Martha Newman was orphaned and living in Orange County, Virginia in 1820 with her grandparents William Newman and Ann Finnell. I pondered, how could her future husband, James B. Jones who lived in Mecklenburg at the time, meet Martha Newman who was living in Orange? They married the following year, in 1821, so I thought about what might have happened that year in 1820. Martha’s grandfather, Thomas Steagall died in Brunswick County that year, and her sister Emma Newman married Edward Walker also in the year 1820. Martha may have traveled to Brunswick county for those two events.
Maybe James B. Jones had family in Orange and visited the area? James’s mother Susanna had the maiden name of Clark. I realize Clark is a common surname, but there was a man named Joseph Clark about the same age as Susanna that lived next door to where Martha was living in 1820. I looked at wills for all the Clarks I could find in will index books in: Orange, Culpeper, Madison, Brunswick and Mecklenburg. Unfortunately I could not find anyone mentioning a daughter Susanna or Anna or any daughter with a married name of Jones in their wills. I found the will of Joseph Clark in Orange that I believe was the neighbor of William and Ann and Martha in Orange, but he lists his children in the will, not any siblings. If Susanna were related to him, it would probably have been as a sibling.
I started reviewing the marriage records of Martha’s sisters to see who were the witnesses or bondsman in case their names might give me a clue. Martha’s sister Elizabeth Newman married at the age of fifteen, so I expected to see a parental consent with Elizabeth’s marriage record. Elizabeth married Samuel McKinney in Warren County, North Carolina. I could not find any consent records for Warren County this early, and I’m not sure they exist anymore. Abner was alive in 1808 when his daughter Elizabeth was married, but I could not find him on tax records in 1808. I believe he was in Kentucky with his son William and other relatives at that time. I was very surprised to see William Jones as the bondsman because this showed me that the two families knew each other twelve years before Martha Newman and James B. Jones were married.
Martha’s older brother William Newman married Ann Tarvin in Campbell County, Kentucky in 1819. I started trying to trace the Tarvin family in early Kentucky to see if I could find William or his father living close by the Tarvin family. I found some family histories written about the Tarvins that stated that they were “Dunkers”, a German Baptist group that went to Kentucky for religious reasons. They moved away from an area that was not friendly to their religious beliefs. I went back to looking at court records and found a marriage contract for Elizabeth Newman’s second marriage. She married William Harwell in Brunswick County, but the land she had inherited from her first husband Samuel McKinney was in Mecklenburg County. William Jones again signed their marriage record as a witness, along with William Creath. I now believe the early connection between these families was that they were all Baptists, and that this was an important part of their lives. William Creath was a Baptist minister and had performed the marriage of William Jones and Anna Clark. James probably knew Martha because they knew each other at church.
Malone’s Baptist Church is the only Baptist church that I am aware of that existed in Mecklenburg County before 1820. The church building was about six or seven miles north of where Elizabeth lived. That seems to me, to be a bit far to travel to church at that time, and I wondered if there was another church closer. I wondered if maybe William Creath rotated which which church he would preach at, because he was a traveling preacher. I found this write up about Malone’s church in the WPA project, which also includes a history of the Baptist church in Mecklenburg. (About the WPA project, Library of Virginia)
Some things that interest me in the WPA history are that it was established in 1771 and William Creath visited or preached there, once a month. It is surprising to see that there were such a small number of Baptists then, especially because William Creath had 16 children. The report says there were 29 members in 1834 and 41 members in 1803. I expect they were a very close knit community. I theorize the Malone, Creath, William and Susanna Jones, Steagall and Abner Newman’s families were some of those members counted in 1803, based on William Creath having performed family marriages and witnessing records for them. Jordan Malone was the executor of Thomas Steagall’s estate, Martha’s grandfather. Jeremiah Vaughan married Martha Steagall. (Martha Newman’s aunt). William Creath witnessed Jeremiah’s will. In the ministers returns marriage records during a 10 year time period, I counted about 76 couples that William Creath married. I now believe that the majority of my ancestors in Mecklenburg County before 1820 were Baptist.