Catherine Gatsy Wadsworth (1781-1852) – The Gray Family’s Brick Wall

Oh how I would love to have a chat with Catherine Wadsworth. During the 1840s, she moved from Davidson County, North Carolina to Buchanan County, Missouri with her three adult sons: William Wadsworth (1817-1859), Franklin William Gray (1821-1864), and Robert Wadsworth Holmes (1825-1901). I say that so casually, “moved.” It was a 1000+ mile trip in a covered wagon. That is about a 70 day trip. What prompted that adventure?

I don’t know if Catherine was ever married, so Wadsworth may be her maiden or married name.

I don’t know who fathered her children either, but there’s a good possibility the father of Robert is Reuben Holmes (1763-1831, Davidson and Rowan Counties, North Carolina.) Reuben was married and had 7 children, but his wife died in 1798. His 1830 will divided his property among his children and grandchildren, but also left one slave each to two males, Robert Wadsworth and Reubin Northern (noted in the will “alias Reubin Holmes”.) The will read “Robert Wadsworth (son of Gatsy Wadsworth) one negro boy [youth] named Peter.” Witnessing the will is Gatsy Wadsworth, and a 1831 codicil to the will is witnessed by Catherine Wadsworth. In the will Reuben specifically refers to people as “my children” or “my son” or “my daughter” but he doesn’t note his relationship to Robert Wadsworth (age 5), or Reubin Northern.

One reason it’s so hard to find information about Catherine is that prior to 1850, the United States Census provided names of only the head of household, with tally marks in the appropriate gender/age columns for others living in the house. It’s possible that Catherine lived with Reuben Holmes in 1830 because there is a tally mark in the column for females in her age group, plus 4 young children, 3 of which could be hers. I have no clue as to where she could have lived prior to that, or after Reuben’s death in 1831.

Back to the move . . . It seems William likely made the move first, with Catherine following a couple of years later with Franklin and Robert. William married in Buchanan County in September 1843, and US General Land Office Records show he received land there in 1846 and 1850. Before leaving North Carolina, the younger brothers married sisters on October 30, 1846. I suspect they didn’t leave immediately, heading into the winter, traveling by covered wagon for 70 days. Hopefully they waited until spring.

Franklin’s bride Judah Arena Parrish and Robert’s bride Sarah Ann Parrish had brothers Simeon Parrish and Benjamin Parrish who relocated to Buchanan County around the same time, so perhaps they traveled together. We know that by June of 1848, she was received as a member of New Harmony Church (near where Gower is today) as minutes report “received Sister Gatsy Wadsworth by letter.”

Luckily we have the 1850 United States Census for Tremont Township, Buchanan County Missouri. Catherine is 67, living with Franklin Gray (age 29, farmer), his wife Jane (26, and her name was really Judah), their children William (2) and Benjamin (10 months), and someone named Jesse Hill (22 year old male born in NC.) In the next house on the census we find William Wadsworth (33, farmer) married to Elizabeth (29), and their children Sarah (6), James (5), Mary (4) and John (2). Then we skip a house and the next house has Robert Holmes (25), his wife Sarah (28), and their children Reuben (3) and Ansel (1). Catherine, her sons and their wives were all born in North Carolina, and all of her grandchildren were born in Missouri.

Church records show that Catherine died in 1852, and she was buried in the church cemetery. Her son William died by 1859 and is buried there too. (His wife remarried and is buried in the cemetery with her 2nd husband.)

There are no known photos of Catherine, but here is a picture of Franklin and Judah Gray. We will talk more about them later.

Franklin Judah Gray

Thanks to Linda Holmes Mason for information from New Harmony Church records and Reuben Holmes’ will, and Lanny Gray for the photo.