Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Trip Into Family History

Tuesday night I had a long-postponed meeting with my cousins in Alabama, just across the state line. Our common ancestor, William Elliott Williams, moved to this area in the early 1800's and became a large landowner, had many children by two different wives.  He was from North Carolina.  Last year the Williams researchers asked Roy, the cousin I met Tuesday night, to do a DNA test proving the entire lineage back to a Jones Williams, b. 1731.  A straight-line male descendant is needed to do these tests, and Roy fits that bill.

Roy and I are descended from two different sons of William Elliott Williams and his first wife, whose name is unknown.  I was told years ago by an elderly great-uncle that she was 'a Bagwell from Temple, GA'.  The 1850 census shows her first initial as "H".  That's all we know.  William fathered three sets of twins (which run in the family).  Roy is descended from one of these twins, I am descended from another brother. Roy and his wife live on William's original homestead.

Update: For those of you who have an interest in this descendency, we've learned more about William's wives. It seems that Harriet Bagwell is probably not my ancestor. We found a marriage license in Paulding County, GA for these two, dated May 11, 1850, a good while after William's first group of kids were born. After that, we realized that something we'd seen for years in the Rutherford County, NC Marriage book was probably our William. We'd ignored it previously because we were focused on H. Bagwell from Georgia. A William Williams [not an uncommon name around there] married a Nancy Johnson on December 19, 1832.That fits in with the timeline of William's move to Alabama as well.  The first census we have him on in Alabama, in 1840. It seems probable that Nancy Johnston is the mother of William's early children, since he did not marry Harriett Bagwell until 1850.  Further research is needed to prove this. Harriet Bagwell died before 1860, since by that census William was married to Elizabeth. It seems unlikely that there were any children from that marriage, as William's youngest child before his family with Elizabeth was born around 1847, and would have been from Nancy (unless Nancy died earlier and Harriett had children with William before they were married.)

This is the view over the back pastures and fields of the old homestead, from the new home.

William's original barn and outbuilding.  The road leads back to the new house on a hill behind the trees.

The gravestone for William and his second wife, Elizabeth, lies hidden in the brush in an old, abandoned and unkept cemetery called Baker Hill.  William is my great-great-great-grandfather.  Without doubt, his first wife is also buried up here someplace, in a grave that is either unmarked or lost in the undergrowth.

A portion of the Williams Family Cemetery, called Cherry Grove Cemetery.

Augusta Williams is one of the twins, brother to the twin from which Roy is descended.

Gush, or Gushton, is Roy's ancestor.

Andy is the brother from whom I am descended

His wife Nicey, whose maiden name was Pence.

On my way home I had to take a detour because the main highway was closed down due to an accident.  The secondary route took me by this old church, Shiloh Baptist Church in Esom Hill, where most of the rest of my family is buried.  I took a drive up through the cemetery, on the hill in the rear, but it was late and I was tired, so those will need to wait for another day.

It was a fascinating evening.  I drove and listened to them talk and tell tales for about three hours, over hill and dale, over dirt and gravel roads, to hidden churches and old cemeteries, into the heart of my Williams ancestry.

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