Having just spent a very long time and a great deal of research on a post, only to lose the whole thing following the very last sentence, I just had to step away. Step away from the subject, the road I was going down and that lane of research and topic altogether. Breathe. All due to one missed keystroke on my phone. That happens. It has happened before and in those two cases I've not yet returned, but held some of my steps in my mind. Who knows how long it will take for me to want to take those same steps again?
Instead, I will return to a series I have been back and forth on a few times. I call it the "Bad Girls of Stanly County." It's good to be back home. The 'bad girls' were the rare females who showed up as defendants in the early courtrooms of Stanly County, North Carolina. Some appeared over and over, others only once. Occasionally, women appeared in Civil proceedings, challenging inheritances, dower rights, tenant contracts and the such. These were not the bad girls. The bad girls were those who stepped outside the boundaries of proper behavior for ladies of the 19th century. Sometimes they were drunk and disorderly, sometimes they even went to brawling. Most of the time, the offenses had to do with the control, or lack of it, of their sexuality, adultery, fornication, or giving birth to a child out of wedlock. A few even ran 'bawdy houses', or dens of iniquity, a place where immoral or illegal things happened.
The genealogical importance of these events come in the form of brickwalls in family trees. Children born out of wedlock, most of the time, took the surname of their single mother. Occasionally, the individual would go by different surnames at different times in their life, making it difficult for those trying to build their family tree. Some ill-begotten folks would even invent an imaginary father, usually "John", to disguise their shame of not having a father and use it on their legal documentation, their spouse and future children never knowing the difference. And then comes DNA testing and all those old secrets coming spilling out.
For this post, I have returned to an old list, made over a year ago, and a few individuals in my own family tree.
The simplest way to explain Bastardy Bonds to a novice to old court records is that they are the antiquated form of child support. The scrofulous word used to describe them, simply meant, in its day, a child born out of legal wedlock, which was considered a shameful thing to be. The thing colors the word, the word doesn't color the thing, a fact modern society seems to have forgotten. They keep printing up new terminolgy to refer to something, to make it more, um, palatable, 'a rose by any other name.' In time, the new terminology becomes unusable because it is offensive, as it describes 'the thing', and they have to create new, unoffensive terminology again, and that new term will also become offensive in time. The cycle repeats itself.
John T. Honeycutt, (1803 - 1878) was my 4th Great Grandfather. I don't know for certain who his parents were, despite the several guesses of other researchers. There were more than a few Honeycutts in early Stanly County and how they were related to one another has not been nailed down to my knowledge. That's a mountain I haven't climbed. I have been able to find mention of John, himself, in a number of places and had always thought of him as a good and decent man.
It was John who owned the land where Liberty Hill Baptist Church near Red Cross in western Stanly County was originally built, a church co-founded by another of my ancestors, the Rev. John Lambert. The current building is directly across the road from where the original building stood, so that gives me a general idea of where John Honeycutt lived.
Liberty Hill Baptist Church in Stanly County, NC
You can imagine my surprise, when, while perusing the bastardy bonds of Stanly County, NC from the 1850's, looking for something else, for someone else, I came across the following entry.
The ancient script is a little difficult to read, and was written in 19th century legalese, so, I will translate a few of them. Above, the mostly printed document stated that John and George Huneycutt were held and firmly bound to a bond of 500 hundred dollars, a significant amount of money in those days. The bond was for an Obligation that John Huneycutt was the reputed father of a Baseborn child begat upon the body of Elizabeth Robbins, a single woman of Stanly County, a fact he did not deny. John Huneycutt and Elizabeth Robbins had concieved a child out of wedlock. The year was 1853.
Following are several excepts from the same group of documents.
Basically, in November of 1853, John Huneycutt had been taken to court to answer to the charge of Bastardy.
He had given bond, along with George Huneycutt, in order to support the illegitimate child for at least the first 5 to 7 years of its life.
George D.Whitley was the Justice of the Peace hearing the motion.
Bonds were given and plans were made and all parties went on to live and the child was provided for, for a time.
The question remained, which John Huneycutt and who was Elizabeth Robbins?
John Huneycutt, my 4th Great Grandfather first shows up in census records in 1830 and by that time, he is a young man with a wife and 3 small children under 5, two boys and a girl. No marriage record is found, but it can be easily assumed he married around 1825. His neighborhood was typical west Stanly names, Tucker, Efird, Furr, Crisco, Little. A Great to some degree Uncle of mine is also listed on the same page, Frederick Lambert, who ends up moving to Mississppi.
John and his wife Sylvia, grow their family. There appears to have been at least one child who was lost before 1850, when they were named, which was typical of the times, but they appear to have brought in to the world a pretty healthy brood, as 11 children made it to adulthood. These were:
1) Frances Caroline (1827-1903)
2) George Washington (1828-1907)
3Charles McKinley (1830-1910)
4) John Timothy (1832-1892)
5) Asberry Franklin (1837-1912)
6) Ephraim E. (1839-1935)
7) Eben Zebulon ( 1842 - 1863)
8) Sylvia Samira (1844-1916)
9) Mariah Priscilla (1846-1887)
10) David Levi (1848-1893)
11) Eli Filmore (1850-1922)
Of these, Charles McKinley, known as "Kin" or "Ken', is my line and my 3rd Great Grandfather. He, his sister Fanny ,and brother, George, were the three children who would have been in the 1830 census. Next came John Timothy "Jackson" Huneycutt, the fourth born. In 1853, John Timothy would have been a 21 year old man, young and full of vinegar and spit. His father, notably pious, would have been a time-worn 50 year old. Older brother George also gave bond on this situation, to help John, whom I believe was John the younger. It makes more sense.
So, who was Elizabeth Robbins?
In the early records of Stanly County Superior Court, in 1843, the estate of one Isham Robbins was settled. His will was mostly one full of religious rhetoric and prayer, but after about 3 paragraphs of behailing the Lord, Isham finally names his wife, Fanny, short for Francis, as the recipient of all his wordly goods and names John Huneycutt as the executor of his Will. Isham Robbins does not appear in one census record of Stanly County, or in the 1840 one of Montgomery, which is where the citizens of Stanly, which didn't exist until 1841, were enumerated. Oddly, he is listed in the very first tax record of Stanly County, in 1841, with 100 acres of Cucumber Creek. There is no record of him purchasing this land. Four years later, in the 1845 Tax List, his widow, Frances, is shown with 100 acres of property on Bear Creek, and their son, Solomon F. Robbins, is shown with 125 acres on Stony Run Creek. Of note, John Huneycutt, in this same list, is shown with 300 acres on Stonly Run.
Isham Robbins and wife, Francis had two known children, Solomon Franklin Robbins, born in 1826, and Elizabeth "Betsy" Robbins, born in 1823. Solomon had married Sarah Hinson, daughter of William F. or T. Hinson and wife, Martha Curlee Hinson, in the late 1840's. Elizabeth never married.
Betsy Robbins was already a tainted woman by the time she had a child with John Timothy Huneycutt. In the August, 1849 Session of Stanly County Superior Court, we find this entry:
'Samuel Coley, reputed father of baseborn child begot of Elizabeth Robbins gave bond of $500 for maintenance of said child with G. M. Sides, S. F. Robbins, Hardy Hatley and J. C. Kennedy as securities."
Betsy's brother and some of their neighbors had agreed, together to help support this child with Sam Coley. It was unusual to see the name of J. C. (Jordon) Kennedy, as the very next paragraph had found him in the very same situation with a child born of Sarah Smith.
Sam Coley (1818-1901), was a man about 5 years older than Betsy and had lived in the same general area. The twist was that when he had the trist with Betsy Robbins, he had been married to the former Martha Eudy for about 5 years and was already the father of 3 children with 6 more, by his wife, to follow. Lyndsey, the son of Sam Coley and Betsy Robbins, was born the year between Coley number 3 and Coley number 4. Such was the life in mid 19th century Bick Lick Township.
The 1850 and 1860 census records for the Huneycutts and Robbins have to be seen together to understand what was going on.
In 1850, we see the Charles Cagle household, followed by the John Huneycutt household. In the John Huneycutt household is 17 year old MaryAnn Burris, who will marry his son, Charles McKinley and become my third great grandparents. MaryAnn or Anna, was the daughter of Susan Honeycutt and Joshua Christian Burris, who was a man with many mistresses. I believe Susan was a sister of John's, making Mary Anna his niece.
Listed after Mary Ann Burris is a 70 year old Frances Huneycutt, with Elizabeth 27, and 'Linda' (actually Lyndsey), in the home. Following them is George W. Huneycutt, John's son, who is already married, and working as laborer on his father's farm. John T. is 18 years old at this time.
In 1860. is the Charles Cagle household followed by the John and Sylvia Honeycutt household. Several more of the children are know adults. They are followed by the household of 80 year old Fanny (Frances) Robbins, Betsy, (Elizabeth), now 36, and her two sons, Lyndsey (fathered by Sam Coley) and Greene, (fathered by John Huneycutt). After them is Susy (Susan) Huneycutt, 55, whom I believe was John's sister, and her youngest daughter, Syliva, 18. Susan had a son, Joshua and I believe another son , John, who are shown as being bound out, as Mary Anna was, in the early court records. Sylva, at 18, seems to have stayed with her mother, and reveals the name of her father, J. C. Burris, on her documents.
It's easy to see that Fanny and Betsey "Honeycutt" of 1850 were actually Fanny and Betsy Robbins of 1860.
Why were they enumerated as Huneycutts in 1850? What was the exact relationship of the Robbins and the Honeycutt family, beyond that of John II and Betsy?
Another oddity is the appearance of a 14 year old Fanny Robbins in the home of Susy Honeycutt, who was a tenant of John (and likely sister). Who was this? Solomon Franklin Robbins had a daughter named Frances Caroline, who is shown as a 9 year old in the home of her mother, Sarah, in 1860. She marries Robert Cagle, son of the above mentioned Charles. Was this the same girl, and the census taker was off on her age? Was she visiting her grandmother, whom she was named for and just happened to be in Susy's house, on the same farm? Or was this a different girl altogether? Was she the daughter of Betsy, maybe? She wasn't anywhere in 1850, and she is not shown again, unless she was Solomon's child. And in case you missed it, the oldest daughter of John and Sylvia Honeycutt was also named Frances Caroline. Was this a clue?
Fanny Robbins, the older lady, was Frances Caroline Whitley Robbins, daughter of George Whitley II. I've read several accounts of the Whitley family, and they all give her a death date of 1858, yet, here she was, counted in the 1860 census. The particular place I found this information was "George Whitley Family", compiled by Walter Charles Whitley of Little Rock, Arkansas.
Fanny was not in the 1870 census.
Also not in the 1870 census was her grandson, Lindsey Robbins, son of Betsy and Sam Coley.
Estimated Birth Year:
North Carolina, USA
Cause of Death:
Big Lick, Stanly, North Carolina, USA
Lyndsey died of pneumonia in February of that year at age 17, according to the Mortality Schedule. It would have been nice if they had kept a mortality schedule for every year.
With her mother and oldest son dead, Elizabeth and her younger son, Green, took refuge with the Borroughs or Burris family.
Elizabeth was found living with the Davidson Burroughs family, while Green, 14, was in the home of J.C. Burroughs, previously mentioned.
Her brother, Solomon Robbins was still alive and has a story of his own, but as for Green and his mother Betsy, they disappeared to be seen no more. Or did they?
Anson County reeks history. You can drink it in the air, hear it on the wind, and feel it in the dirt beneath your feet. Every county in North Carolina has history, but some, like Mecklenburg, have buried theirs under skyscrapers, strip malls and apartment complexes growing faster than wild onions.
Mother Anson has cherished hers. Some beautiful buildings are lovingly preserved, while others struggle openly and pleadingly, to hold off mother nature.
In Mecklenburg, creeks are shuttled under highways and through concrete culverts. One could never know that they were there. Not in Anson, where they roam as freely as they did in 1783.
I went on a recent trek to purview the areas in which my ancestors, the Faulkners, lived, so many years ago. The creeks and branches remain. Roads and farms still bear the names of families whose properties bordered that of the Faulkners. While nearly all of the Faulkners migrated away, before 1820, to Tennessee, South Carolina, Kentucky and beyond, many of the neighbors stayed, and their descendants are still there.
I started with the grave of May Buchanan. He was the result of a union between two of the Faulkners neighbors, the Mays and the Buchanons.
When Benjamin Buchanan migrated from Chatham County, NC, he settled near the May family, who already had a congregate presence in the area. May was the son of Benjamin Buchanan and Judith May.
While I was not prepared to trek through the woods to find the ancient grave among the weeds and wildlife, I did want to connect to the general area. These old family cemeteries were usually located on the families property, within view of the homestead, when persons were a distance from the church cemetery. Some families maintain these old family cemeteries to this day.
Like the creeks, they are pinpoints on a map, that says ' this is where they lived'. There were other Family Cemeteries in this area that bespoke the same surnames from two centuries back, Cason, Gulledge, Huntley, Hildreth.
I found out years ago, when I first began searching for the spots my ancestors walked, there was a certain feeling that I would get when I found the right place. A familiarity, a oneness, a memory, if that can be said, kinship, an accord, a ... Belonging.
The above idealic woodland scene is what Featherbed Branch looks like today. It meanders quietly through fields and pastures, snakes through trees and rocks and over roots in the wooded areas. I felt this belonging the first time I came across Featherbed Creek, without knowing what it was.
The first time, I was going from one Hildreth cemetery to the other and found it, quite accidentally, and something felt magnetic. Something felt like home.
When I dove in depth into the origins of the Faulkners, I discovered that they lived on Featherbed Branch. When I returned to Anson County to find it, I discovered it was the same spot I had been to just a few months prior. It was familiar in more ways than one.
Featherbed Branch, for the most part, runs parellel and between two roads. Teal Hall is about the only semi-paved one that crosses it. NC 742 runs near, but doesn't cross it.
This land remains fertile and ancient farmland. The citizens still bear the names that the westward movers took with them, no greener, just different, pastures.
In the wooded mound below lies an old graveyard, and the body of John Cason, a Faulkner neighbor .
The below little branch is called Mill Creek, where Asa Faulkner had a mill for a brief time in the early 1800's. One of the last Faulkners to leave the area, except for two of the children of Asa William Luther Faulkner, was a John Falkner, whose property bordered that of Asa and Elijah Faulkner, and also that of the Chiles, Wisdoms and Buchanans. He was there until about 1825, and then disappeared. Did he relocate? Did he die? And who was he? He wasn't my John, who was just a small child then. How was he connected to Asa and Nathan and the other Faulkners?
Some of my day of exploration was just finding interesting signs and beautiful places.
I found myself in The Valley of the Moon, and among old farms and livestock ranches, and poultry houses that must have had seen things in their day.
In the distance I saw a church with a cemetery that I was sure must have held the bones of some of those who had passed this way.
Instead, it was more modern than it looked, and it's inhabitants were not those of who I sought.
The above screenshot of my maps shows how close I was to the Huntley Cemetery off of Gulledge Road and how close it is to the South Fork of Jones Creek. Those who have kept up with me recently will find those names familiar, Gulledge, Huntley, South Fork of Jones Creek.
As I was looking, I had an audience looking at me.
A view from the cemetery.
The above census excerpt shows a John Falkner living near John Buchanan and two Michael Crawfords after the other Faulkners left the area.
Robinson and Jarman, were again, two families that lived near the Faulkners and are mentioned in random deeds and both are shown in these intersected street signs.
The above intersection is close to where they must have lived.
Another cemetery view.
This very interesting old tree has some years on it. What a beautiful tree as it reaches into the winter sky. I wish it could talk.
The Don Valley sign is all that is apparently left of an interesting place. Now cows live there.
If I'm not mistaken, this path would lead to the Buchanan's cemetery. I would not trespass, as it's posted
A beautiful farm pond on a crisp, sunny day.
An old poultry building.
After vibing with the land where my ancestors once walked, it was time to head home to my civilization and modern times. I drove home and left the past behind. It was now time to follow the paths of the ones who left to see what they could reveal.
When learning of the lives of distant relatives along the bloodline, I'm struck by how often and tragically certain individuals lost children, hence the need, then, for larger families to hope to survive at all. All manner of diseases and accidents for which they had minimal, if any treatment for, lay around every bend.
I wanted to focus breifly on one such child and one such family. Occasionally, I feel as if I am being led by someone other than myself across the veil, as if they ask to be found, to be remembered, for their lives and their existence to be acknowledged. Such is the case of Eugene Head and his family.
Eugene was born on June 13, 1899 in Weakley County, Texas. He was the son of William Paul Head and Mary Elizabeth "Bettie" Phillips. He was a Great Grandson of Gideon Job Faulkner and wife, Nancy Sellers Faulkner, originally of Anson County, NC, who migrated to Carroll County, Tennesee in it's earliest days.
Eugene had an older sister, Zelphia R., born in 1898, and a younger sister, Oma Mae, born in 1902
The family managed to avoid the 1900 census, the first after Eugene's birth, but they were probably in Weakley County, Tennessee, where William's mother, Rebecca Alabama Ridgeway Head, was, where William died on October 7, 1904, while working as a brakeman for the Railroad. He was only 34 years old and left Bettie with three small children, Zilphia, 6, Eugene, 5 and Oma, 1. William Paul Head was buried at Mount Moriah Cemetery in Weakley County, Tennessee. Bettie would then move her children to Fulton County, Kentucky, where she had family, in the very tip-end of Kentucky, bordering the Mississippi River and Tennessee.
Tombstone of William P Head, contributed to Find-a-grave by Mrs. Fenton
The cemetery revealed that William P. Head had had a first wife "L. Z. Head", born in 1870, who had died at the age of 26 in 1896, the year before he married Bettie Phillips.
Bettie would outlive him by quite awhile and raised her children as best she could. In 1910, the only census in which Eugene appears because the 1900 skipped them, Bettie is running a Boarding House in order to support her children. She may have also gotten a pension from the railway.
The Cook family were boarders and it is revealed that Eugene's middle initial was "G". I wonder if it was for Gideon.
Eugene's short life ended on November 10, 1914 when he succombed to Tetanus. He was 15 years, 5 months and 2 days old. (It always gets me how specific they were on these old death certificates.) Eugene had been helping to support the family by working as a delivery boy for a Grocery Business. I wonder if he had acquired Tetanus from something involving his coarse of work.
His mother was the informant, and I believe she was so distraught, that when they asked for the name of his father, she instead mixed in the name of her own father, Elbert Pinkney "Pink" Phillips and the coroner wrote "Pink Head", which is a humourous moniker, instead of William Head, whose middle intial of 'P' definately stood for Paul, not Pink.
The location of Fulton County in realtion to Weakley County, Tennesse.
Young Eugene G. Head was returned to his home county of Weakley, Tennesee for burial at Mount Moriah with his fathers.
13 Jun 1899
15 Nov 1914
Mount Moriah Cemetery
Burial or Cremation Place
Weakley County, Tennessee, United States of America
This would be the end of the story of the Brief Life of Eugene Head, but we must continue with the story of his survivors for one small reason.
Courtesy of Mr. Reece, the tombstone of Eugene Head
While researching the descendant of Gideon Job Faulkner, records for his mother, Bettie, were not adding up.
Everyone had Bettie mixed up with the below lady, "Mattie", whose name was also Martha Elizabeth Phillips, and she had also been born in Tennesee and was close in age to Bettie.
She's even linked to Bettie's parents on Find-A-Grave, but Mattie Phillips Adams was an entirely different person than Martha Elizabeth "Bettie" Phillips Head. Rev. John Quincy Adams of North Carolina moved around quite alot and he, himself is buried in Arkansas with his third wife, Nellie. Mattie was his second and he had a first named Fannie. His second wife, Martha Elizabeth "Mattie" Phillips, whom he married on August 17, 1886, in Tansy County, Montana, was the daughter of an Ezekial "Red" Phillips and Deonisha A. "Nishie" Stovall Phillps. I had to straighten out this misconception for future researchers.
The Correct Martha Elizabeth Phillips had married William Paul Head on February 23, 1897, in Fulton County, Kentucky, about a year after he had lost his first wife. They returned to his home county of Weakley, Tennesee, where their three children were born. Actually, there were five, as reported by Bettie in the 1910 census, two having passed away, within their short, 7 year marriage.
Bettie seems to have been a tough lady and very "take charge". She ensured her children were educated, despite not having a husband and never getting remarried. By 1920, five years after loosing her son Eugene, she moved to the city of Memphis. It was easier for a woman to find work in a city than it was in a rural community or small town. There were businesses and people needing temporary accommodations. Her oldest daughter, Zilphia, was by then, at 21, a trained nurse. Oma, seen incorrectly as 'Anna' here, was still in school at 17.
Miss Zilpha Head
Memphis, Tennessee, USA
Memphis, Tennessee, City Directory, 1916
Zilpha is listed as a Nurse as early as 1916, when she would have been only 17, herself.
In fact, in this Memphis City Directory, it tells us that Zilpha is working for the practice of Drs. Pettey and Wallace, Oma is listed without occupation, unusual as she would have been only 14, and Bettie is an employee at the Shelby Bisquit Company. They are all living at 30 East Iowa Street in Memphis. This would have been the year after Eugene's death. Bettie was obviously anxious to get away,
A Tin from Shelby Bisquit Company
Zilphia would remain as a Nurse in Memphis until at least 1925. Also a driven young woman, she would move to Denver, Colorado.
There, she would marry James L. Epley, at Pueblo, Colorado on November 21st, 1928. She would have actually been 30, not 28. James Leroy Epley was originally from Kansas. They would remain in Waveland, Bent County, Colorado for the remainder of their 15 year marriage. Zilpha would pass away in 1943 at the young age of 45. Her husband, Leroy, would remarry, move to Oregon, and live another ten years. There were no children from either marriage.
Youngest daughter, Oma Elizabeth Head, remained in Memphis. She married James Elmore 'Emo' Mauzey in 1922. There would be one child, a daughter, Jean Elizabeth. Bettie would spend the remainder of her life living with Oma Elizabeth Mauzey in Memphis. After about 20 years of marriage, Oma would divorce Elmo. who worked as an Auto Mechanic and a plumber. He would remarry a woman named Olive, but Oma would not remarry.
The 1950 census finds all three generations of women living together. Bettie, 81, Oma, 47, and Jean, 16. Oma, 'Elizabeth' was working as a Mechanics Bookkeeper at a Tire Manufacturer.
Martha Elizabeth Phillips Head passed away on November 15, 1957, at the age of 90. She was buried at Forest Hill Cemetery Midtown, Memphis, Tennessee.
Oma Elizabeth Head Mauzey died in 1994 at the age of 91 and is buried in the same cemetery.