Everyone probably has areas of their family history that they are especially interested in, and for me that interest has always been focused on Jesse Beck (son of Jeffrey, grandson of Edward), who was born in North Carolina in 1765 and lived later years in Georgia and Alabama. When I started looking for him about 10 years ago, there were no family charts on him in any state I looked, and some sources even believed he had died young. When I finally found him one day while doing research in the McClung Library in Knoxville, that was one of the happiest days of my "genealogical life."
Now I have my second really happy day. I believe I know the last name of Jesse's wife, Sarah. I use the word "believe" because I don't have a wedding license, a will or a bible that absolutely proves Sarah's marriage to Jesse. What I have is some circumstantial evidence that is fairly compelling, at least to me, and I would like to share it with anyone interested in this family.
Before I start, though, I ask that anyone who wants to use Sarah's last name, as proposed here, to please not add it to any family chart or web site without the circumstantial evidence. Someone made a wrong guess about Jesse's mother, Susannah, being a Gibbs more than 20 years ago, and it is still being perpetuated, probably because the reasons for the guess where dropped somewhere along the line. So, that being the case, why would I take the same chance with Sarah's name now? It is a risk, I agree. But I also feel that family history should be about sharing. By sharing research on her name, someone may find more evidence one way or the other about Sarah, and then we'll be even closer to the truth.
Okay. I believe Sarah's last name was Moon, and she was the daughter of Thomas and Leucrecher Moon, born in 1772 in North Carolina, where she probably married Jesse. Various branches of the Moons lived on Deep River, near Brush Creek--where Jeffrey Sr.'s land was. What makes me think Sarah was a Moon? Here is how the research developed.
(1) LAND AND TAXES IN GEORGIA: After thinking about how some of Jesse's sons ended up living with or near their fathers-in-law, it occurred to me that Jesse himself may have done the same thing. His father, Jeffrey, died when Jesse was just 14, and Jesse lost his land to his brothers at age 20. So where would he go? Probably not to the brothers to whom he had lost his land, and Jesse had no aunts or uncles in the area.
The first time Jesse shows up in public records after losing his land in North Carolina is in Columbia County, Georgia, where he bought 50 acres of land from Thomas Moon. Witnessing the deed was Jesse Moon. As I researched local tax records and lottery drawings, I found that Jesse Beck was always located near various members of the Moon family. Could Thomas possibly be Jesse's father-in-law?
(2) NORTH CAROLINA BIBLE: I posted what I thought was a hopeless gesture on the Moon board, asking if anyone had any unmarried, unaccounted-for Sarah Moons, born in North Carolina around 1771. (I know this from the 1850 census where Sarah was listed as 79 years old, born in NC.) Karen Dale, one of the most generous, intuitive, tenacious researchers I've worked with, answered me, God bless her, with a copy from the Moon Bible, once owned by Edith Wertz, that lists Sarah Moon as the daughter of Thomas and Leucretia Moon, born on July 7, 1772 on Deep River in North Carolina. To her knowledge, no one has noted a marriage for Sarah before.
(3) GIVEN NAMES: The next thing Karen and I discussed were the common occurrences of names between Sarah's Moon family and her own sons: John, William, Jesse Jr., James, Jeffrey and Edom.
(a) Sarah's grandfather was John Moon; I don't think Jesse would name his son for the brother who sued him.
(b) Sarah's uncle was James Moon.
(c) Sarah's brother was Edom. This is the name that caught us all along, since it is uncommon, and Jesse Beck and Sarah lived near Edom Moon, showed up to pay taxes together and drew for land lotteries at the same time.
That leaves us with two questions: Why wasn't there a son named Thomas? And who was William named for? Karen and I don't really know for certain. The only guess we have for William is that William Willingham could possibly be Sarah's maternal grandfather, but we're still working on that one. As for Thomas, we don't know, unless they lost a son in infancy.
One more name: Mary. The only daughter of Sarah's that I know about is Mary (also Polly), who was born in 1800 in Columbia County. Sarah's grandmother's name was Mary. Since Mary is very common, you can't rest a whole case on it, but it is worth noting since there were no Mary's in Jesse family before his daughter, except an aunt he probably never met who married a Halsey in Pennsylvania.
(4) LAND IN NORTH CAROLINA: I returned recently from a trip to Randolph and Chatham Counties, and Raleigh, to look for exactly where the Moons lived in North Carolina. The Bible states Deep River, but different family sources have Randolph, while others have Chatham as the location. According to what I was able to learn from land records, the Moons lived in both counties, near Deep River and Brush Creek. That's where Jeffrey Sr.'s land was. Sarah's father, Thomas Moon, lived on the Chatham side, and his brother, James, lived on the Randolph side, a little nearer to the Becks.
It is possible that Jesse and Sarah lived with James before moving to Georgia, based on Karen's tracking of all the Moons in the 1790 census in Randolph and Chatham. Given the nature of the census, though, we have to say it is just a guess based on the ages and numbers of females and males in each household.
(5) LAND IN GEORGIA (AGAIN): Although I had found that Jesse Beck bought land from Thomas Moon, Karen took it a step further to track all Moon land in Columbia County. After looking at the land records on film, she found Jesse Beck in more places with the Moon family than just the single deed I had found, and she concluded he was as present as other Moon family members.
(6) DATES: Just one last "coincidence": Jesse's son John was born in 1792 in North Carolina, and son William was born in 1793 in Georgia, according to the 1850 census. Guess when the Moons probably moved to Columbia County, Georgia? Yep, 1793 when Thomas Moon first bought land there. Jesse Beck didn't buy his land until 1800, but we know where the Becks were because of the birth of William and John.
So that's the circumstantial case. To summarize:
(a) Thomas Moon's daughter Sarah was born about the same time as Jesse's wife, Sarah, according to census and bible records.
(b) The Moons and Becks lived near one another on Deep River, N.C., as proven by land docs.
(c) The Moons and Becks lived together on Sullivan's Creek in Columbia County, Ga., as shown by land docs, and they paid taxes and drew on lotteries together, appearing side by side in those records.
(d) Some of the Beck children had Moon given names.
(e) The Becks moved to Georgia at the same time as the Moons, probably living with them for approximately seven years before buying their own land, something that is usually done with family.
I will appreciate any feedback anyone has to offer, pro or con. I know I don't have the whole case locked up, because I don't have a definitive, discussion-ending document. Having said that, I must say it just feels terribly right to me. And I've been more than fortunate in having Karen Dale, a Moon researcher, to work with in tracking this down, and sharing similar conclusions. If I had a genealogical wish to grant everyone, it wouldn't be just to find long-lost family members; it would also be to find, as I have, such a wonderful working friendship with a "cousin" who is tireless, dedicated and funny as Karen is. Any inaccuracies in this document are mine, though, not hers.