Another Brick Wall Falls: John Glosson of Chatham County, North Carolina

John Glosson (1802 – aft. 1880) was my 4th great-grandfather and had been a brick wall forever. I knew that he was born in North Carolina, and had tentatively placed him as a John “Glisson” in Duplin county just because the household matched. But I was never convinced, and a couple of weeks ago I decided to have another go at the problem with more research experience and from another angle.

In 1830, there are two Glossons in Carroll County, TN, John, and a Jasper Glosson on the next census page. A good rule of thumb is that when you find two people with an unusual surname living close together on a census or tax list, they are almost certainly close relatives. So I decided to research Jasper and see where he led me.

Chatham County Glossons

Jasper Glosson married Mary Moore in in 1820 in Orange County, NC. Neither John nor Jasper are found on any census records for that county, however, there are quite a few Glossons (also spelled Glasson or Glawson) located there and in neighboring Chatham County. I looked up probate records and found a Joseph Glosson in Chatham County who appeared to be the patriarch of the clan. He died in 1784, so he could not have been John and Jasper’s father. However, he named seven sons in his will, any one of whom could have done the deed. I built out a skeleton tree for Joseph and his sons, and by process of elimination, narrowed the candidates down to four of the sons, William, Samuel, James and John.

Researching Chatham county proved to be more difficult than usual because for some reason Glossons were skipped over on various censuses. There are only so many ways to spell the name, so this is very odd. It may be true for other surnames as well: perhaps the census takers simply weren’t very careful in that county! I found Samuel Glosson in 1810, but could not find any of the other candidates. And Samuel did not have boys the right age in his household.

Yay for tax lists

There is one tax list available for Chatham County, for 1815. And that is where I got my first good clue. Samuel Glosson is listed and just below his name, it says “ditto, for the heirs of Jno Glosson.” John Glosson was one of the candidates for the father of John and Jasper. He some how managed to escape being listed anywhere on the 1800 and 1810 censuses, but he clearly lived long enough to leave heirs.

Chatham County tax lists at North Carolina Digital Collections https://digital.ncdcr.gov/

Samuel Glosson, born about 1766, does not have any boys the right age on the 1810 census. However, by 1820, he had some how acquired two young men, one 16-25, one 16-18 — or just the right ages to be John and Jasper. It seems evident that he was the guardian of the sons of his younger brother, John Glosson. John Jr and Jasper are not found in 1810, because their father wasn’t listed on the census for some reason Then John Sr died between 1810 and 1815. All the pieces fit.

Land records

Looking for more information, I researched Chatham and Orange county deeds. Sure enough, in 1828, my John Glosson and his wife Nancy “of Chatham County” sold two tracts of land in Orange County just prior to moving to Tennessee (These deeds also led me to discover Nancy’s family, but I will save that story for another post.) As I know that my John Glosson’s wife’s name was Nancy from later census records, this establishes that he was resident in Chatham County in 1828, and is almost certainly one of the young men on Samuel’s 1820 census entry,

Grandpa Joseph

John Glosson Senior, who died before 1815, was therefore my 5th great-grandfather, making Joseph Glosson and his wife Sarah my 6th great-grandparents. Joseph must have died rather suddenly in 1784 because he left no will. However, a 1784 court record shows that Sarah was appointed guardian of her 10 children, who are named in the order. And there is an estate inventory showing that Joseph owned “5 head of Horses, 19 head of Cattle, 18 head of Sheep, and 21 head of Hoggs.” He must have been a livestock farmer. Most of the stock was sold off however, so Sarah was probably not very well-off in her widowhood, and would not have had much to leave her many children at her death.

No one yet seems to have been able to trace this line before Joseph Glosson. However, the name Glasson, which the same family used alternately with Glosson in many records, appears to be of Irish origin (Tipperary area), from the surname O’Glasain. Other variants include the more common Gleason. I wouldn’t take that as gospel, but given that there were plenty of Irish and Scots-Irish immigrants in the Orange County area in the 18th century, an Irish origin seems likely.

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