Thursday, October 27, 2011

Free Family Documents

Just visited this site,, where early LDS church documents have been found in Civil War pension papers and elsewhere, all deemed extremely valuable.

Our Free family documents include a deed signed by Brigham Young as well as invaluable materials concerning other family members. All will be available to all family members and all LDS researchers once this book is completed.

We have a few family letters, many items from County Courthouses all across the country as well as bits and pieces from others' histories. We have six boxes full of Free historical materials in the closet behind me as well as several boxes of the same filed away in the garage. Of course, everything in the history will be written from documents with the most primary documents given the most credence.

It is important that readers understand the relative value of documents, so when they read the history they can know which information bits are most true. Anything that is labelled a family tradition or begins with "Grandma [or anybody else] said this about so and so" should be taken with a grain of salt. Yet people tend to believe and stick with what someone said someone else said a hundred years ago. Those things are the least believable.

Recently I had a most interesting conversation with a scientist who insisted the information in a 60-year-old letter that began by saying some great ancestor had said thus and so about an event that took place more than 150 years earlier and had not been written down until the 1940s was more true than documents written at the time of the event by people not only living at that time but by people invested in the event.

As a scientist he should know better. In fact, I was sure he would know better. But he stuck to the family legend like glue because his grandfather said it was so, even though he was recording an event that took place 150 years earlier.

He would never [I hope] use the same measurement for his scientific experiments. Can you imagine him saying after viewing an experiment himself, "No, that study done 150 years ago with its primitive processes and equipment is the one I will base this medical experiment on, not the one I just witnessed with the latest tools and equipment and measurements. Why? Because my grandfather said my many-times great-grandfather said it was so." Would you submit to a medical procedure based on centuries old data?

Of course not. Well, neither should you base your pedigree on stories handed down over decades because stories [even though they make delightful and meaningful histories] change every time they are told. So in our Free history, look for the documents behind the stories as well as the documentation of the stories.

An example of the kind of thing you may find: My siblings and I were raised on the wonderful "Glass of Milk" story that involved a national post office workers convention including Senator Smoot from Utah. We never doubted the story. Even so, when I had the chance, I interviewed Dad's friend who Dad accompanied to the Chicago convention. Plus I have a photocopy of the program giving date and place and Senator Smoot's name.

The story has directed our lives: it is the key to many choices in our lives. But the program and interview assure us the event actually happened and give us dates and places. Believe, enjoy, be inspired by the story. But know you can believe, enjoy and be inspired because of the documentation.

That combination of story and primary documentation underlies everything in the Free history as far as possible. Some stories are pinned by less than primary documentation. Of those stories, you the reader must make judgements. And you can only make wise judgements if you understand that family legends are family legends, very unbelievable, and where other documents fall on the primary/secondary scale. Do a search for the word "primary" on this blog for more information.

Friday, October 21, 2011

William Sherrill the Fur Trader's origins HYPOTHESIS

William Sherrill the Fur Trader’s origins HYPOTHESIS 20 Oct 2011

Copyright LaRae Free Kerr.

Responses welcomed, needed, desired. Do not cut and paste this information without acknowledging that it is a hypothesis. And please give full credit where it is due. For more information go to and do a search for William Sherrill.

Step One: Any birth record for William Sherrill, Fur Trader, MUST meet certain requirements.

1702, Mar 10. He bought 150 acres of Price’s Forest on the Elk River in Cecil Co MD. He would almost certainly be 21 or older in order to do that. So his birth had to have occurred by 1780 or earlier.

1696, Dec 11. His son Adam was born in Cecil Co MD. Since he would almost certainly be 21 or older when this child was born, his birth year would be 1675 or earlier.

1693. But since he had older children whose oldest year of birth has been estimated at 1693, he would almost certainly have been born by 1671. And that is only if he were at least 21 when the above events occurred. The truth is that in the early Americas at that time, most men were considerably older when they married, had children and bought land. It just took time to earn the wherewithal to do those things. [See Albion’s Seed.]

So any birth that could be attributed to William Sherrill the Fur Trader would have to occurr by or before [and maybe long before] 1671.

Where was he born? The tax lists of Lancaster County clearly label him an Englishman.

What was the spelling of his name? The surname Sherrill is spelled so many ways – even in the same document – that a phonetic reading is essential. I believe I have a list of some of the variations I have seen myself on the blogspot referenced above.

Conclusion of Hypothesis One: William Sherrill the fur trader was born near or before 1671 in England [or of English parents in one of England’s colonies, though this is most unlikely due to the early time frame.]

Step Two: When did William Sherrill arrive in the Americas? If the information on his family is anywhere near correct, he would have arrived before 1693, at least as early as 1692 if his daughter Mary’s birth year of 1693 is approximately correct. If the conclusions of Step One are reasonably correct, he would have come to the Americas as a boy or young man, say between 1680 and 1692. Is this possible? Unfortunately it is. Some children were sent to the Americas as indentured servants and were actually called white slaves by some. English prisons were emptied by exportation. Further, especially in Devonshire, salesmen sold people on the wonders and opportunities in the Americas in an effort to get people to pay ship’s passage to travel. The salesmen then received a percentage of the fare.

Conclusion: William Sherrill the Fur Trader probably came to the Americas between 1680 and 1692. He probably came alone since we never find him with other Sherrills of the same age or old enough to be parents. Therefore, he probably did NOT pay his own way but came at the expense of someone else: a trafficker in indentured servants or at the crown’s expense.

Step Three: Are there extant immigration records for one or more William Sherrills of the approximate age and place of birth? There are, and I don’t have time to look up my list right now, so feel free to send your lists. But there is this record:

1686, Mar 1. William Sherwill of Modbury (ENG), weaver, was set down in MD.

Does this entry fit the requirements for William Sherrill? Yes, he arrived between 1680 and 1692 and was from England. Note that there may be other immigration records that fit these requirements. I don’t remember any off the top of my head and have an appointment in just a few minutes, so…

Further is there another William Sherrill in the Chesapeake area at this time that could be the William Sherrill who emigrated in 1686? NO. Haven’t found one. Have you?

Conclusion: The 1686 immigration record meets the requirements to be William Sherrill. [There may be other entries that also meet these requirements. Let me know.]

Step Four: Is there an “honorable” excuse for our William Sherrill the Fur Trader to be a prisoner? Is there any evidence our William Sherrill was a weaver? Or that he came from Devonshire?

In 1685 there was a civil war in England. Some of the folks on the wrong side were imprisoned and/or deported apparently. [The People’s Chronology and the history of Modbury] There will be more about this in the book I’m writing. Was William Sherrill a political prisoner? Or had he broken some law? Logic from 2011 would say that judging from the people deported with him, he had broken a law. But our times are definitely NOT those times. Nevertheless, he probably had committed some crime. I’ve attempted to find his record in England, but it is not available to me via Internet, or FHL.

Is there any evidence William Sherrill the Fur Trader knew the art of weaving? I haven’t found such a record so far, but if the William Sherrill who emigrated in 1686 was a prisoner, he would have served some kind of term in a prison or most likely as an indentured servant. His weaving skills could have been in high demand. I have not found anything indicating he came from Devonshire, let alone Modbury.

Could William Sherrill be from both Modbury and Ermington? Absolutely. One is a sub-political entity of the other.

Conclusion: No documents yet found connect the 1686 emigrant with weaving, prison or Modbury. And frankly, I don’t expect to find any. Many activities from that era were not recorded, or were lost or destroyed if they were recorded. I feel we are very lucky to have as many extant records for William Sherrill as we have. But will everyone keep looking?

Step Five: What are the requirements for the birth of William Sherrill who emigrated in 1686? First, he was probably more than a child since he had had time to be trained as a weaver. So he may have been as young as 15 but was probably older. Therefore he was born by or before 1671. He could also have been a much older man. Second, he was almost certainly born in England.

Conclusion: The William Sherrill of Modbury, weaver, was probably born by or before 1671 in England.


Step Six: Could the William Sherrill christened 17 Nov 1666 in Ermington be the man sent to America in 1686 from Modbury? Yes. He’s the right age: born before 1671 in England. In fact, his christening is registered in a church in Ermington. English registration districts are not like the straight-forward city, county, state districts here. Christenings are registered in churches then recorded in sub-districts, etc.

But more importantly, did the William Sherrill christened in 1666 either marry or die in or near Modbury/Ermington? There is one marriage at about the right time, but it occurred AFTER William Sherrill’s deportation. I considered it for a while, but it would have required William Sherrill to have returned to England just a few years after he arrived in the Americas. He may not have had the wherewithal to return then to pay two more passages back, plus a child. Let’s look closely at this. Of course, the real question is: were there two William Sherrill christenings in the right place at the right time? One for the mentioned marriage and one who disappears in the local Modbury records? The answer to that question seems to be yes there were two.

Conclusion: Yes, William Sherrill the prisoner could be William Sherrill christened 1666 in Ermington. No question about that. But is he?

Step Seven: Can all this information be put together to make a coherent whole? Look at the timeline. Suppositions are in blue.

AGE Place Event

1666 Ermington, Devon, Eng probably birth year and christening

1673-1683 Devon, Eng WS apprenticed as a weaver

1686 Maryland immigration as prisoner, weaver, of Modbury

1687-1694 Maryland/PA/DE WS works off his immigration fee as well as his prison sentence

which would almost certainly be seven years or more

1692 Cecil County Maryland WS marries and starts his family

1702 Lancaster Co PA buys 150 acres [both the small size of this purchase and the

Medium tax he pays for the next few years indicate he is not a

Wealthy man which is consistent with his origins]

Conclusion: The William Sherrill christened 1666 in Ermington, the William Sherrill exported in 1686, and the William Sherrill buying land in 1702 in Pennsylvania can indeed be the same person. This is more evidence than most pedigrees have.

Nevertheless, the genealogical rule is: If you can’t prove it is true then you must prove it isn’t. So I invite you to dig out your documents, do some additional research – you almost certainly have access to records I don’t – and prove the above hypothesis wrong.

Note that in each case there is only one William Sherrill in each area at that time, doing that particular thing. Nevertheless, please get busy and disprove this. Thanks, LFK

Monday, October 10, 2011

October already

For your information I am dealing with Addison's Disease - 35-years worth - and the side effects of hydrocortisone which seem to be taking most of any time and energy I have right now.
In addition on 4 Oct my email went capute. Am still trying to get it fixed. So please be patient. Things happen with the Free Family History as they happen. Prayers and help are welcome. I'd like to get this history written before I die, but I also want it to be as accurate as it can be in 2011. Thanks, LFK

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Leroy and Benjamin Perkins, sons of Joshua Perkins

Can anyone provide more information about Leroy, Benjamin and William Sherrill Perkins, sons of Joshua and Mary Sherrill Perkins? [For much more background, please go to]

Now, who are the Absalom and John Perkins who worked on the Rutherford County, TN road with Leroy in 1806? And did Jesse die as a young man, or did he grow up and marry? And who is the Thomas Perkins who “was not found” in Rutherford Co TN by 1805? HELP please.

Corrections to Leroy Perkins [b abt 1780] and Benjamin Perkins [b abt 1771], sons of Joshua and Mary Sherrill Perkins of Rutherford Co TN.

Every once in a while as we do genealogical research, especially now that more records are available via Internet – we find a document that changes previous conclusions. Such documents are welcomed enthusiastically and changes in pedigrees sometimes result.

Such is the case with the Joshua [1728-1814] and Mary Sherrill [1744-1803] Perkins family of Burke Co NC and Rutherford Co TN. In the 1980s, the best records I could find led me to include Elizabeth Owens as the wife of Benjamin Perkins, the son of Joshua and Mary Sherrill Perkins. New information in the form of a family letter whose holder wishes to remain anonymous compels me to make the following changes:

Benjamin Perkins [b abt 1780] is still the son of Joshua and Mary Sherrill Perkins, but Elizabeth Owens is NOT his wife. Remember I am the author of the Benjamin Perkins/Elizabeth Owens connection and have both a desire and an obligation to announce the corrections based on the new data. In fact, making such changes is one of the exciting things about genealogy research – or any research.

According to this family letter, the transcription of which I’ve seen in its entirety, Elizabeth Owens is the wife of Leroy Perkins.

This necessitates adding Leroy to the family as a son and moving Elizabeth Owens from Benjamin Perkins’ family group record to Leroy Perkins’ family group record.

Three children are known so far for this family, but there should be several more. The three probable children are: Mary b 17 Feb 1802; John Perkins b 15 Jul 1806; Jesse Perkins b 1808.

These changes raise the possibility that Absolom and John P Perkins of Rutherford Co, TN are also children of Joshua and Mary Sherrill Perkins. Does anyone have information on them?

Also, there is a Thomas Perkins in the same place at the same time. Who is he?

Please go to and look at the Leroy Perkins blog on 30 Aug 2011 for much more information. Thank you. LFK, M ED

Any and all information on these people is welcome.

I can hardly wait for the next document that changes everything as this one did.

Thank you, LaRae Free Kerr, M ED

Build Pedigrees with Primary Records

Some family facts are truer than others: Primary vs Secondary Records

Copyright Sep 2011 LaRae Free Kerr M ED

Which records’ information should I add to my ancestor chart? The most Primary, of course.

Not all information on all documents is true. In fact, some documents with our ancestors’ names on them may lead us far afield or prevent us from finding our true origins. False or misleading information or guesses by earlier generations can bring our research to sudden and total dead ends.

So how can a researcher determine whether the information in a document has any truth to it? One way is to measure the document against the Primary/Secondary Continuum [copyright LFK. More information about this and other continuums can be found in Find Your Actual, Factual Ancestors: A Genealogy Journey in Eight Steps by LFK, soon to be available via ebook and other forms.]

Here is a schematic of the Primary/Secondary Continuum:

Most Primary..............................................................................Most Secondary


Primary records are those created nearest the time of the event by those most involved in the event. For example, the most primary record for a birth would be created if the moment the baby was born, the mother grabbed her diary and wrote something like this, “Five minutes ago, I gave birth to my new baby daughter, Ann Smith, born the 2nd day of January, 1887 at the Wheeler homestead outside Pioche, Nevada in Lincoln County. Her father, Bill Smith, and I, Mary Smith, are delighted to have her.”

Obviously the above diary entry does not represent real people. But if it did, and we called that diary entry record A, it would go to the far left of the Primary/Secondary continuum. It is, as they say, a record we could take to the bank.

Even an official birth certificate, if such things were available in 1887, would be slightly less primary than the diary entry. Why? Because though the midwife who delivered the baby wrote the birth in her notebook which was eventually turned in to the County Records Office, and though she was an integral participant, she didn’t enter the birth until three days after Ann was born, and then she wasn’t quite sure the baby had been named Ann because she had had a couple of rough births to attend after the Smith baby came into the world. Even so, her entry in her midwife diary would still be considered primary because the midwife was present at the birth and wrote it down only three days later. So if we assigned the midwife’s record the letter B, it would go slightly to the right of the mother’s diary.

Now let’s say we look at the 1900 census for this Ann Smith, since it is the first available census after Ann’s birth. Censuses, though the single most useful record type, are secondary because the information is taken by sheriffs and deputies at first, then by other employees, people who may not know the family at all. All the recorded events occurred some distant time from when they were written down. And the person or persons giving the information may not have known the details about family members. Sometimes the information was given by a younger child or even the neighbor. Sometimes the family did not want certain details about their family known by others, so misleading information was deliberately provided. Sometimes the census taker was just plain tired of writing and going from house to house and being yelled at, so he abbreviated names, or he rounded birth years off to every 5 years, or his handwriting became fatigued and sloppy.

Nevertheless, censuses are crucial to American genealogists because they do provide a time and place where other records can be found. Plus they show relationships among people. So if the 1900 census for this fictional Ann Smith were named Record C, it would go somewhere near the middle of the Primary/Secondary Continuum.

Eventually the the fictional researcher for Ann Smith visited Ann Smith’s only living child who said, “No, Grandma Annie was not born in 1887. She was born the year of that big snow storm. I know that’s true. I heard it all my life.” This oral interview was labeled Record D. So the researcher studied the local history and discovered the big snow was in 1889. Because this “fact” was provided by a child of Ann Smith, who could not have been present at Ann’s birth, some 80 years previous to the interview, the researcher knows it is a family legend. Family legends actually fall off the right side of the Primary/Secondary Continuum, but we’ll put Record D over there as for as it can go, because family legends often have some thread of truth in them.

After more research, the genealogist discovered there was a bit of truth to the granddaughter’s statement. A child of Mary Smith’s was born during the big snow, but it was Ann’s younger brother Clyde who was born in 1889.

So if you did have access to these four records, which would you use to build your pedigree? You would use the most primary record you could get your hands on, the one created closest to the time of the event by a person most involved in the event. The further away you got from the time of the event, the less you would believe the record. And the further you got from a participant, especially if it were only heresay, the less you would believe the information.

The genealogical principle is: Use primary records to build your pedigree if you want it to be accurate. When you run out of primary records, use the most primary of the records you have while eschewing secondary records, especially those that fall into “family legend,” the ones that wobble right off the far right of the chart.

Another caution: It is possible, even usual, to have both primary and secondary information in the same document. For example, a regular death certificate is primary for the date and place of a death, but it is actually a little less primary for the name of the person who died because that name came from a living descendant who may or may not have known the full name in its correct order. The names and birth places of the deceased's parents are totally secondary because that information was provided much later [usually] than when those events occurred by people who were not present.

Once this concept is understood, it becomes automatic and easy.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Leroy Perkins parentage

Leroy Perkins is the child of Joshua and Mary Sherrill Perkins?

Copyright Aug 2011 by LaRae Free Kerr, M ED. Not to be duplicated or published.

A few days ago, I wrote this about Leroy Perkins b about 1780:

Previous Hypothesis: Leroy Perkins b abt 1780. There are two connections leading some researchers to attach this Leroy to this Joshua and Mary Perkins. 1. He shared a spring with Absalom Pennington in Rutherford Co TN, and 2. His daughter married William Pennington, a supposed cousin of Absalom. Further, as noted above, he lived near the Joshua Perkins family. I really doubt he was the son of Joshua and Mary Perkins as there were many Perkins cousins in the area. Can anyone help with this?

Sources: When I asked for this help, Jill and I had exhausted the sources in Rutherford County for the right time period for Leroy and other Perkins. Rutherford County, TN at the turn of the 19th century was the wild frontier with few records, though the State Historical Society holds a great Perkins collection. However, it concentrates on a Nicholas Perkins rather than our line. In other words, there were fewer records in Rutherford County we could access than there had been earlier in North Carolina. And there were few enough of those. So almost certainly, any clarification of the children of Joshua and Mary Sherrill Perkins would have to come from researchers and their family documents such as Bibles, letters, journals, etc.

More Background: Please go to and look at the 1 Aug 2011 blog to see the sources of the family chart. It is entitled ”True Children of Mary Sherrill and Joshua Perkins.” For more background see “Who Is Absalom Pennington’s Father?” 22 Aug 2011 and “Penningtons of St Clair Co IL” of the same date.

So who are the children of Mary Sherrill and Joshua Perkins? And is Leroy Perkins one of them?

In the 1790 census of Morgan District, 2nd Company, Burke Co NC, we find a Joshua Perkins born before 1774 with a wife born before 1774 and 5 sons and 1 daughter. Since both of the oldest daughters, Margery and Sarah, perhaps Jesse, and certainly Joshua who was in St Clair Co, IL, were already married and enumerated in their own households, this meant there was a maximum of 9 children living in 1790. [The Joshua Perkins entries in Buncombe Co are claimed by Joshua Perkins and Mary Black descendants. These men are probably cousins, ours born 1728 the son of Elisha Perkins and Margery Sherrill; the other born 1732 the son of Esther Perkins. Esther’s son was a Melungeon, and the records of the two families have recently been pretty much sorted out. [See Waak, Patricia Ann. My Bones Are Red: A spiritual Journey with a Triracial People in the Americas. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press. 2005. Do remember that Mary Utie married Anthony Drew NOT Richard Perkins.]

I had understood Jesse b abt 1764 died as a child or youth, but W. E. White in “"History of Alexander Co NC" in The Landmark 22 Mar 1926 says: "He(JP) had three sons: Jesse, William and Benjamin, and one daughter - perhaps more - but this daughter, Sarah.... " which certainly implies Jesse grew to adulthood. He is NOT the Jesse Perkins enumerated in the 1800 census of Burke Co, NC. That Jesse was born before 1755, but there are plenty of other Jesse Perkins around, including one in Rutherford Co TN. But in 1790, Jesse would probably have been either dead or in his own household, no longer in the Joshua Perkins household. Does anyone know more about this Jesse Perkins?

In the 1790 census there is a Joshua Perkins in Morgan Dist 2nd company, Burke Co, NC. At that time there were 3 males 16+ including head of household, 3 males16- and 2 females. So the family could look like this:

1790 census Family Member 1810 census Rutherford Co TN

Head of household b bef 1774 Joshua Sr b 1728 b by 1755

1 female Mary Perkins b 1744 b by 1755

1 male b bef 1774 William b 1769

2 male b bef 1774 Benjamin b 1771-1774

3 male b aft 1774 Leroy b abt 1780

4 male b aft 1774 John b abt 1783 b 1785-1794

5 male b aft 1774 Absolom b aft 1774

6 female Jane b 1767 md 1792?

1800 census. Though there are several Joshua Perkins in the 1800 census, none fit this family. This is not too surprising. Censuses get lost; pages from censuses get torn off; people do not get enumerated, etc. The Buncombe JPs are the Joshua Perkins/Mary Black family; the Joshua Perkins in Chowan Co NC was born between 1756 and 1774, too late to be this Joshua Perkins. But the 1810 entry is the same family. See blue additions to the chart above. Note some divergence here between this document and the earlier blog.

Well, I’ll be. This may be more secondary evidence that Leroy, John and Absolom are indeed Joshua’s sons. Of course, in 1790, Joshua was 62 years old. But Mary was only 46 so could well have mothered these children. It also solves one of my main botherations: that Leroy and John were born so much later than the other children. Margery and Sarah were married and in their own households. Jesse was either dead or if he did grow up and have a family, he was probably married and on his own as well. Joshua was in Illinois. Of course, these younger boys could conceivably be grandchildren. But who would be their parents? Someone born by 1754. So no, they are too old to be grandchildren.

Children of Mary Sherrill and Joshua Perkins, then, include Margery and Sarah; three named by both White and Kitchens: William, Benjamin and Sarah; Jesse mentioned only by White; Jane mentioned only by Kitchens. But this list of children only accounts for three of the 6 children in the 1790 census [because Margery, Sarah, Jesse, and Joshua are in their own households or dead]. So who are the other children?

Joshua Perkins seems to belong in this family. Joshua Perkins b abt 1765, died 6 Oct 1839 md Rebecca Sherrill. At about age 55, he moved into St Clair Co IL as one of its first settlers. Margery Perkins who married Absalom Pennington and who followed Joshua Perkins into St Clair Co in 1818 at age 60 is almost certainly his sister. Please note that Jennie Nobles in her 6 Jul 1968 and other letters also maintains the Joshua Perkins who married Rebecca Sherrill was the son of Joshua and Mary Sherrill Perkins. Can anyone add to this?

So who are the younger sons?
According to Jill’s Perkins research, John P Perkins [could his name possibly be John Page Perkins?] is first into Rutherford Co TN. If he was born about 1783, he would be 20 when he went into TN and
was the first to buy a lot in what would become Jefferson City.
Only 3 years after John P Perkins arrived, three Perkins were assigned to
work on the road from Gibson Burtons to the Spring in Stewarts creek on Colo
Weakley's plantation: John, Leroy and Absolom.

So the very earliest Perkins in Rutherford Co TN were John P Perkins, John,
Leroy, Absalom and Thomas H Perkins. Were any of these men sons of Mary Sherrill and Joshua Perkins?

[Some folks have assigned Reuben Perkins to this family, but I suspect he is the son of Robert Biggen Perkins. Reuben does not appear in Rutherford Co TN early.

Who is Absolom Perkins? Wanda Clark believes Absolom and John are Joshua Perkins’ children. I have two in my database. Do they fit? I’ll have to work on it. Looks like I’ll have to analyze each Perkins in Rutherford Co 1800-1820. But not today.]

Thomas is NOT their son, but could John, Absalom or Leroy be sons of this Thomas?

That same year there is a Thomas H Perkins who had 1290 acres of land and
could not be found to pay 1805 taxes. This implies to me that Thomas H
Perkins is a mature adult and therefore NOT a child of Joshua. It also implies that he had come and gone by 1805. I have four Thomas Perkins in my database born early enough to be this Thomas but not enough information about any of them to identify them. Is this Thomas the father of John, Leroy and/or Absolom? HELP Does anyone know more about him?

From then on, in the Rutherford Co records, Absalom and especially Leroy
Perkins show up from time to time. But there is never a Reuben Perkins.
If we are willing to accept John Perkins and Leroy Perkins as Joshua Perkins’
children simply because they live near him and appear in some records
together, it seems we should use the same criteria for the third son who
would be Absalom. But still, is it possible for John, Leroy and/or Absalom to be Joshua Perkins’ sons?

Actually, it is possible: “…probably 1810, Nathaniel Hill, Joshua Perkins, Reuben Stubblefield, James and Reuben Lively and Richard Beasley, Senior, located in the same neighborhood “[Athens Precinct, St Clair County, Illinois] History of St Clair County, Illinois. Philadelphia: Brink, McDonough & Co. 1881. Reproduction by Unigraphic, Inc. Evansville, IN 1975. P 261.

As shown by the quote above, several of Joshua and Mary Sherrill Perkins’ children, including Joshua Jr, had left the home by the time the 1790 census was taken including:

Margery who was enumerated with her husband Absalom Pennington in Morgan, Burke, NC next door to her sister

Sarah who was enumerated with her husband Jonas White

Mary [Polly is the standard nickname for Mary] who died in infanthood. Does anyone have a source for Polly?

Jesse Perkins who may have died as a youth but may have lived and been married by 1790 [see below]

Joshua Perkins who was probably in St Clair County, IL by 1810. [There is no 1810 IL census, too early; but Joshua appears in the 1820 census next door to his sister and her husband, Absalom Pennington.]

As you will see, the 1790 Joshua Perkins census includes 6 additional children. Who are they?

Leroy Perkins

Leroy is connected to the Joshua Perkins family in several ways:

1. He shares a spring with Absalom Pennington and Andrew Free on Stone River in TN.

2. His daughter Mary marries William Pennington, postulated to be a relative of Absalom Pennington.

3. He has three great nephews named Leroy Free: sons of Andrew Free, William H Free and Joseph A Free. In this family, naming patterns are extremely important, and there is no other Leroy in the earlier families.

4. 1810 census of Nashville, Rutherford, TN shows only one Leroy Perkins who was born 1766-1784 in a household of 8. Leroy was born about 1780.

New Hypothesis about Leroy Perkins

In correspondence in the 1960s and 1980s, Jennie Nobles said she descended from a son of the Joshua Perkins who married Mary Sherrill and that son’s wife whose name was Elizabeth Owens. She could not remember the son’s name. I therefore hypothesized Elizabeth Owens married either Benjamin or William Perkins since Leroy was as yet unknown to me.

At first it seemed that Benjamin fit the bill, but then records showed William Sherrill Perkins’ wife’s name was probably Elizabeth. But no evidence was conclusive. At that point, proving which of Joshua Perkins’ sons married Elizabeth Owens seemed an unsolvable mystery. I am not the one who posted Benjamin Perkins as the husband of Elizabeth Owens on the web, however. But I am the first to put Elizabeth Owens as the wife of Benjamin Perkins on the family group record. And because of that, I am setting the record straight now that I have this new information.

Enter a very important family letter:

A kind researcher sent me a copy of an ancestral letter indicating Leroy Perkins married Elizabeth Owens, but he wishes both the quote and himself to remain anonymous. Still, I thank him so much for sharing his information and recognize his right for his document to be treated as he wishes. However, this is the telling information from the letter: "Leroy's wife was Lizzie Owens...They were the parents of Jesse Perkins" who married Moriah Williams who "came from Rutherford County, Tennessee." [I have the full text of the letter but have agreed to keep the source confidential, so please do not ask for it.]

So here in this letter from a father to his descendants, is the clear statement that it was Leroy Perkins who married Elizabeth Owens in the right place and time.

This information led me to this conclusion:

If it is true that Elizabeth Owens married a son of Joshua Perkins, and if it is true Leroy Perkins married an Elizabeth Owens, then Leroy Perkins is a son of our Joshua Perkins.

Is there any additional evidence this is true?

If the information Jennie Noble provided about Elizabeth Owens’ family matches the information provided by Internet family trees and by the letter, it would indicate Leroy is indeed the son of Joshua Perkins and Mary Sherrill Perkins and the husband of Elizabeth Owen.

Jennie Nobles’ description of the unnamed son of Joshua Perkins

The original 1968 letter from Jennie Nobles was written when she was in relatively good health and from documents she had at home. There are limitations to the information Jennie sent me in the 1980 letters after she was in a nursing home and wrote primarily from memory. In fact, at one point, she had family members write the letters for her as her ability to write deteriorated. Nevertheless, the compilation I’ve done of her memories held together and made sense.

This is what she wrote about the unnamed son:

- “William [Sherrill] married Agnes White perhaps about 1745. Their daughter Mary, married Joshua Perkins. Joshua Perkins’ son (name don’t have) married Elizabeth Owen in Kentucky. Elizabeth Owen Perkins’ son, John, was my great grandfather and lived in Lebanon, Tennessee. John Perkins left a letter in which he did not mention his father’s name (because his daughter knew her grandfather). I believe that John Perkins’ father owned land on the Stone River near Nashville in the late 1850’s [6 Jul 1968]. This is all true.

- “Joshua Perkins, Sr. had a son, Joshua Jr. who married Rebecca Sherrill, and he also mentioned an Uncle John, consequently I am very anxious to know the name of John Perkins’ father…John Perkins married Rhuanna Sherrill and his second wife was Polly Sherrill (a cousin)…[6 Jul 1968].

This is true.

- “____Perkins married Elizabeth Owen. Their son, John Perkins born July 15, 1806; died April 11, 1880; married Rhuey Anna Sherrill Feb 8, 1827. She was the daughter of Samuel Wilson Sherrill, son of Jacob, son of Adam Sherrill Sr…” She then gives their children with more data than I duplicate here: William, Margaret, Andrew Mason, Julia Emeline, Mary Jane, Serena, Lee W. Perkins. And Lee apparently had a son John who md Polly Sherrill who had a child Eliza; then John md Mrs Matilda Moore Neal and had these children: John Etta, James Fite, Alice, Mattie Florra who md a Campbell? And had Amzi, James, John, Francis and John [12-7-1982]. The only child of Leroy Perkins and Elizabeth Owen on the Internet site is Jesse Perkins, so I can’t compare from there down. But from there back in time, the pedigrees do match.

Therefore, Leroy Perkins who married Elizabeth Owens, is almost certainly a son of Joshua Perkins born 1728 and his wife Mary Sherrill and should be added to the family group record with his various children.

So then, who are the other sons of Joshua found in the 1790 census?

If we accept Leroy Perkins who lived in Nashville, as a son in this family, how can we not at least look at John Perkins who also lived in Nashville at the same time? Are John Perkins and John P Perkins the same man? Who is Absalom Perkins? But those are subjects for another report.

Well, this was really fun. What a break through. Thank you to Jennie Nobles, the anonymous researcher, and others who posted this information. Please send additional information.

More Information about Leroy Perkins from research done by Jill Shoemaker and myself.

Extremely primary information. Do any court records name Leroy’s wife?

Court and Legal Records for Leroy Perkins in Rutherford Co TN: a Timeline

1806 Jan. a John, Leroy and Absolom Perkins assigned to work on road Rutherford Co TN 307l

1806 Oct. a Leroy and John Perkins work on road Rutherford Co TN 307l

1807 Jan a Leroy and Absolon Perkins discharged from working road Rutherford Co TN 307l

Three Perkins are in the 1810 census of Rutherford Co TN: Joshua Perkins is in Jefferson, Rutherford, TN, John and Leroy Perkins are in Nashville, Rutherford, TN.

1810 census Nasvhille, Rutherford, TN. with wife and 4 boys and 2 girls under age 10b 1765-1784 1810 United States Federal Census
about Leroy Perkins

Name: Leroy Perkins

Township: Nashville

County: Rutherford

State: Tennessee

Free White Males Under 10: 4

Free White Males 26 to 44: 1

Free White Females Under 10: 2

Free White Females 26 to 44: 1

Number of Household Members Under 16: 6

Number of Household Members Over 25: 2

Number of Household Members: 8

1810 tax list a Leroy Perkins 1 poll $.18 3/4 Rutherford Co TN 307l

1810 18 Jan. a Leroy Perkins is witness for Absalom Pennington deed Rutherford Co TN 307l

1810 19 Jan. he is witness again

1811 tax list Leroy Perkins 83 acres 1 poll $.46 307l

1812 tax list Leroy Perkins 307l

1812 tax list Leroy Perkins 307l

1812 Apr Leroy Perkins works on road 307l

1812. LP signed petition for the Assembly to determine county seat.587l

1813 tax list a Leroy Perkins Rutherford Co TN 307l

1813 Jan Leroy Perkins, Jno Perkins, Andrew Free work on road Rutherford Co TN 307l

1813 Apr same

1817 4 Nov dau Mary md William Pennington Rutherford Co TN. Coggeshall, Robert Walden, Ancestors and Kin, The Reprint Company, Publishers. Spartanburg, SC. 1988, 335,

1820 census image, Hickman, TN. a Leroy Perkins and wife, both 20-30, so not this one.

1820 census image, Murfreesboro, Rutherford, TN. Elizabeth Perkins age 45+ with males: 3 under 10, 3 10-6; females: 1 -10, 1 16-26 and herself, over 45. So this could be Leroy's family. However, there are many Elizabeth Perkins.

no Elizabeth Perkins in TN in 1830.

There is probably more than one Leroy Perkins, certainly more than one Joshua Perkins in the world, but not on the Stones River in Rutherford County, Tennessee between 1800 and 1820. Elizabeth Owens is a pretty common name, but there is only one Stone River in Rutherford County, TN. So do the dates and places match? Are there two Leroy Perkins in Rutherford County at the right time? In other words, if we can’t prove these letters refer to the same people, can we prove they don’t?

  1. Were the supposedly two Elizabeth Owens and their Perkins husbands living on the Stones’ River at the same time? Please see the timeline shown above. Elizabeth Owens and her husband did live on Stones River from at least 1806 to 1813.

Jesse Perkins the son of Leroy Perkins was born in 1808 near the Stones’ River in Rutherford County, TN and moved to Shelby Co IL about 1840. Thus this Leroy Perkins lived on Stones River in Rutherford Co TN from at least 1808 until Leroy died. So Leroy Perkins the father of John and Leroy Perkins the father of Jesse were in the same place at the same for at least a decade.

  1. Is there any evidence there were two Leroy Perkins on the Stones River in Rutherford County, TN between about 1800 and 1820? As you can see by the timeline above, all the Leroy Perkins entries could easily belong to one man. In addition, there is only one Leroy Perkins in the 1810 census.
  2. Have we found any land or court records in that time period that name Leroy’s wife? Not yet.

[P/S 1 does not give a wife’s name. See P/S 203, 282l, 342l, 852l, 887l and 2030l.]

  1. Are the two sons of an age that they could be brothers? Yes! John Perkins was born 15 Jul 1806 and Jesse Perkins was born 1808.

Does this Leroy Perkins family, as we know it so far, match the 1810 Leroy Perkins census entry of Nashville, Rutherford, Tennessee?

Free White Males Under 10: 4

Free White Males 26 to 44: 1

Free White Females Under 10: 2

Free White Females 26 to 44: 1

Number of Household Members Under 16: 6

Number of Household Members Over 25: 2

Number of Household Members: 8

1810 Census Leroy Perkins Family What we now know about Leroy Perkins Family

1 male 26-44 born 1766-1784 Leroy Perkins born abt 1780

1 female 26-44 born 1766-1794 Elizabeth Owens born 1780-1784

1 male -10 born 1800-1810 John Perkins born 15 Jul 1806

2 male -10 born 1800-1810 Jesse Perkins born 1808

3 male -10 born 1800-1810

4 male -10 born 1800-1810

5 female -10 born 1800-1810 Mary [Polly] born 17 Feb 1802

6 female -10 born 1800-1810

Well, as Tevya would say, it’s a perfect match. Can anyone supply the names of additional children? Those three missing from the chart above and any later children?

So we have overwhelming evidence that the Leroy Perkins who married Elizabeth Owens is indeed the son of Joshua and Mary Sherrill Perkins. We have secondary evidence, circumstantial evidence as well as primary evidence in an astounding volume for the time and place. But as is so often the case, the relationship evidence from the two letters kept by families other than my own, is the clincher. Thank you dear brilliant Jennie Perkins Nobles, the anonymous donor and Ruth Dickey, Helen Lane Call and others who have insisted over the years that Leroy Perkins was indeed the son of Joshua Perkins.

For still more information see:

Dickey, Ruth. The Penningtons of Big Buffalo. Columbia, TN. 1979

Now, who are the Absalom and John Perkins who worked on the Rutherford County, TN road with Leroy in 1806? And did Jesse die as a young man, or did he grow up and marry? HELP please.