Sunday, January 14, 2024


Continuing my research on the ancestors in the Morris Project Group M29 at Family Tree DNA, this post will cover Groves Morris who is listed as the ancestor of kit 159856. 

Previous research for other ancestors listed in Group M29 can be found by clicking on the below names.

John Jacky Morris (1780-1874) of Montgomery County, North Carolina
Blount Morris (1811-1878) of Bradley County, Tennessee
John Morris Sr (1745-1815) of Granville County, North Carolina (blog post coming soon)
John H. Morris (1774-1861) of Campbell County, Virginia
John Matthew Morris (1845-1913) of Limestone County, Alabama
William Harvey Morris (1777-1853) of Versailles, Morgan, Missouri (kit not joined to Group M29)

I’ve written about Groves Morris in a previous post when I found him and his son, Athan, listed in my second great uncle’s, Grandison Fields Morris, Civil War file. I am not sure what to make of the mix up in paperwork. It is quite the coincidence that two men, who just happen to Y DNA match, but probably did not know one another, would end up with their Civil War paperwork in the same folder. That’s spooky!

Groves lived a quiet life, at least one that did not make the newspapers or generate court records. He has been confused with Colonel William Groves Morris (1825-1918), son of Vincent Morris (1784-1876) from Loudoun County, Virginia. A lot of family trees have Vincent listed as the father of Groves (1803-1873). This is in error.

I first encountered Groves when I was researching his grandmother, Phebe Tudor Morris. She died 1840 in Granville County, North Carolina. Phebe was born in Brunswick County, Virginia about 1745 to John Tudor Jr (1720-1782) and Elizabeth White (1735-1764). John Tudor Jr was the son of John Tudor Sr (1690-1721) and Mary Seat Tudor Rose (1700-1781), who remarried to Henry Rose (1694-1751) after John Sr died. 

Phebe was about 10 years old when she moved with her family from Brunswick County, Virginia to Granville County, North Carolina. Her family lived on Fishing Creek on land her father bought from John Kirkland on 27 Jan 1764 near George Morris, who is probably the father of John Morris Sr (see kit 168405) whom Phebe married about 1765. All of Phebe’s siblings moved to Madison and Barren counties, Kentucky. She is the only one who remained in Granville, North Carolina.

As part of the administration of Phebe’s estate, Groves, along with other heirs, were mentioned in a Raleigh Register Newspaper article on 6 Nov 1840 as not being inhabitants of the state of North Carolina. I knew based on Groves age that he could not be a child of Phebe. Groves was born about 1803 and Phebe about 1745. Groves had to be a grandchild of Phebe whose father had died, and he was inheriting in right of his father, who was a child of Phebe.

Phebe Morris’s estate file makes it clear that Groves is her grandchild, and his father is William Morris, her son, who had predeceased her. We also learn from the estate papers that Groves had siblings, Movey Morris Byrum (married Morris Byrum), Jarrot Morris, Mitchell Morris (married Betsey Shell), Phebe Morris Henley (married Burwell Henley), and Nancy Morris Allen (married Thomas Allen).

The above Newspaper article shows that Mitchell and Jarrott do not live in North Carolina either. 

Groves and his brother Mitchell migrated to Burke County, North Carolina where in 1824 Groves married Isabella England, daughter of Daniel England (1752-1818) and Margaret Gwynn (1758-1847) and his brother Mitchell married Betsey Shell in 1828.  

I am not sure where or when Mitchell died but Betsey Shell Morris moved to Barton, Missouri about 1884 to live with her son, William.

Groves and Isabella left Burke County, North Carolina between 1824 and 1830 as they are found living in Habersham, Georgia in 1830. They have living with them their two sons, Daniel and William, and another family that is currently unknown to me.

Name    Grover Morris
Home in 1830 (City, County, State) Habersham, Georgia
Free White Persons - Males - Under 5           2     Daniel and William
Free White Persons - Males - 20 thru 29       1     Groves
Free White Persons - Males - 30 thru 39       1     Unknown
Free White Persons - Females - 15 thru 19    1     Unknown
Free White Persons - Females - 20 thru 29    1     Isabella
Free White Persons - Females - 30 thru 39    1     Unknown

1840 shows Groves and Isabella lived in Mount Yonah (now Cleveland), Habersham County, Georgia with their six sons and one unknown female.

Name Groves Morris
Home in 1840 (City, County, State) Mount Yonah, Habersham, Georgia
Free White Persons - Males - Under 5            2 Alpheus, Columbus
Free White Persons - Males - 5 thru 9            2 Elisha, Joseph
Free White Persons - Males - 10 thru 14        2 Daniel, William
Free White Persons - Males - 30 thru 39        1 Groves
Free White Persons - Females - 30 thru 39    1  Isabella
Free White Persons - Females - 40 thru 49    1 Unknown

Groves and Isabella are still residing in Habersham, Georgia in 1850. Their children are shown by initials only. W. M (William), E. F. M. (Elisha), J. M. M. (Joseph), A. T. M. (Alpheus), C. C. M. (Columbus), A. J. M. (Athan), H. J. M. (Henry). 

Groves is listed as a farmer.

In Aug 1853 Groves sold to John C. Pitner and James S. England, trading under the style and firm of Pitner and England of Athens in Clark County, for one dollar paid by Morris to the said Pitner and England for the better securing of the payment of a certain promissory note signed by the said Morris for the sum of six hundred and forty-seven dollars and forty-seven cents .... Morris has sold a certain tract of land known by lot number eighty-one in Habersham County, Georgia containing 238 acres. If Morris pays the note, this instrument is void. 

In Dec 1853, just a few months later, Groves sold to Carter Cannon the same tract of land.

It is estimated that Isabella died about 1855. Groves looks to have moved from Habersham County to Union County around that time and in 1858 remarried to Elizabeth Gladden. 

The 1860 Census for Union County does not show Groves’s new wife living in the home, it only shows Groves with his son, Henry.

In Jul 1863, Groves appears before a Justice of the Peace in Union County, Georgia and provides an affidavit that he is the father of Athan Morris who died at York Town in Virginia on 16 Dec 1861 and that Athan left neither a wife nor children.

In Jul 1867, Groves took an oath of loyalty; the Supplemental Reconstruction Act (March 23, 1867) that required an oath of past loyalty for any man in the South to vote. The local registrar had to swear that he had never held office under Confederacy, nor given aid or comfort to it. They also had to take the ironclad oath. (Wikipedia)

The Reconstruction Acts of 1867 required Southern states to ratify the 14th Amendment, draft new state constitutions, and register voters, both black and white. In order to vote, men had to swear an oath of allegiance to the United States, and some were disqualified for their participation in Confederate government posts. This database contains books recording those oaths of allegiance and returns listing qualified voters registered in Georgia in 1867. It includes both black and white citizens. (Ancestry)

In 1870, Groves is shown with wife, Elizabeth, and their children, Sarah, John, and Thomas. I believe Mary is most likely Elizabeth’s child from another marriage as she was born before Groves and Elizabeth married in 1858.

Though I can find no record of his death, most family trees list Groves dying about 1873. Elizabeth is still living in Union County in 1880 with two of her children, John, and Thomas.

Sometime before 1900, the family moved to Upshur, Texas and are found living among their England and Morris relatives. Elizabeth made the move too.

1910 shows Elizabeth, age 72, living with son Thomas in Upshur, Texas. Living next door is Alpheus, the half-brother of Thomas.

Son of Groves and Elizabeth, Thomas Groves Morris, died in 1962. His mother’s maiden name is listed as Hall on his death certificate.

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