Tarvin Family Association

Gathering William's Lines

By Gary B. Hoffman

Originally published in LifeLine, December 2018.

In the 1990's, the late Walt Tarvin wrote an essay called, "Who was William Tarvin?" (http://www.tarvinfamily.org/william.html) in which he presented documentary proof that William Tarvin, son and heir of Richard Tarvin and Elizabeth Dent, moved his family from Charles Co., Maryland, to St. Paul's Parish, Georgia, near Augusta, in the 1760's. This southward migration was probably due to British King George's declaration after the French and Indian Wars that American Colonists not cross the crest of the Appalachians to settle in Indian land. At that time, Georgia invited families from the Northern Colonies to come settle in their expanding colony.

Connecting the supposed "William" descendant lines to William himself has eluded researchers for many years. However, it may be time to gather the lines we call Reddick, William II, William J, Churchwell, and Richard (Turvin) to their patriarch, William. The key to understanding the connections among these lines is a clue in Walt's essay plus a hypothesis of Steve Tarvin's.

Walt found documentation that a George Tarvin was administrator of William's estate after William died in Richmond County, Georgia, in 1785. William had at least seven children, per his deposition in 1768 when he applied for a land grant along Little Kiokee Creek east of Augusta. (St. Paul's Parish later became Richmond County, which finally became Columbia County in 1789.) According to land records, as administrator George tried to sell William's property several times, finally succeeding in 1795. George also acted as agent for his brother John to sell property in Richmond County adjacent to William's. John was an Indian trader and resident of the Creek Nation, per his Georgia passport of 1789. Other siblings include Richard, William (whom we call William II), and Ann, who married John Youngblood. There may also have been a Nancy and a Walter.

It is rather easy to connect William to his sons Richard and William II who have extensive descendancy in Southern Alabama. But where do Reddick, Churchwell, and William J. fit in? They are too young to be William's sons but too old to count among his known grandsons.

To Tarvin researcher Steve Tarvin, George is the key to these relationships. That William named a son George is not a surprise. His grandfather was George. He had a brother named George, who fathered a son George (whom we call Reverend George). The king was named George and George Washington was a famous countryman. And, William migrated his family to a colony named after King George.

George Tarvin was born about 1754 in Charles County, Maryland, son of William and his wife Nancy. (We do not know Nancy's family name.) He moved to Georgia with his family about 1765 and lived in Richmond County where he was called up to the Revolutionary War. He served first as a substitute for William Maddox and then as a volunteer himself. We know this from his 1832 pension application which was photographed and is now readily available on Ancestry.com. According to his petition, he served for various periods between 1779 and 1781 in the Georgia militia.

In 1785, George was granted 150 acres of land on Little Kiokee Creek, apparently near his father's and brother's land holdings. He lived in Richmond (Columbia) County, then in Effingham, Jefferson, Laurens, and Twigg Counties before finally moving to Houston County. He is on the Montgomery County tax rolls of 1805-06. He married a Martha H. about 1809. His children were apparently Clara/Clarissa, David, William M., Martha, Mary, and George Franklin, born between 1810 and 1819. He died 11 Nov 1834 in Houston Co., Georgia.

These children of George seem to come late in life for him, beginning when he was about 55 years old. One can surmise that a land-holding man in pioneer Georgia might have married earlier, perhaps in Richmond Co., before his migrations. Or so thinks Steve Tarvin. Steve speculates that George might have married first about 1790 or earlier, giving rise to the possibility that Churchwell (b. 1793), William J. (b. 1794), and Reddick (b. 1807) were his sons by this previous marriage.

There are other possibilities, of course. William's son John, the Indian trader, may have fathered one or more of these Tarvin scions whose birth records have not been discovered. Reddick married in Alabama before settling in Arkansas, so he might have been actually the son of either William II or Richard, both of whom settled in Alabama in the early 1800s.

It should also be noted that Churchwell Tarvin's children's names echo the names of George's children: David J., Sarah, Martha Mary, William M., Nancy, Solomon, Jane, George J., Mary E., Catherine, and Clara/Clarissa. Churchwell applied for land grants in the vacated Creek Indian lands in 1832 and moved to the newly-created Harris Co. by 1834, where his last three children were born. Churchwell died in 1874 in Harris Co., Georgia.


1823 Map of Alabama and Georgia Counties. (Click for larger image.)

And then there is George's 1830 will which lists "all my children to wit: William (M. or W.), David D., Martha, Clarissa J., Mary A., George Franklin." This seems to exclude the possibility of other children. On the other hand, it may mean that any older children by a previous marriage no longer in Georgia had already been accommodated by George.

I propose that we accept as a working hypothesis that Reddick, Churchwell, and William J are children of George's as we continue our research, attempting to prove or disprove this hypothesis. DNA evidence might help clarify these relationships, so we should also continue to encourage descendants of these three patriarchs to take DNA tests to help us understand how they fit into the Tarvin family.

We will show these proposed connections in the Tarvin Online Genealogy Database until they either ratified or disproven.

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Webmaster Gary Hoffman (ghoffman@tarvinfamily.org)

Last Updated: 01 Jan 2019 14:23 PST