Monday, August 3, 2015

52 Ancestors: One Easy Guy to Find

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.

John Wesley Jollett and Sarah Elizabeth Smith Jollett
John Wesley and Sarah Elizabeth
photo courtesy of Jan Hensley

While last week’s 52 Ancestors prompt was to write about an ancestor difficult to research, this week calls for an EASY ancestor. Without doubt the title goes to John Wesley Jollett, brother of my great-great grandfather James Franklin Jollett. John Wesley left a strong paper trail including a consistent presence in the census records, deeds, a will, a homestead listing, some chancery causes, and numerous mentions in newspapers.

John Wesley Jollett was the second child and oldest son of Fielding and Mary Ann Armentrout Jollett. He was born in the Naked Creek community of Rockingham County, Virginia on April 6, 1832. He grew up close to his future bride, Sarah Elizabeth Smith, daughter of Manson Smith and Melinda Hensley. The two married in 1852 and raised 5 children.

From 1850 to 1880, John Wesley was enumerated in the census as a farmer. His property grew in value from $500 in 1860 to $8000 in 1870. He had purchased a few small tracts of land in 1858 and then in 1859, the latter being 37 acres belonging to his father Fielding Jollett. The significant jump in value can be attributed to the purchase of his wife’s grandparents’ 180 acre-farm in 1866.

John Wesley is a bit of a legend in Page County because the community where he grew up was named in his honor:  Jollett Hollow (or “Holler” as they say in the valley). He was a Methodist minister even though he was not enumerated as such until the 1900 census. I am assuming he had been both a minister and farmer for some time but enumerated as only one of those, but I am not sure.

Jollett United Methodist Church Jollett Hollow, Page Co, VA
Jollett United Methodist Church
The Jollett United Methodist Church was built on land donated to the community by John Wesley Jollett and is the same one where he spread the Word to friends and neighbors. He also gave the land for the cemetery behind his home and the church. He and his wife Sarah Elizabeth are both buried there as are three of their children. 

Jollett Methodist Church Cemetery on the hill
Cemetery on the hill - to the left of the church

John Wesley Jollett had other duties besides marrying and burying the citizens of Jollett Hollow. At times he was the postmaster. He was also a trustee of the school board. Certainly he was regarded highly in the community. A brief obituary appeared in The Richmond Times Dispatch.

His obituary in the local paper attests to how well-loved he was:

Rev. John W. Jollett , a venerable local Methodist preacher, died at his home at Jolletts, this county [Page], Wednesday night, aged eighty-five years. Mr. Jollett had been in excellent health until a year or two ago when heart disease began to trouble him a great deal. He was conscious till the last and spoke comforting words to the loved ones around him. His aged wife has also been in a serious condition for some time.

Mr. Jollett was well known and much loved by the people in the upper end of the county and East Rockingham among whom he had ministered spiritually for a great many years. He was a preacher of earnestness and force and ready to go where he needed without thought of reward. His disposition was kindly and he had brotherly love for all mankind. He was thrifty in his habits and besides his little farm at Jolletts owned four dwellings in Shenandoah where he resided until a few years ago. At one time he was a corporation school trustee. Three children survive him. Mrs. T. W. Meadows of Jollett, John B. Jollett of Sparrows Point, Md, and Charles Jollett of Portsmouth, VA, all of whom are expected to be at the funeral. The remains will be buried in the graveyard near the late home of the deceased. At this hour the time for the funeral has not been set.
The Page News and Courier: Issue of 20 Oct. 1916 page 1 column 3

Tombstone of John Wesley and Sarah Elizabeth Jollett
Tombstone of
John Wesley and Sarah Elizabeth Jollett

Surely everyone wants to be remembered so fondly. But I question some of the words. Was John Wesley Jollett really so “thrifty in his habits” or did he run up against an economic downturn that caused him to declare bankruptcy in 1871?

For several months this announcement
ran in a number of newspapers in Virginia.

His Homestead exemption that same year protected the family home from creditors. He still owed his in-laws $200 for the purchase of Gabriel Smith’s farm in 1866, which was to have been paid off in three years.

Homestead of John Wesley Jollett 1871
transcription of the Homestead
Click to enlarge

Homestead of John Wesley Jollett 1871
Click to enlarge

“[M]uch loved,” “kindly” “brotherly love for all mankind” – I wonder if Montello Utz would have used those words. In 1867, Montello agreed to pay John Jollett $150 for a horse that Jollett had promised was a superior workhorse able to pull anything hitched to it. Even though Montello was initially skeptical, he put his faith in the respected community leader and preacher. However, the horse did not measure up. In fact, it was worthless. Montello asked for his money back, but John Jollett refused to take it back or forgive the loan. The result was a lawsuit in 1869.

Probably Montello felt the Karma bus had come around when John Jollett’s barn burned in 1897 – uninsured.

News article about burning of John Wesley Jollett's barn
Richmond Gazette Feb 23, 1897

Two Generations of John Wesley Jollett and Sarah Elizabeth Smith

John Wesley JOLLETT (6 Apr 1832 Rockingham Co, VA – 18 Oct 1916 Page Co, VA) & Sarah Elizabeth SMITH (22 May 1834 Rockingham Co, VA – 30 Jan 1917 Page Co, VA)  21 Feb 1853 Rockingham Co, VA

1. Artubine Joseph JOLLETT (16 Dec 1853 Page Co, VA – 27 Oct 1862 Page Co, VA)

2. Mary Etta Virginia JOLLETT ( 1854 Page Co, VA – Before 1900 Page Co, VA) & Hiram Franklin MEADOWS (14 Sep 1849 – 22 Feb 1911 Page Co, VA)

  • Margaret Elizabeth “Maggie” MEADOWS (May 1872 Page Co, VA – 31 Mar 1906 Page Co, VA) & Casper Monroe BAILEY (1868 Page Co, VA – 6 Dec 1943 Page Co, VA)
  • Virenda E. MEADOWS (1874 Page Co, VA – 1 Aug 1882 Page Co, VA)
  • Zebedee MEADOWS (1878 Page Co, VA – 11 Sep 1882 Page Co, VA)
3. Matilda Catherine JOLLETT (16 Feb 1858 Page Co, VA – 24 Jan 1953 Page Co, VA) & Thomas Wesley MEADOWS (15 Jan 1854 Page Co, VA – 4 Feb 1941 Page Co, VA)

  • Sarah Armenta MEADOWS (Apr 1874 Page Co, VA – 3 Mar 1923 Keyser, WV) & Charles Wesley STANLEY
  • William Dorsey MEADOWS (17 Apr 1876 Page Co, VA – 28 Dec 1959) & m1) Sarah Arminta Sadie STANLEY ; m2) Mattie Mae TAYLOR
  • John Wesley MEADOWS (1878 Page Co, VA - ) & Carrie Lee MERICA
  • Rosetta MEADOWS (3 Jun 1883 Page Co, VA – 17 Apr 1978 Elkton, VA) & Tally Walter EPPARD
  • Lillie Florence MEADOWS (8 Feb 1885 Page Co, VA – 21 Aug 1954 Norge, VA) & Thomas Franklin HIGGS
  • Nora A. MEADOWS (16 May 1887 Page Co, VA – 12 Feb 1960 Elkton, VA) & Edward Clinton DEARING
  • Maggie L. MEADOWS (6 Jun 1889 Page Co, VA – 5 Feb 1981 Waynesboro, VA) & John M. SMITH
  • Clinton Thomas MEADOWS (8 Mar 1891 Page Co, VA – 25 Feb 1949 Toano, VA) & Matilda SMITH
  • Mary Hattie MEADOWS (5 Jul 1894 Page Co, VA – 31 Dec 1975 Elkton, VA) & Lester L. BAUGHER
  • Martha Frances MEADOWS (5 Jul 1895 Page Co, VA – 8 Jun 1979 Page Co, VA) & Charles Zuttie SMITH
  • Charles Marvin MEADOWS (28 Jul 1897 Page Co, VA – Jun 1964 Waynesboro, VA) & Bertha Lee DEAN
4. John B. JOLLETT (30 Jan 1867 Page Co, VA – Aft 1940 Baltimore, MD) & Fannie Bell GRIFFITH (Mar 1872 – Before 1940) 13 Dec 1883

  • Elizabeth Florence “Bessie” JOLLETT (11 Jun 1885 Page Co, VA – 29 Oct 1963 Mineral, WV) & Thomas Jefferson STANLEY II
  • Lillian JOLLETT (May 1890 Page Co, VA - ) & William Alfred GORDON
  • Hunter David JOLLETT (Mar 1892 Page Co, VA – Before 1914) & Vera Alice ANDERSON
  • Marion JOLLETT (1889 Page Co, VA – 8 Feb 1892 Page Co, VA)
  • Clarence William JOLLETT (18 Aug 1894 Page Co, VA – Before 1940 Baltimore, MD) & Emma BAUER
  • Charles Merritt JOLLETT (7 Mar 1898 Page Co, VA - ) & May TANNEHILL
5. Charles Belsin Lewis JOLLETT (29 Aug 1871 Page Co, VA – 15 Jan 1939 Portsmouth, VA) & Nannie June FOGG (Aug 1872 Rappahannock VA – 30 Jun 1947 Portsmouth, VA) 24 Jun 1890 Page Co, VA

  • Gracie Elizabeth JOLLETT (17 Sep 1891 Page Co, VA – 24 Dec 1977 Portsmouth, VA) & Jefferson Calvin ELLIS
  • Frances Lucretia JOLLETT (17 Apr 1894 Page Co, VA – 8 Jul 1950 Portsmouth, VA) & Robert Lloyd CUTCHIN
  • Charles Sherman JOLLETT (22 Sep 1897 Page Co, VA – 29 Aug 1957 Hampton, VA)
  • Wrennie Louise JOLLETT (22 Jun 1900 Page Co, VA – 18 Aug 1977 Virginia Beach, VA) & David Gregory HOLLAND
  • Mary Virginia JOLLETT (1905 - ) & m1) Willis Thomas JOHNSTON; m2) Edward BOHKEN

© 2015, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. A complex man it seems. What a lovely view towards the hill from the cemetery.

  2. Now this was a man with many hats to his honor! Wow. I was so interested in Jollett Hollow too I had to google it and there is so much tagged to it.

  3. Don't you just love it when they leave such a clear trail? Oh if only more of the ancestors had done that.

  4. Wonderful. You deserve an easy one once in a while!

  5. Seemed like an interesting man!


  6. haha, a deal is a deal, and the karma bus keeps rollin'

  7. I love when I discover part of a town named after my ancestor. Makes our hearts bulge with pride, doesn't it?

  8. So Charles Merritt and May Tannehill were my Grandfather and Grandmother. My father was Edgar Warren Jollett. I was to actually be named Charles if I were a boy. ��
    Kathy Jollett Holthouser

    1. Hello Kathy, We have communicated before, years ago when I had a website on Geocities (Jollett Hollar). I thought about you when I wrote a story just a couple weeks ago about Charles Merritt and his father John B. I hope you saw it. I wondered if you were aware of Charles being married previous to May Tannehill. I hope you see this response and will contact me again.