Family Book



==== Whitsell Family History - Back In Time From Granite City, Illinoisã By Larry David Whitsell (2005) == ==

My name is Larry David Whitsell, son of Eskel David Whitsell, and as such I have something in common with all of the Whitsell’s in our family: we descend from a rich heritage, a line of ancestors such as George Whitsell, Sr. & Elizabeth Crowley from Oglethorpe Co., Georgia in the 1770‘s; Jacob Lester and Martha Miles from Virginia in the 1720’s; Elizabeth Renshaw & John Crews from the early1600’s; Uriah Ledyard & The Rev. Elder John Mark for Pennsylvania in the late 1690’s.

We have married into families that have an equally rich lineage, such George Whitsell, Sr. & Elizabeth Crowley’s daughter, Sarah Sally Whitsell who married Littlebury Brittain Edwards. Littlebury’s Great-great-great-great-great-great-great-Grandfather was King Henry VII of England.

As with any search for family history we start with very little, hope for inspiration and then stumble onto facts, event, and people by accident. Much of this history’s inspiration comes from four people, my daughter Alicia Whitsell, cousins Deanna Spears (Whitsell) and Donald Cleppe, and my father E. David Whitsell.

Where to start is always a difficult decision. Equally as challenging is how best to focus that search of our family. An attached list of the 228 family surnames, representing 547 people currently in the family database, shows just how enormous the challenge is. My efforts have focused on the 20 surnames of the mothers and fathers of my direct lineage:

Whitsell, Winters, Rakes, Lee, Fothergill, Westbrook, Clark, Son, Crowley, Crews, Marks, Lester, Orsburn, Russell, Ferrel, Ledyard, Miles, Stanley, Gately, and Renshaw.

This leaves hundreds of family histories for each of you to search out and discover. As for this story, we begin with the Whitsell’s and the journey that led them first to Kentucky and eventually to Granite City, IL.

A few years ago I began searching for more information on the Whitsell family, its roots and history. In 2000 I received a message from a cousin on my mother’s side of the family, Donald Cleppe, concerning material he had been researching on the Fothergill’s. My grandmother, Clara Maude Lee (Fothergill) and his grandmother, Pearl, were sisters. Then on July 14, 2001 at Wilson Park in Granite City, IL, our last Whitsell Family Reunion, I became aware of the work that had already been and continues to be done by Deanna Spears. That was the beginning of my effort to develop a website where the entire family can join in creating an archive for our history.

From Georgia to Kentucky - The Whitsell Family

More than any other mystery about our family is how and when they arrived in Georgia. George Whitsell, Sr. married Elizabeth Crowley 1794. His will (signed 11-22-1820 by himself and witnessed by Henry Farmer, Thomas J. Stamps, and Benjamin Trible) does not mention Elizabeth Crowley, indicating she had died prior to that time. In the 1800 Oglethorpe County Census - Captain McCarty's District -Beaverdam GM 226, George Whitsell is listed as head of family. Also listed are 2 males under the age of 10 (our George, Jr. and probably James), one male 26-45 (himself), 3 females under the age of ten, and 1 slave. Evidently his first wife (Elizabeth Crowley) had already passed on by 1800. In 1801 records show George marrying Elizabeth Meadows in Oglethorpe County. George died sometime before 1821 as Elizabeth Meadows whom he married in 1801, was listed as a widow in the 1821 land lotteries.) We are unsure of what children to attach to each of George's wives. Deanna Spears (Whitsell) shares information concerning the will of George Whitsell, Sr. dated November 22, 1820. His will indicates a great deal about what our ancestor owned at that time.

We can be fairly certain that he lived in GA at that time, as evidenced in tax records available from that period. In the Wilkes County Georgia Tax records of 1785 the Tax Digest Corrections changes the last name spelling listed as "Whitsell also Whitsill" indicating that the our family name may take several form as we search our history. Records were also found for the Monday 23 August 1790 Jurors Drawn - Wilkes Co. that listed George Whitsell. One question about the service of George as a juror is if it would be normal for a 15-16 year old to be on a jury? Was it normal for a 15-16 year old to be on a jury? If no, is this a reference to his father or do we have the birth date wrong?

Deanna writes, “I have not found proof that a 15-16 year old would be called to be on a jury, but in the Militia Act of 1778, it gave the state the right to draft into the military any man ages 15-60. In those times, it may have been considered "manhood" at 15-16 years of age and therefore may have called him to jury duty. Just a guess though.....no proof.”

The Oglethorpe Co, GA 1796 Tax List also lists George Whitsall in Jackson County, GA. And early Court Records (pg. 229, Dec 17, 1798) indicate Josiah N. Kennedy and wife Sarah, of Warren County deeded to George Whitsell of Oglethorpe County, 1/2 acres, a part of an original grant to John Henson.

Also in 1798 George Sr. was listed in the Oglethorpe Co Deed Books A-E 1794 - 1809 which read as follows:

p/ 458 Ga: 7 Feb 1798, Mathew Clindining to Robert Simpson, both of Oglethorpe Co, for $300 on Clouds Creek Waters in said Co. was granted to George Johnson by Gov. Samuel Ebert, 5 Oct 1785, beg. black oak, S55E ch. to white oak N55W 50 ch., to chestnut N35E 45 ch. to beg. 200 acres adj. NE by George Whitsell and Gilespie, all other sides vacant, (signed) Mathew Clindining. Wit: A. Bell, J.P.

Now what makes this important is that Deanna found that “James Gilespie, who it mentions with George Whitsell, was from North Carolina. If they settled there together, George may have come from North Carolina.....but I have no clue which county. I did some searching but couldn't find a George. It gets really confusing because of the change in the lines of the states during that time. There was a notation "See account of John Weitzell 19 May 1780 in accounts, Telemon Cuyler Collection. I had them check at the library and only one library has a copy of that collection and that is the University of GA. If John was George's father, there are a couple of John Whitsell's listed in the DAR, one being born in PA in 1752 and the other, John Sr. being born in 1733 in Switzerland! That would sure blow a hole in the whole German theory eh! Of course there are tons if we can just get the link back that far. I have a list of Hessian troops in the Revolutionary War showing George Wetzel, George Wentzel, Georg Whitsels, Hans George Wetzel, Johan Georg Wetzel, etc. etc. etc.”

Deanna writes that in her research at the Corpus Christi, TX library she found that “George Whitsell was married in 1801 to Elizabeth Meadows in Oglethorpe Co, Ga. Oglethorpe County was formed in 1793. Prior to that it was known a Wilkes County from 1777 - 1790. From 1773 to a bought 1800 it was principally settled by people migrating from Virginia and the Carolinas. So the question remains, where did George come from and when.” She also found that “what was known as Jackson County & Oglethorpe County were once part of Wilkes County.” It is therefore possible that George and family may have come from Virginia or North Carolina.

It is probably in North Carolina and Virginia that we will need to look to uncover the ancestors of George, Sr. Yet even then we will need to find out how they arrived in the United Stales. A USGEN web posting suggests that our family may have come from Germany.

“Rumor has it that this George's father was one of the Hessian soldiers from Germany that was hired by the King of England to come to America and fight the colonists. He came over with 2 of his brothers at the time. All 3 of them, after being here sided with the colonists and deserted the fight, scattering across the country and changing the spelling of their names in order not to be found out. On some records you will find it spelled Wetzel. George may have also been spelled Jeorg originally. I've looked at some of the Hessian lists but haven't been able to link anything up definitely yet. There have been several Jeorg Wetzels on the list. It seems as if one of the boys settled in Pennsylvania area but I have a feeling it was one of the brothers, Phillip I think. Haven't had much time lately to research any more. You're right about the linear chain, but John Phillip Whitsell was born Jan 23, 1855 in Hopkins County, KY and not 1885. Check out the info below and let me know what else you need. I have a list of families for all of these guys too if you need it.”

There is additional evidence that may lead us to search in Canada for more relatives, known as Loyalist, which fought with the British during the Revolutionary War. Wherever we search we are bound to find a rich and fascinating history.

We have even older records going back to The King’s of England. It seems that Sarah Sally Whitsell (1794-1855), the daughter of George Whitsell Sr., married Littlebury Brittain Edwards. It is his family that adds some real flavor to the history of our ancestors. The following information about Littlebury’s lineage is taken from research by John Wayne Brown. He is (was) Mayor of Manchester, TN.

“Sarah Sally Whitsell, the daughter of our ggggGrandfather, George Whitsell Sr., married into a rather royal family. Her husband, Littlebury Edwards, was the ggggggGrandson of Rev. Richard Edwards who appears to have been the child of Henry VIII and was adopted by the William Edwards (abt 1500-abt 1547) who married Agnes Blewitt. The story says Henry VIII is known to have had 6 wives and 2 or 3mistresses during his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. One mistress must have been Agnes Bewitt. Henry the VIII fathered a son with her, whom was born after her marriage to William Edwardes. She and William named the son Richard Edwardes. Agnes and William Edwardes had other children.”

It is suggested in other documents, including in the book 'Edward's Legacy' by David Dean Edwards (1992), that it was whispered among some Tudor researchers that Agnes was mistress to King Henry VIII of England and that the son RICHARD was fathered by King Henry and not by William. But no solid proof has yet to be found if it ever will be. Nor has solid proof been found that Richard was the son of William either. It will be up to the researcher as to which line to follow. I believe that the evidence leans more towards the fact that Richard was the "bastard" son of the King and Agnes and my documentation here will reveal that line. It is documented that Agnes did have a son named Richard, but only 2 sons, William and Henry are shown to be positively the sons of William. Richard is said to have kept his Edwards last name out of shame for the indecency that his mother engaged in.

Deanna Spears reported on Aug 15, 2001 that Littlebury Brittain Edwards died in 1827 after which Sarah Sally married Major John M. Ponder. It is not certain whether she was married to Major Ponder before of after her move to Henry County in Georgia. A marriage record is not found in Henry County and in the 1831 Tax Digest, Major Ponder is show as owning land in Franklin County, GA, while Sarah Whitsell's brother-in-law Thomas Edwards, is shown as the guardian of her minor children: James W. Edwards, William G. Edwards, Thomas J. Edwards and Martha S. Edwards. At that time Sarah and her children, Thomas Edwards and Major Ponder were all living in the 3rd District of Henry County, Georgia on and near Thompson's Creek and Towaliga River. In 1833 their friend and neighbor the Reverend William Moseley, was appointed guardian for the Edwards children, which suggests that Thomas Edwards had either died or moved from the county. William G. Edwards, another brother-in-law of Sarah Whitsell, had also settled in Henry County, above the later community of Luella. She died sometime between 1850 and 1860. Her grave was likely among the first to be placed in the Edwards Graveyard. She and her connections formed a significant settlement in the early days of Henry County. These connections included a group of Greene County, Georgia families who settled southeast of present Hampton on and near Thompson's Creek and Towaliga River. These were the Whitsell's, Fear’s, Barnett’s, Andrews‘, Griffin’s, Johnson’s and allied families. These people included ancestors and relatives of President Lyndon Baines Johnson of Texas.

George Jr. Whitsell born in 1796 in Oglethorpe County, GA and married Elizabeth "Betsy" Lester, born 1803 in Oglethorpe County, GA. She was reported to have been ill 300 days before she died of “dropsy of breast“, i.e. cancer, Bet. 1859 - 1860. George Whitsell, Jr. and Elizabeth "Betsy" Lester moved to Western KY around 1830. They apparently had considerable land and other holdings in in 1860 consisting of real estate worth $3000 and a personal estate of $6911 according the 1860 Federal Census.

George, Jr.‘s son, the Rev. William George Whitsell (1826-1879), served with the Confederate Army from Oct 9, 1861 until Dec 2, 1862. The Confederate Kentucky Volunteers War 1861-65, indicates he enlisted 09 October 1861 at Hopkinsville, KY as a Private for a period of one year and deserted on 02 December 1962 on its retreat from the Hatchis. He was captured at Fort Donelson Feb 16, 1862 and sent from Camp Morton, IN., to Vicksburg, Miss., to be exchanged, Roll dated Camp Morton, Indianapolis, IN, August 24, 1862. He married Margaret (Marjorie) Francis Crews (Henderson County, KY 1835-1931) in 1851.

  From Georgia to Kentucky - The Whitsell Family

More than any other mystery about our family is how and when they arrived in Georgia. George Whitsell, Sr. married Elizabeth Crowley 1794. His will (signed 11-22-1820 by himself and witnessed by Henry Farmer, Thomas J. Stamps, and Benjamin Trible) does not mention Elizabeth Crowley, indicating she had died prior to that time. In the 1800 Oglethorpe County Census - Captain McCarty's District -Beaverdam GM 226, George Whitsell is listed as head of family. Also listed are 2 males under the age of 10 (our George, Jr. and probably James), one male 26-45 (himself), 3 females under the age of ten, and 1 slave. Evidently his first wife (Elizabeth Crowley) had already passed on by 1800. In 1801 records show George marrying Elizabeth Meadows in Oglethorpe County. George died sometime before 1821 as Elizabeth Meadows whom he married in 1801, was listed as a widow in the 1821 land lotteries.) We are unsure of what children to attach to each of George's wives. Deanna Spears (Whitsell) shares information concerning the will of George Whitsell, Sr. dated November 22, 1820. His will indicates a great deal about what our ancestor owned at that time.

We can be fairly certain that he lived in GA at that time, as evidenced in tax records available from that period. In the Wilkes County Georgia Tax records of 1785 the Tax Digest Corrections changes the last name spelling listed as "Whitsell also Whitsill" indicating that the our family name may take several form as we search our history. Records were also found for the Monday 23 August 1790 Jurors Drawn - Wilkes Co. that listed George Whitsell. One question about the service of George as a juror is if it would be normal for a 15-16 year old to be on a jury? Was it normal for a 15-16 year old to be on a jury? If no, is this a reference to his father or do we have the birth date wrong?

Deanna writes, “I have not found proof that a 15-16 year old would be called to be on a jury, but in the Militia Act of 1778, it gave the state the right to draft into the military any man ages 15-60. In those times, it may have been considered "manhood" at 15-16 years of age and therefore may have called him to jury duty. Just a guess though.....no proof.”

The Oglethorpe Co, GA 1796 Tax List also lists George Whitsall in Jackson County, GA. And early Court Records (pg. 229, Dec 17, 1798) indicate Josiah N. Kennedy and wife Sarah, of Warren County deeded to George Whitsell of Oglethorpe County, 1/2 acres, a part of an original grant to John Henson.

Also in 1798 George Sr. was listed in the Oglethorpe Co Deed Books A-E 1794 - 1809 which read as follows:

p/ 458 Ga: 7 Feb 1798, Mathew Clindining to Robert Simpson, both of Oglethorpe Co, for $300 on Clouds Creek Waters in said Co. was granted to George Johnson by Gov. Samuel Ebert, 5 Oct 1785, beg. black oak, S55E ch. to white oak N55W 50 ch., to chestnut N35E 45 ch. to beg. 200 acres adj. NE by George Whitsell and Gilespie, all other sides vacant, (signed) Mathew Clindining. Wit: A. Bell, J.P.

Now what makes this important is that Deanna found that “James Gilespie, who it mentions with George Whitsell, was from North Carolina. If they settled there together, George may have come from North Carolina.....but I have no clue which county. I did some searching but couldn't find a George. It gets really confusing because of the change in the lines of the states during that time. There was a notation "See account of John Weitzell 19 May 1780 in accounts, Telemon Cuyler Collection. I had them check at the library and only one library has a copy of that collection and that is the University of GA. If John was George's father, there are a couple of John Whitsell's listed in the DAR, one being born in PA in 1752 and the other, John Sr. being born in 1733 in Switzerland! That would sure blow a hole in the whole German theory eh! Of course there are tons if we can just get the link back that far. I have a list of Hessian troops in the Revolutionary War showing George Wetzel, George Wentzel, Georg Whitsels, Hans George Wetzel, Johan Georg Wetzel, etc. etc. etc.”

Deanna writes that in her research at the Corpus Christi, TX library she found that “George Whitsell was married in 1801 to Elizabeth Meadows in Oglethorpe Co, Ga. Oglethorpe County was formed in 1793. Prior to that it was known a Wilkes County from 1777 - 1790. From 1773 to a bought 1800 it was principally settled by people migrating from Virginia and the Carolinas. So the question remains, where did George come from and when.” She also found that “what was known as Jackson County & Oglethorpe County were once part of Wilkes County.” It is therefore possible that George and family may have come from Virginia or North Carolina.

It is probably in North Carolina and Virginia that we will need to look to uncover the ancestors of George, Sr. Yet even then we will need to find out how they arrived in the United Stales. A USGEN web posting suggests that our family may have come from Germany.

“Rumor has it that this George's father was one of the Hessian soldiers from Germany that was hired by the King of England to come to America and fight the colonists. He came over with 2 of his brothers at the time. All 3 of them, after being here sided with the colonists and deserted the fight, scattering across the country and changing the spelling of their names in order not to be found out. On some records you will find it spelled Wetzel. George may have also been spelled Jeorg originally. I've looked at some of the Hessian lists but haven't been able to link anything up definitely yet. There have been several Jeorg Wetzels on the list. It seems as if one of the boys settled in Pennsylvania area but I have a feeling it was one of the brothers, Phillip I think. Haven't had much time lately to research any more. You're right about the linear chain, but John Phillip Whitsell was born Jan 23, 1855 in Hopkins County, KY and not 1885. Check out the info below and let me know what else you need. I have a list of families for all of these guys too if you need it.”

There is additional evidence that may lead us to search in Canada for more relatives, known as Loyalist, which fought with the British during the Revolutionary War. Wherever we search we are bound to find a rich and fascinating history.

We have even older records going back to The King’s of England. It seems that Sarah Sally Whitsell (1794-1855), the daughter of George Whitsell Sr., married Littlebury Brittain Edwards. It is his family that adds some real flavor to the history of our ancestors. The following information about Littlebury’s lineage is taken from research by John Wayne Brown. He is (was) Mayor of Manchester, TN.

“Sarah Sally Whitsell, the daughter of our ggggGrandfather, George Whitsell Sr., married into a rather royal family. Her husband, Littlebury Edwards, was the ggggggGrandson of Rev. Richard Edwards who appears to have been the child of Henry VIII and was adopted by the William Edwards (abt 1500-abt 1547) who married Agnes Blewitt. The story says Henry VIII is known to have had 6 wives and 2 or 3mistresses during his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. One mistress must have been Agnes Bewitt. Henry the VIII fathered a son with her, whom was born after her marriage to William Edwardes. She and William named the son Richard Edwardes. Agnes and William Edwardes had other children.”It is suggested in other documents, including in the book 'Edward's Legacy' by David Dean Edwards (1992), that it was whispered among some Tudor researchers that Agnes was mistress to King Henry VIII of England and that the son RICHARD was fathered by King Henry and not by William. But no solid proof has yet to be found if it ever will be. Nor has solid proof been found that Richard was the son of William either. It will be up to the researcher as to which line to follow. I believe that the evidence leans more towards the fact that Richard was the "bastard" son of the King and Agnes and my documentation here will reveal that line. It is documented that Agnes did have a son named Richard, but only 2 sons, William and Henry are shown to be positively the sons of William. Richard is said to have kept his Edwards last name out of shame for the indecency that his mother engaged in.

Deanna Spears reported on Aug 15, 2001 that Littlebury Brittain Edwards died in 1827 after which Sarah Sally married Major John M. Ponder. It is not certain whether she was married to Major Ponder before of after her move to Henry County in Georgia. A marriage record is not found in Henry County and in the 1831 Tax Digest, Major Ponder is show as owning land in Franklin County, GA, while Sarah Whitsell's brother-in-law Thomas Edwards, is shown as the guardian of her minor children: James W. Edwards, William G. Edwards, Thomas J. Edwards and Martha S. Edwards. At that time Sarah and her children, Thomas Edwards and Major Ponder were all living in the 3rd District of Henry County, Georgia on and near Thompson's Creek and Towaliga River. In 1833 their friend and neighbor the Reverend William Moseley, was appointed guardian for the Edwards children, which suggests that Thomas Edwards had either died or moved from the county. William G. Edwards, another brother-in-law of Sarah Whitsell, had also settled in Henry County, above the later community of Luella. She died sometime between 1850 and 1860. Her grave was likely among the first to be placed in the Edwards Graveyard. She and her connections formed a significant settlement in the early days of Henry County. These connections included a group of Greene County, Georgia families who settled southeast of present Hampton on and near Thompson's Creek and Towaliga River. These were the Whitsell's, Fear’s, Barnett’s, Andrews‘, Griffin’s, Johnson’s and allied families. These people included ancestors and relatives of President Lyndon Baines Johnson of Texas.

George Jr. Whitsell born in 1796 in Oglethorpe County, GA and married Elizabeth "Betsy" Lester, born 1803 in Oglethorpe County, GA. She was reported to have been ill 300 days before she died of “dropsy of breast“, i.e. cancer, Bet. 1859 - 1860. George Whitsell, Jr. and Elizabeth "Betsy" Lester moved to Western KY around 1830. They apparently had considerable land and other holdings in in 1860 consisting of real estate worth $3000 and a personal estate of $6911 according the 1860 Federal Census.

George, Jr.‘s son, the Rev. William George Whitsell (1826-1879), served with the Confederate Army from Oct 9, 1861 until Dec 2, 1862. The Confederate Kentucky Volunteers War 1861-65, indicates he enlisted 09 October 1861 at Hopkinsville, KY as a Private for a period of one year and deserted on 02 December 1962 on its retreat from the Hatchis. He was captured at Fort Donelson Feb 16, 1862 and sent from Camp Morton, IN., to Vicksburg, Miss., to be exchanged, Roll dated Camp Morton, Indianapolis, IN, August 24, 1862. He married Margaret (Marjorie) Francis Crews (Henderson County, KY 1835-1931) in 1851.


Where Do We Go Next?For most of us our history becomes lost by not passing on the stories of our mothers and fathers. The website is a project for everyone, a place where stories and events can be collected and recorded for our descendants, and a place where we can preserve our history for generations to come. It is my hope that you will also find the CD informative and an invitation to help build a comprehensive family history.

You can help first by simply sharing your stories with your children. Next, visit the website often to share News, Events and Activities. Finally, share pictures of your family as well. That is one of the greatest gifts we can give to those who follow.

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