One of John Lee's daughters, Rowena (sometimes seen as "Roena"), married the second son of Job Davis, James M. Davis, or "Jim".
John Lee is found in the 1850 census of Cedar Hill, Anson County, North Carolina, in the following manner.
|Birth Year:||abt 1781|
|Home in 1850:||Cedar Hill, Anson, North Carolina, USA|
This census record seemed to confuse a lot of people. I've seen family trees with the 3 children: Rosannah, Sarah, and John, listed as children of John and Elizabeth, although the ages made no sense biologically. I've seen others crediting the children to Wineford, or Winny, which is accurate, but giving her no husband, because her last name was "Lee". With a little research, I was able to figure it all out, and the truth was quite tragic.
In the 1840 census, his record appeared this way:
|Home in 1840 (City, County, State):||Anson, North Carolina|
|Free White Persons - Males - 60 thru 69:||1|
|Free White Persons - Females - 60 thru 69:||1|
|Slaves - Males - Under 10:||4|
|Slaves - Males - 24 thru 35:||3|
|Slaves - Females - Under 10:||4|
|Slaves - Females - 10 thru 23:||1|
|Slaves - Females - 24 thru 35:||2|
|Slaves - Females - 55 thru 99:||1|
|Persons Employed in Agriculture:||6|
|Total Free White Persons:||2|
|Total All Persons - Free White, Free Colored, Slaves:||17|
Notice the lack of children, there were slaves, an older male (John) and an older female (Elizabeth). In the record, he is listed with James B Lee and Stephen Lee right next to him on one side and John Broadway and Thomas H. Broadway on the other. Other neighbors were Robert Ramsey, Malachi Harwood, Robert L. Nance, David Allen, William Hinson, John Thomas, William Burns. Robert Ramsey was a GGG Uncle of mine and ended up in Union County. I don't believe he moved, but was on the line that became Union when the counties were separated a year later. Malachi Harwood ended up in Stanly County.
|Home in 1830 (City, County, State):||Anson, North Carolina|
|Free White Persons - Males - 20 thru 29:||1|
|Free White Persons - Males - 50 thru 59:||1|
|Free White Persons - Females - Under 5:||1|
|Free White Persons - Females - 15 thru 19:||2|
|Free White Persons - Females - 50 thru 59:||1|
|Slaves - Males - 10 thru 23:||3|
|Slaves - Females - Under 10:||1|
|Slaves - Females - 10 thru 23:||4|
|Slaves - Females - 36 thru 54:||1|
|Free White Persons - Under 20:||3|
|Free White Persons - 20 thru 49:||1|
|Total Free White Persons:||6|
|Total - All Persons (Free White, Slaves, Free Colored):||15|
The 1830 census suggested a son in his 20's and 3 daughters. The youngest daughter had been born between 1825 and 1830. She may have died as a child.
It had been quite simple to discover John Lee of the Rocky River as being the father of Rowena Lee Davis. A few simple deeds and gifts had clarified that.
Stanly County August 1851 John Lee to Eliza Jane Davis
" a negro girl named Clementine about 7 years old".
John Lee had gifted a child to his granddaughter, Eliza Jane Davis, who would marry Stephen Crump Jr. Stephen Crump and his family were one of the wealthiest, if not the wealthiest family in the Cottonville area. They put the Cotton in Cottonville. The child, Clementine, would marry Charles Davis, a slave of Job Davis who would be left to James M. Davis, the son of Job and father of Eliza Jane and raise a family in Tyson Community after emancipation.
Stanly County November 12, 1850 John Lee (of Anson) to James M Davis (of Stanly)
'for the natural affection I have for my son-in-law, James M Davis..do give and bequeth to him one negro woman named Lucy, 40, 3 negro boys, Wade, 20, Tom, 17, and Jack 15.
John Lee went into partnership with the three youngest Davis brothers in the purchase and operation of several grist mills situated along the Rocky River.
Anson County November 14, 1846 John Lee (of Anson) to James M. , Edward W & M. F. Davis
"for $100 in hand....all that tract or parcel of land situated lying in Anson County lying on Rocky River beginning at a sweet gum on the west bank of the river...containing 8 acres more or less...
Associated with that deed for 8 very expensive acres for that day and time was the following deed.
Anson County February 10, 1851 Thomas Motley & Others to E. W. Davis
"This Indenture made the 10th day of February in the year 1851 between Robert Motley Ransom Motley & R. Barringer, agent and attorney for Thomas Motley of the County of Cabarrus and State of North Carolina of the one part and E W Davis and M F Davis of the County of Stanly and State of North Carolina of the other part.....for the sum of $187....beginning at a P O Mill Island in the Rocky River East side of said Island runs......up the river to a stake....crossing the Thoroughfare to a W C on the E bank of Panther Island thence S down the river on the East side of said Island 150 po to the Beginning including the Suggs Mill and improvements containing fifty acres more or less it being intended to convey fifty acres of land belonging to Robert, Ranson and Thomas Motley decended from them by Thomas Motley senr deceased known as the Green Mill place....."
And the deed bringing John Lee into partnership.
Stanly County September 24 1850 James M Davis and Others to John Lee
" Indenture ....between James M Davis E W Davis & Marriott F Davis of Stanly County ... & John Lee of Anson..in consideration of his paying the 4th part of the xosts of the mills & upkeep & pay 4th part of the expense to the said J M E W & M F Davis hath demised and granted to the said John Lee a 4th of the profits of said mills during his natural lifetime & upon his death the said interest to descend to James M Davis.
John Lee only lived a few years after undertaking this venture. He died intestate, without a will, but a document of the division of his properties is recorded within the deeds.
Fayetteville Weekly Observer
(Fayetteville, North Carolina)17 Oct 1853, Mon • Page 3
The newspaper reported his death, at age 75, but did not record the reason for it. As there is no 80th day in a month, we can suppose it was a typo, and probably the 8th. "Ult" referred to the previous month, we can safely record a date of death as September 8, 1853.
Book 14 Page 593 Elizabeth Lee's Dower
On July 5, 1854, a jury of "Good and Lawful Men" were asembled in Anson County, NC to "lay off and allot to Elizabeth Lee, widow and relict of John Lee Des'cd her dower and third of the lands".
Her allotment began at a Poplar tree on the riverbank and continued to "Brooks old corner", and ran with his and "Turner's" lines. It extended to the bank of Campbell's Branch to a stake in the bank of Richardson's Creek, and continued down the creek to the Rocky River. The allotment contained 200 acres "including the mansion last occupied by John Lee deceased".
Robert N Allen John Thomas
John Allen Wiley Parker
James Broadway Thomas Baucom
George Turner Joshua Allen
Uriah Staton Robert Broadway
John F Crump Gideon B Threadgill
Division of the Lands of John Lee
State of North Carolina
"Undersigned Committee to Divide the lands of John Lee Deceased amongst his heirs...
Lot No 1 alotted to Winnie Lee
Beginning at a stake on bank of Richardson's Creek...R. Broadway's corner just above the ...Falling Rock Branch...as it runs with Broadway's line, north, then with Turner's line to Rocky River then down said River to Richardson's Creek.....281 acres except 8 acres hereforto conveyed for the use of Davis's Mill which said lot is valued at 632 dollars and pay to James Davis and wife $24...
Lot #2 Alloted to the heirs of George P Lee Dec'd.....stake in corner of dower...bank of Richardson's Creek to a stake in Thomas Baucoms's line ....persimmons..blackjacks... dogwoods...old line...spanish oak..old corner on the bank of Big Branch Spring...Richardson's Creek...courses of creek to beginning...202 acres valued at $525.
Lot No 3 James Davis and wife Rowena Davis..stake...corner of dower...Thomas Baucoms' line...pine in an old field to dower...bank of Campbell's Branch..200 acres valued at $369 ...also another small tract lying near the mouth of Crib's Creek it being a small tract granted to John Lee the 20th day of December 1814 all which was reported to the worshipful court...
John F Crump
Robert N Allen
1st July 1854
Suits ensued. Both Elizabeth Lee, in the case of her dower and Rowena Lee Davis and husband, James M Davis sued the children of George Pinkney Lee, who resided in Tennesee and were entitled to their father's share of the inheritance. They were given a certain amount of time to respond to ads placed in a local paper, by mail, attorney or in person, before their inheritance would be forfeited in favor of the remaining heirs. James and Rowena sought to divide the slaves of John Lee amongst the heirs, or keep them as their own, withstanding the fact that the Lee children would be represented or present themselves.
Fayetteville Semi-Weekly Observer
(Fayetteville, North Carolina)06 Feb 1854, Mon • Page 2
George Pinkney was the only son, and had been born to Elizabeth Coppedge Lee before she and John were married. They eventually did marry and John sought to legitimate his son in court, or adopt him, per se. His name was then changed from George Pinkney Coppedge to George P Lee. George had died in 1849 in Henry County, Tennesee.
|Petition for Partition of the Land|
Fayetteville Weekly Observer
(Fayetteville, North Carolina)13 Mar 1854, Mon • Page 4
George Pinkney Lee had followed members of the Kendall family, and possibly memberts of the Easley family as well, to Henry County, Tennesee. He married Martha Kendall, who survived him and raised their 5 children alone. They probably migrated in the mid-1830's, as George appears to still be living with his parents in 1830. His oldest daugther, Elizabeth Jane, married back into her Kendall family, a cousin marriage to David Kendall, the year her father had died. The 5 children of George P. and Martha Kendall Lee were: Elizabeth Jane, Richmond (or Richard), Luke M., Francis (or Fanny) and Catherine Pinkney Lee.
But the tragedies in this family would not be over anytime soon.
Elizabeth Coppedge Lee would not remain a widow for long.
Her estate was settled in late 1855, with her son-in-law, James M. Davis, acting as administrator. In the estate papers of Elizabeth Lee, James M Davis states,
" I shall repose to public sale on 18 December 1855 all of her personal property belonging to said estate Viz 5 likely negros corn wheat oats fodder and shucks sude (sic) cotton hogs cows sheep house hold and kitchen furniture and other articles too tedius to name.."
The informality in which this was written is shocking. It will always remain difficult to wrap one's mind around the mindset and lifestyles in which our ancestors of the 17 and 18 hundreds maintained, because that was what they knew and all they knew. But, in the Lee and Davis family cases, it would soon change.
Two notices of the estate sale were posted, one at on the Courthouse doors in "Wadesborough" and the other at Brown Creek Church in Burnsville. This church was older than I thought, and I knew it had Winfield family connections, as the widow of the Davis sons first cousin, Peter Winfield II, son of Edward Winfield, remarried to a Rev. Barber there, Mary "Polly" Goldston Winfield Barber.
The biggest purchaser at the Estate Sale of her mother was Winifred "Winny" Lee, seen as "Mrs. Winny Lee". At this point, I did not know much about Winny. As she was seen with the same surname she was born with in the 1850 census and was living with her parents, I had assumed she never married, but I was wrong.
Winnie was married twice, but the name of one of her husbands is unknown.
Other purchasers besides Winny were Thomas Brooks, Shelby Carpenter, Col. David Kendall, James Broadway, Col. E. W. Davis, Richard Howell, and A. J. Shankle. E. W. Davis was the brother of James M. Davis and A. J. Shankle one of his son-in-laws. Richard Howell was his nephew, son of his half-brother, Peter Howell.
As for the "5 likely negros", purchasers were:
W. S. Steed Mark $930
John E. Davis (nephew of James M.) girl, Mary $991
Stephen Crump (son-in-law of James M.) boy, Kinsey $915
Winny Lee woman Honey? and child Eli
Settled by A. J. Shankle, another son-in-law of James M. Davis and wife Rowena Lee Davis.
So, Elizabeth lived about year longer than John, and both in their 70's, so not a great deal of questions about their demise. But the tragedy did not end there.
I couldn't find either Winny Lee, or the children in the 1850 census, Rosannah, Sarah and John, in the 1860 census. Did they migrate west with relatives? Did Winny marry again?
Neither was the case. In searching for the estate records of John Lee, I found another estate record, a quite unusual one.
While Elizabeth Lee's estate was settled in 1855, there was another estate record, labeled "Roena, Sarah and John Lee". dated 1854.
"Account of the sale of the negros belonging to Sarah Lee, she being the survivor of her brother and sister, Roena and John Lee, and being their next of kin and in her own right being 'intel'?
Account of the sales of negros made by James G Brooks, as the administrator of John Lee, Roena Lee and Sarah Lee on the 15th of December 1854 - on a credit of 9 months.
To Devotion Hancock - Hagar and George for $705.00
" W F Burns - Hubbard " $625.00
" John Thomas - Hampton $563.00
Jany 1855 $1893.00 James G Brooks Admin.
Notice: The Undersigned having sued out letters of administration on the estate of Roena Lee, Sarah Lee and John Lee, Deceased....at the October Term of the Court of Pleas and Quarters, ..... at the late residence of John Lee, Sr. Deceased...on the 15th of December, next, the following property Viz: One negro woman and three children to wit, Hubbard, Hampton and George, ages, respectively, about 12, 8 and 6 years, as the common undivided propert of said intestates."
It is a heart-wrenching fact that documents like the one I transcribed above are crucial in the research of African American ancestry. What we are looking at above is the sell of 12 and 8 year old boys away from their mother. Their 6 year old brother was allowed to stay with his mother. The only solace may have been in the fact that the 3 men who purchased the family lived in the same general area. It was likely the boys were able to visit their mother and little brother, and keep up with them regularly.
Having seen that the three Lee siblings had a combined estate, and that Sarah Lee had survived her siblings by just a little bit, I was blessed to be able to find the below newspaper article.
The Pee Dee Star
(Wadesboro, North Carolina)16 Sep 1854, Sat • Page 3
So Winny Lee had been married and widowed, not once but twice. In the summer of 1854, she lost all three of her children to a contagious disease. Her youngest son, John, died on July 29th and just a few days later, Rosa (Roena) followed. Her name must have been Rosannah Roena or vice versa, as she was referred to by both. Sarah had passed on September 6, so had survived her siblings by about 5 weeks.
Poor Winifred Lee had lost 2 husbands, a brother, both parents and all 3 of her children within just a few years. The pain of loss had to have been overwhelming.
Knowing that Winny had been born a Lee, and at her mother's estate records had been referred to as Mrs Winny Lee, that she was a Lee who had married a Lee. By looking at other estate records of Lee in Anson County, I found the answer. At least one of her husbands had been James B Lee, Jr. He had predeceased his own father, James B. Lee Sr., whose will was probated in 1846.
In the Will of James B. Lee, Sr., he mentions his wife, Mary B. (Davis) Lee, daughter Phoebe Brantley (wife of William), son Richmond Lee, daughter Annie Thomas (wife of John Thomas), son William M. Lee, daughter Maniza Davis Lee, granddaughter, Elizabeth Williams Lowtharp and 3 other grandchildren, Roena, Sarah Ann and John, children of James B. Lee, deceased.
The excerpt below refers to Winnie's children.
"Item 3rd "I give and devise my grandchildren Roena, Sarah Ann and John children of James B. Lee, deceased, the following property, two hundred and fifty acres of land adjoining Uriah Staton & Richmond Lee on the west side of Wadesborough Road, one negroe woman and two children, Hager and her two children, Hubbard and Hampton, to be equally divided when they come of age, or either of them marries."
So Hagar, Hubbard and Hampton, mentioned in the estate settlement of the Lee Siblings, were inherited from their grandfather, James B Lee, Sr. George had not been born yet in 1846. And Winny had married her cousin. Cousin marriages were quite common in that era. Nearly every family lines has a few in them. It was a way of keeping lands and property "in the family". Sort of like royalty married relatives to maintain power and property. Not good genetically or healthwise either.
The part of the will is below:
So we find Winny Lee having lost everyone else in that doomed 1850 census in her household, both her parents and children. 17 months after the loss of her middle child, Sarah Ann, in September of 1854, Winny Lee wrote a will. She seems to have known the end was near. The Reaper was not done with the Lee family.
Was Winny ill? Was she suffering from the same epidemic that took her children and possibly her parents? Or was she suffering from such melancholy from the loss that she was considering taking her own life?
Whatever the case, In February of 1855, Winifred "Winny" Lee Lee decided the time was right to write a will.
"Feby 25 1856
I Winny Lee.......considering the uncertainty of my earthly existence,". She wished for her executor, yet to be named, to provide for a proper burial and pay all of her just debts "out of money coming to me of my father's estate and of my children's estates", and that he settle the estates of her father and children, which must have still been in debate.
She left most of her estate to her sister, Rowena Lee Davis, but some things she left for some of Rowena's children, primarily her older three daughters. To Rowena, she left a woman named Tisha and her 'two youngest children, and Elisha, along with 5 beds and furniture. She left a bed and "it's furniture" to her nieces, Jane Crump (Elizabeth Jane ie Mrs. Stephen Crump), Charlotte W. Shankle (Mrs. Abraham J. Shankle) and Wincy Catherine Davis.
She left the remainder of the furniture to Rowena, to be divided among her children as she saw fit. She left the balance of her cattle, hogs, sheep and horses to Rowena, except for a grey mare and her colt, to Charotte W. Shankle, and one sow and pigs to Jane Crump. She also left a girl named Americus to Jane Crump and to Charlotte W. Shankle, Fanny and her child, Eli.
To Wincy Catherine Davis, she left JIncy, Carter and Cad, who must have been mother and sons.
She "will that Mawmy be provided for her maintenance as long as she shall lives among those to whom I will my Negros". She willed to her nephew, John L Davis, "all of my tract of land lying and being in the fork of Richardson Creek and Rocky River and bounded by the lands of George Turner and Robin Broadway". This was the area of the John Lee cemetery and the George Turner cemetery is not very far away from that. She willed the "home tract of land', or the Lee Homeplace to Charlotte W. Shankle.
All of the rest of her property she wished to go to her sister Rowena and she named Rowena's son-in-law, Dr. Abraham J. Shankle, as her executor.
She signed her will in an unusual way:
"Sealed and delivered
in presence of
James G. Brooks
Feby 25, 1856
My dearly beloved
Benjamin F. Davis
Who was she calling her dearly beloved? James G Brooks or Benjamin F. Davis, her brother-in-law's nephew?
Winny's will was probated at the April Term of Court in 1856. She died two months after writing it. Had she taken precautions or had she known her own death was near? Was she ill with the same disease that killed her children or was she a victim of melancholy planning her own demise?
I checkedold newspapers of the time and area and discovered that both Yellow Fever and Thyphoid Fever were epidemic in Anson and Stanly Counties at the time. People felt the disease was coming in from the ports, like Wilmington, from foreigners arriving from other places and flowing inland.
After Winny's death, lawsuits ensued over her property, involving the children of her brother, George P. Lee. The following is the discoveries and descision of the court.
JOHN F. LEE, et al, v. ABRAHAM SHANKLE, et al.
Supreme Court of North Carolina
June Term, 1859.
A private act of the Legislature is in the nature of an assurance at common law, and must depend upon the consent of persons in esse whose property is to be affected by it.
A private act of the Legislature declaring a bastard to be legitimated, and to be the heir and next of kin of a particular person, by implication excludes the idea of his being the lawful heir or next of kin of any other person.
THIS was a petition for the reprobate of a will, heard before HEATH, J., at the last Term of Anson Superior Court.
R. H. Battle, for the petitioners.
Ashe, for the defendants.
The petition sets forth that the petitioners, John F. Lee, Elizabeth Kendall, wife of David Kendall, Luke M. Lee, Richard A. Lee, Mary F. Lee, and Pinckney Lee, are the children of George P. Lee, who was the son of John Lee, the father also of the testatrix, Winney Lee, and that their father was the brother of the said Winney; that the will of the said *314Winney was admitted to probate at the ______ term of the county court of Anson, and that they, being next of kin, and heirs at law, had no notice of the proceedings; and that George P. Lee died prior to the death of Winney Lee.
The defendants admit that the petitioners had no notice of the probate of the will in question, and insist, in their answer, that they had no right to such notice, because their father, George P. Lee, was illegitimate, having been born out of wedlock, and that his children could have no interest in the estate of the decedent, Winney.
The petitioners admit the fact that George P. Lee was born out of wedlock and was illegitimate; but they insist that he was legitimated by a private act of the Legislature of North Carolina, passed at its session of 1828, which is as follows:
"An act to alter the name of George Pinckney Coppedge, an illegitimate son of John Lee, of Anson county, and to legitimate him."
" Be it enacted, c, That from and after the passage of this act, George Pinckney Coppedge, an illegitimate son of John Lee, of Anson county, shall be known and called by the name of George Pinckney Lee, and by that name may sue and be sued, plead and be impleaded, and receive and take property by descent or distribution.
" And be it further enacted, That the said George Pinckney Coppedge be, and he is hereby declared legitimate, and capable in law to take and inherit property as heir of the aforesaid John Lee, in as full and ample a manner as if he had been born in lawful wedlock; any law to the contrary, notwithstanding.
There was no evidence at whose instance this private act was passed.
It was insisted on behalf of the petitioners, that this act not only made George P. Lee the heir and next of kin to his father, John Lee, but also to Winney Lee, who was the legitimate daughter of the said John Lee.
A motion is made to dismiss the petition on the ground *315 that, whatever effect the private act may have had in making the father of the petitioners legitimate as to John Lee, it neither purports to make them legitimate, nor him so, as to any other person than the said John; that, therefore, the petitioners had no interest in the estate of Winney Lee, as they must claim through their father, G.P. Lee.
The Court was of opinion that the objection was well taken, and the petition was ordered to be dismissed. From which judgment, the petitioners appealed.
This case comes directly within the principles decided by this Court in the cases of Drake v. Drake, 4 Dev. Rep. 110, and Perry v. Newsom, 1 Ired. Eq. Rep. 28, and must be governed by them. These principles are, that private acts of the Legislature are in the nature of assurances at the common law, and that, therefore, their operation is meant to depend on the consent of those persons who are in esse, and whose estates are the subjects of the acts. Hence, where no person is mentioned in an act of legitimation of a bastard as his father, and there is no declaration as to whom he shall be legitimate, the act will be entirely inoperative in giving him a capacity to take property by descent, or by succession ab intestato. But if he be declared to be the son of a particular person, he may take from him, and from him only, as the heir or next of kin. Upon the authority of these decisions, we should hold that George P. Lee, the father of the plaintiffs, might have taken property by descent or distribution, from his father, John Lee, under the first section of the private act in question. The second section gave him no greater capacity, but on the contrary, by declaring to whom he should be rendered legitimate and made an heir, it, by strong implication, excludes him from being a lawful heir to, or taking property, either real or personal, from any other person. The judgment *316 of the Court below was, therefore, right, and must be affirmed.PER CURIAM, Judgment affirmed.
Rowena Lee Davis was the sole surviving member of her family among her parents and siblings. She passed away in February of 1877, at the age of 71.
|Birth Date:||Abt 1813|
|Home in 1880:||Burnsville, Anson, North Carolina, USA|
|Relation to Head of House:||Wife|
|Spouse's name:||James M. Davis|
|Father's Birthplace:||North Carolina|
|Months Not Employed:||12|
In the 1880 census, Rowena and James are seen as living in Burnsville Township, Anson County, meaning they had relocated from Stanly to the Lee land she had inherited. James M. Davis was operating the Davis Mill on Rocky River.
Rowena Lee Davis passed away on February 27, 1877, according to her tombstone. She is buried in the Old John Lee Cemetery on a rise above Richardson's Creek with her parents, sister Winnie and Winnie's three children, Rosannah Roena, Sarah Ann and Little John. Also buried there is her brother-in-law, Henry Davis. There are other graves whose stones were lost to time. An earlier survey of this cemetery listed a Mary Lee. I believe Mary to be the 3rd young female in the 1830 census who died as a child. It is also very likely that James M. Davis, Rowena's husband, was also buried here, as he died around 1883.
Rest In Peace, Lee family.
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