As I begin the last part of “Mining for Gold”, I want to remind the reader, once again, that for clarity I have named ALL the different Joseph Erwins that I know of as follows:


  1. Joseph, son of James N. Erwin and Agness (Patterson):  “Joseph, Sr.

  2. Joseph, son of Joseph Erwin, Sr. and who married Catherine Cowan:  “Joseph, Jr.

  3. Joseph, son of Joseph Erwin, Jr. and Catherine Cowan, who married Rebecca Nancy Davis: “Joseph, III”.

  4. Joseph, who married Elizabeth Rogers, and whom I believe to be my third great-grandfather: “Joseph”.

  5. Joseph, who married Charlotte ? and who may have been the son of John and Lydia Ford: Joseph of Yazoo Co., MS

Also a small descendant chart might be helpful to the reader to understand the relationships of all the Josephs.

 1 James N. Erwin, Sr. + Agness Patterson

.......2 Joseph Erwin, Sr. + Agness Reed or Lowther

.............3 Joseph Erwin, Jr. + Catherine Cowan

...................4 Joseph Erwin III + Nancy Rebecca Davis

.......2 James N. Erwin, Jr. + Jennet Andrews

................3 John Erwin + Lydia Ford

......................4 Joseph Erwin

................3 James N. Erwin, III + Sarah Jane Bickham

................3 Joseph S. Erwin + Elizabeth Rogers

......................4 Alexander Rogers Erwin + Louisa Eleanor Boyd

................3 Isaac Erwin

................3 Margaret Erwin + Zadock Barrow

................3 William H. Erwin + Mary Lacry Brasfield


I have broken Part III into five sections.


  • First, a summation of what I know about Joseph, Jr., who married Catherine Cowan, and why I believe I am not descended from this Joseph.

  • Second, the documentation and some explanation of how I came to believe the Joseph Erwin of Louisiana and Mississippi was my third great-grandfather.

  • Third, Joseph and Elizabeth Rogers Erwin's children.

  • Fourth, documentation about another Joseph Erwin who is, in all likelihood, connected to the James N. Erwin, Sr. and Jennet Andrews’ family.

  • My conclusions.

As with all genealogical articles, I think it is important to remind everyone that as we find information, our conclusions may change about who we are related to and why.  I am still working on proving Joseph Erwin’s connection to the James and Jennet Andrews Erwin of Sandy Creek, Natchez District, MS.  Please do not take this information as absolute proof.  I think it is always important and prudent to do one’s own research.  If anyone finds errors, or has corrections to this information, please let me know.


Joseph Erwin, Jr. and Catherine Cowan


In Part I, I wrote about how I had come to the conclusion that I was descended from Joseph, Jr. and Catherine Cowan.  I mentioned the tangible genealogical line submitted by Willie Erwin Daniel to The Compendium of American Genealogy.  Willie was the daughter of Joseph Boyd Erwin, the eldest son of my second great grandfather, Alexander Rogers Erwin.  I assumed her material came from her father’s memory of family history.


In Part II, I was able to prove that Joseph, Jr. lived in Rowan County, NC, and then migrated to Tennessee about 1811-1812.  Part of the proof came from Hezekiah Franklin Erwin’s 1841 letter to his Uncle Abel Cowan with regard to when his family moved to Tennessee.  Joseph, Jr., lived most of his life in Tennessee at least until the death of his wife in 1839.  It is clear from the letters and other documents, including census records that he stayed in Tennessee until after Catherine’s death.  From the letters and the census records, I know Joseph, Jr., was never a minister, or had land dealings, or ministered to native Americans in Louisiana or Mississippi.


In my search for my third great grandfather, Joseph, the documentation I found on Joseph, Jr. and Catherine Cowan actually ended up proving that I was not directly descended from them (though we are cousins).  Through the census records I realized Joseph, Jr., had never been in Mississippi or Louisiana between 1800-1830. In my own search, I found the following census records:


1790 Rowan Co, NC Census

Joseph Erwin

2 Males 16 and upward, including heads of families

2 Females including heads of families

3 Slaves

(This is probably Joseph Erwin, Sr. and his wife, Agnes.)

 Please note: the addition of names to the census records is mine.

1800 Rowan Co, NC


Reel:  M32-33 Page: 320 

Family on page: 13

Erwin, Joseph

4 M under 10 (Thomas B. b 1792; Joseph, III b 1794; James P. b 1796; Eli Y. b 1799)

1 M 26-44 (Joseph, Jr.)

1 F under 10 (Agnes W. “Nancy” b 1798)

1 F 26-44 (Catherine Cowan)

Listed on the same page are: Thomas, William, David, Alexander and John Cowan as well as next door to him, William Erwin, probably his brother.

There is also a Joseph Erwin in Henry Co, KY in 1800, but I do not believe he is Joseph Erwin, Jr.

1810 Rowan Co, NC Census

Carolina Township

Reel:  M252-43 Page: 311

Family on page:

Irvin, Joseph

2 M < 10 (Squire b 1803; William B. b 1808)

3 M 10-15 (Eli b 1799; John J. b 1801)

3 M 15-25 (Thomas b 1792; Joseph, III b 1794; James P. b 1796)

1 M 26-44 (Joseph, Jr.)

1 M 45 and over (Unknown)

2 F < 10 (Catherine b 1805; Mary b 1807)

1 F 10-15 (Agnes W "Nancy" b 1798)

1 F 26-44 (Catherine Cowan)

Again, Joseph is living near William and Alexander Cowan as well as Henry and William Irvin and next door to another William Irvin.

Again, there is a Joseph Erwin living in Henry Co, KY in 1810, but I do not believe he is Joseph Erwin, Jr.

1820 Giles Co, TN Census


Reel: M33-124 Page: 36

No. Family on page: 11 Page: 36

Joseph Erwin Senr

3 M < 10 (Hezekiah Franklin b 1811; Abel Alexander b 1815; Michael Lincoln b 1819)

1 M 10 < 16 (William Barkley b 1809)

1 M 16-18 (Unknown)

2 M 16 < 26 (Squire Cowan b 1803; John Johnson b 1801)

1 M > 45 (Joseph. Jr. b 1769)

1 F < 10 (Margaret b 1813)

2 F 10 < 16 (Mary B. b 1807; Catherine L. b 1805)

1 F > 45 (Catherine b 1774)

3 Persons engaged in agriculture

1 F Slave > 45 yrs

As we know from the Cowan brothers’ letters, James Cowan gave his sister, Catherine, a slave to try to appease her about her share of her father’s estate (Captain Thomas Cowan).

1830 Henry Co, TN

Reel: M19-177 Page: 19

Joseph Erwin

1 m 10-15 (Michael Lincoln b 1819)

1 m 15-20 (Abel Alexander b 1815)

1 m 20-30 (William B. b 1809*)

1 m 60-70 (Joseph b 1769)

1 f 15-20 (Margaret Clementine b 1813)

1 f 40-50  (Catherine Cowan b 1774)

*The 1 male 20-30 yrs old would not be Hezekiah Franklin b 1811 because he reports in a letter to his uncle Abel Cowan in 1841 that he left home at age 14 (1825) to live with his brother (see Mining for Gold, Part II for Hezekiah’s letter).

1840 Census: I have been unable to find Joseph, Jr., who would have been 71 yrs old in the 1840 census.  He is supposed to have moved to Mayhew, Lowndes County, MS, and lived with his son, James, until his death.  There is certainly a James Erwin in the 1840 Lowndes County, MS census but not with a male his father’s age.  I have looked at all the census records and I could not find a man the age of Joseph, Jr., living either alone or with one of his sons or daughters.

Another bit of proof that Joseph, Jr. was in Tennessee in the early 1800s and not in Louisiana or Mississippi is a document I found on-line.  It shows that Joseph Erwin, Jr. and his son-in-law, Michael Biles were doing business in Giles Co, TN in 1817.

TNGENWEB:  Giles Co, TN Webpage

Submitted by Janell McCann


Agreement between John C. WALKER & James J. WALKER for how 210 A of land where we now live on, the Co. surveyor to run a line due N & S across the land so as to let John C. WALKER have 110 A on the E side of the line, whereas there is a water mill & a distillery on the said land. But it is to be understood that we have an equal share in each & it is to be further understood that the still house spring if in running the line it should fall on the E side of the line there is to be an offset made so as to throw it on the W of line & the using spring on the crk., if it should fall on the W side of the line, there is to be an offset made so as to throw it on the E side, but if the still house spring should give out of water or the water get bad then John C. WALKER is to have the benefit of the spring where they now use water out of & it is to be further +understood that after the death of our mother the line shall be run & the said John C. WALKER is to relinquish his title to the land on the E side of the above named line & James J. WALKER is to relinquish his title to the land on the W side of the said line under penalty of $2,000. Given under our hands & seals 9-20-1817. Wit. Joseph ERWIN & Michael BILES. Gi. Co. D.B. F, p 409

Also, Ritalynn Erwin Jackson sent me some correspondence from Lillian Toombs which confirms what I had found in the letters and documents sent to me by Ruth Cook.  Ritalynn is descended from William Barkley Erwin and Eveline Simmons, son of Joseph, Jr. and Catherine Cowan.  William Barkley Erwin died 8/27/1837 probably in Henry Co, TN.

“In correspondence from Lillian Toombs of Nashville Tenn. on May 16, 1985..., a descendant from Hezekiah Franklin, she writes: ‘We know Joseph and Catherine were living in Giles Co Tenn on 17 May 1819 because he appointed Alexander McCorkle of Lincoln Co, Tenn as his Attorney to demand from Abel and Hezekiah Cowan (the executors for deceased Thomas Cowan) what should come to his wife, Catherine, the daughter of deceased….;”  This has been proven by several of the documents found in Part II of “Mining for Gold”.

With regard to the death of Joseph, Jr., several sources report his death as 1846 in Mayhew, Lowndes Co., MS.  Unfortunately, no one has ever been able to find proof for the date and place of death.  But having been repeated so often in so many books, it has been accepted as fact.  Trying to prove this, as well as my own Joseph Erwin’s death, Ritalynn Erwin Jackson went to the Mississippi Archives in Jackson, MS this past summer (Ritalynn is a descendant of Joseph, Jr. and Catherine Cowan’s son, William Barkley Erwin and his wife, Eveline Simmons).   She looked for a will or some kind of mention of a death for any Joseph Erwin in Mississippi.  Unfortunately, she was unable to find documentation for any Joseph Erwin.


Especially important was the fact that Joseph, Jr.’s son, Joseph, III, who was born on 2/2/1794, had married Nancy Rebecca Davis on 1/18/1822 in Giles Co., TN.  Not only would Joseph, III, have been too young to purchase land in Louisiana and Mississippi in the 1790s, I could prove beyond any reasonable doubt through census records alone, that Joseph, III, was not the Joseph who married Elizabeth Rogers.


To me, these documents proved that Joseph, Jr. and Catherine Cowan were not my third great grandparents.  I knew I had to look in another direction since this Erwin family had never been in Louisiana or Mississippi.


I must thank Don Erwin, editor of The Bagpiper, and Cherie Olson for pointing me in the right direction. Their facts were devastating, however, to the research I had accumulated to that time. It was clear from the census records, that Joseph, III, had never been a minister.  Plus, he was living with his parents when my Joseph was in Louisiana and Mississippi.


I finally came to the conclusion that cousin Willie Daniel’s information submitted to the Compendium of American Genealogy was wrong.


Joseph Erwin and Elizabeth Rogers


At the end of Part I, I wrote about my desire to meet another direct descendant of Joseph Erwin and Elizabeth Rogers.  As time past, I felt like I was the only one looking for them.  It took buying a home computer in 1998 powerful enough to access the web and to start searching for my family using the internet.


I met John Rison Jones through research on another family line.  I subscribed to an Edmiston family newsletter and the Editor told me he knew of two people I should meet. One of them, John Rison Jones, turned out to be not only descended from my Edmiston line, but from the same Erwin line as I was. He was also an avid genealogist!


At long last, I had finally met someone who was descended from the same line of Erwins that I was, and who was interested in genealogy!  Now I had a second cousin who was also searching for answers and trying to make the connection between Joseph Erwin and Catherine Cowan and Joseph Erwin and Elizabeth Rogers.


Just before I met John Rison, I was contacted by Von Unruh, an archivist for the Methodist Church in Nashville, TN.  He sent several items from the Methodist archives, primarily contemporary newspaper articles. The articles proved that my second great grandfather, Alexander Rogers Erwin, had been born in Louisiana, and that his father, Joseph, was a Baptist minister.


Genealogical Abstracts from Reported Deaths

The Nashville Christian Advocate 1857-1860

By Jonathan Kennon Thompson Smith

Copyright, Jonathan K. T. Smith, 1997


February 16, 1860


Resolutions of Respect for Rev. A. R. ERWIN, D. D., who died recently; by Quarterly Conf., Huntsville Station, dated Jan. 23, 1860.


From Tennessee Conference 1860, pp 212-213:  "Alexander R. Erwin, a native of Caddo Parish, LA was born 1/12/1820 and died 1/10/1860.  His father was a minister of the Baptist Church.  His mother was a pious woman, and, although death deprived him of her watchful care when not quite eight years of age, yet her example lived to do him good long after she had gone to her reward.  At a camp-meeting in Williamson County, Tenn, 1839, he made a profession of religion, and joined himself to the Methodist Episcopal Church; was licensed to preach in 1840; was admitted into this Conference on trial in 1842, and appointed to Madison Circuit.  In 1843, he was appointed to the Limestone Circuit; in 1844, to Wesley; 1845, to Columbia Station; 1846 to Clarksville, where he remained two years; and in 1848, he was appointed President of Clarksville Female Academy, which position he occupied til 1854, when he was stationed in Nashville at McKendree charge, where he continued 2 years.  In the summer of 1855, he received the degree of D.D. from the Nashville University.  The 2 years following he was stationed in Huntsville (Alabama); in 1858, he was agent for our Publishing House Fund; in 1859, was appointed President of Huntsville Female College.  Well did he sustain the responsibilities of the various charges committed to him, laboring constantly and successfully as a faithful minister of Jesus Christ."


In April, 1860, the Rev. W. E. Doty of Greenwood, LA, wrote to The Nashville Christian Advocate that it was unlikely that Alexander Erwin was born in Caddo Parish because the Indians had not yet left the area.  Shreveport, the parish site, was first settled in 1835 on lands sold by the government, and the parish was organized in 1839.


In the April 19, 1860 issue of The Nashville Christian Advocate, Edward C. Slater wrote:


 “From an autobiography of the members of the last general conference in my possession, I learned that Rev. A. R. Erwin, D.D. ‘was born in Franklinton, Washington Parish, LA, January 12, 1820.  Born again, September 15, 1840.  Licensed to preach Sept. 1841.  Joined the Tennessee Conference in 1842.”


These three articles had a great impact on my research.  It proved for certain that Alexander Rogers Erwin was born in Louisiana.  It also focused my search on Washington Parish rather than Caddo Parish.  These documents place his father, Joseph, in Louisiana in 1820 because Alexander was born 1/20/1820.  It also proved that Alexander’s father was a Baptist minister. I also now knew that Joseph’s mother had died between 1827 and 1828.  This pointed me to explore Louisiana and Mississippi records in earnest.


As time passed I began to meet other descendants of the Erwin family, but none of them had any information on my Joseph, or Elizabeth Rogers.  Early into the search for records in Louisiana and Mississippi, I met Sylvia Kelly Smith.  Sylvia had a copy of the William H. Erwin Bible.  William H. Erwin was the son of James N. Erwin, Jr. and Jennet Andrews.  They also had a son named JOSEPH.


The following is taken from the William H. Erwin Bible, East Baton Rouge Parish:


“James Erwin and Jennet Andrews--married Oct. 12, 1766 (parents of William H. Erwin)

The above is the father and mother of the family of which Wm. H. Erwin is part.

John Erwin--born Jan. 21, 1769

James Erwin-- born Aug. 5, 1771

Joseph Erwin-- born May 1, 1774

Isaac Erwin--born May 5, 1776

Margaret Erwin-- born Nov. 22, 1778”


Please see the descendant chart at the beginning of this article for James Erwin’s connection to Joseph, Jr.


Naturally, the entry of Joseph Erwin excited me greatly.


A bit of history of the James N. Erwin, Jr. family is important here to explain the relationship between Joseph and James:


James N. Erwin, Sr. was, I believe, the first of our Erwins to emigrate to the Americas. James N. Erwin, Jr. was his son. James, Jr., and Joseph, Sr. (who married Agnes) were brothers. This, of course, makes James N. Erwin, Jr. the uncle of Joseph.  We know that Joseph, Sr. stayed in Rowan County, NC while his son, Joseph, Jr., migrated to Tennessee.  James, Jr., Joseph, Sr.’s brother, migrated to Natchez, Sandy Creek, Adams County, MS.  He married Jennet Andrews on 10/12/1766 in Rowan County, NC. James died intestate 9/1794 in Adams County, MS.


In the Natchez Court Records, page 119:

"In consequence of the death of James Irwin who died intestate, leaving several children, minors, Joseph Howard appointed tutor and curator to said minors, namely James, aged 24 (1770); Joseph, aged 22 (1772); Isaac, aged 20 (1774); Margaret aged 16 (l778); William, aged 14 (1780); appointment accepted.” It was dated 21 October 1794 (Years of birth added by me).


The Bible and the history of James Erwin, Jr.’s family proved to me that there was a possibility there was another Joseph Erwin who might be my third great grandfather.


Another document surfaced on the LAGENWEB that really made me focus on Washington Parish, LA.  It was the Minutes of the Half -Moon Bluff Baptist Church.  (Only a small portion of this  document is listed here.)


This document confirmed the biographical information on Alexander Rogers Erwin as well as confirmed his father was a Baptist. It also disproved the misleading Caddo Parish reference in Alexander Rogers Erwin’s obituary and proved Alex’s statement that he was born in Franklinton Washington Parish, LA. The Half-Moon Bluff document showed that Joseph Erwin had deeded land to the church and served as a minister and representative to the Baptist conventions in Mississippi in the early 1800s. Also, Half-Moon Bluff Baptist Church was located on Joseph Erwin’s headright.  Also please note that Joseph Erwin’s relationship with the Morris family will prove crucial later on in this discussion.


History of Half Moon Bluff Baptist Church, 1812-1830, Washington, St. Tammany, and Tangipahoa Parishes, Louisiana, Zuma Fendlason Magee and Co-author Dixie Sylvest Moss, 1978.


Page 2: 1812 Abstracts from Minutes of the Mississippi Baptist Association:


“Half Moon Bluff Baptist Church Delegates to Mississippi Baptist Association (From the Minutes of the Association).

1812 Joseph Lewis and Joseph Erwin

1816 Nathan Morris and J. Erwin


Page 3: 1820 Abstracts from the Minutes of the Pearl River Baptist Association:


“Half Moon Bluff Baptist Church Delegates to Pearl River Baptist Association (From the Minutes of the Association)

1824 Nathan Morris and Joseph Irwin

1828 Joseph Erwin and Richard Albritton”


Page 53: 1933 Minutes of Washington Parish Baptist Association Minutes, 1933, p. 20:


“Report of Committee on Memorial of Half Moon Bluff Church:


We, your committee on the Memorial of Half Moon Bluff Church, beg to offer the following resolution:


Be it resolved by the Washington Parish Baptist Association that a suitable marker be placed on the grounds where the original building stood, to commemorate the sacred history of the First Baptist church in the State; the cost of this marker not to exceed $25.00.


Be it further resolved, etc: That the following Historical sketch be engraved on the marker:


             The Half Moon Bluff Church was organized October 12th, 1812, and the building was erected upon this plot. This was not only the First Baptist church in the State, but was the first of Evangelical Faith. In October 17th, 1812 Joseph Lewis and Joseph Erwin were sent as Messengers to the Mississippi Baptist Association, in which association this church remained until October 14th, 1820, when she together with a number of other church withdrew and constituted the Pearl River County Baptist Association.

            This Tablet is designed to mark the sacred spot on which stood this church, until it was dissolved in 1830.


 John Henry Smith, Chair. DeLos R. Johnson, A Tom Mitchell”


Page 93: Half Moon Bluff La. Soldiers, War of 1812:

“Half Moon Bluff Names in Louisiana Soldiers, War of 1812

Joseph Erwin Pvt. 8 Reg't (Meriam's) La. Militia”


Page 97: “The Homestead Act was passed by Congress in 1820.  Many had acquired land by English or by Spanish Grants long before that.  For some plats the description is quite clear.  For some earlier claims the description is vague.


JOSEPH ERWIN entered claims in 1806 for land on the Homochitto River in Mississippi.  Another claim made in 1813 on the Bogue Chitto River near the thirty-first parallel at Walthall County.”


The William H. Erwin Bible and the Half-Moon Bluff document reconfirmed that I was on the right path, and that I should concentrate my research in Mississippi and Louisiana.


Using the census records, I began an exhaustive search for not only Joseph and Elizabeth Rogers, but for all of their children as well. I started by trying to make sense of all of my paper files: information that I had received from various Erwin cousins, as well as what I had found in books, on the internet, etc.  I also assembled bits and pieces of data I had found, or had been given, over the years about “a” Joseph Erwin who lived in Louisiana and Mississippi. As my research progressed I learned that perhaps Elizabeth’s maiden name may have been Rainwater rather than Rogers.  Since I was going to try to compile all the notes on Joseph, I also decided to trace the possible children of Joseph Erwin and Elizabeth Rogers.  A cousin of Billie Bickham Garsee, a descendant of William Henderson Erwin, had found a found a note which listed the children of Joseph Erwin and an “Unknown”

Rainwater (William H. Erwin may be a son of Joseph and Elizabeth Rogers Erwin).  Billie wrote:


 “A cousin in Covington went to Natchez and found the following at the Courthouse.

        'Joseph Erwin & ________ Rainwater

            children -- Thomas, John, William H., Abner, Alexander, Susan, Mary, Margaret'”


I also received information that an Elbert F. Lee, a descendant of Jesse Edwards and Mary Erwin, had left a note about the Louisiana Erwins at the library in McComb, MS.  I got in touch with him and he confirmed some of the information Billie Garsee’s cousin had found:


Elbert wrote:


“…Most of the information that Mama gave me is what I had already heard through the years from her and Aunt Ida, but I didn’t have it in writing. Mama said that her great grandfather was Joseph Erwin. His daughter, Mary, was born in Washington Parish and married Jesse Edwards…

Their children were:

Mary - married Jesse Edwards


Joseph (Nanci’s note: This lends a small amount of credence to one of Joseph and Elizabeth’s children being named Joseph.) a daughter who married a Bickham (Nanci’s note:  It is probably actually William, Joseph’s son, who married Elizabeth Bickham.), a son who went to Tennessee and taught in a college there (Nanci’s note:  Alexander Rogers Erwin) another son….”


I also met several people who were descended from the Morris family who had been involved in the Half-Moon Bluff Baptist Church with Joseph Erwin.  They had information that some of the Morris children had married Erwins.  Teresa Salonimer has been instrumental in sorting out the Morris family line and how they were related to the Erwins.  With her information, I have been able to Margaret Erwin, who may be one of the daughters of Joseph.  It is also possible there is another daughter who had not been mentioned in either Billie Garsee’s information or the information given by Elbert Lee’s mother.  Her name was Martha.


Teresa wrote on GenForum:

“Re: Benjamin Morris, children

Posted by: T. Morris Salonimer Date: December 29, 2001,


Based on my g-grandfather's renditions, and the 1850 census from Mississippi, Holmes County, we determined that Noah Morris and Martha Erwin Morris were born in 1807.


Great-great-grandfather writes that Benjamin Morris moved from South Carolina with his three sons, William, Noah, and Nathan in 1815.


William married Margaret Erwin; Noah married Martha Erwin---sisters and daughters of Joseph S. Erwin.


Margaret Erwin Morris and two of her daughters are buried in Hickory Springs Cemetery in Holmes County.”


As it turns out—if I understand the Morris lineage—according to Teresa Salonimer, Nathan Morris of the Half Moon Baptist Church was the half brother of Benjamin Morris. Benjamin was the father of Noah, Nathan and William Morris (Nathan and William married two of Joseph Erwin’s daughters).  The Morris connection becomes even more important as we look at the information around when and where Joseph died.


As I searched the Louisiana and Mississippi census records for Joseph I found the following:


1820 St. Tammany Parish, LA Census

Reel: M33-31 Page: 28 

Family #: 20

Joseph Ervine

3 males under 10 years (Alexander born 1820, William H. by about 1815 and ? – possibly a James or Joseph)

1 male between 10-16 years (Thomas born about 1809)

1 male 16 to 18 years (Abner born 4/3/1803)

1 male 18 to 26 years (possibly a Joseph or James)

1 male over 45 years (Joseph born 1774)

1 female under 10 (Mary born about 1816 or Susan born about 1818)

2 females 10 to 26 years (Margaret born 1805 and Martha born 1807)

1 female 26 to 45 years (Elizabeth Rogers)


This doesn’t answer all the questions I have regarding the children, but it is a start.  Because of the Erwins' practice of using the Scottish Naming Tradition, there would almost have had to be a James named after Joseph's father and a son, Joseph, named after Joseph.


I have been unable to locate a Joseph Erwin in the 1830 census.


1840 Holmes Co., MS Census

Reel: M704-214 Page: 250

Family on Page: 14

Morris, William

1 M 30-40 (William)

1 M 60-70 (Joseph Erwin)

1 F < 5 Harriett (born 1840)

2 F 5-10 (Martha b 1838, Mary born 1832)

1 F 30-40 (Margaret)


I believe the male listed as being between 60-70 years of age is Joseph Erwin.  He is living with his daughter, Margaret and son-in-law, William Morris.


1850 Holmes Co., MS Census

9 Aug 1850

Reel: M432-373, Page 231A

Dwelling 51 Family 51

William Morris, 46, M, Farmer, 800, SC

Margaret Morris, 45, F, Miss

Mary L. Morris, 18, F, Miss

Margaret Morris, 15, F, Miss

Martha A. Morris, 12, F, Miss

Harriet Morris, 9, F, Miss

Malinda Morris, 7, F, Miss

Joseph Erwin, 77, M, Farmer, SC

William Dent, 22, M, Raftman, Miss


The Joseph Erwin, age seventy-seven is, in all probability, my Joseph living with his daughter Margaret and son-in-law, William Morris.  I do have some concern that he is listed as a “farmer” rather than a minister.  Another concern is that his birthplace is reported as South Carolina rather than North Carolina.  But as we all know, the information on the census was dependent on who gave the information and the accuracy of the census taker.  In the case of Joseph’s occupation perhaps he was retired from the ministry and was now farming.  This will need to be looked at more closely as we find more information on the Morris and Erwin families.


I believe I have found sufficient evidence to confirm that Alexander Rogers Erwin’s father, Joseph, was in Mississippi and Louisiana between the late 1700s and the mid 1850s.  While I could not find census records for Joseph Erwin in 1830, I did find many other records which showed his movements in Louisiana and Mississippi.  One of the important things to remember is that a man had to be twenty-one years of age to do land transactions.  In 1797, Joseph would have been twenty-three years of age, Joseph, III, son of Joseph, Jr. and Catherine Cowan, would have been three years old.


Also, the same people’s names are repeatedly referenced in these documents.  Zadock Barrow (in many different spellings) and the surnames Morris and Bickham are repeated often.  Zadock Barrow married Joseph’s sister, Margaret.  If my research is accurate, Martha and Margaret Erwin, daughters of Joseph and Elizabeth married into the Morris family.  Many of the Erwins married Bickhams and the relationship between the Bickham and Erwin families continue to the present day.


The most important legal document I found was in E. Russ Williams, Jr.’s book: Legal Records of Washington Parish, Louisiana.  Abstracts of Conveyance Book W-1 Tangipahoa Parish 1819-1840 and Duplicates of Washington Parish Deeds 1819-1840, 1965, p. 73:


“(Top of Deed)

I assign this Bill of Sale of Land to Edmund Andrews 1 October 1829

Attest Thomas Green Davidson  Jas. J. Bickham

Dudlay P. Curry


Know all men by these presents that I Phillip Magee of Bogue Chitto district have bargind sold and do promise to Deliver unto Joseph Erwin or his order when Sower Called for My Claim good will and Improvement lying on and about the half Moon bluff bounded below by James Hayes and above by John Magee which sd improvement I warrant and defend from My heirs or assigns forever in testamony where off I have here unto assigned my name this 21 October 1808

                                                                                             Philip Magee

     Abner Bickham

     Isaac Erwin

     Orleans Territory    }  Abner Bickham Esqr a Witness to the within Instrument

     Parish St. Tammany}  acknowledged his Signature to the same Abner Bickham before   me                                                                                                                                                                                    


    Thos C. Warner P.J.


   I assign the within written bill of sale to James S. Bickham this

  9 August 1827

  Joseph Erwin

  Thos Bickham


(Outside of deed:  Philip Magee to Joseph Erwin, Bill of Sale No 28 Page 13, Recorded in Book No 1 this day 28 January 1812.  Their being no seal of office Thos C. Warner P.J.)


State of Louisiana     }  Before me the undersigned Judge of said parish Personally

Parish of Washington} came and appeared Thomas Bickham Secr and after being duly sworn does declare that he was present day & date above written (to wit 9 August 1827, and that he saw Joseph Erwin of said Parish Sign his name to the above assignment or transfer for the uses and purposes above & within mentioned and contained.  And that he also Subscribed his name as a witness to the aforesaid Transfer or assignment

                                                                                                                     Thos Bickham


Pages 93-94:

Know all men by these presents that I JONATHAN MCGHEE of Bogue Chitto District have bargained sold and Delivered unto James Gwin my Labor and improvement bounded South by Joseph Erwin North by Zadok Barrow lying on the East of Bogue Chitto which Sd improvement in Labor I warrant defend from myself my heirs Executors or assigns given under my hand this day 25 October 1809


Witness present                                                                   his

Joseph Erwin                                                       Jonathan  X  McGhee



State of Louisiana     }    Personally appeared before me John Gwin judge of the parish

Parish of Washington } aforesaid Jonathan Maghee and deponent and saith that the tract of land for which the above bill of      sale is drawn was the first improvement that he ever settled and cultivated and sold in West Florida so help him god


                                                                             Jonathan   X   Mcghee



Sworn to before me this first day of Nov. 1819   John Gwin

(on back)

I sign the within written bill of sale unto Zadob Barrow to be his heirs or assigns forever given unto my hand this day 10 Jany 1810.


          Joseph Erwin           James Gwin


I assign the within bill of sail to John James to be his heirs executors or assigns forever given under my hand this day 26 Novr 1817


                                                                                Zadoc   X   Barrow




       Benjamin Maghee

       Alexander D. Duvall

       Proved before me by Benjamen Maghee this day 25 June 1819 and recorded in Book A


       Page 3 no 5                                                 John Gwin Parish Judge”


This document proves without a doubt that Joseph Erwin owned the land deeded to the Half Moon Baptist Church.  It also shows that he had relationships with Zadock Barrow, Thomas and Abner Bickham (Thomas and Abner were Sarah Ann Bickham Erwin’s brothers). 


Joseph’s movements can be traced through other court documents and land transactions.


From The Natchez Court Records 1767-1805 Abstracts of Early Records by Mary Wilson McBee, Clearfield Co., Greenwood, MS, 1953:


Natchez Court Records, Book C, Pg 130:

"p. 477. 19 May 1797.  Sale of the effects of late Obediah Brown by order of the Governor; Purchasers: Joseph Erwin, Elijah Swasey, Daniel Swasey, Simon Presler, Peter Presler, Zadoc Barrow, Isaac Johnson, Solomon Hopkins, Samuel Coens, Gideon Hopkins, Samuel Heady, Stephen Stephenson, John Mitchell, Samuel Swasey, Jr.  Total $614."


Natchez Land Claims, Book B, Pg 384:

"p. 199.  Claim No. 362, 12 March 1802.  Henry Jacobs to Abner Beckham, a place of land known by my own improvement for $200.  Henry (X) Jacobs. Wit: J. Stedman, James Howard  //  File.  Claimant, Abner Beckham, 28 Feb. 1804.  Know all men, etc. that I, Abner Beckham have sold, etc. all right to above tract on the Homochitto, near the Ferry, conveyed by Henry Jacobs to me.  Wit:  Joseph Erwin, Zadock Barrow.  Proved by Erwin, Feb. 17, 1806. (signed) T.R."


Natchez Land Claims, Book B, Pg 378:

"p 98.  Claim No. 173. (Reg. 27 Jany, 1804.)  Isaac Erwin to Zadock Barrow, plantation on public road from Natchez to the upper settlement of the Homochitto, 20 miles from Fort, which I warrant, etc. (signed) Isaac Erwin.  Wit: Joseph Erwin, John Beckham. // 12 Dec 1801, Zadock Barrow assigns above to John Chambers.  Signed, Wit:  Jesse Briant, William Riley.  (No file.)"


Natchez Land Claims, Unrecorded Land Claims, Pg 582:

"No. 1961.  Claimant:  Joseph Strong, 20 Nov. 1804.  Wit:  Samual McCarly and Samuel Cooper, 20 Nov, 1804.  Joseph Erwin, 17 Feb. 1806.  Note:  See No. 1483.  Rejected for want of sufficient evidence, 30 Dec. 1806. Joseph Strong, a citizen of the Miss. Territory, Adams Couty, claims 250 acres in ad county on Dry Bayou, founded on a transfer of the afsd. land from Jesse Bryant, to Thomas J. Donelson, which sd Thos. J. Donelson conveyed the same to the claimant by deed, 16 Nov. 1804.  The sd Jesse Briant did actually in habit and cultivate the sd tract prior to and on the day the Mississippi Territory was evacuated by Spanish troups, he being at that time above the age of 21 years and the head of a family."


From Lost Rapides Parish, LA Land Records:

No. 572 - Joseph Irwin claims a Tract of 640 acres situated in the Prairie Boeuf which has been occupied and cultivated, as required by law.  A copy of a Deed of Sale is herewith filed.  Text in English.  William Gardner of the County of Opelousas sells to Joseph Irwin, Junior for $5.00 cash an Improvement made by the said Gardner in the year 1807 upon the Bayou Boeuf at a place known as the Prairie of Bayou Boeuf.

From: Genealogical and Historical Abstracts of Legal Records of Saint Helena Parish, Louisiana, 1804-1870, E. Russ Williams, 1995: Joseph Erwin's name is listed as a witness on a court record.    It is a last will and testament of "George Roberts, Snr."  Joseph Erwin and Thomas Bickham signed as of 21 September 1809.  George had written the will in 1805.  It was signed by a Samuel Smith.

LAGENWEB:  Washington Parish, LA Webpage as well as other books and sources: “Washington Parish Headrighters”

Joseph Erwin is listed as being a “Headrighter” along the Bogue Chitto River.  This is a list of "headrights" granted to settlers in Washington Parish by an Act of Congress in 1820. Most of them had taken up land before 1810, and not later than 1815.

The Founding Families and Individuals of Washington Parish, LA 1798-1860 Compiled by Ernest Russ Williams, Jr, NE Louisiana University, Monroe, LA, 1990, page 75:

1811 Petition to the Senate and Congress signed by Isaac Erwin and Joseph Erwin.

1812 Tax Half Moon Bluff Land T25 R10E, S57. Joseph Erwin.

John Rison Jones sent me the following:

1812 Tax List, Franklinton, Washington Parish, LA:

Joseph Erwin: 1 man, 1 woman, 5 children; 1 number of improvements (probably house); 2 useing horses; 30 stock cattle and the tax was $2.90.

From “Lost Rapides Parish Land Records”:

Conveyance Book B  (with Forward), West Florida Parishes, La.

69a-104: June 29, 1812; STEPHEN BLOUNT sold to DAVID HOUSE of St. Helena Par. a tract of land on the E side of the Amite swamp & joining FRANCIS ???  250 arpents, for $100.  wits.: JNO. ELLIS, ED. C. POWERS. 69b-104: July 8, 1812; DAV. HOUSE assigned his right to above land to URIEL KING. Wit.: JOSEPH IRWIN.

P. 380 - All filed 29 Oct 1812

No. 572 - Joseph Irwin claims a tract of six hundred and forty acres situated in the Prairie Boeuf in the County of Rapides, which has been occupied and cultivated as required by law. A Deed of Sale from William Gardner to the claimant is herewith filed.  (Text in English)  William Gardner of the County of Opelousas, Orleans Territory sells for $5 cash in hand paid by Joseph Irwin Junr. of the County and Territory aforesaid and improvement made by Gardner in the year 1807 upon Bayou Boeuf.

From LAGENWEB, St. Helena Parish, LA Webpage:

St. Helena Parish, LA, Conveyance Book A

Term of Shepherd Brown, Second Parish Judge

July 1813 - June 1815

Abstracts of Conveyance Records With a Brief Biography of SHEPHERD BROWN by Warren B. Wall Pasadena, Texas September, 1993:

"18-21: Nov. 13, 1813  John GEORGE Junr. sold to Daniel BOOKTER a slave named JOHN for $600.  Slave had run away - sale contingent upon his recovery.  Wits.: Jos. IRWIN & Avery BREED"

In the next document, I believe William H., James, and John are the brothers of Joseph Erwin and all are the sons of James N. Erwin, Sr. and Jennet Andrews.

The following document was located by Mary Broussard and Sylvia Kelly Smith on 3/5/1999:

1/1/1824 Land document witnessed by William H. Erwin and Henry L. Barber/Barbee; signed by John Erwin; John appeared on Dec. 23, 1824 with these papers; Aug. 25, 1826, papers received and recorded in Adams County office.

"State of Mississippi-Adams County-Know all men by these presents that I, John Erwin, for and in consideration of the affection I have for my daughter, Jane Erwin, do hereby grant, give and convey to the said Jane Erwin, my daughter and her heirs a certain parcel of land containing one hundred and twenty five acres bounded as follows.  Beginning at James Erwin corner on Joseph Erwins line on which line as far as a line may be run paralell to James Erwins including our hundred and twenty five acres. to have and to hold the same unto Jane Erwin and her heirs forever and I do warrant and will defend the same unto Jane Erwin and her heirs forever against the claims and demands of all persons.

In witness whereof I, hereunto set my hand and seal this first day of January one thousand and eight hundred and twenty-four.  Signed, Sealed and delivered in presence of us (signed) Wm. H. Erwin, Henry L. Barbee. Signed by John Erwin (Seal)

State of Mississippi -Adams County-Personally appeared before me the undersigned Justice of the Peace in and for said county John Erwin and acknowledge that he signed and sealed the within instrument of Writing, for the use an dpurpose therein mentioned.  Given under my hand and Seal this 23 December 1824 (signed) ________ Dougherty JP.

I certify the foregoing and within deed was received into my office to be recorded on the 24th day of August 182__ (signed) Woodson Wren Clk".

In Mississippi Court Records, 1799 to 1835, page 57:

“Wilkinson, Micayah (Macajah). May 7, 1806.  September 7, 1826.  Of Adams County, Miss. Leatees: wife and children (not named).  Exts. none named.  Wit. Joseph Erwin, James Erwin and Zadock Barron." (Nanci’s note: I believe Zadock Barron is Zadock Barrow who was Joseph’s brother-in-law.)

Joseph Erwin was also in Mississippi in 1832 per his testimony before the Twenty-third Congress, Second Session, U.S. Senate Committee Document #151, dated 3/3/1835 regarding the possible fraudulent purchase of lands from the Creek, Choctaw, and Chickasaw tribes.

From the Primitive Baptist Association Webpage:

“Primitive Baptist.-This Association was constituted in 1839. The Convention for the purpose of forming a new Association convened according to previous arrangement at Rocky Spring Church, in Holmes County, Miss., on Friday before the fourth Sunday in April, 1839. After preaching by Elder S. Parks, the Convention was called to order by Elder N. Morris. Brother S. Parks was chosen Moderator, and brother A. Erwin Clerk. The following churches were represented by delegates, who, being called on, presented their church letters. Names of churches and delegates, viz.: Hickory Spring, Holmes County, Elder Simpson Parks, Joseph Erwin, Granderson Harris and Abner Erwin; Yazoo, Holmes County, Elder Nathan Morris, William Grisom, John Bennett and Hilliard Fatheree; Rocky Spring, Holmes County, Silas Mercer, Anderson West, H. Brister and Samuel Cook; Lebanon, Attala County, Elder J. A. Scott, D. Stephens, Z. B. Gess and R. Weeks.  (Note:  Abner Erwin is in all likelihood the son of Joseph and Nathan Morris is the Joseph’s son-in-law.)

At of this date, I believe the records show Joseph’s movements between the Mississippi Territory and Louisiana from the mid-1790s until about 1807 when he moved to Washington Parish, LA.  While I cannot prove it yet, I believe Joseph moved to Holmes Co, MS between 1824 and 1828 more than likely with the Morris families who can be found in the 1830, 1840 and 1850 census records living in Holmes and Yazoo Counties, MS.

While it was widely thought that the Joseph Erwin who married Elizabeth Rogers died in 1837 in Yazoo County, MS, I do not believe it to be true.  I believe the Joseph who died in Yazoo County, MS, was the son of John and Lydia Ford Erwin (please see next section on “Other Josephs”).

To date I have not been able to find death information for the Joseph Erwin who is listed with William and Margaret Erwin Morris in the 1850 census in Holmes Co., MS.  I do not know where or when he died, or where he is buried.

Joseph and Elizabeth Rogers Erwin’s Children

Based on what Billie Garsee’s cousin found and what Elbert Lee wrote that his mother remembered, I decided to see if I could find any information on the children as listed by these two sources.  If my research is proven, I believe Joseph and Elizabeth had the following children:

  1. Joseph and James (complete speculation on my part and based on the fact that the Erwins used the Scottish Naming Tradition almost to a fault).

  2. Abner Erwin who married first, Caroline Howard and then possibly Susan Tribble.  He was born 1807 in Adams Co, MS and died in Union Co, AR in 1855.

  3. Margaret Erwin who married William F. Morris.  Margaret was born about 1805 in Mississippi and died 1858 in Holmes County, MS.

  4.  Martha Erwin was born about 1807 in Mississippi and died before 1865 in Holmes County, MS.  She married Noah Morris.

  5. Thomas J. Erwin may have married a Clarissa.  The Thomas I have found was born about 1809 in Louisiana and may have died in Hill County, TX.  More work needs to be done to prove this is the correct Thomas.  Because of the names of his children, this Thomas may belong to another Erwin line.

  6. William Henderson Erwin married Elizabeth Bickham.  He was born about 1815 in Louisiana and died in 1866 in Caddo Parish, LA.

  7. Mary Erwin was born about 1816 in Louisiana.  She died 9/1880 in East Baton Rouge Parish, LA.  Her husband was Jesse Eldridge Edwards, Sr.

  8. Susan M. Erwin married Joseph Norris.  She was born about 1818 in Louisiana and died between 1859-1860 in Caddo Parish, LA.  There is a possibility that Susan M. may be the complete name of either Martha, Margaret or Mary Erwin.

  9. Last, but certainly not least to me, is Alexander Rogers Erwin.  He was born 1/12/1820 in Washington Parish, LA and died 1/10/1860 in Huntsville, Madison County, AL.  He married Louisa Eleanor Boyd.  Alexander and Louisa are my 2nd great grandparents.  Their son, William Hanna Erwin came to Burnet County, TX in about 1880 and married Sarah Ann Tomlinson.  Their daughter, my grandmother, Sallie Will Erwin married Theodor Low Price.

Other Joseph Erwins


Other records have surfaced that may indicate that the Joseph Erwin of Natchez District, Mississippi Territory, Washington Parish, LA and Holmes County, MS moved to Yazoo City, Yazoo County, MS.  I cannot prove that these two Josephs are one and the same.  In fact, some of the records seem to indicate that the Yazoo County Joseph may well have been the son of John Erwin and Lydia Ford (John being another son of James N. Erwin and Jennet Andrews).  I am just not certain if the Yazoo Joseph is the Joseph Erwin who married Elizabeth Rogers. Holmes County, MS is just east of Yazoo County. I also found Abner, James and John Erwin with land patents in Yazoo and Holmes Co, MS at the same time, as well as in the 1840 census records.  All this will all have to be sorted out at a later time.


Land Patents from the Bureau of Land Management Web page:


Joseph Erwin: 4/24/1820: Yazoo County Document 2189 (Meridian: Choctaw) 160.37 acres, Issue date: 9/1/1826

Joseph Erwin: 4/24/1820: Yazoo County Document 3562 (Meridian: Choctaw) 77.96 acres, Issue date: 4/1/1829

Joseph Erwin: 4/24/1820: Yazoo County, Document 23102 (Baseline: Choctaw) 38.99 acres, Issue date: 12/10/1840


The following records were found by Jill Kerry Erwin, a descendant of James Erwin (italics are Jill’s):

Yazoo County

Book B

Page 128

Joseph Erwin, Wiley Scarborough & Isaac J. Erwin To Thomas (italics in this document are Jill Erwin’s notes):

Know all men by these presents that we Joseph Erwin, Wiley A. Scarborough & Isaac J. Erwin of the County of Yazoo & State of Mississippi, for and in consideration of the Sum of One hundred and forty to us in hand paid by John Thomas of the County of Franklin and state aforesaid the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, have granted bargained, sold and assigned and by these present do grant, bargain, sell and assign unto the said John Thomas as the right title claim interest and ? which we have and ? as the legal Representatives of Lydia Erwin, deceased (Joseph Erwin her Son, Wiley Scarborough, her son-in-law in right of his wife, Lancy (he married Jane), Isaac Erwin, Son-in-law in right of his wife Margaret, in and to all the property right and interest which we have acquired as her representatives and which she was entitled to by virtue of the Niece of Robert Ford, her late father deceased and which said property is now in the hands of the Executors of the said Robert Ford.

Provided however that nothing in ? presents shall be so constrained as in any way to effect right title or claim which we have or may have to the property which was devised to ? to his wife Lydia Ford for use during her life and at her oath to be distributed to the heirs and Legatus Specifice and maintenance in the aforesaid last will and testament, as by reference to the same may more fully appear.  To have and hold receive and enjoy the aforesaid property thereby bargained and sold to the said John Thomas, his heirs and assigns forever, in ? whereof we have set our hands and affixed our seals the 16 day of December, Eighteen hundred and twenty nine.

Joseph Erwin

Wiley Scarborough

Isaac J. Erwin

John S. Young

State of Mississippi

Yazoo County

Personally appeared before the undersigned Justice of the Peace in and for said County & State, Joseph Erwin, Wiley Scarborough & Isaac J. Erwin, who acknowledge that they signed sealed and delivered the foregoing instrument of writing for purposes therein maintained.  Given under my hand and seal this day 16 December 1829.

John S. Young

Deposited and Recorded 16 December 1829

Yazoo County

Book C

Page 483

This indenture made and entered into this day 21 June one thousand eight hundred and thirty two between James F. Erwin and Nancy Erwin, his wife, of the County of Yazoo and state of Mississippi of the first part and Ralph Regan of the County of Hinds and state aforesaid of the second part.  Witness that the said party of the first part for and in consideration of the sum of one thousand Dollars to him in hand paid by the said party of the second part the receipt whose of is hereby acknowledged.  Both granted, bargained, sold and conveyed and by these presence both granted, bargained, sold and conveyed and confirm unto Ralph Regan of the second part his heirs and assigns forever a certain tract or parcel of land lying and being in the County of Yazoo and state aforesaid known and designated in the original survey of said land by the sout west quarters of Section ?, Township  Twelve, Range Two West in the Coctaw District and State of Missisisppi containing about one hundred and sixty acres by the same more or less.  To have and to hold the above described premises with all and singular the rights and privileges ? and appearances to the same of ? appertaining or in any wise belonging.  And the said party of the first party doth moreover ? himself, his heirs, ? administration and ? unto the said party of the second part his heirs and ? to warrant and forever defend the right, title and claims to the above described premises with all and singular the right, privileges ? and appearances these unto belonging on ? against the claim or claims of all and every person or persons whence serves lawfully or equitably claiming the same or any part this of to the only proper use and benefit and behalf of the said party of the second part, his heirs and assigns forever in Fee Simple.

In testimony whose of the said party of the first part hath ? unto set his hand and affixed his seals the Day and Year above written.

Jas F. Erwin


Ephraim Hosier

Lawrence Lougina


State of Mississippi

Yazoo County

Personally appeared before me William T. Henderson, Justice of the Peace in and for Yazoo County.  James F. Erwin who acknowledges that he signed, sealed and delivered the foregoing deed on the day and year theresaid mentioned as his Voluntary act and

Nanci’s note: Please see notes regarding James F. Erwin below.

Yazoo County

Book C

Page 485

This indenture made and entered into this day 21 June one thousand eight hundred and thirty two between Joseph Erwin and Charlotte, his wife, of the county of Yazoo and state of Mississippi of the first part and Ralph Regan of the county of Hinds and state aforesaid of the second part.  ? that the said party of the first part for and in consideration of the sum of one thousand dollars in hand paid by the said party of the second part the receipt whose of is hereby acknowledged hath granted, bargained, sold and conveyed and by these persons grant, bargain, sell and convey and confirm unto Ralph Regan of the second part, his heirs and assigns forever a certain tract or parcel of land by being in the county of Yazoo and state aforesaid known and designed the original survey of said land by the north east quarter of section ? twelve Range two west in the Choctaw district and state of Mississippi containing one hundred and sixty acres be the sum more or less.  To hold the above described premises with all said ? the rights, privileges, and appertainances to the same of right appertaining or many ?? And the said party of the first part ? moreover ? himself, his heirs and assignes and forever defined the ? title and claim to the above described premises with singular the rights, privileges, ? and appertainances there unto belong pertaining against the claim or claims of all and every person or persons ? Lawfully or Equitably claiming the same or any part thereof to the only ? benefit and behalf of the said party of the second part, his heirs and assigns in Fee Simple.  In testimony whereof the said party of the first party unto set their hands and affixed their seals the day and year above written.

 Joseph Erwin

Charlotte Erwin


Ephraim Howes?

Laurence Longier?


State of Mississippi

Yazoo County

Personally appeared before me Wm T. Henderson a Justice of the Peace in and for said county, Joseph Erwin who acknowledged that he signed, sealed and delivered the foregoing deed on the day and year ttherein mentioned as his Voluntary act and did ? under my hand ? and seal this day  21 June 1832.

Wm T. Henderson, J.P. 

State of Mississippi

Yazoo County

Personally appeared before me, Wm T. Henderson, a Justice of the Peace in and for said County, Charlotte Erwin, wife of Joseph Erwin, who being examined privately and apart from her husband ? that she signed, sealed and delivered the above relinquishment of her dower to the above described and conveyed tract of land as her voluntary act and deed freely and without any fear or threats or compulsion of her said husband from under my hand and seal this day 21 June 1832.

Wm T. Henderson, J.P.

Recorded ? the 28 1833.

James B. Whitfield, Clk

Another document I found which is probably the same Joseph Erwin of Yazoo Co, MS:

Deed book B page 165

Yazoo County Miss.


               ERWIN TO ADAMS & JOHNSON

This indenture made and entered into This day 29 March in the year of our Lord 1830, between Joseph Erwin of Yazoo County and State of Mississippi of one part and Gerald? Adams and Benjamin Johnson of the same county and state of the other part, WITNESSETH that the said Joseph Erwin for and in consideration of the sum of six hundred dollars to him in hand paid the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged have given granted bargained and sold and by these presents do give grant bargain and sell to said Adams & Johnson their heirs and assigns forever a certain piece or parcel of land situated lying and being in the county of Yazoo and state afsaid, on Piney Creek and being the north east quarter of Section Eleven, and the west half of the south east quarter of Section Two in township Twelve and Range Two west of the Choctaw land District being the tract of land heretofore occupied by said Joseph Erwin and now in the occupancy of Abner Erwin.  To have and to hold same tract of land with all its appurtenances unto the said Adams and Johnson, their heirs forever and the said Joseph Erwin for himself his heirs do covenant to warrant and forever defend the title of said tract of land unto the said Adams & Johnson against all claims whatever.  In testimony whereof the said Erwin has hereunto set his hand and seal the day & date first above written.

                              JOSEPH ERWIN (seal)

Signed sealed and delivered in the presence of:

John Martin

Jesse Cole.

State of Mississippi )   This day personally appeared before me John S. Young


Yazoo County,   SS }    an acting Justice of the peace in and for said county


Joseph Erwin who acknowledged that he signed sealed and delivered the within deed as his voluntary act and deed and for the purposes therein expressed.

Acknowledged before me this day 20 March 1830     JOSEPH ERWIN

1830 (can't read the rest)


For quite some time it has been rumored, among Erwin researchers, that a will existed for a Joseph Erwin who died about 1837 in Yazoo Co., MS, and that his son, James F. Erwin, was the administrator. Jill Kerry Erwin went to Yazoo County, MS, but could not find such a will. Ritalynn Erwin Jackson also searched the Mississippi State Archives, and could not find a will for ANY Joseph Erwin.


The Joseph Erwin in Yazoo County, MS, may well have been the son of John Erwin and Lydia Ford (John was the son of James N. Erwin, Jr. making John and MY Joseph brothers).  More work must be done to prove this.  We do know that a Joseph Erwin was in Yazoo Co., MS and we know there was a James F. Erwin in Yazoo Co., at the same time.


Recently, Jan Dunham, who is descended from Nathaniel Erwin, sent me the following excerpts.  These documents lend even further credence to the Joseph Erwin and James F. Erwin connection in Yazoo Co., MS.  Jan writes:


“I also have a copy of the Thirty-third US Congress where a ‘James Erwin’ applies for reimbursement for expenses he had (during the Trail of Tears) for Creek and Seminole Indians from Mississippi to Arkansas. The year is 1855 – and the bills presented to congress prior to the adoption seem to indicate that this James was the son of "Joseph Erwin".


Another bill reads (I believe this may have do with Joseph’s son James): "That the Secretary of War be, and he is hereby, directed to investigate, audit, allow and pay, out of any money in the treasury not otherwise appropriated, to James Erwin, of Arkansas, a fair and full remuneration for the actual losses he sustained in consequence of a contract he made with the United States in September, eighteen hundred and thirty-four, to supply provisions and transportation for the use of the Creek Indians expected to emigrate from the eastern to the western side of the Mississippi river, but who did not emigrate.


And be it further enacted, That the Secretary of War be, and he is hereby, directed to investigate, audit, allow and pay, out of any money in the treasury not otherwise appropriated, to James Erwin, and to the heirs or legal representatives of Daniel Greathouse, deceased, a full and fair remuneration for the actual losses sustained in consequence of a contract made by said Irwin and said Daniel Greathouse, in his lifetime, and the United States, in December, eighteen hundred and thirty-five, to supply provisions and transportation for the use of the Seminole Indians expected to emigrate from the eastern to the western side of the Mississippi river, but who failed to emigrate."


One last tidbit on another Joseph and James Erwin.  Jan Dunham also sent this to me:

"Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the Secretary of War cause to be issued to James Erwin, the son, and the other heirs-at-law of Joseph Erwin, a captain in the Pennsylvania line of the Revolutionary army, a duplicate of warrant numbered eleven hundred and sixty-one, issued to said son and heirs on the twenty-first of February eighteen hundred and twenty-six, for three hundred acres of military bounty land - June 23, 1840."


As a reminder, this Joseph would have had to have been born between 1730 and 1740 to have received this land.  We know that our Erwins came from Pennsylvania to North Carolina.  I wonder who this Joseph and James are and how and if they are related to us.


My Conclusions:


Even in the face of all this documentation, I still have not been able to prove conclusively who the parents of my Joseph Erwin are. Even so, I think I have made a fairly good case for my connection to him through his son, Alexander Rogers Erwin, and his connection to James N. Erwin, Jr. and his wife, Jennet Andrews.  I don’t know if I will ever be able to trace Joseph’s wife, Elizabeth Rogers.  As of this writing, the evidence leads me to look more carefully at the Joseph, son of James N. Erwin, Jr., who died in September 1794 at Sandy Creek, Natchez, Adams County, MS.  James and his brother, Isaac, who died in 1810, both lived and died in MS. They are the children of James N. and Agness (Patterson) Erwin. James’ brother is Joseph who married Agnes (Lowther or Reed). Their son, who misled me for such a long time, married Catherine Cowan.  My Joseph is still unknown to me.  I will search on.


Without the help of the following people, I would not have gotten as far in my search for Joseph and Elizabeth Rogers Erwin as I have today: Lois Cleveland, Ruth Cook, Laura Cowan Cooper, Curtis Craig, John Crane, Penny Daye, Jan Dunham, Sandra Ellenburg, Don Erwin, Elson Erwin, Jill Kerry Erwin, Robert Erwin, Billie Bickham Garsee, Ritalynn Erwin Jackson, Sherry Johnson, John Rison Jones, Nita J. Erwin Kemsley, Elbert F. Lee, Cherie Olson, Teresa Salonimer, Dorothy Smith, Sylvia Kelly Smith and Lois Cowan Walker.  Thank you all.


And last but not least, I want to explain why I called my article “Mining for Gold”.  When I started the search for my family in the late 1970s, it was a little piece here and a little piece there. Sometimes it was like finding “fool’s gold,” because it was sparkly and I thought I had found the mother lode. But what genealogy really is to me is finding each nugget that makes up the great riches of my family. I feel so fortunate to have met and received so much help from so many different people.  I feel like the richest person in the world because of these special relationships.


Nanci Presley-Holley

December 15, 2004