Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wednesday's Woman: Janet "Jenny" Freeman

Mystery by ~randis,

Janet "Jenny" Freeman remains a mysterious part of our family history.  Thus far, I don't know of anyone who has been able to break through the "brick wall" which has prevented her current descendants from finding out more about her.  She is listed in my records and the records of countless other researchers as Janet "Jenny" Freeman, but even most of her name is based on family tradition rather than actual fact.  

I received an email, dated January 7, 2012,  from Michele Simmons Lewis who has repeatedly attempted to find out more about our Janet.  She wrote:

There is a lot of 'family lore' about Janet, none of which has been confirmed with credible sources.  All we know for sure is that Silas Simmons was married to a woman named Janet who was born in SC per the 1850 census records.  Janet died before the 1860 census was taken.  Our biggest roadblock has been the fact that the Perry Co, MS courthouse burned in 1877 and there are no records to be had.  Perry Co, MS was formed from Greene Co and the Greene Co courthouse burned in 1874.  The only records that survived these two courthouse fires were the county property tax rolls which were sent to Jackson every year.  Unfortunately, even though Silas shows up in these records repeatedly, there is no account of Janet.  Here are some of the 'theories' that Simmons researchers have been claiming over the years:
1.  Janet was born near Georgetown, SC
2.  She was called "Jenny" or "Jennie"
3.  She was a Choctaw or Cherokee Indian.  Thus far all contact with the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians has been fruitless (several researchers, including myself, have tried to get the Choctaws to search through their records but they have been very uncooperative).  In Wiliam Houston Simmons' Family Bible, the following entry is made:  Silas Simmons from Kentucky [North Carolina is written, then marked out with Kentucky written above] 18 [it appears the first two digits of a date were written but not completed] married Indian girl (Squerloque Miss) [it is unknown where this is].  Possibly Shuqualak?  There were two Shuqualaks, one in Noxubee Co and one in Neshoba Co both of which was located in Choctaw lands.  It is less likely that she would have been Cherokee.  In another part of William Houston Simmons' Family Bible he made the notation, "Indian (Choctaw)" [Note:  Some researchers have Janet's "Indian name" as Squerloque!  This is completely wrong!  Squerloque is definitely a PLACE.]
4.  Janet's last name was Freeman or McCarter or McCardle
5.  Janet was an orphan raised by a family named Brown

In the email, Michele Simmons Lewis went on to explain the pursuit of the Indian connection by some of Janet's descendants in relation to the 1830 Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek.  She wrote, "In the 1940's, the Choctaw Nation sued the state of Mississippi saying they had been cheated out of their land and they wanted compensation."  According to Michele, some of Janet's descendants tried to prove their Indian connection thinking they would be compensated because of the aforementioned lawsuit.  Michele states she tried to follow up on those family claims with the Choctaw Nation but they denied everything and they were very uncooperative.  

To sum it all up, we have a lot of family lore surrounding Janet, but no actual proof of anything except her first name.

On the 1820 census, there was a Thomas McCardle, Silas Simmons, Cornelius Freeman and James Freeman all on the same page:
Thomas McCardle- line 8
Silas Simmons- line 10
Cornelius Freeman- line 21 (he was the right age to have been James Freeman's son)
James Freeman- line 22

The 1830 and 1840 census are in alphabetical order.  On the 1850 census, Silas Simmons is dwelling 185, Thomas McCardle is dwelling 97.  By that time, Cornelius and James Freeman were both deceased.  

Who was Janet?  Was her surname Freeman or McCardle?  I wish I knew with certainty.  

If anyone has clues to the mystery surrounding our Janet, please get in contact with me.  Thank you!

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