Thursday, November 23, 2023

Ties that bind or just a coincidence?

Etheldred Morris lived on the Stanly County side of the Yadkin / Pee Dee River, the area that was Montgomery County prior to the 1841 divide to form Stanly County and was Anson County from 1750-1779. He was born about 1783 in North Carolina, according to the 1850 and 1860 Census records, and married Wincey, who is found on the 1850 Census but not on the 1860 Census. Wincey’s surname is probably Taylor. I have seen her named in family trees as Eunice, Younis, Ann, and Nicey, but she is listed as Wincey on the 1850 Census, so to make it easier for this blog, she will just be called Wincey.

Wincey is probably the daughter of Cannon Taylor who left Montgomery County after 1800 and migrated to Smith County, Tennessee where he died between March and June of 1806. Cannon’s 1806 will makes known his desire to sell his “lands in North Carolina” to pay his “just debts.” He names his wife as Mary, and his will calls out, “some of my children” a daughter, Tempy, and a son, Epps. He also names his brother John Taylor and Charles Sullivan, executors to his will. Witnesses to his will were Samuel Barton, Armistead Moore, and Laurence Epps.

The name Armistead has special meaning to my research because Samuel Morris, the religious dissenter from Hanover, Bedford, and Campbell counties Virginia, who also founded the Morris Reading Houses, had two daughters who married men with the surname Armistead. So, I cannot help but wonder if Armistead Moore was named for an Armistead family and if that family had any connection to the same family in Campbell County, Virginia.

Even though his son, John, was born in 1804, the earliest Census I can find Etheldred on is 1830. The 1820 Census was destroyed so I know I would not find him there, but he should be on the 1810 Census somewhere with at least two, perhaps, three, sons and a wife.
Sons John and William are on the 1830 Census as heads of their own households. In 1830 Etheldred had living in his household, his wife, Wincey, sons George, Brady, and Wyatt, and daughters, Laura, Sally, and an unknown female who was born about 1813.

Etheldred’s nearest neighbors in 1830 were Job Callaway and William Jones. There were also Solomon's and Kirk's living nearby and of particular interest Thomas Rice lived four doors down and Timothy Ragsdale nine doors away.

Job Callaway’s daughter, Vashti, married the crying preacher, Samuel Morton. Later generations of this family married into the Davis family who directly descends from Job Davis and Sarah Wingfield.

The Wingfield (Windfield) family who moved to Montgomery / Stanly counties were from Mecklenburg County, Virginia and had ties to Samuel Morris who had family in adjoining counties. Mecklenburg, Virginia borders Charlotte County where Joshua and Nathaniel Morris, nephews of Samuel Morris, lived. Both Joshua and Samuel were heavily involved in the Hat Creek settlement and Hat Creek Church in Campbell, Virginia. 

Samuel Morris’s granddaughter, Elizabeth, married Thomas Wingfield, son of Francis Wingfield, who was the first cousin of Sarah Wingfield (married Job Davis) whose father, Peter Wingfield was an early settler in Anson County, North Carolina. Peter married Charlotte Freeman, daughter of Arthur Freeman from Brunswick, Virginia.

A branch of Freeman’s migrated to Granville, now Warren, North Carolina where one Anderson Freeman married Mildred Johnson, daughter of Archer Johnson. Archer, who lived on Hatcher's Creek, was a direct neighbor of John Morris in Granville, North Carolina and his will made the request for “Edward Morris to preach my funeral.” John Morris’s son, John Jr. married Archer’s daughter, Frances.

The Morris family in Granville are a Y DNA match to my Morris family who settled in Montgomery County, North Carolina in 1805, according to family legend, but found first in 1830 on the Census for that place. The Granville Morris’s are also a Y DNA match to descendants of the religious dissenter, Samuel Morris of Hanover, Virginia. 

See updated research here

The Solomon family produced preachers of the gospel who came from what is now Franklin and Warren counties, North Carolina, the same place Edward Morris, whose father (probably by the same name) is the son of Samuel Morris, the religious dissenter who formed the Morris Reading Houses in Hanover County, Virginia and his mother is Mary Ward Best, daughter of Benjamin Ward and widow of ‘Kedar’ (Cato) Best. The Ward family were heavily involved with Trinity Church in St. Johns Parish, Granville, later Warren, County, North Carolina, so much so, that Benjamin Ward provided the land to build the church.

I am not yet sure who Thomas Rice is, but there was a Rice family in Campbell County, Virginia who had special ties to the Samuel Morris family. They moved on to Tennessee and Kentucky where one of their own, David Rice, who was a direct neighbor to Samuel Morris in Campbell, Virginia, became known as the Apostle of Kentucky.

Etheldred’s other neighbor was Timothy Ragsdale (the elder) who may be related to the Timothy Ragsdale (the younger) on the Montgomery County side of the river. John Harris Ragsdale, son of Timothy Ragsdale (the younger) married my second great aunt, Lunda Morris, daughter of Thomas Morris and Mary Williams

Thomas is the son of John Jacky Morris (family lore claims “Jacky’ is from Mecklenburg, Virginia) and Mary Williams is the daughter of Joseph Williams from Moore County, North Carolina. Another interesting fact is that Timothy Ragsdale (the younger) had a son named Wyatt, as did Etheldred Morris have a son named Wyatt. Timothy Ragsdale (the younger) is found on the 1850 Census, living just one page away from John Jacky Morris.

The question is where did Timothy Ragsdale (the younger) come from and where did Timothy Ragsdale (the elder) go? Did either of the Timothy Ragsdale's know John Jacky Morris who lived in Montgomery County? Certainly, Timothy Ragsdale (the elder) knew Etheldred as they were close neighbors for more than 10 years on the Stanly County side of the river.

See the Notes section below for Census information on both Timothy Ragsdale (the elder) and Timothy Ragsdale (the younger).

It is certainly a possibility that these Ragsdale men may be related to the Ragsdale family in Moore County, North Carolina. It would make sense that Lunda Morris would marry John Ragsdale if he were related to her maternal Williams family who lived in Moore County. However, it would also make sense that she would marry a Ragsdale who could be related to a Morris family in Stanly County.

Family connections and surnames are suspicious to say the least. A story is beginning to emerge as I research these families who lived in Montgomery and Stanly counties. Even though there are so many connections, there are many disconnects too. I still cannot connect my Morris line directly to Samuel Morris of Campbell, Virginia or to John Morris of Granville, North Carolina. 

Are the connections to the allied families just coincidence? 

Or are there ties that bind these families back many generations that I am just not able to see yet?

I cannot help but wonder if Etheldred Morris’s male descendants will Y DNA match to the Morris family in Granville and Montgomery, North Carolina and Campbell, Virginia (FTDNA group M29) or if they will connect with Haton Morris (FTDNA Group M02) who lived in the same area or perhaps the Mecklenburg, North Carolina Morris family (FTDNA Group M05) who were just across the county lines. Or perhaps they are a different Morris family altogether. My hope is that a male descendant of Etheldred will Y DNA test so we can uncover which Morris family he belongs to.

1840 is a bit complicated for Etheldred because his name looks to be written as Edw’d Morris. However, considering that the age is right, the other household members have the correct gender and age, and sons John and Brady are very close neighbors, this is most likely Etheldred. The Census taker just took the liberty of shortening his name.  

Direct neighbors are Randle Howell and Wilson Ayrnehart (probably Earnhardt). Close neighbors are David Safely and Thomas Hopkins. Of course, there is Timothy Ragsdale. Jones, Carter, Kirk, and Parker make up other surnames who live close by.

David Safley married Rebecca, her maiden name is believed to be Morris and, based on her birth year of around 1786, it may be very likely that she is the sister of Etheldred. Nathan Safley, living next door to Brady Morris, Etheldred’s son, is the son of David and Rebecca. This couple also had a son named William Brady Safley. Etheldred had a son named Brady as well, so, there may be some connection to a Brady family that is yet to be uncovered.

Randle Howell is certainly related to the Howell family who intermarried with the Wingfield’s and Freeman’s from Virginia. Jemima Wingfield married Griffin Nash, and their daughter Elizabeth, married John Randle Howell. Jemima is the daughter of Peter Wingfield and Charlotte Freeman who I spoke of above.

An 1846 deed between Etheldred and his son, Wyatt, shows that Etheldred for and in consideration of the love and affection he has for his son, gave to Wyatt, a tract of land originally granted to Cannon Taylor (mistranslated Carmon Tailor) and fell to Etheldred Morris by heirship. The land was located on the southwest side of the Yadkin River joining John Morris’s line formerly, now Etheldred Morris’s, and Jno. F. Smith’s formerly, now George Crowell Sen, and the Salisbury Road, one hundred acres.

The 1790 Montgomery County Census names Cannon Taylor, along with several other Taylor men; John, probably his brother who moved to Smith, Tennessee with him, and Edmond, Hudson, William, and Robert.

Cannon Taylor had two land grants for Montgomery County, North Carolina. One was a 1796 grant for 100 acres in then Montgomery County on the southwest side of the Yadkin River including the Rock hole, to a path in John Morris's line, John F. Smith's line, and the Salisbury Road. This is obviously the land that Etheldred gave to his son, Wyatt in 1846.  

John Morris mentioned here, is most likely the father of Etheldred. I do not know much about him other than he was in the area early on and is found on the North Carolina state Census records for 1779 and 1784 in Montgomery County. He is also mentioned in land grants and surveys for Cannon Taylor as a direct neighbor.

George Morris is also mentioned and may be a brother, uncle, or cousin of Etheldred.

Another grant, dated 1799, was for one hundred acres of land in Montgomery County on Little Thickety Creek, near Steele’s Road, William Russell’s beginning tree. This grant shows Cannon Taylor on the east side of the Yadkin / Pee Dee River, land that remained Montgomery County after the split to form Stanly in 1841. It begs the question is this the same Cannon Taylor, or perhaps a relative? I tend to think it is probably the same man who possibly owned land on both sides of the river. It may also be the other tract of land that Cannon mentioned in his will to sell to pay his just debts. 

Wincey and Etheldred probably married around 1803, best guess. John Morris, the first born, as far as I can tell, was born around 1804. He was probably named for John Morris, the same man noted in the deed and surveys, who is most likely the father of Etheldred. Several more children were also born to Etheldred and Wincey; William, 1807, Wyatt, 1810, Sally, 1814, Brady, 1817, George, 1822, Laura, 1827 (noted on the 1850 Census living with Etheldred).