Friday, March 8, 2013

The Billingsley Mystery

While researching the Howell's, this document and another one similar, brought me back to a mystery I had encountered while researching the Winfield's.  This is an 1848 land purchase from Elijah Sibley to Peter Howell. Both lived on the Rocky River and both are found in documents on both sides of the river, the Stanly County, North Carolina side and the Anson County, North Carolina side.

Elijah Sibley is not a strange name to me. His daughter Julia Ann married Benjamin Franklin Davis, oldest son of my great, great, great grandfather, Henry Davis. Henry Davis and Peter Howell were half-brothers. When Peter Howell's father, Richard, passed, his mother Sarah Winfield remarried Job Davis and Henry was the firstborn of that marriage.

In this deed, the land is identified as part of the tract formerly owned by "Griffin Nash late of the County of Anson'.

Griffin Nash had been the husband of Jemima Winfield Nash, sister of  Sarah Winfield Howell Davis. Both daughters had been benefactors in the settlement of their father, Peter Winfield's estate, along with their sister Ancena Winfield Morrison (later Avett), and only brother, Edward Winfield.

by Robert Brown Davidson
In the will of Griffin Nash, probated in 1846, He mentions among his heirs, daughter Polly Billingsley, also known as Mary. Many Mary's of the day were nicknamed Polly. There were several Billingsley's living within the vicinity of Griffin Nash and the Winfield's. At one time, Elias Billingsley was a next door neighbor. But Griffin's will did not name the husbands of his three daugthers. It had been simple to locate in court records, daughter Elizabeth aka Betsy Nash, as she had married John Randall Howell, whom I've lately discovered was a first cousin of Peter Howell and his siblings, and they remained  and raised their family in Stanly County. Sister Sarah, or Sallie, left records of her life by joining the Rocky River Baptist Church and is noted  as Griffin Nash's daughter in the anals, and married John Avett. Her aunt Ancena would later also marry into the Avett family. While the Avetts would migrate late in Sarah's life, she and John would raise their family on the Rocky River. But Polly's spouse had remained an unsolved mystery in my research.

In this document and one similar dealing with the same piece of land, lawyer Stephen Crump had handled the sale of the property to Elijah Sibley and was working for the heirs of Griffin Nash, including his sons Wilson Nash, Peter Winfield Nash, Mary H Billingsley, John G Billingsley, Jemima A Hart, Samuel Billingsley, John Howell and wife Betsy.

I discovered that the reason the Avett's were not mentioned in this document was that they were not selling their portions of Griffin Nash's estate and were in fact living there. John and Betsy Howell were living in a different part of Stanly County, and no longer along the Rocky River.

P.W. Nash and his brother Wilson had migrated to Madison County, Mississipi by 1841.

Peter Nash
Census Date:1841

Another brother, James W. Nash had most likely died prior to these transactions.

Later, Jemima Ann Billingsley Hart is shown also living in Madison County, Mississippi, very near her Uncle Peter. She married Thomas Hart.

Jemmina Hart
Age in 1870:44
Birth Year:abt 1826
Birthplace:North Carolina
Home in 1870:Police District 4, Madison, Mississippi
Post Office:Canton
Value of real estate:View image
Household Members:
Thomas Hart54
Jemmina Hart44
Mary Hart21
Sarah Hart18
Thomas Hart15
Louella Hart14
Willard Hart12
Charles H Hart8
Joseph F Hart6

The deeds indicate that John G Billingsley was the husband of Polly, in order to be included in the property settlement. Jemima Ann Billingsley Hart, whose marriage license is found in Mississippi and Samuel Billingsley were children of Polly.

A book on the Billingsley family, called "The Billingsley Family in America, " by
has the John G Billingsley, who lived for awhile in Anson County, son of John and Charity Ford Billingsley, as having married Mary Ann Morgan and having a large family. This John G Billingsley is listed in several family trees as having 9 children, one of them a Samuel, but not a Jemima. Mary Ann Morgan is recorded as having died in 1841 and John G Billingsley in 1849. He was alive in 1846, and could have hired attorney Stephen Crump to represent his interests from Tennessee. He could have remarried Mary Polly Nash after the death of Mary Ann Morgan, however, Jemimah and Samuel are named heirs of Griffin Nash and Jemimah was married by 1846 and called Jemimah Ann Hart, so she was not a child born between 1841 and 1846. In fact, Jemimah Ann Billingsley Hart was born in 1826.

The search is on for the truth in the matter. Were there two John G Billingsley's?


  1. I am glad that I'm not the only one confused by the Billingsley tree lol I was excited for a few seconds as I am researching a Mary (Polly) Billingsley born 1783 from Tennesee and know her husbands, however I have her father as being John J Billingsley. It maybe that they are cousins, as you've stated the Billingsley's where a large family.