Finding Your Folks: The family of Edward and Nancy Brown Herndon

Judy Fowler Kilgore's picture

We are very fortunate to have many records to document the births and, in some cases, deaths, of members of this family. Since Edward's great-great granddaughter, Nell O'Shields, persevered and tracked down her great-grandfather's Bible (Preston Herndon) and put it together with handwritten notes left behind by her grandmother, Ethel Ona Herndon Gullatt, we can be reasonably certain that these dates are correct.

One such record in the Bible of Preston Herndon is a listing of the birth dates of all his brothers and sisters. This tells us a lot, for, even though the "Georgia Memoirs" biography of Edward's son, Joel J. Herndon, stated that Edward had ten children, we know now that there were 12. Unfortunately, two did not live to adulthood.

From a combination of Bible records, court records, and hand-written notes by Ona, we have the following records of the Herndon family:

Edward Herndon was born 7 Feb. 1792 and died 22 Jan. 1855 in Meriwether County. His birthplace in the story about Joel is given as Elbert County but we have not been able to confirm this. I have not been able to find any records in Elbert County on Edward's (alleged) father, Benjamin Herndon, before 1805 when his will was probated. To prove Edward's birthplace, I need records showing that Benjamin was in Elbert County by 1792.

Nancy Brown was born 13 Feb. 1804 and died 14 Dec. 1855 in Meriwether County. I have not confirmed her birthplace which is said to have been Elbert County.

Edward was a member of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Meriwether and records show he served as a delegate to the Western Baptist Convention in 1846 and 1848.

Edward's will was written on 30 Aug. 1853 and recorded 7 Feb. 1855 in Meriwether County. Witnesses were Robert McCrary, John McCrary, Geo. S. Coggin, and William Owen. Executors were his wife, Nancy, and his two oldest sons, Benajah and Richard.

His will is very extensive and he was very particular about how his estate was distributed, being careful to make sure all children shared equally. His daughter, Tululah, was described as being in a "peculiar and unfortunate situation" and Richard was appointed her guardian. Edward left a financial allowance to Richard for taking care of his younger sister. Tululah died before the year was out, as did her mother, necessitating the distribution and settlement of the entire estate early in 1856.

With no mother or natural guardian, the minor children had to have guardians to see after their inheritance. Walter R. Pope was appointed guardian of James M., Cora L., and Walter J. Herndon, and Robert McCrary was appointed the guardian of Preston A.H. Herndon. Those assigned by the court to divide the estate included John Horn, James B. Glass, George W. Milner, Lewis Pyron and Thomas Owens.

I found it interesting that the official who signed the order validating the distribution was none other than our old friend, Wilkins Stone, who was a Justice of the Peace. Wilkins' name pops up in several interesting places within Herndon family records. To read about Wilkins' adventures and escapades, you need to go to the old columns which can only be accessed through this special link:
Stories about Wilkins ran in July of 2003 and October of 2005.

Continuing with the will, Edward mentions his land in Meriwether County, consisting of about 471.5 acres in Land Lots 104, 105 and 89 in the Upper Ninth District and also names his slaves, discussed in last week's column. I found several of the freed Herndon slaves living in adjacent Spalding County in 1870. They had taken the surname of Herndon which was the common practice.

Edward's children named in his will included Benajah H., Edna A., Richard M., Joel J., Marshall H., Amanda L. Preston A., James M., Tululah H., Cora L. and Walter J. Herndon. From Bible records, court records, and Ona's notes we can add the following:

Benajah H. Herndon, b. 22 Sept. 1821. Lived in Troup County, supposedly died in 1896, buried in LaGrange. Married Frances Perryman 29 Jan. 1846 in Upson County. Two known children, Laura and Emily. Possibly more.

Edna Ann Herndon, b. 20 Aug. 1823, supposedly died 25 Sept. 1897 (not confirmed). Was living with Martha Herndon and children in Meriwether in 1880, relationship not given. No marriage record found.
Lucinda M. Herndon, b. 1 Oct. 1825, d. 30 Oct. 1826. This daughter is found only in Preston's Bible records and in Ona Herndon Gullatt's notes. Lucinda is probably buried somewhere in Elbert County.

Richard M. Herndon, b. 8 Oct. 1828, d. 14 May 1863. Married Martha Hughes. More on Richard and Martha later.

Joel J. Herndon, b. 18 Oct 1829, d. 9 March 1907. Married Elizabeth Kempson. More on Joel in a future column.

Marshall H. Herndon, b. 25 March 1832, d. before 6 July 1863. Married Anna Christina Kempson 30 Dec 1852. More on this family later.

Amanda L. Herndon, b. 6 Dec. 1834, d. 9 Sept. 1890. Married McDuffie C. Boyd. See previous columns on Amanda and McDuffie Boyd.

Preston Anderson Horn Herndon, b. 13 May 1838, d. 9 March 1901. Married Ann Amis 11 June 1861. More on this family later.

James Mathews Herndon, b. 26 Feb. 1841, d. 18 Apr 1916. Married Lavinia Brandenberg. More on this family later.

Tululah H. Herndon, b. 14 Feb. 1843, d. 29 Oct. 1855. No further information.

Cora L. Herndon, b. 6 April 1845. Married C.L. Holman 8 March 1860. No further info at this time.

Walter Judson Herndon, b. 25 Jan 1848, supposedly buried in Cedartown. Married Nancy Whittle. Was in Polk County in 1880 census.

We'll give more detailed information on some of Edward's children next week.

Stories and family histories about your ancestors who lived on Atlanta's south side are always welcome. Send them to or Mail to The Citizen, P.O. Drawer 1719, Fayetteville, GA 30214. All letters and e-mails I receive are subject to being used in the column.

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