Though the Basses were the first family presented on this site, the Newsoms are a related family with a fascinating story that extends far beyond the Great Dismal Swamp. Henry Newsom (b. 1812) is my third great grandfather and the journey to locate his family has taught me more about genealogy than any other ancestor I have researched. If you want to learn about Revolutionary War Patriots, bounty land warrants, estate distributions, Quaker relationships with free people of color and more, this series of posts is for you.
In the 1850 Federal Census, there were three Newsoms living along the Pasquotank River. Henry Newsom (b. 1812) and Joel Newsom (b. 1818) were living side-by-side in Camden County. They were both farmers, likely employed by “Wm Sanderlin” (the owner of a neighboring farm). Andrew Newsom (b. 1816) was living nearby in Pasquotank County. He was also a farmer and was counted in the household of “M Sanderlin” where he was likely a farmhand. The proximity, closeness in age, and similarity in community relationships led me to believe that these Newsoms were brothers—but proving that turned into a genealogical odyssey.
One of my earliest realizations was that these three Newsoms were not born in Camden County. Their birthplaces were always listed as “N.C.” (rather than Camden) and there were no living, older Newsoms in the county to associate them with. Paul Heinegg’s Free African Americans contained a detailed account of the Newsom family of Northampton County but I had no records to connect the two groups of people. I spent months searching for information with no leads—part of the challenge being the many spellings of the name “Newsom” (which can be spelled Newsam, Newsome, Newson, Nusan, Nusene, Nusom, Nuson, Nusum, Nusun, Hewsom, Hewson, etc.).
Unexpectedly, after researching these Newsoms for over a year, I stumbled upon a Pasquotank County apprentice bond for Andrew Newsom, son of Penny Newsom*, to Ambrose McPherson. The year was not legible on the bond but I soon found another Pasquotank County apprentice bond made in 1830 for Joel Newsom, son of Penny Newsom, to Vincent McPherson. The records revealed that the boys’ mother was deceased when they were teenagers. Henry, as the oldest, did not appear to have been apprenticed—possibly because he was an adult (21 or older) when their mother died.
This revelation did more than identify a parent—it established a connection between the Newsoms of Camden County and the Newsoms of Northampton County. Penny Newsom was noted in Heinegg’s research as the daughter of Moses and Winnifred Newsom. Both Moses and Winnifred had previous marriages so their combined family was quite large (and complex from a genealogical perspective).
This timeline of Moses Newsom’s life is based on his 1805 will and estate and an 1832 chancery suit filed by his youngest son Henry to partition the land of his brother, James, who died without a living wife or child (leaving his siblings as his heirs). The ages of the children suggest that Moses Newsom and Winnifred Walden did not have any biological children together (Henry, the presumed youngest child was born around 1780 which was more than 10 years before their marriage).
This timeline of Winnifred Walden Newsom’s life is based on her 1807 will and details from her first husband, John Walden’s life. By naming Harwood Walden and Penny Newsom as her children (not named in Moses Newsom’s will as children), she reveals that Penny may have not been born a Newsom. Both Harwood and Penny had children who were alive at Winnifred’s death in 1807 (Winna and Lucy), meaning they would have been at or close to adulthood in 1807 (born at least 5-10 years before Winnifred married Moses).
Though the family of Moses and Winnifred was large and complex, they left a large number of records which can be used to prove relationships–both directly and indirectly:
- Moses Newsom’s 1805 Will and Estate
- John Walden’s Estate (Distributed with Moses Newsom’s)
- Winnifred Walden’s 1807 Will
- Henry Newsom’s 1832 Chancery Suit
- Numerous Deeds
- Federal Census Records
Heinegg’s research presents a detailed account of the Newsom family; however, my ancestral line reveals an unexplored part of the Newsom story. My objective is to use this collection of records and some crucial new records to answer the following questions:
- Who was Penny Newsom’s husband? Who were her children?
- How and why did Penny Newsom go from Northampton County to Pasquotank County (i.e. who was she related to there)?
- Who were Henry Newsom’s parents? (Current evidence points to Penny Newsom as his mother but there were many other possibilities to consider.)
Proving genealogical relationships is a non-linear process. One can only put facts in clear, chronological order when the story is “done.” In this case, the story is in progress so I will present evidence from a variety of time periods (and places) to highlight familial connections. The foundation of this story is the three Newsoms of Camden County; so, before proceeding, here is a table with the key facts that connect the Newsoms of Camden County to the Newsoms of Northampton County:
|Three Newsoms of Camden County, NC|
|Henry Newsom (b. 1812)||Andrew Newsom (b. 1816)||Joel Newsom (b. 1818)|
|1830||In 1830 Andrew Newsom, the son of Penny Newsom, was ordered by the court into an apprenticeship with Ambrose McPherson of Pasquotank County, NC. Andrew was 14 years old at the time and the apprenticeship was to last until he was 21 years old (1837).||In 1830 Joel Newsom, the son of Penny Newsom, was ordered by the court into an apprenticeship with Vincent McPherson of Pasquotank County, NC. Joel was 12 years old at the time and the apprenticeship was to last until he was 21 years old (1839). In 1833 Joel’s apprenticeship was transferred to Miles White, also of Pasquotank County.|
|1840||No Records||No Records||No Records|
|1850||In 1850 Henry Newsom (45 years old) was living in Camden County, NC with his wife Eliza (30 years old) and their children Martha (11 years old), Mary (9 years old), Ann (5 years old), and Elizabeth (11 months old). He owned a 30 year old male slave and a 15 year old female slave. Joel Newsom and his family lived in the neighboring household. (He and Joel were likely farmhands on the farm of Wm W Sanderlin which was located next to their households). In 1854 Henry Newsom and Theophilus Cartwright bought 55 acres from Caleb Waterfield for $800. The land was bounded by the land of David Hall and Ammon Brite’s Mill Pond. (Theophilus Cartwright (b. 1830) was the mulatto son of Nancy Cartwright (b. 1789) and a negro man named Joseph.)||In 1850 Andrew Newsom (36 years old) was living in Pasquotank County, NC in the household of M (Maximilian?) Sanderlin. He was one of several laborers but only two free people of color in the household.||In 1850 Joel Newsom (34 years old) was living in Camden County, NC with his wife Matilda (21 years old) and their children Mary Jane (6 years old), Sarah (3 years old), Martha (3 months old), and Mary Sexton (8 years old). Henry Newsom and his family lived in the neighboring household. (He and Joel were likely farmhands on the farm of Wm W Sanderlin which was located next to their households). In 1855 Joel Newsom and his family were living in Philadelphia, PA–possibly with Nathan Newsom (who may have been his uncle). At least two children, Eli and David, were born while Joel’s family lived there.|
|1860||In 1860 Henry Newsom (50 years old) was living in Camden County, NC with his wife Eliza (40 years old) and their children Ann (13 years old), Elizabeth (11 years old), Jane (9 years old), Elijah (5 years old), Theophilus (4 years old), Ailsey (5 months old), and Isaac (21 years old). His real estate was valued at $1000 and his personal estate was valued at $568. Theophilus and Ailsey Cartwright were in the neighboring household.||In 1860 Andrew Newsom (45 years old) was living in Camden County, NC with his wife Eliza (40 years old) and their children Henry (17 years old), Quinton (4 years old), Calvin (4 years old), Henry (3 years old), and Mary (9 months old). It is possible that some of the young ones in the household were grandchildren. Andrew and Eliza (?) attended McBride Church in South Mills around 1860.||In 1860 Joel Newsom (40 years old) was living in Logan County, OH with his wife Matilda (31 years old) and their children Mary (14 years old), Sarah J (12 years old), William Sexton (10 years old), Martha Sexton (10 years old), Eli Sexton (6 years old), and Joseph Sexton (6 months old). His real estate was valued at $1800 and his personal estate was valued at $400. They lived in the neighboring household to Dorothy (Byrd) Newsom (69 years old)—widow of Henry Newsom—and her son Nathan Newsom (49 years old).|
|1870||In 1870 Henry Newsom (60 years old) was living in Camden County, NC with his wife Eliza (50 years old) and their children Elijah (17 years old), Theophilus (11 years old), and Alicy (9 years old). His real estate was valued at $1200 and his personal estate at $130. Theophilus and Ailsey Cartwright were still living nearby.||In 1870 Andrew Newsom (58 years old) was living in Camden County, NC with his wife Eliza (50 years old) and their children Calvin (18 years old), Quinton (18 years old), Andrew (14 years old), and Mary Ann (12 years old). Sometime between 1870 and 1875, Ailsey (Newsom) Cartwright died and Theophilus Cartwright married Mary Ann Newsom, the daughter of Andrew Newsom and Eliza (Lindsay) Newsom.||In 1870 Joel Newsom (50 years old) was living in Logan County, OH with his wife Matilda (40 years old) and their children Elias (15 years old), David (10 years old), Testimony Sexton (16 years old), and George Carter (3 years old). His real estate was valued at $400.|
|1880||In 1880 Henry Newsom (68 years old) was living in Camden County, NC with his wife Eliza (57 years old) and their son Elijah (23 years old), his wife Mary (19 years old), and their children Parthena (3 years old) and John (1 year old). Eliza (Lindsay) Newsom, wife (possibly widow) of Andrew Newsom, was living in a neighboring household.||In 1880 Joel Newsom (63 years old) was living in Logan County, OH with his wife Belle (52 years old) and his son David Newsom (21 years old).|
Stay tuned for subsequent posts as I answer each of these questions with as much context as possible. I will share details of the methodology used to analyze various records and I hope that this series will be useful to other developing genealogists. A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor and a clear family lineage never made a robust genealogist. My Newsom ancestors have taught me that the biggest family mysteries are the biggest opportunities to learn.
*There were two other Penny Newsoms in North Carolina at this time (Penny Parker Newsom and Penelope (Penny) Newsom Stephenson) but I was able to eliminate them as the “Penny Nusum” of the apprentice bonds based on age and relationships.