Finding Jeremiah Horn…or Where did they put my 3rd great-grandfather?

Genealogists and family historians ask questions, lots of questions.  When and where were they born?  Who and when did they marry?  What were their names and when were their children born?  When did they die and where are they buried?  The answers to these questions outline a life once lived.  They tell a story.  That story is somehow incomplete if we can’t answer the last question.

My quest began with my mother saying something like, “I don’t know.  He was a Byrd and some say a prominent Methodist minister in Wise County.  He’s in a book there in the library.”

We were talking about her grandfather, my great-grandfather, whom she did not know.  He died 18 years before her arrival on the planet and for whatever reason(s) the family knew little about one another.  I did not grow up spending much time with extended family.  Part of my interest in family history is to connect my children and grandchildren to their roots.

I entered and exited childhood in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex.  Born in Ft. Worth, I lived in Arlington and Euless before moving to Denton to attend 2nd grade and eventually graduate High School.  We saw my dad’s parents and sister’s family the most, though that was not very often.  We saw my mom’s brothers Charles and Loal Byrd and their families a few times.  My dad did not know the name of his dad’s dad until I told him three years before his death in 1988.  We weren’t very connected and from my point of view, not very curious as a family.

Imagine my surprise 40 years after high school to discover I had dozens of relatives buried within easy driving distance of Denton.  Some of them had been in North Texas since Texas was a Republic.  Some had fought in the War of 1812, some in the Mexican-American War and some in the Civil War.  Two of my 3rd great-grandfathers had original Texas land grants with the Peters Colony.  One was in Denton County (!) and the other one was next door in Collin County!  One of my 3rd great-grandmothers had an original land grant located mostly in Dallas County with about a fourth of it in Denton County.  And, my 3rd great uncle, James Byrd, owned over 1800 acres in today’s north Dallas.  640 acres of that was an original Peters’ land grant.  He died in California during the gold rush but his wife and many family members are buried in north Dallas within a 35 minute drive of where I played baseball as a child.  I drove across one of their grants playing football in Carrollton.  I drove across another one of these original land grants every time I drove from Denton to Dallas on Interstate 35.  I drove by a third one every time I took Hwy 380 east to or through McKinney, Texas.  And I’ll tell you I followed that “trail” many times.  Stop today at the new Taco Bueno across from the new Walmart on Hwy 380 East and you’re there.  You’re on part of Jeremiah Horn’s original land grant!  Who knew?

It was a natural progression and gradual revelation.  Find my grandfather Byrd’s father.  Pleasant Wesley Byrd was in fact a well-known Methodist minister in Wise County, Texas.  Hwy 380 West traverses this county traveling west out of Denton.  He was in fact in a book in the library.  Got him.  Find his father.  Samuel Byrd was a bit more elusive and remains so.  But, I found him.  His wife, my 2nd great-grandmother Elizabeth Horn, “introduced” me to her father JeremiahHis story is not so common.  Now, where did they put him?

As stated, you’d like to tie up all your genealogical quests with a nice bow.  Have a birth date and place, etc. and put a period on it with a “spot”.  You want to know.  Where is the victim, I mean loved one, buried?  Where did they put him/her?  (It dawns on me that the growing popularity of cremation in our culture is going to drive future family historians crazy!)

I began my online search for Jeremiah Horn’s burial place in 2012.  I was so pleased 1867 Horn Family Cemetery Gateand pleasantly surprised to rather quickly find the Horn Family Cemetery just west of McKinney.  As you can see in the picture, it even had the year of Jeremiah’s death on the gate.  He must have been the “first in”.  However, it wouldn’t be THAT easy.  Jeremiah Horn’s body is not planted in this place.  In fact, the two well-known Horn families in Collin County have not been able to genealogically connect their families.  This in spite of the fact they both had family in Wilson County, Tennessee prior to their arrival in Texas and before that, in North Carolina.  How could they not be connected?  But, that’s another quest for another year.  Now, where was I?  Oh yeah, where did they put Jeremiah?

Jeremiah Horn was said by some online seekers to be buried in the Hunt Cemetery.  And somebody, somewhere wrote or said the Horns and Byrds first came to Hunt County, Texas near the Collin County line and then on to Collin.  I was surprised again.   The Hunt Cemetery of Collin County is on the opposite side of the county and south of the community of Rheas Mill making it closer to the Denton County line than the Hunt County line.

Photo by Will and Shelly about 2005
Photo by Will and Shelly about 2005

I found the Hunt Cemetery on MapQuest.  I found it on Find A Grave.  I found a record of the deed for the cemetery land.  On a trip to North Texas I looked for the cemetery.  I could not find it.  I showed the location to my sister.  When she and her family had moved back to North Texas from Arizona they bought a home within a few miles of the cemetery!  Incredible.  Jeremiah Horn’s resting place was there all the time.  Using her phone’s GPS she located the cemetery in a grove of trees on private property (on the original Horn land grant).  When she asked the family’s permission to visit the cemetery, they did not even know it was there!  It was overgrown and a storm had blown down many trees sometime after these first photos were taken.  But she found it!

Photo on Find A Grave
Photo on Find A Grave

I visited the site the next winter.  Boy Scout Troop 289 and the Prosper Historical Society had taken on the cemetery as a project.   They cleaned, cleared the area and reset the stones that were down.  It was beautiful.  They are to be commended.

The children of Bertha Mae Byrd Roberts: David Roberts, Debbie Scroggin and Gary Roberts
The children of Bertha Mae Byrd Roberts: David Roberts, Debbie Scroggin and Gary Roberts at the grave of their 3rd Great-grandfather Jeremiah Horn in 2014

Here are the GPS coordinates, latitude: 33.22940, longitude: -96.73310. Please ask permission before driving across the land owner’s pasture to get to the cemetery.

Find a Grave says there are fourteen graves identified in the cemetery.  I count sixteen.  One of them is my 3 x great-grandfather Jeremiah Horn.  I found his burial site.  I can “put a period” on his story. But of course, Jeremiah Horn has many more tales to tell.

Happy hunting!

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Methodists Among the Cherokee

Jeremiah Horn was a Methodist or should I write, “a methodist”.  In the beginning he was not a Methodist by denomination, but by conversion.  He was a methodist by personal experience.  Those who followed the Wesley brothers methods of holiness and devotion, and who brought the gospel into the American wilds, made an impact on his life.  Some of these men were part of other groups but all were “methodists” in their practices.  He named one of his sons Charles Wesley Horn after the famous preacher. He named another son after the influential Methodist minister mentioned below, James J. Trott.  Jeremiah became driven by his own call to preach Christ and did so vigorously.  To our knowledge he had little formal education.  He worked with his hands to provide for himself and family and preached when he wasn’t working (and sometimes when he was!)

Jeremiah Horn ministered in Cherokee Nation East as early as 1818.  He voluntarily moved to Indian Territory in the west  in 1834 as part of the early removal of the Cherokee.  He would be named in that year by the Methodist Conference (now you can read “denomination”) as their missionary to the Cherokee.  By 1846 he was in Collin County, Texas as part of the Peters Colony.  He went on to establish churches and “ride the circuit” while running a farm, blacksmithing and hauling freight with his sons.  He died in 1867.

Below is a quote concerning Methodist missions among the Cherokee people in the early days.

Methodist Missions

With their uneducated but caring circuit riders and their “four-day” or protracted camp meetings that resembled Cherokee all-night dances and extended camping, Methodists converted more Cherokees than all the other denominations combined. Their Arminian approach minimized atonement and the recognition of saints. Salvation was an open door, and sinners had free wills. In 1823 the first circuit riders were appointed in Tennessee near the site of John Ross‘s home, south of Chattanooga. Their emphasis was not on model farms and boarding schools but rather on itinerant and emotional ministry.
However, the Methodists, yielding to Cherokee wishes, did open six-month day schools at Oothcaloga and Pinelog, along with semipermanent churches: barely literate but enthusiastic, the main ministers were Richard Neely, Nicholas D. Scales, Dickson C. McLeod, and James J. Trott, all of whom married Cherokee women. Within four years Methodists accepted Cherokees as licensed preachers and traveling exhorters, among whom were Young Wolf, Turtle Fields, John Spears, William McIntosh, and John Fletcher Boot. In 1829 Methodism achieved a milestone when the church admitted the Ross brothers, John and Lewis, as members; the former had a home at New Echota. By 1830 Methodists had claimed more than 1,000 members.

(From New Georgia Encyclopedia Online)

Jeremiah Horn would have known all of the men mentioned in this article.  He may have been related by marriage to more than one of them.  Keep following the clues…

Samuel Byrd and the Texas Taxman

You can learn a lot from tax records.  Consider Samuel Byrd.

This Samuel Byrd was born in Tennessee on April 14, 1814.  He was the son of David Byrd and Jane Morehead.  His grandparents were Richard and Elizabeth Buster Byrd.  He (this Samuel Byrd) is one of my great, great grandfathers.  I say “this” Samuel Byrd because he’s often confused with his son Samuel Zedock Byrd (1852 – 1938) by people building online trees.  We know much about this son.  I visited his and his second wife’s grave a few weeks ago in Collin County, Texas.  I also, quite by accident, came across his first wife’s grave in a Hunt County, Texas cemetery while looking for another great, great grandfather.  His death certificate records his name as S.Z. Byrd.  There’s a good article about him and his family in a book on Collin County families.   (Collin County Texas Families, Alice Ellison Pitts and Minnie Pitts Champ; Cutis Media, Hurst, Texas; pages 69, 70.)  The article was written by Bryan Vicars, a proud family descendant.  I can’t prove some of the statements in the article (In fact, I can disprove some and doubt others.), but I do know “this” is Samuel Zedock Byrd, the son of my great, great grandfather Samuel Byrd.

I’m very interested in “my” Samuel Byrd.  I know so little about him.  I know more about his wife Elizabeth Horn Byrd.  I know a lot more about his other children.  I’ve spent considerable time trying to know him yet he remains distant and illusive to me.

Some say Samuel Byrd migrated to Texas in the middle 1850’s.  Someone reported on Find a Grave that he died September 11, 1857 and is buried in historic Pecan Grove Cemetery in McKinney, Texas.  I cannot confirm either of those statements.  The cemetery association was “officially” formed in or after 1870.  It is believed however that people have been buried in those grounds since the 1850’s.  According to land records, the land was originally owned by the McFarland and then fairly soon purchased by the Davis Family.  Both of these families previously lived in Wilson County, Tennessee before migrating to Texas.  It is believed by some that both Jeremiah and Elizabeth Horn were born in Wilson County.  Could their families, the Horns, McFarlands and Davis’s, known each other in Tennessee?

I know my great, great grandmother Elizabeth is buried in Pecan Grove.  I know her second husband Thomas Rodman is buried beside her.  I once thought my 2 x great grandfather Samuel was buried there in a vacant space on the other side of Elizabeth.  I no longer do.  Here are some reasons.

  • There is no record of his burial there. He is not in any plot records including the hand written originals in the cemetery’s safe.
  • The cemetery personnel believe someone may be buried in that vacant space but have no way of knowing who. It’s not in the records.  The plot is actually still for sale.  I give more weight to Samuel and Elizabeth’s six year old son Jeremiah David Byrd being buried there in 1861 and may explain Elizabeth’s decision to return here to bury her second husband and later have her children bury her there.  The name on those occupied plot deeds is Elizabeth Rodman dated from the 1870s.  She only purchased 2 plots when she certainly could have afforded 3 and a headstone for her first husband.  (BTW, my “abt” and “aft” date of 1855 for Samuel’s death date on my family tree is based on Jeremiah David’s 1855 birth date.
  • There are no records of any kind for “this” Samuel Byrd in the State of Texas.   No census.  No probate.  No obituaries.  No bank records.  No land records.  No tax records.  There is nothing you would expect from a man settling in to a new place…or dying!  And, I can find some or all of these for Elizabeth and her children in Texas beginning in 1860.

Death and taxes are the two certain things in life.  The tax man always cometh.  When I thought about this, I decided to firm up my suppositions with “negative proof”.  I would need to show myself there is no evidence “my’ Samuel Byrd ever arrived in Texas –  tax records.  Samuel Byrd was never to my knowledge, and I searched four likely counties, charged a tax in Texas. That means no taxes for land, occupation, income, etc.  None.

But, here’s something interesting.  I began tracking Samuel’s father-in-law Jeremiah Horn and his sons George and John’s tax records.  They began paying taxes in 1846 in Collin County and continued to pay taxes through 1857.  These included taxes on their wagons and we know they were teamsters and had a freight business.  Then in 1858, I lost them and did not pick them up again until 1860.  Why?  I don’t know.  Perhaps it was an oversight on my part.  But it wasn’t just Jeremiah, it was Jeremiah and George and John.  All three owned original survey land in Collin County.

OK, I don’t know what happened.

Here’s something I know.  In the 1860 Federal Census, Elizabeth and her children are living in Collin County near the Lebanon Post Office.  She is the head of her household and works as a weaver.  The community of Lebanon was named after Lebanon, Tennessee the previous home of many of the early settlers in this part of Collin County.  That’s Lebanon in Wilson County, Tennessee.  She lived about nine miles south of her father’s home place and about five miles west of another property once surveyed for him.  She was about nine miles north of her “missing” husband’s cousin James Byrd in north Dallas County and about eleven miles east of her son Pleasant Wesley’s future wife’s family in Denton County.

What if Samuel Byrd, yes “that” one, died in Alabama?  What if the Horns made the trip to where Elizabeth was living in order to help her, her five girls and young sons, finish crops, sale land, pack up and make the move to Texas in 1859?

I don’t know.  I really don’t.  I’m open to new documented evidence.  But here’s what I know so far…the Texas taxman never came for Samuel Byrd, but death did.


Have you ever used tax records in your family history research?  Interested?

Check out Susan Jackman’s great article on using taxes in your genealogical research.

http://www.archives.com/experts/jackman-susan/tax-records-in-genealogical-research.html