Eliza H. Brent Pigg is my fourth-great-grandmother. Researchers, including myself, have been stuck on her for decades with no indication who her parents were. On cold cases like this one, I take a look at other families nearby along with DNA results from my collection of Ancestry DNA tests. But first, I take a look at records to see what facts we know.
Timeline for Eliza
March 20, 1808 – According to Eliza’s FindAGrave page, she was born on this date. Her tombstone is pictured, but I couldn’t read her birth date. I am guessing this is what it said. A census taken 42 years later states she was born in North Carolina.
1850 Census – Eliza settled in Lincoln County, Tennessee.
Name – Eliza Pigg
Age – 43
Birth Year – abt 1807
Birthplace – North Carolina
Home in 1850 – Subdivision 1, Lincoln, Tennessee, USA
Gender – Female
Family Number – 662
Name – Age
James Pigg 51
Eliza Pigg 43
Mary Pigg 25
Thomas Pigg 21
James Pigg 16
Jennetta Pigg 14
William Pigg 11
Eliza Pigg 8
Joseph Pigg 10
Elizabeth Pigg 4
Louisa Pigg 2
September 27, 1855 – Eliza passes away according to a family Bible record belonging to James Pigg. Entry states, “Eliza H. Pigg the head of this family departed this life Sept. 27th 1855”. Original photo copy below as posted on Ancestry.com by user decafjnr.
There is a photo of Eliza’s tombstone on FindAGrave. I can’t read the dates and have not posted it here, but you can check it out on FindAGrave.
Illinois, County Marriage Records, 1800-1940 collection on Ancestry lists Eliza’s son James B. Pigg, who relocated to Illinois around the time of the Civil War. On his marriage record, he lists his parents as James Pigg and Liza Brient. (His middle name was also Brent.)
On a few family trees, her marriage date to James “Jim” Pigg is listed as January 2, 1823, but no marriage license to back that up.
Various Evidence and Theories to Consider
I have started to examine other “Brent” families living in the Lincoln County, Tennessee area. It appears the last name Brent is really Brents.
There are two Brents named James living in Lincoln County, Tennessee as the same time as Eliza, that I wrote about here. They could be siblings, first cousins, or distant cousins?
A lady named Mary Polly Brents married James Clift and lived in Lincoln County, Tennessee. She was born 1806 in North Carolina. No one has her parents listed on their family tree. Mary lived several houses away from James Monroe Brents on the 1860 census in Gasfactory / Gas Factory in Lincoln County, Tennessee.
James Monroe Brents’ parents were Thomas Brents and Jenny McWhorter. Thomas was from Greene County, Kentucky, but married Jenny McWhorter in Williamson County, Tennessee. His brother Solomon Brents was a bondsman. This indicates brothers Thomas and Solomon were close to the Lincoln County/Marshall County area. I have found no other Brents families in the area. Solomon moved on to Perry County, TN before 1840, and didn’t stay around Lincoln County. They were in Lincoln County as early as 1818, when “Brents” is mentioned in an early land record to establish boundaries of William H. Ragsdale’s land.
I have not found a will for Thomas Brents, but one of his son’s, William, had a lengthy write-up in Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Central Arkansas Counties; Saline County; Chicago: Goodspeed Publishers, 1889, shared by Richard Finegan/credit.
William Brents, at one time a leading farmer and well known hotel keeper in Saline County, but at present retired, was born in what is now Marshall County, Tennessee, in the year 1811, and is a son of Thomas and Jane McWhurter Brents, natives of Kentucky, but who were very early settlers of Marshall (formerly Lincoln) County, Tennessee, where they spent the remainder of the lives. The father was a successful farmer and a prominent citizen of that county, and in religious belief was a member of the Christian Church. He served with distinction in the Revolutionary War, and was with Gen. Jackson at the battle of New Orleans. His father was John Brents, one of the early settlers of Kentucky, where his death occurred at an advanced age. The maternal grandfather, James McWhurter, was of Irish origin, and also fought in the War of 1812. William Brents, the principal of this sketch, and the fourth of four sons and four daughters born to his parents, was reared on his father’s far[m]. He was educated in the public schools of his birthplace and acquired a good English training, being instructed in the duties of farm life by his father. When twenty-one years of age he was married to Mahala, a daughter of Robert and Lucy Ewing, by whom he had ten children, of whom one son and three daughters are yet living: Harriet (widow of Frank Shoemaker), Malvina (wife of Thomas Delamer, residing in Texas), Robert E., and Siff (wife of Alfred Trammell, residing near El Dorado). Mr. Brents lost his first wife, and in January, 1868, was married to Mrs. Xalisco Dickenson, an estimable widow, and daughter of Robert Stribling. The lady was born in Georgia, but came to Arkansas with her parents when three years old, and settled in Hot Spring County, where her father and mother both died. One child was born to her marriage with Mr. Brents, Lily. Mr. Brents was one of the first settlers of Saline County, having come here in 1844, and he has made it his home ever since. The year following his arrival he purchased a farm near Benton, which he still owns, and has
accumulated altogether about 550 acres of fertile land, with some 200 acres under cultivation, all of it being the result of his individual effort and good management. He is noted above all things for his enterprise, as is illustrated by the fact that on the second day of his arrival he opened up a hotel, which was afterward one of the most noted in Central Arkansas, continuing in that business until the war. After that event he turned his attention to farming with equal success until his retirement from active life. His industry and energy have won the respect and admiration of the entire community, and he can now rest content with the knowledge that he has done his share toward the development and improvement of Saline County. In politics he is a stanch Democrat, having cast his first presidential vote for Jackson in 1832, and for every presidential candidate since that time except during the war. Before that period he followed the trade of harness and saddle-maker in connection with his other interests.
In the sketch, it says William was the fourth of four sons and four daughters. I haven’t been able to lock down the names of the other siblings, besides James Monroe Brents and Thomas Wesley Brents Jr, who was a doctor, author and preacher.
In Lincoln County, April 1861, there is a probate file for a Thomas Brent (filed under Brant, but original says Brent). I was thrilled to find both James Pigg (Eliza’s husband) and James Clift (married to Mary Polly Brents) listed in the probate document, see below. Although, I am not sure who this Thomas is.
Jennett Brent, born around 1812, first married Henry Clift in Lincoln County, Tennessee. Second, she married Jeremiah Mosely. They lived in the Marshal County, Tennessee area.
Mary Polly Brent(s) and James Clift had daughter named Eliza.
Eliza Brent and James Pigg had daughters named Mary (common name) and Jennetta.
My mother took an Ancestry DNA test. She shows fourth cousin DNA matches to descendants of Mary Polly Brents Clift and Jennett Brents Clift Mosely. This indicates the three were sisters.
I am still actively researching and will update this post will more info as I run across it.
If you are related to the Brent/Pigg family, I’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally posted May 31, 2018
Last updated May 20, 2020