This is a work in progress. Much of my direct line is documented, but some may not be. If there is a question, I usually include words like “seems likely” or “possibly” in hopes that it may help someone else or eventually get me closer to documentation. Also, I do make errors when transferring info to my files or to the site. If you find errors that you can correct, please e-mail me and I’ll gladly make the changes or if you have more information on anyone mentioned here and can share it, I would be really appreciative.

Martin Nowell
My 7th Great-grandfather, 1700-1779

My seventh great-grandfather was likely Martin Nowell Sr. who was born around 1700. Some think his father was possibly James Nowell Jr. and his mother was Margaret Harwood. His paternal grandfather was possibly James Nowell Sr. That branch of the Nowell family had settled in Dorchester County, MD by 1676 and had likely come from England as it appears they were Episcopalian (posted online by Phyllis Mistrot).


Martin Nowell, Sr. was the father of Dempsey Nowell Sr.
Who was the father of Dempsey Nowell Jr.
Who was the father of Dempsey Nowell III
Who was the father of Catherion Arthur Nowell Williams
Who was the mother of George Dempsey Williams
Who was the father of William L. Williams
Who was the father of Jesse Lloyd “Bo” Williams
Who was the father of Robert Lafayette “Bob” Williams
Who is my father.


By 1736, Martin had migrated to Bertie County, N.C. as records show that on 12 Jun of that year, he purchased a plantation and 100 acres there from William Paget Jr.

Bertie County had been formed as Bertie Precinct in 1722 from the part of Chowan Precinct of Albemarle County lying west of the Chowan River.

Martin was married to Sally (last name unknown) and they had four known children: Dempsey Jr., John, James and Septimus.

Martin died before 1779, likely in Bertie Co., N.C.

Colerain Baptist Church, Colerain, N.C. in Bertie County as it appears today. This building was dedicated in 1911. Dempsey, Jr.’s son, John Nowell, was the minister of the Colerain Baptist Church from 1836 – 1858. My fourth great-grandparents, John Dawson and Zilphia Spruill Castellaw were members of this church until 1824 when they left with 74 others to become charter members of the Capeharts Baptist Church. Around 1833, John led multiple wagon trains of settlers to Haywood County, Tenn.

Demspey Nowell Sr.
My 6th Great-grandfather, 1728-1777

Martin’s son, Dempsey Nowell Sr., my sixth great-grandfather, was born around 1727 in Bertie Co., N.C. He is included in many of the land and tax records for the area throughout the middle and late 1700s.

He also married a Sally with an unknown last name and had many children.

One of his sons was Dempsey Nowell Jr., my fifth great-grandfather, who was born around 1755 in Bertie County.

Dempsey Jr. appears on the Hertford Co., N.C., Tax Lists in the 1770s and 80s.

Dempsey Jr.’s son, John Nowell was one of the earliest ministers of the Colerain Baptist Church which was located near Colerain, N.C. in Bertie County.

Dempsey Nowell III
My 4th Great-grandfather, 1805-1852

Dempsey III, my fourth great-grandfather was born in 1802 in Hertford Co., N.C.

Around 1820, he married Elizabeth Rawls. She was born around 1796 likely in Hertford County, N.C. She was likely the daughter of David Rawls. David died in Hertford County, N.C. in 1819. Elizabeth’s paternal grandfather was likely Moriah Rawls (1760 – 9 May 1812) and her paternal great-grandfather was likely Absalom Rawls (b. 1730).

In the 1830 census of Hertford Co., N.C., Dempsey Nowell III owned 12 slaves.

In 1832, Dempsey sold land to Seth Nowell and Isaac Nowell as he prepared for his move to Haywood County, Tenn.

Zion Baptist Church illustrated by D.T. Wright based on verbal history from family members. Source: “A History of Zion Baptist Church” by Bernie W. Cobb

By 7 Mar 1833, Dempsey Nowell III had migrated his family from Bertie County, N.C. to Haywood County, Tenn. As the population grew and cotton began replacing tobacco as the primary crop in the south, more land was needed. Farmers from Virgnia and the Carolinas began migrating west to settle land that had been previously occupied by Indians. Map Source

Demspey and Elizabeth, along with their five children, migrated to Haywood County, Tenn. by 7 Mar 1833, which is where their sixth child, Sarah Mariah Nowell, was born.

Dempsey III was ordained a deacon at Zion Baptist Church in Haywood Co. in March 1839. Zion was still a very new church at the time, having begun in Nov 1836. The pastor was George Williams and five years after he was ordained a deacon, Dempsey III’s daughter, Catherion, would marry George Williams’ son, Sol.

Sol and Catherion are my third great-grandparents.

In the 1840 U.S. Census of Madison Co., Tenn., Dempsey III was 35, had a household of seven and owned 15 slaves.

It appears Elizabeth Rawls Nowell died in 1844 at the age of 48 after the birth of her 10th child, also named Elizabeth (she died before she was six).

The children of Dempsey III and Elizabeth were: Emily, Martha Ann, Catherion Arthur, George Thomas, Lemuel Foster, Sarah “Sally” Maria Augustus, Carolina Rebecca, Edgar John, Jacob Washington and Elizabeth.

In 1845, Dempsey III married Elizabeth Caroline McNeil. Together, they had a son named William Arthur Nowell who was born 14 Feb 1846. It appears this child was dead before 1850. Dempsey’s second wife died in 1849.

Finally, it appears Dempsey III married Nancy Outlaw. Nancy had joined Zion Baptist Church, where Dempsey was a deacon, in August 1849.

Dempsey III died 27 Nov 1852 in Haywood County.

J.O. White and Lemuel Foster Nowell were the administrators of his will. It was witnessed by Mathias Baker, William J. Baker and the bondsmen were Joseph W. Rawls, Mathias Baker, George E. Thomas, and George Thomas Nowell.

These gentlemen were all closley tied to Dempsey III and were all settlers of Haywood County.

J.O. White married Dempsey III’s daughter, Martha Ann, and Joseph W. Rawls married his daughter, Emily “Mit.” George Thomas Nowell and Lemuel Foster Nowell were his sons. George E. Thomas was his pastor at Zion and Mathias Baker was Dempsey III’s brother-in-law, married to his wife’s sister, Mary Rawls and then, after her death, to another sister, Rebecca Rawls.

Mathias was also granted custody of Dempsey III’s son, Jacob, who was around 13 at the time of his father’s death.

According to the will, which was proved in court 6 Dec 1852, Dempsey III owned 666 acres of land and many slaves at the time of his death.

Unless the names are a coincidence, it appears Dempsey III’s third wife had died in a mential facility a few months before him.

“July 31, 1852 – Died at the Lunatic Asylum, near Nashville on the 15th inst., Mrs. Nancy Nowal, wife of Mr. Dempsey Nowel, of Haywood.”
From “Marriages and Deaths from Mississippi Newspapers”, Vol. 1, 1837-1863 compiled by Betty Couch Wiltshire, p. 5

The children of Dempsry Nowell III and Elizabeth Rawls were:

Last First Born Location Born Died Location Died Spouse
Nowell Emily “Mit” 15 Aug 1822 Hertford Co., N.C. 1869 age: 47 Haywood Co., TN Joseph Rawls
b. 1809
d. 1887
age: 78
The children of Joseph and Emily Nowell Rawls were: Elizabeth M. Rawls, Ann M. Rawls Curlin (married John Curlin), Mary Catherine Rawls Shaw (married W.J. Shaw), Johann Campbell Rawls Herring (married Richard Grady Herring), William L., Cena Foster Rawls (married A.A. Rawls), Thomas Lemuel Rawls (married Laura A. Leath), (Cena and Thomas were twins) and Joseph John Marion Rawls.

In the 1860 census, the family lived one farm away from Emily’s sister, Catherion, her husband, Sol, and their children in Haywood County. (Catherion and Sol were my 3rd great-grandparents)

Joseph is listed as a physician, farmer and Justice of the Peace. He was the son of Shadrach and Nancy McWhorter Rawls and the grandson of John Rawls and Mary Vaughn Rawls.

On Jan 5 1866, Tom Cobb wrote in his diary, “Went to J. W. Rawls with J. F. Watridge, and Edward Steele to fix up some contracts.” J.F. Watridge is my third great-grandfather.

Thomas L. Rawls was part of the group from Zion Baptist Church that started Holly Grove Baptist Church in Haywood County in 1885.

In the Haywood Co. court minutes (Bk J:308,5 Sep 1870), Alexander Duckworth was appointed “guardian” for minor children of Emily Nowell: William L., Jno. M., Thomas and Cena F. He was likely overseeing the execution of Mitt Rawl’s will since Alexander Duckworth was clerk and master of the chancery court of Brownsville, Tenn. (in Haywood Co.) during that time.

Duckworth had joined the Confederate Army in 1862, as a lieutenant and then was promoted to captain of Company L., Seventh Regiment, Tennessee Cavalry. He was wounded in the right arm in a cavalry skirmish in Collierville, Tenn. and returned to Haywood Co. where he finished his law degree and began practicing law.

Nowell Martha Ann Elizabeth 11 Feb 1824 Bertie Co., N.C. 27 Apr 1887 age: 63 Haywood Co., TN Jacob O. White
b. 5 Aug 1897
m. 21 Dec 1916
d. May 1969 age: 72
Martha Ann Elizabeth Nowell married Jacob O. White in 1843. He was the son of Whitmell White and Elizabeth Bass of Bertie Co., N.C.

Sim Cobb

According to Joe H. Cobb’s book, Martha and Jacob White’s farm was located at Cobb Switch. Their daughter, Rebecca Caroline, married Sim Cobb who later owned the property.

When Jacob sold his land to the Memphis and Ohio railroad on 9 Jun 1859, he reserved the rights to the timber.

The Zion minutes from 13 Aug 1860 include, “On motion resolved that this church pay Bro. J.O. White sixteen dollars for 8 benches which he had furnished.” Eight others being furnished by him were referenced in earlier minutes.

10 of the 11 children of Jacob and Martha Nowell White were: Nelly Elizabeth White Cobb (married Sim Cobb), Thomas White (died as a young man), Meda Mathias White (married Mary A. Booth), John Foster White (married Sarah Alice Herring), Rebecca Caroline White Cobb (also married Sim Cobb after her sister’s death), James L. White (married Harriett “Miss Tiney” Ann Justina Cobb), William B. “Buck” White married Sallie I.), Mary Caldonia White (married James H. Carvin), Emily Jane White and William Marcellus White.

James L. White and his wife, Miss Tiney, were the parents of Oscar White who married Addie Lovelace and, after her death, her sister, Alice Lovelace. Another of James White and Miss Tiney’s daughters, Minnie Lee White, married James Thomas Watridge who was a brother of Martha Jane Watridge. Martha Jane Watridge married George Demspey Williams and they were my second great-grandparents.

Obituary of Martha Nowell White
Sister Martha A.E. White departed this life the 27th day of April 1887, aged 63 years 2 months and 19 days. She was borned in Bertie County, North Carolina February 11, 1824. Came to state of Tennessee Haywood county with her father, Dempsey Nowell, when a child. Professed faith in Christ when quite young and was baptized in the fellowship of the church worshiping at Zion and was a member till her death.
She was married to Bro. J.O. White in the year 1843 and lived a widow 20 years from his death. She was the mother of 11 children and raised them all to be grown but one and all her children now living are members of the church but one. She was good kind and an affectionate mother and neighbor. Her latter days were her best days and after a long spell of sickness she departed in a bull triumph of a living faith. Her last words were in prayer to the Heavenly Father to take her to him to rest.
Jesus made her dying bed Soft as downy pillows are
While on her breast she leaned her head
And breathed her life out sweetly there.
A.J. Outlaw
J.C.W. Cobb

Nowell Catherion Arthur 06 Feb 1828 Hertford Co., N.C. 03 Aug 1895 age: 67 Haywood County, TN
burried: possibly Williams Family Cemetery
George Solomon “Sol” Williams
b. 1820
m. 6 Feb 1844
d. 1864
age: 44
Nowell George Thomas 4 Nov 1829 Hertford Co., N.C. 3 Mar 1868 age: 38 Haywood Co., TN Sarah Minnie Drake
b. 1829
It appears very possible that George Thomas is the “G. T. Nowell” who was a captain in Co. “D” in the Tennessee 14th Cavalry Regiment which had been organized June 8, 1863 at Jones Depot in Haywood County.

In the 1860 census, living with George and Sarah was Elizabeth Temperance “Bet” Outlaw. In 1866, Bet married William Thomas “Tom” Cobb. They are my third great-grandparents.

George and Sarah had three sons: Thomas Dempsey Nowell, William M. Nowell (married Fannie V.) and Virgil Asker Nowell (married Maud S.).

William M. Nowell married Frances V. Dacus 21 Jan 1888. They had six children. He died 15 Apr 1936 at the age of 76 and was buried in Walls Cemetery in Braden, Tenn.

In the census of 1900, Thomas Dempsey Nowell was a living with his brother Virgil in Tipton County. His occupation was listed as dry goods salesman. In 1920, he was single and his occupation was furniture salesman. He died suddenly of a stroke 24 Feb 1922 at the age of 57 and was buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery in Mason, TN.

Virgil was a merchant and farmer. He married Maud Sherrod in 1892. They had one daughter, Nellie Duke Nowell. Virgil died 1 Jun 1938. He and Maud were also buriedin Cedar Hill Cemetery.

Nowell Lemuel Foster 15 Dec 1831 Hertford Co., N.C. 1859 age: 28 Arkansas
Lem was likely in Arkansas at the time of his death, according to this source: “Estate Records of L.F. Nowell. Expenses – remains from Ark and burial $167.50.” Some places online indicate he may have married someone named Elizabeth.
Nowell Sarah “Sally” Maria Augustus 1833 Haywood Co., Tenn. 1870/80 Charles H. Moore
Sarah was the first child of Dempsey and Elizabeth to be born in Haywood County.
Nowell Edgar John Dec 1835 Haywood Co., Tenn. 30 Sep 1852 age: 16 Haywood Co., Tenn.
Nowell Caroline Rebecca 15 Mar 1838 Haywood Co., Tenn. Before 1840 age: 2 or younger Haywood Co., Tenn.
Nowell Caroline Rebecca 15 Mar 1838 Haywood Co., Tenn. Before 1840 age: 2 or younger Haywood Co., Tenn.
Nowell Jacob Washington 30 Sep 1839 Haywood Co., Tenn. 23 Oct 1904 age: 65 Vilonia, Faulkner Co., Ark. Martha Jane Robinson
b. 07 Jan 1838
m. 4 Jul 1860
d. 11 Dec 1913
Jacob was around 13 when his father, Dempsey Nowell III, died in 1852. Mathias Baker, his maternal uncle, was appointed guardian.

He married Mary Jane Robinson in 1860.

Shortly after his marriage, Jacob enlisted in the Confederate Army as a 1st Sergeant in Company F, 7th Calvary Regiment for Tennessee. He enlisted on 4 Nov 1861 when he was 22 years old. According to research shared on this site, he was captured during the Siege of Vicksburg in the summer of 1863. He was paroled in Memphis on 20 May 1865 and returned to Haywood Co.

As soon as he arrived home, he and his wife joined the local church. The Zion Baptist Church minutes for 19 Aug 1865 include the following reference to Jacob: “Brother Jacob W. Nowell and his wife, Jane, received into church.”

The Joe H. Cobb book includes the fact that John D. Cobb purchased land in 1870 that had been part of Jacob W. Nowell’s estate. According to Haywood Co. court minutes, Mathias Baker petitioned court to sell Jacob’s land. The highest bidder was Solomon Williams. Although, I don’t think this is the husband of Jacob’s sister, Catherion since he was already deceased in 1870. (Sol and Catherion are my third great-grandparents).

In the census of 1870, Jacob was still a resident of District 5 in Haywood Co. but by 1880, he and Jane had migrated to Faulkner, Arkansas. He was the only one of Dempsey’s children to leave the Haywood Co. area.

Jacob Nowell died 23 Oct 1904 at the age of 65 and was burried in the Cypress Valley Cemetery.

The children of Jacob and Martha Jane were Anna Elizabeth Nowell, Earnest Algernon Nowell, Lemuel Edgar (named after two of Jacob’s brothers) Nowell, Albert Sidney Nowell and Virgil Adolphus Nowell.

Nowell Elizabeth 20 Aug 1843 Haywood Co., Tenn. Before 1850 age: 7 or younger Haywood Co., TN
Elizabeth Nowell died soon after the birth of her last child on 20 Aug 1843. They named the baby Elizabeth after her mother. The child Elizaeth died before she reached the age of 7.


Catherion Nowell Williams
My 3rd Great-grandmother, 1821-1895

Catherion Arthur Nowell Williams was born in Bertie County, North Carolina on 6 Feb 1828.

She moved with her parents from Bertie County, NC to Haywood County, TN around 1833. She was baptized and joined Zion Baptist Church at the age of 13.

She married George Solomon “Sol” Williams on 6 Feb 1844 when she was just 16 and he was 24.

Sol had also come to Haywood County as a young boy when his father became the first minister at Zion Baptist Church.

Eventually, Sol and Catherion had eleven children together.

In the US Census of 1850, Sol and Catherion were living in District 11 of Madison County, TN with their two young children, Elizabeth who was six and my second great grandfather, George Dempsey, who was four.

The family was living next door to Sol’s parents Rev. George and Nancy Williams and their daughter Harriet Ann Williams who was 17.

In the US Census of 1860, Sol was 39, Catherion was 33 and they had moved to District 5 of Haywood County. Elizabeth was 15, George was 13 and the family had added three more children: John who was nine, Edward who was seven and William E., who was two.

I beleive the Williams farm was in the area of Poplar Corner Road in the area of J.L. Williams Road. Family members have shared oral history of homes and farms belonging to Williams family members in the years following the Civil War. My paternal grandparent’s first home was in this area, down J.L. Williams Rd., which has never been paved, and the Williams family cememtery is slightly to the west of here on the Booth Family Farm. I am told you can still find pieces of old homes burried in the ground in this area.
The family was farming a large amount of land in 1860 with real estate valued at $12,500 and personal estate valued at $12,185. That figure most likely included a number of slaves.

In 1860, they were living one farm away from Joseph and Emily Rawls, their daughter and son-in-law, and their very large family. Joseph is listed as a “Physician and Farmer” and was from North Carolina. Joseph was possibly a distant relative from Catherion’s mother’s side of the family but I have not made that connection.

Sol died at the age of 44 in 1864. Was he killed in the Civil War? There are two Confederate soldiers named “Solomon Williams.”

One enlisted in Company D, 7th Infantry Regiment Tennessee and the other in Company E, Newsom’s Cavalry Regiment Tennessee.

After Sol’s death, Catherion continued to run the farm.

In the US Census of 1870, Catherion is 42 years old and is farming land that in the post-war south had dropped in value from $12,000 to $4,000 and a personal estate that had decreased from $12,000 to $1,000. Living with her are her children, John who is age 19, Edward who is 16, William E. who is 11, Catherine E. who is 10 and Rebecca M. who is 6.

Her son, George D., and his wife, Martha Jane Watridge Williams (and my second great grandparents), were living on the farm next door with their 9-month-old baby, E. L. who died before the next census.

In the US Census of 1880, at 52 years old, Catherion was the “Head of Household” and the family was still in District Five. Living with her were her children John N. who was 28, William E. who was 22, Katherine, who was 20, Rebecca who was 17 and a 50-year-old black male named Richard Traylor who was described as a “servant.”

Catherion lived 31 years as a widow and died 3 August 1895 at the age of 67.
Catherion Nowell Williams Obituary
Sister C.A. Williams is gone. She was born in North Carolina Bertie County Feb 6, 1828. Her parents moved to Tennessee Haywood County when she was quite young. She professed faith in Christ and was baptised into the fellowship of Zion Church by Elder Hugh Coffen at the age of 13 years which she lived a consistent member til her death. She was married February 6, 1844, and was the mother of eleven children of whom 5 are living and members of the Baptist church. She departed this life the 3rd day of August 1895 being 67 years 5 months old. Our loss is her gain and we say to her relations and friends to strive to meet her in Heaven where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest. September 14, 1895.
Written by J.C.W. Cobb (a son of one of my third great grandparents, John Hardy Cobb and Harriett Castellaw Cobb) W.T. Morris, Zion Baptist Church Book of Obituaries
Where were Sol and Catherion buried?
I beleive Sol and Catherion Williams are among the Williams family members who are burried in a clump of trees in a cotton field near the location of their family farm. My father had mentioned to me that when he and his father, Lloyd “Bo” Williams would go hunting, Bo would point over to a section of a cotton field and tell him that his own grandfather (refering to Sol and Catherion’s son, George Dempsey Williams) was burried there.

My father and one of his childhood friends, Milton Booth, both remember a cemetery and that there were several headstones inside an iron fence.

One day, Milton Booth took me back through the cotton field to check it out. While no headstones remain, the remnents of an iron fence is still visable. I returned with my father in the winter when the brush had died in hopes of finding some headstones but found none.

The death certificate of one of Sol and Catherion’s sons, George Williams, indicates that he was burried in the “Family Buriel Ground” and a relative was recently able to confirm the location. Of course, if Sol was killed in the Civil War, its certainly possibly his body was never recovered.