James Bynum was born about 1788 in North Carolina according to census and pension records. Although we can’t prove it conclusively, there is plenty of circumstantial evidence that he was a son of Isaac Bynum. First, we have Jasper E. Bynum’s statement in 1916 that Isaac Bynum had a son named James Bynum: “My grandfather John Bynum was born in 1784. He had two brothers, Asa and James, and two sisters, Rebecca and Cynthia. They were all born in North Carolina and all moved to South Carolina where they all married… I do not know who James married.” 1 We also know that James Bynum lived adjacent to Isaac Bynum in both Tennessee and Alabama for several decades. Since we have no other candidates to be his father, it’s reasonable to conclude that he was Isaac’s youngest son from his “first family”. He appears to have moved with his father from Chatham County, North Carolina to Pendleton County, South Carolina, then into Tennessee, and finally into Jackson County, Alabama.
The only contrary evidence is James Bynum’s age. Isaac Bynum’s 1790 census record shows him with only two males under 16, though he should have had three if James were his son (unless an elder son was already out of the household.) His 1800 census record shows two males 10-16 and one male under 10, the latter apparently being James Bynum. [The 1800 census also appears to understate the age of both Asa and James Bynum, who should have been about 19 and 11 respectively.] These two records suggest that James was not born until about 1790, though he consistently gives his age in later records as a year or two older. Unfortunately there is no 1810 census to help resolve this, since Tennessee’s census was lost.
We know from his pension records (see below) that James Bynum was married on Christmas Day 1810 “near McMinnville”, which was in Warren County, Tennessee. James Bynum is listed in the 1812 tax list of Warren County consecutively with his presumed father Isaac Bynum.2 It appears from grants to the nearby names on that list that they were enumerated in a district that was near the Franklin County line, across which were listed several other relatives and former Pendleton District families.3 [One of these was William Lusk, the minister who married him.] James Bynum had evidently moved into Franklin County by the time of the 1820 census, where he was enumerated with three males and one female all under 10.4 He and his wife are both 26-45.
Sometime in the 1820s James Bynum crossed the county line into Jackson County, Alabama joining his father who was probably already there. There are few records available for Jackson County, but he appeared there in the 1830, 1840 and 1850 censuses. In 1830, he was one household away from his presumed brother Isaac Bynum Jr. and a few households away from the other Bynums and families who had moved from Tennessee. He had four male children and four female children in the household. In 1840, James Bynum, Tucker Bynum, Jesse Bynum, and father Isaac Bynum were listed consecutively, and his oldest son John Bynum was listed a few households away. One son and five or six apparent daughters remained in the household. In 1850, James Bynum was listed consecutively with his sons John and Isaac. His age was given as 62, birthplace as North Carolina, and his occupation as “mechanic”. His wife Susannah was listed as “Ann”, age 58, born in South Carolina. A 32 year old David Bynum and a 22 year old Polly A. Bynum were also in the household.
There are no records of James Bynum claiming land in Jackson County. Although the early deed records are lost, it appears he either rented land or lived with a relative. The 1830 and 1840 censuses show no one in his household engaged in agriculture, and the 1850 census does not show him with any land. The 1850 agricultural census shows him with farm implements and livestock, but no land of his own. As far as we know his first land ownership was a result of his War of 1812 service.
Much of our information about him is a result of that War of 1812 service. On 12 February 1851 James Bynum, aged 62 and a resident of Jackson County, Alabama appeared in DeKalb County court and claimed that he was a soldier in Captain Thomas Delany’s company in the War of 1812.5 He stated he was drafted about 20 September 1814 in Franklin County, Tennessee and was discharged at Mobile about 20 March 1815. He received a warrant for 80 acres. Captain Thomas Delaney was a company commander of the 2nd Regiment of West Tennessee Militia for about a year. This unit was stationed at various forts in the Creek Indian territory and near Mobile. A muster roll for the company contains the names James Binnam, Joel Childress, Joseph Easley, and War Easley. Warham Easley, whose name appears on the muster roll, applied for a pension for service in that same company as a resident of Blount County in 1850. He stated that he was drafted at Winchester on the same day as James Bynum.
James Bynum appeared in court again on 17 January 1853 to swear that his written discharge paper “by some means it was placed in the hands of one Jesse Bynum some thirty five or thirty six years ago and since that time the said Jesse Bynum has died and the discharge cannot be found among his papers.” The Jesse Bynum referred to was apparently James Bynum’s uncle. Why he had entrusted his discharge paper to his uncle is unclear, but James Bynum and his family were obviously quite closely related to his uncle Jesse Bynum, who had died in 1848.
On 26 May 1855, in Jackson County, Alabama, he received a second bounty land warrant for 80 acres. He gave his age as 66 and this time swore he volunteered at Fayetteville, Tennessee [which is in Lincoln County] on 20 September 1814 and served six months as a private in Captain Delaney’s company of militia.
On 5 April 1871, Susanna Bynum, aged 78, applied for a widow’s pension.6 She declared to the DeKalb County court that she was the widow of James Bynum, who was drafted into Captain Delaney’s company of militia in Franklin County, Tennessee in September 1814 and was discharged near Mobile, Alabama in March 1815. She stated she was married under the name of “Susana Childers” [Childress?] to James Bynum on 25 December 1810 by William Lusk near McMinnville, Tennessee.7 She further stated that her husband died at home in DeKalb County on 19 August 1868. The Pension Office requested proof of her marriage, and on 2 October 1871 Solomon Easley, his wife Martha Easley, and Keziah Mitchell testified that they had known James and Susanna Bynum for fifty years and believed them to have been married as Susanna testified. [Martha Easley is a known daughter of Jesse Bynum and Keziah Mitchell was perhaps another daughter.] On 14 November, Solomon Easley separately stated that he was personally acquainted with James and Susannah Bynum in 1814 and that the reason his full period of acquaintance with them was not given in the joint affidavit was that the other two people “had known them only for about fifty years.” On the same day, William Bynum, a son of Jesse Bynum, added another affidavit, stating he was also personally acquainted with James and Susanna Bynum in 1814. Susanna was granted a widow’s pension of $8 a month.8
James Bynum used his first military warrant in 1853 to claim 80 acres in the southern central part of Jackson County almost on the DeKalb County line. His second warrant was used in 1856 to claim adjoining land. The line between Jackson and DeKalb counties was redrawn in 1858 and James Bynum’s land ended up just barely over the line in DeKalb County. In fact, the new county line ran to “Bynum’s Mill”, apparently referring to James Bynum.
He was in the 1860 census of DeKalb County as a farmer, age 71, born in North Carolina, with land valued at $200. Susannah was 60, born in South Carolina. David Bynum, age 41, was still in the household, along with Cynthia Morton, age 28, and her children. As noted above, James Bynum died in 1868. Susannah was listed in the 1870 census but not the 1880. There are no probate records in existence in DeKalb County for this period. Susannah was apparently deceased by 1880.
James and Susannah Bynum’s children are only partially identifiable. Since his father’s second family included several children of about the same age, it isn’t clear which children belong to James Bynum and which to his father. The absence of probate records for James or Susanna Bynjum in DeKalb County only complicates the question. Note that I have somewhat arbitrarily assigned some children to Isaac Bynum who may actually belong in this family.
- John Wesley Bynum (11 October 1811 – 20 March 1882) He was apparently the eldest, and can be proven to be a son of James and Susannah Bynum. See separate page.
- David Bynum (c1818 – aft1860) It is not clear if he was a son of James Bynum or of his father Isaac Bynum. Both James and Isaac Bynum had males aged 10-15 in 1830, one of whom was probably David and the other Tucker Bynum. [I have assigned Tucker to Isaac Bynum. We know that Tucker Bynum was an uncle of John W. Bynum’s son, thus was a child of one of the two men.] It is not clear where David Bynum was in 1840; both Tucker Bynum and Allen Bynum had “extra” males of the right age in their households. He was in James Bynum’s household in both 1850 and 1860. In 1870 he was enumerated with a wife Elizabeth and two children a few households from Susannah Bynum.9 My reason for including him here is mainly based on the 1850-70 censuses.
- Isaac Bynum (c1827 – aft1880) He was also called “Uncle Isaac” by Daniel W. Bynum, son of John Wesley Bynum, but seems more likely than the other two uncles (Tucker and Jesse) to have been a son of James Bynum. He is in the 1850 census adjacent to James Bynum with a wife named Elizabeth and a one-year old son named Jesse. ON 28 March 1859 he and his wife Elizabeth J. Bynum sold their land in DeKalb County evidently preparing to move to Texas.10 By July 1860 he was in Titus County, Texas where he appears in the census near John W. Bynum. Later censuses through 1880 identify his wife as Elizabeth Jane and his children as: Jesse G., Mary A., William C., Martha Ellender, Solomon M., Sarah F., Cynthia A., James W., Martin L., Susannah, and a female named “L.J.” His wife was an Easley, according to two of the children’s death certificates.
- Mary Isabel Bynum (c1816 – ?) Her son stated in 1911 that his mother’s maiden name was “Isabel Bynum, she was the daughter of James and Susan Bynum who lived at Alabama.”11 She married an Evans about 1833 in Jackson County and had two daughters, Susannah and Belinda S. Evans. Her husband evidently died in the late 1830s and she remarried to John Shelton, by whom she had six more children: Levi, Isaac Bynum, John Allen, Nancy Matilda, James, and Mary. She and her husband moved to Titus County along with her brothers John and Isaac. They were in the 1860 Titus County census, and in the 1880 Morris County, Texas census. (They were in Arkansas for the 1870 census, and some children apparently stayed there.) One of her children, Susannah Evans, married Jesse Bynum Easley.
- Cynthia Bynum (c1832 – ?) She may have been a daughter. She appeared in the James Bynum household in 1860 (age 28) with her Morton children. In 1870 she was married to Mark Lacy with two of her Morton children in the household, located adjacent to Susannah Bynum.
Daniel W. Bynum, in a letter written to his parents, referred to Tucker W. Bynum and Jesse Bynum as “uncles”. He may have been referring to his father’s uncles rather than to his own uncles. While one or both of these men may have been children of James Bynum, I have listed them as children of his father Isaac Bynum.
The 1840 census shows one other male aged 15-20. Since he would have been born after John W. Bynum, that means he was likely born ca1813-4. Who this person was is unknown.
Census records suggest that James and Susannah had at least six daughters. Beyond Mary Isabel Bynum, and perhaps Cynthia, the others are unknown. The Polly A. Bynum in their 1850 household may have been a daughter (or she may have been the wife of David Bynum). Another might have been Sarah Messer, the wife of William Messer, enumerated next door to James and Susannah in the 1850 census, who had two children named James and Susannah. Susannah Bynum was listed in the 1870 census with a Susannah Bynum, age 28, in the household – where she was in 1850 and 1860 is unknown, but she seems much too young to have been a daughter.
- Historical Sketches of the Bynum Family, Jasper E. Bynum, 1916 (Reprinted by The Southern Democrat, 1958), p1. [↩]
- The Warren County tax list of Christopher Shell consists of 81 names, with Isaac Bynum, James Bynum, and William Mitchell being consecutive. [↩]
- In Franklin County were listed John Bynum (Isaac’s son) and George Glover (Isaac’s son-in-law) consecutively, along with numerous Pendleton County families. [↩]
- This census is arranged alphabetically, apparently with several districts merged. James Bynum was in a different district than his uncle John Bynum and John’s son George. George Glover, William Lusk, and several other related families were also in this census, but it’s impossible to know what districts they were in. It is interesting, though, that a Blake Bagget, thought to have been the father of Allen Baggett, was listed adjacent to James Bynum. [↩]
- This item from Alabama Records, Vol. 229 (DeKalb County), Jones & Gandrud, p34-36. [↩]
- Widow’s Application for Pension Under the Act of February 14, 1871, No. 1536 [↩]
- McMinnville was in Warren County, but very close to Franklin County, so it’s not clear exactly where the marriage took place. [↩]
- War of 1812 Widow’s Pension No.1222 [↩]
- This David Bynum is a mystery. He is in James Bynum’s household in both 1850 and 1860. Earlier censuses identify only one son in that age range, and that son appears to be Tucker W. Bynum. It is possible that David Bynum is a son of Jesse Bynum, who had died in 1848, although he is not mentioned as a heir. David Bynum is in the 1870 census, age 51, with a wife Elizabeth 37 and two sons: John 3 and James C., 1. [↩]
- DeKalb County Deed Book F, page 634. [↩]
- Arkansas 1911 Census of Confederate Veterans, Bobbie J. McLane and Capitola Glazner. [↩]