The lives that some ancestors lived scarcely make a ripple in the records of the past. Sometimes, though, it is the names associated with those records that leave behind a mountain of clues that get us closer to finding that elusive connection. My third great uncle, John Morris Jr, is one of these individuals.
John was born about 1819, most likely in Montgomery County, North Carolina, the son of John Jacky and Amelia Morris, my third great grandparents. He died between 1850 and 1870. I am not able to find any mention of him, his wife or his child in 1860, but his wife, Martha, and child, Elizabeth (Liza), show up in Swift Island, Montgomery County, North Carolina in August of 1870, living alone.
Many family trees show John died 23 September 1850 and Find-A-Grave states that he died three days after the 1850 Census was enumerated, but lists his death date as 23 September 1850, which cannot be the case as the 1850 Census was enumerated on 30 September 1850, so, if John died three days after the 1850 Census, his date of death would be 3 October 1850. So, it gets a bit confusing.
John married Martha Ferrill on 5 Dec 1845. Thomas Lilly was bondsman. And here is where it gets interesting. The Lilly’s were a very prominent family in early Anson and Montgomery Counties, with deeds going back to Anson County in 1756, when Edmund Lilly sold land on the Pee Dee River to Benjamin Dumas. Also of interest is the fact that Thomas married Drusilla Willams in 1847. My Morris family intermarried with the Williams family to a great extent and I am now on the hunt to find out more about Drusilla Williams and her family, and what, if any, connection, they had to my Morris family.
I’ll come back to how it gets interesting at the end of the Blog.
Prior to John’s marriage to Martha, he lived at home, east of the Pee Dee River, with his parents, John Jacky and Amelia Morris, my third great grandparents. Just a few doors down lives Alsy Ferril, who has a female in his household old enough to be Martha. I’ll need to dig deeper to find out who Alsy Ferril is and if he is the father, or possibly the grandfather, of Martha.
In 1847, Dr. Francis Kron paid a medical call to John Morris Jr, son of John of Montgomery County. This may or may not be my John, as there were several John Morris’s in that area at this time. I think there is a good chance though, that it is my John.
Dr. Francis Kron administered febrifuge, a substance that reduces fever, to John in August 1847 and made another visit on September 19. I have not yet been able to make out the word for the visit in September. John paid cash in full, $1.50, for the visits.
In 1850, after the Census was taken, John and Martha welcomed the birth of their first and only child together, Elizabeth Jane, called Liza. As mentioned previously, Liza is not on the 1850 Census and I cannot find her or her parents on the 1860 Census. The first glimpse we get of Liza is in 1870, at the age of 19, birth year, about 1851. Liza is living with her mother, Martha, in Swift Island.
Three months after the 1870 Census, on 24 November 1870, N. W. Smart solemnized the union of matrimony between Liza J. Morris and Raymond Clodfelter. N. W. Smart is Nathaniel (Nathan) Smart, a Justice of the Peace in Montgomery County and closely related to my Dennis line. Nathan’s daughters intermarried heavily into my Dennis line. Nathan is also related to my fourth great grandmother, Susannah Smart Morgan Henderson.
Eliza and Raymond made their home in Davidson County, North Carolina and had three children, Martha (1871), Claude (1876), and John (1878) prior to Liza’s death in 1878. Liza is buried at Pine Hill United Methodist Church Cemetery in Davidson County. Raymond Clodfelter remarried to Flora Johnson in 1885 and they went on to have several more children.
Now, how it gets interesting…
My Morris research, which includes traditional genealogy, atDNA and Y-DNA testing, is to find out if there is a connection between my third great grandfather, John Jacky Morris and the Thomas Morris family who settled in Montgomery County, North Carolina. I am currently pending Y-DNA test results from a male Morris who descends from John Bushyhead Morris, who descends from the Thomas Morris line. I have several male Morris cousins and my paternal Uncle who have Y-DNA tested whom I want to compare results.
While researching for this Blog, John Morris Jr, son of John Jacky and Amelia Morris, I came across the marriage license, dated 1845, for John Morris Jr and Martha Ferrill. Thomas Lilly signed as bondsman and I thought that a bit odd. As already noted, the Lilly family were prominent in Anson and Montgomery Counties and I was curious to know how my Morris family, who are always listed as poor farmers and miners, might know the Lilly family. I found out that Thomas Lilly married Drusilla Williams in 1847, two years after John married Martha. So, John Morris and Thomas Lilly knew one another prior to Thomas marrying Drusilla. My Morris family intermarried, to a GREAT extent, with the Williams family and I wonder if John may have introduced Thomas Lilly to Drusilla Williams. More on that at a later date. My main interest right now lies in how John knew the Lilly family.
Some Goggle searches later, I came across a Blog at Jobs Children titled, ‘Whispers of Eliza Winfield Lilly.’ In the Blog is mentioned Tallapoosa County, Alabama, Marriages - Record Book 2. 1 ISAAC MORRIS and MARY B. SHARP. I found this quite interesting as my Morris male cousins and my paternal Uncle who have Y-DNA tested, have atDNA and Y-DNA matches to a Morris line from Limestone and Madison Counties in Alabama, as well as Y-DNA matches in TN and GA.
Wanting to know more about the Isaac Morris family, I performed some additional Google searches and found the following at US Gen Web Archives. I am pretty sure (at this point) that the Isaac Morris mentioned in the letters is somehow related to the Morris family from Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, but without a doubt, somehow all of these Morris families knew one another. I find it interesting, as well as significant, that both the Isaac Morris family and my John Jacky Morris family have the same family history about their ancestors who came from England to Virginia and finally settled in Montgomery County, North Carolina close to the Narrows on the Yadkin River.
At the website, http://files.usgwarchives.net/al/tallapoosa/bios/morris.txt are two Morris letters that offer some insight into the Morris family in Alabama. Several surnames found in Montgomery County, North Carolina are mentioned, as well as, the family history that matches my own; that this Morris family came from England, to Virginia, and migrated to Montgomery County, North Carolina and settled near the Narrows of the Yadkin River.
The following is a portion of a letter written by Rev. Jonathan Morris, son of Isaac Morris and Rebecca Bean, to Rev. J. V. M. Morris his nephew and son of Isham Morris about 1884. The family descendants can be viewed at http://poohbos.com/genealogy/fam/fam00125.html and scanned images of this letter can be seen at and includes another transcribed letter which names the children of Isaac & Rebecca Bean Morris and their birthdates.
"I will now tell you something about our ancestors. My Grand Father by my Fathers side was born in England and immigrated to the continent of America a number of years before the revolution & settled in North Carolina on Broad River I think in Montgomery County near the great fishery in that state known as the Narrows of the Yadkin on the Yadkin River. His name was John he had one brother by the name of Isaac who settled in Virginia about the same time. Of his children I know nothing. Grandfather Morris had five sons and two Daughters his oldest Daughter married a man by the name of Sanders both of whom died in northern Georgia. I can not say what county.
Aunt Polly the youngest daughter married Alexander Mackey who had a large family of children that was living in Georgia & Alabama when I left the state. They uncle and Aunt both died in Muscogee County Georgia.
As to my fathers brothers I know but little. I never saw any of them but Uncle John who was living near Columbus Mississippi when I cam to Cali. He was about 85 years old at that time, a full blooded Methodist and had been for over 50 years. He had two sons and several daughters but I can not tell who they married. His sons moved to Texas in an early day.
Uncle Spencer Morris also moved to Texas before the first Texas War and I understand died there during the first war.
Uncle Wm Morris and his wife died in Northern Georgia he also had a large family but I have never seen but two of his children one son and one daughter.
Uncle Charles Morris moved to Tennessee before I was born and know but little about him. The last heard of him he was living in Missouria.
Grandfather Bean my mothers father was born & married in Scotland but like Grandfather Morris moved to America before the Revolution they were neighbors in North Carolina at the time of the Revolution.
My Father & Mother were both born in that state before the war and were married in that state and had two children before they moved to Georgia. They first settled in Jackson County where I was born about 3 miles from Madison.
I cannot say what county your Father was born in but him and I think all my brothers except the youngest was born within Jackson or Morgan Counties. The youngest Isaac was born in Jasper County. My Grand Father and Grand Mother Bean both died in Jasper County she at 76 and him 93 years of age both had been members of the Baptist church for a number of years.
My Father & Mother both died in Tallapoosa County Ala. My mother was 76 and Father 94 years of age. My mother had been a methodist about 62 years and died in the triumph of the Christians faith. My Father and I joined the church at old Mount Zion where you were raised in 1828. Your father had joined a few months or perhaps one year before. You see I am not very well posted. I have taken more panes to inform myself than any of my brothers. You can see that we are Scotch and English mixed. I presume you know more about your mothers people than I do tho its 49 years since I know your grand Father Kindall and about the same time since I know your mother. The first Methodist Preacher I ever heard was in your mothers house in 1824 it was old Father Hunter who died in Mississippi in 1868.
Second letter from Jonathan in the possession of and Transcribed by Aubrey Morris
"Lincoln Placer County Cali
Decr 14, 1884"
Revd J. V. M. Morris,
Your welcome letter of the 15 Sept was received in due time but like the most of the Morrises I have neglicted to write but will now comply with your request. I was truly sorrow to learn of your family afflictions for I have seen the troubles of us Circuit Preachers when afflicted in this County. It's so hard to make the Church realize their duty in such cases. I am fully of the opinion that our sistum of church government is the best in existance for evangelising the World but we failed in the outset to train the members of our church in the matter of giving and it is going to be an uphill business to get them right but I believe strong in Gods Providence and he will not let those who trust in him suffer for bread and when he afflicts it is for our good. May it be so in your case is my Prayer... I am at a loss to know to answer your enquiries. You want to know the ages of all my brothers and sisters. I have not record and the nearest I can come to it is to begin with my own age and go back as there was about two years difference. I can come very near it. I was born on the 18th day of Feby 1812 Brother John who died in Texas was born in August 1809. Charles on the 22nd Feby 1806 I think your father was born 22nd Feby 1804 Hiram in 1802 and Spencer in 1800 Sister Polly Davis in 1798 Alsia Mills Etris which was the eldest in 1796 I have not heard from her since about 1834. The youngest bro Isaac was born July 1816. This is as near as I can come to there ages. My mother died in May 1847 was born 6th May 1764 North Carolina. Father died in 1856 He was born in 1762 This is the nearest I can come to of generaligy from memory.
Brother Spencer married Miss Sarah Bassett Hiram Miss Bethany Bingham John Miss Pheby Musick Isaac's wife was named Mary but I forgotten her maden name. They both died in Tallapoosa County Ala since I have ben in Cali. You know who your father and Uncle Charles married as to myself if I marry it will be in 1885
OLD MOUNT ZION [METHODIST] CHURCH
You wish to know something about the time etc. of the organisation of the Old Mount Zion Church. Well it was organised by Revd. John Hunter in 1824 at your Grand fathers Isaac Kendall's residence. Your grandfather Kendall & wife Sarah Kendall who married Jessie Brown, your mother and her then husband Frederick Sessions Asa Sessions & wife Henry Williamson & wife Bro Spencers wife Sarah her Father & Mother and I think your Aunt Elisabeth was one of the first.
I must not leave out old Uncle Ben who was a slave of Henry Williamson He was a local Preacher with great zeal & the eloquence of a great man. If I get to heaven I think it is likely my star will be in his crown as it was under his Preaching that I first saw that I was a sinner tho a small boy. I never seace praying tho it was several years before I felt that I had been truly converted. Forgive this digression for I loved Uncle Ben and had many happy seasons with him before we were separated. These I think about all the first year in 1825 they built a school house betwen your Mothers & Asa Sessions used the water out your mothers spring.
That year your father and Spencer joined and others but I cannot give their names. In 1826 my Fathers brothers Hiram, Charles, John, Sisters Polly & Ala M & Myself joined. My mother joined the Methodist church in 1784 in North Carolina but moving to Georgia where there was no Methodist Church she had joined the Baptist Church but in 1826 she came back to the church of her choise. About 1826 the country was settled up purty well and we had a large membership.
I will give some of names Deason & family Leaches & Your Grand Father Kendall was the first Class Leader in 26, Your Uncle Jerry Kendall and Jas. Calloway were Leaders when I last saw them they were living in Miss and both local preachers. Your uncle Thomas Kendall died I think a local preach in Wilcox County ala. As I have stated John Hunter was the first Preach his family lived in Henry County at that time Georgia, North and South Carolina was one conference Hunter preached for 2 years then Thadius Bell from South Carolina then Jeremiah Freeman then Varnel McNaffey the man you was named after - Who I'm sorry to say died a drunkard here in California about 30 miles from this place several years since. Stegall & Hesse bearing new DD The most of them were young members but full of zeal and preached Christ and him Crucified. They seemed to delight in the Doctrin of Justification by Faith also Repentance and Future Rewards and o for more such Peachers in Cali. We have a few but as a rule they seem to make smooth pretty talks and are fearful they may say something that will sound harsh on the ear. When I read in Nashville Advocate of the many revivals you have had this year in Georgia I long to be there with means enough to enable me to spend all my time in attending such meeting The happiest work of life is around the alter with mourners for years I have had but little of that to do But we Pray for a general revival this conference year and hope to see one more year when God will be glorified in the Conversion of Many. I will say in reference to Old Mount Zion the Preachers in early days we had as Presiding Elders & Camp Meeting help such men as old Doct Pierce and Uncle Jack Simmons purify and others whose names I cannot recall since writing this letter when go back 60 years and then ask myself how many of these I have written about are yet alive and how many are gone to Heaven. So far as I know a large majority are gone, oh if so fortunite as to get to heaven, What a host will be there from Georgia Alabama Mississippi and California to greet me Welcome. I am waiting for the summons. I know it won't be long. I have strong faith that I'll hail with joy Praise God for the Christians Hope of outlasting the storm of the world and goiong where all is Peace Hallaleyuh. Well Mack I have written until I'm very happy, ever the Prospect of soon meeting yours if not on earth in Heaven.. Now as to my Bodily health it's has been extra good all through the summer and fall except colds which is very common in California in the fall and Spring seasons. We are having a very dry time for this season of the year. Two months to day since we had rain enough to lay the dist and we now having heavy Frost which checks the growth of everything and the prospects for farmers are gloomy. There is some Prospects of rain tonight. I will now close by sending my best wishes to you and yours. May God Bless you in noble work of Saving Souls.
Your affectionate Uncle,
I have new thought of Bro Isaacs wifes maden name it was Sharp, She was the daughter of a widow."