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Westerly Journeys

Joseph Morton & Jemima Harrel


The descendants of Joseph Morton and Jemima Harrel were described by Ruth McClellan in 1978 in Our People of Pike County, Indiana. Family oral history claimed the couple grew up on opposite sides of the NC-VA border. The Morton Virginia ancestors often used the name "Molton." McClellan did not attempt to resolve the ancestry of the Harrels and Mortons.1 Jemima Harrel Morton

The following discussion follows many different theories about their ancestry. It reaches no conclusions. It is offered here in hopes others may read it and supply some of the missing links.

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Joseph Morton-Jemima Harrel Marriage

The marriage of Joseph Morton to Jemima Harrel is the earliest primary record yet found of this family line. Most other records are mere conjecture.

Marriage bond of "Mime Harrold" to Joseph Morton, Person County, NC, 30 Dec 1801, bond by Thomas Morton, witness R. Pickens, original record, County Clerk, Roxboro, NC as extracted by author, 1989. The bond was posted by Thomas Morton.2

Speculation stemming from the record: Thomas Morton was probably a close relation to Joseph. (Note that Joseph and Jemima named their first son, "Thomas.") The witness, R. Pickens, may or may not, be a relative or friend. The spelling of Jemima's name was as interpreted by the clerk. It implies she used the short form "Harrell" as opposed to "Harrilson/Haralson" used by other related families in the area. Many assume Jemima belongs to this larger family that resided in the Person County vicinity. (See for instance the 1800 census below: in Person County Paul land Ezekiel used "Harrel;" a Major used "Harrilson.")

Unfortunately the area of the NC-VA border at the time of the marriage was riddled with Morton/Molton families. So far no clear record has been found tying Joseph to any specific ancestor. The Mortons seem mainly to track back to immigrant Mortons from Henrico County and Prince Edward County, Virginia. They migrated into what was then called the "South Side" of Virginia in Lunenburg County. Most were prosperous land owners. As Lunenburg divided into smaller counties, many Mortons became land owners in the new Virginia counties of Halifax and Pittsylvania. Some then migrated into Orange County, North Carolina from which Caswell County was created, and subsequently from which Person County was created.

There is no record of the birth of Joseph or Jemima in any of these counties, nor was either of them named in a will. Somehow they did gain the financial means to migrate to Kentucky in the first decade of the 19th century. The 1800 census of Person County shows only one Morton/Molton household with a member of appropriate age to be Joseph. The head of that household was a woman named "Catherine/Catherlin." The 1800 census of Person County shows no Harrel/Harrilson household with a female of appropriate age to be Jemima. However, as will be discussed later, her mother married a George Vaughn, whose household in the 1800 census shows a female of appropriate age to be Jemima.

Joseph & Jemima Morton--Family Group Sheet

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An immigrant named Joseph Moreton came to Chickahominy Swamp, now Henrico Co., Virginia where he married Joanne Hughes in 1682. Three Moretons--probably Joseph's sons or brothers--and their progeny, spread into the Piedmont and Southside of Virginia in Colonial days. (See historical context at Colonial Virginia

Several authors suggest the following family reltionships and migrations:3

	John Morton and Joanne Hughes of Henrico Co., VA (VA State Archives, Book 1, p. 225):
	   i. John Morton (b. 1684)
                - John
	       *- Joseph (b. 12-27-1709; m1 Goode; m2 Agnes Woodson; d. 1782;
			 -Josiah b. 3-25-1738 m. Elizabeth dau of Abraham Venable
			 	 **-[?Joseph b. 12-10-1760]
		- Samuel (b. 1711)
		- Stephen
	  ii. Thomas Morton (b. 1690) m. Elizabeth Woodson; d. 1731 Henrico Co. VA)
                - Richard
		- Ann
		- Judith
	     ***-Thomas (b. 1726, d. 1802 Pr. Edward Co. VA
			 - Thomas
		     ****- Mary
			 - others
		- John

	 iii. Joseph Morton (b. 169_, m. Elizabeth____, d. 1753, Halifax Co. VA)
	   *****- Joseph (b. 3-25-1738; m.C. Harrison, 1778, d. 1818 Pittsylvania Co. VA)
		- John ( 1747, m. L. Blakely, d. 1797)
		- Jehu (b. bef. 1742; m. N. Hunter, 1777, Rockingham NC)

In the above family, *Joseph Morton (b. 1709) son of i. John Morton, is believed to be the "tracker" Joseph Morton mentioned in the Colonial Virginia reference.(He married 1. Goode and 2. [Agnes] Woodson; he died in 1782). He may be a direct ancestor or our subject Joseph Morton through his son Josiah (b. 1737) who married Elizabeth Venable. It is theorized that Joseph and Elizabeth had a son named **Joseph who married a cousin named Mary Morton.

Also in the above family, ***Thomas Morton (b. 1726) son of ii. Thomas Morton, had a son Thomas and daughter, ****Mary. Mary may have been the woman who married her cousin **Joseph Morton above. Thomas, her brother, may have been the person who appears on the marriage bond of Joseph and Jemima Morton.

Colonial Families of Virginia lists Abraham Venable of Prince Edward County as father of Elizabeth who m. Josiah Morton of Charlotte Co. VA.

An alternate ancestry can be perhaps constructed from some Pittsylvania County, VA and Person Co. NC records which might make subject Joseph be the son of *****Joseph who married C. Harrison.

This is, of course theoretical. Please see circumstantial evidence presented below from records of Caswell and Person, Counties NC, as well as Pittsylvania and Halifax Counties VA.

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Legends about Morton Frontiersmen

The Morton migration from Henrico County, VA to the "Southside" of Virginia took place in the mid-1700's. The bounty hunter/tracker, Joseph Morton, may have been the forerunner of this migration. (See Colonial Virginia and the Bounty Hunter, Joseph Morton.)

Some Mortons migrated west from North Carolina/Virginia following some of the most famous pioneers into Kentucky. A Morton was killed at Fort Boonesborough (Daniel Boone's settlement in Kentucky) in 1779.4 See Harrodsburg, and with respect to Cumberland Pact in early Kentucky settlements.Use your browser "back" button to return to this page.) Subject Joseph Morton is not known to be directly related to any of these--but perhaps indirectly.


See Early Morton Records on next page.

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A marriage of Morton Cousins?

It has been stated by some that Joseph Morton was the son of Joseph Morton of Pittsylvania Co. VA and Mary Morton of Caswell Co. NC. Mortons and Brooks are found throughout the early records of these counties. They may have migrated into the region as an extended family group, perhaps including families named Vaughn, Pipes, Crane, Beadles, Robinson, Richardson and others. (Joseph and Jemima's children also married into these families.) Studying the Mortons together with these families may eventually provide the missing records about the parents of Joseph and Jemima.

The common theory that remains unproven is that subject Joseph Morton was the son of Joseph Morton who married Mary Morton, his cousin. An alternate theory is that subject Joseph Morton was the son of a [widow] Catherine Morton who appears in the 1800 census mentioned above. (Note that Joseph and Jemima named their second daughter "Catherine.")

See Joseph & Jemima Descendants on next page.

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According to descendants of Jemima Harrell, her immigrant ancestor was a Dutchman, Peter Haralson, who immigrated to VA about 1715, married a woman named "Chambers" in Hanover Co., VA, and died before 1750 in Henrico Co., VA 5

His sons came to the border region between Halifax and Pittsylvania County, VA and (Orange County --which became Caswell County NC after 1750. They bought property and settled on Hico Creek and Marlowe Creek. Some of the subsequent generation adapted the English name, "Harrell". (For a list of Peter's children, see the following at Harrilson Descendants. Many of Jemima's descendants believe her father was Elijah Harrel--but this is based only on a preponderance of evidence--not absolute proof.

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Harrel Legends: Jemima's Father

Some Harrilson/Harrel researchers, perpetuate the legend that one or more of the Harrell men took Cherokee wives. It was stated by one of Jemima's grandsons that she was part Cherokee. 6 Other descedants claim her father was a companion to Daniel Boone.

A William Henry Harrilson explored Kentucky prior to the Revolution, going with Elisha Walden into Kentucky in 1761. He encamped at "Obey Creek." (Another of Walden's companions, Castleton Brooks, may have been related to a Burgess Harrilson--Jemima's presumed grandfather.) Jemima named a son William Henry Harell Morton--his gravestone is inscribed "William H.H. Morton." Perhaps the noted Long Hunter was a close relation.7

It might even be speculated that her mother or grandmother was a Cherokee woman who married the pioneer and bore him children. This of course is pure fancy. That the name of Jemima's father is the subject of such mystery, lends itself to such theories. (To view discussions of frontier settlements in Kentucky, go to Kentucky)

Regardless of who was the father, evidence suggests that Jemima descended from Burgess Haralson (son of Peter). Some of the records of Orange County prior to the Revolution, Caswell during the wat and Person after show that Elijah Harrel/Harilson was a son of Burgess Harrilson.

Will of Burgess Harrilson, 9 May 1772,Orange County: Bk. A-152, names wife Elizabeth, sons Ezekiel, Elijah, Elishba (wife of Elkanah Harrilson), daus Drusilla and Jemima; grandson I.[or J.] Harrilson. Execs Ezekiel Harrilson, Elkanah Harrilson. Wits Joe Johnson, William Stone, John (x) Harrilson.

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Harrel Legends: Jemima's Mother

The greatest mystery surrounds the identity of Jemima's mother. Some say her maiden name was "Barnett," others, "Brooks." From her will in Kentucky, it is known that Jemima's mother's name [by a later marriage] was "Sarah Vaughn," for Sarah named her daughters Jemima and Drucilla as heirs.

It is usually claimed that Jemima's father was Elijah Harrell--but he does not name her as a child or orphan in his will. In fact, Jemima does not appear as a child in any of the Harrels/Harrilson documents. Furthermore, researchers who claim to descend from Elijah state he married about 1770 and his children were born in the 1770's. Jemima was supposedly born in 1786.

Elijah's will probated 1788-1790 names a Sarah as his widow. But is it conceivable that Sarah, Jemima's mother, was married first to another man, bore Jemima, and then married Elijah Harrel (or some other Harrel) and gave Jemima the Harrell surname?

Or is it possible that Elijah married Sarah Barnette and fathered the sons born in the 1770s--and then remarried--to--Sarah Brooks (who had a daughter Jemima) before his death in 1788?

The question of Jemima's birth date: According to all records pertaining to Jemima's age (census, gravestone) she was born Oct. 27, 1786. Therefore she was barely fifteen years old when she married. At that time and place she was probably under age and required her father's consent. But her father--if it was Elijah--was dead. Her mother could have consented--and if so it might be a separate record at the courthouse. No such 'consent' has yet been found. The record may be missing--or Jemima was older than she later claimed (or remembered). Did Jemima perhaps conceal her real age for any reason? Was she born earlier than 1786? Sometimes women did conceal their real age from suitors. Since there is no record of her mother's marriage to Elijah Harrel it is difficult to analyze this situation.

If Jemima was born earlier than 1786, during the peak of the Revolution in North Carolina (1780's), perhaps her true father was killed when she was an infant. Many of the Harrell men died young during the war and left widows and orphans. Therefore perhaps Elijah was Jemima's guardian--not her father. However no document has been found naming a guardian for Jemima.

In the 1800 census for Person County, NC, George Vaughn is shown as head of household containing females of appropriate age to be Jemima [10-16], but there is also a female [16-26] as well as Sarah [over 45]. They are living amongst several households named Brooks, Barnett, Harrelson, Harrel and Morton.

A Sarah Vaughn was admitted as a member of Bethel Church which is located in the vicinity of the land near the Virginia border and Hico Creek. The Brooks family had given the land for that church. This suggests that Sarah Harrel Vaughn was related to this Brooks family. She might have been the daughter of a John Brooks

Some early records of the Brooks in Orange County:

	John Brooks acquired 640 ac south side of Rocky River 1755
	Elisha Brooks acquired land on Allen's Creek 1760
	Thomas Brooks acquired 640 ac south side of Rocky River 1761
	Robert Brooks  of Halifax Co. VA/Orange Co NC 
		acquired 115 ac south side Hico at mouth of Cold Branch
	Joab Brooks acquired 375 ac Tick Cr. 1761
	Joel Brooks probate (Bk A., p. 34, 114) 26 Aug 1764 (mentions wife Mary, 
		son John, brother James, and daughters Mary and Elizabeth)
	See also Joseph Barnett (Bk A., p. 166) Jan 1773 (mentions wife Rachel pregnant; 
		son Samuel, daus. Mary and Sarah. Wits John Barnett, Wm Miles, Thomas Barnett.

See also later Brooks and Harrel records below.

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See Harrel/Haralson/Harrilson Descendants on next page



General Tarlton of the Revolution: Descendants claim Joseph had an ancestor called [General] Tarlton who fought in the Revolution. Among the Mortons, Venables and Woodson families of Henrico County, VA--is a General Tarlton Woodson who served at Long Island with George Washington. A Major Tarleton Woodson received over 5,000 acres of Kentucky bounty land for his service in the Revolution.

Other Mortons who served: Justice Joseph Morton was the son of Joseph Morton, Sr., who died in 1753 leaving sons Joseph, Jehu and John. All three brothers served as officers in the Pittsylvania Militia during the Revolutionary War (Pitts. Order Book 4, 343-44). 8

From the DAR Patriot Index:

	Joseph b. 12-27-1709 VA d 6-28-1782 m (X) Agnes Woodson (X) X Goode PS VA (*Joseph above)
	Agnes Woodson b 2-27-1711 VA d 3-10-1802 VA m(1) Joseph Morton PS VA (wife of *Joseph)
	Thomas Sr b c 1726 VA d 1802 VA m(1) Cicily Katherine Moore PS VA (***Thomas above)
	Joseph Jr.  b c 1735 VA d 1818 VA m (1) Nancy Capt CS VA (*****Joseph above)
	Josiah b 3-25-1738 VA d 11-28-1785 VA m(1) Elizabeth Venable LCol VA (**Josiah above)
	Joseph Morton b 12-10-1760 VA, d p 1820 VA m (X) Mary Ann Morton (X) Nancy Baker Sgt CL VA
		(Joseph (son of **Josiah? above and ****Mary above)

Other records during the Revolution period:

Marriage of *****Joseph Morton to Chancy Harrison 6 May 1778, Pittsylvania County, VA 9


Paul Haralson Revolutionary War Pension File 10 (See details at my transcripts website.)

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A cluster of Mortons, Brooks and Harrels lived in the vicinity of Marlowe, Adams and Ghent Creek, in northern Person County below the border with Halifax County, VA. Bethel Church membership rolls further suggest family ties. These names appear: Sarah Vaughn, Clancy Morton, Elizabeth Barnett, Elizabeth Brooks, Susanna Harrel. John Brooks served as minister and gave land for the church. From the date of birth and death for a man named John Brooks, it is estimated that he could the brother of Sarah who was probably born before 1755. See Brooks Family below

Some Caswell County Deeds 1789-1795: 
 	Artha Brooks to John Brooks, Caswell Co. Deed Book A-644, 1781 

	Ezekiel Haralson estate ,Bk B, p. 291, 1789: settlement; payments to Elijah Haralson,
		 Paul Haralson and others for schooling the children.
	Elijah Haralson estate, Bk B,  p. 301, 1789: to Sarah Haralson, widow, Arthur Brooks, Jr., 
		Will Barnett and others.

Some Halifax County Records:
	John Brooks [Jr.] marriage to Sarah Faulkner 8 Jan 1795, Halifax Co. VA [second wife]
	John Brooks [Sr.] will  dated 20 Aug 1828 and proved 22 June 1840, Halifax co. VA 
		Will Bk.19:287) Names children: Fannie, David, Elizabeth, Matthew, Artha,
		 Mary, Robert, John's heirs, Larkin's heirs, James.
	Joseph Morton,  inventory of estate taken in 1818. Many of his descendants moved to 
		Mt. Sterling, Kentucky. The history also mentions a Thomas Vaughn.

Some Person County Records:

	Tarlton Morton m. Elizabeth Mondy 3/21/1809, bond by George Morton,
          	witness H. Haralson. (Note that Joseph and Jemima named a son, Tarlton.)
	Tarlton Moten acq. 73.5 ac Gents/Adams Cr. (Deed Bk G. p. 276) 5/20/1824
	Thomas Morton acq 4 ac Marlowe Creek (Bk C, p. 25) 1800
	Elijah Harralson acq land on Marlowe and Gents Creek, 1787.

	Bethel Church Book 1799-1838:
		March 1802: Received by letter:
			Elizabeth Barnett,   Chaney Molton, Sarah Vaughn,  ElizabethBrooks
		March 1805: Sister Darah Vaughn joined the Church by Letter; 
		March 1805: Brethren Reubin PIckit and John Brooks mentioned

	John Brooks ordained Baptist Minister, Bethel Church, 4 June 1803. 
	Deed from John Brooks to Baptist Church of Mayo for land and meeting house at Bethel,
	 	28 Nov 1806, Person Co. Deed Bk. D:43.

	1800 Census Person County:

		Vaughn, George 	p. 201 
			Matthew		p. 200
			John		p. 199
			Artha, John	p. 194
			Elijah		p. 198
			Robert		p. 195
			David		p. 195
			Larkin		p. 196
		Barnett,John		p. 200
			Thomas		p. 200
			Andrew		p. 196	
		Molton, (var. of Morton)
			Catherlin	p. 200	
		Morton,	George		p. 200 
			Thomas		p. 200 
			William		p. 200 
		Harrel, Paul		p. 199
		        Ezekiel		p. 199
		Harrelson, Major[?]	p. 200

NOTE: The name Chaney Molton next to Sarah Vaughn in the Bethel Church Records. If this is actually "Chancy" Morton/Molton, wife of Joseph Morton of Pittsylvania County, this would suggest that Jemima's husband Joseph, was *****Joseph Morton, member of the Pittsylvania/Halifax Morton family shown above.

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Joseph and Jemima migrated to Kentucky about 1807 as relative newlyweds. They already had at least one son. Records suggest they migrated with other families from Person County, NC and Pittsylvania County, VA named Pipes, Crane and Beadles in addition to Vaughns and Harrels.

The records of Joseph Morton and his wife Jemima Harrell --and family in Kentucky is fairly well documented with court and census data. Additional data comes from Pike County, Indiana where they moved before 1850.

Kentucky Records -- Crane, Pipes, Robinson.

Joseph's companions in the migration to Kentucky provide many family names with similar migration patterns from places like King William County, Virginia to Lunenburg County and finally Pittsylvania and Halifax Counties, Virginia.

Some of the families seen in Kentucky who came from Virginia are shown below. All are believed related by marriage to the Mortons. Many, such as Cranes, lived in Pittsylvania County but originally migrated from Prince Edward County, Virginia.

U.S. 1800 Census, Kentucky
	Mercer County 
		George and John Pipes 
		Robert Brooks  
	Fayette County
		William Morton

U.S. 1810 Census, Kentucky
	Mercer County 
		John Crane  p. 327
		John Pipes p. 327
		Norman, Rachel and William Blaketer,  p.  332
	Fayette County 
		William and John Morton	
	Washington County

U.S. 1820 Census, Kentucky
	Mercer County 
		Joseph Morton, p. 102
		George Vaughn, p. 111
		Alexander, David, Henry, John (Sr and Jr) William  Blacketer p. 87
		Cary, David, Nathaniel, Nelson, Tarlton, Thomas and Thomas G. Crane,  p. 90
		John Pipes,  p. 105

Land transactions:
	March 1818, Joseph Morton/George Vaughn 53 ac, property on Beech Fork, 
		 Mercer County Deed Bk 10, pp 469-470.

	1831 Will of Sarah [Brooks Harrell] Vaughn (2nd marr.), Mercer County Bk 9, pp. 411-412, 1831, 
		leaves land to daughters Jemima Morton and Priscilla Beadles. 

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Joseph and Jemima followed their children to the area around Petersburg, Pike County, Indiana just prior to 1850. They lived out their lives there. Joseph died Nov. 15, 1855. Jemima survived him by 20 years, dying Sept 13, 1876 at 90. They are buried at Flat Creek Cemetery. Joseph left a will naming his surviving heirs.11

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1. Ruth McClellan, Our People of Pike County, Indiana, (Evansville, IN: Unigraphic Inc., 1978. See also William E. Morton, Morton Family, published by author, Rt 1. Box 411, Fairland IN 46126 and Josiah Morton, "Morton Families," Local History Section, Pike County Public Library, Petersburg, IN. Back to text

2. Person Co., NC , Marriage Bond, Joseph Morton & Mime Harrold [sic], 30 Dec 1801, bond by Thomas Morton, witness, R. Pickens. Back to text

3. Authors such as James W. Allen,"Morton Family of Henrico, Prince Edward and Brunswick Counties, Virginia," Genealogies of Virginia Families, Vol. 3, William and Mary College Quarterly History Magazine, Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, 1982. Back to text

4. Petition from Boone's Fort, Oct. 15, 1779, in "Bluegrass Roots," Kentucky Genealogical Soc., rpt. H. Thomas Tudor, "Early Settlers of Fort Boonesborough.", Vol. 5, No. 1, p. 1-14. Back to text

5. Emma Inman Williams, "Madison County History, Captain Herndon Haralson," The Jackson Sun, Jackson TN, 9 July 1944, p. 12. Back to text

6. "Bill Andy" Morton, grandson of Elijah Morton, stated his grandmother (either Sarah Harrell Vaughn or Mary Morton) claimed Cherokee Blood (Interview with John Robinson, 1940, in McClellan, op. cit.[see below]) Back to text

7. Harriet Simpson Arnow, Seedtime on the Cumberland (New York: The MacMillan Comany, 1960). See also Gertrude Williams Miller and Martha Williams Jan de Beur, "Dawn of Tennessee Valley and Tennessee History," by Judge Samuel Cole Williams (John City, TN, 1937) pp. 321-22. Back to text

8. Maude Carter Clement, History of Pittsylvania County, VA (Lynchburg VA, J.P. Bell Co. Inc, 1929) footnotes p. 160; see also W.J. Carrington, History of Halifax County, VA(Baltimore: Regional Publishing Co., 1969) Back to text

9. Catherine Lindsey Knox, Marriages of Pittsylvania County, Virginia 1767-1805, 1956. (1956).

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10. Paul Haralson Pension File, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)Textual Records, PensionFile W1763 BLWT 28638-160-55

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11. Joseph Morton Will, Pike Co., IN Will Bk. 2, p. 123, recorded Oct. 19, 1855.

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A Brooks Family associated with Harrels

From: Norma Lee Longmire, "John Brooks and Some of his descendants," manuscript, Raleigh, NC, 1962.

John Brooks b. 6 Nov 1748, d. 12 May 1848. (lived in Caswell/Person 1781-1822.)*
   m.1 to unknown
	Fannie (m. Robert Brooks, Halifax Co. VA 28 Mar 1786)
		 probably b. abt 1768-1778
	Mary (m. Richard Parker, 6 Sep 1803)
	Susan (m. Lawson)
	Matthew ('moved to a western state and died after 1844')
	Robert  ('moved to a western state')  [See Mercer County 1800]
	Artha (b. 1775-1794, d. 1844-1848) [See land records with Harrel]
	Larkin (d. bef. 1828)
	John Jr. (d. bef 1828)
	David (b.1770-1775, m. Nancy Dillehay, d. abt. 2 Dec 1842
    m.2 Mrs. Sarah Faulkner
	James b. 1 July 1803

Matthew Brooks to Polly Harrel, marriage bond 9 Nov 1802  
Matthew Brooks to Mary Nelson, marriage bond 19 Dec 1822 
John Brooks was born 6 Nov 1748 according to tombstone in family cemetery.

* John Brooks may be a contemporary of Jemima's mother "Sarah" --perhaps her brother. The children of John would be contemporaries of Jemima.


Lost Colony
Colonial Migrations
  & New York

Post-Revolutionary Expansion
  New York & Six Nations
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  Ohio Indian Wars
   Solon, Iowa
Journeys to California
  First Wagons Over Sierra
  Donner Party
  Voyages to Gold Rush
  Transcontinental RR
Truckee, California

West Family Bibles
  Military Pensions
  Estates and Wills
  Civil War Service
  Deeds and Court


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