Wednesday, October 9, 2019

The Estate of Axum Turner

Probate and estate records aren't always easily accessible. Such was the case for the Turners in Sumter County, Alabama.

Simply typing in a name and county and a range of years brings up nothing, but when I actually went in and was blessed to be able to access the minutes of the Orphans Court online, I was amazed to find an estate record for Axum Turner. While these records are accessible online, several of them do not have indexes, which means, in the little time I have, I've been examining them page by page in an attempt to find any information on the Turner family. There are 3 who fell off the map between the 1855 Alabama State census and the 1860 Federal census, mother Patience Turner, and brothers D. L. Turner (Doctor Lewis) and James A. Turner, who had married Eliza Threadgill and left a family.

The above is the settlement by the administrator. It does not give a great deal of information except that the administrator was a Dr. John Sample and that the settlement was dated August 15, 1838.

He paid the clerk $4.50 for letters, the printer $8.00, $13.35 for the settlement, $10 for his service as Administrator, and $1.50 for recieving Land Deed for a total of $37.31. This was quite an expensive undertaking for 1838.

The Bond reads, "December 3, 1837  The Estate of Axum Turner"
Know  all men by these present that we John Sample, Martial Hitt  and James Turner 
are held and firmly bound ....(illegible)
Henry T Snuggs Judge of the Orphans Court of said County in the sum of Five Hundred Dollars.
Seal:  John Sample
Marshall Hitt
James Turner

"Ordered that  the clerk make published in the "VOICE OF SUMTER" monthly for 3 months....or barred from payment". 

So any and all creditors had several months to make a claim on the estate of Axum Turner. With the estate papers being filed in December of 1837 and his land grant being issued in March of 1837, we can safely determine that 1837 was the year of his demise.

Orphans court

The declaration from the Orphans Court was indeed published for 3 months running in the newspaper, "The Voice of Sumter". 

The Sumter County that Axom Turner had removed to from Anson County, North Carolina, had not long been ceded to the United States government by the Choctaw tribe, in 1830,with  the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. Prior to that, it was part of the Choctaw nation, but it was not an unsettled and barren wilderness.

Image result for sumter county, alabama
1911 map of Sumter County, Alabama

The first European settlement was that of Fort Tombigbee, established by the French who had came up from Mobile. The Turners seem to have settled in the vicinity of Gaston, in the southern part of the county. Off to the east, going off the page in the above map, was the town of Demopolis, where the land office that issued claims, was located, in Marengo County.

Image result for sumter county, alabama
Roadside Marker for Sumter County,

In the 5 years between the creation of the county in 1832, and the death of Axum Turner in 1837, the county of Sumter had been in the process of quickly being settled, businesses and schools built, and the county seat of Livingston being established and growing. At the time of Axum's demise, the county boast of 2 newspapers, The Voice of Sumter and the Sumter County Whig.


Voice of Sumter
Livingston, Alabama
28 Mar 1837, Tue  •  Page 1

Schools were advertising for students


Voice of Sumter
Livingston, Alabama
04 Apr 1837, Tue  •  Page 1

Merchanties offered goods of all kinds from all over the world. 


Steamboats were ready for freight and passengers. An entire array of attorneys and tradesmen advertised their services from their offices in Livingston. Available lots in Gaston were advertised for sale and ready for occupancy, just 12 miles southeast.

It was a thriving, industrious world, ready for growth, ready for citizenry.

But who were the 3 men who put up bond and settled the estate of Axum Turner? Were they friends, neighbors, or relatives?

Marshall Hitt

Marshall Hitt seems to be a name associated with Sumter County, Alabama. Just a search of newspapers showing what was obvious multiple Marshall Hitt's, active in the 1920's, 40's and 60's, and of differing social positions, from a criminal Marshall Hitt, to a very well respected Hitt family.

The Marshall Hitt who was involved in the settling of the estate of Axum Turner, was most likely this one shown living in Sumter County in the 1830 and 1840 census records.

Name:Marshall Hill
[Marshall Hitt] 
Home in 1840 (City, County, State):Sumter, Alabama
Free White Persons - Males - Under 5:1
Free White Persons - Males - 5 thru 9:1
Free White Persons - Males - 40 thru 49:1
Free White Persons - Females - Under 5:1
Free White Persons - Females - 5 thru 9:2
Free White Persons - Females - 10 thru 14:1
Free White Persons - Females - 20 thru 29:1
Free White Persons - Under 20:6
Free White Persons - 20 thru 49:2
Total Free White Persons:8
Total All Persons - Free White, Free Colored, Slaves:8

This Marshall Hitt had a family of 6 children and had recorded 4 land grants in the same area of Axum Turner. The 1850 census shows only a 6 year old Marshall Hitt, son of a Charles Hitt. I've not done any research on this Marshall, but it would not surprise me if young Marshall, born in the 1840's was a grandson of the older Marshall. I see no relation to the Turner family, so it seems as if Marshall Hitt was a neighbor, perhaps only briefly acquainted to Axum Turner, if at all.

Dr. John Sample

Dr. Sample seems to have been a mover and shaker in the area, and also unrelated to Axum Turner, but perhaps, not unconnected.

Dr. Sample resided in neighboring Marengo County, Alabama, but perhaps kept an office in Livingston, and suggestively, not far from the area of Sumter County where Axum Turner had decided to settle.

Above is the Find-a-Grave link for John Sample, Jr. He was the son of Irish immigrants who settled in South Carolina and a Revolutionary War soldier. The below article is from the Marengo County Heritage Book and found by the poster in the Marengo County Public Library and shared online. No other information is given. It is found on no less than 59 pages. The original poster was "Pearl Margaret".

John Sample

As John Sample Jr. is said to have died around 1836, the Dr. John Sample who was appointed administrator of the estate of Axum Turner was most likely John Sample III.

Name:John Sample
Birth Year:abt 1786
Birthplace:South Carolina
Home in 1850:Marengo, Alabama, USA
Family Number:1155
Household Members:
John Sample64
Elizabeth Sample60
John N Sample21
Wm H Sample35
Christopher T Bradley10

John Sample III was born around 1786-1796 and was probably the John Sample in the above 1850 census of Marengo County. He, like Marshall Hitt, was probably appointed, but there is another interesting fact about the Samples that leads me to believe he just may have been associated with Axum Turner, in other words, not a stranger.

Jefferson Baptist Church

The below link is to information on Jefferson Baptist Church in Marengo County, Alabama. Established in 1820 as Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, it was credited with being established by 3 Revolutionary War Veterans: John Sample, John Gilmore and Reuben Hildreth.

The community of Jefferson is now only an incorporated place. Wikipedia carries the below description of this old community.

It was founded in 1810, before Marengo was a county or Alabama was a state. Most of the original settlers were veterans of the American Revolution, including John Sample, John Gilmore, and Reuben Hildreth.[5] The village was named Jefferson in 1820, after Thomas Jefferson, and that year saw the first church established.[5] The population had reached 200 people by 1860 and the village contained two dry goods stores, one drugstore, a male and a female academy, a Masonic Lodge, a hotel, two tanneries, a wagon shop, and a blacksmith shop.[


The counties of Sumter, Marengo and Choctaw all meet at the Southeast corner of Sumter, the Northeast corner of Choctaw and the Northwest corner of Marengo. The northeast corner of Marengo, just due east of Gaston in Sumter, where the Turners settled and just south of Demopolis, where the land office was located, was where these 3 Revolutionary War Veterans determined to settle and create a community and where they also built a church.

Jefferson, Alabama is located in Alabama

The below link is to the website of an Historical Home located within the area of the community of Jefferson, Marengo County, Alabama. It was the home of Dr. James A. Hildreth, a son of Revolutionary War soldier, Reuben Hildreth, one of the founders of Jefferson and the Baptist Church.

The name of Hildreth, most especially Reuben Hildreth, rang a few bells. Here's why.


Alabama Beacon
Greensboro, Alabama
25 Oct 1845, Sat  •  Page 3

Reuben Hildreth hailed from Anson County, North Carolina. It is very, very likely he was associated with the Turners, and Axum Turner.

Hildreth, Reuben marker

In 1797, Reuben Hildreth had applied for a Grant of 60 acres of Buffalo Creek in Anson County, NC that was issued in 1799.

Name:Reuben Hildreth
Issue Date:26 Jul 1799
Residence Place:Anson, North Carolina, USA
Certificate Number Range:5716-5389
Description:Anson 5716-5389

By 1820, Reuben Hildreth was in Alabama and married there, no doubt to his second wife, in 1822.

Hildreth, Reuben Sr USGeneralLandOfficeRecords17961907_117969009

He lived a very long and productive life. Note that he left a long string of namesakes as well, as there are multiple Reuben Hildreths that criss-crossed the country, some remaining in Anson, sons and grandsons of his brother David, who remained in Anson County, NC, grandsons, great-grandson, great-nephews and the like.

The following link is an article from the January 13, 2018 issue of the Andulusia Star News on the origins and migrations of this Hildreth family.  It's pretty accurate, as far as I can tell, except that they left off a few children of Reuben Hildreth, Lucy and Wilson, the youngest son. Reuben Hildreth also rubbed elbows with my direct ancestor, Starkey Ramsey in early Anson County, NC. More on that later.

The children of Reuben and Mary Hildreth (maiden name unknown), as far as I can determine were:

Lewis - married a Mary A. (maiden name unknown). Was in Marengo County in 1830, Choctaw in 1850 and lived in Gaston, Sumter County, where the Turners lived, in 1860. Death unknown. Four known children: Allie (Alice) b 1814, Pinkney C b 1817, Savannah b 1825 and Reuben R b 1831.

His daughter Allie married Allen J Threadgill, one of the sons of Joshua Hull Threadgill (whose property adjoined that of James Turner, father of Axom Turner). The Turner, Threadgill and Hildreth families seem to be generationally interconnected in multiple ways.

Roper Connection

The below image is the Lewis Hildreth family from the 1850 census of Choctaw County, Alabama.

Name:Lewis Hildreth
Birth Year:abt 1786
Birthplace:North Carolina
Home in 1850:Choctaw, Alabama, USA
Family Number:352
Household Members:
Lewis Hildreth64
Mary Hildreth50
Pinkney Hildreth33
Johnathan R Gresham39
Eliasbeth D Gresham32
Almarine Gresham12
M R Gresham8
S A Gresham6
Jno G Gresham4
Jas W Gresham1
J B Thredgill28

Notice that in the same household is a Gresham family and also a 28 year old man named J B Threadgill. Back in Anson County, NC, Reddick Drew, who was a neighbor of the Turners, and most likely, even more closely connected, back to the oldest most Eastern Counties of North Carolina, would marry a widow named Elizabeth Gresham, and after her death would marry Martha Turner, a sister of Axom Turner, and would host several children and young adults in his home with the last name of Axom. So, not only the Hildreths and Threadgills were connected to the Turners over several generations and states, but so too, were the Grissom/Greshams. That name also changed spelling, much like the Exums would turn into Axoms, with the same individual being referred to by both spellings in vaious places.

The second child of Reuben and Mary Hildreath was Reuben Hildreth Jr who would marry Mary Sample, daughter of guess who? John Sample, of course.

Then John Hildreth who would marry an Elizabeth William in 1825
James Hildreth who would marry Julia Simmons. The Simmons family orginated in Virginia and were tied into my Winfield/Booth/Jones family in Alabama as well.
Next was William Hildreth who married Martha Yarborough.
Parthena who married Jessie Morris
Lucy, who either did not marry or its unknown if she did.
Mahala who married Lemuel Simmons, and lastly,
Wilson Simmons who married Mary Yarborough.

The Yarboroughs were another family from the Anson/Montgomery area of North Carolina of whom some would migrate away, while others would remain.

Note back to the history of Jefferson Baptist Church, that the first minister was Elder James Yarborough who established the church in 1820 as Mount Pleasant Baptist.

Jefferson Baptist Church, Marengo County, Alabama

The Yarborough connection does not end there. In "Yarbrough - Yarborough and Allied Families: A Quarterly by Nelle Morris Jenkins", there is a section on the Marengo County Yarboroughs.

Full Text from the Yarborough Family Archives

She began with a description of the origins and draw of Marengo County, "Marengo County was one of the first counties in Alabama, before Alabama became a state in 1819".  The major draw, Mrs. Jenkins noted, to this area of Marengo/ Choctaw/Sumter and adjacent counties was the reason it was called The Black Belt region because of it's rich, loamy dark soil, or as Mrs. Jenkins put it "called the Black Belt because of its deep, black gumbo soil". Sumter, where Axom Turner migrated to, was organized in 1833 and became a County in December of 1832.

But the most hair-raising detail in  her account of the Marengo County Yarboroughs was the following paragraph, hair-raising for a genealogy nut, at any rate.

" The 1830 census of Marengo County lists James Yarborough (minister), Nathan Yarborough and William Yarborough, over 30 and under 40. There are the Yarborough men I believe to be the brothers of  Elizabeth Yarborough Hester. James Yarborough married Sarah Axiom in Marengo County in 1833 on 21 November. Nathan married Melinda Young  on 24 August 1820, Willilam married Martha Sample on 15 October, 1826. "  She also noted that Nathan and William served as securities for each other. Definately connected.

So where's the hair-raising detail. It's in the name of Elder (or Rev.) James Yarboroough's bride: Sarah Axiom. Now. Knowing there was a very magnetic and intricate tie between the small Axom family in old Anson and my Turner line, giving that the oldest Turner son was named Axom and with the allowance of having seen this name spelled as Exum/Axum/Axom and Axiom, it layers another possible tie to Anson County and to my Turner line. Just as Mrs. Jenkins admits in her text that the Yarborough family name came with many spellings from the ones she used in her title to Yarboro, Yarberry, Yarbro, Yarbar, etc. the Axom name also had many variations, depending on the education and knowledge of the individual writing it down and the one vocalizing it as well.

The Morris family is another that comes into play. Parthena Hildreth, daughter of Reuben, married a Jesse Morris.

The above is clipped from the 1840 census of Sumter County, Alabama. Notice Jesse Morris listed just above Thomas Threadgill, who is listed just above his father, William C. Threadgill. Jesse Morris and his wife Parthena (or Parthenia) would have a daughter, Parthena Morris, who would marry Thomas B. Threadgill. In the 1840 census, they are married and it shows 4 little boys in the household, two under 5 and two between 5 and 10. So Thomas and Parthenia were sandwiched in between their parents. The surrounding names of May, Simmons, Adkins, Meador or Meadow,  are also found in Southside Virginia and later in Anson County, NC, like a lazy river of migrations flowing south, leaving a few families in each place they landed.

Job Meador / b. in Anson Co., N.C. / Aug. 1806 / d. Feb. 28, 1867.

Sumterville Methodist Church Cemetery
Sumterville, Sumter Co, AL

In the Books "Threadgills in America", compiled by Janis Heidreich Miller, collaborating with Dr. Francis Dycus Threadgill, and "Threadgills Book II", compiled by Janis Heidenreich Miller, collaborating with Wordna Threadgill Wicker, I found the following information on a descendant of Reuben Hildreth.

" Thomas B. Threadgill (William C. 4, Thomas 3, John 2, Deodatas1)
 son of William C and his first wife, was born about 1812/1813 in Tenn. , and died before 1845 in Marengo County, Ala. Thomas married in Marengo County, name not found, about 1831 and she died soon. He married second, Parthena Morris, August 21, 1834 and bondsman was his cousin Allen Threadgill * (son of Hull) ** . In 1840 Thomas lived adjoining his father in Sumter County. Parthena Morris was a granddaughter of Reuben Hildreth, and in his will of 1845, Reuben named her two sons as heirs and as great grandchildren. By the 1840 census, tow sons born 1830-1835 and two 1835-1840. First two sons not provided for in will of Reuben Hildreth. 

Parthena and Thomas both died prior to 1845, and Nathan Morris*** was appointed guardian of minor child, Calvin Threadgill, Nov. 22, 1849, and "Sarah A. Morris, administrator of estate of Nath Morris, decd. ,  guardian of Calvin Threadgill" filed for  settlement. And January 14, 1850 "Calvin Threadgill has since died  and money all used for doctor and funeral expenses". Children of Thomas B. by both marriages were:

i Charles Frederick born 1831/1832
ii Henry W. born 1833/34 Married Feb. 21, 1856 Sarah M. Tidmore, daughter of Mark Tidmore, record on file in Sumter County. Henry and Sarah sold land to his brother Charles Frederick, Sept. 8, 1866 in Sumter County. No children in 1870 census. 
iii Andrew James born about 1837 in Sumter County. 
iv Calvin, a minor  of Marengo County in 1845, died before January, 1850."

*Allen Threadgill married Alice "Allie" Hildreth, daughter of Lewis and granddaughter of Reuben.
**Hull Threadgill referenced here was Joshua Hull Threadgill of Anson County, NC whose property adjoined that of James Turner, father of Axom Turner.
*** Nathan Morris also leads back to Anson County.

Nathan Morris

In the 1804 will of William Morris of Anson County, NC,Will Book T, Page 106,  he mentions his sons Nathan and Jeptha, his "youngest children" Patsey and William Airly Morris, and his other children" Molly Yarborough, Betsy Hemby (or Hanby), Fanny Beverly, Nathan Morris, Sally Yarborough, Jeptha Morris, Lydia Pistole. His widow was also named Patsy Morris and he named son Nathan Morris as executor. It was witnessed by James Marshall, William Farris and Nancy Seagraves.

Will of William Morris of Anson County, 1804

Nathan Morris seems to be the oldest child of William. Was Jesse who married Parthena Hildreth Nathan's son? Mrs. Jenkins noted this will in her Yarborough study. She also noted that Willliam S. Yarborough married Lydia Morris, daughter of Jeptha and that they migrated and settled in Ouchita, Arkansas.

John Gilmore, the third Revolutionary War Soldier who founded the Jefferson Community, appears to have no connection to the Turners, or Threadgills. There were lots of Gilmores in the area from then until present.

James Turner. 

The last name mentioned in the estate papers of Axom Turner is that of James Turner. Axom had a son, James Axom Turner, but I doubt very seriously this was him. The 1850 census gives James year of birth as 1825. That means in late 1837, when his father died, he was 12 or 13 years old. Given mistakes in census years, sometimes, he may have been 14 at the oldest, so I doubt very seriously he was the James Turner named. Axom's father James Turner, was still alive in 1837/1838. Could he have traveled to Alabama to visit just before Axom's death? I doubt that too, because in his own 1843 will, James lists Axom as if he is living. So, by his own will, he hadn't caught wind of his son's death. The next possibility is that of James Turner Jr., brother of Axom. James Jr. is also mentioned as if he is living in his father's will. There is also the 1831 transfer of property from James Sr. to James Jr.

Book Y Page 102 , on November 22, 1831, James Turner Sr. transfers to James Turner Jr, "for and in consideration of the natural love and affection which he bears for his son James Turner.....50 cents in hand....a certain tract of land in Anson County, bordering Hull Threadgills property and adjoining William Carpenter's corner, of 103 acres. Witnesses were Allen Carpenter and Lazarus Turner.

I have yet to find a deed where James Jr. sold the tract of land given to him by his father. Did James also migrate to Alabama? I've not found a James Turner of the appropriate age in Sumter County around the time of Axom's demise,or in any of the surrounding counties. There's only a James R. Turner who shows up, around the same age as his children, whom I believe is a descendant of the Marthew/ Patience Dickerson Turner group, a fact that seems to have totally confused people as they combine the 50 year old Patience and the 71 year old Patience, who were in the same county at the same time, with totally different families, into the same person. The older Patience died in 1851 and left a substantial estate. The younger Patience was alive until at least 1855 and I am still searching for her estate records, through not being indexed, is an ordeal.

I did however, just recently find the short estate records of the youngest son of Axom and Patience, Doctor Lewis Turner, who died in late 1857 or very early in 1858. The estate was settled in January of 1858, with a William D. Houson as administrator. D. L. Turner appears to have been a single young man, born about 1830, he would have been 27 or 28 upon his death.

His property was listed as a pistol, bought by his brother William P. Turner for $1.20,
a pair of boots bought by William for $1.45. , a Saddle bought by William Threadgill, his brother-in-law, for $7.25 , 9 head of hogs purchased by Ellis Lindsey, an unrelated resident of the same town and a Mare bought by his administrator, William D Houson for $42.00.

Research continues on this family. I hopefully have records that can't be accessed online coming in the mail, as well as my slow creep through these endless pages from the Orphan Court as time permits.

I am still looking for the estate records of his son James A. Turner and of his widow, Patience, who both died between 1855 and 1860.

In the meantime, the surving family members left Sumter County and were in Porter Springs, Texas probably all by 1870. That's where to explore next.

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