“Have you guessed the riddle yet?” the Hatter said, turning to Alice again.
“No, I give it up,” Alice replied: “What’s the answer?”
“I haven’t the slightest idea,” said the Hatter”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
A fellow researcher recently told me “The plot thickens, and the mystery grows. Maybe it’s time to find an easy one instead of what seems so extremely difficult.” It reminded me of Alice in Wonderland.
My Morris family just keeps giving me one riddle after another to solve. They are not making this easy for me.
In my previous blog on Mary ‘Polly’ Williams, I noted that Bartholomew Dunn and wife, Nancy Williams, had remained in Moore County, North Carolina and did not follow her parents and siblings to Montgomery County in or about 1860. I now need to make a semi-correction on this. Nancy, to my knowledge, did remain in Moore County. I thought old Bart, her husband, had too, and he did for most of his life, but during the research for this blog, I realized I was missing an 1840 Census record for him. I found him in 1840 in Montgomery County, North Carolina, East Pee Dee River, living a few doors down from Frances (Blalock) Dennis, wife of Jesse Dennis.
Jesse Dennis is the son of Andrew Dennis and the brother of my ancestor, James Francis Dennis. Jesse married Frances Blalock, daughter of William David Blalock Senior. The Blalock family migrated from Chatham and Randolph counties to Montgomery County in the late 1790s to early 1800s following on the heels of John Stewart and his wife Rachel Morgan, who were also from Chatham County, and settled in what is now the areas of Uwharrie and Eldorado on the Uwharrie River. Frances’s brother, William David Blalock Junior, married Jesse’s sister, Martha Dennis. Another case of siblings marrying siblings.
Even though Jesse did not live long, he died between the 1830 and 1840 Census years, I have been able to dig up some information on him. Jesse was born about 1785 in Montgomery County. As already noted, he is the son of Andrew Dennis who had been in the area when it was Anson county, pre-1779.
In 1817, Jesse indebted himself for $65 to William Brookshire for the rent of the Dutch John Plantation. Benjamin Bell was security. We learn from the document shown below that Jesse used his personal property to secure the debt; a bay gelding called Hercules, his stud horse called Bones, 30 barrels of corn, a cow and yearling, 19 head of hogs. James Gaines and James Mask were witnesses.
From this document we understand that William Brookshire owned the Dutch John Plantation, but the document does not inform us where exactly the plantation was located, although I am sure it must have been near Dutch John Creek in the Uwharrie area, or how many acres it contained. What we can figure out by using an inflation calculator is what cost $65.00 in 1817 would cost $1220.71 in 2022.
There are still 4 unidentified children of Jesse and Frances Blalock Dennis, and it may take DNA testing to find them.
The 1860 Census shows Nancy Dennis Bridges, widow, living next door to Nelson Dennis in the community of Zion, the same community where my Morris/Williams family lived. Nelson is the son of Jesse and Frances Blalock Dennis and must be the brother of Nancy.
William and Nancy had at least two children, John, b. 1853, married Rebecca Galloway, daughter of Redding Galloway and Rebecca Seagraves, and James, b. 1852, married Sarah F. Dunn, daughter of John Dunn and Mary maiden name unknown.
When I saw the last name Dunn, things started to come into focus. I immediately knew that Sarah F. Dunn, wife of James Bridges, was probably somehow related to the Dunn family of Moore County who married into my Williams family. This lent some (but not a lot) of credibility to the 1850 Census with William Bridges found in Moore County.
Mary Dunn, wife of John, must have died between the 1860 and 1870 Census years, as she is not listed on the 1870 Census.
In 1874, John Dunn remarried to Martha Frances McLenden of Richmond County. His marriage license shows his father as Bartholomew Dunn.
I’ve come full circle!
Bartholomew Dunn married, evidently, an unknown first wife and from that marriage was born John Dunn about 1810 who is the father of Sarah F. Dunn Bridges.
Rechecking Census data, I found Bartholomew in 1810 with a young family living in Moore County. I am not sure who the first wife was, nor the female listed.
Bartholomew Dunn married third, Nancy Williams (b. 1829), daughter of Joseph (1803-1880) and Nancy Williams of Moore County (my newfound third great grandparents).
Nancy Williams (b. 1829) is the niece of Mary, the second wife of Bartholomew.
Let’s talk about the Bridges family.
There were no Bridges in Montgomery County, North Carolina prior to Nancy Dennis marrying William Bridges. The earliest record in Montgomery County of the surname Bridges I could find is the 1845 marriage license between Nancy Dennis and William Bridges. All other records are after 1845 and of the many that I reviewed, all led back to the two sons of William and Nancy Dennis Bridges, James, and John.
As already stated, William and Nancy are not found in Montgomery County in 1850. However, there is a male named William Bridges living in Moore County in the household of James and Catherine Bridges who meets what I think is the age requirement for William Bridges. Since I am not able to find a record showing his approximate age, I am assuming he was around the same age as Nancy who was born in 1825.
The female living in the home is shown with the name Ann. So, it is unclear if this is Nancy possibly going by her middle name or if Ann is the daughter of James and Catherine. I found conflicting information for Ann. Some documents had her married to J. Jackson Stedman and others to John Wesley Stedman.
It will take time to straighten out this Bridges line.
I was not able to find any other information on William, age 27, who is listed in the home.
In the same home (on the next page) is found Mary, age 18 (born 1832), and Joseph, age 16 (born 1834), and a 4-year-old child named Catharine Gilmore.
Research shows that Joseph Bridges married Permelia Fentress Stedman, daughter of John Wesley Stedman, the man who Ann Bridges is shown to have married. So, Ann became the stepmother to her own brother, which seems a bit odd to me. But Bartholomew Dunn also married his wife’s niece.
Joseph died in 1894 and Permilia in 1888. The couple are buried at Cool Springs Baptist Cemetery in Moore County.
Mary Bridges looks to have confusing records as well and it is going to take some time to straighten them out too. There were probably two Mary Bridges in Moore County about the same age, and they have been confused with one another.
One Mary Bridges (1832-1902) married Daniel Morris, the son of Stephen and Jeanett Morris. Stephen descends from Frederick Morris (born 1730) and his wife Vaughan, the couple that I am trying to connect my Morris line with. Mary Bridges Morris and husband Daniel were in Moore County in 1850. Mary looks to be buried in Scotland County, North Carolina. I do not know where Daniel is buried or when he died.
Another Mary Bridges (1824-1913) married a man named Gideon Tyson Moore (1815-1880) and this couple are buried at Browns Chapel Christian Church Cemetery in Moore County. Some resources have Mary Bridges Moore listed as the daughter of Newsom Bridges and Elizabeth Drake while others had her listed as the daughter of James and Nelly Bridges. Both of Moore County.
Again, I will need to work on getting these records straightened out.
The 1860 Census shows Joseph, Catharine, and Catharine Gilmore.
I was not able to find any further record of Catharine Gilmore.
More genealogy research is needed on the Bridges line to see how they may connect to the Williams or Morris lines found in Cumberland / Chatham / Moore / Montgomery counties.
More to come...