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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

More about the Family History...

I've lots of interesting info regarding distinguished family members on Mother's side, but the furthest back I know, ~directly thru my maternal line, is my fullblooded Cherokee gg-grandmother, Cely (Bird) Hilburn. I haven't much of a paper trail on her or husband Steven (or Stephen); just some names of children, siblings & possible siblings, etc.; no ancestors. Seeing her photograph, was worth 1000 words.

G-grandfather, George Washington Elkins (son of Jonathan Elkins & Nancy Nobles), & wife Polly Hilburn, moved from the port of Wilmington, N. Carolina, to St. Augustine; where they ran a turpentine 'still' & raised a large family, including grandma Mary Gladys, b.1902.

Grandma Gladys, a cook by trade (school cafeteria, boarding house, etc.) for most of her life, grew up w/ Cely in their extended family home. She told me that Cely began teaching her how to cook at the stove, when only 4 yrs of age. My own mother had me cooking at the stove at around 6 yrs old, & I too have worked in the food trades (baker / kitchen manager, ~10yrs). But it was Grandma, who taught me how to bake biscuits & cornbread, lol (Mother never baked, but was a very good cook).

Mother's father's branch were early Yellville, AR, settlers. Steamboat Capt. Isaac Thompson & wife Sarah James; Dr. James Isaac Thompson & wife Octavia Morrow; Demosthenes Gracchus (Gracki) Morrow & Mary J. Kimberling (Adam, James, James; whose family founded Kimberling MO); are some of my closest relatives from there. Lots of literature, both old & newer, about their lives & others of that time in early American Ozark history, is available to read online or in books.



Father's side of the family tree is directly traceable all the way back to John Denman of Retford, Nottinghamshire, England (1430-1517). John's brother, Rev. Thomas Denman, produced Stuart Queens Mary II & Anne, Lord Chief Justice of England, Thomas Denman, plus other distinguished Chief Justices, Lawyers, Doctors, & Clergy.

John Denman himself produced the 14 year old boy also named John Denman, grandson of Rev. Thomas Stoughton of Surrey, England, & cousin of William Stoughton (Chief Magistrate & Lt. Governor of Salem Colony, Mass., during the notorious Salem witch trials); who in 1635 sailed w/ his widowed mother, sister, & younger half-brother, to Boston on the 'Dorset' (Capt. John Flower), by way of Barbadoes, escaping religious persecution & other hardships in Europe.

They were among the earlier Puritans to settle in the New World, establishing a nice home in Newtown, Long Island, New York (or New Amsterdam); where they mingled w/ & married some of the French Huguenots there.

After England stepped in to claim New York for itself, the family sold what was left of the estate & moved to Westfield, New Jersey, where several Denman men fought in the Revolution.

My ancestor, Daniel Denman (& his son, James Denman, both), fought for the state of Georgia during the same war. He & brother John Denman (who also fought for Georgia at the time), were the progenitors of the entire southern lineage of American Denmans. They had lost contact w/ the northern branch of the family so completely, that in later generations none of us even knew about the others' existence.

James' son, Blake Denman, married Neaty Elston, g-granddaughter of Governor/General of Tennessee, John Sevier (whose grandfather, Valentine Xavier, was also a Huguenot) & first wife, Sarah Hawkins.

Governor Sevier gained a reputation as a good family man (18 children), popular politician, fearless Revolutionary soldier (Battle of King's Mountain, etc.), & avid frontiersman/pioneer. One of the first things he did as a young man, was to purchase land in the Shenandoah Valley & use it to found a town called New Market, VA. In later years, he became angered by what he perceived as Andrew Jackson's dishonesty & provoked Jackson into challenging him to a duel. Since no shots were fired, & no injuries incurred, I assume that John didn't wish to actually hurt Jackson; lol.

One thing which I find most peculiar yet interesting, is how much John Sevier resembles another Huguenot in the family tree, Rev. John Gano (Gerneau, Gannough, etc., var. sps.). Although I know of no direct relationship between the two men, they were contemporaries & could have passed for twins or maybe even for the same person (judging by their portraits, anyway)... Also, portraits of Lord Thomas Denman look uncannily like my own father (considering their very distant relationship).

Blake & Neaty's son, CSA veteran William C. Denman, & his wife Sarah (Sallie) Crankfield, were my father's g-grandparents.

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