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Fayette County, Alabama

~ Thomas McGill family ~

Thomas McGill, according to family tradition, moved to Fayette County from somewhere in the Carolinas.  This appears to be confirmed by the 1850 U.S. census, which shows that he was born in South Carolina about 1793.  Census records for his children, however, suggest that he had first settled in Tennessee before his eventual arrival in Alabama in the early 1820s.

One hundred years later and hundreds of miles to the west, Mattie [Davis] Lucas (1869-1936) of Sherman, Texas, compiled a record of her McGill ancestors.  They, too, had settled early in the Carolinas, moving from North to South Carolina after the Revolutionary War.  Mrs. Lucas' great-grandmother, Elizabeth McGill, was born in South Carolina in the late 1780s to Thomas McGill and his wife, tentatively identified as Sarah (or Margaret) Knox.  The McGills moved to Tennessee in 1810 and later to Alabama.

Although Mrs. Lucas' account mentions only one of Elizabeth's siblings — John McGill (1786-1818) — she did not discount the existence of other siblings.  There seems little doubt that Thomas McGill of Fayette County was at least related to Mrs. Lucas' ancestors, and it is altogether conceivable that he was a "long-lost" brother of John and Elizabeth McGill.

According to Mrs. Lucas, Elizabeth McGill married Valentine "Felty" Cheek in Giles County, Tennessee, in 1811.  Mr. Cheek undoubtedly had been named for his uncle, Valentine "Felty" Van Hoose (c1755-1851), who also settled in the area around Giles County before 1820.  The proximity of these families is significant, because the evidence suggests that Thomas McGill (later of Fayette County) was married in Tennessee in the late 1810s to a daughter of this same Valentine Van Hoose [see Note].

Alabama land records support the tradition that the Cheek and John McGill families moved to Franklin County about 1818.  The supposed brother, however, would remain in Tennessee for several more years.  Indeed, one Thomas McGill, born (1775/1794), was recorded in Giles County on the 1820 U.S. census with a wife, born (1794/1804), and daughter, born (1810/1820) [p. 21].  Perhaps not coincidentally, the census lists Thomas beside one Sarah McGill (nee Knox?), an apparent widow born before 1775 .

Upon his arrival in Alabama, Thomas McGill settled in the part of Tuscaloosa County that would be cut off to form Fayette County in 1824.  He received a federal patent dated 15 Jul 1825 for roughly 80 acres of land described as the west half of the northeast quarter (W½NE) of Section 21, Township 15 South, Range 12 West [see map].  This property was located about three miles north of Fayette Court House and just a mile east of land patented to Jesse Van Hoose in 1824.  Credited as the "second white man to come into this area," Mr. Van Hoose (c1787-1852) was the son of Valentine Van Hoose and a likely brother-in-law of Thomas McGill. Azor Van Hoose and Isaiah Van Hoose (the names of Jesse's brothers) also show up in the early records of Fayette County.

The 1830 U.S. census of Fayette County shows that both Thomas McGill and his wife — presumably a Van Hoose — were between 30 and 40 years of age [p. 201].  Their household now included five children: three daughters (the oldest of whom was born before 1820) and two sons.  Thomas' close neighbors on this census were Isaiah and Jesse Van Hoose.  Also enumerated in Fayette County that year was a man identified only by his given name, Valentine [p. 213].  Based on the number and ages of his children, he almost certainly was Valentine Cheek, the supposed brother-in-law of Thomas McGill.  Tradition says that the Cheeks settled in present Fayette County between 1820 and 1822.

By the next census of Fayette County in 1840, it is apparent that Thomas' wife had died and his oldest daughter had left the household [p. 211].  The remaining children included two sons and four daughters.  Thomas also reported a female slave of 24 to 36 years of age.

The 1850 U.S. census finds Thomas McGill living with a new wife, Rachel, born about 1809 in Tennessee
[p. 95].  Thomas claimed to be a farmer with real property valued at $300.  Only his two youngest daughters — Jane and Martha — still lived at home.

Records of the Fayette County Probate Court show that Valentine Van Hoose died in said county sometime before October 1851, when his last will & testament "with all codicils or agreements attached thereto" was registered and filed.  This document apparently did not survive later courthouse catastrophes.  However, important information may be gleaned from the extant probate minutes: Jesse Van Hoose was named executor of his father's will with Burr W. Wilson serving as security.  Also mentioned were "John M. Thompson & John N. McGill and Thomas McGill ... who represent their children, who are heirs of said estate."

This same John M. Thompson served as administrator of the estate of one Jane Van Hoose five years later.  In October 1856, Mr. Thompson petitioned the Fayette County Probate Court to sell the real property (80 acres) belonging to the estate.  To ascertain the land's value, he called upon the testimony of Thomas McGill and his son Valentine (Thomas signed this deposition with his mark, indicating that he could not read nor write).  The property in question — SWNE Section 22 and SWNW Section 23 in Township 15S, Range 12W — was located only a half-mile from Thomas McGill's homestead and adjoined lands of Jesse Van Hoose.  In addition, it was the identical property patented to a John Van Hoose in 1834.  Mr. Thompson explained to the court that his wife, Nancy M. Thompson, and Sarah Jane McGill, "a Minor ... are the heirs and only heirs of said Estate known to him."  A published transcription of Jane Van Hoose's probate record suggests that Sarah was a daughter of John M. (sic) McGill, "whose first wife was a daughter of the deceased by the name of Rebecca M., dec'd."

Valentine Van Hoose had a son named John, but he lived and died in Hardin County, Tennessee, according to Joyce Lindstrom's Van Hoose - Van Hooser - Van Huss Family in America.  Furthermore, neither of John's two wives nor any of his ten children was named Jane, Nancy or Rebecca.  More research is needed to determine how the John Van Hoose of Fayette County was related to Valentine Van Hoose.

Alabama land records show that Thomas McGill received patents for 120 additional acres of government land in June 1858.  This property was located in Section 17, about one mile northwest of his original homestead, and adjoined lands patented to Jesse Van Hoose (1825), William Roberts (1839), John B. Rennels (a son-in-law, 1858), Peyton I. Dickinson (1858 & 1860) and William Howell (1860).

Thomas McGill has not been located on the 1860 U.S. census, although he undoubtedly was still residing in Fayette County at this time.  He died two years later at about the age of 69 years, leaving a widow and seven children to mourn his passing.

Probate proceedings on Thomas' estate did not begin until August 1871, nine years after his death.  In the interim, two of his children had died and others had left the county.  Thomas' estate in 1871 comprised a little more than 120 acres in Section 17, Township 15S, Range 12W; however, the description of these lands varies somewhat from the patents Thomas received in 1858.  The lone exception was a 40-acre tract located in the SW¼ of the NW¼ of Section 17.  This is likely where Thomas McGill resided in his final days.

The McGill property was sold and the proceeds were divided equitably among Thomas' heirs.  They were identified in 1871 as follows:

•  Rachel McGill (widow) of Fayette County
•  Louisa Burnum, wife of William Burnum of Walker County, Alabama
•  John N. McGill of Sanford County, Alabama
•  V.J. McGill of Mississippi
•  S.R. Reynolds (sic), dec'd, wife of John Reynolds of Texas
•  Ann Pennington of Sanford County, Alabama
•  M.J. Roycroft, dec'd, wife of H.D. Roycroft of Fayette County
•  Martha L. Mason, wife of Jonas B. Mason of Fayette County

[ [ Go here for a more detailed genealogy of this family ] ]

NOTE: Valentine Van Hoose was recorded on the 1810 U.S. census of Rutherford County, Tennessee, with three daughters: one born (1795/1800) and the other two born (1800/1810).  The latter likely were born closer to 1800 considering that Valentine's wife was at least 45 years old in 1810.  The oldest daughter is generally believed to have been Elizabeth Van Hoose, born circa 1797 in North Carolina.  She married (1) Alexander Chism before 1820, by which time the couple had moved to Giles County, Tennessee.  Jesse Van Hoose also was recorded in Giles County, witnessing a deed there in 1815.  Earlier published research provides no information on Valentine's youngest daughters.  However, based on the following facts regarding Thomas McGill's first wife — 1) she was born at a time consistent with the family of Valentine Van Hoose, 2) her children were identified as Valentine's heirs, and 3) she named a son Valentine — the probability is overwhelming that she was a daughter of Valentine Van Hoose.

This information was compiled from only a smattering of primary source materials.  Additional evidence likely will be found to either substantiate or alter the conclusions presented here.  If you can add to or correct any of this information, please contact the compiler, Bobby J. Wadsworth, ©2002-2007.

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09 Dec 2002  |  05 Feb 2007