The Free State of Jones

Where is Welch Landing located?

A few days ago, one of my new Myspace friends, Sheri Welch Hilbun, expressed an interest in knowing more about her Welch ancestors. Specifically, she asked me if I knew where Welch Landing is located. Since I don’t, I decided to put the question out to readers of Renegade South.

While we’re on the subject of the Welches, let’s remember that they, like the Collinses to whom they are closely related, were major participants in the Free State of Jones—just look at the Knight Company roster, and you will see four Welch men listed there: T.L. (Timothy); R. J.; H. R. (Harrison); and W.M. (William). I’m thinking that R. J. Welch, who is described on Newt’s 1870 roster as having fled to New Orleans and joined the Union Army in the wake of Lowry’s raid on Jones County, is actually Richard T. Welch, whose military records describe the same actions. Can someone out there help me with that identification?

Meanwhile, Timothy, Harrison and William Welch were all captured by Col. Lowry (as was Simeon Collins and his three sons), and forced back into the Confederate Army. Like Simeon and sons, they too fought at Kennesaw Mountain and ended up in Yankee prison camps.

According to the records and family histories I used to write Free State of Jones, Timothy L. and Harrison R. Welch were brothers, sons of John Ira and Catherine (Bynum) Welch. William M. was their cousin one generation removed, and the son of Henry and Sarah Welch. and the son of James Richard and Mary Valentine Welch (thanks, Russell!). If my suspicions are correct that R. J. Welch is actually Richard Thomas Welch, that would make him the brother of William M. Welch son of Henry and Sarah Welch.

In 1895, William M. Welch gave a deposition in support of Newt Knight’s petition for compensation from the federal government.

But I digress. Back to the original question: just where is Welch Landing located?

20 replies »

  1. A closer look seems to show that Welch was just a tad over the line in Covington County–but what’s a mile or two among Piney Woods cousins?

  2. One last tid-bit: the Welch community on the 1878 map appears to situated on Ocoha Creek, a drainage that runs to the south of and parallel with the Leaf. The 1880 census of Covington County includes a township named Ocoha in which 32 people having the surname of “Welch” were enumerated.

  3. William M. Welch(1837-1908) is my ggg-grandfather; in the 1850 Jones County Census, he is listed as a son of James Richard Welch and Mary Marzilla Valentine.

    He had a cousin named William H. Welch who was the son of Henry Welch.

  4. My mistake, Russell, and thank you for the correction! BTW, the error is contained in the hardback version of Free State of Jones, but was corrected for the paperback. Too bad I referred back to the hardback when I wrote my post!

  5. Vikki, Sheri and all: I’ve asked my dad and uncles who grew up in Big Creek if they know the location of Welch Landing. My dad thought he remembered that it was south of Centerville Church on the Leaf River as they used to camp on the river as kids. My uncle John Hilbun who still lives in Big Creek wrote me today to state that he’s located the area of the Welch Landing. He states this: “It is down the river from the Reddock Ferry which is at Hebron. It was near the location where the Pitts bridge was until it burned several years ago and was not replaced. It was the river crossing from Boggy community on the west side of the river into Crackers Neck that was on the east side of the river. The Pitts Bridge replaced it as a river crossing. I am not sure if it was north or south of the place of the Pitts bridge. I will seek to determine which. I have been told that in the Knight Book it was mentioned several places.” He furthered stated that if anyone wants to find the exact place that they can contact him after spring comes. He would be glad to go into the area and determine the exact location.

    • What a great report back, Joy. Tell your father and your Uncle John Hilbun that we really appreciate the info. How does this compare with Ed Payne’s research? Are some of these places the same, but with different names over time?

      Vikki

  6. The information Joy provides makes good sense. “Welch’s Landing” implies a location on a river and the Leaf River is the largest in the area. If I have plotted her information correctly, the spot described to her can be found on the Jones County highway map found at this link:

    http://www.gomdot.com/Divisions/IntermodalPlanning/Resources/Maps/CountyHighwayMaps.aspx

    I’ll leave the final word to John Hilbun, but the location appears to match Section 14 of T8N-R14W (look for the sideways “T8N” notation on the left side of the map and look 2 sections to the right). In Section 14 you’ll see Pitts Rd branching off Centerville Rd and lead down to the Leaf River. If you move west from here and pick up with Section 16 of T8N-R14W on the Covington County highway map, then move SW about 3 miles you are–as best I can tell–in the approximate location of the community of Welch.

    There was once a post office at Welch and it’s co-ordinates are listed as: Latitude: 31.62917 : Longitude: -89.40833. This comes out to be a bit northeast of the present day Eminence community on Hwy 588. So, this would place the community of Welch in Covington County and the site of Welch’s Landing on the Leaf River about 3-4 miles to the NE, just across the county line in Jones County. All this is based on map plotting and I’ll cede authority to anyone in the vicinity with ground level knowledge.

  7. Vikki, and other members of the community here-

    It has been fascinating to read through the posts on the blog and the wonderful responses from regulars and newcomers alike. I am not descended from my namesake mentioned by Vikki above, but am most definitely a Jones County Welch.

    I am operating from memory here, because the urge to weigh in was too strong to be corralled until I could get home to consult our family tree. My father is Richard Delmas, Jr., born in Laurel in 1938, son of Richard Delmas (Delmas from a famous lawyer involved in a scandalous case I cannot recall at the moment), born in Gitano in 1907, son of William Estus, son (if I recall correctly) Walter S. I’ll need the tree to go further.

    When I consult our family tree, I will benefiting from work my cousin (removed some times) Houston Longino Welch undertook about sixty years ago, the record of which is a classic family tree, carefully plotted with ruler and fountain pen, that extends from my father’s generation to the arrival in Charleston in 1670 (?) of Thomas Welch, formerly of Scotland. There are Knights and Collinses, and Sumralls, and Robertsons, and Duckworths and other families represented on the various branches of the tree, of course. While Houston added occasional notes about his sources, the tree for the most part does not include an inventory of the records on which he relied. I haven’t done the research myself, and so cannot vouch for the accuracy of his work, but it seems to jibe pretty well with the results of other researchers, including Vikki. In fact, I think the correction noted above may resolve some discrepancy between the Welch lineage listed in my hardcover copy of The Free State of Jones and the tree. I know there was one, but I cannot recall the details at the moment.

    My father left Laurel after the war, when his father returned but became a part of the regular army. He went to West Point, and we spent my younger years moving around the country, before we settled in Northern Virginia about the time I went to high school. I went to college and law school in North Carolina, and my own family has moved around some in its own right, mostly as I follow my talented wife to new opportunities: Indiana, New York, New Jersey.

    One thing that has been a constant in my life has been uncertainty about my answer to the question “Where are you from?” Especially here in New Jersey, I live among lots of people who live in or very close to the communities in which they grew up. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve asked someone “Are you from here?” (I’m thinking New Jersey, New York, maybe even East Coast) and the response is “Oh, no, I’m not from here! I’m from [insert name of second town over].” I treasure the broad experience I’ve had, but I’m also aware that it has come at the cost of that depth of connection to a community that so many of my neighbors have.

    Most of the time when people ask me where I’m from, I just say I’m from the South. It’s true enough – mom’s from Jacksonville, Fl; dad’s from Laurel; through college, law school and various sabbaticals therefrom of various origins, I lived in Durham, NC for almost 15 years (by far a record for me). Moreover, and again especially in New Jersey, when people hear that, it’s generally the end of the inquiry. ‘Nuff said.

    But I have been to Jones County on a number of occasions, and I have tromped through the woods by the Leaf River looking for homesteads, and I have waded across the Jim-Nar Branch (for James Norville Welch, as I recall). I have been to the cemetery of the Leaf River Baptist Church, where my (?)g-grandfather (I’ll count when I get home) Richard Welch is buried, who helped Francis Marion outfox the British in the swamps of South Carolina. (Well, I’ve been to several small Baptist cemeteries in Jones and the nearby parts of Covington Counties – I think that’s the one he’s in). I have read The Free State of Jones, and don’t need to read Free State of Jones, because I’ll just see the movie when it comes out, and I’m guessing that anything new that I could reliably have learned from it I’ve already learned from reading Vikki’s responses. I have seen my father’s birth house on Fifth Avenue in Laurel, and the houses of about nineteen aunts (Welches and Smiths) nearby. I have seen the hospital where my father was born and where his mother Frankie Mae Smith Welch, died when he was ten, and I have seen her grave and my grandfather’s next to it, where he was placed a second marriage and thirty years of living places other than Laurel after her death.

    On those occasions, I have felt like I have some of what my deeply rooted neighbors have, and it has seemed warm and natural and welcoming. And so, every once in a while, when someone asks me where I’m from, I tell them I’m from the Piney Woods of Jones County, Mississippi. I hope those of you who have breathed your first, skinned your knees, said your vows and mourned your good-byes there will forgive me.

  8. Hi Richard,

    What a wonderful description of your Jones County Welch roots and the course of your life since! I’m reminded a bit of my own history (especially since I’ve even briefly lived in Durham, NC) given that my dad joined the military and left Mississippi at an early age, too, leaving us kids to learn about his early history from infrequent visits to Jones County.

    Please do contact Renegade South again after you’ve consulted with your cousin and that family tree! Maybe I can work that family history up into a post with your permission.

    Thanks so much,

    Vikki

  9. Thanks for your response, Vikki. It really has been a tremendous amount of fun reading through the blog, which I discovered just a couple of days ago. I’ve been following a series of essays in the online version of the NY Times Op-Ed page called “Disunion”, which roughly tracks the day-to-day events of 150 years ago leading up to the beginning of the war. The series started with the election of Lincoln, and will go at least until April, when Sumter was attacked. Not sure if they’ll go further. For a layperson, it’s been a
    fascinating read – almost like history in real time. Anyway, somehow I got from there to Googling the Free State of Jones, and found this whole community of interested and interesting people. What a treat.

    I never met Houston Longino Welch, who developed the family tree I’ve grown up with. I know him only through the tree itself. His entry for himself (presumably reliable), indicates that he was born in 1900 and had a daughter and son, who were born around the same time as my father. In fact, I don’t think my father ever met him either, although a copy of Houston’s tree ended up with Dad and eventually another with me.

    I confess that I am not a regular contributor in the blogosphere, and so don’t have a handle on the etiquette of communicating here. I’ve prepared a synopsis of some information from the tree that I thought might be interesting in the context of Jones County during the war and the Knight Company, but it seems kind of long for a post here. On the other hand, I’m not sure what how else to share it, so I’m going to include it in this post, knowing that it will be reviewed before it goes public. Also, as long-winded as it is, the information I offer is all Welch-related, and so probably of limited interest to the broader community here. Nonetheless I offer it for whatever use it might be. Vikki, treat my comments however you see fit.

    I’ll start with the tree, which Houston completed in 1953. Here is his inscription, describing the tree (throughout, I keep to his spelling and nomenclature):

    “Graph Showing decendents of the Duckworth – Rogers and Welch families with details on the decendents from the Marriage of – Three daughters of Timothy Rogers to – Two sons and grandson of James Welch

    Other branches are incomplete and are included only for reference.

    Being among the earliest settlers they assisted in organizing the churches at Salem, Leaf River and Bethel. Most of them are buried at these churches and at the Rogers Cemetery near Salem, the Welch cemetery on Oakey Woods Creek and at County line Church near the original Welch homestead.

    Compiled by Houston Longino Welch
    1953″

    According to Houston, the James Welch who had two sons and a grandson who married Rogers sisters was the brother of Henry and Bryant, who are shown in Appendix 7 to The Free State of Jones. Along with Henry and Bryant, Houston lists four other children for Richard: James, Timothy, John and Sarah. His notes indicate that Timothy was born in 1785 in the Sumter district of South Carolina and that James was born in 1799 in the same vicinity. James married Martha Hobart Hill and both are buried in in the Welch family cemetery on Oakey Woods Creek.

    Bearing in mind that I can’t vouch for the accuracy of Houston’s work, the record of James and his progeny could possibly bear on the question of identifying the R.J. Welch listed in the Knight Company. According to the tree, James had a son Richard, born in 1824, as well as a son Ransom Jay Welch, born in 1841 (who married one of the Rogers sisters). Houston indicated that Ransom J. Welch served in Co. G of the 7th Miss. Infantry. James’s other children were Mary (1826), Pharobe (1827), Caleb (1829) (whose son Jim Norvell (of the Jim-Nar Branch) married a Rogers), John (1830)(died in Confederate Army), James (1832) (died in Confederate Army), Samuel (1834) (died in Confederate Army), Susan (1836), Nancy (1839), Elizabeth (1843), and Joseph M. (1845) (the third of James’s brood who married a Rogers sister).

    Houston doesn’t show a son named Richard for either of James’s brothers Bryant or Henry. For Henry, he lists Elizabeth, Rachel, Nancy, Martha and Timothy Allen (b. 1848 – d.1926, buried at County Line). That information varies from that in the book, which gives Henry two daughters and two sons, Judith, Sarah Ann, William M. and Richard Thomas. Houston comes serves the book a little better with Bryant’s children. He names them as Martin, Elizabeth, Judith (m. Drury Bynum), Tibitha (m. Laurence Welborn), James (m. Mary Valentine), Cynthia (m. Allen Valentine), Mercy (whose daughter, Hester Davis, married George Knight and had four Knight children – Warren, George, Ben, and Aramde), Timothy, Ira (m. Katie Bynum), Desdamona (m. Riley Collins). The book names the same, including marriages, except that Mercy and Martin and Elizabeth are left out, and the book lists Sarah Susannah (m. Darrell Valentine). For those of you keeping score, Houston gives Bryant Welch 10 children, and the book gives him 8. Of the 8 listed in the book, though, Houston matches 7.

    So who was R.J.? Houston shows the only Richard in the generation sired by James, Bryant and Henry to be the first child of James, born in 1824. Houston doesn’t list a middle initial or name, so there’s no way to tell from the tree alone whether he is the Richard Thomas Welch given to Henry by your sources, Vikki. He could be that Richard Thomas, and one or the other source has given him the wrong parents, or Houston could have simply missed that R.T. in identifying Henry’s children.

    Another possibility is James’s son Ransom Jay Welch, who served in the Confederate Army but survived the War (he died in 1918). Vikki, I recall that you mentioned a Ransom as a possibility somewhere, but haven’t been able to find that reference again, and I don’t recall if you knew or speculated as to his lineage.

    In his comments on the tree, Houston mentions that he doesn’t carry on with some of the family lines other than the three on which he focuses. Among those that he leaves unfinished are those of Bryant and Henry. Those lines end without showing any children for James Richard (with Mary Valentine) or (John) Ira and Katie (Catherine) Bynum. So, Houston doesn’t list the other three identified Welches in the Knight Company, brothers Timothy and Harrison, sons of John and Katie, or William, son of James and Mary (and ggg-grandfather of Russell Williamson, above – Hey cuz!).

    Now to correct some of the errors in my first post, in which my memory proved far less than reliable. According to Houston, anyway, I am directly descended from James, brother of Henry and Bryant. The begats, without the begats: James, Caleb, Jim Norvell, Estus (who I still think may be Wm. Estus), Richard Delmas, Richard Delmas Jr., Richard Thomas (yours truly).

    Recall that the father of James and his brothers was Richard, who fought in South Carolina during the Revolution. I noted above that I had visited his grave in the cemetery at the Leaf River Baptist Church. I have a picture of myself with his headstone (placed in modern times by others of his descendants). It’s actually in the cemetery at County Line B.C., though, about three miles southeast of Leaf River B.C. Roughly between them is Bethel Baptist Church, the third of the churches referred to by Houston in his inscription. County Line B.C. is in Jones County, a little over three miles SSW of Hebron. Bethel Church is one mile to the west of County Line Church, about a half a mile into Covington County. Leaf River Church is another couple of miles NW into Covington County.

    Bethel and County Line churches are about a mile north of Oakey Woods Creek, somewhere along which Houston says there is a Welch family cemetery. Jim Nar Branch, named after my gg-grandfather Jim Norvell Welch, is a tributary of Oakey Woods Creek, and meets OWC almost exactly where it crosses the Jones/Covington Line, about halfway between Bethel and County Line Churches, just over a mile south.
    Those two churches, in turn, are about two miles south of where I suspect the Pitts Bridge was, which was referenced in the discussion of Welch Landing, above. Oakahay Creek (on my map – the 1982 Hot Coffee Quad) is another couple of miles north of there on the Leaf. I’m guessing that’s the Ocaha Creek referred to above. I can’t help with the specifics of Welch Landing, but there seems to be plenty of evidence that this area was central to the Welches in the area.

    • Rich,

      Since you’ve done such a thorough job of transmitting the information from Houston Longino Welch’s work, I’ve printed your message in its entirety, and will add some additional tags on the “Welch Landing” post that will help lead researchers to your comment.

      I’m traveling right now, will not return home for another 8-10 days, and it would be some time before I could create a new post for this material, so perhaps this is best, at least for now.

      Thanks again for all the great, detailed information on the Welch lineage!

      Vikki

      • Vikki-

        The pleasure’s been mine. Thanks to you for the forum. Now that I know it’s here, I’ll be following along.

        Incidentally, let me know if you’d like a copy of the tree. It’s really big (blueprint stock?) so I don’t think I could scan it, but could mail it.

        Enjoy your travels!

        Rich

  10. Forget to mention the lineage of Houston Longino Welch. Houston was the grandson of Ransom Jay Welch, one of our possibles for the R.J. Welch of the Knight Company. Houston and I share Ransom’s father James as our first common ancestor.

    Best to all,

    Rich

  11. I have a copy of the Welch Family Tree compiled by Houston Longino Welch in 1953. My grandmother was Martha Elizabeth (Bettie) Welch, her brothers were Joseph R. Welch and Timothy D. Welch, and her father was Ransom J. Welch. Ransom was listed as one of the deserters, but we have, in our family, the honorable discharge papers from the war. I think Charles Pickering has the papers or maybe his brother Gene might have them. I had just gotten the Welch Family Tree down so I could find out what the connection was to Timothy Ransom Welch, if any. When I googled his name, I found what all of you have been writing, and got to reading all of this. Very interesting.

  12. Thank you for your post, Ms. Wiegand.

    Thanks to Rich Welch, I too have a copy of the Welch family tree compiled by Houston Longino Welch. In regard to Ransom J. Welch, I cannot say for certain that he is the “R.J. Welch” listed on Newt Knight’s roster of men. In his military records, which I’m sure you have, Ransom is clearly identifed by name rather than initals a sergeant of Co. G, 7th Battalion MS. Inf. of the Confederate Army. The records show him to be a P.O.W., transferred from Citronelle, AL. to Canby, on May 10, 1865.

    In regard to James Richard Welch, married Mary Valentine, I hope you both have read Ed Payne’s recent post on him and his children, who were pretty thoroughly Unionist during the Civil War: http://renegadesouth.wordpress.com/2011/10/29/ed-payne-the-family-of-james-richard-welch-a-study-in-piney-woods-unionism/

    Good to hear from you; hope you visit again!

    Vikki

  13. Based on the records I have, I would venture to say the Welch’s listed in this company are Timothy Lawrence & Hiram Rankin (brothers), William M. (cousin of Timothy & Hiram) and Ransom Jay, who would have been an uncle to Timothy & Hiram if I am not mistaken.

    Some of the Knights and Valentines were married into the family as well, and I believe several of the men listed in the Knight’s Company roster are closely related to the four Welch’s listed.

    My great-grandfather was John Ira Welch, but not the same John Ira Welch mentioned in this article. It turns out it was a rather interesting coincidence that there ended up being two John Ira Welch’s that lived around the same time. I’ll try my best to explain.

    We’ll start with the elder John Ira Welch, the one mentioned here who is the father of Timothy Lawrence and Hiram Rankin Welch. John Ira(1) had a brother named Timothy Warren Welch. He in turn had a son born in 1859 named John Ira Welch(2). This is my great-grandfather.

    Now, back to the elder John Ira(1). One of his sons, as we know is Timothy Lawrence Welch, a member of the Knight Company. Well good old Timothy Lawrence had a son in 1864 named John Ira(3). I assume his wife was pregnant before he got shipped off to fight at Kennesaw, which was also in 1864.

    Here’s where it gets even more interesting. John Ira Welch(2) married a Martha Jane Todd. The other John Ira Welch(3) married a Martha Blackledge. So what you have is two people named John Ira Welch, born 5 years apart in the same county, both with a father named Timothy Welch, and both married to a Martha Welch. You can see how easy it would be to confuse them!

    John Ira Welch(3), son of Timothy Lawrence, is buried in Louisiana. That is where his father and mother are both buried as well, after they moved to Louisiana following the war. John Ira Welch(2), son of Timothy Warren, is buried in Jones county, Mississippi.

    Bryant Welch is the father of both Timothy Warren Welch and the elder John Ira Welch(1). So if you trace your lineage back to a John Ira Welch, be sure you have the right one. I’ve no doubt there are others along the way as well, but seeing how these two were born just a few years apart, and because of all the similarities, it can be easy to mistake which line you are actually a part of. It has been a most interesting time doing this research, to say the least.

  14. Luc Welch,

    Very interesting details–wish I’d had contact with you while I was writing FREE STATE OF JONES. I included some brief genealogy tables in that book’s appendices (including Knight, Welborn, Bynum, Collins, Sumrall, Welch, and Valentine) mainly to show the extensive kinship links between the men who joined the Knight Band (and among their wives as well).

    I see from what you say, above, that I miss-identified John Ira Welch’s son, Hiram R., as Harrison R. Thankfully, I did correctly identify John Ira’s father as Bryant Welch! I have Bryant Welch’s wife as Sabra “Sally” Martin.

    You don’t say who John Ira (1) married, but I have it as Catherine Bynum, daughter of Mark and Elizabeth (Mitchell) Bynum. Does that agree with your records?

    Much of my information came from the published Collins genealogies, since they are heavily intermarried with Welches and Valentines (and with quite a few Bynums, too).

    Thanks again for taking time to add this information to Renegade South!

    Vikki

  15. Vikki, yes the elder John Ira(1) Welch married Catherine Bynum. I have that as well. There is less confusion about him though since he was obviously born a good many years before the other two John Ira’s. I focused on them because they were born so close together, and with so many similarities, that it was easy to confuse which one was which, or even if they were two separate people. As I’m sure you know, there can be discrepancies between birthdates, and with theirs so close together it would be easy for someone to assume they were the same person.

    I discovered the two separate graves, so I knew they were two separate people. That’s what started my hunt. I had originally thought that my John Ira was the son of Timothy Lawrence, but after I managed to piece this information together I realized my mistake and was able to figure out the actual lineage. I wanted to post it in case someone else came across the same issue I had.

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