Through the years, many people have asked The Vagabond about how the late Jerry Jones, former Etowah County Tax Assessor, first became interested in genealogy and history. We continue the story from last week…
Jerry Jones will never for-get the story of the massacres. When he was grown, Jerry began a search for anything that might add to the events that had related to him. The first evidence Jerry found was an article written by local historian Will I. Martin, who wrote articles for The Gadsden Times. Martin wrote about people and events in this area. This article appeared in The Gadsden Times in 1937 and reads as follows:
Jones gave land for Old Harmony Church
One of the oldest and most interesting churches in Etowah County is located on Rainbow Drive, a few miles south of Gadsden, and is known as Old Harmony Church. Originally it was called Harmony Meeting House, and (it) is described in the deed that was signed by Edmond Jones on Aug. 20, 1841.
The first building erected before that time was given to the Baptists with the stipulation that the Methodists and Presbyterians could use it in the event they decided to do so. For more than 107 years, this church has been used by various denominations as a matter of right. The Primitive Baptist has been holding services there for several years.
The adjoining cemetery on the three-acre tract, donated by Mr. Jones, has been freely used by all de-nominations, and some of the finest of the old families of the county have members buried there. The original frame building burned a few years ago and was replaced by a concrete block structure.
There is a legend that when the family of Edmond Jones emigrating to new territory along with others, they were attacked by Indians and all were killed except a five year old boy, who was picked up by white people in the neighborhood of where the Harmony Church was built. That little boy was Edmond Jones. When he grew into manhood, Jones acquired land there, and from sheer gratitude, he decided to establish a church open to all.
Jones was not the Edmond C. Jones that later became a most prosperous farmer, and who owned much land at what is now known as Clubview Heights. He might have been a kinsman. At least, that is the story told by old timers of that section.
When the church was built back in the [1840s], it was in St. Clair County. The church remained in the county until 1866, when a part of St. Clair County was sliced off to form Etowah County. The deed to the church property is an interesting document. It reads:
“State of Alabama, St. Clair County:
“Be it remembered that I, Emon Jones, of the State and County aforesaid, For various considerations and divers good purposes do make this deed of gift, in fee simple, for the use of the gospel. That is to say three acres of land situated and lying in the county aforesaid and including the meeting house known by the name of Harmony Meeting House; which ground I do by these presents bequeath namely, for the use of the church or churches as the case may be to wit:
“To the Baptist Church that is now embodied there; also to the Methodists and Presbyterians should they form churches at that place. Said meeting house being built on a republican plan; and said land is donated on the same principle, which land I do warrant and forever defend to the said churches against myself, my heirs, executors and administrators, or any other person lawfully claiming or to claim.
“Signed with my hand and sealed with my seal, this 21 day of August, One thousand eight hundred and forty one. EDMOND JONES, LS, in the presence of: James Lister,
James Lister, Sr.”
Another question in Jerry’s mind was, “Where did Edmond Jones live in Georgia and when did he return to this area?”
Jerry went to the Tract Book in the St. Clair County Courthouse and found that Edmond Jones had applied for and received title to a number of tracts of land. The first being in Section 31, Township 12, Range 6, this being the site of Old Harmony Cemetery, and where he built the meeting house, known as Harmony Meeting House. He also entered land in Section 22, Township 12, and Range 6. This property was bordering on Big Wills Creek at its mouth and the Coosa River. It was here that the Jones family first lived after arriving in the Mississippi Territory. Edmond and his son James Jones operated a ferry on the Cahawba Road (Rainbow Drive) over Big Wills Creek.
In about 1838, Edmond built a new house on his land at the intersection of the Cahawba Road and Gilbert’s Ferry Road. He lived there until his death in 1859. Edmond had made a deed to his son, Clayton Jones, for this land, including the house with its furnishings, and the slaves that he had at that time.
Clayton’s brother, Hugh Jones, was named his guar-dian, and Clayton moved to the Hugh Jones plantation in Whorton Bend. Hugh died in 1863, and Clayton Jones was moved to the home of his sister, Luvisa Jones, the wife of William Morgan. Clayton died within a year of this move, and Luvisa Morgan filed a claim for taking care of Clayton in his last illness. She was awarded the farm where her father had lived, and soon the area became known as Morgan Crossroads, and was so known when Jerry first remembered that area.
From the records of Edmond’s first land in St. Clair County, Jerry found a mention of Clarke County, Ga. He went to Athens, the county seat of Clarke County.
At the courthouse, he located several deeds to and from Edmond Jones. Some of these deeds were for property adjoining the plantation of Uriah Humphries. Humphries had executed deeds to one Hannah Croxton, and she in turn conveyed them to Edmond Jones, citing for “natural love” and affection to my son, Edmond Jones.
Finding this record, Jerry was very confused. He had assumed that Edmond’s mother was one of those killed in the massacre in the Indians territory of Alabama. This, however, gave him another name to re-search. He found records of Croxton spelled several different ways. After going to the library that night, Jerry found that there was a will for a John Croxton on file in Hancock County, Ga. The next day, Jerry made his way to the town of Sparta and went to the courthouse. Jerry found the will of John Croxton, dated 1795, and filed for record in 1796.
John Croxton gave his wife Hannah a life estate in all his property, and then named his children. One of them was Nancy Croxton, which Jerry later found married Edmond Jones, also named in the will was Sarah Croxton, “my wife’s daughter” who was to receive a child’s portion for this estate at the death of Hannah Croxton, her mo-ther.”
Sarah had married the eldest son of John Croxton, but he was dead when his father wrote his will. His name has never been determined.
By this time, Jerry had two deeds from Hannah Croxton to Edmond Jones saying that Edmond was her son. Jerry assumed that they meant her son-in-law, since he had married a daughter of John Croxton.
Jerry was more confused than before. On his way home, he stopped in Atlanta and visited his friend Leon Hollingsworth, a professional genealogist. When he read the deeds Jerry had found, Leon said, “Edmond Jones is her son, and not a son-in-law.”
Jerry asked, “How can you tell that?”
Leon explained that “natural love” is that of a mother to a natural son. So, now what does Jerry have? Edmond Jones was the son of Hannah Croxton, and he had a sister, Sarah, who had married a son of John Croxton.
Edmond himself had married Nancy Croxton, a daughter of John Croxton. A mother and her two children married John Croxton, and two of his children. Edmond’s mother and sister Sarah had not been with her husband and two sons when the father was massacred, and the other son that was taken by the Indians
This led to another big question: “What was Ha-nnah’s maiden name?” Nothing Jerry found in the records in Georgia answered this question.
At this time, Jerry was assisting Gadsden attorney Robert Lewis with a lawsuit he was working on regarding a Humphries estate in Texas. One of the principals of this suit was none other than Uriah Humphries, the neighbor of both Edmond Jones and Hannah Croxton in Clarke County, Ga.
More than a year had passed when Lewis made a trip to North Carolina in search of the family of Uriah Humphries. He had gone to Halifax County.
At about eleven o’clock one night, Jerry’s phone rang. It was Lewis.
“I know who Hannah Croxton is,” Lewis said.
“Who?” Jerry asked.
“She was a daughter of Elijah Humphries who died leaving a will in Halifax County in l796,” Lewis said.
Now another question arises for Jerry: “What is the connection between Elijah Humphries of North Carolina and Uriah Humphries of Georgia?”
A few months later, Lewis asked Jerry to go back to North Carolina with him. After a day’s search in Halifax County, they found information that Elijah Humphries had come to North Carolina from Virginia.
That evening found them on the road to Richmond, Va., and the Virginia Library. The next morning they were at the door of the Virginia Library when it opened, and Jerry went to a research room of Virginia records.
When he pulled a book off of the shelf and opened it to the “H” section, Jerry immediately saw a will of Joseph Humphries of Northumberland County, Virginia, with Elijah Humphries as the administrator, and then named the other heirs of Joseph Humphries, including Uriah Humphries and Joseph Humphries.
Jerry already knew that a Joseph Humphries was a judge in Jackson County, an adjoining county of Clarke County, Georgia, and that he lived near Uriah. So now they knew that Hannah Jones Croxton was a niece of Uriah Humphries and had learned that Uriah had come to Georgia from Botetourt County, Va., and his brother Joseph from Wilkes County, N.C., and that they were the sons of Joseph Humphries of Northumberland County, Va.
Another research trip was to Botetourt County, Va., in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. This was Jerry first time to view that part of the United States. He was very impressed with the valleys and mountains and the old wagon road that brought so many of our ancestors from Pennsylvania and the northeast into the southeastern United States. The valley was the route most of our Scotch-Irish and German ancestors had taken.
Bob and Jerry soon learned that Uriah Humphries had been one of the early pioneers in that section of Virginia, having gone to the area first with his cousin, Gen. George Washington, in the French and Indian War. Uriah owned vast tracts of land in old Augusta County, Va., which was later cut off to form West Virginia, Kentucky and part of the Ohio country.
Uriah’s home place in Botetourt County was one of the best. He had married Sarah Reynolds from an old North Carolina family. They lived a good life, with Uriah being active in the political life of western Virginia, until he found himself involved with one of his wards, and Sarah filed for a separation in the Virginia Legislature. She was awarded the home place, many slaves and a good income. However, it was not long until she left Virginia and returned to Wilkes County, N.C., with her seven children by Uriah Humphries.
Uriah and his ward, Nancy Burk, had removed to Georgia, where his brother, Joseph, was already settled and active in old Franklin County. During the American Revolution, he and another brother, Spencer Humphries, had fought for the colonies and built a fort for the protection of the people from the Indians and the English. Also living in Georgia was Hannah Humphries Jones Croxton.
Uriah Humphries purchased a very large plantation and soon was one of the leading citizens when Clarke County was formed in 1801. He added to his land holdings in Georgia, and still owned thousands of acres of land in the Virginia frontier.