Joseph Preston Bolton was born on July 28, 1816 in Botetourt County, Virginia to Henry Bolton and Nancy Mann. His middle name, Preston, is very likely a family name and may be a clue to his parents ancestry. We don’t know who his grandparents were on either side.
When I ordered his marriage bond, I was hopeful that we would acquire his signature, but I believe this is all the same handwriting and probably that of the clerk’s, so not Joseph’s signature.
Joseph married first to Mary Tankersley on March 26, 1838 in Giles County, Virginia, daughter of Pleasant Tankersley and Elizabeth Haley. This suggests that the Bolton family had moved to Giles County by that time.
PG Fulkerson, local Claiborne County historian, says, in error, that Joseph was married first to Mary Lankins and second to Nancy Preston or Presley, and that she Joseph’s son, Joseph Dode’s mother. He also says that Joseph (Sr.) came from Giles County in 1831, which we know is incorrect because he was married in Giles Co., VA in 1838.
In the 1830 census, Henry Bolton Sr. is living in Giles County with 11 children in his household, while his son, Henry Bolton Jr. is living in Botetourt County. Joseph Bolton would have been one of Henry’s two sons aged 10-15.
In the 1840 census, Henry Bolton Sr. is living in Giles County, but Joseph Bolton is not shown. Henry Boulton, Sr. is shown with 1 male under 10, 2 15-20, 1 20-30 and 1 80-90. The females in the household don’t suggest that Mary is living there, as there is one 15-20 and one 60-70. Joseph and his wife had an infant daughter by this time. Apparently Joseph is living elsewhere, probably in a household with another family.
Based on the children’s birth dates between Virginia and Tennessee for both Joseph and his brother John, the Bolton families moved to Tennessee between 1844 and 1846 and lived in the 4 Mile Creek area of what was then possibly Claiborne County, but became Hancock County before the 1850 census.
This made sense because Joseph’s mother, Nancy Mann Bolton, died in 1841 and his father, Henry, in 1846, so perhaps the family moved right after Henry Bolton’s death.
However, the Thompson Settlement Church records show that Joseph Bolton was “received by experience” on October 31, 1842. His wife, Polly, is on a list of members dated 1838, but she is near the bottom and I suspect that list was added to as people joined the church.
In the 1850 Hancock County, TN census, Joseph is shown living in subdivision 33 beside Pleasant Tankersley and wife, Polly.
Everyone was born in Virginia, except Joseph’s two youngest children, Wilborn, age 4 and Morris, age 2 who were born in Tennessee.
Four houses away, we find Joseph’s brother, John Bolton and wife Sarah and their children. Just two more houses away we find Margaritt (sic) Herrell Martin, the woman who would become Joseph Bolton’s second wife very shortly, and her son, John Martin living next door. Clearly, Joseph and Margret knew each other as neighbors before Mary “Polly” Tankersley Bolton died.
Next door to Margaret Herrell Martin, we find her parents, William Herrell and Mary McDowell Herrell. Two houses away from them lived Mary McDowell Herrell’s brother, John McDowell.
This census was actually taken on December 10th, but it was to be taken as of June of 1850. This may be important, because Joseph Bolton and Margret Herrell Martin married sometime, likely in 1850, after Mary/Polly died. Joseph and Margaret’s first child was (probably) born in September 1851, based on family records and the census. In the 1860 census she is shown as age 9 which would put her birth year as either 1851 if she had her birthday, or 1850 if she had not. We know the census is notoriously wrong in terms of people’s ages.
Margaret Herrell Martin Bolton and Joseph Bolton had 2 children, of which Joseph “Dode” Bolton was the youngest.
The 1860 census is very faint and difficult to read.
Joseph Preston Bolton and Mary “Polly” Tankersley had the following children as gleaned from the census, family records and the book, “Bolton Family History” published by the Bolton Family Association in Claiborne Co., TN in 1985:
1. Sarah Elizabeth “Betty” Bolton, born June 25, 1839, Giles Co., VA, died January 2,1922 in Claiborne County, TN, buried in the Harrogate Cemetery, married James Monroe “Roe” Martin, her step-brother, son of Margaret Herrell Martin, Joseph Preston Bolton’s second wife.
2. William M. or A. Bolton, born on Christmas day, 1840 in Giles County, VA, died June 5, 1927 in Pineville, KY, buried in Harrogate Cemetery, married Susan “Tude” Parks. The Bolton family books states that he was a wagonmaster in the Civil War.
3. Milton Halen Bolton born May 1844 (not shown on 1850 or 1860 census but is listed in family book), died 1907, buried in the Cook Cemetery, Claiborne Co., TN, married Narcissus “Nursey” Parks. He and his wife are shown in the photo below.
4. James P. Bolton born October 1845 (census says 1843), died 1913, buried in the Cook Cemetery, Claiborne Co, TN, married Martha Jane Parks.
5. Daniel Marson “Marsh” “Morris” “Uncle Mars” Bolton born June 2, 1846, listed as Wilburn in the census, died August 7, 1924, Claiborne County, TN, buried in the Liberty Cemetery, married Sylvia (Silvina) Jones. He and his family loved to sing and were of the Baptist faith.
6. Morris Bolton, age 2 in the 1850 census, born 1848, not shown in 1860, so died young or the children have been “renamed” or the census taken wrote the wrong information for the wrong child, given that Milton isn’t shown.
Joseph Bolton and his second wife, Margaret Herrell Martin, daughter of William Herrell and Mary McDowell, first wife to Anson Cook Martin who died about 1845, had the following children:
7. Matilda Ann Matilda Bolton born September 5, 1851, Hancock Co., TN died July 2, 1909, Claiborne Co. TN, buried in the Cunningham Cemetery, Claiborne Co., TN., married Morgan Cunningham.
8. Joseph B. “Dode” Bolton, born September 18, 1853, Hancock Co., TN, died February 23, 1920, Hancock Co., TN, buried in the Plank Cemetery, Claiborne Co., TN, married Margaret Clarkson/Claxton.
The Civil War
One researcher credits Joseph Bolton with serving in Co B, 9th Tennessee Cavalry, Union Army. Checking with www.fold3.com, I found both service and pension records. One claim is filed in 1879 for a Joseph Bolton in the B8 TN Cav who was age 20 in 1865 upon enlistment is obviously not our Joseph. Another record for a Joseph Bolton in the Company I, 9th TN Cav was for a man captured and killed in 1865, so obviously not our Joseph, either.
Joseph died in 1887, so he would not have been listed in the 1890 veteran’s census, but his widow, Margret, would have been, assuming she was still alive at that time. Unfortunately, we don’t know exactly when she died, we only have a date range, sometime before her children deeded her property to each other in 1992. If she had died before the veteran’s census in 1890, then he would not have been listed if he did serve.
There is no evidence that Joseph Bolton served in the Civil War, on either side.
Our first record of Joseph Bolton in a church was when he was received into the Thompson Settlement Church on the Powell River, just over the border in Lee County, Virginia, located about 10 miles from where the Bolton family lived. That’s a long way to travel for church. Rob Camp was an offshoot of Thompson Settlement and was mentioned as an alternate church site as early as 1801. In 1844 Rob Camp had been officially formed as a separate congregation.
It was very difficult in some instances to tell the Joseph Preston Bolton records from those of his son, Joseph B. “Dode” Bolton, especially in later church records. Suffice it to say that at one time, Joseph Preston Bolton was a Deacon in the Baptist church, but he was censured and then banned from the church, not once, but twice.
In June 1854, the Rob Camp Baptist Church appointed brethren Joseph Bolton and Ervin McDowell to cite brother Jackson Boles for drunkenness to the July meeting to answer the charges. Now I’m betting that’s just exactly what Joseph wanted to do. Apparently, he was pretty good at this job, because he got to do it again.
In February 1856, the church appointed brother Joseph Bolton to cite John Owens for drinking spirits when he saw fit and for throwing stones at his fellow men on the Sabbath. Throwing stones? Was that alright if it wasn’t on Sunday?
In March 1856, Joseph Bolton brought a charge against Robert Tankersley, a man of color, for saying that Joseph Bolton “was a mean man and a lyer and other things.” The next meeting notes are from from Robert Tankersley charging Joseph Bolton for “saying that he had stolen flower and bacon.” This was referred to the April meeting. I wonder if Robert Tankersley is a former slave of the Bolton or the Tankersley family. Joseph Bolton’s first wife was Mary Tankersley and her parents moved to Hancock County as well.
In April, 1856, the church, by request of brother Joseph Bolton excludes him from their Christian fellowship.
In September 1859, (very difficult to read)…church being convinced that the ??? in receiving a charge against brother Joseph Bolton wrought by a member already himself under the censure of the church ??? therefore unanimously rescinded the ???
October, 1866, received Joseph Bolton by recantation and baptized into the fellowship of the church. This could be the younger Joseph Bolton, but it’s doubtful as he would only have been age 13 and it seems to be the older Joseph Bolton that might have something to recant, as far as the church was concerned.
May 1868, elected brother Joseph Bolton to the office of Deacon. This entry would confirm that the 1866 entry is Joseph Bolton Sr. Deacon status is confirmed in the notes of July 1868.
Joseph Bolton was also a founding member of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Hancock County. According to the Rob Camp Church minutes, on the second Saturday of April, 1869, Rob Camp Church released the following people from their fellowship to form the Mount Zion Baptist Church. On the third Saturday of May, the following list of brothers and sisters met to officially constitute the church which would be located on a parcel of land belonging to William Mannon. Most of these people were related to Margaret Clarkson, Joseph B. “Dode” Bolton’s wife in some fashion.
- E.H. Clarkson (Edward Hilton, 1st cousin once removed to Margret)
- Mary Clarkson
- William Mannon
- Elizabeth Mannon
- Mary Muncy
- Clarissa Hill
- Sarah Shefley (cousin)
- Farwix Clarkson (grandfather to Margret)
- Agnes Clarkson (grandmother to Margret)
- Nancy Furry (cousin)
- Elizabeth Clarkson (mother to Margret)
- Margret Clarkson (future wife of Joseph B. “Dode” Bolton)
- William Bolton (son of Joseph Preston Bolton)
- James Bolton (son of Joseph Preston Bolton)
- John Grimes
- Catherine Grimes
- Joseph Bolton (this would be Joseph Preston Bolton Sr., the deacon)
In the first church meeting of the new church, Joseph Bolton was made a Deacon. One of the first things the new church did was to create a list of members and they all signed a very lengthy statement about the mission of the church. Among those names is Joseph Bolton, noted as a Deacon, Margret Bolton and Margret Clarkson. However, a note beside Joseph’s name, obviously added later, says “excluded” and a note beside Margaret’s name says “dis” for dismissed. Obviously, things did not go swimmingly well at the new church.
Joseph’s name was never again found associated with a church, although he could have attended one the churches such as Liberty which would have been located quite close to his home on Little Sycamore after he moved to Claiborne County.
The 1870 census shows the family in District 14 of Hancock County near the Atlanthis Hill post office, Joseph age 56, Margaret age 60, Matilda age 19, Joseph age 17 and Rebecca Jones, age 14. I’m not sure who Rebecca is or how she fits in.
The 1880 census shows that Joseph and Margaret had moved from Hancock County into Claiborne County where they lived in the 6th district. There are no children living with them, and they are neighbors to both Milton N. Bolton and D.M. Bolton
In the Hancock Co. 1880 tax list from the East TN Roots Vol VI, number 4, Margret Bolton is listed with 55 acres, $350 value, 105 to county, 35 to state, 35 to school, 87.5 for special 262.5 total taxes, no poll. This is very odd because her husband, Joseph Bolton Sr. did not die until 1887. This may be her inherited land and since she and Joseph, according to the census, are living in Claiborne County, that could explain why he is not listed.
Joseph Bolton Jr. lives beside her with no land, 1 poll, but then under him it says 100 to school and 30 special and 130 total, paid to Edds. So perhaps he is farming his mother’s land.
On February 21, 1881, in Claiborne County, Daniel Jones and his wife, Ann Jane Jones deed to Joseph Bolton and D.M. Bolton and his wife Silvia land on the waters of Sycamore Creek on Powell Mountain and Little Ridge adjoining the land of H.H. Friar.
This deed puts the migration date from the 4 Mile Creek area in Hancock County to Little Sycamore about 1881 for the Bolton family.
In 1881, in Claiborne County, adjoining Hancock County, we find a deed dated November 25th between Joseph Bolton and his wife Margrett (sic) J. Bolton and D.M. Bolton and Silvania Bolton, his wife, to H. H. Friar for $1200, land on the waters of Little Sycamore and Powell’s Mountain and the Little Ridge, adjoining said Friar and others. Daniel Bolton is the son of Joseph Bolton Sr. by his first wife Mary Tankersley.
In 1883 and 1884, James Bolton, son of the elder Joseph Bolton purchases land on Little Sycamore Creek in Claiborne County. In the 1884 deed, the land abuts Sycamore Creek and Christley? Plank’s line and J.J. Park’s line.
This confirms the story in the “Bolton Family History” that the Bolton family owned “quite a bit” of land and that in 1985, it continued to be farmed by the family. However, it appears that Joseph P. Bolton didn’t actually own the land after 1881, but it was in the family.
The Bolton book tells us that Joseph Sr. “picked up his tools one day and started to work. While on his way, he fell dead, near the cemetery where he lies buried – the Plank Cemetery, about 5 miles east of Tazewell in Little Sycamore Valley.”
Joseph died in 1887 and is buried in the Plank Cemetery. Margaret died sometime after 1885, based on a chancery suite, and before 1892, but her death date and burial location are unknown. I always find it unusual when one parent has a headstone and the other parent’s grave is unmarked. Always makes me wonder if there is a story lurking there, waiting to be uncovered and told.
Joseph’s original stone is shown above, with an additional stone set by the family association below.
I took a gravestone rubbing when I visited back in the 1980s.
The mystery surrounding Joseph’s middle name, Preston, haunts me. It’s very similar to the Presnell or Presley that some folks obviously thought was his mother’s maiden name. I strongly suspect it was a family name, so the question becomes whether we can find a Preston family associated with a Bolton or a Mann, preferably a marriage record. Joseph’s mother was Nancy Mann, most likely Scots-Irish.
I did find one very intriguing record of a Bolton/Preston marriage at exactly the right time. Henry Bolton, born about 1760, was supposed to be from London, according to the ship’s manifest, but where his parents were married and where the ship he sailed on some 15-20 years later could be two entirely different locations. London was, after all, the “go to” place for both commerce and opportunity.
I searched for additional information about where the Preston surname might be found. Would Preston be more likely as Henry Bolton’s mother or Nancy Mann’s mother? According to these maps, Preston is more frequently found in England.
Ancestry provides the following information:
English: habitational name from any of the extremely numerous places (most notably one in Lancashire) so called from Old English preost ‘priest’ + tun ‘enclosure’, ‘settlement’; the meaning may have been either ‘village with a priest’ or ‘village held by the Church’. Scottish: habitational name from Presto(u)n, now Craigmillar, in Midlothian. This name has also been established in Ireland since the 13th century.
The DNA Story
We have a total of 6 descendants of Joseph Preston Bolton who have taken the autosomal DNA test at Family Tree DNA. Of those, three of us descend through Ollie and share other DNA as well, so I have eliminated the other two from the equation. They are both further down the tree, so share less DNA and it would be too difficult to differentiate between the DNA that we share from our Estes line. Therefore, for this exercise, we have 4 descendants, as shown, below.
There are other descendants of Henry Bolton through his second wife, Nancy Mann, but I am not utilizing them in this analysis.
I want to see how much of Joseph Preston’s DNA we share, and to, in essence, reconstruct some of Joseph Preston, on paper of course, from our combined DNA.
This, however, presented a problem.
Dillis is my third cousin once removed, and we found it distressing to not “be related” in our matches at Family Tree DNA. Thankfully, we are, but we had to use the “back door methodology to prove that fact.
In the chart below, you can see that we cousins didn’t all match each other, at least not on the surface.
This means that I couldn’t simply compare everyone though the chromosome browser, I had to compare several people and then combine the results, deleting the duplicates in the resulting spreadsheet.
The method I used was to push the matches through to the chromosome browser from the match page and then download everyone’s matches to everyone else, meaning I only downloaded the matching information – not everyone’s matches to their entire match list.
The Dillis to Barb match information would be the same as the Barb to Dillis, so I deleted that portion so that all we have is one comparison for each pair.
For example, here’s a comparison of one cousin to two others at the 1cM level. Look at that beautiful Bolton DNA!
By clicking on the “download to Excel”, right beside the Chromosome Browser Tutorial, you only download the compared results and can then add them to a composite spreadsheet easily.
Here is the resulting composite spreadsheet for all of the cousin matches, after I’ve color coded the results.
Actually, it’s the color coding that is important. You have to do this yourself after you copy and paste the relevant results into your spreadsheet.
Let’s take each color one at a time.
First, let’s look at red.
The red are the segments that Dillis and I DO match on. Yes, that’s what I said….we DO match. Family Tree DNA has their thresholds set to maximize the largest matches they feel are genuine in a generalized population, meaning not identical by state, but those rules don’t always apply when you have a known or suspected relationship. What a nonmatch means at Family Tree DNA is that we don’t meet all of the following criteria:
- 20cM total
- At least one individual match over roughly 7.7cM
- 500 SNPs for at least one segment
Obviously Dillis and I don’t meet that criteria, but we do have relevant matching DNA – lots of it – in at least 5 different areas. The proof is in the downloaded spreadsheet. Were it not for the fact that I happen to know our Bolton cousins who have tested, and we each match some of them in common, we would be unable, through Family Tree DNA to determine that we match. That also means we wouldn’t be able to utilize the smaller Bolton segments to identify other matches – like, maybe Prestons.
It sure would be wonderful to be able to selectively reduce the matching criteria, especially within projects or in specific situations, like to Dillis, or to everyone who shows a certain ancestral surname or ancestor. We miss a lot by not having this ability, but we can’t quantify how much we miss because we can’t see what we’re missing.
Second, let’s look at the green groups. These are groups where all of the participants have overlapping DNA that matches. Matching of three or more individuals from a known ancestor is called triangulation, and that is how DNA is assigned to that particular ancestor. So, the overlapping portions of the green DNA are Joseph Preston Bolton’s DNA that we all share. How about that?
The yellow flags the matches between Janet and Dillis who are more closely related. They also share both Parks and Smith DNA, so those segments, if they don’t match another Boltons, cannot necessarily be attributed to Bolton lineage. Before I would utilize this spreadsheet for further matching, I would probably remove those segments, or leave them colored to remind myself
I wanted to see a visual of Joseph Bolton’s DNA on his chromosomes, and who carries it today.
Utilizing Kitty Cooper’s wonderful ancestor chromosome mapping tool, a little differently than she had in mind, I mapped Joseph’s DNA and the contributors are listed to the right of his chromosome. You can build a virtual ancestor from their descendants. I have only utilized the proven, or triangulated DNA segments proven to three or more descendants.
Wow, how cool is that.
Notice the X chromosome as well. Due to the unique inheritance pattern of the X chromosome, we know that Joseph received his X from his mother, Nancy Mann, so that is Nancy’s X segment we’re looking at. Janet and I both carry that segment, that piece of Nancy, in us today.
Let’s look at one more thing. Let’s see if we can glean any information at all about the surname Preston.
I went back into the Family Finder matching and I utilized the surname match capability.
I checked each match to be sure that Preston was a surname and not a county or a middle name, and then I recorded, on paper, the list of names of people who had Preston ancestry who matched each cousin. Obviously, I was hoping to find someone listed on the match list of multiple, hopefully distant, cousins.
Cousin Dillis matches three people, shown below mapped onto Dillis’s chromosomes in 3 colors. Notice that on chromosomes 11 and 12 some of them match Dillis in the same location. This does not inherently mean they match each other too, but they might. Unfortunately, since we are below the 7cM matching threshold at Family Tree DNA, we can’t utilize the Matrix tool to take a look.
Between all of the cousins’ matches, there were a total of 47 individuals who listed Preston as one of their surnames.
I decided to download the segment data of Dillis’s three Preston matches, and the one person, Terry, who was listed on two different cousin’s matches. One of the cousins Terry matches is not a descendant of Joseph Preston Bolton, but descends through another child of Henry Bolton and Nancy Mann.
So, I’ve included those Preston match people in the resulting spreadsheet and let’s take a look at what we have. Terry is the person who matches two different Bolton descendants.
The spreadsheet has gotten quite large, too large to reproduce here, so I’m only showing an example.
What we want to find is one of the people with Preston genealogy dead center in the middle of a proven Bolton segment. This can match mean one of a few things.
- The matching person, Terry, in this case, has unknown Bolton heritage.
- We share some mutual DNA that contributed to the Bolton line.
- That mutually shared DNA may be Preston DNA.
- We are the world’s most unlucky people and Terry matches us on all 27 common segments circumstantially. You can pretty much rule this one out.
Several of these segments have matches between Dillis, at least one of his Preston descendant matches, Terry and other cousins. One of Dillis’s matches also matches on several of the same segments where Terry matches the cousins as well.
This very strongly suggests distant common ancestry. What can we do to find out?
Genealogy, we’re back to genealogy. Now, I need to look at the Family Trees on Family Tree DNA for each of the people who have loaded GEDCOMs to see if I can find any commonality between their Preston ancestors. I need to send e-mails to those who haven’t uploaded GEDCOM files, and let’s hope that we are lucky enough to find a connecting thread between the Prestons that might lead us to a Preston/Bolton connection, or at least a geography – and who knows – maybe it’s the Bolton/Preston marriage from 1756 in York, England. Or maybe not – that’s why it’s called a search!
Long shot? Yep? Genealogy is an adventure with never any sure answers and every answer leads to more questions. But, as my brother, John, says, no shot is a sure miss.
I’m thinking Henry Bolton’s mother just might well be a Preston and I’m setting out to find more evidence.
What would be really useful now would be to find a descendant of Henry Bolton’s brother, Conrad. Unfortunately, Conrad had only one known child, Sarah, born about 1806 who married Jesse W. Keyes on March 29, 1826 in Giles Co., VA. If Sarah’s descendants also match one of those Preston DNA individuals, preferably on the same segment, then that eliminates Nancy Mann from the equation, confirming the Preston DNA came from Henry’s line. Yea, I know I’m dreaming, but this is how we utilize DNA to prove hypothesis.
Wish me luck!
Step one….any descendants of Conrad Bolton out there???
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