It is really unclear to me if George Hobbs (1801-1860) had one wife or two. The records and family history make it really difficult to determine the truth. But, here is my logic.
Martin County Heritage, by Hughes, S. J. N., & Martin County Historical Society (N.C.) Published in 1980 has hundreds of articles regarding individuals from Martin County, NC. What is good about these articles is they were written by individuals who had access to family records and often knew the individuals written about.[i]
Article 419 was written by 1st cousin once removed, Hazel Armstrong Valentine. Hazel was born in 1895 and knew the family in North Carolina first hand. Her article sates that “George Hobbs and Eartha W. Gaskins were married 3-29-1836. This is the first entry under “Marriages” in J.A. Hobbs’ Bible.
Another article in the same book, “Article 495 – Hettie Elizabeth Johnson” indicates that Hettie’s mother [Hester Jane Hobbs] was “the daughter of George A. Hobbs and his wife listed as only ‘M’ (born 1809).”
It appears that George died before the 1860 Census as I cannot find him enumerated in that census. Also it appears that all his children are living in different places.
The 1850 Census is clear, George Hobbs, living with 41-year-old M Hobbs, and six Hobbs children.[ii] Although relationships are not given in the 1850 Census, it is clearly a family unit. Being 41 years of age during the 1850 census infers “M” has a birthdate between 2 June 1808 and 1 June 1809. Also, their daughter Sarah F Hobbs was age 14 during the Census. That would infer a birthdate between 2 June 1835 and 1 June 1836. What isn’t clear is that if Eartha Gaskins married George on 3-29-1836 then Sarah came pretty quick after the wedding, within 2 months. Alternately with Sarah being 14 during the 1850 Census, she could have been born as early as 2 June 1835. If that is the there was probably another wife who gave birth to Sarah and that would have to be “M.” But “M” is reported in George’s household in 1850, so “M” couldn’t have been replaced by Eartha, rather, “M” is likely Eartha M Gaskins (“M” instead of W” and was misread.
Eartha W. Gaskins
Mother of Hester Jane
I cannot be certain if “M” and Eartha are the same person, but I suspect that they are. I will need to closely analyze the other children and see if I can find any additional facts which will prove my contention either way.
Bio – Eartha W Gaskins, aka “M”
Born: 1809 in North Carolina
Married: 3/29/1838 to George W Hobbs.
1850: Lived with George Hobbs and apparently six children
Sarah F Hobbs (1836-?)
C. S. Hobbs (Edward s) (1840-?)
George Hobbs (1842-1865)
James A Hobbs (1841-1920)
Elizabeth Hobbs (1847-?)
Easter I Hobbs (Hester Jane) (1849-1908)
Find death record for Eartha W Hobbs and/or “M” Hobbs.
Trace Birth, marriage, and death records for Sarah, Edward, Elizabeth and Hester.
List of Greats
James Ashley Hobbs M and/or Eartha W Gaskins
[i] Hughes, Shelby Jean Nelson. 1980. Martin County heritage. Williamston, N.C.: Martin County Historical Society.
[ii] Source: 1850 Census; George Hobbs – Martin County, North Carolina; Ancestry.Com
It is always good to find corroboration of old family stories. Such is the case with George Hobbs.
Hazel Armstrong Valentine was the great-granddaughter of George Hobbs. In article #419 of Martin County Heritage,[i] she writes of family history and she mentions several things. First, Hazel mentions that she, “always understood that Grand-pa’s folks came from the coast, around Ocracoke.”
I believe she is correct in that assertion. According to the REVISED STATUTES OF THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA, PASSED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY AT THE SESSION OF 1836—7, George Hobbs of Ocracock was a Commissioner for the port of Ocracock to examine individuals desiring to be pilots for Ocracock bar, the Swashes, and through Pamlico and Albemarle sounds. That statute clearly indicates that there were Hobbs’ in Ocracock (Ocracoke) then. I am not convinced the George Hobbs mentioned is the George Hobbs who was Hazel’s great-grandfather though. Examining pilots falls outside of George’s other known skills (as a lumber getter). Also, he would also be fairly young for such a posting, being only 32 years old at the time. It might have been George Hobbs’s father or some other relative. Anyway, the statute does confirm that there were Hobbs in Ocracoke at the time[ii].
Hazel also mentions that, “Many years ago, [she] was told that George Hobbs was a County Commissioner. [She] discredited this because the George Hobbs who fought in the Civil War died in prison or in the hospital during the war. The commissioner, if such there was, could have been J.A. Hobbs’ father.”
She is right, George Hobbs (1842-1865) did die in a prison hospital at Elmira, New York on 21 May 1865. Her suspicion that the commissioner could have been J.A. Hobbs’s father is, however, correct. The LAWS OF THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA PASSED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, AT THE SESSION OF 1848-’49 clearly indicates the a George Hobbs was a commissioner at Williamston, NC. This George Hobbs was J.A. Hobbs’ father, so, Hazel’s suspicion was correct[iii].
HH20 – George Hobbs (1804-c.1855)
52 Ancestors – Week 93
George Hobbs was likely born between 02 Jun 1804 and 01 Jun 1805[iv], probably in Hyde County, North Carolina[v]. Once source suggests that he was born in 1801[vi]; however, I do not agree because elsewhere in the same book a birth year of 1805 is provided. Additionally, the 1850 Census suggests a birth of 1804-1805[vii].
We know nothing of George’s youth. According to Hazel, the family bible states that he married Eartha W Gaskins on 29 March 1836. However, he had several children before he married Eartha.
There is apparently a child whose name is unknown that was born between 1825 and 1830 who is likely George’s. Also, his daughter Sarah was born between 02 Jun 1835 and 01 Jun 1836. If she was born in 1835, it is unlikely that she was Eartha’s child. If Sarah was born later in 1830, then she must be the mother and was with child before the marriage. As staunchly conservative as they Hobbs family was, I think it much more likely that George’s first wife had Sarah and possibly died in childbirth. Then George remarried quickly.
A son, Edward S was born between 02 Jun 1835 and 01 Jun 1840[viii]. The 1840 Census indicates George as the head of a household consisting of six people including one slave. He was employed in “Manufacture and Trade,” which would be fitting for his later occupation of “Lumber Getter.”[ix]
George’s second son, George Hobbs was born in 1842 in Beaufort, Carteret County, North Carolina. George is known to have died during the Civil War.
James Ashley Hobbs was probably born in October 1843. Different sources indicate he was born in 1841, 1842, 1843, and 1844. The closest census to his birth, 1850, indicates he was 6 years old at that time, making 1843 the most likely birth year[x].
Elizabeth Hobbs was born about 1847. (She was 3 during the 1850 Census.)
In 1849, George Hobbs was identified as being a commissioner of the town of Williamston and had the duty to manage the public burying grounds of the town, with other commissioners.[xi]
Later in 1849, another daughter, Hester Jane Hobbs, was born on 14 Sep[xii].
1850 Census indicates an apparent spouse named “M,”[xiii] and the Martin County Heritage book confirms that name[xiv]. That raises the question, Was “M” the same person as Eartha W. Gaskins or was “M” a third wife. If the latter, which were her children and which were Eartha’s? I will need to do more research into all the children and their lives and see if I can determine a timeline for his marriages and children.
George probably died before the 1860 census was taken, as he doesn’t seem to be listed in the 1860 census and his children are scattered across the eastern seaboard.
Who was the first wife of George?
Was George married a third time?
When and where did George die.
[i] Hughes, S. J. N., & Martin County Historical Society (N.C.), Martin County Heritage (PO Box 468, Williamston, NC, Martin County Historical Society, 1980), 419 – George and Eartha Gaskins Hobbs.
[ii] REVISED STATUTES OF THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA, PASSED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY AT THE SESSION OF 1S36—7 (Raleigh, NC, PUBLISHED BY TURNER AND HUGHES, 1837), Archive.Org, Pages 467 & 468 – CHAPTER 88: PILOTS AND COMMISSIONERS OF NAVIGATION: Section 29. Board of commissioners appointed for Ocracock—Their duty in regard to pilots—Their compensation – Oath to be taken by them. https://archive.org/details/revisedstatuteso01nort.
[iv] 1850 United States Federal Census, Ancestry.com, Year: 1850; Census Place: Martin, North Carolina; Roll: M432_636; Page: 403B; Image: 443, Line 13.
[v] Hughes, S. J. N., & Martin County Historical Society (N.C.), Martin County Heritage (PO Box 468, Williamston, NC, Martin County Historical Society, 1980), 419 – George and Eartha Gaskins Hobbs.
[vi] Hughes, S. J. N., & Martin County Historical Society (N.C.), Martin County Heritage (PO Box 468, Williamston, NC, Martin County Historical Society, 1980), Article # 495 – Hettie Elizabeth Johnson.
[vii] 1850 United States Federal Census, Ancestry.com, Year: 1850; Census Place: Martin, North Carolina; Roll: M432_636; Page: 403B; Image: 443, Line 13.
[viii] 1840 United States Federal Census, Ancestry.com, 1840; Washington, Beaufort, North Carolina; Roll: 355; Page: 268; Image: 546; Family History Library Film: 0018092 – Geo Hobbs.
[xii] Hughes, S. J. N., & Martin County Historical Society (N.C.), Martin County Heritage (PO Box 468, Williamston, NC, Martin County Historical Society, 1980), Article # 495 – Hettie Elizabeth Johnson.
[xiii] 1850 United States Federal Census, Ancestry.com, Year: 1850; Census Place: Martin, North Carolina; Roll: M432_636; Page: 403B; Image: 443, Line 13.
[xiv] Hughes, S. J. N., & Martin County Historical Society (N.C.), Martin County Heritage (PO Box 468, Williamston, NC, Martin County Historical Society, 1980), Article # 495 – Hettie Elizabeth Johnson.