Tuesday, April 4, 2023


"This is Morris Mountain. There are two Morris Mountains. One the other side of the bridge going towards Eldorado, across from the Russell mine. Is that east Morris Mountain and west Morris Mountain? Morris Mountain is all I know. Watty Morris used to live…. Is the Morris Mountain named after your family? No, I don’t think it is. Jacky Morris … you know Jacky Morris. Jacky’s great granddaddy … Sutt, (?) son … John, he came to this county from Virginia. (laughter) They said he was out, there were no automobiles, he was out riding a horse and he saw this pretty girl riding with another man, they had a horse a piece, he just rode up beside her and put his arm around her and lifted and sat her on his horse and he married her.” (paraphrased from the recording: Claude Morris oral history interview, 2002 February 30, see link below for full recording held by University of North Carolina at Charlotte)

Recently, I received from a fellow researcher, I will call him J. M. (he knows who he is), a link to an interview done in 2002 with Claude Morris. At the time of the interview, Claude was 99 years old, a well-seasoned man who had seen, heard, and done a lot in Montgomery County, North Carolina. Claude Morris was born in Montgomery County, North Carolina on 15 June 1902 to Presley Martin Morris (1867-1939) and Martha Adeline Vuncannon (1872-1945). He married Villie Morris (1917-2012) in 1940 and they had at least four children. 

The recorded interview details Claude’s life being “employed at a silk mill in Montgomery County and in mills in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and Marietta, Pennsylvania as well as North Carolina. Montgomery County, North Carolina native Claude Morris recounts inheriting his home from his parents and local events and places over the course of his life. Mr. Morris discusses gold panning, fox hunting, cleaning out clogged water springs as a boy to provide fresh water to the community, textile mills, and sawmills.”
The actual interview starts at 14 minutes.
Link to full interview
26 minutes into the interview, Claude briefly mentions the John Jacky Morris family, specifically the story he had heard about how my third great grandfather, John Jacky Morris, met his wife, Amelia. Of which is translated above. Thank you, Claude Morris, for telling this story! And thank you J. M. for sharing it with me. You have no idea how much this means to me!
Claude’s Morris line is not the same Morris line as mine. Claude descends from John Haton Morris through his son, Thomas and his son, John “Bushyhead” Morris. Both Morris lines have been Y-DNA tested through multiple male descendants and they are not a match. The Haton Morris Group is M02, and the John Jacky Morris Group is M29 at Family Tree DNA.

Claude had some confusion in the family line. You can hear it as he tries to work out the names and relationships to John Jacky Morris. He mentions ‘Watty’ and ‘Sutt’ and even mentions John’s great granddaddy.

George Washington 'Watty' Morris Sr (1817-1902) is the son of John Jacky and Amelia Morris. ‘Watty’ married Elizabeth. Some trees have Elizabeth's maiden name listed as Williams citing a marriage license dated 23 Dec 1845 in Halifax, North Carolina for George Morris, and Elizabeth Williams. However, further research found that George Morris and Elizabeth Williams were still in Halifax County through the 1870 Census there. Additionally, I could not reconcile why George would go to Halifax to get married. It just did not make sense based on what I knew about the family. So, this couple in Halifax cannot be the same George and Elizabeth Morris in Montgomery County. Millie Francis Morris, daughter of ‘Watty’ and Elizabeth, has listed Dennis on her death certificate as the maiden name of her mother, Elizabeth and I do not doubt it. My Morris family married into the Dennis family many times over. My own great grandmother is a Dennis.

‘Sutt’ is the nickname of John Thomas Morris (1859-1940) and the grandson of John Jacky and Amelia Morris. ‘Sutt’s’ parents were William Morris (1813-1892) and Margaret Lewis (1840-?). ‘Sutt’ married Susannah Caroline Hall (1863-1948), daughter of Richard Hall and Leah Sanders, in 1881.

As provocative as the thought is, John Jacky’s great granddaddy, as far as I know, was never in Montgomery County.

There has always been a question as to whether John Jacky and Amelia were already married when they came to Montgomery County or if Amelia was already living in Montgomery County when John Jacky arrived there. That confusion came because the 1850 Census lists her birthplace as Virginia but the 1860 Census lists her birthplace as North Carolina. She is not found in the 1870 Census and her gravestone lists her death year as 1874. So, she did not live to see the 1880 Census. However, her children did, and they continued to add to the confusion. On the 1880 Census some of them list Mother's Birthplace as Virginia while others list Mother's Birthplace as North Carolina. There was also a question as to the birthplace of Jacky and Amelia’s first child, William. The 1850 and 1870 Census lists his birthplace as North Carolina, but in 1880, his birthplace is listed as Virginia. 


In a past blog, I had written that George Washington Morris, grandson of John Jacky, in 1969, made statements to a Newspaper that John Jacky Morris had come to Montgomery County in 1805. From that information, I surmised that John Jacky’s family must be found on the 1810 Census and Amelia was probably already in Montgomery County when John Jacky arrived there.  


Claude's story telling has moved me further in the direction that Amelia was probably already in Montgomery County when John Jacky arrived and that the couple met and married between 1810 and 1812, with their first child, William, born about 1813 in Montgomery County. If Amelia was already in Montgomery County, and it seems like she was, this means (with enough digging on my part) I might be able to find what family she belonged to.

DNA testing has been absolutely no help with finding Amelia’s maiden name. There was so much intermarriage between my family lines that I am just not able to work out with any credibility which line might be hers. I am still working through my matches though, a slow and tedious task because some have no family trees and others only have less than 10 people in their published family tree and I must build out their tree to find the connection to our common ancestor. Please! Build your family tree back to your second great grandparents if possible.

With the loss of the 1820 Census for Montgomery County, also is lost who John Jacky and Amelia’s neighbors were for that year.

The 1830 Census does provide some clues, like John Jacky Morris Sr. living two doors down from Merritt Williams, but in 1830, John Jacky and Amelia had been married nearly 20 years and there could have been several neighbors who came and went during that time. My Morris family married heavily into the Williams family from Moore County, and I have often wondered if Amelia and Merritt are related.

John Jacky and Amelia never owned land, but surprisingly, a rental agreement still exists showing that they rented the JohnBell land from Henry Delamothe. They lived on this land at least from 1840 to 1844, probably longer. Family stories indicate that John Jacky Morris lived near Dusty Level Road (near what is now Yates Place) and I wonder if he rented the land from John Bell, who died in 1840, before it was acquired by Henry Delamothe. I also wonder if Amelia could have a connection with John Bell.

In 1840, John Jacky Morris Sr. lived next door to Nancy McArthur Bell. Nancy married Charles Bell, the nephew of John Bell, who once owned the land that John Jacky and Amelia lived on. Although I cannot find a deed for it, Henry Delamothe acquired the John Bell land, and used it as rental property. 

One page back on the 1840 Census lives William Morris, the oldest son of John Jacky, and living close to him is Joseph Hurley, who, in 1850 became trustee of a deed between John Morris and Eliza Kirk. John borrowed $30 from Eliza Kirk and to secure the payment, he deeded to Joseph Hurley several household items along with cattle and hogs to be sold should the debt not be repaid. Why would Joseph Hurley agree to do that? Usually, only family members agreed to such things. Is Amelia related to the Hurley family?


Also notice, William is living next door to Henry Bell, brother-in-law of Nancy McArthur Bell who is shown living next to John Jacky Morris.

In 1850, John Jacky and Amelia are surrounded by their children but close by lives Washington Bell, the son of Nancy McArthur Bell. John Jacky and Amelia lived close to members of the Bell family for more than 30 years. Other close neighbors on this Census include Charles Haltom and his wife Rhoda. John and Amelia named their youngest child Caroline Rhoda, is there any connection to the name Rhoda?


1860 is the last Census John Jacky and Amelia are found on. On the previous page of that Census lives Berry Morris, son of John Jacky and Amelia. I questioned in a previous blog, Enoch Berry, if Amelia might be related to the Berry family who lived in Montgomery County. It seems possible, the problem is that most everything seems possible.

A last option is mtDNA testing on the female line of Amelia. The problem? I cannot find a willing participant. And, even if I did, the test may yield results so far back that they are not traceable. Even though I am the third great granddaughter of Amelia, I do not share her mtDNA. I descend through her son, Thomas, and while he had Amelia’s mtDNA, it was not passed on to his children as only females can pass mtDNA.

Amelia had five daughters, but I have only found three daughters that had daughters who could pass on mtDNA. There may be more out there, and I have missed them. If you (or your mother) are a female-to-female line from Amelia Morris and are interested in mtDNA testing, please contact me through the Blog.


Amelia’s daughters who passed on her mtDNA are:

v  Susan Morris born 1827 married Samuel Morgan


Rebecca Jane Morgan (1858-1935) married Allen Newton Hall


v  Temperance ‘Tempy’ Morris born 1830 married Jacob Sanders


Theodosia (Diza) Sanders (1861-1918) married Edmund Cook (1856-?)

Sarah Caroline Sanders (1861-1917) married Enoch Sinclair Dennis (1869-1936)

Ann Eliza Sanders (1870-1940) married Alfred Richardson Dennis (1854-1939)


v Caroline Rhoda Morris born 1834 married James Kearns


Electa Ann Kearns (1866-1948) married Thomas Forrest (1867-1939)

Amanda Kearns (1871-1956) married Benjamin Tysinger (1872-1961)

1 comment:

  1. Even though oral history is an important part of genealogical research, every genealogist should take care to verify its content. The story that Claude Morris told about how John Jacky Morris met his wife, Amelia, has also been told by others in the community about how his grandson, John 'Sutt' Morris met his wife Caroline Hall. Take oral histories with a grain of salt and verify, whenever possible, with documented research.