Even though I haven’t located the Petty family in the 1850 census, there are a few other things that seem to tie John R. to the Bradley County family.
From newspaper clippings about John R.’s daughter (my great-grandmother), Samantha Angeline Petty Hankins, I know that John R. served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. Samantha said she was born in Dalton, Georgia (Whitfield County) in 1861 and that’s where her family lived during the war. She said that shortly after the war her father moved the family to Tennessee and later to Kentucky.
There were several Confederate soldiers named John Petty, but the only one likely to be John R. was the John R. Petty who joined the 43rd Infantry on 13 Nov 1861 at Charleston, Tennessee. Old John Petty’s known sons James and Joseph A. also joined that day at Charleston. Even though John R. was living in neighboring Whitfield County, Georgia, it would make sense that he returned home to join the army, especially if James and Joseph were his brothers. The third brother from John Petty’s 1860 household, Rash, joined this same unit at Charleston on 1 Dec 1862.
There is a discrepancy between the age of my John R. and the John R. Petty who joined the 43rd. His age was listed as 35 when he joined in 1861 when my John R. would have been about 25. (He was listed as 24 in the 1860 census and 34 in 1870.) I’m not willing to rule him out just based on this because everything else makes sense. I know John R. was in the Confederate army and I know he lived in the Dalton, Georgia area at that time. There were four John Pettys who joined from Georgia, but all had different middle initials and none joined near the Whitfield County area. There were also four other John Pettys who joined from Tennessee, but three had different middle initials and all four joined units that were formed far away from the area where John R. lived. There were also a few John Pettys who joined Alabama and North Carolina units, but none of them were in a location near Dalton either and most of them had different middle initials. Therefore, based on the records available, the John R. Petty in the 43rd is the only one who could be my John R.
There is also a discrepancy with Joseph’s and James’ age. James and Joseph were listed as 16 and 14 in the 1860 census but were 22 and 18 a year later when they joined the 43rd. Rash’s age was not listed in his service record. As with John R., I still believe this is the same James and Joseph Petty. Remember, there were no other Petty families in Bradley County in 1860 or 1870. What are the chances some other Pettys with the same names showed up in Bradley County in 1861?
Another thing that seems to tie John R. to the Bradley County family is the 1870 census. John R. and Margaret had moved to Logan County, Kentucky. Also living in Logan County in the same district was 23-year-old Joseph Petty, who was born in Tennessee with his wife, Nancy, and son, Robert. Nancy and Robert were both born in Georgia. It sure looks like the brothers moved to Kentucky together. In 1880, Joseph and his family were still in Logan County and he was listed as Joseph A. Petty.
And one more thing that might indicate a relationship between John R. and the Bradley County family – the names of some of his children. John R. and Margaret had a daughter named Mary and a son named Joseph. Granted, those are common names (and Margaret had a sister named Mary) so that could mean nothing but the middle name of Angeline for my great-grandmother, Samantha, is also the name of one of the John Petty’s daughters. That is a less common name.