Edwards Family

Submitted by Peggy Bone Colella

The Edwards family has been difficult to trace as it was such a common name, even in the early years. My connection to the Edwards name begins in Sumner County, Tennessee with the marriage of Elizabeth "Betsy" Edwards to Reuben Douglass, 23 Jan. 1791.

Betsy Edwards was the daughter of William and Sarah (Sally) Edwards. According to the research of Mrs. Pat Searight of Amarillo, Texas, William Edwards and Sarah Gennette were married in Bertie Co., NC in 1772/73. According to their tombstones, in the Old Douglass Cemetery, in Sumner Co., TN, William Edwards was born 31 July 1752, died 14 Jan. 1828, Sarah was born 31 Mar. 1752, died 21 Jan. 1826. Mrs. Searight believes Sarah was born in Virginia, William in NC.

On William Edwards' tombstone is written --- "He was one of the pioneers of this county, brave and active in its defense against the invading tomahawk and scalping knife of the savage."

On Sarah Edwards' tombstone it says ___ "She was one of Nature's best efforts, industry, energy, perserverance, and uniform devotion to domestic duty was her distinguished excellence."

There were no less than four William Edwards' in Sumner Co. during its early years. It has never been determined how or if they were related. My William Edwards, however, was there by Nov. 1789 when he sold negroes to Elmore Douglass. William was said to have fought in the Revolutionary War in the North Carolina Militia. I have not been able to find a record of this nor could I find a record of a R.W. land grant. It is known that he was in the 4th Brig. of TN under Gen. Winchester and was a Capt. of mounted riflemen in the War of 1812. He recorded his stock mark in July 1790, paid taxes as early as 1792 and made a land purchase in 1794. In 1795, he administered the estate of John Edwards, deceased. It was likely John was William's brother. A Thomas Edwards was also active in early Sumner Co.; probably another brother. Mrs. Searight says William was a distiller who made brandy. Tennessee D.A.R. records make mention "Bill Edwards (Wm. Sr.) had a lawsuit with Andrew Jackson which was tried 3 times. He won all 3 times, according to tradition." I have found no record of this in Sumner Co. Court Minutes, however they did serve on a number of juries together. William and Thomas were regular jury members from 1790 thru 1810, many times serving with Reuben Douglass, Isaac Baker, James Odam/Odom and others who were also ancestors.

According to the Edwards family Bible, as published in TENNESSEE BIBLE RECORDS AND MARRIAGE BONDS, by Jeannette Tillotson Acklin, 1974, William and Sarah Edwards had the following children:

  1. Elizabeth "Betsy" Edwards b. 25 June 1774 d. 9 Feb. 1838 m. Reuben Douglass

  2. Margaret "Peggy" Edwards b. 30 Dec. 1779 m. John Hassell, will dated 27 Jan. 1806 mentions children: Jordan Hassell, Prestley Hassell, John Page Hassell, Charlotte Hassell, Harriett Hassell and Sally Hassell.

  3. Loveny Edwards b. 2 Mar. 1782 m. Dr. John Mitchell. Aneita Allen found that Dr. Mitchell's first land purchase in Sumner Co. was in 1798. In 1802 William Edwards was a witness to another land purchase. In 1826, Deed Book 1, page 248-251, John Mitchell divides his land among his children: James, Louisa Posey (husband Fayette--in KY in 1828), Maria McKoin (m. Seth McKoin) and grandson John McKoin, Elizabeth Simms, Lucy Mitchell, Leroy, Delian, John, Martha and William. In 1828, a report of guardian of Leroy, Delian, John, Martha and William Mitchell, minor heirs of John Mitchell dec'd. This shows distribution of estate and says Martha died 28 Apr. 1828. By 1829 Lucy (Loveny) is married to John Martin. Sumner Co., TN marriages, in 1835 Delia Ann Mitchell b. 1812 married Robert Douglass.

  4. Richard Edwards b. 27 Jan. 1784 d. 1 Nov. 1823. On his tombstone, it says (eldest son of William Sr. and Sarah --- "He lived beloved and respected by his acquaintances and died lamented by all who knew him. Funeral preached by Rev. Hardy M. Crier"

  5. William Edwards, Jr. b. 10 May 1786 d. 1828 m. Sumner Co., TN 13 Sept. 1806 Margaret "Peggy" Hassell. They had at least children: Montalban, Richard, William and Malvina, who were mentioned in the will of William Edwards, Sr.

  6. Sarah "Sally" Edwards b. 4 Oct. 1788 d. 5 Mar. 1865 m. Sumner Co., TN 21 Jan. 1810 William Howard Douglass, brother of Reuben. William b. Oct. 1782 d. 1833. Sarah and William H. Douglass had: Henry L., Elizabeth, William E., Sarah E., Cullen Edwards, and Robert B. Douglass.

Pat Searight also shows sons James and Cullen. I do not believe they belong here; they were sons of William's brother Nathan Edwards. Mr. James Edwards of Bakersfield, CA, has 2 more daughters found in the marriage records of early Sumner Co. He admits to having no proof that these girls belong here other than they seem to fit. I agree that it would make sense for William to name a daughter after his mother and with Richard Edwards as bondman, the evidence is pretty strong that Tabitha goes here. I'm not as sure about Nancy. I don't know where Jim Edwards got the birth dates; he did not say. John White of Durango, CO also lists these daughters.

Tabitha Edwards b. 2 Oct. 1776 m. 30 Nov. 1811 William Huffman, bondsman
Richard Edwards
Nancy Edwards b. 17 Dec. 1778 m. 5 Jan. 1808 William Taylor

There was also a Milly Edwards who married in 1808. Was she another daughter or was she the widow of John Edwards?

According to Pat Searight's research, William Edwards, Sr. of Sumner Co., was the son of the William Edwards who died in Bertie Co., NC 27 Aug. 1785. He was a blacksmith and a planter, and may have come from Virginia. Pat believes his wife was Tabitha ______________.

Children of William and Tabitha Edwards:

  1. William Edwards b. 31 July 1752 d. 14 Jan. 1828 Sumner Co., TN

  2. Nathan Edwards b. 21 Mar. 1755 d. 27 Feb. 1837 m. 5 Sept. 1783, in Bertie Co., NC, Jemima Iris Cotton b. 11 Jan. 1762 Bertie Co., NC, d. 21 May 1821. Nathan and Jemima are both buried in the Edwards/Love Cemetery, Sumner Co., TN. They migrated to TN around 1797, when Nathan 1st appears in Sumner Co. court records, and had land on Station Camp Creek. Nathan was deeded 100 acres of land by Thomas Edwards. There were a couple of Thomas Edwards' in Sumner Co. too, so I'm not sure if this deed was by Thomas Nathan's brother or possibly Thomas an uncle. Nathan was a cooper by trade; he served in the Revolution, and is in the Index of North Carolina Revolutionary Army Accounts.

    Children of Nathan and Jemima Edwards:

    1. Priscilla Edwards b. 29 Dec. 1784 d. 16 May 1848 m. 4 May 1810 Sumner Co., TN, Thomas L. Edwards b. 20 Aug. 1782 d. 12 Mar. 1849. Both are buried in the Edwards/Love Cemetery. On Thomas' tombstone is written: "A Baptist of the Old School."

    2. William Edwards (Dr.) b. 2 Mar. 1787 d. 3 Jan. 1839 m. 31 Oct. 1821 Sumner Co., Mary Cantrell b. 20 Feb. 1798, daughter of Stephen Cantrell and Mary Blakemore, daughter of Capt. John Blakemore. William and Mary are not listed in the Sumner Co. Cemetery Book, however his will is recorded in Sumner Co. It mentions no children, only "James Edwards my brother, brothers of Mary Cantrell and his other brother and sisters."

    3. Littleberry Edwards b. 2 Mar. 1789 Bertie Co., NC (according to his tombstone) d. 22 Sept. 1859 m. Gincy _________ b. 27 Aug. 1793 d. 5 Nov. 1878 aged 85 yrs. 2 mos. 8 days. They are buried in the Edwards Cemetery 5 1/2 miles west of Gallatin on Red River Road. They had at least 1 daughter Elizabeth b. 11 Mar. 1820 d. 15 Dec. 1878 m. a Mr. Hunt. She is buried in the cemetery with her grandparents.

    4. Sarah "Sally" Edwards b. 29 Oct. 1791 Bertie Co., NC d. 1883 m. 11 Feb. 1813 Gallatin, TN, Asa Hassell b. 20 Feb. 1773 d. 18 June 1860 Sumner Co. Both are buried in the Hassell Cemetery, Cottontown, TN. Pat Searight has children: Nancy, Eliza, William B., Caroline, Martha, Elizabeth, John J., Littleberry and Jesse.

    5. James Edwards - John White of Durango, CO, has wives 1. Rachael Hassell, 2. Patsy Cartwright. The marriage of Rachael Hassell and James Edwards took place in Tyrell Co., NC in 1781, before Nathan and Jemima Edwards were even married. This marriage is probably unrelated to this line. The marriage between Patsy Cartwright and James Edwards in Sumner Co., TN, took place in June 1800. This James, at most, would have been 17. Possible but not likely. I think the James who married Patsy Cartwright was Nathan's brother James.

    6. Cullen Edwards b. 31 Mar. 1796 d. 17 Aug. 1815, buried Edwards/Love Cemetery, Sumner Co.

    7. Thomas Cotton Edwards b. 22 Mar. 1800 m. Pauline Bransford Bondurant b. 1809 - John White has the following children for them: Mary C., Benjamin, Nathan N., Virginia Ann, Eunity Sarah, Cullen, William L., Littleberry "LB", Thomas C., Charles Elmore, and Alfred Gardner Edwards.

    8. Patience Edwards b. 13 June 1802 d. 10 May 1841 m. 26 Jan 1830/31 Sumner Co., TN, Hugh Cotton b. 19 Feb. 1807 d. 21 Aug. 1849. Both are buried in the Edwards/Love Cemetery.

    9. Lovey Edwards b. 11 Feb 1804 d. 25 Jun 1852 m.1. 10 Jan 1825 Moore Carter Cotton b. 27 Dec. 1771 d. 13 Dec. 1836 m. 2. after 1836 Benjamin F. Sutton b. 1807 d. 21 Sept 1850. All three are buried in the Cotton Cemetery in Cottontown.

  3. Benjamin Edwards b. Bertie Co., NC d. Smith Co., TN, will recorded 4 Jan. 1851 m. 5 Feb. 1787 Bertie Co., NC (according to FTM CD Rom "Marriage Index: KY, NC, TN, VA, WV, 1728-1850 #229") Sarah "Sally" Thomas b. 1 May 1766 Bertie Co., NC. d. 15 May 1851. They went to Smith Co., TN.

  4. John Edwards d. 6 June 1795 William Edwards posted bond of $2000 to adminster the estate of John Edwards in Sumner Co., TN. July 1795, Reuben Douglass and James Odam were securities. John is not listed in the Sumner Co. Cemetery Book; where is he buried? In April of 1798, the Sumner Co. court appointed Milly Edwards, James Douglas and Charles Dement guardians for Clarissa Edwards, John Edwards, William Edwards & Benjamin Edwards orphans of John Edwards deceased. In October of 1798 reference was made in Sumner Co. court records to Amelia Edwards, widow of John Edwards deceased.

  5. Absolom Edwards - there were references to an Adonijah Edwards in the Sumner Co. court records, beginning about 1789, and "Red River Settlers" mentions an Adonijah Edwards who married Elizabeth Exum d/0 Arthur Exum whose estate was settled in Davidson Co., TN between 1819 and 1830.

  6. Mary "Polly" Edwards m. Malachi Oliver

  7. Dorcas Edwards m. 12 Jan. 1791 Sumner Co., TN, Edwards Williams

  8. Thomas Edwards - Pat Searight says this is the Thomas who married Nathan's daughter Priscilla. I don't think so. I think this is the Thomas Edwards who appeared so frequently in the Sumner Co. court records with William Edwards and whose estate was to be sold in Jan. 1800. There was a Thomas who married Elizabeth Turner in Sumner Co. in 1792; probably not this one but another Thomas Edwards with whom we have to contend.

  9. James Edwards - mentioned in will of brother William d. 1839. There is 1 mention of a James Edwards serving on a Sumner Co. jury in 1800. I think this is the James who married Patsy Cartwright in June 1800, in Sumner Co. John White of Durango, CO, adds a 10th child (I don't believe there is any connection to the Sumner Co. EDWARDS family.): West Edwards will 5 Feb. 1815 Green Co., NC m. Elizabeth Whitfield. Eight children: Thomas Fitshugh, John Jones, Nancy West, Drury, Miles, Elizabeth Fitshugh, Sally and Polly Ann Whitfield Edwards.

John White of Durango, CO, believes William Edwards with wife Tabitha was the son of John Edwards, possibly of Tyrrell Co., NC, and that William may have had a brother Thomas and a brother Titus. Titus was a planter, wife Rachel, and he died in Bertie Co., NC in May 1789. Because of the appearance of the name Cullen (Nathan's son), it is possible there is some connection to the John Edwards whole will is found in Northampton Co., NC, Will 81, pg. 122, 4 Dec. 1764, proven in May court 1765. It mentions wife Mary, sons Thomas, John (a Codicil adds that John has "departed this life"), Rice Cullen, and Madock, daughters Ann Barnes, Mary Wood, and Elizabeth Dancy. John's will also makes mention of his "Coopers tools". Note that Nathan Edwards was a Cooper.

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