Who was the FIRST Dudley to Immigrate to the Colonies!

It is a new year of “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” with prompts each week by genealogist Amy Johnson Crow.


Last year in 2018 I fell a bit behind on weekly blogs due to our moving to a new home.  This year, I will do my best to blog something about our ancestry each week!  Our prompt for this first week of January is “First.”  I have recently started working on our Dudley ancestry – a line from Mary Lavalett Dudley, wife of Joseph Cloud Lyon, my second great-grandparents.  In my research, I wanted to determine who was the first Dudley ancestor to come to this country.

Last month I wrote about Ransom Dudley and Jency Lyon, my third great-grandparents, and parents of Mary Lavalett Dudley.   Further research brought me to the parents of Ransom (also called James Ransome Dudley) which were Robert Dudley and Clarissa Isabel Ross.  According to my sources, Robert Dudley, my fourth great-grandfather, was not the first Dudley to come to the Colonies.  I discovered he was born in Caroline County, Virginia on 30 December 1772 just before the Revolutionary War and at some time later, his family moved to Surry County, North Carolina.  Surry County is along the border of southern Virginia and northern North Carolina.  Robert Dudley  married his cousin, Clarissa Isabel Ross, in 1791 in North Carolina when they both were about 19 years old.  Clarissa was also born in Virginia and her family moved to North Carolina also.  She was the daughter of William Ross of Amherst Co., Virginia and Rachel.  There is some discrepancy whether Rachel’s surname was Fugate or Coxey.  Most sources claim her birth name as Fugate.

Robert Dudley and Clarissa had 10 children from 1792 to 1815 including James Ransome Dudley, my third great-grandfather, and their first-born child. (see Dec. blogs)  Other known children included:  Mary Dudley Boyd; William Parham Dudley; Elizabeth “Betsey” Dudley Herring; Charles Dudley; Nancy Dudley Whitaker; Clarissa “Clarry” Dudley Hodges; Judith Dudley Snow; Frances Dudley Gordon; and Celia Dudley Moore.  The Dudley children grew up in Surry Co., North Carolina but many did not stay there. About 1828, the great westward movement had begun and free government land was available for the asking.  Robert’s three sons, Ransom, William and Charles, left to move westward into new territories.  Ransom and William Dudley and their wives settled in Montgomery County, Virginia due to the hardship of traveling with young children but Charles and his family continued on to Indiana territory and later, to Illinois.  Of the daughters, Mary married Hugh Boyd and they ended up in Mooresville, Morgan Co., Indiana.  Clarry Dudley and her husband, Asa Hodges, lived in DeKalb Co., Alabama and Judith and her husband, Simpson William Snow ended up in Thurman, Fremont, Iowa.  Frances and husband, William Gordon, lived in St. Louis, Missouri!   So the family of Robert and Clarissa Dudley were scattered all over the young nation, it seems!

Indeed, Robert dared to wander and in the History of North Carolina (p. 76), mentions that after reaching manhood, Robert took his family to Georgia, but did not find that state entirely to his liking and soon returned, having made the entire round trip with wagon and team!

However, Robert and Clarissa then remained in Surry Co, North Carolina in the Mount Airy region according to U. S. Census records.  In 1800, they lived in Salisbury, Surry Co. and in 1810, they were listed as living in just Surry County.  1820 found them in Capt Farkners District of Surry and 1830 just listed Surry County.   Robert was also on the 1812 tax list for Surry County.  Robert died on 4 October 1834 and left a will.

Dudley, Robert Will 001

Robert stated in a nuncupative will that he wanted “his property to remain as it then was and wished no division to take place in the same until after the death of his wife or widow and until his daughters or children are all married.”    However, four years later in 1838, there was a sale of his personal estate and his widow Clarissa, age 78, was living with her daughter Betsy and son-in-law, Hardin Herring so the wishes of Robert were not carried out unless there was an agreement by his children, to dispose of his estate in this manner!

Mt Airy North Carolina map

So ended the story of Robert Dudley and I found he was not the first Dudley to immigrate to the American Colonies!  Recent research has uncovered that his father, Charles Dudley may have been the first Dudley of our line to immigrate!   Charles was born 21 December of 1750 in Sedgley, Staffordshire, England and died in Surry County, North Carolina!  Next week, I plan to reveal my research into Charles Dudley and tell his story.


The Heritage of Surry County, Surry County Historical Society, Family # 209, p. 166.

Ancestry.com, North Carolina Marriage Index, 1741-2004 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2007.

Ancestry.com, Virginia, compiled marriages, 1740-1850 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 1999.

Charles Dudley Family Bible Record, 1749-1830; State Archives of North Carolina; North Carolina Digital Collections; Call # 400.1.1.761.

A Brief History of the Dudley Family, contributed by Naoma Dudley Slone, Ancestry.com.

Year 1800; Census Place: Salisbury, Surry County, North Carolina; Series: M32; Roll: 32; Page: 647; Image: 653; FHL microfilm: 337908.

Year 1810; Census Place: Surry Co., North Carolina; Roll: 43; Page: 670;Image: 00353; FHL microfilm: 0337916.

Year 1820; Census Place: Capt Farkners District, Surry, North Carolina; Page: 758; NARA Roll: M33_82; Image: 413.

Year 1830; Census Place: Surry, North Carolina; Series: M19; Roll: 125; Page: 113; FHL microfilm 0018091.

1812 Tax lists, Surry County, North Carolina.

History of North Carolina, Vol. 3, p. 76. for William J Herring.




Inventors Uncovered!

While researching the family of my third great-grandparents,  Ransom Dudley and Jency Lyon Dudley, whom I wrote about last week, I found many surprises.  I had no idea that we had ancestors who were genuine inventors! (Ransom Dudley and Jency Lyon: Searching Beyond the Records!

The first inventor I came across was the first born son of Ransom and Jency,  James Lyon Dudley.  Just to give some background on him,  James was born in Surry County, North Carolina on 23 July 1819.  His family moved about 1828 to Pulaski County, Virginia where James spent his childhood.  His father, Ransom, was a blacksmith by trade and no doubt, James spent time with his father learning from him.  By time he was an adult, James was a skilled workman with the tools of a blacksmith.  He was also a devoted father.  He married Harriet J. Pratt before 1842 and they had eight children.  Harriet died 9 November 1862 in Pulaski at about age 37.

In 1861, the Civil War had begun and James, about age 42,  enlisted as a private in Company C, the Virginia 4th Infantry Regiment of the Confederate Army.  He was a member of the Reserves, enlisted to defend their homes from war’s ravages.  He served four months and was in one engagement.  He enlisted again in 1863 in the Fort Lewis Volunteers, afterward called Company B of the 4th Virginia Infantry.  James was discharged after 2 years for disability and had attained the rank of Sergeant.

But the real tragedy of the War came when his young sons also enlisted.  His oldest son, Guilford Madison Dudley  was 18 and a blacksmith and was in the Confederate Army from beginning to end and came home safely.  Guilford enlisted in Co. D, Virginia 4th Infantry Regiment on 18 April 1861 as a Private but had been promoted to full Sergeant  by August of the same year.  The 4th Infantry Regiment saw a lot of battles including the first and second Manassas, Gaines Mill, Malvern Hill, Sharpsburg, Charleston, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg.   Guilford married Emma Victoria Shelton after the war and lived until 1923, dying and being buried in Roanoke, Virginia.

However, another of  James’ sons, Charles Thomas Dudley, age 17, enlisted 1 July 1861 in Company H, Virginia 21st Infantry Regiment but did not survive the war.  Charles was slightly wounded at Sharpsburg and went on to fight at Chancellorsville with General Jackson.  He was taken sick soon after and sent to a Confederate Hospital in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, near Gettysburg, to recover.  Unfortunately, Thomas died and his burial place is unknown.

In 1864, James Lyon Dudley remarries to Mary J Kerkner on 27 February and they had a son, Walter, in 1867.   James invented a wheel brace for buggies and wagons and patented it on July 9, 1878 as Patent No. US205845A.  The invention related to certain improvements in devices for bracing or strengthening vehicle wheels.   He had state and county rights for sale of his wheel brace.   He lived in Snowville, Pulaski County, Virginia.  James died 6 March 1905 in Pulaski, Pulaski County, VA at about age 86.

Dudley, James Lyon, invention wheel brace 001

Dudley, McWane Eliza Hogue 001 (2)
Eliza Hogue Dudley 

It was pretty exciting to find an inventor in the family and even more surprising to find 2 more inventors in the same family!   James’ sister, Eliza Hogue Dudley, was born 30 May 1838 in Wytheville, Wythe County, Virginia and was about 19 years younger than James.  Their parents, Ransom and Jency, had 12 children over a span of 30 years from 1819 to 1849.   On 14 September of 1858, Eliza Dudley married Charles Phillip McWane.  Charles McWane was and interesting person of Scotch-Irish parentage who was a carpenter, patternmaker and inventor.  He was born 4 May 1833 in Nelson County, Virginia.

McWane, Charles Phillip 001


Charles Phillip McWane was granted a patent #484043 on October 11, 1892 for his Hillside Plow.  According to the written description from the United States Patent Office, “The invention relates to improvements in reversible plows.  The object of the present invention is to simplify and improve the construction of the mechanism employed for securing the mold-boards of reversible plows to either side of the latter and to enable the mold-boards to be readily detached from such securement at one side of the plow for turning and to be quickly secured at the other side.”

McWane, C P Hillside Plow invention 001

Further research revealed that Charles McWane’s father, William McWane, was a millwright and skilled mechanic and a close personal friend of Cyrus McCormick of reaper fame and he had actually assisted largely in perfecting the first practical harvesting machine.  Charles had started an Iron Foundry business after the Civil War and all the sons of Eliza and Charles worked in the business.  Eliza and Charles had nine children from 1859 through 1884, five sons and four daughters.   In 1908, four generations of their McWane family gathered in Radford, Virginia to celebrate the Golden Anniversary  of Eliza and Charles.  The four generations comprised 65 persons!  Eliza died 13 March, 1913 and Charles died eleven years later on 15 April 1924 in Blacklick, Wythe, Virginia.  They were buried in the East End Cemetery of Wytheville, Wythe, Virginia.

McWane Company old picture 001
First McWane company in Alabama

But that wasn’t the end of the McWane story! Charles Phillip McWane had entered the foundry business in 1871 and his sons, Henry and James Ransom (J. R.) McWane managed various parts of the family business.  In 1903, J. R. McWane settled in Birmingham, Alabama and began a modest foundry enterprise and in 1904, Henry set up a subsidiary, McWane Pipe Works, to make cast iron pipe and fittings.  Eventually, the McWane Cast Iron Pipe Company was established by J. R. which grew rapidly, even expanding to the west coast in 1926 and later into Canada and world wide!  It is still in operation today as McWane, Inc., and is led be Chairman Phillip McWane and has more than 25 plants in North America and the World.  Pretty impressive for a company that traces its roots to the ingenuity of a family who lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and are my ancestors!  You can find out more about the McWane Co. on the web by searching on Google or Wikipedia.

The third inventor I found was the son of Walter Figot Dudley – recall that James Lyon Dudley, (the first inventor above) had married a second time after his first wife, Harriet, died.  With his second wife, Mary Kirkner (Kerkner), he had one son, Walter.  Below is a family photo of Walter and his family taken Thanksgiving Day 1915 at their home in Glen White, West Virginia.  Pay attention to the second boy from the left standing in front named Frank.

Dudley, Walter family 1915 001

This was Frank Edward Dudley born in 1909 in Blue Jay, Raleigh, West Virginia.  He became Dr. Frank Dudley and was one of the top men in the nation in the field of radiation control and was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of California, Los Angeles for his accomplishments.  He had a lifetime of accomplishments and was a versatile inventor and owned and operated with his wife, a million dollar a year business in Westmont, New Jersey.

Dudley, Dr Frank Edward 001
Dr. Frank Edward Dudley

Frank ‘s first job was in the coal mines as a “coal picker”  and worked his way up to mining engineer and later became an electrician. He learned electrical engineering from a two year correspondence course and got a job with the Naval Shipyard in Virginia.  By 1946, Dudley was placed in charge of radiation measurements for the atom bomb tests on Bikini Island.  He established and headed the first U. S. De-contamination Laboratory on  Bikini Atoll.  He organized the Franklin Manufacturing Company in 1947 to market his inventions.  He holds 38 foreign and U. S. Patents on his inventions which are varied and used not only in ships and refineries and atomic reactors but also used for sea rescues, on school bus warning lights, and for the blind and the disabled.  His accomplishments are many and too numerous to write about here and more information can be found on theFind A Grave, memorial ID 75509300 or by searching for him by name on the web. Dr. Frank Dudley died on 4 Oct 1971 at aged 62 after suffering an apparent heart attack at the Westmont hospital.  He was buried in the Woodland Cemetery, Ironton, Lawrence County, Ohio.

In searching my ancestry, I have found a few scoundrels but finding these inventors was rewarding!  After all, each and everyone has a story to be discovered and told!


  • Historical Data Systems, comp.  U. S. Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry Operations Inc., 2009.
  • United States National Archives. Civil War Service Records [database on-line].  Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 1999.
  • Virginia Compiled Marriages, 1851-1929 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2000.
  • Find A Grave, http://www.findagrave.com, database and images. Dr. Frank Edward “Doc” Dudley, Memorial 75509300.
  • United States Patent Office, C. P. McWane, Hillside Plow; Patent No. 484,043; Patented Oct. 11, 1892.
  • United States Patent Office, J. L. Dudley, Vehicle-Wheel; Patent No. 205,845; Patented July 9, 1878.
  • A Brief History of the Dudley Family, Contributed by Naoma Dudley Slone, Ancestry.com; Ancestry Operations Inc., Provo, UT, USA.
  • Virginia Deaths and Burials, 1853-1912. Index; FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2010; FHL microfilm 553181.


Ransom Dudley and Jency Lyon: Searching Beyond the Records!

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!

Dudley, Ransom and Lyon, Jency, marriage 1818 001
Marriage Bond of Ransom and Jency – note Ransom’s signature!

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.

Dudley, Ransom, VA Tax for Liquor dealer 001
1866, Ransom Dudley was taxed $25 as a Retail Liquor Dealer, Wytheville, by the IRS.

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!

Dudley,William Parham crop [1346]


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. )





Simeon and Nannie Belle Ford – A Surprising Couple!

I found this picture of my 2nd Great Aunt and Uncle online and thought “What an adorable old couple!”  This is a picture of Simeon Walter Ford and Nannie Belle Phillips.

Nannie Phillips and Simeon Ford 1 001.jpg

The date of the photo is unknown but judging from what I found out about them, it probably is from the 1930s.

Nannie Belle Phillips was the daughter of my second great-grandparents, Oscar Fitzallen Phillips and Nancy Jane Burch.  Nannie was a sister to Cora Virginia Phillips, my great-grandmother, who married William Domman Swanson (see blog “A Fireman’s Story).  Oscar  and Nancy Jane Phillips had a total of 14 known children!  Nannie was born 3 February 1862 in Amherst, Amherst county, Virginia, the third child of Oscar and Nancy.  She married Simeon Walter Ford on 9 July 1882 in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Simeon Walter Ford was also born 12 April 1862, the son of Simeon Walter Ford (the first) and Caroline Agnes Phillips.  The surname of Phillips sent up a red flag!  Could Simeon and Nannie be related more than being spouses?  I found that Caroline Agnes Phillips was the daughter of Captain Benjamin Phillips which was a surprise because Capt. Benjamin Phillips was also the father of Oscar Phillips.  So Nannie’s father and Simeon’s mother were brother and sister, making Nannie and her husband, Simeon, first cousins!  However the death certificate listed his mother as Caroline Oliver, which contradicts other sources for his parentage.  A marriage record for Caroline A. L. Phillips lists her marriage to Simeon Walter Ford on 14 Dec 1849 in Lynchburg, Virginia (FHL 32235).

Caroline PhillipsThis is the photo I found of Caroline Agnes Phillips, daughter of Captain Benjamin Phillips and Mary Nicholas Cazey.   She married the first Simeon Walter Ford and was the mother of the second Simeon.   Now I had established the parentage of both Nannie and Simeon.   When they married, they were both 20 years old.  They went on to have 11 children that I know of and are listed below.




Percy Bertram Ford  (1882-1929)         Theodore Madison Ford    (1884-1961)

Bessie Caroline Ford (1885-1953)        James R Ford  (1887-   )

Simeon Walter Ford, Jr. (1889-1975)    Nannie Belle Ford (1891-1962)

Kenneth Malcolm Ford (1893-1969)     Lilian L Ford     (1895-   )

Mary Tansy Ford  (1897-    )                   William Harrald Ford (1899-after 1940)

Oscar Fitzallen Ford (1900-1966)

From the Census records, I discovered that Simeon was a carpenter and only had a 3rd grade education.  In 1900, they owned their own home with no mortgage in Richmond, Virginia and already had 10 children.  It seemed he was quite able to support his family.  By 1910, however, they were renting a house and Simeon was out of work for at least 20 weeks.  They must of had some hard times.  1920 found them living on 900 North twenty-seventh Street in Richmond.  The roaring 20s were upon them and prohibition was the law of the land.  This brought more trouble for the couple as I found out when I discovered this surprising newspaper clipping!

Ford, simeon and Nanny charges 001This sweet old couple were arrested for stashing moonshine!  I am guessing that the $500 they paid for Nannie’s bond was probably hard to come by.  This probably was not an unusual arrest at the time of prohibition but quite surprising as they seemed like ordinary upstanding citizens!  But, everybody makes mistakes!

By 1930, the Ford family was living at 505 25th Street in the city of Richmond, Virginia.  They own the home which was valued at $2500 at that time.  Simeon was working as a machine operator for a furniture company.  Things were going well until 1941.  Simeon, according to his death certificate, fell at home and died of shock on 13 October 1941.

Ford, Simeon Death cert 001

Ford, Simeon Obit and Funeral 001

On May 6 of 1945, Nannie Belle Phillips Ford passed away.

Ford, Nannie belle death cert

Nannie Belle and Simeon Ford were both buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.  Nannie was 83 years old at time of death and survived by their 2 daughters and six sons, 30 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren!  They had long lives and I found their story interesting as they were the first I have come across in my research that got arrested for smuggling moonshine!  Who knows what surprises can be found!

Rest in Peace, Nannie Belle and Simeon!


Newspaper articles: Richmond Times-Dispatch: Thursday, February 24, 1927; Thursday, October 16, 1941; Wednesday, October 15, 1941.

Virginia, Select Marriages, 1785-1940, [database on-line] Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.

Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1880 United States Federal Census Year 1880; Census Place: Elon, Amherst, Virginia; Roll: 1353; Family History Film: 1255353; Page: 188D; Enumeration District: 018.

Ancestry.com, Virginia, Death Records, 1912-2014 (Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.).

Ancestry.com, Virginia, Select Marriages 1785-1940 (Ancestry.com Operations. Inc.).

Ancestry.com, Web: Virginia, Find A Grave Index, 1607-2012 (Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.).

1900 United States Federal Census, Year: 1900; Census Place: Madison, Amherst, Virginia; Roll: 1699; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 0010; FHL microfilm: 1241699.

Additional United States Federal Census as follows:

Year: 1870; Census Place: Elon, Amherst, Virginia; Roll: M 595_1633; Page: 451A; FHL microfilm: 553132.

Year: 1910; Census Place: Richmond Marshall Ward Richmond (Independent City), Virginia; Roll: T624_1645; Page: 4B; Enumeration District 0131; FHL microfilm: 1375658.

Year: 1920; Census Place: Richmond Jefferson Ward, Richmond (Independent City), Virginia; Roll: T625_1910; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 130.

Year: 1930; Census Place: Richmond, Richmond (Independent City), Virginia; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 10093; FHL microfilm: 2342214.



George Lyons, Where Did You Go?

George Edward Lyons was my paternal great-grandfather and he was a real challenge to find information on!  I knew he was the father of Clarence Lyons, my father’s father, as the relationship was written down for me years ago by my grandmother, Cammie Swanson Lyons.  I still have the original information in her lovely handwriting!

Lyons pedigree written by Cammie L Lyons 001

My grandmother wrote that George was born in the state of Virginia but evidentially did not know where in Virginia!  Later the records I found put his birth on 24 August 1860 in a place called Walkers Creek in the county of Giles, Virginia.  His parentage was correct, George being the son of Joseph Cloud Lyons, a blacksmith, and Mary Lavalett Dudley.  George was born the 7th of 14 known children!  His father, Joseph Cloud Lyons was born in North Carolina and of the Cloud Family lineage and was a veteran of the Civil War where he served as a Confederate Soldier in the 4th Virginia Infantry.  Joseph was the grandson of Col. James Lyon, distinguished officer of the Revolutionary War and trusted conferee of George Washington!  Pretty impressive ancestry and I do wonder if George was named after our first President and after one of his father’s brothers named George.  Interesting!  George Lyons’ mother, Mary Lavalett Dudley also had an interesting lineage of Dudley’s in Virginia and England.

Lyons, Geo. birth 1860 001

In the census records, George was not listed in the 1860 census because the census was taken 2 months before his birth which added to my confusion in confirming his birth date.  However, in the 1870 census for the family, I found George as being 10 years old and in the 1880 census, he was 19 and working on a farm.  His mother, Mary, died of unknown causes in 1877 at the young age of 48 in Wytheville, Wythe County, Virginia.  George was 16 at the time and the youngest child Emma Locket Lyons was only 2 years old.  In 1880, his father was a widower with 9 children yet at home and he had buried not only his wife but also four children that died throughout the years.

So I had found where George Lyons grew up and a bit about his family and the next record was about his marriage to my great-grandmother, Susanna Virginia Ashlin on the 17th of December in 1884 in Smyth County, Virginia.   The marriage record lists George E Lyons as age 28 and born in Bland Co. VA and the son of Joseph C and Mary Lyon.  The county of birth was incorrect on this record and also his age was incorrect as, according to his birth record, he should have been 24.  Susannah Virginia Ashlin was born 12 October 1856 in Sugar Grove, Smyth, VA and was the daughter and first born child of Columbus Perry Ashlin and Mary Ann James Ashlin.  According to her birth information, Susannah would have been 28 at the time of marriage, not 24, as listed in the record.  Perhaps, their ages were transposed.  However, it seemed a lot of records of George Lyons had misinformation making the research a bit more difficult!

Lyons Geo and Ashlin marriage 001

George’s sister, Willie Anna Lyons, married Susannah’s brother, William German Ashlin (see blog on William German and Willie Anna Ashlin) which further confirmed for me that I had the correct George Lyons.

George and Susanna, living in Sugar Grove, had three children.  Their first son, James Columbus Lyon, was born 22 Jan 1886 and their daughter Mary Ann Lyon, named after Susannah’s mother, was born 24 Feb 1888.  Their last child was my grandfather, Clarence Edward Lyons, born 6 Nov 1891.   Clarence became the father of LaFon Lyons, my father.  Please note that some records used the surname Lyon and some used Lyons which added to the challenge!  Which is correct was, I assume, a matter of personal preference as Clarence used both surnames in different records while his brother and sister always used just Lyon.  Now that I got this far in my research, something happened to George – he disappeared!

Where did you go, George?  Somewhere between 1891 and 1895, George and Susanna separated!  In the 1900 Census for St Clair District, Smyth, Virginia, Susan V Lyons (Susannah Virginia) is now 44 and living in the household with her parents, Columbus and Mary Ann!  Susan is listed as divorced!  The three children, James, Mary and Clarence are with her also.  Columbus has a large farm and it was probably a great place for the children to grow up and their Uncle Samuel Ashlin also lived on the farm.  But where was George?  I searched extensively for divorce or other records but in vain.  In the 1910 Census for Lynchburg, Ward 1, Virginia, I found Susan, listed as using her middle name, Virginia Lyons, and living with 19 year old Clarence.  She listed herself as “widowed”  but there was no Virginia death records for George Lyons!

The next census for Virginia Lyons in 1920 in St Clair, Smyth VA listed her as married indicated that she never really divorced George.  Her widowed mother, Mary Ann, was living with her but passed away in 1921.  In 1923, Virginia moved to Michigan with her three children and their families.  In 1930, she was living with her son James, whose wife Lillie Almond Lyons, had died, and Susan Virginia was most likely caring for James’ children, Savannah, age 13 and William T., age 9.  Their home was in Royal Oak, Oakland County, Michigan.  In 1934, James died of a cerebral hemorrhage and the children went to live with James’ sister Mary Ann and her husband, Edward Bruehl.  Susan Virginia Lyons died in 1939 of lobar pneumonia and bronchialplegia and was buried in Grand Oakland Cemetery, Oakland County, Michigan.

Back to our question, “Where was George Lyons?”  It seems George was a bit of a rascal!  He did leave or desert his family around 1893.  He was hard to track down but was found in the 1900 Federal Census for Line Fork District 6, Letcher County, Kentucky with a new wife named Susan! This county abuts the Virginia state line.  The census noted they were married for 5 years so George had married again in 1895.  The age of George was listed as 38 which matches up with his birth date but he was listed as born in Kentucky which was an error.  Perhaps he gave the wrong information to prevent being found?  (I searched further and found the same George Lyons in the next census of 1910 which showed him born in Virginia!)  His new wife Susan was born Sept of 1879 and was 20 years old in 1900 which means she married 38 year old George at age 15 or 16.  They also had a daughter, Allie born Nov 1897 so Susan must have been about 18 when she had Allie.  George’s occupation was listed as farmer and he can read and write.  Susan does farm labor and cannot read nor write.

In the 1910 Census, they are living in Cumberland, Kentucky and have 3 daughters.  Susan’s parents were born in Kentucky as was Susan.  Their daughters were Allie M Lyons, age 14 and Mary C Lyons, 5, and Millie Sylvania Lyons, age 1 1/2.  George is still a farmer and rents his farm.  Fast forward to the 1920 Census and they live in Upper Poorfork, Poor Fork town on Fields Street.  This census was dated Jan 5-6, 1920 and listed George as age 71 which was incorrect as he was 58.  However, George’s place of birth was listed correctly and his parents places of birth were correct. His occupation is Deputy sheriff for a coal company.

One month after the census was taken, George passed away on 9 Feb 1920 in Poorfolk, Harlan Co., Kentucky.  Cause of death was mitral regurgitation.  On examining the death certificate, it confirmed that George was indeed the son of Joseph Lyons and Mary Dudley.  So I had found the right George Lyons after all!  I was surprised the death certificate listed his age as 71 which would have made him born 2 years before his parents were even married! Recall he was the 7th of 14 children.  He was really 59 years old.  The informant on the certificate was his wife Susan who, according to census records, could not read or write, so it is possible she gave the incorrect age due to her grief of losing her husband.

Lyons, Geo, death certt 001


I wanted to find the birth name of his second wife Susan (coincidence that both his wives were named Susan which complicated research!) so I researched their children.  I could only find information on one daughter, Mary C Lyons.  The 1920 Census for Upper Poorfork, Harlan Ky revealed Mary C was married to Millard Lewis.  Mary was 14 and wife of Millard, age 23.  They rented a home and Millard worked as a laborer for the railroad.  Kind of unbelievable that Mary married at 14!  The only other record found for Mary C Lewis was a death certificate that confirmed she was the daughter of George Lyons and Susan Creech – finally I had the birth name of Susan!  Mary Lewis died at age 76 on 24 Aug, 1980 in Wayne County, Indiana.  She was married to Millard Lewis and her occupation was cook in a truck stop.  Cause of death was cardiac standstill and myocardial infarction.  Mary Lewis was buried in Webster Cemetery in Webster, Indiana.

A Creech family did live in the area of Harlan, Kentucky and there was also a Creech mining company.  I do wonder if this was Susan’s family and if George worked as a Deputy Sheriff at that company.  Also, how did he meet Susan?  Did he meet her after he left his first wife?  Did he ever have any contact with the children of his first marriage?  I still have so many questions about my great-grandfather George although I have learned a lot about him in my research, some things I will probably never know.  All I have for a burial record is from the death certificate that he was buried in Poorfork, Ky.  I have searched cemeteries on line in the area of Poorfork and Cumberland, KY with no clues to where he really is buried.  So looking for his final resting place brings me back to my first question – Where did you go, George Lyons?


Virginia Births and Christenings  1584-1917, database, FamilySearch, FHL microfilm 2,046, 933.

Virginia, Compiled Marriages for Select Counties, 1851-1929 [database on-line], Provo UT, USA, Ancestry Operations Inc., 2000.

Virginia, Civil War Service Records of Confederate Soldiers, 1861-1865, database, FamilySearch, NARA microfilm pub. M324, roll 1050.

Find A Grave, Findagrave.com, memorial page for Joseph Cloud Lyon No. 165301248.

United States Federal Census 1860, Post Office White Gate, Giles, Virginia, NARA pub. M653, Ancestry .com Operations, Inc.

United States Federal Census, 1870, for Newbern, Pulaski, Virginia, FHL 553,173.

Hockett, Thomas Jack and Hunt, Shelia Steele, transcribed, annotated and edited, Smyth County, Virginia Marriages 1851-1891 and the 1860 Census, 1999, p.. 106.

Certificate of Death for Geo. Lyons, Poorfork, Harlan, Commonwealth of Kentucky, File No. 4114.

Virginia, Births and Christenings, 1853-1917, Index, FamilySearch, FHL microfilms: 33,991 and 2,046,967.

United States Federal Census 1900, Gladeville District, Wise, Virginia, Enumeration District 124, sheet 9.

United States Federal Census 1900, Blue Springs Precinct, Enumeration District 9/87, Sheet 10, FHL microfilm 1,241,728.

Michigan Death Certificates, 1921-1952, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics, Lansing: FHL microfilm 1,973,013. (James C Lyon)

Certificate of Death for Virginia Lyon, Michigan Dept. of Health Bureau of Records and Statistics, Macomb County, State Office No. 50-7848, Register No. 31.

United States Federal Census 1900, Line Fork Magisterial District 6, Letcher, Kentucky, Lines: 32-34, George Lyon.

United States Federal Census 1910, Magisterial District 4, Cumberland, Letcher, Kentucky, FHL 1,374,504.

Medical Certificate of Death, Indiana State Board of Health, Mary C. Lewis, State No. 80-034612; Local No. 535.

Pioneer Women – Intrepid Ancestors!

In my recent research, I discovered some real honest-to-goodness women pioneers!  I am talking about women who traveled by wagon train out west to find new homes and build a new life with their husbands and braving all kinds of peril on their arduous journeys!  In this blog, I will share some of what I researched and although they are “cousins” and not direct ancestors, I feel their stories have a need to be told.

Mary Thomas and her husband John Griffiths Williams departed Winter Quarters, Nebraska in January of 1847 to travel west with a company of covered wagons  (Company type is unknown).  Her journey must have been both adventurous and taxing and ended in Tooele, Utah!   John Griffith Williams was born in Penally, Pembrokeshire, Wales about 1804, the son of John Williams and Anne Griffiths.   Mary Thomas was born in 1808 in Washington County, Virginia and was the daughter of Abijah Thomas (1776-1819) and Martha McReynolds (1782-1850, died of consumption).  Mary Thomas was related to my 3rd great-grandmother, Susannah J. Porter, mother of Mary Ann James (see blog “Portrait of a Strong Woman”).  John Williams and Mary married in February of 1834.

Here is how the ancestry goes:  Susannah Porter James’ mother was Mary Polly Thomas (1801-1894) who was the daughter of Thomas Jefferson Thomas (1766-1838) and Freelove Cole (1773-1848).  Yes, his name was Thomas Thomas and her name was Freelove.  I am not making this up! By the way, Freelove’s mother was “Remember Cole!”  Definitely unforgettable names!   Thomas J. Thomas, my 5th great-grandfather, had a brother named Abijah Thomas who was the father of Mary Thomas.  Put more simply, Mary Thomas was a distant first cousin to myself.  I usually do not research distant cousins but I felt that Mary, being a pioneer woman, probably had a story to be told!

Thomas, Thomas and Freelove Cole gravestone 001
Gravestone of Thomas Thomas and Freelove Cole

Another member of their wagon train was most likely John’s brother, Daniel Edward Williams,  who is also buried in Tooele, Utah Cemetery.  From what I found, Mary died in April of 1864 in Tooele, Utah after surviving the long, perilous journey.  She did not bear any children that we know of and cause of death is unknown.  Her husband John remarried the same year to Margaret James and they had 3 children.  The second wife Margaret died in 1869 just after their 2 day old son, Daniel Williams, died on 16 Dec 1869 perhaps from complications of childbirth.

Pritchett, Lavinia Heninger 001
Lavinia Chadwick Heninger (Pritchett)

Mary Thomas Williams’ niece, the daughter of her sister Ann, also traveled west.  Lavinia Chadwick Heninger was born in Burkes Garden, Tazewell, Virginia on 17 Aug 1845.  She married Thomas Mitchell Pritchett on 16 May of 1865 in Scioto County, Ohio.  According to records, Lavinia and her husband also left the Winter Quarters in Nebraska in January of 1847 so it is likely that they were traveling with the same wagon train as her aunt and uncle, Mary and John Williams.

Pritchett, Thomas, Lavinia, Eunice 001
Thomas and Lavinia Pritchett with their only surviving daughter, Eunice Emily

Lavinia and Thomas Pritchett did arrive safely in Utah but much of their later story is tragic.  Of their 5 daughters, only 1 survived.  The first child, Lavinia Ann was born in Mt. Pleasant, Sanpete, Utah and lived only about a month.  The second baby daughter was born and died the same day in June of 1868. The third daughter, Eunice, born in 1869, did survive, lived a long life, and died in 1950.  The fourth daughter, Celestia was born in December 1872 and died in June of 1873.  The last daughter, Annie, lived only a month in 1877.  In 1880, the little family moved to Emery, Utah and Lavinia died in 1889 in Teasdale, Wayne, Utah.

Next is the story of Emeline Emelia Hopper and her sister, Irene C. Hopper who were kin of my 3rd great-grandmother, Lucinda Cloud Lyons.  Emeline was born in 1832 and Irene in 1827 in Illinois.  Their adventure began when they started west with their parents and possibly other siblings leaving from the Winter Quarters, Nebraska in June of 1848.  Their entire journey west entailed 109 days of travel.  Their wagon train was to join with another.  One this other train was Jasper Harrison Twitchell, a blacksmith and wheelwright by trade.  Jasper was traveling with his wife, Sarah Rutledge and small son, John Newton, who was born in 1842 in Illinois.  In 1844, Jasper had been appointed wagon master of one Mormon wagon train leaving Navoo, Illinois in 1844 and the train wintered in Iowa for several years before leaving in spring of 1848.  On the way, his wife Sarah died at Chimney Rock, Nebraska in July 1848 and he dismantled part of his wagon to construct a coffin for her.  Jasper and his 5 year old son arrived in Salt Lake Valley, Utah, that September.

Twitchell, Jasper and Emiline 001
Emeline Hopper Twitchell and Jasper Twitchell with baby.

Emeline Hopper, not quite 17, was on this same wagon train and married the widowed Jasper Twitchell on January 1, 1849.  Her sister, Irene Hopper,  then married Jasper’s younger brother, Sanford Lorenzo Twitchell, a few months later.  That spring, the Twitchell families and other relatives left for California.  Irene and Sanford’s first child, Celestia, was the first baby of European descent to be born at Sutter’s Fort, California (Sacramento).   Jasper and Emeline and other relatives settled in San Juan Bautista and Jasper opened a blacksmith shop.  They had 13 children and Jasper died in 1894 and Emeline in 1912.    Irene and Lorenzo had 9 children and Irene died in 1905.  Lorenzo wrote a journal of their journey which can be seen on FamilySearch.org.

My last story of a pioneer woman is about Sarah Ann Richmond, born 20 Nov 1829, daughter of Thomas Richmond and Sarah Ann Burrows, both of England.  Both of their families emigrated from England and slowly made their way to Nauvoo, Illinois.  The families joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Sarah married Henry Nelson in May of 1848 and in 1850, they had a son born at Council Bluff, Iowa and named him Henry Thomas Nelson after his father and grandfather.  They were in one wagon company at winter Quarters and suffered much cold and hunger during those trying days.  They departed Council Bluffs in May of 1851 when Sarah was but 21 years old and they traveled for 131 days with the David Lewis Wagon Company to Provo, Utah.  Their next child was born in Provo in Feb. of 1852.  All together, they had 13 children and finally settled in Buysville, Utah.  Henry died in 1897 and Sarah died in 1902.

Sarah Ann Richmond and Henry Nelson pioneers 001
Henry Nelson and Sarah Ann Richmond Nelson

One can only imagine the fortitude of these pioneer women who endured such hardships and perils on their travels across the west.  They experienced so much first hand that we only can read about.  They had to bury their children and loved ones and go on.  They left their homes and other family behind, probably never seeing them again.  It was not glamorous, but endless toil.  They packed their lives into a covered wagon and traveled hundreds of miles.   They perservered despite Indian attacks, droughts, storms, and just bad luck.  Their stories are compelling and sometimes heartbreaking.  I am honored to have them as ancestors!



Find A Grave, database and Images, http://www.findagrave.com, memorial page for Mary Thomas Williams, Memorial number 99526.

Utah State Historical Society, Comp. Utah Cemetery Inventory, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1847-2000 [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2000.

United States, Federal Census Mortality Schedules, Index, 1850-1880, [database on-line] Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 1999.

Virginia, Select Marriages, 1785-1940, FHL 34389, p. 465.


Are We Related to Jesse and Frank James?

Frank and Jesse James 001

This weeks prompt for 52 Ancestors is Family Legends.   Right away I thought of what  my Uncle Bill Lyons would tell us when we were young.   He said we were related to Jesse and Frank James, the infamous outlaws.  Uncle Bill was the oldest in my dad’s family and seemed to know the most about family history.  Still, it was hard to believe and as we grew up, we believed it less and less.  When I became interested in genealogy, I discovered that my 2nd great- grandmother was Mary Ann James, married to Columbus Perry Ashlin, so there was the James name.   However that did not prove any relationship and I really needed to investigate this James family.  I proved to be a gargantuan task as the James family lines are huge!  It will take me years of research to complete, for sure!

Wanted poster 001

While researching at the Mormon History Library in Salt Lake City a couple years ago, I found a whole book written on the James Family!  It is titled “Montgomery and James of southwest Virginia” by David B. Trimble (see Sources).  This volume of genealogy in one of four written as an expansion of Southwest Virginia Families, published in 1974.    The book basically gives the genealogy  and families of three brothers, Samuel, Thomas and John James who were born in Virginia in the early 1700’s.  I was able to establish my ancestry connection with Samuel James who was born 19 November of 1722 and married Mildred Taliaferro in 1740.

One of Samuel and Mildred’s sons, Spencer James (also known as James Spencer James), married Frances Davis and their daughter Phoebe Byrd James, born in 1797, married Chesley Harrison Ashlin.  Chesley and Phoebe are my 3rd great-grandparents, being the parents of Columbus Perry Ashlin.  So here I found my 2nd Great-grandfather, Columbus was also descended from a James as was his wife, Mary Ann James!  Mary Ann was the daughter of Thompson B. James and Susannah J Porter.  Thompson B. James was the son of Ezekial James and  Frances James, the sister of Phoebe Byrd James.  It all sounds confusing but my 2nd great-grandparents, Columbus Ashlin and Mary Ann James were actually distant cousins!  So now I established that there are indeed a lot of James ancestors in my tree!   But how did they relate to Jesse and Frank James?  I still had my doubts!

Then I stumbled on a web site entitled “Stray Leaves” by Eric James as I was researching the ancestry of Jesse and Frank James.  This web site was surprising and very well documented!  It is based on 10 years of research and uncovered 35,000 plus known James families and relations!  The Story of the James Family in American spans 350 years and started with John James, an immigrant from Carnarvon, Wales to Colonial Virginia arriving before 1650.  It also traced the James heritage back to William the Conqueror, Edward I “Longshanks”,  Edward II and Edward III of England.  There is much more on the James family ancestry that one can explore.  However, from what I could determine, some James family stayed in Virginia (which would be my ancestors) and others moved on to Kentucky.  Many were Baptist ministers as was Robert Sallee James, Jesse and Frank’s father.

This is a very extensive site but has a list of surnames that can guide you to check for anyone related to Jesse and Frank.  I checked the Ashlin name and was very surprised to find my second great-grandparents, Columbus Perry Ashlin and Mary Ann James listed as related to Jesse and Frank James!  Wow, according to this, my Uncle Bill was right!  However, I do need to continue studying the site and tracing both Jesse and Frank’s ancestry to see how they are related to our James’.  I do need more concrete proof.  But for now, if anyone asks if we are related to Jesse and Frank James, I can say “Quite possibly!”

stray Leaves 001

Jesse James, shall I say “distant cousin?”

Jesse James32 001


Trimble, David B. (David Buchanan), 1922-(Main Author), Montgomery and James of southwest Virginia, Austin, Texas: D. B. Trimble, c1992, 402 pages.

Wingfield, Marshal, Pioneer Families of Franklin County Virginia, Chesapeake Book Co. 1964, pp. 132-136.

(Stray Leaves) ericjames.org.