Friday, July 22, 2016

Robert Mitchell, the Elder

Robert "the Elder" Mitchell was my five times great grandfather. He immigrated from Londonderry, Ireland, with his parents as a boy or young man, lived with them in Pequea, Pennsylvania, then migrated to Bedford County, Virginia. When I first took over our family's genealogy research from my father in 2012, I had no idea the Mitchell surname was in my family tree. Dad had just learned the surname of his grandmother was Beard and had not been able to do much with it.

Effie Beard's mother was Barbara Ann Mitchell, the daughter of Daniel Mitchell and Sarah "Sally" Wood. As I researched the Beard family, I saved researching Barbara Ann Mitchell for another time. Then I received a message from a person who administered DNA test for his cousins. My name was in their list of matches and he believed the connection was likely to be in Bedford County, Virginia. As I looked through his family tree, I felt the connection had to be with great great grandmother, Barbara Ann Mitchell. I spent the next several days researching the Mitchell family and found the connection.

The DNA match identified our common shared ancestor after I traced my
Barbara Ann Mitchell back to her great grandfather; courtesy of

Though the Mitchell family emigrated from Ireland, they were Scots "planted" in northern Ireland by the English sometime in the 1600s. They followed the Scottish naming convention religiously and in my new Mitchell line, I had a sea of men named Robert and Daniel Mitchell. Wills, deeds, tax lists, chancery court cases, and other Mitchell researchers helped me straighten out my tree, which I believe is mostly correct now.

Snippet of page 134 of Rev. William Foote's Sketches of Virginia; personal

In a biographical sketch about Rev. James Mitchell in Rev. William Foote's Sketches of Virginia, I found a description of my five times great grandfather, Robert Mitchell, who lived from 1714 until 1799:

"The Rev. Jacob D. Mitchell, says under date -- Lynchburg, Nov. 1st 1854: Robert Mitchell, was born in the north of Ireland, but emigrated to America while yet a youth. He is reputed to have been a man of vigorous intellect and devoted piety, well instructed in religion, and a devoted and thorough Presbyterian. His wife, whose maiden name was Mary Enos, was, it seems, of Welsh extraction. She, like her husband, was an eminently pious Presbyterian. This excellent pair resided in Bedford County, for many years, and were members, the husband being ruling elder, of the Church, of which their son was pastor. They both lived to a good old age. He lived to be 85; of her age I am not informed. They had 13 children, of whom not one died less than 70 years old. The Mitchel family seems to have been remarkable in former times for piety and longevity. Robert Mitchel it seems was converted while yet a boy. The immediate means of his awakening was the fact of overhearing his great grandmother, at her secret devotions praying for him. She was then more than 100 years old; she lived to the age 112.

Rev. Foote went on to say "Robert Mitchel, tradition says, very fond of music, and did much to promote singing in the congregation. He talked much of Derry and the affairs of that noted town, and the sufferings of the Mitchel family in that famous siege.[1] The peculiar dialect of his countrymen was marked in his speech. As an elder he was worth of double honor."

Snippet of page 135 of Rev. William Foote's Sketches of Virginia; personal

Robert Mitchell's parents were Robert Mitchell and Mary Innes. Because of the similarity between the surname Innes and Enos, many family trees have combined the two women and turned the father and son into one person. This is not correct.

In order to keep the two men straight, I have given them nicknames: Robert "the Immigrant" Mitchell was born well before 1689 in Ireland and Mary Innes was said to be from Edinburgh. They had at least two sons, Daniel and Robert "the Elder" Mitchell. It was Robert "the Elder" Mitchell who married Mary Enos and removed to Bedford County, Virginia.

At least two DNA-related mysteries remain about Robert "the Elder" Mitchell. Tradition and secondary sources indicated he and his wife had 13 children and they all lived to adulthood. I have 15 in my tree:
  1. David Mitchell (1737-1817); removed to Ohio
  2. Frances Mitchell (c1742-unknown)
  3. *#Susannah Mitchell (1744-1813); married Josiah Campbell
  4. Enos Mitchell (c1744-unknown)
  5. #@James Mitchell (1747-1841); married Frances Blair Rice
  6. *#Stephen Mitchell (1749-1806); Ketturah "Kitty" Wade
  7. *Robert Harvey Mitchell (1752-1818); married Mary Witt; she removed to Kentucky after his death
  8. +#@Mary Mitchell (c1755-1843); married Samuel Beard
  9. *#Samuel Mitchell (c1758-1835); married 1) Siner Pullen and 2) Margaret "Peggy" Claytor
  10. Sarah "Sally" Mitchell (1756-unknown)
  11. John Mitchell (1760-1839); married Elizabeth Hardwick
  12. #Margaret Mitchell (1762-unknown); married Adam Beard
  13. Andrew Mitchell (1764-1834)
  14. #Martha Ann Mitchell (1767-unknown); married Samuel Claytor
  15. *#Daniel Mitchell (unknown-1821); married Margaret (maiden name unknown)
* Mentioned in will of Robert "the Elder" Mitchell
+ Father paid surety for marriage bond
# Relationship in multiple secondary sources and proved through DNA
@ Direct ancestor

[1]The Siege of Derry (or Londonderry) occurred in 1689.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Confusing Tuckers of Wiregrass Georgia

One of my sister-in-law's 5 times great grandfather's was Henry Crawford Tucker, Sr. born about 1750 and died after 1832. He was born in Southampton County, Virginia, and was the son of Elizabeth Crawford (Crofford/Crowford) and Benjamin Tucker. At one time he was a recognized patriot by the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).

Snippet from the DAR Genealogical Research System about Henry Crawford
Tucker; courtesy of DAR

Of the three issues the organization has with continued recognition of Henry's patriot status, the fact that his pension application was rejected is perhaps the most compelling. The other two issues are matters of genealogy. My sister-in-law recently took a DNA test and her results which include Henry as the shared common ancestor bring those genealogical disagreements to light.

If you believe Henry Crawford Tucker, Sr. married Sallie Hunter, daughter of Elisha Hunter of Chatham County, North Carolina, then my sister-in-law's match results look like this:

Common shared ancestor from DNA match results; courtesy of

If, however, you believe what Judge Folks Huxford wrote in his multi-volume work, Pioneers of Wiregrass Georgia, then Henry's son Elisha married Sallie Hunter and was the father of Henry Crawford Tucker, Jr. who had 32 children. The DNA match with my sister-in-law looks like this:

Common shared ancestor from DNA match results; courtesy of

It's a debate that has raged for years and it is a passionate one as based on previous comments on this blog.

Sallie Hunter did have the following children:
  1. John (born 1785)
  2. Nancy (born 1796)
  3. Davis (born 1798)
  4. Barbara (born 1800)
  5. Richard M (born 1801)
  6. Thomas (born 1803)
  7. Henry C, Jr. (born 1805)
  8. Elisha (born 1808) -- this son now questioned by DAR, but is listed on a marker in Purvis Cemetery as being a brother of Richard M Tucker
  9. Elijah (born 1809)
Judge Huxford work was breath-taking in its scope, but he admitted that a great deal of his compilation originated from the memories of the people interviewed. His work was first published in 1951 so the oldest people from whom he collected information would have been the great grandchildren of the first south Georgia settlers. Later volumes of his work included extensive corrections.

When I first started working on the Tucker line, I couldn't make the information included in the records I was finding fit with Judge Huxford's genealogy. I could not find an Elisha Tucker in Southampton County, Virginia, or North Carolina, who could have possibly been a son of Benjamin Tucker.[1]

Then I found The Descendants of William Tucker of Throwleigh, Devon by Robert Dennard Tucker, another long-time Tucker genealogist[2]. He believed that Henry Crawford Tucker, Sr., was the husband of Sallie Hunter and that she was Elisha Tucker's mother not his wife. This made perfect sense to me based on the documentation I collected.

Books mentioned in this blog post; personal collection

I will excerpt some of the points Robert Dennard Tucker made to refute Judge Huxford:
  1. There is no evidence that any Elisha Tucker related to Henry C. Tucker, Sr. lived between 1770 and 1825 other than the Elisha who was born in 1808.
  2. The Revolutionary War pension application, the 1782 and 1783 tax records of Southampton County, and the 1783 deed to John Wilkerson[3] confirm Henry was a Virginia resident and not a resident of North Carolina as the Elisha Tucker who married Sallie Hunter was purported to have been.
  3. Sons Davis and Henry C. Tucker, Jr. state in the 1880 census their father was from Virginia.
  4. The state historical marker in front of the Bethel Church, as well as original church minutes, clearly includes Henry C. Tucker, Sr. and his wife Sarah as founding members in 1826.
In addition, there are many deeds that include Sarah as the wife of Henry C. Tucker, Sr. 

So after a reasonably exhaustive search for an Elisha Tucker who lived during the proper time frame, would have met Sallie Hunter and removed to Georgia, I could not find such a person. Coupled with the strong evidence that Henry C. Tucker, Sr. did marry Sallie Hunter, I believe he is the father of the children listed above.

[1] Benjamin Tucker's will was written in 1778 and probated in 1779. The children named in the will were: Benjamin, Elizabeth, Henry, John, Phebe, William, and Winfred.
[2] The relationship Mr. Tucker outlined in his book between Benjamin Tucker of Southampton County, Virginia, and the Tucker family of England and Bermuda has been disproved by DNA. However, his work on the Georgia Tuckers from Henry Crawford Tucker, Sr., remains quite strong.
[3] Benjamin Tucker's sons sold his plantation to John Wilkerson after Benjamin's death.