Paul K. Graham

Certified Genealogist SM

Accredited Genealogist ®

Paternity of John Warren Ellis of Jasper County, Texas

Originally published in The Genealogist 27, no. 2 (Fall 2013). By Paul K. Graham. Courtesy of The American Society of Genealogists.

Despite strong clues concerning his Alabama origins, the identity of John Warren Ellis’s ancestors vexed descendants trying to extend their ancestry on his line. No direct evidence had come to light identifying his parents or other relatives. The most valuable known information concerned his migration route: from his birth in Alabama in 1820, across Mississippi and Arkansas, and on to Texas where he died in 1891. Collection and analysis of records from all four states revealed strong indirect evidence that John was the son of Rolley and Priscilla (Williams) Ellis from South Carolina.

Evidence in Texas lays the foundation for the genealogical case. John’s grave marker includes his birth location; he was born 15 December 1820 in Montgomery County, Alabama.1 He left a will naming his wife Elizabeth and two sons: James M. and John M. Ellis.2 The grave marker of John M. Ellis includes his birth location as well: 25 December 1849 in Choctaw County, Mississippi.3 The death certificates of three other children of John W. Ellis give his wife’s maiden name: Elizabeth Newman.4

Census and marriage records reveal a cluster of likely relatives. In 1860, John W. Ellis was enumerated with his wife Elizabeth and five children in Talladega Township, Jefferson County, Arkansas.5 The next household contained three other Ellises: W. R. Ellis (male, age 32, born Ala.), P. Ellis (female, age 63, born S.C.), and Henry M. (male, age 23, born Ala.).6

In 1850, John and Elizabeth were enumerated in Choctaw County, Mississippi, with two male children: Raleigh (age 3), and John (age 1).7 The child John corresponds to John M. Ellis and corroborates the birthplace on his grave marker. The preceding household included J. L. Ellis (male, age 32, born S.C.) and Sarahan (female, age 21, born Ga.).8 J. L. Ellis worked as a shoemaker.

John W. Ellis married Elizabeth Newman in Autauga County, Alabama, on 14 October 1846.9 Two other Ellis couples married the next spring in the same county. James Ellis married Sarah Ann Newman on 16 April 1847,10 then Lettis M. Ellis married Michael H. Carroll on 29 April 1847.11 The three marriages in a close time period suggest a sibling relationship between John, James, and Lettis. The corresponding surnames of Elizabeth and Sarah strengthened that supposition.

In 1850, Pricette Ellis of Autauga County (female, age 55, born S.C.) corresponded roughly with P. Ellis from Arkansas ten years later.12 Her household included Mary (age 24), William (age 22), Ann (age 18), and Hillory (male, age 16). Adding John and James, a family of siblings was materializing, with “Pricette Ellis” as the mother:

James L. Ellis, b. ca. 1818
John W. Ellis, b. ca. 1820
Lettis M. Ellis, b. say 1823 (in a gap in the children)
Mary Ellis, b. ca. 1826
William R. Ellis, b. ca. 1828
Ann Ellis, b. ca. 1832
Hillory Ellis, b. ca. 1834

Three likely candidates for the Ellis children’s father stood out in the 1840 census enumeration: Wesley, Elisha, and Raleigh. Two could be ruled out immediately. No male children were enumerated in Wesley’s household in 1840.13 Elisha’s children did not include James L., John W., or the other likely Ellis siblings.14 On the other hand, the demographic makeup of Raleigh Ellis’s household corresponded well with the hypothetical siblings list. Also, “Raleigh” suggested a connection to John W. Ellis, whose first child shared the name.

“Rolly Ellis” died in 1846, and James L. Ellis was appointed administrator of the estate on 7 December 1846, posting a $500 bond.15 Besides the administrator’s bond, only the appraisement and sale survive.16 Rolley’s property was appraised at $377, including a $100 claim on public land. Multiple familiar Ellises participated in the sale, including P. Ellis, John W. Ellis, Mary Ellis, Anna Ellis, Lettis Ellis, William Ellis, and James Ellis.

The Ellis purchasers in the sale correspond well with the family group identified through census and marriage records. Unfortunately, other estate documents proved difficult to locate. No mention of Rolley appears in surviving county estate indexes, and no original estate files for an Ellis were found. No sale or distribution of land related to the estate appears in county deed records.

Military records reinforce the relationships and add details about Rolley’s origins. He enlisted in Captain Chapman Levy’s Company of Riflemen, in McWillie’s 2nd Regiment of the South Carolina Militia on 6 October 1814 at Camden, in Kershaw District.17 For five months he was stationed at Haddrell’s Point at Charleston. He was discharged on 5 March 1815.

Rolley’s widow applied for bounty land two times, and the application file includes important facts.18 First, it establishes that Rolley died in Autauga County on 2 October 1846. Also, it states that he married Pricilla Williams in Sumter District, South Carolina, on 23 April 1815. This is a particularly valuable piece of information, because South Carolina did not mandate the recording of civil marriage records until 1911.

When Priscilla declared her eligibility for bounty land on 14 March 1854 from Choctaw County, Mississippi, John W. Ellis and William R. Ellis submitted a supporting affidavit. They swore that they “were well acquainted with Rolly Ellis in his life time & knew that him & the petitioner herself lived together as man & wife some twenty years.” The affidavit continues: “at the death of the said Rolly she the said Priscilla took possession of his estate as his widow, these deponants [sic] were living in the neighbourhood of the said Rolly Ellis at the time of his death.” Curiously, the affidavit does not state that John and William were Rolly’s children. John W. Ellis and Henry Ellis, “residents of the county of Carroll” in Mississippi, witnessed Priscilla’s second affidavit, executed on 9 October 1856 from Carroll County, Mississippi.

Despite key limitations, the evidence clearly places John W. Ellis within the family of Rolley Ellis and Priscilla Williams. Their close associations in records across three states reveal the connection. Except on John’s branch, limited evidence has frustrated efforts to extend Rolley’s lines of descent. With the right evidence, other descendants may be revealed in the future.

GENEALOGICAL SUMMARY

1     ROLLEY1 ELLIS, born most likely in the 1770s,19 died in Autauga County, Alabama, on 2 October 1846.20 He married PRISCILLA WILLIAMS on 23 April 1815 in Sumter District, South Carolina.21 She was born about 1797 in South Carolina and died after the 1860 U.S. Census enumeration, possibly in Jefferson County, Arkansas.22 Rolley may have been born in North Carolina, according to the 1880 census entry for his son John.23

Rolley’s paternity remains unresolved. Numerous Ellis men settled in Sumter and Kershaw districts in South Carolina, but deed estate, and equity records there do not reveal clear connections to Rolley. Of those named in Kershaw District deed, estate, and equity records, none had clear connections to Rolley. Sumter District estate and equity records provided no direct clues either.

The best clue for further examination of Rolley’s background may lie with Elisha Ellis. Born about 1803 in North Carolina, he moved to Alabama and settled in Autauga County.24 According to census records, he was born in North Carolina and his wife Mary was born in South Carolina. The birth locations correspond to those of Rolley and Priscilla, based on John’s 1880 census enumeration.25 Identifying Elisha’s origins may lead to Rolley’s family.

Sumter District deed records reveal an interesting event in Rolley’s life. On 22 November 1817, he purchased 200 acres on Little Rafting Creek in Sumter District from Thomas Sumter for $1,200.26 Three days later, on 25 November 1817, Rolley sold the same 200 acres to Joseph S. Bussard for $2,100—a $900 gain in three days. How much of that represents profit cannot be known, but the transaction preceded the family’s move to Alabama. By 1820 they had made their way to Conecuh County, along the border with Spanish Florida.27 The family moved to Autauga County by 1830.28

Known children of Rolley1 and Priscilla (Williams) Ellis:

i     JAMES L.2 ELLIS, b. S.C. ca. 1819, living Choctaw Co., Miss., 11 Oct. 1850;29 m. Autauga Co., Ala., 16 April 1847 SARAH ANN NEWMAN.30 The couple moved to Choctaw Co., Miss., by 1850.31 He may be the James L. Ellis who later lived in Fayette Co., Tex., with an older sister Sarah A. (Ellis) Robinson, but more evidence is needed to link them to Rolley’s family.32

ii     JOHN WARREN ELLIS, b. Montgomery Co., Ala., 15 Dec. 1820, d. Jasper Co., Tex., 5 May 1891;33 m. Autauga Co., Ala., 14 Oct. 1846 ELIZABETH ANN NEWMAN,34 b. Ga.35 31 July 1819, d. 14 June 1912,36 likely dau. of Richard Newman.37 Evidence of John’s middle name is in a daughter’s death certificate.38

John left a will, writing it on 29 Nov. 1875. In an unusual occurrence, he had the document recorded on 11 Feb. 1876.39 John left all his property to his wife Elizabeth to use during her life. At her death, all of the property was to be divided between “my children or their heirs.” John did not list his children by name. He asked “my two oldest sons John M. and James M. Ellis” to be executors. Why John chose to record his will in this way—and fifteen years before his death—is unclear. It was never probated, adding to the mystery.

Some confusion exists over John’s first name. Many compiled family trees—and even his Find A Grave entry—identify him as James rather than John.40 The source of this error originates with the 1880 U.S. Census, which lists John as “Jim W. Ellis.” The census taker may have made a simple error, or may have thought “Jim” was a nickname for “John.” All other records identify him as John, and the identification of his brother James L. Ellis leaves no doubt that the name James W. Ellis is in error.

Children of John2 and Elizabeth Ann (Newman) Ellis:

1 Raleigh3 Ellis, b. Ala., ca. 1847, living 1850.41

2   John M. Ellis, b. Choctaw Co., Miss., 25 Dec. 1849, d. Jasper Co., Tex., 29 June 1886, bur. Homer Cemetery;42 m. Jasper Co. 30 Oct. 1870, Mariah E. Fuller,43 b. 21 March 1850, d. 16 April 1904, bur. Homer Cemetery.44

3   James Monroe Ellis, b. Miss. ca. 1852,45 living Jasper Co., Tex., 6 June 1900;46 m. Jasper Co. 1 Oct 1871 Jane Ann Barrow.47 James’s middle name is from his children’s death certificates.48

4   Mary Frances Ellis, b. Miss. 18 Oct. 1853,49 d. Turpentine, Jasper Co., 16 April 1918;50 m. Jasper Co. 17 Sept. 1882 Samuel W. Womack,51 living Jasper Co. 2 Jan. 1920.52

5   Susan F. Ellis, b. Miss. 15 Oct. 1854, d. 22 April 1919, bur. Ebenezer Cemetery, Jasper Tex.;53 m. Jasper Co. 25 Dec. 1878 John S. Fuller,54 b. 14 Oct. 1852, d. 16 June 1928, bur. Ebenezer Cemetery.55

6   Wallace William Ellis, b. Miss. 15 March 1857, d. 27 Nov. 1923, bur. Homer Cemetery, Jasper Co., Tex.;56 m. (1) Jasper Co. 6 Nov. 1881 Martha Henrietta Smith,57 b. 1860, d. 1885, bur. Homer Cemetery;58 (2) Jasper Co. 30 Dec. 1886 Alice Jane Smith,59 b. 20 Oct. 1864, d. 21 Oct. 1887, bur. Homer Cemetery;60 (3) Jasper Co. 15 Oct. 1888 Annie Elizabeth Primrose,61 b. 22 Nov. 1870, d. 22 June 1942, bur. Homer Cemetery.62

7   Lucy Jane Ellis, b. Ark. 6 June 1861, d. Jasper Co. 1 March 1939,63 bur. Homer Cemetery;64 m. Jasper Co. 8 March 1885 Richard M. Pace,65 d. before 14 Jan. 1920.66

8   Isabella Ellis, b. Ark. ca. 1863; m. Jasper Co. 15 Jan. 1883 G. W. Horsford.67 The couple’s fate is currently unknown.

9   Robert Bruce Ellis, b. Upsher Co., Tex., 14 Feb. 1864, d. Jasper Co. 19 Oct. 1936,68 bur. Homer Cemetery;69 m. Jasper Co. 24 Dec. 1889 Rebecca Josephine Smith,70 b. 28 Oct. 1866, d. 29 July 1940, dau. of John and Parilee (McFarland) Smith,71 bur. Homer Cemetery.72

10   George W. Ellis, b. Tex. 4 Sept. 1868, d. 9 April 1926, bur. Homer Cemetery;73 m. Jasper Co. 12 April 1891 Mattie Myre Womack,74 b. 10 April 1875, d. 29 June 1953, dau. of Samuel W. and Annie (Glenn) Womack,75 bur. Homer Cemetery.76

iii     LETTIS M. ELLIS, b. say 1822, but her birth order is unknown; m. Augusta Co., Ala., 29 April 1847 MICHAEL H. CARROLL.77 The couple may have been enumerated in Autauga Co. as Micheal and Lydia Carrell—with children Rebecca and John—in 1850,78 but the connection has not yet been proved.

iv     MARY ELLIS, b. Ala. ca. 1826, living Autauga Co., Ala., in Nov. 1850.79

v     WILLIAM R. ELLIS, b. Ala. ca. 1828,80 living 24 Jan. 1862.81 William moved with his mother Priscilla and brother John to Jefferson Co., Ark., by 1860.82 Although listed as the owner of $780 worth of real property, no federal or county records corroborate land ownership. He served in Company C, 9th Regiment, Arkansas Infantry, but was discharged early in the war, on 24 Jan. 1862.83

vi     ANNA/ANN ELLIS, b. Ala. ca. 1832, living Autauga Co., Ala., in Nov. 1850.84 She may have married in Choctaw Co., Miss., where county records were destroyed by fire.

vii     HILLORY ELLIS, b. Ala., ca. 1834, living Autauga Co., Ala., in Nov. 1850.85 A male child named “Hillory” enumerated in the P. Ellis household 1850 appears on no other known records. He fits in the Raleigh Ellis household of 1840 as a male child age five to nine.86

viii     HENRY M. ELLIS, b. Ala. ca. 1837, living Jefferson Co., Ark., 29 June 1860.87 Henry participated in his mother’s bounty land application and was enumerated with her in 1860.88


 
Paul K. Graham, CG, AG, Genealogist at ProGenealogists, a division of Ancestry.com, may be contacted at P.O. Box 3223, Salt Lake City, UT 84110-3223; or at pkgraham@gmail.com.


 
Notes

1. J. W. Ellis gravestone, Homer Cemetery, Homer, Tex.

2. Jasper Co., Tex., Deeds, K:44–45, will of John W. Ellis, Family History Library [FHL] microfilm 1005128.

3. John M. Ellis gravestone, Homer Cemetery, Homer, Tex.

4. Fannie Womack, Texas death certificate no. 17163 (1918); Robert Bruce Ellis, Texas death cer-tificate no. 50511 (1936); Lucy Jane Pace, Texas death certificate no. 13966 (1939).

5. 1860 U.S. Census, Talladega Twp., Jefferson Co., Ark., , p. 517, lines 13–19.

6. 1860 U.S. Census, Talladega Twp., Jefferson Co., Ark., p. 517, lines 20–22.

7. 1850 U.S. census, Choctaw Co., Miss., p. 62 (recto), lines 16–19.

8. 1850 U.S. Census, Choctaw Co., Miss., p. 62 (recto), lines 14–15.

9. Autauga Co., Ala., Marriages, Book 1:439, FHL microfilm 1,289,186.

10. Autauga Co., Ala., Marriages, Book 2:130, FHL microfilm 1,289,187.

11. Autauga Co., Ala., Marriages, Book 2: 132, FHL microfilm 1,289,187.

12. 1850 U.S. Census, Chestnut Beat, Autauga Co., Ala., p. 54 (recto), lines 1–5.

13. 1840 U.S. Census, Autauga Co., Ala., p. 12, line 8.

14. Memorial Record of Alabama, 2 vols. (Madison, Wis.: Brant & Fuller, 1893), 1:349-50.

15. Autauga Co., Ala., County Court Bonds, Book F:65, FHL microfilm 1,685,691.

16. Autauga Co., Ala., Probate Court Reports, Book 6 (also F):364-65, FHL microfilm 1,685,681.

17. Rolley Ellis, Private, Capt. Chapman Levy’s Co. of Riflemen, 2nd Regiment, South Carolina Militia, Compiled Military Service Record, Office of the Adjutant General, Record Group 94, National Archives.

18. Priscilla Ellis, widow of Rolley Ellis, Bounty Land Warrant Application, Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15, National Archives.

19. 1830 U.S. Census, Capt. Borough’s District, Autauga Co., Ala., p. 126, line 21.

20. Priscilla Ellis Bounty Land Warrant Application [supra note 18].

21. Priscilla Ellis Bounty Land Warrant Application [supra note 18].

22. 1860 U.S. Census, Talladega Twp., Jefferson Co., Ark., p. 517, line 21.

23. 1880 U.S. Census, Beat 1, Jasper Co., Tex., E.D. 36, p. 111C, line 33.

24. 1850 U.S. Census, Prattville Beat, Autauga Co., Ala., p. 15 (verso), line 28.

25. 1880 U.S. Census, Beat 1, Jasper Co., Tex., E.D. 36, p. 111C, line 33.

26. Sumter Co., S.C., Conveyances, Book E:423-24, FHL microfilm 355,680.

27. 1820 Alabama State Census, Conecuh Co., p. 44, line 5.

28. 1830 U.S. Census, Capt. Borough’s District, Autauga Co., Ala., p. 126, line 21.

29. 1850 U.S. Census, Choctaw Co., Miss., p. 62 (recto), lines 14–15.

30. Autauga Co., Ala., Marriage Record, 2:130, FHL microfilm 1,289,187.

31. 1850 U.S. Census, Choctaw Co., Miss., p. 62 (recto), lines 14–15.

32. 1880 U.S. Census, Fayette Co., Tex., p. 184B, lines 20–21.

33. J. W. Ellis gravestone, Homer Cemetery, Homer, Tex.

34. Autauga Co., Ala., Marriages, Book 1:439, FHL microfilm 1,289,186.

35. 1880 U.S. Census, Beat 1, Jasper Co., Tex., E.D. 36, p. 111C, line 34.

36. Elizabeth A. Ellis gravestone, Homer Cemetery, Homer, Tex.

37. 1850 U.S. Census, Choctaw Co., Miss., p. 75 (verso), line 30.

38. Lucy Jane Pace, Texas death certificate no. 13966 (1939).

39. Jasper Co., Tex., Deeds, K:44-45, will of John W. Ellis, FHL microfilm 1,005,128.

40. Gravestone photo online at (www.findagrave.com), Memorial no. 38606270, accessed 17 Feb. 2013. Although the memorial page is headed “James Warren Ellis,” the photo itself shows the name as “J. W. Ellis” on the gravestone. Also see the James W. Ellis entry, “Pedigree Resource File,” database, (www.familysearch.org), accessed 17 Feb. 2013.

41. 1850 U.S. Census, Choctaw Co., Miss., p. 62 (recto), line 18.

42. John M. Ellis gravestone, Homer Cemetery, Homer, Tex.

43. Jasper Co., Tex., Marriages, Book A:292.

44. Mariah E. Ellis gravestone, Homer Cemetery, Homer, Tex.

45. 1860 U.S. Census, Talladega Twp., Jefferson Co., Ark., p. 517, line 16.

46. 1900 U.S. Census, Justice Precinct 1, Jasper Co., Tex., E.D. 26, sheet 3A, line 1.

47. Versie Graham Truett, One Hundred Years of Marriages of Jasper County, Texas, 1849–1949 (Zevalla, Tex.: V. Truett, 1993), 61.

48. For example, see Robert L. (Bob) Ellis, Texas death certificate no. 48225 (1946).

49. For Mary’s most likely birth year, see 1900 U.S. Census, Justice Precinct 4, Tyler Co., Tex., E.D. 105, sheet 10A, line 33. Her death certificate lists her birth on 18 Oct. 1850, but that year is inconsistent with census enumerations.

50. Fannie Womack, Texas death certificate no. 17163 (1918).

51. Truett, Marriages of Jasper County [supra note 45], 61.

52. 1920 U.S. Census, Justice Precinct 1, Jasper Co., Tex., E.D. 72, sheet 1A, line 48.

53. Florence Fuller gravestone, Ebenezer Cemetery, Jasper, Tex.

54. Truett, Marriages of Jasper County [supra note 45], 61.

55. John S. Fuller gravestone, Ebenezer Cemetery, Jasper, Tex.

56. Rev. W. W. Ellis gravestone, Homer Cemetery, Homer, Tex.

57. Truett, Marriages of Jasper County [supra note 45], 61.

58. Henrietta Ellis gravestone, Homer Cemetery, Homer, Tex.

59. Truett, Marriages of Jasper County [supra note 45], 61.

60. Jane Smith Ellis gravestone, Homer Cemetery, Homer, Tex.

61. Truett, Marriages of Jasper County [supra note 45], 61.

62. Anne Elizabeth Ellis, Texas death certificate no. 27246 (1942).

63. Lucy Jane Pace, Texas death certificate no. 13966 (1939).

64. Lucy Jane Pace gravestone, Homer Cemetery, Homer, Tex.

65. Truett, Marriages of Jasper County [supra note 45], 61.

66. 1920 U.S. Census, Justice Precinct 1, Jasper Co., Tex., E.D. 72, sheet 6B, dwelling 125, Lucy Pace household.

67. Truett, Marriages of Jasper County [supra note 45], 61.

68. Robert Bruce Ellis, Texas death certificate no. 50511 (1936).

69. Robert B. “Bob” Ellis gravestone, Homer Cemetery, Homer, Tex.

70. Truett, Marriages of Jasper County [supra note 45], 61.

71. Rebecca Josephine Ellis, Texas death certificate no. 33611 (1940).

72. Rebecca J. Ellis gravestone, Homer Cemetery, Homer, Tex.

73. George W. Ellis gravestone, Homer Cemetery, Homer, Tex.

74. Truett, Marriages of Jasper County [supra note 45], 61.

75. Mattie Myre Ellis, Texas death certificate no. 31357 (1953).

76. Mattie M. Ellis gravestone, Homer Cemetery, Homer, Tex.

77. Autauga Co., Ala., Marriage Record, 2:132, FHL microfilm 1,289,187.

78. 1850 U.S. Census, Chestnut Beat, Autauga Co., Ala., p. 48 (verso), lines 28–31.

79. 1850 U.S. Census, Chestnut Beat, Autauga Co., Ala., p. 54 (recto), line 2.

80. 1850 U.S. Census, Chestnut Beat, Autauga Co., Ala., p. 54 (recto), line 3.

81. Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations From the State of Arkansas, microfilm publication M317 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Service), roll 110, Ninth Infantry, D–G, compiled service record for William R. Ellis, Private, Co. C.

82. 1860 U.S. Census, Talladega Twp., Jefferson Co., Ala., p. 725, line 20.

83. Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers (William R. Ellis) [supra note 79].

84. 1850 U.S. Census, Chestnut Beat, Autauga Co., Ala., p. 54 (recto), line 4.

85. 1850 U.S. Census, Chestnut Beat, Autauga Co., Ala., p. 54 (recto), line 4.

86. 1840 U.S. Census, Autauga Co., Ala., p. 19, line 23.

87. 1860 U.S. Census, Talladega Twp., Jefferson Co., Ark., p. 725 (recto), line 22.

88. Priscilla Ellis Bounty Land Warrant Application [supra note 18].