Thursday, April 4, 2024

The Broken Banjo: John W. Lynch

An old folk song called, "Oh! Susanna" was penned by a man who was consoling a girl, whose heart he had broken, she probably wishing to marry him ,but he was 'going to Alabama with a Banjo on my Knee.'

Published in 1848 by Stephen Foster, this wailing ode to broken hearts spoke to many a young travelor bound for parts unknown, searching for that lumonous American Dream. A nascent desire, driven by the eustress of survival and the desire of wealth, drove numbers of young men to absquatulate and journey south, west and even northwest, longanimity and perserverance, from sea to shining sea. 

John W. Lynch was such a young man with the persistence and drive to leave his epigraph on the stones of history, and indeed, he succeeded in leaving his name on one, a tomstone. 

He was born on February 8, 1799, in Anson County, North Carolina, and I know that fact from that very stone. The first mention of his name in records, was within the Will of his father, Phillip Lynch, dated 1807, when John was yet a small boy of eight. The second came a decade later, when John was about 18.

November 25, 1817, William Terry of Cumberland County, North Carolina sold to Martin Pickett all of his interest in in Lot number One in the town of Wadesboro, sold by Nelson P. Jones to Leak Pickett & Company. Witnesses were Tod Robinson & John W. Lynch. Proved by the oath of Toddy Robinson  in 1818, Book 2, Page 25. Now knowing Tod Robinson married a Terry and Pickett was also an associated family name of the Robinsons, both of these men must have been family members of Tod Robinson.

John W. Lynch had close ties to Tod Robinson and his father Phillip, had a connection to 'Tirey' or Terry Robinson. Tod Robinson was the son of Cornelius Robinson and Elizabeth Pickett. He married Martha Terry, daughter of James Terry. Despite the name being seen as 'Tirey' and other shapes and spellings, it was also seen as 'Terry', which I believe is correct. Was there an earlier Terry union in the Robinson family? Terry was a man, and found in the earliest records of Anson.

NameTerey Robinson
StateNorth Carolina
TownshipTax List

The 1763 Tax

NameTirey Robinson
GenderM (Male)
StateNorth Carolina
CountyAnson County
Residence Year1780
Household RemarksName on a petition, 19 April 1777, to the Senate, etc., from the “inhabitants of the Upper End of the County of Anson” asking that the county be divided since the county has “grown popolo."

The 1777 petition,

But in the 1790 census, Phillip had a neighbor named "Jeremiah" Robinson and I believe "Terry" may have been "Jerry" and the "J" mistaken for a "T".

On August 12, 1819, Toddy Robinson gave his location as Cumberland County and began dividing out enslaved people to his children. 

Book S, page 408 Toddy Robinson of Cumberland County 'to my son Eli Robinson for natural good will and affection "....Billy, Jacke, Lydia, Cressy and her children, Vinson, Sampson, Eliza & Phoebe. Signed Tod Robinson, witnessed by John W. Lynch.
And so it went...

Toddy Robinson (Jr.) received Jordan, John, Gilbert, Jacob, Shary, and Rachel and her children, Malinda and Tom. 
Signed by Tod, witnessed by John W. Lynch.

Ann T. Robinson received Big Ben and his wife, Phyllis, little Moses, little Mary, and Easter.
William Robinson received Isham, Davie, Daniel, Martha, Lucy and Solomon and his wife Anne and their children, Henry and Dick.
Cornelius Robinson received Little Ben, Lewis, Little John, Charles, Jim, Betty, and her child, Rufus and Sally and her child, Sender. 

All dated August 12, 1819, all found in Book S, pages 408-410, all signed by Toddy Robinson and all witnessed by John W Lynch.

In 1798, David Love, who was the grantor of property in several deeds involving John W. Lynch's father, Phillip and many of his near neighbors, is seen in Deed F Page 153, as having moved to Green County, Georgia and selling property back in Anson to Toddy Robinson and Eli Terry, his relative. 

1825 William R Pickett, another kinsman of Toddy Robinson is in Autauga County, Alabama and selling his Anson holdings to Jeptha Gulledge, 3 adjoining tracts of 400 acres, neighbors mentioned were William Rorie, John Stanfield of Faulkner relation, John Jackson, Yarborough and Hezekiah Rorie. Places mentioned were Lick Branch and Thompson Creek. Witnesses were Thomas Coleman and John W. Lynch, proved by John's signature in October of 1826.

October of 1826 is when the deed that informs us that John W. Lynch, himself had moved to Alabama, banjo on his knee or not,. John W. Lynch of the town of Washington, Alabama, sold to Thomas Waddill the 36 acres on the west side of the Rocky River that joined that of his sister and brother-in-law, Betsy and Oliver Coppedge, being land allotted to me fron land of Phillip Lynch, deceased and known on division plat as lot # 5. ' Signed by John and witnessed by Clement Marshall, Book V Page 386. 

The very next deed involved the siblings of Darling Allen, Jr. as they divided the land of their deceased father, Darling Sr.. Darling Jr. had married Catherine "Catey" Lynch. 

In the next few years, John seemed to have began what appeared to be an auspicious future. He had been appointed a Justice of the Peace in Jackson, Alabama. And then he died. 

NameJohn W. Lynch
Birth Date8 Feb 1799
Death Date28 Feb 1833
CemeteryDoster Family Cemetery
Burial or Cremation PlacePrattville, Autauga County, Alabama, United States of America
Has Bio?N

John was buried at the Doster Family Cemetery in Prattville, Autauga County, Alabama. I don't think he had any particular ties to the Doster family. He was a young man, days from being 34. There is no indicated of what caused his death, but it wasn't sudden. John knew he was dying. He wrote a Will, uncommon for men of his age. 

And guess who was the Executor of his estate? None other than Toddy Robinson. I have no doubt that it was his connection wtih Tod Robinson that brought him to Autauga. With no known familial ties to the Robinson family, I wonder how John  had formed such an insoculated relationship with Tod Robinson and family?

John's Will, however, gave much appreciated insight into his own family. 

Know all men by these present that I John W Lynch of the county and state aforesaid.... being impacted with the short and uncertain duration of human life have made ordained and last Will and Testament...

I hereby appoint Tod Robinson senior, William Wyatt and (Lop?) Porter all of the county aforesaid to be Executors.l

Note: In the actual probate papers that would follow, a few months down the road, the three would consist of William Wyatt, Tod Robinson and Peyton Bibb, with Tod Robinson being the primary

John claimed to owe, one debt, to wit - a draft on William Wyatt, accepted by him in favor of Chase Truett of New York, payable in Mobile for $1500.... And then a debt owed Wick and Chernman of New York for $600-$700.

He then leaves his property to his living siblings and informed us of the ones who were not. 
To my brother Edmund Green Lynch of Anson County, North Carolina, I give and bequeath one fourth part of the residue & remainder of my property after payment of the debts aforesaid

To my sister Sarah wife of William Cawthon of Henderson Co. Tennessee. I give & bequeath one fourth part.....

To William Cawthon husband of my said sister Sarah I give and bequeath one be held in trust by the said William Cawthon for the use of my other sister Eliza wife of Oliver Coppedge of Henderson County, Tennessee....Wm Cawthon shall hold said property in trust for the sole and separate use of my said sister Eliza & her children.

To the three children of my deceased sister Catherine wife of Darling Allen, and to James G Nash the son of my other deceased sister Nancy I give & bequeath one fourth be equally divided between them to be paid to them as soon as they come to the age of 21 years or marry.

My will & desire is that all my clothes and wearing apparel be packed up & sent to my brother in North Carolina with the exception of one camel cloak faced with Ermine which I present to William Wyatt.
I give to my brother Edmund G Lynch. 

In testimony.....this 22nd day of February AD 1833.

John Lynch signed his name with a legible, flowing signature that was testimate to the fact that not only had he written his own will, and not an attorney, but he was an educated man.

Witnesses were D. Go lightly, John W. Wishon and R Caruthers.

John W. Lynch died 6 days after writing his Will. He knew he was dying. I wonder if he had Thyphoid or some other malady which made him question his mortality?

A few months later, in April, David Golightly swore that he had witnessed the Will and that his friend, John, had been of sound mind and memory, and that he, John W. Withers and Robert Caruthers witnessed it.

John W. Lynch was a young man with no wife, no children, a little bit of property, some debts, and a good coat. Fortunately, he had some good and impressive friends. Had he lived and thrived in this fertile part of Alabama, he may have made his fortune, and left impressions upon history as did his associates.

He did leave us with some information about his family, however, that would correct a few inconsistencies. First, we know he outlived his two sisters, Catherine Lynch Allen and Nancy Lynch Nash. That totally refutes the ongoing theory that Nancy Nash who had a relationship with Benjamin Hudson was Nancy Lynch Nash. Apparently, Stephen and Nancy had both died young, leaving one son, John W. Lynch. Also that Catey Lynch Allen was the mother of three children, so Darling Allen's three oldest would also be Catey's. 

 We know that at the time of John's death, Edmund Green Lynch still lived in Anson County. Green was the one still taking care of their mother and his father's lands. We can also safely assume that John trusted and liked his brother-in-law, William Cawthon, husband of Sarah Lynch, but didn't trust Oliver Coppedge, the husband of his sister Betsy, at all. 
William Conquest "Bucky" Wyatt, who ultimately settled John Lynches estate, was a contemporary of his, born in 1796 in South Carolina. He made his way to Autauga through Georgia, marrying twice, to Elizabeth Baggett and Marianne Right (Wright). By Marianne, he had five sons. 

He may have originally settled in or around Washington, and in the 1840's, he was appointed a Justice of the Peace, like John Lynch had. 

Bucky was the son of a Baptist Minister, William Wyatt. Bucky's sister, Mary, married a Mr. Bibb who moved to Autauga and probably spurred Bucky's arrival there. Their son, William Wyatt Bibb, became the first Governor of Alabama when it became a state in 1819.

William Conquest Wyatt, was living in Chestnut in 1850, and died in Prattville in 1852. His family had ties to a Robinson family while in Georgia. I can't help but think that the Chilton Georgia Robinson were probably related to the Anson, NC Robinsons in some way

All of John Lynches associates were from well-connected, well-educated and civiclly- involved families. Prosperous, Old South Plantation families. I can't help but feel the Lynches were from the same ilk, ground from the same stone, but doomed to a touch by the death of their father while the children were yet young. 

Lastly, after his earlier association with Toddy Robinson, it can be a solid theory that his relationship there took him to Autauga. Was he an employee perhaps? Robinson was a wealthy man. 

Robinson died not too long after John, but was clearly a much older man. Had he taken John under his wing, as John was a small boy when his own father, Phillip Lynch, had died. Above is a newspaper clipping concerning the estate of Tod Robinson, Sr. Several years after his death.

Tod Robinson had founded or 'found' a lovely spring site that still beats his name. A bit of his about it from Alabama Surnames Expanded ", below.