Children of Mary Brooks (1745/1750 – aft. 15 May 1815) and Jacob Hollingsworth (1742 – 1822) — Sarah Hollingsworth (abt. 1770 – 10 Sept. 1808/15 May 1821) and Husband James Garner

The scant biographical information about the family of James Garner and Sarah Hollingsworth that does appear in biographies of their descendants is not always correct, either. For instance, the biography of Sarah’s grandson Charles Christopher Sheats (1839-1904) in History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography states that parents were William W. Sheats and Mary Garner, and that his mother Mary was born in Tennessee.[2] But all federal censuses on which Mary Garner Sheats appears from 1850 to 1910 consistently give her birthplace as Georgia. Christopher Sheats represented Alabama in the U.S. Congress in 1873-5, and had previously served in the Alabama legislature. He was a vocal Unionist who was a teacher in Decatur, Morgan County, Alabama, when the war broke out, and was imprisoned by the Confederacy for his Unionist views. He served as U.S. Consul to Denmark following the Civil War.[3]

The first posting linked in the opening paragraph above notes that Sarah Hollingsworth married James Garner, and that the marriage appears to have occurred prior to 1790 and probably in Randolph County, North Carolina, where Sarah’s brother Samuel married Mary Garner in 1788. I think James Garner and wife Mary are a James Garner household enumerated on the 1790 federal census in Randolph County, North Carolina, next to John Garner and near an older James Garner, one of whom may be James Garner’s father.[4] I also think it’s likely that James and Mary Garner were closely related, possibly siblings, but I don’t have information to prove this guess, and it’s only a supposition. 

By 1800, James and Sarah Hollingsworth Garner appear to have joined her parents in Franklin County, Georgia, since the 1800 tax list for Franklin County shows James Garner taxed in that county in the district of Rowland Cornelius, whose daughter Deniah married Charles Madison Brooks, son of Thomas Madison Brooks and Sarah Whitlock, Thomas being a first cousin of Sarah Hollingsworth Garner. As Sadie Greening Sparks notes, in 1805, James Garner is taxed next to Jacob Hollingsworth (and son Thomas) in Franklin County for 600 acres.[5] The 1808 tax list for Franklin County again shows James Garner enumerated next to Thomas Hollingsworth and Jacob Hollingsworth, Jr., who are listed as agents for Samuel Hollingsworth, deceased.[6] These two tax entries make me think that James Garner had settled next to Samuel Hollingsworth in Franklin County — and, if so, that would reinforce, I think, the conclusion that Samuel Hollingsworth likely married James Garner’s sibling Mary Garner: siblings married to siblings lived next to each other.

On 2 November 1807, David Morgan and James Garner sold to J. and Thomas Hollingsworth 200 acres of land in Franklin County on the middle fork of Broad River, and tracts of 100 and 200 acres granted to Jacob Pennington. Witnesses to this land sale were William Robins and V. Garner.[7] The 1805 tax listing for James Garner noted above had indicated that he was agent for David Morgan, so he and David Morgan had a connection of some sort, as this deed also suggests. James Garner’s 1808 tax listing notes that some of the land for which he was taxed in 1808 had been granted to Jacob Pennington. The William Robins witnessing this deed married Mary, daughter of Samuel Hollingsworth and Mary Garner, on 28 April 1807 in Franklin County.

Sarah Hollingsworth Garner was still living on 10 September 1808, when James Garner and wife Sarah conveyed to James Martin two tracts in Franklin County, Georgia, 78 acres on the middle fork of Broad River adjoining J. Hollingsworth, Thomas Hollingsworth, Boling, and Richard White, being part of a grant to Jacob Pennington; and 87 acres on the middle fork adjoining  Richard White and Yarborough on a dividing line between White and James Garner, being part of a grant to Thompson McGuire. The witnesses to this deed were Jacob Hollingsworth and Moses Guest.[8] As we’ve seen previously, Jacob Hollingsworth and James Martin had adjoining tracts on the middle fork of the Broad River in 1799, and I think James Martin was likely related to the Sarah Martin who married Jacob’s son Jacob Jr.

1812 tax list, Franklin County, Tennessee, from Tennessee State Library and Archives, Early Tax Lists of Tennessee, digitized by Ancestry as the collection Tennessee, U.S., Early Tax List Records, 1783-1895

The preceding deed places Sarah Hollingsworth Garner’s death between 10 September 1808 and 15 May 1815, when her father made his will in Franklin County, Georgia. As I state above, James Garner and Sarah Hollingsworth appear to have had only one child, the son Jacob to whom Sarah’s father Jacob Hollingsworth made a bequest in his will. By 1808-9, Jacob Garner had married Mary Hunter, daughter of Evan Todhunter, in Franklin County, Georgia. By 1812, Jacob had moved with his father-in-law Evan Todhunter to Franklin County, Tennessee, where he appears on the tax list in that year.  As we’ve seen, Jacob Hollingsworth’s youngest sons Benjamin and James had moved to Franklin County, Tennessee, by 1816, following Evan Todhunter’s move there shortly after 1810.

As the posting I have just linked notes, a researcher of the Todhunter/Hunter family, Darrell Hunter, sent me information in September 2019 about the move of the Todhunter family from Franklin County, Georgia, to Franklin County, Tennessee, soon after 1810. In his email, Darrell Hunter notes that Evan Todhunter and Jacob Garner appear next to each other on the 1812 tax list in Franklin County, Tennessee.[9]

Thomas McAdory Owen, History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography, vol. 4 (Chicago: S.J. Clarke, 1912), pp. 1536, 1539

We know that Jacob Garner and Mary Hunter had married by the time Jacob shows up on the 1812 Franklin County, Tennessee, tax list because the couple had a daughter Mary Elizabeth Garner, who was born 12 September 1810 in Franklin County, Georgia. The fact that Jacob appears to have married around 1808-9 suggests a birthdate of around 1790 for him and wife Mary Hunter.[10] Darrell Hunter thinks that Mary Hunter was born about 1790, and Jacob Garner around 1792.[11] The last record I find for Jacob Garner is his listing on the tax list in Franklin County, Georgia, in 1819.[12] According to the biography of his grandson Christopher Sheats in History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography, Jacob served in the Texas revolution and in the Mexican-American War.[13] I have not found a record of this service, and do not find Jacob Garner on the federal census from 1820 forward: note that the 1820 federal census for Franklin County, Georgia, is missing. In my view, Jacob and perhaps wife Mary Hunter Garner died not long after his appearance on the 1819 tax list in Franklin County, Georgia.

Tombstone of Mary Elizabeth Garner Sheats, McKendree Methodist cemetery, Falkville, Morgan County, Alabama, from her Find a Grave memorial page managed by Kenneth and Carolyn, who uploaded the photo to the page
Biography of William Wiley Sheats, husband of Mary Elizabeth Garner, from unidentified source — see n. 15, infra

By 1830, Jacob and Mary Garner’s daughter Mary Elizabeth had joined the family of her uncle John T. Hunter in Lawrence County, Alabama, where she married William Wiley Sheets/Sheats, son of Archibald Sheats and Amanda Gibson, on 17 April 1830.[14] Amanda Gibson is said to have been a daughter of Sylvanus Gibson (1749-1805), whose son Sylvanus Gibson (1783-1851) was father of Margaret S. Gibson, the first wife of John Wesley Lindsey, son of Dennis Lindsey and Jane Brooks. William and Mary Garner Sheats are buried together in McKendree Methodist cemetery at Falkville in Morgan County, Alabama.[15]


[1] The original will is in the loose-papers estate file of Jacob Hollingsworth, Franklin County, Georgia; originals held by Georgia Archives, digital copies at Family Search website. The will is also recorded in Franklin County, Georgia, Court of Ordinary Minutes, Bk. 1814-1823, p. 127.

[2] Thomas McAdory Owen, History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography, vol. 4 (Chicago: S.J. Clarke, 1912), p. 1536. 

[3] See Joseph W. Danielson, “Christopher Sheats,” Encyclopedia of Alabama online; “Sheats, Charles Christopher,” in Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress, online at the website of the U.S. House of Representatives; David Williams, Bitterly Divided: The South’s Inner Civil War (NY: New Press, 2010), p. 49; Ben H. Severance, Portraits of Conflict: A Photographic History of Alabama in the Civil War (Fayetteville: Univ. of Arkansas Press, 2012), p. 248; and Christopher M. Rein, Alabamians in Blue: Freedmen, Unionists, and the Civil War in the Cotton State (Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 2019), p. 46.

[4] 1790 federal census, Randolph County, North Carolina, p. 289.

[5] Sadie Greening Sparks, “The Family of Jacob Hollingsworth & Wife Mary Brooks of North Carolina & Georgia,” online at Loy Sparks’s website dedicated to the memory of Sadie Greening Sparks. The tax listing states that Jacob was agent for Samuel Hollingsworth, deceased. See Georgia Archives, Georgia Tax Digests (1890-2), compiling tax records from Georgia counties, 1793-1892 in 140 volumes held by the Archives. Ancestry provides a search engine and digital copies of these tax records in the collection Georgia Property Tax Digests, 1793-1892.

[6] Georgia Archives, Georgia Tax Digests (1890-2).

[7] Franklin County, Georgia, Deed Bk. RR, p. 36; I’m indebted to Sadie Greening Sparks, “The Family of Jacob Hollingsworth & Wife Mary Brooks of North Carolina & Georgia,” for information about this deed.

[8] Franklin County, Georgia, Deed Bk. T, p. 64; I’m indebted to Sadie Greening Sparks, “The Family of Jacob Hollingsworth & Wife Mary Brooks of North Carolina & Georgia,” for information about this deed.

[9] See Tennessee State Library and Archives, Early Tax Lists of Tennessee, digitized by Ancestry as the collection Tennessee, U.S., Early Tax List Records, 1783-1895.

[10] Mary Elizabeth Garner Sheats’s date of birth is stated on her tombstone in McKendree Methodist cemetery, Falkville, Morgan County, Alabama. A photo of the tombstone is at her Find a Grave memorial page managed by Kenneth and Carolyn, who uploaded the photo to the page. The tombstone appears to date from not long after death on 1 February 1902. 

[11] See Darrell Hunter’s “Joseph Hunter of Alabama” family tree at Ancestry.

[12] Georgia Archives, Georgia Tax Digests (1890-2); see supra, n. 3.

[13] Owen, History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography, vol. 4, p. 1536.

[14] Lawrence County, Alabama, Orphans Court Marriage Bk. B, p. 32.

[15] Darrell Hunter’s “Joseph Hunter of Alabama” tree at Ancestry has a digital image of an obituary of William Wiley Sheats from an unidentified publication. The same obituary is transcribed at William W. Sheats’s Find a Grave memorial page at McKendree Methodist cemetery, Falkville, Morgan County, Alabama, maintained by Kenneth anc Carolyn — also without indication of the obituary’s source. The obituary is also transcribed at the USGenweb site for Cullman County, Alabama, with a note that Kenneth Sheats provided the copy of the obituary in December 2005, without an indication of its source.

One thought on “Children of Mary Brooks (1745/1750 – aft. 15 May 1815) and Jacob Hollingsworth (1742 – 1822) — Sarah Hollingsworth (abt. 1770 – 10 Sept. 1808/15 May 1821) and Husband James Garner

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.