Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Tale of Two Andrews…


I have been studying the Pennington family for about 15 years.  In the beginning, I concentrated my efforts on my 3rd Great grandmother and her family.  I became the group leader for the PRA Group 7 – which were the descendants of Micajah Pennington.  As I expanded my research, I looked at all of the Pennington in the Ashe Co., NC area and later expanded my search to Watauga Co., NC, Wilkes Co., NC, Grayson Co., VA, Smyth Co., VA, Lee Co., VA, Washington Co., VA, Harlan Co., KY & Johnson Co., TN.  I call this group the “Ashe Co., NC Penningtons” – which includes Penningtons in Group 4, 7, 12, 30, 31, &32.  Most of my time has been spent on the Groups 7 and 30 which includes the majority of the Penningtons living today in Ashe Co., NC, Smyth Co., VA, Washington Co., VA, and Johnson Co., TN.  One of my most challenging puzzles involved two Andrew Penningtons who had too many similarities.

Most of the Group 30 Pennington descend from Andrew Pennington b. 11 Oct 1809 in Ashe Co., NC.  He is the son of Abram Pennington.  Although Andrew had siblings – he seems to be the primary direct ancestor of most of the Smyth Co., and Washington Co., VA Pennington.  Andrew married Hester Ann Blevins about 1835 in Ashe Co., NC.  Hester was the daughter of James Blevins and Lydia Sizemore and along with two of her siblings married Pennington siblings.  Hester and Andrew had 14 children and both lived fairly long lives.  If you follow Andrew’s path in the census he is located in the following locations:
  • 1850 Census – Ashe Co., NC
  • 1860 Census – Western District, Washington Co., VA
  • 1870 Census – Abington, Washington Co. VA
  • 1880 Census – Holston, Washington Co., VA
  • Died 11 Oct 1882 – Smyth Co., VA and buried at Laurel Cemetery, Smyth Co., VA

By my count, Andrew and Hester had 72 grandchildren – it is no wonder that their descendants are so plentiful.

The second Andrew was born a few years later on 7 Sept 1813 in Ashe Co., NC.  He was the son of Ephraim Pennington b. 1769.  (I differentiate these Pennington sometimes by their birth years because there are multiple Penningtons with the same first name)  At first, it seemed possible that he was son of Levi Pennington b. 1794 and a brother of my 3rd great grandmother, Elizabeth Pennington.  There are 14 to 16 children that are attributed to Levi Pennington and Elizabeth Henson – however, this Andrew Pennington is not one of them.  Instead, he is a younger brother of Levi Pennington.  You might wonder how we came to that conclusion.  I say “we” because there were several people involved in looking at and studying the information.  We came to that conclusion after a close reading of a letter that we had a copy of that was written by Daniel Pennington, a younger brother of Andrew.  In this letter, Daniel is visiting his brother in Laurel Bloomery, Johnson Co., TN and talks about visiting his son’s uncle Levi the next day in Ashe Co., NC.  This meant that Levi was not Andrew’s father, but rather his brother and the Ephraim that he was recorded with in 1850 was most likely his father.  At the time I first started researching him – I didn’t realize the important role that Andrew played in my family’s history.  My 3rd Great grandmother, Elizabeth and her husband Alexander Monroe Dollar left Ashe Co., NC and moved to Laurel Bloomery, Johnson Co., TN sometime after 1880.  I’m sure they went to Laurel Bloomery because Elizabeth’s uncle was already living there with his family.  So…here is Andrew’s path through the census –
  • 1850 – Ashe Co., NC
  • 1860 – Ward’s Forge, Johnson Co., TN
  • 1870 – Taylorsville, Johnson Co., TN
  • 1880  - Johnson Co., TN
  • Died – 29 Dec 1894 – Shingletown, Johnson Co., TN (Laurel Bloomery area)
  • Buried – Wesley Methodist Church Cemetery, Shingletown, Johnson Co., TN

Andrew's grave at Wesley Methodist Church Cemetery - Johnson Co., TN
Andrew married Mary Elizabeth Pope around 1835 and were the parents of 8 children. Andrew married a second time after Mary Elizabeth Pope’s death to an Elizabeth Shepherd sometime after 1884.  Andrew and his wife had about 25 grandchildren.  However, if you look at those buried at Wesley Methodist Cemetery in Shingletown, I would estimate that about 70% of those buried there are somehow connected to Andrew and his descendants. 

View looking towards the Wesley Methodist Church from the cemetery.
So, when you research Andrew Pennington b. 1809 or Andrew Pennington b. 1813 you will find them in close geographic proximity in almost every census.  Not only is that a problem, when you look at census records, it is common to find mistakes in the years of birth.  So either one could easily be mistaken for the other – the only way to truly separate them is to look at their wives.  It took me a few years to locate them in all the census records and to build my database to include their children and other descendants.  Now, as a Pennington dies in the region – I spend the time to add their information to my database and attempt to connect them.  When I can’t connect them – I am often drawn in a whole other direction of research.  You might say that these two Andrew’s were my first tangents in other genealogy directions and I’ve never stopped looking at their families or adding new information to my database.  So my tale of two Andrews is always in flux and probably will never be complete.