Elder William Creath: Minister in Mecklenburg, Virginia

My last post was about the Susanna Clark and William B. Jones marriage record. While researching that marriage record, I found a “ministers return” record from Mecklenburg, Virginia on microfilm on FamilySearch.org. The ministers wrote up lists of marriages they had performed, and sent the lists periodically to the clerk of the court. Here is the image of the entry for Susanna Clark and William Jones.

The collection begins here (image 81 of 208), with an index at the beginning. https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C9BK-G4CV?i=80&cat=361879. This record collection is from the time period 1785-1854.

I looked up several of my early ancestors in this collection and found that they were married by different ministers. I’m puzzled as to why an entry for the marriage of John B. Kidd to Elizabeth Rainey isn’t in this collection. They did marry in Mecklenburg on 16 Feb 1818, but they are not found in the index. I also manually looked through the collection from 1810-1820, but did not see them. I wonder if this means they were perhaps not married by a minister, but instead by a Justice of the Peace? (When I find the answers to these questions, I will post about it.)

I wondered who this preacher or minister, William Creath was and what church he worked at. I found a booklet written by William Creath’s son, Jacob Creath. He called his father “a Calvanistic Baptist preacher.”

Here is a link to this booklet written by Jacob Creath in 1866 about his father William Creath : https://webfiles.acu.edu/departments/Library/HR/restmov_nov11/www.mun.ca/rels/restmov/texts/jcreath/BSEWC.HTM

William Creath did not appear to have a fixed congregation, rather, he appears to have been a traveling preacher. On the ministers returns records, most of the ministers simply wrote their names at the end of the lists of the married persons, but William also wrote “Minister of the Gospel” after his name.

William Creath was the father of sixteen children! His first child was Elizabeth Roffe Creath born 4 March 1792. She died as a young child. Susanna Clark and William Jones were married in December of that same year, 1792. Jacob Creath wrote about each of his siblings, who they married and where they moved to. Letters from his father are also included in the booklet.

Jacob’s booklet tells about where William Creath preached: “Brother James B. Taylor, of Richmond, Va., in his History of the Virginian Baptist Preachers, says, on page 328: “He was, according to Semple, the means of originating the churches called Allen’s Creek and Wilson’s, and for some time supplied Malone’s–all in Mecklenburg County, Va. These churches, even though in his immediate vicinity, did not to any great extent prosper. He was in the habit of making lengthy tours through different parts of Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina. For many years he was scarcely employed in any other way than as an itinerating preacher….”

Jacob Creath wrote in response to that, “My remarks on the above histories: First–Bro. Semple obtained his information from hearsay, as he was never in my father’s neighborhood–never nearer than Richmond, which was eighty miles from my father’s; and brother Semple lived below Richmond some fifty miles. Second–Allen’s Creek was twenty miles or more from my father’s, and Malone’s was six miles below my father’s house. Third–He preached for these churches occasionally; he was not their pastor. [51] His being little at home shows that he was not their regular preacher. Fourth–An itinerating preacher could not be the regular preacher of churches. Fifth–In traveling and preaching, he obeyed the command of our Saviour, “Go and preach the Gospel.” Sixth–Then he did more good by traveling, and it was more in accordance with his gift and talent…..”

Six miles north of Malone’s church is probably right about at the Lunenburg-Mecklenburg border. I wonder if William B. Jones or Susannah Clark lived further north before they married? Or maybe they traveled several miles to be married by William Creath? Or if perhaps the minister traveled to where William and Susannah lived to marry them at their home?

Susanna Clark: married 1792

William B. Jones and Susanna were the parents of two children: James B. Jones and Zachariah Jones. They lived in Bracey and are one of the Great Creek Jones families.

I’ve seen several old published materials with Susanna’s surname listed as Clack and that she was the daughter of Moses Clack. I know that cannot be true, because Susannah the daughter of Moses Clack was married to a different man and having children in Kentucky at the same time that Susanna and William B. Jones were living in Mecklenburg. I wanted to see how Susanna’s maiden surname appeared on any record. I found their marriage bond in a digitized Mecklenburg marriage record collection on FamilySearch.org. Her surname very clearly says “Clark” and I got a nice surprise. The bondsman was Newman Dortch. I’m not sure if Newman and William Jones were merely friends and neighbors or if they were related, but their great-grandchildren (my ancestors) married.

This marriage bond is for 26 December 1792. William Jones signed his mark. On a deposition, he mentioned going to school. I have heard that some people signed a fancy mark that was their signature. I’m not seeing that on this paper, so I’m curious now.

Jones signature comparison

Dortch signature comparison

Both William and Newman’s signatures are different than on William’s marriage record. I’m curious and wonder, why? I wonder if this marriage bond is a copy for Mecklenburg court? I’ve seen a wide range of signatures in this marriage collection though. Maybe William’s signature changed? A discussion for a future post when I learn the answers.

If you would like to search the collection (1771-1943) where I found this record, here is the index link: https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/2134304

If they went across the border to marry in North Carolina, here’s a link to that: https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/1726957

Bracey-Blackridge area DNA mystery project

I’m working on solving some DNA mysteries that happened between 1864-1875. I’m looking for people who have taken an Ancestry.com DNA test with family tree roots in the Bracey-Blackridge area. All ethnicities. Family surnames will include, but are not limited to: Bennett, Boyd, Gray, Harper, Jones, Mabry, Mayo, Marks, Newman, Pearson, Thomas, Walker, Wright. There are many unknowns, as well as many cousin marriages. I’m helping a descendant of Missouri Jones and George Harper who has taken a DNA test on Ancestry.com. I want to ask each person if they match 1) myself, and/or 2) the descendant of Missouri and George Harper. Missouri’s mother was Jane Bennett Thomas, who was divorced but continued using her married name of Jones. George’s mother was Susan Harper. It appears both Missouri and George were born out of wedlock.

It is important for me to also know who is not related, but has taken a test. For example, I am a Jones descendant, through Alginon Gray. But I do not match Missouri Jones. This chart shows how I would not match Missouri genetically. I do not have any pink. :

There are many Jones and Thomas cousin marriages. So I will need help knowing people’s family lines before 1900. I will try the same approach I did to solve a DNA mystery on Fannie Gray’s husband’s side of the family, from 1918. There were several cousin and step-siblings in that project, as I know will be the case with this project. We will be comparing how people match George & Missouri’s descendants and how they match me. We have several unknown lines:

  1. Missouri’s father: paternal line (aqua on chart above)
  2. Missouri’s father: maternal line (brown on chart above)
  3. African American & Jane’s baby: male paternal line (orange on chart)
  4. African American & Jane’s baby: male maternal line (green on chart)
  5. George Harper’s mother: maternal line
  6. George Harper’s father: paternal line
  7. George Harper’s father: maternal line

First I will chart if people had a test, and if they match me or my grandparents. Also, if or how they match Missouri’s family. Then I will make a color-coded chart to show how closely people are related to Missouri’s family, based on centimorgan (cM) closeness.

The shapes were the paper trail. The colors were the DNA trail. If you are willing to message with me, my email address is: mecklenburgvagen@gmail.com

Previous post about this: https://mecklenburgvagenealogy.com/2020/02/16/jones-african-american-dna-mystery/

Patterns of Moving: Before Mecklenburg

Whenever I feel stuck researching my family history, I try to think about patterns. What is the normal pattern for this family? If they did something that breaks the normal pattern, why? What is the normal pattern for that time and place? One pattern I have noticed is that people moved in groups. They joined military units or were in the local militia together as neighbors. Moves often happened for economic reasons. People moved with close family and friends to a new place, the people they knew they could depend on for a new start.

I know about several early Mecklenburg families, but cannot personally document any of my ancestors born before 1800, or know where they lived before Mecklenburg- except for one line, and that is my Newman line. James B. Jones (Great Creek area) married Martha Newman. They raised 15 children! Martha’s death record said she was born in Orange, VA. At first, I thought that was a mistake because Martha’s father, Abner Newman was in a Mecklenburg unit during the War of 1812 and married in Brunswick County, Virginia in 1792. I kept searching for a some kind of connection to Orange County Virginia.  I discovered that when Martha’s father died she went to live with her grandfather in Orange. She, her mother, and siblings who had not yet married all moved to Orange.

Martha’s grandfather William Newman was born in Essex County, Virginia. He lived where the Occupacia Creek crosses Route 17, very close to the Rappahannock River. William Thomas lived between the Newmans and the Rappahannock River. The more I read the court books, the more I start to wonder about if several of my Mecklenburg ancestors lived in Essex first. William Newman’s next door neighbors were Walkers, Thomases, Joneses, Brookes, Moseleys, Kidds,  and Grays. (Even though I know my Grays immigrated from County Armagh, Ireland in 1838). I see all those family names as neighbors to the Newmans  for 100 years in Essex County.  Because farms were failing in Essex county during the 1750’s and 1760’s, some people started to move to Caroline County and Orange County.  William Newman worked for many years for John Baylor and his wife Frances Walker who had farms in both Caroline and Orange counties. Mrs. Baylor had a brother who settled in Brunswick County, Virginia. Three Walker brothers (whose father was born in Essex), married three of Martha’s sisters. (William Newman’s grandchildren.) I know that these are common British surnames, but I can’t help wondering when I see these families as next door neighbors in Essex for 100 years, and then see these same names as close neighbors in Eastern Mecklenburg. That’s a pattern I don’t plan to ignore or think of as just a coincidence. It is true that a lot of people migrated from Isle of Wight and Surry counties to Mecklenburg, but now I am studying the early Essex (Old Rappahannock County) migration route to Mecklenburg.

This map shows the path that my Newman family traveled from 17th century  Essex county, to 1810 in Mecklenburg. When I find more connections to colonial families or where families  were before they came to Mecklenburg, I will share them here.  On the map below, I have marked landmarks closest to where William Newman, then where his granddaughter Martha Newman lived. The route displayed is the current highway/ travel route.

William B. Jones deposition about Revolutionary War in Mecklenburg, VA

This is the second deposition of my ancestor William B. Jones for John Carroll. I love this deposition for several reasons: He talks about growing up in the same “neighborhood” as John Carroll, going to the same school as John Carroll, and that his brother John Jones was serving with John Carroll. William vividly remembers his brother John Jones and John Carroll were soldiers in the Revolutionary War because of an event that happened while he was helping bring horses to them at their headquarters at Taylor’s Ferry on the Roanoke river. A gang of men tried to steal their horses. William said he would never forget that when the men surrounded them on the Allen’s Creek bridge over the Roanoke, his horse got spooked. The men had taken up planks in the middle of the bridge, but his horse leaped over the large gap, causing both William and his horse to escape from the gang. I don’t know the year of the event. But William would have only been a young boy, possible a young teenager. Based on the age given in this deposition and the 1850 Census, William would have been nine years old in 1776.

I’m curious what school William Jones and John Carroll went to. I wonder if they boarded at a school in a private home, or if they visited an actual school each day. I also wonder what area William considered his neighborhood. As an adult he lived just north of Nellie Jones Rd, a rural farming area in present day Bracey, VA.

Taylors Ferry info from Reg Cook: Taylors Ferry is due south of and presently accessed from Boydton, across Jefferson St. extended, at the old Randolph Macon College. Historical Marker is on new Rt. 58, just North. Believe Ferry date was ca. 1746, There was a Tri County “Powder Magazine” at “Banks Old Store”

Taylor’s Ferry historical marker : http://photos.historical-markers.org/Virginia/Mecklenburg-County/VA-UL5-Taylor-s-Ferry

Note: This William B. Jones was son of William Jones, and father of Zachariah and James B. Jones, of the Great Creek area.

(Above) Horse story, part of the images and my typed transcription for download (PDF) here:

See William’s first deposition, a year earlier

William B. Jones 1852 deposition

I haven’t found the pension records from the Revolutionary War or the War of 1812 for any of my ancestors. But, when I started looking at the pension records of other men in the community, I discovered my family gave a few depositions in those records, like this one. Until I found this deposition, the last record I had for William B. Jones was the 1850 Census. This William was married to Susannah Clark, and was the father of James B. Jones and Zachariah Jones. They lived in the area of present day Bracey, on the north side of Nellie Jones Rd.

William didn’t “sign his mark”, this is an affidavit with a seal, and the handwriting is different than the Justice of the Peace and Clerk. So I do believe this is William’s actual signature in 1852:

Here is my transcription of the deposition, followed by an image of the record.


State of Virginia

Mecklenburg County

This day William B. Jones of the County and State aforesaid aged Eighty five years personally appeared before me a justice of the peace and made oath to the following affidavit-that he was well acquainted with John Carroll of Mecklenburg County Virginia who was a soldier in the revolutionary war with Great Britain, that he enlisted in the said County and state and served for a long time in the war. I don’t know how long, but it was a considerable time- that the said John Carroll was lawfully married to Ann Crowder, both of whom are now dead- that Nancy Patterson formerly Nancy Carroll who is now about Seventy years of age and the wife of John Patterson of the County of Chatham in the State of North Carolina is a lawful Child of the said John Carroll and Ann his wife

Given under my hand this 2nd day of September 1852

William B. Jones

Mecklenburg County to wit

                This day William B. Jones subscribed and swore to the above affidavit. Given under my hand this 2nd day of September 1852.

W.T. Pennington J.P.

Virginia to wit               I Richard B. Baptist Clerk of the county court of Mecklenburg County and State aforesaid, do hereby certify that William T. Pennington who has signed his name to the above affidavit is and was at the time of signing the same an acting Justice of the peace duly commissioned & Qualified, In witness whereof I hereto set my hand and affixed the seal of the court at offices this 3rd September 1852

                                                                                                                   Richard B. Baptist

See William’s second deposition, a year later. Including his horse story adventure.