The Bartholomew-Carroll Mystery


In honor of my Irish roots on St. Patrick’s Day, I am writing about one of my family mysteries: my third great-grandfather who was rumored to be Irish and who had a surname change around the age of 50.

Jack Carroll and Amanda Ganis - EditedAndrew Jackson “Jack” Bartholomew Carroll was born in about 1823 in Knox County, Tennessee (according to his death certificate). In his early years, he used the surname Bartholomew. At age 27, Jack was on the US Census in District 13, Jefferson County, Tennessee, along with his first wife, Mary Brown, and their son, Joseph. Ten years later, he had remarried to Amanda Gainus. They lived in Springfield, Robertson County, Tennessee. In 1870, Jack and Mandy had eight children living with them in Barren Plains, Robertson County.

Here’s where things get strange. On the 1880 census, the family is now using the last name Carroll. (Spelled Carrol or Carrell as well.) Jack would have been 57 years old, with the name change taking place sometime in the last 10 years. All of his children, including children now in their adult years, adopt this name too. The new last name is used on census records, marriage records, death records, and all official documents.

This makes it tough to track down Jack’s parents. There was a Joseph Bartholomew living in Knox County on the 1830 census with a male age 5 – 9. Joseph is a good candidate to be Jack’s dad, or at least adoptive father, since Jack named his first born son Joseph.

Joseph Bartholomew died on 18 May 1831 in Knox County, Tennessee. From his death notice, we can gather he would have been 58 at the time of Jack’s birth, which is possible, I suppose, since there was also a lady age 30 – 39 in the household.

Knoxville Register: May 25, 1831, Wednesday Died Knoxville last Wednesday evening, Jos Bartholomew, aged about 66 years, an old Revolutionary War soldier.

As for the name change, let’s talk about theories. I’ve heard A LOT of theories.

  • I was about 10 years old when I did a family tree project for school. I remember going to my grandparents house and writing down names of ancestors. When it came to the Carroll family, I was told that two brothers came from Ireland with the last name of Bartholomew. One changed his name to Barnum and started the circus, and the other changed his name to Carroll. It was an exciting story for a fifth-grader, indeed, but it didn’t add up with historical facts about the real Mr. Barnum.
  • It was rumored that when Jack moved to Robertson County, he opened a store in Greenbrier. His customers had a hard time spelling, pronouncing and remembering his name, so he changed it to something easier: Carroll. There are no documents to back this up. On tax lists and census records, there is never a mention of Jack owning a store. A distant cousin tried to find this store in old records and couldn’t.
  • Another theory is that Jack was hiding from someone or something. A cousin found an old court record from a few years after Jack started going by Carroll that also identified him as Bartholomew, so it doesn’t appear he was trying to hide his name change. He also lived in Robertson County during the name change, and if I was hiding from someone, I’d probably move far away, or at least out of the county!
  • Jack’s grandson, Harvey, thought the name change happened when Jack immigrated, but we know that’s not the case either.

All hope is not lost. I might not ever know the reason for the name change, but I might be able to find Jack’s family. Ancestry DNA has helped me find other “lost” family members, and I’m confident it could help solve this mystery. Jack was my grandmother’s great-grandfather, so testing her DNA would be the best option, however, she has passed away. The next best option is to test one of her brothers or sisters, which I hope to do one day. They live a couple of states away, so it complicates logistics. My dad’s cousin did take a DNA test recently, so it is possible for us to find answers through her test. Until then, I’ll keep searching for clues! UPDATE 4/6/2018: I did test my grandmother’s brother, but I haven’t found any answers yet. I will post a new blog entry after gathering more facts.

As for Jack, he lived in Robertson County, Tennessee until his death on October 27, 1910 at the age of 87.

If you are related to the Bartholomew, Carroll or Carrell families, I’d love to hear from you. Email me at

19 thoughts on “The Bartholomew-Carroll Mystery

    1. eacarrell

      My husband is a descendent of the Carrell family. His grandfather was Herschel Carrell. We will ask his dad if he will be willing to do the DNA tests.. we are both awaiting our results now. We have also been taught the Circus story. I have heard his family toured and helped start up the Circus with Barnum but was not part of the Barnum family.


      1. Erika Carrell

        I just asked my father in law if he would be willing to do the DNA test. My husband and I both did kits through I stumbled upon the name change when researching his family. Jack was my father-in-laws great grandfather. He said he would be willing to do the DNA test to see who would link. He told me this evening that the Bartholomew to Carroll/Carrell change was because they were outlaws. I have not been able to find any court records or other documents to go along with this. He said his grandmother and great aunt really knew the family history, nd he wished he would have listened better, but he was not interested in that stuff when he was younger. The family cemetery in Tennessee has both Carroll and Carrell spellings on the headstones. He said that when his father was married the first time they used the “oll” and with the second wife and younger children they switched to the “ell” so half siblings are buried with separate spellings. My email is:



        I am currently trying to find out where Andrew/John J. Carroll and Amanda Carroll are buried. I have found two Carroll cousins and spent some time with them last night. I am wondering if you are related to Amanda Jane Bollinger?



    Jack and Amanda Gainus – his third wife had nine children. His daughter Callie Carroll/Bartholomew married my grandfather Charles Nelson Bollinger. They had at least 8 children that lived and as best as we can figure out they had four babies that died soon after birth.


      1. Ron Bollinger

        Jack and Amanda had a son named Robert Lewis Carroll. Robert had a son named William Madison Carroll. William had a son Billy Carroll with whom I met with last night. I also met with Billy’s sister Sherry and his cousin Terry whose father was Jesse Winzel Carroll. So you are related on the Carroll side not the Bollinger side.


      2. Correct, I am only related to the Carrolls…or Carrell as my family spell it now. My grandmother was a Carrell, her father was Harvey Carrell, and his father was John Franklin Carrell, son of Jack and Amanda.



      Jack died October 27, 1910 in Robertson Co. Amanda died May 11, 1930 on Scott Street in Nashville, Tennessee. Not sure who she was living with at the time.


  2. Pingback: Genealogy Wish List for 2017 – Down Home Genealogy


    My grandmother Callie Carroll and John Franklin Carroll are sister and brother. So therefore John Franklin would be my great uncle.


  4. Pingback: John Franklin Carrell – Down Home Genealogy

  5. Danielle Carroll-Vandiver

    My Carroll line starting with my father Leonard Harold Carroll( 2 December 1948 – 15 August 1997)> Leonard Lloyd Carroll (1925 – 2 July 1974 )> Oscar Valentine Carroll(2 November 1889 – 12 February 1976)> James John Carroll (14 November 1861 – 19 June 1937) > Andrew Jackson Bartholomew-Carroll (12 April 1823 – 27 October 1910).


  6. Rick Tidwell

    Hey Devry – long time, no talk. Hope you are doing well! I just found a very interesting news article. It’s from the Knoxville Daily Tribune dated 28 Mar 1878. It talks about the goings on listed in the Knoxville Gazette from 1813…and it mentions Joseph Bartholomew as follows: “Jo. Bartholomew, a Knoxville Saddler of the day – father of Carroll Bartholomew, a prominent circus rider in after years – advertises for a Journeyman.”

    The writer of this article in 1878 connects Joseph’s child *Carroll* to the circus. So, we have 2 interesting statements that connect to our family lore…name change to Carroll and circus from this article!

    With that said, none of us have knowledge of this child *Carroll*. The writer doesn’t specify if the child is male or female. I lean towards the writer being a little mixed up (as Carroll being the child’s first name). However, I have taken a little time (not much so far) to look for a Carroll Bartholomew who was in the circus using various Carroll/Carol, etc spellings. No luck so far even finding a Carroll Bartholomew of that time, much less being in the circus. There was a Bartholomew Family associated with a circus in the 1860s – Bartholomew’s Great Western Circus. The proprietor was a George Bartholomew and he had a son or brother named Nelson in the show. His wife, Matilde, was also a rider. But, I believe George was from the Northeast and born about 1832 (after Joseph died). Not confirmed, but I think so. Will check more but likely ruled out.

    I believe the 1878 article writer did hear of Carroll (name change) associated with Bartholomew and mistakenly claimed the circus rider to be Carroll Bartholomew. This circus rider, who almost certainly existed, we need to find now. There seems to be some legitimacy here…not just family lore. The circus rider is possibly either Carroll Bartholomew, ?? Bartholomew, or ?? Carroll or even ?? Carroll Bartholomew (Carroll being the middle name). I will update if I find more.


  7. Rick Tidwell

    Devry – I no more sent the last reply, and I found him!! William Barney Carroll, born 13 Mar 1816, in Knoxville Tennessee. Founder of the Maginley and Carroll Circus. Wife, Mary Ann Sprague. Died 14 Jul 1889 in Bronx, New York. I don’t believe they had biological children. All adopted I believe.

    He was associated with all the major circus acts of the time, including George Bailey of B&B. It is said in articles at his death that he ran away from his father’s farm at age 12 (about 1828) to join the circus. In 1830, he was apprenticed to George Sweet (at that time the greatest known equestrian). My guess is that this is likely why he changed his name to Carroll…because he ran away from home. Barney is likely a reference to his old family name. This is almost certainly Joseph’s child, and because of his success, some of the children changed their names to Carroll.


    1. Wow! Amazing work, Rick! I have also been reading through the articles and research you posted on Ancestry. This is such a great find! I believe you are right about the name change. Have you contacted the Maginley Carroll Circus website admin to let them know of this find? I look forward to sharing all this new info with my family!


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