The Elusive Family of John McCorkle of 1850 Ray Co., Missouri
John McCorkle is not one of my ancestors, but I have received many queries about John from his descendants and those suggesting that they might be a descendant of John. The reason for this interest is that John is likely the key to extending the linage of many McCorkle descendants in Missouri and other places. Some of John’s children were enumerated in the 1850 Ray County, Missouri census, but he undoubtedly had other offspring. Several McCorkle lines in Missouri seem to point toward John as an ancestor; however, I have never seen any compelling evidence to substantiate these connections. In an effort to shed more light on the parents and descendants of John, I decided to look at the McCorkles and associated families in Green County, Kentucky and Northwest Missouri over a seventy year period.
Since the will of Sam McCorkle Jr. of Green County, Kentucky mentions a son named John, most McCorkle researchers have concluded that the John McCorkle that married Nancy Wright, 7 Dec 1824, in Green County was the son of Samuel Jr. Some have also concluded that the John & Nancy McCorkle enumerated in the 1850 Ray County, Missouri census were the same couple that married in Green County, Kentucky. John McCorkle and his family were also enumerated in the censuses of 1820 Green County and 1840 Clinton Co., Missouri. Very unfortunately, John has not been found in the 1830 census.
Although the early McCorkles did not rigidly adhere to the traditional naming scheme of the Scots-Irish, most of them were quite diligent about naming their children after themselves, their spouses, their grandparents and their spouse’s parents and grandparents. I have used this tradition in analyzing the potential children of John McCorkle.
The John McCorkle found in 1850 Ray County was born in Virginia about 1780 and his wife Nancy Lydia was born circa 1802 in Kentucky. The five children with them were Lydia, John, Eliza, William and Earnita, all born after 1825 in Missouri. A married daughter, Nancy A. McCorkle Clevenger, born in Kentucky in 1816, was living with her husband on the farm next to the McCorkles. Nancy A. married William Clevenger on 10 Nov 1838 and was not enumerated in John McCorkle’s household in 1850; however, the McCorkles and Clevengers lived on adjacent properties and had a very close association over many years. Nancy A. was surely the daughter of a previous wife of John McCorkle. If her tombstone date is correct, she would probably have been the daughter of John’s second wife, Patsy Redmond. There is general agreement on the descendants of Eliza and Earnita and, until recently, almost all researchers have concluded that William married Nancy Clevenger, the sister of William Clevenger mentioned above. This was a logical conclusion based on the two families living in very close proximity; however, this investigation has uncovered indisputable evidence that Nancy Clevenger married William McCorkle, the son of Robert and Minerva Forrest McCorkle. This Robert was the son of John and Lydia Forrest McCorkle discussed below.
In addition, I have concluded that the John McCorkle that married Mahala Ann Long was the son of John and Nancy Lydia. This conclusion is based on a perfect birth date match in succeeding censuses, the names of their children and the lack of another father candidate.
In 1850, John, Nancy Lydia and their family were living near other McCorkles from Green County, Kentucky. These other McCorkles were the descendants of John and Lydia Forrest McCorkle. Lydia's husband John was the brother of Samuel Jr. and thus an uncle to John of Ray County. Lydia and her large family moved from Kentucky to Missouri after her husband was killed in 1814. The children of John and Lydia Forrest McCorkle have been established and published by several researchers. Only Alexander, the first child of John and Lydia, is known to have had children born in Kentucky; however, the 1850 Missouri census contains two married female McCorkles that were born in Kentucky, but were not the children of John and Lydia Forrest McCorkle or their son Alexander.
Sarah A. McCorkle Newby was born circa 1811, Kentucky and in 1830 was married in Clay County to George Washington Newby
Martha McCorkle Cravens was born circa 1822, Kentucky and in 1840 was married in Ray County to James C. Cravens
Based on the 1820 and 1840 censuses, the names of their children and the absence of another father candidate, I have concluded that Sarah was the daughter of John and his first wife, Ann Speer McCorkle and that Martha was the daughter of John and his second wife, Patsy Redmond McCorkle.
John McCorkle is also found in the 1840 Clinton County, Missouri census. In that year, the census profile for John’s family closely matches his family enumerated in 1850 Ray County. Samuel and James McCorkle and their families were living nearby. Because of their close proximity to John, many researches have assumed that these two men were John’s sons; however, the census family profiles of these men do not substantiate this assumption. The 1840 family profile for Samuel exactly matches the 1850 family of the Samuel that married Malinda Cameron and founded the town of Cameron in DeKalb County. This Samuel was the son of John, the brother of Samuel Jr. Likewise, the 1840 census family profile for James is a close match for the 1850 family of James, the husband of Mary Ann Means. James was also a son of John, the brother of Samuel Jr.
However, there was another Samuel McCorkle and another James McCorkle in the area between 1840 and 1850. The parents of these men have not been proved for good reasons. Neither was enumerated in the 1840 census and neither lived to participate in the 1850 census. James F. McCorkle married Sarah Stonum Edwards, 14 Jul 1831, in Clay County. James died about 1840. In his 1839 will, he named Anna, Elizabeth, Jenette and Rachel as daughters. Sarah later married Mordecia Harlow and Joseph Kenyon. Samuel D. McCorkle married Sarah’s sister Elizabeth Stonum, 9 Apr 1839, in Ray County and died about 1843 leaving a daughter Nancy. Elizabeth later married Jeremiah Newby. Also, George Washington Newby, the brother Jeremiah married Sarah A. McCorkle. Sarah was born circa 1811 in Kentucky and her first child was Nancy Ann Catherine Newby.
Based on the 1820 and 1840 censuses, the names of their children and an absence of another father candidate, I have concluded that James F., Samuel D. and Sarah A. McCorkle were children of John and Anne Speer McCorkle.
For more information about John McCorkle, the husband of Nancy Lydia Wright McCorkle, read “The Children and Grandchildren of Samuel McCorkle Jr. of Green County, Kentucky” found on the home page.
The above analysis is based on a mixture of hard data, circumstantial evidence and assumptions. Because many of the conclusions are not based on Bible records, wills or other court documents, these conclusions are not proof of the relationships. Further careful research of the court documents of Clinton, Clay and Ray counties might yield the information needed to prove the children of John McCorkle. Another research avenue is yDNA comparisons. This technology has the potential to prove or disprove many of the assumptions made in this analysis. I urge all male McCorkles that are interested in their heritage to join a yDNA project.
Revised Aug 25, 2007