Our McPherson/Jones Family Connection

In researching our ancestral maternal family, the furthest back I've been able to get in the Jones line is Lewis Jones (1791-1871). He married Rebecca McPherson (1795-1880), and I've been able to assemble the following information about our ancestral McPherson line.

◄ On the reverse of this photo from my generation's uncle DeRand Jones' family archive is written: "Merry Christmas, 1907" and "Carleton Jones, age 12 years, 6 months, weight 100" and "Mary Elizabeth Jones, age 6 months, weight 21 lbs".

They were the GG grandchildren of John Wesley McPherson - and Carleton became my generation's grandfather. Mary was our great aunt.
(Click to enlarge photo.)


My research indicates that in the 1700s Murdock (Mordaic) McPherson (1740-1789) married a Miss (unknown first name) Sebastian. This information comes from a family tree posted by someone on Ancestry.com, but I have not been able to document it from official sources.

The clues I’ve seen suggest that Murdock was probably an immigrant from Scotland, possibly via Ireland, who settled in Virginia and became a farmer. (Here’s a link to information about the Scottish McPherson clan.)

They were reportedly the parents of John Wesley McPherson (1768 -1856), who was born in Virginia and became a Methodist Episcopal minister. He married Ann Smallwood Acton (1767-1832), who was born in Maryland, and they moved to Kirkwood Township in Belmont County, Ohio. An 1880 book, “History of Belmont and Jefferson Counties, Ohio", says, “…Jacob Barnett settled in the township in 1813, Rev. John McPherson in 1816, Lewis Jones in 1816, and Patrick Hamilton in 1819.”

An undocumented comment on Ancestry.com says, "Note: John served in Capt. William Gunnel Jr's Battalion, 57th Regiment in 1792. Buried in Sewellsville Cemetery, Belmont County, OH." Although it's an interesting comment, I have been unable to find any information about either Capt. William Gunnel, Jr. or his battallion, so it's not clear if this is valid.

According to the family tree mentioned above, John and Ann's children were:
Eleanor McPherson
, 1785–1829
John McPherson, 1791–1852
James McPherson, 1792–1832
Margaret McPherson, 1793–1851
Rebecca McPherson, 1795–1880 (from whom we descend)
Mordock Fletcher McPherson, 1796–1862
Nancy Ann McPherson, 1802–1845
Lorenzo Dow McPherson, 1810–1859
George Washington McPherson, 1811–1862

If the info above is accurate, it's likely that we have many living relatives in the McPherson line who are descended from Rebecca's siblings.

Following Ann’s death in 1832, John married a widow by the name of Mary Copp McCully in 1833. She reportedly left him (see the bottom of this page for details), and the 1850 census reports that at that time John lived with his daughter and son-in-law, Rebecca and Lewis Jones. It’s reported that he spent his final days with them.

1850 Census for Kirkwood Township, Belmont County, Ohio
Household Members:
Name, Age

Lewis Jones [John’s son-in-law], 60
Rebecca [McPherson] Jones [John’s daughter], 55
Lorenzo Jones, 3
William Jones, 16
Samuel Jones, 16
James Jones, 14
Mavin Peggott, 26
John McPherson [Rebecca’s father], 82


John McPherson lived during the time of the U.S. Revolutionary War, and my generation’s uncle DeRand Jones wrote a report about his family’s history in which he said the family’s oral tradition was that John served as a chaplain during that war. However, since he is recorded as being 82 in 1850, that would mean he was born about 1768 – making him ages 7 to 15 during the Revolutionary War (1775-1783). Perhaps he served during the War of 1812 (1812-1915) and the family was confused. In any event, Rev. John’s Revolutionary War service appears to be a fable.

As shown above, John and Ann McPherson had a daughter named Rebecca McPherson, who was born in Virginia and married Lewis Jones (1791-1871). Lewis was born in Virginia and was a farmer. As mentioned above, he also moved to Kirkwood Township in 1816, shortly after Ohio became a state. This is where he met and married Rebecca in 1817.

This family would have been pioneers – settlers – in what was, at the time, the western frontier of the U.S. and lived somewhat primitive lives. They would have lived in log cabins, raised, fished or hunted for their meat, either grew or traded for their other food, built their own furniture, made their own clothes, had no electricity or running water - and were in an area in which numerous battles with Indians took place.


Lewis’ background is a mystery

This subject is discussed elsewhere in this blog, but bears repeating in the context of this recap of our McPherson/Jones connection. According to DeRand, Lewis’ history is a mystery, for he apparently never discussed it.

In the report he wrote, DeRand said, of Lewis, “…He never spoke of the past nor explained himself. All that is known is that neighbors saw him swim ashore on the Ohio River across from Virginia [part of which later became West Virginia] near Wheeling. Speculation was that he either swam across the river, or his boat sank, or maybe he fell off or was thrown off a boat. No one was sure that Jones was his real name.

His [Lewis’] great granddaughter, Mary Jones Anderson, said that in family conversations when she was a child the family seemed sure he came from Pittsburg and was one of two Zane brothers who left the Fort [Fort Pitt] when it was attacked by Indians.”

Regarding Lewis’ origins, “History of Belmont and Jefferson Counties…” includes this brief biographical sketch:

“Lewis Jones born Loudon Co[unty], VA, 10 Sep 1791, came to Belmont County, OH, in 1816 and married Rebecca McPherson in 1817. They settled in Kirkwood Twp., where he farmed. Lewis d[ied] 21 Apr[il] 1871. Rebecca still alive in 1880 (83 years old). Nine children, all alive in 1880 except Amos T. and Delila [sic); others were Allison, John Mc[Pherson, named after his grandfather], Josiah, Lorenzo D., William M., Samuel L., and James.”

Based upon clues I’ve seen, I suspect that Lewis’ forebears may have emigrated from Wales at some point, but have not been able to document his ancestry. If DeRand’s telling of family lore is accurate, Lewis apparently swam from the Ohio River into Belmont County without leaving a trail about his prior life or ancestral family.

One of Lewis and Rebecca’s sons, William M Jones (1831-1892), was born in Ohio and became a doctor, even serving as the attending physician at his mother’s death. He married Elizabeth Ann Goodman (1834-1908), born in Ohio. Her family reportedly emigrated to the U.S. from Germany, although the name is of English origin.

They were the parents of Fleetwood Churchill Jones (1857-1937), born in Ohio. In one census he was listed as a farmer and in a later census as a “general merchant”, for he operated an old-time general store. He married Leona Cash Jones (1873-1957), who was born in Ohio. They had two children, Carleton Duane and Mary Elizabeth Jones, who married J. Willis Anderson.

Fleet and Leona lived through World War I (1914-1918) and the Great Depression (1929-1940). The 1930 census records that at that time Fleet and Leona had their son Carleton and his wife Nelle, along with all four of their children, living in their household. Another census records that later, Elizabeth Goodman Jones (“Ma Jones”) lived with Fleet and Leona.

Their son, Carleton Duane Jones (1895-1967), was born in Ohio. He became a Methodist Episcopal (ME) minister, later changing to the Nazarene denomination and then operating a Christian bookstore after retirement from the ministry. He married Nelle Virginia Field (1899-1976), born in North Carolina. Her ancestors reportedly once owned a large plantation - including slaves - in the Old South. Nelle, too, was originally a ME minister and also changed to the Nazarene denomination.

They also lived through World War I, during which Carleton was a private in the army, assigned as a machine-gunner in France. They also lived through the Depression and World War II.

Carleton and Nelle ultimately divorced, and DeRand reported that Nelle was defrocked by her denomination, which provides a clue as to why they divorced. Carleton later married Rhoda Schurman, who was affectionately called Ranee. She was a Nazarene missionary to China until just before World War II began. She later served as pastor of a Nazarene church in Canada, where she came from, until she and Carleton married.

Carleton and Nelle were the parents of Fleeta Claire, known as Claire, born in 1921 in Oregon, Paul Wesley, (1922-1990), born in Oregon, DeRand (1927-2002), born in Oregon, and Virginia Lee, known as Ginger (1928-1988), born in Washington. They, too, lived through the Depression and World War II.

During World War II Paul served with the Amy Air Corps and was in the ordnance crew of what was called the 509th Composite Group. The 509th was a unit created during World War II and was tasked with operational deployment of nuclear weapons. It was an elite top-secret, hand-picked team that conducted the controversial bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in August 1945 - which brought about the surrender of Japan and the end of the war.


Claire, Paul and Ginger were the parents of my generation; DeRand was twice married, but had no children. Their stories are/will be elsewhere in this blog.


John McPherson and Mary Copp McCully

Jones cousin Autumn Lovejoy, who is Paul Jones’ granddaughter, provided info that led me to connect with a researcher by the name of Sandy Wilbur. Sandy’s extensive work on his wife’s genealogy intersects with our family, and his research on his wife’s family led him to gather information about John McPherson. The reason is that his wife is related to the McCully family John connected with when he married the widowed Mary Copp McCully after the death of his first wife. In an exchange of emails about the family, Sandy provided the following information.

“I’ve gathered bits and pieces on the McPhersons and Joneses as I’ve studied other families related to them, but haven’t yet done the putting together.

What I know for sure on John McPherson, Rebecca’s father, is that he was born circa 1768, probably in Virginia. I suspect the Hugh McPherson living near him and the Joneses in 1850 [as shown in the census] is a brother. If Hugh was really born in Ireland [as shown in the census] and John really born in Virginia (censuses can be notoriously incorrect on place of birth!) – and if they were brothers – it may mean the family came to Virginia from Ireland in the mid 1760s. He may have been Scotch, but likely “Scotch-Irish” as were many of the settlers in that area. (Many Scots moved to Northern Ireland, when King James was expelling the Catholics and giving their land to good Protestant settlers.)

John reportedly came to Belmont County in 1816, and since Rebecca appears to have been born in Virginia circa 1795, John probably married Ann [Smallwood Acton] between, say, 1788 and 1794 in Virginia.

Three notes:

(1) I was wrong when I said Ann S. was possibly Anne White because she and John named a child Ann White McPherson. From the dates, that was clearly a different John McPherson.

(2) Ann McPherson’s gravestone is very weathered and hard to read. I guessed at 1822 for her death date, but [an]other reference says 1832, which seems more likely. As you note, that would put her within a couple years of John’s age.

(3) “Virginia” included West Virginia in the 1700s and early 1800s, so John (and his children) could have come from anywhere from the Atlantic Coast to Wheeling, West Virginia.]

I suspect that any McPhersons in Hendrysburg, or elsewhere in Kirkwood Township, were related to John, either siblings (e.g. Hugh) or children (like James, who married Keziah and is buried at Hendrysburg).

John was a Methodist minister, probably Methodist Episcopalian, as most of the churches in eastern Ohio were “ME” at that time. There is one reference in the stuff I sent Autumn [Lovejoy], a letter from the Methodists, replying to my inquiry about John’s service. They didn’t have many records of him.

John’s first wife Ann (Rebecca’s mother) died, probably 1832, and he married Mary (Copp) McCully. They had one son, Marion, who died in a fire. After that, Mary moved to Iowa with her kids [from her first marriage], and John went to live with his daughter and son-in-law.

I thought I had the cemetery records for John, Rebecca, Lewis Jones, etc., but I can’t find them. I suspect they are all buried at Hendrysburg. When Sally and I return to Oregon next month (we’re in New Hampshire, now), we may make a detour down to Hendrysburg, and re-check the cemetery again. However, all that country was strip-mined and some cemeteries were lost completely or relocated (and some are very badly vandalized), so they may not be findable, anymore.

If we find out anything new, I’ll let you know.




John’s second wife left him

Sandy also provided a report about the McCully family, most of which appears to have been prepared professionally by a genealogist, although parts of it appear to be comments made by Sandy. Here’s an excerpt from that report. It describes the circumstances surrounding John and Mary McCully McPherson’s separation.

“On 21 March 1833, Mary married John McPherson a recently widowed Methodist minister. John was born in Virginia circa 1768. He had married 1st Ann S[mallwood Acton], and with their family the McPhersons arrived in Kirkwood Township, Belmont County, Ohio in 1816, where John was still living in 1833.

His [first] wife, Ann, died 18 January 1832, and was buried in the Sewellsville, Ohio, Methodist Episcopal Church Cemetery. Mary lived on the McPherson land in Kirkwood Township, at first probably taking the younger McCully children with her, and leaving the older sons at the Londonderry farm [which she had purchased previously]. By 1840, Mary and John McPherson were alone at Kirkwood, and all the McCully children were at Londonderry.

In February 1844, Mary sold the Londonderry property to her sons David and Asa McCully. In April 1844, they sold the property, and the entire McCully family moved to Iowa. Mary went with them, leaving John McPherson in Ohio. Apparently there was no divorce. Family tradition is that Mary was never happy in the second marriage, perhaps partly because John McPherson was twenty years her senior. The death of their two year old son Marion Benson McPherson in a brush fire in 1837 may have further strained the relationship.

In any event, she left. John McPherson lived his final years in Kirkwood with his son-in-law and daughter Lewis and Rebecca (McPherson) Jones, dying there in 1850 [actually it was 1856].”


This somewhat odd bit of this family’s story was also provided by Sandy

“The third son of John [Mary’s first husband] and Mary (Copp) McCully, Asa Alfred McCully (my wife's great great grandfather), married as his first wife, Delilah Frances Jones, daughter of Lewis Jones and Rebecca/Rebekah McPherson.”

[Editor’s comment: This took me a few minutes to understand; Here’s a summary.

1) John W McPherson (JWM) and his first wife, Ann, were the parents of Rebecca McPherson, who married Lewis Jones;

2) One of Lewis and Rebecca’s children was Delila - who was, therefore, JWM’s granddaughter;

3) Mary McCully and her first husband were the parents of Asa McCully;

4) Mary’s son, Asa married JWM’s granddaughter, Delila. There was no blood relationship between them, however.]

Back to Sandy’s info: “Delilah (sic) and their only child died not long after their marriage, and both are buried with the McPhersons and Joneses at Sewellsville, Ohio. Delilah (sic) Frances (Jones) McCully was the sister of Dr. William Jones.”

 Dr. William Jones was my generation’s GG grandfather – and his story is/will be covered elsewhere in this blog.


 [Editor's comment: After writing this page I later discovered that Sandy Wilbur has an extensive website in which he covers McCully family genealogy and history. It includes references to John McPherson, et al, and can be found here.]

 In later correspondence with Sandy he provided photos of some gravestones and this information about them.

 "Pat, attached are…photos I took at the Sewellsville [Ohio] Cemetery in Sept. 2009… The [poor] condition of [one undechipherable] stone [not pictured on this blog] is what many of them in the cemetery look like, some completely illegible.

The two McCully stones are still pretty good. On Delila's [Jones McCully’s] stone you can make out that her parents were Lewis and Rebecca Jones. The Samuel [McCully] stone is Asa and Delila's son, who died when she did [at age 19]."
(Click the photos to enlarge 'em.)

Although it could be that the cause was an accident of some kind, her youth and the fact that they died at the same time suggests the possibility that both died during Samuel's birth. This was not uncommon in those days.


Please refer to the disclaimer on the index page of this blog for a statement regarding the accuracy of - and documentation for - the information presented in this blog.

 Last updated 10/1/2011

1 comment:

  1. I found your blog while working on my Jones/McPherson family genealogy! I am descended through Lewis and Rebecca's son Josiah! Thanks for all this very interesting reading!!

    Lisa Pomeranz