Harrison Darnell was my great-great-great-great grandfather. He was born by his own statement on 15 April 1815 in Wilkes County, North Carolina.1 His mother was Catherine Darnell,2 a somewhat mysterious woman who moved her small family from Wilkes County, North Carolina, to first Spartanburg District and then Pickens District, South Carolina, before settling finally in Rabun County, Georgia.
Harrison was supposedly the son of Catharine’s first husband, whose name is unknown. She married second to a Darnell, whose name Harrison took, and then a third time to Benjamin Grist, a veteran of the Revolutionary War who was himself a widower. Of these suppositions, the only one that has thus far been documented is Catherine’s marriage to Benjamin Grist, which took place on 2 April 1834 in Pickens District, South Carolina.3
The date of the marriage between Catharine and Benjamin was included in her pension application file, based on Benjamin’s service in the North Carolina Line during the Revolutionary War. In support of her assertion to their marriage, William D. Teague swore under oath that he had witnessed the marriage, which took place “at my Father’s House” in Pickens District.4
William did not, of course, name his father, nor have I been able to locate a William with the middle initial “D.” in that area. There was a plain-ol’ William Teague living in the Moccasin District of Rabun County in 1850, who was certainly old enough to have witnessed a marriage in 1834.5 But no man old enough to be his father was enumerated in Rabun County in that year, nor in nearby Pickens District.
When I first learned of William’s connection to the Darnell family, I spent some time searching for the hows and whys of that connection. As time passed, my interest did not wane, but my time for research narrowed and I dropped the problem for another day.
Not long back, while compiling material for my upcoming book on Rabun County’s early court records, I found a petition for divorce by John M. Teague from his wife, Mary Teague, formerly Mary Darnel. John and Mary were married in 1811 in Wilkes Co., NC. They had lived together as man and wife through their move from Wilkes County into South Carolina and finally to Rabun County, where they lived for about ten years before Mary deserted John on 1 January 1852.6
Had I at last found a solid connection between the Darnell and Teague families? Or is this simply another piece of the puzzle, to be laid on the table until all the pieces can be arranged? Only time, and a lot more research, will tell.
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1. 1867 Returns of Qualified Voters, 131, District 40, Rabun County, Harrison Darnel entry; Georgia Archives, Morrow; Georgia Archives microfilm publication drawer 297, box 29. Harrison’s birth date as stated in this record differs from the date of birth inscribed on his tombstone. For the purposes of this discussion, the conflict in date is less important than the place of birth.
2. Andrew Jackson Ritchie, “The Darnell Family,” Sketches of Rabun County History (1948), 196.
3. “Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service, compiled ca. 1800 – ca. 1912, documenting the period ca. 1775 – ca. 1900,” digital images, Fold3 (accessed 23 January 2013); Declaration of Claimant, 4 October 1853, Catharine Grist, widow’s pension application no. W1170; service of Benjamin Grist (North Carolina Line, Revolutionary War); imaged from Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, M804 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives [n.d.]), no roll number cited.
4. “Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service, compiled ca. 1800 – ca. 1912, documenting the period ca. 1775 – ca. 1900,” digital images, Fold3 (accessed 23 January 2013); Affidavit of William D. Teague, 4 October 1853, Catharine Grist, widow’s pension application no. W1170; service of Benjamin Grist (North Carolina Line, Revolutionary War); imaged from Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, M804 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives [n.d.]), no roll number cited.
5. 1850 U. S. census, Rabun County, Georgia, population schedule, 1014 Dist. G. M., page 340 (stamped), dwelling 348, family 348; digital image, Ancestry.com (accessed 23 January 2013); citing NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 81. Many researchers believe William was the father of James J. Teague (of Step-by-Step fame) based on James’ appearance in William’s household in this census enumeration.
6. Rabun County, Georgia, Record of Writs E (1856 – 1859): 30-32; Clerk of the Superior Court, Rabun County. The initial petition was undated; however, the presiding judge, James Jackson, issued a subpoena for the appearance of Mary Teague on 3 August 1855, probably not long after the petition was filed in court.