Saturday, December 15, 2007

Huguenot Or Not?


Stories of French Huguenot ancestry have been handed down through the generations in many of the branches descending from the Pardue/Perdue families from the lower Appomattox River of Virginia, when, in the words of the English writer, Evelyn Waugh, "the unlettered had long memories".

Those stories have persisted down through those branches long separated by time and distance. While it is not conclusive, and no single source, or combination of sources, provides a precise account that can determine the earliest ancestor, the oral tradition of those stories combined with records of descendants separated by a single generation from the earliest documented generations, strongly suggests that there was a common P*rdue ancestor of French Huguenot ancestry who came to Colonial America. And, and most probably he was among the French Refugees who began to arrive in the Colony of Virginia in July 1700. The chaos and turmoil that prevailed in France during the century previous to the coming of the French Refugees to Virginia precluded any French immigrant not Huguenot as being highly unlikely.

The tantalizing clues of the earliest spellings, the signatures of the name in early documents, and those traditions of French Huguenot ancestry handed down by descendants of many of the sons of John Pardue who died in 1769 in Bute County, North Carolina, combined with the stories of French ancestry through lines of descent of the Perdue families who remained in the Appomattox River area, strongly suggests the probability that the earliest colonial ancestor of these families was, indeed, among those first French refugees.

John Pardue who died in Bute County, North Carolina moved there from Amelia County, Virginia in 1761. He left a will naming fourteen children, eleven of whom were sons. Through lines of descent of his documented sons and their progeny, in researching and compiling a history of this family through a period of almost forty years, the tradition of French Huguenot ancestry is the compelling common thread of original colonial ancestry.

In original records in which there is an actual signature of the individual, and not a clerk's rendering, the name, as signed by John's third son, Joseph, was clearly written "Pardue" two separate times on payroll receipts in records of his service in 1756 and 57 in the Seventh Virginia Militia Company in the French and Indian War, and, then, again, in 1789, when he signed his will Joseph Pardue.  

It appears that the records in jurisdictions where John and, or, his sons had become established as a presence in the community, the spelling of the name was more often rendered Pardue in the public records, depending, of course, on other circumstances, not the least being degree of literacy, or understanding the language.  Many of the early Huguenot records in Colonial Virginia were written in French for a number of decades after the arrival of the refugees.

The earliest records, combined with the oral traditions and the earliest references wherein the name was spelled Pardue, and in several early biographical sketches of descendants in which their French ancestry was explicitedly stated, each one sketched, born in the early decades of the nineteenth century, some less than a hundred years after the coming of the French Refugees to the James River, further adds credence to the tradition of French Huguenot ancestry. The sketches demonstrate that each had living relationships with parents and grandparents who lived in the days of John of Bute County, further augmenting the probability of French Huguenot ancestry.

The biographical sketch first noting French Huguenot association is found in a history of Baldwin County, Georgia of Samuel Medlock Singleton. He married Sarah Anne Christian, noted in the sketch as the daughter of "Elizabeth Pardue....the daughter of Lilliston Pardue, a Huguenot."  Lilliston Pardue was born in 1748 as documented by Revolutionary War Pension records by his wife, Sarah West, and was one of the middle sons of the eleven sons named in the will of John Pardue who died in 1769. 

“Samuel Medlock Singleton was born in Putnam County, Georgia, February 14, 1809, and when quite a young man became a citizen of Lexington, South Carolina. It was in that State that he married Sarah Anne Christian, of Edgefield, S. C., whose mother, Elizabeth Pardue, was the daughter of Lilliston Pardue, a Huguenot, and Sarah West (his wife)... In 1840, Samuel Singleton and wife located in Milledgeville and lived on the lower corner of Wilkinson Street…Later they lived in Midway, moving from there to Eatonton, in 1872, where he died, March 25, 1896. He was buried in the cemetery at Milledgeville. Samuel and Sarah Anne Singleton's children names were: John Chappell; and Earnest, who died in childhood; Samuel, died while a prisoner-of-war (Civil) at Elmira, N. Y.; Elizabeth; Ellen; Martha; Stewart; Charles; Laura; and Robert. All of this large family with the exception of three, have passed into another world. Ellen, (Mrs. Sam Pearson); Martha, (Mrs. A. B. Zachery); and Laura, (Mrs. J. L. Walker) who now live in Waycross, Georgia. ”Biographical Sketch: Cook, Anna Maria Green, History of Baldwin County, Georgia; Anderson, S.C.: Keys-Hearn Print. Co., 1925, 495 pgs. Page 448-449."

Sarah Anne Christian was born in 1820, the daughter of Elizabeth Pardue and Stephen Christian. Elizabeth was born in 1796, the daughter of Lilliston Pardue and his wife, Sarah West. Sarah (West) Pardue died in 1859 and her daughter, Elizabeth, died in 1886, both living long within the lifetime of Sarah Anne, and one, if not both, very probably were the ones from whom she obtained the knowledge of the Huguenot history of her grandfather, Lilliston Pardue. Sarah (West) Pardue was listed in the 1850 Cherokee County, Georgia Federal Census in the household of Thomas Hughes, her son-in-law.  Sarah Anne (Christian) Singleton was listed in the 1880 in Georgia Federal Census of her husband.

Of note, is that Sarah Anne (Christian) Singleton’s youngest daughter, Laura (Singleton) Walker, was a historian early active in historical projects in the Middle and South Georgia.  She also wrote an early history of Ware County, Georgia and became a member of DAR on the service of Lilliston Pardue.  She is also considered one of the first major conservationists and the Laura Walker State Park in South Georgia is named for her.  It was originally established as a national park and it was the first national park to be named for a woman. Later it was transferred to the state of Georgia which now has jurisdiction over it.

In unpublished family papers in possession of descendants of Joseph Pardue, the third son of John Pardue, it was recorded that Dr. George Madison Pardue, Joseph’s great-grandson, upon his coming to Montgomery County, Tennessee in 1849, reported to his cousins that the name was correctly spelled Pardue, that it was a French name and that it was originally spelled Pardieu. Dr. Pardue was the grandson of George Pardue, born ca 1758/9, the eldest son of Joseph Pardue who died in 1790 in Warren County, North Carolina. George Pardue married a Miss Sarah Rowland who was born in 1762.

When Dr. Pardue moved to Tennessee from Granville County, North Carolina he live for a while with his cousin, Littleton John Pardue, who was born in 1804, where also, lived Sarah (Rowland) Pardue, mother of Littleton John and grandmother of Dr. Pardue, where both were recorded in the household of Littleton John Perdew (sic) in the 1850 Montgomery County, Tennessee Federal Census. Previous to Dr. Pardue’s arrival to the home of his cousins the name was recorded in the Littleton John Pardue family Bible as Perdue, when, thereafter, the spelling was changed to Pardue.

In another unpublished manuscript, compiled from family papers of her father, Thomas Williams Pardue, Willie Mae Pardue, a granddaughter of Littleton John Pardue, wrote an overview of the ancestry of her Pardue family noting them as of Huguenot ancestry, a copy  of which is possession of this writer.  Both George Pardue - the father of Littleton John and grandfather of Dr. George Madison Pardue - and his wife Sarah (Rowland) Pardue were living within the lifetime of John Pardue who died in 1769. George Pardue was born circa 1758/59 and was about ten years old at the death of his grandfather.

In an 1889 history of Vandenburgh County, Indiana, a biographical sketch was published of Rachel H. Purdue, which appears to have been an oral interview of Rachel, in which it was noted that Richard, the father of Howel Gregory Purdue, her father-in-law,  was of French ancestry. Richard was one of the middle sons, also, of John Pardue who died in 1769 in Bute County, North Carolina. Howel Gregory Purdue, John's grandson, was born circa 1790 and Rachel had married his son, Richard Robeson Purdue, who died in 1858.

Unfortunately, the account in this history of Vandenburg County is somewhat garbled, either by editing or by confusion of the information which earlier had been told to Rachel, who, in trying to remember stories from the far distant past, and in the process of remembering may have interpolated many of the facts recounted even perhaps to her by her father-in-law previous to his death in 1850 and before the death of her husband in 1858.

This account also seems to be the source of the many accounts, by different researchers of this branch of the family, that Richard was the father of 22 sons and that his name was Richard Robeson Purdue. The only extant Federal Census record available for Richard is the 1790 Federal Census of Anson County, North Carolina, (posted elsewhere on this site) where, aside from himself, were enumerated four other males, all under age 16, born between 1774 and 1790, one of whom may have been his new son, Howel Gregory Purdue. Between 1790 and 1800 Richard moved to South Carolina, and by the time of the enumeration of the 1800 census he appears, then, to have moved into Georgia, and within three years had moved on to Montgomery County, Tennessee, where he died in 1811. Neither the 1800 Georgia census, nor 1810 Tennessee census records have been preserved.

“Rachel H. Purdue…was born in Butler County, Ky., and when four years of age she accompanied her parents to Warrick County, Ind. They settled in the vicinity of Boonville, in the fall of 1827....She was married in Warrick County to Richard Robeson Purdue, July 18, 1841. Prior to the Revolutionary War, Richard Robeson Purdue, Louis Gregory Purdue, and another brother emigrated from France and settled in South Carolina.

"When the war broke out one of the brothers went with Washington and the other with Marion, and both fought until the close of the war. Richard was married before he entered the army and had three children. In all, he was the father of twenty-two sons, when his wife died. He was married the second time and had one son, Howell Gregory Purdue. His second wife dying, he was married again and had another son, Jarrett Purdue. He then died, and his widow married a Frenchman, Gabriel Visor. Howell Gregory, Richard Purdue's only son by his second wife, was married August 25, 1814, to Miss Nancy Jane Dixon, whose mother was Ellen (Evans) Dixon. She and her husband were both natives of South Carolina, where he was born October 21, 1790, and she December 30, 1795. They were married in Kentucky, but made their home in Tennessee.

"They were the parents of eleven children, viz.:Richard Robeson, born February 3, 1816, Jarrett G., Ellen E., William D., Andrew V., Howell G., Basil B., Susan, Oliver L., Nancy J.  They were born in Montgomery County, Tenn., except the last four, natives of Warrick County. The parents emigrated from Tennessee to Kentucky in December, 1829, and the next fall reaching Warrick County. His death occurred July 5, 1850, and she passed away February 4, 1868.  After their marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Richard R.(obeson) Purdue resided in different parts of Warrick and Spencer counties until 1853, when they removed to Marion County, Ill, in which place they resided until his death, October 2, 1858. They were the parents of nine children: Jarrett G., born June 10, 1842, who enlisted in 1861 as a private in the Twenty-fifth Indiana volunteer infantry, and after participating in the battle of Shiloh, died near Corinth, Miss., June 10, 1862; Susan M., born September 5, 1843, died November 2, 1844; William H., born August 30, 1846; Orrin C, born June 24, 1848; Richard H., born April 9, 1853; Samuel D., born March 13, 1856, James B., born February 6, 1858. After her husband's death, she returned to Warrick County, where she was married to Rufus Roberts, the marriage taking place in April, 1859. Two sons resulted from this union: Rufus J., born October 12, 1860, died in infancy, and Union B., born April 14, 1862. When the latter was only a few weeks old, she and Mr. Roberts separated, since which time she has remained a widow, and made her home in Warrick County, until the summer of 1886, when she removed to the city of Evansville, where she still resides with her youngest child. ”Brant and Fuller. History of Vanderburgh County, Indiana. Madison, Wisc. 1889. Pages 617-618."

Howel Gregory Purdue was, as stated, Richard’s only son by Eleanor Gregory, his second wife, who died previous to the death of her father, Howel Gregory, who died in Columbia County, Georgia in 1813, and her share of her father’s estate accrued to her son, Howel Gregory Purdue. 

This account, stating that Richard Purdue had a brother named Louis Gregory Purdue, seems very probable an account given close to the time of it publication in 1889, and the considerable time lapse created confusion as to which sides were which in the family of Rachel's father-in-law, Howel Gregory Purdue.

From accounts of descendants of the Perdue families of Chesterfield County, Virginia, there is also a tradition of French Huguenot ancestry, the earliest one, found by this compiler, for William N. Perdue born ca 1810 in Chesterfield County, the father of Edgar N. Perdue, where the former was noted as having been born of “representatives of the fine French-Huguenot element that early found homes in Virginia” in History of Virginia, Volume 4; Page 78, Philip Alexander Bruce, Lyon Gardiner Page, Richard Lee Morton.  American Historical Society. 1924.

A later account in a history titled Chesterfield – An Old Virginia Colony; Page 80, Francis Earle Lutz. William Byrd Press, Richmond, Virginia. 1954, notes that “William Perdue, a French Huguenot, received a patent of 240 acres of Land”.  

Along with the above accounts, threads of French Huguenot ancestry also run strongly through a number of lines living later in the nineteenth century and early part of the twentieth century giving serious consideration for the need to attempt further research of the Huguenots in England just prior to 1700, when many sojourned there as refugees, after the Revocation Of The Edict of Nantes in 1685, many of them affiliated with the Huguenot churches in London and elsewhere as they waited out their fate.

Genealogy is never done; it is always a work in progress!  


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