Monday, January 4, 2010

Madness Monday - John R. Petty

Madness Monday is a theme I can get behind since brick walls often drive me to madness.

Who was the father of John R. Petty?

John R. Petty was born about 1836 in Tennessee and married Margaret E. Thomas in 1857 in Whitfield County, Georgia. Census records show John R. and Margaret in McMinn County, Tennessee in 1860 and in Logan County, Kentucky in 1870. They moved from Tennessee to Georgia after the 1860 census but before April 1961 when their daughter, Samantha, was born in Dalton (Whitfield County). Two other children were born in Georgia in 1865 and 1867 then between 1867 and 1869, they moved to Kentucky were their 5 youngest children were born.

Margaret died from childbirth complications in Hopkins County, Kentucky in 1876 and the younger children were living in Forsyth County, Georgia in 1880 with Margaret's sister, Mary Echols. John R.'s whereabouts after 1876 are unknown but there is a record in Whitfield County for a marriage in 1878 for a John R. Petty and M. C. Bohanan. It is unclear at this point if this that was this John R. but it could be.

There was a John Petty (age 51) in Bradley County, Tennessee in the 1860 census. Living with him was Martha (21), Rash (19), James (16), Joseph (14), Angeline (12) and Mary (9). It appears this John was a widower living with his children (although Martha could be a younger 2nd wife). In that same census, John R. and Margaret were listed in McMinn County, Tennessee which adjoins Bradley County. John R. was 24, making his age in line for him to be a sibling in this family.

Based on a newspaper clipping about John R.'s daughter, Samantha, we know that he served in the Confederate Army and that the family lived in Dalton, Georgia during the war. The Tennessee 43rd Infantry, Company I (which was formed in Bradley County) had a Sgt. John R. Petty as well as Privates James, Joseph and R. P. Petty. Even though John R. was probably living in Georgia at the time he joined the Confederacy, Whitfield County borders Bradley so it's reasonable that he would have joined from there - especially if these other 3 Petty's were his brothers. There is no doubt that James, Joseph and R. P. are the 3 brothers from the 1860 census in Bradley County. (Later census records list Rash as Rash P. and R. P.)

By 1870, John R. and Margaret were living in Logan County, Kentucky. Two doors down from them was a Joseph Petty who was born in Tennessee and was the right age to be the Joseph from Bradley County. His close proximity to John R. and Margaret seems to further indicate a relationship.

Three of John R. and Margaret's children had names found in the Bradley County Petty family. While Mary and Joseph were very common names, Angeline (which was their daughter, Samantha's middle name) wasn't.

So where does that leave the question of John R. Petty's father? I think the 1860 Bradley County family's location, the brothers in the same Confederate unit and younger brother, Joseph, appearing to follow John R. to Kentucky means the elder John was almost certainly John R.'s father. It's just that word "almost" that drives me mad.

John R. Petty was my great great grandfather. (Hankins Line)

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