Reason Mobley Meador

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(1826 Greene Co., AL – 1909 Jack Co., TX)


Like the game of Clue....figuring out who was in the right place at the right time!

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My friend and mentor, Betty Kaufman, certified genealogist and author of at least 5 books about her own family, has read and studied this research. In a letter to me, she wrote “[Your] Meador family history is well done. There does not seem to be much more that could be accomplished” and, “The indirect evidence pointed out in 1830 Greene, 1845 Pontotoc and 1850 Pontotoc and Lafayette strongly indicated that Reason M. Meador was the son of John Vines Meador. No evidence of any kind has been found which disputes your analogy. Your methodology is sound.”

While this is not a wholesale endorsement of my conclusions, it does provide me with assurance that my analyses are sound. DNA evidence provides more support. Y-DNA testing only confirms that our family descends from the Jason Meador I (1704-1776) line. However, recent autosomal (Family Finder) DNA testing by myself and 2 other members of my family has shown a sound relationship to the Brazile/Breazeale family of Greene County, Alabama. There is no other explanation for such a relationship with our family other that what the following research shows.

(You can see a list of Betty Kaufman’s books at this WorldCat location )

When I began the research detailed on this page, I accepted the information that the father of Reason M. Meador was Obadiah/Obediah Meador. But, it only took a short time for me to realize that it wasn’t likely true. The reasons are set out in the discussion that follows.

Many people have been searching for the parents of Reason Mobley Meador for some time without having much luck. In “Old Northwest Texas”, Samuels and Knox, Published by the Fort Worth Gen. Soc., 1980, it is stated that

“Obadiah and Mary (Griggs) Meador are said to have had children: (1) Reason...”

Even though this is not a very strong statement, I believe it has inadvertently led several researchers (including me) astray. Studying the family of Obadiah and his 2 wifes, Mary (Griggs) Meador and Aley Ann (Johnson) Meador has shown that Reason isn’t likely their son. Specifically, he is not listed in the rather detailed Bible records for this family, and his birth date and place are a problem to fit in with the other children. In my over 30 years of research about Reason Meador, I have NEVER seen any proof of either of the men named Obadiah Meador being his father.

I am now confident that the father of Reason M. Meador is John Vines Meador. A description of the research that led me to this conclusion follows.

Reason Meador’s story is the familiar one in genealogy research…..the courthouse burned almost everywhere that he lived. As a result, we have very few documents to fall back on. There are no marriage records, no death record, and no gravestone. No Bible records have appeared listing him. He didn’t purchase or inherit land until later years.

So, going back to the basics, here is some of what we already know about Reason Meador. Per the 1900 census of Jack County, TX, which can be considered primary evidence in lieu of an official birth record, Reason M. Meador was born 1826 in Alabama. (Other census records corroborated this). He traveled from Alabama to Pontotoc Co., MS and on to Navarro Co., Texas with some of the same Meador families that purchased land in Greene and Sumter Counties in Alabama and that appeared on the 1830-40 censuses for those counties. He was closely associated with William and Sarah (Meador) Melton as will be shown as we continue this narrative.

Researchers are traditionally reminded that good research requires you to start at the present and go backward in time….not the other way around. But, knowledge of the Meador line and Reason M. Meador’s early birth date in Alabama (1826), along with the fact that other methods haven't worked, created a unique and interesting opportunity for research to help determine his parentage. By identifying the various Meador families and the dates they arrived in those two counties, I reasoned that one might be able to determine the likely candidates to be his father. In order to do this, I had to look at both early land and census records. It also was useful to try and separate the families appearing in those records into their various lineages (almost all originating with two of Jason Meador I’s sons, namely Lewis and Jason II). In doing this analysis, I relied heavily on the family trees of others (preferably those that generally agreed with one another), as it would be impossible for me to prove the lineage of every descendant of Jason Meador II in a short time. I did, however, try to validate those trees with the census, but the results should not be interpreted as absolute. “Our Meador Families in Colonial America”, by Victor P. Meador and Bernal M. Meador provided a starting point. My resulting rough list of these early Meadors, in brief, appears as follows:

I.  Jason Meador I  (ca. 1704-1776 NC) m. Elizabeth Stone
     A.   Lewis Meador (1729-ca. 1800 NC) m. Susannah Moberly/Mobley
            1.  Job Meador (bef. 1755 – ca. 1813 NC) m. Lucie Rorie
                 a.  James R. Meador (ca. 1789 – 1836 AL) m. Elizabeth unk
                      i) Martha Meador (ca. 1810 – aft. 1860 MS) m. John Vines Meador
                 b.  Joel Meador (ca. 1792 – unk) m. Catherine Lowry
            2.  Mordecai Meador (1784 – 1854 MS) m. Rebecca unk and/or Jemima unk
     B.   Jason Meador II (1734 – ca. 1800) m. Sarah Moberly/Mobley
           1.  William Meador (ca. 1762 – ca. 1832 NC) m. unk
                 a.  David Meador (1790 – ca. 1860  MS) m. Elizabeth Griggs?
                 b.  Obadiah Meador (1797 – 1856 MS) m. Aley Johnson, m2. Mary Griggs
           2.  Obadiah  Meador (1773 – 1855 TX) m. Mary Vines?
                a.  William Meador (1797 – 1865 TX) m. Sarah Derden
                b.  Clement Meador (1801 – ca. 1872 TX) m. Olive Melton, m2. Martha Hunt
                c.  Sarah Meador (1805 – 1873 TX) m. William Melton
                d.  John Vines Meador (1803 – aft. 1860 MS) m1. to be shown m2. Martha Meador
           3.  Hugh Meador (ca. 1785 – 1841 AL) m. Elizabeth Hendrick

These Meador men and/or their descendants originated in the area from around Anson County, NC and Chesterfield Dist., SC and subsequently migrated to Greene County and Sumter County, Alabama beginning about 1820 and lasting until about 1840.

As can be determined from the list above, there were two Obadiah Meadors who later traveled west from Greene/Sumter Counties in Alabama. One, born 1773, is the uncle of the other. I like to refer to him as “old” Obadiah and his nephew as “young” Obadiah.

The Earliest Meadors in Greene Co., AL

By studying Federal land purchases in Alabama,, it can be seen that only one family of Meadors—old Obadiah and family--can be found by the very early 1820’s in the area of Greene County, AL (St. Stevens land office). This family is accordingly missing from the 1820 census in North/South Carolina where they were found in 1810. They apparently spent some time in Georgia after 1810, and in 1820, one must assume they are either still in Georgia where census records are spotty, or more likely, newly arrived in Alabama, where there was no census.

Old Obadiah and son William both purchased land in Greene County, AL in 1824; sons John and Clement followed with purchases in 1825 and 1829. John apparently did not use his middle initial ‘V’ until later, when another John Meador arrived in the area. Son-in-law, William Melton also purchased land there in 1824.

In the 1830 Alabama census, one other Meador family had arrived—old Obadiah’s brother Hugh. Hugh, old Obadiah and his sons were located in Greene County (Sumter County was not formed until 1832). The surnames in this census vary between Meador, Meadow, and Medder. They all appear within about 3 pages of each other, except for daughter Sarah and her husband William Melton, but his land purchases also placed him in Greene County.

Hugh did not purchase land before 1835, but per the census record, we know he arrived by 1830. It is said by some researchers that he was “raised” by old Obadiah, so one might assume he came to Alabama with him. But, Hugh was present in Anson Co., NC in 1820; old Obadiah was not—-he had already left for Georgia before that. It is unclear exactly when Hugh arrived in Greene County, AL, but it may have been by 1826.

This is such an important point that I have underlined it: All of the other lines of Meadors from the above list are still found around Anson Co., North Carolina in the 1830 census. No land purchases can be found for them in Alabama before 1835.

With this date-of-arrival information in mind, to determine who could be the father of Reason M., I considered only the family of old Obadiah and possibly Hugh. Old Obadiah himself has been well researched. There was a probate of his property (Navarro Co., TX, 1855) and a Bible record extract has been circulated. Generally, the same can be said for William, Clement and Hugh—-they have all been well researched. Only John Vines Meador remains, so I began to concentrate my efforts on him. There has been little work done on his family.

Drilling Down on John Vines Meador

Per the 1850 census in Lafayette Co., MS, John Vines Meador was born about 1804. The Bible records of old Obadiah give 1803. His first previously known marriage was in 1833. It seemed reasonable to assume that John Vines Meador may have had an earlier marriage. And, I found that he did.

There is a marriage record of 24 Apr. 1824 in Greene County, AL, shown on most abstracts as John B. Meador to Mary Brazile. When one examines the original marriage record, it seems clear that what appears at first glance to be a ‘B’, is really a ‘V’, with a big curly-cue finish. It is an old way that was sometimes used to finish letters like ‘V’ and ‘Z’. One can easily see the difference in this "V" and the "B" used to begin the name Brazile.

In examining deeds from that time in Greene County, I discovered two deeds where a John and a John V. sold land and his wife signed away her dower rights. Her name was given as Polly (a nickname for Mary) on this Jan. 1827 deed transcription, and Mary R. on this Feb. 1832 deed transcription.

On the same page with John’s marriage is the marriage of another Brazile female, Leanna, to Richard Yarborough. John Vines Meador and Richard Yarborough both sold their land in Greene County on the same day in Feb. 1832. Apparently, they had plans to go elsewhere together. But, it seems that fate had another plan, and Mary must have died unexpectedly. Mary and Leanna were probably sisters.

Upon examining the census record in 1830 Greene County, AL for Jno Medder (Meador), one sees that he is shown with 2 children, a boy and a girl, both under 5 years of age. I believe Reason M. Meador would have been the male child under age 5, and his sister, also under 5, who will be shown to be named Mary Ann Frances Meador.

In 1833, John Vines Meador married his 2nd wife, a distant cousin, Martha Meador, who was newly arrived from their home place of Anson Co., NC. They were married by an M.E. Minister.

Sumter County, AL, was created in 1832. The first land purchases that were made by Old Obadiah and his sons were in the part of Greene County that later became Hale County. But subsequent purchases moved them into the new area of Sumter County.

In Sept. 1840, Sumter Co., AL, John V. Meador gave consent for his daughter Mary Ann Frances to marry William Nixon. (Again, one must check the original record, as the name is given as John Y. on abstracts). This must be the daughter from the earlier marriage, as she is too old to be from his 2nd marriage in 1833 (by my calculations, though, this oldest daughter is only 12!).

It's On to Mississippi!

By March 1841 per various documents, members of the family of old Obadiah Meador have sold their holdings in Alabama and are in Pontotoc Co., MS.

The 1845 State Census for Pontotoc Co., MS shows:

Names:                 Males         Females
Meador, John V.          4             3
        Obadiah          1             2

Here we have old Obadiah and his son, John Vines Meador. (There are other Meador’s listed on this census that belong to the Meador lines that arrived later in Alabama.)

This census shows John V. Meador with 4 males and 3 females (ages not given) in his household. I believe these persons would be in family order, John V., his 2nd wife Martha, children Reason, Reuben, Martha, William. In Obadiah’s household there would be Obadiah and his wife, Polly. There is one extra unidentified female in each of these households.

By 1850, John V. Meadows (Meador), 46 was living in neighboring (southern) Lafayette Co., MS next door to his father, old Obadiah. They are living near old Dallas, Mississippi. Listed on the same page is Mary (Frances) Busby (age 22), John V’s daughter mentioned above, with a son, William Nixon. Her first husband must have died early. She then married William Busby in 1850.

Reason, age 24, was not listed in John V. Meador’s household. Instead, Reason M. Meadows, 27, born AL, is shown still living in Pontotoc County, MS, with Sarah, age 20, his wife. His age is incorrect. His new wife, Sarah, may have given the information. William and Sarah Melton are also shown still living in Pontotoc County.

In late 1850 and early 1851, old Obadiah and others of his family, including the Meltons, sold their land in Mississippi, preparing to move to Texas. Reason M. came with them. For reasons that are somewhat unclear, John V. Meador chose to remain in Lafayette County, MS.

Reason Leaves his Father, Goes to Texas with "old" Obadiah & the Meltons

By 1851, most of the family of old Obadiah was in the Dresden area of Navarro Co., TX. In 1851, Obadiah and Reason both signed a petition to move the land office. In 1855, Reason purchased goods from the estate sale of his probable grandfather, "old" Obadiah Meador.

The 3 children of Reason’s first wife, Sarah unk, were born in Texas, probably Navarro County, between Oct. 1851 and Aug. 1855. His first wife may have died there soon after. It could be noted that his oldest daughters were named Mary and Martha…the names of his two mothers—wives of John V. Meador. His oldest son was named William J. perhaps for William Melton? Perhaps the J stood for John after his father? We don’t know. Why didn't he name a son after his grandfather, Obadiah? Perhaps he did...that son could have died with his first wife in childbirth--just speculation, of course.

Reason had gone on to Parker County, TX by 1857, surveying some land, and paying taxes from 1857-1867. He also married his 2nd wife, Sarah Stults, there about 1858. There is a Proof of Heirs record in Parker County, TX, for John Stults showing that his daughter, Sarah, married a Mr. Meador.

Then came the Civil War. Reason is on the muster rolls for Captain Jonah S. Culwell/Calwell's Company in 1864. This unit was attached to the Texas Rangers. Sarah appeared on Parker County indigent dependent lists in 1864-1865 as did most of the residents of the area. Indeed, they were so poor during those years, the tax lists show him with no personal property...not even a horse during most of that time. I'm sure they relied heavily on relatives from her family.

By the 1870 census, and probably by 1867-68, he had returned to Navarro County, TX. I just recently discovered that his father, John Vines Meador appeared in Dresden, Navarro County in 1867 on a voter registration list--some of the family may have gone to Lafayette Co., MS and brought him back. John Vines was listed as a single person, on a list of destitutes/indigents in Lafayette Co. during the Civil War--his wife and children may have all died. It is possible that the children were married, but I have been unable to find them after the 1860 census.

Accompanying Reason's family to Navarro County were his new wife’s sister and brother-in-law, H.P. and Nancy (Stults) Sullivant. Reason probably returned in order to be near his father, who evidently died before 1870. Did the fact that his aunt and uncle, Wm. and Sarah Melton were aging (and possibly ailing) have anything to do with his return? I presume so. They died in 1873. Court records show that Reason owed 50 cents to the estate of William Melton (a tidy sum for those days).

When he left Navarro County for the last time, in 1874-5, his 3 oldest children from the first marriage all remained and married in Navarro County. He now had a new family with 6 more children.

According to one researcher, Jean Caddel, who has been very thorough in researching the Melton-Caddel lines, Reason arrived in Jack County, TX along with offspring of William and Sarah (Meador) Melton. Her research shows the Meltons were members of the Primitive Baptist Church.

While there is no hard proof naming Reason M. Meador as the son of John Vines Meador, I believe this research uncovers strong evidence supporting that belief. It shows that John Vines Meador had an unknown boy and a girl, Mary Frances, by Mary R. Brazile, a previously unknown marriage. The boy was the correct age to be Reason M. Meador. I have found no other Meador men who fit this description--and I have looked diligently.

It also shows that no other Meador family was present in the time and place to have given birth to him. Reason was closely associated with the family of old Obadiah Meador. He was especially close to William and Sarah Melton – he likely shared their religion of Primitive Baptist. When the family split, for whatever reason, he appears to have chosen to stay with them and leave his father behind in MS. But, they must have reunited in Dresden, Navarro Co., TX about 1868.

I welcome any comments and would be happy to provide more details. The story of Reason M. Meador and his descendants continues here.

Addendum--Who is Reason Meador, the orphan of Joel Meador?

Sumter County, Alabama Orphan’s Court Minutes, Vol. 1, p. 89, of 1835 show David Meador was appointed guardian of the 3 minor orphans of Joel Meador --- Reason, Rosanna, and Louisa. This Reason was very near in age to Reason M. Meador, but he was born in NC and appears to be more associated with the family of Jason Meador II’s son, William. I believe he is the same Reason who was in the 1850 census of Sumter County, AL and who married Tempy Eason in Sumter County in 1856. He is still there in 1860 with his wife Tempy. This man couldn’t likely be Reason M. who already had a child born in Texas in 1851. The father, Joel who died 1835 in Sumter Co. may have been a descendant of William, the brother of old Obadiah. Census records seem to show that William had other sons besides David and young Obadiah.

The sad story of John Vines Meador (or why didn’t John Vines Meador come to Texas with the rest of the family)?

It may not be wise to speculate on whether there was an unpleasant reason for the split in this family, but I couldn’t help going there.

In 1836, when his 2nd wife’s father, James R. Meador died, John V. Meador was named as co-administrator of the estate. He was required to post a $50,000 bond in Greene County Orphan’s Court, as the estate was quite large. An indenture shows that he borrowed a lot of money from his father, and his 2 brothers-in-law, William Melton and James R. Meador to pay the bond. John V. moved to MS about 1840, and it took him so long to sell the real estate for the heirs, that one of them filed complaints in the Orphan's Court. He was replaced as administrator, and it is possible that he forfeited the bond. The indenture was filed in Pontotoc Co., MS where he signed away his property rights to Abram Duren (also a relative of sorts) in the event he would be unable to pay his debts resulting from the bond. It remains unclear if he was ever able to repay them. Did this cause the split? Or could it have been a difference in religion?

In 1850, John V. Meador was living next to his father, Obadiah, in old Dallas, Lafayette County, MS. He is shown as owning the land where he lived, valued at $150. But, there are no deeds showing either a purchase or sale of land by John V. in that county! It probably was the land that his father had promised him in a will written before 1850, but not probated until 1855 when his father actually died (in Navarro County, TX). Records show that his father sold ALL of his land in late 1850 (including that land previously willed to John V. Meador) when he moved to Texas with his other children and their families. When the will was probated in Navarro County, TX, the court was incorrectly informed that John Vines Meador was in possession of the property. John Vines was notified of his father's death and the probate of the estate by notices in a local publication. When he didn't appear, a lawyer was assigned to look after his interests. Because he owed his father money, and because [it was said] he inherited land, his share of the estate was very small.

Sometime after 1850 when his father left MS, John Vines moved from old Dallas, MS. In the 1860 census, he is no longer shown as owning land. Almost all of the census records in Lafayette County, MS in 1860 show their location as Paris, MS. Clearly everyone can’t be living in the Paris area. Further analysis shows that John Vines was living near Abbeville, MS (north of Oxford). His daughter, Rebecca, 9 years of age, died about 1859, and was buried in the cemetery there. Abbeville was almost completely destroyed during the Civil War. General Grant’s soldiers occupied it during one of their trek’s to Vicksburg. All but 2 houses in the area were burned. John V. Meador, as mentioned above, is listed as a single person on an indigent list in Lafayette County, 1864. I have just recently found that he is listed on a voter registration list in Dresden, Navarro County, TX in 1867--shown as having lived in the area for 1 year. Someone may have "retrieved" him from Mississippi or maybe he made his own way. Since he doesn't appear in the 1870 census, he evidently died, probably in Navarro County, TX, before that time.

No trace of his 2nd family can be found after the Civil War. His oldest daughter Mary Frances has not been found after 1850. Reason M. Meador appears to have been his only descendant to survive for very long.

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