I love the genealogical treasures you can find in chancery cases! In this post, I’ll try to explain what a chancery case is, and how they help me with family history; using the chancery of Jimmy Kidd’s estate as an example. Chancery records are not “beginner genealogy”, but it’s so worth it to learn more about these records because they tell us: women’s maiden names, when people died, relationships stated under oath, depositions about how people are related or how they know the plaintiff or defendant, copies of wills, copies of plats, etc. It depends on the type of complaint in the chancery case how much of that is included. In Virginia, all chancery cases before 1930 were sent to LVA (Library of Virginia), also before 1930, divorce cases (which were part of the circuit court) were sent to LVA, and are part of the chancery collection. LVA has an amazing searchable index which is available online. You can search by county for plaintiff, defendant, or just surname(which includes “other”, like a witness). I always search “surname” which includes searches for all 3 categories (see image below). When I first started researching my Virginia ancestors, I was disappointed that my family didn’t have any wills. But then I discovered that because they didn’t have wills, their estates were divided in chancery, with much more information in the chancery case than a will would have contained. Chancery records are some of the best proof I know for family links, especially if you are researching Taylors & Jones.
The LVA site says “There are over 272,000 cases indexed in the database and nearly 11 million images of chancery causes available online.” Mecklenburg and Brunswick counties have not yet been digitized, so I go to the actual LVA to see the originals. Orange county has them microfilmed, so I view those microfilms at LVA. Madison County has them digitized. You can scan through the folder and view the whole case on the LVA website. The search results will tell you about the case, the surnames in the case, and the format so you will know how you can view it.
There are several parts to a chancery case. The genealogical information is usually in the bill of complaint and answer. There’s also the judge’s answer (decision). If the complaint is that a will is not being fulfilled, the will is usually included. If the complaint is that a person died without a will and has land to be divided between heirs, a plat may be ordered and land divided. If someone promised to free their slaves at death and the slaves aren’t freed, there may be written proof and probably depositions of people saying they were told by their friend (or brother etc) that the slaves were to be freed. Other reasons for cases I have seen include: debts or bonds signed, secured with land, but the debt has not been paid by the promised date. The judge would then order the land to be sold to pay the debt. I also have seen debts involving slaves, owners loaning their slaves to build houses, harvest crops etc and charging fees with interest, that the other person could not pay by the due date. Large chancery cases are often full of receipts of people paying debts in payments or receiving payments. After the civil war, many people went to chancery court, because they had no money to pay their debts, or executors could not fulfill the will anymore. This is a link to an LVA document which explains chancery cases in detail. Page 3 gives more detail about the parts of a case. https://www.lva.virginia.gov/public/guides/rn22_chancery.pdf
There are over 272,000 cases indexed in the database and nearly 11 million images of chancery causes available online.
Library of Virginia
The legal language of chancery cases can get confusing. I bought a Barron’s dictionary of legal terms (written for non-lawyers) to help me better understand what some of the more complex cases I copied mean. One thing that confused me when I first started, was why a sibling was suing all his other siblings, yet asking for equal inheritance for himself and all his siblings?! He wasn’t actually suing as we might think of today, but rather this was the legal language used to get the case into court so they could equally receive their inheritance.
What is the difference between a chancery court and other courts? One big difference is that in chancery, a judge decides the result, not a jury. One observation I have is that cases usually involve money, property or land. LVA has a great write up about that as well, here is their explanation: https://www.virginiamemory.com/collections/chancery/faq
Example of Jimmy Kidd chancery case:
I did not know this land was in chancery until a friend found this newspaper article for me. This includes 2 pieces of land owned by Jimmy Kidd and his wife Nannie Gray. I knew that one of these farms was John Gray’s old farm. The other was the farm where Nannie & Jimmy lived. I did not see this chancery case in the LVA chancery index. I took this newspaper article to the LVA archivists and they told me they did not have this case. This is right about the time courthouses were sending older cases to LVA but keeping current cases. I went to the Mecklenburg County Courthouse and they did have it! And it was all typed!
This was a rather large case which included lots of documenting receipts. I copied the complaint, answer and depositions, which are in this file that you can download here. Everything in the chancery was typed, but there was one handwritten page by Ewing Kidd, so I copied that as well. The case was still folded & held together in legal folders with clips, so they aren’t all copied straight and even. Here are the pages I copied, if you’d like to view the case:
This chancery case gives a typed copy of Jimmy Kidd’s will, which says he leaves everything to his wife Nannie, then after she dies, the estate is to be equally divided between his children. This chancery case was filed because the heirs didn’t feel the two properties could be divided equally between 8 children. Depositions were taken of neighbors, asking if they felt the land could be divided equally, or if the land should be sold and the money divided equally between the 8 heirs. One important note is that Benjamin Bart Kidd died in 1925, before this case began. So his share was to be divided between his 3 children. Bart’s widow had remarried and she now went by the name of Bettie Johnson. This map shows the two pieces of land in the chancery case, letter A & letter B. The men who gave depositions are also noted with their names on their property locations. Note: Edwin Lambert would have lived above his store at old Bracey, just a little to the west of where this map cuts off.
The judge decided to sell the 2 parcels and divide the receipts of the sale between the heirs. Edwin Lambert bought parcel A, the farm his wife grew up on. Adolphus Kidd bought parcel B, which used to be the Gray farm.
Here are some highlights from the 1930 depositions, about land and relationships.
Dave Ridout sent me this picture to share. A cousin gave him a copy, but they aren’t sure which of the two DT Ridouts this could be. One DT Ridout is David Thomas Ridout who lived from 1820-1876. He was first married to Mary E. Thomas, a daughter of Robin Thomas and Rebecca Jones. His second wife was Rebecca Wells.
The second David T. Ridout I know about, lived from 1838-1908. He was the son of William Ridout and Calissa Barker. His uncle (his father William’s brother) was the other David T. Ridout, which I assume he was named after. This younger David was married to Mary Elizabeth Taylor, a daughter of Isaac Taylor. David Ridout and his next door neighbor John C. Jones married sisters the same day, 14 Dec 1865. They lived on adjoining land that was the women’s father, Isaac Taylor’s land. (Pre-1815 that land was part of Peter Thomas’ estate). This younger David T. Ridout is buried with his wife, daughter Lorena Ridout Kidd, and some grandchildren; on this land described, which is near the corner of Tolbert & Blackridge Rd.
Place #1: An old Ridout Store in Old Bracey. Store no longer standing. Belonged to John Henry Ridout, son of Jesse James Ridout & Anna Caroline Ridout.
Place #2: Ridout Cemetery. Children and grandchildren of the older David Thomas Ridout and Mary E. Thomas are buried here. Including Jesse James & Anna Caroline Ridout.
Place #3: Old home of Jesse James & Caroline Ridout. Allen Tudor lived here as a young child.
Place #4: David T. Ridout, the younger, was buried at this cemetery, (Tolbert & Blackridge Rd) and their old home place was near the cemetery, no longer standing.
The straight road running north to south, just to the east of DK’s home and the cemetery, is Ridout Road.
Note: Barker’s land
(not marked) DK Ridout’s home was on 619-Nellie Jone Rd near the Rufus Kidd’s store.
(not on map here, just additional info) James D. Ridout, son of William Ridout & Calissa Barker is buried at Blandford Cemetery in Petersburg. Ward: Civil War Soldiers, Sec: Virginia, Sq. Soldier, Loc: Memorial Hill, grave #97
Lorena Ridout (pictured above) was the daughter of David T. Ridout (younger) and Mary Taylor. So is Lorena the daughter of the man in the picture? Or is Lorena the great-niece of the man pictured beside her? (Her grandfather William Ridout’s brother.) (See chart above)
I discovered something else about this same family I’m very curious about. In the Richmond Enquirer Newspaper I found that William Ridout was murdered on 26 Sep 1843. Was the man murdered the brother or father of the man DT Ridout in this picture? These two articles are all I know about this story. This second article ran for two months, saying that Allison C Dugger, (male) was still at large. In deed records, my friend and I found there was an Allison C. Dugger junior and senior. One of the Allison’s was made a constable about a week before the murder. I don’t know which man was constable and which murdered William. The newspaper article does not reference the constable part at all.
Ridout Murder in 1843!
William Ridout and Calissa had 3 children: David T. (possibly the man pictured), Polly and James. After William died, Calissa and her children moved in with her parents Ben Barker and Judith Jones. (source: 1850 & 1860 Census)
Have you seen this picture before, of DT Ridout? Or do you know enough about clothing and style to better estimate the time period of this picture? Do you have other Ridout pictures we can compare to Lorena and DT Ridout? I’m curious about what David is holding in his hand, and why was that important to be in the picture? Have you heard about this murder before? Or have you seen info about the conclusion of this story? If you have any further info or comments, please comment on this post. Note: Ridout is spelled both with and without an “E”, Rideout or Ridout. But Ridout Road, this picture and the cemetery don’t use the “E” so I omitted the “E” in this post.
Thank you Dave Ridout for sharing this picture and for adding to my map!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
I was given a copy of some Gray family pictures so I could help ID and date them. All the other pictures in this picture group are children of John Gray and Sarah Jones. I didn’t want to share my theory before, because I didn’t want to bias anyone’s opinion. I realized I’ve now had this picture for 17 years, and not been able to find anyone who could identify this couple. So, today I’m sharing my theory with a picture comparison, in the hopes this might lead to finding a labeled copy.
My theory is: this picture is Mattie Floyd, standing behind her in-laws John Gray and Sarah Jones, about Jan 1881 in Mecklenburg, Virginia. It is possibly taken the day of Mattie and Charles’ wedding 15 Jan 1881. I’m looking for people who can confirm or dispute this theory.
The woman standing behind the couple has been identified as Mattie Floyd, daughter of Sarah Tudor and Wyatt Floyd. Mattie Floyd married Charles Gray 15 Jan 1881, at age 20. So Mattie would technically not be “Gray Family” in a Gray picture before 1881. I am curious about the book Mattie is holding. I wondered if it could be the James B. Jones family Bible, because John Gray’s children’s names were written in that Bible. But I’m told no, the Jones Bible is much larger than this book. Was Mattie a teacher? Or why else was this book important?
I do not think the couple in the picture could be Mattie’s family. I’ve seen a picture of Mattie’s father. He died in the Spotsylvania, Virginia Courthouse battle when Mattie was only 3 years old. Her mother, Sarah Tudor actually died the day Mattie and Charles Gray married. I also don’t think either Mattie or Lelia look like the older couple. My theory is this picture is to celebrate Mattie’s engagement or recent marriage. Maybe to show that she’s now a part of the family? Or could this be a wedding day picture? I assume this picture was taken in Mecklenburg, VA. Possibly at John Gray and Sarah Jones farm. In the year 1881 when Charles and Mattie married, John Gray was age 71 and blind. Sarah was age 56. People who farmed outdoors a lot, looked much older than compared to people the same age today. See example below for Fannie Gray:
Here are some pictures of the children of John Gray and Sarah Jones compared with the picture of the older couple who I theorize could be John Gray and Sarah Jones, in about 1881.
If you have a picture of any of John Gray and Sarah Jones children, or any of Sarah’s siblings you can compare it to, please let me know. Sarah was the daughter of James B. Jones and Martha Newman.
I’ve been mapping out (pre-1900) deeds and plats that I’ve that been finding over the past 15 years. I’m still seeking plats. Many of the plats I found are from chancery cases, where the parents died intestate and land is being divided between the heirs. I got a few plats from a plat book at the courthouse. Sometimes I go to Library of Virginia just to copy plats from chancery cases, for any people I can find in who lived in the area. The LVA chancery index notates if plats are included. Several of the plats that I found in chancery cases were the same as in the courthouse plat book, but with details that help me find a starting point to anchor the plat. I’ve also searched for plats in deeds but have not had as much success there. Any name I read about in land records gets a blue pin, with an annotation. Example “1862 Zack Jones corner hickory”. I uploaded plats into the map so they will pop up if you click on the outlined property. Annotations pop up as well, with notes I typed such as: acreage amount, date, and neighbors listed on the record. If a house or cemetery are mentioned, a house and cemetery pin are placed and marked as estimated, until we can locate and confirm it with GPS coordinates.
When I get a plat, I study it. I ask people who are related, and are locals if they know where the land described in the plat is. Then, when I can pinpoint something mentioned in the land description (Example: a creek, or a neighboring property listed that I know it’s location), I start drawing the plat onto the map, calculating and checking acreage. For a lot of properties, you can still see old property lines on the satellite base map view. If you are looking at my map (not this screen shot below), and click on this outline, then the above plat will pop up.
I’ve been asked about the colors I use on my maps, so here’s a little about that: I made the Cemetery icon the purplish-maroon upside down T which looks to me like an upright tombstone. Churches usually have cemeteries, so if they do, I mark them the same color with a cross symbol. If the plat marked is about Jones, I add an additional pin that’s orange. Purple for Thomas. Green for Kidd. Red for Walker. Burton gets yellow. Taylor, lime green. If it’s Jones & Walker, I would drop an orange and red pin on the property. The map screen shot image above, shows a parcel with green and purple which tells me a Thomas-Kidd marriage owned that parcel. A cemetery and 2 house are also marked on the screen shot above. The green house symbol next to the Hall Cemetery is a parcel where a house was mentioned that Miles Hall lived. The house marked there (white house below) is approximately 120 years old, so it was not there in 1862.
I knew an old house would have been on that parcel, so I asked around about it at the Hall Reunion in 2018. I was shown another old house, old enough to be there at the time of the 1862 plat, and after adding that house pin by it’s GPS coordinates I saw it was on Bartlette Kidd’s property; which I believe Miles Hall bought after his brother in law Bartlette died. The colors of the pins are really just to help me in the way I visualize things. How I try to track some of the family connections: large families, large land owners, lots of cousin marriages. All the pins are listed on the far left of the map with info. There obviously aren’t hundreds of colors to color code every family name. So if they aren’t these few family surnames I wanted to track, then I mark it with blue pins for now. This week, I just added a yellow envelope (the only color it came in) symbol for Tanner’s Store. The store was a post office in the 1850’s which would also notate areas on the Census.
This will be a long term ongoing project. I’m in the process of changing the map to be in layers by time period. This map is a vital part of my efforts in finding and documenting cemeteries. If you know where I can add any pins, (for any ethnicity or any surname) please let me know. This project is being done with Google maps, under “My Maps”. If you would like to try to create a map for your research, here is a link with info about these newer mapping abilities, such as plotting, showing acreage and the measuring tool. https://www.google.com/maps/about/mymaps/
I was looking through a Virginia marriage record collection on FamilySearch.org. I found this record which completely stunned me! I had no idea! I immediately began reviewing my sources, and here’s what I discovered:
This record is of James B. Jones giving his permission for Tennessee to marry Alvin Dortch. That he adopted her into his family 7 years earlier. (Typed transcription at end of post). My puzzlement and surprise is because Tennessee’s father was still alive when James said he adopter her. On the 1860 Census, Tennessee is listed as living with her father, not James B. Jones.
My grandma Catherine Sanetra wrote a memo note about 1960. She was writing notes about her letters from her uncle Jasper Dortch, notating things she wanted to follow up on. The note said, “Uncle Jimmy Jones raised Tennessee J. Glover in Burk County. Write to Burk County in VA.” She later wrote a correction note that it was Burk TN, not Virginia. I knew that James Jones wasn’t her uncle and lived his whole life in Mecklenburg County, Virginia. I also have never seen the Glovers in Burk, Tennessee. They were in Obion County, then Smith County, Tennessee. Granderson was in Gibson County, Tennessee in 1850, while the rest of his siblings and parents remained in Smith County, Tennessee. Granderson was widowed young (1850-1853), left Tennessee and moved to Mecklenburg, Virginia with his daughters. (Opposite of the typical migration pattern). I believe Granderson was born in Warren County, North Carolina and knew cousins in Mecklenburg, Virginia before he moved to Tennessee with his parents. I also knew Granderson Glover lived until his daughter Tennessee was 16, so why did/would someone else raise her? I discounted all of this information from Jasper, thinking he was probably confused. But I did wonder, because he was telling what he thought was true about his mother, who had lived with him for several years.
This is a chart showing the only connection I knew of James B. Jones & Tennessee Glover, highlighting in red the people in this post. They’re both great grandparents of Fannie Gray. I now suppose that Tennessee called James B. Jones “uncle” as a family title of respect.
I looked more closely to see what was happening to Tennessee Glover in 1859. Her father Granderson Glover was married to Arimenta Kidd. (daughter of John B. Kidd) Granderson and Arimenta’s third child was born, Oliver Glover. Tennessee later had a son she named after her two brothers: Richard Oliver Dortch. Tennessee’s family was attending Rehoboth Methodist Church in the Blackridge area. In 1855, there were two classes in Rehoboth Church. Granderson Glover was the leader of class #1. John Cole was the leader of class #2.
Granderson and Arimenta lived on Nellie Jones Rd, on land Arimenta inherited from her father. (about where Cannon Cemetery is today.) James Jones was around the corner, further north on Blackridge Rd. I checked the map, and the distance between where Granderson and James lived, is about 2.5 miles. (East on Nellie Jones Rd, then north on Blackridge Rd). So they lived near each other and probably saw each other at church and community events.
The 1860 Census shows 4 children of James B. Jones living at home. I assume all those children were also living at home the previous year. Age wise, Tennessee would have been just younger than Anna Jones and just older than the youngest child: James Newman Jones. I have a transcribed copy of the James B. Jones family Bible. Tennessee is not mentioned as adopted, or anywhere on this Bible record. However, Alginon Gray, (the man who married 2 of Tennesee’s daughters) is in the Bible, because his mother was a daughter of James B. Jones. All of Sarah Jones Gray’s children’s birth dates are noted in the James B. Jones family Bible.
I also checked guardian records for a 5 year time period. Tennessee is not in guardian records. Although that isn’t surprising because I don’t think there were any assets or finances to be recorded. Granderson Glover did not own land in Mecklenburg and he was listed as a carpenter on the Census.
Tennessee’s sister Tabitha does not have a similar notation about where she was raised on her marriage consent. Tabitha was 22, old enough to not need consent. Instead she gives her own consent. I love seeing she wrote her name as “Tabithy”. Tabitha married Edward Kidd, (sibling of Arimenta Kidd). They were married at “Mrs. Cannon’s house.” I am assuming that would be Rebecca Kidd, married to Archie Cannon. I’m also guessing this was the Cannon property with Nellie Jones Rd on the north, Great Creek (or “Cannon Creek”) to the west, and Arimenta Kidd Glover to the east. I think it’s neat to see that they married on Kidd land, where all the neighbors were the groom’s siblings!
The term orphan in this time period technically meant that one parent died. Tennessee’s mother died between 1850-1853. At the time of Tennessee’s marriage, her father Granderson had also died. The Census enumerator typically wrote down who was in the house that day in Apr 1860. Maybe Tennessee was visiting her father for a few days when the Census was recorded? Granderson had remarried, had 3 young children (& 4th child in 1861). We have no idea whether Arimenta and Tennessee (age 12) didn’t get along, or if a household full of children (Jones) sounded fun and were her friends. But we do now know that Jasper Dortch was correct after all. Tennessee did live with James Jones, he just got the location wrong, Mecklenburg, not Burk. I’m happy to now own a paragraph in my great… Grandfather’s handwriting and see his signature. I love the way he writes his letter “J” with a nice point at the top. I write my J’s very rounded at the top. I also love seeing the marriage was at James’ house, where I think she considered was home.
For more information: There are currently 2,733 images of consents, bonds, and ministers returns in this collection. Mecklenburg is not listed as counties included, but I did find quite a few of my Mecklenburg ancestors in this collection, including the images in this post. If you would like to search this collection, or learn more here’s the link: https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/2134304
Transcription of Tennessee’s Marriage Consent:
To the clerk of Mecklenburg County, VA
March 24th 1866
Mr R F Clack sir,
Some seven years ago I adopted into my family Tennessee J Glover an orphaned child, who has since remained a member of my family, & has grown up under my guardian care & control, and being now of marriageable age, you have my full consent to issue a marriage license for the union of, Alvin N Dortch & Miss Tennessee J Glover.
My ancestor John Gray was born in Portadown, County Armagh, Ireland about 1810. I’ve been trying to figure out where he lived in Mecklenburg for at least 10 years. Now I know that he raised his family and farmed on Hall Rd, near Rehoboth Church, near the big curve in the road. I still haven’t found a plat, but I know I have found the area my family lived.
John’s birth year fluctuates as much as 10 years on various records. But the average record says he was born about 1810. John Gray was a linen weaver at Colonel Blacker’s estate. Large areas of Northern Ireland were going bankrupt; With warehouses full of linen, fleece and merchandise, but no one buying. Colonel Blacker wrote in his journal about these financially difficult times, the year that John Gray immigrated, in 1838. (Before the famine.) John was married to Ann Purdy, immigrated with Nicholas Purdy’s family and lived by Robert Joyce in Mecklenburg who was married to an Elizabeth Purdy. Not sure how closely they are related, but we know John was related to and lived near Purdy’s in both Ireland and Mecklenburg County, Virginia. John and his family arrived in the New York, New York port 27 Jul 1838. A year and a half later, (19 Dec 1840) he was purchasing land in Mecklenburg, VA, near Rehoboth Church in Blackridge. John remained on that same property for the rest of his life.
John Gray, his wife Ann, his daughter Elizabeth (who also immigrated with him), and a boy under the age of 5 are counted on the 1840 Census. I’m not sure who the boy is, I’ve not yet found a record for him. John’s wife Ann died sometime before 22 May 1847, when John married Sarah Elizabeth Jones. Sarah’s father James B. Jones and mother Martha Newman lived on the adjoining property.
On the 1850 Census: There’s John, his wife Sarah, daughter Martha and daughter Sarah (less than a year old). The boy from the 1840 Census is unaccounted for. John’s daughter Elizabeth was at school in Brunswick County, VA in the home of William Jones. (Not related to her step mother’s Jones family that I can see.) In 1857 Elizabeth married Washington Clary.
(This download button is for the 11×17 chart shown above)
John Gray’s children with his 2nd wife Sarah Elizabeth Jones were:
Martha Ann Gray, who married William H. Moseley
Sarah J. Gray, who lived to be age 16
Louisa V. Gray, who married Robert J. Lynch
Charles Robert Gray, who married Mattie Floyd
Rebecca “Dolly” Gray, who married George C. Taylor
Nannie Elizabeth Gray, who married Jimmy Kidd
Frank Jones Gray, married 1) Elizabeth Clary 2) Eula Bernard
*Alginon “Nonnie” Gray, married 1) Theresa India Dortch (my line), 2) Martha Dortch (sister of his first wife)
Thomas Beasley Gray, married Lelia Edenbeck (half sister to Mattie Floyd. Their mother was Sarah Tudor)
These children’s births as well as Sarah Jones Gray’s birth and death date are recorded in the James B. Jones family Bible. Pictures of all of James and Sarah’s children, except Louisa, are on this site under “Gray Family Pictures”. I don’t have an exact death date for John Gray. But, he was listed as deceased when Henry Mayo bought the Jones land in 1889. After John and Sarah Gray died, their children: Martha, Louisa, Charles, Dolly, Frank and Thomas moved their families to Danville, Virginia. Alginon moved to various places as a carpenter. Only Nannie remained, which I believe is why all the siblings sold the family farm to Nannie and Jimmy Kidd.
Edwin Lambert bought the house where Nannie and Jimmy lived as a surprise for his wife Lula. When she asked him after the auction, “Who bought the house?”, Edwin told her “You did!” He bought the place where his wife grew up as a surprise for her. The other property, which is where Nannie grew up, (the Gray farm) I was unable to find out what happened until this weekend. I went to Library of Virginia to see this chancery case. They have cases from 1930, but not this case. This past week, my friend helped me find the deed. D.A. Kidd bought the land at auction and was given the deed in 1932. After several record searches, I realized DA was Adolphus Archer Kidd. The “A” was dropped on the deed. Henry Mayo’s son Tom Mayo inherited the land they purchased from James B. Jones. On the 1940 Census, I see Tom Mayo and Adolphus Kidd were neighbors and living on Hall Rd. (The Rt 620 in the far left margin). Dolphus who bought the Gray Farm was a first cousin to Jimmy Kidd (grandsons of John B. Kidd). Adolphus was son of Allen Burl Kidd. Jimmy was son of Bartlett Kidd.
Many people today, assume that a cemetery in rural Virginia without tombstones must be a slave cemetery. But this is a misunderstanding. Most people could barely afford to feed their families and pay their mortgages. The cost of a tombstone could not even be a priority and was not considered a practical use of money, which was scarce. Can you learn anything about a cemetery without any tombstones? At first glance, the answer might seem to be “no”. But I have discovered there are actually some helpful things that can be learned, especially with some newer technology things I’ve been trying with mapping and GPS. The majority of my ancestors in Mecklenburg County, Virginia did not have tombstones. Burials at churches (or with tombstones) did not really start for my family before World War I; often not that common until after World War II when the economy started improving. Tombstones were often put up much later by descendants, Sons of Confederate Veterans, and Daughters of the Revolution. I talked to Stephen Lambert Jr & Sr in August 2004 about the cemetery with Nellie Brooks and Frederick Jones. Lambert descendants knew which burial plot was Nellie’s and which was Frederick’s because of a drawing of the cemetery that used to be kept in the Family Bible. The tombstones were placed there about the early 1960’s, approximately 145 years after Frederick died.
When I first started visiting Mecklenburg, in January 2003, I printed every tombstone picture I took and put it in a photo album. Of course I was teased about that. But I wanted the few stones I found to be in a book, so that each time I visited, I could show my book to people and ask questions; about the person, where they lived, who were they related to etc. Some pictures, relatives didn’t know a headstone had been put up until they saw my book. When they saw the cemetery as a young child, it was just field stones. Each visit to Mecklenburg, I’ve asked everyone if they knew about family cemeteries. I also visited whatever I could find marked on USGS topographical maps. I have discovered many long forgotten cemeteries with a lot of help from people who live there.
The maroon colored upside down letter “T” is the symbol I use on my map for cemeteries. I thought the symbol looked closest to a tombstone. The churches are a marked by a cross, same color if there’s a cemetery there. Each cemetery symbol on this screen shot above, I have personally visited and taken GPS coordinates; except for one, which we are still trying to find. That cemetery is marked based on an old phone interview I did, and notated on the map as an “estimate pin”. The cemetery next to the red letter “J” is where Frederick Jones & Nellie Brooks are buried. A “Jones cemetery”, and the person Nellie Jones Road is named after. None of these cemeteries are visible from the road. Many cemeteries are in areas that haven’t been farmed for at least 20 years, so there are often many briars, small trees and brush to get through. I visit Mecklenburg more frequently in the winter to look for cemeteries.
This is John B. Kidd’s lower plat, south of Nellie Jones Rd. I drew this plat onto my map, (see screen shot above) so that when I get GPS pins, I can see which property the cemetery used to belong to. This summer (2019), I went to a cemetery relatively close to old Robert Joyce, Kidd and Cannon lands. I took a picture with GPS coordinates (an app on my phone), typed those coordinates into the map, and saw that this cemetery is on land which John B. Kidd gave to his daughter Julia Kidd, who was married to Robert Massenburg Thomas. Does this cemetery date back earlier than when John B. Kidd owned it? Are John or Julia buried there? I have no idea, and I don’t know anyone who can tell me any old family stories about this land. There were fence posts and a fence still visible in some places. This cemetery was marked on the map above with a red “T” on it, for Thomas.
These are 2 GPS pictures I took of this cemetery with what we estimate to be about 45 graves. Some places we could see head and foot markers for 6 burials in a row. I only found this cemetery because someone knew about it, knew I was asking about cemeteries and took me to see it. There were rocks (field stones) marking head and foot areas. Some land depressions. No names or carved information anywhere.
What can a cemetery without tombstones tell us? If there was a family of 12 children, but only 3 burials, I know I haven’t found the whole family yet. If John B. Kidd had 7 parcels in this plat south of Nellie Jones Rd which he gave to his children, but I have only found cemeteries on 3 parcels (Julia, Arimenta & Frederick Jones was buried on what became Bartlette Kidd’s parcel) then I expect to find cemeteries on 4 other parcels. If I get a GPS coordinate and don’t know who used to live there pre-1900, then I start looking through deeds. If I go look up the deed of John and Julia, I might find mention of a cemetery. If I hear about a cemetery of field stones, I want to see if possibly any descendants added tombstones or heard anything. I have found mentions of cemeteries, in both deeds and chancery cases. Twice I’ve seen someone buried in the cemetery mentioned by name in the land record. One cemetery I’m trying to find mentions an acre lot for the cemetery in a deed, which is larger than any of the cemeteries I’ve visited so far. I have only heard reference to one slave cemetery, because the man’s mother showed him where it was, to protect it. That’s another cemetery I hope to visit soon. If you know of any cemeteries, whether marked or unmarked, please let me know.
**Site info: I have put a link to this post under the cemetery section near the top of the website. I will write posts to tell what I know about each cemetery I have visited, and include any charts I made to try to trace land history, family relationships or anything else relevant to each cemetery lot.