You can call her Patsy or you can call her Martha, but it’d be really nice if she were kindly referred to by the name given at birth. It’d be the name routinely used by her husband and family. And, if she were living today, I’m sure Catherine Thomas would be puzzled at how badly we’ve mangled her identity. It’s just not right.

Online there are numerous sites proclaiming that Joseph Thomas [III] married a person named Martha or Patsy. It’s also believed that this Martha or Patsy was born a Godwin. I know she’s not Martha or Patsy and I wonder where the idea of Godwin came from. It may be true, but what is the source? What makes people think that Joseph’s wife was born into the Godwin family? And we’ll call her Martha? …no way!

Somewhere online I’ve seen where someone wrote that Joseph’s wife was Catherine. Sometimes Google eludes me as now I can’t locate the related online discussion. But please take a little time to look through your own notes on the children of Joseph Thomas [III] and you’ll see that the name Catherine was used numerous times in later generations. It was done so in honor of a good lady. And in the 1819 estate of Joseph Thomas [III], you’ll see the name Catherine as buying from the estate sale. At first I thought this may be the wife of Joseph [III] but in looking at the writings of others it seemed Catherine was commonly believed to be the daughter of John and Mary Oaks Thomas and therefore the granddaughter of Joseph Thomas [III]. This Catherine was buying household goods from the 1819 estate sale alongside a person named Micajah Bagget, or was she? As records clearly indicate, Catherine Thomas (*this Catherine?*) and Micajah Bagget moved to Georgia by 1840. Now raising my hand in recognition of an error, I acknowledge a mistake recently made. Looking at the ages, I made the egregious error of believing that Micajah’s Catherine was a daughter of Joseph Thomas [III] and not his granddaughter as is accepted by others. It just simply seemed to me that Catherine was too old to be a daughter of John and Mary Oaks. And why as a granddaughter would she be among the few people buying from her grandfather’s estate?

I was wrong in my thinking. In looking at the Moore County loose estate papers of A. M. Yarborough, I found a legal notice for sale of land arising from a suit against Luther Thomas. Note that Archibald Murphy Yarborough below owned land in Chatham County near Avent’s Ferry. And some of his land originated or at least had passed through the hands of Joseph Thomas [III] and Ishmael Roberts, a free person of color. The land in question lies on water of Bush Creek which is also near the estate lands of Allen Thomas and Ishmael Roberts. Bush Creek crosses the county line running from Chatham into old Moore County where it appears this land was located. And note that the said Allen Thomas of Chatham County died in the mid 1800’s leaving a division of land naming one of his heirs as being Luther Thomas. Did this suit grow from the estate of Allen Thomas as was passed down through his son Luther? I’m not sure.

AM Yarborough . Moore County

Looking at the above legal notice, note that it appeared in print on 3 Oct 1891. Being over one hundred years after the birth of John and Mary Oaks Thomas’ daughter Catherine, the 26 acres in question adjoined that “formerly owned by John Thomas deceased and allotted to Catherine Bagget as her interest in the real estate of her father, John Thomas.” Wow!! …in a burn county we now know roughly where John Thomas lived. And though there is no surviving deed or estate records spelling out what became of his land upon his death, this one parcel or share of his estate can be located if only we can locate the adjoining 26 acre tract that once belonged to Luther Thomas. About fifteen years following this legal notice, Lee County was cut from Chatham and Moore County. It might be possible through a title search to locate the John Thomas lands in either Moore County (after the courthouse fire) or early Lee County records.

Beyond this huge clue as to where John and Mary Oaks Thomas may have lived, this record clearly establishes Catherine Bagget to be their daughter. It also fits the timeline of Catherine and her husband’s removal to Georgia. It’s possible she never returned to Moore County to claim her share in her father’s estate.

So, ….back to the estate of Joseph Thomas [III]. Was Catherine who purchased from the estate the same person who was identified in later records as being the daughter of John Thomas? I’m not sure.

catherine page 469

In the above court minutes dated Aug 1819, administration of the estate of Joseph Thomas [III] was granted to his son Benjamin Thomas with Rorie Womack and son Allen Thomas entering into bond in the amount of $4,000. Using an inflation calculator, $4,000 in 1819 is roughly equivalent to $75,000 dollars in 2017. So we know that Joseph Thomas [III] left a sizeable estate. We also know in later court minutes that the estate was ultimately settled by Joseph’s son Allen. I can only imagine what led to the change away from son Benjamin.

And, very important in this discussion, note that the last entry in the above court record reads:

William Avent esquire and the following three freeholders viz; Archelus Carloss, Thomas Cottrell, and William L. Hinton are appointed Commissioners to lay off one year’s provision to Catherine Thomas widow and relict of Joseph Thomas dec’d & that they report to next court.

Once again we’re at the end of a post and we’ve learned some really cool history. We now know that at his death, Joseph Thomas [III] was married to Catherine Thomas. So you can call her Martha, and you may call her Patsy, but I think she’d like to be known by her real name. And as for a question I can’t answer, who was Catherine named in the estate sale of Joseph Thomas [III]? Was it Joseph’s widow or was it his granddaughter? Were both there at the estate sale and were they both listed as making purchases? I think we’ll never know that answer.



    OK, I’ll play. Joseph III may have had 3 wives. Having his DNA, I would lay claim to the land, but I could never grow collard greens as beautiful as the locals do these days, based on our nearby visit with the gentleman at the roadside stand. I will look to see if Ishmael Roberts still has kin–assuming Yerby Thomas let him be.

  2. geothos Post author

    Joseph only had the one we know for sure and her name was Catherine. There’s no other record to the contrary. An yes, it’s a land of collards as tall as tobacco and even greener 🙂


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