When researching an ancestor, it is always a bonus to find a photo, a unique fact or a written history – anything that goes above and beyond the census, birth and death records. To find any of these extra bonuses makes the ancestor more human and more endearing than envisioning just a statistical person! While researching my third great-grandparents, James Ransome Dudley and Jane Mallory Lyon, I found facts that made them come to life for myself even without photos!
James Ransome (also spelled Ransom) Dudley and Jane Mallory Lyon were the parents of Mary Lavalett Dudley, my second great-grandmother, who had married Joseph Cloud Lyon. So far I have not found any relationship between Jane Mallory Lyon and her daughter’s spouse, Joseph Cloud Lyon. They seem to be from two different Lyon families but further research may reveal a common Lyon ancestor – you never know! James Ransom Dudley was born 2 December of 1792 in Surry County, North Carolina, the first born son of Robert Dudley and Clarissa Isabell Ross who had ten known children. Robert Dudley and Clarissa Ross were originally from Virginia and were married in 1791 in Surry, North Carolina and made their home there. Surry County NC is along the southern border of Virginia.
Jane Mallory Lyon, my third great-grandmother, was also called “Jency” and was born 12 January 1801 in Surry Co., NC. Jency was the daughter of William Lyon and Dianah Smith who were also originally from Virginia and married in 1795 and settled in Surry Co., North Carolina. Many of the records I did find on James Ransome Dudley referred to him as just “Ransom Dudley” and Jane was referred to as “Jency”. For simplicity sake, I will call them Ransom and Jency. They were married in Surry County on 26 April 1818 when Ransom was about 25 and Jency was 18. According to their marriage document, Ransom had to post and pay a 500 pounds to the then governor, John Branch, to get the license to marry! (see below) Their union produced twelve known children and at least 72 known grandchildren!
In 1820, they lived in Capt. Farkners District, Surry, North Carolina and the Ransom Dudley family had a total of nine free white persons and no slaves listed in the census. Ransom was a blacksmith by trade and was elected sheriff on several occasions including Sheriff of Surry County at one time. They lived in Surry County until about 1828. At that time, the great westward movement had begun and free government land was available for the asking. I was fortunate to discover a brief history of the Dudley family that told of their migration! It seems that three sons of Robert Dudley and Clarissa Ross Dudley, namely James Ransom Dudley, William Parham Dudley and Charles Dudley, left Surry Co. with their families intent on moving westward into the new territory. Ransom and his brother, William Parham, came into Montgomery County, Virginia, circa 1828-1829, and settled there due to the hardship of traveling with young children. The youngest brother, Charles, and his wife Ann, continued on to Indiana Territory and are recorded in the Monroe County, Indiana Census of 1850 with eight children. Part of Montgomery County VA, where Ransom and William settled became Pulaski County ten years later in 1838. Montgomery and Pulaski County contain many descendants of Ransom and William Dudley today and parts of William’s family moved to Tazewell County VA and to Bluefield, West Virginia.
It seems the Ransom Dudley family moved around a bit as they were in Wythe County, Virginia in 1830 and lived in Newbern, Pulaski County, Virginia in 1840. I was so very excited to find that Ransom and Jency’s granddaughter, Marietta McWane Kegley, wrote a private book that revealed some facts about her grandfather, Ransom Dudley! The title of the book was History and Genealogy – Dudley 1406-1956- McWane 1796-1956. The author, Marietta Kegley, was the daughter of Elizabeth Ross Dudley and Charles P McWane. Elizabeth Ross was the fourth child of Ransom and Dudley. In her book, Marietta describes her grandpa, Ransom, as follows: “Grandpa moved from the Deever’s place to ‘Possum Hollow’ and kept the tollgate on the road leading from Nashville, Tennessee to Washington D. C. He later moved to Newbern (Virginia) and had a blacksmith shop and wagon stand, where old Joe Anderson house now stands…Later Grandfather moved to Snowville, where he operated the first iron foundry in what is now Pulaski County. Grandfather Dudley was descended from Lord Guilford Dudley, the Duke of NorthCumberland, and uncle of Lady Jane Grey. (This is not yet proven.)” What a great insight into the life of Ransom and Jency!
So in 1850, Ransom is a blacksmith in Pulaski but 1860 brings a surprising new occupation for him – hotel keeper – and this is in Wytheville, Wythe County, Virginia. In 1866, Ransom was taxed $25 as a “Retail Liquor Dealer” according to the U. S. IRS Tax Assessment Lists for Wytheville. Ransom supposedly had a bar or pub he ran in the hotel.
1861 was also bringing the Civil War and no one in Virginia escaped the influence of this life-changing time. Ransom was about 68 at that time and too old to serve but his sons were of an age to enlist. The oldest son James Lyon Dudley enlisted as a Private in Company C, Virginia’s 4th Infantry Regiment of the Confederate Army. He was a member of the Reserves, enlisted to defend their homes from war’s ravages. He first served 4 months and was in one major engagement. He enlisted again later in 1863 in the Fort Lewis Volunteers, afterward called Company B of the 4th Virginia Infantry from Pulaski County, and was discharged after 2 years for disability.
Not only did Ransom and Jency have to worry over the fate of their son during the War, they had two grandsons serving in the Confederate Army. Their son, James Lyon Dudley, had two of the sons who served. The oldest son, Guilford Madison Dudley (1843-1922) was in the Confederate Army at age 18 from the beginning to the close of the struggle and thankfully came home unharmed. However, another son, Thomas Charles Dudley (1844-1863), was in the service at age 17 and slightly wounded at Sharpsburg (Maryland). This son was with Jackson when that gallant general fell in the battle of Chancellorsville, but he was taken sick soon after. He was removed to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania (near Gettysburg) and died there. I am sure there may have been more grandchildren dying in the war and will keep searching for these brave souls.
After the war, Ransom had given up being a hotel keeper and at age 78, he was back working as a blacksmith according to the 1870 Federal Census. The family had moved again to Black Lick Township in Wythe County, Virginia. In 1874, Ransom’s beloved Jency died very suddenly at age 73. Ransom was found living with his son, Houston Matthew Dudley, and his family in 1880 and is 87 years old. Ransom was listed as a widower and noted on the census as “sick” due to “Old Age”. Ransom lived 5 more years and died on 13 April of 1885 in Wytheville, Wythe, Virginia. He was 92 years old. His burial place is yet unknown. He had a long and interesting life! He was mainly a blacksmith and at least two of his sons also became blacksmiths. Ransom’s other jobs included Sheriff, Hotel Keeper, Bartender, farmer, toll gate operator and he also started up an iron foundry. His life was full and interesting- a hard working man taking care of his family!
Finding extra information from family histories made the story of Ransom and Jency more insightful and meaningful. Although I found no pictures of them, I did stumble upon a picture of Ransom’s brother, William Parham Dudley, who journeyed with him to Virginia from North Carolina. Looking at William’s photo gives one a bit of an idea of what his brother, Ransom, may have looked like. Thank you, Lesli Wall, for the image!
Marriage Certificate for Ransome Dudley and Jency Lyon. Bond Date 26 April 1818. County: Surry, North Carolina; Record #: 01 0645; Bondsman: John Davis; Bond #: 000144266.
The Heritage of Surry County, Surry County Historical Society, Family # 209, p. 166.
1820 U S Census; Census Place: Capt Farkners District, Surry, North Carolina; Page: 758; NARA Roll: M33_82; Image: 413.
A Brief History of the Dudley Family, Contributed by Naoma Dudley Slone, Ancestry.com; Ancestry .com Operations, Inc., Provo, UT, USA.
1830 U S Census: Census Place: Wythe, Virginia; Series: M19; Roll: 200; FHL microfilm 0029679.
1840 U S Census: Census Place: Newbern, Pulaski, Virginia; Page: 193; FHL microfilm 0029690.
James Ransome Dudley on WikiTree; WikiTree.com.
U. S. Census Year: 1850; Census Place: District 48, Pulaski Co., Virginia; Roll: M432_971; Page: 223A; Image: 117.
U. S. Census Year: 1860; Census Place: Wytheville, Wythe, Virginia; Roll: M653_1385; Page: 742; FHL microfilm 905385.
Historical Data Systems, Comp. U. S. , Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009.
U. S. Census Year: 1870; Census Place: Black Lick, Wythe, Virginia; Roll: M593_1682; Page: 418A; FHL microfilm 553181.
Virginia Deaths and Burials, 1853-1912. Index, FamilySearch, Salt Lake City Utah, 2010; FHL microfilm 2048587.
U. S. Census Year: 1880; Census Place: Wythe, Virginia; Roll: 1395; Page: 474A; Enumeration District: 110.
U. S. IRS Tax Assessment Lists, 1862-1918; Wytheville, Wythe, Virginia; May 1866; Page: 187. (Ancestry.com Operations, Inc. ; Provo UT, USA. )