A Witcher Family Genealogy
An article for an estray horse, posted before Judge James Witcher. This Western Herald Newspaper article is dated 5-03-1825 in Georgia.
Georgia Journal, dated 7-09-1834, part two of a large article in which Judge James Witcher is identified as Chairman. This is the last part of the article which begins in the clip to the left of this clip.
Georgia Journal, dated 7-09-1834, part one of a large article in which Judge James Witcher is Chairman. The last part of the article is to the right.
9-21-1832, Western Herald Newspaper, Georgia.
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This James Witcher, according to the 1850 Federal Census, was born in North Carolina. He was the son the Ephraim Witcher, who lived in Surry County, North Carolina as of 1819. Click here to read why I know this James Witcher was indeed the son of Ephraim Witcher of Surry County, North Carolina. Click here to read about the Ephraim Witcher estate battle which provides excellent clues about this James and his family.
James married Tempy Witcher, his cousin, who at the time lived in the neighboring state of Virginia. Tempy was the daughter of John Witcher, Jr. This particular man, John Witcher, is the son of Captain William Witcher, of Revolutionary War fame. The date of the marriage was December 28, 1811, in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Closer examination of the date of their first son's birth (Benjamin M. Witcher -b- April 29, 1812) and their wedding vows will reveal one good reason why these two married in the first place.
On the 28th day of December, 1811, John Witcher Jr. submitted a note of consent for his daughter Tempy to marry James Witcher. Click here to see an actual image of this note and the marriage bond.
Old Colonial law required parental or guardian consent for marriage for daughters under twenty-one years of age, which according to the 1850 federal census record, Tempy was barely under this age. It apparently was inappropriate to follow the custom of issuing a marriage Bann, which is the public announcement in a parish church of an impending marriage between two persons. Banns were commonly associated with the Church of England, and the announcement was made three weeks in a row and gave the community the right to object to the union.
Therefore, since no Bann was apparently announced, as required by law, a $150 bond was secured, obligating James and Tempy to fulfill the marriage commitment. Click here to see a copy of that certificate. Within both the letter of consent and the marriage certificate, John Witcher is identified as the father of Tempy Witcher.
John Witcher died in 1834. Fortunately he left a will, and in this will he mentions his daughter Tempy, as well as his other daughters Oney, and Polly, and his “beloved” wife Susannah.
As I noted, on December 28, 1811, Tempy Witcher had married James Witcher. Then both migrated to Georgia. Eight years later, a rift would erupt between Tempy and her father. In 1819 John Witcher would hire his son James as attorney in order to pursue and recover a slave “lent” to Tempy by her father.
But first, here’s a little historical background about this certain slave.
In 1808 John Witcher (then titled Jr.) received slaves from his father Major William Witcher’s estate. Here’s a transcription from a portion of William Witcher’s will: “I give and bequeath to my son, John Witcher jr. my negroes Sarah, and her children, Sinda, Ceala, and Anna, in addition to what I have already given him, which I give to him and his heirs forever.”
One of the slaves John receives from his father’s estate was “Anna,” the child of another slave named “Sarah.” John Witcher gave power of attorney to his son James to recover this slave named “Anna,” who had previously been “loaned” to Tempy by her father. By the time of this litigation, John’s son James and his daughter Tempy and her husband James Witcher had all migrated to Georgia.
Here is a transcript of the actual power of attorney given by John Witcher (by this time known as “Sr.”) to his son James Witcher: “Know all men, by these presents, that I John Witcher, Sr. of Pittsylvania County, State of Virginia, have made, authorized, constituted and appointed, and by these presents, do appoint my son James Witcher, of County of Madison, and State of Georgia, my true and lawful attorney, to demand and receive of James Witcher (son of Ephraim) one negro girl named Anna, and other property, which I loaned my daughter Tempy, who hath intermarried with the said James Witcher, etc. In testimony, whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 27th day of July, 1819. John Witcher Sr.”
I would like to point out that in 1806 and 1808, this John Witcher was known as “Jr.,” but a few years later he took the title “Sr.” This can be explained by the appearance of younger John Witchers as they were born and matured within the Witcher clan.
In this power of attorney, we see that Tempy was a daughter of John Witcher, she was married to Ephraim Witcher’s son James, the couple lived in Georgia, she had her father’s slave named Anna, and John wanted his slave named Anna returned; the same name of a slave bequeathed to him by his father Major William Witcher.
Due to the deed record of the power of attorney, we can now know with a high level of confidence who the two different James Witchers were which are found in the 1820 federal census in Georgia.
By 1819 at least one James Witcher was living in Madison County, Georgia.
However, in the 1820 federal census, no James Witcher was found in Madison County, but two different James Witchers are found in Morgan County, Georgia. One of them is listed as having three slaves, while the other had only one. The James who owned one slave, I believe, had John Witcher’s slave named Anna. That James would be the Son of Ephraim Witcher.
By the 1830 census, one James Witcher remained in Morgan County, Georgia. This individual then had two slaves. As we will see, this is almost certainly the lawyer son of John Witcher Jr., and was James the brother of Tempy Witcher. This James Witcher would eventually migrate to Polk County, Georgia and was married to Gilley. Later census records indicate this James as an owner of slaves in Meriwether County, Georgia (nine slaves in 1850).
The 1830 federal census for Newton County, Georgia, lists another James Witcher with no slaves. I am sure by then that Anna had been returned to his father-in-law, John Witcher. I am confident that this James Witcher is the son of Ephraim, who would eventually die in Polk County, Georgia. It’s interesting that John Witcher is listed in Newton County too. I am certain this is the brother of James, both of whom appeared to have migrated in unison from Surry County, North Carolina.
The 1840 federal census indicates James Witcher had already moved to Paulding County, part of which became Polk County in 1851. Notice this Estray ad in the Western Herald newspaper, dated 9.21.1832: Georgia, Paulding County. James Witcher tolled before John Y Allgood, a Justice of Peace for said county (I have provided an image of the ad at the bottom of this webpage).
As we can see, by this Western Herald newspaper ad dated September of 1832, James and Tempy were then located to Paulding County. So, I assume that between 1830 and 1832 James Witcher had relocated to their new homeplace in Paulding County, Georgia. I expect the reason they could move to this new territory was that in 1831, the Georgia Guard was established by the state legislature, providing some measure of safety for pioneer families from the local Indian population.
In the book "Whites among the Cherokees," this James Witcher is listed in the 1837 Paulding County special Georgia state census, along with his brother Captain John Witcher, James' son Diskin Witcher, and others such as Lacy, Daniel and "Allexander" Witcher. Additionally, an 1837 payroll record indicates that a James Witcher was a private in Captain John Witcher's Company of Mounted Volunteers.
Finally, James Witcher and Tempestus Witcher are found in the 1850 Paulding County, Georgia, federal census record. Their stated ages parallel the family Bible record, and James is recorded as having been born in "North Carolina." Children: "Attania [Atalanta] E.E. Witcher, Mary C. Witcher, and Frances J. Witcher," all the youngest children in the bible record, are recorded as residing with these two.
James and Tempy Witcher had the following children: Benjamin M. Witcher -b- April 29, 1812, Diskin N. Witcher -b- September 4, 1814, Asa P. Witcher -b- September 24, 1816 (no doubt named after Asa Prior), Atalanta E.E. Witcher -b- January 30, 1819, Susan A.J. WItcher -b- January 9, 1822, James M. Witcher -b- March 27, 1825, Mary C. Witcher-b- November 10, 1826, Francis J. Witcher -b- March 19, 1829. These are the children of James and Tempy Witcher.
James Witcher had a brother named John Witcher, click here for those proofs. Both of these men together migrated from Surry County, North Carolina to Northern Georgia in the very early 1800s. These two were apparently best of friends. John Witcher was married to Polly, the presumed daughter of John Witcher, Jr. and sister of Tempy, and these two families are pedigreed side by side in a family Bible once owned by John Witcher, and upon his death, his brother James and his wife Tempy Witcher.
In fact, I feel that Susan A.J. Witcher (daughter of James and Tempy) was named after A.J. Witcher, the son of John and Polly. A.J. Witcher is the lawyer Ambrose Witcher seen in so many court actions relating to the Ephraim Witcher court battle. Additionally, in 1847, Susan A.J. Witcher went on to marry her first cousin, Bushrod W. Witcher, the son of John and Polly Witcher; at least so says the family Bible record. Click here to see this point developed.
On a side note, John Witcher (the close brother of James) was very well liked or hated in Cedar Town, Georgia, in the early 1800s, depending ones viewpoint. John was very instrumental in the early development of Paulding County, Georgia, and the removal of the Cherokee Indians to the trail of tears, as well as other types of law enforcement activities. The first court for Paulding County was held in his own house. You can begin your research about this individual by beginning to read here.
After 1850 James and Tempy are absent in all other following censuses; I believe because they died in the early to mid-1850s. James died before 1858, in my researched opinion (click here to see the actual court record). As you can see by the linked record, the state had to nominate an executor for the estate, which points out why I believe Tempy had preceded him in his death. There was no "heir-apparent" after the death of James Witcher, son of Ephraim Witcher.
The probate court records indicate that James Witcher had accumulated a "considerable estate," but unfortunately he probably died suddenly, as evidenced in the fact that he didn't leave a will. We know for sure that he did have an estate because of a surviving court record found in the Polk County, Georgia, archives. In this record, the state requested that a certain Mr. Walthall be assigned as an executor to settle James' estate. Here is a link to that record. Additionally, there is a record for a $500 dollar bond being purchased by the executor. Here is that record.
Interestingly, an 1850 Paulding County tax record, dated September 17, indicates that a certain James Witcher had some livestock, but no land. This record is almost certainly of the James Witcher who was married to Tempy.
James and Tempy Witcher are hard to track as most of the court records, which would have validated their residency, seems to have been destroyed by the numerous courthouse fires of those days, fires which now torture those of us interested in our ancestry.
I had hoped to locate an inventory, returns, and disbursement record for James’ estate, but alas, it appears that those records were lost in a courthouse fire set by the yanks in 1864. I personally held the bound records which would have been located to the left of the missing book, and it had a hole burned through the back cover. I fear that the records of the James Witcher estate are forever lost in that tragic fire. As of this date, I continue to search for deed records which may yield clues about this man and his family.
In the early 1870s, Polk County, Georgia, records contain information about the other James Witcher, son of John Witcher Jr., brother of Tempy Witcher. This James was born in Virginia, and his wife was Gilley. That estate was settled, and those records are extant in Polk County probate court and have very important information for that family line. However, James, son of John Witcher, Jr., and brother to Tempy Witcher, should not be confused with James Witcher, son of Ephraim, born in North Carolina.
I possess court documents from James and John's father's estate, dated from 1820 through 1850. This estate was probated over a thirty year period. The request for power of attorney to be given to James and John's lawyers in the interstate battle over their father's estate holds the proof that they were in fact the sons of Ephraim Witcher of Surry County, North Carolina.
You may request a copy of these petitions in which both men plead their case for all due them as, "One of the legatus of the said Ephraim Witcher deceased."
I feel James Witcher (whose wife was Tempy) was at times a Judge in Georgia, as a newspaper article in the Georgia Journal, dated 7-09-1834, definitely identifies a certain James Witcher as Judge. Also, a Western Herald article, dated 5-03-1825 identifies a James Witcher as a sitting judge. I have included these newspaper clips below.
If James Witcher was for a time a servant of the people, this may be one reason for the void of land records in the Polk and Paulding County courthouses, though the 1850 Paulding County census does indicate his profession at that time as a farmer.
Additionally, as I mentioned earlier, this James Witcher may have ridden for a time in his brother Captain John Witcher's militia.
A few payroll records for 1838 are found in a book called "Whites among the Cherokees." These records show that a certain James Witcher was a private in John Witcher's Company of Mounted Volunteers Militia. James certainly lived in the area at that time.
However, James' brother-in-law, James Witcher (whose wife was Gilley Edwards), is reported to have ridden at one time with Captain John Witcher during the Indian wars. This record is found in Gilley's widows pension application. Captain John was involved in several military endeavors over the years, so it could be that both James Witchers rode with John over the years. I personally doubt that the James Witcher whose wife was Gilley Edwards would have served as a private, due to that James' extensive military background in the War of 1812, plus, there were certain geographical and family issues which bring doubts to my mind. Click here to read more about the James who was married to Gilley Edwards.
James Witcher and his wife Tempy Witcher left a considerable footprint in the soils of northern Georgia. Yet due to the indiscriminate, senseless torching of southern courthouses, there are so many questions about these two that may never be answered. Wayne Witcher, ggg-grandson of James and Tempy.