Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Lea Family of Caswell County, North Carolina

Perla Clay Otken stated: I am a granddaughter of James Lea, son of Zachariah Lea and Sabrina Clay; son of Luke Lea and Elizabeth Wilson; son of James Lea and Anne Talbot. Thus, she places herself in line of James (Country Line) Lea.

Letter from Perla Clay Otken, McComb, Mississippi, 27 August 1931

James Lea, according to tradition, emigrated from England and settled first in King and Queen County, Virginia, and then moved about 1750 to North Carolina in what is now known as Caswell and Person County. He located about two miles west of Leasburg, a village subsequently established and named for the family. My sister, Frances, is quite a genealogist. Were she at home now I'd ask her to write you, as she is better versed in family history than I, and has a great deal of data which is authentic, as she secured it in person from records on file in Hanover Court House, Hanover, Virginia, the Lawson-McGhee library in Knoxville, Tennessee, and the courthouse in Rutledge, Granger County, Tennessee.  While in Tennessee, she copied the marriage license of great grandfather Zachariah Lea, who with his wife, his wife's mother, my grandfather James and his wife, are all buried at my mother's old home about twelve miles from here in Amite County, Mississippi.

Two cars full of Lea grandchildren visited this sacred spot last Sunday afternoon. Four generations are sleeping beneath those gnarled cedars on that lonely hill-top.

Your friend, Perla Clay Otken

Comment: This was the depression, cars and roads of the time in southern Mississippi lend a certain "pathos." I am grateful that sister Frances traveled to several states in her determined search for the proof necessary to prove descent. My guess it was for DAR as they required copies of originals.

August 26, 1931

Dear Miss Lea:

Yours of the 13th was promptly received. I thank you for the information regarding the Lea family and found it interesting. I have not seen Addie lately as she lives so far, and neither of us has a car available, at our disposal. I will copy the data and give her the typed copy as you had intended sending it to her. When cousin Eugenia was here she let me copy from the data she had, and later I wrote to her sister Willie but she gave me no dates. I think they are descendants of the forefathers of Solomon Lea, while I am from the father's side, Dr. Calvin Lea. He was my mother's first cousin. Addie and I were named for my grandmother, daughter of Rebecca Lea.

Yours sincerely,

Adilea Henderson Jordan (Mrs. Thomas A. Jordan)
546 Egan St. 
Shreveport, Louisiana

Notes: To help tie in these persons with North Carolina and Louisiana Lea, I will list their line:

Adilea's father's side was Dr. Calvin Lea:

1. James Lea and Ann Herndon (married 1731)
2. John Lea and Winefred (will 1803)
3. Benjamin J. Lea and Nancy Kerr
4. Dr. Calvin Lea Married (1) Emily Griffin in Mississippi (son James Kerr Lea); (2) Sarah Hayes.

Calvin Lea's brother, James Kerr Lea, married a Griffin sister, who died after giving birth to several children.

Excerpt from letter of Mrs. Mary Otken Lewis (Mrs. B. F. Lewis), Jackson, Mississippi, 23 October 1931.

Miss Maria Shelton, as descendant of Major Lea and Elizabeth Herndon, and who died last year, always contended that the old Lea's were "Royalists" and that was the cause of Luke Lea's and Major Lea's emigration to Tennessee, or rather the old State of Franklin, of which they were original settlers. Luke Lea, my ancestor, was the entrytaker or surveyor of the land, and Major Lea, his brother (some say twin) was one of the commissioners to lay out the county site [seat], Rutledge. The old court records bristle with the names of their children, their land deeds, their marriages, etc.

Note: Rutledge, Granger County, Tennessee, is bordered by the Clinch and the Tennessee Rivers north of Knoxville. One would pass through the area here to the Cumberland Gap, or go down the Tennessee River to the Ohio River, and down to Missouri or Mississippi. This was the route taken by the Lea family.

These lovely women make several salient points. Their work seems carefully researched and exhibits knowledge of their subject. Perhaps the letters will help. It was my cousin in Louisiana, Evolina Blakewood Marshal, who had the letters in her boxes of family files. She picked up many documents over the years.

Betty Fitzgerald
31 December 2011

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