Monday, April 28, 2014

52 Ancestors #17 - John Knox - Was he a Twin? Which birth year is correct?

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Amy Crow has posted a challenge on her blog "No Story Too Small".

John Knox II is my paternal 6th great grandfather.

John Knox II was born in Ireland. His birth year is questionable. The passenger list shows his age as fifty (born 1717) but his headstone shows he died June 27, 1777 at the age of fifty-five which indicates he was born in 1722. He was named after his father John Knox I. His mother is Agnes Johnstone Knox. Both of his parents were born in Scotland.

John married Elizabeth Ann Gaston. They had ten children: Mary, John, Matthew, Elizabeth, Sarah, Joseph, Hugh, Ann, James, and Samuel. I descended through their daughter Mary.  He spent most of his life in Ireland but - a change was coming.

John and his family left Ireland in 1767. Their destination was South Carolina. Several of John's siblings were on the same ship including his brother William. The records show that John and William were both fifty years old which would mean they are twins born in 1717. I can find no death record of his brother William to verify his birth year. As I stated earlier, John's headstone indicates he was born in 1722. In that case, John was only forty-five when he arrived in South Carolina. The only thing I can determine is that John was born in 1717 or 1722 depending on which record is used.

John received a 100 acre memorial grant on July 27, 1768. The land was situated on Fishing Creek in Craven County, South Carolina. The plat was not completed until March 13, 1772.

John made is last will just seventeen days after the plat was completed. He died June 27, 1777. His newly found freedom was cut short.

1) What is John's birth year?
2) Were John and William twins?

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Monday, April 21, 2014

52 Ancestors #16 Christinator Roberts Thomas - Unique, Beautiful, and Powerful Name

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Amy Crow has posted a challenge on her blog "No Story Too Small".

Christinator Roberts Thomas is my maternal 7th great grandmother

Christinator. What a beautiful name! Not only is her name beautiful, it's the most unique name in my family tree. The sound of her name makes me feel as though she was a shaker and maker - a person who made things happen.

Christinator was born to Thomas and Mary Roberts in Nansemond County, Virginia on January 31, 1712. It is not known if her parents created her name or if she was named after an ancestor.

Chrstinator married the Reverand John Thomas about 1730. They have four known children: John, Jonathan, Theophilus, and Theresa. Their son Jonathan is my 7th great grandfather. The Reverand named his wife and children in his Last Will.

North Carolina, Probate Records, 1735-1970," images, FamilySearch (,170984201 : accessed 17 Apr 2014), Edgecombe > Wills, 1758-1830, Vol. 09 > image 223 of 268.

Christinator supported her husband's chosen career as a Minister and later when he became a Judge. Unfortunately there are very few records to give us a view of her life style and the person she became. I would love to know more about her.

Christinator died December 30, 1796 in Edgecombe County, North Carolina, She is buried at the Toisnot Baptist Church Cemetery in Wilson County, North Carolina. A memorial headstone was placed there by her descendants.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

52 Ancestors #15 - Joseph Laswell: The Tory in Me

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Amy Crow has posted a challenge on her blog "No Story Too Small".

My paternal 4th great grandfather is Joseph Laswell. 

The colonists were split three ways during the American Revolutionary War: (1) about one-third of the people were known as Patriots or the Freedom Fighters; (2) about one-third were Whigs (also known as Tories or Loyalists) who fought in favor of England; and (3)  the last third were neutral. It was a war that pit father against son, mother against daughter, and neighbor against neighbor.

Joseph Laswell was a known Tory at the onset of the American Revolution. Tories used many alias names. Some known alias names for Joseph were: Lasswell, Lasewell, Lacewell, Lacefield, Lasefield, and many, many more.

Joseph was a Tory leader and participated in burning houses and destroying the property of the Patriots in an effort to keep them from winning the war. This was not a one-sided affair. The Patriots did the same to known Tories. It was common among both Tories and Patriots to capture their enemy and hang them. One such occasion is told in  King's Mountain and it's Heroes" by Lyman C. Draper when Adjutant Jesse Franklin was captured by Joseph Laswell and his party of Tories.

"On one occasion a Tory party under Jo Lasefield captured him and had him ready to swing off when......Though they hung him, the bridle with which they did it broke, and he fortunately dropped into the saddle of his horse, bounded away and did escape..."

Joseph was eventually captured, tried, and sentenced for high treason by the Morgan Superior Court. We learn from the Executive Letter Book that Governor Martin addressed the General Assembly:

"I send herewith sundry petitions in favor of persons under sentence of death for High Treason, To Wit: from Burke & Rutherford Co., in behalf of Joseph Lacefield and John Thomson, convicted at Morgan Superior Court, March term last, to be executed the 16th of May.
The Executive have been distressed with a number of wretches condemned heretofore for Treason, who enquiry into their particular cases, have thought them beneath the notice of public justice, and have generally pardoned them on their enlisting into the continental service of eighteen months.
As prosecutions of this kind are daily carried on and the courts of justice worried with them,  I beg the sense of the Honorable, the Legislature, as the Supreme Council of the state, with regard to the above persons, also request that some law be passed that the Judicial and Executive powers of government be directed how to conduct themselves in future towards this class of people."
The above statement "generally pardoned them on their enlisting into the continental service of eighteen months" indicates Joseph joined the Continental Service after his capture. It was common for those who were captured to be given a choice: hang or switch parties. Apparently Joseph decided to live, fought on the Patriot side of the war, and afterwards was still sentenced to be executed.

The Legislature's response is found in Volume XIX 1782-1784, pages 246-247:

"Resolved that it be recommended to his Excellency the Governor to grant a pardon of their several offences to Joseph Lacefield, et. al. who each of them now are under sentence of death, and who have been severally recommended to his Excellency as objects deserving of conviction and others by sundry Gentlemen of reputable characters who are personally acquainted with them and their former conduct in life.
Ordered that the above be resolve be sent to the Senate for concurrence. Ordered that the message from his Excellency the Governor be also sent to the Senate."
In the Senate:

"Mr. Speaker and Gentlemen
The resolve of your House this day recommending to his Excellency the Governor grant pardons to certain persons therein named, now under sentence of death, we have concurred with and cause the same to be handed the governor 21 April 1783."
Whew! Joseph Laswell was pardoned and now a free man.

Joseph Laswell's birth year is not known. I have estimated it to be about 1740 based on the fact that he owned property in Rowan County, North Carolina in 1762. His parents were William and Mary Laswell. By 1771 he is on the tax list for Surry County, North Carolina. Surry was hotbed for Tories.

He married Eunice Riggs. They had several children that are known and possibly some that are not yet known. Their children used various surnames:

 1)    Elizabeth Lacefield m. David Sowder (my 3rd great grandparents)
 2)    Sally Lacefield m. Peter Sowder (they are sister and brother to Elizabeth and David)
 3)    John Henry Laswell m. Wilmoth Owen
 4)    Mary Lacefield m. Unknown Morris
 5)    Lucy Laswell m. Elisha Owen
 6)    Jesse Laswell m. Fannie Bell
 7)    Nancy Laswell m. Frederick Ott
 8)    Abigail Lacewell m. Henry Ott
 9)    Martha Laswell m. (1) John Barr (2) Uriah Hand
10)   William Laswell m. Nancy Reed 

Joseph left North Carolina sometime after 1790 and moved to Lincoln County, Kentucky. He served as Constable in 1803 and 1807. The new county of Rockcastle was formed from this part of Lincoln County in 1810. Joseph spent the remainder of his life there and died about 1816.

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Monday, April 7, 2014

52 Ancestors #14 - Margaret Slaughter Williams: Prisoner of the Great Mythical Cloud

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Amy Crow has posted a challenge on her blog "No Story Too Small".

Wikipedia: Creative Commons License

My maternal 3rd great grandmother was captured and held prisoner by a great mythical cloud. Family tales from all of her descendants varied from one branch to the other.

"We are Cherokee." 
"No we are Pawnee." 
"Not what I heard. We are Comanche."
"No we are Chicasaw."
"We are Creek."

So how did so many branches believe so differently? My favorite tale of her descendants was one of intrigue, adventure, and romance. The type of tale most women love to read about - especially when it's your ancestor.
"One of the Williams men disagreed with the way the Indians were treated. He traveled to North Carolina and chose a Cherokee bride. He walked the Trail of Tears with her and her family." 
Stories like this were passed down for several generations. So who was this mysterious bride? Which Williams man married her? If it was not a Cherokee bride then who in the family was Native American? I set out on my own adventure hoping to find a beautiful love story or at least find which of the Five Tribes we descended from.

The only female who qualified for the Cherokee bride story was Margaret Slaughter. She was known as Peggy to the family. She was the right age to walk the Trail of Tears. She married into the Williams family. Her husband was James M. Williams. He was known as Big John. There was just one tiny little problem. They had their first child in 1804 which means they married before the Trail the Tears. Oh well. There goes the adventure and romance side of the story! However, I was still intrigued. What was her story and ethnicity? Was she Native American? If not her could it be her mother? How and when did this myth start? "Where there is smoke there is fire". Who started the fire and fanned the flames?

Margaret Slaughter is the daughter of Walter and Susannah Margaret Webb Slaughter. She was born about 1780 in North Carolina. I researched her parents and grandparents. No Native Americans here. They are predominately from the British Isles. Another myth busted! That's okay though because my 3rd great grandmother is worthy of a story and should be redeemed from the cloud of myth she was placed on.

Margaret's family migrated to Amite County, Mississippi where she met and married James Williams. Her husband was sixteen years her senior. He served in the American Revolution. Their nine children were born in Mississippi and Georgia. Their children were Matilda, Luke, Hiram, James B., Rebecca, William, John, Thomas, and Emeline. I descended from John.

The family moved around fairly often. Can you imagine moving by wagon with all these children in tow? Margaret had her hands full. The good news for Margaret was they didn't travel too far until the children were all grown.

They moved to Louisiana after the 1820 census and before 1830. Margaret was fifty-two when her husband filed for military pension.  By 1850 they had moved to Leon County, Texas where they would spend their remaining days. Margaret died at the age of eighty.

It is not known who started the family tales but Margaret and her mother were not Indian. The flames were fanned to a point to where some of Margaret and her mother's descendant filed applications to join the Cherokee Tribe in the late 1800's to early 1900's. They were all denied. However many descendants do not know that today and still believe we are Indian through Margaret or her mother.

Today I celebrate my 3rd great grandmother Margaret Slaughter Williams.

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