Surnames mentioned: KING, FORNES, BOYD, HODGES, WILLIAMS, MORRIS, WITHERINGTON, RIGGS, LEE, KEMP, MCCAFFERTY, SMITH, DRAKE, BARTLETT, SUMMERELL, ROBERTSON, HOLLAND & MORE
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Here’s the deal: If you’ve been following this site very long then you know one of my biggest brick walls has been trying to figure out who my 4th-great-grandfather Laban MORRIS’s mother was. We’ve already used a combination of family lore and DNA testing to determine his father was Rowland LEDBETTER, and while we thought for a while that his mother’s maiden name was likely HENLEY or HENBY, DNA results seem to be pointing in another direction — the Joel KING family of Craven County.
We may be COMPLETELY wrong about this so I hope the Lord will forgive me if I’m off-base by even calling into question the wrong woman as his possible mother, but some of us MORRIS cousins are seriously trying to figure this out.
There are a number of things pointing to the possibility of Laban’s mother being Jerusha KING (Jerusha FORNES) or one of Joel’s other daughters (though it would have to be an older one!). We’re getting a HUGE amount of DNA matches to individuals who descend from Jerusha, through both of her children and many of her grandchildren. Some of these individuals are from out of state and the only names I recognize in their tree are her descendants. (With the exception of one person who descends from her brother John in Georgia.) As of right now, she seems the most likely candidate of Joel KING’s daughters, although it could be someone else entirely.
This is why we’d love to find out who you are if you descend from any of the Joel KING lines and you’ve done autosomal DNA testing. It will help us check on whether or not we’re a match! As I said, either comment below, or if you prefer, send an email to eastcarolinaroots [at] gmail.com.
Below, I’ll be detailing the following:
- Joel KING’s family
- Laban MORRIS’s marriage bond
- Related families
- Interesting name instances
1. Joel KING’s Family
Joel KING was married twice. The name of his first wife is unknown. The name of his second wife was Agnes. I’m unsure of which children go with which wife. Also, in his will, he lists children in his regular bequests, then he has a single line that says, “my seven daughters…” and then he gives seven names, but two of them were not previously mentioned, and one of his previously mentioned daughters is not in the list. It may be that whoever transcribed the will incorrectly transcribed the daughter Jerusha’s name. Joel KING had a brother named Jeremiah KING, but I’m not covering his line here.
- Joseph KING m. First wife (LNU); m. 2nd Nancy McCafferty (25 Mar 1798; Bondman: Thos. STEELE); moved to New Bern
- Charles KING (Never married; died in 1797)
- Jerusha KING m. Thomas FORNES Jr. (no marriage bond has been found)
- John FORNES (b. abt 1777) m. Charity SMITH (15 Jun 1797; Bondsmen: Lewis BRYAN, John KING)
- Elizabeth “Betsy” Fornes (b. 1798) m. Joseph LEE
- Ann Fornes (b. 1802) m. William MILLS
- Thomas “Tom” Fornes (b. 1805) m. 1st Winifred WITHERINGTON; m. 2nd Sarah “Sallie” WIGGINS
- Jesse Fornes (b. 1806, d. 1858) m. Lydia BOYD
- William Fornes (b. 1811) m. Esther RIGGS
- Abner Fornes (b. 1815 d. 1870); moved to Mississippi, m. Emeline (LNU)
- There is a gap of several years between John’s birth and his sister, Nancy’s. Thomas FORNES and his brothers all served in the Revolution. His brothers were killed, but he survived. It’s possible that Jerusha thought Thomas was dead and briefly took up with someone else, but then Thomas returned. THIS IS PURE SPECULATION, but I’m trying to make sense of what we’re seeing in our DNA results AND the unique situation with Laban’s marriage bond. (more below) Also, Jerusha names a Sally FORNES in her will, although she doesn’t call her a “daughter.” I’m not sure who she is, but I’m assuming she’s a granddaughter.
- Nancy FORNES (b. abt 1784) m. Joseph BOYD (no marriage bond has been found; lived in Pitt County)
- Lucretia Boyd (b. 1805, d. 1895) – [Note: I’m not positive she is their daughter, but it seems likely.] m. Richard HODGES
- Thomas Boyd (b. 1808) – m. 1st Janie BROOKS; m. 2nd Harriet BARRINGTON; m. 3rd Alvana RODGERS
- Samuel Boyd (b. 1811) – [Note: I’m not positive he is their son, but it seems likely.] m. Sarah JONES
- Lydia Boyd (b. 1812) m. Jesse FORNES (1st cousin; son of John FORNES & Charity SMITH)
- Jerusha Boyd (b. 1817) m. William Henry BARRINGTON
- John FORNES (b. abt 1777) m. Charity SMITH (15 Jun 1797; Bondsmen: Lewis BRYAN, John KING)
- John KING m. Winnifred Kemp (27 Jul 1795; Bondsman: John BEDSCOTT); moved to Washington County, Georgia. Is living next to fellow Craven County man David CLARK on the 1820 census. Also lives two entries down from Thomas WILLIAMS who may be the same Thomas WILLIAMS who married his sister, Elizabeth.
- Elizabeth* KING m. Thomas WILLIAMS (5 Feb 1789; Bondsman: Levi HILL); moved to Washington County, Georgia (I think, see John KING’s note.^^^)
- Lucinda* KING m. Edward BARTLETT (2 Jan 1791; Bondsman: John KING); moved to Washington County, Georgia
- Lydia KING m. Daniel WILLIAMS (3 Mar 1796; Bondsmen: Thos. FORNES, Jno. MILLS)
- Agness KING m. John ROBERTSON (1 Apr 1797; Bondsman: Charles KING)
- Mary KING m. Charles HOLLAND (2 Mar 1799; Bondsman: John KING)
- Dorcas KING m. Elisha KING (20 Nov 1799; Bondsman: John KING)
- Nancy KING (never married, at least not that I’ve been able to find)
It may be worth noting that Joel gives nice bequests to all of his children except Joseph and Jerusha. To them, he only leaves ten shillings each. I’ve looked in the Craven County deeds and have found no instance of Joel giving either of them land prior to his death, so I’m not sure if he already gave them their inheritance, or if this was his way of “cutting them out” of his will with very little.
* Daughters listed towards the end of will that are not mentioned previously in the will. Jerusha’s name is left out in this final list, which only names, “my seven daughters Elizabeth, Lydia, Agness, Lucyndy, Mary, Dorcas & Nancy.”
** Thomas WILLIAMS and John WILLIAMS (see below) could be related, which could explain why John KING is a bondsman on his marriage bond.
2. Laban MORRIS’s Marriage Bond
You’ll notice above that John KING was bondsmen for the marriages of several of his sisters, as well as at least one of his nephews. There are only two other marriage bonds that he signs: Laban MORRIS and John WILLIAMS. (John WILLIAMS also happens to be a co-bondsman with John KING on Laban’s marriage bond.)
- John WILLIAMS & Elizabeth BRYAN; 22 Dec 1802, Bondsman: John KING. (John WILLIAMS was previously married to Jinny OTTERSON, daughter of Caleb OTTERSON.)
- Laban MORRIS & Kitty WILIAMS; 22 Aug 1805, Bondsman: John KING.
(In case you’re wondering, based on John WILLIAMS’s age, it’s highly unlikely that he could have been a son of Talbot WILLIAMS, Kitty’s father. Also, Talbot was from Maryland. So far I’ve not found him connected with any of the other WILLIAMS in Craven County except for his own children, most of whom moved to Indiana.)
3. Related Families
This is not going to be an exhaustive list, but I will list a few pertinent facts.
Joel KING’s Estate Buyers (He died in 1798; Inventory 1799; Sales record returned 1809)
If I know who the buyers’ spouses are, I’ll list their names in parentheses beside the buyer’s name.
- James SPEARS (wife: Rachel BUTLER)
- Hardy NELSON
- Thomas WILLIAMS (wife: Elizabeth KING, daughter of Joel)
- John KING (son) (wife: Winnifred KEMP)
- James BULL (wife: Freelove CAMPBELL)
- Levi NELSON (wife: Martha OTTERSON)
- Charles ROACH, Jr. (wife: Anne JOHNSON)
- James GASKINS (wife: Mary “Polly” GASKINS)
- William BARRINGTON
- William MORRIS (wife: Mary “Polly” BULL, sister of James BULL)
- Henry WARREN, Jr.(?)
- Benjamin HARDEN
- John ROACH (wife: Anthrel TOOKE)
- Thomas FORNES (wife: Jerusha KING, daughter of Joel)
- Godfrey WILLIAMS
- James GATLIN
- Nathaniel BLOUNT [Rev. Nathaniel Blount (1748 – 1816), born in Beaufort Co., died in Pitt Co. 1st married Lydia Ann Salter (d. 1798, Beaufort Co.); 2nd married Penelope Newman in 1807 in Beaufort Co. —Thanks to Beth Wienberry Dix for the Rev. Nathaniel Blount info!]
- William WILLIAMS
- Edward BARTLETT (wife: Lucinda KING, daughter of Joel)
- William RICHARDSON
- Mary KING (daughter of Joel, she married Charles HOLLAND)
I believe the William MORRIS from the list above is from the MORRIS family that gave Laban his last name. Here’s what I know about this William MORRIS:
- He married Mary “Polly” BULL in 1804. Frederick POLLARD was the bondsman.
- In 1805, he was involved in the case below, which alleges that he was one of several individuals who assisted Nathaniel NELSON who went to the house of Elizabeth EDWARDS and “did unlawfully riotously and rantously assemble and gather together to disturb the peace of the State, and being so assembled and gathered together upon a certain infant child named Nancy NELSON in the peace of god and the State then and there being did… make an assault, and her the said infant child from the care and possession of Elizabeth Edwards did… remove and carry away— and other wrongs to her the said infant child then and there …” The individuals named are: Nathaniel NELSON, George NELSON, William MORRIS, St. Clair LANCASTER, Nancy LANCASTER, and Lovenah WARREN.
- The individual named St. Clair LANCASTER, who is named in the item below, is the son of Benjamin LANCASTER and Katie Ann MORRIS (I’m unsure of her connection to William MORRIS, but I suspect there is a relationship. She was the daughter of a Joseph MORRIS.) St. Clair LANCASTER is married to Susannah BULL, the sister of Mary “Polly” BULL (William MORRIS’s wife).
- Jerusha KING FORNES names Joseph POLLARD and Sally POLLARD as witnesses to her will.
- Joseph POLLARD was the son of Jacob POLLARD and Rhoda (LNU). He was married to Penelope SMITH (daughter of Henry SMITH and Sarah ADAMS). Sally POLLARD is Joseph’s daughter.
- Joseph’s sister is Rachel POLLARD, the mother of St. Clair LANCASTER named above and the daughter-in-law of Katie Ann MORRIS named above.
- Laban MORRIS only ever purchases one piece of land in his life in 1814. He buys it from the heirs of Hardy GATLIN (brother to the James named as a buyer of Joel KING’s estate). Signees of deed are: Stephen GATLIN, Furney F. GATLIN, Hardy GATLIN, James & Eliz. ROACH, Benj. & Celia PEARCE, Levi GATLIN, Maj. GATLIN, Wm. & Mary TOOKE, “all of Georgia.” In 1815, he turns around and sells it to Hiram POLLARD, a son of Frederick POLLARD and Rachel NELSON. (The TOOKE mentioned is likely related to Anthrel TOOKE, the wife of John ROACH mentioned in the list of buyers from Joel KING’s estate.)
- In December 1815, Laban MORRIS and Frederick POLLARD witness the will of James MITCHELL. Frederick POLLARD is also executor.
- A month later, in January 1816, Laban MORRIS and Caleb OTTERSON witness a deed of gift between Jeremiah WARREN and his son Lewis. (Craven County Deed Book 42 p. 67.)
- In December of 1817, Laban MORRIS purchases several items from the estate of Frederick POLLARD.
- Jacob POLLARD and Frederick POLLARD are brothers.
There are probably many other interesting connections, but I can’t list them all here.
Note: We have wondered if Laban’s mother was one of the women married into either the POLLARD or LANCASTER families, but so far, the DNA evidence doesn’t seem to support that.
4. Interesting Name Instances
This is one of the most minor thing… probably hardly worth mentioning, but since it does seem related, I’ll put the information out there.
Laban MORRIS and Caroline “Kitty” WILLIAMS had only seven (7) children that we’re aware of, and only one of those was a daughter. Her name was Alpha.
Alpha first married John A. NORRIS and had five (5) children:
- Mary NORRIS
- Sarah “Sally” NORRIS
- Nancy NORRIS
- Patrick NORRIS
- John NORRIS, Jr.
Her second husband was William HOLMES, son of John HOLMES of Beaufort County. They had ten (10!) children.
- William Henry
- Turner Thomas
- Rusia – Phonetically, this would probably sound like “Roosha,” which is likely a shortened version of “Jerusha.” I’ve wondered if she came up with this name because of Jerusha KING FORNES, who died in 1838. Rusia was apparently born about 1852. Interestingly, Laban named one of his last children, Roland MORRIS, after his father, Rowland.
- Winnieford – Winnieford married George W. LEE, a great-great grandson of Jerusha KING FORNES.