Descendants of Isaac Morris and Belinda Little

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As with all genealogy, the following outline is a work in progress. Isaac and Belinda are third great-grandparents; I have no relicts or family stories about them; their information is strictly from research and collaboration with fellow descendants over the past twenty years.

If you are related and have additional information or corrections you'd like to share or just want to say hello, please drop me a line -- John McDowell Morris (

Isaac and Belinda (aka Malinda) were married 4-25-1826 in Davidson County, Tennessee, then geographically much bigger than today (Nashville and environs). The Cumberland River facilitated travel from North Carolina and southwestern Virginia and northwest towards Clarksville, Montgomery County, TN, just about 7 miles south of Christian and Todd Counties in Kentucky. The Cumberland veers back south and west before returning to its northwestward flow and crosses into Kentucky in western Trigg County, then merges with the Tennessee River where Trigg ends and Marshall County begins before emptying into the Ohio River at Paducah.

These two Tennesse counties along with seven in Kentucky (the four above plus Graves and Hickman in the west and Muhlenberg to the northeast of Todd, would cover much of the Morris story through the end of the 19th century with the addition of Ozark County in Missouri, and Lonoke, Arkansas and Fulton counties in Arkansas. A tight data grouping the statisticians might say, but what does it mean?

I can only conjecture but unmerited speculation is my specialty so here it is:

First, all are slave states. Other than Isaac having one slave in 1850, I've not found much evidence of slave ownership, but they came from southern states, they married folks from southern states, and they lived in and around slavery until it ended. That said, I've found none that served in the Confederate Army, several that did fight in the Union Army, and several that moved north to Indiana during or just after the Civil War.

Second, these were and are places where land is a little less expensive than average. Isaac and Belinda did not start from a high station. I've found no trace of Isaac's signature and Belinda coud neither read nor write. There's no evidence of land ownership, wills or estates; it appears they and their children were itinerant farmers, laborers, and sharecroppers, looking to find some land to call their own. Some children succeeded and some did not but almost all the grandchildren were land owners at some point.

Third, although not all 13 children and 66+ grandchildren were equally close, the intermarriages with common families (see below), migration to common places, and onverlapping children's names suggest to me many kept in touch and were looking out for each other.

The following families intermarried with the children and/or grandchildren of Isaac and Belinda Morris three or more times and some intermarried with each other. Originally from North Carolina and Virginia, these families all intersected in Christian County, Kentucky and overlapped for at least 15 years in the middle of the 19th century before gradually dispersing. They seemed to have built a sense of connection to each other and data shows them grouping and regrouping, visiting and helping each other out. The following are particularly notable families:

The Coon Family (also spelled Koon and Koons)

The Coon family in question was headed by John Coon, b. about 1794 in Virginia. He is in Todd County for the 1820 census and then Christian County for 1830, 1840, 1850, and 1860 censuses where he is last listed age 70.
His wife was listed in his marriage license as Maria H. Herndon but the minister named the bride as Martha W. Herndon. Given the family tradition of name changes, one can only speculate. But, the 1850 and 1860 censuses name her as Martha W., b. in Virginia sometime 1804-1808.

The 1820 census appears to show a first wife and one young child but their impact on the Morris story is unknown.
John had three children of particular interest, all with wife Martha. To whit:

Benjamin and Catherine were the first to marry - 12/30/1850 in Christian County, KY where Benjamin was working for the Allensworth family as a farm overseer and the rest of the Isaac Morris family (other than oldest daughter Clementine), was also in Christian County in close proximity to the Coons family (two households apart in the 1850 census)
Thomas and Emily married in adjacent Montgomery County, TN 12/17/1851
William and Lucy then married, probably 1852-1854 though I've not found a date.

The Herndon Family

You might think this refers to Martha W. Herndon but it does not. I've found three other Herndons, Polly, James, and Edmond who also married in Christian County during the 1820's. Their relationship to each other is plausible but uncertain at this point. Some have connected our Martha as a daughter to Joseph and Martha (Coleman) Herndon but the timelines are just off, the wealth gap between Joseph and Martha's family and the Coons is too wide, the large slaveholdings among the Joseph Herndon family don't jibe with John's lack of slaves are all negative considerations. In addition, Joseph's children seem to have moved farther south to North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Mississippi. I can't see that any went to Kentucky.

So, that brings us to Benjamin Franklin Herndon, born in Virginia about 1822. Given that the father of Joseph Herndon above was also named Benjamin Franklin Herndon, the connection would seem obvious, but if it exists, it eludes me. The connection between Benjamin Franklin Herndon and Martha W. Herndon is not obvious to me either. More research aboub the late 18th and early 19th century Herndon families might provide some answers. But for now, the connection to the Morrises is clear and begins about 1847-1848 when Benjamin most likely married Isaac and Belinda's eldest daughter Clementine, I'm guessing in Montgomery County, Tennessee. Here are the entanglements:

The Janes (also spelled Jaynes) Family

A Melchisedech/Melcizadek/etc. Charles Janes was born August, 1819 in Tennessee and appears in Lincoln County, TN in the 1850 census (directly south of Nashville, just north of Huntsville, Alabama)
1820 censuses show 60+ Janes households in Tennessee, none in Lincoln County but at least a dozen in Maury County, TN, SSW of Nashville and, maybe coincidentsally, the location of wealthy Joseph Herndon family above...
M. C. Janes and wife Zilpha Ann Pace had eight children. The Janes family connections are as follows:

My thanks and appreciation to cousins Todd Dorsett and Shirley (McFedters) Hale who long ago broadened my awareness of Isaac's fmily, and of course to Anne Morris for her 'Morris Milestones'!

Extended Morris Family Census and Draft Locales, 1820-1900

Extended Morris Households 1820-1863
Extended Morris Households 1870-1900
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