Friday, January 25, 2013

Figuring Out Who's Who

Everyone has his/her own methods of research and what works for one person may not work at all for someone else.  I floundered around until I realized that creating a time line worked for me, and it is particularly helpful in sorting out people with the same name.
I’m a descendant of Daniel Grant, d. 1793, Wilkes Co., GA, and I’m interested in all of Daniel’s descendants, not just my line.   I've been researching the Grant family in Georgia on and off for 15 years.

I discovered on Ancestry that there are several trees which have Daniel Grant’s grandson, Thomas Grant, Jr., as marrying Susannah Barber and living in Crawford Co., GA.  I really don’t think that Thomas Grant of Crawford Co., GA, is the same person as Thomas Grant, Jr., grandson of Daniel and son of Thomas Grant, Sr., of Jasper Co., GA.  But I could be wrong and I'm always open to new evidence and ideas and points of view.

There's proof that Thomas Grant, Jr., was still alive in 1833, but it appears Thomas Grant of Crawford Co., GA, was dead prior to the 1827 Georgia Land Lottery.

Thomas Grant of Crawford Co., GA, may have died before 1828, because his "orphans" won land in the 1827 Georgia Land Lottery.  [My tree showing Thomas Grant of Crawford Co. is here:].  The law creating this lottery doesn't define the term "orphan," but in previous lotteries, a child was considered an "orphan" if the father was dead and the mother dead or remarried.
I may be completely misreading this since Susannah (nee Barber) appears to have been alive in 1840 and 1850 (S. A. Grant (female) appeared in the 1850 Crawford Co., GA, census and Susannah Grant appeared in the 1840 census).  Since her surname in both census records is "Grant," she doesn't appear to have remarried.  Since Susannah was neither dead nor remarried, I don't see how Thomas Grant's children could have been considered "orphans" in the 1827 Lottery.
The exact wording of the winners (from a transcription) is:  "Thomas, Elizabeth, William, Nancy & J. Grant, orphans."  These "orphans" were residents of Crawford Co., GA, and won Lot 170, Dist. 19, Muscogee Co., GA.
However, Thomas Grant of Crawford Co., was definitely dead by 1832 because in the 1832 Cherokee Land Lottery in Georgia, Susannah Grant, widow of Crawford Co., GA, won land.  This is why I think Thomas Grant of Crawford Co., couldn't have been the son of Thomas Grant, Sr., of Jasper Co.  Thomas Grant, Jr., (son of Thomas, Sr., & Frances Owen) was still alive in 1833, because on 1 Aug 1833 he filed for letters of dismission from the estate of his nephew, Thomas W. Grant, in Greene Co., GA.  I haven't seen the original of this filing, but notice of the filing appeared in The Georgia Journal, the legal organ for Georgia.
Additionally, in 1854, William V. Burney (the husband of Lucy Grant who was the daughter of Thomas Grant, Sr., & his second wife Martha (nee Waddy) and, therefore half-sister of Thomas Grant, Jr.) filed suit in Columbus, Muscogee Co., GA, over the trust Thomas Grant, Sr., left for his wife, Martha (nee Waddy).  The defendant in the suit was Alexander Spear (sic).  Alexander Speer married Mary (nee Baird), the widow of Thomas Grant Jr., in 1839, Troup Co., Georgia.
If anyone reads this who is also a descendant of Daniel Grant of Wilkes Co., GA, or Thomas Grant of Crawford Co., GA, please leave a comment.  I’d love to have a discussion about these people.

[I've tried and tried to get the timeline I created in a table format inserted into this blog entry and it just isn't working.  I've used a different format and hope it's easy to follow.  I originally tried to put all this information into one blog post, but got error messages when I tried to upload.  I think the page was simply too long, so I've put the timeline into a separate blog entry immediately after this one - Grant Time Line.]  If you go to the tab that says "Classic" in the upper left corner and click that, a drop-down menu will appear.  Click on "Flipcard" and you'll see a button which says, "Grant Time Line."  Click on that to see my second post about the various Thomas Grant's.

Grant Time Line

18 Dec 1808, Jefferson Co., GA        Thomas Grant married Susannah Barber

1820 Federal Census for Georgia
          Daniel Grant, Greene Co. - this is the son of Thomas, Sr.
          Thomas Grant, Jasper Co. - this is Thomas, Sr.
          William Grant, Wilkes Co. - this is the son of Thomas, Sr.
         Thomas Grant, Putnam Co. - I don't know who this is.
         Thomas M. Grant, Jones Co. - I don't know who this is.

       I don’t know where Thomas, Jr., might have been.

25 Mar 1821, Jasper Co., GA                   Thomas Grant married Hannah Coulson.  I don't know if this Thomas was the son of Thomas Grant, Sr., of Jasper Co.

9 Dec 1822 Crawford Co., GA was created from part of Houston Co., GA.

23 Feb 1825, Wilkes Co., GA  
     William Grant (son of Thomas Grant & Frances Owen) writes his will and names his wife, Keturah, and brothers, Daniel and Thomas, executors.  William Grant left 4 children:  
          Thomas W. Grant (1805-1832),
          Augustin L. Grant (1814-1871), 
          Ann Richardson Grant (1815-1887), 
          Eliza Jane Grant (1821-1835).

4 Jan 1826, Greene Co., GA Thomas Grant married Mary P. Baird.  I think this is Thomas Grant, Jr. (son of Thomas, Sr., of Jasper Co., GA.)

1827, GA Land Lottery, Greene Co., GA
          Thomas Grant, soldier, of Greene Co., won Lot 122, Dist. 8, Coweta Co., GA.  At this point I’m guessing this is Thomas Grant, Jr., simply because of the Greene Co., GA, connection.

1827 GA Land Lottery, Crawford Co., GA
          The exact wording from a transcript of the winners is:  "Thomas, Elizabeth, William, Nancy & J. Grant, orphans."  These "orphans" drew from Crawford Co., GA, and won Lot 170, Dist. 19, Muscogee Co., GA.

24 Nov 1828, Jasper Co., GA Thomas Grant Sr. wrote his will naming sons Daniel and Thomas Jr., daughter Elizabeth C__ (difficult to read and later discovered to be Cone), “Nancy (now Ragan), Augustine, Thomas and Eliza Jane, children of my son William Grant decd.," “my wife Martha (W? U? H?) Grant and my daughter Lucy Grant." Executors:  sons Daniel and Thomas, and Peter Grinnell.

1828 Thomas Grant, Sr., created a trust for the benefit of his widow, Martha H. (nee Waddy) Grant.  This is important because of a lawsuit filed over this trust in 1854.  Thomas Grant (Jr.) was the first trustee of the Martha Grant Trust.  I’m guessing the trust was created in 1828 because that was the year in which Thomas wrote his will.

1830 Federal Census for Georgia
          Thomas Grant, Greene Co., age 20-29 (If this age is correct - and ages recorded in any census are all over the place - I think this Thomas is too young to be Thomas, Jr. (son of Thomas).
          Thomas Grant, Putnam Co., age 30-39.  I don't know who this is.
          Thomas J. Grant, Habersham Co., age 15-19
          Martha Grant, Jasper Co., age 30-39.  I think this is Martha (nee Waddy), widow of Thomas Grant, Sr.
          Daniel Grant, Clarke Co. - this is the son of Thomas, Sr.
          Wiley B. Ector, Meriwether Co. - Wiley Ector married Keturah (nee Mills), widow of Thomas, Sr.’s son, William.

          I searched the census index at for Grant in Crawford Co., and couldn’t find anyone named Grant living there in 1830.

1831, Crawford Co., GA Sheriff's Sale: Crawford Co. Lot 249, 2nd District., Lot 9, 3rd District., property of John W. ELLIS, fi fas. (The Grants sold part of this land in 1845.)

1832, Greene Co., GA Thomas Grant (Jr. - son of Thomas Grant, Sr., of Jasper Co.) was the administrator of the estate of his nephew, Thomas W. Grant (son of William Grant).

1832 GA Cherokee Land Lottery, Crawford Co., GA Susannah Grant, widow, was a resident of Crawford Co., GA, when she won land in the Cherokee lottery.

1 Aug 1833, Greene Co., GA Thomas Grant files for letters of dismission from the estate of Thomas W. Grant.

30 Jan 1839, Troup Co., GA Alexander Speer married Mary P. Grant.  I think this Mary was the widow of Thomas Grant, Jr., because Alexander Speer was the defendant in the lawsuit over the Martha Grant trust.

1840 Federal Census, Georgia
          A. L. Grant, Muscogee Co. - this is Augustin (Augustine), grandson of Thomas, Sr.
          Daniel Grant, Clarke Co. - this is the son of Thomas, Sr.
          John T. Grant, Clarke Co. - this is the son of Daniel of Clarke Co., and grandson of Thomas, Sr.
          Thomas Grant, Putnam Co. - I don't know who this is.
          Thomas Grant, Savannah (Chatham Co.) - I don't know who this is.
          Alexander Speer (who appears to have married the widow of Thomas Grant, Jr.), Monroe Co.  (Alexander Speer was in Muscogee Co., GA, for the 1850 census.

          In Crawford Co.:
               Susannah Grant
               Thomas J. Grant

18 Mar 1845, Crawford Co., GA Susannah, Nancy, & Wm S Grant, & Matthew Slaughter sold part of the southwest half Lot 249, 2nd Dist., to James Cloud.

1846 Mary P. Speer (who  appears to be the widow of Thomas Grant, Jr.) died in Monroe Co., GA.

1850 Federal Census, Crawford Co., GA S. A. Grant, 62, female, and Nancy Grant, 30, are in the same household in the 1850 census.

1854 Lawsuit - William V. Burney vs. Alexander “Spear” was filed in Muscogee Co., GA.

William V. Burney married Lucy Grant, daughter of Thomas Grant, Sr., and his second wife, Martha H. (nee Waddy).
Alexander Speer apparently married Mary P. (nee Baird) Grant, widow of Thomas Grant., Jr.

1855 The Burney vs. Spear lawsuit went, on appeal, to the Georgia Supreme Court.
The genealogical facts contained the appeal are these:
• Thomas Grant Jr., was trustee of the Martha H. (nee Waddy) Grant trust.
• Thomas Grant Jr. died intestate (no date nor location is given) and his administrator was a "Col. Foster."  (Col. Foster may be Thomas Flournoy Foster who died in Muscogee Co., GA, in 1848).
• After Thomas Grant Jr., died, his brother, Daniel Grant, became trustee of the Martha H. (Waddy) Grant trust.
At some point, Daniel Grant was removed and William V. Burney became trustee.

I have the judgement of this appeal in my tree -

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Follow the Money

It took me forever to realize this, but a great way to uncover genealogical information is by reading lawsuits.  People sued each other all the time, particularly over the assets of an estate.  Assets include real estate, money, and, abhorently, slaves.  People were just as consumed with money, things that had monetary value, and keeping up appearances in the 19th Century as they are today.  if you’re fortunate enough to have ancestors who had money, land, and slaves, there’s a reasonable chance there was a lawsuit over the distribution of these assets.

Two wonderful on-line sources for uncovering basic information about lawsuits are Google Books and a database at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro Digital Library on American Slavery.

In Google Books, you can for example, enter the search terms,” Law  Equity  Supreme Court  Georgia” (Georgia is for the example - you can replace Georgia with the name of any state in which you’re interested).  Not all “Reports of Cases in Law and Equity” are available on Google Books, and the Table of Contents and Index in these books only show the title of the lawsuit (not the names of the people involved), but if you’re willing to skim through the books that are available, you can sometimes uncover some interesting information.

Once you pull up an e-book, you can also search within the book to see if the surname in which you’re interested is included in the book.

The Digital Library on American Slavery is particularly helpful.  This site doesn’t give extensive information about people/families who were party to the suits, but it often gives enough to allow you to make connections between people and can provides a boost for going forward with your research.  This database contains information on petitions filed in various courts and legislatures pertaining to slaves owned.

For example, I was stumped on the James Walker family of Central Georgia.  James Walker died about 1849 in Upson Co., Georgia, and I had a little information on his children and grandchildren.  Then, in the Digital Library on American Slavery, I found this interesting petition:

General Petition Information (filed in Washington Co., Mississippi, 1859)
Daniel Grant represents that his nephew, James S. Walker, was sued for nonpayment of debt in Georgia and that he, "being unwilling to see him go to jail," agreed to serve as his nephew's bail bond. Grant further relates that the said James "left the state of Georgia forfeited his bail bonds and your orator became responsible for the debts aforesaid." The petitioner reports that he followed his nephew to Mississippi and found him in company with Freeman Walker in Washington County "with a large number of Negroes." Grant reveals that the said James and Walker "executed a mortgage or deed to your orator" that authorized him to sell said slaves "to meet any responsibility he might incur as security of the said James." Noting that executions have issued against him for the payment of his nephew's date, the petitioner prays that said slaves be taken into custody and that the defendants be restrained "from running the said negroes out of the state."

It hadn’t occurred to me that any members of this Walker family had been in Mississippi, but, at least, I now had a specific location in which to do additional research.  And I discovered that James and Freeman Walker had a sister, Frances.  And that Frances Walker married William Coleman in 1857, Rankin Co., Mississippi, and then they moved back to Georgia where Frances and William Coleman were found in the 1850 and 1860 census records of Talbot Co., Georgia.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What's Her Maiden Name?

Another area which causes all sorts of confusion is figuring out a married woman's maiden name and making assumptions based on her tombstone, and her name in her husband's will and other legal documents.

Today, we're used to women (if they take their husband's surname) going by their given name, maiden name, then husband's surname.  Example:  Ruth Murray Jones married Samuel Smith.  After marriage, she uses Ruth Jones Smith.

The problem is that this naming practice didn't really exist until the middle / end of the 19th century.  I have seen a couple of instances where a woman did this in the 18th century, but it was extremely rare.

In the 19th century, and earlier, using the names above, after her marriage, Ruth would be known as Ruth Murray Smith, and what a lot of researchers do is apply 20th century naming conventions and assume that Ruth's maiden name was MURRAY.

Don't just take my word for it.  Here are some examples.

John HUDSON & Ann Young MASON

10 Mar 1825, Putnam Co., Georgia - John Hudson and A. Y. Mason married in Putnam Co., GA.  I've not seen the original paperwork of this marriage, but an abstract of the marriage record gives the name as Ann Y. Mason.

2 Aug 1856, Putnam Co., Georgia - John Hudson writes his will and leaves a bequest to his wife, Ann Young Hudson.

It's always possible, until further proof is found, that Ann was married previously and that "Mason" was the surname of a prior husband.  I've not found parents for Ann and I've not seen the original of the marriage record to know if it identifies Ann as "Miss Ann Y. Mason" or "Mrs. Ann Y. Mason."  But it is safe to assume that "Young" was Ann's middle name and not her maiden name.

John SMITH & Elizabeth Hawkins UNKNOWN

16 Oct 1747, Amelia Co., Virginia - "Elizabeth Hawkins," wife of John Smith, relinquished her dower in land her husband sold to Thomas Watkins.

9 Aug 1787, Franklin Co., North Carolina - John Smith wrote his will and named his wife, "Elizabeth Hawkins Smith" one of the executors.

I've seen a whole bunch of trees which give Elizabeth's maiden name as "Hawkins" and this may be one of the rare instances where that is correct, but I hate to make that assumption.

Hannah Hawkins SMITH & James LOCKHART

8 Jan 1770, Warren Co., North Carolina - James Lockhart and "Hannah Hawkins Lockhart, his wife" sold land to Thomas Turpin.

9 Aug 1787, Franklin Co., North Carolina - John Smith (the same person as above) wrote his will and named his daughter, "Hannah Hawkins Lockhart."

2 Oct 1798, Johnston Co., North Carolina - James Lockhart wrote his will and named his wife, "Hannah Hawkins Lockhart."

I've seen a lot of trees giving Hannah's maiden name as "Hawkins," which isn't correct.

And, finally, James JACKSON & Ada Jane MITCHELL, which is the earliest I've seen in Georgia of a woman making her maiden name part of her married name.

Ada went by "Ada Mitchell Jackson" from the time of her marriage, and this was such a singular event that her husband noted it in his obituary for his wife.

The Southern Christian Advocate, 28 Feb 1868:  An obituary, written by her husband was published in the Southern Christian Advocate - "Ada Jane Mitchell, my wife -- dropping after our marriage the Jane, and calling herself Ada Mitchell Jackson..."  Source:  Death and Obituary Notices from The Southern Christian Advocate, 1867-1878, database online at

Monday, January 21, 2013

Out-of-Wedlock Children

Genealogical researchers can run into all sorts of problems -- and incorrect assumptions -- by applying words and their meanings which are in use today to events in the 19th (and earlier) centuries.  Take out-of-wedlock children.

In the 1800's, and earlier, a child born out of wedlock was not legally entitled to use his or her father's surname.  The only legal surname the child could carry was his/her mother's legal surname at the time of his/her birth.  The only way a child could legally use his/her father's surname was if the father petitioned the Georgia Legislature to pass a law "legitimizing" the child.

For example -- John Turner Spillers.

On 4 Nov 1818, John Turner of Putnam Co., Georgia, wrote his will.  One clause in the will says:  “I give to John Turner Spillers late of Sparta, in Hancock [Co., Georgia], two Hundred & fifty dollars out of my Estate."

The obvious question is:  Who is John Turner Spillers and why did John Turner include him in the will?

I photocopied the will as it appears in the Will Book in the Probate Court in Putnam Co., Georgia.  Fortunately, Putnam Co. also has folders which contain the originals of the wills. And, in reading the original, I discovered that the clerk who transcribed the will into the will book didn't make a complete transcription.

When I looked in the loose estate folders in Putnam Co., I discovered that the original will says, “I give to John Turner Spillers of Baldwin County son of the widow Spillers late of Sparta in Hancock”...

But, this still does nothing to identify John Turner Spillers.  I immediately started using the assumption that John Turner Spillers was an illegitimate child, but didn't have any proof of it.  On a later trip to the Georgia Archives, I started looking through the microfilm of the Court of Ordinary (i.e., today's Probate Court) and found proof that John Turner Spillers was an illegitimate child of John Turner's:

Putnam Co., GA, Court of Ordinary Minutes, Book AA (1819-1831), p. 71, 6 Jan 1823:  “Whereas John Turner Spillers an Illegittemate of John Turner decd came into open court and made choice of William Turner as his guardian It is therefore ordered that the said William Turner be and he is hereby appointed Guardian to the said Illegitimate Child orphan of John Turner decd.”  [Photocopied from microfilm (Drawer 1, Box 17), Georgia Department of Archives.]

So, back to the point of all this:   John Turner Spillers could not use the TURNER surname of his father because (1) he was born out of wedlock and (2) his father never petitioned the legislature to "legitimize" him.  And, he used the surname SPILLERS because that was his mother's LEGAL surname at the time of his birth.  And we know that his mother's legal surname was Spillers because she had been married to someone named Spillers (John Turner's original will identified John Turner Spillers as the son of the "widow Spillers.")

I've yet to find proof of the "widow Spillers" maiden name (her given name was Elizabeth) and I haven't discovered proof of the given name of her Spillers husband (who was not John Turner Spillers' father).  But, at least, we know the name of his biological father -- or, to be more precise, we know that John Turner accepted paternity of John Turner Spillers.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Deciphering Records

I started doing genealogical research in 1995, and quickly became hooked.  Knowing the identity of my ancestors was the motivating factor, but what I really loved was the research.

I signed-up on around 2000.  While I love the fact that so many people are interested in their family history, it's bothersome that there is so much incorrect information in some of the trees people have posted on Ancestry -- and even more bothersome that people merge another family tree into their own and don't do the research to know if the information is actually correct.  I guess my basic feeling is that it's better to have no ancestors than to have incorrect ones.  It's not that I think I know everything -- because I certainly don't and I've drawn some conclusions that have been wrong, wrong, wrong.  In a small attempt to help clarify information, I've started posting comments on Ancestry's census records -- and will go into more depth here.

Family of John Lemuel Davis of Harris Co., Georgia

The 1880 census record (Ancestry Source Citation: Year: 1880; Census Place: Smiths Cross Roads, Harris, Georgia; Roll: 151; Family History Film: 1254151; Page: 419D; Enumeration District: 056; Image: 0302.) shows:

(John) Lemuel Davis -- head of household
His wife, Mary O. Davis
Nine children
John Davis' "father-in-law" Thomas M. Hadley and his "mother-in-law" "de Lana Hadley"
Sam Spivey, age 15, who is listed as a "border"

If you look only at this census record, the logical conclusion anyone would draw is that Thomas M. Hadley and his wife, "de Lana," were the parents of John Davis' wife, Mary.  But ... that's not correct.  Thomas M. Hadley and his wife, Delaney, were the parents of Lemuel Davis' first wife, Caroline (who died in 1872).

Lemuel Davis married Mary around 1874, according to the 1900 Harris Co., GA, census record of the Davis household.  Another Hadley researcher gives Mary's maiden name as SPIVEY.  I haven't done the research to know if "Spivey" is actually Mary's maiden name or if she was married to someone named "Spivey" before she married Lemuel Davis.  And the first question I have is -- what is the relationship, if any, between the Sam Spivey in the 1880 census and Lemuel's wife, Mary?

I guess the lesson to be learned here is that census records are invaluable, but they can't be the sole source of information about any family.