancy Bowen, but I've never seen anything presented beyond the census to back this claim up. This theory definitely presents some very interesting possibilities. The part of Orange County that became Alamance County in 1849 is roughly about 70 miles to the east of the Hunting Creek area of what was then Surry County. Not a great distance, even for that period of time. Despite this Robert Cheek having a long history in Orange County, the Whitlocks were certainly living around Cheeks in the Hunting Creek area of Surry County. It's certainly possible that the two groups of Cheeks were related, thus leading to a future encounter with Rebecca Whitlock if she is in fact a daughter of James Whitlock and Nancy Bowen.

The real mystery surrounding this Rebecca Whitlock's mother Nancy is the fact that she had an earlier connection with Orange County through a man named Charles Christmas. In his Orange County will dated September 1, 1811 Charles Christmas makes provisions for the raising, clothing, and schooling "of a child of Nancy Wilcox's  (viz) Rebeckah." I've also seen the name transcribed as "Willocks". It's assumed by most that this is actually meant to read Whitlock because Rebecca and her husband Robert Cheek would later name one of their children Charles Christmas Cheek. With that being said and assuming this Nancy Whitlock is indeed Nancy (Bowen) Whitlock, one must then ask; what was the connection between her and this Charles Christmas prior to 1811 and why his special interest in this one child who would have been two at the time of the writing of his will? And furthermore, if this was in fact Nancy Bowen Whitlock who was married to the still-living James Whitlock at the time of the writing of this will; why wasn't the wording phrased "a child of James Whitlock" which would have been more in line with the protocol of the time?

A closer look at the background of Charles Christmas does indeed produce a number of Whitlock connections going back to Virginia. Charles himself is believed to have been born in Bute County, NC in the year 1771 to John Christmas and Mary Graves. His father John's younger sister Agnes is believed to have married a James Whitlock in Hanover County, VA in 1730. The Nathaniel Whitlock found in Surry County in 1772 and the Charles Whitlock living in the Snow Creek area of Stokes County are commonly thought to be children of theirs, not to mention it is also believed they had a son named James. Some have come to the conclusion that this James is the James Whitlock that married Sylvia Jones, maybe, I've never seen much to say one way or the other. But if that is the case, that would make Charles Christmas and the James Whitlock that married Nancy Bowen first cousins once removed. Why exactly would Charles Christmas feel the need to provide total financial support for the youngest daughter of his first cousin's son who was still alive at the time and for many years to come? And once again, why would he not make mention of his actual living relative and father of this child in the wording of the will, but instead name the mother, who was only related through marriage?

I think it's pretty safe to say that what became of James Whitlock and Nancy (Bowen) Whitlock after 1840 still remains a mystery.

1800 Surry County, NC Deed ~ Ashley Johnson Sr. to Thomas Bowen (page 1)

1800 Surry County, NC Deed ~ Ashley Johnson Sr. to Thomas Bowen (page 2)

1800 Surry County, NC Will ~ Will of Thomas Bowen (page 1)

1800 Surry County, NC Will ~ Will of Thomas Bowen (page 2)

1808 Surry County, NC Will ~ Will of Phillip Howard (page 1)

1808 Surry County, NC Will ~ Will of Phillip Howard (page 2)

1814 Surry County, NC Deed ~ James Whitlock to Ephraim Padgett (page 1)

1814 Surry County, NC Deed ~ James Whitlock to Ephraim Padgett (page 2)

1835 Surry County, NC Deed of Mortgage ~ James J. Whitlock to J. F. Dowthit (also Elisha Roughton and Jinkins R. Felts)

1835 Surry County, NC Deed of Mortgage ~ James J. Whitlock to John F. Dowthit


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