Episode 15: Cornelius Dysart: Fifth or Not?

Back in Dysartsville Episode 6 James Dysart of Dysartsville, I quoted a source Burke County Heritage, Vol 1, page 163. This article was written by Nell James Elmore quoting information reported by three historians in addition to the records of the DAR, census records and court records.

I wrote that the origin of the local Dysarts species, James and Margaret Dysart, had five children. I was including Dr. Cornelius who married local Charity Jack. Recently, I received a lengthy rebuttal to that information. Since my reader Ann Regen Myhre has spent innumerable hours chasing down ancestry records for her family, and since I know firsthand how difficult a task this is, I am not going to choose which account is correct. Above my paygrade. However, I will pass this bit of history on to you readers as written in its entirety for the sake of full disclosure. She has done her homework, folks, and Ann Myhre wrote to me the following lengthy message:

Cornelius Dysart (ca. 1735-1800)

“Most ancestry trees on which Cornelius is listed say he was born about 1753 in Chester County, Pennsylvania. James and Margaret were living there at that time. However, there were at least two James Dysarts living in Chester County then. I believe that Cornelius was the son of the older James, listed as an ensign in the militia, at the same time that our James was a private. I also suspect that he was born about 1735 or so; that would be a better fit with his future wife, Charity Jack, born about 1739 according to most sources. Another private in that company was Patrick Jack (see below).

“Cornelius Dysart on the following Wiki Tree, https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Dysart-215, managed by Ann Dysart, is well-documented for the most part. According to her, the “other” James was born in 1714 and was in Chester Co, PA, by 1734, when he purchased land in Fagg’s Manor and Penn’s Manor. Her records show that he and his wife Catherine had three sons: William, who went into Western PA; Cornelius, who went to South Carolina (he was in SC before he moved to GA); and Archibald who went to Maryland. Ann, who descends from Archibald, believes that this James died in Maryland.

“We posit that Cornelius was the son of this James and the brother of Isabella and Archibald. Ann and I corresponded about his origins. This James appears to have been in Chester County before our James immigrated. In the earlier list of taxpayers, he lived next door to a man whose surname was Steven Cornelius. According to Ann, that branch of Dysarts has had several members named Cornelius.

“Cornelius became friendly with the family of Patrick and Lillas McAdoo Jack either in PA or Mecklenburg area NC. The Jacks had emigrated from Ireland, first to Pennsylvania, and later to Rowan County and finally to Charlotte in Mecklenburg County. They had several sons and five daughters. Patrick and his sons were very involved in pursuing liberty for the colonies. Son James carried the Mecklenburg Declaration to the group meeting in Philadelphia who produced the Declaration of Independence. It was said that, when the British soldiers came through Charlotte, they dragged Patrick out of his bed and burned his house to the ground. He died of exposure.

“Charity, the eldest Jack daughter born about 1739, married Cornelius Dysart in 1778. In C. L. Hunter’s book, Sketches of Western North Carolina: Historical and Biographical, published by the Raleigh News Steam Job Print in 1877, (Hunter) quotes a newspaper report from the South Carolina and American General Gazette, of February 9th, 1776, the following paragraph, illustrative of female patriotism under a manly and singular incentive:”

‘The young ladies of the best families of Mecklenburg county, North Carolina,have entered into a voluntary association that they will not receive the addresses of any young gentlemen of that place, except the brave volunteers who served in the expedition to South Carolina, and assisted in subduing the Scovillite insurgents. The ladies being of opinion that such persons as stay loitering at home, when the important calls of their country demand their military services abroad, must certainly be destitute of that nobleness of sentiment, that brave, manly spirit, which would qualify them to be the defenders and guardians of the fair sex. The ladies of the adjoining county of Rowan have desired the plan of a similar association to be drawn up and prepared for signature.’

“When the Committee of Safety was held in Salisbury, Mary 8th, 1776, the following was entered into their minutes:

‘A letter from a number of young ladies in the county, directed to the chairman, requesting the approbation of the committee to a number of resolutions enclosed, entered into, and signed by the same young ladies being read. Resolved, That this committee present their cordial thanks to the said young ladies for so spirited a performance; look upon these resolutions to be sensible and polite; that they merit the honor, and are worthy of the imitation of every young lady in America.’

“Three of the women listed as signers were: Miss Mary Brevard, sister of the above, who married General William Davidson, killed at Cowan’s Ford, on 1 February 1781. [James and William Dysart were killed with General Davidson.]; Miss Charity Jack, sister of Captain James Jack, the bearer of the Mecklenburg Declaration to Philadelphia, who married Dr. Cornelius Dysart, a distinguished surgeon of the Revolutionary army; Miss Lillis Wilson, daughter of Samuel Wilson, Sen., by the third wife (Margaret Jack), who married James Connor, a native of Ireland, who came to America when 21 years old, volunteered in the army and fought all through the Revolutionary war. [Charity’s niece]

“Kathleen Marler in Residents of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina 1762-1790 lists Cornelius and Charity (Dysart) with their sons Jack and Robert. I have found no further information about the sons. According to Hunter listed above, Dr. Dysart is said to have built the first house on the “Irwin Corner” assisted by his brother-in-law, Captain Jack, who owned the lot until his removal to Georgia, shortly after the war.”

Ann writes, “But first, what about military records? According to a list of Revolutionary War patriots in South Carolina, Roster of South Carolina Patriots in the American Revolution, Volume I, A-J, by Bobby Gilmer Moss, Cornelius enlisted in October 1775 in a volunteer company of militia under Capt. William Fullwood; he was later a brigade sergeant under General Thomas Sumpter. Apparently, two of the Jacks and Cornelius went to South Carolina to fight in the Revolution.

“However, he seems to have been friendly toward British sympathizers, according to Charles Jones in Memorial History of Augusta Georgia: ‘Cornelius had assisted physicians who had been British sympathizers…at one time he was one of the commissioners to administer the sequestered estates of the loyalists.’

“Extracted from Marriage Notices in The South Carolina and American General Gazette, From May 1766 to February 28, 1781: ‘MARRIAGE. Dr. Cornelius Dysart to Miss Charity Jack, daughter of Mr. Patrick Jack of N. Carolina. (Thursday, February 28, 1781)

From Mecklenburg County, North Carolina Minutes of the Court of Common Pleas and Quarter Sessions, by Herman W. Ferguson: ‘October 1783 session of Mecklenburg County, NC Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions: Ochiltree Martin & Co. vs Cornelius Dysart–Trespass. An impanelled Petit Jury found the defendant “Guilty” and assessed the plaintiff Damage to L5.0.0 and six p(ence) Cost. [Note: Ochiltree Martin & Co was a general merchandise company.] July Session 1790. Jury impanelled and sworn, 28 July. Case No. 10. David McRee vs Cornl. Dysart & Colo. Sml. Jack. Find that the “Assumsion intitled” the Plaintiff to recover his Demands upon the Not, & that the Statute of Limitations does not debase, and assess his Damages to L6.9.16 and Costs of Suit.’

Ann’s Question: “When did they move to Augusta, GA? Probably in 1783. From an article in The Georgia Genealogical Magazine, Vol. 11, 1971, ‘Some Pioneer Doctors of Georgia,” by Grace William Davidson: ‘Cornelius Dysart was another prominent doctor of Richmond county…two of Patrick Jack and Lillie McAdoo’ sons, Col. Samuel Jack and Capt. James Jack, the renowned bearer of the Meklinburg (sic) Declaration of Independence, came to Georgia and Dr. Dysart probably followed them.’

‘In 1783 the Trustees of Richmond Academy sold various tracts to Cornelius Dysart of Augusta, “practitioner of physic.” He bought Lot 44 in Augusta in 1784, and in 1786 half of Lot No. 20 on Reynolds Street. McCarton Campbell and wife Sarah in 1782 sold one acre on Broad Street to Cornelius Dysart and Dennis Smelt, commonly called Dysart and Smelt, practitioners of physic.’

‘The board binding of Deed Book “C” Elbert County is lined with an issue of December 1786 of the Augusta Chronicle. In this there is a long list of drugs. Dr. Dysart informs his friends he lately purchased in Philadelphia and he “intends to sell them lower than they have ever been sold” in this part of the state.’

“After listing the drugs, he states that he ‘intends to continue the practice of physic and surgery with particular attention.’

“In 1796, Cornelius Dysart, Samuel Jack, and several other men were declared a body corporate ‘by the name and style of ‘The trustees of the August Meeting House,’ and the Trustees of Augusta were instructed to convey to them and their successors one of the public losts within the town, containing at least one acre of ground and conveniently situated, for the purpose of erecting thereon a ‘House of Public to the Divine Being by whose blessing the Independence of the United States had been established.’ (Memorial History of Augusta, Georgia: from its settlement in 1735 to the close of the eighteenth century, Charles C. Jones, Jr., L.L.D.)

“Other land dealings included the following: Land grant #34 for 150 acres of land 15 Sep 1784 in Richmond Co, SC.

“From Historical Collections of the Georgia Chapters, Daughters of the American Revolution, Volume II, Records of Richmond County, Georgia, Formerly Saint Paul’s Parish, abstracted and compiled by Grace Gillam Davidson:

‘William Wallace and wife Margory – Folio 41 – Jan. 2, 1789. To Cornelius Dysart, 287 1/2 acres in Washington Co. granted said Wallace 1784, adj. John Crawford and Robt. Hudson. Test: S. Cosby, J.P., Patrick Jack.’

‘Dysart, Cornelius and wife Charity – Page 83 – Apr. 10, 1789 of Augusta, To George Graves of Richmond Co, 50 acres. W. Freeman, J.P. Nov 1, 1792, Charity relinquishes all right of dower in above land. Wm. Longstreet, J.P.’

“From The Augusta Chronicle:  1792 – The following were elected Augusta aldermen: John Milton, Amasa Jackson, Rueben Coleman, Cornelius Dysart, William Longstreet, George Barnes and Seaborn Jones. Another source stated that Cornelius became Mayor of Augusta in 1794. In an August, GA newspaper, the August Herald dated Wednesday, 26 March 1800, Ann Dysart found the following death notice for Cornelius indicating that he died 23 March 1800 in Augusta: ‘Died, on Sunday evening last, Doctor Cornelius Dysart, an old resident of this city, after a long and painful illness.’

“As mentioned previously, Dr. Dysart left a widow and two children, James and Robert Dysart, who settled in Georgia. I have found no record of the boys, and they are not mentioned in Charity’s will.

“From the DAR source: ‘Dysart, Dr. Cornelius, dec’d. June 25, 1800 – Charity Dysart and Samuel Jack app. Admrs. Wm. Longstreet, Samuel Barnett, Sec.’

“In 1804 Charity and Samuel were given permission to sell the real estate. Later Charity moved to Greene County where she died. I was unable to determine when, but I located her will in Green County, Georgia Wills, 1786-1877, abstracted by Freda Reid.

“The will is undated. Charity’s sons were apparently dead, as they were not mentioned. She left to Margaret Jack, her brother Samuel’s widow, the proceeds of the sale of two slaves, Jebber and her daughter Phillis; to her niece Eliza D. Hodge, her furniture; to Mary Elenor Hodge, a slave named Diane; to niece Charity Grimes, household items; to niece Cynthia Cosby, household items, “should she return home and should she never return, to her brother William H. Jack.”

“Several other legatees were mentioned to receive more slaves and the proceeds of the sales of over two thousand acres of land.”

“There were two reasons to research Cornelius Dysart:

To determine whether Cornelius was a member of James and Margaret Dysart’s         immediate family, and To compile the copious information available about him.”

“To summarize, historical evidence points to Cornelius being the son of the James Dysart who stayed, at least until after the Revolution, in Chester County PA. Thus far, DNA evidence points to this branch not being closely related to the James who died at the Battle of Cowan’s Ford or the James who fought from Washington County VA. Descendants from both groups match the DNA of my family members who have tested.”

Signed Ann Regen Myhre, 23 October 2017

Received with gratitude for this Post on 2 March 2018



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