Okay, yet another mystery woman has popped up in my Bourden research. The following is a deed between Baker Bourden and John Watkins, dated September 9, 1815, and witnessed by Sally Bourden and Readin Bourden (Deed Book 5a, page 531):
This Indenture made this 9th day of September in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and fifteen, Between Baker Bowden of the County of Duplin & State of North Carolina and John Watkins of the County & State above mentioned, Witnesseth, that I the said Baker Bowden for and in consideration of the sum of one hundred & eighty three dollars to him the said Baker Bowden in hand paid by the said John Watkins before the sealing & delivering of these presents, the receipt whereof he doth hereby acknowledge, hath given granted bargained and sold and doth hereby give grant bargain sell alien convey & confirm unto the said John Watkins his heirs or assigns forever, a certain tract or parcel of land situate lying & being in the County of Duplin on the head of Calf Pasture branch, on both sides of the main road & joining Wayne County line, Beginning at a pine & Black Jack Jacob Taylor’s corner, & runs along Reuben Johnston’s line Wt. 100 poles to a pine, thence No. 210 poles to a pine, thence Et. 100 poles to a pine on Jacob Taylor’s line by his corner, thence to the beginning, containing one hundred & twenty five acres be the same more or less, which said bargained lands & premises with all the improvements privileges or advantages to the same belonging or in anywise appertaining, I the said Baker Bourden do bind myself my heirs exers. or admns. to warrant secure & forever defend unto him the said John Watkins his heirs excrs. admins or assigns forever against all person or persons whatsoever. In witness whereof I the said Baker Bourden have hereunto set my hand & affixed by seal this day & date above written.
Signed sealed acknowledged in presence of
Sally (her mark) Bourden
State of No. Carolina Duplin County, July Term 1816 –
Then was the within deed proved in Court by the oath of Sally Bourden & ordered to be registered.
Copy Th. Routledge, Esq.
Test, W. Dickson, C.C.
Who the heck is Sally Bourden? Sally is probably short for Sarah. Did Reading have another wife before he married Nancy? Or did Mary Branch Bowden predecease her husband and Baker took a second wife? Or she could be one of Baker and Mary’s daughters. This is the first time I’ve come across this name.
Before discussing the children, I want to take a moment to talk about their mothers. In various genealogies posted across the web, I’ve seen the maiden name of all three wives given as Holder. No records are ever cited, no evidence given. The only sources are other genealogies and Ancestry. Similarly, the given name of Nicholas’s wife is often said to be Elizabeth, but, again, no documentation is sourced. If some descendant somewhere has record of these things, a family bible, perchance, I wish they’d come forward. Otherwise, in reality, only the first names of Samuel’s and Baker’s wives are known with any certainty.
We learn the name of Baker’s wife, Martha, through the court and probate records of New Hanover County. Both he and Martha left wills, which I’ll discuss in more detail in the next post.
From New Hanover County Court Minutes, Part 3, 1786-1793, Abstracted, Compiled and Edited by Alexander McDonald Walker:
5 January 1790 … Estate of Baker Bowden, Decd.–Will proved by Jno. Fulwood; and Joel Parish qualified as Exr. (page 48).
9 Apr 1790 … Estate of Baker Bowden, Decd.–Martha Bowden, decedent’s widow appointed Admrx. with will annexed; bond 200 pounds; John Erwin and James Stanley, sur. (page 52).
My personal theory, and it’s just that, a THEORY, regarding Martha is that she was a Parrish. My reasons are pretty diaphanous.
Joel Parrish was one of the Executors appointed in Baker’s will.
Joel Parrish’s own will, he mentions a son named Richard and a daughter Molsey. Baker and Martha have children with those names.
That’s it. See? It couldn’t get much more flimsy and still have any basis in documentation whatsoever. I’ve also toyed with her being a Cowan, based on even shakier grounds:
John Cowan is listed right next to Martha in 1790.
Two of his daughters married sons of Baker and Martha.
The name of Samuel’s wife, Catherine, comes down to us through a deed of gift, dated March 30, 1809 (Deed Book 4A, page 17):
The only other surname I’ve seen suggested for Catherine is Hodges, which makes a lot more sense than Holder. This comes from a tree at FamilySearch, but no source is given, and no parents suggested.
As for Mrs. Nicholas Bourden, Jr., my working hypothesis is that she was a Bryan or Bryant. My only basis for this is that one of their sons was given that name. But, as any researcher knows, names can be clues. Her own given name may have been Tabitha. My one and only source for a Tabitha Bowden is a deed, dated April 8, 1789, “…between Owen O’Daniel of the County of Duplin & State of N Carolina of the one part and Wm Duncan of the same County & State aforesaid of the other part…”, which can be found in property book DFTU, page 101). It was “Signed sealed & delivered in the presence of Tabetha Bowden, Samuel Bowden, Bryan Bowden….”
My first thought was that she was one of the unknown daughters of Samuel, Sr., found in the censuses. But, with Bryan being the other witness…. You see, there is another Samuel, son of Nicholas, and Bryan is another of his sons (Deed Book M, page 72, for Samuel and Book N, page 257, for Bryan) I find myself wondering if she was their mother and, thus, the wife of Nicholas, Jr. In any case, to have witnessed a legal document, she was, more than likely, of or over 21. Therefore, whether wife or daughter, Tabitha Bourden was probably born in or before 1768 (if wife, obviously, well before).
Nicholas Bourden and Prudence Wrenn, “relict” of John Wrenn, were married in Isle of Wight County, Virginia, before 1738 (The Marriages of Isle of Wight County, Virginia, 1628-1800 by Blanche Adams Chapman, page 5). On November 16th of that year, Nicholas was referred to as “brother-in-law” in the will of Prudence’s brother, Samuel Davis (Wills and Administrations of Isle of Wight County, Virginia, 1647-1800, Volume 2, by Blanche Adams Chapman, page 136). Since their first child was born in April of 1737, they were most likely married in 1736. There is a John Wrenn whose estate was ordered to be appraised March 22, 1735. Whether this was Prudence’s husband or some other John Wrenn, I don’t know. She married him sometime before August 15, 1734, when she’s referred to as Prudence Wrenn in the will of her brother, Thomas Davis (Wills and Administrations of Isle of Wight County, Virginia, 1647-1800, Volume 2, page 70), but after 1720 when she’s referred to as Prudence Davis in the will of her mother, Mary Davis (Wills and Administrations of Isle of Wight County, Virginia, 1647-1800, Volume 2, page 9). There is reason to believe the marriage took place before 1727 (see below). Also, the wording of her mother’s will may imply that Prudence had not yet attained the age of 21.
The births of Nicholas and Prudence’s five children were recorded in the Newport Parish Vestry Book, which can be viewed at FamilySearch.org (Virginia, Isle of Wight County Records, 1634-1951 – Church Records – Vestry Book, 1727-1772). Bottom right of image 117 for the boys, left side of image 119 for Mary. If you’d rather not strain your eyes reading old documents, this information can also be found in Tyler’s Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine, Volume 9, Number 2, page 119. This can also be accessed through FamilySearch.
The children of Nicholas Bourden and Prudence Davis Wrenn were:
Samuel Bourden b. April 14, 1737
John Bourden b. June 10, 1739
Nicholas Bourden, Jr. b. March 25, 1741
Baker Bourden b. January 10, 1742/3
Mary Bourden b. March 30, 1745
The above list is slightly different from that found in Tyler’s Quarterly which has Baker being born in the month of June. However, looking at the Vestry Book, I think it may actually be January. Compare the June written for John
with what’s written for Baker.
Doesn’t the second letter look like an “a” rather than a “u”? And the fourth more a “u” than an “e”? Its being January instead of June would also explain the 1742/3 thing. Mary’s birth year is written in Roman numerals, of all things: MDCCXLV. The “V” is written with quite a flourish.
Besides the five children she gave Nicholas, Prudence had two children with John Wrenn. One of these was named John. In the Vestry Book, at the very bottom of image 117, you can just make out “John Wren son of John Wren and Prudence his wife….” The next line, which would be his birth date, is illegible due to extreme fading.
We know there was another child because of the Accounts of the Estate of John Wrenn (scroll down a bit), taken by Nicholas and Prudence in 1748 (James Baker was ordered to audit the Accounts of the Estate August 12, 1748), in which there is the entry “To bringing up two small Children.” The implication being that the youngest was now of age. In those days, this meant they were at least 21 years of age, that is born in or before 1727. I’ve seen several online trees that say the Thomas Wrenn who married Catherine Ingram was the other child, but, as yet, no one has offered any actual proof that I’ve seen.
If Nicholas and Prudence used conventional Colonial naming patterns, which is suggested by second son John, for her father, John Davis, and third son, Nicholas (for him), then eldest son, Samuel, would have been named after his paternal grandfather. As for the fourth son, Baker, I’ve wondered if Baker was the maiden name of Nicholas’s mother. Thus, Nicholas Bourden, Sr., may have been the son of Samuel Bourden and ? Baker. Of course, I have no proof of that, so it’s complete speculation.
With Prudence, we’re on much firmer ground. She was the daughter of John Davis and Mary Green. An abstract of John’s will can be found in Chapman’s Wills and Administrations of Isle of Wight County, Virginia, 1647-1800, Volume 1, page 79, and Mary’s in Volume 2, page 9. We’ll get into her family in more detail in future posts.
The first appearance of Nicholas Bourden in the records was in Elizabeth City County where on December 2, 1734, he witnessed the will of John Kerby (Wills and Administrations of Elizabeth City County, Virginia, 1688-1800 by Blanche Adams Chapman, page 48). And on April 4, 1735, still in Elizabeth City County, he witnessed another will, that of Mary Picket (same source, page 69). After his marriage to Prudence, Nicholas’s name is peppered throughout the second volume of Chapman’s Wills and Administrations of Isle of Wight County as he appraises, examines and settles many estates. The first of these occurs at the bottom of page 91, where he and Lawrence Baker settle the estate of Jeremiah Ingraham, October 23, 1738.
On December 20, 1738, Nicholas Bourden wrote a letter to The Virginia Gazette about a tragic incident which occurred the Wednesday prior, December 13 (Some Descendants of John Moone ca 1600-1655 and Nicholas Bourden ca 1700-1759: Jamestown and Isle of wight County In the Colony of Virginia by Richard Bowden Jones, page 7, citing The Virginia Gazette, Issue Number 133). Images of the Virginia Gazette can be accessed through the Colonial Williamsburg website. Go to Research – Online Resources – Digital Library – Virginia Gazettes. You’re looking for Parks, 1739, February 23. This letter is on page 3, bottom right.
Isle of Wight County, Dec. 20, 1738
The Publication of the following unhappy Accident, may be a Means to prevent the like in other Families, which I hope will be a Warning to all; and desire it may be inserted in your Gazette, for the Public Good. On Wednesday the Thirteenth of this Instant, I intended to kill some hogs, and accordingly put a Kettle of water, containing 20 Gallons, over the Fire, for that Purpose; and when the Water was boiling, none being in the Kitchen but my only Child and a Negro child, the Sway-Pole broke, and scalded them to such a Degree that twas a most horrid Spectacle, and must have moved the most obdurate. The Negro Child is dead, but my own Child, I hope is in a fair Way of Recover tho’ prodigiously scalded: My Wife very narrowly escaped the same Fate; for she had not gone three Steps from the Kitchen Door, before the Kettle fell down, when she sat on her Hams, putting some Potatoes in the Fire for the Children: The Children were both in the Corner when the Kettle fell down, or it must have been present Death.
I am, Sir, Your humble Servant,
Samuel would have been just over a year and half and Prudence would have been carrying John, though she may not have known it yet.
Adventurers of Purse and Person, Virginia, 1607-1624/5: Families G-P by John Frederick Dorman, page 681, mentions that Samuel was ordered bound to John Dering, a tailor, August 1, 1751. He’d have been 14. Samuel, along with James Dering and Martha Dering, witnessed the will of Benjamin Barlow (bottom of page and onto next page) December 26, 1757. The will was registered April 5, 1759.
Louise Jones abstracted entries from various Isle of Wight County records concerning “Orphans and Other Children of Isle of Wight County” which were published over several issues of The Virginia Genealogical Society Quarterly and of which I’ve only had glimpses thanks to my free Ancestry account. I can’t afford a paid account right now, so all I get are frustrating snippets. But what intriguing snippets they are!
August 1,…Samuel Bourden, orphan of Nicholas is…Taylor [James Dering, tailor?]. p. 342. (Volume 25, Number 2)
6 July…John Bourden, orphan of Nicholas, is to… (Volume 26, Number 1)
Snippet of the index to Volume 26, Number 1 lists Baker on page 32 and John on page 31
If you put the snippet about Samuel together with the apprentice bond mentioned in Dorman, both dated August 1, then it’s possible that Nicholas Bourden had died earlier in 1751 or in late 1750. On page 8 of his book cited above, Richard Bowden Jones says that John was bound out in July 1759 and Baker in November of that year. I’ve yet to find mention of young Nicholas being apprenticed to anyone. If anyone has further information on this, either through the aforementioned article or the Isle of Wight County Order Book, 1746-1752, please contact me via comments. Thank you so much, in advance.
Young Nicholas witnessed the will of a John Davis February 1, 1762 (Wills and Administrations of Isle of Wight County, Virginia, 1647-1800, Volume 3, by Blanche Adams Chapman, page 12). Whether uncle or cousin, I’m not sure. John Bourden was one of the men to appraise the estate of John Jackson which was recorded January 6, 1763 (same source, page 20). This is the last public record, that I’m aware of, in which John appears. It’s possible he died shortly after this. And, as far as I know, there’s no mention of Mary after her birth. Of course, it’s harder to find women in the records and she may have married or she may have died in childhood. Either way, she’s left no trace. There is no record, that I know of, that either John or Mary ever left Virginia, but the other three migrated to Duplin County, North Carolina.
Dolly may have been a nickname. It just sounds like it should be. I’ve read that Dolly can be used as a nickname for Dorothy. At the time she married James Bourden/Bowden, her surname was Southerland, but that may or may not have been her maiden name. There are indications that she may, originally, have been a Spence. Or her mother was. Or her mother-in-law, because I have no idea who James’s mother was. Why am I so certain somebody in this family was a Spence? Because of this entry in the Spence Family Bible:
Bethsay Ann BOURDEN the darter of Jonas? BOURDEN and wife Dolly BOURDEN was born the 15 day of February 1830.
Bethsay Ann BOURDEN dec’d the 26 day of March 1835.
Why would little Betsy Ann be recorded in the Spence Family Bible unless one of her parents, or grandparents, was a Spence?
Before I go any further, you’ll want to open that link in a new window, because I’m going to refer to that bible record frequently in this post. There will be lots of speculation with theories, hypotheses, and possibilities galore. I’m going to focus on Dolly and/or her mother being the Spence, but, keep in mind that, as I said before, it could just as easily have been James’s mother who was the Spence. If anyone has any information that would back any of this up, or prove me horribly wrong, please share!
I hinted in my post Hiram Wright and the Bowden Sisters that certain questions were raised in my mind by the genealogy Some Early Families of Eastern North Carolina. I discussed one of those questions in that post, whether James and Dolly were the parents of Mitchell Bowden. The answer, in my humble opinion, being an emphatic no. The dates just don’t work. A second question pertains to the parentage of Dolly herself. It says Dolly was the daughter of Isaac Spence and Mary Elizabeth Bowden, daughter of Samuel Bowden. I’ve seen no actual evidence that her name was Mary, the marriage bond just says Elisabeth, and I’m not so sure Samuel was her father. Isaac Spence and Elisabeth Bowden married in Duplin County April 27, 1789, as per this post. I know most genealogies have the date of their marriage being in 1769, but the William Dickson argument utilized in that post is compelling. And, let’s face it, 1789 makes Dolly Spence a more likely probability.
The above genealogy also says Timothy W. Spence, born June 4, 1771, was the son of Isaac and Elisabeth Bowden Spence, which is, clearly, incorrect. No, this is not wishful thinking on my part due to the whole 1769 vs. 1789 thing. The bible record clearly states that he was the son of Timothy and Elizabeth Spence. This older Timothy is quite likely the Timothy Spence on the 1767 Tax List for New Hanover County. There’s a John Spence on that list, as well, though I don’t know if they’re brothers or father and son or something else entirely. Just so you know, if John turns out to be the son in this possible father/son relationship, it will render the rest of this post moot.
I’m wondering if Timothy W. Spence and Isaac Spence were brothers, both sons of Timothy and Elizabeth? And maybe we could add the John Spence of the 1790s Cumberland County land patents to the mix. We could also, still hypothetically speaking, add to this list of possible children the Sarah Spence who married Beesly Maning June 10, 1793 in Duplin County with Elisha Gibbs as bondsman.
So, the children of Timothy Spence, Sr., and Elizabeth, his wife were:
John Spence (b. 1768, d. 1830) married Rhoda (as per his estate)
Isaac Spence (b. 1769) married Elisabeth Bowden (b. 1773)
Timothy W. Spence (b. June 4, 1771, d. May 3, 1853) married Martha “Patsy” (d. December 14, 1858)
Sarah Spence (b. 1777) married Beesly Maning
The dates for Timothy and Patsy come from the bible record, and John’s death date from his estate file, the others are calculated from a marriage age of 20 for the men and 16 for the women. And does anyone have information about Beesly Maning? All I have is this marriage bond.
Now let’s say, for supposition’s sake, that Timothy and Elizabeth married just before John’s birth, that is in 1767, and, further, that she was 13 when they wed. That would mean she was born in 1754. Dolly was born in about 1785, give or take a year or two. In 1785, Elizabeth would have been 31 and, barring tragedy, still able to bear children and would have been even if she’d married at 16 instead of 13. Or, she and Timothy could have had a daughter born in 1772, who would have been 13 in 1785 and who was Dolly’s mother, Mrs. Southerland. These calculations would work even if the hypothetical Mrs. Southerland was a year or two older than Isaac instead of younger.
Quick aside, I’ve read in various genealogies that Martha “Patsy” Spence’s maiden name was Futch, though with no actual proof, and that she was the daughter of Onesimus Futch. Looking at the dates involved, I think granddaughter would be more likely. Onesimus and his son, John, appear on the 1762 tax list in New Hanover County (see here for that and other tax lists for that county). To be considered taxable, John had to have been at least 16 in 1762 which means he was born no later than 1747. I don’t know where the 1766 date in so many genealogies comes from. Martha was born sometime in the 1770s. Onesimus was the son of Martin Futch and Isabella Lawson Chilly. Isabella was the daughter of John Lawson and Hannah Smith and widow of John Chilly and Martin the son of Jacob and Margaretha Fuch who were among the Palatines that came to the New Bern area with Baron von Graffenreid. See this post: Martin and Isabella Futch N. C. This Onesimus Futch, there were at least five in the eighteenth century alone that I know about just glancing through some of the available data, never lived anywhere but North Carolina. He was born in Craven County, probably in the part that is now Jones, and died in New Hanover County in 1781 (his estate file). His wife’s name was Mary, she may or may not have been a Blunt. It is interesting to note that Onesimus Futch entered a patent (it was never recorded) for 200 acres on the north side of Goshen Swamp, Duplin County, April 18, 1767. John Futch was issued a patent, same county, for 100 acres on Farris’s Branch, not sure where that was, May 17, 1754.
Back to the bible record for a moment. I found these entries especially interesting:
Isaac SPENCE, Junr, died the 21st day of October 1820, age twenty-six and four
months and twenty days old.
Timothy SPENCE, Junr. Died the 17th day of September the year 1818, age 21
years and 13 days old.
Samuel SPENCE died the 16th of November 1819, age 23 years 10 months old.
Elibeth SPENCE the wife of Isaac SPENCE dec’d the 24th day of May 1821.
and, further down,
Isaac SPENCE, Sr. died the 19 day of April 1848.
The question, here, is which Isaac Spence was “Elibeth” married to? Was she the wife of Isaac, Jr. or was she the wife of Isaac, Sr., and, thus, Elisabeth Bowden? The Isaac, Junr was, obviously, the son of Timothy and Martha, their children are the main focus of this bible record, born May 1, 1794. Or so I thought until I did the math, with the help of this age calculator. Their Isaac would have been 26 years, 5 months, and twenty days old on October 21, 1820. So, either someone miscalculated his age at death, or this isn’t their Isaac, but someone else. Plus, their Timothy was only 9 in 1818, and they had no son named Samuel. Were Samuel (b. Jan 16, 1796), Timothy, Junr. (b. Sep 4, 1797) and, Isaac, Junr. (b. June 1, 1794, exactly one month after his cousin of the same name) the sons of Isaac Spence and Elisabeth Bowden?
Ergo, the children of Isaac Spence, Sr., and Elisabeth Bowden, for now, are:
Isaac Spence, Jr. (b. June 1, 1794, d. October 21, 1820)
Samuel Spence (b. Jan 16, 1796, d. Nov 16, 1819)
Timothy Spence (b. Sep 4, 1797, d. Sep 17, 1818)
Now to tackle another puzzle: Who, exactly, was Elizabeth, wife of John Prowse, Schoolmaster, and what relation was she, if any, to Isaac Spence? There’s a whole conversation about this on the Genealogy.com message boards, mostly about whether or not Elizabeth Prowse was Elisabeth Bowden. See, John Prowse wrote his will January 16, 1791 and it was probated in July. After what I’ve come to think of as the preamble, it says:
…the Residue and Remainder of my Estate both real and personal 2 lend to my beloved wife Elizabeth Prowse during her natural life or widowhood, and at her decease or future marriage then 2 give and bequeath the whole to my son Thomas Prowse to him and his heirs and assigns forever. And further to constitute and appoint my trusty friend Samuel Bowden and my son in law Isaac Spence to execute this my will and testament…
One of the witnesses is Timothy Spence. The sticking point is the term “son-in-law.” At this point in time, it could have it’s modern meaning, but it could also refer to a stepson. So which was Isaac Spence to John Prowse? If son-in-law, then what happened to Elisabeth Bowden Spence? And if Elizabeth Prowse was Elisabeth Bowden Spence, making Isaac John’s stepson, then the only way this makes any sense is if the 1769 marriage date is correct instead of 1789, the Isaac Spence in the will being the son of Elisabeth and the senior Isaac. That’s the gist of the controversy. However, using my theory, as yet unproven, then Elizabeth Prowse was the widow of Timothy Spence, Sr., when she married John Prowse and was, thus, Isaac’s mother. And, within the bounds of that hypothesis, Thomas Prowse would have to been her stepson, there being no indication that he is underage (under 21) in this will and, thus, was born in or before 1770.
The only other information I’ve been able to find on John Prowse is a deed in which he buys 100 acres from Hardy Reeves for 50 pounds on August 27, 1785. He is on no tax list I can find for Duplin or Sampson County, nor can I find him on the 1790 census.
The household of Timothy Spence could be interpreted in many ways. I don’t know if he and Patsy were married yet, and, if they were, the bible record lists no children born prior to 1792. Timothy would have been 19 in 1790. The other man could be his stepfather, John Prowse, and Thomas could be the boy under 16. Yes, I know, I’m reaching. I just got finished saying that Thomas Prowse was, probably, of or over 21 in 1791. That sound you just heard was my exasperated huff. The females could be Elizabeth Prowse, Dolly Spence/Southerland, and either Patsy Spence or ? Spence Southerland, widow.
In 1800, Isaac and Elisabeth have three boys under 10, Isaac, Samuel, and Timothy as well as the tweenaged “Elisha” and two daughters. I wonder who the other male is? Could it be Thomas Prowse? This genealogy mentions Thomas selling 100 acres in Duplin County in October 1804, so he was alive and in Duplin County. I don’t know if their theory about this Thomas being their Thomas of Kentucky is correct. The older girl is probably “Elisha”‘s twin, not Dolly. I don’t know where she is at this point. If she was the sister of Isaac and Timothy instead of the niece, being about 15, she’s probably married to Mr. Southerland. Whichever one he was. And, looking at Timothy’s household, it appears that Elizabeth Spence Prowse had passed. I think that the Rhody Spence in Sampson County, Fayetteville Township, may have been John’s wife, but I’m not sure. It’s just herself, two sons, and a daughter.
Isaac Spence appears on the 1806 tax list, but he’s the only Spence to do so.
Now, 1810 is the first census in which I’ve found John. I know he was in Cumberland County before this due to several land patents in the 1790s and early 1800s, but I can’t find him in either prior census. Notice that he is of or over 45, whereas Isaac and Timothy are aged 26 to 44 (41 and 39, respectively). It leaves the option open that this John could be the John on the 1767 tax list in New Hanover County and, thus, their uncle instead of their brother. If he was 16 in 1767, and thus born in 1751, then he’d be 58 in 1810 and 78 when he died in 1830.
By this time, Dolly had married James Bourden, January 12, 1804. They have two young daughters and a third girl who may be Dolly’s daughter from her marriage to Mr. Southerland. If not, then I have no idea who this girl could be.
Sarah Elizabeth Wright was born October 6, 1846 to Hyram H. Wright and Sarah Bowden Wright in Harnett County, North Carolina. Harnett didn’t exist until 1855, so, technically, it was Cumberland County. According to her death record, her mother was also born in Harnett County, her father in Chatham. The informant was her husband, David Fields. However, Hiram’s Find a Grave page says he was born in Cumberland County, and the death certificate of his elder daughter, Charity Ann Wright Newell, says he was born in South Carolina. The informant, Ashford Newell, was her son.
Wherever it was, Hiram was born December 12, 1813, according to his tombstone. For some reason I don’t understand many places, including Find a Grave, give James and Dolley Southerland Bowden Wright as his parents. A clear case of adding 2 + 2 and getting 15. More on that below.
I don’t know if this next bit is relevant, but I’m throwing it out there. There was an adult Hiram Wright in Chatham County in 1814. Listed among these Chatham County Marriage Bonds is one dated May 24, 1814 where a Hiram Wright stands bondsman for James McMath and Polly Johnson. However, he may have been a visitor, because I can’t find a Hiram Wright in Chatham County in any census or on the 1815 Tax List. There’s also a bond for an Ira Rosson to marry a Sarah Wright, dated January 9, 1813 with James Wright as bondsman and two bonds in 1817 for persons named Hiram Rosson to marry. James and Ira are both in Captain Brantly’s District in 1815, and there’s a James Wright in the census records for this county from 1810 until 1850 when he’s 72 years old. Any connection? No clue! Oh, and because I have an inquiring mind, I looked, and James McMath, Jr. was living in Captain Roger’s District in 1815, adjacent to Isaac Henderson on Tyrrell’s Creek. There are no Wrights in that district and the only Rosson is Benoni Rossin. James McMath, Sr. was in Captain Crutchfield’s District. No Wrights there, either, and no Rossons. In fact, the only other Wright I could find on the whole freaking list was Augustine Wright in Captain Brantly’s District with one white poll.
The first mention I can find of my Hiram Wright is in the October 10, 1840 issue of The North-Carolinian. His name was on a list of letters remaining at the Post Office since the first of the month. Apparently, he was habitually rather slow to pick up the mail, because this isn’t the only time his name appears on such a list:
The North-Carolinian, October 24 and 31, 1840
The Fayetteville Weekly Observer, April 7, 21, and 28, 1841
The Fayetteville Weekly Observer, October 13, 1841
The North-Carolinian, October 6, 13, and 20, 1849
Hiram Wright and Sarah Bowden were married May 13, 1842 in Cumberland County. David Barksdale was bondsman. They had four children together: Charity Ann, born in 1843, Dolly Jane in 1844, Sarah Elizabeth in 1846, and James Hiram in 1847. I think Sarah may have died in childbirth with James, because Hiram married again on February 5, 1850, to Elizabeth Bowden. Tradition says Elizabeth and Sarah were sisters. I see no reason to doubt this, although I’ve seen no actual proof. A Major Bowden stood bondsman for Hiram and Elizabeth. Their brother, according to tradition, and, again, I have no reason to doubt it. However, those same traditions say their father was also a Major Bowden, and that I do doubt. More on that below. I have also seen mention of a brother named Colonel for whom Hiram Wright acted as bondsman. I have not seen this bond, so, again, no proof. I’m starting to wonder if someone mis-read the Stephen Reeves/Charlotte Bowden marriage bond (see below).
In 1850, Hyram and Elizabeth Wright, aged 33 and 21, respectively, were living in the Northern Division of Cumberland County with daughters Charity, 7, and Sarah, 3. He was a Cooper (aka barrel maker).
Next door is a Moses Bowden, 26, wife Nancy, 24, and their one year old son, Daniel J. I don’t know if there’s a connection there, just a point of interest. Further on in the census we find James Bowden, 72, and wife Dolly, 65. Living with them are Major, 24, Dolly J. Wright, 6, and James H. Wright, 3.
There is a marriage bond in Duplin County for James Bourden and Dolley Southerland dated January 12, 1804 with Samuel Bourden as bondsman. Bourden is the original spelling of Bowden. James and Dolly are a little old to be Sarah and Elizabeth’s parents, or so I thought, until I found this entered in the Spence Family Bible:
Bethsay Ann BOURDEN the darter of Jonas? BOURDEN and wife Dolly BOURDEN was born the 15 day of February 1830.
Bethsay Ann BOURDEN dec’d the 26 day of March 1835.
Bethsay Ann was close in age to Elizabeth, who being 21 in 1850, would have been born in 1829.
Note that James Bowden is still alive in 1850. Would someone, please, explain to me how it is that Dolly Southerland Bowden was supposed to have married a James Wright and born him a son in 1813. Unless you’re going to tell me she married two James Bowdens.
Elizabeth Bowden Wright gave Hiram three children: Nathan in 1851, Mary Catherine in 1855, and Charlotte in 1856. Either she died giving birth to Charlotte, or shortly thereafter, because she doesn’t show up in the 1860 census:
Who were Sarah and Martha Bowden? In 1850, in the household of Mitchell Bowden, we find:
I wonder what the connection is? Mitchell was born in about 1792, making him too old to be a son of James and Dolly. Although, I did find this one genealogy, Some Early Families of Eastern North Carolina, that does have Mitchell as their son. How that worked when Dolly was born between 1785 and 1790 and Mitchell in 1792, is not explained. James would have been about 14 in 1792, thus Mitchell being a product of a previous marriage of his would be, though not entirely impossible, highly unlikely.
There are other questions raised by that genealogy, but they’re for another post. Back on topic…
On January 15, 1861, a summons was issued for Hiram Wright to testify in the case of Elizabeth Buie vs. Robert Wooten (everything I’ve underlined was handwritten):
STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
To the Sheriff ofCumberland HarnettCounty, Greetings:
YOU are hereby commanded to summon Hiram Wright
personally to appear before the Judge of the Superior Court of Law, at the next Court to be held for the County of Cumberland, at the Court House in Fayetteville, on the seventh Monday after the fourthFirst Monday in February next, then and there to testify and the truth to say, on behalf of Plff
in a certain matter of controversy in the said Court depending, between
Elizabeth Buie Plantiff and
Robert Wooten Defendant
Herein fail not, and have you then and there this Writ, with your doings thereon, to render to the said Court. And this shall in no wise omit, under the penalty prescribed by act of Assembly.
Witness, JOHN W. BAKER, Clerk of our said Court, at Office, the seventh Monday after the fourth Monday in Septm — A. D. 1860
Issued the 15th day of January 1861.
J. W. Baker Clerk.
What’s with the “seventh Monday after the fourth Monday” crap? Like legal documents aren’t difficult enough.
I don’t know exactly what Hiram testified to, but, from what I can understand of the legalese, John D. Buie, son of the Plaintiff, sold one of his slaves to his mother for $730. He owed a lot of money to several people and someone called in the debt and filed a suit. Robert Wooten, the Defendant, a constable, in what I assume to have been a court ordered response, seized and sold this same slave as the property of James D. Buie in recompense. The question before the court appears to have been: Was the slave actually, truly, the property of Elizabeth Buie, bought in a legitimate transaction, or was some sort of fraud being perpetuated. In other words, were they trying to pull a fast one? The facts of the case were made murkier by the fact that the cardinal witnesses to the transaction were John’s sister, Jane Buie, and his brother-in-law, Thomas Murphy. The Court would eventually rule in favor of the Plaintiff. One feels sorry for the poor slave.
There is a note on the back of the summons that says “Not to be found in my County” and “in Cumberland Co. working with W. T. Rhodes.” The date of the note is January 31, 1861. W. T. stands for Wiley Trice. According to the 1860 census, Mr. Rhodes was a Distiller. This means he made booze.
Also in 1861, on July 4, and again on the 8th, this little tid-bit ran in The Fayetteville Semi-Weekly Observer:
STRAYED OR STOLEN,
From the subscriber on the 22d ult., a small Sorrel Roan HORSE, red mane and tail. A liberal reward will be paid for the delivery of said horse to me, or any information of said horse thankfully received.
September 2, 1863, at the age of 47 (according to this record), Hiram joined the 2nd Battalion, Local Defense Troops, Company D as a Private (this record). A list of Cumberland Confederate Soldiers printed in the January 9, 1902 issue of The Fayetteville Weekly Observer, page 1, says Hiram’s unit was part of the Armory Guard.
After Elizabeth died, Hiram married again. To another Bowden. He and Nancy Ann Bowden married in Cumberland County on October 23, 1863. Stephen Reives was their bondsman. A couple of months later, on December 22, his daughter, Charity, married Edward Robert Newell. Stephen Reeves was their bondsman, too. On November 11, 1865, Stephen Reaves marrried Charlotte Bowden. Hiram Wright acted as bondsman. Stephen and his first wife, Isabella Guy, lived next door to Hiram in 1860. The Isaac Guy in Hiram’s household was her brother.
Here’s a quick look at the relevant marriage bonds to refer to:
May 13, 1842
February 5, 1850
October 30, 1850
John R. Cribbs
April 28, 1853
July 14, 1855
James H. Marshall
October 9, 1862
Robert M. Atkinson
Nancy Ann Bowden
October 29, 1863
Charity Ann Wright
Edward R. Newell
December 22, 1863
June 22, 1865
July 5, 1865
November 9, 1865
Sarah Jernigan Denning
September 12, 1872
Most genealogies say Nancy Ann Bowden Wright was a sister of Sarah and Elizabeth. I disagree. Look again at the family of Mitchell Bowden in 1850. Notice Nancy A., aged 12, and Lotta, aged 8? Further, look at this: on September 21, 1876, in Wake County, Charlotte Reives married Paschal Johnson.
…Charlotte Reivs of Wake County aged 35 years, color white, daughter of Mitchell Bowden and Lottie Bowden (nee Reves?) the father living, the mother dead, resident of Wake County…
Charlotte was definitely the daughter of Mitchell and Lottie Bowden. But it gets even more interesting. There is another Wake County marriage license, dated January 4, 1880, for Ann Wright and William I. Rowland:
…Ann Wright of Wake County aged 42 years, color white, daughter of Mitchell Bowden and Rachel Bowden the father dead, the mother dead, were resident of Harnett County…
This begs the question: Was there a divorce? Or am I completely off base? Cause Hiram ain’t dead in 1880. He’s alive and, presumably, well, in Burnt Swamp Township, Robeson County.
By 1900, Annie was a widow living in Middle Creek, Wake County, in the household of John Allen Johnson and wife Martha. She also lived there in 1910 when her name was listed as Nancy A. Rowland. She could neither read nor write and had born no children. In both censuses, her relationship to Mr. Johnson is “sister-in-law.” Another sister-in-law living with them was Sallie Marshall. Remember the Sarah, aged 11, and Martha, aged 6 in the household of Mitchell Bowden in 1850, then in Hiram’s own house in 1860? However, just to confuse everything, according to Martha Bowden Johnson’s death certificate, she was the daughter of Moses Bowden, whereas Annie’s gives her parents as Mitchell Bowden and Charlotte Jones. Sallie Marshall’s isn’t as specific. It just says her father was “Bowden”. Martha died of “cancer of the face”, Annie suffered from dementia, and Sallie burned to death in a house fire. John Allen Johnson also died in that fire. His death certificate says Pascal Johnson was his father. The twists and turns just keep getting weirder the more I go into this, I swear.
I have no idea where Hiram lived right after the war. Nor do I know where he was in 1870. Charity and Sarah lived in Robeson County with their husbands and children. Both men were coopers. I wonder if Hiram taught them the trade. As I said, in 1880 he was living in Burnt Swamp Township, Robeson County. Sarah and David Fields lived there as well. My great-grandfather’s just 2 years old.
I wonder if he was the Wright father-in-law, aged 86, next to Frank and Kate Harris in Burnt Swamp in 1900. The problem is, they are all listed as Indian. Frank and Mary Catherine Harris had a son named Hiram Franklin.
Hyram H. Wright died May 27, 1907, Pembroke Township, Robeson County.
My great-great-grandfather, David Ernest Fields, Sr., was born October 2, 1842 in Pennsylvania. His parents were John Geary Fields, Sr., and Mary “Polly” West. Geary was a coal miner, born between 1820 and 1825 in either Pennsylvania or Maryland. Polly was born in about 1826. All of this I’ve gleaned from census records and the death records of various of their children. I have no information about either Geary’s or Polly’s parents.
There is one genealogy that notes for Polly, “I’ve seen Tweed as her maiden name.” I’ve yet to find a record with that information. I have found a Mary Fields living with Jane Tweed in 1850, 1860, and 1870 in Wayne Township, Mifflin County, but I think her husband was the George Fields living with them in 1850. The only place I’ve seen the name Pauline associated with Polly is her daughter, Nancy’s, death certificate (click on Nancy Fields in that same genealogy). I think she was confused by the nickname “Polly”. Nancy may have been very young when Polly died.
Geary and Mary Fields were living in Quincy Township, Franklin County, in 1850:
And, in 1860, they lived in Logan Township, Blair County:
There was a George Fields living in Quincy Township, Franklin County, in 1840 with one free white male between 40 and 49 and another between 70 and 79. Neither of these could have been Geary. Also in Franklin County, in Guildford Township, there was a Henry Fields, presumably the gentleman aged 40-49, with 2 other free white males 15-19, one of whom could be Geary. Probably not, but it’s an avenue of investigation.
These are the children I have for John Geary Fields, Sr. and Mary “Polly” West:
Both David and John joined the Union Army. David enlisted, 13th Cavalry, 117th Pennsylvania Volunteers, Company C, “The Irish Dragoons,” August 23, 1863, in Harrisburg, and mustered in as as Private September 2, 1863. John’s Find a Grave page says he was in the 205th Regiment, Pennsylvania Infantry, Company F. According to this regimental history, Company F was recruited from Mifflin County. He enlisted August 22, 1864. This unit served a pivotal role in the taking of Petersburg on April 2, 1865 and in the pursuit of General Lee that followed. John mustered out with the rest of his company June 2.
As a curious aside, there was a John Fields, Corporal (Source: Search for Soldiers, John Fields) in the 13th, same Company. This list of soldiers in the unit says John Fields mustered in September 8, 1862, but wasn’t on the muster out role. I wonder, could this Corporal John Fields have been Geary? If so, then he may have died in the war. What I do know is that I’ve had no luck finding Geary and Polly in any census after 1860. She may have died, or remarried. I’ve yet to find a pension application if the latter. There’s a book about the 13th Cavalry, One Good Regiment by Howard Hand, Jr., that I really need to get my hands on. But, in the interim, here’s a history of the regiment.
David saw quite a bit of action during Grant’s Overland Campaign, including the Battle of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor. On February 10, 1865, the 13th was ordered to Wilmington, after the fall of Fort Fisher. They arrived March 6. From there, they advanced to Goldsboro, which was invested. After it was taken, they marched to Fayetteville, meeting up with General Sherman. This was embarrassing for a Southern girl to find lurking in her family tree. There’s some pride, true, that he fought, even if it was for the Union, but then, there’s Sherman. No matter how small an association, or for how short a time, this was a bitter pill.
This takes us to about the 21st of March. He and Sarah Wright probably met shortly after that and embarked on what must have been a whirlwind courtship. And they weren’t the only ones. George Ely, another soldier of the 13th, Company C, married Sarah’s sister, Jane, on June 27. David was their bondsman. George returned the favor a few weeks later when, on July 5, David married Sarah.
However, David did not remain in Fayetteville this entire time. The 13th began to advance on Raleigh on April 10 and occupied it by the 13th. After the surrender of General Johnston at Bennett Place, near what is now Durham, on April 26, thus ending the War, David and his unit were sent back to Fayetteville. He mustered out with the Company, July 14, 1865 in Raleigh. From there, the troops were sent, by train, to Philadelphia where they were discharged July 27.
David and Sarah moved to Robeson County after the War. In 1870 they lived in Burnt Swamp Township with their two daughters Jane and Minerva. The ages of the girls are wrong by about 10 years. Don’t know what’s up with that. David, you’ll notice, was a cooper (barrel maker). I wonder if he’d learned the trade in Pennsylvania, or if Sarah’s father, Hiram, taught him. Both he and Sarah could read and write. Sarah’s sister, Charity, and her husband, Edward R. Newell, lived in Lumberton with their 2-year-old son, Ashford. Edward was also a cooper. He could read and write, Charity could not. Jane had, apparently, died. The following notice appeared in The Fayetteville Weekly Observer May 10, 1915, page 5:
INFARMATION WANTED BY A SOLDIER’S WIDOW.
J. R. Renshaw of Lykens, Penn., has written here, asking for information as to Jane Wright, daughter of Hiram Wright, who married George Ely about 1865. Ely is now dead, and the second wife wants to get a pension, but must prove the death of the first wife.
If any can give the information it will be very gratefully received by an old widow, and the information sent to Messrs. Cook & Cook, this city, will be transmitted to her.
And this June 10, 1917, page 3:
Mayor McNeill gave us the following letter this morning, and it may be that some of the older residents can furnish the information desired:
Lykens, Pa., May 30, 1914.
Chief of Police, Fayetteville, N. C.
Dear Sir:–Would it be possible for you to furnish me with any information that will lead me to get the records of the death and burial of a certain lady who is supposed to have died and was interred in or near you city in the Fall of 1865 or Spring of 1866.
Her maiden name was Jane Wright, was married to one George Ely, who brought her to this place in the Summer of 1865, she however, did not remain here more than a few weeks and returned home again; shortly after she left here a letter was received by a relative of George Ely, stating that she had died, since which nothing has been heard about her.
The people who knew here here at the time have passed away as also has her husband and no information further than the above is known. It is very necessary that we should have some proofs of her death or whereabouts, if living.
Hoping you can be able to put me on the track of getting the information and that I can reciprocate later on.
W. S. Young.
We’ll talk more about Sarah’s family in future posts. Of David’s siblings, Mary Elizabeth Fields married John Coho in about 1862 and in 1870 they lived in Altoona. Her sister, Nancy, aged 15, lived with them. Shortly after this, Nancy would marry Samuel H. Lego. Their first child, Charles M. Lego, was born June 28, 1871. John and his wife, Mary Etta Rider, lived in Ferguson Township, Centre County. They had a son, as yet unnamed, who was born in May. He would be named John Franklin Fields. I don’t know where Martha is at this point. She doesn’t marry Mr. Wier until 1884, according to his Find a Grave page (linked to above). I have yet to find anything about his other siblings after the 1860 census.
In 1880, Sarah and David were still living in Burnt Swamp Township, Robeson County. My great-grandfather, John Edward Fields, was just 2. He was born Christmas Day, 1877. In 1890, they’d moved, briefly, to Back Swamp, but were back in Burnt Swamp by 1900. I can’t tell you how happy I was to finally find someone on the 1890 Veteran’s Schedule! On July 21, 1900, David applied for a pension, then again August 8, 1908. In 1910, they lived in Pembroke Township, Robeson County.
This is a family page. You have David and Sarah, then my great-grandparents, John and Janie. Next to them are David Ernest, Jr. and wife Lillie then their sister Charity Ida and her husband Ashley Barber. Ashley, by the way, is Janie’s brother. After Ida and Ashley are two other sons of Sarah and David: Hiram Gerry and wife Lizzie then George Randle and wife Edna. On the text page is George and Edna’s small son, David C. Fields.
These are the children I have of David Ernest Fields and Sarah Elizabeth Wright:
Minerva “Minnie” Leslie Fields b. November 1867, d. March 28, 1936 married Jeff R. Patterson c. 1887
Mattie Jane Fields (may have actually been Martha) b. November 20, 1869, d. December 8, 1924 married Evander Pait c. 1896
Elizabeth A. “Lizzie” Fields b. April 1871, d. April 20, 1925 married James Harrison Terry c. 1898
David Ernest Fields, Jr. b. March 22, 1873, d. January 25, 1937 married Lillie Green Miller c. 1895
Sarah Margaret Fields b. February 16, 1876, d. August 22, 1941 married 1) Unknown McLean c. 1897, 2) James Richard Snipes c. 1901
John Edward Fields b. December 25, 1877, d. October 17, 1918 married Ruby Jane Barbour c. 1904
Mary Bell Fields b. November 20, 1878, d. May 20, 1966 married Walter Beasley c. 1898
Hiram Geary Fields b. March 27, 1882, d. July 14, 1956 married Elizabeth Joyce c. 1907
Charity Ida Fields b. April 1885, d. April 10, 1915 married Ashley B. Barbour February 5, 1905
George Randle Fields b. November 7, 1886, d. July 6, 1933 married Edna Unknown c. 1909
I’d love to hear from any of their descendants.
Sarah died June 7, 1915 of nephritis, which she’d apparently had for quite a while, aggravated by dysentery. David himself died suddenly April 14, 1917.