Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Children of John David Musgrove

Great, great grandpa* (see relationship notes below) John (known as David) Musgrove - born January 1847 - is the earliest ancestor we've found in our Musgrove line . We're not sure he was a biological Musgrove. Our y-DNA evidence matches a McMurry ancestor around this time.

His biological father isn't the only mystery about our ancestor. The number of his children is disputed. In particular, the Leverette family claims our ancestor fathered some Leverette boys.

In this final post on the subject, we tell grandpa David's story incorporating the Leverette family's rumor.

War Ruins Everything

The race was on July 27, 1860. The presidential election was just over three months away. Slavery was the issue and the American Civil War was on the horizon.

Our Musgrove family history starts that day with our great, great grandfather listed on the federal census as David Collins in Clinch County, Georgia.

He lived with his mom, her common-law husband - John Forbes Collins - his two younger brothers and an eighteen-year-old female slave.

His father was rumored to be James Walter Musgrove, son of Larkin Musgrove from Baker County, Ga. By this time, James Walter, Sr., was dead.

Thirteen-year-old grandpa David's alleged uncles were shot two months after the census was taken, accused of  aiding runaway slaves in Calhoun County, Florida.

Joseph Collins: Born 1863

On January 5th, 1863, amidst raging war, President Lincoln declared the second Emancipation Proclamation.

Later that same year a 'mulatto' boy, Joseph Collins, was born in grandpa David's house. John Collins was forty-seven, David, sixteen and the slave girl, twenty-one years old.

Grandpa David's younger brothers were thirteen and eleven years old.

If  John Collins was the father, our autosomal (combination) DNA results will match Joseph's descendants' results.

Our third great grandfather, John Collins, was the father of Elizabeth Arissa - our second great grandma Betty - Collins, who married our second great grandfather, David Musgrove.

If grandpa David fathered Joseph, all male descendants of both families- through an unbroken male line - are y-DNA matches.

Missing in Action

"In April 1862, the Confederacy passed the first conscription law in U.S. history...which made all able-bodied white men between the ages of 18 and 35 liable for a three-year term of service....In February 1864, the age limits were extended to between 17 and 50."  Wikipedia
In January of 1864, grandpa David turned seventeen years old. One month later the age of conscription into the Confederate Army was lowered to seventeen and raised to fifty-years-old. Grandpa David's brothers were too young to fight in the American Civil War.

Grandpa John Collins was at the upper end of the new age limits at forty-eight years old. Grandpa David Musgrove was at the lower end of the age limit; seventeen.  However, neither ancestor ever fought in the war.

Grandpa David's Step-Sister Wife

"...John F. Collins and Adelph Buttler were the parents of Elizabeth Collins. Sometime after James Sr. died, John F. separated from his wife and lived in common law with Elizabeth Bryan Musgrove and her three sons David John, Charles H. and James Walter. On a trip back to visit Adelph, John F. Collins picked up his daughter for a visit with the Musgroves. Elizabeth and David fell in love and were married."   
American Family Musgrove page 734

The Civil War ended May 9, 1865. David and Betty (Collin) Musgrove had two daughters before 1870.

Their first, Mary Ann Savannah (known as Molly), was born June 25th, 1867; Laura Janet Musgrove was born November 14th, 1868.

Grandpa David Musgrove is listed in the Property Tax Digest on the 'Poll of Whites" list in Ware County, Georgia for those years.

Kissing Cousins?

john Leverett
If the rumors are true, Betty Collins wasn't the only extended family member who was smitten by grandpa David. 

According to Leverette family reports, by 1870 he'd fathered the one-year-old John Leverette , born May 17th, 1869, with his epileptic cousin, Sarah Elizabeth (known as Betty) Leverette. Although she never married, Sarah had a child every four years after that.

It was her second son, Sam Leverette, who told his descendants his father was grandpa David Musgrove

Awkward Situation

Initially, this researcher was skeptical of the Leverette family claims. It defies logic.

If true, you would have a married David Musgrove living in Ware County, Georgia, impregnating grandpa John Collins' daughter - from Baker County but moved to Clinch County -  and grandma Elizabeth (Bryan) Musgrove's niece - from Dooley County but living in Clinch County at his mother's and his wife's father's house - around the same time. This continued every four years.

How would that look? Where were Betty and David 'hooking up'? And what about grandpa David's young, single brothers? They lived at home and neither of them married until their late twenties.

The Cathouse in Clinch County

It all seems unlikely until you consider the history of this family.

John Collins left his wife and eight children in Baker County, Georgia. He moved to Clinch County where he lived in common-law with Elizabeth (Bryan) Musgrove; a widow with three young boys we can't prove were related to one another.

A mulatto boy was born during the height of the American Civil War in the Collins' home.

The boy stayed on after the war.

After the war, grandpa David married his
step-father, John Collins', daughterDavid's mother and his father-in-law were charged with adultery and fornication around this time.

The Clinch County courthouse burned down the summer of 1867. John Collins and Elizabeth Musgrove married in Berrien County, Georgia, on August 29th, 1867 and the charges in Clinch County were dismissed at the temporary courthouse for the Superior Court session of 1868.

The only records left of that case shows the charges were dropped (N.P. - noll prossed).


It's tempting to think one of grandpa David's brothers fathered Betty Leverette's children. Tempting, until one considers the rumor itself.

Through her research, Sam Leverette's grand-daughter learned her grandfather's half brother married Sam's older brother, John's, step-daughter.

It was our great grandfather, Edward Columbus Musgrove, who married Macy Williams. The daughter of unwed Lucy Williams, she became John Leverette's step-daughter on March 22nd, 1894 when John Leverette married Lucy Williams.

John and Lucy had one daughter, Hattie Leverette, together in February of 1898.

NoteRelationships are expressed from the perspective of the grandchildren of Willis Edgar and Carrie (known as) Mae (Merritt) Musgrove. 

*Terms of relationship - grandmother, uncle, aunt, cousin, etc.  - are used here generically to include  relatives such as fourth great grandfathers, great grand uncles, second cousins twice removed, etc.

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