Wednesday, September 14, 2022

The Fate of Wearing Two Hats: James Coleman Webster Falkner

 The marriage database of Anson County, North Carolina, clearly explains to us who James Coleman Webster/Falkner was. 


OCTOBER 10, 1868 to MARCH 14, 1873

Oldest Marriage Bonds on Record in County
Complied by the Craighead-Dunlap Chapter
Wadesboro, NC; February 1937, Virginia Horne, Regent
LDS Family History Library, SLC, UT FILM #018125,
Pages 110-124

Dec. 29, 1868James C. Webster, s. ---- & Susan Webster, and Mary V. Hildreth, d. of Polly Hildreth.

On December 29, 1868, James C. Webster, son of ------- & Susan Webster, married Mary V. Hildreth, daughter of Polly Hildreth. The absence of named fathers for these young newlyweds indicated that they were born outside the bounds of matrimony.

Man With Two Hats Statue in Ottawa, Ontario

In my last post, I touched on the early years of James's life and that of an elderly couple he was very close to. I wanted to explore what became of him. What I found was a man who wore two hats.

The Will of Abner Boggan

To learn more about James Coleman's early life, check out my last post on the Will of Abner Boggan.

To summarize, James Coleman first appears as a 5 year old boy in the home of septigenarians, Abner and Martha Shelton Boggan. It appears they may have been houseguests of Richard Carpenter and his enormous family. I have a theory that his mother, Susan Webster Falkner, may have been living with the Boggans a decade before that. Susan was also illegitimate, her father deceased, and her mother had left Anson County for a future in the West, with other family, and was found in Scott County, Mississippi in 1841. She married there and died in Simpson County, MS in 1866.

Name:James Coleman
Birth Place:North Carolina
Home in 1860:Lanesboro, Anson, North Carolina
Post Office:Wadesboro
Dwelling Number:416
Family Number:376
Household MembersAge
John Falkner48
Susan Falkner29
Martha Manus25
Golding Falkner19
Azariah Falkner15
James Coleman15
Luanna Coleman10
Constantine Coleman8
John D Coleman5
Ellen Coleman
Barbara Coleman2
Marshall Coleman2/12

In 1860, James Coleman Webster is found in the home of his mother and stepfather, John Falkner. Again, as his name is given as 'James Coleman' and no surname, the transcriptionists incorrectly labeled all of his half-siblings younger than he as "Colemans", as a surname, when, indeed, they were Falkners. Martha Manus was also a Falkner, a grown daughter who had been married and returned home after possibly being widowed. Luanna, Constantine, John D, Ellen, Barbara and Marshall, all should have been Falkners.

Abner and Martha Boggan were listed next in the census, both still living and quite elderly. This same year, Abner Boggan would write his will. 

He would live another nine years. His will was witnessed by Isham Davis and James Hannah.

Then came war. James Coleman was 17 when they were recruiting soldiers in Anson County in 1862. His stepbrothers, Golden and Azariah signed up in Anson.

James Coleman was conscripted, a compulsory enlistment. He did not volunteer. He was enrolled in Raleigh, North Carolina on May 25, 1864, and enlisted under the surname "Falkner". Now, an adult, he chose to go by his stepfather's name for the remainder of his life. 

James was captured at Winchester, Virginia,  and held as a Prisoner of War. There were three battles in Winchester, the second and third bloodier than the first. James lucked out by being captured so late in the War.

The last document in his folder shows that he was paroled at Camp Lookout, Maryland and transferred to Aiken's Landing, Virginia, for exchange, on March 15, 1865. He was captured at Winchester on September 19, 1864, only four months after he was conscripted. 

Battle of Opequon, chromolithograph by Kurz & Allison, 1893.

I found this description of the battle in which James Coleman Webster/ Faulkner fought and was captured at the following link.


Frederick County, VA  |  Sep 19, 1864

On September 19, 1864, Maj. Gen. Phillip Sheridan advanced toward Winchester along the Berryville Pike with the VI and XIX Corps, crossing Opequon Creek east of town. The Union advance was delayed long enough for Maj. Gen. Jubal Early to concentrate his forces to meet the main assault. Veteran Union and Confederate divisions fought hard for several hours, but Early’s men were gradually driven back toward Winchester, anchored around the defensive works on the north end of town. By late-afternoon, the VIII Corps and Union cavalry turned the Confederate left flank and Early ordered a general retreat. The Union victory began a series of losses for Early’s army in the Valley from which it would not recover. The battle was the largest and most costliest fought in the Shenandoah Valley.

A few years after James was released from Camp Lookout and made he home, he found love with a young women in a similar situation as his own. 

Mary Virginia Hildreth was the daughter of a single lady, Mary "Polly" Hildreth. Both were 'children of the dust'. Although he went by Falkner in service in 1864 and 1865, his vows were taken under James Coleman Webster. Jim was wearing two hats.

According to the Mortality Schedule of the 1870 census, Abner Boggan, James's former guardian and benefactor, and possibly more, passed away in October, 1869, of "Paralysis:", at the age of 83. He was a widower at this time, meaning his wife, Martha, had predeceased him. 

Abner Boggan's will was probated in January of 1870.

In Abner Boggans will, probated January 2, 1870, he leaves  to James Coleman Webster, "the tract of land on which I live, containing ninety acres as per deed not on record, after the decease of myself and wife, to have and to hold to him and his heirs forever." Not only that, he left to J. C. Webster, all of his household and kitchen furniture, all of his tools and all of his stock, horses, cows, sheep and hogs. He appointed Miles W. Mask as his executor, and mentions no other person, except his unnamed wife, but her name was Martha, as is shown in the census records. Abner Boggan was certainly fond of James Coleman Webster.

James Coleman Webster/ Falkner was now set to raise a family with 90 acres of land, and all the stock and equipment that Abner Boggan had accumulated over his lifetime. It seemed things were looking up for the young man, although he had apparently lost someone very important in his life.

In 1870, James Coleman is enumerated as just "Falkner". He had Mary have started their family with their first daughter, Mary Elizabeth Falkner. I know this is his family, first because the ages, the wife, and child, match, but also because of the small number of Falkners in the area and the rest were not his family, just his brothers and the sons of A. W. L. Faulkner.

Name:Aalona Falkner
Age in 1870:23
Birth Date:abt 1847
Birthplace:North Carolina
Dwelling Number:38
Home in 1870:Gulledge, Anson, North Carolina
Post Office:Wadesboro
Occupation:Farm Laborer
Cannot Read:Yes
Cannot Write:Yes
Male Citizen Over 21:Yes
Inferred Spouse:Mary Falkner
Inferred Children:Mary Falkner
Household MembersAge
Aalona Falkner23
Mary Falkner23
Mary Falkner1/12

This shows the importance of examing the actual document by looking closely at the place a person could have, or should have been in a census, and not depending on transcribers. The transcriptionist had James Coleman as "Aalona". Where did they get that from? The original census taker had not given him a first name at all. I first had thought this may have been his brother/stepbrother, Azariah, but I found Azariah clearly some place out and unmarried and childless as of yet. 

Name:Mary Fackner
Birth Date:Abt 1845
Birthplace:North Carolina
Home in 1880:Gulledges, Anson, North Carolina, USA
House Number:57
Dwelling Number:353
Relation to Head of House:Self (Head)
Marital Status:Widowed
Father's Birthplace:North Carolina
Mother's Birthplace:North Carolina
Occupation:Keeping House
Cannot Read:Yes
Cannot Write:Yes
Household MembersAgeRelationship
Mary Fackner35Self (Head)
Elizabeth Fackner11Daughter
Sylvester Fackner7Daughter
Daisey Fackner2Daughter

James Coleman Webster- Falkner died sometime between 1878 and 1880 as his family is found without him. I found them by looking at the neighbors in 1870, especially the Swinks, and found Mary with their three children, alone. Again, I found this only by looking at the actual document for Gulledges township in 1880. They did not come up on a regular search. The transcriptionists had the name Falkner or Faulkner as "Fackner".  Mary Elizabeth is now 11, a son, whose real name was Shelton, has been recorded as Sylvester, and the youngest daughter, who would be seen as an adult as "Bessie", has been recorded as Daisey.

On July 4, 1904, Mary Virginia (Hildreth) Faulkner, filed for a widow's pension for the service of her husband, James Coleman Faulkner, in the Civil War. She knew he served in Company K, 43rd Regiment.

At first, Mary's petition for a pension was denied, as they could not find his name of the roster. However, again, the Boggan family came to his aid. Captain John A. Boggan testified that this Company had been formed late in the War and James Coleman Webster had indeed served under him. Mary recieved her pension.

But before this, something curious had happened and this event demands a whole new post. Many times Census takers circled around and missed an entire section of a community, as what happened in 1850 with some of the folks I will be going into soon. At other times, individuals were counted twice, especially children and teens who might be helping a neighbor bring in crops one week and a month later, be back at home, or a child who went to stay the night with their grandparents.

Name:Shelton Falkner
Birth Date:Abt 1873
Birthplace:North Carolina
Home in 1880:Lanesboro, Anson, North Carolina, USA
Dwelling Number:135
Relation to Head of House:Grandson
Marital Status:Single
Father's Birthplace:North Carolina
Mother's Birthplace:North Carolina
Occupation:At Home
Household MembersAgeRelationship
Henry Pitchie63Self (Head)
Sarah Pitchie53Wife
Walter Hildreth17Grandson
Shelton Falkner7Grandson
Thomas Hildreth26Uncle

Such was the case with Shelton Faulkner, who was named as a grandson of this Pilcher or Pitcher (Pitchey was a transcription error)  couple, this time enumerated with his correct name.

Twenty years rolled by and the three children of J. C. Faulkner and Mary Virginia grew up. Mary Elizabeth, the oldest daughter, married Sidney Thomas Dabbs in 1888 at the age of 19.

Name:Elizabeth Falkner
Birth Year:abt 1869
Marriage Date:10 Nov 1888
Marriage Place:Anson, North Carolina, USA
Spouse:Sidney T Dabbs
Spouse Gender:Male
Spouse Race:White
Spouse Age:19
Event Type:Marriage 

Shelton Faulkner married  Louise Geneva Peagram the very next year in 1889. The youngest daughter, Bessie, never married.

At some point, Mary Virginia Hildreth Faulkner may have married a Jenkins. I haven't found a record, but by 1900, she was again widowed.

Name:Mary V Jenkins
Birth Date:May 1852
Birthplace:North Carolina, USA
Home in 1900:Lanesboro, Anson, North Carolina
Sheet Number:3
Number of Dwelling in Order of Visitation:48
Family Number:48
Relation to Head of House:Mother in Law (Mother-in-law)
Marital Status:Widowed
Father's Birthplace:North Carolina, USA
Mother's Birthplace:North Carolina, USA
Mother: number of living children:3
Mother: How many children:6
Can Read:No
Can Write:Yes
Can Speak English:Yes
Household MembersAgeRelationship
Sidney Dabbs30Head
Elizabeth Dabbs30Wife
James Dabbs9Son
Callie V Dabbs6Daughter
Henry Dabbs3Son
Mary V Jenkins48Mother in Law (Mother-in-law)
Catherine Falkner28Son in Law (Son-in-law)

In the 1900 census, Mary V. is living with her oldest daughter, Elizabeth, in Lanesboro. With her is a 'Catherine' Faukner, transcribed as a "son-in-law' of Sidney Dabbs, however, on the actual document, it actually says "Sis-in-law." Several people have Catherine as a separate child, but where is Bessie? I've seen later documents have Bessie as Bessie C. or Bessie G., so I believe her name must have been Bessie Catherine. As Bessieand Catherine never appear together, and were born the same year, it makes the most sense that they were one and the same. 

Mary was said to be the mother of 6 children with 3 living. If those 3 were Mary Elizabeth, Shelton and Catherine, how do you account for Bessie, who lived unti 1937. 

Again, this brings into question the 1880 census, Sylvester and Daisy. Sylvester was 7 and Shelton was Shelton 7. Shelton was counted in the home of the Pilcher/Pilcher family as their grandson. It's possible they were twins and Sylvester died as a child. Then there's Daisy. There could have also been a child who died before 1900 named Daisy. But if so, where's Bessie? She was alive at that time and should have been counted. 

In 1900, Shelton is found with his family in Lanesboro, Anson County. He's a simple farmer, renting a house. He and his wife, called Lulu for short, have 4 children, Jenny, Franklin, Evander and Emma. Luretta is said to be a granddaughter.

1910 finds Mary Virginia having returned to the surname of Faulkner. She's still living with Sidney and Elizabeth, as is her single daughter, Bessie. No sign of Catherine, and Bessie is the same age Catherine would be.  Mary is still reporting having been the mother of 6 children with 3 living. Elizabeth, who reported 3 and 3 in 1900 and 6 and 5 in 1910, must have lost one in the past decade. James, Callie V. and Henry were in both census records and Daisy and Eunice had just joined the family. 

Mary Virginia Hildreth Faulkner would pass away in November of that year. The family had taken her to Charlotte for treatment of a hernia. She was at the Presbyterian Hospital and was said to have died of exhaustion after her hernia surgery. No date of birth was given, but her age was estimated at 70. Her son-in-law, Sidney was the informant, who gave a William Hildreth as her father and no name given for her mother.  She was removed for burial to Polkton, Anson County NC.

Shelton and his wife, Lou, were found in Morven, Anson County NC in 1910, with an empty nest, except for the granddaughter who lived with them.

The first of the three children to pass away was Shelton. He was a mill operator and passed away at age 42 of Thyphoid fever in 1914. Shelton was buried in Wadesboro. The newspapers stated that he was buried at the Nevil Bennett graveyard. 

While I'm on the subject of Shelton, there are 3 mysteries surrounging his family that I had to get to the bottom of:
1) How many children did he actually have and who were they?
2) Where did Elizabeth come from, which child did she belong to?
3) Did his wife Louise fall from the sky for the wedding? She has no previously known existence, apparently.

We'll start with the children and for this, we have to go back to the 1900 census.

Here, we see Shelton and Lou with four children and a newborn granddaughter, Luretta. Louisa, or Lula for short,  said to be the mother of four children, with 4 living. Cut and dried, maybe? Not exactly. 
The 4 children are Jenny 17, Franklin 10, Levander 7 and Emma 5. Later records show that the couple had 4 children - Horace Franklin, born in 1890, Geneva in 1891, Levander in 1892 and Emma in 1895. Geneva should have been in this census and should have been 9. So, what if Jenny and Geneva were the same person and she lied about her age, and was actually older than Horace? Feasible, but the thing is, Lula, who was 6 years older than Shelton, was old enough at 36 to be the mother of a 17 year old. Shelton, at 30, was too young to be her father. Also of note, is a Boyer family living above them and a Pigg family listed below them.

Then, there is the mystery of Elizabeth. In 1910, she is the only child remaining in the home, and is labeled a granddaughter. As she is the same age Luretta would have been, she's probably one and the same, Elizabeth Luretta Faulkner. But who are her parents? Jenny, at 17 in the 1900 census, was the only child old enough to be her mother. If Geneva and she were the same, and Geneva was born in 1891, as she later claims to be, she would have only been 9 when Elizabeth was born. In 1910, listed below the Shelton Falkner family is Jesse Dawkins and wife. Knowing Geneva married Jesse Dawkins, that illegible scrawl must be her as his wife. It states they have been married 6 years and that she was the mother of 4 children with 1 living, however, there is no child living in the home.

Elizabeth passed away at a very young age. She died on March 19th, 1928, at the age of 18. She was employed as a mill hand and died of Epilepsy. Her parents were given as Shelton Falkner and Geneva Peagram, even though they listed her as their granddaughter. The informant was Horace Franklin Faulkner, Shelton's oldest son, her uncle.

This is my take; I believe Jenny and Geneva were one and the same. I believe Geneva passed herself off as younger, pretty much her entire life, I've seen it many, many times. If women were younger, they were more marrigable. There's a host of ladies who show up as 2 year old, say in the 1850 census, yet their tombstore gives their date of birth as 1862. Men would try to make themselves older, women would claim to be younger.

There were other interesting things about Geneva.

First her age. In 1910, when she was 'Nevgner Dorokins', her age was given as 23, or a birth year of 1887. They also reported having been married for 6 years, or in about 1904, which would have made her about 17 at the time. Again, she reported being the mother of  4 children, with one living, but no child in the home.

In the 1920 census, Geneva is living with her mother, Louisa, and her two daughters, Ethel and Cathaline. She's working as spooler in the Cotton Mill, and is a widow. Her age here is 34, a birth year of 1886, so she's gotten a year older.

By 1930, her birth year is given as 1885, and she's 45. A year older still. Then, there's the whole issue of Jesse.


The Messenger and Intelligencer

Wadesboro, North Carolina
25 May 1911, Thu  •  Page 3

Jesse Dawkins, her husband, died of appendicitis and gangreen in May of 1911, aged 35. He left a wife and two children. Two. 1911.  Remember, Geneva was shown in the 1920 census with her mother and two girls, Ethel and Cathaline, but hold on, just watch. Below is the list of children of  Geneva Faulkner Dawkins, who list Jesse Lee Dawkins as their father in their birth, death, marriage, military, and etc. records.

1)  Ethel Lee Dawkins Dabbs  (Oct 22 1912 - April 1 1988)
2) Kate Cathaline Dawkins Singletary  ( April 25, 1916 - Feb. 24, 1994)
3) Lillian Mae Dawkins Caudle ( Aug 11, 1925 - April 9, 1972)
4) Johnny Leroy Dawkins (Oct 25, 1921 - Dec. 22, 1979
5) William Edward Dawkins (Aug 11, 1923 - Jun 11, 1924)
6) Lester Charles Dawkins ( Adu 11, 1925 -Jun 20 1984)

Jesse Lee Dawkins died in May of  Nineteen Eleven. 1911! And yet! That ghost kept visiting his wife in the middle of the night for years after his death.

Little William Edward died of toxemia and colitiis at just 10 months old. His uncle, Levander Falkner, was the informant, and gave Jesse Dawkins as his father, knowing, knowing, his brother-in-law had been dead for 12 years! This is how far they would go in those days to save a little embarrassment.

So here's my take on those first two questions, I believe Jenny and Geneva were one and the same. I think she was probably the mother of Elizabeth Luretta Falkner. She was the only child old enough to have been. I believe she was much older than she admitted to being, as her age was admittedly fluid as Lake Wylie, between 1883 and 1891, in all the records. I would also bet she was Louisa's child before her marriage to Shelton. Louisa was 6 years older than Shelton and if Geneva was as old as she had to be, he was not old enough to have been her father. She had just adopted the Falkner name as Louisa's child and when she had her own out-of wedlock child at an early age, Shelton and Lou raised her as their own.

Jesse and Geneva obviously lost 4 children before 1900 and then 2 more before Jesse's death. One more if Ethel Lee fudged on her age, as there were two born and living before he died. If Ethel's birthdate was actual, Geneva was pregnant with her when Jesse died. She had much more luck keeping babies alive after his death and before her marriage, so maybe there was an issue with their offspring together. At any rate, if any of the descendants of these individuals take dna tests these days, with the exception of Ethel's, I don't believe they will connect to any Dawkins. They're also not Falkners, nor will they probably connect to any Peagrams, with the exception of descendants of their Great Uncle Rowland, and that brings me to Louisa, the woman with no past.

Her tombstone dutifully displays her name as Louise Falkner and her dates of existence between March 24, 1865 and October 29, 1942. Yet, the first record to be found of her was the 1900 census, when she was married, mother of 4, and already a grandmother.

Her death certificate gives her name as Louise Falkner, born in Anson County, wife of Shelton Falkner and daughter of West Pegram, born in Anson County, NC and Mary Helms, born in Union County, NC. Countless family trees have her listed this way. Cut and dried, huh? The problem is, no record can be found of her this way. Additonally, there's no West Pegram in Anson County during this time period or before, and while there were about 2 billion Mary Helms in Union County, which one? 

The reason they can't be found is that she wasn't Louise Geneva Pegram. There was no West Pegram and Mary Helms was not her mother. Wait a minute, you say, the informant was her son,  H. F. Falkner! He would have known. The answer is, he was only going on what he was told, most likely. I discoved who she really was, just in case you wanted to know.

My first hint went back to that 1900 census. Shelton and Lula's near neighbors were a Boyet family and that of a lady named Dorothea Pigg.

Then in 1910, the oldest son, that informant, H. F. Falkner was working as a hired man for Mr. Amos A. Pigg.

I can't find the other brother, Vander, in 1910, but little Emma was already married and living in Wadesboro, Anson County, at the tender age of 15, with a 17 year husband, Sam Harrington. They were living next to his parents, Edmund and Sallie Harrington. While that fact is not a hint, Emma's death reocord was.

 Emma gave her mother's name as Lula Pigg, Lula being a nickname. There was a reoccuring theme of the name "Pigg".

In addition, I've been looking through these old records for a long time now and have gained the knowledge that sometimes West was used as a nickname for Wesley, especially in my childrens Ragsdale family lines, a name that has been passed down for generations. So instead of looking for a 'West Pegram', I tried looking for a Wesley Pigg.

Name:Wesley Pigg
Birth Date:Abt 1842
Birthplace:South Carolina
Home in 1880:Mount Croghan, Chesterfield, South Carolina, USA
Dwelling Number:284
Relation to Head of House:Self (Head)
Marital Status:Married
Spouse's Name:Mary Pigg
Cannot Read:Yes
Cannot Write:Yes
Household MembersAgeRelationship
Wesley Pigg38Self (Head)
Mary Pigg30Wife
Bettie Pigg18Daughter
Luisa Pigg15Daughter
Amos Pigg13Son
Dasthular Pigg11Daughter
Ella Pigg6Daughter
Willie Pigg5Son
Reice Pigg2Son
Della Pigg2Granddaughter

Then, I found him, not just him but them, all of them. Louisa Geneva Pigg Falkner was the daughter of John Wesley Pigg, born March 22, 1832 in Chesterfield County, South Carolina, son of Littleton Pigg (1804-1870) and Mary 'Polly' Deese Pigg (1801-1870). Wesley and family were found in Union County, NC in 1850 and 1860. After marriage, he is found in Mt Croghan, South Carolina in 1870 and 1880. He's found in Anson County, in Gulledge, in 1900, 1910 and 1920. He passed away on January 18, 1924 and was buried at Camden Presbyterian Church near Wadesboro.

John Wesley Pigg was a Civil War veteran. He married Mary Helton, not Mary Helms. She was born in Chesterfield County, SC in 1839 and died in Gulledge Township, Anson, NC, in 1918. Mary was the daughter of Littleton Lewis Hilton and his wife, Jane Montgomery Hilton. In three generations, the name had transformed from Hilton to Helton to Helms, but the original Helms were descended from a family named Hellums.

The Dorathea Pigg next to the Falkners in 1900 was Louisa's sister, Dorothea Sula Pigg, seen as the mangled "Dashthuler" in the 1880 census. 

The Amos A. Pigg that H. F. Falkner was working for in 1910 was their brother.

Louise Pegram was actually Louisa Geneva Pigg, nickname Lula. Why had she changed her name from Louisa to Louise? Maybe because it was more fashionable at that time. Louisa was an old fashioned name. Why had she changed her last name to Pegram from Pigg?

Oh, I could imagine.

She wasn't the only oneof her family who did. Her brothers, Reece (1875-1953) and William Samuel (1875-1942) became Pegrams, while her sisters, except for Dorothea, married the name away and Amos remained a Pigg.

As far as the daughters of James Coleman Webster, Mary Elizabeth and Bessie, Bessie remained single and lived with her older sister and her family until her death.
Name:Elizabeth Dabbs
Birth Year:abt 1868
Age in 1930:62
Birthplace:North Carolina
Marital Status:Married
Relation to Head of House:Wife
Home in 1930:Polkton, Anson, North Carolina, USA
Map of Home:
Street Address:No 20 Highway
Dwelling Number:96
Family Number:107
Age at First Marriage:19
Attended School:No
Able to Read and Write:Yes
Father's Birthplace:North Carolina
Mother's Birthplace:North Carolina
Able to Speak English:Yes
Household MembersAgeRelationship
Sid T Dabbs60Head
Elizabeth Dabbs62Wife
Eunice Dabbs20Daughter
Hazel Dabbs18Daughter
Robert L Baker18Grandson
Bernice E Baker15Granddaughter
Callie W Baker12Grandson
James W Baker10Grandson
Bessie Flaunter57Sister

Mary Elizabeth Faulkner Dabbs passed away on August 12, 1936, of  TB, at age 65. She had also fallen and broke a rib.
Bessie followed on April 18, 1937, of influenza. Mary E. Falkner Dobbs and her husband Sid had 6 children.

James Coleman Webster's father remains unknown. His middle name of Coleman and his namingof his only son, Shelton, may be some indication that he was of some relation to Abner Boggan and hiswife, Martha Shelton Boggan.

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