Brick Wall Update: Matilda, wife of Dewitt Sumrell

by | May 20, 2019 | 3 comments

For years, I’ve known very little about Matilda.  That changed over the weekend.  I’d been giving the search for Dewitt, who remains elusive, another go by looking at some Lenoir County deeds on their USGenWeb site.  The moment came when I got to Deed Book 5.  To save time, I was using Control + F to find “Sum”.  Imagine my delighted surprise when it found a deed from Joseph Franklin Sumrell to Council Phillips on page 463!  It, gets even better.  I could not believe my eyes.  Immediately, I went to FamilySearch, and looked at the page from the book.

This indenture made this sixth day of December one thousand eight hundred and seventy between Joseph Franklin Sumrell of the County of Lenor and State of North Carolina on the one part and Council Phillips of the County and State aforesaid of the other part Witnesseth that the said Joseph Franklin Sumrell for and in consideration of the sum of one hundred dollars to him in hand paid at the time of ensealing these presents to the result whereof is hereby acknowledge and by these presents do give grant bargain sell alien and confirm unto the said Council Phillips his heirs and assigns a certain tract or parcel of land situate lying and being in the County of Lenoir in the South side of great Contentnea Creek in Contentnea Neck district and known as Lot No. 3 in the division of the lands of Simeon Langston (deceased) and which was allowed in said division to Matilda Langston wife of William Suggs and bounded as follows viz: by the lands of Susan Phillips wife of Lacy Phillips and the land belonging to the estate of James Thomas, deceased, and the lands belonging to the estate of William L. Phillips, deceased, containing forty acres, be the same more or less to have and to hold my interest which was one half in the afore bargained land and premises…

This may have triggered an elated squeal an in-chair happy dance.  After I regained control, I, of course, searched for Simeon.  This was a little more difficult, because there were two of them.  Of course, right?  There was one in Lenoir and another in Wayne at the same time.  Wayne Simeon distracted me for a bit, but I, eventually regained focus.  Also in Lenoir at that time were Absalom, Dorothy, Jesse, Jacob and Timothy, among others.  This according to various censuses.  This is where my brief foray into Wayne County paid off.  On their USGenWeb site, I found the Absolom Langston Family Bible.  From this, I learned the death dates of Absalom (8 Dec 1802) and his wife, Dolly (20 Jun 1820), and birth dates of their ten children.  Simeon, the eldest, was born 19 Aug 1769 and Jacob, the youngest, 15 Jun 1795. 

This gave me pause.  Frank Sumrell was born in 1848 and his brother, James, in 1846.  From that, I’ve calculated that Matilda was, most likely, born in the 1820s.  The realm of possibility, here, would include a range between the late 1810s and early 1830s.  Although one can never discount the possibility of the dreaded second wife, Simeon’s 1769 birth seems to imply that Matilda would have been his granddaughter instead of his daughter.  Are Matilda Sumrell and Matilda Langston Suggs the same person, or mother and daughter?  And, since I don’t know when the land division took place, if they are the same person, I don’t know who she married first.

The census record doesn’t really help that much.  The 1800 and 1810 censuses indicate that Simeon’s wife was born within five years either side of 1780.  They also imply that they had a daughter born circa 1795.  In 1820, it gets interesting.  Suddenly, there’s a girl under 10, 3 young men and 1 young woman 10-14, plus Simeon and his wife, and a woman 16-25.  I don’t know who these extra people are!  Simeon does not appear on the 1830 census.  However, there is an Ann Langston, aged 60-69, with a man and a woman 20-29 and a boy under 5.  Neither Ann nor Simeon were enumerated in 1840.  

Anyway, going further back, it is possible that Absalom was the son of the Jacob Langston of Wayne County who wrote is will 25 Dec 1784.  He mentions a son of that name, leaving him a feather bed and furniture and his “wareing cloaths.”  But, since I know of, at least, two other Absalom Langstons, I am not quite ready to commit to the relationship.  I’ve read in various places, that Dorothy’s maiden name was Jackson, but have yet to find a source citation that wasn’t another genealogy.

For now, for simplicity’s sake, I’ve entered Matilda in my tree as Matilda Langston, daughter of Simeon, but with notes that she could be his granddaughter.

Also, the existence of this deed in Lenoir County “in Contentnea Neck district” cements even further my hypothesis that Dewitt was the son of James Summerell.  However, I have my doubts that Nancy King was the mother of any of his children.  They married in 1803, but the first known child wasn’t born until 1811 and the last in 1833.  I find this suspicious.  It isn’t impossible, look at Catherine de Medici!  But it is strange.


  1. Danny Bell

    I my name is Danny Bell,Council Phillips born 1809-1811 was my 2xgreat grandfather,my grandmother name was Emma Mae Phillips Bell,her father name was Charles Council Phillips son of Council Phillips and Julia Phillips.


    Hello Becky Sumrell
    I am Melvin Ray Sumrell, son of Elmo Lee Sumrell, grandson of Charles A. Sumrell, great grandson of Joseph F. Sumrell, great great grandson of Dewitt Sumrell.

    • Becky Sumrell

      Hello Cousin,

      I am the daughter of William Ray Sumrell, granddaughter of Alton Bonner Sumrell, great-granddaughter of William Bradford Sumrell, great-great granddaughter of Joseph Franklin Sumrell and 3rd great-granddaughter of Dewitt Sumrell.


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