Do you have a favorite ancestor? It’s hard for me to narrow down my favorite to just one, but I do like John E. Wilson, who was buried at Crooked Creek Cemetery in Crittenden County in 1853, age about 75. This area was part of Livingston County, Kentucky until 1842, when Crittenden County was formed.
John E. Wilson just shows up in Livingston County in 1816, when he married Harriett Brooks. John E. doesn’t appear on the tax lists there until 1818, but he bought land on Crooked Creek from David Dickey in 1817 and then is on the 1820 census record. Bit by bit, I was able to learn more about him. John E. had an earlier marriage to the daughter of Hugh McVay, a veteran of the Revolutionary War, and he had a third marriage to Nancy Franks in 1831. I also learned that his oldest child was born in Tennessee about 1807/08. Prior to that, his whereabouts were a mystery.
Long after John E. Wilson's death, a deed was recorded which conveyed land for an addition to the cemetery at Crooked Creek Baptist Church so I knew he lived near the church. The area around Crooked Creek was settled mainly by people from the upstate area of South Carolina. None were named Wilson except John E. and he listed North Carolina as his place of birth on the 1850 census. Maybe he was actually born in South Carolina or maybe he was born in one of counties along the North - South Carolina border. Previous research on other Wilson families in the area had shown that several Wilson brothers who settled in the Bells Mines area were from Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, but I had eliminated them as relatives of John E. Settling over in the Piney area was John M. Wilson, but he was from Roane County, Tennessee and came to Kentucky later than John E.
Sometimes when you can't find the info you need by researching the person directly, you have to try a different tactic. It was time to research anyone who might have had contact with John E. I gathered as much information as possible on the neighbors of John E. Wilson - their marriages, who witnessed their deeds, who owned land adjoining that of John E. Wilson, who was also buried in Crooked Creek Cemetery, and anything else I could turn up. There was some success as I did learn that William McMican, who bought land from John E. Wilson in 1820 was married to Rhoda Brooks and her death record lists her father as Dabney Brooks. Interesting. There was no other Brooks family in the area so maybe Rhoda and Harriett Brooks were sisters, or at least closely related. I also learned that each of John E. Wilson’s three wives had some sort of connection to Hugh McVay, his first father-in-law, either through blood, marriage or location. Hugh McVay was also in Tennessee before receiving a land grant in Kentucky. Perhaps that is where his daughter met and married John E. Wilson. No marriage record has turned up, though.
I’ve learned a little more about John E. Wilson and it causes me to feel there was a strong connection to Dabney Brooks with Dabney probably being the father in law of John E. Wilson. John E. and Dabney Brooks were both in southern Indiana, not far from where I live, at an early date and, while Dabney stayed and died in Indiana, John E. apparently went back to Kentucky. Dabney also shows up in some of the same counties and states as Hugh McVay and there is a connection by marriage years before they both show up in Kentucky.
I have been in contact with other researchers who suggest that John E. is connected to Aquilla Wilson, who left Maryland and settled in Rockingham County, North Carolina. Some members of this family migrated to Giles County, Tennessee. I haven’t seen any proof, but, if this is true, it is quite a coincidence as my Joyce and Bostick families also lived in Rockingham County. They, too, went to Tennessee, just one county west of Giles.
As far as I know, John E. Wilson didn’t participate in any great event, he owned but little land, and he has managed to keep his birthplace secret for years and years. I’ll keep on searching and sometime, somewhere I’ll turn up that piece of information to complete this puzzle. In the meantime, I’ve learned quite a bit about his neighbors and that isn't bad.
Another time I’ll tell you about my Livingston County ancestor who had several children and no husband. What a challenge she has been! Also, be thinking about your favorite ancestor and what makes them special. Maybe you will share that information with us.