New Look at the Adams Family of Cumberland County, KY

I’m not sure why I keep returning to the Adams clan of Cumberland County, Kentucky, as it seems to be an unsolvable brick wall. But I do!

The main character in this mystery is Mary Jane Adams, who married Abraham Dulworth in Clay County, Tennessee on 1 February 1883.

There are several problems:

  1. This family was illiterate and might not have known exactly when any one of them was born.
  2. Marriage happened when they got around to it.
  3. They moved frequently from Cumberland County, Kentucky across the Tennessee border into Jackson, Clay, Overton and Fentress Counties.
  4. They are sometimes missing from records where they should be found.

To begin at the beginning, Mary Jane Adams was born in Tennessee between 1850 and 1857. Every record she is in has a different birth year. However, the earlier and later records seem to hover around 1850/51.

The Dulworth family presents its own challenges. For now, suffice it to say that even though Abe and Jane were the parents of five children by 1880, they aren’t found as a family until 1900.

In spite of that, their marriage record and death certificates of their children identify her as Mary Jane/Jane Adams.

Since I haven’t gotten very far with direct line research, I am expanding my efforts to find some FAN club members.

In 1880, Mary Jane, or Jane as she was called that year, was living with her brother Rashis, his wife Nancy, and their infant son, William. Rashis died in 1941. Although he has a death certificate on file, both parents’ names are listed as “unknown.”

The 1870 census is one of the more unusual records I’ve ever come across.


Source: FamilySearch

Adams, Jennie, 80, born SC
Adams, Francis, 45, born TN
Adams, Elizabeth, 40, born TN
Adams, Jane, 18, born TN
Adams, Race (Rashis), 14, born TN
Adams Brilina (Perlina?), 10, born TN
Adams, Sarah, 4, born TN
Adams (sic), Matilda, 1, born TN

  1. Notice that NO ONE in this household has an occupation except for 14 year old Rashis, working as a farm hand.
  2. Notice, too, that Jennie appears to have no real or personal estate of any worth. I don’t know if that is an oversight by the enumerator, but I haven’t found any land transactions pertaining to this family.
  3. Matilda is actually Matilda Jane Dulworth, eldest child of Abe Dulworth and Jane Adams.
  4. Mary Jane, or Jane, is 18 years old in this enumeration, so born c1852.

The next obvious step would be to jump back a decade to 1860. However, this family makes nothing easy. If anything can be said with certainty about the 1870 Adams clan, it is that they are a blended family. I wonder if some of the surnames were incorrectly recorded in 1870? Could Frances or Elizabeth have been married, but widowed? In other words, perhaps these ladies were not an Adams by birth? Or were they Adams, married to unknown men, and both widowed and living back with an extended family?

There are a lot of questions I can’t answer. The married/widowed scenario, though, could help explain why I can’t find them in 1860.

The 1860 censuses have me mainly grasping for straws. I haven’t come up with much.

Let’s begin with Cumberland County, Kentucky, since the family was living there in 1870. There are two Adams families enumerated, although they lived in different districts.


Cumberland County, Kentucky 1860
Source: FamilySearch

Adams, James, 59, born SC
Adams, M.J., 47, born VA
Adams, Elizabeth, 14, born KY
Adams, M.J., 9, born KY
Haly, Geo. F., 9, born TN
Adams, M.K. 8, (female), born KY
Adams, Jas. Jr., 22, born TN

Is M.J., the female head, our Jennie Adams living there in 1870? I don’t know. James was reportedly born in South Carolina and close in age to the 1870 Jennie, whose place of birth was given as South Carolina? PERHAPS. Next, we have M.J., aged 9, and born in Kentucky. Is she the same person as 18 year old Jane Adams, at home in 1870? PERHAPS.

Who is George F. Hal(e)y? I don’t know. Nor do I know the identity of 8 year old M.K. I can’t find anyone in 1870 who might be these two children.

Also in 1860 in Cumberland County, we have Noah Adams and family. Noah resided in Cumberland County as early as 1830, but isn’t found in the 1860 census. However, he IS on the Cumberland County tax rolls in 1860, 1861 and 1862.

We can pick up his census trail in 1850, although the household configuration is odd. What else would I expect?


1850 Census
Source: FamilySearch

Next door households in Cumberland County include:

Williams, Ellen, 29, born VA
Adams, Noah, 45, born KY
Young, John, 13, born KY

Williams, Judy, 52, born VA
Huff, Nancy, 18, born KY
Huff, Nathan, 22, born TN

Tracing Noah Adams is a bit problematic. He apparently married Sallie Cash, about 1850. The family can’t be located in 1860. By 1870, Noah and family are living in Overton County, Tennessee. However, as with most of the other Adams details, either the census taker or the family members got a few things wrong – like most of their ages.

Noah is enumerated as 60 years old. Sallie is listed as 25 (!! and as far as I can tell she was born c1834, so she was actually about 35). Children are John, 20, Edward 15, Richard, 10, James, 3, Savina, 1. Noah died in October 1879 in Clay County, Tennessee of a lung hemorrhage and is in the 1880 mortality schedule. Sarah, aged 45, was at home with their two youngest children – James, 17, and Joanna (Savina), 15, in District 10. Sarah’s likely younger brother, John, lived next door with his own family.

By the way, when Sarah died in June 1928, the family claimed she was 108 years old! Not even close – she was about 93 years old.

Many online sites show Noah to be related to the Bryan and Daniel Boone families, but that Noah appears to be a different man. I’ve not been able to determine if or how Noah and James Adams were related, but they lived in all the same places and I tend to think they were brothers.

However, none of this is helping at all with my efforts to untangle and identify Mary Jane Adams Dulworth’s family.

Also in 1850, we find James Adams in Cumberland County:


1850 Census
Source: FamilySearch

Adams, James, 52, born SC
Adams, R., 42, born TN
Adams, Polly, 18, born TN
Adams, James, 13, born TN
Adams, John, 8, born TN
Adams, E. (female), 7, born TN
Huff, Jessee, 22, born TN
Huff, E., 16, born TN

Two details are evident when comparing the 1850 and 1860 James Adams families. Although his age varies a bit, these two Jameses appear to be the same person. James Jr. is in both household, as is Elizabeth, again with a slight age variation.

However, the 1850 female head (probably James’s wife) was R. Adams, 42, born in Tennessee, but in 1860, was M.J., 47, born in VA.

Another detail has jumped out at me. Both James Adams’ 1850 home had two Huff young men living with them AND Judy Williams, who lived next door to Noah Adams likewise had two Huffs in her home.

A bit of sleuthing has found that Judy Williams was born Judith Carver. She married Eli Williams on 19 June 1820 in Albemarle County, Virginia. He died before 1840, when Judith appears as head of household in that census.

They had four children: Sarah Ellen (who is the Ellen residing with Noah Adams in 1850), Alanson (who lived in Clinton County, Kentucky), Elizabeth and Nancy, who married Nathan Huff on 3 January 1850.

Nathan Huff and Nancy had one daughter, Sarah Elizabeth, born 1851, but divorced in June 1854. Nancy died in 1855 and her daughter Elizabeth lived with her grandmother in 1860.

What became of Nathan Huff is not known, nor are the origins of Jessee and E. Huff. Clues point to the possibility of all four Huff children (Nancy, Nathan, Jesse and E.) being sons of Leonard Huff of Jackson County, Tennessee.

Jackson County is a parent county of Clay County, which was set off in 1870. However, it’s a burned county. Also, online information about the Huff family is a hot mess, and I haven’t found any family connections between the Carver/Williams family or James Adams’ family.

Back to the 1870 Adams clan – where are Rashis Chatwin and Brilina (Perlina?) or Frances and Elizabeth, who would have been 35 and 30, respectively, ten years before?

I have absolutely ZERO possibilities for any of them in 1860.

And in 1880? I can account only for Rashis and Jane, who married Abraham Dulworth.

To top off all of this, my husband’s line from Abe and Mary Jane (Adams) Dulworth is strictly maternal. Dave’s taken an mtDNA test and . . . . . there are no matches anywhere close to him.

What do you think about these new puzzle pieces? Do they fit my puzzle or do they belong elsewhere?

To be honest, I am doubting whether or not any of these Adams have any ties to Jennie Adams and her odd family formation, other than they have the same (common) surname and they happen to be living in the same place.

Oh, well. Tomorrow is another day. Let’s see what it brings as I trudge on.

 

 

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