The Search for the Parentage of William R. Johns
by Michael Pollock
IN JANUARY 1993, I was engaged by Benjamin Riley Johns, Jr., of Richmond, Virginia, to research his ancestry. While his charge to me was to pursue all his lines, both paternal and maternal, the empha-sis was to be on the Johns family in general and in particular on identifying the parents and additional ancestors of Mr. Johns' great-grandfather William R. Johns, born circa 1825 in Goochland County, Virginia, according to the 1850 census of Powhatan.1 Over a period of more than 2 years, considerable effort was applied in pursuit of the above goals. Substantial information was uncovered as to the family, circum-stances, descendants and collateral lines of William R. Johns, but the primary goals remained unachieved. With yet another year during which no work was done, this retrospective was commissioned both to establish if a fresh perspective might reveal new significance for data we had already collected, as well as to outline the research which was done in pursuit of those goals with the idea that it may be helpful to those who may wish to retrace that research or expand upon it, whether those persons be members of Mr. Johns' immediate family or a collateral line, known or unknown (to us).
As noted, the 1850 census identi-fied William R. Johns' birthplace as Goochland, thus it was there that our initial efforts were focused. Mr. Johns related an oral tradition that William R. Johns had been separated from his family at an early age and lost touch with them. Whether this implicitly meant that William had been orphaned or placed in an apprenticeship because his family was too impoverished to care for him was never very clear, but either could plausibly explain the details of this oral tradition.
In the years immediately prior to William R. Johns' birth, a number of Johns had resided in Goochland, most of them identifiable as the children of Stephen Johns,2 a son of Philip Johns.3 We looked at each of the sons of Stephen to determine if William R. may have been a son or even grandson, but in each instance, either the records failed to acknowledge a son named William (R.) or the family of the son had removed from Goochland County before(?) the birth of William R. with the notable exception of James Johns who married Susanna LeMay in Goochland County in l809.4 James Johns died intestate, apparently with no appreciable estate, as he last appeared in the taxes in 1818 although the inventory of his estate was dated 15 December l82l5 and his widow Susanna did not appear in the personal property taxes until 1831. She had, however, inherited a tract of land following the death of her brother William who died without issue prior to 29 February 18276, and so was listed in the land taxes of Goochland from 1828 to 1832.
Court records indicate that she encountered financial difficulties and on 18 October 1834 was forced to sell the land to a Frederick Harris to pay her debts, but not without first reserving l acre of land on which the LeMay (?) family cemetery was located.7 Seven months later, on 18 May 1835, the Goochland County Court instructed the Overseers of the Poor to place William and Julian, sons of Mrs. Johns, with a person or persons who could teach them a trade and thus remove them from public charity.8 It seemed reasonable to proceed from an assump-tion that Mrs. Johns and Susanna Johns were one and the same individual, but subsequent research proved otherwise.
The records of the Overseers of the Poor were searched for some reference, any reference, to the person with whom William was placed-it was our hope that he was to be trained as a wheel-wright, the occupation of William R. Johns-but none was found. Similarly, the order books of Goochland County were searched, line by line, with the same intent, and regretta-bly, with the same result. Because William R. was living in Powhatan County at the time of the 1850 census and appeared in the personal property taxes of the same starting in 1846, its records were also searched beginning with the year 1835, again with the same results. However, the results were not entirely negative. An order mentioned a complaint by Elizabeth C. Johns, that her son Julian Jackson Johns was being abused by his master, requesting that her son be placed under the tutelage of someone who would be more responsive to the needs of her son.9 Aside from estab-lishing that Susanna was not the mother of William and Julian, this order also established that William was an improbable ancestor of my client no Julian appeared in either the 1850 or 1860 census of Virginia, but a Jackson appeared in the 1850 census of Goochland10 and I 860 census of Louisa11, and in the latter census was identified as a free black. His brother William was presumably the William who had appeared in the I 850 census of Goochland with a wife and several children,12 presumably, because the census did not acknowledge this family as black either.
Could that aforementioned cemetery provide the necessary evidence to prove William R. Johns as a son of Susanna? It was unlikely that the grave of either James or Susanna, presuming either was indeed buried there, would have contained an inscription that mentioned William R., but if a grave could be located and positively identified as that of either James or Susanna, my client was prepared to commission genetic testing to determine if William R. was their son. Of course, the genetic material on which the comparison would be made would of necessity have to come from the client - while we know that William R. is buried in Maury Cemetery in Manchester area of south Richmond. his grave was unmarked, in part because the cemetery register merely establishes the lot in which he was buried, not the specific grave. Subsequent records do establish the burial plots of other family members whose graves were also unmarked, leaving but one site in the lot as the only plausible location for William R. Johns grave as it was the onlv remaining adult gravesite. However, the Director of Cemeteries for the City of Richmond insisted that this was inadequate for granting the required permits to disinter the body for thc DNA sample. then reinter it in another lot so that William R. could rest beside his widow. Furthermore, the deed from Susanna Johns to Frederick Harris which had mentioned the LeMay cemetery failed to identify precisely where the cemetery was located.
Fortunately the deed for the property when sold by Susanna contained a detailed description of metes and bounds, unusual for this period and area of Virginia, allowing creation of a plat of the same, although the deed of division between Susanna and Samuel Perrin, who had bought the portion inherited by Susanna's brother Samuel, dated 18 May 1829, included a plat.13 Even more fortunate was that part of the description was of the meanders of Upper Lickinghole Creek which allowed us to establish the precise location of the property by matching the described meanders to those depicted on a modern map. That location was on the west side of Upper Lickinghole Creek north of what was then known as Three Chopt Road, but is better known today as US250. Although the deed description gave no hint of the same, it was interesting to note how the northern and western hounds of the plat matched the contours of the land that are displayed on a topographical map.
The deed did not specify where the cemetery was located. but nothing that the land was in a creek basin, both my client, an architect and I were in agreement that the most logical place for it was on some of the higher ground. Except for the northernmost quarter of the tract. the terrain was too rugged to allow for a cemetery of the size allowed in the deed, but that northernmost quarter was also part of the route of Interstate 64. While it is possible that substantial grading of this section was done to accommodate the highway. it also stood to reason that the specific route for I-64 was chosen precisely because it would not require such grading, so we stood by our initial supposition of where the cemetery would hopefully, be found.
Current USGS maps of the area did not indicate any known cemetery on this property, so it stood to reason that the cemetery was moved (or destroyed) in the course of the construction of I-64. With that in mind, I contacted the Virginia Department of Highways. The records I requested were archived, so it took awhile to access them, but as expected, they confirmed our supposi-tion that the cemetery was moved in the building of 1-64. Unfortunately, the Highway Dept. files identified it as a slave cemetery with about 2 dozen graves, none with any evidence of a marker. The number of interments seemed a bit high-it was thought that the cemetery would contain Susanna's parents (the tract on which it was located having been their home), her brother William, her husband, some of her children and Susanna herself-even allowing for a mixture of a white and black burials, because the subsequent owner did not reside on the property, unless the cemetery was either older than supposed or used by the subse-quent owner for slave burials. Appar-ently the primary reason that the Highway Dept. classified the cemetery as slave was that it was so identified by local residents. and not from the physical evidence. Regardless, my client and I felt there was little point in pursuing this lead further, particularly as subsequent research established that it was unlikely that Susanna was buried on the tract.
It should be noted that if the 1850 census was accurate as to the date of William R.'s birth, he could not have been the son of James, who died well before William R. was born. In the 1830 census of Goochland, Susanna was shown as having a male child between the ages of 5 and 10, as well as an older male 15-20 and two females.14 The age range of that younger male would have allowed for the child to have been a posthumous son of James, or an illegitimate son of his widow. Both my client and I were willing to consider the latter, particularly in light of the birthdate given in the majority of records for William R. which included an age, but the interment register of Maury Cemetery gave William R's age as 68, or born ca. 181915 (an obituary published in the Richard Dispatch of 22 November 1887 said he was "in the sixty-third year of his age" and the Chesterfield County Death Register gave his age as 6016- the only three sources which did not place his birth as ca. 1825) which would have allowed William to have been a son of James, although there was no male between 10 and 15 in Susanna's household in the 1830 census.
One of the females in Susanna's household in the 1830 census was, we believed, a Diana who married Temple W. Parrish 26 May 1832 in Goochland County.17 The groom's name was unusual enough that we felt he would be easy to trace, yet we did not find him in either the 1840 or 1850 census of Virginia nor any record in Goochland County which identified to where he presumably moved. That came by a bit of serendipity. In June, 1995, I was approached by a Dennis Gammon, researching his Parrish family in Goochland County, who wanted my opinion of whether Eliza-beth "Polklock," wife of the patriarch of the family, might not have in actuality have been "Pollock" - there is substantial circumstantial evidence to suggest she was - and I asked him what he knew of Temple and Diana (Johns) Parrish. He had a journal written in the 1890s by a gentleman who developed an interest in the history of the Parrish family even though he was in no way part of it. In the journal it was stated that Temple Parrish moved to Kentucky and sure enough, with that information I was able to find both Temple Parrish and Susan Johns in the 1840 census of Fayette County, Kentucky, the latter with a male 15 to 20, a female 20 to 30 and a female 40 to 50.18 Again, the male may well have been William R. Johns, but his identity remains to be established as Susan Johns had no males in her household in the 1850 census of Fayette County19 and none of the other Johns in that census gave a birthplace in Virginia. Likewise for Clarke County, , where Temple and Diana Parrish resided at the time of the 1850 census.20 The personal property taxes of Fayette County were searched to see if the male in Susan's household could be identified, but he could not. Other records for Fayette County were consulted, but the search was not exhaustive as was the search of Goochland and Powhatan because some records were not available on microfilm/interlibrary loan. The 1850 Census of Clark County showed that Temple Parrish did not move directly to Fayette County from Goochland, but resided briefly in Tennessee, but Dennis Gammons had no information as to where. We did look at Johns entries in Tennessee in the I.G.I, but did not dig deeper as it was unlikely this research would address the question of the identity of William R. Johns.
Although William R. Johns was residing in Powhatan in the 1850 census, he married in Goochland County in 1851.21 His wife was Mary Judith Sheppard, daughter of Peter Sheppard and Mary Moore.22 When it was discovered that Mary's brother John M(oore?) Sheppard donated the land on which Hebron Methodist Church stands23, and that William Jackson Winston, the minister who married William R. and Mary Judith was a Methodist minister, it was hoped that church records might contain clues to the identities of William R.'s parents. It turned out, however, that William J. Winston was what is known as a "local minister" and did not have to answer to the Methodist Conference. Records of individual churches from this era are spotty even for those churches which were directly under Conference control.24 With assistance from Al Winston III of Hilton Read Beach, SC, author of a recent genealogy on the Winston family, we proceeded in an attempt to learn if Rev. Winston had kept any records which were in the hands of one of his descendants, but those descendants we were able to contact denied any knowledge of such records.
We looked for a possible explana-tion of the circumstances which may have introduced William R. Johns to Mary Judith Sheppard. One thing which quickly became apparent is that the origins of Peter Sheppard were every bit as mysterious as those of William R. Johns, but there were tantalizing clues. Peter had an almost symbiotic relationship of more than 40 years with a Robert Pleasants. This relationship was so close that from 1800 until their deaths, more often than not the two men were listed by name together in the personal property taxes, sometimes with Sheppard as the head and Pleasant the additional tithable, other times the reverse, and Robert Pleasants, an apparent confirmed bachelor, left all his property to Peter's son John and to John's sisters if John were to die without any issue.25 Pleasants is a name that should be immediately recognizable to many readers for its prominence in the Quaker Church in Goochland and adjoining counties. The parents of Robert, and thus his probable relation-ship to Peter Sheppard (it is thought since Peter had a brother Anderson, that Robert Pleasant was briefly married to a maternal aunt of Peter whose maiden name had been Anderson), has yet to be determined, first because the given name Robert was too commonplace in the Pleasants family as a whole, but also because Robert appears to have been of a branch which left the Quaker Church. At least that is the implication of the fact that no reference was found to his being disowned for fighting in the Revolutionary War. There can be no doubt of the service for he was pensioned for the same26, although neither his service nor pension were acknowledged in The Edward Pleasants Valentine Papers. Indeed, the only reference in that work that can be clearly attributed to this Robert was the abstract of his will mentioning Peter Sheppard's children. Peter's wife Mary Moore was also of a Quaker back-ground, but it is unclear if Peter was from a Quaker family. There are references in the few extant Quaker records for central Virginia to Sheppards, albeit not to a Peter, and both Peter and his brother Anderson not only fought in the War of 1812, but their widows both applied for pensions for the same27. The Quaker records were also searched for any indication of a Quaker ancestry for William R. Johns, but no mention was found for anyone of that surname.
It appears that William R. Johns made his acquaintance with the Sheppards as the result of his association with the Lowry family. William R. Johns was the administrator of John G. Lowry upon the latter's death in Powhatan in 1857,28 rather perplexing in that John's brother William M. living at the time. William R. Johns was the informant who reported the deaths of not only William M. Lowry,29 but also his wife Frances, who just happened to be a sister of Mary Judith (Sheppard) Johns.30 Although William M. Lowry's death was recorded in Powhatan County, he died in Amelia County.31 William M. Lowry's death certificate in Powhatan identified as a son of a William and Mary L presumably the William Lowry at Polly Crutchfield married in Goochland County in 1812,32 but since William Johns identified himself as a nephew of William Lowry's wife rather than brother-in-law, it is not clear how much trust can be placed in the certificate regarding the identities of Lowry parents. Similarly, William R. Jo identified as a "friend" instead of brother-in-law in the death certificate of Frances (Sheppard) Lowry.
But the intertwining of the lives of the Johns and Lowry families did stop there. The children of William and Frances Lowry moved from Powhatan to the Manchester area of Chesterfield County about 1880, about the same time that William R. Johns left Powhatan, eventually settling in Manchester, and William R. is buried in Maury Cemetery in a lot which was purchased by William Skelton Lowery, son of William M. and Frances. But the most intriguing parallel is perhaps the fact that both William R. Johns and William M. Lowry had daughters named Pocahontas.
While claims of descent from Pocahontas have never carried the stigma that admitting to Indian blood otherwise brought - there is too little appreciation in modern society that historically racial classification more often than not was as white or nonwhite rather than white/black, or white/red33 these two children were born prior to the period when use of Pocahontas in the general population became popular. Thus, a perceived descent from Pocahontas is strongly suggested.
We studied that possibility at some length. Because the men had married sisters, we first examined the possibil-ity that the connection was through the wives. As stated above, nothing could be learned of the origins of Peter Sheppard and no apparent link of a Sheppard to the descendants of Pocahontas could be found. Ditto for the Pleasant and Moore families. That forced us to consider the possibility that William R. Johns and William M. Lowry not only married sisters, but were also the sons of siblings, i.e., that the mother of William R. Johns was a Crutchfield if we have correctly identified the parents of William M. Lowry, or at least somehow closely related by blood. No record of a Johns to Lowry marriage was found, either in the generation of the parents of the two Williams or prior generations, but there were a number of intermarriages of Johns and Lowry families with several different Goochland families, most prominent among them being the Thurstons. Fleming was used as a given name in both the Johns and Lowry families. A connection of the Crutchfields to either the Johns family or to the descendants of Pocahontas has not yet been exhaustively researched, largely because William M. Lowry's mother had not been identified at the time the research was originally done.34
We also looked at the Raines family. An item in the Richmond Dispatch of Tuesday, 9 June 1896, noted the death of Mrs. John B. Johns and spoke of the eminent death of her infant child, then in the care of a Mrs. Rains, identified as a sister of Mr. Johns." As our research up to that point had failed to establish not only that any of William R. Johns' three daughters lived to adulthood, much less had married, this reference to a sister of John B. Johns raised hopes that we might find clues to the origins of William R. Johns by pursuing this newly discovered sister, perhaps in a Bible this sister inherited from her father. John B. and his brother William both had Bibles recording the dates of various family events. The fact that neither Bible acknowledged a Mrs. Rains, much less her relationship to John or William should have warned us that this was a false lead. We searched the personal property taxes and other records of both Chesterfield County and the city of Manchester in an attempt to establish the given names of both Mrs. Rains and her husband, but were unable to do so. The aforemen-tioned newspaper article mentioned a previous article expressing concern for the state of Mrs. Johns' health. That article was consulted as well.35 Interest-ingly, that earlier account identified the elusive Mrs. Rains as the sister of Mrs. Johns, but we were no more able to confirm that relationship than the other. It would appear this was an instance of a family friend being addressed as "Aunt" because of the social taboo against children addressing an adult by first name.
The records of the International Genealogical Index were consulted. Nothing was found with regards to William R., but there were two entries for a James F Johns purporting him to have been born in Powhatan County in 1826 or 1827.36 Our research to date had failed to find any evidence of a Johns family in Powhatan County at that time37 and William R. Johns was the only Johns in Powhatan at the time of the 1850 census, but this potential lead could not be ignored. First step was to request the Temple records for the two references to James. When they arrived, the records cited several sources which merited investigation, although the fact that both submissions were apparently from the same indi-vidual should perhaps have indicated the leads would go nowhere. The earlier record cited the records of Lee Camp Soldiers Home38, and Hollywood Cemetery,39 while the latter cited Scott's Twenty Third Virginia Infantry, part of Howard's Virginia Regimental History Series.40 The Lee Camp Soldier's Home records also referred to Hollywood Cemetery, but contained nothing either to identify the parents of James or confirm that James was born in Powhatan County. The records of Holly-wood Cemetery failed not only to identify where James was born, but also to confirm that James was buried there. As for Scott's History, it also cited Powhatan as the place of James' birth, but the ultimate source for that information is unclear, for no such information was found in the summary of service for James compiled from the records of the 23rd Regiment on which the volume is purport-edly based. Our inquiries to R. E. Howard asking for access to research files used to assemble that volume were never acknowledged.
The research regarding James was not totally fruitless. From the records of Lee Camp Home, we were able to estab-lish that James was living in Orange County when he was admitted to the home and had previously lived in Louisa County. Indeed, he enlisted in the 23rd Regiment as a resident of Louisa. From there it was easy to establish that James was a son of Mason Johns and grandson of Stephen Johns of Goochland County. The will of Mason Johns did not acknowledge a son William,41 but if he could be placed in Powhatan County ca. 1826, could not a case perhaps be made for William R. Johns as a son of Mason's brother Fleming? After all, Fleming is the only son of Steven about whose family we still know virtually nothing.
It may be coincidence, but the 1850 census of Powhatan gave the birthplace of John G. Lowry as Louisa County.42 We searched the index to deeds and wills for the surname Johns and found a number of references to a Benjamin Johns and wife Mary between 1749 and l763.43 These dates identify the said Benjamin as a contem-porary of Phillip Johns of Goochland, who had a grandson named Benjamin. There were still earlier references to a Thomas44 and John Johns,45 perhaps the same Thomas and John who appeared on a 1746 list of tithables in Southam Parish, Goochland,46 but neither that nor a blood relationship to Phillip could be proven in the records which were searched. It should be noted, however, that a thorough search of the court orders was not done in Louisa as it was done in Goochland and Powhatan (and even in Goochland and Powhatan, the years searched were limited. In Goochland the years were 1820-1850, and 1728-1735, with all instances of Johns appearing in the indices of the intervening order books noted; in Powhatan, the years searched were 1835-1860). The Louisa County personal property taxes were searched from 1815 to 1829 and the only Johns found was a Nuckolls Johns in the 1824 tax roll and only that roll, but as has already been shown, the tax rolls may not have included all persons living in the county, or at least that was true in Goochland.
The records of Louisa were also searched for Lowrys, and while substantially more references were found, the end result was the same - nothing that clarified what the relation-ship, if any, between the Johns and Lowry families was.
There is one last individual in Goochland County who could plausibly have been the father of William R. Johns, a John C. Johns in the 1830 census who was age 50-60 with two males under 5, one between 5 and 10 and two females, one between 10 and 15 and the other 20 to 30.47 The only other reference found to date in Goochland County specifically to a John C. was the 1792 personal property taxes. If both references were the same individual, then the man was probably the John Johns (no middle initial) in the 1791 taxes and precisely 50 years old in 1830. It is also prob-able that he was a son of William Combs Johns.48 Unfortunately there is substantial evidence to suggest that William Combs Johns was a free black man. First, the sole John Johns who appears in the Goochland personal property taxes in 1806-1810 was described as a mulatto. In 1811 a second John appears, the son of Stephen Johns. Beginning in 1815, Stephen's son John is called John T., and given that the 1850 census of Fluvanna County places the year of his birth as l794,49 the reason for the change would appear to be that John had become an adult and set up his own household, i.e., no longer was a tithable of his father and that fact could not distinguish him from the free black man of the same name. The free black John Johns appears in the tax lists through 1818, but was not specifically identified as black in either 1816 or 1818. He may also have been the John in the 1824 taxes, but again without being identified as black. He did not appear in the 1810 or 1820 census of Goochland, however. The composition of his household suggests either that he was recently widowed or remarried, as it is improbable that the elder female was the mother of the younger female, although it is possible. Chances are that he was recently remarried, for it has already been established that a William and Julian Johns mentioned in an 1835 court order were the sons of an Elizabeth Johns and were free blacks, and an "E. Johns" appeared in the 1840 census of Goochland.50 It cannot be certain that "E." and Elizabeth were the same individual as the latter household had one white adult male, yet two of its three black females matched the ages of the females in the 1830 census of John Johns' household, and the third was born after 1830. A further argument is that the will of William Combs Johns mentioned a daughter Nancy and Riley Scott was married to Nancy Johns in Goochland County in l799.51 In subsequent tax rolls, there was never more than one Riley Scott listed in any given year, but in several of the rolls, Scott was identified as a free black. That likelihood was a major disappoint-ment for the client who had hoped that a kinship with Scott and Scott's given name might explain the use of Riley in his own family. Confirmation of William Combs Johns as a free black could no doubt come by searching the personal property taxes of Goochland for references to Jacob Banks and John Cochran. The latter married the widow of William Combs Johns as established by a deed of gift from Sarah to her daughters, while the former not only witnessed the deed of gift,52 but gave his "consent" for the marriage of Sarah and John Cochran. For our purposes, however, there did not seem to be a need for such confirmation.
In the 1850 Census of Powhatan County, William R. Johns was enumer-ated in the household of William H. Wash. The client thought that there might be some significance to this, that either William R. Johns had trained as a wheelwright under Wash, who was himself identified as a millwright, or was related to him by either blood or marriage. William married Nancy Pollock, a sister of my great-great grandfather, so I was confident that if there was a blood or other relationship between William R. Johns and Nancy (Pollock) Wash, the relationship was sufficiently distant on Nancy's part as to be an improbable explanation of Johns' presence in the Wash house-hold. I knew substantially less of the Wash family, but my subsequent research failed to uncover any evidence of a blood or other relationship with William R. Johns beyond what was already established by the 1850 census.
So far as my client knew, William R. Johns never owned anything of consequence, so it came as quite a surprise to him to learn that William purchased a tract in Powhatan on the grounds of what is now Powhatan Correctional Facility known as "Par-sonage" on 21 April 1859 from Mary T., widow of Samuel Taylor.53 My client wanted to know not only where the property was located, but also whether there was any significance to either the timing or the purchase or choice of the specific tract. The reason for his interest in the location is fairly obvious - it was hoped that we might not only discover a cemetery on the tract, but one with marked graves that would provide dates of birth and death for several of William's children who apparently died young, and perhaps of other family members whose presence would suggest, if not prove the identi-ties of William's parents. It should also be noted that "Parsonage" was less than a half mile west of a tract sold by Joseph and William Johns to James Pleasants of Goochland in 1779 (and how was this James related to Robert Pleasants, patron of Peter Sheppard?).54 As the client had always understood that William never owned anything of consequence, how was he able to buy and buy at this particular time?
Research into the history of the tract established that it was so named because it was once owned by the Episcopal Church from 1844 to 1848,55 but that fact raised several questions.
First, to the best knowledge of the client, William R. Johns was a life-long Methodist, or more accurately the client himself was raised a Methodist,56 so we began to wonder whether the family may not have converted to Methodism. Realizing that the Episcopal Church practices infant baptism, it was hoped that we might find records which would provide dates of birth and death for various members of the William Johns family. However, we were unable to find any such records. Parish Lines of Southern Virginia does not acknowl-edge an Episcopal church anywhere near Parsonage" in the period 1840 -1850 and it seemed rather improbable that a parsonage would be located very far from a single church it was meant to serve. Could it have been intended as a central location for a minister serving multiple churches? That question remains unanswered, for neither the vestry minutes for the two parishes then in existence in Powhatan County, Genito and King William, nor diocesan records acknowledge that this property was ever owned by the Church, much less explain why it was purchased. Our speculation is that it was bought in the year following the creation of Genito Parish in anticipation that the boundary with King William Parish would be the Michaux Ferry Road (US 522) -Historiographer Vernon Davis of the Diocese of Southern Virginia informed me in a letter dated 15 November 1994 that no boundaries were specified for the parish when it was initially created - but when the final boundaries for the parish not only placed the property inconvenient to the membership of the parish, but also outside the parish itself "Parsonage" was quickly sold.
That raises a second, and larger question, if the tract was owned by the Episcopal Church for only 4 years, why did it continue to be known as "Parson-age" even after it was bought by William R. Johns? The actual answer to that question may never be known, but suffice it to say that the name probably appealed to William.
As with the tract owned by Susanna LeMay Johns and as already noted, we were interested in locating the tract with the idea of establishing if there may have been a private cemetery on the site. A title search beginning as early as 1820 and going as late as 1940 was made on the tract with the expecta-tion of finding a metes and bounds description that would locate the tract, but none was found. The search was not taken beyond 1940 because the land taxes ceased to include a description of the tract that could differentiate it from a second tract of the same size owned by the same individual at that time. A less thorough search was made of any tract which could be proven or was thought (based upon descriptions in the land taxes) to adjoin "Parsonage." We were unable to place the site of "Par-sonage" with certainty, but we are confident that the property was just east of Shiloh Baptist Church off County Road 617. The deed for William R. Johns' purchase of the property described it as "in or near Caesartown," that name believed to be a corruption of Sizer, one of the families in that neighborhood. This community is today commemorated by Caesartown Road/County Road 659 which is the southeastern approach to the Powhatan Correctional Facility. That fact would seem to refute our placement of "Parsonage" on the southwest corner of the Facility had J. E. Laprade's 1880 Map of Powhatan County not shown the original course of County Route 617 meeting Virginia Route 711/ Huguenot Trail in the immediate area of the modern Caesartown Road instead of turning abruptly south just short of Shiloh.
Why was this tract bought in 1858 instead of when William and Mary Judith married? Perhaps William Wash interceded on Johns' behalf, as his mother-in-law was Mary (Taylor) Pollock, but aside from the fact that Samuel Taylor was not a sibling of Mary Pollock, his relationship to her has not been researched, and may be less central to the timing of this purchase than the sale of a bounty land warrant for which Johns' mother-in-law had applied in February, 1856. While the file on this bounty land establishes that it was sold to a Peter Hanover of Houghton County, Michigan, on 23 February 1856, neither the amount of the sale nor whether the proceeds of the same were divided among Peter Sheppard's children was revealed in the same.57 Furthermore, the date for that sale would seem to be too early to be a plausible source for the money used by William R. Johns to buy "Parsonage", although it appears he put down only half the purchase price and carried a mortgage for the balance,58 particularly since the money would more likely have come from his mother-in-law's estate rather than his mother-in-law herself, and Mary (Moore) Sheppard appeared in the 1860 census of Goochland County.59 i.e., did not die until more than a year after William purchased 'Parsonage."
It has already been noted that "Parsonage" was within a 1/2 mile of a tract once owned by a Joseph Johns. The land was patented to Johns in 1734,60 and sold to James Pleasants of Goochland County by Joseph's sons Joseph and William in 1779.61 Both the patent and deed to Pleasants contained metes and bounds descrip-tions sufficient to plat the tract, but the patent contained a reference to a stream not found in the subsequent deed. My client, able to recognize how the terrain of a tract might effect how or what might be built on it due to his training as an architect, specu-lated where the tract was located before the original grant was ever abstracted, and a stream was precisely where the grant said it would be in his plat of the tract on a USGS quadrangle map of the area. My client was also intrigued by the possible connection between the James Pleasant who purchased this tract and Robert Pleasant who was the patron of Peter Sheppard.
Powhatan was created from Cumberland in 1776, and Cumberland was created from Goochland County in 1748, so it should come as no surprise that the patent of 1734 described the tract as being in Goochland County, and implicitly establishes the grantee as the son Joseph named in the will of Judith Johns, probated 20 May 1735 in Goochland County.62 Judith's will also named a son Robert and daughter Martha, but alluded to the existence of other children. One of those other children was presumably the father of Phillip, for the removal of Robert Johns to Albemarle County after (Albemarle was created from Goochland in 1744) being granted 92 acres there63, makes him an improbable candidate for Phillip's father. His land fell into Amherst in 1758 as shown by two subsequent grants on 14 July 1769.64 Robert also owned land in Cumberland which had bought from a Thomas Arnold and wife Mary in 1758.65 A connection between Phillip Johns of Goochland and the family of Judith seems likely because Phillip was used by the Johns family of Cumberland.66
Aside from the reasons already noted, a further reason for looking at William R. Johns as a possible member of the Cumberland Johns was the presence of a Robert T. Johns in Powhatan County in the 1860 census.67 This Robert was the son of John T. Johns (not the same John T. Johns who was the son of Stephen Johns of Goochland) of Cumberland. Unfortu-nately, the will of John T. Johns did not acknowledge a son William.68
The records of Cumberland County do, however, mention several William Johns, the earliest of which was a 1750 purchase by William Johns of land in Cumberland from Samuel Nuckolls of Louisa County.69 In light of a Nuckolls Johns found in Louisa County in the 1824 taxes, not only does it appear that that pair were apparently related by marriage and probably ancestors of Nuckolls Johns, but that the Benjamin, Thomas and John Johns mentioned in the records of Louisa were quite probably sons or grandsons of Judith Johns. The will of Richard Johns of King William County, probated 20 March 1703 named sons John, Thomas, Robert and William, as well as a Richard and Arthur,70 suggesting that Judith, whose husband has yet to be identified, may well have been a daughter-in-law of Richard.
Buckingham was another area of focus for our research for two reasons, although it might be reasonably argued that they are essentially the same reason. My client informed me that when the subject of the origins of his Johns family arises in conversations, he is frequently asked if he is related to the Johns family of Buckingham. I initially took this to be due to the lengthy practice in greater Richmond of Dr. Frank Stoddert Johns, a native of Buckingham County. I began to revise my opinion when I saw the photograph which accompanied Dr. Johns' obitu-ary.71 My client could easily be mistaken for a son or brother of the good Dr. Unfortunately, from the extant records of Buckingham County, we could not find a family with a "lost" son who could reasonably have been William R. Johns, but some of the Johns mentioned in the records of Cumberland County were identified as residents of Buckingham.72
Returning to the research done closer to home, while Mary Judith (Sheppard) Johns was a member of West End Methodist Church at the time of her death, her funeral was conducted from Oak Grove Baptist Church. In the records at the Virginia Baptist Histori-cal Society was a newspaper article on Oak Grove that identified a Mrs. Johns as one of the charter members of the church, having transferred from Bambridge Baptist in l897.73 Looking at the records of that church, we found that Mary was mentioned as one of the members transferring to Oak Grove, but there was nothing to establish when or how, i.e., whether by conversion or transferring her membership from another church, she had joined. Perhaps she joined during the tenure of a clerk who refused to turn over the church minutes when fired for neglect-ing his duties.74 However, speculating that the family had attended a Baptist church in Powhatan, the extant records of churches existing during the time the family had resided in Powhatan were checked, and the family was found to have belonged to Fine Creek Baptist,75 but true to form, its extant records provided no clues as to William's origins. Records for Baptist churches in adjoining counties were checked for references to William prior to 1850. None were found, but the search did establish that the family of John T. Johns had belonged to Beaver Creek Baptist Church in Fluvanna County.76 With the dominant position of the Baptist church in Virginia, the signifi-cance of this remains to be established.
Johns are also found in Amelia County where it will be recalled that William M. Lowry died in 1870. The earliest reference was to a John Johns in the 1740 tithables, 77 and a Robert Johns appeared in the 1742 tithables list.78 Whether these were the same John and Robert mentioned elsewhere, kinsmen of those other Johns or a totally different family has not been suitably determined, but John appears to have been the father of a Joel Johns79 who subsequently moved to Prince Edward County80 where the records refer to several Johns as residents of Cumberland.81 Furthermore, it should be recalled that until the formation of Cumberland County in 1748, Amelia and Goochland had a common border. Therefore, it is rather likely that these early Johns were related to the Goochland Johns.
The one thing which this research has established is that there is substantial, though admittedly not conclusive, evidence that most, if not all, the Johns families found in central Virginia have a common origin. As this retrospective shows, there is still a significant amount of research that can be done, although it is largely of a variety the majority of researchers would describe as tedious. It would also require a substantial invest-ment of time with no guarantee it could identify the parents and parentage of William R. Johns. It is quite reasonable for anyone to be reluctant to pursue such research so long as the purpose for the research would remain that specific (a goal of determining whether the Johns families of central Virginia share a common ancestor would more readily justify the research, particularly if the end result were to be published). The oral tradition about William R. related to my client as a child did not claim that William R. was left behind when the rest of the family moved West or that he went West with them only to return to Virginia when one or both parents died, but either would be consistent with the details of the story as related to my client, as well as explain our difficulties in identifying William's parents. The question that thus remains is where to resume the search should the decision be made to resume. It is hoped that someone who may read this will know the answer to that ques-tion, and more importantly, that it will not be too late for us to reap the benefits of that knowledge.
1. 1850 Census, Powhatan County, Virginia, page 313/627, dwell/fam. 187.
2. Stephen Johns either moved from Goochland County after 1816. the last year in which he was found in the personal property taxes, or died with so little property that there was no mention of his estate in the order books of Goochland County that could be found. The personal property taxes of 1802 show James Johns as an additional tithe of Stephen, of 1812 show John Johns as an additional tithe. and of 1815 show a Mason as an additional tithable. Other sons of Stephen appear to have been Benjamin who married Elizabeth, daughter(?) of John Salmon in 1805; and Fleming who married Elizabeth, daughter of Austin Walker in 1825. Fleming was also a surety for the marriage of Elizabeth's sister Nancy Walker to Mason Johns. which further argues for Fleming as a son of Stephen.
3. Philip left a will probated in Goochland County 15 October 1787 and recorded in Wills & Deeds Book 14, pp.483-4. naming sons Stephen and William. and daughters Jane Thurston, Mary Page, and Elizabeth.
4. William Johns does not appear in the Goochland personal property taxes after 1795 and no evidence has been found to suggest that if he had died that he was survived by issue. As for Stephen's issue:
Benjamin last appeared in the Goochland taxes in 1816 and could not be located in the 1820 census anywhere else in Virginia;
John T. Johns last appeared in the Goochland taxes in 1818, then appeared in the Albemarle taxes starting in 1824 (his whereabouts during the intervening years have yet to be established). In 1838 he purchased land in Fluvanna County from Robert Maupin on Beaverdam Creek and removed to the same; Mason Johns died in Orange County hut his will did not acknowledge a son William.
Fleming Johns likewise disappeared from the Goochland taxes after 1818, but was apparently still residing in Goochland as late as 19 March 1828 when he was appointed a surveyor of roads (see Order Book 30, p.231). By 1830 he had moved to Albemarle County and appeared in the taxes. He has not been located in any subsequent records'.
5. Goochland County Deed & Will Book 25, p.95
6. Goochland County Deed & Will Book 27, p.134
7. Goochland County Deed & Will Book 30, p.179
8. Goochland County Order Book 32, p.397
9. Goochland County Order Book 33, p.195
10. 1850 Census, Louisa County, Virginia, p.441/882
11. 1860 Census, Goochland County, Virginia, p.56/902, dwell. 430, fam. 417
12. 1850 Census, Goochland County, Virginia, pp.128-9/2567, dwell. 419, fam. 421
13. Goochland County Deed & Will Book 27, pp.619-22
14. 1830 Census, Goochland County, Virginia, p.168
15. This register is not part of the public record which is available for public use at the Virginia State Archives, and thus is available only by appointment at the office of the cemetery superintendent. It is an important resource as it contains a number of early burials that do not appear in the public "index" because no headstones mark those graves - when the index was begun, apparently no one thought to compare the register with the list of marked graves. That oversight is regrettable as it might have been possible to identify who was buried in the unmarked grave at that time by querying the survivors.
16. Chesterfield County Death Register, 1887, District 2. p.
17. Goochland County, Marriage Bonds, 1811-1850. These bonds are arranged by year, but are otherwise in no particular order.
18. 1840 Census, Fayette County, Kentucky, p. 138
19. 1850 Census, District #2, Fayette County, Kentucky, page 243/486, dwell. 709, fam. 730
20. 1850 Census, District #2, Clarke County, Kentucky, page 7/13, dwell. 92, fam. 93
21. Goochland County Marriage Register,1730-1853
22. Goochland County Marriage Bonds, 1811-1850
23. Monograph of the History of Hebron Methodist Church in the Goochland Historical Society Library
24. Telephone conversation with the Archivist of the Virginia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
25. Goochland County Deed & Will Book 33, p.
26. Revolutionary War Federal Pension file S8964
27. Index to the John K. Martin Papers, Virginia State Archives
28. Powhatan County Court Order Book 30, p.50
29. Powhatan County Deaths Register, 1870, Spencer District
30. Powhatan County Deaths Register, 1872, Spencer District
31. The records of Amelia were searched for either a death certificate that either contradicted and added to the details of the Powhatan certificate or for a Lowry will naming a son William. Neither was found. The records of Powhatan, Goochland and Louisa were also checked for a will naming a son William (M.) Lowry, with the same results. The deeds and court orders of those counties were not searched beyond what has already been noted because the given name William was so commonplace in the Lowry family.
32. Goochland County Marriage Bonds 1811 - 1850
33. How non-white was defined depended upon the "dominant" racial minority. In most parts of Virginia that would be black.
34. The Crutchfields would appear to have migrated from Spottsylvania to Goochland, given the 1789 probate of the will of a Stapleton Crutchfield in Spottsylvania noted in Virginia Wills and Administrations, 1632-1800, and the 1831 probate for a second Stapleton in Goochland noted in an appendix to The Douglas Register as edited by W. Mac Jones.
35. Richmond Dispatch, Sunday, 7 June 1896
36. I.G.I. 6002262/1621486 and 8901701/1553329
37. There were references to Johns prior to this time, as well as subsequently. The earlier references include a Joseph and William who sold a tract in Powhatan in 1779 and the marriage of a Mary Johns to William Wilson on 10 June 1796. The identities of Joseph and William and their presumed relationship to Stephen Johns is discussed later in this retrospective. The identity of Mary (Johns) Wilson has not been established, and it is almost certain a thorough reading of the court orders of Powhatan County from 1778 to 1800 would be a necessary part of any attempt to do so.
38. Applications for Admission to Robert E. Lee Camp Confederate Soldiers' Home, Reel 19.Virginia State Archives
39. Records of Hollywood Cemetery, Bureau of Cemeteries for the City of Richmond, Miscella-neous Reels 1015-1027, Virginia State Archives
40. J. L. Scott, Twenty Third Battalion of Virginia Infantry (R. F Howard, Lynchburg, 1991)
41. Orange County Will Book 12, p.446
42. 1850 Census, Powhatan County, p.316/633, dwell/fam. 229
43. Louisa County Deed Book B, pp.176-8, 239-40; Book C, pp.27-8,35, 117-80, 250-2; Book D, pp.56-9; Louisa County Will Book 1, p.13.
44. Louisa County Deed Book A, pp.282-3
45. Louisa County Deed Book A, pp.506-7
46. Goochland County Tithables, taken in Southam Parish. 1746, by Alexander Trent
47. 1830 Census, Goochland County, p.171
48. Goochland County Deeds & Wills Book 15, pp.5-6
49. 1850 Census, Fluvanna County, p.50/99, dwell 769, fam. 772
50. 1840 Census, Goochland County, p.392
51. Goochland County Marriage Bonds, 1730-1810
52. Goochland County Deeds & Wills Book 16, p.187
53. Powhatan County Deed Book 20, pp.231-2.
54. Powhatan County Deed Book 1, pp.97-8.
55. Powhatan County Deed Book 16, pp.437-8, and Book 17, pp.540-I.
56. The funeral of Mrs. John B. Johns was conducted from West End Methodist Church according to the Richmond Dispatch of Tuesday, 9 June 1896.
57. Application #16868, Military Bounty Land Act of 3 March 1855
58. Powhatan County Deed Book 20, p.231. In a deed dated 1 June 1859. William R. Johns used "Parsonage" as collateral for a loan to pay an unspecified debt of $350 to Daniel Steger. As this mortgage was dated after his purchase of "Parson-age" but recorded in the deed book before that purchase, implicitly the $350 dollars owed to Steger is established as money used to buy "Parsonage."
59. 1860 Census, Goochland County, page 83/929, dwell.
643. fam. 621
60. Patent Book 13, pp.393-4
61. Powhatan County Deed Book 1, pp.97-8
62. Goochland County Deeds and Wills Book 2, p.98
63. Patent Book 33, p.495
64. Patent Book 38, pp.571, 574
65. Cumberland County Deed Book 2, pp.368-780
66. 1810 Census, Cumberland County, p.120
67. 1860 Census, Powhatan County, dwell/ fam. 127
68. Cumberland County Will Book 12, pp.542-3
69. Cumberland County Deed Book 1, pp.236-8
70. King William County Record Book 2, pp.21-22
71. Farmville Herald, Friday, 13 August 1971, pp.1,4
72. Cumberland County Deed Book 3, pp.471-2; Book 4, pp.478-9; Book 13, pp.250-I
73. Richmond Times Dispatch, South Side Supplement, Thursday, 29 October 1936
74. Minutes of Bambridge Baptist Church, 1888-1913, p.180; 1879-1888 and 1888-1913, Virginia Baptist Historical Society, University of Richmond
75. Minutes of Fine Creek Baptist Church, Middle District, Powhatan County, 1873-1885, pp. 14,16, Virginia Baptist Historical Society, University of Richmond
76. This information was taken from an unlabeled volume found in the Fluvanna County Courthouse at Palmyra which appeared to be the minutes of an association of Baptist churches in the county.
77. Amelia County Tithables for the year 1740, precinct between Flatt and Deep Creeks
78. Amelia County Tithables for the year 1742, precinct below Flatt and Nibbs Creeks
79. Amelia County Will Book 2X, pp.101-3. The will of Thomas Tanner, dated 26 March 1763, referred to John Johns as a son-in-law, and acknowledged a son Joel. The dispersal of John Johns estate recorded in Will Book 2, pp.161-2 in April, 1775, mentioned a Joel Johns, although this dispersal made no reference to Joel as a son or heir, yet he was one of the plaintiff in a chancery suit brought against the administrator of John's estate on 22 October 1778 and recorded in Order Book 14 (1776-1 780), p.237.
80. Prince Edward County Deed Book 11, p. 249, 250
81. Prince Edward County Deed Book 11, pp. 105,108
Michael Pollock has been a full-time professional genealogist since June, 1974, when he joined the staff of the Daughters of the American Revolution while working on his Masters degree at Georgetown University (he also holds a Bachelor degree from the Col-lege of William & Mary). He Co-founded Lineage Search Associates with Steve Boone and the late Martha Henley in August 1977, and left the DAR in September, 1977.
He can be contacted by conventional mail at Lineage
Search Associates, 7315 Colts Neck Road, Mechanicsville, VA 23111-4233
or electronic mail at (email@example.com).
Subj: Re: Your Home Page Date: 98-04-29 20:01:02 EDT
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Michael Elwood Pollock)
To: JPayne5744@aol.com (JPayne5744), email@example.com (Ben Johns)
Before I was able to respond to this message, I received a call from Ben stating that he had visited your homepage and was as impressed with it as I was.
As you may already know, your site raises some interesting dilemnas for Ben and myself that Ben would like me to explore further. First is the fact that you indicate Monacan ancestry in your Johns branch. Ben's family did not live that far from Manakintown, and Manakin is but a spelling variaton of Monacan. That, plus the use of Pocahontas in his family strongly suggests the family believed it had Indian ancestry even though we have yet to find any outright claim of the same--William R. Johns' daughter Pocahontas died as a child and none of her siblings or their families have ever used the name that we can discover, so the possibility of Indian ancestry came as a complete surprise to Ben and the same appears to be true of the descendants of William R. Johns' brother-in-law William Lowry whom we have been able to locate.
Ben and I both believe that the relationship between William R. Johns and William Lowry was too close for the sole explanation to have been that their wives were sisters. Why, for example would William R. Johns be chosen as the administrator of the estate of William Lowry's brother John G. Lowry when William Lowry was not only living at the time, but also living in the same county! Given the fact that we have found no instances of the use of Pocahontas in the families of any of the other siblings of those two sisters, nor have we been able to connect the family in any way to a known descendant of Pocahontas, the use of Pocahontas by both William R. Johns and William Lowry, as well as Johns' administration of the estate of John G. Lowry would make sense if the two men had been related not only by marriage, but also blood.
With that in mind we searched for any record of a Johns male marrying a Lowry woman or a Lowry male marrying a Johns woman but were unable to find such a record (the closest we could come was the marriage of both a John and a Lowry to a Thruston, but the marriage was 2 generations removed from William R. Johns and not only have we been unable to tie William R. Johns to that Johns, we have been unable to tie William and John G. Lowry to that Lowry, though our research on them as not been as thorough as that on the Johns family. I did not note any Lowry in what was an admittedly quick scan of your material, but you may have encountered the name in your Johns research without the manner of the encounter suggesting a connection to your Johns family.
We were also interested in the fact that a Shepherd appears in your Johns family. The maiden name of the wives of William R. Johns and William Lowry was Sheppard, and they were daughters of a Peter Sheppard and his wife Polly Moore. Peter Sheppard presents every bit as big as mystery as William R. Johns. From the time he was approximately 16 years old he resided in the household of one Robert Pleasant, as tax records for Robert showed an unnamed teen age boy living with him for exactly 5 years before Peter appeared with Robert in the taxes. For approximately 40 years they always appeared together, something with Peter identified as the head of household, but in the majority of instances with Robert so identified. If Pleasant ever married, I have been unable to find any record of the same, and he had no issue to the point that he left his entire estate to Peter's children, perhaps because Peter died before Robert did. It seems improbable that Robert would have taken in Peter as a teen (if not at an earlier age) if Peter had not been somehow related to him, with the most likely relationship being that Peter was a nephew of his as Robert was a Revolutionary War soldier, something proven by the federal pension he received for the same, and that establishes that he was clearly old enough to have been Peter's father. I have conducted a fairly thorough search of the records of Goochland but have been unable to tie Robert to any of the Pleasants families living in Goochland or Peter to any of the Shepherd/Sheppard families in the same locality (though I did find one piece of evidence which suggests Robert may have had connections in Fluvanna) nor anything to suggest the nature of their connection. I did find some evidence that Peter had a brother named Anderson as Anderson's wife was a sister of Peter's wife, and if my memory has not failed me, Anderson was the surety for Peter's marriage while Robert Pleasants was surety for Anderson's. That suggests to me that Anderson was the maiden name of Peter's mother but my efforts to confirm that have been unsuccessful.
Accordingly, though I realize it is a sketch and have told Ben the same, we both feel that the possiblity that there was a connection between your Shepherd family and Ben's Sheppard family is the best lead we presently have, and thus we have nothing to lose by asking if you may have any information of the Shepherds mentioned in your Johns chart beyond what is actually displayed on the chart which you would be willing to share with us.
I did not note any indication of whether you used any genealogical software program which is capable of publishing charts in HTML. I use Ultimately Family Tree (I was among the beta-testers on the same and that fact is acnkowledged in the user's manual) and also own a copy of Family Origins 4.0 from Parson's Technology which also is HTML-capable. I believe that Family TreeMaker which Ben uses is also HTML capable. If you would be interested in a GEDCOM copy of Ben's files, Ben said he would be happy to send you a copy. Ben did not make the offer to you directly primarily because while he has taken an active role and interest in the research, the degree of the same has frequently been influenced by "downtime", both in terms how much of the same he has after dealing with his architectural firm and a dog training venture in which he is a major party, and whether some health problems he has had would allow him to keep active with his genealogy even when doctor's orders restricted his involvment with his business ventures.
On a related matter, Ben also asked me that I inquire whether you are aware of any sites devoted to the Shepherd/Sheppard family or to the Lowry family. While I am perhaps a more experienced websurfer, at least when it comes to genealogy, than Ben, he is aware that with the volume of material available and the limitations of many search engines (though yet another concern is that so much material is posted to the web with no attempt or appreciation of the need to document the sources for the same), one is more likely to find a site of interest through chance or having one recommended to one than through use of search engines.
I have already noted that Lowry is a collateral line of considerable interest to Ben, with Pleasant in the same cateogry relative to Sheppard (but with a bit lower a priority given the potential scope of the Johns research). Other ancestral lines I have researched for Ben include Moore and Ladd. It also occurs to me to ask if you have ever encountered a Temple Parrish in your research. Parrish' wife was Diana Johns, and they moved from Goochland to Kentucky by way of Tennessee during the 1830s. Because this move was between census, and I have been able to find no records in the county in Kentucky where the family initially settled that identifies where in Tennessee they had resided. My research establishes that Diana's father died too early for William R. Johns to have been her brother unless he was illegitimate, but the fact of the matter is that her family was the only Johns family I can document as being in Goochland at the time of William's birth, and the 1830 census shows a male child of William's approximate age in the Johns household. The fact that William R. Johns' origins are so shadowy leaves enough questions in my mind and Ben's about the accuracy of the birthdate and place we have for William to merit investigating who Diana's brothers were.
On that note. I will close. Michael
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