Saturday, December 16, 2023


A confusing situation has arisen that has led to quite the conundrum for me. While researching the Ragsdale family I found that Susan Ragsdale of Cumberland County married William P. Covington in Anson County in 1852. That does not sound so bad in and of itself but as I started digging into the records, I found myself back in Cumberland (Moore) County surrounded by the Dunn family who had intermarried with my Williams family.

William P. Covington was born about 1828, supposedly the son of John and Martha Covington. His paternal grandparents are Simon Covington and Elizabeth Bennett. Family trees show Elizabeth as the sister of William Neville Bennett, the husband of Susannah Dunn who was the daughter of Isaac and Mary Sheffield Dunn from Cumberland (Moore) County, North Carolina. If Elizabeth Bennett Covington is the sister of William Nevill Bennett, then Susannah Dunn would be a great aunt (through the Bennett line) to William P. Covington.

Susannah Dunn and William Nevill Bennett’s daughter, Nancy Bennett, married Benjamin Ingram, son of Sophia Ingram. Keep the Ingram name in mind.

According to the write up at Find A Grave, Mary Sheffield Dunn is Anson counties most notable woman. She was known far and wide for her uses of medicinal herbs and medical treatments, so much so, that folks called her Dr. Mary Dunn. She lived to be 104 years old and was living with her granddaughter, Nancy Bennett and husband, Benjamin Ingram in 1860. There is a marker placed at her grave in the Bennett cemetery in Anson County by the Thomas Wade Chapter of D. A. R.


Isaac Dunn was living in Moore County in 1790 with seven people in his household, himself, two males under age 16, and 4 females. If these children belong to Isaac and Mary, then they had more than the one daughter (Susannah).

Notice also, John Morris, the son of Frederick Morris, is shown on the same page as Isaac. John married Nancy Wicker, the daughter of Benjamin Wicker about 1789. I have been researching this Morris family in hopes of finding out if there is a connection to my Morris family. There is one 25-Marker Y DNA Morris match that may lead to something very interesting, perhaps even a breakthrough to my research on John Jacky Morris, my third great grandfather. Unfortunately, I have not been able to reach this match and I fear he may have passed away without ever being able to complete his own research. 


Isaac Dunn is thought to be the son of Bartholomew Dunn Sr. of Cumberland County and the brother of Richard Dunn. That scenario certainly makes sense considering that both Isaac and Richard lived on Wet Creek in Cumberland (Moore) County. They may have also had a brother named Hezekiah.

In 1784 a survey was done for Isaac for 100 acres of land in Cumberland County (those parts that later became Moore) joining Richard Dunn’s line on Wet Creek. Hezekiah Dunn and Bartholomew Dunn, either the younger sons of Richard Dunn, or the brothers of Isaac and Richard, were chain carriers.

In 1792, another survey was performed for Isaac for 100 acres of land in Moore County below the White Ponds. Richard Dunn was one of the chain carriers.

For reasons unknown, Isaac and Mary Sheffield Dunn packed their belongings and moved to Anson County between 1792 and 1800. They are found on the 1800, 1810, and 1820 Census for Anson County. Their descendant, Susannah, intermarried with the Bennett family and their granddaughter Nancy intermarried with the Ingram family.


In 1801, Isaac Dunn sold to Charles Weatherford a tract of land of 50 acres in Anson County beginning in the fork of White branch at Abraham Belyer’s corner pine. I do not know how Isaac came to own the land.

On the 1850 Census for Anson County is found Susan Ragsdale, age 20, (the same woman who married William P. Covington) living with Sophia Ingram, the mother of Benjamin Ingram. Just a few doors away lived Calvin Downer and one-page over lived Nancy Ragsdale with Benjamin Ingram, the son of Sophia Ingram.

How did these Ragsdale girls come to live with this Ingram family? Are they related to the Dunn and Sheffield families from Moore County? Certainly, these Ragsdale girls are related to one another. Possibly sisters.

A better question is are these girls the daughters of Thomas and Elizabeth Ragsdale from the Barnes Creek area of Montgomery County, North Carolina? In my previous blog, I made note that 1836 was the last record I could find on Thomas Ragsdale. He probably died before the 1840 Census as Elizabeth Ragsdale is found in the same place Thomas once lived, East Pee Dee River in Montgomery County, North Carolina. In her home are two females between the ages 10 - 15, born between 1825 and 1830. This certainly meets the age requirement for both Susan and Nancy who are found living with the Ingram family of Anson County in 1850.

So, at some point between the 1840 and 1850 Census, Elizabeth moves her daughters from the Barnes Creek area of Montgomery County to Anson County. Why? If Thomas had died, then his minor children would require a guardian. Are the Ingram family acting as guardians to Susan and Nancy? Susannah Dunn Bennett, the daughter of Isaac and Mary Sheffield Dunn, died in 1847.

Is it possible that Thomas and/or Elizabeth Ragsdale are somehow related to Susannah Dunn and the girls were living with her, a relative, during their minor years? When Susannah died, the girls went to live with the Nancy Bennett Ingram who had married Benjamin Ingram?

Sophia Ingram was the wife of Lemuel Ingram of Anson County, North Carolina. She was born around 1785. Most researchers have her listed as the daughter of John Billingsley and Charity Ford. Of interest to my research, Sophia bought land in 1802 from William Morris. Nathan Morris was a witness to that deed. I have not researched William or Nathan yet so do not know who they are or if there is a connection back to Cumberland/Moore County.

It is widely accepted that Nancy Ragsdale (living with Benjamin Ingram in 1850) was the daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Ragsdale and the sister of Timothy Ragsdale, the younger, of Montgomery County, North Carolina whom I wrote about in my previous blog, A Tale of two Timothy’s.

This belief (I think) originated from Elzivan Sanders of Biscoe, North Carolina who was the informant on the death certificate of Mary Jane Ragsdale Brown, daughter of Timothy and Nancy Ragsdale. How Elzivan knew Mary Jane Ragsdale Brown is still a question that needs to be fully answered but I believe it was probably through his wife Dora Alice Sheffield. It might have been common knowledge that Mary Jane Ragsdale Brown had family in Anson County who had the Downer surname.  It seems obvious that Elzivan had no intimate knowledge of Nancy Ragsdale Downer and was only reporting what he had overheard from the family, otherwise he would have known that Nancy Downer was the aunt of Mary Jane and not her mother.

Researchers have connected the dots to Anson County and found Nancy Ragsdale, who was living with the Ingram family in 1850, married to James Calvin Downer, who was a near neighbor to the Ingram’s.

From other family death certificates, we know that Mary Jane’s mother was Nancy Raggins. A. M. Ragsdale listed on his mother Susan’s death certificate, Nancy Raggins as mother’s maiden name. Susan and Mary Jane are sisters.

Elzivan Sanders is the son of Rufus Sanders and Spicey Morgan. His paternal grandmother is Elizabeth Williams, daughter of Noah Williams and Mary Ann Davis. He reaches back several generations to George Williams who died in 1797 in Moore County, North Carolina.

Elzivan married Dora Alice Sheffield in 1921, Montgomery County. Dora is the daughter of Enoch Spinks Sheffield and Mary Alice Sheffield. Dora descends from the same Dunn/Sheffield family who left (Cumberland) Moore County and moved to Anson County and intermarried with the Ingram and Bennett families.

Let me stop here with a comment on the name “Spinks.” Found in the 1863 estate file of Timothy Ragsdale, the younger, is found the below paper listing Susan Ann Ragsdale as the widow of Timothy and heirs at law as Peter C. Shaw, Tim Ragsdale, and Peter Spinks Jordan.

The paper indicates that Nancy’s name may be Susan Ann or a combination of all these names. No serious researcher is immune to the fact that their ancestors were sometimes called by first, middle, or a nickname, so Nancy Ragsdale having two or three other names is not a big surprise. Could Timothy have had other children who were his heirs at law? Or are these possibly grandchildren from a deceased child?

If anyone has information they can share about these names and how these people are related to Timothy Ragsdale, please contact me via the blog or leave a comment below.

Back to Anson County.

Bringing this family circle together we find that the famous Mary Ann Sheffield Dunn (wife of Isaac Dunn), age 100, and the grandmother of Benjamin Ingram's wife, Nancy Bennett, is found in 1860 living with Benjamin Ingram, the same man Nancy Ragsdale Downer was living with ten years prior in 1850.

In 1860, Nancy Ragsdale Downer is living in the home of Nancy Downer, age 60, in Anson County, North Carolina. This Nancy is probably her mother-in-law, the mother of her husband, James Calvin Downer. Elizabeth Ragsdale, the mother of Nancy Ragsdale Downer, and widow of Thomas Ragsdale, from Montgomery County, is living in the same home.

Most researchers have Elizabeth Ragsdale, wife of Thomas Ragsdale, listed with maiden name Baldin/Baldwin and cite a marriage license from Rockingham County, North Carolina as proof of the marriage. However, that couple married 24 Jul 1833 according to their marriage record and that would mean all of Thomas and Elizabeth’s children were illegitimate. I do not believe this is the same couple.

Further research is needed to determine why Susan Ragsdale Covington and Nancy Ragsdale Downer are living with the Ingram family in 1850. Why are they in Anson County?

Is there a family connection between the Ragsdale family of Montgomery County, North Carolina and the Ingram, Bennett, Downer, Covington families of Anson County and the Dunn, Sheffield families of Moore County, North Carolina?

Elzivan Sanders certainly thought so.

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