John Gwin

Jane Walker

Page Updated 16 Jan 2013

The reformatting of the name font and census data for this page has NOT been completed. --John M. Gwin, Aug 2011

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Table of Contents for this page:

Section 01 John's Known Ancestors and Siblings:
An Outline of the Known Families of Richard and Isom Gwin
Section 02 And now meet John's and Jane's nine children:
An Outline of the Known Family of John and Jane (Abbreviated)
Section 03 Now here they are again in more detail:
The Same Outline of the Known Family of John and Jane (Expanded)
Section 04
What We Know and Think We Know:
Some Facts, Some Speculation
  (Notes A-J)
Section 05 John's and Jane's Marriage Certificate:
Blount Co. Courthouse, Maryville, TN
Section 06 Death, Deeds, and Diary:
Links to Other Relevant Places
Section 07
Section 08
Section 09
Section 10
Section 11
Section 12


An Outline of the Known Family:
John's Known Ancestors and Siblings

21.00--Richard Gwin, b. est. 1745 allegedly near Jamestown, Virginia, said to be of Scotch Irish descent; s/o unk. parents; d. unk.; bd. unk.; m. est. 1765 also allegedly near Jamestown, to Sarah Chesley; one known son: Isham.
22.00--Isham/Isom Gwin, /pronounced EYE-sum, EYE-zum, EYE-jum, etc./, b. ca. 1770 perhaps near Jamestown; d. Dec. 1830 in Orange Co., IN; bd. unk. place in Orange Co., IN; m. ca. 1786 in Montgomery Co., VA, to Mary Canterbury (b. in VA, d/o M/M Canterbury; d. 18__ in Orange Co., IN; we once erroneously believed Mary to be a Ms. Cleveland); at least 10 children and likely 11:
23.01--Polly Gwin, b. ca. 1787; m. Thomas Walker, Jr., of Blount Co., TN; [JMG Note: Children's names are from Isham's will. Also, this Thomas Walker is the brother of my ggg-grandma Jane Walker Gwin; another Walker brother, Joseph, a Blount Co. justice of the peace, issued the marriage license and performed the ceremony of his sister Jane and John Gwin.]

23.02--Elizabeth Gwin, b. 1788; m. David Denton (b. 1778 in Hampshire Co., VA--now WV);

The two children in this box--William and John--do not show up in Isham's will. This once gave us reason to believe they were not his children after all. However, the seven-year gap between Elizabeth (above, b. 1788) and Virginia (below, b. 1795), coupled with Will's and John's dates of birth, a statement in a biography of one of Isham's grandchildren that Isham had TEN children, and growing amounts of other evidence, have given us sufficient reason to believe (though not prove) they are Isham's and Mary's children as well, and we present them here as such, yet with this disclaimer.
23.03--William Gwin, b. ca. 1790, probably in Crowson's Cove, Sevier Co., TN; d. unk. but after 1830 (in Alabama? Mississippi? Louisiana? Texas?); bd. unk.; m. bef. 26 Jun 1813 (probably in Blount Co. or Sevier Co., TN) to Susanah Beard; at least 11 ch. (in 1830 census of Dallas Co., AL);

23.04--John Gwin, b. 7 Nov 1792 (from his gravestone--see photo) in (then) NC--per his report to the 1850, 1860, and 1870 AL Census takers of Dallas Co.--probably in "Crowson's Cove on Walden's Creek"--today's Wear's Cove on Cove Creek--in Sevier Co.;d. 7 Mar 1877 at Wilsonville, AL; m. age 19.5 on 8 Apr 1812 (original document found in Blount County Courthouse, Maryville, TN--see box below) in Blount Co., TN, by Justice of the Peace Joseph Walker (Jane's brother) to Jane "Jennie" Walker (above), (b. ca. 1794; d. at Cahaba after 16 Feb 1864 [Dallas Co., AL, Book _, p. 740, records a deed from John and Jane Gwin where they sell on 16 Feb 1864 to Conrad Hilderbrandt the east half of Lot #7 in the town of Cahaba, thus proving that Jane Gwin was alive on that day.] and after the 1866 Alabama census, but before the 1870 federal census; bd. at New Cem., Cahaba, Dallas Co., AL, beside their dau. Louisa A. Gwin McKnight--see note "I" below; d.o. Thomas Walker, Sr., and Elizabeth Magill, both of Virginia); nine children;

23.05--Virginia Jane Gwin, b. 1795; m1. (in Sevier Co., TN?) to Joseph Tipton; m2. (in IN) to Benjamin Weathers (his first wife was Ms. Bullington);

23.06--Isham Gwin II, b. 1797 in TN; d. unk.; bd. unk.; m1. according to county records, 1 Mar 1824 in Orange Co. to Betsy Snowden (b. unk.; d. unk.; bd. unk.); m2. a Mary Likens (b. unk.; d. unk.; bd. unk.); unk. ch.

23.07--? Gwin, b. 1799, b. unk.; d. unk.; bd. unk.; m. unk.; unk. ch.

[JMG Note: COULD THIS BE CHESLEY? We have reason to believe that there was indeed a child of Isham and Mary named Chesley, named for Isham's mother's maiden name. When he was born or where he would have appeared in the birth order is beyond speculation at this point.]

23.08--Richard W. Gwin, b. ca. 1804 (age 76 in 1880 census) in TN; m. 10 or 12 (book is not clear if this is the application date or the wedding date) Apr 1824 in Harrison Co., IN (IN Bk. 2, pg. 72, says Doris Gyarmati) to Nancy Watkins (b. ca. 1807--age 73 in 1880 census--in KY; both parents b. in MD); livg. in Independence, Montgomery Co., KS, in 1880 census;

23.09--Nancy Gwin, b. 1805 in TN; d. in IL; bd. in IL; m. Squire Huston (b. in KY; d. in IL; bd. in IL); all ch. in IL

23.10--Sarah Gwin, b. 1806 in TN; d. in KY; bd. in KY; m. 10 or 12 (book is not clear if this is the application date or the wedding date) Apr 1824 in Harrison Co., IN (IN Bk. 2, pg. 72, says Doris Gyarmati) to J. E. (William?) Huston; 

23.11--Manerva Gwin, b. 1807 in TN; d. after 1850; bd. in IN; m. Elijah Wright;

[JMG Note: Elijah's name from Doris Gyarmati (see note in 1850 census chart below).]

23.12--Mahala Gwin, b. 1805 in TN; d. in IL; bd. in IL; m. John B. Huston (b. in KY; d. in IL; bd. in IL); several ch.

And now meet John's and Jane's nine children:
An Outline of the Known Family of John and Jane (abbreviated)

23.04--John Gwin, b. 7 Nov 1792 (from his gravestone--see photo) in (then) NC--per his report to the 1850, 1860, and 1870 AL Census takers of Dallas Co.--probably in "Crowson's Cove on Walden's Creek"--today's Wear's Cove on Cove Creek--in Sevier Co.; d. 7 Mar 1877 at Wilsonville, AL; m. age 19.5 on 8 Apr 1812 (original document found in Blount County Courthouse, Maryville, TN--see box below) in Blount Co., TN, by Justice of the Peace Joseph Walker (Jane's brother) to Jane "Jennie" Walker (right), (b. ca. 1794; d. at Cahaba after 16 Feb 1864 [Dallas Co., AL, Book _, p. 740, records a deed from John and Jane Gwin where they sell on 16 Feb 1864 to Conrad Hilderbrandt the east half of Lot #7 in the town of Cahaba, thus proving that Jane Gwin was alive on that day.] but before 1870 census; bd. at New Cem., Cahaba, Dallas Co., AL, beside her dau. Louisa A. Gwin McKnight--see note "I" below; d.o. Thomas Walker, Sr., and Elizabeth Magill, both of Virginia); nine children;

24.01--Mary Gwin--b. ca.1813-1816 (33 in 1850 Census) d. unk.; m1. 27 Dec. 1838 to Drury H. Roark; m2. on 17 May 1849 to Mr. Abel Turner
Thomas Gwin--b. ca. 1814-1816; data unk.
Isom Gwin, b. 17 Mar 1817 in Dallas Co., AL Terr.; d. 7 Dec 1853; m. Mary Burdine Wilson; MBWG m2. 28 Jan 1859 to John Steadman
William Gwin  (18 Dec 1820--29 Apr 1889); m. 12 (13?) May 1842 Rosann "Roe" Carlisle Jones Wilson
Sarah Gwin, b. ca. 1826; d. 31 Mar 1885); m. 18 Mar 1841 to Louis Basset
Ann Gwin (ca. 1827--1845); m. 19 Jan 1843 to Joseph Lavalette Basset
-Martha J. Gwin (ca.1828--unk).; m. 22 Apr 1847 to Jesse Comelander
-Chesley R. Gwin; (ca.1828--after 1880); m1. 20 Mar 1850 Frances E. "Fannie" Bell; m2. a widow, Mrs. Blevins
Louisa A. Gwin; (ca. 1829-30--b. bef. 1830 census); m1?. Mr. Gaviness; m2. on 17 May 1849 Mr. Wm. G. (or J.) McKnight.

Now here they are again in more detail:
The Same Outline of the Known Family of John and Jane (Expanded)

24.01--Mary Gwin--b. 1817 in Dallas Co., AL (she is 33 in the 1850 census); d. unk., but prob. before 1860, since her daughter Anna Turner is living with her uncle and aunt then--(i.e., William and Louisa Gwin McKnight--see 24.09 below); m1. 27 Dec. 1838 (DCAMR, 1818-1918* also says 27 Dec 1838) in Dallas Co. (prob. Cahaba) to Drury Hampton Roark (b. 1812 in SC; d. 1846 in Dallas Co., AL; s/o Jesse Vaughn Roark and Nancy Ann Morris); one child;  m2. on 17 May 1849 in a double ceremony with sister Louisa by Rev. Cotten at (prob.) John's home to Abel Turner, the latter listed in the 1850 census at age 50 as a carpenter b. in NC and owning property valued at eight hundred dollars; also living in Turner's home in the 1850 census are his (second) wife Mary, 33; their daughter Anna, 4 mo.; and her son Walter J. Roark, 8.
25.01--Walter J. Roark; b. ca. 1842, Dallas Co., AL; age eight in the 1850 census and living with Abel and Mary (Roark, nee Gwin) Turner; but listed as age 15 in the 1860 Cahaba census and living with John and Jane in the Grice home then; enlisted in CSA 10 Apr 1861 at Cahaba, AL; was killed at the battle of Gettysburg 1 Jul 1863 at age 20 or 21;
m2. on 17 May 1849 to Abel Turner
25.02--Anna Turner, b. ca. June/July 1850; in the 1860 census, she is age 10 and living with her uncle and aunt, Louisa and Will McKnight in Cahaba; in the 1870 census, she is age 19 and living with her uncle and aunt, William and Roe Gwin in Wilsonville; m. their son and her own first cousin, Rufus King Gwin; 3 ch.;
[JMG NOTE:  Some of the info on Mary was provided me today--3 Aug 2000--by Gene W. Rogers (grogers@mcia.com) who, with many others, is researching this Roark family.   And today,  13 Feb 2001, I found even more info at a new-found cousin's webpage, http://www.phaenom.com/roark/jesse.htm#top.

From the 4 Nov 1850 U.S. Census of Cahawba Beat, Dallas Co., AL
JMG Comments
545 Abel Turner 50 M W Carpenter $800 NC

Mary Turner 33 F W

AL Mary Gwin, widow of Drury Roark, now married to Abel Turner; Mary's end is unk. to me, for in ten years her only son Walter (below) will be living with her parents in the home of another couple (the Grices) and her only daughter, Anna, will be living with her sister Louisa and her husband, William McKnight.

Anna Turner 4/12 F W

AL Annie Turner, who will marry her first cousin, Rufus King Gwin, and raise her family in Florida where she'll die and be buried.

Wr. J. Rowark 8 M W

AL Walter J. Roark, Mary's son by her first marriage, who will die in 13 years on the first day at Gettysburg while fighting for the Confederacy.

From the 2 Aug 1860 U.S. Census of Cahaba Town, Dallas Co., AL
Last name
First name
JMG Comments
575 / 567 McKnight W. I. (J.?)  42 M W Printer -- $600 SC

McKnight Louisa 26 F W


McKnight Elizabeth 13 F W

AL I speculate that this is (probably) William's daughter by an earlier marriage, making her Louisa's step-daughter.

Turner Anna 10 F W

AL Perhaps Anna is here visiting her aunt and uncle--likely spending some summer days with her step-cousin Elizabeth.

Brown Z. 21 M W


24.02--Thomas Gwin--I had seen absolutely nothing on this son but his name, but he was in Uncle James' notes, so I included him.  And when I later saw John Gwin's family in the 1830 census, there were indeed four sons.  Accounting for the other three, that meant Thomas had to be born between 1814 and 1815.  Then I read a copy of a letter that Linda Derry, Archaeologist and Director at Old Cahawba, had written to my now-late cousin Roy Lester Smith, in which she said that a Thomas Gwin was mentioned (in a news article?) as having helped put out a fire in a lumber mill in Orrville, Dallas Co, in 1859.  If this is he, he'd likely have been in his mid 30's at the time.  Anyone know more about him?

24.03--Isom Gwin, b. 17 Mar 1817 in Dallas Co., AL territory (age 33 in 16 Nov, 1850 census of Pences or Athens Bt., Dallas Co., AL); d. 7 Dec 1853, age 36, only; served Dallas Co. for several years as Justice of the Peace; m.  Mary Burdine Wilson (sister of William's wife Roe, below) in Cahaba; [MBWG m2. 28 Jan 1859 to John Steadman according to LDS IGI file]; on 16 Nov 1850, Isham and Mary were living next door to Mary's parents, Nathaniel B. and Jane Wilson, and next door (on the other side) to Jesse Rasco, 38, of Kentucky, who was living alone; 2 children, one of whom is adopted;

Isom and Mary B. W. Gwin
16 Nov 1850 U.S. Census of Pences Beat, Dallas Co., Alabama
Last Name
First Name
736 / 736 Gwinn I. 33 M W Farmer $900
AL Isom (spelled this way because of the spelling on his and his daughter Mary Jane's tombstone--see below) Gwin

Gwinn Mary B. 34 F W

SC Mary Burdine Wilson Gwin, daughter of Nathaniel Burdine Wilson and Jane Jones, my ggg-grandparents, and sister of Roseanne Carlisle Jones Wilson, my gg-grandma.

Gwinn Mary J. 12 F W

AL Mary Jane Gwin, wife-to-be of William J. Smith; she is buried in the cemetery sw of Orrville across the road (Co. Rd. 21) from the old St. Luke's Episcopalean church that once stood in Cahaba; mother-to-be of Robert Isom Smith, her only child.

Gwinn Martha R. 6 F W

AL Martha Roseanne Gwin, who will marry first Madison "Matt" Holley and second Bryant Brown Lester.

From the 25 Jul 1860 U.S. Census of Orrville Beat, Orrville, Dallas Co., AL

Last Name
First Name
437 / 429 Steadman John 59 M W Clergy (MP) $9,400 $30,410 GA Rev. John Steadman, most likely the pastor of the church Isom and Mary attended in Athens and who most likely preached Isom's funeral. When his wife died, he married Isom's widow, Mary. The fact that this is Orrville Beat (post office is Orrville) does not mean they lived in Orrville, though that is possible. They may have been living still in the Athens parsonage of the Methodist Episcopal church at what is now Martin's Station.

Steadman M. B. 43 F W

SC Mary Burdine Wilson Gwin Steadman, widow of Isom Gwin.

Walker J. F. 27 M W Farmer $1,000

Walker E. M. 26 F W


Walker J. B. 5 M W


Walker L. E. 3 F W

25.01--Mary Jane Gwin, b. 31 Oct 1838 (age 12 in 16 Nov, 1850 census of Pences or Athens Bt., Dallas Co., AL, but age 24 in the 1860 census) date taken from gravestone; m.  22 Dec 1853 (according to LDS IGI file and gravestone) to William J. Smith (b. ca. 1833--age 27 in the 1860 census); d. 17 Jul 1871, age 32 years, 8 months, 17 days; bd. north of Co. Rd. 21 across from the old Cahaba Episcopal church less than a mile from Hwy. 22 south of Orrville in Dallas Co., AL; one child;

William J., Mary Jane (nee Gwin), and Robert Isom Smith

25.02--Martha Rosanna "Mattie" Gwin, b. 5 Apr 1843 (but gravestone says 1844) in Dallas Co.; d. 15 Sep 1923 (but gravestone says 14 Sep) at age 80 of heart failure in Perry Co., AL, where she had lived 14 years (according to death certificate); bd. 16 Sep 1923 by J. A. Bice at Mars Hill Cem. near Marion, Perry Co., AL (gravestone is reported to say: "Lewis Independent Cavalry, from 1860 to 1865, CSA, 1833-1873"; lived and died at Perry Ridge community, Hamburg, AL, near Marion; an uncle was a Dr. [must be Isham Griffin] Wilson of Demopolis. [John M. Gwin Note: My double-fourth cousin Barbara Ward, who descends from Martha and second husband Bryant, once thought that Martha was adopted.  Thanks to some of Barbara's excellent sleuthing, however, we're all now certain that Martha is the natural daughter of Isom and Mary.]

m1. 7 Sep 1860 in Athens, AL, for 12+ years to Madison "Matt" Holley (b. 7 Aug 1827, d. 6 Dec. 1872, in Marion, Perry Co., AL; bd. Mars Hill Cem. near Marion, Perry Co., AL.; six children by Matt Holley, (only three--Minnie, Carlos, and Clarance--survived to the 1880 census) and four by B.B. Lester;

MRGH m2. 6 Jan l881 (her age was 38, his 30) at the home of the bride in Perryridge, Perry Co., by Rev. A. J . Kynard, to Bryant Brown Lester, (b. 8 Mar 1851 at Perryridge, Perry Co., AL; s/o Thomas P. Lester and Sarah Ann Brown and brother of Mrs. Maggie Lester Henley who was living in Marion at the time of BBL's death, according to his obit. in the Selma Times Standard of Weds., 19 Jan 1941; d. 28 Jan 1941, age 89, at Hamburg, Perry Co., AL; bd. Mars Hill Cem., near Marion, Perry Co., AL; spent his entire life in Perry Co. as a farmer, according to his obit.); four children by Bryant Lester, 10 total;

From the 5 Jul 1860 U.S. Census of Athens Beat, Liberty Hill Post Office,  Dallas Co., AL

Res./Fam. Last Name First Name Age Sex Race Occupation Real
267 / 262 Smith W. J. 27 M W Blacksmith $1200 $10,453 TN

Smith M. J. 24 F W Keeping house


Smith R. I. 4 M W

AL Robert Isom Smith, s/o Wm. and Mary Jane, who will be their only surviving child at her death in 1871, implied from her gravestone.

Cobb J. H. 32 M W Clerk


Cobb A. H. 23 F W


Bowden J. B. 19 M


From the 26 Aug 1870 U.S. Census of Liberty Hill P.O., Dallas Co., AL

Res./Fam. Last Name First Name Age Sex Race Occupation Real
POB Can't
284/289 Smith W. J. 38 M W Blacksmith $1200 $800 TN checked checked William J. Smith, who is a business partner with his wife's uncle, Chesley R. Gwin (see below)

Smith M. J. 30 F W Keeping house

AL checked checked Mary Jane Gwin, d/o Isom Gwin and Mary Burdine Wilson

Smith R. I. 14 M W Attends school


Robert Isom Smith, s/o Wm. and Mary Jane, who will be their only surviving child at her death in 1871, implied from her gravestone.

Wilson N. B. 77 M W

SC checked checked Nathaniel Burdine Wilson, Mary Jane's maternal grandfather

Stedman M. B. 50 F W

SC checked checked Mary Burdine Wilson Gwin Steadman, d/o of NB Wilson (above) and widow of Isom Gwin AND of Rev. Steadman also!

Smith M. J., Jr. (sic) 16 F (sic) W

AL checked checked If this is Mary Jane Smith and a daughter of William and Mary Jane, why is she not listed in the 1860 census (above)?

Smith Ida 6 F W

AR (sic)!

Jennings Margaret 45 F B Domestic servant

VA checked checked Probably (from her age) a former slave; had she been held by Isom Gwin?

24.04--William Gwin  (middle name unk.)--My great-great grandpa!--b. 18 Dec 1820 at Cahaba, AL; d. 29 Apr 1889 at Wilsonville, AL, bd. there also; m. 12 May 1842 in Cahaba to Roseann "Roe" Carlisle Jones Wilson (sister of Isham's wife Mary B., above--Roe b. 22 Aug. 1822, d. 29 Mar 1907 at Tampa, FL; bd. at Wilsonville, AL);   according to Rev. Cotten's diary entries, William and Roe and his parents were very active in the founding of and service in the Methodist church in Cahaba; William and Roe and their family show up in Oakleyville, Bibb Co., AL, in the 1860 census, and Linda Derry's 1992 letter to Roy Smith says that she has "an advertisement of Oakley & Gwin's Lumber Mill on the Selma and Tennessee Railroad";

[JMG NOTE:  Roe died in Tampa, FL, where she likely had been living at the home of her granddaughter, Mary Alice Lochridge and MAL's husband William Russell Ham--see notes on this family at my Lochridge page.]
25.01--Mary Ann Elizabeth Gwin b. 23 April 1843; d. 23 Jan 1882; m. 25 Jan 1866, Dallas Co., AL, to Robert Guy Lochridge

25.02--Martha Jane Gwin (1845-1847); -- died as infant

25.03--William Sutton Gwin, b. 5 Jun 1848, at Cahaba, AL; d. 11 Sep 1916 at Wilsonville; m. 2 Dec 1868 to Ida E. Basset

25.04--John Wesley Gwin, D. O. b. 15 Mar 1851; d. 29 Aug. 1877, age 26;

25.05--Rufus King Gwin b. 16 May 1853; d. 20 Aug 1927; m. Ann Turner

25.06--Lucy Marcella Gwin b. 1 Dec 1855; d. 22 Feb 1871, age 16

25.07--Isham Griffin Gwin, Sr. b. 25 Sep 1858; d. 21 Dec 1919; m. 1881 to Mary Etta (Molly) Self

25.08--Thomas Wilson Gwin b. 10 Feb. 1863; d. 1877;

From the 4 Nov 1850  U.S. Census of Cahawba Beat, Dallas Co., AL
Last name
First name
547 Guinn William 29 M W Carpenter $800 AL William Gwin

Guinn Roseann 28 F W

AL Roseann Carlisle Jones Wilson Gwin

Guinn Elizabeth 7 F W

AL Mary Ann Elizabeth Gwin, bride-to-be of Robert Guy Lochridge

Guinn William 3 M W

AL William Sutton Gwin, groom-to-be of Ida Eliza Basset

24.05--Sarah Gwin b. ca. 1826--age 34 in 1860 Census--see record under Louis' name on Basset page; d. Tues., 31 Mar 1885 in Waco, TX, at her daughter Emma McCulloch's home); m. 18 Mar 1841 [date from LDS IGI file and Dallas Co. AL Marriage Records 1818-1918 (compiled by McLaughlin & Vintson)--that makes her m. at age 15 or so] to Louis Basset (b. 27 Feb 1814; d. unk.); 2 ch.;
25.01--Emma Basset, b. 3 Aug 1843 Tuscaloosaa, AL; m. 22 May 1867 Champe Carter McCullough (1841-1907); ten children

25.02--Ann Adelia Basset b. 1846, died young

24.06--Maryann "Ann" Gwin b. ca. 1827 (source: process of elimination based on the ages of the nine children of John and Jane in the 1830 census); d. 1845; m. 19 Jan 1843 to Joseph Lavalette Basset (b. 25 Nov 1821 in England; d. 27 Aug 1865, age 43--killed by an exploding mill rock while running a sawmill in Wilsonville, AL); Joseph at age 28 in the 1850 census is now married to a second wife, Ms. Louisa (Catherine High Blann) Basset (age 23 and native of SC); Ann and Joseph have one child; Louisa gives Joseph four more for a total of five for him;
25.01--Emily Basset, b. ca. 1844 (age 6 in 1850 census); d, unk.; bd. unk.; m. unk.; unk. ch.

U.S. Census of Dallas Co., Alabama, Cahawba Beat, 4 Nov 1850
Last name
First name
548 Basset Joseph 28 M W Carpenter $1500 England

Basset Louisa 23 F W

SC Louisa Catherine High (widow of Sandford Blann) Basset, probable sister of Mary High, same residence, below

Basset Emily 6 F W

AL Emily H. Basset--Daughter and only child of Ann Gwin Basset and Joseph Basset.

Basset Margaret 1 F W

AL Margaret Revel Basset, b. 29 Sep 1849; (baptised 21 Apr 1850 at Cahawba by Rev. James L. Cotten); d. 18 Dec 1903, age 53; never married; no known ch.

High Mary 15 F W

AL Probable sister of Louisa; both grew up right down the street from the Blanns and the Gwins

Bridger Henry 19 M W Carpenter

24.07--Martha J. (I?). Gwin, b. ca.1828 (age 22 on 7 Nov 1850 in census); d. unk.; m. 22 Apr 1847 (DCAMR, 1818-1918* concurs) in Dallas Co., AL, to Jesse Comelander, (spelled Comalander on Amanda's gravestone and in Cotten's diary, below) who was first married to Amanda J. Harris [b. 13 Sep 1824; d. 3 Jul 1846 according to her gravestone at the Old Cahaba Cem.]  on 26 Oct 1844 (this from the book of  DALLAS COUNTY, ALABAMA, MARRIAGES, MARRIAGE BOOK I: 1818 - 1845, pg 281);

[JMG NOTE:  The existence of this seventh child of John and Jane Gwin came as a complete surprise to me, as Uncle James did not have any records of her.  Barbara Smith had sent the name with a summary of her late husband Roy's work on the family, the printout dated 18 Sep 1995; therefore, evidently Roy had known about Martha for some time.  But none of the documentation was included, so I had no idea whence it came.  The existence of Jesse Comelander was documented, however, appearing in the Wed., 12 Dec 1849 entry of Rev. Cotten's diary where he records, regarding one of the prisoners who was to be executed by hanging that day, that "His hands were bound behind him in an unfeeling manner by Jesse Comalander."  As this event occurred some two and a half years after the alleged marriage of Jesse and Martha, Cotten would have had no cause to mention as fact that Jesse was married to John Gwin's daughter Martha.  And now, 25 Oct 2001, I read in the 1850 Dallas Co. census that Jesse Comelander, age 46, a mechanic, and native of SC, did indeed reside at residence 560 (valued at 2800 dollars) with a woman, "Martha J.", age 22 of AL (young enough to be his daughter!) and five children: J.W., a male age 11; M. J., a female age 8; Elizabeth, age 6; G. P., a male age 3; and Jesse, a male age 1.  But she is John and Jane's daughter, and she is stepmom to at least two of the five children--and possibly twin sister to Chesley, also listed in the same census as age 22!]

25.01--J. W. Comelander, a stepson to Martha, b. ca. 1839 to Jesse and Amanda (age 11 in 1850 census);

25.02--M. J. Comelander, a stepdaughter to Martha, b. ca. 1842 to Jesse and Amanda (age 8 in 1850 census);

25.03--Elizabeth Comelander, a stepdaughter to Martha, b. ca. 1844 to Jesse and Amanda (age 6 in 1850 census);

25.04--G. P. Comelander, a stepson or son to Martha, b. ca. 1847 to Jesse and Amanda? (age 3 in 1850 census);

25.05--Jesse Comelander, a son to Martha, b. ca. 1849 (age 1 in 1850 census);

25.00--T. E. Comalander, b. unk.--no birth date listed on gravestone; d.28 Jun 1846, 5 days before the death of Jesse's first wife Amanda Harris Comalander; bd. in the Old Cahaba Cem., Cahaba, AL; this could be (but not necessarily is) Jesse's child, but not Martha's;  also bd. there are a woman likely to be Jesse's sister and a child, b. 5 days before the "sister" dies; therefore, she is likely the mother of this child.

[John M. Gwin NOTE:  The LDS IGI file (of legendary inaccuracy!), while listing correctly our Martha J. Gwin marrying on 22 Apr 1847 in Dallas Co. to Jesse Comelander, ALSO LISTS a Martha J. Gwin marrying on 28 Oct 1847--only 6 months later--in Dallas Co. to a Mr. Richard West!]
U.S. Census of Dallas Co., Alabama, Cahawba Beat, 4 Nov 1850
Last name
First name
560 Comelander Jesse 46 M W Mechanic $2800 SC A widower who evidently needed a mother for his three (if not four) children 

Comelander Martha 22 F W


Comelander I. W. 11 M W


Comelander M. I. 8 F W


Comelander Eliz. 6 F W


Comelander G. P. 3 M W


Comelander Jesse 1 M W

AL Possibly the only one of these five children who is the child of Martha and Jesse, as most if not all of the others are Martha's step-children, Jesse's by his first wife.

24.08--Chesley ("Chess"--although Rev. Cotten consistently but mistakenly calls him Charley, according to the early transcriptions of his diary) R. Gwin; b. ca.1828 (age 22 on 7 Nov 1850 in census, but age 33 on 5 Jul 1860 census); m1. 20 Mar 1850 at Bogue Chitto, Dallas Co., AL, to Mary Frances Elizabeth "Fannie" Bell, (b. ca. 1830--listed on 7 Nov 1850 census as age 20--she and C.R. Gwin are the only two people living in the home of John and Jane Gwin in that census; listed on 7 Jul 1860 census as M. F. Gwin, age 29--could her full name have been Mary Frances Elizabeth Bell?); allegedly daughter of a "Hard-shell" Baptist preacher; raised a big family (and Alice Foster-Blevins' Rootsweb site states that two of these children were a son, Chesley, and a daughter, Fannie, although no other info is listed); 3 children listed on the 1860 census (see below); m2. a widow, Mrs. Blevins

In her 1992 letter to Roy L. Smith, Linda Derry said she had "some ads from the Dallas Gazette that mention the Wagonshop of William J. Smith and Chesley Gwin in Liberty Hill;" and while the only Liberty Hill now in Alabama is in the northeast corner of the state, my cemetery records book of Dallas Co. shows a Liberty cemetery about a mile south of White's Bluff on County Road 2--this would be about ten miles southwest of Cahaba, a very likely candidate for the site of this wagon mill.  And sure enough, the census of 5 July 1860  of Liberty Hill, Athens Beat, Dallas Co., AL, lists the C.R. Gwin family as living in residence #266, with the family of Wm. J. Smith living next door in #267.
The 1860 Census of Athens Beat, Liberty Hill Post Office, Dallas Co., AL, on 5 July lists C.R. Gwin, 33, wagonmaker, with real estate valued at $800 and personal property at $6425, b. in AL; wife M. F. Gwin, 29, b. in AL; and children W. J. Gwin, 8, male; J. J. Gwin, 6, male; and Enoch Gwin, 2, male, all b. in AL.

The 1880 Census of Dallas Co., AL, lists C. R. Gwin, age 53, a white, married, male, living in Browns, AL, with his wife, P. B., age 45, and a son, C. J., age 14.  I believe this is Chesley R. for at least these 3 reasons: his age matches, his wife's middle initial B. could easily be for Blevins, and Browns is only about 9 miles nw of Bogue Chitto and less than a mile e. of Belvue where Chesley's grand-nephew (and my grandfather!) James Basset Gwin was born  21 Apr 1872. 

Mary Bell Guin
, d.o. C.R. and M.E. Guin, listed as b. 1 Mar 1856 and d. 22 Jun (no yr) is bd. in the Bell Family Cem., e. of Rt. 5 on the county rd. at Weissinger Lakes, about 3 mi. s. of Browns, Dallas Co., AL.

[JMG NOTE:  Chesley is the maiden name of the alleged patriarch Richard Gwin's wife Sarah.  Uncle James used this fact to reinforce the alleged reliability of the Richard Gwin story.  But Rev. Cotten calls him Charley more than once, with no mention of Chesley.  Was Cotten hard of hearing, misinterpreting Chesley for Charley?  Or could the full name have been Charles Chesley R. Gwin?  Could the transcriber have misread Charley for Chesley?  Charley, in Cotten's 22 March 1850 entry, was "getting married tonight to Miss Bell at Bogue Chitto".  A few months before my dad, Adrian S. Gwin, died, I asked him where Bogue Chitto is, and he said he guessed it was somewhere on Bogue Chitto Creek, which his family had to cross every time they went from McDowell to Selma and back--he said it's pronounced BOH-guh CHIT-uh Creek).  Sure enough, in January 2002, several miles west of Cahaba on County Road 180, I found this community and walked through the graveyard of one of the old churches there.]

25.01--W. J. Gwin, a son, b. ca. 1852 (age 8 in the 1860 census); d. unk.; bd. unk; m. unk; unk children;

25.02--J. J. (or I.I., J.I., or I.J.) Gwin, a son, b. ca. 1854 (age 6 in the 1860 census); d. unk.; bd. unk; m. unk; unk children;

[John M. Gwin Note:  a John Guin, b. 24 Dec 1853, d. 4 Oct 1907, bd. in the Bell Cem. just south of Browns in northwest Dallas Co., is listed in Vital Data from Cemeteries in Dallas County, Alabama, Central Alabama Genealogical Society, 1989; therefore, I speculate that one of the initials of this second child is "J" for this same John and that the other initial is "I" for "Isom".]

25.03--Mary Bell Gwin, b. 1 Mar 1856, according to headstone; d. 22 Jun 1857; bd. in the Bell family cem. nears Browns, Dallas Co., AL (see gravestone photos);

25.04--Enoch Gwin, b. ca. 1858 (age 2 in the 1860 census); d. unk.; bd. unk; m. unk; unk children;

25.00?--C. J. Gwin, b. ca. 1866 (age14 in 1880 census); d. unk.; bd. unk.; m. unk.; (unclear at this time if he is a son of Chesley's first wife, M. F. E. Bell, or his second, P. B.); unk. ch.

CRG m2. a widow, Mrs. Paralee Blevins (nee unk.; b. ca. 1835?--age 45 in 1880 census; d. unk.; bd. unk.; m[1?]. to Mr. Blevins);

24.09--Louisa A. Gwin; b. ca. 1832 (age 18 in Nov 1850 census); d. unk.; bd. at the New Cemetery, Cahaba, Dallas Co., AL, in the Gwin plot beside her mother Jane--gravestone reads "In Memory of Louisa A. McKnight" (so it may have been placed there at a much later time than her death, though it looks to be similar to others located there); allegedly m1. Mr. Gaviness, prob. in Dallas Co.; m2. on 17 May 1849 in a double ceremony with sister Mary Gwin Roark (4.2 above) by Rev. Cotten at (prob.) John's home (it was not at the church, because Rev. Cotten's diary entry of that date states that he went from the wedding that night back to the church where he worked on his sermon) to William J. McKnight, (b. ca. 1829--the 1850 census lists him as a printer of age 21, owning property valued at seven hundred dollars, being a native of SC, and living at residence 599 with his wife, L.A., age 18; bd. in the New Cemetery, Cahaba, Dallas Co., AL--Find A Grave Memorial# 19541437, but his stone is uprooted, broken, and perhaps in the wrong place--when I was there Jan 2002 [and again in 2005 and 2008], it was lying inside the fence in the Ulmer plot, some fifty yards from the grave of his wife, Louisa, whose stone, as mentioned above, is located beside that of her mother, Jane Gwin; his stone reads, in part, "WM. McKNIGH...").

U.S. Census of Dallas Co., AL, Cahawba Beat, Liberty Hill P.O.
4 Nov
Last name
First name
Can't Read
or Write
585 Gwin John 58 M W Wheelwright $1200 TN checked This is my ggg-grandpa, John Gwin, master wheelwright.

Gwin Jane 56 F W

This is his wife, my ggg-grandma, Jane Walker Gwin.

Gwin C. R. 22 M W

This is my gg-granduncle, Chesley Richard Gwin, named for his grandfather's parents, Richard Gwin and Sarah Chesley. Chesley has learned the trade of wheelwright from his father.

Gwin Frances E. 20 F W

And this is his new bride, Mary Frances Elizabeth "Fannie" Bell Gwin, of Bogue Chitto, Dallas Co., AL.

U.S. Census of Dallas Co., AL, Athens Beat, Liberty Hill P.O.
5 Jul
Last name
First name
266/261 Gwin C. R. 33 M W Wagon Maker $800 $6425 AL

Gwin M. F. 29 F W

AL Mary Frances "Fannie" Elizabeth Bell must have been pregnant with Little Fannie at this time.  It's the last time we see her alive.  We know she was alive to give birth to Little Chesley in about 1866, but what happened?  Did she die in childbirth with him?  She is not mentioned in the book Vital Data from Cemeteries in Dallas County, Alabama as being buried in the Bell cemetery (near Browns) where her daughter Mary Bell Gwin is buried. 

Gwin W. J. 8 M W


Gwin J. J. (I. I.?  J.I.?) 6 M W

AL see my note in the outline above

Gwin Enoch 2 M W


U.S. Census of Dallas Co., AL, Liberty Hill P.O.,
26 Aug 1870
Res./Fam. Last name First name Age Sex Race Occ. Real 
POB Att. sch.
w/in this year
288/293 Gwin C. R. 43 M W Merchant $200 $500 AL
This is Chesley, John's and Jane's youngest son, who is now a widower--wife-of-his-youth Fannie has left him with three teens and a toddler to raise alone.  It is clear that he needed some help, and the widow, Paralee Blevins, would come along just in time.

Gwin John 16 M W attends school

AL Yes

Gwin Enoch 12 M W attends school

AL Yes

Gwin Fannie 10 F W attends school

AL Yes

Gwin Charlie 4 M W

This is whom Alice Foster-Blevins calls Chesley Gwin (son of Chesley and Fannie).  Please take a look at Anna Todd's email immediately following regarding this "Charlie". 

Here's a most interesting e.mail regarding Chesley R.'s son Chesley J.:

From: Anna Todd anna_todd2 at yahoo dot com
Date: Fri Sep 12, 2003  06:17:40 PM US/Mountain
To: jmcdgwin@zianet.com
Subject: Possible match for C J Gwin born c.1866

Hello John,

I happened across your web page today.  I have a Chesley James Gwin in my family tree that I think might be a match to the C J Gwin you have listed on your page, although at this point I cannot say with 100 percent certainty that this person is the same C J Gwin.

I've pieced together the following information using census records and what little information my father has been able to share.
My great-grandmother's second husband was Chesley James Gwin, born c.1866 in Alabama.  By my calculations (using the 1910 census) he married Elizabeth "Bessie" Flynn Boyd, born c. 1863 in Ireland, about 1902, somewhere in northern California.  Prior to that (per the 1900 census) Bessie Boyd and her two sons lived in Sonora Township, Tuolumne County, California.

The 1910 census shows Chesley, Bessie and Robert (my grandfather) living in Contra Costa County, in the unincorporated town of Bay Point.  They had been married for 8 years at that point and Bessie had given birth to four more children (none of whom lived past early childhood.)

By 1920 they had moved to Alameda County, to the city of Berkeley.  In this census Chesley is listed as Charles W. Gwin and he worked as a grocer.  Bessie and Chesley appeared one more time in census records; in 1930 they were still living in Berkeley and owned the grocery store.

My father tells me that Bessie and Chesley moved in with my grandparents in the early 1930's, not long before they died (both from cancer, Bessie on 5/21/34, Chesley on 12/31/36.)  They were cremated, and for years their ashes sat on a shelf in my grandparents' garage.  Eventually the ashes were spread on a mountain side somewhere in Northern California (not sure of the location.)  No personal effects of Bessie or Chesley remain.

I'd love to know where Chesley was between the time of the 1880 census and the time he married my great-grandmother.  I doubt I'll ever be unable to uncover anything though.

I hope that this information is of use to you.

Anna Todd

U.S. Census of Dallas Co., AL, Cahaba Town, 9 Nov 1850
Last name
First name
529 / 599 McKnight Wm. J. 21 M W Printer $700 SC I don't know why there is such a discrepancy between William's age here and in the 1860 census, below.

McKnight L. A. 18 F W

AL This is Louisa A. Gwin McKnight. We have her exact date of marriage from the diary of the pastor who married her and Bill McKnight.

U. S. Census of Dallas Co., AL, Cahaba Town, 2 Aug 1860
Last name
First name
575 / 567 McKnight W. I. (J.?)  42 M W Printer -- $600 SC I don't know why there is such a discrepancy between William's age here and in the 1850 census, above.

McKnight Louisa 26 F W


McKnight Elizabeth 13 F W

AL I speculate that this is either William's daughter by an earlier marriage or his younger sister.

Turner Anna 10 F W

AL Somewhere between 1850 and 1860, Mary and Abel must have died

Brown Z. 21 M W



What We Know and Think We Know:
Some Facts, Some Speculation--(Notes A-J)


A...I theorize that John was born in or near Sevier County, Tennessee, which in 1792 was still a part of North Carolina; he himself later testified in every census that he was born in Tennessee.  Further, I now have a copy of the deed to the land that an Isham Gwin--whom we're all but positive is John's father--had surveyed in Seveir Co., TN, in 1807 (and likely owned earlier than that).  John was four years old when TN became the sixteenth state to enter the Union in 1796. This would explain why some say he was born in the Carolinas and others in Tennessee.  John may have never learned to read and write--at least, he testified to the census taker in 1850 at age 58 that he still could not read and write.

B...We know from their marriage certificate that when he was nineteen, John married Jane Walker on 8 Apr 1812 in Blount Co. (see above), possibly at the home of her father, Thomas Walker (which was located in Blount Co. right up the creek from where we now know--from the property deed--the Isham Gwin property in Sevier County, TN, was) at the same time that young men his age were enlisting in the military to fight the War of 1812.  He likely joined them, in my opinion, and this would perhaps help explain why he and Jane, his brother William and his wife Susannah, and possibly one other brother, Chesley, left Tennessee for middle Alabama instead of going to Indiana with his parents and siblings and their families--he'd no doubt already been there in Alabama during the battles with the Native Americans of that region and had wanted to "get in on the ground floor" when Alabama was getting ready to become the twenty-second state. Further, we have the testimony of Isham's grandson, William W. Gwin, that Isham had moved to Indiana to escape the evils of slavery, and that John had no such scruples, holding slaves himself in Alabama; therefore, another reason for John and William going south when Isham went north was likely due to this disagreement.

C...We know from his gravestone that John lived to be 84.5 years of age, and people who knew and remembered him and heard and wrote down his oral traditions carried them well into the middle 1900's.  Two of the most exciting finds to me have been (1) the diary of Rev. James L. Cotten in Cahawba, AL, with almost daily journal entries for several years, many of which entries include references to the Methodist pastor's close friends and brothers in Christ, this same John "Old Brother" Gwin and his son William, and (2) the complete 7-volume set of the Compendium of American Genealogy in which it is highly probable, in my opinion, that the source of its information on this line is the memory of John himself.

D...We know (from many documents) that John had siblings, and at least one of them (from the 1820 and 1830 censuses) migrated south with him: the William Gwin who appears in several censuses in and near Cahaba, Dallas Co., AL, the same place John and Jane settled.  John's and Jane's third son and fourth child, William, was probably named for him.  Another may have been Chesley R. Gwin, and if so, their last son was certainly named for him.

E...In July 2003 I visited with the director of the Old Cahawba Project Office in Selma, AL, Ms. Linda Derry, who was then in the process of continuing her transcription of the above-mentioned diary of Rev. J. L. Cotten.  She'd earlier confirmed my theory that there must have been widespread advertising of the establishment of the Town of Cahawba and that John and others may have seen or heard of it and been attracted to go there.  She said newspapers carried such ads as far north as Ohio, and many people were caught up in the appeal of getting in on the ground floor of a new community that would make them their fortunes.  Indeed, something--maybe these same ads--attracted my Wilson family from South Carolina and my Basset kin to come to America from as far away as England, and most of them, too, ended up in Cahawba!

F...We know (from census documents, deeds, photographs, etc.) that John and his bride--and at least two and perhaps other Gwin and Walker relatives--moved from Tennessee to Cahaba.  Exactly when the move was made is not clear, but surely the ads would not have gone out until the latter half of the decade when Cahawba was planned and founded and the territory became a state.  Further, with the problems that many Tennesseeans seemed to be having with taxes there, coupled with the creation of the new Alabama Territory after the War of 1812 (and the promise of another new state), and since many East Tennessee vets had already been there during the various campaigns and had seen Alabama's beauty and potential, many made the move.  All documentation of which I've heard thus far supports Dallas County, AL, as the birthplace of at least seven of John and Jane Gwin's children.  Their thirdborn, Isom, is proven (from his gravestone) to have been born 17 Mar 1817 in Alabama (but definitely not in Dallas Co.--evidence indicates Shelby Co.), so it's clear that they were there no later than early 1817.

G...I interpolate--from a photo of the actual pages of the 1830 Census for Dallas Co., AL--what was the birth order of John's and Jane's family.   On page 78 is a head of household named John "Gwinn", aged 30-39 (my John Gwin, born 1792, would've been 38 on 7 Nov 1830) with a female, aged 30-39; I have his wife, Jane Walker, in the 1850 census at age 56, so she was born in 1793 or 94 and would've been, in 1830, about age 36).

Also listed are nine children--5 girls and 4 boys (this concurs with my records, below) aged as follows:
ages 15-19:  one girl and one boy----------(Mary and Thomas)
ages 10-14:  no girls and one boy----------(Isom)
ages 5-9  one girl and one boy--------------(Sarah and William)
ages 0-4:  three girls and one boy----------(Martha, Ann, Louisa, and Chesley--two of whom, Chesley and Martha, may have been twins)

1.  The oldest girl (b. 1811-1815, from this census) is clearly Mary (one of my sources has her as b. 1817, but this cannot be right, since we have Isom's DOB solidly proven as 17 Mar 1817; therefore, she must be at least two years older than this source thought).

The second oldest boy is clearly Isom (tombstone lists DOB as 17 Mar 1817), whose obituary in the Dallas Gazette of Dec. 23, 1853, lists his date of death as 7 Dec 1853 and his age as 36 (i.e., "in the 37th year of his age"); he'd have been 12 until March 1830 and 13 for the rest of the year; therefore, he can be no other than the male in the 10-14 age bracket.

The fourth and fifth oldest are a girl (b. 1821-1825)--this has to be Sarah (b. ca. 1826)--and William (b. 18 Dec 1820), who'd have been age nine at the time of the census.

The oldest boy, then, by process of elimination, must be Thomas (b. 1813-1815) since Isom and William are established by their dates of birth to be second and third born, and Chesley, 22 in Nov 1850 (census) and thus born in 1827 or 1828, can be no older than three in 1830.

The sixth through ninth oldest are the remaining three of the five girls and Chesley:

Ann is probably oldest of this group, because although her date of birth is unknown, all the following happened before the Nov 1850 census: (1) she married Joseph Basset, (2) had their daughter Emily, and (3) died, and (4) Joseph married Catherine "Kitty" Louisa High Blann--from SC, who was age 23 and already Joseph's wife in the 1850 census);

Martha and Chesley, both b. 1828--both age 22 in the Nov 1850 census--are likely twins, but not necessarily;

Louisa, dob ca. 1830--age listed as 18 in 1850, although she was clearly already born by census time of 1830.

H...We know that the 1850, 1860, and 1870 censuses report John as follows:
On 8 Nov 1850, John "Gwinn" was residing in household 585 at age 58.  A wheelwright by profession, he owned property valued at 1,200 dollars, listed his birth state as Tennessee, and confessed that he was a "person over 20 years of age who cannot read and write."

His wife, Jane, listed her age as 56 and her state of birth as Tennessee.

Living in the home with them was their son, C. R., age 22 and also a wheelwright but born in Alabama.  This is clearly Chesley, and for the first time I've learned his middle initial (R., quite likely for "Richard") and his approximate age.  I also met many of the other children of John and Jane and got their ages.

Also living with John and Jane was Chesley's new bride, Frances E., whom we know from Rev. Cotten's diary was married at Bogue Chitto (probably at her parents' home) on 20 Mar 1850, their marriage barely seven and a half months old at census time.  She was previously known to me only as Fannie Bell, the daughter of a "hard-shell Baptist preacher." Her full name, pieces pooled from several sources, was probably Mary Frances Elizabeth Bell Gwin.

U.S. Census of Dallas Co., Alabama, Cahawba Beat, Liberty Hill Post Office, 4 Nov 1850
Last name
First name
Can't Read
or Write
585 Gwin John 58 M W Wheelwright $1200 TN checked This is my ggg-grandpa John Gwin, b. in Sevier Co. (possibly then Greene), NC (later TN), in 1792

Gwin Jane 56 F W


Gwin C. R. 22 M W

This is Chesley Richard Gwin, John's and Jane's youngest son.

Gwin Frances E. 20 F W


U.S. Census of Dallas Co., Alabama, Cahawba Town, 1860
Res. / Fam.
Last name
First name
518 / 510 Grice W. G. 32 M W Carpenter ----- $300 SC

Grice Eliza 20 F W


Gwin John 68 M W Wagonmaker $1200

Gwin Jane 66 F W


Roark J. W. 15 M W

AL Walter Roark, s/o John and Jane's eldest daughter Mary Gwin and her husband Drury Roark; Drury has died by 1860.

Comelander Elizabeth 15 F W

AL When I first saw Elizabeth here in 1860, I assumed her mother, Martha, and perhaps her father, Jesse, had died. But in July 2005, Elizabeth Daughdril shared that she had found both alive and well in 1870 in Claiborne Parish, LA! She'd also found Jesse in 1860 in Lowndes Co., AL, so clearly there were other things going on than we had assumed. Current speculation is that John and/or Jane were very ill and needed caregivers, so a combination of the Grices, grandson Walter Roark, and step-granddaughter Elizabeth may have turned out to serve as care-givers. We know Jane would die before 1870, but she is clearly alive as late as 16 Feb 1864, as her name appears on a record of sale of land on Cahawba on that date.

H... (continued) In late winter of 1870 (from known birthdays and ages listed below, the census was probably taken in February 1870)  John Gwin was living with his son William Gwin at Wilsonville, Shelby Co., AL.  Evidently a lot of other people were, too, as indicated by this 1870 Shelby Co. census data. Why was that? Remember that the Civil War had just ended five years before, and Alabamans had been suffering financially during the Reconstruction era which was still going on; furthermore, Alabama had not been readmitted to the Union until 25 Jun 1868, only some 20 months before this census was taken.  Many of the parents of these children may have died either in the War or from disease.  Please view this transcription of the census page, then compare my notes on these transplanted family members.

[NOTE:  Surname is Guinn on the census, but John's, William's, and other Gwins' gravestones I've seen each clearly say GWIN, as photos attest.]

U.S. Census of Shelby Co., Alabama, Wilsonville, 1870, family number three
John Gwin's Notes
William Guinn 49 M Manufacturer $2,000 $3,000 AL

Roseanna Guinn 48 F Keeping House

AL Roseann Carlisle Jones Wilson Gwin, sister of Joseph Abernathy Jones Wilson

John W. Guinn 18 M Sawyer

AL John Wesley Gwin would become a medical doctor, die in Anniston in 1877 at age 26, and be buried in Wilsonville.

Rufus K. Guinn 16 M Works in saw mill

AL See note below on Annie Turner.

Lucy M. Guinn 14 F Attends school

AL Lucy Marcella Gwin would die two years later at age 16 and be buried in Wilsonville.

Isham G. Guinn 12 M Attends school

AL Isham Griffin Gwin would marry his childhood neighbor, Mary Etta "Molly" Self; both are buried in Wilsonville

Thomas Guinn 9 M Attends school

AL Thomas would die in 1877 of pneumonia and be buried in Wilsonville.

John Guinn 77 M Wheel (w)right
TN Widower of Jane Walker Gwin (bd. in Cahaba), John would die in 1877 and be buried in Wilsonville.

Annie Turner 19 F Attends school

AL We knew that Rufus King Gwin (16 May 1853 - 20 Aug 1927) married an Ann Turner.  If this was the Annie Turner who is living at the William Gwin home in the 1870 census, then she was very likely the oldest child (excluding Walter Roark) of Rufus King's Aunt Mary--i.e., Mary Gwin, William's sister, widow of Drury Roark, and bride of second husband Mr. Turner on 17 May 1849--this date would make Mary Gwin Roark Turner's firstborn about 19 in the 1870 census, the exact age of this Annie Turner.  It would also mean Rufus and Ann were first cousins. We knew that Mary's first husband Drury Roark died when their only child, Walter, was just 3 or 4; we knew Walter himself was killed at Gettysburg in July 1863; and we knew that Annie was living with Will and Roe in 1870.  Could Mr. Turner have also died and Mary just not been able to handle it?  Could Mary also have died, leaving Annie as an orphan?  Aha!  On 25 Oct 2001 we see from the 1850 census that indeed, Mary and Abel Turner's daughter IS named Anna, who is listed as four months old on 7 Nov 1850, when the census was taken!  Ten years earlier in the 1860 census, Annie Turner was living in Cahaba with another aunt and uncle, William and Louisa Gwin McKnight.

Texas A. Wilson 14 F Attends school

AL According to Dallas County Courthouse Probate Court file #65,  on 12 Nov 1875, Joseph A. Wilson, a son of N.B. Wilson, had died before his father and left a "widow and four children, to wit:
3.1--William Wilson, over 21 and residing in Pulaski, White Co., AR
3.2--Texana Wilson, a minor over 14 and under 21, residing in Dallas Co., AL, part of the family household"
Ten years later in the 1880 Shelby Co., AL census, Texana Wilson, 25, is living with her first cousin Mary Ann Elizabeth Gwin Lochridge's family.  This would have made her age nineteen or twenty at the above Probate on 12 Nov 1875.

We've since found her in almost if not every census taken during her lifetime. See Joseph Jones Abernathy Wilson's page.

Henry Bassett 13 M Works in saw mill


Mathew (sic) Taylor 36 F At home

SC Likely this is a MRS. Mathew Taylor, possibly a war widow, who has been taken in (with someone who is likely her daughter, next below) by Will and Roe Gwin

Annie Taylor 9 F

AL Probably the daughter of the Mrs. Taylor next above.

Robert Lochridge 36 M Laborer

MO Husband of Will and Roe's oldest daughter, next below.

Mary A. Lochridge  26 F At home

AL Will and Roe's oldest child, Mary Ann Elizabeth Gwin, and new bride of Robert (see note next above).

John Lochridge  1 M

AL Robert and Mary's oldest, Johnny.

Eliz. Laurince  25 F School teacher

AL Unknown resident, likely another war widow taken in by Will and Roe.

I...We know where Jane Gwin, Louisa A. (Gwin) McKnight, and William McKnight, are buried; in January 2002, I drove from Cahaba, AL, where I'd just found and photographed the graves of these three, and I met Cousin Jack Vardaman in Birmingham, AL, where he had just finished copying some data for me from the library there: according to the 1860 Dallas Co. Census, we further know that on 31 Jul 1860 wagon maker John Gwin, 68, and Jane Gwin, 66, were still living in Cahaba in the home of Mr. W. G. Grice, 32, a carpenter from SC, and his wife Eliza, 20, of AL. Living with them in the same residence was Mr. J. W. Roark, 15, and Ms. Elizabeth Comelander, 15, both of AL.  He also found that W. G. Grice had married Eliza A. Ethridge on 29 Jul 1859, only a year before the census report. I earlier speculated that some disease had earlier killed John's and Jane's daughters 24.02--Mary Gwin Roark Turner and 24.06--Martha J. Gwin Comelander, and that their respective children Walter J. Roark and Elizabeth Comelander, along with the children's grandparents, John and Jane Gwin, were also ill and under the care of the Grices. But now we know that the Comelanders were alive in 1870 and living in Louisiana, so Elizabeth may have been living with the Grices to help them care for her grandparents.

J...We know that Ms. Linda Derry, archaeologist and Cahawba Project Director, wrote a letter 2 Feb 1992 to my now-late cousin, Roy L. Smith of Crowley, TX, in which she included a map of the town marked off in lot numbers and street names.  Linda and others have been able to calculate that John and Jane owned the home located on lot 317 on the northwest corner of Oak and First South Streets, and that John's wheelwright shop was located on the southwest corner of Mulberry and 1st North Streets on lot 7. Thank you for all you have done and are still doing, Linda, to help all of us descendants of Cahabans learn more about our roots!


John's and Jane's Marriage Certificate:
Blount Co. Courthouse, Maryville, TN

In July 2003, in the vertical files of the Record Archives in the basement of the Blount County Courthouse, Maryville, TN, and with the assistance of Archives Director Ms. Jackie Glenn, I saw, held, and photocopied the original marriage license for John Gwin and Jane Walker, a 6.5" x 8" document on heavy paper, transcribed here as follows:

State of Tennessee }  To any regular Minister of the Gospel
Blount County      }   having the Care of Souls or any justice
of the peace for Said County, Greeting:
By full power & authority In me vested I authorise and 
Empower you or any of you to Celebrate & perform the rights (sic)
of marriage between John Guinn (sic) & Jane Walker, he
having given bond & Security as the Law Directs.

Given under my hand at Office this 8th Day of
April 1812 & 36 year of Our Independance(sic)
J. Houston, clk
By his Depty (sic) Wm. Lowry
On the back of this document is evidence of where it was folded in half and in half again, both vertical folds, then in half a third time horizontally to make a package about 2" x 3.25"  and labeled on the outside:


John Guinn
Jane Walker

Apl 1812

Also on the back, legible after unfolding the last two folds, is the following undated statement in a different hand:

The within named persons
married by me

Joseph Walker
Justice of the Peace
Later that same day, in the Blount Co. Public Library, I met Dr. Elmer Mize, retired Professor of History (Univ of Tenn., Knoxville), genealogist, and my fifth cousin through the Walkers (Jane's parents), and was told by him that the lack of a second date indicated that the marriage took place the same day the license was issued. 



Death, Deeds, and Diary:
Links to Other Relevant Places

A photo of John's gravestone at the Wilsonville Cem., Shelby  Co., AL, was sent to me Sep 2001 by Mary Daniel (who married John's descendent) and reads as follows: 

JOHN GWIN  DIED MAR. 7, 1877. AGED 84 YRS.  4 MOS. 

She also sent photos of other Gwin tombstones there. Thank you, Mary, for sending all these photos! 

And in January 2002 and again in July 2003, I got to visit the Wilsonville Cemetery myself and see these graves.  What a treat!  I also visited the cemeteries at Cahaba and saw John's wife Jane's grave, confirming that she died and was buried there.  Jane's marker reads, simply:


Click here to see these and other Gwin family gravestone photos.

Click here to see abstracts and transcriptions of some
land deeds
and other mortgages
by Gwin family members.

Thanks to Ms. Linda Derry

Director and Resident Archaeologist for the Cahawba Project, we now have many transcribed pages of the
diary of Rev. James Cotten,
pastor of the church in Cahaba
in which John and Jane Gwin and their son, William, and William's wife Roe, were very active.

See the diary.


What Was Happening When:
A Timeline for John Gwin and Jane Walker


7 Nov 1792 John is born... Tombstone
        (same)                     ...somewhere in what is now East Tennessee but then was North Carolina (probably in the Wear Valley--aka Crowson's Cove--of Sevier County, TN) [Actually, Cousin Alice Foster-Blevins states that he was born "in the Carolinas," but John himself told every census taker from 1850 to 1870 that he was born in Tennessee, so I combined both pieces of info to arrive at this speculation.]; in July 2003 I found the 249-acre farm of John's father Isham Gwin in Sevier Co., Tennessee--the farm was surveyed and the deed granted in 1808, but Isham's family had been there prior to the survey, and I believe John was born there "in Crowson's Cove on the waters of Walden's Creek..." Speculation,
1807 deed of 
Isham Gwin
ca.1796-97 Jane is born in TN, [prob. Blount Co.] 1850 US Census*


8 Apr 1812 John, 19, and Jane, 15, are married by Joseph Walker, J. P.,  in Blount Co., TN County record; I've held this marriage license in my hand and have a copy of it as well.
1812-1814 John likely serves with a TN vol. unit in War of 1812, likely in AL against the Creek Nation [I base this on the fact that many if not most or even all of the able-bodied young men of the day were involved in this campaign, and also on the fact that though J & J were married in 1812, they didn't start having kids until two or three years later, probably because they were separated by his service.  Further, while at Horseshoe Bend Nat'l Monument, I saw the names of three John Gwins on rosters of Tennessee Volunteers for several units.] Speculation (see bold italics)
ca. 1815-16 John, 23, and Jane, 19, move to Cahaba, Dallas Co., AL, almost certainly with at least one brother, Wm. Gwin [Clearly J & J did move from TN to AL at this time, and I strongly believe (if not have proven) that the William Guinn who appears in Dallas Co. about the smae time as J & J likely traveled with them from TN.] Speculation (see link)
ca. 1815-16 Probably first child, Mary, is born in [Dallas Co., AL] (age 33 in 1850 census) (John = age 25) USCen.1830*
ca. 1815-16 Probably second child, Thomas, is born in Dallas Co., AL USCen.1830*
1816 Cahaba area becomes one of first election precincts established MOOC, Fry**
17 Mar 1817 Isom, whom we believe to be their third child, is born in [prob. Shelby Co., AL] (age 37 at date of death, 7 Dec 1853) (John = age 24)   Gravestone; Obit., Dallas Gazette
1817 Alabama Territory is organized (John = age 25) World Book
1818 Dallas Co. formed from Montgomery Co. MOOC, Fry**
1819 Constitutional Convention meets in Huntsville, draws up Territory's first constitution  World Book
1819 Cahaba incorporates, lays out lots, selects sites to build government buildings MOOC, Fry-p11**
14 Dec 1819 Alabama becomes 22nd State (John = age 27) World Book
1820 Cahaba has 2 newspapers, a land office, State bank, stores, private boarding houses, hotels, etc. MOOC, Fry-p13**

8 Dec 1820 Fourth child, William, is born in Dallas Co., AL (John = age 28) USCen.1850* and
unk. birth record
1825 Rivers overflow, flood Cahaba (John = age 33) MOOC, Fry**
Jan 1826 Capital is moved to Tuscaloosa, AL; Cahaba all but abandoned MOOCFry-p14**


ca. 1826 Fifth child, Sarah, is born in Dallas Co., AL (John = age 34) USCen.1850*
ca. 1827 Sixth child, Mary Ann, is born in Dallas Co., AL (John = age 35) USCen.1850*
ca. 1828 Seventh child, Martha J., is born in Dallas Co., AL (twin of Chess?) (John = age 36) USCen.1850*
ca. 1828 Eighth child, Chesley R., is born in Dallas Co., AL (twin of Martha?) (John = age 36) USCen.1850*
ca. 1832 Ninth child, Louisa A., is born in Dallas Co., AL (John = age 40) USCen.1830*
1833 Fry's research uncovers this name in Cahaba among many others: John Guiwn (sic) MOOCFry-p16**
1833 Second flood inundates Cahaba (John = age 41) MOOCFry-p16**


1836 Prosperity returns to Cahaba, remains until the end (late 1860s) MOOCFry-p18**
1837 Son Isom and Mary Burdine Wilson are married. gravestone in the cemetery across the road from former site of St. Luke's Episcopal Church at Martin's Station, Dallas Co., AL
Dec 1837 Work is authorized to be begun in early 1838 on the Cahaba and Marion RR (see 1859 entry, below). Newspaper account of the meeting, held at Marion, Perry Co., AL
ca. 1838 Isom and Mary B give John and Jane a grandchild--Mary Jane Gwin is born (John = age 40). 1850 census of Dallas Co.
27 Dec 1838 Daughter Mary marries Drury H. Roark in Cahaba (John = age 46). unk. record
18 Mar 1841 Daughter Sarah marries Louis Basset in Cahaba. LDS IGI file


12 May 1842 Son William marries Roseann "Roe" Carlisle Jones Wilson in Cahaba (John = age 49).  [Evidence suggests that Roe's father, Nathaniel Burdine Wilson (see Cotten Diary entry for 21 Jul 1850) and her uncle, Ezekiel Burdine Wilson,(see newspaper notice) were colonels in the Alabama militia, and that later William himself ad also attained that rank (see obituary for Thomas Wilson Gwin.] Dallas Co.
Marriage Record
ca. 1842 Mary & Drury give John & Jane grandchild #2--Walter Roark is born (age 8 in 1850 census) USCen.1850*
19 Jan 1843 Daughter Mary Ann Gwin marries Joseph Lavalette Basset LDS IGI file
3 Nov 1843 J & J's grandchild #3, Emily Ann Basset, is born to Ann and Joseph in Cahaba, AL; she will live to age 74 and die 12 Dec 1917 in Ennis TX Cara Macon Hilliard 


ca. 1846 Son-in-law Drury Roark dies, Cahaba; daughter Mary is a widow ca. age 29 (John = age 54) unk. record
22 Apr 1847 Dau. Martha J. m. widower Jesse Comelander (John = age 55) unk. record
1849-1855 Six-year span of the entries I have from Rev. Cotten's diary (John = age 57-63) Cotten diary
17 May 1849 Dau. Mary m2. to Abel Turner; dau. Louisa A. m2. William J. McKnight (John, 57) Cotten diary
16 Oct 1849 John and Jane Gwin sold to their daughter-in-law R.C.J. Wilson Gwin's uncle, Ezekiel B. Wilson, for one thousand dollars, six lots of land in Cahaba numbered 217, 218, 219, 220, 221, and 222 (except approximately the eastern halves of lots 217 and 218) as recorded in the Dallas Co. Record Book N on pp. 195 and 196. Was this to have something extra to give to their daughter Louisa and her new husband, Wm. McKnight? Dallas Co. Deed
Record Book  N
pp. 195 and 196.
20 Mar 1850 Son Chesley R. m. Frances E. "Fannie" Bell in Bogue Chitto (John = age 58) Cotten diary
Summer 1850 Newlyweds Chess & Fannie in are living in John's and Jane's home in Cahaba USCen.1850*


7 Dec 1853 Son Isom, ca. age 37, Justice of Peace, dies in Dallas Co. (John = age 61) Obit, Dallas Gazette
March 1855 Last entry I have from Cotten diary--John, 62; Jane, 58; & William are still living in Cahaba Cotten diary
28 Jan 1859 Dau-in-law Mary Burdine Wilson Gwin (Isom's widow) m2. to the man who is probably her pastor, Rev. John Steadman LDS IGI file
1859 Railroad is built from Cahaba to Marion (John = age 67) Perhaps this is the year it was completed; however, work was authorized in Dec 1837 to begin in Jan 1838 (see 1837 entry above) MOOCFry-p67**


24 Jul 1860 Son Wm. and family recorded in Oakleyville, Bibb Co., AL (John = age 68) USCensus 1860
Summer 1860 John and Jane are living in Cahaba at the home of W.G. and Eliza Grice (reason unclear--perhaps Jane is ill; also living there are g'son J.W. Roark and step-g'daughter Elizabeth Comelander, each 15) USCensus 1860
11 Jan 1861 Alabama secedes from the Union (John = age 69) World Book
1 Jul 1863 Grandson Walter Roark is killed in Battle of Gettysburg, ca. age 21 (John = age 70) MOOC, Fry**
13 Jan 1864 Granddaughter Emily Ann Basset marries G. Thomas Macon in Cahaba, moves to Texas Cara Macon Hilliard 
16 Feb 1864 John and Jane sell for $800 the east half of Lot Seven in Cahaba to Conrad Hildebrandt who had been residing there.  Was this to help pay for Emily's wedding, or perhaps to give them something for their wedding? Dallas Co. Deed
Record Book  T
p. 740


Spg 1865 Another big flood inundates Cahaba just before the surrender (John = age 72) MOOCFry-p68**
9 Apr 1865 Lee surrenders to Grant at Appomattox (John = age 72) World Book
1866 Courthouse is moved to Selma (John = age 73) MOOCFry-p68**
1864-1870 Sometime in this decade, Jane dies, is bd. in the New Cemetery at Cahaba. Also bd. there are dau. Louisa and her husband William McKnight I saw undated graves Jan 2002


Feb 1870 John is living in Wilsonville at home of Will & Roe (John = age 77) USCen.1870***
7 Apr 1877 John dies and is buried in Wilsonville, Shelby Co., AL, age 84 yrs. and 4 mo. Grave Photo
29 Apr 1889 William dies and is buried in Wilsonville, Shelby Co., AL, age 68 Grave Photo
29 Mar 1907 William's widow Roe dies in Tampa, FL, is bd. in Wilsonville beside William Grave Photo

* 1850 US Census, Cahaba Beat, Dallas Co., AL
* 1830 US Census, Cahaba Beat, Dallas Co., AL
**Fry, Anna M. Gayle;  Memories of Old Cahaba; Publishing House of the M.E. Church, South; Nashville; 1908
*** 1870 US Census, Cahaba Beat, Dallas Co., AL

Red names
in this 
column are
John's & Jane's
immediate family.

Black names are
J&J's in-laws.

Green are J&J's

Purple are not
reltated to J & J

Horizontal Time Line of John's and Jane's Families
1790    1800          ...MMMMMMM..........................................................................................................................mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm    1810 
Blue exes indicate, generally, single years.
Red exes indicate, generally, married years.
Black exes indicate years where we are not fairly certain what was going on.
Green exes are J & J's grandchildren.
  Jane Walker_

  Mary Wilson___
__Mary Jane 

  Drury Roark____
_ Walter  J.
  Abel Turner____


  Roe Wilson____
 __MaryAnn Eliz.
      Martha Jane 
      Wm. Sutton 
      John Wesley
      Rufus King ***
      Lucy Marcella
      Isham Griffin
      Tho. Wilson

  Louie Basset___
 __Ann Adelia

MaryAnn "Ann"_
 Joseph Basset___

  Jesse Comelander

  Fannie Bell____
  Paralee Blevins_

  Wm. McKnight_

1790        1800              1810              1820             1830             1840              1850             1860              1870             1880              1890           1900              1910             1920_____1930

__|_________||_____xxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxx?????__|_________|_________||_________|_________|_________|  MaryW
__|_________||_____?????|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxx?????__|_________|_________||_________|_________|_________|  (Jn.St.)

__|_________||_________|_xxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxx___|_________|_________|_________|_________|_________||_________|_________|_________|  DruryR
__|_________||_________|_________|_________|_________|_xxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxx______|_________|_________|_________||_________|_________|_________|  Walter R
__|_________||_________|_________|________x|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|?????_____|_________|_________||_________|_________|_________|  Abel T.
__|_________||_________|_________|_________|_________|_________|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|_________|_________||_________|_________|_________|  Anna 

__|_________||_________|_________|_________|_________|_________|_________|_________|_________|_________|_________||_________|_________| _________| UNK.

__|_________||_________|_________|_xxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx||xxxxxxx__|_________|_________|  Roe W
__|_________||_________|_________|_________|_________|__xxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xx_______|_________||_________|_________|_________|  MA Eliz 
__|_________||_________|_________|_________|_________|____xxx__|_________|_________|_________|_________|_________||_________|_________|_________| Martha 
__|_________||_________|_________|_________|_________|_______xx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx||xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxx___|_________|  Sutton 
__|_________||_________|_________|_________|_________|_________|_xxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxx__|_________|_________||_________|_________|_________|  Wesley 
__|_________||_________|_________|_________|_________|_________|__xxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx||xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxx__| King 
__|_________||_________|_________|_________|_________|_________|____xxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|x________|_________|_________||_________|_________|_________|  Lucy 
__|_________||_________|_________|_________|_________|_________|_______xx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx||xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxx__|_________|  Isham 
__|_________||_________|_________|_________|_________|_________|_________|__xxxxxxx|xxxxxxx__|_________|_________||_________|_________|_________|  Thomas 

__|_________||_________|___xxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxx?????_|d.B4.1860?|_________|_________|_________||_________|_________|_________|   Louie B
__|_________||_________|_________|_________|_________|__xxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx||xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxx__| Emma 
__|_________||_________|_________|_________|_________|_____xxxx|?????_____|_________|_________|_________|_________||_________|_________|_________| Ann 

__|_________||_________|_________|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxx____|_________|_________|_________||_________|_________| _________| JosephB

__|_________||_________|_________|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxx__?????|_________|_________|_________||_________|_________|_________| Jesse C

__|_________||_________|_________|_________|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|?????_____|_________|_________|_________||_________|_________|_________|  Fannie
__|_________||_________|_________|_________|_____?????|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|??????..___|_________||_________|_________|_________|  Blevins

__|_________||_________|_________|________x|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxxxxxxx|xxxx?????_|_________|_________|_________||_________|_________|_________| WmMK

This was posted to the Guestbook for Primitive Baptist Research in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Indiana  at http://www.carthage.lib.il.us/community/churches/primbap/Guestbook-KY-IN.html

Mon Apr 29 21:54:10 2002
Name: James T. Wall
Email: JAMESTWALL@aol.com
I am descended from Isham Guinn/Isom Gwin who was a Baptist preacher at Tuckaleechee Cove, Blount Co., TN, about 1809 and at Sevier Co., TN, around 1810. He later was a Minister of the Gospel in Harrison and Crawford and Orange counties. He was preacher at El Bethel Baptist Church, Crawford Co., IN, until 1817 and at Providence Baptist Church in Crawford/Orange County, IN, until his death around 1830. He was listed in a book listing Baptist preachers, printed in Boston, MA, in 1811.

Isham Guinn served in the Montgomery Co. Militia, VA, in 1787. He m. ca. 1787 to Mary Canterberry, d/o Samuel.
I would like to know his parents and her mother.

James T. Wall
2511 N. Stuart St.
Arlington, VA 22207-5163
(703) 524-2198
E-mail JAMESTWALL@aol.com

EFGH Civil War soldiers burials and queries
from:  http://www.hardinhistory.com/history/etoh.htm

    First Name: = Robert  A.
    Last Name: = Guinn
    U/C: = Confederate
    Rank: = 1st LT
    Unit: = 18th GA Infantry
    Cemetary Name: = East View
    Location: = Conyers, GA
    e-mail = ottis@cafes.net

    First Name: = Isham
    Last Name: = Guinn
    U/C: = Confederate
    Rank: = 3rd SGT
    Unit: = Co., I, 4th GA Reserves
    Cemetary Name: = East View
    Location: = Conyers, GA
    e-mail = ottis@cafes.net
    comments = Isham Guinn, was a guard at Andersonville.

    First Name: = Thomas
    Last Name: = Guinn
    U/C: = Confederate
    Rank: = 2nd LT
    Unit: = Co.,  A,  3rd GA Sharpshooters
    Cemetary Name: = City Cemetery
    Location: = Covington, GA
    e-mail = ottis@cafes.net

Some Good Communication

Hi John,

I am VERY interested in your Gwin family!

I have not been able to discover the first name of my Margaret Gwin's father, as he died before the 1790 census of Burke Co, NC, and his widow, Deborah Gwin, (unknown maiden name) is shown on that census. Margaret married Daniel England.

Daniel England died about 1815 in Burke Co, NC, and Margaret moved with some of her children to Habersham Co, GA, where she later died.  Margaret was said to have been born in NC.  I also don't know where her parents came to NC from.

Daniel's father William England had been in NC prior to the Rev. War, but I don't have proof where they came from either.  Daniel and Margaret did have a son named Richard, and I always wondered if that was perhaps Margaret's father's name.

The 1760 replacement census for VA shows David Gwin and George Gwin in Lunenburg Co, VA; David, Henry, John, Jos'h, Josiah and Thomas Gwin in Nansemond Co., VA; James and Elizabeth Gwinn in Prince William Co., VA, and a Hugh Gwynn in Stafford Co, VA; however, I think this book didn't cover all VA counties, and I have a 1740 book on order.

Library of VA shows the following at  http://www.lva.lib.va.us/dlp/index.htm:

GRANTEE Gwinn, Richard,  DATE 1 July 1780. NOTE Location: Pittsylvania County. NOTE Description: 3850 acres on both sides of Cherrystone Creek and Harpin Creek and adjoining Walton &c. NOTE Source: Land Office Grants A, 1779-1780 (v.1 & 2 p.1-685), p. 530 (Reel 42).

GRANTEE Gwyn, Richard DATE 15 June 1773. NOTE Location: Pittsylvania County. NOTE Description: 335 acres on two branches of Sandy Creek of Banister river adjoining Isham Kennen's land. NOTE Source: Land Office Patents No. 41, 1772-1773, p. 345 (Reel 40).

GRANTEE Gwyn, Richard DATE 25 June 1780. NOTE Location: Pittsylvania County. NOTE Description: 330 acres on the branches of Sandy Creek, adjoining Kennon and Kirby. NOTE Source: Land Office Grants A, 1779-1780 (v.1 & 2 p.1-685), p. 522 (Reel 42).

No Richards listed in the index to wills, but

Gwin, John   DATE 1753 SOURCE Deed Book 7, 1747-1755 (Reel 7) p. 471. Inv. & Appr. rec. 15 May 1753. NOTE Part of index to Princess Anne County Wills and Administrations (1691-1800), and

Gwin, John  DATE 1740 SOURCE Deed Book 5, 1735-1740 (Reel 5) p. 466. Accounts rec. 2 Apr. 1740. NOTE Part of index to Princess Anne County Wills and Administrations (1691-1800), and

Gwin, John  DATE 1728 SOURCE Deeds & Wills No. 4, 1724-1735 (Reel 4) p. 171. Will pro. 1 May 1728. NOTE Part of index to Princess Anne County Wills and Administrations (1691-1800), and

Gwin, Joseph  DATE 1777 SOURCE Chesterfield Order Book 6, p. 129. His orphan, Joseph Gwin, to be bound out by the Churchwardens of Dale Parish, 4 April 1777. NOTE Part of index to Chesterfield County Wills and Administrations (1754-1800)
Gwyn, Thomas  DATE 1788 SOURCE Will Book 1, 1784-1800 (Reel 19) p. 14a-15. Will pro. 25 Feb 1788. p. 18a-19a. Inv. & Appr. rec. 20 Jan 1789. NOTE Part of index to Norfolk Wills and Administrations (1784 - 1800)

Then in the  Virginial Genealogical Society Quarterly [Name/Series/Volume/Chapter/Section]

Richard Gwin XXIX 3 01-AUG-1991 Albemarle County, Virginia Court Orders, 1744/45 - 1748 June Term 1748 - August Term 1748

Richard Gwin XXX 3 01-AUG-1992 Virginia Land Patent Book 29   Albermarle Co, VA 1749 neighbor of Joseph Adcock

Richard Gwin XXXII 1 01-FEB-1994 Virginia Land Patent Book 32  Albermarle Co, VA  1754  neighbor of Col. John Bolling

Richard Gwin XXXII 2 01-MAY-1994 Virginia Land Patent Book 33    Albermarle Co, VA  1756  his own patent

Any connections?

Audrey Fett, AaronGFett@aol.com
Orlando, FL
26 Mar 2003

Cahaba  Money

Here's a paper bank note for one "bit"--twelve and a half cents, an eighth of a dollar--issued by and payable at the Bank of the State of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and dated August 1842, only sixteen years after the state capital was moved there from Cahaba.

Cahaba was still a thriving town and the seat of Dallas County in the 1840's.  Many notes such as this must have passed through the hands of Cahaba's citizens in those days.  The eBay seller of this note said that the rarity of this note is now seven, meaning--if I understand the seller's note correctly--that only six others are known to still exist.

From: JAMESTWALL@aol.com
Date: January 10, 2008 1:42:55 PM MST
To: jmcdgwin@zianet.com
Subject: Land purchases by Chesley and Isum Guinn, Alabama

Exact Search Results - U.S. General Land Office Records, 1796-1907

All Court, Land, Wills & Financial Results    Viewing 1-50 of 152

Name    State of Record    Issue Date    Meridian    County    Township    Range    Section   

Charles Guinn      Alabama    15 May 1826    Huntsville    Tuscaloosa    18-S    12-W    1
Henry Guinn        Alabama    10 Jun 1826    Huntsville    Tuscaloosa    18-S    11-W    7   
Henry Guinn    Alabama    1 Dec 1826    Huntsville    Tuscaloosa    18-S    11-W    7  

John Guinn    Alabama    4 Sep 1834    St Stephens    Dallas    15-N    10-E    14   

Charles Guinn    Alabama    16 Oct 1834    Huntsville    Greene    22-S    13-W    24   

Chesley R Guinn    Alabama    12 Sep 1835    St Stephens    Perry    20-N    9-E    22 

Henry Guinn    Alabama    20 Mar 1837    St Stephens    Sumter    23-N    2-W    19   
Charles Guinn    Alabama    20 Mar 1837    St Stephens    Sumter    23-N    2-W    19   
Reuben Guinn    Alabama    20 Mar 1837    St Stephens    Sumter    23-N    2-W    18   
Charles Guinn    Alabama    20 Mar 1837    St Stephens    Pickens    24-N    2-W    31   
Henry Guinn    Alabama    20 Mar 1837    St Stephens    Pickens    24-N    3-W    25   

Isum Guinn    Alabama    15 Apr 1837    St Stephens    Montgomery    16-N    20-E    35

Isum Guinn    Alabama    15 May 1837    St Stephens    Montgomery    16-N    20-E    35
Isum Guinn    Alabama    1 Feb 1843    St Stephens    Macon, Montgomery    16-N    21-E    30

Isum Guinn    Alabama    1 Feb 1843    St Stephens    Montgomery    16-N    21-E    31
Isum Guinn    Alabama    1 Feb 1843    St Stephens    Montgomery    16-N    21-E    31

Wiley P Guinn    Alabama    1 Mar 1859    St Stephens    Choctaw    11-N    2-W    15
Wiley P Guinn    Alabama    1 Aug 1860    St Stephens    Choctaw    11-N    2-W    23
Francis H Guinn    Alabama    1 Sep 1860    St Stephens    Choctaw    11-N    3-W    1

John Gwin
(1792 - 1877)
A Biographical Sketch
by his ggg-grandson,
John McDonald Gwin

Acknowledgements:  This sketch would not have been possible without the patience, love, and support of my wonderful wife, Sharon--who has endured countless lonely hours while I genealogized--and the tireless efforts of hundreds of my cousins and other friends and relatives, many of whose names are not yet even known. Some of these include my father’s brother, Uncle James Basset Gwin II, whose forty-plus years of work I inherited just before he died in 1984; Fifth Cousin James T. "Jim" Wall, known to many of us as host of his magnificent page and source of much of the information on my webpages; Double-fourth Cousin Barbara Ward, who inherited the old photo album from which we’ve seen the faces of so many of our family [Index2PhotoAlbum.htm]; Double-fifth Cousin Michael S. "Mike" Walker; and many, many others whose names appear on the various pages of my website: http://www.gwingenealogy.net.


“A little more to the right, Johnny! Just a hair more! There--perfect! Pull’er tight and stake ‘er down!” The 66-foot-long chain snapped taut, and the sounds of the boy’s hatchet driving in another stake echoed across the bottom land. In seconds the first link of another chain was looped over the stake, John was astride his father’s horse again, and off he slowly rode, carefully laying down more of the chain until its 66-foot length too was reached. Stretching the chain and sighting it along the line of the other, he awaited the signals from Mr. Mark Moore, the county’s surveyor, to make final adjustments and drive the next stake.

Several chains later he reached the next target, a large red oak tree, and John Gwin rested himself and the mare in the tree’s shade as Mr. Moore gathered up his transit and rode to the tree to meet him, collecting the chains as he came. He would reset his transit, and together they would start the next leg of the survey.

As he waited, John watched his neighbors’ slaves working the land across the huge field. The sun was hot, but all the farmers in the cove had been waiting--some for several years--to get their lands surveyed. All winter this had been the talk of the valley, and now he, John Gwin, was getting to be a part of it, serving as chain carrier for some of Mr. Moore’s surveys. It was amazing to him how quickly the surveys were getting done, often several farms in a day.

By 1807, the Wear Valley of Sevier County, Tennessee, was getting downright crowded. Practically all of the land in this cove, then called Crowson’s Cove (after its first white inhabitant, Aaron Crowson--pronounce the “crow” in Crowson to rhyme with “cow” and “wow”, not “grow” and “show”), had been claimed, granted, and settled, and now, in that spring and summer, it was finally being surveyed. A large farm--249 acres near the center of the cove (see the web page below for a map of this and other Crowson Cove farms)--had been granted to John’s dad, Isham Gwin, for the going price of one dollar an acre. (see

Isham had farmed this land for several years with the help of his slaves. The morality of slavery had been another hot topic of discussion in those days, and as he rested briefly in the shade of the red oak, watching the black people working the land, John wondered on which side of the question his dad would come down.

The above story is my imagination of what may actually have happened based on the following documents:

1.  The recorded deeds of some twenty land grants for Isham Gwin and some of his Crowson’s Cove (today’s Wear Valley) neighbors, surveys for which were done in the spring and summer of 1807 by Mr. Mark Moore, one of the chain carriers for whom was Isham’s son John Gwin (Microfilm, Greene County Genealogical Archives, Greeneville, TN);

2.  A biographical sketch of one of Isham’s grandsons, William W. Gwin, in which it is recorded how Isham’s changing views on slavery led him to free his own slaves, sell his farm, and move to the new, free state of Indiana (Geneological and Biographical History of Keokuk County, Iowa, The Lewis Publishing Co., 1903).

John M. Gwin     


Isham Gwin had been born somewhere in Virginia. Oral tradition had it that his father was Richard Gwin of the area near Jamestown who had married Sarah Chesley, also of the area, sometime in the latter half of the 18th century. They undoubtedly had several children, and it’s likely that John knew at least some of these paternal aunts and uncles. We only know for sure of Isham at this point, who, as a young single man, had struck out from home (Jamestown area?) and headed west, settling for at least a short time in Montgomery County, Virginia. It was there that he met and married Mary Canterbury in the mid 1780’s.

Isham and Mary had started their family almost immediately, moving to what was then Greene County, North Carolina, and what--not long after, in 1796--became Sevier County, Tennessee. Exactly where--whether in Virginia, North Carolina, or en route between--their first three children were born is not yet clear to this writer. But “Polly” (Sarah?), ca. 1787; Elizabeth, 1788; William, ca., 1790; and John, Nov 1792 (and definitely in western NC--i.e., what would soon become eastern Tennessee), were born first and probably in that order. Polly would marry the younger-than-she Tom Walker around 1815; Elizabeth would marry David Denton (who had bought a small farm up the cove from Isham, by the way, which was also surveyed in 1807); William would marry Susanna Beard; and John would marry, on April 8, 1812, Tom’s sister Jane Walker, all four in east Tennessee.

Isham and Mary lived on that farm for another dozen years or so before they would move to Indiana, and the rest of their kids were born in that interim right there on the Crowson’s Cove farm in Sevier Co., Tennessee. Virginia Jane
was born fifth in 1795; Isham, Jr., came along in 1797; in 1799 an unknown child--possibly named Chesley--was born; then in 1804 came the very well documented Richard Walton; and finally the last three arrived in quick succession, all daughters: Nancy, Sarah, and Minerva, born respectively in 1805, 1806, and 1807.

Virginia Jane would marry at least twice, first to Joseph Tipton and second to Benjamin Weathers; Isham Jr. married at least twice as well,
first on 1 Mar 1824 in Orange Co., IN, to Betsy Snowden and in 1819 to Mary Likens; Chesley--or whoever he was--may have married, but to whom is a mystery; Richard married Nancy Watkins who bore him 15 kids; Nancy and Sarah married the brothers Squire and William Huston from Kentucky; and Manerva married Elijah Wright and likely inherited her parents’ large Orange Co., Indiana, farm, where she, Elijah, and their family were living when her mother died in the mid 1850’s.

In fact, by that summer of 1807, young John had already been an uncle for at least three years, David’s and Elizabeth’s son Allen Denton having been born 16 July 1804 there in Crowson’s Cove. Will and Susanna may have been married by then as well--they were definitely married by June of 1813 when they joined the Miller’s Cove Baptist Church a few miles away.

And for sure John Gwin, who was born--either right here on this farm or near there--in November 1792, had helped the surveyor and Crowson’s Cove neighbor, Mr. Mark Moore, measure some of those claims that spring and summer of 1807 as a fifteen-year-old “chain carrier”.


When John’s dad, Isham, was called to preach the gospel a few miles up Cove Creek (then called Walden’s Creek) and across the divide into Tuckaleechee Cove, Blount County, it is almost without question that John and the whole family dutifully made the weekly trek with him. Tuckaleechee Cove Baptist was a sister church to their own Wear’s Cove Baptist, which had no doubt sent him and his family there with its blessing.

Jane Walker, daughter of Thomas Walker of Tuckaleechee Cove, was an attractive young lady in those years, and on 8 April 1812, she and John were married by her brother Joseph, a Justice of the Peace. Their original marriage certificate, which document I've held in my hands, can still be seen in the vault of the Blount County Courthouse Archives.

Why they were not married by John’s dad, a Baptist preacher, is unknown to this writer. Did John and Jane have a falling out with their families? Rumor has it that the Walkers may have been Quakers, and if so, perhaps neither set of parents was really behind what may have been their interdenominational marriage.

Another very possible reason for a rift may have been a disagreement over slavery. The opening paragraph of a biographical article on Isham’s grandson, William Watkins Gwin, son of Richard Walton Gwin, reads as follows:

WILLIAM W. GWIN -- It is now our privilege and pleasure to trace the life of one of Keota's most honored citizen (sic--author intended "citizens") from the time his grandfather came to this county (sic--author intended "country") over a century ago, until the present, when the grandson after a successful life is spending his remaining days in peaceful contemplation of the past and hope of the future. Isaam (sic--author intended "isham") Gwin, grandfather of William W. Gwin, was a native of Ireland (sic--we're fairly confident that it was ISHAM'S grandfather who was the immigrant, not Isham) ; his wife was Mary Canteberry (sic--author intended "Canterbury"); he left the land of his birth when very young, and settled with his wife in Tennessee about the time it became a state (sic--actually at least 4 years before). By trade he was a miller (sic--this is the only indication we have that Isham was not a planter) and by profession a Baptist preacher. Although a slave holder, the practice was abhorrent to his nature, and in 1820 he freed his slaves and moved to Indiana, that he might be in a state opposed to slavery, and in this state he died. He was the father of ten children...

"WILLIAM W. GWIN", GENEALOGICAL AND BIOGRAPHICAL HISTORY of Keokuk County, Iowa, The Lewis Publishing Co., 1903, p. 264.

In the analysis of this writer, the slavery issue had grown to a level far beyond a topic of casual conversation, and Isham, though a slaveholder, having grown to hate the institution, likely was quite outspoken everywhere he went--at home, in the community, and from the pulpit--against the practice of enslaving fellow humans.

Finally, then, sometime before 1820, Isham had had enough. He resigned his pastorate, freed his slaves, sold the farm, and moved, lock, stock, and barrel across Kentucky to the new free state of Indiana where he’d never again come in contact with people living as slaves. Most of the rest of his family and even some of his neighbors moved with him. Showing up in Harrison County in 1819 with his Crowson’s Cove next-door neighbor to the west, Kinsey Veatch, Gwin and Veatch planted a church there.

As new counties quickly developed, the newcomers moved a little more to the west, first to neighboring Crawford County, then to their last stop, Orange County. Isham was the first pastor of Providence Primitive Baptist Church he helped establish on 7 Aug 1819 in Orange County's Greenfield Township.

But sons William and John and their families did not make the exodus to Indiana with their Isham and Mary and the rest, choosing instead to move to Alabama. This move to the south--coupled with the fact that neither is mentioned in Isham's will--give fairly solid evidence of an aforementioned rift in their relationships.


Young men from the coves, hills, and “hollers” of east Tennessee were signing up for military service about then, too. Several John Gwins fought with Col. Andy Jackson’s volunteers from 1812 through 1814 in the Creek wars in Alabama and Florida, and we are not sure, of course, but fairly confident that our John was one of them. That would explain why he and Jane did not have children right away--he would not have been home to father them.

Perhaps because he saw the beauty of Alabama during his stint there, after his tour of duty John took his bride from the Wear Valley to the wilderness of middle Alabama before it was a state. Going with them were at least his older brother William and wife Susannah and their family, all of whom show up in the 1820 census of Dallas Co., AL. Possibly their younger brother Isham II and his wife Mary and their family went to Alabama as well, as shadows of an unaccounted-for Isham Gwin are seen floating through central Alabama documents from time to time; if this is the case, however, he clearly went first to Indiana with his father’s group and married Betsy Snowden and Mary Likens there before moving to Alabama.

Regardless, all of John’s and Jane’s nine known children were born in middle Alabama. Mary, Thomas, and Isom were born outside Dallas County--probably in Shelby County where John first recorded a land purchase in what's now Wilsonville. Isom’s date of birth on 17 March 1817 is the only one of those three verified (from his tombstone), but the other two are older--if the 1830 census information is correct. William (namesake for his uncle) was the first to be born in Dallas County (18 Dec 1820), and was followed by Sarah, Ann, Martha, Chesley Richard, and Louisa.

Mary would marry Drury Hampton Roark and have one son, Walter, who would die in the July 1863 assault at Gettysburg. Drury would die early as well, and his widow would marry second the widower Abel Turner, by whom she would bear Anna Turner. Anna would later marry her own first cousin, Rufus King Gwin, son of Mary’s brother William and Roseanne.

Thomas’ records are still not located, but a cousin wrote that Old Cahawba Director Linda Derry had once sent him a copy of a newspaper clipping which told of a Thomas Gwin helping to put out a fire in a lumber yard in Bogue Chitto, Dallas Co., AL.

Isom would marry Mary Burdine Wilson, oldest daughter of Nathaniel Burdine Wilson and Jane Jones, both of South Carolina. Isom, no doubt named for his paternal grandfather, would become a landowner, slaveholder, and Protestant Methodist, living in and near the now-disappeared Town of Athens (between Safford and Martin’s Station). Isom died at age 33, and his widow would marry a widower--her pastor, the Rev. John Steadman, who likely preached Isom’s funeral.

William would marry Roseanne Carlisle Jones “Roe” Wilson, younger sister of Mary B., Isom’s wife. Will and Roe would become my gg-grandparents.

Sarah and Ann would marry the Basset brothers, Louis and Joseph
[http://www.gwingenealogy.net/GENEALOGY/SURNAMES/Basset/BassetLouisSarahGwin.htm] and

Martha would marry the widower, Jesse Comelander, and inherit several stepchildren.

Chesley would first marry a Bogue Chitto preacher’s daughter--who would bear him all his children--Mary Frances “Fannie” Elizabeth Bell, and second the widow Paralee (nee Blevins) Whitfield, with whom he would live for over 42 years.

Louisa would marry the town printer, William McKnight, in a double wedding with Mary and Abel at John and Jane’s home.


We know John owned quite a bit of Alabama land in and around the state's first capital and the county's first seat, Cahawba, where he had a wheelwright shop. He is mentioned in Anna Gayle Frye’s book, Memories of Old Cahaba, on p. 41:

Occupying the block on Oak Street, between First South Street and Capitol Avenue, was Academy Square, with its Indian mounds. Across the street, in front of the Academy on the corner of First South Street, was the residence of John Guiwn (sic), another old landmark of early days. Adjoining the Guiwn place, at the corner of Capitol Avenue and Walnut Street, was the Presbyterian church.

In the 1850 US Census of Cahaba Town, Dallas Co., Alabama, John and Jane were living in residence 585--an “almost-empty nest”--with their newly-wed youngest son (and likely John’s wheelwright partner), Chesley Richard, 22, and his bride, the former Mary Frances Elizabeth “Fanny” Bell, 20, daughter of the Primitive Baptist Pastor Bell of Bogue Chitto.

585/585 John Gwin----58--M--Wheel Wright--1,200--Tenn
-----------C. R.----------22---M--Wheel Wright-----------AL 
-----------Frances E.----20---F-------------------------------AL

According to the diary of John’s pastor, the Rev. James L. Cotten, Chesley and Fannie had married in Bogue Chitto 21 March 1850, probably at her parents’ home:

THURSDAY 21ST  [Mar. 21, 1850]   This morning after breakfast thought I would go to my room to study, but found Maj. Hays waiting for a talk, but after some time he left me and I turned my studies upon the Epistle to the Romans.  Took dinner at bro. Lovett's and visited the prisoners.  Baloom wishes me to visit him oftener.  Visited Mrs. Wm. Lapsley and Mrs. Craig.  Mrs. Henry Crocheron fortunately was not in the carriage when the horses ran away and broke it to pieces.  Preached to a small congregation from Rom. 1:1-7.  Bro. Meridith was out.  He was married this week.  Charley Guinn gets married to night to a Miss Bell in Bouge (sic) Chitto.  Don't feel very well.  Service at Church was dull.  Poor Goldsby is raging. [http://www.gwingenealogy.net//GENEALOGY/ALABAMA/cottendiaryexcerpts.htm]

We know John was a spiritual man, serving as Bible class teacher in his church at Cahawba and mentor to his young, unmarried pastor, the Rev. J. L. Cotten, who once referred to the elder Gwin as “my pastor”. The following excerpts are also from Cotten’s diary:

THURSDAY 26th  [April 26, 1849]   Yesterday went to Selma and stopped at Sister Hornes, where bro. J.Y. Ramsey and family are boarding.  After dinner walked with bro. R. to the burying ground and visited the Masonic Institute under the supervision of bro. Wright.  The people in Selma have some jealousy of the R. Road from this place to Marion.  Started rather late but by riding tolerable fast got home by sunset.  Had class-meeting.  The brethren seem to feel much interest in the properity [sic] of the church that is those present; but alas! so few come out.  Two bro. Guinns [John and his son William], bro. Ulmer and  bro. Francis are class leaders.

MONDAY 29th  [July 29, 1850]

In a state of painful suspense and fear.  if I am repulsed by Miss C. it will be a very severe wound.  Sister Ulmer is quite depressed in spirit.  Miss C. has gone to the country.  Friends sat and conversed with me to night until 12 Oclock.  Bro. Guinn is my pastor.  He knows my trials and counsels wisely and sympathizes with me.  Under my troubles I have support of Grace.

We know John kept at least one slave, his “old man, George”. Since John was a wheelwright and not a planter, it is most likely George was a house servant instead of a field hand.
TUESDAY 28th [May 28, 1850]   Rode out to Dr. Saltmarsh's and Col. Matthew's this evening.  Few out at Prayer meeting.  Bro. Quinn (sic) and wife were kept away by a sudden attack of sickness upon their old man George.  Docter U. says he thinks he will die soon.  May grace sustain Bro. Guinn.  It is a rare thing for him to be absent from service.

John’s son, Isom, a Dallas County justice of the peace at Athens, also held several slaves. Whether he held more is not known, but the following ten were willed to Isom’s widow, Mary B., and two daughters, Mary and Martha, when he died in December 1853 at the early age of 36.

"We the undersigned being appointed by the Hon. Probate Judge for Dallas County to appraise and divide the Negro property belonging to Isom Gwinn, deceased, also to assess the value of the Hire for the present year, of the Negros belonging to said deceased which were retained in the possession of Wm. J. Smith, Admstr, after being duly sworn have made the following appraisement, division and assessment--(the differense [sic]  of the different lots to be made equal by the three heirs one to another--)
Lot No 1--allotted to Mrs. Mary B. Gwinn consisting of
                      Boy Jeff valued at $1,300.00
        "          "    "  Billy   "         "    815.00
        "         " Girl Ann     "        "  1,025.00
        "      "Old Woman Maria"   "    370.00

Lot No 2--allotted to Mrs. Mary Jane Smith
        "          "    "   Joe    "         "     $1380.00
        "         "      "  Jane     "         "      720.00
        "         "      "  Adam "      "         1150.00

Lot No 3--allotted to Mrs. Martha Gwinn
     "          "    "         George  "     "  $1780.00
           "         "      "  Emily   "     "        820.00
           "         "      "  Mely     "     "       700.00

For the hire of certain Negroes as aforementioned we assess as follows--
Billy--------- 22.50

            John D. Adams

By the 1860 census, however, John and Jane were no longer living in their own home, instead showing up in the Cahawba home of a Mr. and Mrs. Grice along with two of the Gwin grandchildren: Mary’s son Walter J. Roark (who would fall at Gettysburg 1 Jul 1863) and Martha’s daughter Elizabeth Comelander, both 15. John’s and Jane’s son William and his wife, RoseAnn Carlisle Jones Wilson Gwin, had left Cahawba and were living in Bibb County with their young family in 1860.

We know Jane died about 1865 (perhaps as early as 1864 but definitely by the 1866 Alabama Census, where John appears alone) and was buried in the New Cemetery at Cahawba beside her daughter, Louisa, and Louisa’s husband, Will McKnight.

At one of the pages on my http://www.gwingenealogy.net//GENEALOGY/SURNAMES/Gwin/gwingravephotospage.htm website, one can see the photos I took of the gravestones of William and Louisa Gwin McKnight and her mother, Jane Walker Gwin, at the New Cemetery at Cahawba, Dallas Co., Alabama.

John the widower appeared next in 1870 living with William and Roseann Gwin in Wilsonville, Shelby County. He lived there some seven more years, dying on 7 Mar 1877 at the age of 84 years and 4 months.

Photographs of John’s and Jane’s gravestones, as well as those of some of their children and grandchildren, may be seen at this web page:


-- John M. Gwin, February 2009    --

From: Frank Mitchell <femitch2001@earthlink.net>
Date: July 1, 2010 1:17:43 PM MDT
To: jmcdgwin@zianet.com
Subject: Too Much of a Coincidence

After my first email, I went back to Google and found your website and this, "John Gwin, b. 1792 (whose 9 children were Isom, Mary, Thomas, William, Sarah, MaryAnn, Martha, Chesley, and Louisa) and who is buried in Wilsonville, AL (I have a photo of his tombstone)."

My grandmother(Gladys Bomar Gwin, McKenzie,Carroll Co. Tn) married William Driskell Kelley, born in Childersburg and son of Emory Kelley who owned a mercantile store in Wilsonville, Al.  Wm was orphaned 1868 at < 7 yrs. age.  I have a lot of guardian/probate papers from Talladega Co., but have been unable to locate farm* or cemetery plots for Wm's parents.   Wm and his brother are side by side in Selma's Old Liveoak Cemetery.

Please forgive if this comes across as an intrusion.

Frank M.

* My uncle said that my gg Kelley planted 1st apple orchard in Al. at Childersburg.