The Children of Mark Lindsey (1774-1848) and Mary Jane Dinsmore: Dennis Lindsey (1794 – 1836) (1)

Lindsey, Dennis Tombstone, Find a Grave
Dennis Lindsey tombstone, old Lindsey family cemetery (now Lindsey Memorial Gardens) near Oakville, Lawrence County, Alabama; photo is by Ray and Marty Lindsey at Dennis Lindsey’s Find a Grave memorial page

Or, Subtitled: False Crypt Tombstones and Curiously Missing Marriage Records

The tombstone of Dennis Lindsey, oldest son of Mark Lindsey and Mary Jane Dinsmore, tells us that he died on 28 August 1836, aged 41 years. Lawrence County, Alabama, orphans court minutes confirm the August 1836 date of death, something I’ll discuss in detail when I discuss Dennis’s probate records in a subsequent posting. I haven’t found any reason to doubt the information inscribed on Dennis’s tombstone, which would evidently have been erected by his widow Jane not long after his death….

The inscription does, however, present a problem in that the tombstone itself is now broken into pieces. I have made several visits to the old Lindsey family cemetery (now called Lindsey Memorial Gardens) that was established on Dennis’s farm at Oakville in Lawrence County when he died, and in which his wife Jane Brooks Lindsey and his parents Mark and Mary Jane are buried. By the time I saw the tombstone on these visits in the 1980s and 1990s, it was badly broken and only partly legible.

Lindsey, Dennis Tombstone, Dena Marshall Photo
Dennis Lindsey tombstone, old Lindsey family cemetery (now Lindsey Memorial Gardens) near Oakville, Lawrence County, Alabama; photo is by Dena Marshall at Dennis Lindsey’s Find a Grave memorial page

Dennis’s tombstone is of the false crypt style, a tombstone placed flat over a grave atop a base to lift it from the ground. People living in the vicinity of the cemetery told me on one of my visits to this family cemetery that there are local stories that the tomb has been used by moonshiners to store their goods. Fortunately, a good photo of the tombstone by Ray and Marty Lindsey, which is found on Dennis’s Find a Grave memorial page, has captured a picture of it with the pieces of the stone placed back together, and allows the inscription to be read. (Ray is a descendant of Dennis Lindsey.)

The tombstone inscription reads,

Sacred to the memory of Dennis Linsey, who departed this life August 28, 1836, in the hope of that rest which remains for the people of God. Aged 41 years.

In an 8 April 1991 letter to me, a descendant of Dennis, Martha Ruggles of Caldwell, Idaho, told me that her family has a record of specific dates of birth and death for Dennis: this record indicates, she told me, that Dennis was born 28 December 1794 and died 28 August 1836. Martha Ruggles did not provide specific information about this record, who compiled it, or its source, nor did she provide a copy of it.

As I’ve noted previously, Dennis Lindsey was born in Spartanburg County, South Carolina, prior to his parents’ move in 1800 to Wayne County, Kentucky. Since Dennis’s mother Mary Jane was born in 1779, it seems unlikely that Mark Lindsey and Mary Jane had any other children prior to Dennis, and it appears that Dennis was not only the couple’s oldest son, but their first child, a deduction that seems backed up by Mark’s estate documents.

As I’ve noted in previous postings, though we have valuable eyewitness remembrances of Dennis’s father Mark and his sons Burke, Wesley, and Dinsmore, no such account exists for Dennis, who predeceased his father and brothers by a number of years. The closest thing we have to an eyewitness account is a reference to Dennis in James Edmond Saunders’s 1899 book Early Settlers of Alabama.[1] The book gathers articles Saunders wrote about early settlers of Lawrence County, Alabama, and had previously published in the local newspaper the Moulton Advertiser. In the case of Mark Lindsey and his son Dennis, Saunders had first published his eyewitness testimony in that newspaper in December 1880.[2]

Saunders knew both Mark and Dennis Lindsey personally. After noting that Mark was tall and spare (i.e., thin), that he wore the “round-breasted Methodist coat” and “had a most excellant [sic] reputation,” both for his industry and good morals, Saunders says that the early north Alabama Methodist circuit rider John Berry McFerrin spoke often of the kindness and hospitality of the Lindseys to him as he pursued his ministerial travels.

Then he goes on to say,

Mark Lindsey was raised in South Carolina. He went to Kentucky when young, and lived there a long time. In 1827 [sic] he and his son Dennis (who was a second edition of his father, in person and character), came to Lawrence county, and settled in the place I have mentioned.

The 1827 date for the arrival of the Lindseys in Alabama is not correct. Dennis moved his family to Alabama from Wayne County, Kentucky, in 1817, and his parents followed two years later in 1819. We can glean from what Saunders says about Mark and Dennis Lindsey, however, that, like his father, Dennis was a tall, thin man, who evidently also had a good reputation for his industry, morals, and hospitality, since he was, Saunders tells us, a second edition of his father.

One other eyewitness tidbit about Dennis Lindsey appears in a letter his daughter Sarah Brooks Lindsey, who married James Beckham Speake in Lawrence County on 4 June 1833, wrote to her sister Margaret Tranquilla Lindsey Hunter in Coushatta, Red River Parish, Louisiana, on 1 May 1877.[3] After they married in Lawrence County on 12 November 1851, William and Margaret Hunter moved to Louisiana, where they settled in what became Red River Parish near Margaret’s brother Mark Jefferson Lindsey and her sister Frances Rebecca, who married Samuel Hiram Kellogg in Lawrence County on 8 November 1848.

In her May 1877 letter to her sister Margaret Hunter, Sarah Speake shares news of her husband, who was away in Montgomery representing Lawrence County in the Alabama legislature, as well as news about her sons Henry Clay and Daniel Webster Speake, the former now chancellor of the Northern District of Alabama, the latter away studying at the University of Alabama. After sharing this family news, Sarah tells Margaret,

I often think of what I used to hear our dear mother say[,] she wanted to live to see her children grown and after they were grown[,] she wanted to live to see her grandchildren grown. That is the way with me. I think now I want to live to see my grandchildren grown and see what they will make. I love life and this beautiful world. I am like father was. I would like to live always if I could be young and able to help myself, but I never want to be helpless and dependent on any one.

I love life and this beautiful world. I am like father was. I would like to live always if I could be young and able to help myself, but I never want to be helpless and dependent on any one: these sentences provide an interesting tiny snapshot of  how Sarah remembered her father. She was the second oldest child of Dennis Lindsey and Jane Brooks and would perhaps have had a clearer recollection of her father than her younger siblings did. Sarah was 18 when her father died.

Wayne County, Kentucky, Records for Dennis Lindsey

Before I discuss the records I  have for Dennis Lindsey in Wayne County, Kentucky, and Lawrence County, Alabama, I need to issue the same proviso I issued as I discussed his siblings William Burke, Fielding Wesley, and David Dinsmore Lindsey: I suspect my records are incomplete, and that there’s more work for researchers interested in Dennis to do in both Kentucky and Alabama.

An immediate case in point is the record of Dennis’s marriage to Jane Brooks in Wayne County, Kentucky: in his book entitled The Mark Lindsey Heritage that my uncle Henry Carlton Lindsey published in 1983, it’s stated that Dennis and Jane married on 18 February 1813 in Wayne County.[4] The book does not cite a source for this record. My recollection is that my uncle had a photocopy of the marriage bond, showing Dennis Lindsey giving security on 18 February 1813 with Jane’s father Thomas Brooks. When I saw this copy of the marriage bond, I also made a note that it states that the couple were married on the same day by Reverend Elliott Jones, a local Methodist minister I’ve discussed in previous postings (here, here, and here), who moved from Wayne County, Kentucky, to Lawrence County, Alabama, as the Lindseys did.

Dennis Lindsey and Jane Brooks Marriage, Gioe, Wayne County, Kentucky, Marriages 1801-1850, p. 6
Dennis Lindsey and Jane Brooks marriage, in Joan Colbert Gioe, Wayne County, Kentucky, Marriages 1801-1850 (Salt Lake City: Family Search, 2009), p. 6

My memory of this marriage bond is so clear that I had thought Mark Lindsey Heritage included a copy of it; but on going through the book carefully, I do not find the document there. I do find, however, that this marriage is indexed in multiple other places, including Ancestry’s database entitled “Kentucky, Compiled Marriages, 1802-1850.” This Ancestry database replicates Jordan Dodd’s Kentucky Marriages to 1850, which does not provide information about the sources Dodd used to produce his database. Both Joan Colbert Gioe’s Wayne County, Kentucky, Marriages 1801-1850 and Wayne County, Kentucky, Marriages, an index to early Wayne County marriages compiled by the Researchers Group of Indianapolis in 1985, also list the marriage of Dennis Lindsey to Jane Brooks in Wayne County on 18 February 1813.[5] Unfortunately, as with Dodd’s index, neither of these collections cites sources for its records. All these sources are evidently indexing a record in which Dennis Lindsey’s name is spelled Dennis Linsey, it should also be noted.

Wayne County, Kentucky, court records include an index to county marriages from 1801 to 1969, and a volume of marriage bonds dated 1801-1813. The Family Search site has helpfully made digital copies of both of these record books searchable online at the link I have just provided. The marriage of Dennis Lindsey to Jane Brooks is not listed in the index to county marriages, nor is the bond in the collection of marriage bonds running from 1801-1813. Curiously, marriages indexed in the county marriage index jump from 1812 to 1832, with marriages in the intervening period clearly absent from the index. The book of marriage bonds jumps from 1813 to 1834, and includes only a single marriage bond from 1813, issued in September 1813. I have written the clerk of court of Wayne County to ask for assistance in finding Dennis Lindsey and Jane Brooks’s marriage record, with no success.

To summarize, I have no reason to doubt that there is a marriage showing Dennis Lindsey (i.e., Dennis Linsey) obtaining license to marry Jane Brooks in Wayne County, Kentucky, on 18 February 1813, and then marrying her on the same day. But I am at a loss to know where that record, which multiple sources have indexed, now is. I apologize for the lengthy excursus on this point of Dennis Lindsey and Jane Brooks’s marriage record. I did want to explain in detail how we know the date and place of the marriage — as I’m confident we do — without having the actual record. Perhaps some reader of this posting has a copy of the document in question or knows how to obtain it, and will share a copy!

Following their marriage, Dennis and Jane remained in Wayne County only a few years before moving to Alabama in 1817. I have not found deed records indicating that Dennis owned land in Wayne County. This suggests to me that the young married couple may have initially lived with one of their families and that Dennis may have farmed with his father or father-in-law until he moved his family to Alabama.

Dennis does appear on the 1814 tax list in Wayne County in Captain McWhorter’s district, taxed for 4 horses, studs valued at $160. A separate column whose heading is difficult to read because it’s cut off on the microfilmed copy of the tax list appears to show tax valuation of horses, jacks, and bulls (?), and shows Dennis with property in that category valued at $430. No land is listed for him; his father Mark is in Captain Vickery’s district in this taxation period.[6] On this list and again in 1815, Dennis and Mark’s surname is spelled Linsey.

In 1815, Dennis is taxed in Captain Vickery’s district in Wayne County, as is his father Mark. He is taxed for a poll for one white male aged over 21, 3 horses, and studs valued at $170.[7] Again, because he appears not to own land, I would conclude that it was likely he was farming along with his father.

In 1816, Dennis is taxed in Captain McWhorter’s district in Wayne County, while his father Mark is again taxed in Vickery’s district. Again in 1816, Dennis is taxed for no land; he is taxed for one poll, 3 horses, and studs valued at $130. Dennis’s uncle John Dinsmore is in this same district in 1816.[8] In 1816, Mark and Dennis’s surname is spelled Lindsey on the tax list.

Screen Shot 2020-06-22 at 2.24.37 PM
A map from the ArcGIS BLM Public Land Survey System (PLSS) website showing township 7, section 8, range 6 west in Lawrence County, Alabama
Screen Shot 2020-06-22 at 2.26.58 PM
A map from the ArcGIS BLM Public Land Survey System (PLSS) website showing township 7, section 8, range 6 west in Lawrence County, Alabama

Dennis Lindsey is not found on the 1817 tax list in Wayne County, an indicator that it was in this year that he moved his family to Alabama, where he patented land at the Huntsville federal land office in 1818 in the portion of Madison County that became Lawrence County early in that year. As we’ll see in my next posting about Dennis Lindsey, this land was in township 7, section 8, range 6 west in Lawrence County, just beside what would later become the town of Oakville, of which Dennis Lindsey was a founder. The first land claim Dennis made as he arrived in Alabama suggests to us that he settled right away in the location in which he lived during his years in Alabama.

[1] James Edmond Saunders, Early Settlers of Alabama (New Orleans, 1899), pp. 122-3.

[2] James Edmond Saunders, “Early Settlers of Lawrence County,” Moulton Advertiser (16 December 1880), p. 1, col. 4.

[3] The letter of Sarah Lindsey Speake to Margaret Lindsey Hunter is transcribed by Henry C. Lindsey in his book The Mark Lindsey Heritage, 1740-1982 (priv. publ., Brownwood, Texas, 1983). Henry Lindsey notes (p. 29) that in 1982, this and several other letters of Sarah to her sister Margaret were in the possession of Barbara Kellogg of Coushatta, Louisiana. In addition to speaking about her husband James B. Speake and sons Henry Clay and Daniel Webster Speake, in this letter, Sarah sends her sister Margaret news of her son Charles Washington Speake and wife Dixie West Speake, who were living with Sarah and James, of their aunts Clarissa and Sallie and their children, of their niece Louvisa, daughter of Samuel Asbury Lindsey, and of their nephew Dennis Edward Lindsey, son of James Dennis Lindsey. The letter also refers to a letter Sarah had had from her brother Mark Jefferson Lindsey containing news of their sister Frances Rebecca Kellogg.

[4] Ibid., p. 3.

[5] Joan Colbert Gioe, Wayne County, Kentucky, Marriages 1801-1850 (Salt Lake City: Family Search, 2009); and Researchers, Wayne County, Kentucky, Marriages, 1800-1850 (Indianapolis: Researchers, 1985 [?]).

[6] I am citing the original 1814 tax list, which has been digitized and made available online at the Family Search site. The tax list is not paginated.

[7] I am citing the original 1815 Wayne County tax list, which is not paginated, and is online in a digital copy at the Family Search site.

[8] I am citing the original 1816 Wayne County tax list, which is not paginated, and is online in a digital copy at the Family Search site.

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