Friday, November 11, 2016

Fridays Faces from the Past

Letty Jane Lee

The fourth child born to Drucilla Lee was a daughter Letty Jane. She probably was named for her grandmother Lydia “Letty” Lee mother of Benjamin Letty’s father.  Letty Jane was born 17 May 1844 in Tallapoosa County, Alabama. Letty Jane married at a very young age. Her brother Henry Lee wrote an affidavit to the Probate Judge of the County asking permission for her to marry. She was a young fifteen years of age and asking permission to marry! Her father was deceased by the time she was seeking permission to marry.

Letty J. is on the 1850 Township 24, Tallapoosa County, Census living with her parents Benjamin and Drucilla Lee, and siblings, Elizabeth, Jourdin T. Benjamin W. H., and Charlotte C. Letty was seven years old on that census. Her parents had migrated to Tallapoosa County, from Richland District, South Carolina between 1830 and 1840. Her mother Drucilla states she is born in Georgia.

By 1860 life as Drucilla knew it had changed and her beloved Benjamin had died. One can only imagine how difficult life was for Drucilla trying to move on and care for the children with few resources. By 1860 Elizabeth the oldest child is not listed on a census and hasn’t been found so presumably she died before 1860. The older three children, Jourdin Thomas, Benjamin W. Henry, and Letty Jane have moved on and living elsewhere, leaving their mother and Sophronia age twelve, William Alfred age ten, Washington age seven, and Francis age two in the household of Drucilla age forty after the death of Benjamin. Drucilla’s personal estate was worth one hundred and fifty dollars and her occupation was farming. Living nearby Drucilla and the children are her son Henry and his wife Sarah Ann, and Letty Jane, her husband George W. Patterson and his family.

George Washington Patterson was the future groom of Letty Jane Lee. Once all the necessary paperwork was taken care of and permission was granted by the Probate Judge and Drucilla approved the marriage the couple was married on 9 October 1859 in Tallapoosa County, Alabama. 

Jane Patterson is living with her husband’s family on the 1860 Western Division, Tallapoosa County census. Also, living there is Jane’s oldest brother Thomas. The census states that Jane and George were married with in the year of the census. Living nearby the Patterson family is Drucilla and her children, Sophronia, William A., Washington, and Francis, and living nearby Drucilla is her son Henry and his wife Sarah Ann. Possibly the Patterson and the Lee families all migrated together from South Carolina. The Drucilla Lee and Jane L. Patterson hasn’t been located on any records for 1870, leading me to believe they were missed in the census taking.

By the 1880 Jane L. is on the Wicker and Pinckneyville, Clay County census with her husband George W. Patterson and Thomas B. age nineteen, George W. age seventeen, Emer age thirteen, Elizabeth age nine, Ophelia age six and James age two. Jane is shown to be twenty-eight and born in 1852, which is incorrect. Jane was not able to read and write and most likely didn’t know her birth date information. With the names of Jane’s children there is a naming pattern emerging; the familiar names of her ancestors. The 1890 Federal Census would have been very helpful in putting together the family of Letty Jane Lee.

By 1900, George W. is sixty-six and his wife Mary J. is fifty-six, and the couple were married forty years, and the marriage year was 1860. Jane was the mother of nine children and seven living children. A name change for Letty Jane on the 1900 census? Mary is possibly a nick name given her. The census taker got it wrong? The person who gave the information got it wrong? For whatever reason for Mary J. being listed as her name on this census, up to this time Drucilla Lee’s daughter is Letty J, Letty Jane, or Jane, so where did the Mary come from? The answer will never be known as to how she got the name Mary J. on the 1900 census. However, the information all fits for George and 
Jane Patterson. And on the 1910 Wicker, Clay County census Jane Patterson is living with her daughter Emma Childers, Allen her husband, and their children. Letty Jane would have been sixty-six years old by 1910.  George Washington Patterson is deceased by 1910. George died 4 July 1902 in Clay County, Alabama and is interred in the Bethel Cemetery in Bluff Springs.

The Lee family were poor farmers, and had very few resources. Letty J. and her family were living in Clay County in 1880. Clay County was established December 6, 1866. Randolph and Talladega Counties was divided and the land became Clay County. Early settlers to Clay County were poor farmers. Clay County was some of the land that the Creek Indians occupied. The Creeks were removed West in 1832. The land was hilly and the soil wasn’t as fertile as other areas. The poor farmers were forced to pay new property taxes that forced farmers into indebtedness and tenancy and by the 1880s, Clay County had one of the highest rates of indebted farmers. Thus, as noted on the censuses the column showed mortgage on their farm and in some cases renting their farm. Life for them was difficult, and the impact from the War Between the States made life even more difficult.
George W. Patterson’s mother was from Ireland, and the ethnicity of the early Clay County settlers were Scot, Irish or Scot-Irish. Most likely groups or communities migrated from Tallapoosa to Clay County before 1880. Possibly they were on the move is reason they aren’t found on the 1870 census. The residents of Clay County owned very few slaves, they lived in rugged cabins, and very few of them owned land. Those poor farmers lived off the land. These families had to be resourceful, they depended on each other, they probably had a deep faith, and they had a strong endurance. These are the traits that got them through those difficult times.

The paper trail for the Lee and Patterson families is scarce leaving only the censuses, marriage records, and for the men who served in the War, Military Records for them; and in some cases, pension records for their widows where they applied for pensions.  Very little is known of Letty Jane Lee other that the information provided on censuses and marriage records for her and her husband.  I lost track of her after the 1860, and then located a Jane L. Patterson on the Clay County, Alabama census in 1880 living with George W. Patterson. Research will continue for this family because records are being placed online often.  

Letty Jane Lee Patterson died after the 1910 census. She isn’t found again on the censuses.


Source Information 1850, 1860, 1880, 1900, 1910 United States Federal Censuses [database on-line]. Provo, Ut, USA: Operations, Inc. Imags reproduced by FamilySearch.

Year: 1850; Census Place: Township 24, Tallapoosa, Alabama; Roll: M432_15; Page: 129B; Image: 722.

Affidavit for Permission from court to Marry by Henry Lee, Image Number 00064, GS film Number 002217717,

“Alabama County Marriages, 1809-1950”, database with images, FamilySearch ( 2015), george M Patterson and Jane Lee, 1859. Book of Marriage page 522, October 8, 1859. Alabama, Select Marriages, 1816-1942 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc, 2014.

Year: 1860; Census Place: Western Division, Tallapoosa, Alabama; Roll: M653_25; Page: 395; Image: 397; Family History Library Film: 803025.

Year: 1880; Census Place: Wicker and Pinckneyville, Clay, Alabama; Roll: 7; Family History Film: 1254007; Image: 0825.

Year: 1900; Census Place: Wicker, Clay, Alabama; Roll: 9; Page: 7B; Enumeration District: 0113; FHL microfilm: 1240009.

Year: 1910; Census Place: Wicker, Clay, Alabama; Roll: T624_7; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 0047; FHL microfilm: 1374020

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