Thursday, March 28, 2013

Betsey Jenkins Dean

Solomon Jenkins, 1796, & Laney Ellis, 1799, North Carolina
Sarah Elizabeth Jenkins, 1824, North Carolina
Married Elisha Dean about 1850

It took me a long time to find Betsey. I’d been searching for Betsey “Judkins,” the name my great grandfather, John Dean, gave on his marriage license for his mother.  When every search led to Betsey Jenkins, I had to give up for a while.  This was just too hard.

 To make it worse, I had knee surgery with the attendant pain drugs and rehab for seven weeks. My body doesn’t handle drugs like it used to, and I really slipped into a depression. The book just sat there for two whole months.

I finally got over the surgery, and when the drugs were out of my system, I returned to work, writing just a little each day, and soon I found the link that pulled Betsey's family together, and I learned she was really Betsey Jenkins Dean.

I feel like I know Betsey well now, having lived with her for nearly a year, tracing her family as far back as I can, and reading many early accounts of life for these 1700-1800s pioneers, especially in this part of the country, Pennsylvania to Virginia to North Carolina to Tennessee to Kentucky. I can’t find adequate words to describe the impact this reading has had on me.

I wanted to know about the journey Betsey’s family took from North Carolina to Tennessee and on to Kentucky, and I found an account that gave me a whole new perspective on my ancestors' lives.

An essay of what it might have been like for a wife and mother 200 years ago, what might have gone on in her mind:

Johnny is decided. I reckon I have but one choice and it ain't an easy one."He says we have no choice, that we have to move on west and that now is the time to do it. There is land waiting in Tennessee he says, land that can be ours. He says any citizen of North Carolina now has a right to what ain't taken. He says there is nothin here for us anymore, and I am reckoning that is right too. But my heart is twisting in the inside of me and that is so as well.
I got three babies buried out back there to leave behind…"And taint no sense dwellin' on it. I know good and well could be none of us gonna make it, and for sure, if we stayed here neither there ain't no guarantee ...whole families I watched wiped out by first one thing and then the other. Caint vouch that the natives won't get us, nor a sickness, nor bad water, nor a piece of bad blood waiting to ambush us on the trail. Cain't vouch that river won't get us, have heard about that river and the places in it. Cain't vouch how long what supplies we have will last, nor for sure we can get more. Caint vouch for nothin much at all, 'cept Johnny is right.
Ain't nothin much for us here, gettin less and less all the time, and what of our babies make it, if any of em do, well they will have a better chance for it. They may can own their own land this way, get by easier in the world once that place is settled in. Maybe they can have things someday me and Johnny never dreamed of. But it shorely is a high price to pay. It shorely is.
And I reckon I'll follow Johnny even if my heart is twisting and bleedin' inside of me to where I don't know how I am gonna keep on keepin on. Johnny is decided and I reckon he is right. ~ Pioneer Migration from North Carolina to Tennessee By Jan Philpot,

These early settlers either walked or went by horse and wagon, likely crossing the Cumberland Gap.

Cumberland Gap

The Jenkins Family in Wilkes County

Betsey’s family history goes back a long, long way, on her mother’s side. Possibly all the way back to Wales, but I haven’t verified that yet. Her parents, Solomon Jenkins and Laney Ellis were both born in North Carolina and lived in Wilkes County, where I presume Betsey was born.

Wilkes County, formed in 1777, sprawls over the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains, part of the Appalachian Mountains.

Wilkes County in the upper left corner, #1777, close to the Tennessee State Line

An 18-year-old Solomon Jenkins, Betsey's father,  is described on the Army Register of Enlistments during the War of 1812 as a five-foot, eight-inch tall boy with grey eyes, light colored hair, and a fair complexion.

North Carolina Census, 1790-1890
CollectionName: Solomon Jenkin
State: NC
County: Warren County Regiment
Township: Seventh Company
Year: 1812
Database: NC 1812-1814
Muster Rolls Jenkins Sololmon |3rd Regt. |7th Co. |Detached From The Warren Regt   

Since his birth place is stated on the above document as Richmond County North Carolina, I searched and found the first tax list after the establishment of Richmond County, where a “William Jenkins, 260” is listed.  I can't imagine that is two hundred sixty dollars.  Maybe acres, or the lot number of his land.

Then an Census record shows William Jenkins in 1795, a year before Solomon’s approximated birth, in Richmond County.

Possibly William is the father of Solomon. I can’t verify this, but genealogy is like good wine. The longer it sits and ages, the more answers are revealed, making it a fine vintage.

Continuing my research, I found Solomon in the 1840 Census in Capt. Wellborn’s District in Wilkes County. Evidently, districts were named after their army captains.

The census records before 1850 don’t list all the members of the household by name and birth date, but only the head of household’s name and how many people in separate age groups live in the home, including how many slaves. I was happy that Solomon had no slaves, just nine white children of various ages.

My next find was an interesting one involving Laney. She is mentioned in the will of her father, Willis Ellis, who died after Laney got married and became a Jenkins. She is referred to as “Lany Genkens.” Obviously the spelling is a little off there.

The will is dated January 28, 1851, and recorded in Wilkes County. According to this document, Willis left his sons Thomas and Carter Ellis, and daughter Lany Genkens one dollar each, so they probably received their part of the estate before his death. Nothing is mentioned about his other children. Could be that Thomas, Carter and Laney were the only ones who’d gotten married and left home.

The Jenkins of Morgan County, Kentucky

I didn't know Betsey's family moved to Morgan County when I wrote the first draft of the book.  I only knew they were from North Carolina.  Then I read online where researchers on several Wilkes County forums posted that Solomon and Laney came to Morgan County from Wilkes County between 1846 and 1849 and remained in Morgan County until they died.

The Jenkins family is first mentioned in the 1850 Census for Morgan County, just like the Deans, and of course Betsey is living with Pleasant Martin's family on that census, next door to the Deans, and 10 years later on the 1860 census living with the Deans, as covered in an earlier chapter.  Or as they say, the rest is history.  And in this case it really is.

Friday, March 22, 2013

A Murder in the Mystery Family

The Martins and the Dean Families
Who Are These Martins?

Eastern Kentucky and the Civil War

1850 United States Federal Census for Morgan County, Kentucky

Family Number: 365
Household Members:

Pleas Martin 38 (”Pleasant”)
Martha Martin 36
John Martin 16
William Martin 13
George Martin 11
Nancy Martin 10
Lucinda Martin 8
Elizabeth Martin 5
Angeline Martin 1
Elizabeth Jenkins 24 (Betsey, my 2nd Great Grandmother)

I'm still uncertain of the relationship between the Martins and the Dean.  They appear, in online records, to travel together.  Pleasant Martin was born in Tennessee, as was my 2nd great grandfather Elisha and his brother Daniel Dean, who later became a Martin.  I'm still questioning whether Elisha's mother, Elizabeth Dean, was married to a Martin before she became a Dean.

During this time period we're looking at, a well known fact is that families moved together to new cities and states. Most of the information people got back then was by word of mouth, and hearing of a better place to live and raise your crops and your family, they’d pack up their meager belongings and set out on foot or wagon for that lush green meadow others talked about.  Kentucky in the early 1800s was one such place.

The Martin family could have just been neighbors of Elizabeth Dean and her family in 1850, and Betsey may have been a maid or nanny for the Martins. Pleasant and his wife had seven children that year of the census and clearly could have used some domestic help.

Researching Pleasant Martin revealed, first of all, that the name “Pleasant” was not as unique as I’d thought. There were quite a few Pleasants in the records.

The next bit of information that surfaced for my ancestors' neighbor was that he was murdered in 1863 by the “Rebels,” he and a fellow named Reason Grayson, as told in a letter I found online.

A Civil War Letter from Henry Hurst to his brother William

Mt. Sterling, Kentucky October 7, 1863 Dear Brother: I received your letter yesterday and it gave me great pleasure to hear that you were well. I have not heard from father since Daniel wrote you; but I suppose he is on the mend. There has been a terrible crime committed here and I will tell you about it. The Rebels ran into Camargo and caught Pleasant Martin, Asbury Nickell, a son of Spaniard Nickell, Charles Little, a son of Phillip Little, Reason Grayson and Robert Nickell. They took them to Sycamore bridge near Ticktown and lined them up and told them they were going to parole them. They had them cross their hands on their breasts, telling them they were about to administer the oath; but instead they placed their guns against them and fired. All were killed dead except Robert Nickell who was shot near the right nipple, the bullet came out about five inches lower in the back. He fell off into the creek and they fired three more shots at him, one bullet struck his arm. He played off dead and they left him. As soon as they left he managed to get to a man's house who came and let us know. We took him to Mt. Sterling and then chased the Rebels to James Gibbs' on the dry ridge, there they scattered and we lost them. I think Nickells will get well, the Dr. says he is now out of danger. This same crowd after the killing at the bridge reached the home of Jacob Stephens, they took his pocket book with about $30.00 and shot him dead in his own home. They then went on and caught that man, Jenkins, who was shot so often. The treatment they gave him was much worse than death. They took all privileges from him that was allowed a man by nature and told him that if that did not kill him they would come back and finish the job. You wanted to know if Salyers and I had completed our job of enrolling. We have done all we can do without an armed force to assist us. We finished all except some of the Sandy territory when the Rebels got after us and captured our papers that we had finished and we had to do all the work over. We started in again and have about the same amount done as before; but they ran us out. We have made application three times for men to aid us; but they have not arrivfed. We are ready any time we can get protection. I want to complete this work as soon as possible for my time will soon be out, then I intend to go to some other country. I have of my present enlistment one month and five days yet to serve. Cockerell has offered me a 1st Lieutenants place in his Company which might be better than working with the Home Guards. Your Brother, H.C. Hurst

This was posted on  Ancestry  by laryssabeth on 7 Jun 2007.

The above letter not only tells the story of Pleasant Martin and others being caught by Confederate soldiers, it also gives us a look at what the war was actually like where our Dean ancestors lived.

Kentucky, trying to remain impartial in the war, had both Union and Confederate fighters. Obviously, we see Morgan County was Yankee territory, if the Southern Rebels captured Pleasant and these other fellows.

I feel it's too much of a coincidence that the Martins live one farm over from the Deans, and one of the Dean residents ends up changing his name to Martin, and a girl who ends up being my 2nd great grandmother lives with the Martins.  The fact that they all appear to come from the same place before settling in Morgan County, Kentucky, is also a factor.

Too much of a coincidence is all I can think. The research continues as the book goes on.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Elisha Dean: The Civil War

James Dean (1780-1862) m. Elizabeth Dean
 3rd Great  Grandparents
Elisha Dean (1825-?)  m. Sarah Elizabeth (Betsy) Jenkins
 2nd Great Grandparents

Kentucky's Role in the Civil War.

In 1860, when the census people came around, Elizabeth’s supposed son Daniel Dean, now goes by the last name Martin.  Looks like Daniel had a different father than Elisha, meaning their mother, Elizabeth was married first to a Martin and then to a Dean, before she gave birth to Elisha.

…or she was not married to a Martin, and Daniel is somebody else’s son?

An exhaustive search for Daniel Martin’s father has turned up nothing.  And more people than me are looking for him.  None of the other Martin or Dean family trees have a father for Daniel, but his mother is listed as Elizabeth Martin-Dean.  I don’t think anyone knows Elizabeth’s maiden name. Still the Shady Lady.

I went back to the 1850 census and looked at every name on the page, and I was surprised to find two Martin families living in the next two houses after Elizabeth Dean and her two sons.  The dwelling  numbers run consecutively 364, 365, and 366.

Number 365 is the home of Pleasant Martin, born in Tennessee in 1812.  One of the residents in his home is not a Martin.  She is Elizabeth Jenkins, age 26, born in North Carolina.

 Elizabeth Jenkins becomes my 2nd great grandmother.

Are these Martins related to Daniel Dean Martin, who lives in Elizabeth’s house, a half-brother of my 2nd great grandfather Elisha?

Why was he listed  as a Dean in 1850?

You have to study a lot of records, especially the census, to understand how many mistakes are made on these old documents.  Many times the census takers “assumed” facts on their own.  Sometimes families claimed children who might be just related to them, a niece or nephew perhaps, who was living with them at the time.  Anything was possible.


Aside from Daniel Dean turning into a Martin, the 1860 Census lists new residents in the Dean home.

  • Mary L. Martin, age 7, born in Kentucky, who I believe is the daughter of Daniel.
  • Elizabeth Jenkins, now age 30, born in North Carolina.  She has moved from the Martin household to live with the Deans.
  • James N. Jenkins, age nine, who is Elizabeth Jenkins’ son.  

Little nine-year-old James N. Jenkins becomes James Newton Dean, after his mother marries my 2nd Great Grandfather Elisha, and he remained Elisha’s son until his death on July 26, 1927 in Kankakee, Illinois.

James Newton Dean, Great Grand Uncle

Elizabeth did not age much in 10 years, from one census to the next.  She was 26 in 1850 and is now only 30, in 1860.   Census records don’t always add up right, and a lot of people did not know their actual birth dates.  They were born at home.  Many didn’t have birth certificates.

The Martin families are no longer next-door neighbors in 1860, though they remain in Division 2, Morgan County. Was Daniel related to them?  Was it merely coincidence that he had the same last name as the people in the next two houses?  Maybe it was.  No research has turned up any connection with them, but I've never given up on finding Daniel's real father.


On October 3, 1863, the Civil War has been going on for two years, and Elisha, age 40, is drafted in Morgan County, Kentucky.  I wonder if he and Elizabeth Jenkins were married before he left for duty, and her son James was given the Dean name.

3rd from top, Elisha’s draft record, Kentucky 9th Congressional Distsrict, Sub-District No. 6

Kentucky was a neutral state in the war, or at least they’re said to be, but hot sentiments ran deep both for Confederates and the Union.  “Brother against brother,” is a familiar description of Kentucky.

Kentucky was one of the "border states" in the Civil War, both geographically and politically. It was situated on the dividing line between the northern and southern regions of the United States. And it was one of only a few slave states that opted to stay in the Union. Though the Commonwealth was officially neutral, its citizens were deeply divided over the issues that caused the Civil War, and over the war itself -- a division symbolized by the fact that both Civil War presidents, Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, were Kentucky native sons.~

I haven’t found a record I could validate for Elisha fighting in any of the battles, but I uncovered some possibilities, one being an Elisha Dean in Clinch’s Light Artillery Regiment in Georgia, which was definitely fighting for the Confederacy.  The birth dates and state of origin are not listed for the men, so it’s hard to know if this is a serious possibility.

Despite Elisha being from Kentucky,  he may have ended up in a heavy Confederate State, regardless of  his personal sentiments or loyalty.  He might have been fighting for Dixie.

This same Elisha Dean, fighting for Georgia, was taken prisoner of war.

Civil War Prisoner of War Records, 1861-1865 about Elisha Dean
Name: Elisha Dean
Side: Confederate
Roll: M598_114
Roll Title:  Selected Records of the War Department Relating to Confederate Prisoners of War, 1861-1865

This POW Elisha, was in the 80th Cavalry, captured at Waynesboro on December 4, 1864, and released on June 10, 1865.

Another interesting fact is that Cincinnati came across the Ohio River in raids on some of the Kentucky counties, one being Morgan County, where the Deans lived, and where Elisha was drafted.  The Yankees took these Kentucky prisoners  back to Cincinnati and housed them in basements of buildings.  Sub-District Number 6 was one of those units captured in a raid on Morgan County, though I can’t find Elisha’s name on the list of prisoners.

Was he shipped off to Georgia?  Was he defending Morgan County in some capacity?  Questions I still want to answer.

But the second edit continues.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Shady Lady

Early 1800s Methodist Camp Meeting in the Colonies, when my 3rd great grandmother
 was in her 20s
I've been searching for any info on Elizabeth Dean, my 3rd Great Grandmother for two years.  She has stayed at the top of the Dean Family Tree as the earliest ancestor so far, born in 1785, in Virginia.

I did some research on Virginia in the 1700s and early 1800s to add a little local flavor to Elizabeth's story, especially since I have no photos of her or her gravestone.  

Rolling a "Hogs-Head" barrel  of tobacco to the pier.  Growing tobacco in Virginia
became so popular as a money-maker, depleting the soil eventually,
so early settlers torn their houses down and moved farther inland
 to continue growing  their tobacco in its space.

What information I do have on Elizabeth begins with the 1850 census for Morgan County, Kentucky, where she is a 65-year-old farmer who owns $1,000 worth of real estate and has two sons, Elisha Dean, age 24, and Daniel Dean, age 35. Elizabeth says she was born in Virginia and both sons were born in Tennessee.

 Daniel's last name would change over the next 10 years, adding even more problems in figuring out these early Dean ancestors.  Elisha Dean proves indeed to be my 2nd great grandfather.

There are several other solid brick walls concerning these early Dean ancestors I am trying to break through, while still editing the rest of the book's chapters.

No mention of a husband for Elizabeth was made on the 1850 census.

Is she the widow of a Dean husband, or did she not marry, and Dean is her own surname?

I have turned up nothing over the past several years to answer that question.  No marriage record, no parents listed anywhere.

Until this week, when one of my several-times removed Dean cousins also researching the family added a husband for Elizabeth.  James Dean, born 1870 in Pennsylvania, died in 1862 in Rockingham, Virginia.

Elisha was born in 1824.  His father was still alive?

Something about this just doesn't ring true for me, but I added James next to Elizabeth up there on the top of the Dean tree.  And there he will stay until proven a mistake.

James Dean (abt 1780 - 1862), m. Elizabeth Dean (abt 1875 - before 1870)
Elisha Dean, abt 1826 - ? 
Daniel Dean, abt 1815 - ? 
And now I continue editing the other chapters and leave this first chapter as it is above.