Friday, January 26, 2018

52 Ancestors #4: John W. Jennings, Sr. (c1776-1858): War of 1812 Veteran

Ancestor: John W. Jennings, Sr., three times great grandfather
DNA Haplogroup: I-M253

According to his headstone John W. Jennings was born in 1776. He was one of seven known children born to Benjamin Jennings and his first wife. It is likely John was born in the eastern portion of Cumberland County, which became Powhatan County the year after his birth. His father was an overseer on the plantation of Samuel Pankey the year prior to his birth. That plantation became part of Powhatan County when the county was formed. Many genealogists list William as his middle name but I have never seen a record or document which includes a full middle name only the initial "W."

His father fought in the Revolutionary War on two separate occasions. In fact, it is possible his father was on duty with his Militia company at the time John was born. We know he was away fighting with the Continental Army from at least June 1777 through December 1788 in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. We don't know exactly when he came home, but little John was probably walking and maybe even talking -- or trying to.

In 1780 Richmond replaced Williamsburg as the capital of Virginia, but little else changed when the war was over. Powhatan County lay just outside the war zone so suffered little damage. Life continued much as before the war, at least for children. John's father may have been concerned with the economic turmoil that faced the new nation and Virginia's economy.

In 1786, Thomas Jefferson's Statute for Religious Freedom separated the church and the state in Virginia for the first time. No longer was the Anglican Church the official church. This may have affected the Jennings family as several of John's siblings were members of a Baptist church after they moved to Chesterfield County as adults.

Marriage to Anna Mariah Walrond

John surely spent his young boyhood with his parents, but we do not know if his father indentured him to someone to learn a trade or if he continued working for his father on the farm. His father married for the second time in 1796. Almost a decade later John followed suit. On 19 January 1805, he took out a bond in order to marry Anna Mariah Walrond[1]. Her father provided surety. At the time, a marriage bond was given to the court by the intended groom prior to his marriage. It affirmed there was no moral or legal reason why the couple could not be married and it also affirmed the groom would not change his mind. If he did, and did not marry the intended bride, he would forfeit the bond. Otherwise, it was void.

Anna Mariah Walrond was the daughter of Benjamin and Elizabeth Walrond[2]. She was born in 1782 likely in Halifax County, Virginia. Her family moved to Pittsylvania County, Virginia, between 1784 and 1787 the year Anna's mother died. Her father remarried the next year. Her older brother married in Amherst County in 1796 and then for the second time in 1804 in Bedford County. Perhaps Anna lived with him?

Sketch of Buckingham County; courtesy of Slate River Press

War of 1812

We believe after their marriage John and Anna lived in Buckingham County where he likely farmed. They had three of their ten children before the War of 1812. (Three more would be born during the war.) Since Great Britain's war with Napoleonic France began, the Royal Navy had enforced a naval blockade, which the U.S. considered illegal.  When the HMS Leopold fired on USS Chesapeake off Norfolk, Virginia, anti-British sentiments were inflamed. The British began supplying Indians, who conducted raids on the frontier. This hindered expansion and provoked more U.S. ire. Finally, under heavy pressure, President James Madison declared war on 18 June 1812.

On or about 29 December 1813 John volunteered with Captain William Flood's company of the Virginia Militia from Buckingham County. The company marched 175 miles to Norfolk where the men enlisted. John's company was part of the 100th Regiment (Virginia Militia), which was tasked by the General Assembly with defending Norfolk from the British. In a later affidavit, John claimed to have marched to the Norfolk area where he served until 11 April 1814. The men were encamped in a peach orchard next to Fort Norfolk with men from the North Carolina militia. Originally housed in tents, the soldiers eventually built huts large enough to accommodate several men. In the event of an attack, the men would move into the fort and defend it. He would have been issued a smooth bore flint lock musket, but would have been required to provide his own uniform. Uniform frock coats and pants were blue with red trim and the hat was round with a cockade and red and black feathers.

Plan of Fort Norfolk; courtesy Wikipedia

Upon his return from Norfolk, John's father died. John inherited no land but did inherit one-fourth of his father's personal property valued at $1,334, perhaps less if Benjamin's second wife claimed her dower rights to the personal property. We know she claimed them for the land John's sisters inherited.

John and Anna had four more children. I believe all were born in Buckingham County. He was enumerated in New Canton in 1820, which was about 60 miles west of Richmond on the south side of the James River. Sometime before 1850, John moved his family to Amherst County, Virginia, which was 60 miles southwest of New Canton, at the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains.

John was not enumerated in the census again until 7 December 1850. At that time he was 74 years old and lived with his wife in Amherst County, Virginia, He had a 90-acre farm on which he raised livestock, wheat, corn and potatoes. The farm also produced 120 pounds of butter during the course of a year. Six of his sons, who also lived in Amherst County, also farmed. His youngest son, George, remained at home. An analysis of the farms of John and his sons leads one to speculate he may have begun dividing his land among his sons prior to 1850.

Analysis of the farms of John W. Jennings, Sr., and his sons in 1850 (click on
image to enlarge); created using Microsoft Excel

One of several bounty land laws was enacted in 1850. It rewarded the service of veterans who had not previously received land and who had served at any time since 1790. The amount of land received was tied to a veteran's length of service. Nine month's service entitled a veteran to 160 acres; four months, to 80 acres; and one month, to 40 acres. The land could be inherited but could not be assigned by the warantee. Another act passed in 1852 enabled veterans to assign the bounty land to whoever they chose. It also extended the 1850 law to men who served in the militia after 1812. John was now entitled to bounty land.

On 7 April 1853 John received a warrant for 40 acres of land. Originally the warrant entitled veterans to land in Arkansas, Illinois, Michigan and later Missouri, but starting in 1852 bounty land could be assigned outside these districts. John was back at court on 16 March 1855. He swore he had received a warrant for 40 acres of land but that it had been lost by the county justice of the peace. Archive records indicated he received a second warrant for 120 of land on 4 September 1856.

All of John's children had married by 1850 except his youngest son George. According to another Jennings researcher his daughter, Martha Ann, died in August of 1855. Three years later, his son Powhatan Perrow, died on 20 August 1858, at the age of 45. A few months later, 85-year-old John became ill with pneumonia and died on 19 December 1858. He was buried in the family cemetery on his land. The cemetery remains on private land now owned by Edgar Fitzgerald. John's widow died a decade later on 24 October 1868 and was also interred in the family cemetery.

Jennings Family Cemetery; the house in the background once belonged to the
Jennings family; courtesy of member jeaniespence77

I know he wrote a will which was filed with the Amherst County court after his death. The index to the county's will books indicate other probate records exist such as an estate appraisal and list of sales the estate made after his death. However, the actual will books in which those documents were filed do not exist on So I have ordered copies directly from the Amherst County Circuit Court.

When I began writing about my three times great grandfather John W. Jennings, Sr., I realized had not spent nearly as much time analyzing the records I had collected for him as I had spent on his father, Benjamin when preparing my application to join DAR. So I made a belated New Year's resolution: Learn more about John, Sr. I have ordered John's bounty land and pension records from the National Archives and Records Administration and I have submitted an application to join the U.S. Daughters of 1812. Therefore, I will likely revisit this post.

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. The theme for this week was "Invite to Dinner," and I have many questions I'd like to ask John, such as how did he meet his wife; where was he in 1830 and 1840; when did he move to Amherst County; why; and what did he do with the bounty land he received. But the biggest question so many Jennings researchers would like to ask is, "John, who were your grandparents?"

Using the Ancestral Reference Numbering System, John W. Jennings, Sr., is Ancestor No. 32 on my family tree. His wife, Anna Maria Waldrond is Ancestor No. 33:

32. John W., Jennings, Sr., son of Benjamin Jennings, Sr., born 1776 in Virginia; died 19 December 1858 in Amherst County, Virginia; marriage bond to wed Anna Mariah (Ann Marie) Walrond (Waldron) dated 19 January 1805 in Bedford County, Virginia. 

33.0 Anna Maria Walrond (now spelled Waldron) born in 1782 likely in Halifax County, Virginia, daughter of Benjamin and Elizabeth Walrond (maiden name unknown); died 24 October 1868 in Amherst County; married John W. Jennings, Sr., on 19 January 1805 in Bedford County.

Known issue:

32.1 John W. Jennings, Jr., born about 1805 (headstone indicates 20 November 1803) in Virginia, likely in Buckingham County; died 1 March 1886 in Amherst County; interred at the Jennings family cemetery; married Elizabeth "Eliza" Ann Vernon, daughter of Jonathan Vernon and Susan Matthews, on 21 November 1832 in Charlotte County, Virginia

32.2 Daniel Webster Jennings, born about 1807 in Virginia, likely in Buckingham County; died 25 December 1892 in Amherst County per his obituary; married Martha Ann Staples, daughter of Charles and Priscilla Staples, likely before 1836.

32.3 Benjamin W. Jennings, born about 1809 in Virginia, likely in Buckingham County; died after 1894; married 1) Martha (maiden name unknown) likely before 1835 and Elizabeth Lawrence on 25 November 1894 in Polk County, Texas.

16.0 Powhatan Perrow Jennings, born 25 December 1812, per his headstone, in Virginia, likely in Buckingham County; died 11 October 1858 in Amherst County; interred at Tudor Hall Cemetery in Fancy Hill in Amherst County; married 1) Catherine Jewell, daughter of Thomas Jewell and Sarah Downs, on 23 February 1836 in Amherst County and 2) Elizabeth A. Rhodes, daughter of Jonathan Rhodes and Lucretia Harrison on 10 May 1854 in Amherst County.

32.4 Permelia Ann Jennings, born about 1813 in Virginia, likely in Buckingham County; died after 1865; married Jesse Jones on 5 September 1832 in Campbell County, Virginia.

32.5 Martha Ann Jennings, born about 1813 in Virginia, likely Buckingham County per another Jennings researcher; died in 1855 per another Jennings researcher; married Livingston Chenault, son of John and Eliza Chenault, on 21 December 1846 in Amherst County.

32.6 Henry Palmer Jennings, born about 1818 in Virginia, likely in Buckingham County; died 8 August 1886 in Amherst County; married Nancy A. maiden name unknown before 1841.

32.7 Pleasant Jefferson Jennings, born in 1820 per headstone in Virginia, likely Buckingham County; died 29 September 1887 in Walker County, Texas; interred at Oakwood Cemetery in Huntsville, Walker County; married Martha A. C. D. Kelley, daughter of Radford Kelley, on 17 September 1839 in Campbell County, Virginia.

32.8 Patterson Gilliam Jennings, born about 1824 in Virginia, likely Buckingham County; died 2 August 1899 in Amherst County; married Caroline Matilda Kidd, daughter of Robert Kidd and Nancy Pamplin, on 22 February 1847 in Nelson County, Virginia.

32.9 George W. Jennings, born about 1830 in Virginia, likely Buckingham County; murdered on 1 July 1890 in Polk County, Texas; may have married Mary C. A. Clement on 8 July 1853 in Campbell County, Virginia.

[1] Now commonly spelled Waldron.
[2] Many public trees list Elizabeth Jennings, John W. Jennings, Sr.'s sister, as the first wife of Benjamin Waldron and as the mother of Anna Marie Waldron, John's wife. This is not correct. It is true that Benjamin Waldron's first wife was named Elizabeth, but her maiden name has never been discovered. Elizabeth Jennings did marry a Benjamin Waldron but not until 1810. Ann Marie Waldron was born in 1782; therefore Elizabeth Jennings cannot be her mother. In addition, there were three men named Benjamin Waldron who lived in Virginia in 1810. Benjamin Waldron, Sr., father of Ann Marie, was married to his second wife, Lucy Ellington, when Elizabeth Jennings married. Benjamin Waldron, Jr., brother of Ann Mare, was married to his second wife, Martha "Patsy" Owen, when Elizabeth Jennings married. So she had to have married the third man named Benjamin Waldron. For more details and other proof, read Did John W. Jennings, Sr., (c1777-1858) Marry His Niece?

1820 US Census, database with images,, John Jennings, New Canton, Buckingham, Virginia; citing page 147, NARA Roll M33_132, Image 124 (accessed 16 Apr 2016)
1850 US Census, database with images, FamilySearch, John J Jennings, Amherst county, Virginia, USA; citing family 984, NARA microfilm publication M432 (accessed 16 Apr 2016)
1850 Selected Non-population Schedule,, John W Jennings, Eastern District, Amherst, Virginia (accessed 16 Apr 2016)
1850 US Census (Slave Schedule), database with images, FamilySearch, J W Jenning, Amherst county, Virginia, USA; citing line numbers 13-18, NARA microfilm publication M432, FHL microfilm 444,973 (accessed 4 Aug 2017)
About the Virginia Land Office, Library of Virginia (accessed (4 Jan 2018)
Bounty-Land Warrant Application Index, database, Fold3, John Jennings, Private, 1812, Warrant No. 55-120-84903 (accessed 18 Oct 2014)
Butler, Stuart L. Defending the Old Dominion and Its Militia in the War of 1812, (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, Inc., 2013), pages 558-594 (accessed 13 Feb 2016)
Descendants of John Flood, (accessed 14 Jan 2018)
Doughtie, Beatrice, Documented Notes on Jennings and Allied Families, (Decatur, GA: Bowen Press, 1961), pages 637-641).
Find a Grave, Memorial ID 148941949, Ann Marie Walton Jennings, 1782-1868 (accessed 27 Nov 2014)
Find a Grave, Memorial ID 148941888, John William Jennings, Sr., 1776-1858 (accessed 27 Nov 2014)
Fort Norfolk, Wikipedia (accessed 14 Jan 2018)
Grose, F. (editor), Amherst County, Virginia, Heritage Book: Family Section, (Amherst County, VA: Amherst County Historical Society, 2000), page 94.
History of Virginia, Wikipedia (accessed 3 Jan 2013)
Interactive Map of Virginia County Formation History, Map of U.S. (accessed 3 Jan 2019)
Tangled Roots and Trees, Benjamin Jennings (c1740-1815): Last Will and Testament (accessed 18 Jan 2018) 
Tangled Roots and Trees, Did John W. Jennings (c1777-1858) Marry His Niece?, 4 May 2016 (accessed 4 Jan 2018)
Third Auditor's Office (editor). Virginia Militia of the War of 1812, (Richmond, VA: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1999), pages 223-225
Virginia Deaths and Burials, 1853-1912, database FamilySearch, Jno. Jennings, 19 Dec 1858; citing Amherst, Virginia; reference page 92, FHL microfilm 2,056,972 (accessed 12 Dec 2014)
Virginia Compiled Marriages, 1740-1850, database,, John Jennings and Anna Walrond, 19 Jan 1805; citing Bedford County (accessed 5 Dec 2014)
Virginia Marriages, 1785-1940database, FamilySearch, John Jennings in entry for Livingston Chenault and Martha Jennings, 21 Nov 1846; citing Amherst, Virginia, reference page 398; FHL microfilm 30.273(5 Dec 2014)
Virginia Marriages, 1785-1940, database, FamilySearch, John Jennings in entry for P. P. Jennings and E. Rhodes, 10 May 1854; citing Amherst Co., Virginia; reference Mar Reg 2 p 1; FHL microfilm 30,311 (accessed 5 Dec 2014)
Virginia Select Marriages, 1785-1940, database,, John Jennings and Anna Wa...ond, 19 Jan 1805; citing Bedford County (accessed 5 Dec 2014)
Virginia Select Marriages, 1785-1940, database,, John Jennings in entry for P. P. Jennings and E. Rhodes, 10 May 1854 (accessed 5 Dec 2014)
Virginia Militia Line Infantry, Historic Fort Norfolk (accessed 14 Jan 2018)
Virginia Wills and Probate Records, 1652-1983, database, Ancestry.comBenjamin Jennings 27 Mar, 19 Jul, 24 Jul 1815, Powhatan County Virginia, images 11, 236-238, 241-242 (accessed 1 Jan 2018)
U.S. Bureau of the Census, Agricultural Schedules: 1850-1900 (accessed 5 May 2014)
War of 1812, Wikipedia (accessed 14 Jan 2018)

Benjamin Jennings (c1740-1815): Last Will and Testament
Benjamin Jennings (c1740-1815): Morgan's Riflemen
Benjamin Jennings (c1740-1815): Beginnings and Endings
Who Was the Original Jennings Immigrant?
Did John W. Jennings, Sr. (c1777-1858) Marry His Niece?
Discovering my Local History Center

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