William Hooper Jimerson (ca. 1796-1876) of Maryland, Ohio, Indiana and Kansas: from Cecil County or Calvert County???
For several years, there has been a certain level of “acceptance” of the proposition that William Hooper Jimerson was born in Cecil County, Maryland. I believe, however, that the evidence weighs in favor of the conclusion that he was born in Calvert County, Maryland. This has important implications for research into his ancestry. Below is the evidence on this issue, presented in reverse chronological order.
On June 7, 1871, William Hooper Jimerson appeared in court in Marshall County, Kansas in order to apply for a military pension based on his service in the War of 1812. He stated that he had served in “Captain John Makles ___ company, Col. Tanney regiment”, having enlisted at “Prince Frederick, M.D.” He stated that he thought he had enlisted “in the name of William Hooper”. Various historical records show that there was a company of horse troop, or cavalry, commanded by a Captain John G. Mackall and that one of the soldiers in his unit was a William Hooper. This John G. Mackall was almost certainly John Grahame Mackall, who owned land in Calvert County, Maryland and, according to a living history group (modern-day re-enactors), Captain Mackall’s Company was mostly drawn from Calvert County and Anne Arundel County, just to the North of Calvert, and formed the “Third Cavalry District”. Pay records for the soldiers show that they supplied their own mounts. Furthermore, historical records also show that there was a Colonel Taney who was also from Calvert County. In addition, the town of Prince Frederick, where William Hooper Jimerson stated he enlisted, is located in Calvert County. Finally, historical records also show that Cecil County and its neighboring Kent County, Maryland had their own cavalry units in the Eighth Cavalry District. Therefore, the evidence is strong that William Hooper Jimerson enlisted in Calvert County and served with officers and soldiers who were from Calvert County. It would be reasonable to infer that William Hooper Jimerson was living in Calvert County at the time of the War of 1812. While this alone does not prove that he was born in Calvert County, it makes it at least as likely (if not more likely) that he was born there rather than in Cecil County. The obvious question is as follows: Why would a man from Cecil County travel either across or around the Northern end of the Chesapeake Bay and travel so far to the South to Calvert County to enlist when there were cavalry units right there in the Cecil area? (I personally believe that map work is essential to good genealogical research.)
In 1820, the federal government conducted the third nationwide census of the population. In Calvert County’s 2nd District, there was residing a "Wm. Jimmerson" whose family statistics were 1-1-0-2-0-0 for males and 0-0-2-0-0 for females. As head of the household, this William Jimmerson was almost certainly one of the two oldest males, both recorded as age 18 to 26 (and so, by mathematical computation, born between 1794 and 1802). In his 1871 pension application, William Hooper Jimerson stated that he was age 75 (and so, by computation, born about 1796). William Hooper Jimerson would have been about 24 in 1820, and thus he could be the William Jimmerson of the Calvert County census. In Cecil County, on the other hand, there was no head of a household named William Jameson, Jamison, Jamieson, Jamerson, Jemerson, Jimerson, etc.
Combining the evidence of William Hooper Jimerson enlisting in Calvert County for the War of 1812, and of a William Jimmerson residing in Calvert County at the time of the 1820 census, a reasonable inference would be that it was the same man. The obvious question is as follows: IF William Hooper Jimerson was born in Cecil County, and if his family resided there in 1812, why did he not return home following his military service? If, however, William Hooper Jimerson was born in Calvert County, then he did indeed return home after his military service.
William Hooper Jimerson’s middle name, “Hooper”, is a distinctive and/or unusual middle name. The name “Hooper” is also undisputedly a surname. We are all familiar with the tradition in some families to give a mother’s maiden name to one of her sons either as a first or middle name, and one could infer that William Hooper Jimerson’s middle name might have been his mother’s maiden name (although it is also possible, in the alternative, that “Hooper” was the maiden name of one of his grandmothers). Indeed, there was apparently some oral tradition among the 19th century descendants of William Hooper Jimerson that his mother was a Jane Hooper.
Some enterprising, 20th-century, amateur genealogists (whose identities are not known to me) apparently went looking for the Maryland ancestors of William Hooper Jimerson. I believe (although I do not know for certain) that they pursued a good method by looking in probate records to see if they could find any Wills that might contain evidence. They apparently found the 1817 Will of a William Jamison in Cecil County that mentioned a son William and a wife Jane. The evidence from this Will was consistent with the few known facts about William Hooper Jimerson. Naturally, the researchers concluded that they had found William Hooper Jimerson’s family. Some enterprising descendant submitted this information to the Latter Day Saints (“LDS”) database (www.familysearch.org), it was spread around and shared, and many people considered the question of William Hooper Jimerson’s ancestry to have been “solved”. I was one of the people (also an amateur genealogist) who, for at least a decade now, has “accepted” this proposition, based on the evidence from the Will of William Jamison of Cecil County. I now believe I was wrong to accept that evidence as conclusive.
For the past decade, I have been looking, off and on, for Jane Hooper, the mother of William Hooper Jimerson. In looking at Cecil County, there were only slim pickings. There are records of an Isaac Hooper, born about 1754, who married a Jane Craig, appeared in the 1790 census for Bohemia Manor in Cecil County, but then moved to Western Pennsylvania and eventually, Belmont County, Ohio (just across from modern-day Wheeling, West Virginia). Researchers of his line do not claim that he had any sister named Jane Hooper, and his parentage is still uncertain. In addition, there was an Ann Hooper, apparently a widow, who appeared on a 1761 tax list for Bohemia Manor, Cecil County. For many years I pursued a theory that Jane (Hooper) Jimerson might have been the daughter of this Ann (and of Ann’s late husband, whoever he was) and might have married the William Jamison who then wrote his Will in 1817. I was frustrated for a long time by these attempts and so I broadened my search by looking for any evidence of a Jane Hooper anywhere in Maryland born at a time that she could have been the mother of William Hooper Jimerson. I found a Jane Hooper, born January 29, 1771 in Calvert County. This information was extracted from the historical records of Christ Church Parish in Calvert County, and is reported in the LDS’s International Genealogical Index (“IGI”).
I combined the fact that Jane Hooper was born in Calvert County in 1771 with the fact that William Hooper Jimerson enlisted in Calvert County in 1812 and decided to investigate this “lead” in greater depth. This Jane Hooper was the daughter of Isaac and Elizabeth (Hollyday) Hooper, who were married in Christ Church Parish on November 10, 1770, and had nine more children after Jane, including Priscilla (1774), John (1777), James (1780), and William (1787). See the LDS IGI.
I then turned to certain land records. The Calvert County Historical Society was kind enough to photocopy and mail to me certain pages out of a typed manuscript entitled “Calvert County, Maryland Land Abstracts at Hall of Records, Book I”. At page 11 of the typed manuscript was the following:
“F.88—26 Dec. 1794—John Somervell to Jona. Jemmerson (or Immerson) – for £95-16-3—land on the west side of the main branch of St. Leonards Creek -- ‘Rocky Neck’ – 35.5 a.”
At page 25 of the typed manuscript was the following:
“F.224—31 Dec. 1795—James Jemmerson – to Isaac Hooper—for £95-16-3—part of land on the west side of the main branch of St. Leonards Creek called ‘Rockey Neck’ – 36.5 a.”
I am reasonably certain that the Isaac Hooper who purchased “Rockey Neck” in 1795 was the same Isaac Hooper who was the father of Jane Hooper, born in 1771. I am also reasonably certain that the sale of “Rockey Neck” in 1795 by James Jemmerson was by the same Jemmerson who had purchased the land just a year before from John Somervell (but who was mistakenly transcribed as “Jona.”). The name and location of the tract were identical (despite the spelling variation of “Rocky” and “Rockey” and the one-acre variation in the amount) and even the price was identical. Thus, there was a transaction between a Hooper and a Jemmerson in Calvert County in 1795, very close to the time that William Hooper Jimerson was likely born in Calvert County.
I then turned to naming “clues”. William Hooper Jimerson was married twice. By his first wife, he had at least two children, and I believe, based on census data, that he had four, a son and three daughters. The first-born (and only) son was named John James Jimerson. Jane Hooper of Calvert had brothers named John and James, and the 1795 purchase by her father, Isaac, was from a James Jemmerson. William Hooper Jimerson and his first wife also had a daughter Priscilla, born about October 1830, and who married in Delaware County, Indiana on September 11, 1848 a Clinton Lefevre. This Priscilla (Jimerson) Lefevre died between 1850 and 1854. Jane Hooper of Calvert County had a sister named Priscilla (who would have been the aunt of William Hooper Jimerson). William Hooper Jimerson and his first wife also had a daughter Rebecca, born August 25, 1827, who married Stephen Evans and named her first daughter Barbara.
William Hooper Jimerson had four daughters by his second wife, the widow Elizabeth (Wood) Reeves (who had two sons from her first marriage). William and Elizabeth were married December 14, 1831 in Ross County, Ohio. It might be relevant that Elizabeth Wood was the daughter of William and Dorcas (Bowen) Wood, who had come to Ross County from Calvert County, Maryland. Even after migrations West, settlers tended to have social dealings with people who had originated from the same place (e.g., Calvert County).
There has been some dispute about the name of William Hooper Jimerson’s first wife. I believe that descendants of Rebecca (Jimerson) Evans have proposed that Rebecca’s mother was named Barbara (perhaps based on the name Rebecca gave to her first daughter, Barbara Evans). I have also seen proposals that her name was Barbara Dudley. I myself, in researching the William Jamison of Cecil County, found an 1819 marriage record for that man and a woman of German ancestry by the name of Hannah Mingling, daughter of Frederick Mingling. I proposed the idea that she was the first wife of William Hooper Jimerson (based on my apparently faulty acceptance of the proposal that William Hooper Jimerson was born in Cecil County). Obviously, under my new conclusion that William Hooper Jimerson was born in Calvert County, he probably did NOT marry Hannah Mingling, and so his first wife remains an open question. I believe the name Barbara deserves more investigation, although I have had no success in looking for a Barbara Dudley (in my limited research of this avenue). The name Barbara was certainly extant among several Calvert County families.
I believe that most of us recognize that the name “Jimerson” was a dialect variation of the name Jameson, the fairly common surname of patronymic origin (i.e., James’s son, or Jameson, with some extra “s” removed). Nonetheless, I believe it might be important that the family of Cecil County was “Jamison” in most records, while the Calvert land transaction of 1795 (above) was between Isaac Hooper and James “Jemmerson”. “Jemmerson” and “Jimerson” are closer (in pronunciation and spelling), and indicate the same dialect variation (possibly from an epenthetic “r”??).
Personally, when I weigh all of the evidence above, I believe the scales tip in favor of a conclusion that William Hooper Jimerson was born in Calvert County, that his mother, Jane Hooper, had also been born in Calvert County, and that his father might have been the James Jemmerson who had some dealings with Isaac Hooper (in 1795). Therefore, pending further evidence, I am rejecting the proposal that William Hooper Jimerson was from Cecil County and will focus further research on Calvert County.
Does anyone have any additional evidence? Does anyone see any other possibilities? Please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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