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Ancestors of Betty Laurence

This website is for the Laurence Family of Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia who are descendants of William Laurence of Virginia. They intermarried with Lawson, Jones, Prewitt, Haynes, Nicholas, Eatherton and Holdridge families.

My computer contains hundreds of names, dates and facts about my family history. However, I want to write about individual people. I want my children and grandchildren to know of some of the many individuals that make up their special heritage. So I am selecting a few people along the way that I find especially interesting and attempting to share them as real people.

My interest in genealogy began shortly after Cheri, my youngest daughter, left home. My husband James and I had attended a Holdridge family reunion and came home talking about family history. I looked through a memory box (actually a well worn candy box given to me by a boyfriend when I was still in high school). I found two helpful slips of paper. The oldest was a very yellow newspaper clipping of Lydia Stevens Williamson's obituary, showing that she was born April 3, 1855, in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. I already knew that my mother was reared in Linn County, Kansas. This sent me first to the encyclopedia to look up the history of Pennsylvania, where I learned that Luzerne was a county in Pennsylvania settled in the late eighteenth century by Connecticut Yankees following the Revolutionary War. Then I went to the library where I found Lydia in the 1860 Linn County, Kansas, U.S. Census. Seeing my ancestor at that early date was really exciting. That, of course, gave me her parents and siblings names, so I was able to find the family in the 1850 Luzerne County, Pennsylvania Census. Then I was on my way with mama's family.

The other slip of paper contained a list of my father's family that appeared to me to be copied from his parents' Bible. The dates started with his marriage and ended in 1936, which was our last visit to California before his father's death. I already knew he was from Benton County, Tennessee, so I had all I needed to begin my search for his family.

What you will find on this website:
Records Transcriptions of wills, bible records, military service and obituaries, images of marriage records, and stories and narratives about our Laurence family
Photos Photographs and bible images
People Database of Laurence and related families
Links Other Laurence websites, by daughter's Holdridge genealogy website, history and military sites, and genealogy research resources

My paternal grandfather Robert Jones Laurence, lived in Long Beach, California, during my early childhood. I saw him only twice. At Christmas time in 1933 and again at Christmas in 1936, we made the trip from Texas to California, taking three day by car. My recollection is mostly from two photos. One was of my Granddad Laurence carrying me at the Rose Parade. The other is a picture of him with my brother Billy in his new Cowboy suit and me in my new Indian garb. Granddad passed away in the summer of 1937, and we did not make the trip to California again until I had finished college. My grandmother Julia Ann Nicholas had passed on before I was born. I do know that my father voice had a gentle tone in it while speaking of his mother, so I always had the feeling she was a very special lady in his eyes. More. . .

The first known Laurence of our line who came to America was probably William Lawrence who we will refer to as William I. He arrived in Lancaster County, Virginia, Oct. 8, 1670, without family. In 1683, still in Lancaster County, he married American born Johanna Lawson Sydnor, widow of Fortunatus Sydnor. Johanna and Fortunatus Sydnor had six children born between 1671 and 1682. Much is recorded in Virginia history of the Sydnor descendants. There are some indications that the Laurences went to the Eastern shore of Maryland and the area of Nansemond county Virginia. More. . .

William Lawrence III, grandson of Johanna and William I, was born in 1734 in Lancaster County. There is record of his inheriting a shotgun from his grandfather. William III fought Indians in North Carolina and was given a land grant by the King of England. He settled in Granville County, N.C. and married Deborah, daughter of Littleton Spivey, in 1756. In 1760 William III died, leaving the widow with four sons, which she reared without remarrying. More. . .

Their son, William Laurence IV, married on Jan. 21, 1783 to Margaret Twitty Jones, whose family came to Granville County, North Carolina from Amelia County, Virginia. Southside Virginia had lots of Scotch Irish; my father always said the family was part Scotch Irish, so this is possibly the source. She had a paternal ancestor by the name of Robert Jones, so this is surely the source of our grandfather's name. More. . .

Henry Bassett Laurence, son of William Laurence IV and Margaret Twitty Jones, was born ca 1787 and on Sept. 2, 1808, married Elizabeth Prewitt in Granville County, where they continued to live until 1824, when they moved to Carroll County, Tennessee. Records indicate Henry B. sold property in N.C. in 1824 and bought property in Tennessee, in 1826. It took two years to move from N.C. to Tennessee by covered wagon at that time. More. . .

R.J. (Robert Jones) Laurence, son of Henry B. and Elizabeth, was born July 3, 1820, in Granville, Co. N.C., so he would have been around six years of age when the family arrived in Tennessee. They settled first in Carroll County, then moved just across the line into Benton County where R.J. spent most of his life. On March 23, 1845, R.J. married Susan Haynes, who had been born in Chatham County, N.C., daughter of Harbert Haynes and Sarah Parris. More. . .

Our grandfather Robert Jones Laurence was born Sept. 14, 1860, in Decatur County, Tennessee, which adjoins Benton County on the south. Robert married Julia Ann Nicholas on October 3, 1888. She was the daughter of William and Mary Ann Taylor Nicholas, both of whom were born in Tennessee. Most of the Nicholas family are buried in Yellow Springs Cemetery, in Decatur county, just a few miles south of the Mt. Carmel Cemetery where so many of the Haynes family are buried. Robert and Julia Ann's first child, Willie Jones (Sam), was born October 27, 1889, in Camden, Tennessee, the seat of Benton county. More. . .

My father, Willie Jones (Sam), moved with his family to Oklahoma at the time the Cherokee Strip was opened. My dad recalled moving there and living in their covered wagon until they got their cabin built. They settled in the Ft. Gibson/Hulbert area, which was hilly and not very good farming land. W.J. (Sam) my father was about 13 when they moved to Oklahoma. When he was about fifteen he moved with neighbors who were going to Dodge City, Kansas, and never lived near his family after that. According to my mother, my dad did not get along with his dad as a teen-ager, so he left home. He never talked much about his dad to me, but always spoke kindly and softly when he mentioned his mother. After his marriage to my mother, they always stayed close to her family. I think they lived in California a short time around 1920.

Prepared by Betty Holdridge December 28, 1998, with additions March 2008