52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #18 – Edmund Jean

My 4th great-grandfather by way of my father’s mother’s mother’s mother’s father’s father (makes your head spin, doesn’t it?) was Edmund Jean. That’s a long way back and it is oftentimes difficult to find documentation to support the life of a person who lived in the early years of our country. Fortunately for me, my great-great-grandmother, Martha Ann Jean, married into the Sanford family of Alabama and they have researched that clan reasonably well. Additionally, an attorney from Colorado who was a Jean descendant has researched the Jean line. In both instances, I have been given access to their work.

Edmund’s parents were William Jean and Huldah Brown. He was born about 1755 in Brunswick County, Virginia. According to the U.S. Revolutionary War pension application files of two of his brothers, I know that his father William was an Episcopal minister who lived in Brunswick County until about 1772 when the family moved to Bute County, North Carolina in a section that became Warren County in 1779. Adjacent counties were Stokes, Surry, Guilford and Franklin and members of the Jean family resided in all of them.

About 1776, Edmund married, although we do not have any information on his wife, other than the fact of her existence by way of names of their children. They had nine known children, the first being Wiley who was born about 1777. There was a gap in the ages of their children between 1778 and 1783; this gap could be accounted for by as yet undiscovered or deceased children or perhaps by Edmund’s service in the Revolutionary War.

An 1818 act of Congress established a pension for soldiers who had served during the Revolutionary War and two of Edmund’s brothers applied for pensions. Since Edmund died before that time, he was unable to apply but it seems reasonable and likely to surmise that he did serve and the gap in children may support that supposition.

There is a 1790 census for Guilford County, North Carolina that likely represents Edmund, although the name appears to be Edward; however, there is not an Edward Jean listed within the known children of William and Huldah, and the 1790 census lists as neighbors, William, Sr. (his father), William Jr. (his brother), and Philip (his brother). The family has one male over 16 (which would be Edmund), 5 males under 16 and 5 females (one of which would have been the first wife), which would indicate there is an, as yet, unidentified female child, plus one slave for a total household of 12 people.

Edmund married again on October 2, 1795 to Martha “Patty” Beasley. This marriage leads to a supposition that Edmund’s first wife died, probably in childbirth since David Elroy Jean was born in 1795. Edmund was about 40 years old and Patty about 21 when they married. They had four children, the first of whom was my great-great-great-grandfather, John Jean, born in 1796.

A land transfer record dated December 13, 1797 named Edmund Jean and William Jean as Trustees to oversee one acre of land donated to Love’s Methodist Church. In addition to learning the family moved from Virginia to North Carolina, his brothers’ pension files also mentioned the fact their father was an Episcopal minister and that William was a Methodist minister [some families have Edmund listed as Rev. Edmond Jean but I have not yet found any support for that assertion]. The land transfer record does indicate Edmund was at least active within the church.

The 1800 census for Stokes County, North Carolina enumerates Edmund and his brothers William and Joseph as neighbors. Edmund’s family consisted of four males under 10, two males 10-15, one male between 16 and 25 and Edmund who was over 45 plus 1 female under 10, two females 10-15, one female between 16 and 25 and Patty who was between 26 and 44.

Edmund died in 1802. There seems to have been no will and since he was only about 47 years old, it seems reasonable to assume his death was unexpected. I have as yet found no burial records to indicate where he was interred. It is possible, since he and William were Trustees at Love’s Methodist Church in 1797 that he is buried there.


This blog was prepared as a part of Amy Johnson Crow’s  No Story Too Small 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #15 – John Jean

John Jean is my great-great-great-grandfather – my paternal grandmother’s grandmother’s father. He was born about 1796 in Stokes County, North Carolina to Rev. Edmund Jean and his second wife, Martha ‘Patty’ Beasley.

According to a private book written by Glenn Jean, an engineer from Boulder, Colorado, John’s father died about 1802. The family was still in Stokes County for the 1810 census but by the 1820 census, both John and his mother were in Lincoln County, Tennessee.

John married Ann Jane Shaw about 1817 and they began growing their family. They had at least nine children:  William Edmund (1820); Francis Marion (1821); unknown daughter (1823); Jessie L. (1825); my great-great-grandmother Martha Ann (1826); John Wesley (1828); my great-great-grandfather’s first wife Sarah (1830); David C. (between 1831 and 1833); Thomas Asbury (1836); Wiley H. (1837); and Elizabeth A. (1842).

There is a record of a loan from his father-in-law, William Shaw: “I, John Jean of Lincoln Co., TN being indebted to William Shaw, Senr, of same place in the sum of sixty five dollars advance to me before the execution of this conveyance and being anxious to secure the said show in the payment of said sum of money. I have this day sold and conveyed unto said Shaw the following personal property, to wit, one crib of corn, one sorrel horse, one sorrel colt, three cows, three small yearlings, three fattened hogs, three sows, and 23 pigs belonging to the same, one bed and furniture, 1-8 gallon pot, and one fodder stack. This 22nd Jan 1827.” (1)

John was widowed about 1845 when Ann died, and he married a second time on December 24, 1846 to a widow named Martha ‘Patsy’ Taylor who had at least four children.

John and Martha were enumerated in Lincoln County, Tennessee for the 1850 census. John and Martha were living in proximity to some of John’s children:

1) Dwelling 230 Family 230 age born
John Jean 54 1794 SC (Was NC)
Martha (Patsey) Taylor 47 1803
Four Taylor children 09 to 19

2) Dwelling 229, Family 228
Jesse L Jane 25 1825
Mary J 17 1833
Elizabeth A 5/12 1850

3) Dwelling 229, Family 229 age born
Asa L Sanford 29 1821
Martha A (Jean) 24, 1826
David C (Jean) 15 1835
Eliz A Jane 08, 1842

John (64) and Martha (57) were enumerated across the Alabama state line in Madison County, Alabama for the 1860 census. John’s occupation was listed as a Cooper. A cooper is a person who makes or repairs wooden barrels, casks or tubs. John had previously been listed as a farmer.

They were back in Lincoln County, Tennessee for the 1870 census. He was, once again, listed as a farmer with personal property of $500.

Sometime between 1870 and 1880, John’s second wife, Martha, died. By the 1880 census, John, 86, was enumerated with his son Wesley’s family.

John died about 1883. I have not yet found any burial information for John or either of his wives but the location is presumed to be in Lincoln County, Tennessee.


(1) Land Deed Genealogy of Lincoln Co., TN, 1818-1828, Vol 2, Compiled by: Helen C & Timothy R Marsh, Southern Historical Press, Inc, Greenville, SC 1996.


This blog was prepared as a part of Amy Johnson Crow’s  No Story Too Small 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.


52 Ancestors #12 – Martha Ann Jean

Martha Ann Sanford nee Jean, who was my great-great-grandmother, was [according to the 1900 census] born in February 1826 in Tennessee, probably in Lincoln County.  According to chapter 4 of a reasonably well-researched book prepared by members of the Jean family, she was the fourth child of John Jean and Ann Shaw [other family trees list other sets of parents: Thomas Jefferson and Martha Larkin Jean or David Elroy and Grisella White Jean].

Martha’s story is one that illustrates that, even though we live in a time of easy divorce and ever-changing relationships with varying degrees of relationship stability, not all of our ancestors lived lives of marital constancy.

Martha’s younger sister, Sarah, married Asa Sanford in 1846. Sarah died within a short time and on December 24, 1850, Martha married her former brother-in-law.SANFORD Asa & JEAN Martha A. marriage cert  1850 30 May Lincoln County TennesseeThe 1850 census lists Martha and Asa living between her brother Jessie and his family and her father, John and his new wife Martha Taylor – with the last name spelled as Jane rather than Jean. I believe this proximity is an indicator of the family relationship between John Jean and Martha Jean Sanford. Her younger siblings, Elizabeth Jean and David Jean, were living with Martha and Asa. This record also adds the details that Asa was born in Alabama and his occupation was listed as hatter.1850 censusBy the 1860 census, Asa had moved his family back to Tuscaloosa County, Alabama, near a small community known as Moore’s Bridge, which was where he was born and most of his extended family still lived; he also continued with his family’s business of being hatters. In the decade between 1850 and 1860, Martha and Asa  had five children: Sarah, William, Jacob, Mary (my great-grandmother) and John Wiley. Some records for William have an 1853 birth date and some have an 1847 birth date. If the 1847 date is accurate, it is possible that William was the child of Martha’s sister, Sarah, and Asa.1860 censusThe decade between 1860 and 1870 added two more children to the Sanford family: James and Jessie. There is another John Sanford enumerated with the family but since their son John Wiley was born in 1860, it is unlikely the John Sanford listed as born in 1868 was a child of Asa and Martha.1870 censusA few years back, I made contact with a Sanford researcher who was born and raised in the Moore’s Bridge community and returns home a couple of times a year for family reunions. He told me about Martha’s husband, Asa, maintaining a long-term relationship with another woman, Ruhama Oswalt who also lived in the Moores Bridge community, and with whom he had three children. When I questioned him about sources for such a relationship, he stated it was common knowledge within the community and descendants of that Oswalt/Sanford relationship still attend the Sanford reunion.

The 1870 census was mostly done with initials and was therefore inconclusive for Ruhama but I will put the 1880 censuses for both families one after another. Ruhama and her three children were still living with her parents and the next farm to Martha’s nephew, William Larkin Jean. Asa and Martha lived in the Moore’s Bridge community while the Oswalt family and William Jean family lived about 35 miles north in the Ridge Community of Fayette County, Alabama.1880 Sanford 1880 OswaltIt was helpful to me to see the births of the children of the two women side by side to gain a clearer insight into the family dynamics. Children

There were no census records from 1880 until 1900, so no information during that 20-year period. Cemetery records show Ruhama died in 1883 at the age of 46. No records indicate whether Asa and Martha ever separated during his years with Ruhama, however, in spite of his ongoing relationship with Ruhama, Asa and Martha were enumerated together in the 1900 census. Their daughter, Sarah, was still living at home and they were enumerated next to their son, John Wiley and his family. The 1900 census notes that Asa and Martha had been married for 51 years and she had borne eight children, seven of whom were still living. Since I only have a list of seven children, the deceased child was likely born during the years between one census and the next, having lived less than ten years.1900Asa died on April 24, 1907 leaving Martha a widow at 81. The 1910 census showed Martha living with her daughter-in-law and grandchildren after the death of her son, James, in 1903 . During the decade of 1900 to 1910, in addition to her becoming a widow, two more of her children died.1910Martha died October 20, 1911 and is buried next to her husband in the El Bethel Methodist Cemetery near where all the Sanford family had lived since the early 1800s [since there are other El Bethel cemeteries in the area, it is also known as Buncomb]. One of the Sanford descendants who came for a reunion a few years ao noted the headstone for Asa and Martha was either non-existent or in very poor condition; he ordered a replacement headstone, seen in the photo below. 2010 101 Asa & Martha Jean croppedAnd as you view the headstone, if you walk a few steps to the right, another tombstone marks the resting place of Ruhama Oswal apparently not far from Martha in life and still nearby in death.


This blog was prepared as a part of Amy Johnson Crow’s  No Story Too Small 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.