It is fairly certain where John Jones could be found at 2:30pm on October 19, 1781. He would have been standing in one of three rows of soldiers on the west side of Hampton Road, just outside of Yorktown, Virginia. Across the road were similar lines of French soldiers dressed in fancy uniforms distinguished by colorful lapels, collars, and buttons that indicated their regiments. By contrast, the American soldiers of the Continental Army similarly stood at attention but wearing well-worn blue uniforms that had not recently been laundered. As for John Jones’s Virginia militia compatriots, they wore more-or-less what they always wore: leather hunting shirts and breeches, perhaps with an old uniform piece or two, quite the contrast to the French professionals.
A French military band played to entertain the the soldiers. The British were late.
Extract from will of Jacob Bunn, Northampton County, NC, 1790
Most American genealogies justifiably celebrate the accomplishments and deeds of ancestors, recalling how they experienced or participated in the historical events of their times. However, genealogies of white southerners often omit reference to a group of household members that contributed significantly to their family enterprises: that is, those household members held in slavery prior to the Civil War. Yet much as slavery was impossible to ignore in antebellum southern society, it is impossible to ignore within the primary documents of the era. Particularly disturbing is reading wills, where “Negroes” are parceled out to heirs along with livestock and household furnishings. One common formulation reads like that in the 1790 will of Nelson ancestor Jacob Bunn, of Northampton County, NC: “I give unto my grandson Elias Lewter one Negro woman by the name of Edy and all her issue to him and his heirs forever.” Thus does one man expect to condemn a woman and all her descendants to slavery in perpetuity.
No one in the family handed down stories of slavery, but a few, usually tragic glimpses remain in the historical record. Continue reading →
Recent posts have highlighted this family’s ancestors who were Scotch-Irish, French Huguenot, German, and Irish. And of course, there are the earliest posts that described the origin of the family’s surname amidst the European Jews of France and Hungary. While the family’s European antecedents include a diversity of influences, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that overall our origins were mostly British and more particularly English.
Using the the framework of the eight families representing the author’s great-grandparents, here are the estimated origins for each.
Estimated percentage of family origin by distinct ethnic/linguistic group. “British” refers to an origin on the island of Great Britain, including England, Scotland, and Wales.
American infantry storm Redoubt #10 during the Siege of Yorktown
How many members of this family participated in the American Revolutionary War?
By the time the family history reaches the Revolutionary War generations, there are hundreds of potential ancestors to account for. While identifying these family members is not yet complete, there is already plenty to share. So without further delay, you may click here to obtain a PDF spreadsheet detailing the 39 direct ancestors who are known to have contributed to American independence. The spreadsheet includes summary information about military service, pension application numbers, and identifying numbers for both Daughters of the American Revolution and Sons of the American Revolution records.
Seven of the eight families are represented, the only exception being the Loebs whose immigrant ancestors did not arrive in the country until the middle of the next century. The list is a mix of those credited with helping the cause, including those who served in either the Continental Army or state militias, those who contributed to civil government, and those who are identified by the Daughters of the American Revolution as having provided “Patriotic” service. These patriotic contributions included providing supplies, money, or other material aid, as well as a few whose only known participation was taking an oath of allegiance to the new country. Continue reading →
In 1610, King James of England and Scotland made an effort to subdue and profit from his possession of Ireland by seizing land from the Irish and offering it up to some of his other subjects. Notably, many lowland Scots decided to jump islands and make a go of farming and herding on the new Ulster Plantation. They were fairly successful despite having to deal with justifiably surly dispossessed Irish natives. However, a century later the combination of unfortunate economic and religious policy from Great Britain and poor agricultural returns sparked a mass migration of these Scotsmen out of Ireland. They headed for a new adventure in America, where collectively they became known as the Scotch-Irish in reflection of their dual heritage.
A banyan tree. An actual descendant of the Wallace-Alexander-McKnitt family is in the branches of this “family tree!”
From 1717 until the American Revolution, the Scotch-Irish were a significant component of American immigration and appear in large numbers within this family as with many others, bearing names like McRee, McNeely, and Barnett. But the most influential Scotch-Irish in the family arrived well ahead of the big wave of immigrants. “Influential” is here meant two ways: these members of the family were quite important in their communities and rose to prominence and leadership particularly during the War for Independence. However, they were also influential in their large presence within the overall history of the family. For this part of the family tree, think banyan. Continue reading →
By the time Charles Paysinger married Lola Belle Tenery on Christmas Eve, 1899, their families had been in the adjacent Lincoln and Giles Counties, Tennessee, for four generations. While many aunts, uncles, and cousins pursued their fortunes westward to Arkansas, Texas, or elsewhere, the portions of the family that remained had set deep roots along the Tennessee and Alabama border, having been there virtually since the beginning of European-American settlement. But the world was changing at the turn of the century and Charles and Lola Belle would pull up those roots and become members of the 20th century economy – following job and career opportunities – rather than engaging in the 19th century’s relentless westward pursuit of new agricultural land. Continue reading →
With this post I initiate a new category that I will entitle “Mysteries.” Mysteries are those genealogical puzzles for which no answers appear to be discoverable. The origin of the Paysinger family of Lincoln County, Tennessee, is one of those puzzles.
What we do know: a John Paysinger settled in Lincoln County, Tennessee sometime between 1826 and 1830. Census and marriage records show that he was born in North Carolina around 1789, and he married Bersheba Jones in 1819 in Madison County, Alabama (adjacent to Lincoln County). One of his many children was Thomas Alexander Paysinger, discussed in the prior post.
1827 Anthony Finley Map of Tennessee. Note Lincoln County in the middle along the southern border with Alabama.
More than one family genealogist has attempted to find out where in North Carolina John was born, Continue reading →
The U.S. Civil War had terrible impacts on the family in Tennessee, but of all the branches it was the Paysingers who perhaps suffered the most.
Thomas Alexander Paysinger, his wife Mary Adaline McRee Paysinger (grandparents of Charles Paysinger), and their 12 children were living in Lincoln County, Tennessee, in 1860. According to one family recollection, the family tried to avoid the war by heading west – a strategy employed by many Tennesseans who moved to Arkansas or elsewhere in a foresightful but often unsuccessful bid to dodge the hostilities. The Paysingers either didn’t go far enough or moved too slowly and the war caught up to them in Mississippi. Continue reading →