Friday, November 29, 2013

It must be in the Genes!

In my last post I mentioned the importance of building out your tree with the hopes of finding a set of ancestors in common with your DNA matches. This has been working especially well for me, not to mention it has gotten me “back in the saddle again.” One of the recent matches to my grandmother has a set of WATSON ancestors from South Carolina. It is a long shot, but there is a remote possibility that his WATSONS were connected to my WATSONS of Laurens County, South Carolina. All I know is that his ancestor was Leroy WATSON. Leroy WATSON was born 1795 in South Carolina and he died 1872 in Jonesville, Florida. His descendants lived in Georgia and Florida.

My oldest known WATSON was John WATSON who was born 1788 in South Carolina. He married Nancy JEANS and their daughter Rachel WATSON married Elijah HILL prior to moving to Arkansas. 

Most of this information I got from the online trees posted to, now, back in 2005. These trees were created from GEDCOMS that individuals made from their genealogy software and uploaded to the site. I went back and reviewed the notes and sources attached to these trees and found the JEANS family mentioned in a book Maryland and Virginia Colonials: Genealogies of Some Colonial Families, Volume I, by Sharon Doliante, on pages 560-561. 

Here are the digital images of pages 561-561 that mention the JEANS, WATSON, and HILL families: 

 Maryland and Virginia Colonials: Genealogies of Some Colonial Families, Volume I 
by Sharon Doliante, p. 560; digital images downloaded from, 26 November 2013

Maryland and Virginia Colonials: Genealogies of Some Colonial Families, Volume I 
by Sharon Doliante, p. 561; digital images downloaded from, 26 November 2013

Here is some transcription from pages 560-561: 
viii. Martha Odell, mentioned in Distn. of Estate papers of her deceased father in 1779 as "Martha Jeans." Her husband was Joseph "Joe" Jeans. (This surname sometimes given as Janes/Jones, but Jeans or Jeanes was apparently the correct spelling. He d. testate bet. dates of July 21, 1826 & Sept 7, 1826 (dates of the writing & proving of his will), but the Laurens Co., will is listed as that of "Joseph Jones." Issue:
i. Joseph Jeans
ii. John Jeans
iii. daughter Jeans, m. _____ Duncan. Issue:
    A. Leander Duncan
iv. Ann "Nancy" Jeans, m. John Watson, Issue:
  A. Thomas Watson
  B. Rachel Watson, m. Elijah Hill. Issue:
    (A) Thomas Hill, m. Jane Edward of Ashley Co., AR
    (B) Joseph W Hill, m. Miss J. F. Cox of Greenville Dist., SC, dau of Robert Cox. He seems to have been the compiler of the "Hill Notes," c1885, presently owned by Mr. Otis Duncan, of SC. These are a compilation of genealogical notes on misc. upper SC families.
    (C) Martha E Hill
    (D) John L Hill
    (E) Elliot E Hill, m. ____ Scott of Hardeman Co., Tenn
    (F). Levi Hill
    (G) Nathan E Hill
  C. Joseph Watson m. Betsy Ferguson
  D. Harrison Watson
  E. John Watson, Jr
  F. Elisha Watson, m. Martha Jeans
  G. Milton Watson
  H. Martha Watson

This book has a LOT of in-text references to deed books, will books, estate and court records. However, there are no footnotes or a list of sources at the end of the book. There is enough source information given, though, for the reader to locate primary records to support the information provided.

For example, the four names of the children of Martha Odell and Joseph Jeans were pulled by the author directly from the will of Joseph Jeans. Although she did not include a transcription of the will itself, it wasn’t too hard to find. In the transcription above, the author mentioned his name – Joseph “Jones,” the dates his will was written and probated in 1826, and the county – Laurens. I logged in to the site, clicked on the Search link, then clicked on the United States browsable collections link, then clicked on the South Carolina link.

There are two sets of probate record collections for South Carolina that are browsable on the website. There are the bound volumes and the loose papers. I found the will of Joseph “Jones” in the bound volume collection in the “Estate Records, 1826-1834, Volume F” bound volume.

Here is a digital image of the microfilmed copy of the will as it appears in the Bound Estate Record Volume F, page 43:

Laurens Co., SC, Estate Records, 1826-1834, Volume F: 43, Joseph Jones, 7 September 1826 (probated); digital image, "South Carolina Probate Records, Bound Volumes 1671-1977," downloaded from 26 November 2013).

In the name of God Amen
I Josheph Jones of Laurens District and State of South Carolina being of sound and disposing [?] mind and memory but weakd in body and caulling to mind the unsertenty of life and being Desirous to dispose of all such worley Estate as it saith pleaseth God to bless me with do make and ordain this my last will and manner following that is to say ---
I give to Nancy and John Watson one Negro woman named Renae to them and thare assigns for ever and my said Negro Max James to make his choyce of my children who the said James will serve and to be appraised and assised to them their heirs and assigns for ever.
To my son Joseph Jones, I give my Negro woman Molly and her increase to him his heirs and assigns for ever and my waggon and hind geer to my son Joseph and my crop on hand who I give to my son Joseph.
I give to my grandson Leander Dunkin my Plantation to be sold and the money to be put to in trust untill Leander Dunken shall come to lawfull age to receive thanse.
I give to my son John Jones one Dollar the ballance of my Property to be sold and pay for just debts and funderal espenses to be paid and the ballance to be equally divided between the rest of my children and if the said Leander Duncan shall die without heirs, the sale of my land to be equally paid between John Watson Children ---

And lastly I do constitute and appoint my said son Joseph Jones and John Watson executors of this my last will and testament hereby revoking other and former testaments by me hioeafter made for testimoney whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this 21 day of July 1826 and in the fifty first year of the Independence of the United states of America.
Signed, Sealed, published and declared As my Last Will and Testament of the above Names Joseph Jones in the presence of Us:
Benj. Duckett Esq
William Duckett
George Smith

Signed Joseph X (his mark) Jones

Joseph Jones' will was proved in the Laurens County Court of Ordinary on September 1st, 1826 by Benjamin Duckett, one of the subscribing witnesses. Joseph Jones and John Watson were also qualified as executors of the estate.

Here are some of the things I learned from the will of Joseph Jones:

  • He wrote his will 21 July 1826 and it was proved 1 September 1826, therefore he died between these two dates
  • He asked that money be set aside for funeral expenses, therefore I believe he had a funeral, probably at a church and was buried in a church cemetery (versus being buried on the family farm)
  • His wife Martha Jeans was not mentioned, therefore she had probably died prior to him writing his will
  • Joseph had two known sons named Joseph and John and a daughter named Nancy who married John Watson
  • Joseph had another daughter who had married a Duncan and had a child named Leander Duncan; this daughter was probably deceased and could not receive her share which was then passed on to her son Leander
  • Joseph's grandson Leander Duncan was still a minor and could not inherit his share until he came of age
Although I did not answer the direct question of whether or not my grandmother's match's ancestor, Leroy Watson is related to my Watson line, I was able to go back one more generation in my tree with the discovery of the Joseph Jones/Jeans will and family and added two additional surnames - JEANS and ODELL! Even though I found this family information originally in a book whose digital images were uploaded to, I did not assume this information was correct. Instead I obtained additional evidence supporting the information published in the book and made my own conclusions about the information provided within. 

Future Research: 

For the next step in this process, I will look for the will of my ancestor John Watson. This has been on my "To-Do" list for quite a while now anyways. With the digital images being uploaded to all the time now, I am able to find these documents faster and cheaper. 

Because my match's ancestor was born in 1795, he would more likely have been a brother of my ancestor John Watson who was born probably in the 1780s-1790s. In this case, I would need to look for men living in the Laurens County district around this time who might have been picked up by the 1790 census, just got married and started having children. I would then have to comb the wills of all of the Watson men to see if I could find one who had a son named John and/or Leroy. But first I would need more information on this Leroy Watson - where did he live and when? What county in SC was he from? When did he move to FL and GA? Who went with him? As you can see though, I'm learning just as much stuff about my own family as I am about his! 

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