Wednesday, March 1, 2017


A perplexus is a spherical puzzle. The object is to twist, spin and flip the ball through a labyinth  until the puzzle is solved. There is an ancient Chinese version wherein turning the wooden pieces correctly ,the layers of the ball fall away, like a blooming rose in speeded time lapse motion, as the petals fall they reveal a treasure.

Educational Puzzle Wood Toy Train Magic Ball Sphere Brain Teaser Creative Twist

Researching again the Starnes family has been much like trying to solve a Perplexus. I found that many had the oldest generations pretty much identical. The information was there, the travels, trevails and records. At that juncture,  family had yet to explode with numerous generations and those repetitive naming patterns that makes many a family researcher want to bang their head against a wall.

And while the road led clearly from the first arrivals to my Revolutionary ancestor, the information from there to the better recorded era of the 20th century kind of fell apart. No one had really nailed our family line down. Between Captain John Starnes, who died in 1780, and his purported Great-Grandson Frederick Fincher Starnes, who was born in 1828, the waters of research were murky.

His brothers children had been well documented, and although John left 3 children who have hundreds, if not thousands of descendants since then, the other Starnes researchers had kind of left us out in the cold.
Image result for left in cold

While there were multiple Frederick Starnes in the area, there were not so many that could not be untangled.

There was Frederick III, brother of Captain John and son of Frederick Jr.  Junior died in the Shawnee Indian attack known as "Starnes defeat" in Virginia in 1779. So the Frederick who died in 1816 was his son, Third. Captain John's son Frederick was born in 1795 and died in 1855, so he obviously would not be the Frederick in the in the 1790 census of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. So, by using locations: Cane Creek Starnes, Crooked Creek Starnes, the group who moved from Union to Cabarrus, and then using basic logic, that this Frederick wasn't old enough and that Frederick had already passed on, we can pull them apart.

So Captain John had 3 children, Frederick, John and a daughter who married a Wentz. This Frederick appears in the 1850 census with his wife "Motlina" or Magdalena.

Name:Frederick Starnes
Birth Year:abt 1775
Birthplace:North Carolina
Home in 1850:Union, North CarolinaUSA
Family Number:1416
Household Members:
Frederick Starnes75
Matlina Starnes74

He would die 5 years later and his wife would file for her dower.

His son Fred, who was born between 1805 - 1810, is shown with a large family. These however, when compared to his appearance in the 1830 and 1840 censuses, as the younger of the two Fredericks living in "Mecklenburg County", the area that would become Union within two years, that these were his younger children. He obviously had a few children who were already adults.

Name:Frederick Starnes
Birth Year:abt 1810
Birthplace:North Carolina
Home in 1850:Union, North CarolinaUSA
Family Number:324
Household Members:
Frederick Starnes40
Elizabeth Starnes35
Mary A Starnes14
Wm Starnes13
Alexander Starnes12
Sarah Starnes10
Rebecca Starnes8
Margaret Starnes6
Moses Starnes5
Elizabeth Starnes3

Now, going backwards, only the children from possibly Sarah up, could have been included in the 1840 census.

Frederick Stam
[Frederick Starnes] 
[Frederick Ditto] 
Home in 1840 (City, County, State):Mecklenburg, North Carolina
Free White Persons - Males - Under 5:2  William and Alexander
Free White Persons - Males - 5 thru 9:1 Frederick Fincher would have been 10 or 11, but could have been mistaken as 9 perhaps. 
Free White Persons - Males - 30 thru 39:1 Frederick the father
Free White Persons - Females - Under 5:1 Sarah
Free White Persons - Females - 5 thru 9:3 Mary A and two unknown girls
Free White Persons - Females - 20 thru 29:1 Mrs. Starnes (Elizabeth)

7 children under 20 in this census.

1830 confuses things even more.

Name:Fredrick Starns
Home in 1830 (City, County, State):Mecklenburg, North Carolina
Free White Persons - Males - Under 5:1 This could have been an infant Finch
Free White Persons - Males - 5 thru 9:2 Unknown 
Free White Persons - Males - 30 thru 39:1 Frederick the father
Free White Persons - Females - Under 5:2 Unknown. 
Free White Persons - Females - 20 thru 29:1 Elizabeth would have been 19. This is probably his first wife. 
Free White Persons - Under 20:5
Free White Persons - 20 thru 49:2

It is easy to see which census is the father and which is the son. In 1830, the other Mecklenburg County Frederick Starnes included a male and a female over 50, which would have been Fred and Motlina.

Name:Fredrick Starns
Home in 1830 (City, County, State):Mecklenburg, North Carolina
Free White Persons - Males - Under 5:1
Free White Persons - Males - 10 thru 14:1
Free White Persons - Males - 15 thru 19:1
Free White Persons - Males - 50 thru 59:1
Free White Persons - Females - 10 thru 14:1
Free White Persons - Females - 15 thru 19:1
Free White Persons - Females - 20 thru 29:1
Free White Persons - Females - 50 thru 59:1

The same with the 1840 census, it clearly shows being led by an older couple.

Frederick Stam
[Frederick Starnes] 
[Frederick Ditto] 
Home in 1840 (City, County, State):Mecklenburg, North Carolina
Free White Persons - Males - Under 5:3
Free White Persons - Males - 5 thru 9:1
Free White Persons - Males - 50 thru 59:1
Free White Persons - Females - 60 thru 69:1
Free White Persons - Under 20:4
Total Free White Persons:6

I do plan to more closely decipher the children of Fred and Motlina, as well as taking a closer look at all of the children of Captain John Starnes, as our branch has been largely ignored.

But the present surprise, the opening up of the defeatist puzzle came when I made the jump. The jump of asking "What if".

The "What if" I asked was, "Frederick Fincher Starnes clearly named his mother as 'Sally', a derivative of Sarah, on his marriage license to his second wife Abigail Furr Starnes, widow of John C. Starnes. What if Fincher, the surname of a family that lived in Union County at the time, was his mother's maiden name, and her first name, of course, was Sarah"? What if Frederick, son of Frederick, son of Captain John, had married first to a Sarah Fincher, who had died young and then he married Elizabeth Thompson, the mother of his younger children by all of their records?

Image result for what if

I plug her in to, with the most likely estimated dates of her birth and death and Bam!!! here came the leaves. And all from Fincher descendants. They all had a Sarah Fincher, correct age, daughter of Rev. William Fincher, as marrying a Frederick Starnes. The only thing is, they had him pegged as Frederick IV, which is incorrect, as Frederick IV is considered to be the one who married Mary Fisher, as clearly proved in her parents records and father's estate. And he died in 1816.

Of course, I can not naturally assume that Sarah Fincher and her parents, William  and Mary Grace Fincher, are my ancestors. I like to look into these things myself. How exactly did the Fincher descendants determine that Sarah had married a Frederick Starnes? A will? A family bible? A marriage bond? A land division?

But as far as hovering this puzzle piece over the corresponding empty space in the tapestry of the family tree, it really looks like it could fit.

But, I've found that you can't naturally assume other people are right. Respect their research. Look for their sources, then come to your own conclusions.

The Rev. William Fincher, Sr. was widely respected  and fortunately for his descendants, was honored with an informative obituary in " The Southern Christian Advocate", June 13, 1845 issue.

Obituary William Fincher 1845

The issue of religion comes into play about now. But that issue is clearly resolved.

Captain. John Starnes, the grandfather of Frederick born about 1810, was clearly Lutheran. But other members of the family did not remain with the Lutheran Church.

In the book, "Of Them That Left A Name Behind". by Herman Starnes, he chronicles the travels and fights of the earliest of our Starnes and then settles primarily into the family of David and Barbara Starnes, his line and one of the brothers of Captain John Starnes. He does add in information concerning the descendants of their brother Frederick, gotten from some of Frederick's descendants who migrated south and west.

Within his book he includes an except from another book, "Rev. Anson West's History of Methodism in Alabama", published in 1893. It chronicles the building of a new church in Alabama in 1826 called Shady Grove.

"About the time the new church was built or a very short while after a numerous family by the name of Stearnes located in the community of Shady Grove, they were all Methodist."

And it goes on to tell the story of Rev. Paul Fisher Starnes, one of Frederick III and Mary Fisher Starnes younger sons, who preached there for awhile. Being said, it shows that by the mid-1820's, this branch of Starnes, and cousins of my own, had converted to Methodism.

When my second great-grandfather, Frederick Fincher Starnes , fought in the Civil War, the documents gave his place of birth as Union County, North Carolina and his residence as Union County, NC and Lancaster District, South Carolina. Previous research on my part found a land record wherein he owned property on Rocky River Road, in Lancaster County, SC, just across the NC/SC border. He does not show up in the 1850 census, but I have yet to take a microscope to the 145 page 1850 census of Lancaster County to see if I can find a corruption of his name.

But he does show up in the 1860 census living right beside his father, Frederick, and they are designated as Sr. and Jr. Then they, within a few years, move to Cabarrus County.

The area F. F. Starnes shows up in first could probably be determined by the grave of his oldest son, John H. Starnes, who died at age 9. He is buried in the Stallings Family Cemetery, most likely neighbors, which is located, actually, in Stanly County, very near the Stanly/Cabarrus line, near Mission Church.

Image result for map of cabarrus county nc

 The above map shows the location of Rocky River Church, which is a Presbyterian Church, and also where F. F. Starnes buried his first wife and two of his daughters, who died as children. By the 1880's, he had joined this church and his mother-in-law, Martha Byrum, was baptized there and joined also. She is noted in the church records as living with F. F. Starnes and family and as being his mother-in-law.

Name:F.F. Starns
[F.F. Starnes] 
Birth Year:abt 1829
Home in 1880:Rocky River, Cabarrus, North Carolina
Relation to Head of House:Self (Head)
Marital Status:Married
Spouse's Name:Mary L. Starns
Father's Birthplace:North Carolina
Mother's Birthplace:North Carolina
Neighbors:View others on page
Cannot read/write:


Deaf and dumb:

Otherwise disabled:

Idiotic or insane:
Household Members:
F.F. Starns51
Mary L. Starns43
Margaret A. Starns23
Thomas M. Starns19
Dalphia A. Starns10
Georgia A. Starns7
Fredrick L. Starns5
Dasie L. Starns2
Martha Byram70

Another clue that might tie Rev. William Fincher and this particular set of Starnes together is the discrepancies in the birthplace of Frederick Fincher Starnes.

Confederate Records gives Union County, NC as his birthplace.

1850 census, he is not located. but his father's birthplace is given as North Carolina, as it is in every census until 1880.

But for Finch:

1860 North Carolina
1870 Georgia
1880 Georgia
1900 North Carolina
1910 South Carolina

So you see some ambivalence there. But why?

Also, while his mother's birthplace is steadfastly given as North Carolina in the 3 censuses that give this information 1880-1910, in the last one, his father's is given as South Carolina, while North Carolina in the other two.

Tombstone of John H. Starnes, son of F. F. and M. L. Starnes
Image result for map of stanly county nc

This map of Stanly County shows the proximity of Mission Church Road, near Running Creek, where John H. Starnes is buries, to Little Meadow Creek, where F. F. Starnes, his father is buried.

In the obituary of Rev. William Fincher, it states that he was in Monticello, Georgia in 1824. It it possible that Frederick Starnes accompanied his father-in-law to Georgia and that following stories may have caused the confusion in the birthplace of Frederick Fincher Starnes in 1828?

Monticello, Georgia was located in Jaspar County. There were certainly a number of Starnes marriages recorded in the 1820's in Jasper County. There was also a Frederick Starnes in Habersham County, Georgia in 1820, but none in 1830. This was an older Frederick and not the one born in 1805-1810.

44 Jesse Fincher, Barker's, Gwinnett.* 
47 John Starnes, Griffin's, Hall. 

The Georgia land lottery shows a Jesse Fincher who recieved land in Gwinnett, while a John Starnes recieved land in Hall County.

The possible Georgia connection is a very interesting one, for certain.

Image result for map of cabarrus county nc

This early map of Cabarrus county shows Bost Mills, on the Rocky River, that still exists, near Georgeville, where newspaper articles name F. F. Starnes of living near in the 1890's. The road from Mt. Pleasant to an area called "Leading", which no longer exists, goes further into Stanly County and appears to end near the Mission Church are and near where John H. Starnes is buried.

As I can tell, my research into the Starnes, Fincher and even Byram families, has only just begun. I am excited about what I may discover.

1 comment:

  1. Good Sleuthing! As always, I enjoyed your article. I have been researching the Fincher family as well the past few months & I think you are right on track!
    - Janie