John R. Petty was born about 1836 in Tennessee. He was the son of John Petty, but John’s first wife, who was probably the mother of his ten children, is unknown. John’s children besides John R. were: Caroline (married Lemuel Young), Charlotte (married John E. Hambright), Martha (married John W. Martin), Rash P., James, Joseph, Angeline “Ann” (married Wiley Long), Mary Elizabeth (married John Cooper) and an unknown daughter who may have married a Milsapp.
John was in McMinn County, Tennessee, in 1840, in adjoining Bradley County in 1860 and 1870, and in nearby Whitfield County, Georgia, in 1880. I have not located the family in the 1850 census. In 1860, six of John’s children are living with him but no wife so it is likely that she died before then.
It appears John remarried before 1870 when Tabitha Petty (age 57) and Sarah T Carroll (age 10) were living with him, although a marriage record hasn’t been found. Tabitha’s maiden name is unknown, but she previously married a Cooper. Sarah was her granddaughter, the daughter of Tabitha’s daughter Sarah Cooper and her husband Levi Carroll. John married again on 15 February 1881 in Whitfield County, Georgia. This wife was Elizabeth Innman, widow of William Innman.
Family stories (in other branches of the family, not mine) claim that John’s wife and their son-in-law (Charlotte’s husband) both drowned during flooding in the area around 1850. A newspaper article from the Athens Post (McMinn County) published 23 August 1850 tells that John Hambright drowned in the Hiwassee River while attempting to cross it on horseback. The article did not mention flooding or his mother-in-law.
Several descendants of John Petty have autosomal DNA matches to descendants of Americus Bonaparte Maples and Matilda Ann Rose, who lived in Bradley and Sevier County, Tennessee. Possibly one of them is a connection to John R. and his siblings’ mother.
Update 8 May 2021: A Little Progress
A year ago I wrote the previous paragraph noting that Americus Bonaparte Maples and Matilda Ann Rose could be a connection to John R. Petty and his siblings’ mother. It turns out that our DNA group of nineteen John Petty descendants (through children John R., James, Joseph, and Mary Elizabeth) have matches to over forty descendants of Matilda Ann Rose and four of her siblings—Nancy Lanetta, Green Lee, John, and Lorenzo Dow. And there are almost certainly more matches to this family that have not yet been identified. These Rose DNA matches do not connect to the Pettys, so they must connect to John Petty’s unknown wife.
Nancy, Green Lee, John, Lorenzo Dow, and Matilda Ann had connections to the east Tennessee counties of Cocke, Polk, Sevier, and Bradley. They and additional siblings were the children of a John Rose and his wife Didama. This John Rose is probably not the John Rose in Sevier County in 1830 and 1840, but was likely the John Rose in McMinn County in 1840.
While there is still much research to do, it is almost certain that John Petty’s unknown wife was a Rose. If you know anything about this Rose family, please email me.