Rachel (married name Aaron) is possibly my fourth-great-grandmother or she may not be related to me at all. Her story is fascinating, so I’ve spent hours combing through records to try to prove or disprove her relation to my family.
My third-great-grandfather is Henderson Aaron, who is a bit of a mystery as well. Assuming he was raised in Stewart County where he lived during the 1850 census, it seems like Rachel is the most fitting person to be his mother. I have researched Aaron records and made a timeline in my previous post here.
This post focuses on Rachel, whose maiden name is unknown for now.
1791 – Rachel’s approximate birth year. Place unknown. Not in the Stewart County area. Although, Stewart didn’t become a county until 1803. [Source: Stewart County, Tennessee Circuit Court Case: “Patsy Leroy Gibson vs. John Rushing and others”, 1826]
1806 – Rachel, age 16, first came to Stewart County and settled on Dyers Creek. [Source: Stewart County, Tennessee Circuit Court Case: “Patsy Leroy Gibson vs. John Rushing and others”, 1826]
1811 – John Aaron is on the tax list living in between Thomas French and Henry Gibson mentioned in the Circuit Court Case: “Patsy Leroy Gibson vs. John Rushing and others”. Rachel first came to the county and settled there in 1806, so she either married John Aaron around 1806 or by 1811 at the latest as he is living in the same location identified by Rachel in the court case.
1818 – John Arant, Rachel Arant and Susanna Arant are named in Gray, Joseph’s executors vs Cooley, William M. (admr of Joel Cooley) for debt – $150 for livestock and merchandise. 14 pages. Stewart County Archives Circuit Court Cases – Civil: 1805-1929
1820 – “John Arant” is listed on the Stewart County, Tennessee census a few houses down from Thomas French. This is most likely John Aaron. (Ironically, I found this census entry today, August 7, 2018, which is 198 years after it was enumerated on August 7, 1820!)
Males – Under 10: 2
Males – 10 thru 15: 2
Males – 16 thru 25: 2
Males – 26 thru 44: 1 [John]
Females – Under 10: 4
Females – 10 thru 15: 2
Females – 26 thru 44: 1 [Rachel]
Number of Persons – Engaged in Agriculture: 4
Number of Persons – Engaged in Manufactures: 1
Free White Persons – Under 16: 10
Free White Persons – Over 25: 2
Total Free White Persons: 14
Two children were over 16. Are these children from a past marriage of John’s or did Rachel and John marry very early – perhaps even before Rachel lived in Stewart County? Could Rachel be a little older than her court deposition stated?
1821 – Rachel (and possibly John) move from Dyers Creek residence established in 1806. [Source: Stewart County, Tennessee Circuit Court Case: “Patsy Leroy Gibson vs. John Rushing and others”, 1826]
1824 – John Arant and Rachel Arant are mentioned in the case State vs Jenkins, James G., assault on John Lee. 12 pages. Circuit Court Cases – Criminal (State): 1810-1940
1825, October 7 – Rachel and John Aaron are granted a divorce. Full text below:
AN ACT, for the relief of Sina M’Cardle and others.
SECTION 1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, That hereafter, Sina Mc’Cardle of Greene county, wife of John Mc’Cardle, be, and she is hereby authorised to sue and be sued, contract and be contracted with, in her own name, and in her own behalf, and that she shall have full power and authority to sell, dispose of, and convey, all or any part of such property or estate, as she may hereafter acquire by her own industry, by inheritance, gift, or otherwise, and to hold, use, and enjoy, the same in as free and ample a manner, as if she had never been married to the said John Mc’Cardle, and that she be confirmed in all the privileges of a feme sole except that of intermarrying with another man during the natural life of the said John Mc’Cardle.
SEC. 2. Be it enacted, That Rachel Aaron of Stewart county, wife of John Aaron, of said county, be entitled to all the privileges, rights and immunities secured by the first section of this act to Sina Mc’Cardle, and no other or future rights and privileges.
Speaker of the House of Representatives
Speaker of the Senate.
Passed October 7, 1825
1826, October 11 – Rachel Aaron was called as a witness in the Circuit Court Case of “Patsy Leroy Gibson vs. John Rushing and others”. She was a previous neighbor of Henry Gibson on Dyers Creek and laid out a brief timeline of her age and residence. Her transcribed testimony is below.
Stewart Circuit Court
11 October 1826
Rachael Aaron aged about thirty five years deposith & sayeth as follows (to wit) that when she moved to this County she settled on Dyers Creek near to and when Henry Gibson lived that this was about twenty years ago that she lived at the same place where she first settled about fifteen years during all this time she was acquainted with Henry Gibson and wife and n*gro Charity during all this time n*gro Charity was in possession of said Gibson and was called Gibson Charity this deponent says she was at Thomas Frenches over when the said French was sick and at which time said French was talking of making a disposition of his property when Mrs. French asked Thomas French what was to become of Charity he answered and said he has given her [AWAY?] to Harriett should not do it again Mr. Frenches Daughter the wife of Henry Gibson is married Harriet this deponent farthers say M[?] that after Gibson & his wife had parted and Gibson had moved his N*groes from Dyers Creek Gibson returned to Dyers Creek where this deponent asked Gibson why did not give Harriet half his property when Gibson said he left her what her father gave him and what his father gave him he took away this prosper by alluded in this conversation was the n*groes she further says that at this time when Mr. French was sick which is before stated in this deposition the n*gro girl Charity was then in possession of Henry Gibson and further this deponent sayeth not.
Rachael Aaron her mark
Witness statement thanks to Jim Long!
1830 – The census records Rachel Aaron as head of household in Stewart County. Her age is 30 – 39. Four children are living with her:
1. Daughter – age 15 – 19
2. Daughter – age 10 – 14
3. Daughter – age 5 – 9
4. Son – age 5 – 9 [Possibly Henderson Aaron, born 1822]
The 1830 census does not go in order of neighbors/households, instead it records in alphabetical order. I am unsure who her neighbors were in 1830.
**HOW MANY CHILDREN DID RACHEL AND JOHN HAVE?**
If you go by the 1820 census and assume they had twelve children, then combine two children from the 1820 census with the two oldest girls on the 1830 census, plus the two younger children on the 1830 census: 14 children at least!
1831, November 10 – Rachel has been charged with “house of ill fame”, also known as prostitution. As a single mother of four children, perhaps it’s understandable why Rachel was in this situation. Further details are not known. The house of ill fame was likely ran out of Rachel’s house; not an established “business”. The state dismissed her charges. Surviving text is below.
State of Tennessee vs. Rachel Aaron
House of Ill Fame
This day came the Attorney General in behalf of the State, and with the assent of the Court enters a noli prosequi in this case. Therefore it is considered by the Court that the defendant go hence without day.
Statement thanks to Jim Long!
This is the last record I can find about Rachel. She would be about 40 years old. She is not on the 1840 census for Stewart County or any other county that I’ve located.
Rachel had at least three daughters and I haven’t located their marriage licenses, records, or even names.
For Rachel’s one son, Henderson seems like a possibly option. Henderson is also not a typical first name — was Henderson a family name? Perhaps Rachel’s maiden name?
I have used my grandfather’s DNA test at Ancestry to try to locate Henderson’s parents, but I haven’t been able to put the pieces together yet.
My search for Rachel will continue.
Originally posted August 7, 2018
Last updated January 24, 2020