Children of Mary Brooks (1745/1750 – aft. 15 May 1815) and Jacob Hollingsworth (1742 – 1822) — Mary Hollingsworth (1770/5 – 1830/1840) and Husband Benjamin J. Wofford

The Wofford-Hollingsworth Connection, Burke County, North Carolina, and Franklin County, Georgia

As I discussed in my initial posting about Jacob Hollingsworth and Mary Brooks, Jacob Hollingsworth brought his family to Franklin County, Georgia, from Burke County, North Carolina, shortly after 1790 in connection with William Wofford. Historian Carl Flowers Jr., thinks, in fact, that William Wofford and his son Benjamin had already begun moving to Georgia with other settlers by 1787, even though they’re enumerated on the 1790 census in Burke County, North Carolina.[5] In my view (see below), the Wofford and Hollingsworth men were going back and forth between Burke County, North Carolina, and Franklin County, Georgia, for several years prior to settling in Georgia, to make preparations to move there.

By 2 December 1790 Jacob Hollingsworth shows up in Franklin County, Georgia, records witnessing Joseph Martin Russell’s deed of 400 acres on both sides of the middle fork of the Broad River to William Wofford.[6] This tract of land would form the Wofford Settlement on which Jacob Hollingsworth built Fort Hollingsworth, as discussed in the posting I linked in the preceding paragraph. This 1790 document suggests that by late 1790, Jacob was in the process of making his family’s move to Georgia. It also shows us that in moving to Georgia, he was closely connected to William Wofford.

A history of Fort Hollingsworth prepared by the Friends of the Fort group online at the Fort Hollingsworth-White House website states that William Wofford and Jacob Hollingsworth moved to Franklin County, Georgia, in 1792 from North Carolina. The area in which they settled became known as the Wofford Settlement. As stated above, I take this historical account to mean that Jacob Hollingsworth and William Wofford settled their families definitively in Franklin County, Georgia, in 1792, but had been making plans for this move, with back-and-forth trips to Georgia, for several years prior to that.

As Steven H. Moffson indicates, soon after their arrival in Georgia, Wofford commissioned Hollingsworth to build a fort as a defensive structure that was “essentially an extra-strong dwelling” on the southern boundary of Cherokee territory in what was then Franklin County but would later fall into Banks County.[7] As has also been noted previously, the Wofford family came to northwest North Carolina and then northeast Georgia from Spartanburg and Newberry Counties, South Carolina; postings about the Lindsey families of those two South Carolina counties found on this blog contain an abundance of Wofford information, due to the many connections of the Woffords to both the Lindseys of Spartanburg County, who are group 10 Lindseys in the international Lindsay Surname DNA Project, and the Lindseys of Newberry County, who are part of group 2 in the same project. Readers interested in reviewing that Wofford information can click on the tag “Spartanburg Co. South Carolina” below, and a large number of previous postings will pop up, many of them with Wofford information.

Colonel William Wofford historical marker, Toccoa Falls College cemetery, Habersham County, Georgia, from Find a Grave memorial page for William Wofford, Toccoa Falls College cemetery, Habersham County, Georgia, created by Kathy Gatlin; photo uploaded by Kathy Gatlin

According to Kevin Whitehead, William Wofford was born in 1728 in Prince George’s County, Maryland, and moved with his family to South Carolina before the Revolution.[8] Kevin Whitehead notes that William Wofford settled in what became Spartanburg County, where he operated an iron works on Lawson’s Creek and served as a colonel in General Andrew Williamson’s brigade during the Revolution. Whitehead states that William Wofford moved his family to Turkey Cove in Burke (now McDowell) County, North Carolina, to avoid internecine violence occurring in the South Carolina upcountry between Tories and Whigs after the Revolutionary War. Wofford’s son Absalom was a Loyalist, while his father supported the Revolution. Whitehead says that William Wofford died in 1823. He is buried near at Toccoa Falls in Stephens County, Georgia, with a marker at Toccoa Falls College commemorating him. 

A biographical account at William Wofford’s Find a Grave memorial page states that a page in a Boyers’ dictionary from Wofford’s library at his house near Cass Station, Georgia, has the following statement written on it:[9]

Wm. Wofford, was born in the Province of, now state of Maryland, near Rock Creek, about twelve miles above the Federal city, on the 25th day of October, 1728, then Prince George county. Now in the 93rd year of his age. Wrote without spectacles the 30th day of July, 1820.

Unfortunately, this Find a Grave memorial page has given William Wofford a middle name he did not have — Hollingsworth — and has linked him to the spouse of his grandson who was named William Hollingsworth Wofford (abt. 1789 – 1826/7). William Hollingsworth Wofford married Nancy M. Tatum (1791-1867), who is linked at Find a Grave to William H. Wofford’s grandfather as William Wofford’s (1726-1823) spouse. 

One family tree after another at sites online has confused William Hollingsworth Wofford (abt. 1789-1826/7) with his grandfather William Wofford (1728-1823), giving the grandson’s middle name to William Wofford. I have not ever seen any source indicating that William Wofford had the middle name Hollingsworth, and there are no indicators that William Wofford was in any way connected with the Hollingsworth family before he and Jacob Hollingsworth connected in Burke County, North Carolina, not long before 1790. Why people do this in so many online family trees — creating fictional middle names for people who never had a middle name — is a mystery to me. I surely wish folks would stop doing this. Google “William Hollingsworth Wofford” right now and see the confusion that turns up.

To return to Mary Hollingsworth and Benjamin J. Wofford, parents of William Hollingsworth Wofford: the will of Mary Hollingsworth Wofford’s father Jacob Hollingsworth in Franklin County, Georgia, on 15 May 1815 makes a bequest to his daughter:[10]

I will and bequeath to my daughter Mary Wofford one Negroe Girl Fanny by name now in her posseſsion and at the death of my beloved Wife Mary Hollingsworth her bed and furniture to the Said Mary Wofford

Benjamin Wofford and Mary Hollingsworth’s Dates and Place of Death

I have not found specific information about when and where Mary Hollingsworth Wofford died, but information suggesting she apparently died between 1830 and 1840 in either Habersham or Cass (later Bartow) County, Georgia. The 1820 and 1830 federal censuses suggest she was living when both of those censuses were taken. In 1820, Benjamin Wofford is in Habersham County, Georgia, with a household comprised of one male and one female, both aged 45+.[11] In 1830, this household in Habersham County has a male aged 60-69 and a female aged 50-59.[12] Note that this census places Mary’s birth between 1770 and 1780.

By 1840, I do not find either Mary or Benjamin Wofford on the federal census as head of a household. As stated above, Benjamin’s tombstone states that he died in 1836, with biographical information at his Find a Grave memorial page stating that he died in Bartow County, Georgia.[13] Bartow is in northwest Georgia and did not exist until 1861, when Cass County was renamed Bartow. A biography of Benjamin’s grandson William Tatum Wofford (1824-1884) in Lucy Josephine Cunyus’s history of Bartow County states that Benjamin J. Wofford moved to Cass County with his relatives sometime following the birth of his grandson William T. Wofford in Habersham County on 28 June 1824, and died in Cass on 2 March 1836, aged 68.[14] William Tatum Wofford was the son of William Hollingsworth Wofford and Nancy M. Tatum. According to Sadie Greening Sparks, William H. Wofford died about 1827 in Habersham County.[15] Cunyus’s biography of William T. Wofford notes that his father William H. Wofford “died young,”; according to Joe F. Head, his death occurred in 1826 when his son William T. Wofford was three years old.[16] According to Fletcher M. Green, William H. Wofford died “shortly after” his son William T. Wofford was born.[17]

According to a biography of William Tatum Wofford (1824-1884) in a history of the Phillips Georgia Confederate Infantry Legion, following William T. Wofford’s birth in Habersham County on 28 June 1824, his family drew land in western Georgia in the Land Lottery of 1827 and moved to Cassville in Cass County, Georgia.[18] I do not locate William’s mother Nancy on the 1830 federal census in Georgia, but the 1840 census shows her heading her household in Habersham and not Cass County, with only herself and a son aged 15-19 in the household, along with seven enslaved persons.[19] This suggests that she did not move her family to Cass County immediately after William H. Wofford’s death, but at some point after 1840.[20] If Mary Hollingsworth Wofford’s husband Benjamin J. Wofford did move to Cass County with other relatives prior to his death in 1836, I have no information showing whether his wife Mary did so, too, or if she died in Habersham County between 1830 and 1836. I have also not found information indicating that Benjamin Wofford and Mary Hollingsworth had any children other than their son William Hollingsworth Wofford.

More Pieces of Information about Benjamin J. Wofford

Here are some bits and pieces of information I have about Benjamin J. Wofford — and probably much more can be found through assiduous research, which I admit I have not done:

A muster roll of a militia infantry unit serving under command of Lieutenant John Collins at Fort Carns, Wofford’s Station, from 1 January – 26 December 1796 shows Benjamin Wofford as a sergeant in this unit, serving 1 January – 31 March, then asking to have his rank reduced to private, and serving the rest of the year with that rank.[21]

29 June 1802 petition by Georgia citizens to Governor Tattnal, in collection of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, The University of Georgia Libraries, Telamon Cuyler, box 45, folder 13, document 1, available digitally at University of Georgia’s Digital Library of Georgia

On 29 June 1802, citizens of Georgia (no specific counties are given in the document) signed a petition to Governor Tattnall stating that they had sent a petition to President Jefferson requesting that he appoint Colonels Carnes, Easley and Harris and Captain James Blair as commissioners for treating with the Cherokee Indians. Among the signatories of this document was Benjamin Wofford. The petitioners informed the governor that they wanted the grant of a tract of land five miles wide between the Tugaloo and Apalachee Rivers and asked that Tatnall support them.[22] Benjamin’s name is first in the list of signatories, suggesting that he played a major role in organizing this petition. His brother Nathaniel signed the petition as well, as did a number of Hollingsworth men including Benjamin’s father-in-law Jacob Hollingsworth: see this previous posting.

Benjamin Wofford and his father William appear in a list of settlers of Wofford Settlement in Franklin County in 1804 who were determined to be “left out side the line, the day it was said to be finished, which was the 1st February 1798.”[23] As previously noted, when Wofford and others initially settled the Wofford Tract, they determined that they had settled outside Cherokee land, though a later survey showed that they had, in fact, settled on Indian lands. The 1798 list was an initial list of settlers in the Wofford Settlement. The 1804 Treaty of Tellico ceded this Cherokee land to the settlers.

On 22 May 1813, Benjamin Wofford sold to his son William Hollingsworth Wofford 50 acres in Franklin County from thee 400-acre Wofford tract that Joseph Martin Russell sold Benjamin’s father William Wofford on 2 December 1790. The deed for this transaction states that Benjamin lived on Broad River in Franklin County and that the 50 acres were on the eastern side of the middle fork of Broad River. Benjamin signed with witnesses Willis Gilley, Moses Pearis, G. Smithers, and William Nowland. Benjamin acknowledged the deed before his nephew William Benton Wofford on 25November 1815, and it was recorded.[24]

27 November 1821 affidavit of Benjamin Wofford, inferior court, Franklin County, Georgia, file now held by the Georgia Archives and available digitally at the Archives’ Virtual Vault

On 27 November 1821 in Franklin County’s inferior court, Benjamin Wofford gave testimony regarding horses — six mares, one stud horse, and two colts — that he claimed Creek Indians had taken from him on 10 April 1797 in Franklin County, for which he had not had recompense. The file for this case is now in the Georgia Archives and is available digitally at the Archives’ Virtual Vault. The case file contains an affidavit given in Franklin County’s superior court on 6 March 1822 by Benjamin’s brother-in-law Thomas Hollingsworth supporting his brother-in-law’s claim and stating that immediately after the depredations occurred in 1797, chase was given, presumably with himself as part of the pursuing party. This affidavit has both Benjamin Wofford’s and Thomas Hollingsworth’s signatures.

Also in the case file is a 10 October 1835 note by Benjamin Wofford to Hon. J.A. Cuthbert, Commissioner for Indian Claims, asking him to pay over W.B. Wofford any money the Spoliations Committee would award Benjamin for his claim of $1421.82. W.B. Wofford was William Benton Wofford (1791-1858), a prominent figure in Habersham County who was Benjamin’s nephew, son of Benjamin’s brother Nathaniel. William B. Wofford served as lieutenant-governor of Georgia.[25]

William Tatum Wofford, Grandson of Benjamin Wofford and Mary Hollingsworth

Fletcher M. Green, “Wofford, William Tatum,” in Dictionary of American Biography, ed. Dumas Malone (NY: Scribner’s, 1943), pp. 440-1

And, finally, a bit more information about Benjamin Wofford and Mary Hollingsworth’s grandson William Tatum Wofford: as noted previously (and please see the sources cited for biographical information about him), he studied law at University of Georgia after having graduated in 1839 from Gwinnett Institute. He then attended Franklin College, which later became part of the University of Georgia, graduating from that college in 1844. 

Following his graduation, he enlisted during the Mexican-American War and was a captain in the Georgia Mounted Volunteers, and took up his law career following his military service. From 1849-1853, he served in the Georgia legislature, where he was clerk of the lower house in 1852-3. In 1852, he established the newspaper the Cassville Standard, of which he was editor for a number of years.

Wofford was a firm anti-secessionist and voted against Georgia’s secession from the Union at the state convention in 1861. After Georgia seceded, however, and the Civil War began, he offered his services as a Confederate soldier, being made a colonel of the Georgia State Militia, then a captain of the 18th Georgia Infantry. He was then promoted to colonel. After Brigadier-General Thomas Cobb, under whom he served in Virginia, was mortally wounded at Fredericksburg, Virginia, William T. Wofford took his place and was appointed Brigadier-General. 

Grave of Gen. William Tatum Wofford historical site” at Digital Library of Georgia.

Following the war, Wofford was elected to the U.S. Congress but prevented by the Radical Republicans from taking his seat. As his Wikipedia biography states, “As a delegate to the Georgia Constitutional Convention of 1877, he argued for the repeal of convict leasing, for Confederate veterans’ benefits, and for African-American education. Many of his ideas appeared in the platform of the Populist Party a decade later.”[26] William Tatum Wofford died at his home at Cass Station and is buried in the Cassville cemetery at Cassville in Bartow County, Georgia.[27]

[1] 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.

[2] See Find a Grave memorial page of Benjamin J. Wofford, “Sgt. Benjamin J. Wofford Gravesite,” maintained by Find a Grave user Evening Blues. This tombstone may be the Revolutionary War marker for which James M. Puckett of Atlanta, an SAR member, made an application to the U.S. Army’s Memorial Division on 12 August 1966. The application states that the marker should show Benjamin’s birthdate as 1767 and his year of death as 1836. This application states, however, that Benjamin is buried at Stamp Creek in White County and not in Bartow County: see NARA (St. Louis), Applications for Headstones, 1/1/1925 – 6/30/1970, RG 92 M1916; digitized in Ancestry’s collection U.S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1970.

[3] Sparks, “The Family of Jacob Hollingsworth & Wife Mary Brooks of North Carolina & Georgia.”

[4] 1790 federal census, Burke County, North Carolina, p. 101.

[5] Carl Flowers, “The Wofford Settlement on the Georgia Frontier,” Georgia Historical Quarterly 61,3 (1977), p. 258.

[6] Franklin County, Georgia, Deed Bk. H, p. 96.

[7] Steven H. Moffson, application for Fort Hollingsworth-White House on National Register of Historic Places (1998), online at National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places website. See also Flowers, “The Wofford Settlement on the Georgia Frontier,” pp. 258-267.

[8] Kevin Whitehead, “Wofford Family in Georgia,” at Kevin Whitehead’s Civil War ancestry research page. 

[9] See Find a Grave memorial page for William Wofford, Toccoa Falls College cemetery, Habersham County, Georgia, created by Kathy Gatlin.

[10] 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.

[11] 1820 federal census, Habersham County, Georgia, p. 116. 

[12] 1830 federal census, Habersham County, Georgia, p. 13.

[13] See supra, n. 2.

[14] Lucy Josephine Cunyus, The History of Bartow County: Formerly Cass (Cartersville, Georgia: Tribune Publ. Co., 1933), p. 297.

[15] Sparks, “The Family of Jacob Hollingsworth & Wife Mary Brooks of North Carolina & Georgia.”

[16] See Cunyus, History of Bartow County, p. 297; and Joe F. Head, “General William T. Wofford (1824-1884),” at the Etowah Valley Historical Society website.

[17] Fletcher M. Green, “Wofford, William Tatum,” in Dictionary of American Biography, ed. Dumas Malone (NY: Scribner’s, 1943), pp. 440-1.

[18] Richard M. Coffman and Kurt D. Graham, To Honor These Men: A History of the Phillips Georgia Legion Infantry Battalion (Macon: Mercer UP, 2007), p. 454, citing Gerald J. Smith, “One of the Most Daring of Men”: The Life of Confederate General William Tatum Wofford (Murfreesboro, Tennessee: Southern Heritage Press, 1997), pp. 65-6.

[19] 1840 federal census, Habersham County, Georgia, p. 42.

[20] See also William T. Wofford’s Wikipedia biography entitled “William T. Wofford” which states that the Woffords were in Habersham when William T. Wofford was born in 1824, then drew land in western Georgia in 1827 and moved to Cass (later Bartow) County, shortly thereafter, citing Coffman and Graham, To Honor These Men, p. 454; and Kylie A. Horney, “W.T. Wofford (1824-1884),” in New Georgia Encyclopedia online, noting that William T. Wofford was born to William Hollingsworth Wofford and Nancy M. Tatum in Habersham County on 28 June 1824, studied law at University of Georgia, was admitted to the bar at Athens and then set up a law practice at Cassville, Georgia. See also Marjore Arthur Hayes and Thelma M. Hayes, Coal Dust Between My Toes: Collected Memories and Family Ties (San Luis Obispo, California: Poor Richard’s Press, 1999), p. 107, noting that William Hollingsworth Wofford, a son of Benjamin J. Wofford, married Nancy M. Tatum, who was born in 1791 in Patrick County, Virginia. This source says the couple lived first in Habersham County, Georgia, then in Bartow County, and that William H. Wofford died “many years” before his wife Nancy died in Bartow County in 1867. 

[21] Murtie June Clark, American Militia in the Frontier Wars, 1790-1796 (Baltimore: Clearfield, 1990), p. 285.

[22] This document is held by the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, The University of Georgia Libraries, Telamon Cuyler, box 45, folder 13, document 1, and is available digitally at University of Georgia’s Digital Library of Georgia.

[23] “A list of settlers on the Indian lands on the Frontier of Georgia 1804” is in the NARA collection, Records of the Cherokee Agency in Tennessee: Correspondence and Miscellaneous Records, NARA M-208, Settlers and Intruders on Cherokee Indian Lands 1801-1816.  

[24] Franklin County, Georgia, Deed Bk. MMM, pp. 42-43.

[25] Carrie Westlake Whitney, Kansas City, Missouri, Its History and Its People 1808-1908, vol. 3 (Chicago: S. J. Clarke, 1908), pp. 106-8.

[26] See supra, n. 20.

[27] See Find a Grave memorial page for William Tatum Wofford, Cassville cemetery, Cassville, Georgia, maintained by Find a Grave; “Grave of Gen. William Tatum Wofford,” at the Historical Marker Database website; and “Grave of Gen. William Tatum Wofford historical site” at Digital Library of Georgia.

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