Monday, February 7, 2011

Searching for John R. Petty's Parents - Part 1

John R. Petty was my 2nd great-grandfather. I've had a decent lead on his father for years but had not done any research beyond the web to try to prove the connection. I really believed that was the only reason I hadn't been able to prove that my John R. was the son of John Petty of Bradley County, Tennessee. I finally made the 3 hour drive down I-75 to Bradley County last fall but instead of finding the proof I was sure would be there, I mostly came back with a long list of books and record groups that did not mention anyone in either Petty family. I guess the good news is that I didn't find anything to disprove a relationship between John R. and John either so it's still a possibility. 

Where to go from here? A complete review of everything - what is proven, what is possible, what can't be found - seems to be in order. This is going to take some time. Part 1 starts now.

John R. Petty and Margaret E. Thomas were married on 20 Sep 1857 in Whitfield County, Georgia after being issued a marriage license the previous day.

Margaret was the daughter of Jesse and Rebecca Thomas who were living in Lumpkin County, Georgia in 1850 and Murray County, Georgia in 1840 and 1860. Whitfield County was formed from parts of Murray and Walker Counties in 1851.

According to the 1860 census, John R. and Margaret were living in Calhoun, McMinn County, Tennessee. He was listed as 24 years old, born in Tennessee. He didn't own real estate. They had two children, Melissa (age 2) and Henry (age 3 months) - both born in Tennessee. There were no other Pettys in McMinn County but there was one (and only one) Petty family in neighboring Bradley County, Tennessee. McMinn and Bradley Counties share a border along the Hiwassee River. The McMinn County town of Calhoun is on the north side of the river just across from the Bradley County town of Charleston. It should also be noted that Bradley County shares it's southern border with both Murray and Whitfield County, Georgia

from Bing Maps
John Petty (age 51, born in Tennessee, owner of no real estate) was the head of household in the 1860 Bradley County Petty family. Additional household members were Martha (21), Rash (19), James (16), Joseph (14), Angeline (12) and Mary (9) - all listed as born in Tennessee. John was probably the father of the younger household members although Martha could have been a much younger wife. If so, she wasn't the mother of any of the children.

John's household was in District 1. There were 13 districts in Bradley County in 1860 and the 1st District covers 14 pages of names. The first two pages list the Post Office as Charleston and even though the remaining 12 pages don't list anything on the PO line, that seems to indicate the 1st District is located near Charleston and, therefore, near the McMinn County line. 

The 51 year old John Petty looks like a promising candidate for 24 year old John R.'s father. John R.'s age fits in line with John's other children, they were living in adjoining counties (possibly both near their common county line) and, of course, there's the whole same name thing. All I need is the 1850 census where John R. will no doubt be listed with the elder John along with his mother and siblings.

If only it was that simple.

[Note: If you are seeing Part 3 of this series in Google Reader prior to this post, I hit publish instead of save by mistake so just ignore it for now.]

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