Jane (Wiley) Williamson

Daughter of Jenny and Thomas Wiley
Excerpt from Jenny Wiley Association Newsletter Winter, 1999
by Russell L. Whitlock

    I have heard several folks, both members and non-members of the Jenny Wiley Association, express a belief that Jane Wiley may have been the legendary part Indian child of Jenny Wiley.  Was she?  I certainly don't know the answer to that question.  In an effort to shed some light on this subject, let us review a few of the known facts.

    First, it is generally agreed that the two most likely dates of Jennys capture were either 1787 or 1789, although 1788 and 1790 are also mentioned.  If 1797 were to be the correct date, it, as well as 1788, would most certainly rule out the possibility of Jane being of part Indian parentage, since most historians agree that she was born around 1791 at Walkers Creek, Virginia.  Mr. Clayton Cox uses 1791 as the approximate birth date of Jane.  If one accepts Jennys date of capture as having been in the late fall (as descriptions of the weather seem to indicate, possibly October or November) of 1789, and then accepts the likely time of of escape as having been in the early spring of 1790, the possibility that Jane could have been the part Indian child is greatly increased.

    Jenny's escape occurred, I believe, somewhere around the month of March or April of 1790.  (See Calendar of Virginia State Papers, Vol. 5, page 181.  This contains a report from County Lieut. J. D. Smith to Governor Beverly Randolph, and states as follows:

      "I doubt not but your Excellency has been informed of Mrs. Wyley's [sic]
        oath, who was taken prisoner last fall and runaway from the Indians late in
        the winter.")

    The foregoing statement indicates, at least to me, that Jennys period of captivity was many months shorter than the "eleven months" espoused by some commentators!  (I must in all sincerity disagree with those who find the statements "last fall" and "late in the winter" as being "generalizations" which indicate nothing "definite."  If you were to say to me, "Russ, I'm going to come for a visit in the fall and remain until later winter, " I would have a very good idea how long you would be staying.  My guess would be about five to seven months!  What would your guess be?  Even if ones math skills were exceptionally poor, he would have the greatest difficulty cramming eleven months into a time period between fall and late winter!)

    Some tend to add great weight to the "eleven months" theory because Jennys son, Adam Brevard, was said to have indicated that time period to William Elsey Connelley, and that Adam would be the most knowledgeable person on facts concerning his mother.  While I have no argument with Adams vast knowledge of the Wiley story, I wonder if a mistake may not have been made by him in his declining years, or whether Mr. Connelley may have misunderstood or improperly record his statement.

    It seems most likely, considering the Virginia Papers report, that Jenny was in captivity about six or seven months.  It certainly would not be difficult for "seven" to be understood at "eleven," if ones hearing were a little less than good, nor to be seen as "eleven" in an ancient, difficult to decipher manuscript.  (If you've ever tried to translate some of those old hand written documents, you will know what I mean.)  Connelley indicates in his manuscript that Adam Brevard, due to poor education, gave up trying to record his mothers ordeal, and instead came to him.  He indicates Adams destroyed the manuscript he had written.  The report to Governor Randolph indicates that Jenny was placed under "oath," when she gave the account of her capture and captivity.  Since we all know Jenny to have been a devout Christian, it is my belief that she would have been extremely careful to have given absolutely correct information while under oath.

    If we add a full nine months to either March or April, we arrive at either December 1790, or January of 1791.  It then becomes just barely possible that Jane could have been a child of Indian parentage, if the accept the 1791 birth date as given by Mr. Cox.  If Jenny were captured in 1790, as her son Adam Brevard indicated in one publication, we have a whole new ball game, but I know of no serious researcher who holds to this date.  Then, too, if the fall 17 date were correct, regardless of Jennys time in captivity, Jan could have not been born in 1791.  This point adds to my belief that although Adam Brevard had a great deal of information in h is memory, he was not immune to making an occasional mistake.

    I'm sure our readers have noticed the abundance of words such as possibility, approximate, and believe, and such phrases as "it is generally agreed," and "if we accept," sprinkled throughout the above remarks, and those words serve to make my musings somewhat less than authoritative.  The above remarks were not intended to imply that I have the absolute truth on the above subject, but rather to promote thought and study on the matter.  I sincerely hope that through study and research we will be able to finally come up with the truth!  If we had an exact birth date for Jane, our job would be much easier.  However, such is not the case.

    Do any of our readers have such information in their possession?  If you do, please share it with us, and I'll see that it goes to all members through the medium of our newsletter, and our WEB site.

    Jane married Richard Williamson (called "Richmond" by some), about 9 October 1810, according to Floyd County, Kentucky records.  The following is a copy of the marriage bond as recorded:

Known by all these men presents that we, Richard Williamson And Shadrack Ward of Floyd county are held and firmly bound unto the Commonwealth of Kentucky in the penal sum of fifity pounds for the payment whereof we bind ourselves, our heirs and firmly by these presents sealed with our seals and dated this 9th day of October, 1810.
   The following permission slip is also recorded in the Floyd county records and is reproduced here using the original spelling:
To Mr. Mahoe, clerk, sur, I wold request the favor of you that you wold grant lisence of merrege as all parties are satisfied to the same convenant of merrege between Richard Williamson and Jane Wiley, Given under my hand Thomas Wiley.

                               Attest:  Hezekiah Wiley and Shadrack Ward

    It is known that Thomas Wiley died in the year 1810, and Mr. Clayton Cox speculates that since Thomas may have been too sick to travel to the courthouse, he sent a written permission slip instead.  It is interesting to note that the currency specified in the above marriage bond was the pound sterling, a British denomination.  Also of interest is the term "wold", an archaic spelling of "would."

    Children born to Jane Wiley and richard Williamson (of which we have record) are as follows:

      John Williamson m Susie Baker
        Alden Williamson m 1) Clarissa Marcum
                                          2) Emariah Muncy
        Wiley Williamson m 1)Lettie Cook
        Amy Williamson m Abraham Smith
        Nellie Williamson m Joseph Mitchell
        Eba Isabel Williamson m Abraham Perry
        Alifair Williamson m Edward Webb
        Marinda Williamson m William Thomas Smith
        Charlotte Williamson m Zachariah Webb (brother to Edward Webb)
        Sarah Williamson (no record that Sarah ever married)

    Mr. Clayton Cox, in Appalachia Crossroads, expresses his opinion that Jane and Richard Williamson lived in Kentucky about 24 years before their relocation to what is now Wayne County, West Virginia, and that most of their children were born in Kentucky.

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