Monday, January 20, 2020

John Bell Land

In the 126-page estate file of Henry Delamothe, located at Family Search, the first document in the folder is a summons to the sheriff of Montgomery County to take the bodies of John Morris, this John may be my third great grandfather, or it could be his son, John Jr, George Washington Morris, my third great uncle, and Nelson Harris, to have these three men at the court house in Lawrenceville on the last Monday in February 1844 to answer John C. Atkins, executor of Henry Delamothe Dec’d, of a plea of covenants broken to his damage $50.

Nelson Harris, the son of William Harris, was born about 1810 and died in 1857. He married Nancy Ingram in 1845, sister to Abigale Ingram, who married Nelson’s brother, Parsons Harris. Of interest, Grandison Morris, brother to George Washington Morris mentioned in the document, named his son, Parsons Harris Morris, who later, in 1870, became the Register of Deeds for Montgomery County, a position which he held for many years. It is obvious, based on the document, as well as, the fact that a son was named after one of them, that Nelson and Parsons Harris had a relationship with at least two members of my Morris family, Grandison and George. What kind and how close that relationship was, I hope to find out.

On page 40 of the estate file is found a rental agreement between John Morris Jr, Nelson Harris and John Atkins, the executor of Henry Delamothe. John Jr rented, from Jan 1843 to Jan 1844, the houses and plantation whereon the said J. Morris now lives, for $10. The rental agreement has a clause that the houses and plantation shall not be abused in any way nor is the timber to be cut except such as may be necessary to fence the plantation and for fire wood. The testator was Francis J. Kron, the doctor who migrated from Prussia, and the nephew-in-law to Henry Delamothe.

On page 42 of the Henry Delamothe estate file is a rental agreement between John Morris, Washington Morris and Nelson Harris dated 28 Oct 1840. The rental agreement is for John Morris to rent of John Atkins executor of Henry Delamothe, the house and plantation whereon John Morris now lives called the John Bell land, for twelve months from Jan 1841 to Jan 1842 for the sum of $15. As the document states that John Morris now lives on this land, it is assumed that John probably had lived on the land the previous year as well and most likely rented the land from year to year, although, I do not know what year John first lived on the John Bell land. The same terms apply as before, that the house and plantation shall not be abused in any way and no shade trees about the house shall be cut or timber in the woods shall be cut except what may be needed for fencing or for firewood.

Now, both John Morris Sr and John Morris Jr are listed as miners on every Census past 1850, so, they probably would not have been a tenant farmer on the John Bell land, relying on crops for their lively hood. Most likely, enough crops and livestock were raised to feed the immediate family and the home that was leased from Henry Delamothe was just that, a home and nothing more. The rent paid would assist Henry Delamothe with additional income to pay property taxes on the land.

John Bell, no doubt is related to, and probably the son of, Joseph Bell, who was born about 1732, migrating to Anson County around 1773; per land grant info, he settled in those parts that became Montgomery in 1779. Joseph lived near the mouth of Cedar Creek on the west bank of the (Uwharrie) River, at the foot of the (Buck?) Mountain. His name appears on a petition in 1777 to divide Anson to form Montgomery and by 1790, he, and his sons, Richard, David, John and Benjamin, all born prior to 1774, show up on the Montgomery County Census. Joseph is said to have died about 1818 in Henderson, Montgomery County, North Carolina. I have yet to find his estate file, although I have seen references made to it, and I am sure upon Joseph’s death, and perhaps even before, he divided his land among his lawful heirs.

It is said by some that Joseph is the progenitor of all the Bell’s in this area, however, Land Grants were issued to William Bell and Thomas Bell in 1752 and 1753, some 20 years before Joseph Bell entered his first land grant in Anson County in 1773. More research is required to determine if there is a connection between these Bell men. William and Thomas lived on the Broad River, current day York County, South Carolina, while Joseph lived on the Uwharrie River, current day Montgomery County, North Carolina. So, just because these men have the same last name, and lived at one time, in the same county (Anson), does not necessarily mean there is any close relationship, or any relationship at all. Boundary lines changed very quickly back then, genealogy and geography go hand in hand.

John Bell can be found on records from as early as 1777 in Anson County when he, like his father, signed the petition to divide Anson to form Montgomery. He is found in 1784 and 1787 State Census records and on the Federal Census in years, 1790, 1800 and 1810.

John Bell had two land grants that I could find. A 7 Jun 1799 grant for 150 acres, west side of Uwharrie River beginning at Richard Bell's [brother of John] corner white oak on the bank of the river, running across the said river to Joseph Bell's [father of John] corner oak, then crossing the river [again] and running to Joseph Bell's [father of John] corner, then to Harris's line to Porterfield's line to Benjamin Bell's [brother of John] line.

John Porterfield was granted, through his Assignee, David Allison, 42,324 acres of land in Montgomery County, North Carolina in the year 1795. However, John Porterfield never lived in Montgomery County, he made his home in Orange County and had offices in Fayetteville (Cross Creek). The land he was granted in Montgomery County may have been sold off to persons who were willing to migrate to Montgomery County or to citizens of the county who were looking to become land owners. In other words, he was a land speculator.

John’s office in Fayetteville was used to process payments for officers and soldiers who had served in the continental army and had claims for pay arrearages. I’m sure he charged a fee for his services. David Allison, the Assignee of John Porterfield, and many others, was caught up in several scandalous lawsuits over his lifetime, as well as the lifetime of his heirs.

A second land grant issued to John Bell on 29 Nov 1817 for 50 acres, beginning at a white oak east of Uwharrie River standing by William Callicoat’s (Callicutt) corner pine, and runs with Callicoat’s line north to a stake, west to the bank of the river, up the east bank of the river to a large white oak just below Hurley's fish trap, then west crossing the river to his own line, south to his corner, then with Joseph Bell's [father of John] line south to the river, down the west bank of the river to the upper end of the river and a direct coarse to the beginning.

I am not able to find any record of John Bell after his 1819 land grant. I can only assume that he died between 1820 (that Census being destroyed) and 1830 as he is not found on a Census record. It is unfortunate that early Montgomery County land records were also destroyed. Researchers can only use what records remain for the county to try and piece together events in those early days.

At some point after 1819, I think it is possible that Henry Delamothe bought the John Bell land. Henry, at some point, began renting the plantation and my Morris ancestors rented the land. I now have more documentation to include to my timeline for my Morris ancestors, as well as, timelines of Henry Delamothe and John Bell and other Bell family members.

In my next post I will refer to Richard Bell, the brother of John Bell and how, while researching the Bell family I have once again been brought back full circle to the Morgan family – I can’t seem to stay away from them, even if I try!

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Cranford vs Morris…the story of Charlie and Annie

I love reading through old court files at the archives in Raleigh or online at Family Search. Supreme Court files usually offer a plethora of information that can tie families together, as was the case when I discovered who the real parents of Willis Morgan are, or can certainly offer colorful details about a family. Several months ago, I discovered such a case concerning the killing of a hog by my first cousin three times removed, John Thomas Morris. I am just now getting around to writing about it.

John is the son of William Morris and Margaret Lewis of Montgomery County, North Carolina. He was born in 1859, just prior to the Civil War, known as the Antebellum Era, at a time when North Carolina was coming out of what became known as a “Rip Van Winkle” condition due to the states under development.

Constitutional reforms of 1835 paved the way for a quarter-century of development in the state that led to the building of railroads and plank roads; support for a public school system; the establishment of institutions for the care of the blind, deaf, and mentally ill; reformed tax system; changes in the legal status of women; the improvement of agricultural and manufacturing conditions; and the growth of the University of North Carolina and other colleges, academies, and religious agencies. (

In September of 1889, John was 30 years old. He had married Caroline Hall, daughter of Murrill (sometimes seen as Merrill) and Susannah Tuner Hall, several years earlier, on 1 Jan 1882, at the home of his first cousin, Joseph Morris, in Uwharrie Township. The Hall’s, as previously noted in other posts, are inner-connected in some way to the Morgan and Beckerdite families and have connections to Randolph County, NC to the Kearns and Steed families. I am slowly working my way through this web of mazes to fully understand the intricate details.

Joseph Morris is my second great uncle, the son of Thomas and Mary Williams Morris. He married Margaret Rosina Merritt, the daughter of John and Deborah Sanders Merritt, who happen to serve as my maternal third great grandparents, in 1877. I made mention of John and Deborah in my post, Temperance Morris, wife of Jacob Sanders, and a Blog about the Merritt’s is forthcoming...someday.

So, it was on the day of John’s sixth wedding anniversary, 1 Jan 1888, that he was accused of unlawfully maiming and killing a hog inside an enclosure, and not surrounded by a lawful fence, that evidently belonged to the man that would in the future become his oldest son, Charlie’s, father-in-law. But, John did not know that at the time. John plead not guilty.

The charges were that John shot and killed a hog, the property of William Stokes Cranford, noted as W.S. in the court papers, near the residence of John’s father, William, whose farm was within what was called a neighborhood enclosure or fence, but not a stock law fence, as was Cranford’s farm, and many others, within the same fence, the farms separated by a creek over which stock could easily pass.

The Grand Jury, only calling two of the four witnesses, William Stokes Cranford and George Henderson, as the other two witnesses were not summoned, the case was continued to the fall session for the want of evidence.

The court document is not very clear on who the witness, George Henderson, might be, but certainly it must be one of two George Henderson’s. One George was the son of Lockey Henderson, born about 1846. The second George was the son of Alexander Henderson, born about 1858.

Again, at the fall session, the case was continued as the grand jury made no presentment of the case. The bill was again sent to the grand jury at the Spring term of court in 1889, but the court believed the statute of limitations had expired, and John was found not guilty by the lower court. Therefore, the state appealed to the Supreme Court.

Unfortunately, the remainder of the file has been lost to history and I will never know if John was, or was not, found guilty of killing the hog of William Stokes Cranford in an enclosure.

What I do know is that, in an ironic twist of fate, John’s oldest son, Charlie, grew up to marry Annie Cranford, the oldest daughter of William Stokes Cranford and Mary (Fannie) Morris in Aug 1904.

William Stokes Cranford was, according to his death certificate, born in Montgomery County on 22 Sep 1854 to Richard and Adaline Hurley Cranford. I have not done much research on the Cranford or Hurley lines, but these surnames are in my family tree and I will, someday, find the time to thoroughly research these families. I do know there is a Y-DNA project for the Cranford surname at Family Tree DNA. William married Mary Frances Morris in 1878.

Mary Frances, called Fannie, Morris descends from Sampson and Mary Hunsucker Morris, and is part of the Morris family that I refer to as the John ‘Bushyhead’ family. Sampson was the nephew of John Bushyhead Morris, his father, Reuben and John Bushyhead being brothers. This is a separate Morris family, as Y-DNA testing has proven, from my own John Jacky Morris family, whom Charlie, the son of John, who was charged with killing the hog, descends from.

Charlie and Annie Cranford Morris made their home in the Uwharrie area of Montgomery County. In 1910, the newly married couple reside next door to Charlie’s parents and showing that two children have been born to this marriage, but only one is now living.

The 1920 Census provides some tantalizing details on the families of Montgomery County. The Census taker provided the name of the road where the family dwelling was located. The Morris’s and the Harris’s lived on River Road in Uwharrie Township. That road still exists today, running parallel to the Yadkin and Pee Dee River between Hwy 24/27 and Hwy 109.

The Tucker’s lived on what was then called Lowder Ferry Road. That road no longer exists on maps today that I can find. In fact, all mentions of the road are referred to as on the Stanly side of the river.

Lowder’s Ferry was located on the west bank of the Yadkin, across from the Yadkin’s confluence with the Uwharrie River. From the Montgomery side of the river, I would guess that the road would be located directly across the river from the Morrow Mountain boat launch, near the end of Morrow Mountain Road.

In speaking with the grandson of Milas Tucker, he remembers his grandfather living at the end of Morton Road and there being a ferry at or near the end of that road called Lowder's Ferry. 

The Cook’s, Hunsucker’s and Morton’s lived on Liberty Hill Road, now called Liberty Hill Church Road.

1930 looks to have brought my entire family to the same area in Uwharrie. Charlie and Annie are living next door to my great grandparents, Travis and Lillie Marks Morris. My second great uncle, Frank Brock, and his wife, Grace, who is my great aunt through my paternal grandmother, is living next door to Travis and Lillie. Frank was first married to Sallie Marks, the sister of Lillie. My grandmother, the daughter of Travis and Lillie, would grow up to marry a nephew of Frank Brock. John and Caroline, Charlie’s parents, are living next door to Frank and Grace.

Between 1930 and 1935, Charlie and Annie move to Eldorado, the community next to Uwharrie. On this Census, the question is asked, “Residence city in 1935?” and Charlie answered, “Same house.” So, I know he moved from Uwharrie to Eldorado between 1930, when he is listed as living in Uwharrie, and 1935 as he stated he had been in the same house for five years, on the 1940 Census. Charlie, listed in previous Census’ as working in the Lumber Mill, now shows he is a Logger, working in the saw mill industry.

By 1950, a tool and die maker in Troy, NC, by the name of Hugh Clark, invents a device to speed up log sawing. Charlie Morris, a log turner, is shown in the Newspaper demonstrating how the device works.

Charlie and Annie remained in the Uwharrie area of Montgomery County their entire lives. Both died in the mid-1970s around 90 years of age and are buried at Uwharrie United Methodist Church Cemetery in Uwharrie Township.