This Wall Must Come Down

As I mentioned before, my grandmother was a closet genealogist.  She kept everything from newspaper clipping to pictures.  She also made lists of everything.  And she loved to talk.  This was a family trait.  All of her siblings did the same thing.  She talked about the Butlers a lot.  There was Aunt Sid, Aunt Fronie and the double first cousins.  I heard about her sister, Laura, going to live with Uncle Pratt Butler’s family after their mother Josephine died.  That is where that story stopped.

Josephine died fairly young at the age of 54.  My grandmother was only 11 at the time.  While all the aunts, uncles and cousins were well documented, nothing is known about Josephine parents except for their names.  John Johnson Butler and Sarah Rebecca Webb are a mystery.

Their dates of birth are even in question.  It is thought he was born about 1812 in North Carolina.  Rebecca was born in Georgia between 30 Oct 1813 and 25 Jun 1814.  At least that is what I have been able to get from census reports.  The next record to be found on either one of them is their marriage in Marriage Book 1, Lowndes County Alabama May 30, 1830 – Feb. 13, 1848.  They are simply mentioned as JR Butler and SR Webb.  The date of their marriage was 12 Jan 1837.  The date works out but the JR has me wondering.  Was the “R” a mistake or are we missing something?

I have believed for a few years that Rebecca was the daughter of Robert Clinton Webb and Mary E. “Polly” Sorelle.  Mary’s name is seen spelled many different ways.  Robert and Mary were married in Greene County, Georgia on 10 Feb 1812, as documented in the Greene County Marriage Book.  By 2 Apr 1828 they were living in Lowndes County, Alabama and were there until at least 15 May 1837.  Census reports show their oldest child was Elisha Hardy Webb born 06 Aug 1819.  It seems highly unlikely that the couple was married seven years before having children.  I was able to find an 1830 report that has them with  a daughter between 10 and 14 and another between 15 and 19.  That gives them two daughters that are not on any other records.  The oldest being the same age as Rebecca.  The 1840 report would not have shown her as she was already married.  The other daughter was not on the 1840 census either.  The ages of the other children match the report also.

Matthew Wood, we will talk about him later, was one of the founders of Union Parish.  In the 1830’s he went back to Alabama and organized a group of families to return with him to Louisiana.  The party left Lowndes County on 14 Jan 1837 and Wood was at the Ouachita Land Office on 14 Feb 1837.  I believe John and Rebecca may have been in that group.  The 1839 – 1844 Police Jury Minutes of Union Parish Louisiana list John Butler purchasing (1) lot east of town square in the new town of Farmerville.  He was also listed on the 1840 census in Union Parish.  There was a Robert Webb listed in New Orleans but I have not been able to verify him as Robert Clinton.

The police jury minutes list John Johnson Butler and Robert Webb on several different dates between 7 Jun 1842 and 7 Sep 1846.  They worked together mapping out roads in the parish.  Robert was also a witness on a transaction where John sold a slave on 8 Nov 1843.  This is documented in the book, Some Slaveholders and Their Slaves, Union Parish 1839-1865 by Harry F. Dill and William Simpson.  The same book has Robert purchasing 3 slaves on 4 Jul 1848.  This is the last record of Robert Clinton Webb I have found.

By 5 Oct 1850 the Butlers, the Elisha Webb family, Polly Webb and her youngest son, Robert Clinton Webb, Jr., were all living in Claiborne Parish, Louisiana.  Robert must have died between 4 Jul 1848 and 5 Oct 1850.  I have contacted the Union Parish Clerk of Court and there is no succession or will on file.  Unfortunately there was a fire in Claiborne and there are no records before 1850.  Polly died on 7 May 1853.  Her succession only mentions her son Robert Clinton, Jr.  I am afraid the only document that will have the names of the two oldest daughters is Robert’s will or succession.  In that case we may never know their names.

On 13 Mar 1853 John and Rebecca named their newest son, Robert Clinton Butler.  The oldest son was John Johnson Butler, Jr.  We have no way of knowing if Robert was named for his grandfather or a close friend of the family.  They named their oldest child Mary, which is a common name, so we can’t read anything into that either.  The last name hint that I can find is Sarah Rebecca. Robert and Mary both had nieces with the name combination.

My last bit of information is the new DNA test offered by Ancestry.com.  One of my matches is a lady who is my possible 5th to 8th cousin with a 50% accuracy rate.  Her 3rd great-grandmother is the sister of Robert Clinton Webb.  The downside, we share six common names.  One, I have proven to not be a match.  It is not a match because her tree is not accurate.  It turns out she is a copier.  My goal for today is to prove or disprove her connection to Delilah Webb McBrayer.

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