Sunday, February 2, 2014

52 Ancestors: #5 - Mary JOLLETT Forrester

Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small has issued a challenge:  write one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor.  It can be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem – anything that focuses on one ancestor.

Another ancestor in my “imagined” family is Mary Jollett, born in Culpeper County, Virginia in 1750.  I say “imagined” because she HAS to be related to my known Jolletts, but I just don’t know how.  For now she’s an asterisk in the family tree, possibly a daughter of James and Gracey, possibly sister to Thomas, or – perish the thought – none of the above.

What is known about Mary is that at the age of 18 in 1768 she married John Dodgens Forrester, also from Culpeper County.  Supposedly they had 9 children, but a comparison of Forrester family trees on Ancestry reveals conflicting names and dates – surprise!  Would a Jonathan, James, and Joel all die on the same day in New Orleans? 

Ignoring the fine details for now, I think I have a fairly good handle on Mary and John’s family.  In the late 1700s they moved to Wilkes County, North Carolina.  The reason is unknown, but I have a theory.  Following the Revolutionary War, the American Treasury was in bad shape.  Unable to pay the Continental Army, the government granted land to many of the soldiers.  John had served, as evidenced by Mary’s application for a widow’s pension, but I don’t know whether he would have been offered land out of his state of service.  What do I know?  At any rate, they were there, as were other Forrester families.
John Dodgens Forrester and son Fielding

The Forresters and several adult children and their families can be located in Wilkes County census records at least through 1810.  

John D. Forrester, his son John,
and son-in-law William DeBoard

After that time, they joined the western migration.  North Carolina’s leaders were notorious for refusing to spend tax money on any form of economic advancement, schools, or roads.  The State did nothing to educate farmers about the importance of crop rotation, and as a result farmland suffered and poverty spread.  Eventually the most populated state in the union was decimated as citizens just gave up and headed west where they easily found cheaper land to farm at a profit. 

One stop along the way was Robertson, Tennessee.  Robertson’s claim to fame was its whiskey production and strong tobacco industry.  Considering that tobacco has long been king in North Carolina, I wonder if John and Mary were tobacco farmers. 

John Dodgens Forrester died in Robertson October 1815.

By 1820, Mary and at least some of her children and their families settled in White County, Illinois.  Each census from 1820 to 1840 pictures the Forresters, DeBoards, and Bolerjacks as near neighbors.  I suppose Mary lived with one of her children because she does not appear as Head of Household until 1830.  

Son John, son-in-law William DeBoard
and son-in-law John Bolerjack

John Forrester, Mary Forrester,
William DeBoard, John Bolerjack

But is this the right Mary?  The one female is entered in the age 50-60 column; MY Mary would have been closer to 80.  It is more likely she was living with her daughter Lucy and son-in-law John BOLERJACK since there is a woman listed as 80-90 in that household.  

Then in 1840, the Bolerjacks list a woman aged 90-100.  The age fits Mary’s timeline according to most Forrester researchers. 

Mary’s exact date of death is unknown although it is assumed she died before 1850, maybe about 1848. She applied for a widow’s pension in 1847 but was denied on grounds of failure to prove John Dodgens Forrester had ever served during the Revolutionary War.  (Doing the math, it seems unlikely any of his comrades would have still been alive to vouch for his service.  Plus they were many miles and several mountain ranges away from their home state.)  

A quick look at the 1940 census shows the Forresters, Bolerjacks, DeBoards and other related families were still a strong presence in White County and other parts of Illinois.  While I might not know for sure how Mary Jollett Forrester is related to me, it’s still amazing to see how far that Jollett DNA has spread. 

Three Generations

John Dodgens FORRESTER (Abt. 1750 Culpeper, VA – Abt. 1815 Robertson, TN) & Mary JOLLETT (Abt. 1750 Culpeper, VA – Abt. 1848 White, IL)
1. A. H. (Hezekiah?) FORRESTER (Abt. 1768 Culpeper, VA - )

2. Fielding FORRESTER (10 Jan 1769 Culpeper, VA – After 1850 Rabun, GA) & Elizabeth BRUCE (1770 Culpeper, VA – 1860 Rabun, GA)
  • Milly Rebecca FORRESTER (1796 Wilkes, NC – 1878 Cole, MO) & John FORRESTER
  • Jonathan FORRESTER (1804 Wilkes, NC – 1840 Macon, NC) & Lucinda MILLSAP
3. Delpha FORRESTER (4 Oct 1771 Culpeper, VA - ?) & Joseph GRIFFIN (Abt 1770 - )

4. Lydia FORRESTER (22 Aug 1775 Culpeper, VA – 10 Apr 1847 White, IL) & William DEBOARD (1769 Stokes, NC – 1 Mar 1855 White, IL)
  • Robert DEBOARD (1800 Stokes, NC – 7 Sep 1849 White, IL) & Elizabeth BOLERJACK (1803 Stokes, NC – 1885 White, IL)
  • Hannah DEBOARD (1802 - ) & John COOK (1794 – 1854 Hamilton, IL)
  • Mary Selinda DEBOARD (1807 - ) & Jonathan YATES (1810 – After 1850 White, IL)
  • Elizabeth DEBOARD (1809 – 1865 White, IL) & William SUMMERS (1807 – 1886 White, IL)
  • Winnie DEBOARD (1810 - 1870) & Samuel HILL (1809 – Aft. 1870 White, IL)
  • Solomon DEBOARD (1812 - ) & Elizabeth NICHOLAS (1815 - )
  • Lydia DEBOARD (1813 – 1860) & David SUMMERS (1813 – 1848 White, IL)
  • Mahala DEBOARD (1815 - ) & Isaac SMITH
  • Nancy DEBOARD (1829 – 1860)
5. Jonathan FORRESTER (16 Nov 1778 Culpeper, VA – 8 Jan 1815 New Orleans, LA)

6. John C. FORRESTER (28 Aug 1783 – After 1860 White, IL) & Emily Ann VINYARD (1802 – 1865 White, IL)
**unsure on children

7. Joel FORRESTER (10 Jul 1785 – 8 Jan 1815 New Orleans, LA)

8. James FORRESTER (1787 – 8 Jan 1815 New Orleans, LA)

9. Lucy FORRESTER (2 May 1793 Wilkes, NC – 1872 Hamilton, IL) & John E. BOLERJACK (1795 – 1857 White, IL)
  • Elizabeth BOLERJACK (8 Jun 1821 White, IL – 16 Aug  1899 White, IL) & John Caleb DeBOARD (1826 – 1864 White, IL)
  • James Kent BOLERJACK (12 Jun 1822 White, IL – 4 Nov 1898 White, IL) & Mary Rebecca MCKENZIE (1826 – 1883)
  • Mary Matilda BOLERJACK (1823 – ) & James H. DEMPSEY (1820 - )
  • Elvira BOLERJACK (1826 - )
  • John E. BOLERJACK (1830 –
  • Lucy Emily BOLERJACK (7 Apr 1836 White, IL– 1 Apr 1891 Saline, IL) & M1)William Casey JARRELL, M2) Hiram DEMPSEY (1836 – 1901 Saline, IL)

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. Great tracking, Wendy. It is so interesting to track down the who's where's and why's of a family migration. When dealing with female ancestors especially, one little hint either leads to dozens of leads or smack dab up against a brick wall. Good idea....including the 3 Generation List in this post. Your recording keeping with that and LABELS is amazing. Good job.

    1. It's tedious, but those little records do help me visualize the who's and where's.

  2. Wendy, you have done so much work here. I hope you can connect her up!

    1. Thanks. I feel that I have Mary's down-line. I really want to solidify the up-line.

  3. Oh I can believe that Jonathan, James and Joel could have all died on the same day, but even more likely as I just read (and already guessed) in the book, Family History Detective, by Desmond Walls Allen, that in the old days spelling didn't count, and if the person didn't change their own name in some records, others did it for them. Of course then there's the handwriting and folks trying to decipher that! Nick names happen too, like my grandfather Harold was aka Jake! I give you hands down for all the determination that you so expertly show, and you, and your posts are an inspiration for me. This author really brings home how our sticking to something we feel in our gut to be right, very often is. We just have to keep hammering away.

    1. True. I guess they could have been in a battle or on a boat that sank or something.

  4. Lots of information on a name we've had a long time! Good work girl! You are amazing.

    I wonder if Joel and James Forrester that died on the same day in LA were in an accident?

    1. I wish I could find how they died. I can't even find them in any records for LA.

  5. As ever, a fascinating family history trail. You reminded me of a situation in my own family where I cam across a reference in a local history book to a John Danson of Carleton House who I feel sure must have some connections with my own Danson family of Carleton, but so far, I have not unearthed this. You have prompted me to add this to my lengthy "to do" list!

    1. I'm sure I can match your "to do" list name for name!

  6. Great job with the research! It must be so satisfying to solve some of these mysteries.

  7. Amazing how you've manage to acquire all this detail. Good genealogical sleuthing!

    An A to Z Co-Host
    Tossing It Out

  8. James Kent Bolerjack is my 3rd great grandfather (documented through death and marriage certificates). White County does not have a record of death for James Kent, however they do have a death record for a Joel Bolerjack with John E. and Lucy (Forrester) Bolerjack listed as parents. I hope that helps...for James Kent Bolerjack, I'm going to try Hamilton County next. Unless, of course, if someone tells me there is a Will, Family Bible, or Obituary publicly available that documents his lineage. You've done a great job, keep up the good work!


    1. Nancy, please come back and tell me more. Do you know anything about the Jollett line? Thanks for finding my blog.

  9. All I did was search 8 Jan 1815 and found this on Wikipedia:

    The Battle of New Orleans was fought on January 8, 1815 between the British Army under Major General Sir Edward Pakenham and the United States Army under Brevet Major General Andrew Jackson, roughly 5 miles (8 km) southeast of New Orleans, close to Chalmette, Louisiana.
    The battle took place 18 days after the signing of the Treaty of Ghent, which formally ended the War of 1812on December 24 1814, as news of the agreement had not yet reached the United States from Euro…

    So yes, the heartbreak would be great but three sons were killed in the Battle of New Orleans on 8th of Jan. 1815.

  10. Interesting reading. I had Mary Jouett listed instead of Mary Jollett but she was a bit too young for her first child so I am thinking that this IS the correct one. Too Bad. The Jouett's were very interesting as ancestors. I am descended from Fielding Forister. Sheryl McFarland Powell