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Parentage of Michael Oliver Jenkins

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Surnames/tags: Jenkins Fronebarger
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A Bastardy Case Study: Sifting Information for Kinship
Kathy Gunter Sullivan, Certified Genealogist®, 2015

The people in this case study may be of no interest whatever, but the process of correlating evidence applies to any puzzle about anyone’s descent.

Researchers hope for instruments–baptisms, wills, estates, and deeds–specifically stating a person’s parentage. The brutal reality is that as genealogical investigations travel back in time the less likely it is that direct evidence exists to answer descent questions. At that point, researchers are compelled to give up or to attempt gathering bits and pieces of information that point to a plausible kinship answer.

Beginning Information
At April 1824 Lincoln County, North Carolina, court sessions, Drury Jenkins was charged with fathering a child out of wedlock with Anna Fronebarger. July 1824 court minutes record that he did not dispute his paternity and executed a bond pledging that his child would not be a burden upon county taxpayers (“to keep the County clear of the maintenance of the same”). His securities were Michael Rhyne and Drury [Arrowood?]. Clerk Vardry McBee wrote and witnessed the bastardy bond dated 23 July 1824, but oddly, McBee wrote the woman's name as Nancy Jenkins. This conflicts with all other official documents naming the mother as Anna Fronebarger. No explanation for the discrepancy other than clerical error has been discovered.

At January 1825 court sessions, Drury Jenkins was ordered to pay child support to Anna Fronebarger of “$30 for the first year [1824], $20 for the second year, and $15 for the third year.” He made a payment of $20. The court issued writs attempting to collect the balance due and court costs, but those were returned by the Deputy Sheriff as “no property found.” The last extant record states that Drury Jenkins was allowed additional time to meet his obligation, and there the records end.[1]

Who Was Drury Jenkins?
Drury Jenkins appears to be the same fellow whose parents were Elijah and Polly (Wells) Jenkins.[2] Elijah Jenkins estate papers identify his wife as Mary “Polly” and his minor heirs as James, Anne, Nancy, John, Drury, and Elijah. Drury’s guardian was James Wells. He continued under guardianship until at least 14 September 1822 when he received cash from his father’s estate. Based on the guardianship period and the date of his inheritance receipt, Drury was born about 1801.[3] Elijah Jenkins’s real estate on Big Long Creek was allotted among his heirs on 26 March 1818: John 29 2/3 acres, Nancy 29 2/3 acres, James 27 acres, Elijah 28 ½ acres, Drury 28 ½ acres, Ann 35 acres.[4] On 30 January 1824, Drury sold his 28 ½ acres to Benjamin Jenkins for $95, witnessed by Reuben Jenkins Sr. and Reuben Jenkins Jr.[5] To sell land, a grantor had to be at least age twenty-one, which confirms that Drury was born no later than 1803. He was at least age twenty-one when he executed his July 1824 bastardy bond further supporting his birth as no later than 1803.

Drury Jenkins married Sarah McKee about 1831 in South Carolina.[6] Their 1840–1880 census households indicate Drury was born 1802–1803 in North Carolina and Sarah was born 1810–1811 in South Carolina.[7] McKee researchers identify Sarah’s father as James McKee and give her birth date as 20 November 1810.[8] Find A Grave memorials state that Drury died 30 October 1884 and Sarah died 14 June 1889.[9]

Who Was The Child?
Two descendants of Michael Oliver Jenkins (10 April 1824–24 January 1905)[10] published oral history cited to “notes made by his granddaughter Jewel Dial.” Jewel Dial is said to have “traveled from Colorado to Oklahoma to interview her grandfather just before he died.” Jewel Dial was born 25 May 1895.[11] Please note that when Jenkins died in 1905, Jewel Dial was age nine. It is not plausible that she conducted an interview with her grandfather at age nine.

The following version of Michael Oliver Jenkins’s parentage is an interpretation by the two descendants of events they state were supplied Ms. Dial. The response to a request to one of the descendants for Ms. Dial’s original interview notes was no copy was available.[12] Therefore, exactly what Michael Oliver Jenkins said, exactly what Ms. Dial reported, and which parts were created by the two descendants cannot be determined.

  • Michael Oliver “M. O.” Jenkins was half Cherokee and half Caucasian. His father was the son of a Cherokee Indian chief. It is rumored that his mother was raped and M. O. was the product of the rape. Whether he was a product of rape or of two people who loved each other, whose union society of the time would not except [sic], we may never know. In one story the Cherokee mother was raped by a white man and MO was taken in and raised by the Jenkins family. In the other the mother was white, believed to be a Jenkins, and was raped by a Cherokee. There is also speculation that the father was a Cherokee who was taken in by the Jenkins family in an apprenticeship, fell in love and had a child with a Jenkins woman.
  • M. O. Jenkins was bonded to Rev. C. E. Clark who destroyed all records of his birth to hide his heritage and protect him from being taken to an Indian Reservation as much of North Carolina land was being taken over by white settlers.[13] He also worked for Rev. Clark's sister-in-law Lillian Whitlers Clark as a farm hand until he left Lincoln Co.[14]
  • Joseph Jenkins was Michael Oliver Jenkins’s grandfather.
  • M. O. Jenkins’s mother was Joseph Jenkins’s daughter Mary Jenkins, who married Aaron Jenkins.[15] Or his mother could be another of Joseph Jenkins’s daughters, Sarah Bell Jenkins, who married John Baker.[16]
  • M. O. Jenkins spoke fondly of his Aunt Margaret Froneberger to his granddaughter Jewel Dial when she interviewed him. His Aunt Margaret “Peggy” (Jenkins) Froneberger raised him.[17] She was the daughter of Joseph Jenkins.
  • Michael O. Jenkins married in Greene County, Tennessee, to Mary Freshour.[18]
  • None of Michael Oliver Jenkins’s history has been proved by records, only by family tradition.[19]

Before proceeding further, one theory in the above family history can be discarded immediately. Joseph Jenkins was not the grandfather of Michael Oliver Jenkins and none of his daughters were the mother of Michael Oliver Jenkins. There is no evidence whatever to support those speculations.

Who Was Anna Fronebarger?
Anna Fronebarger married Joseph Kiser; their Lincoln County marriage bond is dated 10 November 1827.[20] Anna’s census statistics are ambiguous about her birth year. Three enumerations (1830, 1840, and 1870 censuses) indicate she was born 1791–1800 and three enumerations (1850, 1860, and 1880 censuses) indicate she was born 1805–1808 ; see census discussion following.

The Kiser’s 1830 census household includes a male age 5–9 (born 1821–1825);[21] therefore, he could not be a child of their 1827 marriage. Their 1840 household includes a male age 15–19;[22] presumably, he is the same male from their 1830 household. Before 1850, Joseph and Anna moved to Greene County, Tennessee.[23] This is the same place where Michael O. Jenkins married Mary Freshour in 1848, and their 1850 census household was in the same area of Greene County as the Kisers.[24] The only other Jenkins family household in Greene County was headed by Samuel Jenkins, who was age 28 and born in Tennessee;[25] he could not be a parent of Michael O. Jenkins born 1824 in North Carolina.

The Kisers and Jenkins remained in Greene County, Tennessee, through the 1860 census.[26] By 1870 the Kisers were in Buncombe County, North Carolina, and the Jenkins were in Lamar County, Texas.[27] In 1880, widow Anna Kiser was in Greene County, Tennessee, with her widowed daughter-in-law and grandchildren.[28]

Given Anna’s approximate birth year, she descended from one of the three sons of pioneer William Fronebarger and his wife Mary (nėe ―?―): 1) William who married Catherine (nėe ―?―) or 2) Jacob who married Elizabeth Gibson or 3) John who married Barbara Huffstetler.

  • William and Catherine Fronebarger’s daughter Anna Mary married George Sellers in 1818[29] and is not a prospect as the mother of the Jenkins child born in 1824.
  • Jacob and Elizabeth (Gibson) Fronebarger’s daughter Anna Mary was born in 1816[30] and is not a prospect as the mother of the Jenkins child born in 1824.
  • Although John and Barbara (Huffstetler) Fronebarger’s children are not all established, they are the only known viable couple to be Anna (Fronebarger) Kiser’s parents.

Evidentiary Points

  • Direct evidence is that by April 1824 a woman named Anna Fronebarger birthed an out-of-wedlock child by Drury Jenkins.
  • Two family researchers state that their ancestor Michael Oliver Jenkins was illegitimate.
  • Michael Oliver Jenkins’s birth date of 10 April 1824 coincides with the April 1824 bastardy action between Anna Fronebarger and Drury Jenkins.
  • Direct evidence is that Anna Fronebarger married 1827 to Joseph Kiser, yet her 1830 and 1840 census households include a male born 1821–1825. He could not be the child of her 1827 marriage.
  • Anna (Fronebarger) Kiser, born 1791–1808, was an appropriate age to be the mother of a child born in 1824.
  • Direct evidence of Anna (Fronebarger) Kiser’s presence in Greene County, Tennessee, coincides with Michael Oliver Jenkins’s marriage and residence there. Both Anna Kiser and Michael Jenkins were Lincoln County, North Carolina, natives. These facts document their proximity to each other and their common birthplace.
  • The interview with Michael Oliver Jenkins attributed to nine-year-old Jewel Dial is not credible as most readers readily recognize. However, information from somewhere is that Michael Oliver Jenkins referred to Peggy Fronebarger as “his aunt.” If that much is true, it links Michael Oliver Jenkins to Anna (Fronebarger) Kiser, who appears to be the daughter of John and Barbara (Huffstetler) Fronebarger. Margaret Jenkins, alleged aunt of Michael Oliver Jenkins, married William Fronebarger in 1820.[31] William is believed to be the son of John and Barbara (Huffstetler) Fronebarger and the brother of Anna (Fronebarger) Kiser. Thus, because of Margaret Jenkins's marriage to William Fronebarger, she was the sister-in-law of Anna (Fronebarger) Kiser and the aunt by marriage, not by blood of Anna's illegitimate child Michael Oliver Jenkins.

At this point, what we have is a plausible hypothesis for Michael Oliver Jenkins's parentage. That Anna Fronebarger had an illegitimate child appears to be previously unknown information; no hint of it appears in family accounts. Serious researchers of Anna Fronebarger or Drury Jenkins or Michael Oliver Jenkins would want to be aware of these records. Untapped resources include Lincoln County criminal action papers and research in Tennessee records. DNA testing could be pursued.[32] Ideally, interested parties will continue the investigation and confirm or refute the present hypothesis.


  1. Lincoln County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, April–July 1824 and January 1825; microfilm C.060.30003–04, North Carolina State Archives. Lincoln County Civil Action Papers, January–July 1825; box no. C.R. 060.325.9, North Carolina State Archives. Lincoln County Bastardy Bond, Drury Jenkins (23 July 1824); North Carolina State Archives. Additional searches in court minutes and civil action papers were unproductive.
  2. Curtis L. Bynum, [Abstracts] Marriage Bonds of Tryon and Lincoln Counties, North Carolina (1929; reprint, Greenville, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1982), Elijah Jenkins-Polly Wells (25 May 1795), bondsman James Wells.
  3. North Carolina Estate Files, 1663–1979,” Lincoln County, Elijah Jenkins (1818 [sic 1808]); FamilySearch last accessed June 2013; citing Lincoln County Estates Papers, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh.
  4. Lincoln County deed book 28: 322, Register of Deeds, Lincolnton, North Carolina.
  5. Lincoln County deed book 32: 218–219, Register of Deeds, Lincolnton, North Carolina.
  6. Death certificates of Drury and Sarah Jenkins’s children state their mother’s maiden name: George W. Jenkins, Ancestry, digital image citing “Texas Death Certificates, 1903–1982”; and D. M. Jenkins, "Georgia Deaths, 1928-1939," digital image, FamilySearch accessed 24 March 2015; citing Cataula, Harris County, Georgia, certificate number 33454, Georgia State Archives, Morrow.
  7. U.S. censuses, population schedules, Ancestry, digital images accessed 2014. 1840 Newberry County, South Carolina, p. 246 (stamped), line 1, Drury Jenkins; citing National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) microfilm publication M704, roll 514. 1850 Chambers County, Alabama, p. 317B, dwelling/family 738, Drury Jenkins; NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 2. 1860 Tallapoosa County, Alabama, p. 53, dwelling 411, family 370, Drury Jenkins; NARA microfilm publication M653, roll 25. 1870 Tallapoosa County, Alabama, p. 200A, family/dwelling 20, Drew Jinkins; NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 42. 1880 Tallapoosa County, Alabama, ED 150, p. 49A, dwelling 43, family 49, Drewny Jenkins; NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 33.
  8. Research of Eleanor Hemmes citing a Bible owned by Clarissa Russell McKee; posted 22 March 2005 at Ancestry message board, Jenkins (https://www.ancestry.ca/boards/surnames.jenkins/135.499.1.1/mb.ashx) accessed January 2014.
  9. Find A Grave memorial no. 48507036 for Drury Jenkins (14 September 1808-30 October 1884) and Find A Grave memorial no. 48507037 for Sarah McKee Jenkins (26 November 1810-14 June 1889) both created 22 February 2010 by J Lowery; citing Rocky Mount Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Daviston, Tallapoosa County, Alabama.
  10. Find A Grave memorial 22893731 for M. O. Jenkins (10 Apr 1824–24 Jan 1905) created 13 November 2007 by Ken Jones; citing Hannibal Cemetery, Hannibal, Erath County, Texas.
  11. Find A Grave memorial no. 93419237 for Jewel Dial (25 May 1895–8 September 1988) created 10 July 2012 by Kris Abelli; citing Rosedale Cemetery, Ada, Pontotoc County, Oklahoma.
  12. 2014 response from Amy Woolsey Crooks, “I don't have a transcript in my possession. A cousin that was helping me on it supposedly did. I will keep you in mind if I ever get my hands on it.”
  13. No apprentice bond for a Michael Oliver Jenkins is extant in Lincoln County Apprentice Bonds or referenced in Lincoln County court minutes. No reference to “Rev. C. E. Clark” has been found in Lincoln County censuses or court minutes. One has to wonder how Rev. Clark had access to "all records" of the child's birth and to pause over the assumption that the child would be sent to a reservation.
  14. No reference to “Lillian Whitlers Clark” has been found in Lincoln County censuses or court minutes.
  15. The Lincoln County marriage bond of Mary Jenkins and Aaron Jenkins is dated 30 June 1821; she could not be the mother of an illegitimate child born in 1824.
  16. The Lincoln County marriage bond of Sarah Jenkins and John Baker is dated 29 March 1814; she could not be the mother of an illegitimate child born in 1824.
  17. Margaret Fronebarger’s census households do not include a male of appropriate age to be Michael Oliver Jenkins.
  18. “Tennessee, County Marriages, 1790–1950” digital image, FamilySearch accessed December 2014, Michael O. Jenkins-Mary Freshour (24 July 1848); citing Greene County, Tennessee, marriage register, marriage no. 1479; FHL microfilm 1148740.
  19. Amy Woolsey Crooks, “Jenkins Genealogy” (http://www.mixbook.com/photo-books/family/jenkins-genealogy-7023645?vk=TXXKxbdDuU: accessed June 2013. See also, Betty Ann Renshaw Roach, “Michael Oliver Jenkins Family Tree” (http://trees.ancestry.com/ tree/16076169/person/338963908 : accessed March 2015).
  20. "North Carolina, County Marriages, 1762-1979," Lincoln County, Joseph Kiser-Anna Fronebarger (10 November 1827); digital image, FamilySearch accessed 16 Dec 2013; citing FHL microfilm 1,760,464.
  21. 1830 U.S. census, Lincoln County, North Carolina, population schedule, p. 173, line 26, Joseph Kiser; National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) microfilm publication M19, roll 122.
  22. 1840 U.S. census, Blount County, Tennessee, pop. sched., p. 59, line 7, Joseph Kizer; NARA microfilm publication M704, roll 517.
  23. 1850 U.S. census, Greene County, Tennessee, pop. sched., division 9, East District, p. 152A, dwelling/family 194, “Josep Riser”; NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 880.
  24. 1850 U.S. Census, Greene County, Tennessee, pop. sched., division 9, East District, p. 204A, dwelling/family 1200, Michael O. Jenkins; NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 880.
  25. 1850 U.S. Census, Greene County, Tennessee, pop. sched., subdivision 10, East District, p. 660 (penned), dwelling/family 608, Samuel L. Jenkins; NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 880.
  26. 1860 U.S. census, Greene County, Tennessee, pop. sched., District 3, Caney Branch post office, p. 218 (stamped), dwelling/family 359, Jos Kiser; NARA microfilm publication M653, roll 1252. Ibid., 18th District, Limestone Spring post office, p. 42 (penned), M.O. Jenkins.
  27. 1870 U.S. census, Buncombe County, North Carolina, pop. sched., Reems Creek, Township 10, p. 24 (penned), dwelling 158, family 167, Joseph Kiser; NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 1125. 1870 U.S. census, Lamar County, Texas, pop. sched., Beat 3, p. 294 (stamped), dwelling/family 148, Michael Jenkins; NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 1594.
  28. 1880 U.S. census, Greene County, Tennessee, pop. sched., District 3, ED 45, p. 46A, dwelling 191, family 193, Ann Kiser; NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 1258.
  29. Curtis L. Bynum, [Abstracts] Marriage Bonds of Tryon and Lincoln Counties, North Carolina (1929; reprint, Greenville, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1982), George Sellers-Anna M. Froneberger (3 March 1818).
  30. Find A Grave accessed January 2014, memorial 32367073 for Anna Mary Froneberger (16 Aug 1816–31 Mar 1902) created 23 December 2008; citing Hephzibah Presbyterian Church Cemetery, Bessemer City, Gaston County, North Carolina; tombstone photograph by Mike Huffstetler.
  31. "North Carolina, County Marriages, 1762-1979," Lincoln County, Wm Fronebarger-Peggy Jenkins (7 March 1820); digital image, FamilySearch accessed 2014; FHL microfilm 1,760,463; citing Lincoln County, North Carolina, courthouse.
  32. Jenkins DNA project (https://www.familytreedna.com/groups/jenkins/about/news).

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