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Legend and History of Early Settlers in Walker County

About Wallace & Susannah (Beavert) Jones of Walker County, Alabama

  (Written and researched by Ed H. Jones and George C. Jones)

 For decades, descendants of Wallis (Wallace) and Susannah (Beavert) Jones have blushed, and silently giggled, as they read John Martin Dombhart’s history of the elopement of this pair from an English tavern in the late 1700’s.  That these Joneses made Walker County, Alabama, their home prior to 1800 and brought four children into the world in this county were segments of this narrative which caused Jones family members of later generations to feel proud.  But since Dombhart’s 1937 work became almost sacred, contemporary researchers finding contradictions to these tenets had to keep mostly silent when in the company of earlier Jones generations.  (Even as the evidence in records runs counter to some of his Jones history, Dombhart’s historical volume, History of Walker County – Its Towns and Its People, is invaluable for genealogists involved with Walker County, Alabama.  The Joneses he describes and their relationship to others seem to be near perfect.  Times and locations, in many cases, are in need.)  The history in question is from page 235-6 and it reads:

 “JONES, WALLACE, according to family tradition, settled along the Warrior River, in Walker County, prior to 1800.  He was born in England about 1775, where he learned the trade of millwright and cooper.  He was a suitor for the hand of Susan Beavert, and upon meeting parental objections, the couple eloped from an English tavern at night and boarded a ship for America.  They made their home in North Carolina for a short time before coming to Walker County, where Wallace Jones died in 1856.  After settling in Walker County, Susan (Beavert) Jones made two trips, alone and on horseback, to North Carolina to secure her bounty from the government.  At this time the country through which she passed was infested with Indians, but they aided her on her way.  She died in Walker County in 1870 at the age of ninety.  Wallace and Susan (Beavert) Jones were the parents of four children—Giles C. Jones; William Wallace Jones; James Ausborn Jones; and Minerva Jones, who married a Mr. Whitney and moved to Fayette County; and, upon his death, married Thomas Reed.  Children by the first marriage---Marion Whitney, Toney Whitney, and Susanna Whitney.  Children by the second marriage---Reuben Reed, Polk Reed, Dallas Reed, and Pierce Reed.”

 No less than seven census records of these four Jones children from 1850 to 1870 bear witness that they were born in South Carolina.  Two additional census records of Susan (Susannah) Jones, 1850 and 1860, now a widow, attest she was born in the Carolinas, also.  The 1850 Walker County Mortality Schedule, headed with information stating it was from the 12th District and enumerated by E. G. Musgrove, shows a married Wallis Jones, born in South Carolina, who died in August of the previous year, 1849 (not 1856).  This heading is duplicated on the 1850 census page of Susan (above) where she is a member of the household of Giles C. Jones, her son, thereby showing a high probability of her connection to Wallis, since surely she was the informant to Mr. Musgrove concerning her husbands death.  (An independent professional genealogist, some years ago, made the statement that until a highly probable connection between Wallis and Susan could be shown, this story would remain just that—a story.)  This ‘Wallis Jones’ death record (mortality schedule) apparently was long ignored because the spelling differed from that of the historically accepted Dombhart.  But this ‘Wallis Jones’ name, complete with signature, was also discovered in a credit-sale land record file of 1819 in Blount County.  This purchase was for the northwest and southwest quarters of Section 12 of Township 13-South and Range 4-West.  This was 320 acres of good bottom-land just a few hundred feet from the Warrior River---in keeping with Dombhart’s early geographic location for this Jones clan.  But like many other early settlers who were trying to make a living and at the same time pay off their new (but mortgaged) dreams, the worsening financial panic of the country in general and of The Second Bank of the United States in particular, helped cause Wallis Jones to soon (1821) rid himself of all but 80 acres (Patent # 1148) of his original purchase.

 William Wallace Jones married Celia Files (daughter of Abner Files, another early Blount County settler) in 1823 and by the middle 1830’s had migrated down the Warrior River, with the Files group, to upper Tuscaloosa County.  James Ausborn Jones was not far behind as he married a sister to Celia, Eliza Files, on May 28, 1835 in that county.  By 1840, both William Wallace and James Ausborn are remarried and living in the Oakman area on new government land purchases.  Wallace (Wallis) and a spouse are also enumerated (1840) in this part of  Walker County, evidenced by the fact they are neighbors to settlers who bought government land in the Oakman area in the late 1830’s, as documented by the Bureau of Land Management files.  Giles C. (Chapman) Jones married Mary Ann Brooks from Marshall County in 1826 and bought land in Blount County by early 1837.  He somehow became a medical doctor and by 1850 was in the Jasper area of Walker County where, in that decade, he apparently died.  No date of death or burial site has been found.  Minerva Jones and her two husbands (and children) left a history of rich stories and memorabilia still cherished by some of her descendants.  Her first husband, Hiram C. Whitney, has left an equal amount of genealogical mystery and frustration.  Additional brief mentions of these male Jones children can be found in Ethel Armes’ Story of Coal and Iron in Alabama and Albert Burton Moore’s three volume (but un-indexed) tome, History of Alabama, published in 1926, ten years before the Dombhart work.

 Dombhart, in his biographical presentation of Giles C. Jones on page 236, cites Moore’s Vol. II, page 79 as a source.  However, Dombhart did not use that part of this source which could have, early on, shed some light on the later conflict between Moore’s entry and that of Dombhart concerning Wallace Jones.  Perhaps he could see that the information he was receiving from his interviews differed from Moore to the extent that he did not attempt to explain it.  Maybe Moore’s work was not well known at this time in Walker County as Dombhart began to chronicle its rural and farmer citizens in the 1930’s.  Moore’s Vol. II, page 79 contains this biography:                                                               

 TARLEY WILLIAMS JONES, M.D.  A physician and surgeon of wide and varied experience, Dr. Tarley William Jones of Fayette County is recognized as one of the able members of his profession, and his name is a household one throughout Fayette County.  He was born in Newtonville, Fayette County, Alabama, April 3, 1875, a son of Dr. William W. Jones, grandson of Giles C. Jones, and a member of one of the old families of this country, which was established in the Carolinas by his great-great-grandfather, who came from Wales to the American Colonies, bringing with him his wife, a native of Holland.”

 This was an astounding revelation!  Tarley William Jones’ great-great-grandfather was Wallis Jones’ father!  Wallis’ father came from England, and now with this clarification, the South Carolina birthplace for Wallis and Susan is consistent with both a recorded history and document.

 Other research has established, with very high probability, that Wallis Jones was in fact married to Susannah Beavert.  (Genealogists are being kind to themselves when they speak of probabilities rather than proof---especially in print.)  The 1810 Federal Census of Pendleton District, South Carolina, page 151A, shows a Wallace Jones household with two females and four males.  This entry is exactly, in number, age and location, as the Wallis (Wallace)/Susan family should have been at this particular point in time.  Wallace’s name is embedded within a census cluster of Sampson Norton, William Norton and Gideon Norton.  Further up the page is Barak Norton and on an adjacent page is Jeptha Norton.  In between two of the Nortons, there is a very suspicious entry, William Beaver.  After several years of work it was established, by way of land and military records, that Catherine Norton was married to William Bevert,  the same William Bevert who served in the military during the War of 1812 as a sergeant in a company whose captain was Jeptha Norton.  An 1829 South Carolina ‘will’ lists each and every one of these Norton entries, including Catherine and William Bevert, as heirs to land sale proceeds.  William Bevert, and not William Beaver, was adjacent to a female in an 1810 census listing whose name was probably Susannah Beavert (Bevert), and probably a sister-in-law to the Norton clan and in the household of Wallace (Wallis) Jones.   

 There are still mysteries within this genealogy.  Who was Wallis’ father?  Probably Wallis Jones, Sr., who with his wife, Elizabeth, signed an 1805 land sale document in Greenville District, South Carolina.  How did an English tavern come into the story?  There exists a document which shows a Wallace Jones holding a mortgage on a tavern in Newberry County, South Carolina.  Why parental objections to Susan marrying Wallis?  Could she have been a Quaker?  What bounty did Susan seek from North Carolina--Indian?--military?  Nothing has been found.  Who was Susan’s father?  There were two John Beaverts with documents of one kind or another in the Carolinas during this period, but neither can be linked to Susan or William.  Why are there two sets of Wallis (Wallace) Joneses, Senior and Junior, some with identical birthdates, etc., in South Carolina during this time frame?  One set had ties to Ohio and one had ties to Alabama.  Why did my father and my grandfather tell me that they had heard “…old man Wallace spent some time in Ohio…”? 

 Copies of related records and a more complete chronicle is available in ...    A Study:  Wallace and Susan (Beavert) Jones of Walker County, Alabama by Edwin Hilary Jones and George Casey Jones     

Edjjo1@aol.com 1-15-2004