This post goes from 1795 to about 1850.
Here are the Wilbourn generations, like links in the family chain, at a glance:
The first four generations have question marks because they have circumstantial evidence to show they are our ancestors. With John we have legal certainty by court-sworn documents.
Champion (cool name) did not leave behind much paperwork in Edgefield, South Carolina, because he died young, probably suddenly and unexpectedly. Fortunately his father William left behind court cases and even two copies of the same will. So we know the legal connections between the generations. It is a blessing Champion had three kids, one of whom – his son Amonet – is our direct line. Champion’s name inspired some of his descendants to name their sons after him.
Elizabeth (Betsy) Ann Anderson was a confident pioneer. She lived an interesting life with the Wilbourns. As a widow she moved with her young family from South Carolina in late 1834 and arrived in Louisiana in early 1836. She probably stayed in Mississippi for a while with her mother-in-law Cairy. Then she went out to Louisiana with other colonists from Edgefield; it was very courageous of her to take the big step of faith. Her documents – few though they are compared to other ancestors in the family chain – tell her story.
He was born about 1795, probably in Mecklenburg County, Virginia. He married Elizabeth Ann 1816-1819, before their first son was born in 1819, Edgefield District, South Carolina. He died between 1822 and 1827, after his last child was born (or conceived) in about 1822, and before his father’s will was drawn up in March 3, 1827, in Edgefield District, South Carolina.
More about him
His father William’s 1810 Census shows a “free white male” between “10 under 16,” so Champion’s birth range is 1795-1800. The 1820 Census shows him in the (too) broad age category of 26 under 45, so his birth range is 1776-1794; thus, this census is not helpful, except the latter year. He initiated a lawsuit in October 1816, so he had to be 21 to do that (= b. 1795 or before), though the age of majority was more fluid back then, than it is today. Nonetheless, combining the 1810 Census and the lawsuit, we should place is year of birth in 1795.
His birthplace was probably in Mecklenburg County, Virginia, because his grandfather Thomas’s file indicates the family moved after 1997 and before 1799, from that county, to Edgefield District, South Carolina. However, Champion’s sons William’s and Amonet’s censuses say their parents (Champion and Elizabeth Ann) were from South Carolina. This may simply reflect the fact that Champion died young, so his kids lost track of his origins. He spent his adult life, after all, in South Carolina.
As to his premature death, we don’t know what caused it. It was probably a disease that swept through the community (but keep in mind accidents did happen). Whatever the cause, he predeceased his father William’s will, dated March 3, 1827. If Champion was born in 1795 and died shortly after his last child was born (she was born no earlier than late 1822), then he was about 28 years old at his death.
Two researchers place Champion’s life span as 1795-1825. This is definitely plausible, but they cite no source and do not use the word “about” to indicate uncertainty. Go to these links: Here and here.
Here’s an image of one copy of his father William’s will (scroll down and click on William’s name and then click on the tiny image next to his name): Here.
A lawsuit over his estate, between William’s son Peter H. Wilbourn and William’s wife Cairy Wilbourn (son Peter v. his own mother Cairy), in which Champion is named.
She was born about 1791 to 1800, in Edgefield District, South Carolina. Her oldest son was born in about 1818-1820, so she was married to Champion Wilbourn before then, by two or three years. She died in Bienville Parish, Louisiana, before June 22, 1851.
More about her
Her family name is Anderson. She was nicknamed Betsy or Betsy Ann.
She eventually left South Carolina after December 2, 1834, when the Wilbourn family’s last deed was signed (and she was a signatory; see the previous post), and headed to Mississippi with her mother-in-law Cairy Wilbourn. Then Elizabeth left Mississippi and arrived in Claiborne Parish, Louisiana, in early 1836. She co-founded Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church in Mt. Lebanon, Bienville Parish, in 1837.
As to her age, in the 1830 Census she is 30 to 39 years old (birth range = 1791-1800), and in the 1840 Census she is 40 to 49 years old (birth range is the same). Champion was born about 1795, so we should give her year of birth about then too.
Finally, a letter written by Eldred Hardy from Mt. Lebanon, Bienville Parish, Louisiana, back to Old Edgefield District, South Carolina, says “old Sister Wilbourn is dead.” The letter is dated June 22, 1851, but there is no date of her death. There is only one “old Sister Wilbourn” in Bienville Parish who fits that description, so we now know she died before that date. The memory of her passing seems fresh in his letter, so we should tentatively conclude she died in 1851, though she does not appear in the 1850 Bienville Parish Census.
Her Anderson family ancestry goes as follows:
We haven’t yet tracked Samuel’s ancestry, but he probably comes from Virginia.
In Edgefield District, please see this post and do a Ctrl-F search on Samuel. For Robert, you need to find the right one:
Elizabeth Ann comes from an illustrious family line. Her maternal grandmother is Mary Clopton, and Mary’s great-grandfather is William Clopton, a “gateway ancestor.” This means that he descends from royalty several generations back, but he immigrated to the American colonies. There were hundreds of such gateways. William Clopton is ours.
Her Clopton lineage works out like this:
To find out more, please click on William Clopton and Our Royal Heritage
Also, through Elizabeth Ann’s maternal grandmother Mary Clopton and Mary’s great-grandmother Ann Booth (m. William Clopton) and Ann’s father Dr. Robert Booth, Elizabeth Ann comes from Jamestown heritage.
To find out more, please click on Robert Booth and Jamestowne
Since Champion died young, he and Elizabeth Ann had only three children.
1. William Walter
He was born in 1819 in Edgefield District, South Carolina. He married Eunice Ann Nelson, whose 1850 Texas Census says she was the same age as her husband. He died in Troup, Smith County, Texas, November 13, 1895, according to his descendants. He is named in the Mill Case, back in Edgefield, South Carolina.
More about him
He was possibly named after Elizabeth’s ancestors in the Clopton line, his 4x great-grandfather, Walter Clopton.
To compute his age, we have to factor in all the census records, and we need all of them because they can be inaccurate. The 1820 Census in South Carolina shows one “free white male” under ten. Since we know Amonet’s birthday (Nov. 7, 1821), we can then conclude that this census refers to William, so his birth range is between 1811 and 1819.
Next, the 1830 Census in SC shows two “free white males” between “5 under 10” and “10 under 15.” The older boy is William. This means his birth range is between 1816 and 1820. Calculating the 1820 and 1830 Censuses together, we arrive at a birth range between 1816 and 1819.
The 1840 Census in Louisiana says he’s “20 under 30,” so his birth range is 1811-1819.
The 1850 Census says he is 31 years old. That means he was born in 1819.
The 1860 Census says he’s 40 (b. 1820).
The 1870 Census says he’s 51 (b. 1819).
Finally, the 1880 Census says he’s 62 (b. 1818).
Taking all the censuses together, we can conclude that it is highly likely that he was born in 1819. That fits the fact of his mother’s father’s probate.
He is named first in the Mill Case. This order may indicate he’s the oldest, confirming the censuses and family history about his brother Amonet and his date of birth. Finally, he may have been named after his grandfather William (see the previous post and the section called the Mill Case).
One researcher on William Wilbourn writes: “William Walter Wilbourn, born 1816, South Carolina. He married Eunice Ann Nelson, born 1821, Louisiana, died 1904, Texas, buried: Gee Cemetery, Troup, Smith County, Texas. William died 1895, Texas, buried: Gee Cemetery, Troup, Smith County, Texas.”
If his year of birth is 1816, then we need to push his parents’ year of marriage backwards a little, but the adjustments don’t overturn the ranges for their years of births or death. However, this year is too early in our view. The censuses best work out to 1819. You decide.
He is supposedly buried in Gee cemetery, but in the next link the transcriptions of the grave markers do not reveal a WW or WWW. Maybe not all the gravestones have been found and transcribed.
See the East Texas Genealogical Society.
William Walter migrated to Texas, but not his mother Elizabeth.
William (31) and Eunice Ann (31) Wilbourn appear in the 1850 Census, in “My Subdivision,” Smith County, Texas. He’s a farmer and from South Carolina, and she’s from Louisiana, and her occupation is not cited. Laura Ann is 8, George is 3, and Amanda E. is 2. All three children are from Louisiana, so the family just moved to Smith County.
In the 1860 Census, Beat 6, Cherokee County, Texas, William Wilburn (40) is a farmer, while Eunice (39) is a housekeeper. He’s from South Carolina, and she’s from Louisiana, Their real estate is valued at $2000.00, while the value of their personal property is not cited. Laura A. is 17 and from Louisiana; George W. is 13 and also from Louisiana; Henry J. is 10, William is 6; and Lenora is 2. The latter three kids are from Texas. Louisa Nelson, 26, lives with them and is from Louisiana. Importantly, where’s Amanda E.? She died in 1859. Also, one researcher says William and Eunice had James in 1844, but he died in 1846, before they moved out to Texas. The 1900 Census says Eunice had nine kids, six of whom are still living.
In the 1870 Census, Beat 5, Cherokee County, Texas, William Wilburn (51) and Unis )sic) Ann (49) can be found. He’s a farmer and she’s “keeping house.” He’s from South Carolina, and she’s from Louisiana. Their real is estate is valued at $1000.00, and the personal property at $500.00. Their son William is 17 and works on the farm. Lenora is 11 and keeps house, while Alonzo is 9. All the kids are from Texas. The father William and Eunice and their son William cannot read or write.
In the 1880 Census, District 16, Cherokee County, Texas, Wm Willburn (62) and Eunic (sic) (61) appear. He’s a farmer, while she’s keeping house. He and his parents are from South Carolina. She’s from Louisiana, her father’s from Mississippi, and her mother’s from Tennessee. Lonny their son is 18 and single. They have a grandson Willey, 6, living with them. He’s from Texas, his unnamed and unlisted father’s from Texas, and his unnamed and unlisted mother’s from Alabama. In other words, his mother and father do not live in the household. It appears Willy is an orphan, unless more research can show his parents were alive. Fred (?) Willbon (33) and Cathron (20) and their family appear on the next page.
In the 1900 Census, Troup, Smith County, Texas, Eunice Wilbourn is 83 and the grandmother in relation to the head of household. She was born in January 1817 and is now a widow. She was the mother of nine children, six of whom are still living. She cannot read or write. She lives with George and Florence Gee. He’s 41 and was born in Texas, January 1859. He cannot read or write. She’s 31 and was also born in Texas, September 1868. She can read and write. They rent their farm. Their children: Fannie is 12, born September 1887, attended school in the past three months, and can read and write; Eddie is 11, born October 1888, attended school in the past three months and can read and write; Arzelia is 8 and born July 1891; William is 7 and born October 1892; Fred is 6 and born July 1894; Delila is four and born July 1895; Birdie is also four, but born April 1896; Georgia is 2 and born May 1898. All of the kids are from Texas, and the latter ones have not yet attended school. So the very elderly Eunice Ann Wilbourn can enjoy the company of a lot of great-grandchildren.
2. Amonet Washington
He is our direct line, so see his post, here:
3. Sarah M.
She was born in 1824, per the 1850 and 1880 Census, in Edgefield District, South Carolina. She married Thomas J. Worsham, who was also born in 1824, in Alabama. If they married around 20 years old, give or take, then they were married in 1844. Her middle name, intriguingly, is M. What does it stand for? Mary? Martha? Mildred? (Amonet named a daughter Mildred or Millie). We don’t know.
More about her
The 1830 Census says one “free white female” is “5 under 10,” so her birth range is between 1821 and 1825.
She is referenced, but not named, in her grandfather William Wilbourn’s will, dated March 3, 1827. However, she is named third in the Mill Case, so this may indicate her birth order, confirming the censuses. She was still single in 1837, when she was inducted as a new member in a church in Louisiana.
The 1850 Census, the Western District, Bienville Parish, Louisiana, says she married Thomas Worsham. He is 26 years old (b. 1824), and so is she. They have a three-year-old daughter named Lucretia and a six-month-old son named John. Thomas is a farmer, and his property is worth $1000.
In the 1880 Census, Panola County, Texas, says Thomas J. Worsham is 56 years old (b. 1824). He was born in Alabama, and his parents in Georgia. Sarah M. is also 56 and keeping house. She was born in South Carolina, and so were her parents (Champion was most likely born in Virginia). William T, their son, is 23 and is a laborer. He was born in Louisiana. Their daughter Georgia A. is 19, and her occupation says “without occup.” She was born in Louisiana. Their son James O. is 17, and he is a laborer. He was born in Louisiana. All of them are marked down as cannot read or write (or I may be misreading the slash. It could mean they can).
Then we come across an interesting court record in 1871, in Bienville Parish, Louisiana.
State of Louisiana }
Bienville Parish }
We, Lovick M. Worsham and James W. Stuart – chosen appraisers to appraise the property now presently to be conveyed from Thomas J. Worsham to his wife Sarah M. Worsham, do solemnly swear that we will well and faithfully discharge and perform the duties incumbent on us as appraisers of said property to the best of our knowledge and belief, so help us God.
J. W. Stuart
Lovick M. Worsham
Sworn and subscribed to before me on this the ___ day of July 1871.
S. B. Debose Parish Recorder & Ex Officio Notary Public
State of Louisiana }
Parish of Bienville }
We, Lovic. M. Worsham and James W. Stuart – chosen appraisers and sworn appraisers of the property presently to be conveyed from Thomas M. Worsham to his wife Sarah M. Worsham in part-satisfaction of the judgment of the Hon. [?] Dist. court of the said Parish rendered at the March Term of the said court in the year 1871 against the said Thomas M. Worsham in favor of his wife Sarah M. Worsham, do appraise the following described property as follows, to wit:
One One wagon to be worth seventy-five dollars …… $75.00
Two yoke oxen to be worth fifty dollars each ……… $100.00
One old broken wagon to be worth ten dollars ………….. $10.00
15 fifteen head stock cattle to be worth five dollars each … $75.00
31 thirty-one head stock hogs to be worth two dollars each … $62.00
5 five head stock sheep to be worth one & one half dollars each … $7.50
1 one back mare pony to be worth fifty dollars …………….. $50.00
100 one hundred bushels corn to be worth one hundred dollars … $100.00
3 three feather bed to be worth each twenty dollars …… $60.00
1 one mattress to be worth seven dollars ………………. $7.00
3 three bed steads to be worth five dollars each ………… $15.00
1 one double barrel shotgun to be worth twelve dollars ….. $12.00
Remainder of the house and kitchen furniture not already mentioned to be worth twenty-five dollars …………………………………………………..$ 25.00
Sum total appraised five hundred and ninety-eight dollars ….. $598.00
There being no other property to be appraised, we close this appraisement this the twenty-fourth day of July A.D. 1871
James W. Stuart
Lovick M. Worsham
Attest: James S. Pierson, B. P. Edwards S. B. Debos, recorder and ex officio Notary Public
I certify that the above and foregoing is a true record of the original recorded, on this the 4th day of August 1871 [signed] S. B. Debose, recorder
From that document it seems there was a legal conflict between husband and wife, but they appear together in the 1880 Census, so the conflict couldn’t have been permanent.
Champion and Elizabeth Ann began their married life in South Carolina. After he died young – we can only imagine the grief and turmoil the young family felt – she moved to Louisiana.
But let’s first look at what South Carolina offered them.
Champion and Elizabeth’s Censuses
Champion’s age range is too broad to be helpful, but his years of birth are 1775-1794. Note that the Wilbourns do not yet have a daughter, so Sarah was not born before 1820, but after. The boy under 10 is William, because the children of Amonet say Amonet was born in 1821.
Champion had died before his father’s will was drawn up in 1827, so he would not appear in the 1830 Census. His wife Elizabeth Ann (E. A.) does, though. Her birth range is 1791-1800. Since his father’s 1810 Census indicates Champion’s earliest year of birth was 1795, we should consider her about the same age, maybe a little younger, to follow historical probability. Elizabeth owns one slave girl. The sale of her father-in-law (our) William’s estate, December 15, 1828, shows that Elizabeth indeed bought a girl named Eliza. Finally, in the census, but not shown here, can be found Tandy M. Key and Tandy Martin and Susan Martin, nearby. John Canfield is a neighbor also. These families will live near Elizabeth in Louisiana.
For Elizabeth’s 1840 Census, see the large section below, titled Louisiana.
Meanwhile, let’s remain a little while longer in Edgefield District, South Carolina.
Champion Wilbourn v. Jonathan Fox
Jonathan Fox appears frequently in deeds and other Edgefield records. He’s sometimes the subject of other lawsuits.
October 4, 1816 to June 1817:
Edgefield District, South Carolina. Champion Wilbourn initiates a lawsuit against Jonathan Fox because the latter would not pay $60.00 on time.
October 4, 1816, February 11, 1817, and First Monday in March, 1817:
Court of Common Pleas. This is a petition that Champion’s attorney filed in the Court of Common Pleas. This is a preprinted form (except the introductory matter, which is handwritten), with the blanks filled in by hand. This is indicated with Italics font.
Entered 11th Feby 1817
Atty …………………….. 6.63
Clerk …………………… 2.50
Coupy [sic] …………….. 2.12 ¼
________[?] ……………. 6.25
Judgment & Fc [?] Fa [?]:
Signed ___ April 1817
On two notes
Service proved before me
[PREPRINTED FORM BEGINS:]
THE STATE OF SOUTH-CAROLINA,
To the Honorable Associate Judges of the said State.
The Humble Petition of Champion Willbourn
That Jonathan Fox is indebted to your petitioner in the sum of sixty dollars on two notes of hand [band?] exclusive of interest and delays payment
Wherefore your petitioner prays that the said Jonathan may be ordered, either personally or by his attorney, to be and appear at the court of Common Pleas, to be holden at Edgefield Court-House, for Edgefield district on the first Monday in March next, that your honors may then and there take your petitioners [sic] case into consideration, and grant such relief in the premises as, from the circumstances of the case, to your Honors shall deem meet: — And your petitioner will pray.
Ordered, that the said Jonathan Fox do appear at the time and place above-mentioned, to answer aforesaid complaint; and that he do file his defence with the Clerk of the said Court, on or before the meeting of the same, and give reasonable notice to the Plaintiff or his Attorney, or Judgment will be give against him the said Jonathan
Also ordered, that the Sheriff of the said district do serve this Process, and return it to the said Clerk fifteen days next before the sitting of the said Court.
Witness the honorable John Faucheraud Grimke, Esquire, Senior Associate Judge of the said State, at Edgefield Court-House, on the fourth Monday in October in the year of our Lord one thousand and sixteen and in the forty-first year of American Independence.
Summary Press: Printed at the Office of the Anti-Monarchist
August 28, 1816 and January 1817. Here are copies of the promissory notes that Jonathan Fox signed.
By first of January next, I promise to pay Champion Willbourn or barer [sic] the sum of thirty dollars for value rec’d August 28th 1816 (signed) Jonathan Fox
The first of January next, I promise to pay Champion Willbourn or barer [sic] the sum of thirty dollars for value rec’d August 28th 1816 (signed) Jonathan Fox
I have by Wm [?] Coussey served the Defs with a copy of the within writ by Left at his house
12th February 1817
March 3, 1817. This is a subpoena that requires Cadwell Evans to testify on behalf of Champion Wilbourn. This is a preprinted form, and the handwritten filled-in blanks are indicated by italics font.
By virtue of a Writ of Subpoena to you directed and herewith shown to you, you do, in your own proper person, appear before the Justices of the Court of Common Pleas [“to be” crossed out and handwritten word illegible] holden at Holden at Edgefield Court-House [dates left blank] then and there to testify the truth [sic] according to your knowledge, in a certain cause now depending, and then and there to be tried, between C. Willbourn Plaintiff, and Jonathan Fox Defendant, on the part and behalf of the plaintiff. Herein fail not, on pain of the forfeiture of Ten Pounds proclamation money of America.
3rd March 1817
Mr. Cadwell Evans proven six days attendance on on [sic] the within Sub’ [poena]
March 8th 1817
Mr. Hagers, JP [Justice of the Peace]
Probat [?] 25th
Champion as Witness
He was a witness to legal documents like deeds and lawsuits. His name was often spelled Champin or Champn. This may indicate how his name was shortened while being pronounced in South Carolina – in the South
March 3, 1817:
Edgefield District. Henderson Wade sells 80 acres to William Wilbourn, for $400.00. The land is on the drains of Cuffeetown cr. of Stephens Cr. Wit: William Thurmond, Champin (sic) Wilbourn; signed Henderson Wade; resurveyed 7 Jan. 1817 by E. Settle, the plat shows adjoining landowners William Wilborne, Matthew Barrett, Henderson Wade, Mrs. Morton. Proven 4 March 1817 by Champin (sic) Wilborne, Robert Walker, J. P. Rec: 4 March 1817 (Deed Book 33, pp. 364-65)
February 1, 1819:
Rebecca Minter sells to William Minter for One Dollar, [word lost in binding] the heirs of sd [said] Estate [word lost in binding] acknowledged have agreed to take only a child’s part of her husband Mackeness Minter’s estate, both real and personal, share and share alike with the following persons: William Minter, Permelia Wilbourn [married to Richard Wilbourn], Martha Ann Key formerly Martha Ann Minter, Mackerness [sic] Minter, James Minter Ebenezer Minter, John Minter. Wit[nesses] Champin Wilburn, John Glascock, /s/ Rebecca (X) Minter. Proven 1 Feb 1819 by Champin Wilburn, M Mims CCP, Rec[orded] 1st Feb 1819. (Deed Book 35, p. 338)
January 30, 1820:
Champion Wilbourn is called to testify on a dispute over the estate of the Buffington family. At issue is the ownership of the slave girl Fannie and her three children. She is “taskable” (i.e. can work) and is worth about $25.00 per annum.
Incidentally William “Welborn” in the same case says a slave boy named George is worth $15.00 per annum. William is Champion’s father.
Wilbourn v. Wilbourn
Elizabeth Ann’s father-in-law William ordered in his will that his entire should be sold. He died March 24, 1828, and Elizabeth Ann bought some property at the estate sale, in December of the same year. They reveal what she needed:
1 pine table
1 girl Eliza
1 black filly
1 white cow & calf
1 feather bed & furniture
1 small bureau
Yes, Elizabeth was part of her culture, so that’s why she owned a slave. Records show, however, that people could get cooperate and get along, even under an unjust system.
In May 1831 the son of Cairy Wilbourn, Peter H. Wilbourn, initiated a lawsuit against his own mother, accusing her of mismanaging the estate and deflating the prices during the estate sale by showing symptoms of distress. Elizabeth Ann was dragged into the case. She mainly kept a low profile. However, she did have to reply legally once in a while.
May 10, 1831, Betsy has to explain that her father-in-law William took back some people and animals and items, so she did not get an advance on the profits of the estate.
Her lawyer’s reply to Peter says:
… The Respondent Elizabeth Ann Wilbourn further answering says: no advancements have been made to her or her children by the said William Wilbourn since the death of her husband Champion Wilbourn, but a loan was made by the said Testator to her husband in his lifetime of the negroes Nancy, Nice & Jim, a mare & colt some cattle & some household furniture, of which Nancy died in the lifetime of William Wilbourn, the mare & colt were taken back by Testator soon after the death of her said husband Champion Wilbourn, & all the remaining portion of said property was taken back by the Executors of said William Wilbourn after his death, & sold at the Sale….
It is revealing that almost all of what she bought at the estate sale appears in this passage: persons, a mare and colt, and household furniture.
Maybe she got tired of South Carolina and decided to move on.
Elizabeth Ann signs her name to a land sale in December 1834, in which her mother-in-law Cairy (Hudson) Wilbourn sells the plantation, back in Edgefield, South Carolina. This clears the way for everyone’s westward migration. Between December 1834 and January 1835, we’re fairly certain she moved with her mother-in-law Cary (Hudson) Wilbourn and family to Mississippi. They also traveled with other South Carolinians. But it seems that she and the others did not stay long in Mississippi, though her mother-in-law and her family remained there. Elizabeth Ann went out to Louisiana, to judge from the dates of her land acquisitions. More precisely, a history book on Bienville Parish, Louisiana, says the South Carolinians arrived the first of 1836.
This timeline is possible:
- She signs off on a land sale in December 1834;
- She moves to Mississippi with her family shortly after that;
- Her mother-in-law Cairy Wilbourn buys land in January 1835;
- Elizabeth Ann stays in that state with Cairy for a while;
- But then she arrives in Louisiana, at the first of the year, 1836.
Alternatively, she may not have moved with other South Carolinians, until 1835. She did not go out to Mississippi first, with her mother-in-law. But Elizabeth left later, stopped by to see them, did not remain long, and then went on to Louisiana.
The History of Bienville Parish, the history book referenced in the previous section, reads:
In 1835, eight families left Edgefield District in South Carolina for the West. They all landed in Claiborne (Bienville) Parish, Louisiana, the first of 1836. The heads of these families were William Logan, Senr., James Canfield, William Key, T. A. Key, Martin Canfield, Elizabeth Ann Welbourne [sic], Harbert [sic] Walker and Hillary (vol. 1, p. 108).
Many of these names are indeed found in South Carolina documents. This account also fits the dates for Elizabeth’s land acquisitions, below. As for the 1835 year, Elizabeth Ann’s mother-in-law (our) Cairy Wilbourn sold their land in December 1834, so it is possible they left “officially” in January 1835, not in December 1834.
Next, the same history says: “Nearly all of Brushy Valley’s pioneers were from South Carolina, well-educated and considered well-to-do.” Elizabeth Ann’s family-in-law was indeed well-to-do.
Parishes or Counties?
We may as well get used to two parish names in the state – parishes are counties in Louisiana. How do we sort out Claiborne and Bienville Parishes? “The Louisiana Legislature, April 12, 1848, passed an act creating the parish of Bienville from the southern portion of Claiborne Parish which had been in existence for about twenty years.” Sparta became the county seat.
Elizabeth Ann became a co-founder of Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church in 1839.
Claiborne Parish, Louisiana. In this census, the free white male, 15-19 is Amonett Washington, and the free white male, 20-29, is William Walter. The free white female, 15-19 is Sarah, and of course Elizabeth Ann is 40-49. They still owned one slave, but they also hired “free colored” farm hands; that is, they worked in agriculture.
Elizabeth Ann becomes a land owner in her own right by 1837.
August 2, 1837:
Claiborne Parish; Land Patent; Land Office: Ouachita; total acres: 39.96; Sale Cash Entries. These land patents functioned as receipts, and often they are dated after the land was actually purchased.
August 5, 1837:
Claiborne Parish; Land Office: Ouachita; total acres: 39.83; Sale Cash Entries.
January 3, 1848:
Claiborne Parish Louisiana. Elizabeth Ann Wilbourn sells two tracts of land, on one which Amonet W. Wilbourn resided, or he resided on both. He is Elizabeth’s son, and so is William (Deed Book B, pp. 318-319).
The deed says:
Elizabeth A. Wilborn to Andrew D. Everett
State of Louisiana
Parish of Claiborne
Know all men by these presents that I Elizabeth Ann Wilbourn for and in consideration of the sum of two hundred dollars have granted, Bargained, Sold and conveyed and by these presents do grant, Bargain, sell and convey unto Andrew D. Everett all that certain tract of land on which Amonett W. Wilbourn now resides, known in the government survey as described in duplicate from the land office viz. No 301?, dated the first of April 1834 for the north west quarter of the of the north west quarter of section twenty-five Township eighteen and range seven west containing thirty-nine 90/100 acres; also No. 3525 dated the 18th of July 1836 for the south west quarter of the south west quarter section twenty-four in Township Eighteen of range seven west, containing thirty-seven 82/100 acres . . . And I the said Elizabeth A. Wilbourn do hereby bind myself, my heirs, executors, administrators or assigns to warrant and forever defend all and singular the above premises unto the said Andrew D. Everett . . . given under may hand this the third day of January eighteen hundred forty eight in presence of A. W. Wilbourn and William Wilbourn subscribing witnesses hereunto.
A. W. Wilbourn
[signed] Elizabeth A. Wilbourn
State of Louisiana
Parish of Claiborne
Before me Francis Bryman [?] Recorder in the said Parish of Claiborne personally came and appeared A. W. Wilbourn one of the Subscribing witnesses to the within deed, who being duly sworn, declared under oath that he saw Elizabeth Ann Wilbourn sign said deed and also that he saw William Wilbourn sign the same as a witness with himself the said A. W. Wilbourn.
Sworn unto and subscribed by me this the 23 day of May A. D. 1848, Francis Bryman [?]
A. W. Wilbourn
Incidentally, Elizabeth’s son Amonet buys a lot of land in Claiborne Parish, in 1859 and 1860 (see the Amonett W. Wilbourn’s post).
Daily Life in Claiborne and Bienville Parishes
The section on Brushy Valley in the History of Bienville Parish, vol. 1, describes weekly amusement and a partnership in a horse track:
One source of information stated that Brushy Valley was a “place where gossip abounded.” Perhaps this was because it was also where folks gathered for amusement and entertainment. Dances were held almost every week at one or another of the plantation homes. A track for horse racing, owned by the Potts, Howard and Gray families, brought people to the community from miles afar. They came bringing their favorite steeds, [copy cuts off text] or having the fastest horse in this part of the country, as one man said, “They came to do a lot of horse trading.” (pp. 65-66)
The Gray family refers to our Thomas Gray, father-in-law of Amonet Wilbourn.
As to the weekly dances, we listen in on the quoted words of a certain William Potts, whose father settled in Brushy Valley in 1852. We read about weekly dances:
The Potts at Brushy Valley were all Baptists but not all hide bound for they danced and played cards like Episcopalians. Every plantation had at least one Negro fiddler and we gathered at least once a week and sometimes oftener (History of Bienville Parish, p. 65).
Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church
The fledgling community from South Carolina founded the Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church and a nearby school. Elizabeth Ann and her three children were co-founders. The History of Bienville Parish (vol. 1) transcribes the church minutes. Sarah Wilbourn is her daughter.
The minutes read (pp. 110-11):
July 8, 1837. Agreeable to appointment we have met for the purpose of constituting a church to be known as the Rehoboth church [later renamed Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church]. William Hill preached an appropriate sermon and proceeded in the constitution. Rev. W. Hill, Rev. H. Adams, Presbytery.
A constitution was then presented, read, received and adopted as the Constitution of the church.
PAGE 5. It was agreed that the letters present be received and read and all the names in the letters be enrolled as members, whereupon the following letters were received: viz. Jeremiah Burnett and family, Henry Adams, William Key and family, S. Quarles and family.
Rev. William Hill then made prayer and dismissed until 11 o’clock tomorrow Lord’s day July 9th. Met agreeable to appointment. Rev. W. Hill preached and proceeded to receive letters, viz: William Logan, Senr. and family, Martin Canfield, James Canfield and family, Joseph Canfield and family, Triplet Cason and family, Sarah Drake, Elizabeth Gibbs, R. Drake and family, Robert Burnett and family, Mary Walker. The letters handed in contained the under written names:
|Jeremiah Burnett||Martha Burnett|
|John Burnett||Catherine Burnett|
|Matthew D. Burnett||Tabitha Key|
|Luke E. Burnett||Susan M. Quarles|
|Henry Adams||Permelia Logan|
|William Key||Elizabeth Logan|
|Martin W. Key||Emily Canfield|
|Samuel Quarles||Martha Canfield|
|William Logan||Cynthia Cason|
|William H. Logan||Sarah Drake|
|Martin Canfield||Elizabeth Gibbs|
|James Canfield||Mary Drake|
|Marion Canfield||Martha A. Burnett|
|David W. Canfield||Mary Walker|
|James [?] Canfield||Elizabeth Wilbourn|
|Joseph Canfield||Sarah Wilbourn|
|John D. Canfield||Rachel Canfield|
|Robert H. Burnett|
The church minutes continue:
August 5, 1837. Saturday before the 1st Sabbath in August the Church sat in conference.
A door was opened for the reception of members and T. A. Key, Harriet Key, Elizabeth Wilbourn, Sarah Wilbourn, William Wilbourn and Amonett Wilbourn was received by letter. A Decorum was then presented, read and adopted and it was agreed that it should be read at our quarterly conferences.
It was agreed that the church do conference quarterly and commence in November next.
It was agreed that the Church do meet in Conference on the first Sabbath and Saturday before in every month.
It was agreed that the brethren who have acted as deacons previously be recognized as Deacons in this Church, viz: James Canfield, William Logan, Jeremiah Burnett, Wm. Key, Joseph Canfield, and Samuel Quarles.
PAGE 6 . . . (1837) The Church then proceeded to elect its officers and Henry Adams was elected Moderator and Samuel Quarles Church Clerk.
It was agreed that a good blank book be purchased for a record book of this Church. The Church was then dismissed.
/s/ Henry Adams, Moderator
/s/ Samuel Quarles, C.C.
The rest of the minutes shows the details of church life. One example is alcohol. On February 3, 1838, Triplet Cason was reported to have drunk too much, “so James Canfield and Jeremiah Burnett were appointed to go talk to him. On April 7, 1838, “Sister Logan stated that she considered him drunk and thought he drank near a pint between dinner and night, and he acknowledged that he had drank too much spirits” (p. 112). He risked excommunication. But good news! In February 1839, “Brother T. Cason’s case came up on reference and he was restored to full fellowship” (p. 113). But long before then, on April 7, 1838:
Resolved that the Church do approve of the formation of a Temperance society at this place” (p. 112). The Church decided in 1839 that it “cannot conscientiously hold Christian fellowship with any person who sells spirituous Liquor to be drank at his store or house, because we believe it a moral evil . . . (p. 114).
Another topic concerns integration.
(Aug., 1838) Saturday before the 1st Sabbath in August Church met in conference. A door was opened for the reception of members and Mack, a black brother was received by letter and Lively experience. (p. 112)
“Lively experience” means “baptism,” but why not also an encounter with the Spirit of God? In fact, several “servants,” without mentioning their color, were admitted into the church. Yet, one woman, Muncy Ann, a “servant” of James Canfield, was “cut off from privileges of the church on account of having put her husband away without cause” (p. 118).
However, the whites took control over any (perceived) unruliness among the blacks. (June 6th ):
A query was presented by Bro. Jas. Canfield requesting information as regards an excitement among the blacks . . . whereupon it was resolved that the owners of each plantation have an eye to his own plantation and suppress all night meetings among the Blacks in the neighborhood. (p. 115)
The ellipses (three dots) are original to the church minutes.
The next interesting description of the way of life in Claiborne Parish is about “toting” deadly weapons. On June 6th , “a query was proposed whether it was right for a member of the church to tote any deadly weapon in the neighborhood and it was agreed that the above query be taken up on the next reference” (p. 115). Then the church decided, as follows: “Resolved that the Church does not consider it in accordance with the Scriptures for a member of this Church habitually to tote any deadly weapon in the neighborhood unless he is threatened.”
Elizabeth Ann’s Passing
Elizabeth Ann – “old Sister Wilbourn” – remained in Bienville Parish, Louisiana, and passed away there, per this letter, written June 22, 1851. The date near her name, below, is April 12, 1851. So it may indicate she died just before then, since the letter implies the memory of her death is still fresh.
Source: Transcription of letter from Mr. Eldred Hardy to Mr. Richard Hardy, from Mt. Lebanon, Bienville Parish, Louisiana, June 22, 1851
This leaves us and this neighborhood in tolerable good health, although in some section of our country the yellow fever has been very severe, but we have escaped thus far. Hillary Logan who lives some 10 or 12 miles from me lost two of his children with it, and three or four of his neighbors died with it about the same time.
Our relations are well so far as I know. I have not heard from William and Robt in a week or two. Jennett William’s wife has been quite unwell, but was better the last time I heard from her. Rev. A. J. Rutherford lives in Mr. Lebanon. He married cousin Sarah Hardy, daughter of Uncle Daniel. She shows the family. Rutherford is teaching school in Mt. Lebanon. He preaches occasionally, is a very fair preacher. He once was a member of the bar, after that a Judge of the District Court while living in Arkansas; but for conscience sake, he declined the office of law. He is a man of strong, active mind and he has a good English education.
Reverend Lee, the gentleman that cousin Lucinda Hardy married the last time lives in Caddo Parish near Shreveport on Red River. Covington and Frances paid them a visit last winter. I have not seen them. Cousins Lucinda is Uncle John’s daughter. Cousin Robert Hardy lives in Eldorado, Arkansas, and he is a lawyer, and son of Uncle Daniel. Jackson Monday and Cousin Elbert Hardy called at Williams and Robt on their way to Texas. They would have come to our settlement, but the high water prevented.
We have preaching every Sabbath, yet the Church is comparatively cold. Brother R. E. Clemmons, our pastor, preached the first and third sabbath; Brother WM. H. Bayliss, the second; A. J. Rutherford the fourth; still we have no additions by experience and there are many members who do not attend conference meetings, and a good many who do not commune. Our members are scattered over a large space or country and there are members of our church (I think) who do not know each other.
Old Sister Wilbourne is dead. She died in strong faith. Crops are sorry in this settlement, we have not had a season since the 12th of April. Corn is tasseling waist and breast high, cotton is small but looks pretty well. I have heard of blooms but have not seen any. If it does not rain shortly we surely cannot make a support. My cotton crop cleard last year only $415. My expense in New Orleans were $150 and I paid negro girl, aged 9 bought from Tandy A. Key, $400. I have 15 in family, four children one wife, two men, one woman and five negro children besides the one I bought. I have but the two men and myself to work the women help some times, I cannot work much more than half my time.
Last year was an inferior crop year. On account of a wet year some people did not make near corn enough, and the emigration to this section has been heavy. Corn sells for a dollar a bushel; flour $6 a barrel; salt 60c per bu; molasses 25 to 30 cts a gal. Bees have done well this spring. I have taken some as fine honey as I ever saw.
M. D. Burnett is married. He married the daughter of a Baptist preacher last winter. Luke has gathered property pretty fast. Matthew is merchandising at Sparta, our County seat. I live 8 miles from it. I attended court there as a juror and came home every night. I must close by saying I remain your brother until death, so farewell.
to Richard Hardy, Julie Hardy,
The letter was addressed to:
Richard Hardy, Esq.
Transcription provided by Carol Hardy Bryan, Edgefield, South Carolina.
Elizabeth Ann was born between 1791 and 1800. Since her husband was born not later than 1795, we should place her year of birth a little later, since most women – though not all – of that era were younger than their husbands. It is not yet known who her parents were.
Champion was involved in the community at Liberty Hill, Edgefield District. He witnessed and signed several legal documents in his short life. So far as I know, he did not own land, for he doesn’t appear in the deed books as buying or selling any. It’s possible (I think probable) that he managed his father’s rather large plantation. This may be the reason his father William appointed his daughter-in-law, Champion’s wife, to be the guardian of her own three children. If they lived with William, maybe he felt he had the authority to appoint her. He did not want a legal battle over them.
In 1816, Champion sues Jonathan Fox, for money owed, $60.00. This is a large amount. A good horse could cost that much; a bed set cost $10.00, and a road wagon was priced at $31.00. It seems Champion won his case. But it’s not known if he collected. Incidentally, Fox appears next to Champion’s father William, in the 1820 Census, Edgefield District. I wonder how they got along, especially if Fox did not pay Champion. In any case, this proximity shows how closely connected these families were.
It is tough to imagine losing one’s own child in death before the parents die. We hear it from the parents, time and again. They wish they were dead instead of their child. Both Champion and his father William were really well respected in the community. Champion moved around town, signing deeds and appearing in court as a witness; therefore his father was very proud of him.
Plus, Champion was the firstborn, so that added a little (or a lot) to the sense of pride. This pride and joy makes the suffering in their parents’ soul from losing him all the more painful.
So how did Champion die, in the mid-1820s? No one knows for sure. The local newspaper began in the 1830s, so it’s too late to help. Back then the typical path to death was illness, accident, or foul play. Most folks died of disease, so we should conclude the same, until contrary evidence turns up, if it does.
Then in March 1828 Elizabeth Ann loses her father-in-law William, for he dies. In May 1831 she is dragged into a lawsuit between her mother-in-law Cairy and brother-in-law Peter Hudson Wilbourn. He sued his own mother because he believed she mismanaged the estate and deflated the prices at the estate sale by showing symptoms of distress. Mostly Elizabeth Ann kept a low profile. But she had to respond to an accusation that said she took an advancement on the estate before William died. She replied that William took those items back, like household furniture, such as a bed set and a table and a bureau, and a mare and its filly, after her husband Champion died. They were put up for sale at the estate sale in December 1828. It is revealing that the furniture items, horses – and a person – is what Elizabeth bought at the sale. This indicates what she needed.
South Carolina was a mixture for Betsy. She met and married her husband and had three children. That’s good. But he died on her. That must have been terrible. Then her father-in-law died. And she was dragged into a lawsuit by her brother-in-law. That’s bad.
Time for a change.
She decided to move to Louisiana. Why there? More living space? Did she read about it in a brochure, enticing easterners to go west? It was not likely she would move north. She had her southern lifestyle to maintain. Louisiana was new territory. She and her neighbors pulled up stakes, loaded the wagons, hitched them up to oxen or mules, and set out. This happened in December 1834 and into January 1835.
The History of Bienville Parish states the South Carolinians left in 1835, and arrived in the first of the year, 1836. If she left with her mother-in-law Cairy, then she stayed in Mississippi for a while, before continuing her journey to Louisiana. Alternatively, she may not have left with Cairy; she may have departed later with the Logans, Canfields, Keys, Martins, Walkers, and others, but surely she stopped by Yalobusha County, Mississippi, where Cairy and her family lived, so Cairy could see her grandchildren.
On their trip west, I like to imagine them gathering firewood after they stopped for the night. I see them getting a fire started, digging into supplies, and cooking their food. Maybe the men (Betsy too?) shot some game and cooked it. Her kids were old enough to be useful. She surely felt safe traveling with them and her small band of colonists from South Carolina.
Betsy became a landowner by August 1837, in Louisiana. Land patent certificates function as receipts, and usually they are dated after the actual purchase. We should see her owning land in 1836. So far we have been unable to find her and Champion owning land, back in South Carolina. If they did not, then this is the first time she did, all the way out in Louisiana. Surely her friends and neighbors built a house for her, in a community effort.
In 1837 Elizabeth and her three kids joined Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church. They were charter members. The church was strict – no drinkin’ or cussin’. It was somewhat integrated. A black man named Mack was received into fellowship, by letter and “lively experience.” He was a pioneer in his own right, in his own way.
The 1840 Census shows that Elizabeth had one slave (one boy), but she also hired “free colored” persons: one boy and one adult male and one adult female. So the household was mixed – Elizabeth and her three kids and this black family (I like to imagine they were a family). Freedom for them must have felt good. Did Elizabeth free the young slave, eventually? Her church did not mind admitting some blacks into their fellowship. She was open.
By June 1851, Elizabeth – “old sister Wilbourn” – was dead. “She died strong in faith,” says the letter. She was only in her mid-fifties. She died young, even for pioneer days. Many of our ancestors could live well into their 70s and 80s. Her kids were in their 20s and 30s when they lost her.
They experienced a lot of death. As little kids, they stood around the grave of their father. Then they stood around the grave of their grandfather, two or three years later. While in their twenties and early thirties, they stood by the grave of their mother. Death and burial stalked these children-turned-young- adults.
By way of retrospective, who was Elizabeth?
She was the product of her times. She owned one or two slaves, but hired free black persons. She was a farmer. She survived three births, the death of her husband, the death of her father-in-law, and a lawsuit. She survived – as a widow who never remarried – the long journey out to Louisiana, with a small band of sojourners. She was a landowner who depended on others to thrive. She was a spiritual and godly Christian woman, co-founding a Baptist church that had some measure of integration. So she was a product of her times, but she was ahead of her times.
She was a southern American pioneer woman, of the first half of the 1800s.
See her son’s post next: Amonet Washington Wilbourn
Bryan, Carol Hardy. She provided the letter that names Elizabeth Ann. She’s a researcher who lives in Edgefield, South Carolina. I recommend her genealogy services.
Poland, Billie Gene. History of Bienville Parish. 2 Vols. Bossier: Everett, 1984, 1990.
Shreveport Memorial Library. Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church, Gibsland, Louisiana, 1835-1864. Pub. 310.
Wells, Carol. Edgefield County, South Carolina, Deed Books 39 and 40. Westminster, Maryland: Heritage, 2006.
—. Genealogical Abstracts of Edgefield [SC] Equity Court Records. Bowie, Maryland: Heritage, 2002.
—. Edgefield County, South Carolina, Deed Books 36, 37, and 38. Westminster, Maryland: Heritage, 2001.
—. Edgefield County, South Carolina, Deed Books 34 and 35. Westminster, Maryland: Heritage, 2000.
—. Edgefield County, South Carolina, Deed Books 32 and 33. Westminster, Maryland: Heritage, 2000.
Chris Womack researched the Shreveport Memorial Library and provided the copy of the old handwritten records for Mt Lebanon Baptist Church.
William’s Mill Case is Equity no. 332, in the Loose Paper Files at the archives of Edgefield County.
 Carol Well, Genealogical Abstracts of Edgefield, South Carolina, Equity Court Records, Heritage Books, 2005.
 Billie Gene Poland, History of Bienville Parish, vol. 1, p. 65.
 Billie Gene Poland, History of Bienville Parish, vol. 1, page 30.
 Bureau of Land Management, Louisiana Land Records (Provo, UT); Original source: Louisiana Pre-1908 Homestead and Cash Entry Patents, General Land Office Automated Records Project, 1993.