Bullitt County History

Jarret Williams and His Descendants in Bullitt County

by Charles Hartley and Meledie Duncan Gregory 1  

A recent search in Google Books for Bullitt County related items turned up the following quote.

"Jarret Williams was an Indian trader, also an inhabitant of the Watauga settlement before 1773 [located along the Watauga River is what is now far eastern Tennessee]. In Dunmore's War [1774] he enlisted in Capt. Evan Shelby's company [from Fincastle County, Virginia], and at its close resumed his trade with the Cherokee. In June, 1776, he escaped from their towns, and brought word to the frontier settlements of the invasion which the Cherokee were preparing. His testimony is published. [see note] 2  He therein says that fifteen of the Northern Indians were at the Cherokee towns with a war-belt, and a party went out to strike the settlers in Kentucky. This is the party which Fleming suggests may have caused the alarm on Greenbrier. Williams was reimbursed by the North Carolina legislature for his losses by the Cherokee War, to the amount of £100. He went out in 1778 as lieutenant of [George Rogers] Clark's Illinois regiment, and received his share of the Illinois grant. He settled on Floyd's fork of Salt River, in Bullitt County, Kentucky, and passed there the remainder of his life.— Ed." 3  

Additional research makes it appear that this editor confused and combined the records of more than one Jarret Williams. According to another source, a Cherokee Indian named Dragging Canoe "killed Jarot Williams and Alexander Hardin, Indian traders" in a midnight attack on a settler's cabin. 4  This occurred about the time that the British left Detroit for Vincennes in late 1778. This writer was referring to the Indian trader who sounded the alarm in June 1776. If accurate, this is not the Jarret Williams who served under George Rogers Clark in Illinois and later in Kentucky.

Another Williams researcher has found evidence that there were probably two men by that name, one older and one younger, in the Watauga area. 5  She places the younger one's birth at 8 Jan 1752. 6  We have not independently verified this source, but if it is accurate, Williams would have been 24 years old in June, 1776, the date mentioned above for the Indian trader's escape to sound the alarm.

We do have substantial evidence that the Jarret Williams who settled in Bullitt County was the same one who was a lieutenant in the Illinois regiment. The primary records come from two sources. First, the "Journal of Western Commissioners," dated Friday, 28 Mar 1783, records the statement, "Received ... Mr. Jarrat Williams Account against the State for service as a Lieutenant in the Illinois Regt from the fifth day of June 1780 untill [sic] the first day of August 1782, and Pay as Ensign from the First day of Jany 1779 to the Fourth day of June 1780." 7  Then in a Bullitt County court order book we find this statement: "On the motion of John Williams it was proven in open court to the satisfaction of said court by the oath of Richard P. Simmons and George F Pope that Jarrett Williams a Lieutenant in the Illinois Regiment of the Virginia State line of the army of the Revolution departed this life intestate and that John, Cynthia wife of Joseph Todd, Samuel, Verlinder wife of Benjamin Henson and Elizabeth, deceased wife of Shadrack Duncan are the children and only heirs at law of said Jarrett Williams deceased which is ordered to be certified." 8  

As noted above, Jarret Williams was a member of George Rogers Clark's Illinois regiment as early as 1 Jan 1779. He may have been a private in the regiment earlier, but we have not yet discovered clear evidence of it. We know he was at Fort Patrick Henry (Vincennes) in July 1779 from abstracts of the Clark papers. 9  By 8 Apr 1780 he was located at Fort Clark (Kaskaskia) where he requested 4 day ration for 10 men of Capt. Shelby's company. 10  He seemed to move between settlements quite a bit, as we find him at Cahokia on 26 May 1780 when "gunpowder and lead [were] issued to Jarret Williams, Ensign at Cahokia." 11  

Clark had drawn up plans for a new post, to be named Fort Jefferson, at the mouth of the Ohio River to serve as a link between New Orleans and Fort Pitt. Construction of the post began on 19 Apr 1780, and Williams was there by July. 12  Then on 24 Oct 1780 a Bill of Exchange was sent from Fort Jefferson to the Treasurer of Virginia to advance $1,760 to Jarret Williams for recruitment, indicating a new assignment for him. 13  Williams continued to be based at Fort Jefferson until at least June 1781, 14  but we find him at the Falls of the Ohio in July of that year. 15  

A significant entry was made on 15 Aug 1781 when Lieutenant Jarret Williams and wife received an issue of corn and meat from the quartermaster. 16  This is the first indication we have of his first marriage. After Fort Nelson (Louisville) opened, near the beginning of 1782, Williams was assigned there. 17  He seems to have concluded his service at this post, leaving the service in August as noted above.

Jarret Williams was twice married. His first wife was Elizabeth Phelps, daughter of Thomas and Susan (Guy) Phelps who also settled in Bullitt County. 18   Elizabeth apparently died sometime prior to July 1785, for Jarret married his second wife, Elizabeth Simmons in Nelson County on or about 11 Jul 1785. 19   Elizabeth was a daughter of Samuel and Verlinda (Willet) Simmons. As noted previously, Jarret Williams was the father of five children: Elizabeth, Cynthia, John, Velinder (Linnie) and Samuel. The first three were by Elizabeth Phelps, the latter two by Elizabeth Simmons.

Elizabeth Williams [Jarret] married Shadrach Duncan on 4 Aug 1803 in Madison County KY. 20  They moved from there to Hardin County and had seven children that are identified in this transcription of the Hardin County probate proceedings following Elizabeth's death: "On the motion of John Duncan it was proven in open court by the oath of John McDougal and Anthony Phelps, that John Duncan, Patsy Carman, wife of Joseph Carman, Charles Duncan, Samuel W Duncan, William Duncan, Verlinda wife of Phillip Thomas and Jarret W Duncan are the children and only heirs at law of Elizabeth Duncan deceased wife of Shadrach Duncan late of said county deceased and a daughter of Jarrett Williams late of Nelson County, Kentucky deceased ..." 21  The reference to Jarret Williams being "late of Nelson County" is puzzling, for we believe he died in Bullitt County. Elizabeth Williams Duncan was likely the eldest child of Jarret Williams since she married first in 1803.

Cynthia Williams [Jarret] married Joseph Todd in early 1804 in Madison County. 22  By 1817 they were on their way west to Missouri, and ended up in Platte County. They had 11 children: 23  Robert (b. 28 Oct 1804), Ann (b. 28 Sep 1806), Joseph (b. 8 Feb 1808), John W. (b. 20 Feb 1810), Mary "Polly" (b. Feb 1812), William (b. 23 Feb 1814), Jonathan (b. 20 Feb 1816), Jarret (b. 10 Apr 1818), Green D. (b. 14 Mar 1820), Elizabeth J. (b. 20 Apr 1822), and Sarah (b. 23 Dec 1824). Joseph Todd died 17 Feb 1851 in Platte County. Cynthia lived there until 27 Jun 1870. Cynthia Williams Todd was 78 in the 1860 Platte County MO census, placing her birth around 1782. 24  

John Williams [Jarret] married Mary "Polly" Burks 25  (also spelled Burkes) on 10 Feb 1810 according to Bullitt County records. They had two children: Elizabeth and Samuel, as shown in the following probate record: "Satisfactory proof was this day made in Court (19 Aug 1833) that John Williams of this county died intestate, and left children, Elizabeth B. Simmons, wife of Humphry Simmons and Samuel B. Williams and only these." 26  

Some think that John Williams who married Mary Burks was a son of a John P. Williams in whose name a treasury warrant for 1000 acres was surveyed in what became northern Bullitt County. We have found no other evidence to support this as yet. We do know that there was only one John Williams in Bullitt County in the censuses of 1810-1830, and other evidence given in this essay clearly shows that Jarret Williams had a son named John. For now we are content to conclude that Mary Burks' husband was Jarret's son.

Mary Burks Williams is believed to be a daughter of John and Elizabeth Burks. According to her brother, John Burks' will she was a sibling of John, James, and Samuel Burks, Sally Phelps (wife of Guy Phelps), Betsey Read (wife of James Read), and Amey Dunn (wife of John Dunn). 27  As a side note: John and Amey Dunn were the parents of Charles Dunn who later became Chief Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. 28  

Elizabeth B. Williams [John, Jarret] was born in 1812. She married Humphrey Simmons on 7 Jun 1831 in Bullitt County, 29  and they had four children: John, Samuel, Mary, and Nancy. All but Samuel are identified in a later court case involving the children's inheritance from their mother. 30  Elizabeth had died before March 1840 when Humphrey married again, this time to Emily Ann Pope. 31  The family was still in Bullitt County in the 1850 census, 32  but they were in Missouri by 16 Feb 1853 when Mary E. Simmons married Johnston Dysart in St. Joseph, Missouri. 33  The family moved on to Collins County, Texas after that.

Samuel B. Williams [John, Jarret] was born in 1817. He married Mary Verlinda Summers in Bullitt County on 20 Dec 1838. 34  She was a daughter of Benjamin and Verlinda (Beckwith) Summers as indicated in her father's will 35  and in the biography of her sister, Sarah Bealmear. 36  Samuel and Mary had seven children: John Benjamin (1840), Annie Elizabeth (1842), Franklin (1844), Laura (1846), Samuel B. (1848), Verlinda (1851), and Sarah (1854). 37  

John Benjamin Williams [Samuel B., John, Jarret] appears as John B. Williams in the 1850 census, and as Ben Williams in 1860. We have yet to positively identify him after that. He was not at home with his widowed mother in 1870, but we do find a J.B. Williams in Bullitt County who is the right age. This J. B. Williams (age 29) was married to Bettie (26) (surname unknown), and they had two children: Nettie (4) and Charles (2). 38  By the 1880 census this family appears to be in Montague County, Texas with two more children: Lula (8) and Idia (6). 39  We lose track of them after that.

Samuel and Mary's next two children, Annie Elizabeth and Franklin, were both still single and at home with their mother in 1870. More research will need to be done to learn more about them. 40  

Laura Williams [Samuel B., John, Jarret] was born 2 Dec 1846. 41  She married John S. Bell on 15 Dec 1869 in Bullitt County. 42  He was a son of Charles and Catherine (Jessie) Bell. 43  The 1880 census shows John and Laura with three children, Sam (9), Bessie (6), and Jessie V. (1). 44  By the 1900 census, there were two sons at home: Vernon J. (b. Sep 1878) and Benjamin H. Bell (b. Aug 1882). 45  John S. Bell, who was born on 15 Sep 1844, died on 10 Feb 1915. Laura lived until 5 Sep 1926.

Samuel B. Williams [Samuel B., John, Jarret] was born 20 Dec 1848. This Samuel married Martha Magdaline McCloskey, daughter of Henry and Sallie (Jefferies) McCloskey. 46  Martha was born 8 Apr 1854, and died 13 Feb 1931. Samuel died on 2 Dec 1924. 47  Samuel and Martha had four sons who are identified in the 1900 census: Samuel B. (b. Dec 1879), Henry M. (b. Dec 1881), Herman (b. Dec 1883), and James L. Williams (b. Jun 1887). 48  

Samuel Burks Williams [Samuel B., Samuel B., John, Jarret] married Virginia Field Brooks on 18 Sep 1912, 49  and they had at least five children: Samuel Burks Williams Jr., b. 18 Dec 1914; Neal Brooks Williams, b. 19 Jan 1919; Mary Martha Williams, b. 16 Jun 1923; Virginia L. Williams, b. 7 Jun 1923; and Nancy E. Williams, b. 18 Mar 1931. 50  

Henry Mason Williams [Samuel B., Samuel B., John, Jarret] was born 21 Dec 1881 and died 20 Aug 1946. 51  His death certificate also indicates that his wife was Blanche Braithwaite. Mason and Blanche were in the 1920 census with no children. 52  We have not located them in the 1930 census.

Herman T. Williams [Samuel B., Samuel B., John, Jarret] married Mary Tyler Brooks on 8 May 1912. 53  She was a sister to Virginia, and daughter of Solomon Neil and Katie (Tyler) Brooks. 54  Herman and Mary had at least four children: Catherine Williams, b. 1 Mar 1913; Herman Williams, b. 21 Jul 1916; James B. Williams, b. 1 Jul 1921; and Betty F. Williams, b. 19 Jul 1929. 55  

James Lee Williams [Samuel B., Samuel B., John, Jarret] never married. According to his death certificate, he died on 4 Nov 1937. 56  He was an assistant cashier at the People's Bank of Shepherdsville.

Verlinda Williams [Samuel B., John, Jarret] married John D. Robards on 16 Mar 1876. 57  According to the 1900 census, Verlinda (or Linnie as she was called) had had eight children, with seven of them still living at that census. We have been able to identify the seven. Two were identified in the 1880 census: 58  Emma and Willie G. Then in 1900 four more were named at home with their parents: 59  Sarah T. (b. Sep 1884), Benjamin F. (b. Apr 1887), Laura T. (b. Oct 1889), and Douglas K. (b. Mar 1894). Then, Willie G. (b. Oct 1879), his wife Sadie (b. Nov 1876), and Willie's brother Emmett F. Robards (b. Feb 1882) were identified in a separate census entry. 60  Finally, we believe Emma Robards (b. Feb 1877) had married Joseph Blankenship and they were living next to her parents in 1900.

Sarah Williams [Samuel B., John, Jarret] appears in the 1860 and 1870 censuses with her parents, and she is living with her brother Samuel in 1880, still single. We have not located her after that.

Verlinda Williams [Jarret] was born in 1786 and died on 28 Dec 1850. 61  She first married Griffin Simmons on 15 Jan 1801 in Jefferson County. 62  After his death she married Benjamin Henson on 19 Jan 1807 in Bullitt County. 63  Verlinda and Griffin Simmons had two children: Nancy (b. 1804), and Humphrey Simmons (b. 1806). We know nothing more about Nancy Simmons. Humphrey Simmons has been discussed above, as he married his half first- cousin, Elizabeth B. Williams.

Samuel Williams [Jarret] was born 28 Oct 1791 in Nelson County, and died 24 Apr 1853 in Madison county, Kentucky. 64  He married Verlinda Phelps on 30 Sep 1813 in Madison County. 65  She was a daughter of George and Tabitha (Simmons) Phelps.

They had six children, all daughters: Elizabeth who married Oliver Steele; Tabitha who married James Crutcher; Susanna who married Townsend Million; Martha who married George Phelps Deatherage; Sarah who married George DeJarnette; and Anne Verlinda who married Anderson T. Chenault. All of these marriages took place in Madison County. 66  

We hope this brief essay will assist others who descend from Jarret Williams, both here in Kentucky and across the nation.

Endnotes

1  Meledie Duncan Gregory is a a 5th great granddaughter of Jarret Williams through his daughter Elizabeth, who married Shadrach Duncan. Mrs. Gregory had done significant documented research into this line, and many of the sources included in this paper, particularly the ones from the Family History Library (FHL), are directly from her research.

2  Ramsey, J.G.M. Annals of Tennessee. Charleston: Walter and James, 1853. pp148-9. Web. 15 Oct 2009. < http:// books.google.com/>

3  Thwaites, Reuben Gold and Louise Phelps Kellogg, ed. The Revolution on the Upper Ohio, 1775-1777. Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society, 1908. p179. Web. 15 Oct 2009.

4  Gilmore , James Roberts. The Rear-Guard of the Revolution. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1889, p166. Web. 15 Oct 2009.

5  Elaine Rowland. "Williams, Lt. Jarrett, Tenn.,Ky." Williams Family Genealogy Forum. Web. 15 Oct 2009. [Message no longer available as of 18 Jun 2013.]

6  Draper, Lyman. "George Rogers Clark Papers." vol 36 of the J Series, p1.

7  James, James Alton, ed. George Rogers Clark Papers 1781-1784. Springfield, Ill.: Trustees of the Illinois State Historical Library, 1926. vol 19, chap 10, p 361. Web. 10 Oct 2009.

8  Bullitt County, Kentucky Court Order Book F. Shepherdsville: County Clerk's Office. 20 Aug 1832, p 109.

9  Willson, Richard Eugene, compiler, and Donald E. Gradeless, ed. Abstract to the George Rogers Clark Papers (Microfilm Rolls), The Illinois Regiment. Chicago: Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Illinois and the Sons of the Revolution in the State of Illinois, 1998. Web. 10 Oct 2009.

10  Willson, op cit.

11  Carstens, Kenneth C., ed. The Calendar and Quartermaster Books of General George Rogers Clark's Fort Jefferson, Kentucky, 1780-1781, Westminster, Md.: Heritage Books, Inc., 2000, p34.

12  Willson, op cit.

13  Willson, op cit.

14  Willson, op cit.

15  Willson, op cit.

16  Ibid.

17  Willson, op cit.

18  Bullitt County KY Deed Book A (1796-1802). Shepherdsville: County Clerk's Office. pp145-6. [John and Cynthia Williams were identified as grandchildren of Thomas Phelps.]

19  Nelson County, Kentucky Marriage Bonds, N-Y, 1785-1832, (FHL #0009667). Bond: ... "We Jarret Williams, Ben Pope and John Grundy are firmly bound ... in the full sum of fifty pounds ... 11 Jul 1785." Consent filed with bond: "To the Clerk of Nelson County, July 9th day 1785. Sir I have no objection to my Daughter Elizabeth Simmons and Jarret Williams being married. As witness my hand seal. Signed: Linna Simmon (by her mark), Wit: Anthony Phelps."

20  Madison County, Kentucky Marriages, 1785-1851. p55. (FHL #962704, Item 2); also Web.

21  Hardin County, Kentucky Court Order Books, 1793-1875: (FHL #0390779) Book H, p326, 16 Apr 1838.

22  Madison County, Kentucky Marriage Bond, (FHL #0183305). p118. "Joseph Todd and Josiah Phelps bond ourselves ... 26 day of Jan 1804 ... intended marriage between Joseph Todd and Cynthia Williams."

23  Paxton, W. M. Annals of Platte County. Kansas City: Hudson-Kimberly Publishing Company, 1897. pp129-135. Web. 15 Oct 2009.

24  1860 Federal Census: Missouri, Platte County, Lee Township, page 9, household 908/895.

25  Bullitt County Marriage Register Book 1. Shepherdsville: County Clerk's Office. pp13-14.

26  Bullitt County, Kentucky Court Order Book F. Shepherdsville: County Clerk's Office. p168.

27  "DEED/WILL: Burks, 1781 - 1832, Jefferson Co., KY." Web. 15 Oct 2009.

28  Report of the Proceedings of the Meetings of the State Bar Association of Wisconsin for the years 1878, 1881 and 1885; Madison, Wisconsin, 1905, pp105-6. Web. 15 Oct 2009.

29  Bullitt County Marriage Register Book 1. Shepherdsville: County Clerk's Office. p58.

30  Bush, W.P.D. (reporter). Reports of civil and criminal cases decided by the Court of Appeals of Kentucky. "Simmons, &c., vs. McKay, &c." Vol. V, containing cases decided at parts of winter term 1868, and summer term, 1869; pages 25-36. Web. 15 Oct 2009. [Link]

31  Bullitt County Marriage Bonds Book 1. Shepherdsville: County Clerk's Office. p81b. print

32  1850 Federal Census: Kentucky, Bullitt County, page 100, household 735/735 [Humphry (43, farmer), Emily (26), John W. (17), Samuel B. (15), Mary E. (13), Nancy (11), Benjamin (8), Clay (5), Willa T. (3)]

33  Report of the death of Johns Dysart for details of Johnston and Mary's family. Web. Viewed 1 Oct 2009. [No longer available]

34  Lindstrom, Joyce. Bullitt County Marriages 1797-1876. p31. print

35  Bullitt County Will Book C. Shepherdsville: County Clerk's Office. pp354-5.

36  Battle, Perrin & Kniffin. "Mrs. Sarah E. Bealmear." Kentucky, A History of the State, by Battle. 4th ed., 1887 (Nelson County). Web.

37  1850 Federal Census: Kentucky, Bullitt County, page 30, household 223/223; also 1860 Federal Census: Kentucky, Bullitt County, District 1, page 25, household 228/219.

38  1870 Federal Census: Kentucky, Bullitt County, Shepherdsville, Page 6, household 37/36.

39  1880 Federal Census: Texas, Montague County, Precinct 3, District 121, page 56, household 463/465.

40  1870 Federal Census: Kentucky, Bullitt County, Shepherdsville, page 5, household 29/28.

41  "Laura Williams Bell," 1926 Kentucky Death Certificate #21984; Bullitt County, Zoneton Voting Precinct.

42  Bullitt County Marriage Register A. Shepherdsville, County Clerk's Office. p185.

43  "John S. Bell," 1915 Kentucky Death Certificate #3322; Bullitt County, Zoneton Voting Precinct

44  1880 Federal Census: Kentucky, Bullitt County, Shepherdsville, District 33, page 25, household 222/249

45  1900 Federal Census: Kentucky, Bullitt County, Mount Washington, District 16, page 7, household 69/70.

46  "Martha Magdaline Williams," 1931 Kentucky Death Certificate #3267; Bullitt County, Zoneton Voting Precinct.

47  "Samuel B. Williams," 1924 Kentucky Death Certificate #26602; Bullitt County, Zoneton Voting Precinct.

48  1900 Federal Census: Kentucky, Bullitt County, Mount Washington, District 27, page 27, household 270/272.

49  Bullitt County Marriage Bonds, Book 7. p121. Shepherdsville: County Clerk's Office. print

50  Kentucky Birth Index, 1911-1999 [database on-line at Ancestry.com]

51  "Henry Mason Williams," 1946 Kentucky Death Certificate #16757; Bullitt County, Shepherdsville City.

52  1920 Federal Census: Kentucky, Bullitt County, Mt Washington, Zoneton Precinct, page 14, household 151/163

53  Bullitt County Marriage Bonds, Book 7. p97. Shepherdsville: County Clerk's Office. print

54  1900 Federal Census: Kentucky, Bullitt County, Mt. Washington, District 16, page 8, household 71/72

55  Kentucky Birth Index, 1911-1999 [database on-line at Ancestry.com]

56  "James Lee Williams," 1937 Kentucky Death Certificate #27487; Bullitt County, Shepherdsville City.

57  Bullitt County Marriage Bonds, Book 2. p450-1. Shepherdsville: County Clerk's Office. print

58  1880 Federal Census: Kentucky, Bullitt County, Shepherdsville, District 33, page 20, household 186/209

59  1900 Federal Census: Kentucky, Bullitt County, Mount Washington, district 16, page 8, household 79/80

60  1900 Federal Census: Kentucky, Bullitt County, Mount Washington, district 16, page 4, household 40/40.

61  Bullitt County, Kentucky Cemeteries, Vol. II, p15. (FHL #976.9453 V3s) "Verliner Henson, Age 65 yrs. d. Dec. 28, 1850."

62  Jefferson County KY Marriages, Vol. 1 (July 1781-July 1826). Utica KY: McDowell Publications (The Filson Club Compilation). p41. print

63  Bullitt County Marriage Bonds, Book 2. p12. Shepherdsville: County Clerk's Office. print

64  Cemetery Records of Madison County, Kentucky, Vol. 1. p58 (FHL #976.953 V2v)

65  Madison County, Kentucky Marriages 1785-1851. p218. (FHL #976.953v25b)

66  Madison County, Kentucky Marriages, Vol. 2, 1823-1851. (FHL #976.953 V28v). Elizabeth (p70, bond date 11 Feb 1837, consent Samuel Williams); Tabitha (p18, bond date 7 Feb 1838, James Norvel Crutcher to Tabitha Williams - bond Oliver C Steele); Susanna (p52, bond date 9 Jun 1845, consent Samuel Williams); Martha (p39, bond date 31 Aug 1854); Sarah (p20, bond date 20 Jul 1848, Samuel Williams consent).


This article was first published in the December 2009 issue of the Wilderness Road Quarterly.


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The Bullitt County History Museum, a service of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, is located in the county courthouse at 300 South Buckman Street (Highway 61) in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. The museum, along with its research room, is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday. Admission is free. The museum, as part of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization and is classified as a 509(a)2 public charity. Contributions and bequests are deductible under section 2055, 2106, or 2522 of the Internal Revenue Code. Page last modified: 18 Mar 2014 . Page URL: bullittcountyhistory.org/bchistory/jarretwilliams.html