A couple of years ago, I submitted a DNA sample to the company, 23 and Me, for analysis. It was interesting and fun to learn about my various ethnicities and regional origins. An even more enjoyable aspect of this service that I did not anticipate when I first signed up, but that has become invaluable in my genealogical research, is that 23 and Me has put me in touch with many distant cousins who all use their service. Several of these newfound cousins have shared interesting information about certain ancestors – information that I may never have found on my own.
One cousin I met, who is descended from my paternal grandmother’s lineage, pointed me towards two old books that mention my 5x-great-grandfather, Hartwell Weaver (1750-1822). The books are part of a three-volume set entitled “History of Methodism in Tennessee” by John D. McFerrin that were printed in the 1870’s and 80’s. The excerpts are presented below.
From Volume 2 of “History of Methodism in Tennessee”:
From Volume 3 of “History of Methodism in Tennessee”:
Hartwell Weaver was born in Virginia about 25 years before the American Revolution. The above excerpts tell us he had a palsied arm, a condition he probably had from the time of his birth. We might assume, based upon the descriptions above, that he was an eccentric fellow. He married Lucy Jane Knight of Chesterfield County, South Carolina, when he was only 17 and she was 15. They resided in Chesterfield County for at least the next twenty years. All seven of their children were born there. In time, at least two of their sons – Frederick and Cannon (my 4x great grandfather) – moved to Monroe County, Mississippi, where my ancestors in this branch of the tree resided for the next four generations.
In older age, Hartwell travelled with Methodist ministers on their preaching circuits in middle Tennessee. They were called “Circuit Riders”. It was a common Methodist policy in those days – especially in rural areas – to assign preachers to a “circuit” of several towns rather than to a single church, especially in towns where congregations were not large enough to support a full-time preacher. Even today, most Methodist ministers are required to move to another church after a certain number of years.
The first excerpt suggests that Hartwell was traveling the circuit in the years around 1819. This was ten years after Hartwell’s wife, Lucy, died, so it is reasonable to assume that he began this work in the wake of her passing. In 1819, Hartwell was 69-years-old and, by these accounts, quite likable. The first excerpt also states that he was not a preacher himself, so he probably accompanied the ministers to provide company, conversation, and safety in numbers. Hartwell apparently won many friends along the way, earning for himself a favorable nickname and the privilege of being mentioned in Mr. McFerrin’s three-volume “History of Methodism in Tennessee” so that this little slice of his life might be recounted by distant descendants some 200 years later.