Copyright © Janice Tracy, Mississippi Memories

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Elusive Gibsons - The Search Continues

Early this week, I opened my email to find a note from another Gibson family researcher wanting to share information.  It certainly didn't take me very long to answer with a definite "yes."  Now, after several days of  passing information back and forth, each of us is convinced there must be more than one line of Gibson families that lived in South Carolina before migrating elsewhere. Some individuals who are on our genea-radar screens are the descendants of Jacob Gibson and his wife Judith Napier who lived near Fairfield, South Carolina, including their son, Joseph L. Gibson.  Joseph married Lydia Rutland before leaving South Carolina for Tennessee, and finally moved his family to Monroe County, Mississippi, where each later died.  Interestingly, this Joseph L. Gibson, or possibly his son by the same name, posted a marriage bond amounting to $500 when John P. Gibson (my brick wall) married Margaret J. Williams on January 3, 1843.  John and Margaret Gibson were my third-great-grandparents who later moved to the Cherry Hill Community of Calhoun County, Mississippi and likely died in Carroll County. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - St. Mary Catholic Church, Yazoo City, Mississippi

Photo by Father Lincoln Dall, Parish Priest
St. Mary Catholic Church
Yazoo City, Mississippi
Photo by Father Lincoln
St. Mary Catholic Church
Yazoo City, Mississippi

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Natchez on the Mississippi, by Harnett T. Kane

During the past week, I continued researching the surnames Porter and Middleton, South Carolina ancestors who settled in the early Southwest Mississippi Territory. Part of that research included reading through several books that include details about early Mississippi settlers, as I searched for references to either of the two families.  One such book was Natchez on the Mississippi by Harnett T. Kane.  Published by William Morrow & Company in 1947, Kane's book includes over three hundred pages of eloquent details about the history of the Natchez area. Although I did not find references to either the Porter or Middleton names, I immensely enjoyed reading Kane's vivid descriptions of over twenty antebellum mansions, the personal stories of the families that built them, and the individuals who called them home. Of interest to anyone who enjoys history is the fact that many of the individuals named in the book were among those who helped shape the state's history, and in some cases, the history of our nation.  Also included in the interesting and entertaining stories in Kane's book about Natchez are two that garnered national interest in years past, the famous steamboat race between The Natchez and The Robert E. Lee, and the infamous story of Natchez's "Goat Castle."  The index of Natchez on the Mississippi is a special bonus for family history researchers everywhere, since it contains an alphabetical listing of hundreds of family names mentioned in Kane's book.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

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

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Middleton-Porter Connections

It appears that several Porter-Middleton marriages already had occurred in South Carolina and in Alabama, before descendants of these two families actually arrived in the Mississippi Territory.  In fact, one of these occurred in Adams County almost twenty years before the marriage of my fourth great-grandparents, Mary Middleton and Samuel Porter, who wed in 1825 in Franklin County, Mississippi. That marriage took place on April 21, 1808, in nearby Adams County, Mississippi, when Mary Middleton, daughter of  John G. Middleton and Elizabeth Middleton, married John Porter. (Since Franklin County had been established from a portion of Adams County, it is entirely possible that both marriages could have occurred in the same location.) The earlier marriage was performed by Shadrack Porter, a justice of the peace and the groom's brother, and both men were sons of Lancelot (Landlot) Porter and his wife Winifred Palmer Porter. According to the U. S. Census of 1810, there were two additional Porter males, William and Joseph, who were enumerated as heads of households in Franklin County, Mississippi.  

At this point, it is unknown how William, Joseph, and my fourth great-grandfather, Samuel Porter, were related to Landlot, John, and Shadrack, or to each other. Nor do I know names of the parents of Samuel Porter and Mary Middleton Porter. One thing is certain, however, the Porter and Middleton families had lived in proximity to each other in at least two states for several decades and continued to do so in southwest Mississippi  until newly formed counties opened up for settlement elsewhere. 

It appears that Samuel and Mary Porter remained in Franklin County for at least five years after their marriage, since Samuel was enumerated on the U. S. Census recorded that year as the head of a household that consisted of one female under thirty and two children, a male and a female, under five years old. The next time that Samuel appeared on a census was in 1837, when he was shown on a state census recorded that year that shows him living in Madison County, Mississippi.

Next:  The Porters of Madison and Attala Counties

Hunting for Bears, comp., Mississippi Marriages, 1776-1935 [database on-line].  Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004.  Original data:  Mississippi marriage information taken from county courthouse records.  Many of these records were extracted from copies of the original records in microfilm, or book format, located at the Family History Library.  Mississippi State and Territorial Census Collection, 1792-1866 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2007.  Original data:  Mississippi State and Territorial Censuses, 1792-1866.  Microfilm V229.  3 rolls.  Heritage Quest.  1830 United States Federal Census [database on-line].  Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc, 2010.  Images reproduced by FamilySearch.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Family Photo Archives
Miles and Miles Away, Many Years Ago.......

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Stephen Middleton, Abbeville, SC to Franklin County, MS

According to the U. S. Census of 1790, Stephen Middleton was a resident of Abbeville, South Carolina, part of the "Old Ninety-Six" District.  The census shows the Middleton household consisted of seven individuals, including five free white males under the age of 16, one free white male over the age of 16, and one free white female. It is interesting to note here that one cannot determine by this record alone if the "one free white female" is Stephen's wife, daughter, or another female. The Middleton family, along with many others, were likely part of the "Great Migration" to the Mississippi Territory, since the next time that Stephen Middleton appeared on a U. S. Census was in 1810, when he was enumerated as the head of a household in Franklin County, Mississippi.  Since Mississippi had not yet attained statehood, Franklin County, with slightly less than 2,000 inhabitants, was still part of the Mississippi Territory.  According to the census recorded in 1810, Middleton's family had increased from seven members in 1790 to nine.  Also, Middleton's enumeration showed that he owned 24 slaves.  Other Franklin County heads of households appearing on the U. S. Census of 1810 whose surnames were Middleton were identified as Mary, John, and Samuel.

Next:  The Middleton-Porter Connection

Monday, September 5, 2011

Genealogy and a Priest in the Mississippi Delta

SienaRosone del Duomo. Picture by Softeis

This morning when I signed in to this blog, I found a comment about a post I had written some time ago on my other blog, Cemeteries of Dancing Rabbit Creek.  The post was about the discovery of "The Lady in Red" near Egypt Plantation in the Mississippi Delta.  The comment was written by Father Lincoln, who serves two Catholic parishes in Yazoo City, St. Mary and St. Francis of Assisi, along with the parish of All Saints in Belzoni, Mississippi. For those readers outside of Mississippi, the "Delta" region has a number of beautiful, old Catholic churches that were established by the many European immigrants who settled in that area during the 1800s. In addition to his work in these three Mississippi Delta parishes, Father Lincoln serves as a priest in two prisons located in Yazoo City, a federal prison complex and the Yazoo County Regional Correctional Facility. Although Father Lincoln must be a very busy man indeed, visiting parishioners in hospitals as far away as Jackson, he still finds time to write a blog entitled "A Priest in the Mississippi Delta."  Not only does he include the text of his homilies in these blog posts, Father Lincoln also writes posts about parish members who have died. Now any experienced family history researcher knows that Catholic parish records have always been a vital resource in finding original baptismal, marriage, and death records. But Father Lincoln's blog posts about the lives of those who for whom he has said funeral masses contain much more.  He memorializes their lives, their works, and their good deeds in words, details that parish documents do not contain. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Middleton Family of SC and Mississippi

Yesterday, I made a decision to begin tracing yet another of my early family lines, the Middleton family of South Carolina.  Armed with information that I have known for some time, the facts that my paternal fourth great-grandparents, Mary Middleton and Samuel Porter, were born in South Carolina and were married on May 17, 1825, in Franklin County, Mississippi, I began in earnest to search the Middleton family's origins. Since members of the Porter and the Middleton families were enumerated in an early census of the Mississippi Territory, recorded in 1810, I began my search by reviewing a list of Mississippi Territory pioneers on an invaluable MsGenWeb site about the early southwest Mississippi Territory. On that site, I quickly found the name Stephen Middleton. Could Stephen Middleton be the father of my Mary Middleton?  Although several of his children's names appeared in the detail beside Stephen Middleton's name, the name Mary was not listed.  The information did state that names of other Middleton children were missing, so my next effort will be to search for those missing names.  Since the only names that appeared on census records before 1850 were names of the heads of households, finding the children's names may be a difficult process.  Wish me luck, and watch here for more Middleton research results.

Source:  Mississippi Marriages to 1825 [database on-line.] Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc., 1997.  Original data:  Dodd.  Jordan R. et al.  Early American Marriages: Mississippi to 1825, Bountiful, UT, USA.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Surname Saturday - Are We Related?

It's Saturday again, and it's been a while since I last posted a list of the surnames I am researching. If you are also searching any of these names and in any of these locations, I would love to hear from you.  Maybe we can exchange some information or offer each other some new research ideas.  So here goes:

Baldridge -  Ireland >PA>NC?>SC>TN>MS(Carroll County) 
Branch -  England >Virginia>NC>TN>MS (Hinds, Madison, and Attala Counties) 
Coggins - Wales>Nash County)>SC>GA>AL>MS (Holmes County) 
Fenner - Ireland >Rhode Island>NC>GA>AL>MS (MS Territory, Wilkinson County)
Gibson - Scotland>VA>NC>SC>MS (Adams, Monroe, Calhoun and Carroll Counties)
Merriwether - England>VA>KY>SC>GA>TN>MS (Calhoun and Carroll Counties)
Middleton - England>SC>MS Territory (Franklin County)
Netherland - VA>KY>TN>GA>AL>MS Territory (Amite County)>MS (Holmes and Yazoo Counties)
Pettus - Norwich, England>VA>KY>TN>AL>MS (Holmes County)
Porter - Ireland>PA>NC>SC>GA>AL>MS Territory (Franklin County)>Madison & Attala Co (MS)
Ragland - Wales>Ireland>VA>NC>SC>GA>AL>MS (Franklin, Wilkinson, Hinds, Attala Counties)
Trigleth - England>VA>NC>SC>GA>AL>MS (Holmes and Yazoo Counties)