Martha Newman’s ancestors

I found this Bible transcription record (pictured below) regarding the family of James B. Jones and his wife Martha, on the Library of Virginia website. This is from the book “Family Records, Mecklenburg County, Virginia”, edited by Susan Bracey Sheppard and Carol Bracey Corker. My ancestors who are mentioned in this Bible record are James B. Jones, his wife Martha, their daughter Sarah E. Jones, and Sarah’s son Nonny, (their nickname for Alginon Gray). It took me several years after finding this bible transcription record to discover Martha Jones’s maiden name.

I found that family trees and genealogies online give two different surnames for the wife of James B. Jones: the surname Reid, and the surname Newman. Unfortunately, some descendants of James B. Jones and Martha Newman incorrectly reported her surname as ‘Reid’ to Dr. William M. Pritchett, who then published that in his book “Civil War soldiers from Brunswick County, Virginia”. In August of 2004, I went to the Nannie Gray Kidd family reunion. I asked everyone there if they knew Martha’s maiden name. Agnes Hudson told me she knew that Martha’s maiden name was Newman, and that the Newman surname was the middle name for several of Agnes’s Jones family ancestors.

A few years after the reunion, I found the death record for Martha Newman. The transcription of the death record on and FamilySearch stated that Martha was the daughter of Abner and Delilah Newman. When my friend looked at the original death record (below), she found Martha Newman’s mother was not actually Delilah, but rather “Dottie”, a nickname for Dorothy. It looks to both my friend and I, that they didn’t cross the two “T’s” in Dottie’s name.

from film number 2048577

Next, I went to look for a marriage record for Abner Newman and found that Abner Newman married Dorothy Steagall in Brunswick County, Virginia on May 8, 1792. I looked for any Steagalls in Brunswick County, Virginia and discovered (from chancery cases) that Thomas Steagall and Elizabeth were Dorothy’s parents. Thomas Steagall wrote a will in Brunswick County, Virginia June 18, 1819 which lists all of Dorothy and Abner’s children. I believe that Dorothy died before her father wrote his will. There is a lengthy chancery case in Brunswick County, Virginia because of problems with Thomas Steagall’s will. In that court case of 1836 it states that Dorothy died, but in her father’s will in 1819 it does not explicitly state that Dorothy had died. In the 1819 will, she did not inherit any of the estate, but all her children did. This is often how wills were written when an adult child (with children) died before their parent’s will was written. This chancery case of 1836 states that Martha the daughter of Abner Newman was the wife of James Jones. All of Martha’s sisters are also listed in this case with their married names and the names of their husbands.

A descendant of Varinda Newman contacted me because she recognized the information in my family tree on, and told me more about Emma, Varinda and Parthenia Newman’s husbands. Together, we theorized that the three Walker men who married these three Newman sisters, were brothers. We have since proven that Edward, David and Freeman Walker were indeed brothers. (More on this in a future post)

I wondered if the birthplace on Martha Newman’s death record listed as Orange County, Virginia was a mistake, because I had not been able to find that she had any other connection to Orange County. About five years ago, a descendant of Martha’s older (and only) brother William Newman told me he had heard that Abner Newman’s father was William Newman, and that this William Newman had a will in Orange County, Virginia. He gave me the will book and page number. A few days later I drove to the Orange County courthouse to get a copy of this will. Abner’s father was indeed listed as William Newman and his will (written in 1837) stated that his son, Abner, had already died. William Newman’s will listed all of Abner’s children. Martha Newman and her siblings were mentioned in both of their grandfather’s wills. (William Newman and Thomas Steagall)

The image below is from a chancery case about William Newman’s estate in Orange County, Virginia. It was a receipt paper for the heirs living in Mecklenburg, Virginia. These signatures showed that they had received the first part of their inheritance. These signatures are of the heirs of Abner Newman for his portion of his father William Newman’s estate.

I’ve done lot of research about Martha Newman’s ancestors and wanted to share my research. I’ve also been trying to research and learn more about colonial laws and colonial records. There are many big mistakes published about the Newman family history in previously published books and articles. The Newmans had a lot of enslaved individuals. I looked at the names of these enslaved individuals when trying to sort which of the many Alexander, William, Reuben, George or James Newmans each record was referencing. It took about two years of brainstorming and testing with my friend Anne Willson to figure out thow to best present and share the information I discovered about the enslaved individuals and the Newman ancestors together, with their community.

I purchased the domain at Christmas time and began building the website. Last month I released research on this site about the earliest Newman ancestor I know of and can document. Previous published works combined biographical details of at least five different individual men to be “Thomas Newman the Immigrant.” Abner Newman was the first generation Newman to live in Mecklenburg, VA. Before that, his family lived in Orange, and before that Essex, VA. The earliest Newman ancestors in Virginia were across the Rappahannock River from Essex, in Richmond County, Virginia. This is my Newman line, as far back as I can document.

Martha Newman’s colonial ancestor Thomas Newman was either born in England or in Rappahannock County, Virginia which became Richmond County, Virginia in 1692. This man named Thomas Newman died in 1700 in Richmond County, Virginia. Interestingly to me, his inventory showed he had “a parcel of old books.”

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