I have a ton of indirect and circumstantial evidence that ties John R. to the John Petty family (much of it has been covered here in a variety of posts, see below for the list) but I'd still like something a little more straight forward.
Today I ran over to the Kentucky Archives (it's just 80 miles and I actually had to be in Lexington anyway so really just about 20 miles away from there) to get a copy of the marriage record for Joseph Petty and Nancy Thomas hoping that there would be some clue in it to help my case.
The elder John Petty had a son named Joseph. John R. Petty (his wife, Margaret and their children) and Joseph Petty (his wife, Nancy and their son) were all in Logan County, Kentucky in the 1870 census - in the same district with only one household separating them. Both of the Petty men were born in Tennessee - they have to be brothers, don't they?
I had incorrectly assumed that both Petty families moved to Logan County from Tennessee sometime after the Civil War (when John R. and Joseph along with two other sons of John Petty served in the same Confederate unit). Turns out there was a slight flaw in that theory recently uncovered by a Colorado friend of my Petty research buddy in Oregon. (Fresh eyes are often a very good thing.)
The flaw - Joseph did not actually get married until after he was in Logan County but his wife seems to be a very interesting twist. Joseph married a Nancy Thomas who was born in Georgia. John R.'s wife, Margaret, was a Thomas from Murray and Lumpkin Counties in Georgia, she had a sister named Nancy and Margaret and Nancy's mother, Rebecca Thomas lived in Logan County in 1870. Nancy Thomas who married Joseph appears to be a few years younger than Margaret's sister but it still looks like the Petty brothers married the Thomas sisters.
If only John R. has served as surety on Joseph and Nancy's marriage bond that would have tied everything together with a nice bow but the surety was E. W. Northington. I didn't find an E. W. Northington in Logan County but Edward O. Northington was listed next to John R. in the 1870 Logan County census. (He is not the household between John R. and Joseph but on the other side of John.) Of the 25 Northingtons in Logan County in 1870, he is the only one with a first initial E. Oh goody, someone else to research.
While working on this post I noticed another little "situation" - Joseph and Nancy were married in 1869 in Kentucky and were there in 1870 but their apparent child living with them in 1870 named Robert Petty was three years old and born in Georgia. He could be their son born prior to the marriage or he could be either Joseph's or Nancy's child from a previous marriage or relationship.
Nothing is ever easy with this family.
I'm about to spend four days in Whitfield, Murray and Forsyth Counties in Georgia working on these Petty and Thomas families. I may be stark raving mad by the time Georgia Family History Expo starts on Friday. Stay tuned.
Other posts related to Petty research: