Probably most of the descendants of William Barnhill and Cynthia Hodge have heard the tale of why the Barnhills left McNairy County, Tennessee supposedly one step ahead of the law. There is one version that has been posted at one of the websites that is a whopper, does makes for good lore, but feel if you are going to name names it might be a good idea to check the facts first.
The above mentioned story is about William Hodge Barnhill, b. 1799 who was my gggrandfather being tried as a deserter in McNairy County, Tennessee. What I would simply like to point out for my readers here is, which war did he desert from? William Hodge Barnhill was too young to have deserted from the American Revolution and too old for the American Civil War.
The version my daddy shared with me was passed down to him by his grandfather, Elliott Hodge Barnhill, a son of William Hodge Barnhill. Daddy's grandfather told him that some of the younger boys of William Barnhill and Cynthia Hodge had gotten into some trouble over stolen horses in Tennessee and that was why William Hodge Barnhill ended up in Louisiana.
Well, that didn't make any sense to me and so made a point of gathering the facts. William Barnhill, Cynthia Hodge Barnhill and children migrated from York, South Carolina to Georgia, through Alabama an eventually settling in McNairy County, Tennessee by 1830. Some serious event could have happened in those next couple of years because William and Cynthia were soon gone to Texas by 1833. Four of the Barnhill children traveled with William and Cynthia to Texas and three more eventually followed. By the mid 1840s there were only three of the Barnhill children not in Texas, John Newton Barnhill who lived until is death in McNairy County, Tennessee, William Hodge Barnhill, and a sister Cynthia Barnhill Crump who stayed in McNairy County until the early 1850s when they both migrated to Louisiana.
Why did William Hodge Barnhill migrate to Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana? Sad to say but I believe his daddy had intended to settle in Texas on the Sabine River right across from Natchitoches Parish but died in 1838 before he could realize that dream. By 1850 most of William Hodge Barnhill's sibs and parents had already passed away, Texas was a hard life, but he did have an extended family there?
So, what have found is that only one Barnhill sibling can't be accounted for during this time and it is Thomas W. Barnhill, b 1816 who I believe appears on the 1830 Census for McNairy County, Tennessee, along with William, Cynthia and younger sibs and then disappears until he shows up on the 1850 Census for Washington County, Texas?
And, believe me when I say have searched long and hard everywhere for Thomas, who would have been about twenty-four, and he was not living with any of his brothers, Daniel, John Newton or William Hodge Barnhill on the 1840 Census for McNairy County nor did he travel with his father and mother to Texas or to be found on any other state census which seems odd?
A possiblity but one we will probably never know since the McNairy County Court House burned in 1881 and most of their records were destroyed.
Cathy Barnhill Osborn
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