Sunday, September 16, 2012

Josiah Martin of Botetourt, Virginia cir. 1771-1820

Earlier this year I began some research on a fourth great grandmother Elizabeth Martin Tuttle of Stokes County, North Carolina. Through an internet search, I was able locate and later obtain a copy of a Tuttle family file from the University of North Carolina . This blog post follows my research from the information I found Inside the file. The file included letters and other items dealing with land deeds and documents relating to money matters of the extended family. 

I was hugely interested in two letters particularly--one was written by my fourth great grandmother Elizabeth Martin Tuttle of Germanton, Stokes County, North Carolina to her siblings Abram and Mary Martin who were living in Floyd County, Virginia. In this letter she names five of her siblings. 

As I was researching each of the siblings mentioned in the letter, I was able to find out that their parents were Josiah Martin and Mary Rachel Reynolds of Botetourt County, Virginia. It seems no connection had ever been made, at least in recent years, of children to parents.

I found Josiah Martin firstly in Botetourt County, Virginia in a marriage record to Mary Rachel [Runnels] Reynolds on 9 April 1799. Mary was the daughter of Joseph Reynolds.

The 1810 census from Botetourt County listed Josiah Martin having 4 sons under the age of 5 and 1 son between ages of 10 and 16. Josiah was listed as between the ages of 26 and 45. Mary Rachel was also listed as between the ages of 26 and 45. One daughter was listed as age 5 or under. As far as I can tell, all of their children were born in Botetourt County, Virginia.  The children listed in the letter are as follows:

                    Abraham Martin born about 1800
                    Thomas R. Martin born 14 February 1803
                    Larkin Martin born between 1801 and 1805
                    John Martin born between 1801 and 1805
                    Elizabeth Martin Tuttle born 10 October 1806
                    Mary Martin born about 1812 [not on 1810 census]

We can assume from the census, that there had to have been another son who either was not living at the time Elizabeth wrote her letter to Abram and Mary Martin on 30 March 1848, or Elizabeth simply did not inquire about him because she already knew his circumstance.

Josiah and Mary Martin's years of birth are estimated at about 1770.

Here is a copy of Elizabeth's letter. This is as big as I can post here, but I will refer to the information of historical value.

Abraham Martin wrote to his sister Elizabeth and her husband William Tuttle on 26 February 1854 about land deeds, and it is clear that several other letters had been exchanged. His letter speaks of land issues and notes a deed for land belonging to their grandfather Joseph Reynolds in Montgomery County, Virginia.

The above map shows the Roanoke River in blue as it winds through Virginia. Circled in red is where the river runs through Montgomery and Floyd counties. Joseph Reynold's land deeds were on the Back Creek which comes off of the Roanoke River in Montgomery County.

During the 1800s many Virginia counties were split forming new counties. For example Floyd county was once part of Montgomery county. Land issues are somewhat confusing as land purchased in a certain county in a given year may be located in another county in years to follow. Outlined below is a map of Virginia and its counties. The extended Martin family lived in and owned property in the counties outlined in red and colored pink.

Some family members have estimated the death of Josiah's wife Mary Rachel at about 1812 or 1813. This would have been about the time of their youngest daughter Mary's birth. 

Historians have also recorded that Josiah Martin died on 5 October 1820. This corresponds with the records found In the book Early Marriages, Wills, and Some Revolutionary War Records, Botetourt County, Virginia by Anne Lowry Worrell where it is noted that Josiah Martin was deceased and his dower was assigned his wife Polly in November 1820. In those days, Polly was a nickname for Mary.

Some may question, "I thought Mary died in 1812-1813?" But from Elizabeth Martin Tuttle's letter to her brother Abraham we find the answer. Elizabeth's letter states, "Our step mother died about eighteen months ago. We do not know whether you have ever heard of it or not." So it appears Josiah married another woman also named Mary.

In those days after a man died, his wife was usually awarded a dower of one-third of his possessions and property, his oldest son got one-third and the remaining children were to split up the last one-third. Josiah must have left quite a substantial amount of land as we read of several land deeds. Those had to be from his estate. From Abraham's letter to Elizabeth, it shows that some land was certainly deeded to him and his wife at the death of his father-in-law Joseph Reynolds. 

From government records, I have learned that William and Elizabeth Tuttle of Stokes County were quite poor. It is not surprising that they were curious about their inherited lands. Abraham's letter to Elizabeth states that he will try to sell the land [which is located in his area] even if he receives "but little" for it.

Abraham Martin married Anna Beckner in 1823 in Franklin County, Virginia and their seven known children were all born in Franklin County. But from the letters we note he and his family was living in Floyd County, Virginia at least in the years 1848 and 1854. The 1850 Floyd County, Virginia census lists Abraham Martin and his family. We also find him later on in Roanoke County, Virginia in 1870 and in Botetourt County, Virginia in 1880 where he was listed as a widower living with his son James Abraham Martin. Of note, his youngest sister Mary, who apparently never married, is also living with James.

The following names are the children of Abraham and Anna Beckner Martin of which I was able to identify. There probably were others.

          Elizabeth Mary, b. 15 August 1829
          Mahlon M., b. abt. 1832
          Talitha, b. abt. 1836
          Sarah Ann, b. 18 July 1838
          Thomas H., b. abt. 1838
          James Abraham, b. June 1843
          Larkin, b. abt. 1846

Thomas R. Martin, another son of Josiah and Mary Rachel Martin, married Susannah Hawkins on 7 February 1825 in Franklin County, Virginia. He and his family moved to Niles Township, Berrien County, Michigan in 1832 and he remained there until 18 March 1882 when he died because of a reaction to a vaccination. More can be learned of him and his family via an internet search.

Larkin is mentioned in Elizabeth's letter as living in the Mississippi area. Sadly, as of yet, I have found no information on the Martin brothers Larkin or John.

I had several questions in my mind about Josiah's second wife Polly and the underage children left behind after his death. My only clue was that my ancestor Elizabeth married William Tuttle in Stokes County, North Carolina. I wondered why she would have been in Stokes County? Her marriage record lists a Jesse Banner as the bondsman for the marriage. Looking at his ancestry, I can see the Martin name, but I cannot determine if there is any connection to Elizabeth. Jesse was a neighbor of the Tuttle family, so that might be his tie to them. 

Because I had a good approximate death date of Mary [Polly] Martin, Elizabeth's step mother, I looked at the will records in Stokes County, North Carolina in the September term of 1846. I found a will for Mary Martin. It had to be her because of the date Elizabeth mentioned in her letter. Mary [Polly] owned a couple of homes, property and slaves. All of these things she willed to her brothers, Philip, Joseph and Benjamin Banner. Now I have her maiden name: Mary [Polly] Banner.

I have to suspect that Polly moved back to her home in Stokes County after the death of her husband, Josiah and took Josiah's daughter Elizabeth, if not more of her step children, with her.

I know from previous research that the Banners were close neighbors and friends of William and Elizabeth Martin Tuttle. In fact, a government record lists Mary [Polly] Banner Martin's father, Benjamin Banner and William Tuttle's father John Tuttle together certifying information.

I nextly check to see if Mary Banner and Josiah Martin were married in Stokes County, North Carolina. I easily found them being married on 11 February 1816 in Stokes County. Unluckily for Polly, she and Josiah were married less than 5 years before his death, likely in Botetourt, Virginia at about the age of 50. But she benefited the rest of her life because of her dowry from him. 

There had to be a connection between Josiah Martin and the Banner family for him to leave his motherless children in Botetout County, Virginia, travel to Stokes County, North Carolina and marry Polly Banner then bring her back to Botetourt County.

Below is Polly's pedigree chart. The Martin name is certainly obvious, but as of yet I have found no connection.


  1. Thank you for this information. It has provided me another avenue to search for grandparents, Joseph Reynolds and Mary Rachel in Montgomery Co., Virginia.
    Ancestry member: Mary Reynolds

  2. I apologize if my post appears more than once, I seem to be having troubles logging on to Google

    Thank you the information you have provided and especially the original letter!!

    I am descended from Thomas R. Martin and Susanna Hawkins and can provide information about that branch of the family tree if you would like. I have often wondered how they got to Michigan from Virginia and why he was referred to as the Judge. Their oldest child was my ancestor, Mahala C. Martin. She was born in 1832 in Virginia, but where exactly in Virginia I never knew. Maybe Botetourt County?

    Another question I have concerns the ancestors of Josiah Martin. Some information online has suggested that Josiah, from Botetourt County, is Josiah Henry Martin, son of Colonel Josiah Martin, the last colonial governor of North Carolina. This might explain Elizabeth Tuttle's presence in North Carolina? Even though Royal Governor Josiah went back to England in the early 1780s and died in 1786 he only took 4 of his 9 children with him. So I assume the other 5 stayed in the US. Much I have read leads me to believe this, except for the fact it does not explain how Josiah Henry got to Virginia from North Carolina (or Long Island, NY where his mother was from).

    I am sorry, I am new at this and have many more questions than I have answers.

    Thank you again, and sorry for rambling a bit :)

    Kelly Mecifi
    currently living in Lumberton, North Carolina but from Washington State.