John W McGehee was born in Tennessee in 1810. It is unclear if he was born in Hawkins County, Tennessee, Lincoln County, Tennessee, or somewhere in between.
When he was about twenty years old, he traveled with his family north from the Lincoln County, Tennessee area to Illinois. The family lived at first in Morgan County, Illinois, and then moved north to Knox County shortly after that.
A man named Alexander Williams lived in the Knox County area. He and his wife Sidney (Creal) Williams, had a daughter named Sarah (Sally) B Williams. The Alexander Williams family was from Kentucky, and this is where Sally had been born. Alexander and Sidney Williams would later live in DeWitt county Illinois by 1850, living with Sarah’s sister Drucilla Williams Adams. Alexander and Sidney are buried there in Clinton, Dewitt County, Illinois. More about the Williams family will come later.
John met Sarah, and they decided to marry. On January 13, 1834, John and Sarah B Williams McGehee were married. One year later, they welcomed their first child into the world on January 22, 1836, named Francis Marion McGehee. We believe the family lived in an area that is now known as “Henderson,” but at the time was known as Henderson’s grove. There was also a “Gum’s fort” in this area as well.
Above and below are the marriage records of John and Sarah (Sally) B Williams McGehee in Knox County, Illinois
The following year, 1835, the family lost their patriarch, James McGehee, John’s father, and in the years following, the family turned their eyes toward Missouri. Around 1837 the family took advantage of land which had opened up in the area of Barry County Mo, and the family made its way southwest. One record states, “John and Robert McGehee bought on Sections 32 ad 33, in 1839” in what was then Barry County, Missouri.
On the 1840 census, the family is on the census, all clustered together along with many other pioneers into a very primitive landscape.
Census records before 1850 do not show individual family members names, only the names of the head of the household. In 1840, John McGehee was listed, and the remaining family is exclusively listed by age.
There is one boy listed as being under five years old. This would be Francis Marion McGehee. There are two girls also listed as being under the age of five. These would be either daughter of John and Sarah or children of other people living with them. The most likely thing would be that they are the children of John and Sarah. By the 1850 census, these two girls have disappeared and are no longer on the census. They would have been at the most 15 years old in 1850, and it is unlikely that they married. They are also not listed on later documents that notate the heirs of John and Sarah, which makes it more likely that they passed away before the 1850 census.
In 1850, John and Sarah were in Carroll County, Arkansas, about 70 miles south of Lawrence County, Mo. They were in the vicinity of the present-day town of “Berryville” and “Grandview” Arkansas. I have never known why the family moved there, and I do not know how long they stayed, but it was not likely very long as none of their children were born there, and they had children born in 1849 and 1852.
On July 17, 1856, John McGehee, was approaching the corner near Price’s grocery in Mt Vernon. We do not know what had brought him there on that fateful day but at some point he met up with two men. One was named “Mulhollen” and the other was named Jefferson Brown. A disagreement ensued and as is the nature of the male species, and John began rolling up his sleeves to fight. One man stated “we are all friends here” and it seemed for a moment as if things would quiet.
Mulhullen and Brown turned to walk away and John made a statement about not “going off bragging” and stated that he could “whip” the both of them (presumably Brown and Mulhollen). This caused Brown to turn back toward McGehee.
Based on what the witnesses around stated, it would appear that both parties to the fray seemed to want to walk away at times but pride has a hold on some that is greater than common sense. Someone attempted to remind the two banty roosters again that “we are all friends here” but to no avail.
Now Brown rolled his sleeves up to fight and the two went to blows, kicking and striking each other. At one point John picked up a rock and threw it, hitting Brown on the side. Then John pulled a knife from his pocket. He advanced toward Brown very slowly and I do not know if Brown saw it or not but John, with the knife in his left hand, grabbing Brown with his right, stabbed Brown in the lower right, back area three or four times.
John then shut the knife and put it back in his pocket. He picked up another rock and Brown, possibly realizing that he was wounded stated “don’t you throw that rock at me”.
Brown made his way into Prices’ grocery and into the back room where he laid down, blood flowing from his side. John, still holding the rock, seemed as if he would follow Brown in but he was stopped by Thomas McClain, a witness standing nearby. John seemed as if he still wanted to enter the building but James Price walking up told him to stay out.
John threw the rock down and walked away from the building over to where McClain was standing. “You cut that man all to pieces,” McClain told him. John responded by saying that he had not “Cut anybody” and said “here is my knife”. John pulled the knife out and handed it to McClain. McClain looked at the knife and handed it back to John.
Joseph Sliger, one of the witnesses, was still there when John was arrested. Joseph walked up to John and took the knife out of his pocket. Sliger stated that he knew that it was the one that John had used to stab Brown because of the blood on it.
Court records indicate that John was indicted in October of 1856 but stayed in jail from July 19th, 1856 until August 5th 1857 .
Arrest Warrant for John McGehee
On July 13, 1857, almost one year after the death of Jefferson Brown, John McGehee requested a change of venue to Jasper County, the county just west of Lawrence County. He did not believe he would get a fair trial in Mt Vernon. It is likely that the date of August 5, 1857 was the date that John was moved to Jasper County, however documents signed by the Sheriff of Jasper County carry the date of July 29, 1857.
As of today, I have no further evidence about how this trial played out or what verdict if any was decided.
The next we see in the record trail is the probate sale of John's property and belongings. Land records show his land being sold, and there is a full inventory list of all his belongings. In the probate records, he is listed as a "non-resident" of Missouri. This caused me to be suspicious that he was either acquitted but could not return to Lawrence Co, Mo, or that he escaped and went elsewhere.
A special "thank you" to Kathy Fairchild for her assistance in locating these documents. I had searched for a long time for these items, and without her assistance, I might have never know what happened regarding the issue of my great-great-grandfather's indictment for murder.
“Know all men by these present that we Simeon Pennington as principle and George W Allison security are held and firmly bound to the state of Missouri in the sum of Three Hundred and fifty dollars, for the payment of which we will bind ourselves, our heirs, executors and administrators.
Upon this condition now if the said Simeon Pennington who has this day been appointed (by the County Court of Lawrence County) guardian and curator of James McGehee, Martha McGehee, Nancy McGehee,& John Wesly McGehee, minor heirs of John McGehee who is a non resident of the state of Missouri. Shall pay over and deliver up all money, property, or other assets that may come into his hands.
and faithfully discharge his duty when called upon by the court so to do and faithfully discharge the duties of guardian and curator as required by law then this bond to be void otherwise to remain in full force.
In witness whereof we have hereto set our hands and affirmed our seals this the 2nd Day of April, 1858.
Signed sealed and acknowledged and approved in open court. This 2nd day of Feby, 1858.
George M Allison
Wm W Gray, Clerk
Inventory of the Personal and Real Estate of
One work mare
One lot plow gears ........................
Two Milch[iv] Cows…………………………
Twenty one Sheep …………………………….
Twenty Hogs ………………….
One Clock …………………………
Three Plows ………………………..
One Lot straw and lard[v]…………………………….One Bell……………………….
One churn and keg……………………
Lot Salt ………………..
One lot Bacon ………………………
One loom ………………………………..
One Lot pot vessells …………………….
Two Beds and Bedding …………………
Three, Bed steads …………………..
One Table ……………………………….
One Spinning wheel……………………..
Six Chairs …………………………….
Bread tray and Sifter ……………………
Two Buckets and Coffee pot ……………..
Plates knives and forks …………………….
One axe and two hoes …………………….
One drawing knife, saw and auger ……………………………
Three slayes (thought at first this might be “slaves” but it is clearly “slayes”)
Coffee mill and lamp
One, saddle …………………………………
One grind stone ………………………
Smoothing iron ……………………….
Also forty acres of land know as the N 1/2 of lot 6 of N.E. fr. Quarter of section 5 in township no.29 of range no 27
Also fourty acres discribed as the W 1/2 lot 7 of the N. E. fr. qr. of section 5 Township 29 of range 27
The last named lot, secured only by bond from Johnathan Hunt.
Simeon Pennington guardian and curator of the Estate of the heirs of John McGehee and unresident of the State of Missouri, says that the forgoing is a full inventory and description of all the money goods
goods chattles and estate real and personal books papers and Evidence of debt and title of the said Mcgeehee[viii] and of all the debts due and to become due so fare[ix] as he can a certain them and he is no indebted to the said Mcgeehee except as stated in said Inventory.
A list of all the Personal property belonging to John McGehee’ss Heirs at the time I was appointed guardian & curator of said McGehees heirs.
1 sorrell mare appraised To 90.00
3 Milch cows " " 30.00
21 Head sheep " " 24.00
20 Head hogs “ “ 15.00
1 Clock “ “ 5.00
1 Plaows “ “ 3.00
1 Lot Sland[xiii] and Lard “ “ 2.50
1 Set Plow Gears “ “ 1.25
1 Bell “ “ 1.00
1 Churn and Keg “ “ 1.00
Salt “ “ .60
1 Pot Vessels “ “ 14.00
2 Beds and bedding “ “ 20.00
3 Bed steds “ “ 5.00
1 table “ “ 1.00
1 Spinning wheel “ “ 1.50
6 chairs “ “ 3.00
Tray and sifter “ “ .50
2 buckets and coffee pot “ “ 1.50
Pots, knives and forks “ “ 1.75
Remnants “ “ .75
1 Axe and 2 hoes “ “ 1.00
1 draw knife, saw and Auger “ 1.25
3 Slayes “ “ 1.50
Coffee mill and lamp “ “ .50
Saddle “ Amt over[xiv] 2.50
(The next page began here)
Amount brought forward $238.10
4 Grind Stones “ “ .50
1 Smoothing iron “ “ .50
Appraires Names Still Patterson
Siddy McGehee 1 Bed 2.00
Martha McGehee 1 Bed 2.00
Wm Jones 1 Grind Stone 1.10
DeKalb Bowles 1 Smoothing iron .45
Wm Pennington 1 Saddle Settled by note 3.60
Zebidee Stoctal 3 Slayes Settled by note 2.00
Sanford Morris 1 Coffee mill and lamp 3.00 paid
Wm Jones 1 saw by note 1.00
DeKalb Bowles draw knife and auger 1.00
Price Kindrick 2 hoes and axe .50
Houston Shoat Remnants paid .45
Still Patteson cups, plates knifes, seltted by note
and forks 1.35
Wm Jones Buckets and coffee pot 1.50
Dixon Brown 1 Tray and Sifter .15 paid
Jesse Lowe 2 chairs Settled by note 1.75
Wm Jones 2 chairs 1.40
Wm Jones 3 chairs 1.40
Louis Spain 1 wheel 2.80 paid
Wm Pennington 1 Table 1.25
Jonathan Hunt 1 Bed Stead paid 1.40
Price Kendreck 1 Low bed Stead .87 1/2
James Lowe 1 Oven settled by note .95
Merrite Elwell 1 skillett .70 paid
Wm Pennington 1 pr hooks .10
Still Patterson 1 loom settled 5.00
R. C. McGehee 1 Clock 3.40
Wm Bowles 1 lot Bacon 50 lbs .8 per lb 4.00
Zebidee Stoctal 1 lot “ 50 lbs 8 ½ per lb 4.25
Wm Bowles 1 lot more or less 8 1/2 per lb 5.78
Wm Pennington Salt .45
John Wilson 1 churn and keg settled 2.05
Price Kindreck 1 Bell .70
Wm Pennington 1 set plow gears 2.50
Zebidee Stocstal 1 Keg and Lard settled 2.90
Allen Crouch 1 Plow .50 paid
Wm Pennington 1 plow and lot of irons 1.40
Price Kindreck 1 Plow 2.00
Price Kindreck 1 sow and 9 pigs 6.60
James Lowe 5 shoats and 3 pigs 12.25
A. J Morris 1st lot, 5 ewes and labmes paid 14.40
Woodford Paris 2nd lot 5 sheep settled by note 1.55
Wm Jones 3rd lot 6 sheep 10.00
DeKalb Bowles 1 Red Cow 20.50
Wm Jones 1 Speckled Cow 20.00
Andrew Terril 1 Sorrell Mare Settled by note 130.00
Whole amount 291.25 ½
James F Gibson employed to act as Clerk of the sale aforesaid on oath declares that the foregoing list contains a true amount of the sale made by Simeon Pennington guardian and Curator of the Estate of John McGehee at the time therein specified this the 17th day of April, 1858 James F Gibson
The family of John McGehee first showed up in Texas about 1859. His daughter, Sidney McGehee, married Richard Marion Hartzog in 1859 in Grayson County, Texas.
On the 1860 census of Grayson County, Texas, John's daughter Nancy is living with the Quillin family. Mrs. Quillin's maiden name was Hartzog, and she was the sister of the above named Richard Marion Hartzog. In military pension records, John and Sarah's children indicate they arrived in Texas around 1856-1857, which matches up with the murder indictment in Missouri.
Also, Francis Marion McGehee stated in 1889 that he had not seen his father, John W, in 32 years, which would be 1857. It would seem that our John W McGehee family departed Missouri at about that time.
So we know that our McGehee's were in Grayson County, Texas. Over the next decade, the children, and possibly John as well, are seen marrying various families in the Grayson County, Texas area. These families are specifically in the area known as "Basin Springs," which is today is only a cluster of houses and a cemetery just a few miles north of the present town of Sadler, Texas.
If John's wife, Sarah (Sally) B Williams McGehee, came to Grayson County, Texas, we have no evidence of that. She is never seen on any documents there. She is also not mentioned on any records in Lawrence County Mo, regarding John's probate or land. This might mean she had passed away before he left Missouri.
In 1864 John McGehee married Polly Elder in Grayson County, Texas. I have searched to find a Polly Elder, and the only one I know of was the wife of David Fuller Elder. This is plausible because David Fuller Elder is said to have died early, leaving a widow. He is also the brother of the pastor of the church in Basin Springs, John Lee Elder (who is also my gr gr grandfather). This is the same Elder family that John McGehee's son James marries into when he marries Carintha A Elder, (my gr grandparents).
Beyond this marriage record, we have no further documents that speak of John W McGehee.
We do not know for sure where he went or where he died. There have been glimpses of possibility here and there but nothing substantial. For instance, I found a tax notation for a J McGehee, living in an area where one of John's children lived. However, this could be anyone.
In speaking with his great-granddaughter, Viola McGehee Caddell, she stated that John W McGehee lived with his son, John Wesley McGehee, for a time in the area of Davis Oklahoma. John Wesley McGehee lived in that area around 1890-1900. This would have made John in his 80s or 90s.
Viola further stated that John W McGehee and John Wesley McGehee's father in law, Griffith Southwood, could not be sat together at the table at family gatherings. She said she was told they would attempt to "re-fight the civil war" as they were on opposite sides. John Wesley McGehee did not marry Iola Southwood until 1891, so unless they were close before they married, this would have to mean that John W McGehee lived until at least after 1891 in the area of Davis Oklahoma. That would have made him more than 90 years old.
Francis Marion McGehee, John W McGehee's son, was known for having a very long beard. It was at least 7 feet long. He was interviewed once and stated that his father, John W, also had a long beard that reached as far down as his hips.
I am still actively searching for John W McGehee and where his last whereabouts could have been. I have several options open to locate documents in various locations. I will update any new information I might run across.
I do want to state here that on ancestry.com, numerous people have passed around information saying that a "John W McGee," who died in Jersey county Illinois is the same as our John W McGehee discussed here. I don't know where this information originated, but it is wrong. I have researched it out, and this "John W. McGee" was born in Pennsylvania or Ireland and has nothing to do with our family. Also, our John W McGehee was reported to be alive after this John McGee had passed away in the 1870s.
Frances Marion McGehee was born in 1836 in Illinois. He went to Missouri with his family, married there in Lawrence County and then disappeared around 1860. He reappeared around 1860 in Northern California where he lived out the remainder of his life.
The 1840 census is the last census to only list the names of the head of the household and not individually list other members of the home. They only contain the age ranges and genders of those living there at the time.
There is an anomaly here because while we know that Francis Marion McGehee is the male child under five years old. However, there are two girls listed as under five years old as well. The child just under Francis Marion is Sidney McGehee, but she isn't born until almost 1843. The two female children shown in the 1840 census do not show up on the 1850 census, and there is a gap between Francis Marion and Sidney. It is most likely that these two girls born between 1836-1840 may have died before 1850.
Sidney McGehee (a female) was born in Missouri. She is found in the records of Grayson County, Texas, marrying Richard Marion Hartzog in 1869. They had one child, James Elijah Hartzog, and then Richard died. She later married John Crenshaw Bates, and after he passed away, Sidney disappeared. As of April 2020, we have no information about where Sydney went. There was speculation that she married a man named Phillip Miller. At first glance, it looks plausible; however, further research proved that this was a different person altogether, and her name was not even Sidney but was mistranscribed as Sidney only once.
Alexander McGehee was born in Missouri and came to Texas around the same time as the rest of his family in the later 1850s. He lived in Grayson County, Texas, where he married Sarah Tharpe and also where he enlisted for military service in the civil war. Alexander traveled a lot and isn't often on census records. Most of the information concerning Alexander comes from his children and his military pension. The one central place associated with Alexander is Ada, Pontotoc County, Oklahoma. Ada is where he lived for some time, as did several of his children. His burial site is outside of Ada in Oakman Cemetery.
Alexander and Sarah had seven children. They are Sidney RhuHamie McGehee Caton, Hiram McGehee, John Wesley McGehee, Mary Elizabeth McGehee White, Dottis McGehee (a boy), James Preston McGehee and Minnie Mae McGehee Doughty. While members of this family moved to California later, the majority of them centered around Oklahoma and stayed in that area.
Sampson McGehee was born in Missouri. He came to Texas in the 1850s as the rest of his family did. They came to Texas and lived in Grayson County, where he entered Confederate service during the civil war. Afterward, he was in Rusk County, where he married Delilah (Delia) Puckett. Family stories state that Sampson died in the mid-1870, and his brother John Welsey McGehee married his widow. Sampson and Delia (Delilah, yes, that was really their names) had two children. Lara Cena McGehee Parchman and Annie Carolyn Mangrum. HOWEVER, Sampson McGehee was arrested in Cleburne, Texas, around 1875 for burglary of a house. Incarcerated in Huntsville Prison with a two-year sentence, in Oct of 1876, he escaped while working on a railroad. He then showed up in Coryelle Co, Texas, near his aunt Elizabeth Pennington and cousins. He married and is found on the 1880 census as "Samuel McGehee" with a wife and numerous kids named "McGehee." These kids are actually the children of his new wife's deceased husband named "Smith." He began to go by the name "Sam" and "Sam McGee." He had two daughters with his new wife and later lived in and died in Austin.
James McGehee was born in 1847 in Missouri. James likely came to Texas along with the rest of the family in the late 1850s. He married in Grayson County, Texas, to Carintha A Elder on May 26, 1866, and together they had five children, Albert Lee McGehee, Mary Ellen McGehee Shearer, James Frank McGehee, Thomas Marion McGehee, and John William McGehee. Carintha died (possibly in a wagon accident) in Feb 1877, according to family records. James remarried three years later in August of 1880 to a widow named Mrs. Francis E. Parkes, who lived on the property next door with her son, her mother, and brothers. Her maiden name was Frances E Pitts. James was killed, December 18, 1881, in Jack County, Texas, by Frances' brother Theateric (Thee/Theo) Pitts in a family feud after James had killed Theateric's brother "Doc Pitts."
Martha McGehee was born in Missouri and likely came to Texas along with her family. She married Thomas Washington Bogard in 1866 in Grayson County, Texas. They moved to Cooke County, Texas, and then we know that later they were in Montague county. Thomas is listed as "GW Bogard" on the 1880 census. There is some rumor that Mr Bogard remarried after Martha passed away and we are unsure when her passing took place.
Nancy was born in Missouri and then in 1860 is living with the Quillin Family in Grayson County, Texas. Mrs. Quillin was the sister of Richard Marion Hartzog, who married Nancy's sister, Sidney. Nancy married Isaiah Josiah or Josiah Isaiah Ridgeway. The two had four daughters; Mary Alice Ridgeway Moon, Ellen Elizabeth Ridgeway Bingham, Corinthia Ann Ridgway Moore Thurmond Smith Duvall, and Telitha Ridgeway. In 1880, Nancy married Preston Eskew. She had one daughter with Preston named Rosa B Eskew Loften Steele. Nancy is last seen in 1900 in Oklahoma on the census there. She is listed as "Nancy Harris" and is living with her daughter near a town known as "Chargis" Oklahoma. The town is in present-day Carter County Oklahoma near Healdton. We know nothing further about Nancy after 1900.
John Wesley McGehee was born in Missouri. He would come to Texas, presumably, with the other members of his family in the late 1850s. After 1875 or so he married his sister in law, Delilah (Delia) Puckett McGehee (Sampson McGehee's wife), and the two had four known children between 1879-1888. Ephie May McGehee Genn, John Wesley McGehee Jr, Charles Camuel McGehee, Marian A McGehee (a daughter who died as a baby). Delia (Delilah) Pucket McGehee passed away in 1888, along with their daughter Marian. John Wesley later married Iola Southwood. John and Iola had Ray Evans McGehee, Tan M McGehee, and James Griffith McGehee. John moved to Carter County, Oklahoma, where he lived out the remainder of his life.
John G Sanburn, signed at the bottom of John and Sarah's marriage license as the county clerk. Mr. Sanburn's cabin, built about 1832, was moved near the old courthouse in the 1960s. Our family would likely have visited this cabin as it was a also general store. For more information click HERE
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