Who’s your daddy, Sarah Ingram?

I started research on the 32 Ancestors project by visiting my Ancestry.com family tree and picking out one of my 3rd-great-grandparents. I didn’t know much about the Ingrams, so it seemed like a good place to start! My records from years ago said that Sarah “Nettie” Ingram’s (1876-1957) parents were John and Sarah Ingram of Walnut Grove, Mississippi. However, the more I looked in to it, the more I realized that the girl, Nettie Ingram of Walnut Grove, did not line up with the woman, Sarah Nettie Ingram of Greenwood, Mississippi.

I know something of Sarah Ingram from her granddaughters, Mary Ann and Catherine Griffin. My Grandmama Mary Ann remembers her grandmother, Sarah Barnett Ingram, coming to visit the Griffins at their home in Montgomery, Alabama. Sarah was a talented seamstress and she always brought beautiful dresses to share with her granddaughters.

Sarah Ingram married her cousin, George W. Ingram, in 1899. They had three children named Thelma, Godfrey, and George C. In 1912, her husband died and Sarah went to work as a seamstress to support her family.

There is a wealth of information available about Sarah Ingram from the time she got married in 1899 until her death in 1957. However, details about her early life are difficult to find.

Then I found Sarah’s obituary and there were so many more questions than I had started with! Her children were all named correctly, but there were four siblings listed as survivors and I had never heard of them (St. Clair News-Aegis, 1957). Stranger still, they were all Ingrams. Wouldn’t that be Sarah’s in-laws, the siblings of her late husband, George Ingram, and not her own biological brother and sisters?

After careful research, I determined that Sarah’s maiden name was Sarah Barnett Ingram. People called her Nettie, short for Barnett. Her parents were Samuel and Mary J. Ingram (1880 U.S. Census, Coosa County, Alabama). Sarah’s husband, George Ingram, was her first cousins, so yes, they were both Ingrams from birth!

George and Sarah shared common grandparents, Samuel and Susannah Ingram.

After George died, Sarah married George M. Tupper. They had one daughter, Clara Tupper Nunn. When Sarah was in her 70s, she moved in with Clara’s family at their beautiful apartment in the New Orleans French Quarter (New Orleans City Directory 1945).

Now I can write my 32 Ancestors post about my 3rd-great-grandparents, Samuel and Mary J. Ingram.


Google, “Streetview,” digital images, Google Maps (http://maps.google.com : accessed 20 January 2021) photo of 1002 Esplanade Avenue, New Orleans, LA.

“Last Rites Held for Mrs. Sarah Ingram,” St. Clair News-Aegis (Pell City, Alabama), 15 Aug 1957, page 9, col. 4. [database with images] Newspapers.com (http:// newspapers.com : accessed 12 January 2021).

“New Orleans, Louisiana, City Directory, 1945, ” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 12 January 2021).

Samuel Ingram, head of house. “1880 U.S. Census, Coosa, Alabama.” [database with images] Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 12 January 2021).

Sarah Barnett Ingram (1876-1957)

This week I learned about my great-great grandmother, Sarah Ingram. Her husband died in an accident at the mill where he worked and she used her skills as a seamstress to support three young children. I found several ads in an old Greenwood, Mississippi newspaper where she advertised.

Sarah passed her sewing skills down to her daughter and granddaughters. My grandmother, Mary Ann, told me she and her sisters were envied by the other girls in school because they had the most beautiful clothes! This would have been in Montgomery, Alabama, during the 1930s and 1940s.

Grandmama Mary Ann used to make me dresses like the ones in this picture, into the early 1990s. They were so old fashioned, I really hated them. When I was ten, she sent one made of teddy bear fabric with a big (seriously GIANT) white bib and pink sash. This week it started to make more sense. She enjoyed making us beautiful clothes like her mom and grandmother had done for her. I had no idea it was a family tradition and I have a lot more appreciation and respect for my grandmother’s “old fashioned” hobby.

It wasn’t just a hobby to Sarah Ingram and her daughter. It was a necessity and they took pride in their ability to make something beautiful in an otherwise challenging situation.

32 Ancestors Project

Thanks to modern record keeping and DNA testing, it is fairly easy to research parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. Things can start get challenging around the 2nd great-grandparents, and by the time we start to learn about our 3rd great-grandparents, there are so many difficulties with finding accurate records that it takes an experienced family historian or genealogist to form the correct conclusions about who our ancestors are.

Everyone has thirty-two biological 3rd great-grandparents. Those from blended families, including remarriages and adoptions, might include even more ancestors in their family tree!

This year, I’m going to dive in to the notes and records that I’ve collected on my own 3rd great-grandparents. I’ll use the information to write a research report and then pick out the most interesting bits about each person to write a blog post.

I was born around 1980, so my 3rd great-grandparents lived through the Civil War and Reconstruction Era of American history. Some were first generation Americans, while others were from families who had been living in North American for hundreds of years by that point.

In the year 2020, we were plagued by a pandemic, political unrest, and more; but we aren’t the first generation to struggle and overcome adversity. Our ancestors have a lot to teach us about appreciating the time period that we live in, and about what it means to be a citizen of the United States and a citizen of the planet Earth.

In 2021, my goal is to record and share the stories of my “32 Ancestors,” in the hopes that we can learn from the past and realize that we aren’t alone in our struggles. Others have persevered through similar challenges and we are the evidence of their successes.

A Patriot from Colonial North Carolina

The Hicks family has passed down the legend of Colonel Thomas Burwell Davis, an ancestor who served in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. In 2019 they decided to find out how much of the story is true about their Patriot Ancestor.

Burwell Davis was born 14 August 1756 in Granville County, North Carolina located along the Virginia-North Carolina state line. The Davis family came to the area during the Colonial Period, and land records show that they were able to keep the same land in their family for many generations. 

Davis lived in the same community for his entire life, though the name of the county changed three times during his lifetime. When Burwell Davis was born, the community was called Granville County, named for the Earl of Granville, who the locals felt was a British tyrant. In 1764, Bute County was formed from a division of Granville County. In 1779, the North Carolina General Assembly voted to remove the colonial reference to the British Earl of Bute, and renamed the community Warren County, after American Revolutionary War hero, General Joseph Warren. 

During the 1760s, the residents of this farming community on the Virginia-North Carolina border were known for their patriotism. It was said “There are no Tories in Bute,” as the citizens strongly sided with the cause of the American colonists. When war broke out, many local men joined the Continental Army to fight against the British.

In the fall of 1778, Burwell Davis joined the regiment of militia under Colonel Thomas Eaton and General John Ashe at the Bute County Courthouse. He served for a period of six months, seeing action at Briar Creek, South Carolina, and supported American troops who were fighting in Savannah, Georgia, and Charleston, South Carolina. He was discharged and returned home in May of 1779. 

Burwell Davis was drafted a second time in March 1781. He donated a horse to the Continent Army in order to shorten his period of service. Davis served under Captain Thomas Alston of Warren County and Colonel Malmedy, a French immigrant to Rhode Island who was given command of the North Carolina Light Dragoons. After two months, Davis was discharged and returned home in May 1781.

The American Revolution ended on 3 September 1783, when U.S. and British representatives signed the Treaty of Paris. Burwell returned home and started a family. He enjoyed telling his children and grandchildren stirring scenes of his time as a soldier and of life in Colonial America.

Census records from 1790 to 1840 show that Burwell Davis grew in prosperity with each passing decade. At the time of the 1790 U.S. Census, he lived near to his father, Peter Davis. Burwell was the head of a small household, perhaps consisting of himself (free white male age 16 and over), his wife Patsy (free white female), one male child (free white male under age 16), one daughter (free white female), as well as one enslaved person.

By the 1840 U.S. Census, Burwell was the head of a household which contained 40 people. His Will, written 27 June 1842, named many of his children and the enslaved persons who were living in his household. He requested that his estate be kept together for the support of his son, Samuel Davis, and his daughter, Jane Powell. He bequeathed to each of his children a “negro” along with “their increase from this day.”  Additionally, each of his sons received a large tract of land.

On 29 August 1832, Burwell Davis “appeared in open Court before the justices,” and made a statement about his service during the American Revolution. Burwell’s pension record states that his rank was “Private,” and he qualified for a pension of $26.66 per year. Neither his pension record nor his statement at the pension interview mention whether he was ever married nor do they name any other family members. Additionally, the name of the justice who signed the statement of Burwell Davis was Peter R. Davis, but no relationship between the two men was referred to in the document. 

Upon his death in 1846, Burwell Davis was buried in the Shady Grove Methodist Church Cemetery. His headstone reads: 

Burwell Davis

Col. Thomas 

Eaton’s Regt.

Rev. War

His obituary relates that he “commanded in a very high degree the esteem and regard” of his fellow citizens. He was looked upon as a relic of revolutionary times, and the generation “which achieved our country’s freedom and independence.” 

In 1917, the Warren Record did a series of articles on the history of Warren County. They discuss whether it was Burwell Davis, or his father, Peter Davis, who has the honor of being the patriarch of the Davis family in Warren County. The article states that Peter Davis was married twice, and it names ten of his children. The article states that Burwell Davis was married to Patsy Hawkins of Halifax, North Carolina. The couple had eight children: Sallie, Dick, Jennie, Samuel, Nancy, Edward, John S. and Isham. The article continues to say that Burwell Davis was by no means an ordinary man. He was raised in the colonial era and attended school only six months where he learned “reading, writing and ciphering.” As an adult, he “had a great thirst for knowledge,” spending many hours improving his mind by reading books and building an impressive library. Burwell was known as one of the best informed and most interesting men of his day in the county. 


In an affidavit, Burwell Davis states that he was born 14 August 1756, in Bute County, an area known today as Warren County, North Carolina. He was a Patriot during the American Revolutionary War, serving on two different occasions, for a total of eight months, and was discharged with the rank of “Private.”

No records could be found for Colonel Thomas Burwell Davis. However, many “family memories” posted to the Internet name Burwell Davis as “Colonel Thomas Burwell Davis,” perhaps due to misreading the headstone where the name “Colonel Thomas Eaton” is written below that of Davis. 


Burwell Davis Obituary, The Raleigh Register (Raleigh, North Carolina), 01 Sept 1846, p. 2, col 3; digital images, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/55557522 : accessed 10 March 2019).

Burwell Davis household, 1790 U.S. Census, Warren, North Carolina, page 64; image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 March 2019), citing National Archives microfilm publication M637, roll 7.

Federal Writers’ Project, North Carolina: A Guide to the Old North State (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1939).

“North Carolina Probate Records, 1735-1970,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 19 March 2019), entry for Burwell Davis; Warren County Courthouse, North Carolina.

North Carolina, Secretary of State, Granville Proprietary Land Office: Land Entries, Warrants, and Plats of Survey 1748-1763 Lewis Davis 1754 (North Carolina State Archives: Raleigh, North Carolina).

Peter Davis household, 1790 U.S. Census, Warren, North Carolina, page 64; image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 March 2019), citing National Archives microfilm publication M637, roll 7.

T. J. Taylor, “Old Times in Warren: Burwell Davis,” The Warren Record (Warrenton, North Carolina), 16 March 1917, p. 1, col 1-2; digital images, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/55547825 : accessed 10 March 2019).

U.S., Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files (NARA microfilm publication M804, 2,670 rolls). 1832 application of Burwell Davis, aged 76; Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15. National Archives, Washington, D.C.; digital image, Ancestry.com