The Prothro Family
Martha Josephine Prothro, the grandmother of my grandfather Jimmy Dobbs, was a descendent of Welsh immigrants who settled in South Carolina in the mid-1700's.
Anyone who spent a long period of time compiling their family history knows quite well how easy it is to make mistakes and that when those mistakes are caught they should be corrected. Some mistakes are very minor (a misspelled surname, an incorrect month of birth), some relatively minor and easily corrected (for example mixing up the names of husbands between a group of sisters because of a misreading of their mother's obituary), and other mistakes are quite large (for example grafting on entirely incorrect ancestry based on mistakes made by an earlier researcher). This last type of mistake is probably the hardest to correct, because the mistake lies not only in what you have recorded and compiled, but is a mistake that has been carried forward by numerous other researchers. It is a mistake that has been around so long, that it has become "fact" and in some cases a dearly held family tradition.
The Quaker Ancestor
Almost ten years ago I had the good fortune coming into contact with a distant cousin on my maternal grandfather's side of the family who was gracious enough to share with me the research that she and her aunt had done over the course of many years as it related to ancestors of my grandfather; the two main branches being the Dobbs family of Georgia and the Prothro family of South Carolina. The information provided to me by this cousin traced the family of my great-great grandmother, Martha Josephine Prothro (1836-1928), back to one Evan Prothro, a Welsh Quaker, who settled in Pennsylvania in the late 17th century. Much of the information regarding Evan Prothro and descendants who later settled in South Carolina in the 1730's appeared to be well documented and based on my research there never was any doubt that Evan Prothro existed nor that what was stated as fact regarding his sons and grandsons and their eventual settlement in South Carolina was incorrect in any way. Although I did note there appeared to be some confusion in the various accounts as to when and why the son of Evan Prothro left Pennsylvania and settled in South Carolina, there appeared to be, as I call it, a "consensus" regarding the history of my Prothro line from the late 17th century down to mid-to-late 18th century. That is until February of 2008 when I received an email from George Prothro Coulter, a genealogical writer-speaker-consultant, who had been researching his and my Prothro line for nearly 50 years.
Mr. Coulter, who as it turns out is a third cousin once removed, wrote to me not only to explain why Evan Prothro of Pennsylvania cannot be the progenitor of the South Carolina Prothro's, but also to explain to me how that mistake came about in the first place.
In one email, he provided a brief list of the main sources for the "consensus" that I spoke of:
"You speak of your Prothro information as the consensus. Unfortunately, the consensus springs from one or more of three sources, all of them unreliable: 1) an unproven and doubtful oral family tradition that had been corrupted in the retelling over a period of about five generations; 2) an ambitious but unfortunately error-laden monograph written in the mid-twentieth century by the late Pearl Walker Pumphrey; and 3) correspondence exchanges between me and other family history buffs during the years before ca. 1995."
Mr. Coulter then went on to provide details of how the Prothro oral family tradition came to be "badly garbled over the years". The bottom line being that a number of mistakes and assumptions were made regarding information that came from "unreliable and undocumented sources". Mr. Coulter informed me that he is in the process of editing a book on this topic and was kind enough to share with me some excerpts from his work. Rather than try to retell his story here, the main point is not so much how the mistakes were made, where the facts became separated from the fiction or, perhaps, where the fiction crept into the facts, but what are the facts.
One paragraph in the notes provided to me by Mr. Coulter, I think sums this up concisely:
"The weakest link of the chain of the American-line oral tradition is John E., who is reputed to have been the elder of two sons of the Quaker, Evan Prothero(e) of William Penn's colony in America. Nowhere in the records in America do we find evidence to support the proposition that Evan had any son. The name of John Prothero(e) does not appear in America during Evan's time. If Evan Prothero had a son, that son could have been called Prothero, but under the patronymic system, he could have been known instead as Evan, or Evans, or Bevan."
Not only is there no evidence whatsoever that Evan of Pennsylvania had any sons, but there is evidence that 19th century Prothro's "invented" their connection to the Quaker immigrant and to Welsh Prothro's who resided at Dolwilym.
In another part of his notes, Mr. Coulter explains how the misinterpretation of a manuscript fragment acquired by Prothro family members in the early 19th century lead to the invention of a line of Prothro's that never existed. Although I may be over simplifying things, at some point in time someone came to the conclusion the manuscript fragment was to be read that there was a man, an ancestor, named "Evan Protheroe" who had two sons named "John E." and "Lewis". That same person or perhaps someone else later on discovered "the Quaker" Evan Protheroe of Pennsylvania and here the "invention" grew into what we have today. By connecting the Prothero's of South Carolina to the Quaker Evan, and then he to Welsh squires of Dolwilym the fabrication became complete and the "tradition" was passed down from generation to generation.
I, however, did not grow up with any tradition regarding my Prothro ancestors. My last ancestor who bore the name Prothro died nearly eighty years ago on same day that her great grand-daughter (my mother) was born. Her grandson (my grandfather) died when I was less than a year old.
Regardless of not having grown up with the tradition, I did not take lightly the task of revising what I had recorded and published previously. In a way I felt like Winston Smith, the protagonist of Orwell's 1984. In the book, Winston is a clerk for the Ministry of Truth, where his job is to rewrite historical documents so that they match the current party line, which changes daily. This involved retyping and reprinting newspaper articles and retouching photographs - mostly to remove individuals who had become "unpersons" - the original was then dropped into a "memory hole".
But I know historical facts must take precedence over family tradition, no matter how harsh it might seem to debunk a tradition that was previously considered being the "truth".
In the 1740ís, a John Prothero and wife Margaret appear on a deed found in the courthouse in Elizabethtown, Bladen County, North Carolina, by which John and Margaret Protheroh sold 250 acres of land on July 13, 1748. Bladen Precinct North Carolina was established in 1731, later called Bladen County in 1734. According to Mr. Coulter, The deed referred to is dated 13 July 1748, and deals with land which John Prothough or Protlow acquired by royal grant on 5 September 1735, based on a survey dated 24 July 1735. (The survey shows his name spelled as Prothrough. In the original Council minutes affirming the patent, it is spelled as Protlow, although the printed version made by the North Carolina Secretary of State in the 19th century shows it under the ludicrous spelling of Pohlton.) Apparently, John made his land entry during the term of the first royal governor of the province, got a warrant at about the time that Bladen County was established, had the survey done pursuant to the warrant some months later, and applied for his patent early in the term of the new governor.
John Prothro was born sometime in the 1690ís. Mr. Coulter informs me that John Pruddo, who was also known as John Prothough, appears in the records under several other variant spellings as well, inasmuch as all proper names were spelled phonetically in his time. He signed the 1748 deed as Pruddro, but the surname is spelled several other ways in the body of the deed, and his (then) wife signed under an anglicized version (Prothoro) of the patronymic surname. This John's name does not appear in any official record as Prothero until after his death.
He lived at Bladen County, North Carolina, in the 1730ís and 1740ís. John apparently removed to Georgia with his wife and his youngest son (Solomon) not long after the date of the 1748 North Carolina deed, since he was in Georgia early enough to make a land entry and survey there before he applied for and received a Georgia land patent in 1750. He died circa 1761 at Georgia.
According to Coulter:
"Evan Prothero of Pennsylvania was not a son of any male of the main line of the family seat of Dolwilym. He almost certainly was born 1646/47, the posthumous son of Philip ap Rhydderch of Llanfallteg, a collateral of the Dolwilym family, but not of the principal line that resided there. Evan of PA and his wife, Elizabeth (not Elizabeth Morgan, by the way -- Elizabeth Morgan was the wife of Evan Prothro of South Carolina, a man who lived three generations later), died, four days apart, in January 1709/10, apparently without surviving male issue. Although there was no John E. Proth(e)ro, there was a John Pruddro or Prothero (various spellings) who was the father of James Proth(e)ro of the colony of South Carolina, and grandfather of Evan Prothro of old Cheraws District, SC. John Pruddro, who probably was an immigrant himself, obtained a royal grant of lands on Bladen Co., SC in 1735, within a year after that county was created. John of Bladen County had at least three sons, and more likely, five or more, all but the youngest of whom probably were born in Wales -- or at least, not in the Carolinas. The youngest son, Solomon, accompanied his parents when they migrated to what is now Effingham County, Georgia. The others, including James (the Prothro ancestor), all remained behind. Birth years for all of the sons of John Pruddro, aside from Solomon, are uncertain. John must have had two or more wives. Margaret probably was the mother of Solomon, but at least three older sons more likely were born to a different mother. On 22 May 1755, James and Jeremiah witnessed the NC will of Catherine Edwards, whom Pearl Pumphrey calls their "sister," but Pearl's identification (and yours) of her as a child of John E. Prothro is wrong. Catherine had no blood ties to the Prothros, she was simply their "sister" in the church.". Catherine was a daughter of William and Elizabeth Tyler of Salem County, New Jersey, a member of the Cohansey Baptist congregation there, who married 1) John Hollingsworth, 1706, at New Castle, PA (now DE), and 2) Robert (?) Edwards, after 1722, in PA, and removed with her second husband to the Cape Fear Region in NC some years after their marriage. A son of Catherine's first marriage was a noted "fire and brimstone" Baptist preacher in the Carolina colonies.
According to what I have learned, John and Margaret had at least five children: James, John, Jeremiah, Solomon and David Prothro.
In South Carolina: A Bicentennial History Louis B. Wright tells of a group of Welsh Baptists from migrating from the north to South Carolina in the mid-1700s:
"In 1736 a group of Welsh Baptists from Newcastle, Pennsylvania (now Delaware), obtained a grant of some 175,000 acres on both sides of the Great Pee Dee River in the region between the present towns of Bennettsville and Hartsville. Two years later they founded a Baptist Church near the river crossing, not far from Society Hill, and endeavored to keep out interlopers of other faiths lest discord should arise. The small town of Society Hill was the center of what became known as the Welsh Neck."
"One of the most prosperous communities of the middle region was the Welsh tract, not properly one of the townships but having some of their characteristics. Situated on the east side of the Great Pee Dee, north of the township of Queensborough, it had water communication with both Georgetown and Charleston. Land was fertile and suitable for indigo, which after time became a profitable money crop. By 1757 the Welsh Tract had some 3,000 white settlers and 300 black slaves. Many of the Welsh Baptists had come from Pennsylvania."
One correspondent passed along information regarding a land grant for a James Brothero that had been recently found during a search of the South Carolina Archives. In cursive script of that era, a capital "P" often looks like a capital "B". This search was apparently the result of someone doing a follow-up to some information that they had received years earlier of a James Brothero coming to South Carolina on the ship Phoenix from Pennsylvania and they believed the passenger to be James Prothro (my 6th great-grandfather), Evan Prothro's father. The area of the land grant (described below) was located between two of the stalwarts of the Welsh Baptists, so it appears safe to figure that this is James Prothro.
According to Mr. Coulter, the record referred to here is found in the minutes of the South Carolina Council, dated 27 April 1748. It shows that James Brothro (sic) arrived in the ship Phenix (sic), and petitioned at Charleston for a warrant for "150 acres of land to be laid out in the Welsh Tract free of charge." The petition was granted, ultimately resulting in a survey for James Brothero (Prothero) dated 20 December 1749, "pursuant to warrant dated 18 May 1749." Unless the date of this warrant was transcribed incorrectly, this would suggest that James made a SC land entry in 1748, but was compelled to apply for a new warrant by reason of caveats filed against the parcel then selected. The Phenix was a Philadelphia-based sailing vessel that plied the coastal trade. James must have traveled down the Cape Fear River to Wilmington to board the vessel for the trip to Charleston, where petitions for land warrants were received and considered by the South Carolina Colonial Council.
There was also found a Mary Prothro who was in the Welsh Neck Church records as dying in the late 1750s and it has been speculated that this was James' wife. However Mr. Coulter believes that it is more likely that she was the wife of John Proth(e)ro, an elder son of John Pruddro who also lived in this region during the time that James lived there. John (the younger) is known to have married a Mary. The given name of the wife of James is uncertain.
Land Grant Details: Series Number: S213184 Volume: 0005 Page: 00139 Item: 01 Date: 20 December 1749. Description: Brothero, James, Plat For 150 Acres In Craven County. Names Indexed: Brothero, James; Screven, William; James, Abel; Hunter, George; Kerslake, Abraham. Locations: Craven County, Pee Dee River, Welsh Tract
Known children of James Proth(e)ro include these two:
1. Evan Prothro, b. circa 1742 at Cheraws (Darlington) District, South Carolina; m. Elizabeth Morgan; d. circa 1822 at ElberCounty, Georgia; bur. 12 Jan 1822 at Elberton, Elbert County, Georgia. According to Coulter, The maiden name of Evan's wife is but a deduction, based on an oral tradition that Zilpha Morgan, wife of Evan's eldest son, Nathaniel, was a cousin of Nathaniel. Evan's wife was an Elizabeth, but whether she was a Morgan is unclear. Elizabeth died in Elbert County (the part now in Hart County), Georgia, at some date between 13 February 1817 (when she was a witness to a deed from Anne Myers Prothro and James Prothro to Nathaniel Prothro) and Christmas Day of the same year (when Evan Prothro executed his will, which makes no mention of her.)
2. John Proth(e)ro, m. Mary ___.
In an August 2010 email, Mr. Coulter writes:
Comparison of records uncovered only recently with records examined earlier establish with a high degree of certainty that the John Proth(e)ro who married Mary ___ was a cousin of Evan (about the same age as Evan), and not his brother. The SC petition of James for a SC land warrant, mentioned above, shows that he had but one son in 1748. That son was Evan. We find no evidence that James had any other child.
Some sources have listed the two known children of John Proth(e)ro and Mary as John Proth(e)ro and James Proth(e)ro.
However in his August 2010 email, Mr. Coulter provides the following:
Some SC and NC/TN deeds that came to light only in the last few months, viewed in conjunction with pertinent NC will, deed, and state census records, suggest that the two males mentioned, who appear to have been reared in the household of Evan Prothro after their parents died, were not sons of John Proth(e)ro, but rather sons of another cousin of Evan, who died in NC before the date of the 1790 census. The son(s) of Evan's cousin, John Proth(e)ro, had removed to the western territory (NC/TN) some years before the 1790 census.
Evan Prothero, grandson of John Pruddo, was born circa 1742 at Cheraws (Darlington) District, South Carolina.
According to the Roster of South Carolina Patriots in the American Revolution, Evan Prothero was a soldier of the American Revolution. He served in the militia during 1781 and was a hog driver during 1782. In those days, long before canning and refrigeration, hog drivers had the task of keeping the army provisioned with livestock. It is therefore possible to imagine that he saw action at Camden, Guilford, or possibly Yorktown along with other South Carolina militiamen.
Following the Revolutionary War, a great many of the veterans of that war migrated into the backcountry of South Carolina and the upcountry of Georgia along the Savannah River. Headright grants were given to patriots in return for their service during the war. Under the headright system a veteran was granted 50 acres or more free of charge in return for service. Between 1790 and 1800, the population of Georgia jumped 97%.
Evan married Elizabeth Morgan. Elizabeth Morgan was born between 1742 and 1745. She died circa 1817 at Georgia. According to oral tradition, Zilpha Morgan(wife of Nathanial), Elizabeth (wife of Evan), and Batson Morgan were related as cousins.
It was in Elbert County, Georgia, along the Savannah River, that the Prothero's settled after the Revolutionary War. Elbert County was settled in the 1780's "by pioneers who came from Virginia and the Carolinas with gun and axe to open up the Cherokee lands. The town [of Elberton] was named for Samuel Elbert, the revolutionary who took Fort Oglethorpe and later became governor of Georgia. When Elbert county was created in 1790 [from a portion of Wilkes county], Elberton became the county seat".
Evan & Nathaniel
In 1792, Eli Whitney invented the Cotton Gin and cotton became king. Eli Whitney, a graduate of Yale, had come to Georgia as a tutor. In 1793, he filed a patent for his invention, the Cotton Gin (engine), that separated the seeds from lint of the variety of cotton that grew well in the southern states of North America, but removing the seeds from the cotton lint was time-consuming and could be done only by hand. Prior to Mister Whitney's invention of annual cotton exports were around 138,000 lbs. In 1794, cotton exports jumped to 1.6 million lbs. By 1800, cotton production had climbed to 35 million lbs., of which 17.8 million lbs. were exported. The demand from Europe and the northern states for cotton made the Prothero's and their neighbors very prosperous and wealthy.
Evan Prothro died in 1822 in Elbert County, Georgia. His last will and testament is as follows:
Will of Evan Prothro, December 1822
In the name of God, amen. I, Evan Prothro, Sr., do make and publish this my last will and testament in manner and form following, that is to say, after all my just and lawful debts and funeral charges are paid. 1st, I give and bequeath unto my well beloved second eldest son James Prothro his Heirs and &c. forever one bond due from William Zimmerman, for the sum of six hundred and upward of forty dollars.
2nd, I give and bequeath unto my well beloved third eldest son William Prothro, to him and his heirs forever, one bond due from William Zimmerman for the sum of six hundred and upward of forty dollars.
3rd, I give and bequeath unto the surviving heirs of my well beloved daughter Caty Hughes, deceased, four hundred and eighty six dollars, monies due from the estate of James Hughes, deceased, to be divided among her, my daughter's, surviving heirs each share and share alike, with the interest due on the said bequeathed sum of four hundred and eighty six dollars.
4th, I give and bequeath unto my four grand children, the surviving heirs of my well beloved daughter Rachael Myers, deceased, to wit, Patsy, Daniel, Susanna, William Myers, the sum of one hundred and eighty six dollars with the interest on the said sum of monies due me from Daniel Myers to be equally divided among them each share and share alike.
5th, I give and bequeath unto my well beloved oldest son Nathaniel Prothro and his heirs forever seven Negroes to wit: Mariah, a wench, Tona a wench, Harper, a man, Susannah a wench, Daniel, a boy, Sarah a girl and Miner a boy, together with all my household furniture, my horses, best bridle and saddle and all my plantation working tools, bees, debts, bonds, notes of hand and every other article of my property not otherwise already bequeathed (except my Negro man Sipio) to him my said son Nathaniel Prothro his heirs &c forever them and their increase.
6th, lastly I give and bequeath unto my Negro man Sipio his entire freedom and likewise if him, the said Negro man Sipio should become through old age or affliction so infirm as not to be able to labor I do by this will and testament enjoin my said son Nathaniel to keep the said Negro Sipio & maintain him, the said Negro Sipio out of his share of dues in my bequest.
This my last will and testament, and in witness and in testimony of the same, I revoke and make null and void all other will or wills by me heretofore or hereafter made, ordaining and publishing this my last will and testament, appointing my beloved son Nathaniel and Evan Prothro my sole executors of this my last will and testament and in acknowledgement of the same I have hereto set my hand and affixed my seal this 25th day of December 1817.
Evan Prothro (seal)
Signed and acknowledged in presence of
Moses Haynes, sen.
Recorded the 12th Jany. 1822
Jeb Weston, C.C.C.
Evan Prothro had at least five children that survived into adulthood: Nathaniel, Catherine, Rachel, James, and William, all of whom were probably born in Prince George Parish, South Carolina before the Revolutionary War. Nathaniel Prothro was born circa 1765 in St. David's Parish (Darlington Co.), South Carolina. He married Zilphia Morgan in 1786 in Craven, St. David Parish, South Carolina. In his will, Evan appointed his eldest son Nathaniel and his grandson Evan as sole executors of the will. It appears that Nathaniel died the following year. It is not difficult to imagine that father and son died during the yellow fever epidemic of 1820-1823 Nathaniel died in 1823 in Elbert Co., Georgia. His will, recorded in 1823, is as follows:
Elbert County, GA
In the name of God, amen. I Nathaniel Prothro of the State and County aforesaid, being weak in body, but strong in mind and memory, do make and ordain my last will and testament. First, I commend my soul to God who gave it, and my body I consign to earth to be buried in Christian decency.
Secondly, I will and direct that all my funeral expenses and just debts be paid after my death.
Thirdly, I give and bequeath unto my well beloved wife Zilphia Prothro, twelve Negroes, Uz, Jack, Rachel, Thene, Peter, Moses, Ginny, Sarah, Mims, Harper, Pompey and Lewis, together with all my land and houses, horses and cattle and stock of all kinds, plantation tools, household and kitchen furniture, ready money, debts dues and demands, &c, except such as is otherwise bequeathed in this said will, during her natural life or widowhood and after death or inter-marriage, the whole to be equally divided among my children except a reasonable allowance for boarding and educating all such as used it.
Fourthly, I give and bequeath unto my daughter Mary, one Negro woman Aggy and all her future increase and 1 bed and furniture.
Fifthly, I give and bequeath unto my son Joshua, one Negro boy Herrod and a horse bridle and saddle.
Sixthly, I give and bequeath unto my son William, one Negro boy Isaac and a horse bridle and saddle.
Seventhly, I give and bequeath unto my son Nathaniel one Negro boy, Ezekiel, and a horse, bridle and saddle.
Eighthly, I give and bequeath unto my daughter Lydia one Negro girl, Sharlette and all her future increase and 1 bed and furniture.
Ninthly, I give and bequeath unto my daughter Elizabeth one Negro girl, * Hester, and all her future increase and 1 bed and furniture.
Tenthly, I give and bequeath unto my daughter Massie one Negro boy Daniel and 1 bed and furniture.
Eleventhly, I give and bequeath unto my daughter Harriett one Negro girl Viannus and all her future increase and 1 bed and furniture.
Twelfthly, I give and bequeath unto my granddaughter Nancy Gardner three hundred dollars to be paid to her when she shall marry or come to the age of twenty one years.
Thirteenthly, I will and direct that Mariah a Negro woman shall be sold and if either of the Negroes bequeathed to either of my children shall die before said children shall marry, or come of age, his or her part must be made up equal to the rest of the property left to my wife, and as to my four children Evan a son and Solomon a son and Rachel Corbett a daughter and Mehetabel Jones a daughter, they have received a portion equal to what I have herein bequeathed to the rest of my children.
Lastly I constitute and appoint my wife Zilphia Prothro and John Dobbs, executors to this my last will and testament, hereby revoking all former wills and testaments made by me, in testimony whereof I have hereto set my hand and seal this 26th day of February 1823.
Nathaniel Prothro (seal)
Recorded the 10th of Sept 1823
There are a number of points to note in both wills. The first and perhaps, strangely disturbing, is that both wills detail the bequeathal of human beings as property. These people, mentioned by first name only, were of course slaves. I was not shocked when I first learned of my family's slave-holding past; numbed is a better expression of the emotion that I felt. I can sympathize with Edward Ball the author of Slaves in the Family as he expressed his feelings regarding his ancestors and the fact that they had owned slaves:
"The subject of the plantations stirred conflicting emotions. I felt proud (how rare the stories) and sentimental (how touching the cast of family characters!). At the same time, the slave business was a crime that had not been fully acknowledged. It would be a mistake to say that I felt guilt for the past. A person cannot be culpable for the acts of others, long dead, that he or she could not have influenced. Rather than responsible, I felt accountable for what had happened, called on to try to explain it."
The second point to note is that one of the designated executors of Nathaniel's will (and a witness of Evan's will) was John Dobbs and the will is witnessed by Jesse Dobbs, both sons of Josiah Dobbs, a 4th great-grandfather of mine. Therefore, the connection between the Dobbs and Prothro families was much earlier than the marriage of my gg-grandparents.
From Evan and Nathaniel onward the record becomes clearer. The following details what I have learned regarding the children of Evan Prothero:
All of the children were born in the 1760's probably in Prince George Parish, South Carolina in what is now Chesterfield county. Nathaniel, Catherine, and Rachel died in the late 1810's/ early 1820's in Elbert County, Georgia.
- According to the notes that I was given, James Prothero was a physician and that he married a woman whose first name was Anny. He has been traced into Chambers County, Alabama. James Prothro was born in 1767 at Prince George's Parish, South Carolina. He married Anne Myers, daughter of George Miers and Nancy Bass, circa 1794 at Georgia. He died circa 1840 at Chambers County, Alabama. According to Mr. Coulter, James Prothro was not a doctor and that this mistake regarding his occupation was the result of someone having misread a entry for James that read "James Prothro, DR to Chambers County." where DR actually stands for "debt recorded". Anne Myers appeared on the census of 1840 at Chambers County, Alabama.
- William Prothero migrated to Louisiana. William Prothro was born in 1769 at Prince George's Parish, South Carolina. He married ___ Furman say 1790. He married Hesse Hickson, daughter of Thomas Hickson Jr. and Sarah ___, say 1800 at South Carolina. He married Esther Hickson circa 1808. He was in the timber business in South Carolina and after timber resources were exhausted in the area, he moved to Minden, Louisiana in 1840 with several of his sons. He died in 1845 at Minden, Webster Parish, Louisiana.
- Caty Prothro's married name was Hughes. According to a Prothero & Hughes researcher her husband's name was James Hughes: "apparently James Hughes left the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia with his wife and children enroute to Indiana. The children and their mother arrived in Harrison Co., Indiana but no trace or mention of James has been located. Either he died en route or abandoned the family during this move. Some sources indicate that James was dead by 1812." However, according to George Prothro Coulter, the Caty Prothro who was daughter of Evan Prothro was not the same person as the Catherine Prothro of Indiana: "the descents that you show for Catherine (Caty) Prothro Hugh(e)s are not those of a daughter of Evan Prothro. The issue named belong to an entirely different couple bearing the names of Catherine and James Hughes. The report that the "other" James Hughes married a daughter of Evan Prothro now appears to have been but an assumption based on the will of Evan Prothro, with no other facts to support it. [T]he line of Caty and James Hughs just seems to have disappeared completely. It is not the Indiana Hughes family."
- Rachel Prothro married Daniel Myers. Myers or Mires is a name that shows up in both the Prothero and Dobbs lineages.
The other researcher provided me with information regarding Hepsibah, the youngest daughter of James Prothero. Hepsibah (or Hepsey) was born about 1810 and her mother's maiden name may have been Morgan. The researcher informed me that Hepsibah Prothro married James Head Merritt. Their daughter, Ann Elizabeth Merritt, was born in 1837 in Chambers County, Alabama and is buried in Williston, Barnwell County, South Carolina. Ann Elizabeth Merritt was the researcher's great-grandmother. She married Captain William Hamilton Kennedy of Williston, South Carolina. Their youngest son, James Edward Kennedy, the researcher's grandfather, was named for James Prothro and James Head Merritt. According to the researcher, it was after Hepsibah's father death that she and James Head Merritt returned to South Carolina to live. She believes that the other descendents of James Prothero remained in Alabama.
Nathanial Prothro and Zilphia Morgan had a total of 16 children:
- Evan Prothro (1790-1864) - married Sarah Hickson (ggg-grandparents)
- Mary Prothro (1792)
- Solomon Prothro (1794)
- Abigail Prothro (1796)
- Rachel Prothro (1798)
- James Prothro (1799)
- Mary Prothro (1801) - married Jesse Dobbs
- Mehitabel Prothro (1803)
- Joshua Prothro (1805) - married Lucy Dobbs
- William Prothro (1801-1853) - married Emily Ann Prothro
- Zilphia Prothro (1809)
- Nathaniel , Jr. Prothro (1811) - married Emeline Canady
- Elizabeth Prothro (1815) - married Josiah Dobbs
- Lydia Prothro (1815)
- Massie Prothro (1818)
- Harriete Prothro (1821)
Evan and Sarah had 12 children:
- Hickson Nathaniel Prothro (1816-1854) - married Louisa (--?--)
- Harriet Carolyn Prothro (1818-1898) - married Philip M. Kitchings
- Joseph Edmund Prothro (1819-1902) - married Marian Frances Stanley
- Nelson Brown Prothro (1821-1878) - married Mary Barkley Rosser
- Wilson Ernest Prothro (1824-1873)
- Lavinia E. Prothro (1829) - married Edward Wimberly
- Hassel Melton Prothro (1833)
- Martha Josephine Prothro (1834-1928) - married David Judson Dobbs (gg-grandparents)
- Whitfield Wesley Prothro (1837-1902)
- Gustaphus Adolfus Prothro (1838)
- Sarah Jane Prothro (1842-1868) - married Elijah Boatwright
- Rosina Prothro (1845) - married Uriah Corbett
The Ante-Bellum Generation
In 2000, while visiting my sister in New Orleans I stopped by one of the older cemeteries there in the Garden District. At the gate of Lafayette Cemetery #1, I picked up a pamphlet and brought it home with me. It was not until a couple of years later that I got around to looking at the pamphlet and here I discovered that there was a "Mary Rosser Prothro" listed as interned in one of the wall crypts within the cemetery. Not knowing what connection there was with my Prothro family, I did assume that she was member of one of the Prothro families that settled in Louisiana in the 1840's.
In 2006, I made a return visit to New Orleans and on my first day there, I went to Lafayette #1 and after few minutes of walking along the wall crypts on the east side of the cemetery, I found where "Mary Rosser Prothro" was buried. The inscription on the crypt said that she had died at age two on 11 March 1866. Still believing that she was connected with the earlier Louisiana Prothro's, I contacted a descendent of that branch of the family to find out if she knew of Mary Rosser Prothro - she did not. Going back to my records, I found out that I had previously not done any research regarding the siblings of my gg-grandmother and that was when I learned of Nelson Brown Prothro and his marriage to Mary Barkley Rosser. Nelson Brown Prothro was born in 1821 in Orangeburg District, South Carolina. He married Mary Barkley Rosser about 1855 in South Carolina. Sometime after the start of the Civil War, the family moved to New Orleans. They appear on the census of 1870 in the 11th Ward (Garden District) in New Orleans. Nelson's occupation was listed then as cotton merchant. Nelson and Mary had 11 children and two were twin girls - Mary Rosser Prothro and Martha Dobbs Prothro. Mary died when she was two years - probably of the cholera epidemic that swept New Orleans in 1866, but Martha, who was named after my gg-grandmother and was also known as Mattie, survived into adulthood. Sometime in the early 1870's, the family left New Orleans and moved to Memphis, Tennessee. Nelson died in 1878 in Memphis.
Martha Josephine Prothro, my gg-grandmother, was born on May 2, 1834 in Barnwell Co., South Carolina. The 1850 Census shows her age as 14 years and this would make her birth year as 1836. She was also known as Mattie Dobbs. She appeared on the census of 1850 in the household of Evan Prothro and Sarah Hickson in Barnwell Co., South Carolina.She married David Judson Dobbs, son of David Dobbs and Elizabeth McMullan, in 1856 in Aiken Co., South Carolina. She and David Judson Dobbs appeared on the census of 1860 & 1870 in Marietta, Cobb Co., Georgia. She appeared on the census of 1880 & 1900 in Marietta, Cobb Co., Georgia. She appeared on the census of 1910 in the household of Evan Prothro Dobbs and Margaret Hulda Dobbs in Marietta, Cobb Co., Georgia. She had ten children; six of which were living in 1900.
In April 1919, from Kitchings Mills, South Carolina, Mattie Dobbs wrote the following letter to one of her sons (probably Clifton Dobbs):
"My dear son, I have just got home from a great trip. I went to Denmark (S.C.) to see Mat Guess, and had a lovely visit to her family from then Julian Guess came in his auto for me to go to Appleton (S.C.) to see Maud and her mother. I spent a week there. Julian has a fine horse, he drove me every where in his buggy over the great Walker estate, and his plantation. David, I was so glad you wrote to me. I wanted to hear from you all the time I was at Appleton. I wished that you were there to go with us.
"I went to the old semitery(sic) near the town to see some of my ancestors graves. I was standing with my hand on the tombstone of Uncle John Hickson, and right at my feet was a spreading adder snake. You ought to have seen me leave there, but we went back and Walter Guess killed it.
"I went to your cousin Wilson Prothro from Appleton, he lives in Williston, S.C.; they gave me a lovely time. Their daughter came home from Converse College for two days and Wilson and Louise drove me back to Della's. Wilson has been to see me four times since I came to S.C. Your cousin says you must come to see her some day. I went yesterday with Della and the girls to Wagner (S.C.) Della went to sell some cotton, we spent the day at the hotel. Tell Yiah I will write her the next letter I write. You must take a hole(sic) lot of love for you, and give some to everybody, and write me again.
It has been explained to me that the "Julian Guess" Mattie mentions in her letter must be Julian Prothro Guess. He lived from 1875 to 1932. The "great Walker estate, and his plantation" that Mattie mentions must be the Colding-Walker plantation or "Robwood" on South Carolina state highway 125, three miles northwest of Allendale. It was once owned by Richard Henry Walker who married Sarah Josephine Hickson. Richard Henry and Sarah Josephine had a daughter named Maud Virginia Walker (born 1875, died 1957) who was married to Julian Prothro Guess. She must be the "Maud" mentioned in Mattie's letter. This is confirmed in the registration of the Colding-Walker Houser in the National Historical Registry in 1998.
Mattie Dobbs died on May 9, 1928 in Wingina, Virginia, at age 94. Upon her death, the First Baptist Church of Marietta, Georgia composed the following memorial:
"To the First Baptist Church, Marietta, Ga., in conference assembled: Your committee appointed to draft a memorial of your beloved member, Mrs. Mattie Dobbs, begs leave to submit the following: Memorial of Mrs. Mattie Dobbs "Mrs. Mattie Dobbs, whose funeral was held in this her Church on the 11th day of May, 1928, was born at Shaw's Creek, South Carolina, on the 2nd day of May, 1835. At the early age of twelve, she became a member of the Church in Aiken, S.C. in the year 1847. In the year 1857 she was married to David J. Dobbs, who was a member of this Church, and who for a time served as its Clerk, and she moved with him to the City of Marietta in the year 1857, where they lived together until his death some fifty-one years ago. On September 25th, 1858, shortly after her coming to this community, she united with the First Baptist Church of Marietta, Georgia, and from that date down to the date of her death, a period of nearly seventy years, she was a faithful member of this Church. She faithfully and constantly attended the services of the Church, always occupying her same pew, and her presence Sunday after Sunday in that place was an inspiration not only to the many Pastors who served the Church during her life-time and membership in it, but to the other members of the Church as well. Up to the time of her death, although she had reached the ripe old age of ninety-three years, she was always to be found in this House of the Lord on Sunday morning, unless away from the city or providentially hindered, and often have the Pastors of the Church expressed their deep appreciation of her faithfulness.
"Not only was she faithful in attendance, but in every other branch of the Church's activities. She was constantly in prayer for her Pastors and those others charged with the responsibility of carrying of the Church work. Never a word of criticism did she offer, but was always ready with a smile and a word of encouragement for those who became discouraged. She lived close to her Maker, and was a blessing to all those who came in contact with her. Needless to say that with a character such as hers, she was a faithful and dutiful wife, a loving mother, and a splendid citizen, and that her life meant much to the betterment and up building of social and civic conditions, and to everything that tended to the moral uplift of the community.
"We thank God for the long and beautiful life of this devoted Christian and Saintly woman in our midst. We commend her life as a shining example to be followed by other Christians. We feel sure that her immortal soul has found a safe and final resting place within the circle of the brooding care of our Creator, and that she now occupies a place close to the throne of God.
"We recommend that this memorial be spread upon the minutes of the Church, and that a copy thereof be furnished by the Clerk to her children, Mrs. Lillian E. Finn, Mrs. Mattie D. Smith, Mr. E. P. Dobbs, Mr. H. C. Dobbs, and Mr. Max Dobbs, who survive her.
"Respectfully submitted, (Signed) Harold Hawkins, Committee.
"I, C.B. Dickson, Clerk, do hereby certify that the above and foregoing is a true and correct copy of the Memorial of Mrs. Mattie Dobbs, adopted by the First Baptist Church of Marietta, Ga., in conference duly assembled on December 5th, 1928, as the same appears upon the minutes of the Church."
Next: The Dobbs Family