Saturday, February 16, 2013

From Orange to Bedford: An Examination of the Probable Children of Jacob Wilhoite and Amelia Holt

The book “The Ancestors & Descendants of Jacob Wilhoite, 1751-1821, Vol. 1” by Jacob William Wilhoite and Della Faye Wilhoite [1991 – Beaver Press, Inc. – Manchester, TN] (and Vol. 2 as well) attaches a total of 14 children to Jacob and Amelia Holt Wilhoite. This list is duplicated all over the internet, plus or minus various children here and there. Unfortunately, since Jacob died without leaving a will, many researchers over decades have had to try and piece together a list of heirs using primarily circumstantial evidence. That sadly will be the case here as there is little formal documentation tying Jacob to any of his children other than John and William.

I am setting out today to try and make as complete a list as possible, while weeding out those who do not belong as children of Jacob and Amelia. I will go in order of how they are listed in the book, giving the name and details of each person, followed by stating why or why not I believe them to be children of Jacob and Amelia. Hopefully this list will be of assistance to those thrown off by the mismatched, assumed, and incorrect lists found all over the internet, as well as in published materials.

1. Jacob Wilhoite – Often listed as “Jr.”, this Jacob was born about 1781 in Orange County, NC and died about 1833 in Bedford County, TN. He married Mary “Polly” Powell on 2 Dec 1803 in Orange County. Jacob is found in the 1810 Census in Orange County listed as a “Jr.”. He is living right next door to Jacob Wilhoite “Sr.”. While a Jr.-Sr. relationship does not always mean a father-son relationship, when they live next door to each other and then proceed to move to the same county in Tennessee together, it makes a pretty strong case. Also, Jacob’s wife Mary’s brother, Thomas Powell, married Mary Wilhoite, and the two of them also made the journey to Bedford County. Though this evidence is circumstantial, I am confident in attaching Jacob Jr. to Jacob Sr.

2. Amelia (Milly) Wilhoite – Born 20 Nov 1782 in Orange County, NC and died 22 Mar 1865 in Bedford County, TN. She married John Whitesell on 12 Oct 1803 in Orange County, NC. Fortunately, Amelia is pretty easy to attach to her parents. Not only did she make the trek from Orange County to Bedford County with the rest of this clan (though it should be noted that that in and of itself does not guarantee they are the same family, as Jacob Sr.’s 1st cousin, Young Wilhoite, also took the same journey from Orange to Bedford, and there have been several times when the children of Young and the children of Jacob have been confused, as will be discussed further in this essay), but she is buried on the former property of Jacob Wilhoite in what is now referred to as the Whitesell-Wilhoite Cemetery. Amelia and her husband John are buried there along with a son, John Jr., and an Eveline Whitesell, who was either an unmarried daughter or a daughter-in-law. Also buried there are Jacob and Amelia Holt Wilhoite, their proven sons John and William, several grandchildren, and a few others. Based on Amelia’s marriage record proving she is indeed a Wilhoite, and her burial on Jacob’s property, I feel confident attaching her as a child of Jacob Sr.

3. Lewis Wilhoite – Born about 1786 in Orange County, NC and died after 1860 in Bedford County, TN. (Many trees have his date of death listed as 20 Feb 1863, but I have not seen any documentation proving this date.) He married Frances “Fanny” Christmas on 19 Dec 1813 in Orange County, NC. Obviously, Lewis also made the trek from Orange to Bedford. He is residing only a few households away from Jacob Jr. in the 1820 Census. His household for the 1840 Census has thrown many researchers off; he is listed as Willis instead of Lewis. It is most certainly the same person, as from 1830 to 1840 both households have very similar neighboring households. In 1840, he is only a few households from his nephew, Pearce Wilhoite, son of Jacob Jr. This Census has led many researchers to name him “Lewis Willis Wilhoite”. However, I am of the belief that this was simply an error by the census-taker. I have looked over many records and documents concerning Lewis, and not one indicates he had the middle initial “W”, or any middle initial at all. I think this was simply an unfortunate error which has led many researchers to give him an incorrect name. Lewis is listed as the bondsman for Catherine Wilhoite’s 1810 marriage to Flower Swift in Orange County. Additionally, Lewis’s close associations with Jacob Jr. and his son on the Census as well as John and William Wilhoite in Chancery Court records (they appear on nearly a dozen records together) lead me to believe he is indeed their brother, so I feel confident attaching him as a son of Jacob Sr.

4. John Wilhoite – John was born about 1810 in Orange County, NC and died before 1850 in Bedford County, TN. He married a Huldah B. Warner. Huldah is buried in the Whitesell-Wilhoite Cemetery, her original headstone still standing. The date of death on her headstone, 21 Mar 1844, matches the date of birth on the death certificate of her daughter, Huldah. John is also supposedly buried in the same cemetery, though his original headstone has not been located (there are many field stones and unmarked graves in the cemetery). John can be confirmed as a son of Jacob Sr. by an 1821 deed that is found in Bedford County Deed Book 0 on page 55 that has Jacob Wilhoite, Sr. deeding 200 acres to John “for love and affection for his son”. (Source: It should be noted that John is listed as “John M. Wilhoite” in most family trees and on pages concerning the Whitesell-Wilhoite Cemetery. However, none of the several Chancery Court or County Court records apply a middle initial to John. In fact, I have not seen him given a middle initial in any formal documentation anywhere, leading me to list him simply as “John” as there seems to be no proof that his middle initial was “M”.

5. William Wilhoite – Born 1 Mar 1804 in Orange County, NC and died 12 Jun 1839 in Bedford County, TN. He married Anna Adeline Warner and had 3 sons and a daughter, with two of those sons surviving to adulthood and one of them perishing in the Civil War. One of William’s granddaughters married Henry H. Horton, a governor of Tennessee. William is easily attached to Jacob Sr. per a deed identical to the aforementioned deed from Jacob Sr. to John. The transaction took place on the same day (page 57) for the same amount of land “for love and affection for his son”. (Source:

6. Catherine Wilhoite – Catherine was born about 1791 in Orange County, NC and died after 1860 in Bedford County, TN. Many trees have her date of birth as 16 Oct 1791 and date of death as Aug 1864, but offer no proof for either of those assertions. She married Flower Swift on 28 Jul 1810 in Orange County, NC with Lewis Wilhoite acting as bondsman. She has both a son (Thomas W.) and a granddaughter (Kezira K.) buried in the Whitesell-Wilhoite Cemetery on Jacob Sr.’s former property, with both of their original headstones still intact. The Swift’s are living two households from the households of John and William Wilhoite in 1830. Catherine’s association with Lewis, proximity to John and William, and her descendants being buried in the Whitesell-Wilhoite Cemetery lead me to confidently attach her as a child of Jacob Sr.

7. Sarah Wilhoite – Sarah was born 18 Dec 1784 in Orange County, NC and died 18 Dec 1841 in Marshall County, TN; these dates come from the Thomas Powell Family Bible, presently owned by Milton Thomas Powell, Jr. of Chapel Hill, TN. She married Thomas Powell on 5 Apr 1803 in Orange County. (It should be noted that the bible gives their date of marriage as 25 May 1803.) Thomas was the brother of Mary Powell who married Jacob Wilhoite Jr. The Powell’s reside next door to Thomas and Mary Wilhoite Murdock in both 1830 in Bedford County and 1840 in Marshall County. Sarah’s association with Jacob Jr. (marrying his wife’s brother) and Mary Wilhoite Murdock, as well as the fact that she made the trek from Orange to Bedford County presents enough circumstantial evidence to attach her as the daughter of Jacob Wilhoite Sr.

8. Mary “Polly” Wilhoite – Born 31 Mar 1779 in Orange County, NC and died 18 Aug 1838 in Marshall County, TN. These dates come from the Murdock Family Bible, now in possession of a Jane Murdock. She married Thomas Murdock on 27 Jan 1804 in Orange County, NC. Other than the trek from Orange to Bedford, the only close tie to the Jacob Sr. family appears to be the Murdock’s close association with the aforementioned family of Thomas and Sarah Wilhoite Powell, next to whom the family resides in 1830 and 1840. While this circumstantial evidence is decidedly weaker than many of the previous cases, since I am confident of Sarah’s tie to Jacob Sr. I am also fairly confident attaching Mary to Jacob Sr. Also note that this Mary is listed as “Cynthia (Polly)” in the Wilhoite book. However, her marriage record and other documents identify her as Mary or Polly; where the name “Cynthia” came from I haven’t the slightest clue.

9. Frances “Fannie” Wilhoite – Born 18 Jun 1796 and died 9 Oct 1846 in Bedford County, TN. She married a John Barrett. No marriage record has been found. As no marriage record has been found, there is no formal documentation in existence that gives Fannie, wife of John Barrett, the maiden name “Wilhoite”. She is listed as Jacob’s child in the Wilhoite book, and many online trees and databases apply “Wilhoite” as her maiden name, but there is no proof of that. I have not found any documents tying she or her husband to any of the Wilhoite’s or even the Holt’s. Though the family resides in Bedford County, their household has not been found to be in significant geographic proximity to any of the aforementioned Wilhoite households; there is also no documentation indicating that the family originated in Orange County, NC. I have seen no evidence that she is connected to Jacob Sr. or even that she was a Wilhoite at all. Until I am provided with any sort of documentation tying her to Jacob’s family, I do not feel she should be attached as a child of Jacob Wilhoite Sr.

10. Susan Wilhoite – No information is listed in the Wilhoite book on her other than she was born in born in Orange County, NC and she married a ______ Craig. I looked at all of the Craig households in Bedford County, TN for 1820, 1830, and 1840 and none of them were in proximity to any of the aforementioned Wilhoite households. There is not sufficient information that this Susan Wilhoite even existed, much less any information that would tie her to Jacob Wilhoite Sr. Therefore, I do not feel she should be attached as his child.

11. Mary Wilhoite – No information listed other than she was born in 1784 and married a _______ Kimmons. Several online trees have a Mary Eleanor Wilhoite marrying an Edward Kimmons. Edward Kimmons did reside in Bedford County. In 1830 he is in close proximity to Willis W. Wilhoite, son of Young Wilhoite Sr., and in 1840 he is in close proximity to Young Wilhoite Sr. himself. No marriage record has been found for this supposed union. There is no evidence that the wife of Edward Kimmons was a Wilhoite, much less the daughter of Jacob. If she is indeed a Wilhoite, she is more likely connected to the Young Wilhoite clan. Additionally, Mary Wilhoite, wife of Thomas Murdock, is almost certainly Jacob’s daughter, and it is not likely he would have two daughters named Mary. I do not believe there is sufficient evidence to attach this Mary as a child of Jacob Wilhoite Sr.

12. Hannah Wilhoite – The only information presented for Hannah in the Wilhoite book is that she married a _______ Moore. In scouring Bedford County, TN records and indexes, I did not find the Wilhoite clan closely associated with any Moore families of the county. I can find no evidence that this person even existed, much less that she was Jacob’s daughter; she should not be attached as a daughter of Jacob Wilhoite Sr.

13. Jennie Wilhoite – The only information presented for Jennie in the Wilhoite book is that she married a ________ Holt. This information is incredibly vague as there were a number of Holt families in Bedford County, TN who were all relatives of Amelia Holt, wife of Jacob Wilhoite Sr. Many of the Holt families were closely associated with the Wilhoite’s, which makes sense given their relation, but I found no record of any of them having a wife name Jennie. There was a Jennie Holt who married an E. T. Bomar in Bedford County on 16 Aug 1861, but that was most likely Virginia Holt, daughter of Henry Holt (born 1785 in North Carolina). I have found no evidence that this Jennie Wilhoite existed, much less that she was Jacob’s daughter, and therefore she should not be attached as a daughter of Jacob Wilhoite Sr.

14. Margaret Wilhoite – Volume 1 of the Wilhoite book only states that she was born Nov 1797 and married Jordan Cain Holt. In Volume 2, it became clear the books were referring to Jordan Cain Holt, Sr., son of Joshua Holt who was a son of Michael Holt. While this would make Jordan related to a daughter of Jacob Wilhoite Sr. he is actually more closely related to Mary “Polly Powell, wife of Jacob Wilhoite Jr., who would be his 1st cousin. Now Jordan Cain Holt was married to a Margaret. She is buried next to him in Center Cemetery in Shelbyville with the dates 30 Nov 1797 to 31 Jul 1853 on her headstone. Unfortunately, there has been no marriage record for Jordan and Margaret discovered. However, Jordan C. Holt appears to have been involved in at least 3 sets of Chancery Court Records with John and William Wilhoite, and several sets of County Court cases with John (one of those including William). However, since I only recently began to explore the possibility that Margaret could be a daughter of Jacob Wilhoite Sr., I have not yet explored these court cases to see if a relationship between Jordan C. Holt and the Wilhoite’s has been established. Until it has been, if it can be at all, I do not feel Margaret should be attached as a daughter of Jacob Wilhoite Sr., though the possibility of adding her as a child should remain open.

So in conclusion, unless proof can be brought to light that can viably attach Frances, Susan, Mary wife of Edward Kimmons, Hannah, Jennie, or Margaret as children of Jacob and Amelia Holt Wilhoite. Their list of children should, in order, look like this:

1. Mary “Polly” Wilhoite, born 31 Jan 1779
2. Jacob Wilhoite Jr., born about 1781
3. Amelia “Milly” Wilhoite, born 20 Nov 1782
4. Sarah Wilhoite, born 18 Dec 1784
5. Lewis Wilhoite, born about 1786
6. Catherine Wilhoite, born about 1791
7. William Wilhoite, born 1 Mar 1804
8. John Wilhoite, born about 1810

As previously stated, all but John and William are based on circumstantial evidence, which should be noted in any genealogical file concerning the family. However, I hope that by having all the evidence in front of you , you can see why each child is attached to this family.

Anyone with comments or additional information is welcome to contact me.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Dispelling the myths of Jacob R. Wilhoite's Civil War service

There are many myths online and in published materials concerning the Civil War service of Jacob R. Wilhoite, son of William Wilhoite and Anna Adeline Warner. There have even been myths about his brother, John Benton Wilhoite, as well but those seem to have dissolved over time for the most part.

Here is a summary of Jacob R. Wilhoite's service in the Civil War according to family myths and legends:

Jacob was a Colonel under General Nathan Bedford Forrest in the 4th/8th (Baxter Smith's) Tennessee Cavalry. He was killed at the Battle of Chattanooga near Missionary Ridge on 24 Oct 1863. His mother and a house-slave went to the battlefield, recovered his body, and brought it back home through enemy lines to be buried in the family cemetery.

Now the last half of this story could easily be true; in fact, if Jacob's body actually is interred in the Wilhoite Cemetery in Chapel Hill, then it most likely is true. The other parts of the myth are what need to be dispelled:

1. That Jacob R. Wilhoite was a Colonel. (Not true)
2. That Jacob served in the 4th/8th Tennessee Cavalry under Baxter Smith (Not true)
3. That Jacob served under Nathan Bedford Forrest (Not true)
4. That he was killed at the Battle of Chattanooga (Almost true, but not quite)

There are no service records for any men with the last name of Wilhoite (or any of the alternative spellings) in the records of the 4th Tennessee Cavalry or the 8th Tennessee Cavalry (Smith's). To be fair, Company A of the 8th Tennessee Cavalry (Smith's) was made up of men from Marshall County, Tennessee, which is where Jacob is found in the 1860 Census. However, there are no records indicating Wilhoite served among the 4th or the 8th in either the regiments' records or regimental histories. If Jacob were a Colonel, he most certainly would have had a service record and/or some sort of mention among the regiments' records at some point in time (whether it was when he was elected an officer, appointed a colonel, and/or killed in action). In fact, if you Google-search "Colonel Wilhoite", "Colonel Jacob R. Wilhoite", "Colonel J. R. Wilhoite" or any variations of the sort, what few results you do find are posts by descendants of this family further perpetuating this myth. The book "The Ancestors & Descendants of Jacob Wilhoite, 1751-1821" is often cited as a source for this information, but unfortunately, the information is just wrong. Jacob did not serve in the 4th or the 8th Cavalry units and he was not a Colonel.

It is not that Jacob did not serve; he did, just not with the units people stated. Company F of the 17th Tennessee Infantry was made up of men from Bedford and Marshall Counties. (See TN GenWeb page for the 17th, or Steve Arnold's page on the 17th Among their ranks was a Private J. R. Wilhoite. After thoroughly scouring the few Wilhoite men named James, John, Joseph, Jeremiah, or any other J name from Bedford, Marshall, and their surrounding counties, I concluded that none of those "J. Wilhoite" men had the middle initial of R. It is listed in some trees that John Wilhoite, son of John M. Wilhoite and Huldah Warner, born about 1842 in Bedford County, bore the middle initial of "R", but he is not listed with any middle initial in any County, Chancery, or Circuit court books. While his brother Richard is consistently listed with his middle initial (these are primarily in guardianship hearings after their father had passed away), John never is; he is simply listed as "John". Further, this John does not appear in any Bedford County or surrounding county records after these guardianship proceedings, and he does not appear in the 1860 Census. So not only is their no proof of his middle name being "R", but there is no proof he even lived to see the Civil War.

Based on the conclusion that there are no other "J. R. Wilhoite"'s anywhere in that region of the state, it was reasonably decided that this J. R. Wilhoite is indeed Jacob R. Wilhoite, and despite his service record being relatively small, it appears to give a significant detail further proving J. R. to be Jacob. O  May 15, 1862, about a year into his service, Col. Hawthorne assigned Wilhoite to a special detail as a courier for the regiment's surgeon. The very last service record for J. R. Wilhoite for the 17th Tennessee Infantry is dated 2 Sep 1863 in Charleston (meaning Charleston, TN in Bradley County, as the 17th would be engaged in the Battle of Chickamauga on September 19-20. It says the last Wilhoite was heard from was 30 Aug 1863. Jacob R. Wilhoite's headstone bears his date of death as 24 Oct 1863, and the family stories are that his body was recovered near Missionary Ridge, which is near Chattanooga. The 17th fought at Chattanooga (These personal notes from various members of the 17th bear that out:, and I don't think it is just a coincidence that J. R. Wilhoite's last service record is dated 2 Sep 1863 and then Jacob R. Wilhoite dies on 24 Oct 1863, just over a month later, and both just happened to be from Marshall County. Based on this information, I have concluded that Jacob R. Wilhoite died serving in the 17th Tennessee Infantry, rather than the 4th or 8th Cavalry, which also means he did not serve under General Forrest, as Forrest was in charge of cavalry units at Chattanooga.

Lastly, according to this website's timeline for the Chattanooga campaign:, on 24 Oct 1863, no official engagement appeared to occur. The Battle of Brown's Ferry occurred a few days later, and The Battle of Missionary Ridge did not occur until a full month later. This could mean a couple of things. If Jacob's headstone is correct and he died in 24 Oct, then he likely was killed in a skirmish of some sort, or else was shot while acting as a courier. It is possible though that the date was off by a few days or even a few weeks, depending on when Jacob's headstone was actually erected. If the detail in the family's bible mentioning that Jacob was found near "Myssionary Ridge" is true, then perhaps is date of death was actually 24 Nov 1864, plus or minus a couple of days. If Jacob's body was recovered from the battlefield as the story goes, then it would have been several days after he was killed that the news of his demise would have reached his mother and she would have been able to reach that battlefield, so it is possible she knew not exactly what day her son was killed and was simply estimating. Now according to Steve Arnold's page, J. R. Wilhoite "died in camp" ( While his service record did not mention this, it is possible this information was gleamed from another source of the 17th. I have reached out to Mr. Arnold for more information, and should he provide it, I will add it to this essay.

All in all, I think the documentation speaks for itself. It's a nice story to pass on through the generations that one's long-lost-uncle was a Colonel in the Civil War and fought with a famous general and died heroically. While he certainly could have died heroically, the rest of the information in the old family story of Jacob R. Wilhoite was purely a myth. Who knows where the legend began, but I think it's time that the facts were laid out for all to see so that only the true information of Jacob's story is perpetuated further. It is certainly not a tarnish to one's legacy to have been a Private in the Infantry rather than a Colonel in the Cavalry, though some may see it that way. I think it is more harmful to Jacob's legacy to have completely false information about his life spreading throughout the family, so I hope this information will help other researchers of the Wilhoite Family in and around Bedford County, Tennessee with having their information as accurate as possible.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Jackson Barnett and Phoebe Napier

I recently heard from a cousin who contacted a now-deceased cousin's husband. He claims he visited the graves of Jackson and Phoebe Napier Barnett, my 3rd great grandparents, "in a cemetery in Lincoln County [Oklahoma] with a bunch of other Barnett's." As two of Jackson's children from his first marriage, Amanda Barnett Roberts and Thomas Barnett, and one of he and Phoebe's two children together, Louvica, are buried in Davenport Cemetery in Lincoln County, I think it's safe to assume that that was the cemetery he was referring to. While a few years ago, I lived only about 45 minutes from that cemetery, now I live in Michigan, so I have not yet had a chance to visit. But next time I am in central Oklahoma, I plan on it.

Since for the first time since embarking on my Barnett genealogy quest I had a good clue of where Jackson and Phoebe were buried from a person who claims to have visited their graves himself, I decided to make FindAGrave pages for the two of them, and I wrote up biographies for them. I decided I would post them here, as well as on their FindAGrave pages. My hope is I'll one day have pictures of their headstones for their pages.

Jackson Barnett

He was the son of Joshua Barnett and Jane Hays. His given name appears to have been Andrew Jackson, based on the records of his son, Andrew Jackson Barnett, and his 1890 marriage record for his marriage to Sarah Clemons.

He married first to Louvica Back in about 1869 in Breathitt County, KY. They had five children, namely Armina Catherine, Mary Elizabeth, Martha A., Thomas Jefferson, and Amanda J. Louvica died 21 Jan 1890, according to family records.

He then remarried to Sarah Clemons, the widow of Jeremiah Clemons, on 26 Sep 1890. What became of this marriage is unknown. We do not know if Sarah died shortly after prompting him to remarry, or if they divorced, or if he simply left Sarah.

Jackson was involved in some capacity with the Little-Jett feud which ravaged the Breathitt County area in the late 1880's and early 1890's. In Charles Mutzenburg's "Famous Kentucky Feuds & Tragedies" (1917) on page 276, he is mentioned as a participant in the feud who was wounded in the fighting in 1888. An original, first edition copy of this book is in possession of Barnett descendants, and it originally belonged to Tom Barnett, Jackson's son, and after his death passed to another of Jackson's sons, Andre Jackson Barnett. A handwritten message on page 276 of this copy states "This talks about dad's trouble".

Whether or not this "trouble" with the feuding became a reason for him to depart for Arkansas is unknown, but it seems likely as it was a common occurrence for people to vacate the Breathitt County area at the time due to all the violence. Sometime around 1893, he left Breathitt County for Arkansas along with Phoebe Napier Barnett, the widow of his 1st cousin James Barnett, who died around 1890 and whose death may also have been attributed to the feuding, but this has not been proven. Phoebe (daughter of Patrick Napier and Rhoda Campbell) and James Barnett had had five children together.

For reasons that are still unclear today, Jackson and Phoebe left all of their collective 10 children behind in Kentucky, including the youngest children. Jackson's 9 year-old Amanda and 13 year-old Thomas were left behind, as were all 5 of Phoebe's children, who were all below the age of 15, including 7 year-old Nathan. Theories have been abound for years regarding why the children were left behind.

No marriage record for Jackson and Phoebe has been found in Kentucky or Arkansas, so one theory has been that they "ran off" together and may not have been formally married. As we don't know what happened with Jackson's marriage to Sarah Clemons, we don't know if he departed Kentucky as a widower, a divorced man, or if he simply left her behind to be with Phoebe.

Another theory is that Jackson and Phoebe left Kentucky on the run for feud-related reasons. Jackson had clearly been involved in the violence, and it is likely Phoebe's husband James had been as well, so perhaps they feared for their lives and believed they needed to escape and left their children behind for safe-keeping with relatives. This rumor is supported by the fact a rumor spread among many of the Barnett's who remained in Kentucky that Jackson, Phoebe, and the two children they had had together, Louvica (1893) and Andrew Jackson (1894) died of Rocky Mountain spotted fever in Arkansas. Phoebe never saw her children in Kentucky again, and it was presumed by the descendants of her family for years that she had died in Arkansas with Jackson and their children.

This rumor was untrue, however, as the four survived and are residing in the Cherokee Nation in the 1900 Census. Andrew Jackson Barnett, Jackson's son, claimed he was born in Boston, Arkansas, which is in Madison County, so we believe that is where the family lived before moving to Oklahoma.

Jackson and Phoebe were clearly deceased prior to 1910. Louvica and Andrew are living with their sister, Amanda Barnett Roberts, the youngest child born to Jackson's marriage with Louvica Back.

Exactly when and where Jackson and Phoebe died has yet to be determined. The family knows that every year on Memorial Day, Andrew would travel alone to visit the graves of his parents, but no one seems to know exactly where he went. According the husband of a cousin who knew much about the family before she died, Jackson and Phoebe are buried in Lincoln County, Oklahoma in a cemetery with multiple other Barnett's. It is implied he has visited their graves himself, but no records for Jackson and Phoebe have appeared in cemetery records or indexes in Lincoln County. Amanda and Thomas, children of Jackson's first marriage, along with Louvica, his daughter with Phoebe, are all buried together in Davenport Cemetery in Lincoln County. It appears likely this is where Jackson and Phoebe are buried as well, but their headstones have not yet been discovered at the time of this writing.

It is our hope that we will eventually locate Jackson's and Phoebe's headstones and find out precisely what years they died.

Phoebe Napier

Phoebe was the daughter of Patrick Napier and Rhoda Campbell.

She married James Barnett on 1 Mar 1876 in Breathitt County, Kentucky. Together they had five children, namely Jessie, Angeline, Armine Bell, Elvira, and Nathan.

James died about 1890; it is unknown why he died at such a relatively young age, but it is believed he died for reasons connected to the Jett-Little feud which had ravaged the Breathitt County area for years.

In about 1892, she went to Arkansas with a new husband, Jackson Barnett, a cousin of James, leaving her 5 young children behind in Kentucky. They would never see her again.

She and Jackson had 2 children together, Louvica and Andrew Jackson. They eventually moved to Oklahoma, where she died sometime before 1910.

It has not been determined precisely when and where Phoebe died, but she is likely buried in Davenport Cemetery according to the husband of a cousin who claims to have visited the graves of she and her husband "somewhere in Lincoln County" where several other Barnett's are buried. As 3 of Jackson's children, including Phoebe's daughter Louvica, are buried in Davenport Cemetery, it is assumed she and Jackson are buried there as well, but this has not been proven yet at the time of this writing.

A family story states that after Jackson died, Phoebe was so heartbroken and depressed that she remained almost entirely bed-ridden for the rest of her life, dying about a year after Jackson.

Lastly, here is a picture of the two of them found among my great grandmother's possessions.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The elusive William Dobbs, son of Lodowick Dobbs

Several different William Dobbs/Dabbs have been attached to William Dobbs, son of Lodowick Dobbs, but I have qualms with most of them.

William is listed in his father's will (Pendleton County, South Carolina, 1814) as one of his six youngest children. By all accounts, it appears the children listed in the will were listed in the order of their birth. He lists his "six youngest children" as Lewis, Dosia, Lodowick, Stephen, William, and James. From Census records we can prove Lewis was born about 1800, Dosia about 1801/1802, Lodowick about 1802/1803, and Stephen about 1804. James Gibson Dobbs is shown to have been born in 1808. This means William, who was born between Stephen and James, was born between 1804 and 1808.

1. The William DABBS found in Cobb County, GA in 1850 and 1860 fits the age of the William we are looking for, but as has been previously established, the DABBS family is an unrelated family to ours and not just a Census mis-transcription. This William really was a Dabbs, not a Dobbs, so this is not our William.

2. The William DOBBS who married Catherine Covington in Franklin County, GA in 1810 and whose family later moved to Marion County, Arkansas cannot work because he would not get married when he was only 3 to 6 years old. The William Dobbs who married Catherine Covington is simply too old to be Lodowick's William. While this tree, (Bevers, Hadaway, Wheeler & Griggs Families), has mostly great information on it, this is one area where information they've put together has been spread around the internet and is unlikely to be true. Further, as one of Lodowick's "six youngest children", I find it unlikely he would have moved to Georgia by 1810 before his father's death in South Carolina in 1814 while still under the age of 10.

A deed concerning this William Dobbs and a Susannah Covington in Franklin County, GA in 1810 has been used as further "proof" of this being the William who was the son of Lodowick:

Source: The GA Genealogical Mag. April, 1969, pg 114:
Nov. 28, 1810, pg. 113-114 Franklin Co. GA
Abstract: " Be it remembered.... Susannah Covington and William Dobbs have this day mutually agreed on a division of the tract of land of Broad River adjoining John Covington's fence", the said Dobbs to have the lower part down the river, and Susannah to have the upper part during her lifetime. Witnesses: Marksfield H. Payne, Silas Dobbs. "The Act o f Susannah Covington done and agreed to in presence of her husband Thomas Covington, Sr., and by his mutual consent and such a his wish. Instrument is signed also by Thos. Covington, Sr. same date. Recorded Dec. 3, 1810."

Posted here:

Since a "Silas Dobbs" was the witness to this deed, many believe this to be Lodowick's son Silas and therefore "proof" of being this being Lodowick's son, William. However, Lodowick's son Silas was born in 1794, meaning he would only be 16 years old at the time this document was recorded in 1810, and therefore he would be too young to be a legal witness. This is almost cetrainly the Silas Dobbs who was born about 1770, who is likely Lodowick's brother or 1st cousin (according to DNA tests, they were related). The William who married Catherine Covington, based on this deed, is more likely a son of Silas (or even John; he could be a brother of Silas and Lodowick since we don't actually know how old he was).

Note: This was also most likely the William Dobbs found in Muscogee County, GA in the 1830 Census.

3. Lastly there is a William Dobbs who was born about 1806 in SC living in Cass County, GA in the 1850 Census. He is obviously the best candidate to be Lodowick's son William, but unfortunately there is so little information on him that it's hard to be certain. In 1850 he is living in close proximity to Peter Dobbs, which has led many to attach him to that family, but geographic proximity in a single Census is hardly solid proof. In fact, in the 1840 Census Peter is living near several Dobbs men who appear to be his sons--but a William is not among them. This William appears to be the William in the 1830 Census in Franklin County, GA. I make this assertion because if this were the above William Dobbs who married Catherine Covington, then he would have a 5-9 or 10-15 year old Calloway C. Dobbs in his household for this Census, but the only male in this household other than William is a male under 5, who is likely Martin Dobbs who was born about 1829.

Peter Dobbs is also living in Franklin County at this time, but they are not in significant proximity besides being in the same county. The Dobbses William is closest to are Lott, Balaam, and Morton, the latter of those two being sons of Lott. As Balaam named a son "Perry", and William did as well, this along with the families' proximity in the 1830 Census lead me to conclude what the aforementioned Bevers, Hadaway, Wheeler & Griggs Families tree has, which is that "this" William was most likely a son of Lott, rather than Peter or Lodowick. I am still willing to leave open the possibility that this is Lodowick's William, or even that he could be Peter's son, but as far as my records are concerned, I will be attaching him to Lott.

So in conclusion, where is "our" William, son of Lodowick? I don't know, but I don't believe he is any of the three above mentioned William's. In the "Dobbs Family History" book by Mary Margaret Dobbs (McCaslin) Ward, she states only that William moved to Texas prior to the Civil War and mentions nothing else. I have found no record of a William Dobbs born in South Carolina in Texas records, so as it stands, I have not seen any certain record of William Dobbs, son of Lodowick, after his mention in his father's will. Perhaps he died young or he went by a name other than William which is why he has not been tracked down, but I have written this today in hopes some researchers may come across it and be cautioned not to attach the three above William Dobbs/Dabbs's to their trees as Lodowick's son William, because I don't believe that any of them are his son.

Three related notes for researchers of the family of Lodowick Dobbs:

1. Lodowick did NOT have a son named Joshua or Joseph or Josiah. At one point there was a mis-transcription of Lodowick's will in which some thought he named a son "Joshua" or "Josiah" or "Joseph", but if one looks closely, it says "Jesse". Jesse is a confirmed son of Lodowick; there was no Joshua, Josiah, or Joseph. Lodowick names FIFTEEN children in his will, not SIXTEEN. The myth of "Joshua" has been spread for decades and generations and it is time for it to end. Even the aforementioned "Dobbs Family History" by Mary Margaret Dobbs (McCaslin) Ward further gives out this myth, but if one would simply look closely enough at the will, they will see it says "Jesse", it is just a little blurry. There was no Joshua, so I really hope someday people will begin to leave out this fictional child from their trees.

2. Lodowick was not named Lodowick Adams Dobbs. He had a grandson named Lodowick Adams Dobbs, but that was not his name. No record anywhere has ever given him the middle name Adams or even the middle initial of "A". Look anywhere you want and you will not find one. Someone a long time ago made the error of giving Lodowick the middle name Adams probably just because it was his grandson's middle name, but this is nothing but an error. It is not true. Please encourage fellow Dobbs researchers to remove the middle name "Adams" from the Lodowick Dobbs who married Sarah Adams and died in 1814 in Pendelton County, South Carolina.

3. It is also spread around the internet that Lodowick was a son of Fortune/Fortunatus Dobbs, but I came across an e-mail that has been shared on the Bevers, Hadaway, Wheeler & Griggs Families Tree that has further convinced me that Lodowick was the son of John, not Fortune/Fortunatus. That e-mail can be read here: or on the Dobbs Genealogy Discussion Group message board on Yahoo. It states:

31 Aug 2009:

I suppose I have been doing Dobbs research longer than anyone else in the family covering the past 47 years. Of the four major Dobbs researchers prior to 1970, I was friend and correspondent with three of them. The one I did not meet was Dr. Carey Dobbs, a chemistry professor at Delta State College in the Mississippi Delta. He may have begun doing research in the late 1920's and had published his findings by the late 1930's. He was a descendant of Lodowick Dobbs through his son, Rev. Silas Dobbs, a Baptist minister who eventually settled in Choctaw Co., MS.

Carey Dobbs developed a theory that Fortunatus Dobbs moved into SC from NC and was the father of all the other Southern Dobbs who are found in early census records. But I and David Smith of Wheaton, IL, also a descendant of Lodowick Dobbs through his son, Lodowick Jr., began to seriously examine and challenge Carey Dobbs theory back in the 1970's. We noted that Lodowick has never showed up in the same county as Fortunatus at any time. We started tracking Lodowick in the late 1770's or early 1780's in NC with a John Dobbs. And I eventually proposed a new theory by 1980 that Lodowick was the son of John Dobbs rather than Fortunatus. And no piece of evidence has led me away from that theory in the past 29 years.

John and Lodowick were neighbors of the Cleveland family in Wilkes Co., NC through about 1785 and then both families moved to near the SC - GA line about that time. John received a grant on the Savannah River in Pendleton District, SC but moved across the river to Wilkes Co., GA around December of 1786 and remained there until his death around 1795 in Elbert Co., GA, which was taken from Wilkes County in 1790. Young Dobbs males who began paying taxes on Cedar Creek in Elbert County were Josiah Dobbs, Silas Dobbs, Lott Dobbs, and Peter Dobbs. Josiah died in Elbert around 1810, but the other three eventually moved to Franklin Co., GA.

My interest in the family comes from the fact that I descend from Lott Dobbs through his third son, Burrell Dobbs, who moved to Cherokee Co., GA and remained there until his death around 1870. Over the years I have also developed the theory that Lodowick was the oldest son of John and that Josiah, Silas, Lott, and Peter were all younger brothers of Lodowick. A few years after Lodowick Dobbs died in Pendleton Dist., SC, his widow, Sarah Dobbs, came over to settle in Franklin County, GA on the same creek where Silas, Lott, and Peter Dobbs lived - Hunter Creek. And there Lodowick Jr. married one of Peter Dobbs' daughters. As you may have noticed, marrying first cousins was a fairly common thing back then.

Now I think we have enough documentation to support the fact that Fortunatus Dobbs and Nathaniel Dobbs, were related to John Dobbs, father of Lodowick, Josiah, Silas, Lott, and Peter. And we are hoping that DNA testing will provide the support that we are all looking for. I am sure others have better credentials than I do, but I know no one else who has been thoroughly involved with Dobbs history for 47 years. I have taught genealogy in one venue or another at the University of Alabama since 1973 and have worked as a Professional Genealogist since 1978. I served ten years as President of the Tuscaloosa, AL Genealogical Society and have published five family histories. I have seen the Dobbs genealogy as a major challenge through the years and am aware that the best genealogists make mistakes. I am also aware that DNA has no family names written in the genetic code. But with the use of DNA testing and really good research, I believe we may be able to solve some of the problems that we have explored for many years.

R. L. Guffin
Tuscaloosa, AL 35404
(205) 366-8956
rguffin@stillman. edu
So please, take all of these notes and information into account when you're researching Lodowick Dobbs. If anyone has any questions, comments, or additions, feel free to e-mail me or comment on this post.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Differentiating James Lewis Hollis and James Bell Hollis


When two men have the same first and last name, were born at about the same time in the same place, and resided in the same place for several years, it can become difficult to differentiate between the two. It is also often easy to make assumptions about one or the other which leads to them being attached to the wrong records, and often the wrong families altogether. This is the case with James Lewis Hollis and James Bell Hollis of Cannon County, Tennessee. Neither of them have birth or death records, so there are no primary sources available “proving” which James belonged to which Hollis family. However, if the sources available to us are examined closely enough, it is easy to ascertain this information accurately.

James Bell Hollis

James Bell Hollis was born between 1838 and 1840 in Cannon County, Tennessee. He is first positively identified in his Civil War service records for the Tennessee 4th Cavalry (Smith’s) (Note: This regiment’s service records are filed as Tennessee 8th Cavalry (Smith’s)), where he is listed as J. B. Hollis. (The service records from the Tennessee 4th Cavalry (McLemore’s) can also be attached to James Bell Hollis.) Next, he is found in Cannon County marriage records marrying Miss Mary Creson, daughter of Benjamin F. and Sarah Creson, on 18 Feb 1866; he is listed as J. B. Hollis in this record. He is then found in the 1870 Census in District 4, Cannon, Tennessee, with his wife Mary, two children, and a man who will later prove to be an important clue, 20-year-old James B. Laseter. In 1880, James is found in the same location sans Laseter and with 5 additional children.
No death record or headstone record have been located for James Bell Hollis, but as he is not found in the 1900 Census, it is safe to assume he was deceased before that census. Several online trees list his of death as 21 Oct 1881 in Cannon County, Tennessee, but I have yet to find a primary source for this date. His wife, Mary, filed a Confederate Widow Pension Application, which she was approved for, but neither she nor her witnesses provide James’s date of death. Also, it is this application where we are given a primary source proving that this James’s middle name is “Bell”.

James Lewis Hollis

James Lewis Hollis was born 8 May 1839 (which, like James Bell, is between 1838 and 1840) in Cannon County, Tennessee. No Civil War service record has been found for him. He is first positively identified in his marriage record to Alice E. Todd on 1 Mar 1866 in Cannon County. (He and James Bell were even married less than two weeks apart.) This family was not located in the 1870 Census, but they were likely in Cannon County still. They are located in the 1880 Census in District 3, Cannon, Tennessee with his wife and four children.  
The family is found in the 1900 Census residing in Justice Precinct 3, Fannin, Texas with his wife and 3 children, and again in the 1910 Census in Trenton, Fannin, Texas. James died 18 Jun 1910 is buried in Burns Cemetery in Trenton, Fannin, Texas. Though Fannin County did have death records by this time, for some reason or another James did not have one, or else it has not been located.

Two Families – One James Hollis Each

The family James Bell Hollis is most often attached to is that of John Hollis and Esther (also spelled Easter and Easther) Bell who were married in Rutherford County, TN on 4 Sep 1823. This seems like a logical choice seeing as Esther’s maiden name is Bell. James Lewis Bell isn’t found in very many online trees, but when he is he’s listed as a son of the same couple: John Hollis and Esther Bell. The other tree that James Bell Hollis is sometimes attached to is that of James B. Hollis and Martha Saffle, who married in Rutherford County on 18 Apr 1829. (To avoid confusion, here on out this James B. Hollis will be referred to as James B. Hollis Sr.) Of the three possible connections, I believe the latter two are the correct ones.
As previously stated, it is easy to connect James Bell Hollis to the family of John and Esther because of Esther’s maiden name. However, it should be noted that James B. Hollis Sr. has a connection to the Bell family as well. Esther Bell is the daughter of James Bell and Susannah Lewis. James B. Hollis Sr. is the son of David Hollis and Elizabeth Lewis. Susannah and Elizabeth are sisters, both daughters of Abraham Lewis and Esther Todd. It is very possible that James B. Hollis Sr.’s middle name is Bell, but that has not been proven.
The family of John and Esther Bell Hollis are found in the 1850 Census in District 3 Jones, Cannon, Tennessee (Family Number 396). Not surprisingly, they have a son named James in their household who is listed as being about 10 years old (so born circa 1840). James B. Hollis Sr.’s family is found in the same place and are Family Number 358. They have a son named James listed as well, who is listed as being about 12 years old (so born circa 1838). The confusing part is that this James is given a middle initial of “W”. There are two possible reasons for this: 1) Their son James had two middle names, including one that started with the letter “W”, or 2) The more likely reason is that this was probably a simple Census error, which anyone who has done extensive research using the Census understands is not an uncommon occurrence.
It should now be noted that there are two families of special note living close to the James B. Hollis Sr. family. The heads of both of these families are named Luke Laseter [Lasiter]. The first is Luke Laseter [Lasiter] born about 1820 in North Carolina, who is married to a Marinda, and are Family Number 354 (Four households from the James B. Hollis Sr. family.). In their household there are also two Fergusons residing: Clary, born about 1806 in North Carolina, and Sarah C., born about 1834 in Tennessee. Next door to James B. Hollis Sr., with Family Number 357, is the family of Luke Laseter [Lasiter] born about 1825 in Tennessee. In his household is his 1 year old son, James B. Laseter [Lasiter]. This is the same James B. Laseter [Lasiter] found in the home of James Bell Hollis in the 1870 Census. This connection appears to attach James Bell Hollis to the family of James B. Hollis Sr., as they are living next door to James Bell Hollis’s future boarder, but this alone should not suffice as proof. Examining the 1860 Census will provide the further evidence needed to definitively tie James Bell Hollis to James B. Hollis Sr. instead of to John Hollis.

1860 Census

The family of John Hollis, who had remarried in 1849 to Elizabeth Todd and again to a Mary (supposedly also a Todd, but no marriage record has been found) prior to 1860, can be found in the 1860 Census in Cannon, Tennessee. John’s son James is present in the household in this Census, which proves to be an important fact. Barring the possibility that the same James Hollis appears twice while the other James Hollis doesn’t appear at all in the same Census, which is very unlikely, it would stand to reason that whichever James Hollis is located outside of this household would be the James Hollis who is the son of James B. Hollis Sr.
James B. Hollis Sr. died in 1850, so by the 1860 Census his progeny were spread about a bit. It appears that his wife, Martha, and their daughter Rachel moved to Readyville, and their son William Joseph Hollis took over the family farm in Cannon County. (Their 1850 household included this son, who was enumerated by his middle name only.) This is ascertained by the fact that William’s next door neighbor is the aforementioned elder Luke Lasiter, who was 4 households from the family in 1850 and with whom the Fergusons were residing. (This Census says he was born about 1812, rather than 1820, but he is still married to Marinda, so it is certainly him.)
William Joseph Hollis, who was born about 1835 in Tennessee, has three other persons residing in his household: First, a 25-year-old woman, Sarah Hollis, who appears to be his wife; second, a Clary Ferguson, born about 1806 in North Carolina. She is the aforementioned Clary Ferguson who resided with the Lasiters in 1850 with her then-16-year-old daughter Sarah C. four households away from the James B. Hollis Sr. family. As William Joseph Hollis’s wife Sarah appears as “Sarah C.” in both the 1870 and 1880 Censuses, and she is the same as age as Sarah C. Ferguson, one can logically conclude that William had married Sarah C. Ferguson, though a marriage record has not been found; Clary, or “Clara”, is still residing with the family in 1870 as well. (It should be noted there are several records that appear to be missing from Cannon County’s marriage collection during the period of the late 1850’s—such as the previously mentioned missing record of John Hollis and his new wife Mary—so it is not exactly an anomaly that the record for William Joseph Hollis and Sarah C. Ferguson is unaccounted for.) The third person residing with William is a 21-year-old J. B. Hollis. This is almost certainly James Bell Hollis.


In conclusion, James Bell Hollis’s association with William Joseph Hollis, the Fergusons, and James B. Lasiter leads this researcher to conclude that he is the son of James B. Hollis Sr., therefore making James Lewis Hollis the son of John Hollis and Esther Bell.

Final Note

Further connecting James Bell Hollis to William Joseph Hollis is the fact that the two of them enlisted to fight in the Civil War together; even though William ended up in Company E and James in Company G, they were both of Tennessee’s 4th (8th) Cavalry (Smith’s), William having joined the 4th/8th after being discharged from the 18th Tennessee Infantry. William’s widow, like James’s, also applied for and received a Confederate Widow’s Pension. William’s pension application talks about both his service in the 18th Tennessee Infantry and later the 4th Cavalry. He claimed to have been wounded at “Paint Rock Bridge, Georgia”. It appears he died while his application was being processed, so his widow (a second wife, Martha B. Lambert) had to re-apply. His file is very sad; he claims to have lost everything to a fire, and the man who interviewed him called him one of the “most helpless, needy, and worthy” applicants he had ever interviewed, and also stated that his family was one of the best to have ever lived in the county.