The Jenkins
Rappahannock VA
to Mason Hall TN


The Jenkins - Rappahannock to Mason Hall

Note:  Moving to


This web page tells the true story beginning over 300 years ago of my mother's Jenkins family and their migration from the Colony of Virginia in the late 1600s to Mason Hall, Tennessee in the 1900s. It has taken over 10 years of research and as time goes on, more photos, maps, documents, and recording of other families that married into this Jenkins line will be added.

The web page is dedicated to earlier Jenkins researchers, Nettie Jenkins Bowen, William Lawrence Routh, and Emma Cronin, all now deceased, who over the last 100 years have helped reconstruct parts of this branch of the Jenkins family and their migration to North Carolina and Tennessee. The recording of the last leg of the journey of my g-g-g-grandfather, Thomas Jenkins, and some of his children across the Mississippi River into Missouri in the 1840s was just completed in the last several years with the help of Emma. These reseachers are all remembered in my RootsWeb database.

Very few documents exist from 100 years before the nation was even born. Many records and courthouses were destroyed in floods, fires, wars, and some simply lost. The old records seldom provided all the information genealogists needed to prove all the events or relations of the individuals. Some wills, marriage, deed, tax, and estate records have survived and can be found in the states' archives and libraries today. The first US Federal census was not until 1790, a few years after our Declaration of Independence. Births and deaths were not recorded in some states until the early 1900s. Many tombstones of that time are no longer standing. Unlike now, there was no government requirement to record everything that happened in one's life. Individuals had no official names and could call themselves whatever they wanted from one census to another or spell their names, if they could write, as they wished. Many did not know their exact birthdates. The years of birth, marriage, and death, if exact dates not given, are the best educated estimates of researchers based upon years of study of this family. It was not until the late 1990s that we have been able to fill in the blanks and locate all the documents from Virginia to Missouri necessary to positively identify William Jenkins of the Colony of Virginia as our ancestor. And it was not until the 2000s that this family has been available to other researchers of this family on the internet.

When my research began in the 1990s, my mother nor I knew who her grandfather was, nor did anyone in my family that I knew of. Sometime later I found a book that my uncle was given by William Routh of North Carolina after he had visited Tennessee researching his ancestor. Over a period of years researching deeds and land grants in Tennessee and North Carolina, Routh had traced our ancestor, James Wilson Jenkins, from Chatham County, North Carolina to Hardin County, Tennessee. Routh knew he left Chatham County around 1830 with his father, Thomas Jenkins, and he found James Wilson in Hardin County on the 1850 census. Where J. W. was those 20 years and what happened to his father was a mystery Routh was not able to solve before his death. In the book he did mention J. W's son, my mother's grandfather, John Sanford Jenkins, but had not recorded any information about other family members. Routh's book was primarily about his ancestor, another son of James Wilson, Alexander Wilson Jenkins, that had returned to North Carolina from Hardin County before the Civil War.

With this little bit of information now about John Sanford Jenkins and his father, James Wilson Jenkins, and James' father, Thomas Jenkins, I began my research to confirm and record as much as I could find about John Sanford's ancestors and descendants. After several trips to Hardin County, and locating a distant second cousin on the internet, Doris Dellinger, in Oklahoma that was also researching this same family, we identified all John's wives and children, their descendants, his birthplace, his Civil War service, and his unmarked burial location. Together we erected a VA grave marker in Roberts Cemetery in Hardin County to honor him and his service forever.

Before William Routh another researcher from another Jenkins family, Nettie Jenkins Bowen, had written a book in the early 1900s about the descendants of William Jenkins Of Rappahannock in the Colony of Virginia migration to North Carolina in the late 1700s. With this earlier information Routh's research in North Carolina was able to tie our Thomas and James Wilson Jenkins to one of the Jenkins families in Nettie's book. Of course, as with most genealogists, all the theories offered by other researchers must be validated or proven to our own satisfaction before accepting it as proof of our own ancestry. I have researched those documents again and again and many others I have found to positively say without a doubt, we descend from William Jenkins of Rappahannock.

In genealogy research, like other research, we start with the known facts and then look for and prove the unknown. I started with my grandfather and then found unquestionable proof of his parents, then those parents' parents, then his great-grandparents, and kept working backwards generation by generation as far as was possible. However, in writing the story of the family, I began with the first, or earliest, proven Jenkins in our line of Jenkins, and tell the story of each of the seven generations from William Jenkins to my grandad's generation. Now after 335 years and eleven Jenkins generations, the numbers of descendants in my grandad's famly has grown into the hundreds. Hopefully others interested in our family history will keep the story alive by recording the next, and following generations of the Jenkins of Mason Hall.

More detailed information, names, dates, and places, about this family and related families can be found in my database above.

The story actually begins before 1675 with William Jenkins' in-laws on the

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The StoryTellers

My feelings are in each family there is one who seems called to find the ancestors. To put flesh on their bones and make them live again, to tell the family story and to feel that somehow they know and approve.

To me, doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts but, instead, breathing life into all who have gone before. We are the story tellers of the tribe. All tribes have one. We have been called as it were by our genes.

Those who have gone before cry out to us: Tell our story. So, we do.

In finding them, we somehow find ourselves. How many graves have I stood before now and cried? I have lost count. How many times have I told the ancestors you have a wonderful family you would be proud of us? How many times have I walked up to a grave and felt somehow there was love there for me? I cannot say.

It goes beyond just documenting facts. It goes to who am I and why do I do the things I do.

It goes to seeing a cemetery about to be lost forever to weeds and indifference and saying I can't let this happen. The bones here are bones of my bone and flesh of my flesh. It goes to doing something about it.

It goes to pride in what our ancestors were able to accomplish. How they contributed to what we are today.

It goes to respecting their hardships and losses, their never giving in or giving up, their resoluteness to go on and build a life for their family.

It goes to deep pride that they fought to make and keep us a Nation.

It goes to a deep and immense understanding that they were doing it for us. That we might be born who we are. That we might remember them. So we do.

With love and caring and scribing each fact of their existence, because we are them and they are us. We are the chosen.

So, as a scribe called, I tell the story of my family. It is up to that one called in the next generation to answer the call and take their place in the long line of family storytellers.

That, is why I do my family genealogy, and that is what calls those young and old to step up and put flesh on the bones.

Author unknown