Several public member trees on Ancestry.com refer to Roderick Barnes’ father.
The Holmes family tree has the father of Roderick Barnes as being Wright Barnes, born in North Carolina in 1794. And his mother as Sarah ……
From the 1850 census, it looks as though Wright was a widower and that he had two daughters, aged 16 and 12, as well as his sons Roderick (30), Madison (28) and Isaac (23), who had their own homes by 1850.
1850 census: Tippah, Mississippi
|Barnes Wright||aged 56, born c1794, North Carolina, farmer||Sarah||aged 16, born c1834, North Carolina|
|Rebecca||aged 12, born c1838, North Carolina|
Given the age gap between Roderick and Rebecca, it is possible that the two girls were the daughters of a second marriage for Wright and that he had been widowed twice.
The Jaynes family tree has Wright Barnes as born 1794 in North Carolina, married to Sarah Purvis (1799 – 1840). It reports Sarah as having died in Lawrence, Alabama in 1840. This would fit with Isaac having been born in Alabama.
If Roderick was the eldest child and was born soon after Wright and Sarah married, it seems plausible that Roderick was born in a Tennessee county bordering North Carolina. But that means that they’d have had to go back to North Carolina where Madison was born before starting the long trek to Alabama, where Isaac was born c1827.
For the place of birth on the 1850 census to be correct, it also means that the family would have had to go back to North Carolina between 1827 and 1840 when Wright appeared on the census in Hardin, Tennessee, see below.
It seems an awful lot of travelling around for those days.
To determine whether Roderick, Madison, Isaac, Sarah and Rebecca were the children of Wright and Sarah we would normally look at the census for ten years earlier but unfortunately the censuses before 1850 are head counts only, by sex and age, and give no details of the people other than the name of the head of the household. The place of birth was not recorded.
There is only one USA Federal Census for 1840 showing Wright Barnes as the head of the household. If Wright Barnes was 56 in 1850, we are looking for someone who was 46 in 1840.
1840 census: Hardin, Tennessee:
|Male: aged 40-49, male children: 1 under 5, 1 aged 5-9, 2 aged 15-19|
|Female: aged 40-49, female children: 1 under 5, 2 aged 5-8, 1 aged 15-19|
The ages of the older male and female fit the ages of Wright and Sarah Barnes.
Roderick would have been approximately 20, Madison 18 and Isaac 13. We know Roderick married in 1846. Was he at home until he married? The two older sons could fit the pattern but not Isaac, unless his age was mis-represented. There would have been another two sons (or other male children staying with the family) under the age of 9.
Sarah would have been 6 and Rebecca 2. They would fit the pattern but there would have been two older sisters unaccounted for. All the additional children could have been of an age to have left home by the time of the 1850 census and therefore not show as a named person.
Also on the 1840 census in Hardin were John and Jacob Barnes.
|Male: aged 20-29|
|Female: aged 15-19|
John was listed next to Wright on the census form. Was he another son of Wright? He would have been born c1811-1820, so could have been Roderick’s older brother.
Or was he the son of Jacob? Jacob was the right age to have been a brother of Wright Barnes.
|Males: aged 40-49, 1 under 5, 1 aged 5-9, 1 aged 10-14|
|Females: aged 30-39, 1 under 5, 1 aged 10-14, 1 aged 15-19|
Wright, John and Jacob were all ‘engaged in agriculture’, presumably farmers.
Wright is listed as paying tax in Hardin County in 1836 and 1837
Source: Tennessee Early Tax Records, 1783 – 1895
Wright was granted land in Hardin County:
- 1837 Right Barns, warrant number 26853
- 1846 Wright Barnes, warrant number 3046, signed 20 March 1847
- 1846 Wright Barnes, warrant number 3091, signed 20 March 1847
All of the above were transcribed as Hardeman but the warrants clearly state Hardin and give the full details of the land.
Source: North Carolina and Tennessee, Early Land Records, 1753 – 1931
Who was Wright’s wife and Roderick’s mother?
The Ancestry.com tree entitled ‘My Son Adam’s Family’ and Rootsweb page of the same name has references to Wright Barnes and some interesting information.
There are details of a will dated 9 April 1835, from Hands County, Mississippi, written by Gilbert Johnson Purvis in which he refers to Wright Barnes and his wife, Nancy Purvis. Nancy was Gilbert’s cousin, the daughter of his brother, James Purvis Sr of Rankin.
The Purvis family was originally from South Carolina and the full will can be seen here:
It makes interesting reading as Gilbert Johnson Purvis was in legal dispute over all his property. He desires his executors to sort out the dispute and then makes arrangement for its disposal to the children of James Purvis Sr of Rankin. However, he specifically excludes Wright Barnes and his wife Nancy, formerly Nancy Purvis, from the bequest. To them he gives and bequeaths nothing.
From the detail given on the website, Nancy Purvis and Gilbert Johnson Purvis were cousins. There was evidently a family feud over Gilbert’s father’s estate. I wonder what part was paid by Wright and Nancy and another female cousin and her husband, for them all to be specifically excluded from receiving any part of their cousin’s estate. It is perplexing, especially as their siblings did inherit shares of Gilbert’s property (or would do if the executors managed to resolve the feud.)
Clearly, by 1835, Wright Barnes was married to Nancy Purvis, not somebody named Sarah or Sarah Purvis. The only reference to Sarah’s surname being Purvis is in the Jaynes family tree, and no source or proof is given.
It is possible that Wright’s first wife was named Sarah and that she was the mother of Roderick, Madison and Isaac but that she died sometime after the birth of Isaac, perhaps in childbirth.
In those days, a man whose wife had died leaving him with young children to care for would have needed to find another wife fairly quickly. With a small population to choose from, it is possible that Wright did marry a cousin of Sarah, named Nancy Purvis and they had two daughters named Sarah and Rebecca, born in c1834 and c1838.
The two girls are noted on the 1850 census as born in North Carolina but we don’t know who supplied the information for the census form and whether they assumed that the girls were born there because Wright was born in North Carolina.
If we trust that the 1850 census was correct, or at least some of the places of birth were correct, we find that Isaac was born in Lawrence County, Alabama in c1827. Though there were several Barnes families in Alabama, including two in Lawrence, there was only one with a head of the family named Wright.
1830 census: Lawrence, Alabama
|Male: aged 30-39, 2 aged under 5, 2 aged 5-9, 1 aged 10-14|
|Female: aged 30-39, 1 aged under 5, 1 aged 5-9|
|Slaves: 1 aged under 10|
The age of the older male fits the age of Wright, approximately 36 in 1830.
The name Barns was transcribed as Barus but is clearly Barns and has been corrected by a researcher.
Lawrence County Archives
Unfortunately, whilst there are some marriages shown in the Lawrence County archives for the period 1818 – 1823, only half of the records seem to have survived and there seems to be a gap in the records between 1823 and 1841, which is, of course, the time which we are interested in if Wright’s first wife died in Lawrence and Wright married Nancy Purvis in the same county.
Prior to 1850, the probate court was known as the Orphans Court. Both Nancy and Wright Barnes’ names appears in the Orphans Court Deed Book:
- OC Deed Book C covers the period 1824-1828
- OC Deed Book D covers the period 1828-1831
- OC Deed Book E covers the period 1831-1833
- OC Deed Book F covers the period 1833-1835
Wright Barnes appears in OC Deed Book C, page 198.
Nancy and Wright both appear in OC Deed Book D, page 172, OC Deed Book E, page 213 and OC Deed Book F, page 129. So it seems that Nancy was on the scene at least from a date between 1828 and 1831 and makes it more likely that Sarah had died following Isaac’s birth in 1827 and that Wright had remarried. And that Nancy was the mother of Sarah and Rebecca, who were born in 1834 and 1838.
Wright appears in OC Minutes D, 1830-1834, page 188.
I am assuming that the entries in the books were regarding arrangements to be made for the children following the death of Wright’s first wife. However, it would be worth ordering copies of all the relevant archive pages to see what information they contain.
The death of Wright Barnes
We know that in 1830, Wright and his family were in Lawrence County, Alabama and that they had been there from at least 1827, when Isaac was born.
By 1836 he was paying tax and acquiring land in Hardin, Tennessee, with he and his family appearing on the 1840 census.
By 1850 he had moved again, to Tippah, Mississippi, with his two young daughters. His sons Roderick, Madison and Isaac all lived nearby with their wives.
Roderick had married Amanda Keith in Lincoln in 1846 and set up home with her in Hardeman, Tennessee.
By 1860 Madison and his wife Nancy had moved to Franklin, Saline, Arkansas and had a daughter named Martha.
It seems that Isaac and his family also went to Arkansas, as did their father Wright.
The will records of Saline County, Arkansas, 1857 states that Wright Barnes died intestate on or about the 18th day of January 1857, and that Madison Barnes was appointed administrator for his estate.
source: Arkansas, Wills and Probate Records, 1783 – 1998
Just a few years later, in 1859, Isaac Barnes and his wife died. Isaac was just 32 and, in Saline County, Arkansas, a John Barnes was appointed guardian for Isaac’s young children. Was this the John Barnes who was living next door to Wright and his family 1840 in Hardin? Was he a son of Wright, brother of Isaac?
source: The Arkansas Family Historian, volume 21, No 3, September 1983
It would be worth consulting the Saline County archives in general, as well as the will records, to see what information they hold about the Barnes family.
If the censuses are correct,
- Wright was born in North Carolina c1794,
- Roderick was born in Tennessee c1820,
- Madison was born in North Carolina c1822,
- Isaac was born in Lawrence, Alabama c1827.
Madison was on the 1880 census for Calvert, Grant, Arkansas. He was a farmer. His birthplace and that of both his parents is given as North Carolina.
Wright and his sons were born before birth records were kept and I can find no other records to tell us exactly where they were born. Nor can I find where Wright was before he appeared on the 1830 census in Lawrence, Alabama.
However, at the same time that Wright was in Lawrence County, Alabama, there was another Wright Barnes in Sumner County, Tennessee. He and other Barnes in Sumner at that time originated in Bertie County, North Carolina and it is worth pursuing possible links between the two Wright Barnes.