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.



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.