James E. Balkcom is the earliest known
Balkcom ancestor of many of the southeast Alabama Balkcoms and of those
of Oklahoma. He was raised in North Carolina, probably Duplin or
Sampson County, but lived much of his adult life in Dale County,
Alabama, where he and wife Mary Murphy raised a large family.
Evidence is solid that he and Mary are progenitors of much of the
Alabama / Oklahoma Balkcom line, but records have not been found to
identify his parents. Based on many clues, however, and based on
an extensive look at NC, Georgia, and Alabama records, I believe that
his father was Ichabod Balkcom. Ichabod, of North Carolina and
later Georgia, descended from the Rhode Island Balkcom line, some of
whom moved in around 1750 to coastal North Carolina. Their
descendants later moved a little west to Edgecombe County, NC and then
spread to Johnston, Sampson, and Duplin Counties. Ichabod Balkcom
is one of those descendants of the Rhode Island Balkcoms. I think it likely that
he is the father, and Delaney Jarroll the mother of James, who was
likely born out of
wedlock. It's likely that James was
taken to raise by Balkcom relatives. If true, this provides the
missing link between the Georgia Balkcom line and those of Alabama who
descend from James Balkcom.
The following summarizes my research. Warning, this may be heavy
going for those not directly researching this Balkcom lineage.
Accepting that census records are
accurate in identifying James' birth location as North Carolina, I
identified using all available records the Balkcoms who lived in North
Carolina between 1790 and 1820. With that, we can rule out most
as either impossible or very unlikely
First, a summary of early records of James E.
Born 7 Jan 1807 in NC according to tombstone
and census records;
First official record of James is in 1827 court records of
Sampson County, North Carolina, naming him as serving on a road crew along
with Willie (Wiley) Balkcom. James had very close ties to Wiley
throughout his life. Wiley was the son of John Balkcom d1803.
Wiley was born
in Duplin Co, NC and lived there and in Sampson County until 1835;
By 1838, James and Wiley and their families
lived in Lowndes Co, GA according to tax lists and census records;
Records (census, tax lists) show very close ties between
James Balkcom and Daniel and Elizabeth Murphy,
who were likely close relatives of James' wife Mary.
Daniel and Elizabeth Murphy were also born in NC,
probably Duplin County;
James' lifelong occupation was farmer, but he also identified himself as a hatter.
This is significant because Wiley Balkcom, and Wiley's father John
Balkcom, were also hatters in addition to farming. Ichabod Balkcom
of early Duplin County was also a hatter. He is a descendant of
the early Rhode Island Balkcoms.
assumed the following:
James' most likely birthplace in North Carolina was Duplin, Sampson,
Johnston, or Edgecombe County (this because James had very strong ties to
Duplin County; the Balkcom’s in Duplin County lived close to the Sampson
County line, apparently having land straddling the two counties; and, many other southern
(Georgia, Alabama) Balkcom’s had ancestors in Duplin,
Johnston and Edgecombe Counties);
Published records including census,
marriages, court records, and tax lists have identified all Balkcom’s living in those counties.
Balkcoms known to be in these
counties in 1800, 1810, or 1820:
John Balkcom & Hester Balkcom, John
was father of Wiley
(Census: male & female age 26-45, 2 males
u10, 2 females u10)
Hester Balkcom. John had died in 1803
(Census: female age over 45, males 2 u10,
1 10-16, 2 16-25, and 1 female age 10-15)
William Balkcom. Unknown origin, no
other records of him
(Census: male age 26 to 45, females 2 u10,
2 26-45, and 1 over 45)
Seth Balkcom. Probable brother of
(Lived in Johnston Co at least
from 1802 until death in 1816. Married Sarah Elliot 17 Nov 1808
(almost 2 years after James Balkcom birth). Offspring unknown
but estate records imply children.)
Ichabod Balkcom b. 1777 Beaufort Co, NC,
d. after 1860, in Jones County, GA. Probable brother of John
(Census: male age 26-44, female 16-25,
with 3 males under 10)
Descendant of Nicholas Baucom line, his children named in his
later will so not a likely candidate
Uriah Baucom. Descendant of Nicholas
(Census: male age 16-24, female 16-18,
children 1 male u 5, 2 female u 5)
Sampson and Edgecombe
Possible Parents of James E.
Many of those in the list above can be easily ruled out as parents. At the time of the birth
of James E. in 1807, John Balkcom was no longer living, and
Uriah could have been no older than 11. This leaves as candidates Seth, Ichabod,
William, and Bennett. Bennett's children are named in his will so he is not
considered further. William of the
1820 census is probably son of Hester Balkcom and Hester did not name
James E. in her 1843 will, where she named daughters and
grandchildren. However, William cannot be entirely ruled out.
recorded on Johnston County Tax lists until his death in 1816. He
married in 1808, shown by a marriage bond:
17 Nov 1808
“Sally” was according to the Baucom
book actually “Sarah”, who in 1820 was in the census of Jones County, GA
(“Sarrah Balkham”, age 16-26, with 2 males u10 and 2 10-16). Bondsman
for that marriage bond was “Ichabard Balkcum” (Ichabod), and he was also in the 1820
Jones Co, GA census (“Ichabod Balkham” age 26-45, with females 1 over 45,
1 26-45, and children 4 males u10 and 2 10-16). “Alexander Balkham” age
over 45 was also in Jones Co then. This shows a link between Ichabod,
Alexander, and Seth. The Baucom Family
book calls them brothers, and calls John in Duplin County a fourth
brother, all sons of Ichabod Balkcom and Sarah Boyd.
So, back to the question
of James’ parents. Seth and Sarah are candidates although they
married in 1808, nearly two years after James' birth. Unfortunately
Seth does not appear in census records so there is no record of family
size or ages.
By ruling out others then, and because of his own interesting history, Ichabod
becomes a primary candidate. He
was born in 1772 at Bath, Beaufort County, North
Carolina. He and Delany Jarroll (daughter of Isaac Jarroll) were issued a marriage bond on 23 May
1806 in Johnston County, North Carolina. It's not clear that Ichabod
and Delany ever married. But about a year later, Ichabod did
marry, and the bride was not Delany Jarroll but was instead Nancy Sasser.
Ichabod and Nancy's marriage bond was issued in Johnston County on 23
May, 1807, a year to the day from Ichabod's earlier marriage bond.
In 1810, Ichabod was head of household in the Johnston County census as
shown in the table. Before 1820 he moved to Jones County, GA,
where he lived until past the age of 90, leaving as descendants many
It is my opinion that Ichabod Balkcom and Delany Jarroll were the parents of James E. The fact
that Ichabod was issued marriage bonds twice, a year apart, with two different women means that something went wrong early with
Ichabod and Delany. The possibilities are that even though issued a
marriage bond they never married, or that they married but divorced within
the year. James'
birth (1 Jan or 7 Jan 1807) was about 8 ˝ months after the marriage bond
date for Ichabod and Delany. It’s possible that marriage was
planned because Delany expected a baby, then the plan changed for some
reason. Delany had earlier, in 1805, appeared in Johnston County court records as
an unmarried mother, with the father named as Micajah Watson. Delany would go on
to marry a Hall within a few years, and then John Sasser in 1816.
The close relationship
throughout their lives between Wiley Balkcom and James E. Balkcom seems
important, as does the relationship between Daniel and
Elizabeth Murphy and James and wife Mary Murphy. It's
possible that Hester
Balkcom, Wiley’s stepmother, took James E. to raise. Hester was widowed by John’s death in 1803, but was
reasonably stable financially in 1807 based on estate records and size of
land holdings. There seemed to be
few options for care of an infant in the immediate family of Ichabod’s
brothers - Seth was himself unmarried, and Alexander had financial
difficulties and had apparently already moved to Georgia before 1807. Ichabod’s father was no longer living, and there are no records of his
mother after 1890. Delany Jarroll already had a small child.
In 1810, Hester had 2 boys under 10 in the household, along with one 10-16
who would have been Wiley, known child of John by estate papers.
There is no record of Hester remarrying after John's death and it is not
known who the 2 younger boys were, but one could have been 3 year old
James. The possibilities seem to be that Hester took relatives or
other children to raise, or that she had children by another man,.
If Hester did take the young James to raise, it would explain a number of things.
First, it could explain how James met wife Mary (Polly) Murphy. In
1800, John and Hester Balkcom lived next door to Timothy Murphy, who was
the brother of an Elizabeth Murphy. This Elizabeth is thought by some to
have been Mary’s mother, but if not is almost certainly a close
relative. It would also explain the close links throughout their
lives between James E. Balkcom and Wiley Balkcom, Hester's stepson who
she was raising. And finally, Hester's deceased husband John was a
hatter, and both Wiley and James E. identified themselves as hatters
(and farmers) when they lived in Alabama. Wiley's father John was
a hatter, as was his grandfather Ichabod.
raises a few questions. It’s not clear why Ichabod and new wife Nancy
Sasser would not have taken James to raise after they married in 1807, only a few
months after James' birth. Also, Ichabod and
Nancy had a son in 1810 who they named James.
of the theory helps with these questions although it raises others. In 1820, Ichabod and
Nancy had an additional boy under 15 in their household in Jones County,
Georgia, not accounted for by looking at their known children. It's
conceivable that this was 13 year old James E. In 1810, Ichabod and
Nancy had 3 males under 5 in their household in Johnston County,
NC. These boys would have been sons Henry and John, born before
1809, and one other that could have been either 3 year old James E., or the
newborn James, born 3 Sept 1810. Which of the two it was would depend on the timing of the
census that year with respect to the birth of their son James-1810. This leaves open the question of why they would name two
sons James. This could possibly be explained by family emphasis on
the middle name of one of the boys. It seems though that official
records for these two boys later in life used the name James.
to this latter theory, I've found no evidence that James E. had ties to
Jones County, GA, where Ichabod and family lived most of their adult
In summary, I believe it most likely that James was a son from the brief
marriage of Ichabod Balkcom and Delany Jarroll, or was their
illegitimate son if they never married. I think it's
likely that Hester Balkcom raised James along with her step-son Wiley and
step-daughter Tombsin, without official adoption. Hester herself
led a very interesting life and deserves to be the subject of her own
story, for another time.
I welcome opinions of other researchers and comments on this work.