Friday, August 30, 2013


As a preface, I must say that I have spent the last 15 years trying to find any clue as to the maiden name of HAPPY who married MOSES WHITECOTTON b 1804 Knox Co Kentucky.  And I know that there are many, many other Whitecotton researchers out there who have probably spent longer than that searching.

As I wrote in my previous blog post, a short while ago I finally obtained access to the complete National Archives file of the application to the Eastern Cherokee Tribe that was made in 1906 by my great grandmother SILOAMA KINNER WHITECOTTON BRUTON, her son JAMES JASPER BRUTON,  and her daughter (my grandmother) MINTTIE MAY BRUTON HUBER.  Previously I had only been able to find an abridged record, which  listed only the names of applicants, the date of application and the fact that tribal status was denied.

The 1906  Eastern Cherokee Tribal application of SILOAMA KINNER WHITECOTTON BRUTON  is the only primary source document I have ever found which indicates the maiden name of HAPPY, wife of MOSES WHITECOTTON.

In the application SILOAMA calls her grandmother "APPIE" RIDDLE.

Lots of researchers have speculated that HAPPY's maiden name was LINDLEY, because she named her eldest son LINDLEY--and I can't fault the logic in this, as it was a common practice in the south.  However, I have never been able to connect HAPPY with any southern LINDLEY family.

For a long time I researched the family of THOMAS LINDLEY b 1706  & RUTH HADLEY, Irish  Quaker immigrants who migrated through Chester Co Pennsylvania, and ended up in North Carolina.  I suspected they were HAPPY's ancestors, but search though I might, I never did find a connection.

I now believe that HAPPY's maiden name was indeed RIDDLE.

And while this line of research is a work in progress, I believe there is enough circumstantial evidence to  call  her  "HAPPY RIDDLE" in my family tree.

Here's what  is known about her:

HAPPY & MOSES WHITECOTTON were living in Jackson Co Alabama for the 1830 census, next door to MOSES' father ISAAC NEWTON WHITECOTTON (who married ELIZABETH STUMP).  The original census record is very difficult to decipher, and the surname was mistakenly  transcribed in the census index as "WILCOLTON". The record shows a couple in their 20s, with 3 young sons under 10, and one elderly man age 60-69 (no idea who this might be).

In the 1840 census, HAPPY WHITECOTTON is listed as a widow with several children, living in Bledsoe Co Tennessee.  I have always wondered:  Why would she move her family from Alabama to Bledsoe Co Tennessee???  Her son LINDLEY M WHITECOTTON b 1823 & wife SUSAN HORN married in Bledsoe Co Tennessee, and remained there, while his mother & siblings moved south.

From 1843-1848 approximately, HAPPY WHITECOTTON & her children JAMES MONROEISAAC M, ELIZABETH, WILLIAM, PLEASANT & HARRISON WHITECOTTON  lived in Bradley Co Tennessee. This information was gleaned from documents written by the Thompson family, whose two daughters, Malinda & Sarah "married" JAMES MONROE WHITECOTTON, Happy's son.  Once again, I have wondered: Why Bradley Co Tennessee?

And in the 1850 census, HAPPY WHITECOTTON b 1805 Virginia,  was listed as a widow with children, as listed above, in Decatur, Morgan Co Alabama.  Her son, JAMES MONROE WHITECOTTON, his wife SARAH (THOMPSON),  their daughter SILOAMA K WHITECOTTON and son JAMES J WHITECOTTON (died young) are listed on same page, just down the road, as it were.

So to answer my own two questions:  HAPPY RIDDLE WHITECOTTON moved to Bledsoe Co Tennessee and then Bradley Co Tennessee because she had kin there-- an uncle, aunt & cousins, and possibly parents & siblings.

It is now my theory that HAPPY RIDDLE WHITECOTTON was the granddaughter of Capt WILLIAM THOMAS RIDDLE b abt 1740 Orange Co North Carolina, who married HARRIET "HAPPY" ROGERS (some sources say ROBERTS) and lived at the time of the Revolution in what became Montgomery Co Virginia.

Capt WILLIAM THOMAS RIDDLE was, according to several accounts, a Loyalist who was hanged for treason in 1781 in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, along with his son MOSES RIDDLE age 15.  His wife HARRIET "HAPPY" ROGERS married 2nd) to WILLIAM INGRAM / INGRAHAM, a Rev War Veteran; she may have died in Hawkins Co Tennessee in 1785.

Here are the known surviving children of Capt WILLIAM THOMAS RIDDLE & HARRIET "HAPPY" ROGERS:

--JAMES RIDDLE b abt 1773 Virginia, died 1851 Crawford Co Indiana; married SARAH DAVIS in Russell/Lee Co Virginia.  When his father died in 1781, he was bound out as an orphan to JAMES McCORKLE, according to Montgomery Co VA court records. Lived Lee Co Virginia & Cumberland Co Kentucky before moving to Indiana.

--JOHN RIDDLE b Feb 10, 1775 in Montgomery Co Virginia, died April 14, 1833 in Pulaski Co Missouri, married SARAH JOHNSON in Russell/Lee Co Virginia. When his father died in 1781, he was bound out as an orphan to JAMES NEWELL according to Montgomery Co VA court records.

--HARRIET "HAPPY" RIDDLE b 1776 Montgomery Co Virginia, died after 1860 Hancock Co Tennessee; married HENRY FISHER. 

--ISAAC RIDDLE b 1777 Montgomery Co Virginia, twin of JOSEPH, below; died Nov 30, 1861 Titus Co Texas; married ANNA GRIZZEL/GRISWOLD

--JOSEPH RIDDLE b 1777 Montgomery Co Virginia, twin of ISAAC, above, died Sept 4, 1856 in Cumberland Co Kentucky; married RHODA MONK

--WILLIAM RIDDLE II b 1779 Montgomery Co Virginia; died after 1850 Bradley Co Tennessee; married ELLEN HOLT, prob d/o WILLIAM HOLT,  of Lee Co Virginia; WILLIAM RIDDLE and WILLIAM HOLT are in tax list & deeds there (along with WILLIAM's brothers THOMAS & JAMES) from  1800-1806; they moved to Bledsoe Co Tennessee by 1815 according to tax list, and lived there until at least 1826 as they are both in deeds. WILLIAM lived in Bradley Co Tennessee as of  1850 census, with MARY HOLT age 100, quite possibly his mother-in-law, and MARY MANDLEY age 66, relationship unknown.  Some researchers indicate his wife's name as  ELIZABETH or ELLEN CHOAT (a supposed Cherokee), but as no CHOAT or CHOATE  family lived in Russell or Lee Co Virginia at the time of his marriage, I'm highly dubious.  

--THOMAS RIDDLE b 1781 Montgomery Co Virginia, died August 1856 in Cleveland, Bradley Co Tennessee.  He married 1st MARY IGOU / IGO, and 2nd DELILAH BURKS in Bledsoe Co Tennessee, and moved to Bradley Co Tennessee before the 1840 census. He is buried outside of Cleveland, TN.

As you can see, both WILLIAM RIDDLE II and THOMAS RIDDLE spent a considerable number of years in Lee Co Virginia, Bledsoe Co Tennessee and Bradley Co Tennessee.  They seemed to migrate together.

Either one of them could be the father of HAPPY who married MOSES WHITECOTTON, but I am leaning in favor of WILLIAM RIDDLE, since HAPPY & MOSES named a son WILLIAM--a name that was uncommon in the Alabama branch of the Whitecotton family.

So why this particular RIDDLE family? Let me count the ways:

1) They had a tradition of naming girls "HAPPY".
--Starting with the grandmother HARRIET "HAPPY" ROGERS (ROBERTS?) b abt 1740 who married Capt WILLIAM THOMAS RIDDLE & WILLIAM INGRAM;
--an aunt HARRIET "HAPPY" RIDDLE b 1776 who married HENRY FISHER and settled in Hancock Co Tennessee;
--a first cousin HARRIET "HAPPY" RIDDLE, daughter of JOSEPH RIDDLE & RHODA MONK; this HAPPY married JACOB BRAKE in Cumberland Co Kentucky;
--a first cousin HARRIET ELIZABETH "HAPPY" RIDDLE, daughter of ISAAC RIDDLE & ANNA GRIZZEL; this HAPPY married HOLLIS RIGGS and died in Titus Co Texas.

And there may be more; this was a family that was apparently very happy to name or nickname daughters "HAPPY".

2) At least two of the sons of Capt WILLIAM THOMAS RIDDLE & HARRIET "HAPPY" ROGERS lived in Bledsoe Co Tennessee and Bradley Co Tennessee--where HAPPY WHITECOTTON lived.

( Interestingly, WILLIAM INGRAM / INGRAHAM, 2nd husband of HARRIET "HAPPY" ROGERS,  also moved from Illinois back to Bledsoe Co Tennessee by 1834, when he applied for his Rev War Veterans' pension. )

3) According to the 1850 Decatur, Morgan Co Alabama census, HAPPY WHITECOTTON was born 1805 in Virginia.  Most of this Riddle family  was living in Lee Co Virginia until about 1807--particularly the two youngest sons, THOMAS & WILLIAM.

In the 1850 Decatur, Morgan Co Alabama census HAPPY WHITECOTTON was living next door to a single woman about the same age named NANCY WELLS or MILES (?), also born Virginia.  I am wondering if NANCY WELLS / MILES might be HAPPY's sister or a cousin.

So what about the copper-olive colored skin and straight black hair that seems to be so prevalent in descendants?

It has been suggested that Capt WILLIAM THOMAS RIDDLE's parents were MOSES RIDDLE b about 1716 Hanover Co Virginia, and MARY GIBSON, who are believed to be Melungeons. 

But more on that in the next post.

Have a great day!


© Betty Tartas  2013

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