This week has been harder than previous weeks for me. The theme of the week is “Closest to My Birthday”. The obvious thing is to look for someone who shares your birthday. One would think that would be pretty straightforward.
They say that in any group of not so many people (is it 35 or so?) that there are better than 50:50 odds that two people will share a birthday. In my entire tree, I can only find one ancestor who shares my birthday and I really don’t know a lot about him. Besides, he’s sort of far from the main trunk.
So, let’s see what else happened on my birthday. My birthday is July 29. On July 29, 1884, my great-great-great-grandfather, George Washington Wren, died in Sibley, Webster Parish, Louisiana. Let’s talk about him.
George Washington Wren was born 7 Feb 1802 in Lancaster County, South Carolina. The family story always says he was from the Waxhaw settlement, which was also the birthplace of President Andrew Jackson. This is right on the North Carolina – South Carolina border. Where it lies has been a point of contention for many years. But G. W. Wren always claimed to be from Lancaster County, South Carolina. This is just south of modern-day Charlotte, NC.
His parents were George Wren (b. abt. 1760 in Virginia) and Alletha Dossey (b. in Maryland). The two of them married in Lancaster County sometime before 1798. Both remained in Lancaster County until their deaths. For Alletha, that would come sooner than expected. She died by 1810, when George Wren married Elizabeth Kimball. George, himself, died in between 1832 and 1835. George and Alletha had seven known children, four girls and three boys. George Washington Wren was the youngest.
Now, we have to get into the fast-forward machine and jump from 1802 in Lancaster County, South Carolina all the way to 1828 in Putnam County, Georgia. There we find G. W. Wren witnessing a deed between Herod Bridges and Moses Harvey. Soon afterward, G.W. married Herod Bridges’ daughter Sarah Bridges.
Sarah Bridges was born 19 Apr 1813 in Greene County, Georgia, and was living with her family in Putnam County by 1815. She was the eldest of Herod Bridges and Margaret “Peggy” Ware’s fourteen children. On 4 Sep 1828, Sarah Bridges married George Washington Wren in Putnam County.
G.W. and Sarah lived in Putnam County for more than twenty years. I can reliably find them in 1830, 1840, and 1850 census in Putnam County. Additionally, I find George W. listed in the property tax rolls for 1830, 1832, 1833, 1836, 1839. And I find him buying and selling land all through this time.
Between 15 September 1850 and 1 Sept 1851, the family picked up and moved from Putnam County, Georgia to Bienville Parish, Louisiana, south of the town of Minden, within the part of the Parish that was to become Webster Parish. Within just a couple of years of arriving in Louisiana, G.W. Wren sets about patenting 560 acres of land around Sibley, Louisiana. We don’t find the family in the 1860 Census, since it appears to be missing for Bienville Parish. In fact, there is no Population Schedule or any other Schedule surviving for the Parish. In 1870, we find George Washington and Sarah living in Sibley. Even after reading every entry in Bienville and Webster Parish, I am unable to find the family in 1880 in the Census. I have looked around all of their living children and have not found them there, either.
Ultimately, George Washington Wren died on 29 July 1884 in Sibley, Webster Parish, Louisiana, seventy-nine years before I was born. His estate was finally closed in probate in 1889.
I feel like I don’t know a lot about George Washington Wren. I know a little more about his wife Sarah Bridges Wren, who lived another twenty-eight years. She wrote a wonderful letter telling about her life that I am sure we will get to at some point.
I have a couple of pictures of G.W. Wren and he always looks so stern. I also have a Bible Dictionary that belonged to him. The inscriptions are hard to read, but his son, Alonzo Dossey Wren, who inherited the book, has highlighted where G.W. Wren inscribed the dictionary.
G.W. Wren wrote his name opposite the title page. Later, A.D. Wren noted in 1897 that his father had owned the book and had signed it around 1845. The book itself was published in 1842. Inside the front cover, A.D. Wren notes that the book was presented to him in 1867. This would have been around the time of the birth of A.D. Wren’s first child, who died in infancy.
There’s one last inscription in the book that baffles me. I have tried adjusting the lighting, contrast, color, etc. here and still cannot read this one. Can you see what the top part of this page says? The lower part of the page is the handwriting of A.D. Wren commenting on what his father wrote. But the top party is by G.W. Wren.
So, G.W. Wren remains somewhat of a mystery to me. There are plenty of open questions about his life. Here are the mysteries that I want to solve about George Washington Wren:
- How did G.W. Wren get from Lancaster County, South Carolina to Putnam County, Georgia? There is a 25+ year gap between when we first find G.W. in Lancaster until we find him as an adult in Georgia. Who did he come with? How did he end up in Putnam County, 300+ miles away from his birthplace?
- How did he decide to move on to Louisiana and why did he select Bienville? Again, I’ve not been able to link his FANs (Family, Associates, Neighbors) in Georgia with those in Louisiana.
- Where was the family in the 1880 census?
If you have ideas on these, I would love to hear about it. Or if you can read the inscription in the Bible dictionary, please let me know.