The Family of Landron and Jessie Boney

Jessie Lee Cashwell Boney’s Ancestors

Jessie’s parents were Anna Marie Matthis and Joseph Leon Cashwell, “Mama” and “Papa”. We know quite a lot about Mama’s family history and comparatively little about Papa’s.

The earliest of Mama’s ancestors that we know of are the North, Rackley and Sloan families, all of whom were in Virginia in the 17th century. Edward Rackley came to Virginia in 1639. (Landron’s mother was also a descendant of this Rackley/North line, and this is how Landron and Jessie are second cousins once removed.)

We know of many other family names in Mama’s heritage: Blanchard, Bowen, Bradley, Chesnutt, Colwell, Driver, Ezzell, Fennell, Jones, Larkins, Leath, Matthis (Matthews), Person, Portivint, Price, Robinson, Spell, Tolar. Of these, we know the most about the Matthis and Robinson lines.

Mama’s Matthis lineage has been well documented back to about 1720. There is uncertainty before then: her first Matthis forbear in America may have been Ezekial (also spelled Zeakell), or it may have been Ezekial’s parents. Ezekial’s son Edmund was either born in Virginia, or else immigrated with his parents when he was a year old. The family comes from either Wales or England.

It is certainly the case that Ezekial and his family lived in Isle of Wight County, Virginia, and that Edmund was born around 1720. Edmund married Mary (called “Molly”, or perhaps “Polly”) Price. According to family lore, Mary’s father did not approve of the match, and the couple eloped. They moved to Southampton County, Virginia, on the Nottoway River. In 1745 they moved to what is now Sampson County. Edmund and Mary were among the first to settle in the Taylors Bridge area, one of the earliest settlements in Sampson. Over the years they acquired nearly 2,000 acres of land along Six Runs and Crane creeks. Edmund was a Justice of the Peace, and also served in the North Carolina Militia during the Revolutionary War.

Mama is descended from Edmund and Mary through two different lines: through their son James (1764–1850), and through their son Zacheus (c. 1773–c. 1843).

James married Margaret (“Peggy”) Sloan (1770?–1806?). (Jessie probably didn’t know of this Sloan connection, through which we are related to the Sloans of Garland and thereby to Dr. Frank Porter Graham, whose career Jessie admired.) Their plantation, “White Oak”, was on the south side of Six Runs Creek, not far from Edmund and Mary’s property. Their daughter Margaret (called “Peggy”, like her mother) is Mama’s great grandmother.

James’s brother Zacheus lived his entire life on the plantation founded by his parents. He was one of the youngest of their twenty-two children, and was born when his mother was over fifty years old. He married Mary “Polly” Colwell (1789–1864), daughter of John Colwell and Elizabeth Spell, another Sampson County family. Sampson County court records show that Zacheus was “exempt from poll tax on account of being blind.”

Elizabeth Ann Robinson Matthis, “Granny Betsy”

Marshal Hooks Matthis

Marshal Hooks Matthis (1827–1887) was the youngest of Zacheus and Polly’s children, and he inherited the old family plantation. He built a house near the original house built by Edmund, using some of the timbers from the old house. He married Elizabeth (“Betsy”) Ann Robinson (1833–1929), and the couple had ten children. The oldest of these was Jessie’s grandfather John Oliver Matthis (1854–1920), who married Mary Ellen Robinson. John and Ellen’s oldest child, Anna (1881–1969), was Jessie’s mother.

The Robinson lineages of the Black River area are quite convoluted. At one time there were three George Robinsons living in southern Sampson County, each apparently unrelated to the other two. They were known by their nicknames: “Red-Headed George”, “Squealing George” and “Hollering George”. The first two of these are Mama’s ancestors. Squealing George married Red-Headed George’s sister Margaret, and they are the parents of Mama’s grandmother Betsy Ann Robinson.

Red-Headed George’s wife was also named Margaret—she is the Peggy Matthis (daughter of James and Peggy Sloan Matthis) mentioned earlier. Their son Abner Robinson (1824–1903) was the father of Mary Ellen, Mama’s mother. Abner was a captain in the Conferate Army, and was a North Carolina senator in 1889. This Robinson line traces back to the William Robinson who was one of the pioneering settlers of the Taylors Bridge area, moving there in about 1762.

So Jessie’s grandparents John Oliver and Mary Ellen Robinson Matthis were second cousins on the Robinson side, and second cousins once removed on the Matthis side.

We know much less about Jessie’s Cashwell roots. As Jessie put it, the Cashwells “just dropped out of the sky”, perhaps meaning they were relatively recent arrivals in Sampson County. Jessie’s father was Joseph Leon Cashwell, son of Miles and Louisa Cashwell, who lived near present-day Garland. Jessie saw little of her father’s family, apparently because “Mama” didn’t much care for her in-laws. And possibly because Mama was afraid of getting saddled with a maiden Cashwell sister.

There is a story that Miles’s father was a bigamist. According to this story, he had one family in Fayetteville and another in Garland, each unaware of the other for many years. He had established a “freight line” from Fayetteville to Garland, allowing him to shuttle quickly between the two towns. Jessie never took the story seriously, and it is pretty well debunked by the fact that neither the railroad nor the town of Garland existed before 1890, when the Cape Fear & Yadkin Valley Railroad laid down a line from Fayetteville to Wilmington. Miles was born around 1830.