In my quest to learn more about my female ancestors than the usual boring facts, I am stymied, because I am mostly running into the usual boring facts. They were born, married, had kids, died. And sometimes we don’t even know their names. An egregious state of affairs, you will agree. Of course there was more to these women than this boring litany of facts, but unfortunately that is usually the only legacy they are able to leave. If you were one of the many who couldn’t read or write, there was little chance of you leaving a journal, or diary, for your children or grandchildren to pour over years after you were gone. Very rarely do they appear in newspaper articles or other publications either, the husbands, sons, brothers, or fathers got the bulk of local attention.
But, on occasion something different shows up. In this case it is my 6x great-grandmother Jane Jones, the mother of Nancy Lee who married Rev. Bethuel Riggs. (My grandmother Lois Shaw’s side of the family.)
Jane was born about 1739 in Rowan County, North Carolina. She married a man named James Lee, when she was about 15 or 16, and with him had at least two children: James, jr. and Nancy. Her husband, James, sr., was either killed by Indians, or just died, (no one really knows for sure, as far as I can tell), about 5 years after they were married. She married her second husband, Closs Thompson, a few months after James’ death.* The family was of the Baptist persuasion. Her husband James, and son James were renowned preachers. As was Bethuel Riggs, who married her daughter.
A Baptist publication called the Primitive Monitor, in 1887, published the following1:
Goldendale, W. T., February 15, 1887.
Brethren Thompson and Goble: The lines below were composed by old grandmother Jane Thompson when she was between 90 and 95 years old. She was Elder Wilson Thompson’s grandmother, and lived to be 104 years old. The cause of her composing them was as follows: Some of her grandchildren, by the name of Jones, had been out to hear a Campbellite preacher, and they had related to her, on their return, the substance of the discourse, after which, lying on her bed, she fell asleep while composing these lines. After waking she recited them to her grandchildren, who wrote them down [it is believed that she was blind or poorly sighted, so could not write them herself]. I, being a playmate of these children, copied them, and have preserved them. Not knowing they have ever been published, I send them to you for publication if you think best. J.T. Brooks.
According to a descendant of Jane’s brother Thomas, Jane “was a staunch Primitive Baptist, and was quite upset with some of her grandchildren for associating with the “Campbellites” as the Disciples were then called.”2
What an excellent legacy to leave. And one that gives one a good sense of her personality.
(Right now, I have been unable to find much about her parentage, or her husband James’ lineage, they are both still a work in progress. So hopefully I will have more to share in the future.)
*Fun fact — Daniel Boone’s signature is on the marriage bond of Jane Jones Lee and Closs Thompson (Rowan County, mid October, 1759).
- Digital image of Primitive Monitor page with poem, posted by a descendant of Jane’s on the tjones-ky yahoo discussion group.