1810-1880 — Wilkes County and Watauga County, NC and Washington County, TN
John McGINNIS was born in Wilkes County, North Carolina in 1810. His wife Priscilla WALKER was also born in Wilkes County, North Carolina in 1812. No information is known on their parents. John and Priscilla married in Wilkes County and their marriage bond is for December 14, 1835.
John and Priscilla had ten children. Their first child, Martha, was born in 1836. Within the next four years, the couple had two more children a boy and a girl who both died before the 1850 census was taken. Next came Elizabeth (1841), Theresa (1844), George (1845), Mary (1849), Isaac (1851), Sarah (1854) and James (1860).
In 1840, the young family was living in Captain Kilby’s District on Warrior’s Creek in south Wilkes County. The family continued to live in North Carolina until just after their daughter Mary was born in 1849. They then moved to Tennessee where they are listed on the 1850 census for Washington County. John’s occupation on the census was a farmer. By 1860, the family was back in Watauga County, North Carolina in Valle Crucis.
John and Priscilla are listed on the 1870 Watauga County Census living by themselves. This is curious, as at this time three of their children would have been underage. Isaac would have been 19, Sarah 16 and James 10 years old. Isaac is not found individually on the 1870 census but he shows up later on the 1910 Watauga County Census so he had likely left home to work. It is possible that 16-year-old Sarah was married and also out of the household. Sixteen was a young age to marry but her sister Theresa married at seventeen. A marriage record has not been found for Sarah as a fire destroyed many of the records in the Watauga County courthouse including the marriage registers. It is also possible that Sarah was deceased. There is no accounting for the absence of 10-year-old James from the census. James has not been located on later censuses and it is probable that he died as a child.
John and Priscilla are both listed on the 1870 census as being unable to write and Priscilla was also unable to read. John is recorded as being a farmer and Priscilla is listed as keeping house. John owned no land according to the census and his personal property was valued at 100 dollars. This was an increase from the value of John’s personal property at $75 in 1860.
Both John and Priscilla are listed on the 1880 Census for Watauga County with John at 70 years old and Priscilla at 68. Information on their whereabouts in 1890 is unavailable as the 1890 census burned. Neither John nor Priscilla appears on the 1900 census. Therefore, it is assumed that both John and Priscilla died after 1880 but before 1900.