Old Great Creek Jones family land

Jones is one of the most common names in the world. Yet, all the Jones I’ve researched in the Great Creek area of Mecklenburg appear related. There are many cousin marriages between William Jones’ descendants. The family tree criss-crosses more than it branches out! William Jones had 1 daughter and 6 sons named in his will. A few of William’s grandchildren moved away. But the majority of William Jones’s descendants remained. Some of William Jones’s descendants still live in the same area, 200 years later!

William was illiterate. He signed “his mark”. Interestingly the will states, “Pronounced and dictated by the said William Jones”. I have not yet found a record which gives a birth date for William Jones. If he was born about 1737- his approximate year of birth according to some estimates, then he would have been about age 25 at his first marriage (name of first wife unknown) and age 55 when he married Agnes Bolling Clask. He would also have lived to be about age 81, outliving his wife Agnes and his sons Frederick and Richard. Carrol, Charles and Milbury were unmarried and without children. William B. Jones(son of William Jones) sons, James and Zachariah, were teenagers when their grandfather William Jones died.

I don’t know where William Jones was born or when he first called Mecklenburg home. The mother of William’s children is unknown. Because of that, I wonder if William was married further north and moved to Mecklenburg as a young widow? Or if the old church record marriage was just lost over time? Or if we just aren’t sure because William Jones is such a common name? William’s children are estimated to be born in the mid 1760’s, which was still in Colonial days, and about the time Mecklenburg was being established. Were the children born on the frontier of Mecklenburg? Or further north in more established areas? William married Agnes Clask in Brunswick County VA in 1792. He may have been living in Mecklenburg at that time. I do know the Great Creek Jones family was in Mecklenburg before the War of 1812 because a few of them were witnesses on the War of 1812 pension depositions. By 1820, Jones children and grandchildren lived along currently named Nellie Jones Rd (Nellie was William’s daughter-in-law) and Blackridge Rd.

I’ve made changes to traditional versions of Jones family charts, by reducing the number of children William had: William’s will (Written Jan 1818) was somewhat confusing, especially regarding his son John. Many people’s trees and charts say that Mary was William’s 3rd wife (with some charts reporting her as a daughter) because the will says “I lend to Mary 100 acres of land.” But the will never says the word “wife”; Mary is actually William’s granddaughter. The will also doesn’t say “grandchild”. John’s information gets confusing because his children’s names aren’t consistent throughout the will. In Carrol Jones’ estate papers, he calls his brother John by the name of James, listing the same children. So in my chart, he is named “John James Jones.” John’s children are the only grandchildren specifically named in the will. There is a reference to “the children” of Frederick and “the children” of Richard. William B. Jones’ 2 children are not mentioned or referenced at all. I don’t understand the value of things in Virginia in this time period, but the division of William’s estate does not appear to be equally divided between his children. John’s children are mentioned twice with land, so I theorize he is the oldest child, and was probably considered the main heir.

There were 13 slaves listed by name as part of William’s estate. I will post more about these individuals in the future, when I am able to look at more records. William’s will also includes: 3 beds, furniture, and 580 acres. The land was divided into 5 pieces. I have not yet seen any indication that Frederick or Richard inherited any land. I do know where Frederick lived and was buried. I assume that Frederick purchased his land, but am still trying to find earlier land records. The land descriptions in William’s will sound to me like his sons were already living on these parcels of land, with the will officially transferring the title to his sons.

  1. Charles Jones was given 190 acres with “Blue Spring Branch”, a creek, James Burton, Winfield Wynn, Joshua Winfield & Black’s Rd as neighboring properties. This property later went to Lieu Jones and James B. Jones.
  2. John Jones was given 90 acres bordering his brother Carrol Jones land, a creek at Douglas Plantation patch, and Joshua Winfield as neighboring properties.
  3. Carrol Jones was given 100 acres bordering his brother John, the creek at Douglas Plantation Patch down to Mrs. Wynn’s line, Jesse Taylor, & Joshua Winfield as neighboring properties.
  4. Mary is loaned 100 acres, later to be divided with brothers James and Samuel. (siblings John & Morning were excluded) Jesse Taylor, Jesse’s spring branch to where the road crosses the branch, the creek, Muston’s line, Mrs. Wynne, Carrol Jones were neighboring properties. (John’s family gets 2 parcels of land. #2 & #4)
  5. William is given 100 acres. Jesse Taylor, to where the road crosses James Jones spring branch, to the creek, Muston, on the creek to Hinton’s line, and Love as neighboring properties. “8 or 10 acres to be included at the fork of the creek to his tract.” This property might have gone to the elder son, James B. Jones, who owned 100 acres. Zachariah Jones paid off his father William’s debt, and got 210 acres at age 23! I believe that William B. Jones lived on Zachariah’s land, and that he lived by his 2 sons the rest of his life

I’ve not yet found where Carrol Jones, Richard Jones or John Jones’s 2 properties were, but I expect them to be along Great Creek. Probably in between Charles and William’s land. Richard Jones died pre-1800, 26 years before his father William died. He might not have ever owned land. Milbury was not left any land, and is not known to have married. In this time period, that likely means she was dependent on a brother. If that was the case, I wonder which brother she lived with? I also wonder if the 100 acres loaned to Mary was where William (Senior) lived?

I’ve been researching the Jones family and their land in the Great Creek area for almost 20 years. There is still much more to understand, learn and find! So far, the few possible Jones burial plots I’ve found contain only graves without tombstones. (Except for Frederick). I’ve only found a few possible Jones graves for a whole lot of people though, so I keep searching. It would be helpful to know exactly where Joshua Winfield, James Burton, Mrs. Wynn, (Mr?) Muston, and Jesse Taylor lived about 1815 to 1820. I’m also looking fo the location of “Douglas Plantation Patch near a creek”. I’m thinking the creek mentioned is Great Creek. There’s also a “Blue Spring Branch” I’ve not heard of before. Have you heard of these places? Or heard rumors of where their cemeteries are?

Jones African American DNA mystery

I was asked by a descendant of Missouri Jones to help her identify which Jones line in Mecklenburg, VA was her family’s line.  I thought Jane Thomas who married Edward Carroll Jones died young, but I found out this was not true after all. My search to discover Missouri’s parents led to totally unexpected results. I uncovered a divorce and several children born out of wedlock, including an African American baby. My intention is to explain what I’ve learned about Jane and her children, showing records that give various pieces of evidence. Not to judge, but rather to try to account for some children, give my interpretation of the records, and explain some possible DNA matches. Although Jane and Edward divorced 156 years ago, DNA matches might be able to give us more answers.

(Download) This chart about Jane’s relatives will help while reading this post about the various relationships. It includes Jane’s siblings and parents. The chart is formatted to 11×17 inches.

Missouri’s descendants were stuck at a huge brick wall. The brick wall they were hitting was finding more information about both George Harper and Missouri Jones’s parents.  (Both families are white.) Missouri’s mother was known as Jane B. Jones. Missouri’s father was unknown, as well as Jane’s parents.  The more I looked at various records, the more Missouri looked like she should be part of my Jones family! On each record, Missouri and Jane lived near my family. The more I looked at Jane, the more she looked to me like the Jane Thomas who married to Edward C Jones.   But I (and other family history researchers) thought this Jane died about 1862-1864, while Edward was in a Confederate hospital or Point Lookout during the Civil War. We thought their children lived with relatives until Edward returned from the war and married Caroline(“Pink”) who raised Jane’s 3 children.

 I found Jane’s death record, from the year 1915. She lived about 50 years longer than I had previously thought! Jane’s name was corrected on her death record and the mother listed looked to me like Tinsy Thomas. Which suggested to me that Jane was alive the same time Edward was married to Caroline Thomas, (Jane’s cousin). This hinted to me a divorce, rather than Jane dying young.

Virginia divorce records from this time period were kept in the circuit court records, now part of chancery records. I found this (below) on the Library of Virginia’s (LVA) website:

I could tell by the above index, that this was probably the divorce, so I went to LVA to get the case. (Hayes was only mentioned as witnessing that he served the court summons to Jane.) Edward Jones’ father, (James B. Jones), and his uncle Zachariah Jones gave the depositions. The court proceeding stated that Jane “had an affair with a Negro man”, and had a child born in Aug 1864 “born with dark skin”, to prove adultery. Jane stated she loved this baby as much as her white babies and was going to keep her baby. The man she had the affair with was not named. Neither the baby’s name nor gender was given. Only that the baby was born in August 1864. James said he had known Jane all her life and that he had seen the baby several times.

The baby would have been conceived about Nov 1863. I’m not sure legally how well the Emancipation Proclamation would have been in effect at this time and place. I have no idea if the man Jane had the affair with was a slave or free. But because the mother was white, this should mean that the baby was born free, regardless of the father’s legal status. Because the case refers to the man as “a Negro man”, rather than stating an owner’s name, my assumption is that the father of this baby was not a slave.

I cannot find any of these people involved on the 1870 Census. I don’t see Jane, or any of her children. I don’t see Edward, Caroline or their children. Caroline had previously been married to Robert Joyce who died in 1863. The children of Robert Joyce and Caroline “Pink” Thomas were wards of Robin Thomas, their grandfather. (Robin was father of Caroline Thomas). Nicholas and Flora Joyce, two of Caroline’s children were living with Robin Thomas on the 1870 Census. I have not yet found Caroline’s other two children Robert Joyce and Cornelia Joyce on the 1870 Census. I manually looked through the whole enumeration district where Jane and Edwards’s siblings lived, but could not find any of these people.

Missouri Jones was born about 1874, and she was white. Jane continued to use the surname Jones for the rest of her life. I have not yet found Missouri’s birth record, but I don’t expect to see the father listed.

1880 Census: Jane & Missouri

This is the 1880 Census above. Jane is in Mecklenburg, next door to her sister Sarah Ellis.  Missouri is the only child in the household, and Jane is listed as divorced. Jane’s baby born in Aug 1864 should be age 16. I do believe this baby lived, because I have seen a photograph with Jane, her daughter Missouri, Missouri’s husband and children, and a nicely dressed African American male teenager. The picture was not labeled, but he was in Jane’s family picture and is most likely Jane’s grandson. Does this mean Jane raised her child? Or did her grandson just visit and was in that family picture? Was Jane’s unknown child working for someone else in 1880? Or raised by someone else nearby? Was the child raised with the surname Jones? Or was the child given the surname of the family who raised him or her?

Missouri’s marriage is the second line on this marriage register for Mecklenburg. I thought this record was interesting because only mothers were listed in the parents’ space for both George Harper & Missouri Jones. Neither George nor Missouri’s father’s names were written on their marriage or death records. Below is the marriage license for Missouri. They were married at the home of Massenburg Thomas, Jane’s brother.

The 1900 Census listed Jane as widowed, instead of divorced. (Edward Jones had actually died by 1900.) Jane was living with her daughter Missouri’s family on the 1900 and 1910 Census. I believe that Jane always lived with Missouri. The 1900 Census says that Jane is the mother of 7 children, 5 living. That’s 2 more children than I can account for. Could she and Edward have had 2 babies that died young so they weren’t listed on a Census? Or were these children born after the divorce, with fathers unknown? It is possible the number was wrong on the Census, but I would have expected Jane to report less children, like only Missouri, rather than more children on the Census.

1900 Census: Jane with daughter Missouri Harper

I thought Jane and Edward had two sons, James, and Richard L. But when I looked through birth records, there was no Richard. Only James R. Jones. Probably James Richard Jones. I’m not sure where the middle initial L came from, or when the first name James was dropped.

Jane had the following children:

1) James Richard L Jones b. 1856, (still alive in 1900), father was Edward C Jones, race: white

2) Martha W. Jones b. 1858 (still alive in 1900), father was Edward C. Jones, race: white

3) Sarah E Jones b. 1860 (still alive in 1900), father was Edward C Jones, race: white

4) Baby with unknown name born Aug 1864, assumed to be alive in 1900, father unknown. Father’s race: African American, Mothers race: white

5) Missouri Jones (alive in 1900), father unknown, race: white

6) ???? Unknown name, unknown gender, unknown father, race: unknown

7) ???? Unknown name, unknown gender, unknown father, race: unknown

I have searched FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com for their available birth records. Births were recorded in the 1860’s and 1870’s. I searched for any Jones born in Mecklenburg or Brunswick in the year 1864 and found nothing. I’ve searched Virginia and North Carolina state indexes, as well as manually looking through microfilms in Mecklenburg for birth records, looking for any Jones baby with a mother named Jane. There are a lot of missing pages, several years are not yet available online. I will keep checking as more records are being digitized and indexed.

1860 Census: Edward & Jane

Edward and Jane’s oldest child is listed as James on the 1860 Census, no Richard listed. They are listed in the dwelling located next to Jane’s sister Rhoda Pearson. Tinsy Thomas, Jane’s mother is the previous house (previous pg.), dwelling #183. Edward’s parents were also on the previous census page, dwelling #177.

I’m curious about who actually paid the court costs and I think this is a big deal. Jane was summoned to court, with a listed penalty of $100 for not showing up.  Another page in the case notates that she did not show up to court, with a witness saying he did give Jane the summons. The divorce decree was issued, with the marriage dissolved 4 Apr 1866, and Jane was responsible for court costs. A hundred dollars plus court costs was an enormous amount of money then! Especially after the Confederate dollar collapsed, so many men who used to work the farms were maimed or had died, and post war economic hardships lasted for decades.  I have Virginia chancery cases involving people who moved to Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas writing letters to the court asking to be excused from needing to appear in court, so they didn’t have to pay those huge fines. I have chancery cases of people losing their homes, unable to pay debts. Edward’s father, James B. Jones borrowed $255.26 in Jan 1854. He could not pay that debt back to AG Boyd & Thornton.  The debt brought to chancery court was not paid until Nov 1876, 2 months after James died, when his son Charles bought the 2 properties which were 100 acres each.  This debt is about what I expect Jane would have been asked to pay, about the cost of 100 acres and a house. If James could not pay this debt for 22 years, how could a newly divorced woman with a baby be expected to pay the court fine and divorce court costs?!  I can totally understand Jane not wanting to appear in court. But I can’t imagine Jane would have been excused from paying these court costs when everyone was out of money and calling in their debts. So, who paid it? Janes father had already died, and her mother only lived a few years after the divorce. Nothing about payments is noted. The divorce decree is the thing written in the case. Jane didn’t own any land. She appears to be poor, living with or next door to family the rest of her life. The Census shows her as the next household to her sisters, but maybe she was actually living on her sisters’ property?

Edward Jones married Caroline in Brunswick County about 4 months after the divorce was finalized. Did he move to Brunswick to “start over” and go somewhere he wouldn’t see Jane anymore? Or did he just have a good job and place to live that happened to be in Brunswick? Edward was described on his muster roll as 5’ 7”, light complexion, dark hair, dark eyes. Edward’s muster Roll:

So, what could all this mean for DNA matches? I drafted a number of pages trying to draw out various ways to show connections, with so many arrows it became too difficult to follow. There are several cousin marriages; Several Jones and Thomas marriages; Several Thomas and Lambert marriages. Julia Kidd married Robert Massenburg Thomas, who was the brother of Jane. There are many people closely related to Jane who can show African American DNA matches. People I’ve seen with African American matches to white Kidd and Jones families are often estimated at 4-6th cousin matches.  The chance that the connections are to Jane’s baby referenced in the divorce case are very high. I’m hoping this chart attached about Jane’s family (at beginning of this post) will explain some possibilities for the African American DNA matches and where the connections could be, through this child born in Aug 1864, or the other 2 unknown children for Jane. 

When African Americans are looking for their white ancestor, the slave owner or the overseer might seem the assumed logical place to scrutinize first. Leonard M. Thomas and Tinsy Thomas (Jane’s parents) did have slaves. John J Drury Pearson was an overseer.  But in this case, I believe the connection would be to Jane’s baby. Not because Leonard was a slave owner, but because Leonard would be the common ancestor of the match. Not through John Pearson as an overseer, but rather the connection of his wife being Jane’s sister, making the DNA match occur at Jane’s parents. Multiple cousin marriages (like Jane’s parents) can make DNA matches look closer than they actually are, because there’s more shared DNA. Here’s an example for a Pearson DNA match.

I’ve been wondering about the possibility of a family raising Jane’s baby. My impression of the boy in the family picture was that he was better off financially than Jane and Missouri.  The Marks family was a free African American family who appear to have done well financially since at least the 1840’s. Elizabeth Ann Marks was a neighbor of these Jones. She was the daughter of Abel and Quintina Marks. Elizabeth married Henry Mayo who was a carpenter. Elizabeth and their children farmed the land. In 1870 Henry and Elizabeth were living on James B. Jones’s farm that was next to John Gray’s farm off Hall Rd. (James B. Jones lived on a different parcel of 100 acres off Blackridge Rd. ) Henry and Elizabeth bought the 100 acres near Hall Rd in Oct 1889 from Charles Jones (Edward’s brother), who had purchased the land to pay off his father’s debts in chancery. Tom Mayo (son of Henry and Elizabeth) inherited the land. I’m told this area is known as Mayo’s hill. Could Elizabeth and Henry have taken in Jane’s child to give the child a good name, a better life and be raised with their own children? Elizabeth would have lived near Jane and her family. Could James B.  Jones have offered his farm as a place for the baby to be raised, as an offer of peace and support?  If not Elizabeth, someone else with a similar situation?

The chancery case states the baby was born August 1864, but it is very possible the child was raised with a different birth date. If you are from this Marks or Mayo family and might know, please let me know. If you know anything that might help identify any of Janes’ children after her divorce, or have DNA matches to this group of people, please let me know. Jane may have used the surname Bennett for more than just the 1910 Census, even though this was actually her middle name. I assume that Jane was named after her uncle Bennett Thomas. If you have the surname Bennett and it looks like you could be part of Jane’s family please let me know.  I personally have Jones DNA lines, but no Thomas DNA lines, which may help in sifting through DNA matches.