John Slone is a mysterious ancestor for whom almost no record survives. We know he existed largely because the death certificate of Sarah Louisa Slone (1840-1926), wife of Daniel W. Bynum, identifies her parents as John Slone and [blank] Isbell.
Her husband, Daniel W. Bynum kept records in a family Bible which was purchased about 1894.1 Unfortunately, it does not name her parents. However it does record that she was born in Jackson County, Alabama on 9 September 1840. The same date also appears on her gravestone. [Her death certificate erroneously records the year as 1841.] The Bible also records her marriage to Daniel Bynum on 20 August 1857 in DeKalb County, Alabama.
Neither Sarah Louisa Slone nor her immediate family appear in the 1850 census. I believe she was residing in or near Township 6, Range 5, which covers the intersection of Marshall, Jackson and DeKalb counties. The 1850 census — oddly enough — completely ignored a few dozen families living in that area.
Her parents were both born in Alabama according to her death certificate and the 1880 and 1920 censuses. The 1900 census lists both of them as born in Tennessee, which appears to be erroneous. (The 1910 census omits her name altogether and, in an apparent copying error, lists her and both parents as born in Texas.)
Family Stories and Legends
Mr. D. E. Bynum, the grandson who inherited the family Bible, told me in 1979 that Sarah Slone had a relative named Samuel B. Slone who was a legislator in Alabama. Sarah’s granddaughter (my own grandmother Passie Louisa Witt Taylor, who was named for Louisa) told me in 1980 that Sarah had an uncle or great uncle named Jesse B. Slone. Another grandson, Duane Witt, wrote in his diary in the 1970s that his grandmother Bynum was Sarah Louisa Slone and that she had a brother named Jess Slone who had a store called Slone & Malone in Decatur, Alabama.
Ruth Lanphear, who descended from a sister of Daniel Bynum and who had interviewed one of Sarah’s nephews, wrote to me in 1980 to tell me that Sarah was the daughter of John Slone and Mary Isbell, and that Mary Isbell remarried to John Pate in 1843. Several members of the family repeated a family legend that John Pate abandoned his family and ran away with one of his Slone stepdaughters.
Incidentally, the Bible records her name as Sarah Louisa Slone. Her name is “Sarah L.” on her death certificate and “Louisa” on her gravestone. Censuses list her as “Louisa”, except for 1880 in which she is “S. L.”
All the grandchildren and great-grandchildren that I contacted agreed that Sarah Louisa Slone Bynum had a half-brother (from a different father) named William Marcus Pate who also lived in Titus County, Texas.
The 1840 census:
Sarah Louisa Slone was born in 1840 three months after the effective date of the census. (The “as of date” for the 1840 census was, at least in theory, June 1.) Whether her mother was already widowed or not is unknown, as is the composition of her family. If we assume that her father was still alive in 1840 — and heading a household — we would expect to find him in Jackson County or somewhere nearby.
There is a John Sloan in the 1840 census of Marshall County, although the ages of the children do not match later records. From the adjacent names in this census, and their land grants, we can place his location as just east of the Tennessee River quite close to the border with Jackson County. The census shows him with one male under 5, two males 15-20, two females 5-10, three females 10-15, and one female 15-20. He is in the 40-50 age category and his wife is 30-40. Note that the ages of the three sons don’t match the sons we’ve deduced, and the wife’s age does not match Mary Isbell’s, but he is the only John Sloan anywhere in the area who might be our subject.
There are no probate records that survive in Marshall County for anyone named Slone.
Assuming this is our John Sloan, Mary Isbell must have been a second wife. The 1860 and 1870 censuses give her age as 44 and 52, respectively (and give her birthplace as Tennessee). That would make her about 24 in 1840, younger than the female in John Sloan’s household and not nearly old enough to be the mother of most of the children.
The Widow Mary Remarries to John Pate
John Sloan apparently died between the 1840 census and 1 February 1844 when his widow remarried. There are no records in Marshall County that might tell us more. The widow married John Pate, who was in the 1840 census of Marshall County with his own family.2 [He had been enumerated in the eastern corner of Marshall County within a mile or so of the Jackson County line. He was shown with a female under 5, himself 30-40, and a female 20-30.] There is no sign of John Pate or of the Slone children in the 1850 census anywhere in Alabama, Tennessee, or Georgia. For several reasons (see footnote) I think it is more likely that they were simply missed than that they were elsewhere.3
[There were two Pates, John C. and Thomas, in the area who might have been brothers. John C. Pate, who is in both the 1830 and 1840 censuses, apparently died before the 1850 census, which shows a Margaret Pate with several children. She remained in Marshall County through 1870. From census and marriage records, it appears John C. Pate and Margaret had children named Mary Ann Pate (c1827) who married a Story, then Daniel Cellars, Thomas Pate (c1837), and Elizabeth Pate (c1839) who married John L. Kirby. Thomas Pate is in the 1840 census and is shown in 1850, age 59, in the household of an apparent daughter Margaret (c1830). John Pate appears likely to be the son of Thomas Pate, given his proximity in 1840.]
John Pate disappears
According to the Texas descendants, John Pate is said to have run off “across the river” with one of his Slone stepdaughters. (The story was sometimes told as “the eldest stepdaughter”.) That must have been in the late 1850s, since William Marcus Pate was born in 1858. In 1860, Mary Pate is in the Marshall County census in the same area in which John Pate appeared in 1840. She is age 44, with the three Pate children in her household. In 1870, Mary Pate, age 52, is in the household of her daughter Minerva with Minerva’s three children and William Marcus Pate. [The third Pate daughter may have married by this time, as I did not find her in the 1870 census.]
In 1860 she was located only two households away from John Sloan and his wife Jemima Minnix, evidently living on or near John Sloan’s land claim about halfway between Meltonsville and the Jackson County border, and only a mile or so west of DeKalb County. In 1870 she was enumerated in roughly the same area only 36 households away from Jesse Slone.
Mary apparently died shortly after the 1870 census. (There are no probate records in Marshall County for either John Pate or Mary Pate.)
Assuming we have the correct 1840 census record, there were probably six daughters and three sons in addition to Sarah Louisa Slone. The only one of the three males who is anywhere in the area in 1850 or 1860 is evidently John Slone. Two of the females are conjectured, the rest are unknown. The children of John Sloan, possibly by a wife other than Mary Isbell, appear to include:
- John Slone ? (21 August 1827 – 31 January 1893) He may be a son of John Sloan, though he would have to be one of the males aged 15-20 in the 1840 household with an overstated age. He married Jemima Minnix, daughter of Abner and Hannah Minnix, in Marshall County on 4 May 1847. Abner Minnix had been living in the same small area as John Pate in 1840; if John was in his stepfather’s household in the 1840s that might explain how he met his wife. In 1850, he is located near Abner Minnix in Jackson County, only a couple of miles from the 1840 location. In 1860 he is in Marshall County, only three households from Mary Pate, with his mother-in-law and a brother-in-law in the household. By 1870 he is in the Milam County, Texas census. Both John and Jemima are buried in Coryell County, Texas where their gravestones have his date of birth and death.
- Nancy Abigail Slone ? (25 April 1831 – 25 February 1896) She seems likely to have been a daughter of John Slone, but this is purely speculative. An Abigail Slone married Enoch Simmons in Marshall County by license dated 7 June 1845.4 This implies Abigail was a resident of Marshall County at the time. I could not find Enoch Simmons in the 1850 or 1860 census (another missing name!) but they are in both the 1870 and 1880 censuses in Township 6S Range 5E in the same area where the Pates were living but just over the county line in Jackson County. Both are buried in the Chaney’s Chapel Cemetery in Jackson County where their gravestones read: Enoch Simmons (12-27-1809 – 12-1-1901) and Abigale Sloan Simmons (4-25-1831 – 2-25-1896). In 1870 her name is given as “Nancy A.”, age 39.
- Sarah Louisa Slone (1840-1926) See the page for Daniel W. Bynum.
Mary Isbell Slone remarried to John Pate and had the following children:
- Manerva Pate (ca1845 – ?) She was age 15 in the 1870 household and age 23 in 1870, by which time she had three children (apparently out of wedlock) named Martha Ellen Pate, Columbus G. Pate, and Merietta Pate. She was still in Alabama in 1880, and had added a daughter named Belle. She and her children moved to Titus County, Texas shortly after the 1880 census. Manerva apparently never married. Her son Columbus G. Pate (1868-1902) moved to Titus County, Texas where he married Ellen Van Zandt around 1891.
- Rebecca Pate (8 February 1857 – 11 April 1899) She may have been a couple of years older than her Cookville Cemetery gravestone date, as she was 5 years old in the 1860 census. She married Henry J. Ryan. They were in Cookville, Titus County, Texas by 1880 when they appeared in the census living next door to Sarah Louisa SLone and her husband Daniel Bynum.
- William Marcus Pate (5 January 1858 – 19 January 1930) His mother apparently died shortly after the 1870 census. William Marcus Pate’s daughter Lalor said her father’s mother died when William was about twelve. William then lived with “an aunt” before moving to Titus County, Texas sometime before 1880. He appeared as a 22-year old servant in the 1880 household of Elihu Southerland and his wife Rebecca Bynum in Cookville, Titus County, Texas. In 1885 he married Susan Alice Bynum, daughter of James Wesley Bynum (who was a brother of Daniel Bynum).
- The Bible was in the possession of a grandson named Daniel Edward Bynum of Bogota, Texas in 1979 when I had a telephone conversation with him. He told me the Bible carried a notation that it was purchased on 13 March 1894. [↩]
- 1840 Marshall County census, p83: John Pate 000001-10001. He is listed 22 names away from Thomas Pate. About half the intervening names obtained land grants in Township 6S, Range 5E in the late 1830s and 1840s. This township lay partly in Marshall County and partly in Jackson County. By 1852, the southeastern corner was part of DeKalb County. [↩]
- The AIS census indices are not particularly reliable, so I carefully checked the census for Marshall, Jackson, and DeKalb page-by-page and did not find John Pate or the rest of the family. The persons surrounding John Pate in the 1840 census had land grants in Township 6S Range 5E, which is the same small area in which Mary Pate appears in the 1860 and 1870 censuses. It therefore seems likely that they remained in the same location, rather than leaving and later returning. I note that the 1850 census was delayed in all three counties, with some areas not counted until early 1851. The census takers may therefore have been rushed. It is also possible that people living near the borders may have escaped mention in any of the counties; several of the immediate neighbors of both John Sloan and John Pate in 1840 are nowhere to be found in 1850 either, but do appear in 1860. [↩]
- There was no marriage date noted. [↩]