Jackson family genealogy charts Mefford family genealogy charts Personal histories, books and periodicals used for research Biographies of living Mefford descendants
Photos and histories regarding locations important in the Mefford history A bulletin board for queries, questions and answers Links to other genealogy sites David's main index; http:david.mefford.org

“How We Came To Be Americans”

A History for the family of Elman L. and Bertha M. Jackson 

Sketches of Life in America

     William Sherrill Sr., known as “The Indian Trader”or The Conestoga Trader,”was born sometime between 1670 and 1680. William Sherrill Sr. And his sons, William Jr. and Adam are credited with the opening of the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia in the 1740s. It is claimed that he accompanied his sons to the Catawba River in North Carolina in 1747. He may have gone on to Tennessee with them, but he would have been getting up in years by then. William’s known children were: Adam (The Pioneer), William Jr., Margaret and Mary Sherrill. (Quoted from “Captain William Sherrill, son of Adam and Elizabeth and Some of Their Descendants” by William Andrew Sherrill, 1979)


     William Sherwell or Sherrill, born in Devon, England abt 1667 and a weaver by trade was a prisoner headed for the cotton fields or Barbados but was put ashore in the Maryland colony about 1690. He settled at first in Cecil County and later in Lancaster/ chester County Pennsylvania, a little further up the Susquehanna River. This is William the Conestoga Trader whose son was Adam, the Pioneer. (Steven Sherrill, 2001) William married Margaret Rudisill.



     John Gant was born abt. 1713 in the Isle of Wight area of Virginia. In 1728 he is mentioned in a will written by John Gent of Isle of Wight County, Virginia, along with his brother, Thomas. John Gent refers to his wife but does not mention her name. We believe John Gent was the immigrant in the Gant family and came to Virginia before 1713.


     John was about 24 years old when he settled in the Shocco district with his wife and at least three young sons, having married when he was only 18 years old. We have found records that give us names of his eight sons but we have not found records that would give us the name of his wife or the names of any daughters that he must have had. It was here is the Shocco District of NC that John would buy more land, raise his crops and cattle, take an active part in the community and teach his children how to survive in the colonial frontier of America.



     Richard Perkins was born abt 1663 in Plymouth, Devonshire, England and died abt 1705 in Swan Creek, Maryland. He married Mary Ute abt 1688. She was born abt 1667 in Harford County, Maryland and died in Swan Creek, Maryland. He and his wife settled in 1683 on 100 acres of land on the head of Mosquito Creek in Baltimore Co. Maryland. Their annual rent was four shillings.      


     Richard Perkins was a cooper (a craftsman who makes or repairs barrels or casks) from Plymouth, England. Early Maryland transportation records show tha Richard had arrived in Maryland in 1674. Whether he was transported there for England or from another colony is unknown.


     His eldest son, Richard II, and his wife, Mary Sherrill, (sister to Adam, the pioneer) settled on 175 acres of land on the west side of the Susquehanna River in Baltimore County. Among the Spesutie Parish records we find also the birth of their son Richard III, 18 Dec 1713. It was once supposed by some that he was born in the mountains of Virginia, but more probably he lived there, having been born in Maryland. Richard III married Elizabeth Cutchen or McCutchen 5 Jan 1734 in St. George Parish, Baltimore Co. Maryland. She is described as a girl from the frontier.


     Brigham Young Perkins, a descendent says, “He lived in the mountains of old Virginia. He was a large powerful man. He burned pitch and charcoal, and often carried a tomahawk in his belt, by which he earned the name “Tomahawk Dick”. His ancestors came from England. He had some trouble with the Irish. He whipped thirteen of them one morning before breakfast, and afterwards a good many of them in a drunken state, threw him out of an upstairs window in a large building and killed him. He was about 76 years old at his death. He was buried in Old White Church Cemetery, but the church history has him down as Thomas Perkins, and the court clerk has him as Thomas Hawkditch, suggesting both misunderstood his nickname.


Lincoln County, NC records have:

“Inquisition Indented Taken this eleventh day of July in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine at the Court House of the County of Lincoln before me John Moore, Esq’r one of the Justices of the peace for sd county upon view of and upon the oath of Robert Blackburn, David Falls, Robert Luckey, Henry Dellinger, Francis Cunningham, Arthur Graham, John McGanhey, James Bryson, Absolom Bonham, Andrew Hedrick, Michael Sommrow & William Ramsey, good and Lawful men of sd county who being chaird and sworn to inquire How and in what manner the said Richard Perkins by his death came upon their oathes do say that on the night of the ninth instant in the year aforesaid & at the Court House aforesaid a certain Exekial Polk, Junr. Of the County of Mecklenburg & State aforesaid and John Hunter late of Lincoln County aforesaid by force and arms did assult the sd Richard Perkins being then and there in the peace of God & under the protection of sd state, and that the said Exekiel Polk & John Hunter with force and violence did thrown down sd Perkins on the floor of the second story of said Court House and afterward throwed said Perkins out of the window of the second story of said Court House being seventeen foot nine inches high of which fall said Perkins died and so they said Ezekiel Polk & John Hunter him the sd Richard Perkins then & there feloniously killed & wilfully murdered contrary to the Laws & Peace of sd state and further adjourers on their oaths do say that sd Ezekiel Polk, Junr. And John Hunter at the time of the murder committed had no goods or chattles, lands or tenemants in the said County of Lincoln aforsd. In Testimony whereof I the said John Moore Esqr., Justice of the Peace for said County as the juniors aforesaid. To this Inquisition have severally put their hands and seals this day and year first above mentioned (this document appears in the July/ August/ September 1980 issue of Bits and Pieces; published by the Lincoln County Historical Association)



     Rev. John Vans of Barnbarroch, Wigtownshire, Scotland, born 1617, went from Scotland to Ireland to avoid religious persecution. He lives in Ireland for 45 years in County Donegal until he died in 1661. He had six children, the eldest being Lancelot Vans. He was a doctor who died at the siege of Londonderry. Lancelot had five children, one of who was John of Coagh, of County Tyrone, Ireland. John of Coagh had six children all of whom came to America. Elizabeth was the grandmother of Andrew Jackson. John, Patrick, and William received grants of land from the Penns and went to America in 1694. Andrew followed, first went to New York and then settled in Lancaster County (now Cumberland County) Pennsylvania. John, Patrick and William joined Andrew in Pennsylvania and then James followed latter. They were defrauded of the purchase of their lands and joined an expedition and moved about 65 miles south in the Shenandoah Valley, a continuation of the Cumberland Valley of Pennsylvania.



Colonial Life


     The Vances settled with quite a number of Scotch-Irish Presbyterians near the Opequon Creek which is located between what is now Winchester, Virginia and Martinsburg, West Virginia. The name Scotch-Irish was misnomer. They were not Scots and Irish mixture, but rather Scots who had first moved to Ireland and then when disenchantment came to the Irish move, many of their numbers migrated to America. They were joined in this exodus by protestant Irish and religiously persecuted Presbyterians coming directly from Scotland to the Colonies. They were not Scottish Highlanders but men of the moors that created the Scottish Kirk. They came from Northumbria where many people had migrated at the time of the Norman Conquest. The Vans line has historical ties to King James and the line of nobility of Sir Patrick Vans of Wigtonshire.  


     Andrew and James Vance probably came first to America in the early 1700's or earlier as young adventurers. They then returned to Ireland where they were married and began families. Andrew married Jane Hoge and James married Mary Hoge. Later, possibly about 1710-1714 they returned to America with their family.


     Andrew and James were not ministers. They were closely allied to the profession as their father-in -law, Reverend William Hoge, was a minister as was their brother -in-law. The Reverend Charles Vance was a York County, Pennsylvania minister. He was probably a cousin of Andrew and James and they were acquainted.


     Andrew and Jane had a son, Samuel, in Ireland in 1691. It is through his posterity we descend.


     The Shenandoah Valley lands were mostly open rolling prairies. The nearby Blue Ridge Mountains were timbered. This arrangement was no accident of nature. The Indians had used fire to keep the valley lands free of timber. The luscious grass attracted herds of deer and antelope so the valley was used as a grass pasture for the favorite wild game of the Indians. Whenever the opportunity presented itself, the Indians set fire to the pasture lands and burned off the dead grass, the old tree stumps and any new seedling trees that would soon have returned the land to a forest if fire had not been used. Thus a ready-made land was found by the early settlers. This “find”also brought their first problem. The Indians weren’t anxious to give up their hunting pastures nor did they want the region plowed for crops. There were so many settlers that wild game soon became scarce and had to be sought in the mountains. Indian resistance was in the form of sneak attacks on families or field workers.


     A blockhouse had proved a good fortress against Indian attacks. Most blockhouses were some twenty to thirty feet square and two stories high. They were made of straight logs at least twelve inches in diameter. These structures went together rapidly as the lower story had no doors or windows in it. It was a total enclosure. One entrance was made. It was not a door, but a section of wall that fit very tightly to the side of the building. When the section had been moved into place and the inside brace secured, a strong battering ram would not break the section in. Arrows could not penetrate the thick logs.


     The second story on the blockhouse had its unique features of defense, too. It was larger than the base story by some five to ten feet. The overhang was measured to be longer than a man’s reach of his arms. If an Indian sought to climb the side of the blockhouse to attack its residents from above, the overhang of the second story stopped his climb. The upper story had no windows either, but it did have openings that were too narrow for a man to slide through but wide enough to fire a gun through. The four-sided slope of the roof met at a top peak that had slots near the top. Indians often shot arrows of fire into the roof to set the building on fire. Containers of water were kept in the peak of the roof so water could be poured downward over the building to put out arrow fires.



     Isaac Lollar was born 1714 in Burke Co. North Carolina. He came to Rowan Co. NC in the 1750's with the Sherrills. They served in the same 1742 Militia unit in Augusta Co. VA. Isaac was a justice of the peace in Lincoln Co. NC. We don’t know his ancestry.




Revolutionary Soldiers and families

     Robert Biggen Perkins (Richard III, Richard II, Richard I) was born March 16, 1735 in St. George Parish, Baltimore Maryland, and died April 6, 1832 in Lincoln Co., North Carolina. He married Elizabeth Lollar 1750 in Lincoln County, North Carolina, daughter of Isaac Lollar and Elizabeth.


     Robert Biggen Perkins was a soldier in the Revolutionary War. His great-great-grandson Brigham Young Perkins claims, “My second great grandfather, Robert Biggen Perkins, was a soldier in the Revolutionary War. At one time, just as he was bringing his gun down on a Tory to fire, a musket ball came and shot the lock off his gun, leaving him otherwise unhurt.

     A Revolutionary War pay voucher from the North Carolina State Dept. has “This may certify that by the Upper Board of Auditors for the District of Salisbury, Robert Biggen Perkins was allowed Four Thousand Seven Hundred & Twenty Pounds currency for Sundry Public Claims which his is to Receive agreeable to an act of the General Assembly passed at Hallifax in January 1781. Unfortunately most didn’t actually receive any pay for services during the Revolutionary War because the new government had no way to tax or to raise money to pay them.


     A certificate dated May 10, 1781 records that the Commissioner of Burke County, NC gave credit to William Gant (son of John) for suppling provisions to the Revolutionary War troops in the form of “Forty eight pound of Bacon and 5 bushels of Indian Corn.


     Ute Perkins was drafted in 1773 to Capt. John McDowell's Company and served as a private, then was drafted by Capt. David McFall’s Co. He was shot through the breast with a musketball that went through and lodged in a shoulder-blade. He was allowed twenty pounds four shillings for Militia Service. The Gant family must also have come along in migrations with the Perkins family, for wherever the one is, we find the other. The Perkins’ neighbor on Mountain Creek in North Carolina were William and Anna Woods Gant. The Gant’s eldest daughter, Sarah, married Ute in 1781.

     Ute Perkins was the first white man in what is now Fort Green Township in Illinois. He was an outstanding pioneer, and was instrumental in laying out cities and farms where there had been only wilderness. He became a prominent leader in various political, civic, and religious affairs around Carthage and Nauvoo and helped establish the town of Macedonia (now Webster) where he joined the church.

Families in Nauvoo

    Ute Perkins (Robert Biggen, Richard III, Richard II, Richard I) was born 16 July 1761 in Lincoln County, North Carolina (still a colony) and died 12 March 1844 in Macedonia, Hancock County, Illinois. He married Sarah Gant July 15, 1781 in Buncombe Ashville, North Carolina, daughter of William Gant and Anna Wood. She died 6 Jun 1845 in Carthage, Hancock County, Illinois.

    Ute and Sarah heard the Gospel preached by their grandson, Andrew Huston Perkins who had labored as a missionary with an Elder Miller in the south and was a close friend and body-guard of the Prophet. The Perkins family were among those who were persecuted by folks who had been friends and neighbors. They were some of the saint left behind when most of the saints left Nauvoo. Both had been baptized in their old age, about the time the Prophet was killed.

     Ute Perkins was described by a descendant as medium tall, with a light complexion and blue eyes. He had the earliest birthdate of any Mormon. In other words, he was the oldest convert to the Church in this dispensation. Sarah Gant was described as a ‘Holland Dutch” woman, very tall, dark-complected, with black hair and black eyes.


     Sarah Lavina Gant Perkins died 18 Dec 1836 and is buried in McDonough Co. IL



Coming to Utah


    John Vance came to Utah in 2 Oct, 1847 in the Jedediah M Grant Company. He was born in Tennessee on 8 November 1794. We don’t know exactly when he joined the church but it may well have been Elder Andrew Huston Perkins who taught them just as he taught Sarah’s parents. After Sarah died in 1836, John married Elizabeth Campbell 7 March 1837. John and Elizabeth had three children while living in Illinois. They joined the saints in the great exodus from Nauvoo. In July 1846 he was one of eighty nine bishops called to look after the wives of the Mormon Battalion. His youngest son, Lehi Moroni, died at Winter Quarters. He was called as a bishop to assist in bringing the saints to Utah. He also served as a counselor to Bishop Perkins in the 7th Ward in Salt Lake City. We was also a High Counselor in the 7th Ward and a visiting teacher. John was a farmer, Salt Lake City School Commissioner and Justice of the Peace.



    Samuel Jackson was born 10 Mar 1816 in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England. We find him in Wolverhampton in 1849 at the age of 34 as a newly baptized member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The Ward records list him being baptized on Nov. 8th byJames Bell. While there, Samuel was active in the Branch and for a time served as the Assistant Superintendent of the Sunday School. He was also one of the Secretaries for the Perpetual Emigration Fund (Wolverhampton Branch Minutes). He was a younger son of a shoemaker (Thomas Jackson) in Shrewsbury. Likely he was looking for better opportunities for work. His father had too many sons for him to dream of inheriting a shoemaking business.

    Samuel emigrated to America Dec. 31 1850. It is interestingto note that below his entry is that of Hannah Walker, age 34 with the same mailing address. There seems to be no record of her husband, Joseph Walker, on the ship, although family traditions say he died on the voyage. Later records in Provo, Utah state that her maiden name was Holt. Samuel married Hannah possibly on the ship. They sailed on the “Ellen” from Liverpool on Jan. 4, 1851 bound for New Orleans with Captain Phillips (A Brief History... David Mefford)


     Adolph Joseph Bohn (age 27, from Aalborg) came to Utah in 1854 as part of the Hans Peters Olsen Wagon Train. He and his wife, Karen Marie Neilsen Bohn were baptized in Denmark in 1851. They sailed from Liverpool, England 3 Jan 1854 aboard the ship “Jessie Munn”. After they had been to sea for 3 weeks, their youngest, Emma, became seriously ill and passed away and had to be buried at sea. Karen Marie became so ill after this that she suffered a heart attack, but did not die. She kept faith however, and the Lord blessed her many times. They arrived in New Orleans, 10 Feb 1854, and began their journey to Utah. They arrived in Salt Lake City in the Fall of 1854.



     Peter Madsen was married to Mary Ann in November 1847 in Denmark. From 1848 to 1849 he fought in the Danish-German War. During this time he was shot in the back but the bullet stopped in a Bible he had in his pocket. He promised God to do what He asked after being saved from harm. In 1853 two missionaries knocked on their door. His wife was ready to listen but Peter was not. While fishing, the Lord reminded him of his promise and he accepted the visit of the missionaries. They had three children by the time they joined the Church on 11 Jun 1853. On Christmas Day in 1853, they sailed for Hull, England on the small steamer, “Eideren”. From Hull, they took a train to Liverpool. During the trip, an unidentified fever caused the deaths of their two youngest children. They continued their journey on the sailing ship, “Benjamin Adams”, arriving in New Orleans. From there, they sailed up the Mississippi River. They arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on October 5, 1854 as part of the Hans Peters Olsen Wagon Train (with Adolph Joseph Bohn family)



     Niels Anderson was born in Sweden. He married Ingaborg Paulsen who was born in Norway. They both traveled across the Plains with the Matthias Cowley Company and arrived in the Salt Lake Valley 13 Sep 1857. They settled in Ephriam Utah .



     Ingeborg Pehrsson Thomander arrived in Utah in 1862. When she was 18 years old she heard the gospel message from the missionaries and was the only member of her family to join the Church. Because of this she was told to leave and never come home and darken the door again. Much research has not found the name of the poor ship she sailed on but it was reported that it sank on its return to Europe. She found her way to Winter Quarters and then walked to the Salt Lake Valley. On her way to the valley she met Peter Thomander. They were married shortly after their arrival in the valley. Ingeborg went down to Circle Valley, in what is now Piute County, with her husband to help establish a new settlement. Indian troubles forced her to return alone to Ephriam carrying a two week old baby and with a two year old son by her side, also driving a cow with her. Her husband, Peter, had to remain behind to fight the Indians. The baby, Martha Caroline, was my Grandmother’s mother.



     John Richardson and his wife, Ann Hudson, were converted in Epperston, Nottinghamshire, England. They left Liverpool with their eight year old daughter, Hannah, on a ship called “Cynosure”, which had been condemned for travel on the seas. Elder George Q. Cannon blessed the vessel that it would arrive safely, and it did. Hannah had to be tied to her bunk for three days because of storms. She had her eighth birthday while on the ship. She also had measles and was very ill.


     At Counsel Bluffs the family joined with the Rosel Hyde Handcart Company to come across the Plains. They arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on October 16, 1863. John died two days after entering the Valley.


     Ann Hudson had difficulty making a living for her daughter and herself. She later married William Perkins Vance, who had been a scout for Brigham Young while crossing the plains. In 1874 he married Hannah as well. This was not well accepted by Ann. Hannah also is reported to have been opposed. Rumor has it that she was in love with a young man who was sent to colonize another area.



     Hans Knudsen and Bergitte Larsen came to Utah in 1864. He had been educated for the ministry of the Lutheran Church in Norway. Bergitte had an earlier marriage. They were introduced to the Church and baptized in January 1863 in a mill pond. They became the object of much persecution, and decided, therefore to sell their possessions, and leave their beloved homeland for Zion, with their eight children. They had considerable silver, china, woolens ready for the journey. They traveled to Denmark, Hamburg, and then across the ocean on the ship “The Monarch of the Sea” under the leadership of Patriarch John Smith. Hans purchased the best team and wagon available to make the journey across the plains. Along the way they were asked to leave their valuable treasures, with an understanding they would get them back, but they never saw them again. They arrived in October 1864 and traveled with the John Smith Independent Company.


     Their daughter Bertha was four years old when she arrived in Utah. She later married Peter Madsen Jr., who was the first male child born in Fort Provo and grew up in Lake View, Utah. My uncle, Sheldon, mentioned that they used to have a parade in Lake View and all the pioneers who crossed the plains got to ride on a float. Bertha got to ride but her husband, Peter had to walk alongside. He also qualifies as a pioneer though, a native pioneer.

James L. Jackson


This page and all of its contents is Copyright (C) 2005.