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James Gregory

1802 (Approximate)-1890 (Approximate)

Camden North Carolina

from research published in

"Gregory Family Origins"


Nathan Gregory

James Gregory (1802-1890) was born in Camden, North Carolina. This was also the home area of General Issac Morgan Gregory, but as James was apparently born as much as two years after Isaac's death he does not seem likely to have been Isaac's son. We cannot be absolutely certain because we do not know precisely when he was born. All sources say James was born in 1802 and Isaac Morgan Gregory died April 2, 1800.

     If James is not a son of Isaac, he might have been a grandson, a likely hypothesis. Isaac had three children whose names are lost to us. The 1830 Census provides candidates to be Isaac's unknown sons. William Gregory, born in the 1760's, Arthur Gregory, born between 1750 and 1760, Noah Gregory, born in the 1790's and Major Gregory, born in a similar timeframe. The 1740 Census adds a Jacob Gregory, born in the 1780's. That James named a son Jacob is intriguing, and the ages are almost perfect. William is also a very good candidate, as James named his third son William.

     Isaac's son Isaac was born in 1772 and although we believe he lived until about 1819, we do not know the younger Isaac's wife, sons names, or even if he had sons. He is a total mystery.

     We know that General Issac had a much younger brother named James who died prematurely in 1758 at age 7. That a grandson of Isaac would bear the same name would be reasonable.

     We believe James was a descendant of Isaac for three reasons. First, he named a son Isaac, and second, that same trace DNA hinting at Iberian Peninsula ancestry is present in his descendants as well.

     Thirdly, James named his third son with his first wife known only as Elizabeth, William M. Gregory. Third sons are traditionally named for the father, thus strongly hinting this was James' father's name.

     General Issac Morgan Gregory reportedly named a son William, although that son is not adequately proven. We find several suggestive tracks for a William Gregory (November 30, 1774-October 26, 1845) in the right place and time frame, but any connection to the General is unproven. A William Gregory married1 Mary Mathews on January 21 1807 in Norfolk, VA which was five years after James' birth. William was age 32 and thus assuming this is the same William, this likely was a second marriage. If so, we have not found a first wife.

     Although no link to the General is provable, it seems intuitively likely that a William Gregory might have been James' father, based on the middle initial 'M' James gave his son William. If the 'M' is shown to stand for Morgan, we can treat that as conclusive. Unfortunately, no document unveiled as yet expands on this middle name, although most Ancestry trees name it as “Morgan”.

     We note that several descendants of James have a 'M' middle initial, and present-day Yakama WA Dentist William Morgan Harrison, descended via William M. Gregory, does indeed have Morgan as a middle name, a tantalizing datum. Further, James named his son of 1859 Nathan, harking back to the 1707 Nathan, son of Thomas Gregory and Priscilla Barecock.

     We find a James Gregory in the 1830 Census2, with two men in their 20's and a woman of similar age, about the right ages to be James and Elizabeth plus an unidentified brother, along with two daughters and three slaves. This does not seem to be them, mainly due to the lack of slaves in later Census records but we cannot rule it out.

     James married his unknown first wife Elizabeth but we do not know when. James and Elizabeth birthed three sons, John G., Jacob N., and William M., in 1833, 1836 and 1837 respectively. The 1840 Census3 appears to show a 4th son, reflected as three males under age 5 and one between ages 5 and 9, with no slaves. We find nothing else on this 4th son. That first son with the middle initial 'G' is most interesting. If we could identify the middle name we might find it a valuable clue.

     On February 4, 1846 James and Elizabeth divorced4, and from the records of that event we learn there were also two girls, one between ages 10 and 14, old enough to be a daughter in the 1830 Census, the other under age 5. If the 1830 Census is them, the older girl may be an adult and married by the time of the divorce. Elizabeth took the girls and James took the boys. We do not know the girls' names, nor the divorce circumstances.

     The divorce record itself is not definitively proven to be that of James and Elizabeth! A divorce is a matter of official record in Camden County, and there is, as far as we know, no other James and Elizabeth Gregory to be candidates for the participants. Yet a lack of supporting information and lack of children's names and other contributing details in the official record leave open a window of doubt. We accept this record as provisional, and unproven.

     After the divorce, James and his sons went to Virginia, where they are present in the 1850 Norfolk, VA Census sharing a home with the family of Isaac Beal, including his 20 year-old daughter, Elizabeth Beal. She was age 20 to James' age 45, close in age to the 17 year old John G. Gregory. James and Elizabeth soon had a son, James Richard Darras Gregory, born Feb 15 1851, per the family bible.

     Elizabeth Beal was a daughter of Isaac Beal, thus her father might be the namesake of their last son's name rather than Isaac Morgan Gregory.

     James sold his land5 in Camden to Major Gregory Sr. while he sojourned in Virginia. The identity of the Major Gregory in question has been a small challenge to pin down, but we believe he was b. 1796 (or 1792) to Jeremiah Gregory and Barbara Gwendolyn Rawls, and thus of British Line #2. We think he was likely a relative but cannot pin down the connection. We believe his son was also named Major Gregory and served in the Civil War, where we find numerous tracks in Fold3.

     James Gregory then legally married Elizabeth Beal on July 5, 1852 in Shelby County, Tennessee, and the family promptly moved to Jackson County Arkansas where they had five more children. Thomas Siler “Tank” Gregory,(1856) Nathan G. Gregory(1859), Noah Anderson Gregory (1865), Lovey Ann Gregory (1867) and Isaac Gregory (1869). Another possible son, Ruben appears as age 5 in the 1860 census, but Thomas is not listed, leading us to suspect this is a simple error, and Ruben is really Thomas. The age listed for Ruben is close to what Thomas would have been.

     The son Thomas was not well thought of by some of his descendants, or so it has been claimed by at least one, although others dispute this. His first wife, Laura B. Caudle, died in 1890, and the children were reportedly left with the maternal grandparents, which may have sparked some enmity.

     Thomas remarried in 1891 and with his second wife, Jeanette Anna Wright, birthed two more sons. Thomas worked on the railroad, following it with his family. She then died in 1905,when her skirt caught fire in camp along the railroad as was told by Thomas' brother Noah to his children. Others have said she died in a house fire, but the railroad story seems more likely based on Noah's testimony. Her tragic death left Thomas once again a widower. He seems to have never recovered from the loss and he and the boys just bounced from place to place, never really becoming established. He died September 23 1928 in Oklahoma as a pauper.

     Two descendants of James have participated in both the Ancestry DNA studies and the Family Tree DNA Gregory Surname study. We have two contributors, Marvin and Bill, who are cousins. Marvin is a direct male line descendant of James, whereas Bill is not. The Ancestry DNA study using Autosomal DNA places Bill as a distant cousin of our core line, 5th-8th cousins with moderate confidence. He also shows the Iberian Peninsula traces that have so intrigued us. However, he does NOT show as any sort of cousin to my own “Gregory Cousin” Julie Bianchi, thus arguing that any relationship is via maternal lines, and not the Gregory surname line.

     The family Tree yDNA results for Marvin are posted as kit #284766, Group 13, differing from our own DNA sample by four alleles, DYS393=13 (vs. 14), DYS-439=12 (vs. 11), DYS389i=14 (vs. 13) and DYS289ii=30 (vs. 28). This much genetic difference in the yDNA proves conclusively that James' line is not descended from the same grandparent as Jesse's descendants, but that if there is a connection, any common Gregory ancestor is much further back. Since we do not have comparable data from a known descendant of Isaac Morgan Gregory we cannot use DNA to prove that James is descended from Isaac, although his being a grandson seems assured. We still hope one day a provable male-line descendant of Isaac will be found.

     Based on the genetic distance of Marvin's yDNA from our core line, that Bill is not related to Julie Bianchi, the belief that Isaac Morgan Gregory is James' ancestor, and the identification of probable relative Major Gregory as being of British descent, we presume that the original linking of Isaac as a descendant of Thomas Gregory and Priscilla Barecock and therefore of presumed British origins is likely valid despite our misgivings based on their choices in children's names. Although Thomas and Priscilla are clearly British, we lack sufficient data to link them to one of the known British lines.

     Based on the data at hand, we believe this branch is unconnected to the “Core” line descending from Isaac, Benjamin and Jesse, of British descent rather than Scots-Irish. We know British Line #2 propagated to North Carolina, so hypothesizing that James, and by extension General Isaac Morgan Gregory descends from this line is very reasonable though proof remains elusive.

     In further study, we have learned that our DNA contributors also descend from Irish roots via the Dunlap surname. Minnie Dashwood Gregory, daughter of Thomas Siler Gregory, married James Thomas Dunlap in 1905. Perhaps this Irish connection leads into the Scots-Irish line of our Core line. It will be interesting to research this connection as that might explain that 5th-8th cousins connection highlighted by Autosomal DNA. Nonetheless, as of this time we have no firm connection between the Core line and the Dunlap line and cannot define the Autosomal DNA relationship. Perhaps Mitochondrial DNA will one day show a link through the maternal lines.


1FHL 32978, Norfolk City Virginia Bond N0. 1 Page 120


21830 United Stated Federal Census, North Carolina, Camden, Not Stated P. 33 of 66, flagged as Page 363. Shares page with Arthur Gregory, Noah Gregory, Major Gregory, Lydia Gregory and Phoebe Gregory. The previous page lists Miles Gregory, and the following page lists a Nancy Gregory.


31840 United States Federal Census, North Carolina, Camden, Not Stated, P.29 or 51, flagged as Page 14. Shares page with Elijah Gregory, Susan Gregory, John Gregory, and William Gregory. Previous page lists Jacob Gregory, possible namesake for James' son of the same name?


4North Carolina Book Y Page 246 & 247 Divorce Registered Feb 3 1848


5Camden County NC Deed Book Z, Page 14, 1849 February 8, 1849

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