Friday, November 10, 2023

West of the Sunrise

Oftentimes, old records can't be taken at face value. Possibilities and probabilities are just that. 

The Drury Allen Family Cemetery is ancient to say the least. Located northeast of the relic of the town of Burnsville, south of the Rocky River, and west of Cribs Creek, the old, abandoned collection of crumbling fieldstones and one modern monument to the Virginia pioneer by Allen descendants, sits quietly in a wooded lot, surrounded by verdant meadows and softly rolling hills in the Anson County, NC countryside. Many of the graves hold unknown Allen family members, but among the few that are preserved are that of Drury Allen Sr., who was born in Lunenburg County, Virginia and moved with many others of the massive Allen family to an area along the Rocky River in the years after the Revolutionary War. He died in 1823 in Anson County, NC, and was buried on the Allen Plantation in this cemetery that still grasps for existence. His wife, Elenor Jarrett Allen (1750-1845), is also buried there, along with son John Allen, (1788-1857). Among the crooked rows of bent and chipped stones and sunken tombs is the grave of  'Elviny' Ramsey, who holds the key to a Ramsey mystery that, once you sit down and pull it apart and look at objectively, was not a mystery at all. 

Allen Cemetery photo taken by Rick Philemon from Find-A-Grave

John Allen, son of Drury, was born around 1788 and first appears in the 1820 census of Anson County in the area called 'Staton'. The Staton family was known to live in the northern part of the county around Burnsville.

NameJohn Allen
Enumeration Date7 Aug 1820
Home in 1820 (City, County, State)Staton, Anson, North Carolina, USA
Free White Persons - Males - 16 thru 251
Free White Persons - Males - 45 and over1
Free White Persons - Females - 16 thru 251
Foreigners not Naturalized1
Free White Persons - Over 251
Total Free White Persons3
Total All Persons - White, Slaves, Colored, Other3
He was the head of a family of 3 people, one man over 45, one man between 16 and 25 and a female of the same age. Oddly, John would have been 32, so which one he was is indetectable.

NameJohn Allen
Home in 1830 (City, County, State)Anson, North Carolina
Free White Persons - Males - Under 51 Drury
Free White Persons - Males - 40 thru 491 John
Free White Persons - Females - Under 51 Frances
Free White Persons - Females - 5 thru 9Nelly &  Polly jr.
Free White Persons - Females - 10 thru 142 Nancy, Sarah
Free White Persons - Females - 15 thru 192 Elizabeth, Judith
Free White Persons - Females - 40 thru 491 Polly
Free White Persons - Under 208
Free White Persons - 20 thru 492
Total Free White Persons10
Total - All Persons (Free White, Slaves, Free Colored)10

In 10 years, his household had increased to that of 10 people. John's wife was named Mary and called Polly. Her surname is also given as Allen before and after marriage. I've not studied the Allen family, or this branch of it close enough to give an opinion as to the validity of that. I am a descendant of Mark Allen of Allenton in near the forks of the Pee Dee and Rocky Rivers. He was living near Robert Allen, William Broadway and George Turner.

John and Polly became the parents of a wealth of daughters. It appears not all of them lived to grow up, even though they have seven daughters showing here in 1820.

NameJohn Allen
Home in 1840 (City, County, State)Anson, North Carolina
Free White Persons - Males - 10 thru 141 James
Free White Persons - Males - 15 thru 192 Drury 
Free White Persons - Males - 40 thru 491 John
Free White Persons - Females - Under 52 Unknown
Free White Persons - Females - 5 thru 91 Elvina
Free White Persons - Females - 10 thru 141 Nelly
Free White Persons - Females - 30 thru 391
Slaves - Males - 10 thru 231
Persons Employed in Agriculture4
No. White Persons over 20 Who Cannot Read and Write2
Free White Persons - Under 207
Free White Persons - 20 thru 492
Total Free White Persons9
Total Slaves1
Total All Persons - Free White, Free Colored, Slaves10

In 1840, his household stands at 10, but the dynamics have changed. Some of his older children are on their own and he has added another son, James. He also has among his household an enslaved young man, between 10 and 23 years old, something he had not done until this point.

John's last census will be the 1850 one, and in this one, we get to see the full view of his current household. John and wife Mary are both 58. Very few of their daughters have married. Still in the home are Sarah,37, Elizabeth, 35, Milly 32, Judith 30, Fanny 28, and Elvina 23. All, except possibly the youngest would be considered "Old Maids" by then. The next three households are those of his married children, probably living on John's property. Lucinda, 22, married James Mills. Drury, his oldest son married Rowena    . Daughter Nancy, 32, married Thomas Avitt.

John would pass away on March 26, 1857. He was buried in his father's family cemetery. He left no will, but there exists a probate file on the dispersion of his property, with James Broadway as his administrator, dated May of 1857. Most of the property was retained, or purchased by, his widow, Mary, his three sons, Drury, Robert H. and James Allen, his son-in-laws, his many single daughters and a few neighbors.. My 4th Great Uncle, John E. Davis, and his father-in-law, Uriah Staton, also helped with the division as they were among the neighboring citizens of Burnsville.

A few odd land records survived documenting the further division of the property, although some were obviously missing. There were so many Allens, many of them with the same first names, in Anson, Stanly, Union and Montgomery Counties, that John is sometimes seen as "John of Cribbs Creek". This may have occured after the death of his father by means of a particular deed from Anson County, found in Book X Page 449, dated December 29th, 1830, between Elenor Allen, mother of John and widow of Drury Sr., and John of Cribs Creek. 

"Eleanor Allen and others to John Allen"

"Nelly Allen the widow of Drury Allen deceased and Julius Allen   Thomas Allen  Jeremiah Smith and Susanna his wife David Allen  Benjamin Allen Phillip Kiker and Nancy his wife John Edwards and Sarah his wife and William Allen" all sold their shares to a property on Cribs Creek that crossed Jonathans Branch and bordered the properties of Robert Allen and Darling Allen, brothers of Drury, if I am not mistaken, and that of the Brantleys, containing 236 acres, and witnessed by James Smith and George Turner, and signed by Nelly Allen, widow, and all of John's siblings and his sisters husbands, as was the tradition, or law, in those days; David, Benjamin, Julius, Thomas and William Allen, Nancy Allen Kiker and Phillip, Sarah Allen Edwards and John and Susannah Allen Smith and Jeremiah.

Three years later, Mary Allen Allen, widow of John, is shown in the 1860 census as Proprietress of the farm, with her two younger sons, Robert H. and William James. 25 and 20, respectively, helping her, and all of her single daughters, Sarah, 40, Elizabeth, 38, Nelly, 36, Fanny, 34 and Elvina, 30. Daughter Judith, named for Mary's mother, Judith Nance Allen, died young and her tombstone is partially still standing in her grandfather's family cemetery. This is a good spot to mention that John and Mary were cousins, which may partially explain all of the unmarried children. It was a very insular family.

In Anson County Deed Book 17, Page 262, the 11th of December 1869, Thomas Avitt and his wife, Nancy Allen Avitt, sells to her oldest brother, Drury, their properties in Anson County, including Nancy's share of her parents properties. Mary Allen Allen has now passed away, on April 15, 1869, and was buried with John.

Also in the interim between John's death in 1857 and Mary's in 1869, occurred the Civil War, which left no family unharmed, and had resultd in the deaths of both of the younger Allen sons.

Robert H. Allen had enlisted at age 31 on May 9, 1862 in Wadesoboro, as a Private in Company I, 43 Infantry. He was imprisoned in Petersburg, Virginia in April of 1865, having fought and surviving for 3 years, and died in prison on Hart's Island, New York, on June 12, 1865 of disease, so close to being released to go home.

James Allen, the youngest child, enlisted at the same time and in the same company as his brother, Robert. He was 26 at the time and was wounded in June of 1864 at Farmville, Virginia. He died of his wounds and is buried in Winchester, Virginia.

In Anson County, NC,  Deed Book 7, Page 696, on March 26, 1873, a deed is incorrectly headed, "Drury Edwards and wife to Sarah Allen, Fanny Allen and Elendar Allen". However, in the body of the document, it names Durwery Allen and wife Roena of Stanly County to Sarah Allen, Fanny Allen and Elendar Allen of Anson County, his share of the undivided interest of his (their) father's estate on Cribs Creek.

Drury had married Rowena (Roena) Baucom and they had four children together. He was shown in the 1860 census as a Miller and living in Stanly County, on the other side of the Rocky River. In 1870, he is still shown as a Miller, but in Anson County again. He passes away in 1877 and was buried at Rocky Mount Church in Anson. Rowena outlived him by several decades and died in 1900.

1870 is where the big confusion came in that prompted me to create a post to straighten it out. The above excerpt shows Drury Allen, Miller, with his wife, Roena and three of his children, one already married. A 12 year old named Jackson Ramsey is living with them. The next house seems to be a 15 year old girl named Charlotte Bennett living alone. After that is the household of 21 year old William R. Ramsey with Melvina, 34, Adam, 16, Sarah, 52, Nella, 48, and Frances, 47, all under the heading of Ramsey. 

Before anymore commentary, let's jump ahead another decade, to 1880.

In the above excerpt from the 1880 census for Burnsville, Anson County, NC, we see William Ramsey again, now age given as 35. The advantage of the 1880 is that now, relationship to head of household is given for the first time. We see Melvina again, now 46, still a good deal older than William and relationship is given as wife. A teenager named Marshall is given as brother. There's Sarah, 66 and Fanny, 57, both given as sister-in-laws. 

The Ramsey family is in my family tree. I descend from Starkey Ramsey and so did William R. Ramsey. William Reuben Ramsey and his younger brothers Jackson Columbus Ramsey and Marshall Adam Ramsey were all three of the younger children of James and Obedience "Biddy" Ledbetter Ramsey, who also lived in the small Burnsville Township. In fact, below is the listing for their family in 1860.

James Ramsey was one of the younger sons of Stark Ramsey and brother to my third Great Grandfather Samuel Ramsey. 

Biddy isn't seen after 1860 and James served in the Civil War. Born about 1820, he was an older soldier. He was sick several times during his service and made it home on leave at least twice. It appears he may have made it back to Anson County after the war was over, but weak, ill, and suffering from rheumatism, passed away soon after the war. 

William R Ramsey would have been 20 in 1869, the year Elvina Allen inherited a little portion of land from her fathers considerable estate after the death of her mother, Mary. William seems to have been one of a number of young opportunists that I've seen from this era. There were 4 single Allen sisters after the death of Mary. We know Judith passed away already because of her tombstone. Elizabeth doesn't appear to have made it to 1870. That left Sarah, Frances, nicknamed Fanny, Eleanor, nicknamed Nelly or Nella and Elvina, whose name seems to have morphed into Melvina. 

William R Ramsey married the youngest of the single Allen sisters, Elvina aka Melvina, about 1869.  As he was born about 1849, and she about 1834, she was 15 years his senior. Still, he did his duty. In 1870, he was guardian of his little brother, Marshall Adam Ramsey, while Jackson worked for his brother-in-law, Drury. Jackson remained as a field hand helping Roena after Drurys death.

William also seems to have taken care of Melvina's older sisters. Sarah, Frances (Fanny), and Eleanor (Nelly), were not Ramseys, but Allens. Drury had transferred property to the three of them in 1873, but only Sarah and Fanny remained in 1880, so Eleanor must have died between 1873 and 1880.

Melvina Elvina Allen Ramsey, passed away, herself, on November 11, 1897. She was buried in the family plot with her parents and grandparents. Neither Sarah or Fanny appear to have to survived to see the new century, either. They, along with Nelly Allen, were probably buried in the family cemetery, too, but their graves are now unmarked.
William and Melvina had one child, Willie, born into her advancing age. We could not have known about him except for his tombstone, as he was born in 1880, after the census was taken. William R. Ramsey had joined Red Hill Baptist Church. The tombstone there in his family row declares Willie, born October 19,1880, and died October 22,1901, as the son of W. R. and Lucinda Ramsey, and certainly she raised him, but Willie would have had to have been Melvina's only child and was lost as he entered adulthood.

William R. Ramsey did remarry, to Lucinda Sykes about 1899.

The 1900 census tells us that they had been married for 1 year and the 1910, for 11.  The 1910 census shows that Lucinda gave William two daughters, Luzie and Hattie. The cemetery tells us they also had a son, Johnny Ray, born in 1900, who died as an infant. 
William R Ramsey died in 1914 of apoplexy at age 65. His widow remarried to Elijah Henry Chewning, who helped raise the two daughters. Lucinda lived until 1939. Luzie married Lonnie John Porter and lived until 1969. Hattie married her stepbrother, Charlie Chewning and lived until 1976.

Stark Ramsey only had one known daughter, Harriett, who married Jackson Trull of the New Salem community. The family trees who have Sarah, Frances and Nella as daughters of Stark and Lisha Ramsey are incorrect. They were the Allen sisters, sister-in -laws of William R. Ramsey, not his Aunt's.

No comments:

Post a Comment