Thursday, August 12, 2021

For The Love of George

On Setember 12, 1872, Elizabeth Mcswain Morton of Henry County, Tennessee petitioned the U. S. Government for a Widow's Pension, due to her from the benefit of her husband George's service in the War of 1812. She stated that he had served under Capt. John Garrettson in the NC Militia, as a Private, from February 1st, 1814 until July 31st, 1814. 

What garnered my attention the most was the fact that Elizabeth testified that they had been married the following November, in Montgomery County, North Carolina, by Esquire Spencer in 1814. 

This was not George Crogin Pemberton Morton, whom I had already blogged about, nor was it George Arnold Morton, son of Rev. Samuel Morton, as they were not yet born. 

There was another Morton in the 1830 census of Montgomery County, North Carolina who didn't live near the Narrowsville Mortons, but still not so far away from them, either, and who did live nearby was a very significant fact.

The list for Page 80 of the 1830 census of Montgomery County, North Carolina begins with William Mcswain and Joseph Throgmorton, with George Morton coming in third. 

In Henry County, Tennessee, George Morton is in close association with Mcswains and Throgmortons. Other names of note on this page are Kimras, John Avett, Robert G. Duke, Jacob Shoffner, Thomas Castle, Jeremiah Adderton and several Carter's, James, Nathan and George. This helps place George's location.

There is no 1820 census for Montgomery County, however, there is an 1810. In the 1810 census, from both sides of the river, we find 7 Morton households, led by Alexander, Ezekiel, George, James, Peggy, Stephen, and William. Three of these, George, Stephen and William, all served in the War of 1812. I think it important to note that my ancestor, Rev. Samuel Parsons Morton, named a son Stephen and another George. This does not mean I believe George was his father, it doesn't fit at all. However, I do feel he was a relation. 

Chasing this DNA trail, I discover I share a small amount of DNA with a few, but not all, of the descendants of George Simeon Morton of Henry County, Tennessee. 

At this distance, I wouldn't expect to. In this case, I share 29 centimorgans on 1 segment with a descendant of George of Henry County and also match in small degrees with other members of their nuclear family they have tested. That's why I am so interested in this other George. It is also not lost on me that there was a Simeon Morton in old Stanly County, a descendant of Ezekiel, and Simeon is an uncommon name.

The military records of George Simeon Morton does not give the names of his family, except for that of his widow, Elizabeth Mcswain Morton, but they do name witnesses to his wedding in Montgomery County, North Carolina who traveled with the couple to Henry County, Tennessee, where George was rewarded with 80 acres of land for battling the Creek tribe. 

George S. Morton served 3 terms in the War of 1812, under Col. Pearson, Col. Garretson and Col. Johnson.  

A register  of enlistments gives more personal information on him. He was said to be 5 foot 8 inches tall, with blue eyes, dark hair and a dark complexion. The fact that got my attention most was that he stated he was born in Prince Edward, Virginia.

There was another George Morton, middle initial "V." who was a surgeon and stood 6 foot 4. Not our George.
The Creek War was a Civil War of sorts between two factions of the Creek Nation, one faction supported by the British. They were defeated by American forces in conjunction with other Indigenous nations, including the Cherokee. The link below gives an excellent summary of the war George Morton was in.

At the age of 66 and again at 69, George had submitted proof of his service to obtain his pension. These are included in the 53 page document. I have provided the link, however, one must have an account with Fold3 to open it.

Another surprising aspect of the file was the number of people who attended the wedding of George and Elizabeth 59 years prior, who were also not only alive, but had migrated with them to Henry County, Tennessee. 
Bonita Mcswain (also spelled Benita), testified that she "was a small girl when George Morton wed Elizabeth Morton."  The wedding was held in Montgomery County, North Carolina on November 9, 1814. Bonita was at the wedding and remembered that she "got upon the stairsteps to look over the crowd to see and hear the marriage ceremony.' She recollected that the marriage was " before the time that peace was made. "

Witness Elizabeth Matheny stated that she was at the wedding of George and Elizabeth Morton in Montgomery County,  North Carolina, "about the 9th of November 1814. She remembers that old man Mcswain, the father of Elizabeth Morton was under the influence of liquor at the time of the marriage and called upon the crowd present to notice the likeness between his daughter and himself. "

She also remembered that the wedding took place a short time 'before peace was made.' Elizabeth Matheny also added that she was a year older than the petitioner, Elizabeth Morton. The pension was numbered 82826 and the statements were dated March 4, 1873.

The pension file, as with any government form, was full of red tape. Witness statements that had originally omitted the personal details, had been returned with a request to include such details that would have anchored the event to their memories, such as being 9 years old and having to climb the stairs to see, in Bonita's case, or remembering that the father of the bride was intoxicated, in the case of Elizabeth Matheny.

Another statement by the same ladies gave the date of George Simeon Morton's death. Elizabeth Matheny gave her age as 77 and 'Beanetta' Mcswain gave her age as 66. Both had resided in Henry County, Tennessee, for over 30 years and recalled the death date of George as the 15th day of May,  1865. The statement further reported that, "They were raised girls together upon friendly and intimate terms and we're both at her wedding and both notes live with her in the county of Henry 35 years."  So they had grown up in Montgomery County together and now Elizabeth Morton was 75 years old. Her husband had served in Capt. Garretsons Company, and Capt. Pearsons regiment from Montgomery County, NC and had received an honorable discharge.

Elizabeth Mcswain Morton also had to vow allegiance to the United States of America. Remember, 1872 was during the period of reconstruction and Tennessee had been a part of the Confederacy. It had been a short 7 years from the close of that War. She stated that her husband had died on May 15, 1865, but had not offered a cause of death. However, he was at that time an elderly man around 80 years of age.

She confessed, "That at no time during the late rebellion against the authority of the United States did she or her husband adhere to the causes of the enemies of the Government, giving them aid or comfort or (illegible) the functions of any office whatsoever under any authority of pretended authority or hostility to the United States that she will support the Constitution of the United States, that she is not in receipt of any pension."

An S. Smith and A. J. Morton witnessed her statement. There were also statements that the witnesses, Smith and Morton , "are men of undoubted good characteristics." 

A. J. Morton was their son, Atlas James Morton.

There were also notes as to Georges 80 acres  in Tennessee, earned for his service and that he was discharged in Salisbury, NC on the 18th of July, 1814.
There were two  witnesses to his death in 1865, Mr. Smith and his son, Atlas, and two witnesses to the marriage, Mrs. Matheny and Mrs. Mcswain.
It is also noted in the file that Elizabeth Mcswain Morton died January 20, 1884.
I was curious to know more about Elizabeth Matheny and Bonita Mcswain as they not only witnessed the wedding, but had also migrated to Henry County, Tennessee. 

I first find Elizabeth Matheny as a widow in 1840. In 1850 she is 53, born in Virginia and head of the household including her children, Charles, 28 and Lewis, 21, born in Virginia and Nancy, 19, Isaac, 15, and Sarah, 17, all born in Tennessee. 
I also find her in the 1860 and 1870 census records of Henry County, living with her son, Charles W. Matheny, who consistently maintains that he was born in North Carolina.

The family trees that Elizabeth is in has her tagged to a marriage record in Greene County, Tennessee with an unusual maiden name. This really doesn't fit. As her older children were born in North Carolina, Montgomery County, specifically, in Charles case, I don't see her getting married in Tennessee. And I've never seen that unusual name in local records. We know she was here in 1814, so probably in 1810 as well. No name in the 1810 census comes even close. I looked all around the Mcswains, that were Elizabeth Mcswain Morton's family, and there were lots of Throgmortons and also James Morton, who some have surmised was the father of my Samuel Parsons Morton. I believe they have Elizabeth Matheny with the incorrect maiden name. That Elizabeth seems to have died in 1860. Elizabeth Matheny who lived in Henry County,  Tennessee, lived long past that time.
Benita "Nettie" Randle Mcswain and husband, David Mcswain from family files on I question this as the woman appears to have a chin tattoo.

Bonita Mcswain was an entirely different story. Carrying the surname Mcswain, I felt she had to be related to Elizabeth, and she was. Nettie's maiden name was Randle and she married David McSwain, brother of Elizabeth Mcswain Morton, in 1825 in Montgomery County, North Carolina. She was Elizabeth's sister-in-law.

She was the daughter of John and Sally Calloway McSwain. Her 80 year old mother is living with her in 1860, along with her unmarried sister-in-law, Frances.

Sarah Calloway Randall, was a daughter of Isaac Calloway of Stanly (Montgomery) County. She was the Aunt of Vashti Calloway who married Rev. Samuel Parsons Morton. She's actually my 6th Great Aunt, but who's counting?

This is an exciting discovery for me. These are the same families that connected to both Samuel Parsons Morton and his little brother, George Crogin Morton. The Mcswains lived near and about James Morton in the early years of the 1800's. 

David and Benita/Bonita Mcswain had several daughters and a son named Dr. Isaac Arnold McSwain. Isaac from Isaac Calloway, likely and the Arnold name passed down the line from my ancestor, Elizabeth Arnold, exactly as Rev. Sammy named a son George Arnold Morton.

I've been able to find quite a bit of information on Isaac due to his profession as one of the early and influential medical professionals in Henry County, including the above excerpt from Henry County, Tennessee,

These Tennessee migrants from what is now Stanly County, North Carolina, took with them the knowledge of their Mcswain heritage, all the way back to Scotland. I wish I could find a Morton history of the same. 
So back to George. 

Above, we find him in the 1850 census living in the town of Paris, Henry County, TN. George was born in Virginia, Prince Edward County, according to his military papers. Every one else was born in Montgomery County, North Carolina except 7 year old Sarah. That means they may have been on the move in 1840. 

He's living with his 5 youngest children. By 1860, George and Elizabeth are just living with Atlas and Francis Naomi. Little Sarah must have died as a child. 

The family had settled in the town of Paris, Henry County, and that's where we find Elizabeth, living with her son Atlas until she died in 1884. 

Paris was established in 1823 as part of the Jackson Purchase from the Chickasaw tribe. The Morton's, Mcswain and Throgmortons from North Carolina didn't arrive until 17 years later. It was called the Gateway to West Tennessee and is one of the oldest towns in that section of the state. It bordered Callaway County, Kentucky and Stewart County, Tennessee, where other families from this area settled.
George Simeon Morton and Elizabeth Mcswain Morton raised a large family of 15 children. Their oldest son, Thomas F. Morton, removed to Taylor's Falls, Chicago County, Minnesota and became one of the founding fathers of that community. 

What I know of who their children were is below:

1) Thomas F. Morton 1816-1869
Settled in Taylor's Falls,  Chicago County Minnesota.
2) Harriett G. Morton Gallimore 1817-1878
Settled in Mandarin, Williamson Illinois.
3) William Crews Morton 1819 - 1890 Henry County Tennessee.
4) Elizabeth Jane Morton Smith
1820- 1891 Henry County Tennessee.
5) Margaret J. Morton Throgmorton 1822 -1863 Grantsburg, Johnson City, Illinois. A short biography of her family is found on derived from:

6) George Mcswain Morton 1825- ? . He married Mahala Oliver in 1842 and had 2 children, Thomas J. and Margaret Evangeline. He disappears, but his family ends up in Chicago County, Minnesota, where his oldest brother settled.
Seven and eight are daughters who appear as dashes in the early census records, born between 1825 and 1830. Their names are unknown. They may have been married before the 1850 census. There are two other unknown children missing from the total count of 15 mentioned in the obituary of Thomas J. Morton.

Those were the 6 older. There are 4 unknown. Below are the 5 younger.

11) Atlas J. Morton 1833 - 1901 Henry.
He remained single and became the one who took care of his mother until her death.
12) Philadelphia R. "Delphy" Morton Henderson. 1834 - 1912 Henry.
 Had one daughter, Sarah Jane, who married back into the Mcswain family.

Delphia Morton Henderson

13) David G. Morton 1836 - 1900 Henry.
Married Nancy Sweaty.
14) Francis Naomi Morton Henley Bucy 1830- 1910. Omi remained single until middle age, when she married twice and outlived them both. Buried in Henry County.
15) Sarah 1843- before 1860. The only one born in Tennessee, she died as a child.

I've now discovered 3 George Mortons born in Stanly/Montgomery County,  North Carolina. George Arnold Morton, son of Rev. Samuel Parsons Morton; George Crogin Morton, his younger brother, who moved to Webster County, MO; and George Simeon Morton, 1785 - 1865, who moved to Henry County , Tennessee, relationship unknown.  

George Simeon Morton was 20 when Rev. Samuel Parsons Morton was born. He wasn't his father. It's possible that he could have been an Uncle. I share DNA with some of his descendants. This does not necessarily mean that DNA came from the Morton's. The Mcswains, Mortons and Throgmortons traveled in a group that included members of the Calloway family. 

They carried their genes with them. There could have been other families who traveled with them. I could be related to these descendants of George and Elizabeth in a different way. But so far I haven't haven't found it. 

I do not have a biological connection to the Mcswains, only through marriage. The Calloway connection was through Benita, Elizabeth's sister-in-law. So the chances of George Simeon Morton being a relation is very good.

But there was another George, one older yet than these three, who appears in the 1790 census of Montgomery County, North Carolina. Who are you, George?


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