Next to Last – 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

I am glad to find that I am not alone in having a hard time figuring out what or who to write about for this week with the prompt “Next to Last”.  Jamie Gates over at Applegate Genealogy talked about having a little bit of a writer’s block with this topic as well. 

“Next to Last” is a funny thing.  Often, you don’t know until considerably after something has happened that it even was the Next to Last.  You don’t know that a child is the next to last until it’s completely clear that there are no more children coming to the family.  You often don’t know that something is the next to last time that you do something or that you see someone until much later.  And usually that means that it wasn’t planned as the next to last.

On the other hand, next to last can be wrapped in anticipation or at least a sense of waiting for something.  Remember the next to last final exam at college.  Or the next to last day before you were married.  We use this as a marker to move toward something.

None of that has anything to do with my topic this week.  I was looking at a pedigree chart and wondered how far back my maternal line went.  Well, I didn’t have to click far to get that answer.  I have only found my maternal ancestors (my mother’s mother’s mother’s mother, and so forth) back about six generations.  So, I decided to introduce you to my next to last ancestor on my maternal line.  Hopefully I will be able to make this post incorrect before too long and take things back another generation.

Sarah Vincent, often called Sallie, was my great-great-great grandmother on my maternal line.  I can only get one more generation beyond her on the maternal line.  Seems to me that that’s not terribly far back.  Tracking the women is unfortunately difficult, and doing it in the frontier country of western North Carolina and east and middle Tennessee is an added difficulty.  But, here’s my line as I know it:

  • My grandmother – Mary “Mary Jim” Higgs, b. 1906, DeQueen, Arkansas, d. 1988, Memphis, Tennessee
    • My great-grandmother – Eliza Johnson “Lida” Cason, b. 1868, Carrollton, Pickens County, Alabama, d. 1941, Dallas, Texas
      • My great-great-grandmother – Elizabeth “Bettie” Cooper, b. 1834, Bedford County, Tennessee, d. 1901, Van Buren, Crawford County, Arkansas
        • My great-great-great-grandmother – Sarah A. “Sallie” Vincent, b. 1809, Rutherford County (?), Tennessee, d. 1864, Bedford County, Tennessee
          • My great-great-great-great-grandmother – Elizabeth Adcock, b. 1789, Granville County, North Carolina, d. 1848, Murfreesboro, Rutherford County, Tennessee

It seems so strange to me that some folks get so caught up in their name line – their paternal line.  The family tree is a huge thing with many ancestors.  To focus so pointedly on the left edge of the tree ignores so much.  If you have found your paternal line eight generations back , to your 6th-great-grandfather, you have 510 ancestors in your tree.  Of those, 502 of them are not your paternal grandfathers.  (By the way, the same thing holds for following the strictly maternal line, too.)  There’s so much in the middle of the tree that’s exciting to research.

But, that’s a bit off-topic.  Sallie Vincent was born in 1809 in Tennessee.  While I have not found a record of exactly where she was born, her father had purchased land in Rutherford County, Tennessee by 1820 and appeared in the 1810 Rutherford County census.  So, I think she was probably born in Rutherford County, or nearby. 

Her parents were Henry Vincent (b. 1781, Granville County, North Carolina, d. 1841, Rutherford County, Tennessee) and Elizabeth Adcock (b. abt 1789, Granville County, North Carolina, d. before 1837, Rutherford County, Tennessee).  Henry and Elizabeth married 30 Sep 1805 in Granville County.  So, they moved to Tennessee as a young family.  Admittedly, I have not researched this family very thoroughly, but they appear to have had at least five children and at least one was already born before the move to Tennessee.  While Granville County, North Carolina was not a big city, they moved into the Tennessee frontier, barely ten years after statehood.

It does not appear that Sallie grew up on a “plantation” by any means.  Her father purchased land in Rutherford County and appears to have been a farmer.  In the 1820 census, he appears to have one slave.  In the 1830 census he is enumerated as having two slaves.  I need to search the tax lists to get a better idea of how much land they had.

When she was twenty years old, Sallie married Micajah Thomas Cooper in Rutherford County on 31 March 1829.  Micajah was from Rowan County, North Carolina, born there in 1806.  He was the son of Henry L. Cooper and Rebecca Hollis.  It appears that the family moved to Tennessee somewhere around 1808-1815.  Micajah’s grandfather, John Hollis, was already in Rutherford County in time to be enumerated in the 1810 Rutherford County census.

Through the years, Sallie & Micajah moved around Middle Tennessee, from Rutherford County to Coffee County to Bedford County.  They ultimately settled around Wartrace in Bedford County by 1834.  There, 10 of their 12 children were born (including Bettie, who went to Africa as a missionary in 1856.)

While Sallie was still in her thirties, she lost her mother and her father remarried.  She lost her father not many years after that.  She saw several of her children die young. 

Ultimately, Sallie, herself, died on 22 May 1864 in Wartrace.  She was buried at the New Hope Baptist Church in Fairfield, Tennessee.  She shares a grave plot with Micajah and some of her children.  It’s located immediately in front of the church, right on the driveway, so it’s hard to miss.

So, there you have it.  At least for now, Sarah Vincent is the next-to-last in my known maternal line.  Hopefully, this won’t be the case forever.  I hope to find out more about her and her ancestors.  I encourage all of my fellow researchers to take the extra effort to meet and get to know their female ancestor as well as their ancestors from difficult places (like the Carolinas).

Until next time,
–SCott

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Author: Scott Dickson

I've been doing family history research since the late 1980s. Almost all of my family came into the southern colonies and worked there way across the South. Lately, I've started to look at my wife's New England, Irish, and French Canadian ancestry. My tree is online at http://wrenacres.com/genealogy.

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