Was Andrew Jackson
McCorkle of Clay County, Illinois the Grandson of
Samuel McCorkle of Green County, Kentucky?
In 1982, Louis W. McCorkle published the lineage of Andrew Jackson McCorkle in his outstanding book, From Viking Glory: Notes on the McCorkle Family in Scotland and America. He constructed this lineage from correspondence he received from Hattie Pershall and Mrs. Robert Alexander. It is important to note that Louis McCorkle did not try to verify the accuracy of lineages that he received from other individuals unless they related to his own lineage. He simply published some of the lineages that were sent to him. The Andrew Jackson McCorkle lineage authors provided the exact birth and death dates for Andrew: 16 March 1820, Kentucky - 4 January 1894, near Warsaw, Benton County, Missouri. I have not found a record of either of these two dates: however, the birth data is somewhat confirmed by two censuses and other records show that Andrew's youngest child was born 20 April 1889. I have also discovered an image of the will and probate records for Andrew. The will was dated 28 January 1893 and the probate occurred on 28 February 1894. The will and probate records also somewhat confirm the alleged death date, but do not add any other significant information. The will image is provided at the bottom of this page. I have been researching my McCorkle ancestors for over 30 years; however, my interest in Andrew Jackson McCorkle was rekindled in 2021 when I became aware of a 28 centiMorgan autosomal DNA match with an alleged descendant of Andrew Jackson McCorkle. Because a 28 centiMorgans match usually indicates a 3rd or 4 cousin, I first assumed that my match and I shared a rather recent Common Ancestor (CA). An investigation of my match's lineage did not reveal such an CA; however, that is still a very real possibility. In any event, this match was the trigger that caused me to look for any details that may have surfaced since the linage was published in 1982. Although I have not been able to confirm some of the details, I assess the lineage to be quite well researched and more accurate than many that I have seen. Since the lineage authors did not suggest potential candidate parents for Andrew, I also looked for new details relating to the early life of Andrew Jackson McCorkle so that I could try and create a reasonable connection to Samuel McCorkle who left an 1840 will in Green County, Kentucky. This analysis has been complicated by my inability to find the U. S. census enumerations for Andrew Jackson McCorkle for 1850 and 1860. I have found the family in the 1855 and 1865 Illinois State census records; however, these enumerations only recorded the heads of families and none of the other family members. If any reader has found either of these U. S. census results, I would be grateful for your help. To try and compensate for this very real deficiency, I have resorted to examining other available Illinois records.
Andrew Jackson McCorkle seems to be first recorded in his 1842 Clay County, Illinois marriage to Elizabeth Erwin. Strangely, the 1870 Clay County census is the first census that I have find him enumerated. He was enumerated then as fifty years old and born in Kentucky. This data is confirmed by his enumeration in the 1880 Ray County, Missouri census. Luckily, the Illinois marriage records and the FindAGrave entries for the Clay County Hoosier Prairie Cemetery provided other clues. Very significantly, the 1840 Green County, Kentucky will of Samuel McCorkle is extant. By 1840, all of Samuel's sons had left Green County or died. He left cash to his livings sons, John of Missouri and Andrew of Indiana. He left his plantation and personal property to his two daughters, Betsey and Nancy and five grandchildren; Johnston, Lovina Jane, William Ward, Alexander Green and Hardin Woods McCorkle. He also made Johnston McCorkle the executor of his will. The will does not identify the fathers of his grandchildren, so they could have been the children of his deceased son/sons and/or the children of his daughter or daughters and unknown men. Other records show that Samuel had at least two sons that predeceased him: Samuel III and Alexander. The situation of Samuel III seems relatively clear; however, the situation of Alexander is extremely murky. The Alexander Green McCorkle, mentioned above, wrote a letter to a friend in which named his father as Alexander McCorkle. Based on this letter and other circumstantial evidence, we have posited McCorkle fathers for all of the grandchildren named in the will of Samuel McCorkle. These guesses may be right or wrong, but the important fact related to Andrew Jackson McCorkle is that he was not mentioned in the will. Records show that John McCorkle, the son of Samuel left Green for Missouri about 1825, so it is very doubtful that a young son would find his way back to Illinois in 1842. Conversely, Andrew McCorkle. the youngest child of Samuel McCorkle, left Green County about 1823. He was next recorded in the 1830 Lawrence County, Indiana census and his second marriage occurred there in 1831. So, Andrew McCorkle of Lawrence and Orange Counties, Indiana seems to be the most likely candidate for the father of Andrew Jackson McCorkle. Since the children of Andrew in Indiana used both the McCorkell and McCorkle surnames, a minor amount of difficulty is added to the research of this line. Images of the Green County, Kentucky yearly tax records are viewable online from 1795 until 1830 with only 1796, 1798, 1824, 1825 & 1826 missing. With a few minor exceptions, Kentucky law required white males age 21 and older to be enumerated by name. In 1822, Samuel's son Andrew was recorded for the first and only time on the Green County tax lists and that was the same year as his marriage to May Ann Crabtree. We were lucky to find that tax listing since it gives us a very good idea of his birth date, as well as, a good indication of when he left Kentucky for Indiana. He had five recorded male children, but a child named Andrew is not recorded. The 1830 Lawrence County, Indiana census for Andrew McCorcle lists three males born in the 0-10 (born 1820-1830) age groups. Since Samuel Thomas McCorkle is the only male child of Andrew of Indiana previously known to be born before 1830, this enumeration is additional evidence that Andrew Jackson McCorkle was another son. It also leaves the door open for another unknown son of Andrew of Indiana born between 1820 and 1830. The 1840 Orange County, Indiana census enumerates one male in the 15/20 age bracket that could have been Andrew Jackson McCorkle; however, this is not certain since Andrew of Indiana had other young sons by this time. Both of these censuses confirm Andrew's circa 1800 birth date. So, if Andrew Jackson McCorkle was the son of Andrew McCorkle of Indiana and he was born 16 March 1820 as alleged, his birth occurred before his father's 16 February 1822 marriage to Mary Crabtree. If so, this event would have not been a very unusual occurrence; however, it means that the mother of Andrew Jackson McCorkle may not have been Mary Crabtree McCorkle.
So, why was the 22
year old Andrew Jackson McCorkle alone in Clay County, Illinois in 1842?
The answer, of course, is that he was there to marry Elizabeth Erwin. And where
Elizabeth first meet? We are not 100% sure of Elizabeth's parents, but our research seems to
indicate that they were David and Nancy Abbott Erwin who were married in 1810 in
Clark County, Indiana. At this time, Clark County was almost directly across the Ohio River
from Louisville, Kentucky. The city of Louisville was/is located at the location
of the Falls of the Ohio River. During times of low water (drought) and in the
winter when the river was frozen solid, this location was an ideal spot walk or
wade across the Ohio. Also, since the early 1800s, ferries were used to provide
river transportation between Louisville and New Albany, Indiana. New Albany was
originally in Clark County then became part of Floyd County in 1819. Many native Kentuckians
and other southerners made their first Indiana home in Clark, Floyd and the
nearby counties. David Erwin first patented land in Clay in 1838 and he and his
family seem to be in the 1840 Clay Census. This census compares favorably with
the David Erwin entry in the 1830 Floyd County, Indiana census. Floyd was
created in 1819 from Clark and Harrison Counties, so these two enumerations were
probably for the same family. Andrew McCorkle, the son of Samuel McCorkle of
Green County, Kentucky, seems to have been enumerated in the 1830 Lawrence and
1840 Orange County, Indiana censuses, These counties are inland and not far northwest of Floyd and
Clark. So all these situations seem to suggest that Andrew Jackson McCorkle
Elizabeth Erwin in Floyd or Clark County the mid-1830s.
Two other events add to the circumstantial evidence that seems to connect Andrew Jackson McCorkle to the Green County, Kentucky McCorkle family. Long ago, we discovered the 6 April 1856 marriage record of the above mentioned Alexander Green McCorkle and Mary Shelton Rucker. Since I could find not find the Rucker or McCorkle surname contained in any 1840, 1850 or 1860 censuses of the people living at this location, I could not attach any significance at all to these events; however, now this event seems to strongly suggest that Andrew Jackson McCorkle was connected to the Green County, Kentucky McCorkle family line. The marriage location was Clay County, Illinois, the home of Andrew Jackson and Elizabeth Erwin McCorkle. In addition, Alexander's brother Hardin Woods McCorkle married Martha L. Rucker on 22 October 1856 in Effingham County, Illinois, which adjoins Clay to the north. At that time, the approximately 260 mile journey from Green to Clay would probably have taken at least three days by horseback or stagecoach. It seems impossible to me that Samuel McCorkle would have omitted a grandson whose parentage was similar to the grandsons he recognized in his will; however, Alexander Green and Hardin Woods McCorkle would probably have been aware of events occurring in the life of their cousin Andrew Jackson McCorkle.
Another situation that seems to possibly be of significance is the fact that Andrew J. McCorkle purchased 200 acres of public domain land in Section 32, Township 5, Range 7 of Clay County, Illinois in 1849 and 1850. For one federal land patent of 40 acres, he paid $ 1.25 per acre ($50). For the remaining adjacent acreage, he purchased a 160 acre federal bounty land warrant from John Lyons for an unknown price. This warrant was awarded to Lyons for his Mexican War service. Since I do not know how much he paid for the warrants, I am guessing it was probably about $1.25 per acre. If this estimate is about right, he would have needed about $250 cash for the land purchases. That is about $8,500 in current purchasing power and was a large sum of money for a rather young farmer to accumulate. Since Andrew seems to have left home in about 1841, he might have been able to save a somewhat substantial amount and it is also possible that his in-laws helped him with his purchase; however, it is also possible that he received an unknown inheritance at the death of his father. Charlotte Pitts McCorkle, the third wife of Andrew McCorkle of Orange County, Indiana indentured (bound out) two of the younger children of Andrew Sr. in late 1849 and early 1850. This seems to be be ample evidence that Andrew Sr. had died, probably in 1849; however, our research has failed to uncover any death record or any land holdings in Orange or Lawrence Counties. This evidence seems to indicate that the estate of Andrew was quite small when he died, so it is very doubtful that Andrew Jackson McCorkle received a substantial inheritance from Andrew Sr. In any event, Andrew J. McCorkle and Elizabeth, his wife, sold 120 acres of this land to George Monical for $225 on 20 October 1854.
The above investigation of the Clay County, Illinois land transactions of the McCorkle family has uncovered an unknown daughter of Andrew and his first wife Elizabeth Erwin. After Elizabeth's death in late 1857, Andrew purchased an addition 40 acres of land from James and Matilda Gammon on 6 Jul 1861 for $400. This land was not adjacent to Andrew's original purchases, but rather close by in Section 34. The purchase was made when Andrew was married to his second wife Sarah Thompson McCorkle and later resulted in two land sales. The second occurred after the 11 September 1866 death of Andrew and Elizabeth's son, Lafayette McCorkle, in the Civil War and was quite complicated. On 18 April 1865, A. J. McCorkle and 2nd wife Sarah Ann, sold the 40 acres to Lafayette McCorkle, Jonathan McCorkle, Crawford McCorkle and Nancy Lown for $650. The mother of the sons was the deceased Elizabeth Erwin McCorkle; however, the "Nancy Lown" was somewhat of a mystery. This mystery seemed to be solved by the complicated 22 April 1866 deed for 30 acres of some of this same land. Andrew J. McCorkle, Jonathan McCorkle and his wife Alice R. McCorkle, Crawford McCorkle and his wife Vernetta McCorkle and Irving G. Lown and his wife Nancy Lown, all of Clay to Elias D. Vickery of Clay. A clerk's note appended to the deed explained that 10 acres of the property had originally been deeded to Lafayette McCorkle who had died a minor leaving no heirs, thus the 10 acres had reverted to Andrew J. McCorkle. The remaining 10 acres of the original 40 acres purchased in 1861 was deeded to Vickery by Sarah McCorkle for $50 and the complete transaction was acknowledged by Sarah McCorkle who now lived in Hart County, Kentucky. The point of this long and complicated land transaction discussion is to show that Andrew and Elizabeth Erwin McCorkle had a daughter named Nancy Erwin. She married Irving G. Lown on 25 December 1861 in Clay and later census records show she was born about 1836 in Indiana when Andrew was about 16 and Elizabeth was about 20. She was probably named for her mother Nancy Abbott Erwin. Since we have never found the 1850 or 1860 Clay U. S. census enumerations for this McCorkle family, Nancy's parents were unknown to us and other researchers; however, the 1855 Illinois Clay census does enumerate a female that probably was Nancy. So, Andrew Jackson McCorkle had a previously unknown reason for coming to Clay County, Illinois when he reached the age of twenty-one.
In conclusion, I have not proven that Andrew Jackson McCorkle was the son of Andrew McCorkle of Lawrence and Orange Counties, Indiana; however, the real and circumstantial evidence strongly suggests that was the case. In addition Andrew was a very interesting person to research. I seems his first child was born when he was about sixteen years old and his last was born when he was almost seventy. Rebecca Jane Jones, Andrew's third spouse, was about thirty-five years younger than he was and she was the mother of six of his children. Significant evidence suggests she was the daughter of Sarah A. Thompson Jones, the second wife of Andrew Jackson McCorkle. I think this unusual situation was indeed the case.
Will of Andrew Jackson McCorkle
Created 15 Apr 2021
Revised 2 May 2021
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