Genealogical Introduction

A true pedigree, be it long or short, is a fact; and, like any other fact, it is to be respected. To those to whom it belongs it is a possession; and, like any other possession, it is to be respected. It is only the false imitation of the true which is to be despised. The inheritance of a really great name is a great inheritance, an inheritance which should be a matter, not of pride but of responsibility…. [Freeman, Edward A., “Pedigrees & Pedigree Makers,” The Contemporary Review, Vol. 30, pp. 12-13.]

A “biological pedigree” is first built upon the trust that our grandmothers were chaste individuals, and that their husbands sired their children. Legally, a child born to a married woman was considered to be the child of her husband if the husband was potent and it was even remotely possible that he cohabited with the woman. Any records generated by the birth of this child would reflect that the child was the legal child of her husband. A “pedigree” produced from these documents could be legally correct, but might not necessarily be biologically correct. Unless we find evidence in the records of bastardy, or “extramarital” children, we assume that the offspring of a man’s wife were his offspring.

In reality, we know that our ancestors were human and subject to the human condition of imperfection, so a quite valid legal pedigree might not be a biological pedigree. With the advent of DNA and the ability to absolutely determine the parentage of offspring, a recent [1999] study determined that 10% of the children tested were not the offspring of the supposed father. With human nature being what it is, then as now, it is quite likely that in ten or more generations of descent, there is likely to be a biological glitch somewhere down the line. However, that doesn’t take away the interest in the “family line” for me. So, unless we found evidence that there were problems in the biological line, we have assumed that a woman’s husband was the father of her children.

In doing genealogical research, we also have to contend with the possibility of other kinds of errors. Errors can creep in from many directions. We may have found a man by the same name as our ancestor, and assume that he is our ancestor, trace him and his family, add him to our “pedigree,” and be completely wrong! In some areas, the use and re-use of “heirloom” names causes much confusion and error in trying to track down which of the many “John Smiths” in a given locale is our “John Smith.”

We find areas of the country where courthouse fires and other disasters have destroyed the records we need to complete our pedigree with a greater degree of accuracy, or at least a chance of being right.

We may find documents that are accidentally or purposely in error, and thus, go off down the wrong track. In using some secondary sources, and published data, which are conclusions drawn by others from the original data, we may contaminate our own research with their errors.

In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when it was the “rage” to descend from English and European royalty, many fraudulent pedigrees were developed by unscrupulous “researchers” for social and monetary gain. Many of these, unfortunately, found their way into print. Some very “respected,” and often quoted, early publications were completely fraudulent! Almost any pre-colonial published pedigree in existence today is “contaminated” to some extent.

The huge volume of information that has been sifted to compile the following genealogies contains errors of all kinds and forms, I am sure. A lifetime of research could be expended upon any one nuclear family contained in this volume, and still probably have less than a completely error-free genealogy, both legally and biologically.

Efforts have been made to keep the stories as accurate as possible, within the ability and resources of the author/compiler. However, there is no doubt that within the scope of 11 or 12 generations of “ancestors,” the biological line may have a few “kinks” in it, even if the “legal” ancestry is accurate. It is hoped that the reader will enjoy the stories contained in this volume, but that nothing will be taken as “gospel,” and the data will be used as a base for continued and more accurate research in the future.

The author/compiler of this family history is Joyce Jones [Sams] Hetrick, whose mother is Gladys Gray Jones Sams. Gladys’ mother was Leatha Virgie Johnson, the daughter of Felix Hill Johnson and Sarah Alice Dorris, from Sumner County, Tennessee. The Johnson family moved to Arkansas in 1911, taking the train from Sumner County, Tennessee, to Conway County, Arkansas.

Leatha Virgie Johnson, the author’s grandmother, knew the names of the first four generations of her ancestors, the names of all her many first cousins, who they married, and the names of their children. She knew a wealth of “family stories” which proved amazingly accurate. When the author was a child and teenager, Virgie related all these tales and “begots” to her granddaughter, who wrote them down. This book is the continuation of the “genealogy” and family history transcribed into a child’s notebook many years ago.

The history of Sumner County, Tennessee, was woven throughout the family’s intermarriages to such an extent that by the time Virgie was born in 1898, she was “kin” to many, if not most, of the Sumner County Scots-Irish residents.

Virgie’s cousin, Theda Pond Womack, who is a genealogical researcher and historian from Gallatin, Tennessee, was another invaluable resource of information. There is no way the author can adequately express her gratitude for the information these ladies have shared.

The term “Scotch Irish” is an Americanism, generally unknown in Scotland and Ireland and rarely used by British historians. In American usage, it refers to people of Scottish descent who, having lived for a time in the north of Ireland, migrated in considerable numbers to the American colonies in the eighteenth century. [Leyburn, The Scotch-Irish, a Social History, pg. Xi]

The author’s direct ancestors are printed in the text in all CAPITAL letters. Bold print is used when a family line is being traced if I am somewhat unsure but suspect them to be my ancestors. Family lines of which I am unsure of the descent will be mentioned in the text as conjectural lines. Otherwise, bold print will be used from time to time as emphasis.

To help facilitate generation continuity, I have added a generation number after the names. The first name in a sequence will have the surname, as well as the given name, then the number “1.” The next in the sequence will have only the given name and a generation sequence number, and so on. For example: [John Smith-1, John-2, Samuel-3, Susannah-4]. Since each person has more than one ancestor, the sequence number after the name will be from his/her surname list, unless otherwise noted. If a woman is listed as Mary Smith Jones [with Smith being her maiden name], her sequence number will follow her maiden name as Mary Smith-4 Jones. If her name is Mary [Christian name] Smith [middle name] Jones [surname] then her sequence number will appear after Jones, [i.e. Mary Smith Jones-4.] Conjectural lines will use Roman Numerals [ii and iii, etc.], rather than Arabic numerals [1, 2, 3, etc.] as generation sequence numbers.