Copyright © Janice Tracy, Mississippi Memories

Friday, September 16, 2011

They All Stopped at Natchez

"And they all stopped at Natchez." This sentence appears on page 16 of Harnett T. Kane's book, Natchez on the Mississippi, published by William Morrow & Company, New York, 1947. 

During the past several weeks, I have revisited some earlier research and began some new on several lines of my families, including the surnames Middleton and Porter, who settled in the early Mississippi Territory around 1800.  The primary reason for this effort was that I have hit a brick wall in finding the names of the parents of my third great-grandparents, Samuel Porter and Mary Middleton Porter, who later settled in Madison and Attala Counties.

According to a census of the Mississippi Territory recorded in 1790, members of the Middleton and Porter families were already living in the area. In 1810, when a census for the newly-formed county of Franklin was recorded, the two families lived in close proximity to each other and at least one marriage between a Middleton and a Porter had already occurred. Since Franklin County was formed from Adams County (Natchez), it is very likely the families lived in the same place before and after the census recorded in Franklin County in 1810.

Several pieces of interesting information have come out of the review of my previous research, including some new questions and the answer to at least one unanswered question. I am certain at this point, that Mary Middleton who married Samuel Porter in June 1825, was not the same Mary Middleton who married John Porter in April 1808.  According to the ages shown for Mary and Samuel on a U.S. Census recorded in 1850 in Attala County, Mississippi, neither individual would have been old enough to have married in 1808.  In addition, the names of Mary's parents (1808 ceremony) are shown on the Adams County marriage record as John and Elizabeth Middleton.

As my research continued, it was interesting to see how many South Carolina residents, including the Middletons and the Porters, settled in the Natchez area. Some families moved to other areas of Mississippi and Lousiana, and others stayed for the rest of their lifetimes. Some of the Middletons and the Porters were among the latter. Apparently, the Middleton and Porter families were already connected through previous marriages before they left South Carolina. The U. S. Census of 1790 shows that Stephen Middleton and Hugh Porter lived very near each other in Abbeville, South Carolina in 1790, although the familial connections, if any, remain unknown at this time.  Other Franklin County residents, including the Gibson, Porter, Middleton, and Witherspoon families had lived near each other in another area of South Carolina known as the Georgetown District.

Another question remains unanswered concerning the maiden name of Mary Middleton, widow of Willis Middleton, who was shown on the Franklin County Census of 1810 as the head of a household that contained several children, including four daughters. Willis Middleton, according to most researchers was likely a brother to Stephen Middleton, John Middleton, and Martin Middleton.  Some researchers believe the widow Mary Middleton's maiden name was "Motte."  If this is indeed true, she is likely descended from a well-known South Carolinian, Jacob Motte, of Charleston. Researchers have also questioned whether Willis Middleton's widow may have been the Mary Middleton who married John Porter in 1808.  As stated earlier in this post, I believe this is untrue, since the Adams County marriage record clearly shows that John and Elizabeth Middleton are the parents of the bride.

Since I am clearly near a dead end in validating the names of Samuel Porter's parents, I have made a decision to join the Porter Y-DNA Project that I recently found online.  Several of the Porter men who were present in the Mississippi Territory around 1800, including Landlot Porter, possibly Samuel's father, and Landlot's sons, Joseph Porter, John Porter, and William Porter, are already on the list. The process will take some time, since I need a male DNA donor with the surname Porter, but I am hopeful that I will have an answer down the road.  Watch for the results here.

Marriage Records, Adams County, Mississippi, Circuit Clerk's Office
Marriage Records, Franklin County, Mississippi, Circuit Clerk's Office
U. S. Census of 1790, Abbeville, SC (microfilm)
U. S. Census of 1790, Mississippi Territory (microfilm)
Census Records,, Mississippi Territorial Census (1792-1820), Franklin Co., MS
Porter Y-DNA Project, accessed online on September 14, 2011

1 comment:

  1. Please keep us updated. I am currently researching DNA testing for my Hathorn line.