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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #26 James McElhaney Hairston

James McElhaney Hairston is said to be the first child of Hugh Brown Hairston and Sarah McElhaney and quite possibly the brother of my great-great-grandfather, John Lewis Hairston. Of all of the said to be siblings of John L., James McElhaney Hairston appears to be the most researched sibling.

Carolyn Danforth, a descendant of James M. Hairston, was the cited as the source for the information about the Hugh Brown Hairston family in the Volume II The WHITAKER and Related Families and also cited in several other genealogical works in regards to the James M. Hairston family. 

James M. Hairston can be found in numerous Public Member Trees at and a picture of his gravestone can be seen at Find A Grave.

Carl Greenway, a descendant of James M. Hairston, donated letters and research notes to New York Public Library. Some of his letters can also be found in the Georgia Archives and in the Bassett Historical Center in Henry County, Virginia. 

Carl Forrest Greenway 1917 -1974
Picture courtesy of Marylyn Caraway
In 1965, Carl Greenway wrote an eight page letter to Mrs. William Nelson Hobbie, of Roanoke, Virginia, describing his findings and thoughts about the Virginia, Georgia, and South Carolina Hairstons. 

On page seven, Mr. Greenway wrote about his ancestor James. M. Hairston and wrote the following statement about his inability to connect James with a particular Hairston family. As I mentioned the other day, because of the paucity of records I have not to date connected my James M. Hairston of son of whom, which is also true of Lillian Schwertz's John Robertson Hairston, and Irene Malone's Thomas Hairston. We hope that this will come with more time and work.   

He went on to say that census records indicate that James M. Hairston and his parents were born in South Carolina and that from a family bible owned by William Harris Hairston and from the tomb slab in Harmony Cemetery, that he had both birth and death dates for James. M. Hairston. 

Mr. Greenway associated James M. Hairston with Hugh Brown Hairston and John Lewis Hairston in the following excerpts from the letter.

Because of a deed record associating him with H. B. (Hugh B.) Hairston, I know that James M. Hairston would be of the Abbeville, S. C. group. The first record I have to date located is a deed from J M Hairston of Butts Co., Ga. for land in Butts Co., formerly in Henry Co. I have been unable to find the grantee deed for this land in either place. The grantor deed was dated 30 July 1830. Then, on 27 Nov 1830 James M. Hairston purchased land in or lying on both Henry and Butts, but recorded in Butts, from his future brother-in-law, William McCallay, witnessed by John L. Hairston and H. B. Hairston. This would have been Hugh B. Hairston, since he was listed that summer in the 1830 census of Butts as such. The deed in question is in Butts Co Deed Bk F p349/50.

James McCallay and his son William purchased land in the "O'Neil's Mills" or 699th Ga. Militia Distr. of Troup Co. (south of La Grange toward Harris Co.) in 1832/3, selling their holdings in Henry and Butts and I presume moved at that time. James M. Hairston must have followed shortly, for he married James McCalley's daughter, Matilda, in Troup in 1834. He then purchased lands in Meriwether, which adjoins on the east and was originally a part of Troup. He was living there in 1838 when deeded land in Butts County by John Lewis Hairston. Cousin Will has the original deed and I have an excellent xerox of it, but for whatever reason we cannot locate a record of its having been filed. James M. moved to Troup Co. in 1842 after selling his Meriwether holdings to Vincent Hairston, whom he adjoined in the 1840 census. He settled in the Abbottsford or West Vernon community of the County (735th G.M.D.) which is on the west side of the Chattahoochee, and had a number of farms there extending into Chambers Co., Ala.

A visual showing the many Hairston homes mentioned in this post. 

James McElhaney Hairston was born on December 14, 1808 in South Carolina. If he is the son of Hugh Brown Hairston, then he was living in Elbert County, Georgia by 1820 and soon after that, in Jasper County.

James was in his early twenties when he purchased that Butts County land in 1830 in the deed records found by Carl Greenway. My earliest finding was an arrest in Butts County on January 25, 1831. James M. Hairston was arrested in Butts County with a Lewis Hairston and Hezekiah McElhaney for gambling in the dance hall.

James M. Hairston married Matilda McCallay on December 4, 1834 in Troup County and was soon living in nearby Meriwether County. Matilda died in 1851 and it is said that James married a Louisa Gatchet in about 1854.  James and Louisa were living in Chambers County, Alabama in 1880. He died on June 13, 1881 and is buried in Troup County, Georgia

Although not familial, it's nice to see the connections between James M. Hairston, John Lewis Hairston, Hugh Brown Hairston and Vinson/Vincent Hairston. 

More investigation is needed in Troup County as my earlier notes indicate that James M. Hairston was involved in numerous estate settlements. James also lost land for taxes owed in Chambers County, Alabama in 1873. The record of this land needs to be looked at as well as other possible land transactions. 


© 2014

Sources Public Member Trees [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2006.

Anderson, Mary Lee. Volume II The WHITAKER and Related Families. Date unknown. Print and online

Dodd, Jordan. Georgia Marriages to 1850 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 1997.

Georgia. Inferior Court (Butts County). Inferior court minutes 1826-1850, Butts County, Georgia. Salt Lake City, Utah: Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1958. Microfilm.

Greenway, Carl (New York, New York) to "Dear Mrs. Hobbie" [Mrs. William Nelson Hobbie]. Letter. 22 November 1965. Formby Family Genealogical Collection [Manuscript]. Georgia Archives, Morrow, Georgia.

Hairston, Victor , and Edward Bregenzer. The Hairston History.  1998. Print.

"A New Map Of Georgia With Its Roads & Distances. / Mitchell, Samuel Augustus, 1803-1875 / 1846." N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Jul. 2014.;sort:pub_list_no_initialsort%2Cpub_date%2Cpub_list_no%2Cseries_no;lc:RUMSEY~8~1&mi=49&trs=743

Year: 1820 U S Census; Census Place: Talom, Elbert, Georgia; Page: 182; NARA Roll: M33_8; Image: 127.

Year: 1840; Census Place: Meriwether, Georgia; Roll: 46; Page: 138; Image: 866; Family History Library Film: 0007045.

Year: 1870; Census Place: Troup, Georgia; Roll: M593_178; Page: 398A; Image: 357; Family History Library Film: 545677.

Year: 1880; Census Place: Fredonia, Chambers, Alabama; Roll: 5; Family History Film: 1254005; Page: 62A; Enumeration District: 019; Image: 0333.

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