My name is Kathleen, and I have been researching my family history since I was a child. I love to go into county courthouses and smell the old books and paper... or is it dust? This blog will focus on the stories I've heard over the years and the research methods I follow. I am particularly interested in data management and cloud genealogy.

Some of my personal areas of interest include Southern Maryland and DC (Robie, Rhodes, Grimes, Lindsey), NY state (Hill, Cookingham, Flynn, Rhodes, Skinner, Wheeler, Mead, Havens, Trotter), NJ (Parcell), North Carolina and Eastern TN (Lynch, Seabolt, Spears), MO (Wilcox, Kiddell), and CA (Simi, Grady)

I am always happy to compare notes or share my experiences, so please leave a comment!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Samuel Spears was from Halifax County, NC

I have mentioned Samuel Spears before -- last year I posted a lament on how sources I entered for his son Lazarus were mangled on FamilySearch.  Samuel Spears is one of those ancestors who is linked to many family trees -- few seem to be sourced and there are many whose owners lack basic skills in mathematics -- but all of which have enough common information that you know there are sources somewhere.  Some of these trees indicate Samuel was from Halifax County, and others, Pasquotank County, North Carolina.  I wanted to understand the reason for this discrepancy, and determine if there was more than one man named Samuel Spears.

A pension for Samuel Spears of Hawkins County, Tennessee documents his Revolutionary War service as a private on the Continental Line residing in Halifax County, North Carolina.  A widow’s pension for a man named Lazarus Jones, who served in the Revolution from Pasquotank County, North Carolina, provides direct evidence proving the generational link between Lazarus Spears of Hawkins County, Tennessee, and his father, Samuel Spears.  While Halifax and Pasquotank counties are not far from one another, a red flag was raised by the fact that the source proving Samuel Spears’ service and the source proving his lineage apparently came from different counties.  By examining military pensions as well as tax, census, and land records, I will demonstrate that in fact, both the service and the lineage belong to the same individual.  

A — Revolutionary War Pension, Samuel Spears 
(S*39085, www.fold3.com, Revolutionary War Pensions >North Carolina >Spears, Samuel)

This source establishes that the Revolutionary War soldier from Halifax County, NC was the same Samuel Spears who later resided in Hawkins County, TN.  Samuel Spears submitted an application, and was granted a pension, based on his service as a private soldier during the Revolutionary War.  Statements by the soldier and by credible witnesses provide direct evidence of his identity and the nature of his service:
  • (p 2) Samuel Spears was granted a pension based on his service as a private in the 3rd Regiment, NC Continental Line; [http://www.fold3.com/image/1/16813652/
  • (p.3) He died 27 May 1838; [http://www.fold3.com/image/1/16813653/]
  • (p 5) Spears’ commanding officers were Capt. G. Bradley and Col. James Hogun.  He enlisted in May 1778 and was discharged in May 1779, for a total of 9 months service
  • (p 5) Spears was born between Sep 1760 and Aug 1761, calculated from his stated age on 1 Sep 1820; (http://www.fold3.com/image/1/16813655/)
  • (p 6) Samuel Spears’ family on 1 Sep 1820 consisted of an unnamed wife b. ca 1782 and five children under the age of ten; [http://www.fold3.com/image/1/16813656/]
  • (p 9) Spears was resident in Hawkins County, TN by 25 Aug 1818, when he first made an application for a Revolutionary War pension;
  • (p 9) Soldier enlisted at Halifax, North Carolina; [http://www.fold3.com/image/1/16813659/]
  • (p 10) Affidavit of Christopher Haynes of Hawkins County, TN on 25 Aug 1818, attesting to acquaintance with soldier ”…ever since he was a boy, that he lived in Halifax County aforesaid at the time said Samuel enlisted for nine months in the service of his country which he served faithfully and honestly as he believes...”  [http://www.fold3.com/image/1/16813660/]

B — Revolutionary War Widow’s Pension, Christopher Haynes (Frances) 
(W*4227  www.fold3.com, Revolutionary War Pensions >North Carolina >Haynes, Christopher)

This document provides evidence that links Samuel Spears to his son Jesse, and to associates in Halifax Co, NC, one of whom was also linked to proposed associates from Pasquotank Co, NC.  Frances Haynes, widow of Christopher Haynes, applied for a pension on 12 March 1853, which was granted after her death in 1855.  Her son-in-law, Jesse Spears, was administrator of her estate, and as such was the person who submitted further requests for settlement of Mrs. Haynes’ pension application.  Frances Haynes claimed a widow’s pension based on the service of her deceased husband, Christopher Haynes, who served from Halifax County, NC.  Information relevant to the Samuel Spears analysis is found here:
  • (pp 4-5) On 12 March 1853, Jesse Spears of Hawkins County, Tennessee made an affidavit supporting Frances Haynes' claims to a widow's pension. Spears stated that he was well acquainted with Christopher Haynes during his lifetime and had often heard his father, Samuel Spears, speak of their service together in the Revolution back in North Carolina. [http://www.fold3.com/image/1/22994363/]
  • (p 13) On 7 April, 1856, Jesse Spears made a statement noting that Francis, widow of Christopher Haynes, died on 22 Jan 1855, before receiving her pension certificate.  He said: “… the children of the said Francis by the said Christopher now surviving are well known to this declarant, and that the following are their names and residences. To wit, Fereby Spears, wife of Declarant…” (other children named in the statement are omitted here) [http://www.fold3.com/image/1/22994372/]

Jesse Spears' statements are relevant because they establish that his father, Samuel Spears, the Revolutionary Soldier from Halifax County, NC, was a close associate of Christopher Haynes of Halifax County, NC, and that both individuals later lived in Hawkins County, TN.  This association is strengthened by the fact that Samuel's son, Jesse married Haynes' daughter Fereby.
  • (pp 30-32) The affidavit of James Charles of Hawkins Co, TN on 28 Dec 1854 describes his acquaintance with Christopher and Frances Haynes.  He stated that he knew the fact of their marriage from seeing them live together as man and wife when he first met them in 1795 until Christopher’s death in 1829, and also "...from talk I had with one Ogburn Hale who lived formerly in said Halifax County and who came to this country and settled near to said Haynes, but the said Hale has been dead several years.  I heard Hale speak of their marriage and from the best recollection I now have I heard Hale say that he Hale was at the marriage and that it was about the time stated to wit about the year 1790.” [http://www.fold3.com/image/1/22994390/

James Charles mentions that he heard Ogburn Hale, a resident of Halifax Co NC and later Hawkins Co TN, state that he had been acquainted with Christopher Haynes back in Halifax Co.  While Charles' assertion is secondary evidence of any such statement by Hale, is still relevant because it demonstrates that Ogburn Hale was part of a circle of acquaintances living in Tennessee, but extending from the North Carolina counties of Halifax to Pasquotank.  As we will see below, the Keziah Jones pension file (Doc C) provides evidence that Ogburn Hale of Hawkins Co, TN was also present at the marriage of Samuel Spears’ sister Keziah in Pasquotank Co NC.

C — Revolutionary War Widow’s Pension, Lazarus Jones (Keziah)
(W*26796 www.fold3.com, Revolutionary War Pensions >North Carolina >Jones, Lazarus)

This source provides direct and indirect evidence linking Lazarus Spears of Hawkins Co TN to his father, Samuel Spears, and documents the associations among individuals living in Tennessee and elsewhere who formerly lived in both Pasquotank and Halifax counties, NC.  

The Jones pension file contains the application of James Jones of Morgan Co, TN on behalf of his mother, Keziah Jones, widow of Lazarus Jones, and includes 147 pages of documents.  This case is particularly interesting because the son applied for his mother’s pension without her knowledge, and this became apparent when she applied for the pension in her own right from her residence in Macon Co, IL.  Like many other pension applicants at the time, James Jones had difficulty proving that his parents’ marriage occurred before the 1794 date specified in the pension law, so the resulting statements that he gathered from friends and relations to support his application are a rich source of family data.  When it was discovered that he was fraudulently applying for his mother’s pension, additional data was submitted, much of it relevant to the present analysis of Samuel Spears:
  • (p 61) Affidavit of Lazarus Spears of Hawkins Co TN, 4 July 1842, aged 56, “born in the year 1785 on the 29th day of September.”  He stated further that he “is the nephew of Lazarus Jones, formerly of Pasquotank County North Carolina… said Lazarus Jones married affiant’s aunt who was affiant’s fathers sister, to wit Keziah Spears.”  [http://www.fold3.com/image/1/24171864/]

This statement introduces the element of confusion that prompted this analysis.  Lazarus Spears of Hawkins Co TN states that his aunt's husband was from Pasquotank Co NC.  Every supporting statement in the pension file notes that the marriage of Keziah Spears and Lazarus Jones took place in Pasquotank Co.  Pasquotank Co is roughly 100 miles distant from Halifax Co, measuring from their respective county seats.  If, as we are asserting, Samuel Spears of Halifax Co was the father of Lazarus (and therefore the brother of Keziah Spears), does it make sense that a woman whose brother was from Halifax Co would marry a man living two counties away in Pasquotank Co?  
  • (p 64) Affidavit of Loviney Hale of Hawkins Co, TN, 19 Oct 1839, stating that she was “…well acquainted with Lazarus Jones (and his wife Kesiah Jones whose maiden name was Kesiah Spers) before and at the time they were married and that they were married in Paspotank [sic] County North Carolina…” [http://www.fold3.com/image/1/24171867/]
  • (p 65) Affidavit of Ogburn Hale of Hawkins Co, TN, 19 Oct 1839, stating that he was “…well acquainted with Lazarus Jones (and his wife Kesiah Jones whose maiden name was Kesiah Spers) before and at the time they were married…” [http://www.fold3.com/image/1/24171868/]

Ogburn and Loviney Hale assert that they were well acquainted with Lazarus Jones and Keziah Spears before and at the time of their marriage.  We have seen from the testimony of James Charles in support of Frances Haynes' pension application (Doc B pp 30-32), that Ogburn Hale was a former resident of Halifax Co NC -- not Pasquotank Co.  As we will see below, Ogburn Hale paid taxes in Halifax Co and was not found on Pasquotank Co tax lists.  Given his documented residence in Halifax Co, Ogburn Hale’s testimony in the Jones pension case supports the premise that there existed ties of friendship, and possibly relationship, among people living two counties distance from one another in North Carolina.
  • (pp 75-77) Affidavit of Thomas Ives of Roan Co, TN, 1 Sep 1840, stating the circumstances of his acquaintance with Lazarus Jones in Pasquotank Co.  He noted that only later did he discover that Jones’ wife was a Spears before her marriage and that he was intimately acquainted with the Spears family “…to wit the mother of Lazarus Jones’ wife and with her Brothers Samuel Spears, Arthur Spears and William Spears.”  Ives describes his own family, noting that he had married the widow Rhoda Everton, and that some years after the war he enlisted in the army at Halifax, NC and fought in the Ohio with St. Clair. [http://www.fold3.com/image/1/24171878/ ]

The statement of Thomas Ives is relevant because he introduces additional evidence about the family of Keziah Spears -- particularly the names of her brothers:  Samuel, Arthur, and William.  His statement that he married the widow Rhoda Everton was reflected in Pasquotank Co tax records, which included one person with the Everton surname, William, for several years before being replaced by a Rodah Everton in 1786. Interestingly, the Everton’s were listed on the same tax lists as other potential Spears associates John Richardson, William Spears, and Lazarus Jones. Additionally, Ives’ statement that he enlisted in the Army at Halifax Co some seven or eight years after meeting Lazarus Jones suggests at least the possibility that there were ties of friendship drawing him to that place from Pasquotank Co.
  • (pp 95-96) Affidavit of Jacob Cress of Morgan Co TN, 15 Jan 1842: “Lazarus Spears, the nephew of Lazarus and Kesiah Jones, being the son of Samuel Spears, the brother of Kesiah…” [http://www.fold3.com/image/1/24171899/]

Jacob Cress' statement directly answers the question of Lazarus Spears' parentage.  He was the son of Samuel Spears.  The question remains whether Samuel, the brother of Keziah Spears who married in Pasquotank Co NC, was the same person as Samuel Spears of Hawkins Co TN, formerly Halifax Co NC.
  • (p 105) Affidavit of Charles Prewett of Roan Co TN, 14 Feb 1839, stating that his wife is Nancy Ann Prewett, “… the niece of Lazarus Jones and that said Lazarus married her aunt.”  [http://www.fold3.com/image/1/24171908/ ]
  • (p 106) Affidavit of Nancy Ann Prewett, Roan Co TN, 14 Feb 1839, stating that “…she is the niece of Lazarus Jones deceased, and of his widow Kissiah Jones, that she understood from said Lazarus and Kissiah that they were married in Pasquotank County North Carolina at the house of a certain John Richardson, who was married to said Kissiahs sister to wit Ferryby whose maiden name was Spears…". [http://www.fold3.com/image/1/24171909/

The statements by the Prewetts are relevant because they establish that an additional Spears sibling was married and living in Pasquotank County.  Tax records, as we will see, show that a John Richardson was a close neighbor of Lazarus Jones in Pasquotank County. 
  • (pp 146-147) Letter from Lazarus Spears dated at Hawkins County, 28 July 1842 [conveying information via a third party to his aunt, Keziah Jones, in Macon Co Illinois]: “…I can say to ant Jones that her brother Samuel Spears is dead died about three years ago Jessey Spears is well and family Ogburn Hale and family…” [http://www.fold3.com/image/1/24171950/]

While Lazarus Spears does not directly state that his father was Samuel, it is clear that he is sending his aunt news of their family.  He also mentions Jesse Spears, a documented son of Samuel Spears from Halifax Co (Doc B pp 4-5), as well as Ogburn Hale, who was identified in the Haynes pension file (Doc B p 31) as being from Halifax Co NC, and in the Jones pension file (Doc C pp 64-65) as being associated with people from Pasquotank Co.  Clearly, there are ties of association among Keziah Spears Jones, formerly of Pasquotank Co NC, and the Spears men, formerly of Halifax Co NC, as well as with Ogburn Hale, who had ties to both counties.

D — Halifax County, North Carolina Tax Lists,1783-1800 
(Gammon, David B. Halifax County, North Carolina Tax Lists, Volumes I-IV.  FHL Microfilm # 795995)

This four-volume transcription of the original tax rolls provides a readily-available list of men residing in Halifax County, NC who paid taxes during the specified years.  Several individuals with the Spears surname appear in these lists, but only those identified as potential associates of Samuel are noted here.  Samuel Spears appears in every list from 1782 through 1786; he is absent from the 1787 list, appears once more in 1790, and does not reappear thereafter, suggesting he moved or was deceased after that date.  See Table 1.

Of interest in light of Thomas Ives' testimony (Doc C pp 75-77), a William, Arthur, and Samuel Spears appear in nearly every list consulted, suggesting that these might be the brothers of Keziah Spears identified by Ives.  Samuel and Arthur Spears, as well as Arthur’s apparent widow, Ann, resided in District 11, as did Christopher Haynes, who was later associated with the Spears family in Hawkins Co TN (in 1782, Samuel appears on the list for District 10, but the transcriber included a note to the effect that districts appeared to be mislabeled for that year).  One William Spears consistently appeared on the tax lists in the third district from 1782-1788, and there were two men of this name living in that district in 1790.  As we will see below in the discussion of the Pasquotank Co tax lists, a William Spears also paid taxes in Pasquotank Co during some of those years, so no conclusions, even tentative ones, can be drawn about William at this time.  The purpose of this analysis is not to identify the various men of this name, but rather to place Samuel Spears firmly in Halifax County, and document his associations with individuals living in Pasquotank County.

E — Pasquotank County, North Carolina Tax Lists,1735-1795 
(North Carolina. County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, Pasquotank County, Tax lists, 1735-1904, FHL film # 2436404)

All original tax lists for the years 1735 through 1795 microfilmed by the LDS Church were examined, page by page.  These lists do not represent a complete set; occasional years were missing, and in some years, not all districts returned a list.  With that caveat in mind, no extant records included a return for anyone named Samuel Spears during this period.  However, some individuals associated with him did appear in those lists. See Table 2.
  • No entries were made for anyone named Spears, with the single exception of a William Spears, who appeared in 1785-1787, and again in 1792-1793.  While there is no evidence directly linking him to the family of Samuel Spears of Halifax County, the testimony of Thomas Ives (Doc C pp 75-77) identified Keziah Spears’ brothers: William, Arthur, and Samuel.  Halifax County tax records show a Samuel and an Arthur residing in District 11, but no William.  It is possible that the brother moved to Pasquotank County, as did two of their sisters. The William Spears in Pasquotank Co is consistent with a young man just starting out in life, as he had no land and was taxed only on one white poll. 
  • A John Richardson paid taxes in Pasquotank County in 1774, and in 1777 there were apparently two men of this name who paid taxes there, although one man may have paid taxes on more than one estate.  In 1778, both John Richardsons disappeared, and a Feribee Richardson appeared.  It is possible that this is the sister of Keziah Spears who was married to a John Richardson in Pasquotank Co, according to the testimony of Charles and Nancy Prewitt (Doc C, pp 104-107).  However such a conclusion would be premature because later tax rolls in 1787, 1790-1792, and 1795 also include a John Richardson, and more research would be necessary to identify all individuals of this name.  The point is to establish that individuals with this name resided in Pasquotank County and not in Halifax County, and they were neighbors of individuals who associated with the Spears family. 
  • While there were many Jones families listed on the rolls in every year examined, Lazarus Jones appeared only one time — in the list for 1792.  He was a close neighbor of John Richardson, lending credence to the stated sibling relationship between Feribee Richardson and Keziah Jones. He was also a neighbor of William Spears.
  • A William Everton appeared on the tax lists in 1774 and 1777, in the same district as John Richardson, and again in 1784 and 1785, as a neighbor of William Spears; this was the only Everton appearing on the all the Pasquotank tax lists examined for this study.  In 1786, William’s apparent widow, Rodah Everton, took his place on the tax list; no person with the Everton surname appears after 1786. This nicely corresponds to the testimony of Thomas Ives in the Lazarus Jones pension file, placing Rodah Everton’s subsequent marriage to Thomas Ives sometime after 1786.  

F — North Carolina state census, 1786  
(www.ancestry.com, “North Carolina, State Census, 1784-1787” >Halifax County, entries for Spears surnames and Christopher Haynes; no entries were found for Ogburn Hale, John Richardson, or Lazarus Jones in any county)

Most of the individuals whose testimonies were critical to this analysis were recalling events that had occurred between 1780 and 1790, so the 1786 NC census and the 1790 U.S. census were examined in order to locate them within this time frame.
  • (image 9/15) District 11, enumerated 9 Feb 1786. Samuel Speir is listed with 1 white male 21-60, 2 white males under 21 and over 60, 4 white females all ages, no black household members.  
  • (image 9/15) District 11, enumerated 9 Feb 1786, Arthur Speer is listed with 1 white male 21-60, 4 white males under 21 and over 60, 2 white females all ages, 1 black person 12-50, and 2 blacks under 12 & above 50.
  • (image 10/15) District 11, enumerated 9 Feb 1786, Xfer Haynes is listed with 1 white male 21-60, no white males under 21 and over 60, 1 white female all ages, 3 blacks 12-50, 4 blacks under 12 and above 50.
  • (image 2/15) District 3, enumerated 1 Feb 1786, William Spear is listed with 1 white male 21-60, 2 white males under 21 and over 60, 3 white females all ages, no black household members.

G — 1790 US federal census, Halifax County, NC 
(www.ancestry.com, “1790 U.S. Federal Census,” North Carolina, various counties)

Included in the North Carolina >Halifax County >Edgecombe District were entries for two men named William Spear, Ogbourne Hale, Samuel Spiers, and Christopher Haynes. Lazarus Jones was found in Edgecombe County, NC, and there were entries for a John Richardson and Rhoda Ives in Pasquotank County.

Samuel Spears’ household in the 1790 census included three free white males under the age of 16, one free white male 16 and over, two free white females, and one slave.  Samuel Spears/Spiers was not found in the 1800, 1810, or 1820 federal census in North Carolina, and those years are missing for Hawkins Co TN.  Similarly, Christopher Haynes and Ogburn Hale were found in Halifax Co in 1790, but in no subsequent North Carolina census records.

H — 1830 US federal census, Hawkins County, TN  
(www.ancestry.com, “1830 U.S. Federal Census,” Tennessee>Hawkins County, entries for Samuel Spears, Christopher Haynes, Jesse Spears, Lazarus Spears, Ogburn Hale)

The 1800 and 1810 census records are missing for Tennessee; additionally, the 1820 census for Hawkins Co TN is also missing.  The 1830 census is the earliest one placing Samuel Spears in the county. 

I — Hawkins County, TN Land Records 
(Liber 6, p. 484, Robert Brown to Samuel Spears, 22 Feb 1808.  FHL film # 972801

This deed is the earliest documented record of Samuel Spears in Hawkins County, Tennessee.  Although Samuel Spears does not appear in North Carolina records after 1790, we cannot provide an exact date for his subsequent move to Hawkins Co TN from the documents examined in this study.

Conclusions

Pension records demonstrate clearly that Samuel Spears of Hawkins Co TN, formerly of Halifax Co NC, served as a private soldier in the 3rd Regiment of the Continental Line from North Carolina for a period of 9 months.  

The documents examined in this study defined Samuel Spears' family ties and associations. Information in the Lazarus Jones pension file (Doc C) includes direct and indirect evidence that Samuel Spears was the father of Lazarus Spears.  This source also includes testimony from several individuals associated with the Spears family that collectively portray strong ties among people who lived in both Halifax and Pasquotank counties in North Carolina before migrating to Tennessee.  

Frances Haynes’ widow’s pension (Doc B) establishes that Jesse Spears was the son of the soldier Samuel Spears, who was closely associated with Christopher Haynes in Halifax Co NC.  In a letter to his aunt’s lawyer, (Doc C p 146) Lazarus Spears asks the latter to convey news of James Jones, Jesse Spears and Ogburn Hale to his aunt, suggesting that all three are close relations.  

An additional conclusion regarding Lazarus Spears’ birthplace can be drawn from this study.  We can state that he was likely born in Halifax Co NC, since he was born in 1785 and his father, Samuel Spears, was a resident of Halifax Co at least through 1790 and possibly as late as 1808.

Samuel Spears of Hawkins Co TN identifies Halifax Co NC as his residence during the Revolutionary War.  This is supported by statements made by his son, Jesse Spears, in the pension file of Christopher Haynes’ widow, Frances (Doc B pp 4-5), as well as in Halifax Co tax and census records, which record both Samuel Spears and Christopher Haynes as residents.  

Ogburn Hale of Hawkins Co stated that he witnessed the marriage of Lazarus Jones and Keziah Spears in Pasquotank Co NC in 1782 or 1783 (Doc C p 64).  He was also mentioned in the testimony of James Charles in Frances Haynes' widows pension (Doc B pp 30-32) as attending the marriage of Christopher Haynes and Frances Turner in Halifax Co NC ca 1790.  Hale was documented as a resident of Halifax Co by the tax and census records, and was not found on any Pasquotank Co tax or census lists.  As a resident of Halifax Co, Hale had ties to members of the Spears family in both Halifax and Pasquotank Counties.  Clearly the distance separating them did not prevent friends and families from meeting upon occasion.

Thomas Ives’ testimony identifies the brothers of Keziah Spears as William, Arthur, and Samuel.  We find men of that name in Halifax Co, but not in Pasquotank Co, with the exception of a William Spears, who was the only person with the Spears surname appearing on the Pasquotank Co tax lists examined for this study, and who was found there from 1785-1787 and again from 1792-1793.  No one with the Spears surname was found in the 1786 NC state census or in the 1790 federal census in Pasquotank Co.

The Jones pension file, which provides direct evidence of Lazarus Spears' relationship to his father, Samuel Spears, demonstrates only that Lazarus Jones served in the Revolution from Pasquotank Co, NC and is neutral regarding both the residence or service of Samuel Spears.  

The confusion lies in the fact that two and possibly three of Samuel’s siblings lived there:  his brother William might have been the man who appeared on Pasquotank Co tax lists in 1785 with no property and one white poll, and certainly two of his sisters, i.e., Keziah and Ferribee, married men in Pasquotank Co.  As we have seen from the evidence of Ogburn Hale, however, distance was not a barrier to relationship.  

Only one individual named Samuel Spears appears to have lived in Halifax Co, NC and no one by that name lived in Pasquotank Co.  This, together with the ties of relationship and association documented in this study among individuals living in both places, all of whom later migrated to Tennessee, provides sufficient evidence that there was but one individual named Samuel Spears in Eastern Tennessee:  the man who served in the 3rd Regiment of the NC Continental Line during the Revolution, who was the father Lazarus Spears, and he was from Halifax Co, NC.


Table 1--Samuel Spears Associates
Halifax Co NC Tax Lists

Ogburn Hale
Christopher Haynes
Samuel Spears
Arthur Spears
Ann Spears
William Spears
Wm Exum Spears
1782
no
District 11, 490 pounds
District 10, 21 pounds
District 11, 146 acres, 95 pounds
no
District 3, 150 acres, 150 pounds
no
1783
no
District 11, 572 pounds
District 11, 30 pounds
District 11, 224 pounds
no
District 3, 291 pounds
no
1784
no
District 11, 424 acres
District 11, 70 acres
District 11, 146 acres
no
District 3, 100 acres
no
1785
no
District 11, 424 acres
District 11, 170 acres (transcriber questions this figure)
District 11, 146 acres
no
District 3, 100 acres
no
1786
District 11, 140 acres
District 11, 424 acres
District 11, 70 acres
District 11, 146 acres
no
District 3, 100 acres
no
1787
no
no
no
District 11, 146 acres
no
District 3, 100 acres
no
1788
District 11, 140 acres
no
no
A Spears estate, District 11
no
District 3, 100 acres
no
1790
District 11, 140 acres
no
District 11, 1 white poll, 1 black poll, 1 stud horse
no
District 11, 146 acres
District 3, 1 white poll
District 3, 100 acres
1800
no
no
no
no
no
District 3, 300 acres, 1 white poll, 1 black poll
no
Source: Gammon, David B. Halifax County North Carolina Tax Lists, vols. 1-4, FHL microfilm #795995, transcription of original lists




Additional Research Notes — Samuel Spears’ Marriages

County clerks in both Halifax and Pasquotank counties certified that no marriage records existed in their jurisdictions prior to 1800:
  • (Doc B-Haynes pension file, p 38)  W.W. Daniel, Clerk of Halifax County, North Carolina, stated that “…no marriage bonds or licenses are to be found on file in my office of as old a date as 1790 nor is there any on file of a date prior to 1800.” [http://www.fold3.com/image/1/22994397/]
  • (Doc C-Jones pension file, p 67) Statement by Stephen Charles, Clerk of Pasquotank Co NC Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, on 15 April 1840: “…there is no record of marriages kept in this office…” [http://www.fold3.com/image/1/24171870/ ]
To confirm this, a search was conducted for any extant marriage records, licenses, and bonds, but was negative for Samuel Spears, either in Halifax County, NC or in Hawkins County, TN.  Marriage records for Hawkins County, where a possible second marriage might have occurred, also turned up nothing.  Land records in both Halifax County and Hawkins County shed no further light on the identity of his wife or wives; during Samuel Spears’ lifetime, the law in both North Carolina and Tennessee did not require wives to release dower when land was sold.  In addition, final payment vouchers for Revolutionary War pensions were examined at the National Archives in hopes that one might name a beneficiary, but no such vouchers were found for the Samuel Spears of Hawkins County (one Samuel Spears was listed in the index, but the actual vouchers belonged to the man of the same name who lived in western Tennessee and who had served from Virginia).
Lazarus Spears stated (Doc C p 146) that he had often heard his mother and father discuss Lazarus Jones’ Revolutionary War service — so it would seem that his parents were married, and his mother was alive at least through his childhood.  Samuel Spears’ statement in his pension application in 1820 mentions a 38-year old wife (Doc A p 6).  This person would have been born ca 1782, too young to be the mother of Lazarus Spears, who was born in 1785.  However Samuel Spears’ household in the 1830 census includes a female aged 60-69.  This was most likely an error on the part of the census-taker, but in the absence of any sources documenting Samuel’s marriage/s, no conclusions can be drawn at this time.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

If you can't beat 'em....join 'em!

Soon after I started this blog, I focused my writing on a set of templates I created in Bento for  managing my research.  That came to an abrupt halt when FileMaker discontinued support for the Bento database program.  They were probably right... computing has changed so much that databases are becoming things of the past.  Powerful search engines, the ability to tag data, the cloud -- Evernote -- have all made the old fashioned database obsolete.

But there was still that nagging desire to have all my research in one place, easy to retrieve, yet organized around some basic principle, which nothing but a family tree-oriented software can achieve. The problem with family tree programs is that they don't do a great job of tracking ongoing research, unproven conclusions, and complex sources.  As far as I can see, they still don't quite hit the mark, but I've come up with some work-arounds that I'm fairly sure can be adapted to whichever family tree program is being used.  Certainly, the convenience of keeping all your work in one place makes it worthwhile to give it a try.

First of all, I've set up imaginary, unlinked "people" in my family tree, with the first name "RESEARCH," the middle name corresponding to the first name, and then the surname of interest.  I attach to this "person" any item I find in my research that I cannot conclusively attribute to a known individual in this family.  It's kind of like Ancestry's Shoebox, but with a little more focus and precision.


If I have some data that I believe might pertain to a known individual in my tree, but still need more evidence to confirm an identity or relationship, I will attach that data to a custom event called "RESEARCH."


I add my source for this information in the usual way, but when I add the detailed citation I also include a reference to "research."  As we all know, many types of evidence -- useful,worthless, and everything in between -- can exist within a single source.



Another custom event I've added is "Link to another generation;" I use this to identify at a glance the evidence proving relationships.  Family tree software doesn't do a great job of letting you explain why you have placed a child in a particular family or assigned a wife to a particular husband.  I want to be able to see at a glance what proofs I have for these conclusions.  In many cases, these conclusions are not based on any one piece of direct evidence, but on a number of things that together point to this conclusion.  In such cases, I write an analysis and cite this as I would any other source.


One of these days, I'm sure the software developers will catch on to the fact that documenting family ties is not a "one and done" proposition, but rather an ongoing process that must be managed in the same environment where we record our conclusions.  One of these days....


Friday, November 21, 2014

A letter from your great-grandmother....

I recently read a blogpost on Ancestry.com about the Oklahoma Historical Society's exhibit on the Century Chest, a 100-year old time capsule that was recently opened in Oklahoma City.  I am fascinated by the very idea of communicating directly with another time, like a message in the bottle.  Last April, I watched via live streaming as this huge time capsule was opened, and was absolutely riveted as the messages from the past were slowly discovered.  But the great news is that the collection has been scanned and is now available online.

My sense is that people tend to submit material for time capsules much as they might prepare for meeting a delegation from a foreign country -- contributing formal, descriptive information about city and state institutions, and producing proclamations commemorating the event.   Predictably, such material is dry and boring and of interest only to historians.  

This time capsule certainly had a lot of this type of material, but also contained wonderful artifacts of 1913, such as clothing, popular magazines and music, appliances, wax voice recordings, and -- most exciting for the family historian -- letters to descendants.   

I read every one of these letters, and was in tears the entire time.  One woman clearly couldn't imagine her four-year old daughter ever being a mother, let alone an "ancestor;" another wrote about her family's moves from North Carolina through several other states before ending up in Oklahoma; and yet another wrote about her descent from royalty.  The one that really choked me up was this one -- you can hear her voice:


I am fortunate enough to live in a historic home -- we are the third family to own it since it was built back in the 1800s.  We created a time capsule when we moved in, which we buried in the foundation. I think the best way to create a time capsule is to put in what you would hope to find yourself, so we added old farm papers and photos that had been saved from the previous owners, our own family photos, and long, personal letters from each one of us telling about our lives and our hopes for the future.  Every good time capsule has to have buried treasure, so we put in packets of flower seeds, bags of coins from all over the world, and old jewelry (nothing really of value today, but who knows in the future!) 

Now, if only I could come back as a fly on the wall when they open it!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Exploring a little-used source for Southern research!

I love finding new sources.  Half the fun of genealogy is ferreting out new information... the kind that most people don't bother to chase after.  The Draper manuscripts are one such source, a monumental collection of original documents, notes, and correspondence collected by Lyman Draper and relating to the history of the American South in the period from the French and Indian War through the War of 1812.  These manuscripts were the original materials Draper collected over many years, which he used to write his 1881 historyKing's Mountain and Its Heroes.   
Recently I attended a webinar on the Draper manuscripts, courtesy of Legacy Family Tree software company.  The webinar provided an invaluable rundown on the rich content of this collection and how to access it.  The difficulties lie in the fact that it is not indexed, has a complicated structure making it difficult to navigate, and copies are not readily available to most researchers.   The webinar guides the researcher through the collection and provides examples of the kinds of detailed information that might be found there.

Ancestry.com has digitized some of the calendars for the Draper collection, making the document summaries completely searchable (go to Card Catalog, search on the keyword "Draper," and from there enter your own search terms).  Since I have quite a lot of Southern blood, I was anxious to try it and see what I could find.    

Boy, I hit the jackpot with information on William Green, and I am so excited I can hardly stand it!  He has been a "potential ancestor" for some time -- several undocumented family trees on Ancestry suggest a connection with my own but I had not yet seen any evidence for this.  Now, after one quick Ancestry search, I had something to work with:  I identified 30 documents in the Draper Collection containing information about this man.

William Green was an interesting figure; he was a Tory officer who fought against the Americans at the Battle of King's Mountain, but afterwards became a private soldier and spy for the American side.  His story is one of those few that help us imagine the real person who was trying desperately to survive during the Revolutionary War.  In King's Mountain and its Heroes, Draper noted that Green and a companion were among the Tories taken prisoner by the Americans after the battle:


Lyman Draper, Kings Mountain and its Heroes.  www.archive.org
If a good story like this one made it into the final draft of Draper's book, imagine the details yet to be discovered in the manuscript collection!  Of those 30 references to William Green that I found in the Draper calendars on Ancestry.com, the one that jumped out at me was this: 

You see, this Mrs. Mooney, née Charlotte Green, is my documented 4th-great grandmother... the proverbial missing link!!  

Now, all I have to do to add William Green to my family tree is track down this document on microfilm....