By Don Taylor
During my recent “We’re Relate” Famous Friday investigation, I noted that my relationships to Luke Bryan and to Carrie Fisher were both based upon David Blackwell, supposedly the father of my 3rd great-grandmother Elizabeth Blackwell. I had originally intended for her to be #6 in my continuing Roberts, but determining if I might be related to Carrie Fisher enticed me to jump Elizabeth ahead to next to research.
Roberts/Barnes Research – Generation 6: Ancestor #33
List of Grandparents
- Grandfather: Bert Allen Roberts
- 1st Great-grandfather: Hugh Ellis Roberts
- 2nd Great-grandfather: Asa Ellis Roberts
- 3rd Great-grandmother:Elizabeth Blackwell
- 4th Great-grandfather: David Blackwell
Elizabeth Blackwell Roberts (1796-1867)
Elizabeth Blackwell was born on 10 September 1796[i] in Surry County, North Carolina[ii]. She was possibly the 11th of 17 children of David Blackwell. An incredible amount of work is still needed to confirm and validate all her siblings.
Elizabeth’s father was a revolutionary war veteran. Her mother died while Elizabeth was still young, probably before she was 10-years-old.
Elizabeth married John Calvin Roberts on 3 March 1816 in Roane county, Tennessee.[iii]
Family Search Wiki indicates that the 1820 Census for Roane County, TN has been lost.[iv] The Wiki suggests an alternate source in Mary Barnett Curtis, Early East Tennessee Tax Lists…. I have requested a copy through Interlibrary Loan.
The 1830 Census finds the John Roberts household of Roane County, Tennessee with the following household:[v]
1 Male 30 to 39: [John Calvin Roberts – Age 35]
1 Female 30 thru 39: [Elizabeth (Blackwell) Roberts – Age 33]
3 Males 10 thru 14: [Calvin, Elias, & David – Ages 10, 11, & 13 respectively]
2 Males 5 thru 9: [Elijah & George – Ages 8 & 6 respectively]
1 Female 5 thru 9: [Elizabeth – Age 6]
2 Males under 5: [Frances, Phillip, & John – Ages 4, 2, & 1 respectively]
Only two children were reported as being under 5. Francis married and was living during the war. Both Phillip and John are believed to have died before 1848. One of them must have died before the 1830 Census.
The 1840 Census finds the John Roberts Family in Roane County, Tennessee with the following: [vi]
1 Males – 40 thru 49: [John Calvin Roberts – Age 45]
2 Males – 20 thru 29: [David, Elias, & Calvin – Ages 20, 21, & 23 respectively.]*
2 Males – 15 thru 19: [George and Elijah – Ages 16 & 18]
1 Male – 10 thru 14: [Phillip, John & Francis, Ages 11, 12, & 14 respectively]**
1 Male – 5 thru 9: [Asa & Hugh – Ages 5 & 6 respectively]***
3 Males – Under 5: [Robert and Brazzel – Ages 1 & 3 respectively]***
*Both Calvin and David are believed to have died before 1848. One of them, may have died before 1840. Alternately, one of them may have established their own home by 1840. Further research is needed to determine which two remained in this household.
** This time only one male is reported as age 10 thru 14. Francis married and was living during the war (1860s). Both Phillip and John are believed to have died before 1848. For this census record to be accurate, both of them must have died before the 1840 Census.
*** Two males between 5 and 9 were reported and one male child under 5 was missing. I believe that five-year-old Asa was reported in error.
1 Female – 40 thru 49: [Elizabeth – Age 44]
1 Female – 15 thru 19: [Elizabeth – Age 17
1 Female – 5 thru 9: [Amanda – Age 9]
The 1850 Census names the individuals within the household but does not provide relationships. It indicates that the first ten children had either died or left home. The remaining six children are identified in the census. The John Roberts Household consisted of:[vii]
- John Roberts M 55 Tennessee
- Elizabeth Roberts F 53 North Carolina
- Hughy Roberts M 17 Tennessee
- Acy Roberts M 15 Tennessee
- Robert S Roberts M 13 Tennessee
- Bazel Roberts M 11 Tennessee
- Rebecca Roberts F 10 Tennessee
- William Roberts M 9 Tennessee
Also in the household was an Elizabeth Nelson, age 23. Her relationship is unknown at this time. John and Elizabeth’s daughter named Elizabeth (born 1823) would have been 26 years old. I do not believe that Elizabeth Nelson is their daughter returned home with a new surname, rather, I believe they were two separate individuals.
The 1860 Census finds the Roberts family still in Roane County, Tennessee. The receive their mail through the Kingston post office.
The only one of the children of John and Elizabeth is their 18-year-old daughter Rebecca.[viii]
The good news is that, at least in my mind, Elizabeth Blackwell’s parents were David and Sarah (Harris) Blackwell provided one more step along the way towards seeing those “We’re Related” relationships are possibly real. The bad news is that several researchers that I trust indicate that David Blackwell’s father was William Blackwell, Not Samuel Blackwell as the Luke Bryan “We’re Related” lineage suggests. Likewise, “We’re Related” suggests that David Blackwell’s mother was Elizabeth Steptoe; however, most other researchers suggest that David Blackwell’s mother was Mary Marshall. So, at this point I don’t believe either Luke Bryan or Carrie Fisher are related through the line that “We’re Related” suggests. I still need to confirm the parents of David Blackwell myself, but the priority of that research has dropped back to normal.
Further Actions / Follow-up
- Review: Mary Barnett Curtis, Early East Tennessee Tax Lists: a compiled list of residents of the area covered in 22 east Tennessee counties for which there is (sic) no census records prior to 1830 (Fort Worth, Texas: Arrow Printing, 1964) [FHL 976.8 R4c] for Roberts. (I have requested this book through the Inter-Library Loan system.)
- Review: Snyder E. Roberts; Roberts families of Roane County, Tennessee, 1794-1969, 1968 for Roberts Family. WorldCat: http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/114828. (I have requested this book through the Inter-Library Loan system.)
- Review: Chris H. Bailey, “Descendants of David Blackwell of Surry County, North Carolina and Roane County, Tennessee,” particularly his footnotes which contain many of his sources.