Family Photo – 50th Wedding Anniversary Photograph

This wonderful photograph was taken in June 1948 to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of my great-great grandparents, Bailey Peyton and Clara Dona (Christian) Upton. They are seated in the middle of the photograph. The couple had married on 18 June 1898 in Overton County, Tennessee, and their union created the large, beautiful family you see in this photo!

Clara Dona was the tenth of eleven children born to Moses Elian Christian and Louisa Margaret Jane Hooten. She was the great granddaughter of educator, surveyor, and author Moses Fisk and the great-great granddaughter of Revolutionary War officer Gilbert Christian. She came from a well-known and well-educated family, which was in direct contrast with the family of her husband, Bailey Peyton Upton. Bailey was the son of Turner Mike Upton and Martha Daughtery. Martha’s parents had quite a scandalous past, and their story was highlighted in this post. Mike’s parents were Riley and Martha Upton, and evidence points to Riley being the illegitimate son of Turner Johnson, a close neighbor and friend.

My granddad once told me a story about Clara Dona and Bailey Peyton. According to him, Bailey Peyton either couldn’t read or write, or he couldn’t read or write very well, and Clara Dona said she wouldn’t marry him until he learned. She then taught him how to read and write (or at least improved his skills), and then they were married.

Below is the 1880 census record. Both Bailey Peyton’s parents could read and write, and he, his older sister Minnie, and his older brothers Montee and Dennis attended school within the year. The census taker recorded that Bailey Peyton, Dennis, and Minnie could not read or write, and Montee could not read, yet they all went to school! This evidence seems to prove granddad’s story correct: although Bailey Peyton attended school, he might have only gone some of the time and he was only partially literate.

Interestingly, the 1900 census shows Bailey Peyton and Clara Dona living in their own home soon after their marriage, and Clara is recorded as illiterate! This is an error of the census taker, as I have seen examples of her ability to read and write. However, all of Clara’s tutoring paid off, and Bailey was recorded as literate.

The Photograph

I do recognize quite a few people in this family photograph, but I will just point out a few. The photo features Clara Dona and Bailey Peyton, their children, their spouses, and their grandchildren. My grandfather is standing fourth from the left, between two of his cousins wearing white dresses. His parents, Audrey Vonda (Upton) Davis and Lyndol Davis are standing on the opposite side of the photograph. Vonda, Clara Dona and Bailey Peyton’s oldest daughter, is in a white dress, standing in the front row, fourth from the left. The lady just behind her turned her head and is laughing. Lyndol Davis is standing two over from Vonda, with a young boy in front of him.

It is a sweet photograph, and it really shows what a close-knit family they were. Clara Dona and Bailey Peyton celebrated their 60th anniversary ten years later, but she died the following year, and Bailey six years later. What a fortunate couple to live such long, happy lives together!

On the Farm – George Christian

Today’s post is going to be fairly quick and simple, partly because I am trying to catch up and partly because life has been a bit crazy this week. So, this is a transcription of the 1850 Agricultural Census taken of the farm of George Christian of Overton County, Tennessee.

George Christian (1802-1892)

George Christian (1802-1892) was the oldest son of George and Elizabeth (McCormick) Christian. I wrote about George, Sr. in an earlier post. George Jr. was born in Knox County, Tennessee, and early in his life, migrated to Overton County. George married Celina Fisk, the daughter of Moses Fisk, a graduate of Dartmouth and a true Renaissance man. Moses gifted Celina land before her marriage, which was added to George’s upon their marriage. Here is a snapshot of life on George and Celina’s farm in 1850:

1850 Agricultural Census

Acreage and Values: 80 Improved Acres and 1400 Unimproved Acres. Cash Value of Farm: $1500 and Value of Farm Implements: $60.

Farm Animals: 4 Horses, 1 Ass, 5 Milch Cows, 4 Working Oxen, 8 Other Cattle, 7 Sheep, and 100 Swine. Value of Livestock: $400. Value of Animals Slaughtered: $40.

Produce: 50 Bushels of Wheat, 1000, Bushels of Indian Corn, 100 Bushels of Oats, 15 Pounds of Wool, 20 Bushels of Irish Potatoes, and 10 Bushels of Sweet Potatoes. 300 Pounds of Butter and 30 pounds of Beeswax and Honey. Value of Orchard Produce: $30 and Housemade Manufacturing Value: $40

People Living and Working on the Farm: George Christian (48 years), wife Celina (37), children Moses Elian (18 years), Moffit Alonzo (15 years), Perilla (11 years), Viola (8 years), Zeda Ann (6 years), Arkley Fisk (4 years), and George (1 year). George and Celina also owned two slaves, both boys, one 14 years old and the other 5 years old. This particular piece of information is hard to reconcile with what I know of the family. Celina’s father, who was from Massachusetts, was a staunch abolitionist, and he wrote very eloquently and passionately on the subject. But perhaps George did not agree with his father-in-law’s views.

George and Celina lived out their days on their farm. Celina died at the age of 70 in 1884, and George followed in 1892 when he was 90. Both were buried in a cemetery on their farmland. Their lives were literally tied to their land: their livelihood, their family, and their deaths

 

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Longevity

While looking at my family tree, I found some ancestors who only lived into their 20s and 30s, some who made it to middle age, and others who lived past 90. I was very surprised how many of my direct ancestors lived past 80, particularly the female ancestors.

I would like to highlight my two most long-lived ancestors that I have found in my family tree: Ann Cochran Dixon, who died at the age of 93/94 and George Christian, who died at the age of 101.

Ann Cochran Dixon

Ann was born to George and Nancy (Henry) Cochran in 1763, most likely in Chester County, Pennsylvania. Two dates have surfaced for Ann’s birthday: April 9, 1763 and August 16, 1763. Her death notice in the local newspaper reported her birth date as April 1763, and her tombstone further specified April 9, 1763. Her granddaughter wrote her obituary, in which she gave Ann’s birth date as August 16, 1763. Although the exact day cannot be determined, all records agree that the year was 1763. Following the death of her mother in 1769, Ann was sent to live with her uncle Reverend John Roan and aunt Anne (Cochran) Roan in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. When her uncle died in 1775, Ann returned to her father in Chester County.

Most of Ann’s immediate male relatives served in the Revolutionary War. Ann’s brother John and father George both served in the militia and as artificers, Ann’s uncle Stephen served as a militia captain and in the Pennsylvania Assembly, and her uncle Dr. John Cochran more notably served as the Surgeon General of the Continental Army and was a close friend of General George Washington. Ann had the opportunity to meet and socialize with Martha Washington during the Valley Forge encampment, who she met through her uncle, Dr. John Cochran.

Ann married Sankey Dixon in 1788 outside of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Sankey was the son of John and Arabella (Murray) Dixon of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the Continental Army as early as 1776 and served until he was discharged as a lieutenant on June 3, 1783. He was present for many of the famous encampments and battles of the war, including Valley Forge and the surrender at Yorktown.

The Dixons left Pennsylvania sometime between 1790 and 1792 and settled in the Shenandoah Valley. By 1807, they were living in Knox County, Tennessee. Ann gave birth to seven children – John, Matthew Lyle, Robert, Nancy Henry, Isabella, Mary Roan, and Margaret Ingles – and five survived to adulthood. Sadly, Sankey died in 1814, leaving Ann a widow. In 1822, Ann and her youngest daughter moved to Winchester, Tennessee to live with Matthew.

Ann began to make appearances in contemporary public records during the later part of her life. In 1839 she successfully applied for and obtained a Revolutionary War widow’s pension of $320 a year. Ann gradually became financially independent after receiving her pension for several years, and in 1844 she was able to purchase in her name a house and lot in Winchester. She furnished part of the house with her personal furniture, which included her bed and bedstead, a half dozen chairs, her clothes press, and her clock. She wrote a will before her death and left everything she owned to her daughter Margaret.

Ann led an exciting life and lived to an impressive 93 years (or 94, depending on her birth date). She outlived her husband, all of her children, and many of her grandchildren.

George Christian

George was born in 1769, the son of Colonel Gilbert Christian and Margaret (Anderson) Christian. Gilbert was a well-known frontiersman, soldier, and local official who was instrumental in the formation of the State of Franklin and a good friend of John Sevier, the first Governor of Tennessee. George served as a soldier in some of the Indian campaigns in the early 1790s under the command of his father-in-law to be, Captain William McCormick. In 1803, he married Elizabeth McCormick in Knox County, Tennessee.

By 1808, he and his family had settled in Overton County, Tennessee. He purchased land and participated in the development of the county. While living in Overton County, he wrote a series of letters to Lyman Draper about the early formation of the state of Tennessee, the conflicts with the Indians, and his family history. George wrote his will in 1867, and died on April 3, 1870 in Overton County at the age of 101.

 

Other Observations

Ann and George are connected in some interesting ways:

  1. They are both my 5th great-grandparents, Ann on my Dad’s side and George on my Mom’s side.
  2. They were both born in the 1760s.
  3. They had immediate family members who served in the Revolutionary War.
  4. They lived in East Tennessee during the same time period. Ann lived in Knox County, Tennessee as early as 1807, if not before then, until 1822. George’s family lived in the same area around the same time period. His father, Gilbert, was buried in Knoxville in 1793, and George married his wife, Elizabeth McCormick, in Knox County in 1803.
  5. They had family members who were involved in Tennessee politics. George’s father was very involved in the State of Franklin, and Ann’s cousin by marriage was Archibald Roane, second Governor of Tennessee.
  6. Finally, both Ann and George migrated farther west into Tennessee, Ann to Franklin County in 1822 and George to Overton County by 1808.

While I have no proof that they ever met, it is fascinating to think that those two had so much in common, including myself!