Ideas on the Ancestry of

James E. Balkcom (b1807 in NC, d1887 in AL)


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 candidates.

First, a summary of early records of James E. Balkcom:

  •          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.

I have 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)


None counted

Seth Balkcom.  Probable brother of John above

(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 above

(Census: male age 26-44, female 16-25, with 3 males under 10)

Bennett Baucom.  Descendant of Nicholas Baucom line, his  children named in his later will so not a likely candidate


Uriah Baucom.  Descendant of Nicholas Baucom line

(Census: male age 16-24, female 16-18, children 1 male u 5, 2 female u 5)

Sampson and Edgecombe

None counted

None counted

None counted


 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.

Seth is recorded on Johnston County Tax lists until his death in 1816.  He married in 1808, shown by a marriage bond:

Bride: Sally Elliot
Groom: Seth Bawcum
Bond Date: 17 Nov 1808
County: Johnston
Record #: 01 022
Bondsman: Ichabard Balkcum
Witness: E. Sanders
Bond #: 000066973

             “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 Georgia Balkcoms.

             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.

This theory 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.

A variation 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.

As counters 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 lives.

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. 


Surnames Desc Charts Photos email                            Revised: 08-Aug-2015