|Whitfield County, Georgia Probate Clerk’s Office|
Several days ago I came across a photo attached to John Petty in an Ancestry.com tree. Is it my 3rd great-grandfather who died before 1900? I messaged the owner. I’m still impatiently waiting for a response. (Do you know how much I wanted to use that picture in this post?)
While I’m waiting, it seems like good time to review what I know about John Petty. The short answer is not much, despite researching on-site in three counties where he lived and another where he may have lived.
John Petty had ten children. That implies he was married. At the very least, each of those children had a mother. Was the same woman the mother of all ten children? Probably? Maybe? Does anyone know?
John lived in McMinn County, Tennessee in 1840. His household composition was 1 male 5–10, 1 male 20–30, 2 females under 5, 2 females 5–10, and 1 female 20–30. John was the adult male. His “alleged” wife was probably the adult female. The five children were probably John R. (born abt 1835), Charlotte (born Dec 1830), Caroline (born bet. 1830–1840), Martha (born abt. 1839) and an unknown daughter (who is said to have married a Milsapp).
The family is no where to be found in the 1850 census. Not in McMinn or adjacent Bradley County. Not in nearby Murray or Whitfield Counties in Georgia. (Those are the counties I’ve gone through page by page). And not anywhere else according to many census searches.
There is an old Petty family story (not from my family, no one in my family knew anything about John Petty—not even his name) that John’s wife and Charlotte’s husband, John Hambright, drowned in a flood around 1850. According to this story, the family relocated to Murray County, Georgia for a short time after their deaths. Did that happen? I don’t know. Most anything is possible.
John lived in Charleston in Bradley County by 1860 with children Martha, Rash, James, Joseph, Angeline (Ann) and Mary. The children’s ages ranged from twenty-one to nine. If the nine-year-old truly was nine, then her mother didn’t die before 1850. Whatever happened to the children’s mother(s), no other female was living with them in 1860. Caroline and the unknown daughter who married a Milsapp haven’t been located in that census.
Charlotte and John R. both lived in the McMinn County community of Calhoun in 1860. Charleston and Calhoun are separated only by the Hiwassee River that serves as the border between Bradley and McMinn Counties. Charlotte Hambright had four children and no husband in the household. The youngest child was four years old so her father didn’t die before 1850. Other information implies John Hambright was not that child’s father. Her next youngest was nine.
John’s four sons all joined Company I of the 43rd Tennessee Infantry (Confederate) at Charleston. Rash joined on 1 Dec 1862. The other three joined a year earlier on 13 Nov 1861. After being captured and released at Vicksburg, Mississippi all except John R. joined the 10th Union Cavalry.
John was in Bradley County in 1870 but possibly not in the same location as his Post Office was Cleveland rather than Charleston. Tabitha Petty (age 57, keeping house) lived with him along with ten-year-old Sarah Cassell. Was Tabitha John’s wife? Perhaps. But if a marriage record exists, I haven’t found it. Was she the mother of any of his children? It seems unlikely unless her absence in the 1860 census was a mistake. Who was Sarah? No clue except that John’s granddaughter, Rebecca Hambright, later married Robert Castle (Cassell?).
In 1880, John was in Whitfield County, Georgia living with daughters Martha and Ann. Ann’s husband, Wiley Long, and their four children were also in the household but Martha’s husband, John W. Martin, had died in 1879. Martha and Ann both married in Whitfield County: Martha in 1867, Ann in 1868.
John married Elizabeth Inman, widow of William Inman, on 15 Feb 1881 in Whitfield County. Based on census records, John was born about 1809 in either Tennessee or North Carolina. He likely died before 1900.
Daughters Charlotte, Martha, and Ann remained near John but his other children scattered to Kentucky, Illinois, Arkansas and Texas. A couple later returned to the area where they grew-up.
Rash married Sarah Ann Foster (probably not her maiden name) in 1865 in Bradley County and they settled in Blount County, Tennessee. James married Sarah Longwith there that same year. They stayed in Bradley County for several years before moving to Washington County, Arkansas.
John R. married Margaret E. Thomas in Whitfield County in 1857. From McMinn County, they moved to Whitfield County before relocating to Logan County, Kentucky and then to nearby Hopkins County. Joseph also went to Logan County—likely with John R. Once there, he married Margaret’s sister, Nancy, in 1869. John R. returned to Whitfield County around the time of Margaret’s death in 1876 and married Mary C. Bohannan in 1878. Joseph and Nancy eventually left Logan County for Texas—Lamar and Bowie Counties.
After marrying John Cooper in Webster County, Kentucky, in 1869, Mary and her family lived in Johnson County, Illinois. They later moved near her sisters in Whitfield County. Caroline and her husband, Lemuel Young, gave consent for Mary to marry in Webster County, Kentucky. No other records for Caroline have been found. The unknown daughter who may have married a Milsapp remains unknown.