Agnes Muncy (1803-after1880), A Grieved Mother, 52 Ancestors #52

Agnes Muncy was reportedly born on January 19, 1803 in Virginia, although I have not been able to confirm that date.  She was probably born in Lee County very near the border with Claiborne County,TN, probably on or near the Powell River, to Samuel Muncy and Anne “Nancy” Workman.

Agnes was married about 1819 or 1820 to Fairwix Claxton or Clarkson, probably in either Lee County, Virginia or Claiborne County, TN.  They lived in the part of Claiborne County that would become Hancock County in the mid-1840s.

Various members of the Muncy family owned land on the Lee County side of the Virginia/Tennessee border and many attended the Thompson Settlement Church in Lee County, Virginia where they would have met the residents living in the northern part of Claiborne County, Tennessee, living on the Powell River.  Church minutes begin in 1800, but the first Muncy’s joined in 1822. However, those records don’t include Agnes nor her husband.  Her parents records are found in church records beginning in 1833.  Agnes had to be living in the area in 1819 or 1820 in order to meet Fairwick.

Fairwix (Fairwick) Claxton and Agnes Muncy’s first child was born about 1820 with them having a total of 8 children that we are aware of.

  • James R., 1820-1845/50, unknown spouse, their 4 children living with Fairwick and Agnes in the 1850 census
  • Henry Avery, 1821-1864, married Nancy “Bessie” Manning, died in the Civil War
  • William “Billy,” born about 1822, died 1920, married Martha Walker, widow of Henry Claxton (son of James Lee Claxton and Sarah Cook,) married second to and Eliza J. Manning
  • Samuel, 1827-1876 married Elizabeth “Bettie” Speaks
  • Sarah “Sally,” 1829-1900 married Robert Shiflet
  • Nancy, 1831/33-before 1875 married John Wolfe
  • Rebecca, 1834-1923 married Calvin Wolfe
  • John, 1840-1863 never married, died in the Civil War

In the 1850 Hancock County, TN census, Fairwick and Agness are living with their 3 youngest children, their 4 grandchildren, the children of their deceased son James, and Agnes’s mother, Nancy Monsy, age 81, born in Virginia.  Their sons, William and Samuel live in adjacent homes, and Fairwick’s mother, Sarah Claxton, age 75, lives in the next house.  Truly a multi-generational family.

clarkson 1850 census

Amazingly enough, in the 1860 census, Nancy Muncy is still living with Fairwick and Agnes, now listed as age 99, and “feeble.”  Fairwick’s mother still lives next door as well.  This is a family with amazing longevity.

They all lived together on the land owned by Fairwick Claxton and his mother, Sarah Claxton, whose land adjoined Fairwick’s.

clarkson barnyard

The Rob Camp Church in Hancock County, TN was incorporated in 1845 from the mother church, Thompson Settlement, located across the border in Lee Co., VA, although there had been separate services in different locations for decades.

In October 185? – Agnes Clarkston was received into the congregation by letter, although it does not say what church the letter was from.  This means that she had already been baptized elsewhere and was a member in good standing.  Regardless of what church she had been attending, moving to Rob Camp made sense since it was located only a couple miles from where she and Fairwick lived – much closer than other churches that existed in that timeframe.  Her husband, Fairwick was received on February 17, 1851 by experience into the same church, which means he was baptized at that time.

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 each other in some fashion.

  • E.H. Clarkson (Fairwix’s nephew)
  • Mary Clarkson (Mary Martin, wife of E.H. Clarkson)
  • William Mannon
  • Elizabeth Mannon
  • Mary Muncy
  • Clarissa Hill
  • Sarah Shefley (Shiflet, daughter of Fairwick and Agnes)
  • Farwix Clarkson (husband to Agnes)
  • Agnes Clarkson (Agnes Muncy, wife to Fairwick)
  • Nancy Furry (Granddaughter of Fairwick and Agnes)
  • Elizabeth Clarkson (Elizabeth Speaks, wife to Samuel Clarkson, son of Fairwick and Agnes)
  • Margret Clarkson (granddaughter of Fairwick and Agnes through son Samuel)
  • William Bolton (son of Joseph Bolton)
  • James Bolton (son of Joseph Bolton)
  • John Grimes
  • Catherine Grimes
  • Joseph Bolton (this would be Joseph Preston Bolton Sr., the deacon whose son, Joseph “Dode” Bolton married Margret Clarkson)

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.

Mt. Zion Church Covenants 1869 upon formation.

We the Baptist Church of Christ at Mount Zion, Hancock County, Tennessee being organized and constituting an independent body professing to believe and maintain the Christian faith of the general union to which we belong do covenant and agree to and with each other to live together in Christian love and fellowship endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bounds of peace and to submit ourselves to each other in church government to be ruled and guided by a gospel discipline according to the word of God and to contribute of our worldly goods when necessary to the decent support of the gospel and ordinances and to the relief of the poor and to attend our church meetings as often as providence may permit strictly adhering to the word of God and our rules of decorum, viz, our church meeting to begin and close with prayer.  A moderator and clerk to be chosen.  The clerk of our own body.  The moderator shall be at liberty to call on any other Brother to fill his place when necessary.  Every male member wishing to speak shall rise from his seat address the moderator and then speak strictly adhering to the subject matter under consideration d by ? means cast reflection on those who spoke before him.  No member of this church is permitted to address another member in any other appellation than of Brother neither is any member permitted to abruptly absent himself  in time of business without leave of the moderator.  When this church happens to be divided in sentiment on any matter of distress she shall be at liberty to call on any sister church or churches for help in testimony whereof we here unto set our names both males and females.

The Articles of Faith

  1. We believe in one only true and living God as He is revealed to us in the scripture viz: Father, Son and Holy Ghost
  2. We believe that the scripture of the old and new testament are the word of God and the only rule of all saving knowledge and obedience.
  3. We believe in the doctrine of election according to the foreknowledge of God the Father through sanctification of the spirit and belief of the truth.
  4. We believe in the doctrine of original sin.
  5. We believe in mans impotency to recover himself from the fallen state he is in by his own free will or ability.
  6. We believe that sinners are justified in the sight of God only by the imputed right of Jesus Christ.
  7. We believe that the electaccordin (sic) to the foreknowledge of God will be called connected regenerated and sanctified by the holy spirit.
  8. We believe the saints will persevere in grace and never finally fall away.
  9. We believe of a truth that God is no respecter of persons but in every nation he that fearith Him and worketh righteousness is accepted with Him.
  10. We believe in the revealed religion of Jesus Christ internally in the soul.
  11. We believe that Baptism and the Lords Supper are ordinances of Jesus Christ and that true believers are the only subjects of these ordinances and that the true mode of baptism is by immersion.
  12. We believe in the resurrection of the dead and a general judgement.
  13. We believe that the punishment of the wicked will be everlasting and that the joys of the righteous will be eternal.
  14. We believe that no minister has a right to the administration of the ordinances only such as are regularly called and comes under the impositions of hands by presbytery.

This Church shall be known by the name of Mount Zion – May 3, 1869

Constitution of Mount Zion Church Hancock County, TN of United Baptist.

  1. We do with mutual consent agree to embody ourselves together as a religious society to worship God and being a church congregation holding believers baptism by immersion our hole bodys once underwater. (sic)
  2. Final perseverance of the saints through grace and the resurrection of our bodys.
  3. Relieving the old and new testament to be the revealed will of God.
  4. Believing in a Christian Sabbath being a holy and heavenly institution.
  5. And not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some ??.
  6. And not expose the infirmities of our brethren to any without or within the community but in gospel order.
  7. And not neglect attending meetings.
  8. And not remove out of the bounds of the church without applying for a letter of dismission.
  9. To contribute of our worldly substance to decent support of church and ministry.
  10. Unto which with mutual consent and agreement we here unto set our hand.

Rules of Decorum

  1. Church shall be opened and closed with prayer.
  2. A moderator shall be chosen by the church.
  3. Only one member shall speak at a time who shall rise from his seat and address the moderator whit the appellation of Brother.
  4. The members thus speaking shall not be interrupted in his speech by any person except the moderator till he is done speaking.
  5. He shall strictly adhere to the subject and in no wise cast reflections on those who spoke before him so as to make remarkes on his margins? or imperfections but shall fully state he case and mater so as to convey his lite or meaning.
  6. No member shall abruptly brake off or absent himself from the church without liberty obtained.
  7. No member shall speak more than 3 times on one subject without liberty obtained from the church.
  8. No member shall have liberty of laughing or whispering in time of public worship.
  9. Members of the church shall address each other with the appellation Brother.
  10. The moderator shall not interrupt any one while speaking till he gives his views except he violates these rules of decorum.
  11. The names of the several members of this church shall be enrolled by the clerk
  12. The moderator shall be entitled to the liberty of speaking as other members provided his station be filed and he shall have no vote unless the church be equally divided.
  13. Any member knowingly and willingly shall brake any of the rules shall reproved by the church as she may think proper.
  14. This church shall be ruled a majority except in receiving and dismissing members which shall be unanimous so as not to infringe on the principles of the union.
  15. The church shall be at liberty to alter any article in these rules of decorum when two thirds of the members shall think proper.

This page is followed by an undated membership list that includes the following family names.

  • E. H. Clarkson, deacon.
  • Farwix Clarkson, deceased
  • Joseph B. Bolton
  • William Moncy, excluded
  • Solomon Mancy
  • Jane Bolton, dismissed
  • Margret (sic) Bolton, dismissed
  • Mary Clarkson
  • Nancy Furry
  • Margret Clarkson
  • Agness Clarkson
  • Elizabeth Clarkson

Another list includes:

  • Mary Clarkson, deceased
  • Margret Bolton, deceased
  • Agness Clarkson, deceased
  • Elizabeth Clarkson, dismissed

This tells us that Agnes died as a church member, so did not transfer her membership elsewhere.

According to later depositions, Agnes’s husband, Fairwick, became ill about 1867 and languished for 7 years before passing away on Wednesday morning, February 11, 1874, with Agnes at his side. It had been a brutal decade for Agnes, and it wasn’t going to get better.

After Fairwick’s death, a chancery suit was filed by his son, William, against Fairwick’s estate.  That suit managed to make its way to the Tennessee Supreme Court, which is the only reason we have those records today, including depositions.  The entire case is transcribed in the story of Fairwick’s life, but within that case, we hear Agnes’s voice in her deposition.  This is the only personal remnant of Agnes, other than the DNA that her descendants carry.

Deposition of Agnes Clarkson

July 15, 1876 – Wm Clarkson vs Samuel Clarkson et al – In the Chancery Court of Sneedville, Hancock Co., Tenn – Deposition of Agnes Clarkson, Nancy Ferry others with Nancy Snavely.

Taken by agreement on the 15th day of July at the house of Agnes Clarkson in the ?? and their attorney before H. F. Coleman a Justice of the Peace for Hancock County to be read as evidence on the trial of said case and behalf of the defendants.

The said witness Agnes Clarkson aged 74 years being duly sworn deposes as follows:

Question 1st by defendant.  What relationship are you to the parties of this said and are you the widow of Fairwic Clarkson dec’d?

Ans – I am the mother of William & Samuel Clarkson and the widow of Farwix Clarkson.

Question 2 by defendant – Were you with your late husband Fairwix Clarkson during his last sickness and up to the time of his death?

Ans – I was.

By same – What was the condition of his mind during his last sickness was he cognizant of his business and of sane and disposing mind?

Ans – He seemed like he was.  I never saw him out of his mind but one time a little and that was from the effect of medicine and that was but a few minutes.  His sister came in during the time and he knew her.

By same – Was the time you speak of being a little out of mind before or after the execution of (page 2) the deed by Fairwix Clarkson decd to defendants for the lands in controversy in this case?

Ans – It was before.

By same – Did you hear the decd Fairwix Clarkson say any thing about the disposition he had made of the lands in dispute in this case as what he intended to make of said land and at what time did you hear him talk about the matter?

Ans – I have years ago heard him talk about what disposition he intended to make of it.

By same – Please state what he said before to the disposition of said lands.

Ans – He and my self were alone and he said he wanted his business wound up that he intended to make three deeds one to Samuel Clarkson, one to Rebecca Wolf and one to Nancy Ferry (was then). I asked him what he intended to do with his other children and he said he would do by them as they had done by him they had left him in a bad condition and he had nothing for them.  I persuaded him to leave some land for them and he said I need not talk to him for he would not.

By same – Did Fairwix Clarkson decd say any thing to you about the matter after the deed was made to the lands in controversy and if so state what he said?

Ans – He did, he said he had his business as he wanted it that he had left Rebecca a little home on the other side of well hollow next Rhonda Shifletts and Samuel the old home place below the road and Nancy the west side of the well hollow this was on Sunday morning after the deeds were made.

(page 3) Cross Examination by complainant – Question – State if you can the day of the week and the day of the month that Fairwix Clarkson died.

Ans – He died on Wednesday morning the 11th day of February I think.

By the same – State whether or not Fairwick Clarkson sold them the lands mentioned in the pleadings or give it to them.

Ans – He sold the land to them.

By the same – At what time did he sell the lands to them and what did pay him for the land?

Ans – I cannot tell at what time he sold the land. They paid him in various ways there was a right smart of money paid, but I do not know who paid the money now nor do I recollect any thing else they paid him in particular.  They made him a crop every year and paid him the rent on there own crop besides.

By the same – State if any one besides your self heard the conversation that Farewick Clarkson had to you about what disposition he had made of his lands after the execution of the deeds.

Ans – Clementine Clarkson came in when he was talking to me and I think she heard the conversation.

Agnes X Clarkson – Her mark

Agnes Clarkson did not know how to sign her name, so she was also likely unable to read.  In fact, the 1880 census confirms that and also tells us that Agnes’s granddaughter, Nancy, then age 42, can’t read or write either, but Nancy’s daughter, Ann, age 15, can both read and write.  Agnes lived just one house away from her daughter-in-law Elizabeth Claxton, widow of her son Samuel.

1880 Clarkson census

Fairwick and Agnes raised their grandchildren, the children of their eldest son, James, after his death.  Their granddaughter, Nancy, probably lived on the land with them their entire life, and in their house with them from the time she was about 10 years old when her parents died.  According to the depositions, Nancy cared for Fairwix in his last years of sickness and he rewarded her with a house of her own and land.  She married James Snavely during the lawsuit after Fairwick’s death.  In 1880, we find Agnes, Nancy’s grandmother who raised her, living with James Snavely and Nancy Clarkson Furry Snavely with her daughter from her first marriage to a Furry male.  The daughter is listed as Ann J. Snaveley and the daughter of James Snaveley, which is incorrect, according to both the earlier census and the depositions.  Agnes Claxton, age 80, born in Virginia is listed as his mother-in-law when in actuality she is James Snaveley’s grandmother-in-law, according to the depositions.  This census created a huge amount of confusion for researchers for decades.  Agnes is very likely still living on her original land, just with the granddaughter.

There is no 1890 census, and by 1900 Agnes is gone.

Although Agnes Muncy Clarkson’s grave is unmarked, it is assuredly in the Clarkson/Claxton family cemetery as she lived on that land with Fairwix her entire life, and Fairwix’s grave is marked in that cemetery.  In the photo below, Agnes grave is likely beside Fairwix, whose stone is pictured with the broken corner.  There are two fieldstones beside him, one on the left and one on the right.

Fairwix stone at barn

I’d love to know more about Agnes Muncy through her mitochondrial DNA which is passed from mothers to all of their children, but only passed on by daughters

Agnes and Fairwick only had two daughters that had daughters to pass their mitochondrial DNA on down the line.

Sally (or Sarah born in 1829, died 1900) married Robert Shiflet and their female children were:

  • Elizabeth (1858-1936) who married William Lundy and had 5 daughters
  • Catherine b 1863 married Pleasant Powell, children unknown
  • Rhoda (1865-1954) married John Martin Burchfield and had 5 daughters
  • Agnes b 1869 married Tom Smith and had 3 daughters

Rebecca (183401923) married Calvin Wolfe and their female children were:

  • Nancy (1860-1924) married a Marcum
  • June or Jane E. (probably Elizabeth) b 1864
  • Agnes b 1869
  • Sasha b 1873
  • Easter C. b 1877

If you are male or female and descend from the women listed above, through all females to the current generation and have tested your mitochondrial DNA, please let me know.  If not, I have a scholarship for you for mitochondrial DNA testing.

We can learn about Agnes deep history, before surnames, thought mitochondrial DNA.  DNA gives us more chapters in the lives of our ancestors.

In Summary

We know that Agnes was a religious woman, was a founder of a church, and withstood a lot of pain in her lifetime.

We know nothing about her childhood, but we do know that births of her children were spaced in a way that suggests she lost four young children.

By 1845, she had lost her adult son, James, and his wife, and was raising his four children.  Furthermore, two of those children died, at least one, William, in service during the Civil War, and the second, John about that same time.

In addition, Agnes lost two of her own sons during that war, John and Henry, plus her son-in-law, John Wolfe.  Her granddaughter that she raised, Nancy Claxton Furry lost her husband about this time as well, although we don’t know the specifics.  Nancy Furry came back to live with Agnes and Fairwick with her infant daughter.

By the time Agnes’s husband, Fairwick, died in 1874, their daughter Nancy Wolfe had passed away too.

With Fairwick’s death, Agnes, then 72, would have lost 4 children as youngsters and 4 of her 8 adult children as well.  The Civil War was brutal to this family and those who did not pass away were dramatically affected.

A descendant of William Clarkson’s wife, Martha Walker, tells us the following information that he found in a chancery suite involving Edward Walker, the person who raised Martha, but likely not her father:

“One of the uncollectible debts was a loan from Edward Walker’s estate to Bill Clarkson made by Henry Walker, Edward’s original administrator, who was at this point dead for about 15 years.  A statement was made that Bill had lost all of his money during the war, was dirt poor, and didn’t stand a chance of ever repaying the debt. It doesn’t really say how or why, but it does suggest that he was a desperate man by the time that he sued over his own father’s estate.”

As I read the depositions of the various people included in the chancery suit filed by William Clarkson against his siblings, I could virtually hear the pain for Agnes Muncy Claxton.  Of the 4 children she had left in this world, 2 of the 4, Sarah Shiflet and William Claxton, were filing suit and testifying against the other two, Samuel Claxton and Rebecca Wolfe, accusing them of unduly influencing her husband, Fairwick, while attempting to gain part of his estate.  This lawsuit drug on for at least 6 years, first being tried locally, then in the Supreme Court in Memphis.  We don’t know if Agnes died before it was resolved or not.

Furthermore, Agnes’s son Samuel would die in the midst of the suit from the after-effects of his service in the Civil War as well, leaving only one child living near her and the other two at a distance and estranged.

For a woman who bore at least 8 children and probably 12, who would ever think she would wind up with only one child, Rebecca, plus her widowed daughter-in-law and grandchildren next door.  I’m sure this was not the life she imagined nor had in mind as a young bride in 1819.

I hope this woman truly can rest in peace, because she certainly deserves it and peace was not something that rested with her family in her lifetime – either by virtue of the Civil War and its aftermath nor the resulting family dynamics.

It’s bad enough, tragic, when something external, like a war, tears your family apart, but it’s living hell to watch the remainder of your family self-destruct before your eyes.  To the best of my knowledge, the Claxton family members never reconciled during their lifetimes.



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16 thoughts on “Agnes Muncy (1803-after1880), A Grieved Mother, 52 Ancestors #52

  1. Great story! (But it’s “dragged” not “drug.”) “The lawsuit drug on for at least 6 years, first being tried locally, then in the Supreme Court in Memphis.”

  2. Roberta, if you find DNA for Agnes I would be interested to know as well. I will eventually try to find someone to test mitochondrial DNA for Sarah Muncy Owens who I believe was a sister of Agnes.
    Once again, I enjoyed reading, thanks for passing on the knowledge.

  3. Roberta, as a year-end comment, I would like to thank you for sharing your knowledge and the lives of your ancestors with us. If you have a favorite for whom you feel great affinity, or a soulful connection (other than immediate family), who would that person be?

    • That’s a really good question. I’ve been thinking about that this morning, and have probably over-analyzed the question. Unfortunately, so many of the women are either entirely anonymous, or nearly so. If we’re lucky, we have their name.

      I think the ancestor that I’ve written about that I connected with the most closely was Elizabeth Day, the wife of Thomas Day who was likely murdered by Thomas. We don’t know her maiden name, but she was surely someone’s daughter and sister, and they assuredly grieved her death if they were still living. We don’t know where she was buried. In fact, we know almost nothing about her, except that she had one child, my ancestor, and that she was brutally, awfully murdered, probably by her husband. We never even knew that until a year or two ago when another researcher stumbled upon the court records. I think she speaks for so many who withstand abuse and never say a word – or others who remain silent and anonymous, even in death.

      • I’m a little late to the party, but regarding your blog posting of Dec. 28, 2014: “Agnes Muncy (1803-after1880), A Grieved Mother, 52 Ancestors #52”. Agnes’ daughter Rebecca is my great-great grandmother. Would my DNA results from be of interest to you?

        • Please transfer your results to Family Tree DNA and jion the Muncy project. We’d love to have you. Several cousins there.

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