Tangled Roots: The Hunt for Dewitt

My sisters and I have been bitten by the genealogy bug.  It’s both fascinating and addictive.  We knew the names of our great-grandparents on both sides, but, after that, everything was fuzzy.

For obvious reasons, we started with the Sumrells.  With a little digging, we’ve decided that the original surname was probably Summerlin.  Or other spellings thereof.  Sumberlin, for example, which we found in the 1880 Pamlico County Census.


I’ve become very familiar with this document.  Especially Township 1.  If you have an ancestor on that list within Township 1, chances are, we’re related.

We know for a fact that Joseph Franklin “Frank” Sumrell was our ancestor.  In the notes column, this census tells us that his parents were Dewitt and Matilda.  The search for them was on.  This is where it has led us:

  1. Also in the 1880 census, we find a James Sumrell in Township 3, he, his wife, Peggy, and their children, Mary and Henry.
  2. In the 1900 census, we find James Sumerell, wife Margret, and son Henry A. (among others) in Richland Township, Beaufort County.
  3. In North Carolina, Deaths, 1906-1930, we find a James Henry Sumrell who died in 1916 in Beaufort County. His father was named Derritt Sumrell, born in Lenoir County.
  4. There are lots of Sumrells/Summerells in Lenoir County.  Especially in the area known as Contentnea Neck.
  5. The patriarch of this family seems to be a Washington Thomas Summerell.  He has many descendents.  His parents were James Summerell and Nancy Susan King.  They married November 12, 1803.  I have no idea who either of their parents were, or even if we’re connected.
  6. I do know that there was a Franklin Summerell in the household of Washington’s son, Peter, of the right age in 1870.
  7. Further, in 1860, a James and Frank Sumerell appear in the household of William Sumerell.  William was born in c. 1835.
  8. A William S. Sumrill, born 1833, appears in Washington’s household in 1850.
  9. Notice that Washington has a son named Atlas.
  10. In North Carolina, Deaths, 1931-1994, we found Henry Atlas Sumrell.  His parents are listed as James H. Sumrell and Margaret Ann Stilley.

Though circumstantial, all of this seems to add up to some sort of connection between our Sumrells and the Contentnea Neck Sumrells.  And, just to add to the confusion, there is also a Graves Sumerell in the 1860 Lenoir County Census that has a James in the household of appropriate age.  I’m curious about him and the others in his household.


Who were Dewitt’s parents?  And who was Matilda?  I haven’t the slightest clue.  Any cousins out there who can help with the search?

Next, we delved into the Dixons.  What a tangled mess that turned out to be!


2 thoughts on “Tangled Roots: The Hunt for Dewitt

  1. Becky: I have information on James (Jim) Summerall and Nancy King who were married in 1803. Please contact me if you would like any information.


    1. Hello, Marilyn. I’m very interested in whatever you have. Since I made this post, I’ve learned that Nancy was the daughter of Brittain King and his wife, Celia Jordan. And I read somewhere that James is connected in some way to Stewart and William Paul Summerell. I also know that there were a couple of Thomas Summerells in the Pitt, Green, Lenoir Contentnea areas. What the connection between all of them was, or if they had any to Dewitt, who I still know almost nothing about, I have no idea. I would be grateful for any and all help you could give me.

      Thank you,


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