James Maddox and Hannah McComas in Harford County Maryland

I did some work this summer at the Historical Society of Harford County in an effort to find “nuggets”–in other words, any information that might lead to more information about the Maddox family that could illuminate their lives or lead my on a new trail.  I thought I would transcribe and comment on some of the documents I came across this summer.

James Maddox (Edward’s brother, John’s son) appears to have been born in 1776.  I base this on the fact that he is not enumerated on the Maryland Colonial Census of 1776 with John and Catrine Maddox and that in 1820, on the Darksville, Berkeley County West Virginia Census, “James Mattax” is presumably the oldest male in the house (age 26-44.  If he were 44 his birthdate would be 1776).  Many researchers in his family put his birth date at 1770, based on his age in the 1850 census, but I believe that could be an error.  In 1830, James and Hannah REDUCE their age so it is the same as their age in the 1820 census–an action more believable with a 1776 birthdate.  He could be younger.  Hannah’s age is listed 80 in the 1850 census, but a researcher at this site has given her birth date as 16 July 1784, and cited the records of St. James and St. George Parish.

In any event, James Maddox married Hannah McComas (daughter of a Harford County landowning family) in 1802 and in the years before he moved to what is now West Virginia, he transacted business that appears on record in the historical society’s court records.  Here is a summary of what I found.

In March of 1806 (CR 75: 75.20.10), John Ely, Peter Dungan and James Maddox are brought to court because they owe 6000 pounds of tobacco to the state of Maryland (unclear why).  They will lose all their property in order to pay this UNLESS John Ely will run an “ordinary” (tavern where official business was transacted) for one year in accordance with the laws of Maryland governing ordinaries.  This same deal appears again in the court record again on the 6th of September 1809.  This time the men who owe the 6000 pounds of tobacco are James Maddox, Peter Dungan and Solomon Maddox (probably James’ brother-in-law).  Peter Dungan promises to run the ordinary for one year in exchange for not forfeiting their property.

In 1809 and again in 1810, James appears in court regarding a debt he owes a John Rumsey:

March 20th, 1809

State of Maryland, Sheriff of Harford County

Commanded to appear in court August 1809, Yoeman James Maddox, who owes John Rumsey of Henry C. 106.91.

In March of 1810 the same debt to John Rumsey is called in, this time naming James Maddox and Charles McComas (probably another brother-in-law) as debtors.


In November of 1809, James’ father, John Maddox, appeared before James McComas to record the following sale to James:

“Know all men by the presents that I John Maddox of Harford County and State of Maryland for and in consideration of the sum of one hundred ten pounds ten shillings to me in hand paid by James Maddox of the County and State aforesaid the receipt wereof is hereby acknowledged and myself therewith fully satisfied, have bargained and sold, sett  over and delivered by these presents doth bargain, sell (illegible) set over and delivered to the said James Maddox one cow and one heifer, one sorrel mare and one cart, four strops, two furrow ploughs and one shovel ditto ten chains one sett of plough chains harness and collars one bed bedsted and furniture- To have and to hold the above mentioned property unto the only proper use and behoof of him the said James Maddox, his heirs and assignees forever adn the said John Maddox for my self my heirs executors and administrators all manner of persons claiming by through or under me the said bargained and sold premises unto the said James Maddox his heirs executors administrators and assignees will warrant and forever defend by those presents in witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 8th day of November 1809-

Signed sealed and acknowledged in the presence of Jas. McComas

John Maddox X his mark

Harford County, State of Maryland to wit on the 8th day of November 1809 came the within  named John Maddox before me one of the Justices of the Peace for Harford County and acknowledged the within (illegible) of writing to be hiz act and deed and the property therein mentioned James Maddox his heirs and assignees forever agreeably to the true intent and meaning therin and the oath of assembly in such can be made and provided.

Received and recorded the seventh day of December 1809 in liber HD No. V Folio 114– one of the land records books of Harford County Courts and examined.

Henry Dorsey, Clerk

By October 29, 1810, James and Hannah have become residents of the city of Baltimore.  According to two land transactions made that day, this is their place of residence.  In both cases, they sell a small portion of Hannah’s inheritance, Clagett’s Forest.  Part to Issac Kennard for $80.92 (HD V 372, mdlandrec.net) and part to James McComas for $31.

On the 29th of January, 1814 James and Hannah are involved in another sale of land.  Once again, it is identified that they live in Baltimore County, Maryland.  It is interesting to note that this transaction was not filed with the court until November 13th, 1822.

“This indenture made and concluded this 29th day of January 1814 between Charles McComas, James Maddox, Hannah Maddox wife of James Maddox of Baltimore County, Solomon McComas, John McComas of Harford County of the one part and James McComas of Harford Count the State aforesaid on the other.  Witness that for and in consideration of the sum of five shillings to the said Charles McComas, James Maddox, Hannah Maddox, Solomon McComas, and John McComas paid in hand by the said James McComas before the sealing and delivery of these presents the receipt whereof the said Charles McComas, James Maddox, Hannah Maddox, Solomon McComas and John McComas….” give to James McComas a portion of a tract of land on a rise near Winter’s Run called “Gresham’s College”. Mentions they affirm this against all manner of persons including their brother William McComas.

On December 23, 1822, James and Hannah Maddox, now residents of Berkeley County in the state of Virginia sell Daniel Jones part of a tract of Clagett’s Forest for $400.  They mention that it is part of what Hannah inherited from her father, Daniel McComas. In the description of the land it says one of the boundaries are the lands of William Norris, Solomon McComas and the heirs of Mary McComas.  It also extends to the lands of Nathaniel Hollingsworth (also called the Hollingsworth Line) and out into Winter’s Run and to the borders of Reese Davis’ land–in all about 50 acres.  James signed with his mark, the McComas family (including Hannah) used their signature.

The information about the land bordering that of Nathaniel Hollingsworth is interesting, because Hollingsworth’s land is now part of an educational site called Harford Glen in Harford County.  It is off Wheel Road, near Singer Road. Since it is part of a preservation site, a look around would show you something of what the McComas/Maddox families saw when they lived in Harford County.



The DNA Results

I’ve learned a few things about DNA since I last wrote.  First (and most startling), Joseph Scott of Baltimore or wherever (my great-great-great grandfather) is NOT related to James Scott of Campbell County, Virginia.  We differ on four out of twelve markers tested.

Secondly (but most easily corrected) I really ordered the wrong test.  I ordered two tests from the company I used due to cost– I covered the cost of the Campbell County Scott’s test (since it was my idea) and the best I could afford was two, 12-marker tests.  But in reading up on it since, 12 markers are not sufficient for genealogy (for the most part).  Oh, I don’t mean that there’s a possibility James and Joseph are related after all–4 out of 12 misses is huge, and dismisses them as relatives at all.  BUT, 12 out of 12 matches with another family means only that we might be related with 50% probability within 14 generations.

Once I received my Dad’s DNA results, I plugged his values into the Scott Family DNA Project and saw that he was an 11/12 value match for an Elijah Scott family (SC 1795).  And entering his values manually into Ancestry.com’s DNA database gave us a host of 12/12 matches– with lots of last names, only one of which was Scott–a Scott family from England.  So, I know something and nothing.  My father and I want to know more, so this month we are purchasing another DNA test– the 46 marker test available from Ancestry.com.

But hang on, what has happened here?  What about the Bible that was supposedly seen, and the Campbell County Scott family researcher who knew things about my family that were not in the public domain?  I’ve been wracking my brains to find an explanation.  Here are some thoughts:

  • the DNA test could be inaccurate because of an unknown adoption or infidelity in either Scott line.  That could be partially resolved if one of Benjamin Franklin Scott’s descendents take the DNA test as well– it would be helpful to know if the descendents of Eliza Jane and Joseph Scott both carry the same Y-DNA.  But that would only tell us that no infidelity occurred on OUR side, and doesn’t address the possibility of adoption somewhere in either line.
  • James Scott and Joseph Scott could have been half-brothers with the same mother, but different fathers.
  • The connection between the families was not through the Scotts at all, but the Maddox women had a connection (cousins if not sisters?)

The eyes see what they see.  For 10 years I have worked under the assumption that the Scotts of Campbell County were related to the Scotts of Baltimore.  I leave you with two photos– the first of John Gordon Scott (Joseph Scott’s son) and the second of William Peerman Scott (James Scott’s son, courtesy of Janet Scott White).  I still see a resemblance.

Edward Maddox of Baltimore and the War of 1812

Next year commemorates the Bicentennial of the War of 1812Maryland has a long list of events planned, culminating in a reenactment of the Battle of Baltimore in 1814.  The War of 1812 is often called a “forgotten war” and nationally, Baltimore’s part is most remembered for the bombing of Ft. McHenry, and Francis Scott Key’s composition of our national anthem.

For the Maddox family, the War of 1812 was a personal experience.  After leaving Bel Air for the city of Baltimore around 1810, they were swept into larger events.  By 1813, Edward Maddox (John’s son) and his wife Rachel were living in a house on Howard street near Fayette.   Now– “Google Map” Howard at Fayette, Baltimore.  Pick Street View.  Take a look around.  The massive Bank of America, the McDonald’s, the pawn shop…strip it away.  In each direction, peel back all of what you see.  Now, in your mind, repopulate the street with small frame houses, perhaps a few scattered homes made of brick.  That was the Maddox family’s view of Baltimore.

Edward and Rachel had three daughters at this point—Mary Anne (born 1806), Charlotte (born 1809) and Eliza Jane (born 1813). War had been declared on June 19, 1812, but earlier, in January, an “Act to Regulate and Discipline the Militia had passed.  This act said “That all able-bodied white male citizens, between 18 and 45 years of age, and residents of this state … shall be subject to do militia duty…” Edward Maddox, aged 31, enlisted as a private in Fowler’s 39th regiment of the Maryland Militia.  The militia was not part of the regular army.  They met and drilled at set times in preparation for being called into battle.

For Edward and all the citizen-soldiers of Baltimore the time for real battle arrived at noon On Sunday, September 11, 1814.  British ships were sighted in the harbor, and cannons were fired from the courthouse to call the troops to prepare for battle.  Many citizens and soldiers were attending church services at the time.  The pastor of the Light Street Methodist Church (where Edward and Rachel attended) “dismissed his congregation with the benediction, ‘The Lord Bless King George, convert him, and take him to heaven, as we want no more of him.”   “The militia gathered at their rendezvous points and drew a day’s rations and thirty-six rounds of ammunition.”  Edward’s regiment and others marched that evening to Northpoint, and engaged the British there.

At dawn September 13, Rachel Maddox, aged 28, her daughters, aged 6, 4 and 10 months, awoke (if they slept) to the sound of bombs.  The British were shelling Ft. McHenry, the guardian of the mouth of the harbor, and the shelling would continue for 25 hours. The houses in the city were shaken to their foundations, for never…were the same number of pieces fired with so rapid succession….”  I can only imagine the noise and smoke and the threat of imminent invasion was terrifying.

By the 14th, the Battle of Baltimore had ended in an American victory.  Ross, the British General who had burned Washington, D.C. was dead; Francis Scott Key (during his long night on a truce ship in the harbor) had written the Star Spangled Banner, and Baltimore was an inspiration to the rest of the country.  Edward’s role in the war is documented for us in muster rolls, and in a cryptic letter found in the archives of Harford County, written two months later:

Know all men by those present that I Edward Maddox have and by (illegible) present do nominate authorize constitute and appoint my friend John Wilson to ask demand and receive my pay for services rendered to the United States in the thirty ninth Regiment of Maryland Militia and to give a good and sufficient receipt and discharge for the same in as full and ample measure as I could do if personally proffered.  Given under my hand year the 21st November 1814.

Syned (sic) sealed and delivered in the presence of and acknowledged before the Subscriber and of the Justices of the Peace for Baltimore County:  Oneil Donnel.  Edward Maddox “X” His Mark.”

For reasons yet unknown, Edward was unable to go in person to receive his pay for his stint in the militia, so he gave a friend power of attorney to do so for him.  Was he wounded?  Did a personal matter call him back to Harford County?  I have ordered his military files in hopes of finding a clue.

Quotations are from Scharf, John Thomas.  The Chronicles of Baltimore; being a complete history of “Baltimore Town” and Baltimore City from the earliest period to the present time. Turnball Brothers.  Baltimore, 1874.

Who John Maddox of Harford County was NOT

Since little old ladies have been getting together and forming lineage societies, little old ladies have been creating fantastical ancestral lines for their families.  In years past, no one was interested in “social history”, only “high society’s history”.  If you didn’t fit in (but had enough money) your true past and that of your ancestors could be “doctored up” a bit, and poof!  you were part of a family that belonged to SOMEONE.

The definition of SOMEONE varies a bit, but generally SOMEONE was a wealthy landowner who arrived in whatever colony FIRST.  Maryland has such a Maddox family– a “first” Maddox family, who arrived very early on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.  Back in the 1960s, one of Edward and Rachel Maddox’s descendents tried to join the Daughters of the American Revolution.  The right money must have been bandied around, because the ladies at the DAR library did their darndest and they squeezed my Edward right into someone else’s family tree.

THAT family, that is not OUR family has a book about them:  Maddox: A Southern Maryland Family, which you can read if you like.  It has lots of chapters on very important FIRST people.  The DAR ladies did so fine a job squeezing our Edward into this family (in spite of some glaring problems with, say, years of birth and death to start) that they went ahead and hooked us to ANOTHER first family and pretty soon my Maddoxes were sashaying off the Arc and the Dove… yes both.  Because that’s how COOL those FIRST families were.  More recently, a researcher I don’t know on Ancestry.com has mooched off my research on the Maddox family and then went on to desperately cram John Maddox of Harford County into the life of Captain John Maddox of St. Mary’s County, who died at Ft. Necessity in PA.  The dates here a little better, but truly, it’s a stretch.

And I’ve always thought so.  I looked through that Maddox book years and years ago, before I knew anything really, and it just didn’t feel right.  Once I learned more about John Maddox of Harford County, it really didn’t make sense.  The Maddox families of Southern Maryland were landowners who wandered through various colonies acquiring more land and leaving wills and lots of documents behind.  John Maddox of Harford County didn’t even seem to live in any of the places they lived.  Yeah, maybe he was the black sheep brother, or the “younger son” of novels who didn’t get anything to speak of.   But here are facts about my John:  He was a cooper– a barrel maker.  An important trade, but a TRADE.  He seems to have lived on the property of a Harford County landowner named James McComas.  He didn’t have property of his own.  He sometimes sold tobacco, he sometimes sold liquor.  His sons became tradesman too–only one was a landowner, and that was because he married a girl with money.

I’m fine with not fitting in with an IMPORTANT family because I believe every man’s story is important.  Whether you came on the Arc or the Dove or an unnamed ship as an indentured servant– you were a brave person with vision– or at least hope– and that’s admirable.

Lately I’ve been wondering if John Maddox of Harford County is in fact, the “immigrant ancestor”.  There is a Maddox Surname DNA project going on that invited male to male Maddox descendents to send in their cheek swab and figure out which Maddox ancestor they are truly related to.  My line (being from Edwards’s daughter Eliza Jane) can’t participate, but luckily, the descendants of the James Maddox (who I believe is John’s son and Edward’s brother) participated.  The results blew the DAR ladies out of the water, and confirmed my suspicions.  First, here’s the main results table.  The family of Samuel Maddox–those Southern Maryland Maddox’s–fit into Haplogroup R1b Lineage V.  People grouped together in a lineage share a “recent” common ancestor.  John’s son James is NOT in that group.  James Maddox and his sons Daniel and Aquilla can be found in Haplogroup R1b Lineage XIII.  Notice below their entry is R1b Possible Lineage XIII (possible I believe because of a slight variation and because one member of this group did not test the DNA out to as many markers as the others–I’m not a scientist–sorry if that sounds ridiculous).  That group includes William Mattox born 1815 in ENGLAND lived most of his life in Scotland (remember now…John was born about 1744) and James Maddix born 1795 in Ireland.

William born 1815 in England is a very close match to James born in 1777 in Maryland (John’s probable son).  The Maddox DNA project wonders if James was a brother to William’s unknown father– I think it more probably that John Maddox of Harford County could be an older brother to William’s unknown father.

They’re From Where?: John Maddox of Harford County Maryland

If we had the ability to blog back in 1991 when I started this search, you would have seen quite a different starting point.  My family was from Baltimore, just Baltimore.  They got off the ship, walked a few blocks, settled in Baltimore.  There was no other location in family memory, except “Germany” for some branches.  Later, a letter written in the 1960s by a Maddox descendant named “Fauquier County, Virginia” as the starting point for Edward and Rachel Maddox– I’m still uncertain why (and hope to find out).

So, despite what the relatives had to say, this much is certain:  Edward Maddox married Rachel Parsons in Harford County Maryland in 1805, so that was the first place I went to look for the Maddox family.  The Maryland Colonial Census of 1776 lists John Maddox as the head of a household in Harford County’s Bush River Lower Hundred (which includes the town of Bel Air).  He was 31 years old and was married to “Caterine”, age 22.  They had 2 daughters; Martha born in 1774 and Charlotte born in 1776.

Edward Maddox was born in 1780 (according to one of his obituaries and the records of Mt. Olivet Cemetery).  Though it’s impossible for him to be on the 1776 Census, I was encouraged with my findings, because Edward’s second daughter is named Charlotte.  Perhaps he named her after his sister.  How then, to fit him into the John Maddox family? After 1776, we must wait until 1850 before Maryland lists any member of the household (except the head) by name.  I could (and did) play the census numbers game.  This involves finding John Maddox in as many subsequent census as possible and matching the age range of his dependents to Edward’s age.

I also visited the Harford County Historical Society.  At the time of my initial visit, the society did not have their PastPerfect Catalog available online.  Instead, their friendly staff helped me use their card catalog index of original documents where I stumbled across card #32632 a “bill of sale/power of attorney/judgement” involving John Maddox and James, Edward and Thomas Maddox.  Strong circumstantial evidence points to the latter three men being John’s sons.  Edward also had one son named “James T.”

In addition to this bill of sale I was able to see (the originals!):

  • An 1809 Bill of Sale between John Maddox and James Maddox witnessed by James McComas, Justice of the Peace.  This reads more like a will, minus the “bequeathing”.  John sells his personal possessions (from bedding to farm animals) to James for the sum of 100 pounds.
  • a letter from Edward Maddox, written up by a Justice of the Peace from Baltimore County, dated November 1814.  In this letter Edward Maddox designated his “friend” John Wilson to act in his place and pick up money the U.S. government owes him for services rendered during his stint with the 39th Maryland Militia (Fowler’s Regiment) in the Battle of Northpoint.
  •  A court document regarding  an Abner Parsons, who was in Gaol in Harford County for debt—on the list of those he owed money—James Maddox and Edward Maddox (1809).

All these documents are intriguing, including this warrant against Gilbert Jones for an assault on John Maddox in December of 1799.

The Gilbert Jones named in the complaint could be the Gilbert Jones who kept a tavern in Bel Air on the northwest corner of Main Street and Baltimore Pike.  I’ve often wondered what their fight was about.  It was not important enough to rate mention in a local newspaper, but greater news occupied most of the latter part of the month: “Mourn Oh Columbia!  Thy Father and thy protector is no more”  President George Washington had passed away on December 14th.

Mystery at Mt. Olivet, or–How it Began

Over a decade ago, I made my first “leap” backwards, into my family’s past, a past that was beyond my grandfather’s memory.  That was significant, for Pop had quite a memory, and his passion for storytelling had become my passion for finding the “truth” behind the stories.

On that day I found that my great-great-great grandmother had been born Eliza Jane Maddox (in 1813) and her parents were Edward and Rachel Maddox of Baltimore.  I found this out because of all Eliza’s children, her youngest son “Johnny” had spoken her name enough that his housekeeper gave it to the doctor filling out his death certificate.  The spouses of her other children (though all would have known her personally) were unable in their grief to convey that information, which–75 years later–had left me completely stuck.

Thanks to Uncle Johnny, I had a name and a cemetery.  Thanks to John J. Winterbottom’s Caretaker Records of Mt. Olivet Cemetery, I had a plot (14-B) and bunch of bodies–all of whom it turns out, were the children and grandchildren of Edward and Rachel Maddox.  I visited the cemetery on bitterly cold January day and said hello.

It’s been 10 years, and it’s not just a list of names and dates.  It’s our family, and their history, and the history of a city whose beginnings are being forgotten.  It’s a tenant farmer in Harford County and a brawl in bar in Bel Air on Christmas Eve, just after President Washington died.  It’s a woman who could read and write while her husband could not whose signature is on every business license.  It’s the Battle of Northpoint, and taverns on Pratt Street and Fish Market Place; policemen and sailors; Mobtown and ward politics.   It’s a blessing from Lafayette on a little girl who never forgot.