ATWELL, John, Jr, of MD, NC and Green Co KY


If you are descended from one of the children of John Atwell’s first marriage and have taken an autosomal DNA test, please let me know if you have any shared matches with these surnames: Trundle, Lewis, Fitzgerald.

John Atwell Jr was born in, say, 1776 in Maryland, the son of John Atwell Sr. Since he died before the 1850 census, his exact age is unknown. He was 26-45 in 1810, over 45 in 1820, and 60-70 in 1830; assuming his age was correct in these years, this leaves a window of 1765-1770 for his birth. He died after the 1830 census and before 1840.

Shared DNA matches support the statement that he is the same John Atwell who married Anne Lewis, Frederick Co MD, 4 Sep 1797. She was likely the daughter of David and Joanna (Trundle) Lewis of Frederick County, both descended from early Maryland families.

Anne died between the birth of her last child, Benjamin, on 24 Nov 1807 in Caswell Co NC, and her husband’s prompt remarriage on 20 Dec 1807, a marriage undoubtedly made necessary by his having four children under nine, including a newborn baby.

John’s second marriage, as stated took place in Caswell Co MD on 20 Dec 1807.[1] The county records leave the name of this wife blank, but other sources state she was — Tennison, a daughter of Ignatius and Lucretia Tennison, whose daughter Sarah had married John’s brother Richard four years earlier. Caswell Co NC deeds show her given name was Elizabeth.[2]

John married third in Green Co KY, 22 Oct 1838, Sarah (–?–) Rison. She married as her third husband, Moses Forbis, 3 Nov 1843, in Green Co KY. She was living in 1850, but was not with Moses in 1860 or 1870.

Two John Atwells, Junior and Senior, were in Caswell Co NC in 1810. John Sr died at age 85 in Rowan Co NC 16 Mar 1827;[3] therefore, he was born ca 1742. John Jr was born within the five years before 1770. Family traditions also state that John Jr had a brother Lock, and John Sr lived with Lock until his death.

There is a census entry in 1790 reads as follows: Anne Arundel Co MD, John Atwell, 1/2/1. On the previous page there is an illegible entry, “…t/l/? Atwell son of Jno.” 1/2/1. The John Atwell entry alone is not a large enough family for John Sr of Caswell Co; this man had at least three sons and two daughters. Since our John Sr had five children born in Maryland as late as 1787, this seems possibly to be his census. The younger John was over 20 and may have had siblings in his home since no marriage that early is known for him.

The whereabouts of the family in 1800 is unknown. They were not apparently in either Maryland or North Carolina. The only John Atwell was in Talbot Co MD, the man who married Anne Falconer 31 Jan 1797 in that county. A John Atwell in Person Co NC (10010/10200) was possibly the man who was in Sampson Co NC in 1790 and married Lucretia Walls in 1803 in Richmond Co GA. Or he may have been our John Jr, who did have a known son but no known daughter in 1800. John Sr and his unmarried children were either not counted or were in Virginia or Kentucky, where 1800 census records are not extant. Nothing indicates they were in KY, although son Richard is not known to have been in NC.

In 1810, the family was 1810 Caswell Co NC, p 461, John Atwell Jr: 31010/20010. Other Atwells in the county were John Sr and Lock.

In 1820 John and his family were in Green Co KY, p 61, John Atwell: 320101/10210/4. Although son Thomas was said to have been married in 1816, he may be one of the sons, since he has no separate census listing. The six sons were probably Thomas, William, Benjamin, Richard, John, Joel, and the three daughters were Eleanor, Nancy and Margaret.

In 1830, John’s entry reads: Green Co KY, p 47. John Atwell: 01111001…/0001001… In 1840, the widow was still in Green Co KY , p 169, Sally Atwell: 00011…/0001001…

John Atwell and Anne Lewis had the following children:

  1. Thomas ATWELL. Born ca 1798 in MD, Thomas died in KY ca 1822. In 1816, he married Margaret FORBIS, daughter of James FORBIS Jr and Phoebe BRYAN and widow of Benjamin Holland, in Green Co KY. Born ca 1783 in Green Co KY, Margaret died there on 4 Feb 1822. In addition to Margaret’s Holland children,[4] they had the


  1. Jonathan (ca 1820-<1833)
  2. Alexander (ca 1822-)
  3. Martha (<1822-)


  1. William ATWELL. Born on 15 Aug 1800 in MD, William died in Metcalfe Co KY, on 16 Jul 1877. On 10 Jul 1824, he first married Hester McCARTY in Green Co KY.

They had the following children:

  1. Sarah H (1820-)
  2. Shelton (ca1830-)
  3. James M (1833-1912)
  4. Hannah (1830-)

On 17 Dec 1857, he second married Nancy Ellen JEWELL, daughter of Robert Jackson JEWELL and Sally SHOFNER, in Barren Co KY. Born on 3 Mar 1826, Nancy Ellen died in Metcalfe Co KY, on 15 Mar 1868. They had the following children:

  1. Jackson Fisher (1861-1917)
  2. John William (1863-1956)
  1. Eleanor ATWELLwas born about 1804. On 5 Nov 1823, Eleanor married Samuel COCHRAN in Green Co KY. He was born say 1800. The 1830 census shows then with three sons under 16.
  1. Benjamin ATWELL was born on 24 Nov 1807 in NC. Benjamin died in Horse Cave, Hart Co KY, on 3 Feb 1895 and was buried in Rock Cemetery, Horse Cave, Hart Co KY. Benjamin Atwell was a tobacco farmer and a member of Three Spings Baptist Church, which he joined Oct 1840. About 16 Oct 1833 when Benjamin was 25, he married Susan ERWIN, daughter of William ERWIN Jr and Sarah FORBIS, in Green Co KY. Born on 24 Jan 1815 in Green Co KY, Susan died in Horse Cave KY, on 4 Aug 1893. They had the following children:
  2. William Green (~1835-1920)
  3. Sally Ann (1835-1915)
  4. John Thomas (1839-1925)
  5. Margaret Jane (1841-1927)
  6. Joel B (1843-1862)
  7. James Willis (1845-1926)
  8. Phoebe Fannie (1848-1925)
  9. Mary Lucretia (1850-)
  10. Susan Elizabeth (1852-1903)
  11. William Rush (1854-1943)
  12. Richard Job (1856-1905)

The children of John Atwell and Miss — Tennison, his second wife were:

  1. Nancy ATWELL. Born in say 1810. She was living in 1820. Nothing more is known.
  2. Richard ATWELL. Born ca 1813 in KY, Richard died in Miller Co MO, in 1850s. On 7 Dec 1836, he married his first cousin Martha B BASTIN, daughter of Thomas Lane BASTIN Jr and Mary Wayson ATWELL, in Barren Co KY. Born ca 1815. Martha B died in Miller Co MO, in 1860s. They had the following children:

a. Phebe A (1837-)

b. Lewis H (1839-)

c. Mary E (1841-)

d. James Burks (1844-1905)

e. Martha J (1846-)

f. Thomas Jefferson (1849-)

g. Hannah B (1852-)

  1. John A ATWELL. Born ca 1815 in Green Co KY, on 29 Jun 1842 when John A was 27, he married Tabitha FORBIS, daughter of Moses FORBIS[5] & Nancy ERWIN. Born ca 1821.They had the following children:
  2. James W (ca1844-)
  3. Francis E (1849-1911)
  • Margaret ATWELL. Born ca 1818 in Green Co KY, Margaret died in Green Co KY, in 1881. On 29 Oct 1839, she married James JEWELL, son of Robert Jackson JEWELL and Elizabeth HISER, in Green Co KY. Born in 1819 in KY, James died in Metcalfe Co KY, on 28 Feb 1895. They had the following children:
  • Joel (1841-)
  • John R (1843-)
  • Elizabeth Ann (1844-1924)
  • Mary C (1846-)
  • Sarah J (1848-)
  • Rachel (1850-)
  • Nancy (1853-)
  • James William (1854-)
  • Benjamin G (1858-)
  1. Joel ATWELL. Born on 24 Jul 1820 in Green Co KY. Joel died in Green Co KY, on 20 Jan 1882. On 30 Mar 1846, he married Mary C FORBIS, daughter of Moses FORBIS and Nancy ERWIN, in Green Co KY. Born on 25 Feb 1823 in KY. Mary C died on 23 Nov 1890. They had the following children:
  • Benjamin M (ca1846-)
  • John T (1848-1908)
  • James A/T (ca1850-)
  • William L (ca1851-)
  • Richard A (ca1852-)
  • Margaret M (ca1855-)
  • George G (ca1857-)
  • Mary F (ca1858-)

[1] Caswell Co NC Marriage Records.

[2] Jun 1808, John  Atwell & wife Elizabeth , sell 10 acres on Hogan Creek; 7 Jan 1811, John Atwell of Caswell Co. to Elizabeth Atwell, 7 acres on Hogan Creek

[3]Death notice of John Atwell Sr, from “Marriage and Death Notices from the Western Carolinian,” Salisbury NC, 1820-1842: John Atwell, age 85, died 16 Mar 1827 in Rowan Co NC.

[4] The estate of Benjamin Holland: 2 May 1825, lists James, William, John, Mordicia, and Margaret Holland, infants, heirs at law of Benjamin Holland, deceased.

[5] Moses Forbis’s daughter Tabitha Forbis married as her husband John A Atwell, her father’s stepson while she was stepmother’s daughter. The same situation was repeated six years later when Moses’s daughter Mary C married his wife Sarah’s son Joel Atwell.

Published on August 13, 2008 at 9:24 am  Leave a Comment  

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