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

Micajah Thomas Cooper

He never really thought it would come to this.  His oldest daughter (one had died as a young child, so now she was his oldest) was leaving home.  Not just leaving home, leaving her comfortable home in middle Tennessee, but really leaving!  Going to Africa, maybe never to come home.  And as a father, he was worried and a bit scared.  So, as she left, he wrote her a letter.

Micajah Thomas Cooper was born in 1806 in Rowan County, North Carolina.  His family moved to first Cannon County, then Rutherford County, Tennessee by about 1810.  They settled in the Woodbury area and then moved south into Rutherford County.  In 1829, Micajah married Sarah A. “Sallie” Vincent in Rutherford County.  They had twelve children together and lost at least three of the twelve as children.  Micajah was a fairly successful farmer.  He bought land in Rutherford County, in the Bell Buckle area and grew to have a farm  valued at $8000 in 1860, with personal property valued at $15000.

Micajah and Sallie’s daughter, Elizabeth “Bettie” Cooper, was born in 1834.  By the fall of 1855 and spring of 1856, she had become quite attached to student at the Union College in nearby Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  He was studying to be a preacher, a Baptist preacher.  He wanted to share the Gospel not only to the people of middle Tennessee, but across the globe.  This student, Jeremiah H. Cason, wanted to be a missionary in the foreign service.  And Bettie wanted to serve with him, wherever that service would take him.

Micajah and Sallie raised Bettie to be a devout Christian, but this was never what they saw as her future!  The wife of a preacher?  A missionary?  And Africa?  What kind of dangers would she face there?  Was this anywhere for a nice Tennessee girl to be?

Bettie and Jere married in July 1856 and by September that year, they boarded a sailing ship for the Yoruba County of Africa (today’s Nigeria).  Not knowing whether he would ever see his daughter again, Micajah took pen to paper and wrote them a letter, hoping it would find them before they sailed.  In it, he sent them on their way with his blessing, but with more than a little sadness and trepidation.

At Home Aug 10th 1856

Dear Children,
My heart was very much gladdened on the reception of your short letter from Augusta and again by a similar one from Richmond. I hasten to write you a few lines which will have to be consise[sic] – first I would say we have tryed[sic] to submit to your departure with all the fortitude we are capable and am happy to say your mother has bore it better than I could have expected – but not a day has passed that she has not alluded to you – but I busy her up the best I can and mention the importance of your mission and the consciousness you feel – that you are discharging a duty to that God who willeth not that any should perish but that all should have eternal life. This reflection is gratifying but you know how human nature is such that it is hard for us to be willing to be separated from children who would afford us so many pleasures along the journey of life – but enough on this subject – we are all in good health and attending the Garrison Camp Meeting.

Bettie and Jere stayed in Yoruba for about a year, but that’s a story for a different day.

Micajah and Sallie died.  She in 1864 and he in 1874 during a visit to a daughter in Kentucky.  Both are buried right in front of the New Hope Baptist Church, in Fairfield, Bedford County, Tennessee.