The Children of Dennis Lindsey (abt. 1755-1795): Dennis Lindsey (1793-1855/1860) (1)

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Or, Subtitled: Tracking Families from Spartanburg County, South Carolina, to Alabama

As I’ve noted previously, the only child of Dennis Lindsey (abt. 1755-1795) for whom we have definitive proof is his son Dennis, who was born in 1793 in Spartanburg County, South Carolina, and died between 1855 and 1860 in Franklin County, Alabama. Unfortunately, though we know with certainty that the younger Dennis is son of the older Dennis, there’s much that is unclear about the life of Dennis younger.

Establishing Dennis Lindsey’s Date of Birth

This is primarily due to the fact that he moved from Spartanburg County, South Carolina, to Franklin County, Alabama, in the late 1820s. Franklin is a burnt-records county, and tracking people who lived in that county prior to 1890, when its courthouse burned and almost all early records were lost, is not easy. In addition, much of the information I’ve been able to retrieve about Dennis is full of suppositions or unproven claims. It may or may not be reliable, but the lack of clear documents that would enable one to assess various claims made about Dennis’s life and family is an obstacle in researching his branch of the Lindsey family.

The reason that we know this Dennis Lindsey was a son of the Dennis who died in early 1795 (or possibly late in 1794) is that Spartanburg County Commissioners of the Poor bound Dennis in March 1802 to his stepfather William Lindsey Allen, with the record noting that Dennis was a son of Allen’s wife Mary (more on this record below). Mary can be proven by other records to have been Dennis’s wife when he died by early January 1795, so it’s clear that the Dennis Lindsey who was Mary’s son and was bound in 1802 to her husband William Lindsey Allen was a son of the older Dennis.

Dennis Lindsey’s (1793-1855/1860) year of birth is indicated by the 1850 federal census as 1793.[1] A number of online and published family trees give a specific birthdate of 8 March 1793 for him. I have been unsuccessful in tracking the source of this date. It’s certainly plausible, given the information recorded about Dennis’s age on the 1850 federal census. I suspect that a family bible or other family record could be the source of this specific date of birth, and would be grateful if anyone with information about this matter would share it with me.

If he was born in 1793, Dennis would have been an infant when his father Dennis died in early 1795 (or possibly late in 1794), and when his mother remarried before April 1796 to William Lindsey Allen, son of John Allen and Elizabeth Lindsey. Documents in Dennis Lindsey’s estate file show Mary as Mary Lindsey on 12 February 1795 when the estate’s chattels and goods were sold, and as Mary Allen on 14 September 1796 when an account of payments to the estate was compiled.

A family group sheet I received in June 1997 from Marie Hand of Nacogdoches, Texas, a descendant of William Lindsey Allen and wife Mary, tells me that their oldest child was a daughter Mary C., born 25 December 1796 in Spartanburg County.[2] The FGS does not cite a source for this date, and I have not been able to find one. If the information is correct, then it appears the couple would have married between 12 February 1795 and April 1796.

Spartanburg County Records of the Commissioners of the Poor,” South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral Research 9,4 (1981), p. 208.
“Spartanburgh County Records of the Commissioners of the Poor,” South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral Research 9,4 (1981), p. 208.

As I have noted previously, on 22 March 1802, the Spartanburg County Commissioners of the Poor bound Dennis Lindsey to his stepfather William Lindsey Allen. This guardianship record states that Dennis Lindsey was the son of Allen’s wife, that William L. Allen was his stepfather, and that he was not yet of lawful age. It also indicates that court members Peter Gray, James Wofford, and William McDaniel consented to this court action.[3]

Spartanburg County, South Carolina, Records for Dennis Lindsey to 1820

Given his birth in 1793, Dennis would have been under the guardianship of his stepfather until about 1811-1812. I think it’s likely that Dennis is the free white male aged 16-25 enumerated in the household of his stepfather William Lindsey Allen on the 1810 federal census in Spartanburg County.[4]

Lindsey, Dennis, War of 1812, Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers Who Served During the War of 1812” NARA M602, roll M602_0126.
Lindsey, Dennis, War of 1812, “Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers Who Served During the War of 1812,” NARA M602, roll M602_0126.

Military records show Dennis serving in the War of 1812 as a private in Col. Alston’s 3rd South Carolina militia unit.[5] The index to bounty-land warrant applications for soldiers who served in the post-Revolutionary War period indicates that Dennis applied for bounty land on the basis of this service, but his claim was rejected. This source states that he served under Capt. McFord and Col. Means.[6]

The Col. Alston referenced in Dennis Lindsey’s service packet is South Carolina governor Joseph Alston, who called South Carolina militias into action in 1813, creating much controversy when many militia members refused to serve and Alston threatened these men with the death sentence.[7]

A number of sources state that Dennis Lindsey patented land with William Moore in 1818 in Franklin County, Alabama.[8] I have been unable to locate this record, and am inclined to think that researchers reporting it may be confusing a May 1828 patent for 80 acres in Franklin County by Lindsay Moore with an 1818 land patent that doesn’t actually exist. The May 1828 patent, which I’ll discuss later, states that the land had been assigned by William Moore to Lindsay Moore, and that William Moore had been assigned this land by William Moore and D. Lindsay.

Spartanburg County, South Carolina, records suggest that Dennis Lindsey remained in that county up to February 1827, when he sold land to Benjamin Goodman. It appears that it was not long after this date that he moved his family to Franklin County, Alabama. As we’ll see when we discuss Dennis’s children, census information suggests that his daughter Melissa was born about 1823 in South Carolina, while his son Robert was born in 1829 in Alabama.

Sources giving an 8 March 1793 birthdate for Dennis also often state that he married Anna, daughter of Joseph Woodruff and Anna Lindsey, on 4 November 1819 in Spartanburg County, South Carolina. Dennis’s marriage to Joseph Woodruff’s daughter Anna appears to be confirmed by documents in the estate file of Joseph Woodruff, who died 2 November 1817 at Woodruff, Spartanburg County, South Carolina, with a will dated 28 September 1817.[9]

The will of Joseph Woodruff names his daughter Anna as not yet married when he wrote his will. The will leaves various property, including an enslaved woman Luce and her increase, in the hands of Joseph’s wife Anna, with the stipulation that, after Anna died, the property was to be sold and the proceeds of the sale divided among the heirs named in Joseph’s will in addition to wife Anna.

10 January 1826 Bill of Sale, Estate File of Joseph Woodruff, Spartanburg County, South Carolina, Estate File 2278
10 January 1826 Bill of Sale, Estate File of Joseph Woodruff, Spartanburg County, South Carolina, Estate File 2278

Anna Woodruff died 7 January 1826.[10] In Joseph’s estate file, one finds a 12 January 1826 petition to Spartanburg County court by Nathaniel Woodruff as one of the executors of Joseph’s will to sell some of the property left by the will in Anna’s hands. The petition notes that Anna had died. The estate file also has a 9-10 February bill of sale showing that five enslaved persons and a featherbed and furniture were sold on that date. The list of purchasers is interesting: all are sons and daughters of Joseph Woodruff, or spouses of daughters. The list of purchasers includes Denis [sic] Lindsey, who purchased an enslaved female Nancy.

The fact that all purchasers of this property are children (and legatees) of Joseph Woodruff or their spouses is significant. This is clearly a sale of the property left by Joseph’s will in the hands of his wife Anna with the stipulation that the property be sold after Anna died and the proceeds shared among the heirs named in the will – and the sale has clearly been restricted to those heirs as the buyers of the property, a practice not uncommon with estate sales in this period.

The 1820 federal census shows Dennis Lindsey in Spartanburg County with a household including one enslaved person and the following free white persons: a male under 10, a male 26-44, and a female 16-25.[11] The older white male and female are clearly Dennis and wife Anna; Anna was born 27 December 1798.[12] The male under 10 is likely Dennis’s and Anna’s oldest son Miles R. Lindsey.

The census indicates that the enslaved female member of the household is under 14 years of age. I think it’s very likely that this is the Nancy whom Dennis Lindsey purchased in February 1826 after his mother-in-law Anna Woodruff had died, and that Anna had given Nancy, who is likely a daughter of Luce, to her son-in-law and daughter with the understanding that, after she died, Dennis and Anna Lindsey could purchase Nancy.

Spartanburg County Records for Dennis’s Stepfather William Lindsey Allen

Spartanburg County records up to 1820, the last point at which Dennis’s stepfather William Lindsey Allen appears on the federal census in that county, provide indirect information about Dennis Lindsey’s life in the period 1800-1820, even when Dennis is not mentioned directly in these records. For instance, we know from minutes of Bethel Baptist church at Woodruff that Allen was a member of that church as early as May 1803, when church minutes record a dispute in which he was involved with Zachariah Leatherwood over boundary lines separating Allen’s and Leatherwood’s lands. William L. Allen also appears in a list of Bethel members dated 8 September 1803.[13] Given that Dennis Lindsey married a daughter of Joseph Woodruff, a founding member of this church, it’s reasonable to think he himself also likely belonged to the Bethel church. I’ll say a bit more about the Leatherwood family when I discuss Dennis’s mother Mary in more detail, and the claim that her parents were Spencer Calvert and Nancy, a daughter of Zachariah Leatherwood.

Spartanburg County minutes also show William Lindsey Allen interacting with other members of the Lindsey family to which Dennis Lindsey belonged. (It’s worth issuing a reminder here that the Lindsey family from which William Lindsey Allen got his middle name is a different Lindsey family than the one to which Dennis Lindsey belonged. William Lindsey Allen was a son of Elizabeth Lindsey Allen, who was a sister of Joseph Woodruff’s wife Anna Lindsey — both from a Lindsey family found in Rutherford County, North Carolina, much intermarried with the Woodruffs and Allens and not related to the family of Dennis Lindsey). On 27 March 1806, William Lindsey Allen witnessed a deed in which John Lindsey sold John Smith 50 acres on Two Mile Creek bordering on the Schoolhouse Bridge and Ford’s old line. The other witnesses to the deed were William Shackleford and Richard Shackleford, Jr.[14]

The John Lindsey of this deed is, I think, perhaps a son of William Lindsey (abt. 1733-abt. 1806), and therefore an uncle of Dennis Lindsey (1793-1855/1860). John Lindsey married Jemima, daughter of Thomas and Eunice Woodruff, who relinquished dower rights in this land sale. Jemima was a first cousin of Dennis Lindsey’s wife Anna Woodruff. On 23 May 1808, when John Lindsey’s estate was sold following his death before 8 March, William Lindsey Allen was a buyer at the estate sale.[15]

The Shackleford witnesses are also noteworthy in this 1806 deed of John Lindsey witnessed by William Lindsey Allen. As previously noted, the Bethel church at Woodruff was also at one point called Shackleford’s/Shackelford’s church, after Richard Shackleford Sr., an early pastor. The close connection between the Allen and Shackleford family is indicated by the choice of William Lindsey Allen and wife Mary to name a son William Shackleford Allen.

Two February 1809 deeds also demonstrate connections between William Lindsey Allen and the Lindsey family to which his stepson Dennis belongs. On 6 February, William Lindsey Allen witnessed William Pearson’s sale of 99 acres on Jamey’s Creek to William Shackleford, with the deed noting that the land was “formerly owned by David Densmore.”[16] This is the David Dinsmore whose daughter Mary Jane married Mark Lindsey, Dennis’s half-brother, as I’ve concluded.

Then on 13 February 1809, William Lindsey Allen and Nathaniel Woodruff 22 sold acres on Jamey’s Creek to Shands Golightly, with William Lindsey, William Shackleford, and James Wofford witnessing the deed. This William Lindsey is Dennis Lindsey’s uncle William (1760/1770-1840), who married Rachel Earnest. Note the recurrence of the Shackleford name here, too.[17] The deed provides no information about how Allen and Woodruff came to be co-owners of this land. This Nathaniel Woodruff (1740-1822) is Joseph Woodruff’s brother; Nathaniel’s son Samuel married Mary, a daughter of David Dinsmore — a sister to Mary Jane Dinsmore who married Mark Lindsey.

On 22 March 1809, William Lindsey Allen sold Samuel Woodruff Sr. 164 acres on Jamey’s Creek, with the deed stating that the land bordered Nathaniel and Joseph Woodruff. Witnesses were Thomas Woodruff III, Josiah Woodruff, and Robert Alexander.[18] Mary Allen renounced dower on 5 January 1811. Samuel, Nathaniel, and Joseph Woodruff were brothers. Josiah was the son of their brother Thomas; Thomas III is probably the son of Joseph Woodruff and Anna Lindsey named Thomas. This deed, too, provides no information about how this land came to William Lindsey Allen and wife Mary.

William L. Allen is enumerated on the 1820 federal census in Spartanburg County next to Joseph and Thomas Woodruff, with Ann Woodruff three houses away from Thomas.[19] In addition to younger persons, the Allen household has both a male and a female aged over 45 years, an indication that William’s wife Mary Allen probably remains alive at this date, if Mary has not died and William remarried. The two Woodruff men listed next to William L. Allen’s family are sons of Joseph Woodruff and Anna Lindsey, and the Ann Woodruff living near them is their mother — and also William L. Allen’s aunt.

As noted previously, after his listing on the 1820 census, William L. Allen appears to drop from Spartanburg County records, and a number of researchers of the Dennis Lindsey line think that he, and possibly wife Mary, moved with Dennis to Franklin County, Alabama, in the late 1820s — though I have not found records of them in that county. If this is the case, then it seems William L. Allen was still in Spartanburg County as late as around 23 March 1827 (the month and day are blank in the deed) when he was a witness to a deed by John Pearson to Thomas Pearson of land on the Enoree bordering John Pearson, Isaac Lindsey, and Moses and John Fowler.[20] This is Isaac, son of William Lindsey and Rachel Earnest, a first cousin to Dennis Lindsey.

Dennis Lindsey’s Final Years in Spartanburg County, 1820-1827

To return to an account of records of Dennis Lindsey in Spartanburg County after the 1820 federal census: on 3 March 1821, Dennis Lindsey witnessed a deed by James Hunt to Ephraim Drummond Jr. subsequent to a lawsuit filed by Elisha Bobo vs. John Edwards for debt.[21] This Drummond family ties to the Allen family by marriage: William Lindsey Allen’s brother Matthew Allen married Rebecca, daughter of Ephraim Drummond Sr., and that couple had a son Ephraim Drummond Allen.

Minutes of Spartanburg County Court of Common Pleas show that Dennis Lindsey received judgment in his favor in 1823 on a 6 December 1821 suit against Jacob Frey and Robert Peden.  The suit involved a debt owed by Frey and Peden to Dennis Lindsey.[22]

On 27 September 1824, Dennis witnessed the deed of John Burrough, acting as attorney on behalf of William Burrough of Decatur County, Alabama, of 112 acres on the south side of Ferguson’s Creek to Nathaniel Wofford.[23] This Nathaniel Wofford is, I think, the man of that name who appears as a buyer at the February 1795 estate sale of Dennis’s father Dennis Lindsey elder in Spartanburg County.

As noted above, on 9-10 February 1826, Dennis Lindsey bought from the estate of his mother-in-law Anna Lindsey Woodruff an enslaved female named Nancy.

Dennis Lindsey to Benjamin Goodman, Spbg Co SC DB T, 342
22 February 1827 deed of Dennis Lindsey to Benjamin Goodman, Spartanburg County, South Carolina, Deed Bk. T, p. 342

The final record I find for Dennis Lindsey in Spartanburg County is a deed dated 22 February 1827 recorded next to the previously mentioned deed of John Burrough to Nathaniel Wofford, in which Dennis sold Benjamin L. Goodman 100 acres on Ferguson’s Creek in Spartanburg County. The deed states that Goodman was of Spartanburg County and Dennis Lindsey “of South Carolina.” The land was bordered on the southwest by William Rhodes and on the southeast by Nathaniel Wofford. Dennis signed the deed with witnesses William Otts and Thomas Bragg. Otts proved the deed to Philip Brewton/Bruton on 22 February 1827 and it was recorded on the 26th.  Anna Lindsey renounced dower on the same day that Otts proved the deed; the renunciation of dower was made to a Robert Lindsey whom I cannot identify.[24] This is the only reference to a Robert Lindsey I have found in Spartanburg County records of this period.

In my view, this land sale marks the point at which Dennis Lindsey moved his family to Franklin County, Alabama, and the 100-acre tract on Ferguson’s Creek is likely the land on which Dennis had been living in Spartanburg County. How he acquired this land, I haven’t been able to determine. By May 1828, Dennis had patented land in Franklin County, as we’ll see in the subsequent posting, which will focus on records of Dennis Lindsey and his family in Franklin County, Alabama.

I’d like to end with a note of gratitude not only to the researchers of this family cited in this posting, who generously shared information with me in the past, but also to several current researchers of the Dennis Lindsey family, who are descendants of it: Sharon Engle, Bevan Lindsey, Jim Lindsey, and Molly Lindsey Studenroth. I hope my feeble head is not forgetting other names that should also be mentioned gratefully here.

[1] 1850 federal census, Franklin County, Alabama, dist. 6, p. 223 (dwelling and family 774), 1 January 1851. Dennis’s name is given as Dinnis Linsey. He’s listed as a farmer, born in South Carolina.

[2] The FGS for William Lindsey Allen and wife Mary, who was née Calvert, Marie Hand thinks, is attached to a letter she sent me dated 27 June 1997. In the letter, she tells me that her great-grandfather was William Shackleford Allen, a son of William Lindsey Allen and wife Mary who was born 20 March 1807. Marie Hand lists specific dates of birth for all of the twelve children William and Mary had; this leads me to think there may be a family bible register to which Marie Hand had access as she researched this family, and that it is the source of these dates of birth. In the publication Family Puzzlers (#1463, 2 November 1996), Marie Hand states that she was seeking information on the family of William Lindsey Allen and Mary Calvert, and lists the couple’s twelve children (pp. 16-7).

[3] The court minutes from which this record is taken were abstracted in “Spartanburgh County Records of the Commissioners of the Poor,” South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral Research 9,4 (1981), p. 208. A note prefacing the transcription in this published source indicates that the original records, which are now not extant, were abstracted in 1938 by the WPA; that source was the source for the transcript published in this journal.

[4] 1810 federal census, Spartanburg County, South Carolina, p. 378. The family is enumerated two households from Samuel Woodruff Sr. William L. Allen is probably the William Allen found on the 1800 federal census in Spartanburg County, p. 188, on the same page with Nathaniel Woodruff, John Allen, William Earnest, and others who appear as neighbors of the Woodruff and Lindsey families in other documents.

[5] See “Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers Who Served During the War of 1812” NARA M602, roll M602_0126. A digital image of the cover of Dennis’ service packet is at the Fold3 site. See also “Alston’s 3rd Regiment SC Militia” at the “South Carolina — War of 1812” page at the Carolana website. It’s clear that the Dennis Lindsey serving in Alston’s South Carolina militia in the War of 1812 is Dennis (b. 1793) of Spartanburg County, since there are no other Dennis Lindseys of age at this period in South Carolina. Dennis’ uncle William Lindsey (married Rachel Earnest) had a son Dennis, but that Dennis was born only around 1815-7. Serving in Alston’s militia unit along with Dennis Lindsey were Moses and Joseph Woodruff.

[6] See “Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Index,” an NARA index of approved and disapproved bounty-land applications for soldiers who served post-Revolutionary War, 1790-1855. The index shows that Dennis applied under warrant #55-120-83532. See Fold3’s summary of the information about Dennis Lindsey’s application provided by this index.

[7] See Richard Campbell, “”Not Without His Enemies and Perhaps His Own Nemesis’: Governor Joseph Alston and the War of 1812,” South Carolina Historical Magazine 116,1 (January 2015), pp. 29-54.

[8] For example, Dorothy Gaines of Greenville, South Carolina, a descendant of Dennis Lindsey, told me about this 1818 land record in a 23 July 1995 letter. The letter does not cite a source for this record.

[9] Spartanburg County, South Carolina, estate papers, file #2278-2278A. The will is recorded in Spartanburg County, South Carolina, Will Bk. A, pp. 124-5. The estate file contains the original will. Digital images of the estate files are at FamilySearch (and here).

[10] The dates of both Joseph and Anna’s death are recorded on their tombstones in the old Bethel Baptist cemetery at Woodruff, South Carolina. The Find a Grave memorial page for each has a photo of the tombstones uploaded by user The Dash — here and here.

[11] 1820 federal census, Spartanburg County, South Carolina, p. 249. Dennis’s name is given as Dennis Lindsy. On the same page are Dennis’s brother-in-law Caleb Allen, who married Anna Woodruff’s sister Elizabeth and Isaac Lindsey, who is evidently the son of Dennis’s uncle William (married Rachel Earnest).

[12] As I’ve noted re: specific dates for the birthdates and marriage of Dennis Lindsey, I see such dates circulating in many sources, with no indicator of the source of the dates. Woodruff family trees quite frequently provide specific dates for the birth of each child of Joseph Woodruff and Anna Lindsey, which leads me to think a family bible either exists or had existed in the past, and is the source of these dates — but I have yet to find a specific source cited. Del Jackson, The Family of Moses Woodruff (priv. publ., Cincinnati, 1988), speaks of a number of old family bibles and provides a snapshot of a page from one such bible belonging to Samuel Bryan Sr. of Ashe County, North Carolina (p. 22). But this source does not have information about a bible giving the dates of birth of all of the children of Joseph Woodruff and Anna Lindsey.

[13] For information about the history of Bethel (originally Jamey’s Creek) Baptist church at Woodruff, see this previous posting. Bethel minutes first note the Allen-Leatherwood dispute on 7 May. The church had settled the dispute on 12 May, finding Leatherwood guilty of trespassing on Allen’s land. Leatherwood shows up on the 8 September 1803 list of Bethel members as excommunicated.

[14] Spartanburg County, South Carolina, Deed Bk. M, pp. 54-5.

[15] Spartanburg County, South Carolina, estate papers, file #1244, online at the FamilySearch site.

[16] Spartanburg County, South Carolina, Deed Bk. M, pp. 185-6.

[17] Ibid., pp. 339-340.

[18] Ibid., pp. 336-7.

[19] 1820 federal census, Spartanburg County, South Carolina, p. 247.

[20] Spartanburg County, South Carolina, Deed Bk. T, pp. 359-360.

[21] Ibid., Deed Bk. R, pp. 341-2.

[22] Spartanburg County, South Carolina, Court of Common Pleas Journals, Bk. 4.

[23] Spartanburg County, South Carolina, Deed Bk. T, pp. 342-3.

[24] Ibid., p. 342.

One thought on “The Children of Dennis Lindsey (abt. 1755-1795): Dennis Lindsey (1793-1855/1860) (1)

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