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We will discuss these four cases in turn to see whether they are related, and if so, how they tie together. We show here a map of Kentucky as of 1810 to help the reader place the various Gentrys in their respective locations.
Counties of Central Kentucky, 1810
(Shaded counties with Gentrys)
1. James Gentry of Mercer County
This James is unlikely to be the same James Gentry whose estate was inventoried in Madison County, Kentucky, in 1809<6a>. The identity of this latter James has most commonly been said to be a son of David Gentry of Albemarle County, Virginia, and Madison County, Kentucky (a son of David Gentry Sr. and grandson of Nicholas-II Gentry). The fact that David included a son James in his will, which was recorded in 1813<7>, casts doubt on whether the James that died in 1809 was his son or another James.
The fact that the James of Mercer County was married at the time of the 1789 reference leaves upon a wide range of dates for possible children. It also sets some parameters for the date of his own birth, namely, probably before 1769, and the place certainly in Virginia. We will return to James later and discuss possibilities for his connection to the mainstream Gentry family after we consider possible children.
2. David Gentry (GFA #267)
"Born in Virginia, March 10, 1778, married Jennie, (born in Virginia, Nov. 24, 1780); he is said to have a brother James. He moved to Kentucky and settled on a farm near Crab Orchard about the year 1800. In 1825, he moved, with his entire family, from Kentucky to Chariton Co., MO, and in a few years he was drowned in the Chariton River".He lists the following children for David and Jennie: Belith (born 1803), John (born 1805), Clarinda (born 1809), Lucinda (born 1811), Sally (born 1813), Nancy (born 1817), William (born 1819), Katie (born 1821), and Rachel (born 1824).
David and Jennie and their two oldest children, Belinda and Clarinda, appeared in the Clay County, Kentucky, census for 1810<11>. This would have been some distance from Crab Orchard, Kentucky, where GFA places his home. Crab Orchard is in the eastern corner of Lincoln County, but Clay County is only one county removed from there and David may have resided there for a time either before or after 1810. In 1820, the family appears to have been in Posey County, Indiana, where the census listing for a David Gentry in that year fits the Kentucky David perfectly. By 1830, the family had moved to Chariton County, Missouri, where David is said to have been drowned. Various children continued to appear in 1840 and succeeding census records in Chariton County or in neighboring Livingston and Grundy Counties, Missouri. David's children as listed in GFA agree well with census data with the exception that "Belith" is regularly spelled "Belitha". There is some disagreement about where Belitha was born. In the 1850 census for Grundy County, Missouri, his birthplace was listed as Virginia. In 1860, it was listed as Kentucky. The 1880 census report by three of his children was split at two in Virginia, and one in Kentucky. In all cases his wife's birthplace is listed as Kentucky.
It has been very difficulty to identify parents of this David. Based upon his presence in central Kentucky during his years of residence there, the odds greatly favor the possibility that he was a part of the Nicholas-II Gentry family. Yet, that family had so many Davids that it has not been possible to come up with a satisfactory lineage for him. To illustrate this difficulty, consider the following table of descendants of Nicholas-II (we have added the suffixes "-III", "IV", etc. to identify the Davids as to generation with respect to Nicholas the Immigrant).
As this chart demonstrates, there are very few places where we can propose the insertion of an unidentified David Gentry. With the proliferation of Davids in the family tree, it is most likely that David's father was also a Gentry who has not been clearly located within that tree. We are going to propose that David was a son of the hitherto unidentified James W. and Annie M. Gentry. Before pursuing this proposal further, we will leave David for the moment and go on to consider other unidentified Gentrys who may have been in the same category as this David.
3. The Mary / Jefferson / Clifton Gentry Family
Briefly, the facts of the case are as follows. These three individuals (and a fourth sister, Lucinda) were siblings, said to be the children of a James Gentry who married an Elizabeth Tatum. The information as to their father comes from a granddaughter of Clifton, Lily White, who lived with her grandparents for many years after her own mother died. In turn that information was passed on to one of the individuals involved in the interchange of queries and answers. Suggestions have been made as to the identity of this James, but none seemed to fit the bill exactly. In all cases, the facts already known about the children of those James Gentry families made it very awkward to add three or four new names of this specific sex and age. The problem I believe is that they were looking in the wrong place, namely Madison County, Kentucky where the children grew up and were married. Instead a James Gentry family that was listed in the 1820 census for next-door Fayette County fits the pattern very nicely.
The oldest of the children we are trying to identify was Mary (also known as "Polly"), born about 1807. Next was a daughter, Lucinda, born about 1814. Jefferson Gentry was born Sep 1818, and Clifton Gentry was born Jul 1821. The three oldest children were with James in the 1820 census. In 1830, there is no corresponding James Gentry, but his widow, Elizabeth, is believed to be the Elizabeth Gentry who was in the Madison County census for that year. Mary had married by then, so only Lucinda, Jefferson, and Clifton were present in the 1830 family. It seems apparent that their father James had died not many years after Clifton was born, probably in Fayette County, and his widow took the orphaned children to Madison County where she may have had relatives.. Jefferson was listed in the age group less than ten years old rather than greater than ten, but this is a minor discrepancy. In 1840, Mary was listed as a single mother along with her mother, Elizabeth, but Lucinda, Jefferson and Clifton have not been found in the census for that year. All four of these children have marriage bonds recorded for them in Madison County<2>, Mary to Wilson Gillispie in 1828, Lucinda to Augustus Pean in 1836, Jefferson to Elizabeth Tillett in 1841, and Clifton to Eliza Jane Guthrie three days earlier than Jefferson, also in 1841. Mary was married again in 1843, to Robert R. Boggs. All four families left Kentucky shortly afterwards and moved to Andrew County, Missouri. There is some mystery connected with the marriages of Lucinda. She divorced her husband, resumed the name Gentry for herself and her children, then married, Eli Cornelison. But a William White is recorded as being the father of at least one of her children who was born in 1840. In 1846, Lucinda "Dianna" (an alternate spelling for "Pean") was married in Madison County to Eli Cornelison, and she may have had to give her married name for this ceremony. How these marriages (or lack of marriages) interconnected is of no concern for the purposes of this article and we will not pursue it further.
Let us now focus on the proposed father of these four children, namely James. There is the possibility of considerable confusion about the name of his wife, Elizabeth. His descendants give the name of his wife as Elizabeth Tatum and estimate the date of marriage as about 1805.. In the Madison County records, a James Gentry married Elizabeth Tudor (or Tuder) in 1799<2>. Could this have been the same James and later generations simply confused Tatum for Tudor? That would be possible, but dates of marriage reinforce the fact that two different James are involved. Because James was living in Fayette County in 1820, it is probable that the years before that were also spent in Fayette County and he was married there even though the family later moved to Madison County. There is only one Gentry marriage record preserved for Fayette County and that was Garland Gentry in 1821. James date of birth has been estimated at about 1782. His son, Jefferson, in 1900 gave James' place of birth as Virginia. Clifton, also in 1900, gave the birthplace as Kentucky.
In connecting this James to the mainstream Gentry descendancy tree, we are faced with the same problem as for David above. There were so many James Gentry living contemporaneously with him that it is difficult to find a possible line of descent that does not already have a James Gentry in their family. We will be presenting a hypothesis that this James was a son of the same James W. and Annie M. Gentry proposed for David, and that he was the James, brother of David, to whom GFA refers. Before doing so, we will once again leave the question hanging and look at two more "orphan" Gentrys.
4. Enoch and Elijah Gentry
Elijah Gentry is another Gentry who appeared only briefly in Madison County records. He was married in 1810 to Elizabeth Ware, with no hint of his parentage. That same year, Elijah and Elizabeth were in the 1810 census for Clay County, Kentucky. This was apparently right after his marriage for he is shown with a presumed wife and no children (Elijah was listed as born after 1784, Elizabeth born before). Of interest is the fact that he was listed on the same census page as David Gentry -- the same David as we discussed above. This strongly suggests that Elijah may have been a younger brother of David. We have discussed Elijah briefly in this journal, most recently in 2005 (Issue A, March 2005)<9>. A biography of one of Elijah's sons, James W. Gentry<3>, remarks that Elijah and Elizabeth left Kentucky in about 1816 and moved to Harrison County, Indiana. After Elijah died in 1817, his widow moved to Monroe County, Indiana where she and her sons Lemuel and James lived for many years.
Family for James W. and Annie M. Gentry
This family grouping makes a neat, logical package but how does it relate to the rest of the Gentry mainstream family? To tie it to the other Gentrys we must answer the question of the relationship of the family patriarch here, James Gentry Sr., to the Gentry family, and particularly to all of the family's next door neighbors in Madison County, Kentucky. To do this we need to go back to James' roots which are presumed to be in Louisa County, Virginia.
We can estimate his date of birth from the ages of the rest of James' family. The birth date of his son David is the most solidly established and has been quoted as September 1778. Assuming a marriage date for James a year or two before that, gives a date of marriage of roughly 1776-1777. Then assuming further that James may have been from say eighteen to twenty-three years old at marriage, his birth date would have probably been in the range from 1753 to 1759. Let us say his estimated date of birth was about 1755.
The fact that James moved from Virginia to central Kentucky almost surely ties him to the Nicholas-II branch of the Gentry family. Other Gentrys eventually found their way to Kentucky but during the earliest movements, the migration was all by Nicholas' family, in particular by his sons David, Nicholas-III, Moses and Martin. When one looks at James' proposed date of birth and the ages of the Nicholas Gentry children, almost the only possibility is that James was an unrecognized son of David-III. In this journal, we have already discussed one son of David, Bailey, that had never been recognized as such<10>. Bailey was first listed in 1769 in Trinity Parish tax lists in Louisa County, Virginia, in his father's household as a taxable individual. Because white males in Virginia were required to be over the age of sixteen to be liable for a poll tax, this suggests Bailey was born about 1753. Bailey left home in 1772 and moved to a different parish in Louisa County, but then dropped from sight after 1774 (presumably died). In the previous journal article we pointed out that the presence of Bailey presumes there was a first wife of David-III Gentry, before Mary Estes whom he married in about 1757. The suggested date of birth of James Gentry of Mercer County, conveniently fits into the interval between Bailey's birth and David's second marriage.
James did not appear in any of the Louisa County tax lists although David continued to be listed until 1775 when he moved to Albemarle County. I hesitate to suggest that James was a son of David's second wife, Mary Estes, because her children have been long known and relatively well documented and it would be surprising to find an older son left out of the family. This is not so unusual in the case of a first wife who lived only a few years, witness the situation with Bailey. One possible answer to the absence of James from the tax lists, of course, is that he was simply missed in the enumeration due to the closeness of James' age to the age of tax obligation. Another possible answer to an absence of James from David's household is if James' mother died in childbirth or shortly afterwards, and the care of the infant James fell upon some other family member when David re-married. While not common, such situations certainly occurred from time to time, witness the case of Aaron Gentry of Orange County, Virginia. Aaron married Polly Ogg in November 1801, then after Polly died when their son George was born, the baby was put in the care of Polly's parents. Aaron married Polly's sister, Peggy, in January 1803 and left soon after with Peggy for Tennessee, leaving George behind in Virginia. Such dissociation of James from David's family, if it occurred, could well explain the apparent lack of connection between James and the other Gentrys.
Let us briefly review the movements of the David-III Gentry family. David was born in the vicinity of Stone Horse Creek, Hanover County, Virginia. He accompanied his father, Nicholas-II to an area that was called "Dirty Swamp" in what later became Louisa County. He lived on his father's land grant homestead there, and was given 100 acres of that land to hold in his own name as a gift from his father in 1757. This was probably on the occasion of his marriage to his wife, Mary Estes. Tax records in Louisa County suggest David moved in about 1775 to Albemarle County, the neighboring county to the west, where his brothers Robert and Benajah were already living. He sold his land in Louisa County in 1778 and bought land of his own in Albemarle County the same year (he was probably living with his brother Benajah in the intervening time). By 1787, David's father and youngest brother, Martin, had moved to the same vicinity, and in that year he sold part of his land holdings including one parcel where his son, David Jr. was living. It was probably about that time that David's sons David Jr. and Richard moved to Kentucky, and were recorded in a 1788 tax list for Madison County. David Sr. is said to have followed his sons there soon after. There is no mention of a James Gentry living with David at that time. If the one reference to a Gentry sharing in a land grant in Fayette County, Kentucky, in 1785 was James, it means that whether or not he was living with David earlier, he moved west before the rest of David's family.
Kentucky at that time was still claimed by Virginia as a part of its territory, and was organized as Kentucky County, Virginia in 1776 when the first permanent settlements began to appear. In 1780, in the midst of the Revolutionary War, Kentucky County was split into three counties, namely Fayette County (covering the northeast quarter of the state), Jefferson County (the northwest quarter), and Lincoln County (the southern half). Mercer and Madison Counties were in turn formed out of Fayette County in 1786. We have seen that James Gentry was apparently living just to the northwest of Madison County, while the rest of David's family moved into Madison County. They were joined there by David Sr.'s brother, Martin, before 1795. This is evidenced by the fact that he was named as an executor in the will of his father-in-law, Richard Timberlake, in that year.
We have already suggested that James must have died at a relatively young age, based upon the fact that he appeared to have had only a few children, yet born in a short period of time. We propose a scenario where the family split up as children came of age after their father's death and ventured off on their own, leaving behind their family home. David and Elijah moved south to Clay County where they appeared in the 1810 census. Both moved north to Indiana after 1810. James Jr. (and perhaps his mother) remained in the original Mercer County area in what now became Fayette County. For whatever reason he was not included in the 1810 census but appeared in the 1820 census. The fourth son, Enoch, appears to have moved to join his cousins in Madison County at an early age (all David Gentry family members in his generation in Madison County were first cousins through a common grandfather although their grandmothers differed). He found a wife there but died at an untimely age so his name is preserved only in his marriage bond and the inventory of his estate.
James Jr. died before 1830 when his widow and family were listed in the Madison County census, and in fact probably in the early 1820's not long after his youngest son, Clifton, was born. Presumably it was Elizabeth, James' widow, that moved from Fayette County to Madison County in the interval after 1820 rather than James. There are multiple reasons why this might have occurred. The family remained there until shortly after Jefferson and Clifton were married in 1841 and Mary remarried in 1843 and then all of the family moved to Missouri.
There is also no doubt that a David Gentry family existed essentially as described in GFA and the family's movement from Kentucky to Missouri took place as described. We know that there was an Enoch Gentry who was married in Madison County, Kentucky, and who died there a few years later. We know that there was an Elijah Gentry who also was married in Madison County, and whose later movements and death have been reliably reported by one of his sons. When we come to the family of James Jr. facts blend into strong probabilities. The vital statistics of the four proposed children of this James can be confirmed. This is the marriages recorded for all of them in Madison County, Kentucky, and the location and make-up of each of the individual families as shown in census data from 1850 onwards. Linking them together as siblings in a single family has not been confirmed by any documentary evidence, but supplementary evidence is very strongly in favor of this. As to their relationship to James Gentry Jr., that is guesswork again.
With these facts as our starting point, the guesswork involved in proposing hypothetical relationships has several points in its favor. First and foremost is the fact that there is no reliable evidence that contradicts any of our assumptions. On the other hand there are a number of features that form a consistent set of proposals. One is the estimate of dates of birth of the primary family members which are grouped appropriately both in absolute time and in relationship to each other. A second point is the fact that the residences and census reports for the children of James Sr. are logical and reasonable in view of what we have proposed. The relationships proposed here very neatly get around the problem of excess Davids and Jameses among the early Virginia and Kentucky Gentrys. In no case does any family have any duplication of names. Instead we have, starting with David-III, sons James W., David-IV and Richard-IV. Of these, James W. had sons David and James; David-IV also had sons James and David; Richard also had sons David and James. These are all parallel lines that lived contemporaneously and in close proximity, but none duplicate another. In summary, we have proposed logical answers to questions of identification that have persisted for a long, long time. Not all of the details of what has been proposed may prove to be true in the future, but the majority of the hypotheses appear to this writer to have a strong probability of being valid.
14 Mar 2011
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