Friday, April 15, 2011

Gerald Witt Rewrites Some of Our Witt Family History

Tombstone of Rev War Captain Elijah Witt (1756-1806)

For many years now, I like many before me and many even today have traced their Witt family lineage from Joseph Nathaniel Witt who married Sarah Earls to what was believed to be his parents Joseph Witt (1752-1819) who died in Jefferson County Tennessee. His wife and the supposed mother was Sarah Kimbrough. This is how things have been for many many years. My great Aunt Edna Bless based her DAR line on this family link.

Back in 2002, my cousin Gerald Witt in the hill country of Texas, uncovered evidence that proved conclusively this this link was wrong. Needless to say that was a earth shattering find and it turned two whole generations of our Witt family lineage upside down. After looking at the evidence that Gerald uncovered, it has now been proven that Joseph Nathaniel Witt is the son of the brother of the fore mentioned Joseph above -- Rev War Captain Elijah Witt and his wife Nina Jarnigan Hutchison. See information presented for child number 2 listed below.

After Gerald concluded his research he prepared a research paper on the 12 Children of Elijah Witt, which he shared with me and he has given me permission to post here on this family blog. So if you are still one of the dozen or so Ancestry family trees that have the original link I mentioned above reflected on your tree, and you are wondering why my and a few other trees on Ancestry show Joseph N. Witt's father to be Captain Elijah Witt, I present to below cousin Gerald Witt's Twelve Children of Elijah Witt. Any further use of this material anywhere should be credited to him as he is the one who deserves full credit. We are just the messenger here on my blog.

Elijah served as a private (DAR Ancestor #A127232) in the militia in Washington County, North Carolina during the Revolutionary War.

From the DAR GRS database:-
Service Source: NC REV WAR PAY VOUCHERS #893, ROLL S.115.135
Service Description: 1) PAID FOR SERVICES RENDERED.

There is a great write up on the three sons of Charles Witt (Elijah, Caleb, and Burgess) service during the Rev War at
Bob's Genealogy Filing Cabinet. The write up on Elijah indicates that he did serve as a Captain of a militia company "guarding the frontiers of North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina”

In 1801, Elijah and his son Daniel were riding horseback and the horse became frightened, throwing Elijah against a tree, killing him. Daniel was also thrown, but escaped uninjured.

The Twelve Children of Elijah Witt

The following is found on page 17 of the Jefferson County Tennessee Guardians Report Book 1: “Sarah Witt, Guardian An inventory of the Estate real and personal of Elijah Witt and Piety Witt minors returned by Sarah Witt, Guardian for said Elijah and Piety this 15 day of July 1808-Twenty bushels of wheat, one bushel of corn- The real estate is undivided and is supposed to contain thirty three acres to each of those minors, but no emolument hitherto received. Signed Sarah Witt, guardian. Sworn to in open court July 19, 1808”. We know from land records that the heirs of Elijah Witt have 400 acres of real estate. And, if each heir is to receive thirty-three acres-simple math indicates twelve heirs are involved.

The following is found on page 5, Jefferson County Tennessee Deeds Book N. Registered August 28, 1815. “Witness that whereas Elizabeth Witt one of the children and heirs of Elijah Witt, deceased, in her lifetime intermarried with James Luster and the said Samuel House having purchased of the said James Luster the right and claim that the said James Luster and Elizabeth his wife had or may hereafter have to two tracts or parcels of land containing two hundred acres in each tract, being undivided tracts belonging to the estate of the said Elijah Witt, deceased, it being one twelfth part of said tracts or parcels of land.”

The following sentence indicates only eleven heirs. Jefferson County Tennessee Deed Book S, page 545. Harmon M. Witt sells his undivided interest in 400 acres of land to Eli Witt on March 23, 1833. The deed goes on to say that Eli Witt pays $120.00 to Harmon M. Witt for his one-eleventh interest in the 400 acres.

Evidently, one of the children of Elijah died without issue between 1815 and 1833. I have two candidates—Viney (Lavinia) and Elijah. I have found neither listed in later records.

I have divided the children into two groups-the children who did not require a guardian at the death of Elijah. And the younger children who were required by law to have a guardian. I have placed seven children in the first group. The birth dates of some of the children are know and they will be listed. The children may or may not be listed by order of birth, since all dates are not known.

Many believe that the first wife of Elijah Witt was Nina Hutchison, but I have not found this marriage. However, I do have clues. A Daniel Hutchison witnessed the will of Charles Witt, the father of Elijah Witt in Halifax County Virginia. Elijah Witt named a son Daniel. And Joseph Witt, the son of Elijah Witt named his first son Hutchison Witt.

1. Noah Witt, born 16 March 1776 and was living in Jefferson Co. TN when the 1850 census was enumerated. In the census he was 74 years of age, which would agree with his birth year of 1776. He was born in Virginia. He was first married to his first cousin, Millie Maze. After her death he married Jane (Smith by some accounts) who is listed with him in the 1850 census. She is 56 years of age and born in South Carolina. A Noah Witt is one of the administrators of the will of Elijah Witt and I feel strongly that Noah Witt, born 1776 is a son of Elijah Witt.

2. Joseph Witt, born circa 1777 and married Sarah Earls in Jefferson Co. Tennessee on 25 April 1797. Noah Witt was bondsman for Joseph Witt. I think this is added proof that Joseph Witt is a son of Elijah Witt. His birth date is only a guess using his marriage date as a base. This Joseph Witt has long been listed under the children of Joseph Witt, who died in Jefferson Co. in 1819. The following land record provides ample proof to move this Joseph Witt to the children of Elijah Witt. Jefferson Co. Deed book R, page 381-“An indenture made on 21 January 1824 between John Witt and Eli Witt, you find the following: “Witness that the said John Witt doth convey and confirm unto Eli Witt all the right title and claim that Joseph Witt the father of said John had to two certain tracts of land lying on the waters of Long Creek, it being part of the property of Elijah Witt, deceased.” I think this is strong proof that Joseph is the son of Elijah Witt. Added evidence is the court case of March 1801 where Elijah not only delivers Joseph Witt to court, but also pays his court cost. Since, this is my line I have studied this very carefully before I changed ancestors from Joseph Witt to Elijah Witt.

3. John Witt, born 18 April 1780 in Virginia and married Eleanor Penny, 18 June 1800. I did not find this marriage in the Jefferson Co. records. He later moved to Pope Co. Illinois. While living in Pope Co. he sells his undivided interest in land belonging to Elijah Witt to Eli Witt. In Jefferson Co. TN Deed Book R. page 381, you find the following buried in the text. “And John Witt one of the children and heirs of Elijah Witt, deceased.” I think this statement proves the relationship.

4. Elizabeth (Betsy) Witt, born circa 1782 married James Luster 31 January 1793 in Jefferson County Tennessee. The only proof I have found for this child is as follows: Jefferson County Tennessee Deeds Book N, page 5, registered August 28, 1815. “Witnessth that whereas Elizabeth Witt one of the children and heirs of Elijah Witt, deceased, in her lifetime intermarried with James Luster”. James Luster sold his rights to Elizabeth’s one twelfth part of Elijah Witt’s property to Samuel House of Madison County, Mississippi Territory. I assume that James and Elizabeth Luster were living in Madison County, Mississippi Territory in 1815. This would later become Madison County, Alabama.

5. Anne Witt, born circa 1784 and married William Bottom on 15 July 1806 in Jefferson County Tennessee. Her birth date is backed in using her marriage date. Very little is known about Ann Witt. She appears on the list of buyers at the sale of personal property of Elijah Witt, on 15 May 1806. This would be two months before her marriage to William Bottom. Not great proof, but the best we have at this time to place Ann Witt as a child of Elijah Witt.

6. Eli Witt, born 15 August 1785 and died 12 October 1851. Eli Witt is enumerated in the 1850 census of Greene County, Illinois as a 65 year old farmer with wife Nancy aged 60 and both were born in Tennessee. He married Nancy McNeely on 13 July 1806 in Jefferson Co. TN. Samuel House was either the bondsman or minister at their wedding. The best proof that Eli Witt is an heir of Elijah Witt is found in the Jefferson Co. Tennessee Minute Book (Circuit Court) 1810-1816, page 91.”Tuesday July 16th 1811. An obligation from Noah Witt, Guardian of Harmon Witt and one of the Administrators of Elijah Witt, deceased for himself and the said Harmon Witt both heirs of Elijah Witt deceased and Eli Witt and Samuel House also heir of said Elijah, deceased to Christopher Bullard was proven in Open Court wherefore it is admitted to record, let it be registered and it is ordered by court that the same be certified to the County of Giles Tennessee State.” The preceding statement leaves little doubt that Eli Witt is a son of Elijah Witt.

7. Mary Witt married Samuel House in Jefferson Co. TN on 10 February 1807. The strongest evidence that Mary Witt is an heir of Elijah is found in the Jefferson Co. Tennessee Minute Book (Circuit Court) 1810-1816, page 91. Read the quote above regarding Eli Witt. The quote also tells us that Mary Witt House is alive in 1811 and is still married to Samuel House. Otherwise, Samuel House would not be an heir.

This completes my discussion of the seven heirs of Elijah Witt, who required no guardian when Elijah Witt was killed in early 1806. This is a work in progress and much more research is required. This is the beginning not the end.

The following is the five children who required guardians at the time of Elijah Witt’s death in 1806. Much work needs to be done to better develop the lives of these children. I have divided the children into three sub groups. Noah Witt was the guardian for Harmon Witt. William Maze was the guardian for Viney and Daniel Witt. Sarah Witt was guardian to Elijah and Piety Witt. I think Elijah and Piety were the children of the marriage of Elijah Witt and Sarah Bottom. They were married 26 December 1797. And, Sarah Witt is the guardian of her own two children.

8. Harmon Witt was born 16 November 1788. He married Miriam Skeene on 23 December 1807. Harmon Witt is named in the Jefferson Co. Tennessee Minute Book (Circuit Court) 1810-1816, page 91l as an heir of Elijah Witt. In 1833 Harmon Witt sold his undivided interest in 400 acres of land (Jefferson Co. TN Deed Book S, page 545). This farther proved his descent from Elijah Witt. Harmon Witt is definitely a heir of Elijah Witt

9. Viney Witt. I site the following evidence for both Viney Witt and Daniel Witt. Jefferson Co. TN Guardian Report Book 1, 1805-1832,Page 12, William Maze Guardian, 11th July 1807 “William Maze Guardian for Viney Witt and Daniel Witt reports that there has come into his hands of the property of the said Viney Witt three pounds of picked cotton, about forty pounds of cotton in the seed, thirteen bushels and a peck of corn, one bushel and peck of wheat about seventeen hands full of broke flax and two bushels of corn this fall, about thirty bushels flax not broke. Also of the property of Daniel Witt the same quantity of the same property as stated above this returned to court the second day of the Oct. session 1807. Signed William Maze I assume that Viney is the nickname for Lavinia. No other record has been found for Lavinia, but the guardianship proves her relationship to Elijah Witt.

10. Daniel Witt was born 22 July 1790 and married Ingabo Skeene on 3 April 1813 in Jefferson County, Tennessee. From the family Bible: Daniel Witt was born 26 July 1790, Ingabo was born 14 October 1794. Daniel Witt died 8 October 1877 and Ingabo Witt died 7 June 1863. These dates have not been documented. Daniel Witt is a son of Elijah Witt and I point to the guardianship of Viney and Daniel to William Maze for proof.

11. Elijah Witt is a son from the marriage of Elijah Witt to Sarah Bottoms. Jefferson Co. Tennessee Guardian Report Book 1 1805-1832 page 17, “Sarah Witt, Guardian. An inventory of the estate real and personal of Elijah Witt and Piety Witt minors returned by Sarah Witt, Guardian for said Elijah and Piety this 15 day of July 1808- Twenty bushels of wheat. One bushel of corn. The real estate is undivided and is supposed to contain thirty three acres to each of those minors but no emolument hitherto received”. Signed Sarah Witt. No other record has been found regarding this Elijah, the son of Elijah Witt.

12. Piety Witt married Silas Gentry on 18 April 1814. This is the only record that I have found on Piety Witt. Let’s assume that Piety is the second child of this second marriage. Her brother, Elijah could have been born in 1798 and she could have been born in 1799. Little is know regarding Piety, however Silas Gentry bought the undivided interest in the 400 acres from several of Piety’s brothers and sisters.

As of October 21, 2002 these are the children of Elijah Witt. Their names were taken from primary records, but I have not found all the records. I welcome others to make additions and corrections.

Thanks you cousin Gerald for sharing your work with the rest of us.