Ransom Marion Jones and Susan Mary Smith
Research and text by Larry Briggs (subject to constant correction and update)
MODIFIED SEPTEMBER 28, 2008 (A BORING HISTORY WITH SOME JONES THROWN IN)
Since Ransom’s father Johnson was born in probably Blount County, TN in 1807, and since Sarah Boring, his mother most certainly was born there in 1810, it is probable that they met there. What we do know is that Joshua Boring, Sarah’s father, came to Blount County, Tennessee in the early 1800’s from Washington County, in far eastern Tennessee. The Borings in Blount County were not all Quakers. Although Joshua and wife Mary Heartsell were buried in the United Methodist Church cemetery in nearby Middlesettlements, TN, some of their children (siblings of Ransom’s mother Sarah) later appear in the minutes of the Newberry MM (Quaker congregation) in Friendsville. Johnson Jones married Sarah in 1830, probably in Blount County, since 19 year old Sarah is shown living at home in the 1830 Blount census, and their first child, Bartley Rufus was born in September 1830.
Ransom, the third oldest of eleven children, was born October 20, 1835 in Blount County, two miles east of Unitia and 3 miles west of Friendsville, near the epicenter of the Quaker stronghold. It is speculated that his older sister Isabelle and two of his younger sisters were also born in the home near Unitia. Ransom very likely attended a Quaker-run school and played with Quaker children on a daily basis. It is not known for sure if Ransom’s family were ever Quakers, and the family moved away from the Blount County Quaker community in 1844. Ransom’s grandmother, Mary Heartsell Boring, died near Unitia in January of 1841when Ransom was just six years old.
Around 1844, when Ransom was just “eight or nine years old”, his parents moved him, along with his older brother Bartley and three sisters, north to historic Campbell’s Station, just beyond the Tennessee River in Knox County, a distance of about 15 miles (per Ransom’s pension application). Ransom appears on the census there in 1850, along with his parents, and siblings Bartley, Isabelle, Ruth, Nancy Ann, Delilah Jane, Hannah E., Martha Orlena and Joshua.
Some time prior to the 1860 census Johnson moved his family again, this time to Sagefield, Morgan County, Tennessee about 55 miles northwest of Campbell’s Station. The 1860 census shows Ransom, listed as “Marian” age 24, in the household, with Bartley and Isabelle already gone from home. Also shown on the family member list are new siblings Isaac Heartsell Jones and Mary Sarah Temperance Jones. *Interesting facts: Sarah’s mother’s name was Heartsell, the middle name given to her son Isaac. She had a sister named Temperance, the middle name given to her daughter Mary. She also had a sister named Ruth, a sister named Delilah and a brother named Isaac, all names given to her children. Lastly, Sarah’s father was Joshua, a name given by her to a son.
It is likely that Ransom left from this Morgan County location to join his Civil War unit in Kentucky. According to his pension application, Ransom said he traveled in early October 1861 to Somerset, Kentucky, where Captain Langley was forming up the 2nd Tennessee Infantry USA unit there with volunteers from Tennessee. In January 1862, three months after Ransom joined the unit, he was engaged in the battle of Mill Springs, KY, a Union victory. Ransom also said in his pension application that he “never received pay or bounty” from the infantry unit. >From later documents we learn that the War Department never credited him with the time he served in the 2nd TN Infantry.
Shortly after the battle at Mill Springs, (still quoting from his pension application), he was persuaded by Lt. Meshack Stephens to return to Tennessee and join Co A 4th Tennessee Cavalry, under Stephens’ command. Ransom says that he was part of an “incomplete regiment” until his unit was designated Co A 4th TN Cav. During the trip with Lt. Stephens, he was captured and taken briefly to Confederate General Bragg’s headquarters in Murfreesboro and” tried as a spy”. After failing to produce enough evidence to convict him, the rebels released him. He met back up with Lt. Stephens and proceeded to “scout through” to Louisville, KY, where he joined his new cavalry unit on October 12, 1862. Ransom’s brother-in-law John Letsinger (husband of Isabelle) was also in Ransom’s unit of Co A.
Three other Morgan county men were in Ransom’s unit, as well as six from Knox County, five from Blount, and two from Roane, all areas where Ransom had relatives. The majority of his unit was from other counties.
Co A 4th TN Cav, Ransom’s unit, participated in action south of Atlanta under the command of General McCook. Other units attached to General McCook were the 8th Indiana, the 8th Iowa Cav,
and the 5th Iowa Cav. In a campaign that began on July 26, 1864, Ransom’s unit marched with the others down the Chattahoochee River, crossing it on a pontoon bridge near Campbellton. Upon reaching Palmetto Station on the Atlanta and West Point Railroad, the troops set the depot on fire, tore down telegraph wires and tore up track for a short distance. They then captured a rebel wagon train with 500 wagons, along with the 250 officers and men guarding it and 2,000 horses. Pushing on toward Lovejoy’s Station, they destroyed part of the Atlanta and Macon Railroad, and burned the depot. With a huge contingent of captured horses, mules and prisoners, they reached the town of Newnan on July 30, 1864.
After going a short distance, General McCook found his command completely surrounded by a greatly superior force under the command of rebel General Wheeler. In desperation, McCook’s troops attempted to cut their way through the enemy lines. They all reached the Chattahoochee River in different places. General McCook, with the 4th TN Cav, the 8th Indiana and the 5th Iowa arrived at Philpot Ferry about midnight, and commenced crossing the river on the ferry boat, but under hot pursuit. Some of the 8th Indiana escaped, but many of the men in the remainder force, including members of Ransom’s unit were forced to dismount and try to escape by swimming the river. Ransom was captured there on the Chattahoochee River in a battle that would later be called the Battle of Brown’s Mill. He was escorted to Andersonville Prison with hundreds of other Union troops. The remaining mounted troops, including General McCook, continued to retreat and reached Marrietta five days later. Many of them took to the woods in small parties, and were also eventually captured.
Ransom’s prisoner of war account in his own words:
“I was captured in the rear of Atlanta on the Stoneman raid in the summer of 1864, and taken to Andersonville, GA and kept there about four months. We were then sent 8,000 Federal prisoners to Charleston, SC and placed in front of the Federal guns bombarding the city and kept about 16 days. We were sent to the Florence, SC stockade and kept some three months and then sent to Goldsboro, NC. This was in February 1865. We stayed in this place until the fourth of March when we were sent to our lines at Wilmington, NC for exchange. I was sent from Wilmington to Baltimore, MD and received a furlough for thirty or sixty days. The furlough was probably for thirty days and extended thirty days at the end of which time I reported to my regiment at Nashville, TN and stayed with it until I was mustered out. At Goldsborough we were camped out in a pine woods, without tents, blankets or adequate covering of any kind, barefooted and pants off up to my knees and there came a cold sleety spell of weather. We started from where we were in the woods on the road to Goldsborough on a cold night and although it was only little more than a mile to Goldsborough I was so weak from exposure and starvation that I had to crawl most of the distance, and in doing so got my feet and legs badly frozen. I and 300 other comrades did not get in in time to go on the train and were kept over until the 4th of March. My legs and feet have troubled me off and on since the freezing of them described. I could not tell that I had any feeling in them that night crawling into Goldsborough, but the next day when I got them thawed, they became very painful. Every winter since the freezing the least exposure to cold causes them to swell up and pain me, and every spring since that my toe nails have come off. My toe nails have not come off this spring but they may come off yet.”
Even though Ransom was serving under McCook, he later referred to his unit’s action at Brown’s Mill as being part of General Stoneman’s raid. Stoneman and his troops did suffer a similar fate, but in a battle several miles away. General Stoneman arrived at Clinton, GA, sending detachments that burned the Oconee bridge, seventeen locomotives, over 100 cars, tore down telegraph wire, and damaged the railroad east of Macon considerably. His forces shelled the town of Macon, but finding the enemy gathering into “a large force”, turned back under his direct order. After turning back to Clinton, they found the roads obstructed and fought until “their ammunition was exhausted”, and Gen. Stoneman surrendered along with his men. According to General Sherman in the report he says, “I have no doubt that Stoneman surrendered in the manner and at the time described by the Macon paper I sent you yesterday”. Stoneman had earlier asked General Sherman for permission to, “after fulfilling my orders, to push on and release our prisoners to be confined at Macon and Andersonville”. Commanders’ reports from the Macon action show that he never got a chance to try.
Ransom’s decision to join the Union army might have been influenced by his early upbringing among Quaker friends, since many Tennessee soldiers fought for the South. Although at this point we know nothing about the religion of Ransom’s father Johnson Jones, it is possible that his mother Sarah had Quaker leanings, since many of the Borings were Quakers. War Department documents state that Ransom’s mother Sarah had given him a bible on his twenty-third birthday in 1858, and that it was published in 1854. Ransom still owned the bible in 1892, and furnished it to examiners to prove his birth date, since it had a pencil notation inside. It is feasible that Ransom’s father Johnson really was in some way connected to the other Jones families in Blount County, a fact we speculated in the earlier tree.
Ransom’s travels after the war can now be put into proper perspective by carefully reading the expanded pension application file recently borrowed from Warren Jones (2008). After his discharge in July 1865, Ransom lived for a short while in Knox County. He also said he visited Fentress, Anderson, Morgan, Blount and Roane counties in Tennessee during 1866 and 1867 (from 1890 pension application). These were counties where much of his family had lived before he left for the war. According to his son Deck, Ransom often mentioned that he had gone back to his birth state of Tennessee after the Civil War to “settle a score”. Ransom reportedly had information that his father Johnson had been “bushwhacked” and hit over the head with the butt of a rifle by “two renegades who never fought for the North or the South”. Johnson reportedly suffered brain damage and was “never the same”. There is also speculation that the trip for revenge might have involved a killing. This has not been substantiated, and the exact date of the mission is not known. Part of the logic that Ransom may have gotten revenge prior to his move west, is that the new territories were hundreds of miles from his native Tennessee where the attack on his father, making it highly unlikely he traveled from Texas.
After these brief excursions he traveled to Clinton County, Kentucky where he lived from the Fall of 1865 to 1868 in the town of Albany, and during which time he met his future wife Susan Mary. His sister Nancy Ann with husband Francis Pittman, and Ransom’s brother Isaac lived in the house with him. George A. Smith, Ransoms’s brother-in-law, says he met Ransom in the fall of 1865, so it is unlikely that the Joneses knew Susan and her family until about this time. It turns out that a few of Ransom’s younger siblings relocated, probably during the war, to a small geographical radius that straddles the Kentucky/Tennessee line and encompasses the counties of Clinton, Kentucky, and Overton, Pickett, and Fentress, Tennessee. Some of them died there in the three county area in later years.
In August 1868 Ransom and seventeen-year-old Susan Mary Smith traveled 25 miles across the state line to Jamestown, Fentress Co, Tennessee, where they were married. Susan’s paternal great-grandmother Emily lived there at the time. Ransom’s wife Susan said in a pension document that marriage records from the courthouse in Jamestown could not be obtained since it had burned down many years ago. She furnished a bible notation of the marriage date. Alford Beaty, a resident of Clinton County says that he was a witness at their wedding, and had known them both before the marriage. He says they lived as husband and wife before they left this state.
A short while later Ransom, his young bride Susan and her 13 year old brother George started the trek westward. They first stopped in Richview, Washington County, Illinois where they lived for over a year with or near Ransom’s sister Delilah Jane and her husband Elbert Whittenberg, leaving there in the fall of 1869. Delilah states in a pension affidavit that she and Ransom were reared in the same house near Campbell’s Station until the war broke out and they were separated. She says she never saw Ransom until the Fall of 1868. She also said she had come to Illinois with an uncle during the war. It was during this stay with Delilah in Richview that Ransom’s and Susan’s first child Oscar was born. Delilah went on to say that Ransom went south hoping to get some relief from his constant pain in a milder climate.
Ransom’s grandson Everett Jones of Owasso, OK, has a copy of Ransom’s I.O.O.F. (Odd Fellows) membership demit from the Richview lodge. Ransom’s mother Sarah Boring had a sister named Orpha who also married a Whittenberg and ended up in this same small Illinois town. There is a solid Jones-Boring-Whittenberg connection, probably all the way back to Blount County.
From Illinois, Ransom, Susan, Oscar and George traveled to Cane Creek, Carter County, Missouri, about 20 miles northwest of Poplar Bluff where they are shown on the 1870 census. Orlena was born in Van Buren, Carter County, Missouri, in 1871.
According to his pension application, Ransom made the move south around 1872 staying briefly in the Choctaw Nation in Indian Territory, which is located in the far southeast corner of present day Oklahoma.
It is not known how long Ransom stayed there but his next stop would be Fannin County, Texas, east of Sherman and west of Paris. Ransom mentions both Fannin and Lamar counties in his pension application. Their son William Hines was probably born in Fannin County in November 1873. Ransom said in one document that he traveled “threw” the Indian Territory’s Choctaw, Chickasaw and Cherokee territory, and from “75 to 77 I was in Fannin and Lamar County, Texas”. Son Edd was born in May 1875 and Albert was born in March 1877 near Paris. It is believed Ransom contracted with a number of ranchers to fence their properties.
The family moved from Texas to northwest Arkansas, near Fayetteville in Washington County, arriving in October 1877. Ransom’s great-grandson Donald Marrs relates that his grandfather Sam Marrs told the story of Ransom actually working for the Marrs family in that county near Marrs Hill. Ransom did spend some time in that county, but records show that son Dexter Wesley Jones was born April 23, 1879 in Benton County. Ransom’s family is listed on the 1880 Osage, Benton County, Arkansas census, with family members Ransom, Susan, Oscar, Orlena, William, Edgar, Albert, and Dexter. Son John Quincy, who died at a young age, was born August 29, 1881, Chester Alan Arthur was born July 29, 1883, and Teddy Alonzoe was born August 18, 1886, all in Benton County.
Deck said in a verbal interview with grandson Larry Briggs in May 1960 that he moved with his family in December 1887 at age 8, to a farm between Grove and Jay in Indian Territory. It is believed that Marion Earl was born there December 26, 1887, as his birth is listed as I. T.
In April 1889, Ransom traveled west by team and wagon across the Cherokee Nation and on to the eastern boundary of Oklahoma Territory (Guthrie or Oklahoma City area), a distance of some 175 miles, to take part in the famous Oklahoma Land Run. Ransom’s son Dexter (Deck), who turned ten years old the day after the run, told of accompanying his dad on the trip. Deck’s fifteen year old brother Will, thirteen year old Ed, and eleven year old Albert are also believed to have made the trip. After staking a claim either in Guthrie or Oklahoma City, Ransom sold his land rights on the spot to a lady who offered him enough money to make him happy. Grandson Raymoth Jones says his father Cliff related that Ransom received a team of mules and wagon for the property.
Cann Zadie, daughter of Ransom and Susan, was born on the Grove farm June 10, 1889, according to the 1900 census. It is now believed that she was named after Cansadie Smith, wife Ransom’s brother-in-law Ed. Ed’s brother George Albert C. Smith of Benton Co, Arkansas said he lived near Ransom until 1890. It is possible that Ransom’s son Albert was named after George.
The next move for the family was to Southwest City, Missouri, in the far southwest corner of the state. On December 1, 1890, Ransom is listed as a “member in good standing” with the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) Post No. 392 in the above town. On May 31, 1892 son Clifford Roy was born near Southwest City, which is just across the state line from Benton County, AR, and not far from the Indian Territory farm near Grove. Many of the pension applications submitted by Ransom list his post office as being Southwest City.
Ransom probably spent four years or so in the Southwest City area, then moved his family back to a farm near Grove, I. T. in the Grand River bottoms. One side note concerning this farm land in Delaware County involves a story Deck Jones related to his sons. The Cherokee owner of the acreage rented by Ransom had a history of waiting for the crop to be harvested by different renters, then forcibly taking possession of the entire crop, instead of just his share. When the ruthless land owner tried this tactic on Ransom, Mr. Jones pulled a cap-and-ball pistol from the tool pocket of the old horse-drawn cultivator and the Indian man ran for his life. Deck also told of repeatedly traveling the 20 or so miles to the farm from neighboring Missouri or Arkansas as a lad of 15 or so, obviously before the family moved there. He would camp out a week at a time by himself on the Indian farm land, doing his own cooking, and cultivating the crop by day.
The fact that Ransom eventually ended up in Indian Territory, a haven for many people trying to escape their pasts, gives some credence to the theory that he may have been “on the run” from his actions after the war in Tennessee. Ransom’s grandsons, Loyd S. Jones (b. 1911) and Earl T. Jones (b. 1927), both recounted stories by their father Deck Jones, of Ransom living in fear and being very nervous. While farming the land rented from Cherokee Indians near Jay, Cherokee Nation, Ransom would constantly look about for intruders.
On a June 19, 1897 pension application Ransom stated that he was a resident of Grove, I.T. They evidently lived in that area until the family pulled up stakes and traveled by train to Colorado in early 1900.
In a Trinidad, Colorado, city directory from 1900-1901 provided by his grandson Jesse Jones, Ransom and four of his sons are listed as laborers, sharing a common address. The family was on a year-long working trip, the males building fence and hauling dirt for the railroad. The 1900 Colorado census for Trinidad shows Ransom (teamster), Susan, and children William (quarryman), Albert (laborer), Dexter (laborer), Arthur, Teddy, Earl, Canzadie and Cliff. Trinidad was famous for Bat Masterson, Doc Holliday and mining operations. It sits beneath the famed Raton Pass. Descendants of Uncle Will (William) say he spoke of Silverton as one location the family may have visited.
The exact year of Ransom’s move to Chelsea isn’t known, but he stated on a September 28, 1903 pension application that he was a resident of Chelsea, I. T. He re-applied for Civil War pension benefits in Rogers County on June 8, 1908. The Chelsea home place was a small square house located not far from son Deck’s place. When Titus Raymon passed away in Arkansas, his wife Orlena (Lena), a daughter to Ransom, came back to live in a small house on the same property. Ruth Jones Marrs, Ransom’s granddaughter, remembers walking across the field to see her grandmother Susan at the Chelsea farm.
Although Ransom and wife Susan were “old time Methodist” for many years, they converted to the Pentecostal faith late in life, and attended church in Chelsea, Oklahoma. Ransom’s maternal grandparents, Joshua and Mary Heartsell Boring, were buried in a Methodist cemetery in Blount County. It is now known that Susan Mary Smith’s ancestors were Baptist, as her maternal great-grandfather Phillip Smith and his son Jesse (Nancy’s father) are credited in the 1818 minutes of the Clearfork Baptist Church near Albany, Kentucky with “laying a floor in the church”. Davidson Jones, who some genealogists fhink is Johnson’s father (I have not proven this link yet), was a member of this same Clearfork Baptist Church.
Ransom Marion Jones died near Chelsea, Oklahoma at the age of 84 years, 3 months and 17 days, on Feb. 7, 1920, leaving behind his widow Susan Mary, who would live until 1928.
*Susan appeared from photographs to be short and stocky and Ransom always wore a beard and moustache. Ransom’s army and pension records, researched by grandsons Raymoth Jones, of Sacramento, and Warren Jones of Hulbert, Oklahoma, along with great-grandson Larry Briggs, show him to have been six feet tall, light-haired, yellow-eyed, and of fair complexion.
*Note by Larry Briggs: I am continuing my research in an attempt to find additional Quaker connections for Johnson and Sarah, Ransom’s parents. The main group of Blount County Quakers (many of them with the last name of Jones) had reached the area circa 1794 having made the mountainous trek to eastern Tennessee from Orange County, North Carolina. Orange County is in the north central part of the state, near the cities of Burlington and Durham, and twenty miles south of the Virginia state line. Friendsville is southwest of Knoxville, only fifteen miles west of the Great Smoky Mountains foothills, and twenty miles northwest of the western tip of North Carolina.
*Many of the area Quakers took an active part in the Underground Railroad, which was a covert program for assisting runaway slaves.
*Note: Sam Houston, a famous Blount County soldier, came to the area in 1807 at the age of fourteen, where he lived with his family on a 419 acre land grant along Baker Creek just a few miles from Ransom’s birthplace of Unitia. Sam probably knew Joshua Boring, Ransom’s grandfather, and maybe even his Jones grandfather (Johnson’s father) who also possibly lived in Blount County. Houston lived with the Cherokee Indians just across the Tennessee River for more than a year. Sam volunteered for the War of 1812, but spent time fighting the Creek Indians before embarking on a distinguished career in the military and in politics. Note: From 1829-1832, Houston lived in Indian Territory (OK), where he married Tiana Rogers, aunt of Will Rogers).
*NOTE: PLEASE CHECK THE DATE AT THE TOP OF THESE UPDATES AND THROW THE EARLIER ONES AWAY. THIS IS A WORK IN PROGRESS! Larry Briggs
Susan Mary Smith (Wife of Ransom)
Here is a brief ancestry of Susan Mary Smith (b. 1850), wife of Ransom. Her parents were Robert Smith and Nancy Smith Smith (b. 1821)of Kentucky. Nancy’s parents were Jesse Bowen Smith (b. 1800) and Susannah Crouch. Jesse’s parents were Phillip Smith (b. 1767) and Emily Atkinson. Phillip’s parents were George Smith (b. 1731) in Pittsylvania, VA and Rebecca Bowen. George’s parents were Johann Schmidt (b. 1710) in Germany and Delilah Thurman. In other words, Deck Jones’ 4th Great Grandfather was German. This makes him 1/64 German, his thirteen children 1/128, and guys like Steve, Nathan, Ron, Clifford, Billy, Donnie, James, Larry, Bertha Mae, Burrel, etc. a whopping 1/256. Now you know why your spouse calls you Hun. No wonder I like sauerkraut! Some of this info came from our cousin-in-law Treva Jones in Florida, who has been corresponding with others researching the Smiths of Kentucky.
Nancy Smith Smith was born April 12, 1821 to Jesse Bowen Smith and Susannah Crouch. She was the oldest of nine children born to this union. The family’s early roots were in Cumberland County, Kentucky, although Nancy raised her family in Albany, Clinton County, Kentucky. Nancy was a weaver by trade, as shown on the 1860 census, where we first find record of our Susan Mary. Ransom Jones went to Albany after the Civil War in late 1865, and he and Susan Mary were married in August 1867, before they left for Indian Territory.
Note: One of Nancy’s sons, Fountain Perry Smith, had become acquainted with Ransom during the war. It is not known how the two soldiers ended up meeting and becoming close friends, having served on opposite sides. Fountain enlisted July 1861 in Co. C 8th Tennessee Cavalry (CSA) under Capt. Scott Bledsoe. A muster roll dated Aug. 2, 1862 shows him as third sergeant at Cookeville. He was the first elected sheriff of Pickett County, TN, serving 1881-1886. He lived in a house that is still standing on the east side of Highway 27 between Static and Chanute, TN. After 1900 he moved to Monterey, TN where he is buried.