Find A Grave Memorial# 105684640
James R. Isbell
Birth: Oct. 5, 1791
Death: Jun. 4, 1844
James R Isbell was born October 5, 1791 in Tennessee, and died June 4, 1844, at Lim Rock, Jackson Co., AL.
His name is given as James R. Isbell in some records.
Because he had a nephew (son of brother Levi) named James Richardson Isbell, some believe his name was James Richardson.
James Isbell married Elizabeth Birdwell on Saturday, May 1,1813 by Rev. John Canterbury at Enon Baptist Church in Huntsville, Madison Co., Mississippi Territory — later Alabama Territory and State of Alabama (Madison County, Alabama Marriage Book 1, page 104: license issued Saturday, April 24, 1813). Enon is now the First Baptist Church of Huntsville. A family tree said they married on Saturday, May 1, 1813, which was May Day. Enon Church records (p.11) show Church Service was conducted Saturday, May 1.
Elizabeth Birdwell was the daughter of John Birdwell, one of the founders of Enon Church (Isbell Country by Odessa Morrow Isbell, pp. 19-20, 229; The Mitchells of Linn Flatt by Gwenneth Mitchell, p.215).
His brother Levi Isbell married Sarah H. Birdwell.
John Birdwell offered slaves to his daughters and sons-in-law, James and Levi Isbell. Sarah Birdwell and husband Rev. Levi Isbell refused but Elizabeth Birdwell and James Isbell accepted theirs (Isbell Country, p. 20; The Mitchells of Linn Flatt by Gwenneth Mitchell; The Heritage of Marshall County, Alabama, p.199).
24 Feb. 1818, Limestone County, Alabama: Moses Birdwell was assigned 158.60 acres by James Isbell (#1156) at cost of $317.20. Moses Birdwell paid $77.30 in stock and cash on 23 Feb. 1818. On 16 Oct. 1818 James Isbell completed the transfer of land to Moses Birdwell. (Recorded in Old Land Records, Limestone Co.; cited in Birdwell Family Tree by Velma Schonder.)
4 Sept. 1821, Moses Birdwell received certificate #664 in Limestone Co. outlining the installment payments he needed to receive the patent on the land he had purchased from James Isbell. Moses Birdwell bought the land with aid from Congress in a law that gave relief to purchasers of public lands prior to 1 July 1820. In 1821 Moses Birdwell owed $237.90.
27 Sept. 1822: Moses Birdwell paid the balance owing on this date and received the final certificate for this land, certificate #1156.
25 Oct.1826: Moses Birdwell sold for $1000 to Stephen Flinn, both of Limestone Co., the land (or a portion thereof?) he had been assigned by James Isbell (Limestone Deed Book 2, pp.278-9; Alabama Records by Pauline Jones Gandrud, vol.24, p.45). The land was the SW 1/4 of sec. 3, twp.4, range 4W.
Before Statehood (1819) James Isbell and brothers John and Levi had bought several tracts of land in Madison County and present-day Jackson County. (Alabama Territorial Land Records.)
James Isbell is in Lincoln County, Tennessee census:
1 m 26-44 (James Isbell, head of house)
1 f 16-25 (Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell, wife)
1 f -10 (Mary Ann b. 1816)
1 m -10 (William b. 1818)
Before 1823 James Isbell staked claim to land in Township 4S Range 4E (NENE of Section 9), a mile NE of Isbell Cemetery and his brother John William Isbell’s property. James’s land here is shown on an 1823 survey as J.R. Isbell (I.D.#6998) and brother John’s is shown as J.W. Isbell (which adjoins a larger parcel in which his name is written “John Isbell.”
The survey map identifying James’ parcel is hard to read, but looks like J. r. Isbell.
But this same land patent was recorded in the name James R. Isbell in 1858, 14 after his death and acquired by his heirs. The estate of James R. Isbell was entered in the Probate Court of Jackson County in 1858 and the estate settlement lists all his heirs.
Interestingly, on this same survey dated 1823, a mile east of this property is a tract shown in the name of E. Conaway adjoining Wm. Gentle, Levi Isbell (m. Sarah Birdwell), Zachariah Isbell, B.B. Allen (who married Sarah’s daughter Mary Ann Isbell), and Culvers (inlaws). This same tract patent (#6944) was not recorded until 1860 when it was recorded in the name Elizabeth Conaway, who was the widow of James Isbell: Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell Conaway. As she did not remarry until 1846-47 to John Conaway (who died in 1853), the name of E. Conway on the 1823 survey appears to have been added in 1858-60.
The 1823 survey and 1860 patent map shows that the property of Sarah (Mrs. Levi) Isbell adjoined that of her sister, Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell Conway.
(Also see Family Maps of Jackson County, AL by Gregory A. Boyd, p.361.)
In 1828, James Isbell was a delegate from Blue Springs Church to the Mud Creek Baptist Association (ref., The First Hundred Years, A History of Baptists in Jackson Co., Alabama from 1821 until 1921 by J. Nelson Varnell [Samford University Library, Special Collections], vol. 2, p. 19).
1830 census Jackson Co, AL
1 male 30-39 (James Isbell, head)
1 male 10-14 (1816-20) Wm b. 3 Dec 1818
1 male 5-9 (1821-25) John S. b.25 Nov 1820
1 male 5-9 (1821-24) Allen b. 23 Mar 1825
1 female 30-39 (1791-99) (Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell b.1797-9)
1 female 10-14 (1816-1820) Mary Polly b1816 (married 1834)
1 female under 5 (1825-30) Susan b1827 (Sarah Amanda b1822 d1830 per a family tree)
1 female under 5 (1825-30) Margaret b1829
1 female 24-35
1 female under 10
From the Bible record, there should be 7 children shown in 1830, 4 girls and 3 boys, but one daughter seems to be missing, probably Sarah Amanda (a family tree says she died 1830). Mary Polly born 1816 did not marry until 1834, so both she and Margaret (born 1829) should be included.
1840 Jackson County, Alabama, census:
1 male 40-49 (James Isbell, head, age 49)
1 male 20-29 (1811-20) John S b1820
1 male 15-19 (1821-1825) Allen 1825
1 male 5-9 (1835-9) Benjamin 1831
1 male 5-9 (1835-9) James H 1833
1 male 5-9 (1835-39) Zachariah b1835
1 female 40-49 (Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell, wife)
1 female 10-14 (1826-30) Sarah b1822 (age 18–gone?) or Susan b1827
1 female 10-14 (1826-30) Susan b1827 (or Margaret b1829)
1 female under 5 Margaret b1829 (or Eliz b1838)
1 female under 5 Eliz b1838 (or Lucinda b1840)
1 female 10-23
William & Mary Polly were gone by 1840. Sarah Amanda born 1822 would be 18, was gone or dead. A family tree says Sarah Manda died 1830. She definitely was not named in the 1857 or 1890 probate records.
1844 DEATH AND BURIAL
According to James Isbell’s descendants, the Houk and Murray families, James R. Isbell was buried at Blue Spring Cemetery at Larkinsville. Other descendants said he was buried at “Larkinsville Cemetery,” which has caused some confusion as that is the cemetery that is also called Beech Grove. All these cemeteries are nearby and not far from the Isbell family cemetery.
Jackson County, Alabama,
Will and Probate Record K, p. 108:
John Isbell, guardian of the minor heirs of James Isbell deceased, 1846, showing a payment by him to Elizabeth Isbell for “rent for 1845.” Note that this is obviously the widow of James Isbell.
Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell, widow, married John Conway 1846-47. In the 1850 census they were listed in Jackson County. He died Sept 7, 1853.
Descendants qualify for membership in First Families of Alabama (through the Alabama Genealogical Society) and the First Families of Tennessee (through the East Tennessee Historical Society) #10,880, #10,881. Also the First Families of Kentucky (through John Miller), Colonial Dames of the XVII Century (through Capt. Zachariah Isbell), Sons of the Republic of Texas and Daughters of the Republic of Texas (through John Birdwell).
Jackson County, Alabama, Probate Court:
April 1857, pages 181-182
June 1857, pages 241-242.
These name heirs of James Isbell, including Susan Murray, wife of Jackson Murray.
These do not show the widow Elizabeth,
who Elizabeth had remarried by 1850, but was living with her daughter Lucinda Murray in Jackson County at the 1870 census.
Heirs of James Isbell are listed in his brother Zachariah’s estate administration in 1890 (Dekalb County, Alabama, Probate Minute Book K, pp. 582-586).
The children of James Isbell and Elizabeth Birdwell were:
1. Mary Ann “Polly” Isbell born 1 APR 1816 (probably named for maternal grandmother, Mary Allen Birdwell)
2. William Birdwell Isbell born 3 DEC 1818, d. 14 Feb 1856 White Co., Arkansas)
3. John S. Isbell born 25 NOV 1820
4. Sarah Amanda Isbell born 25 DEC 1822, died 27 Apr 1830 according to a family tree (taken from another Birdwell bible and a newspaper item; not on 1830-40 censuses nor 1857 and 1890 probate records)
5. Allen Isbell born 23 MAR 1825 (named for uncle Allen Birdwell)
6. Susan Isbell born 18 JAN 1827
7. Margaret Isbell born 24 MAR 1829
8. Benjamin Isbell born 6 MAY 1831
9. James H. Isbell born 25 AUG 1833
10. Zachariah Isbell born 25 JUN 1835
11. Elizabeth Isbell born 18 JAN 1838
12. Lucinda Isbell born 8 JUL 1840 (tombstone says 1841) m. John K. Murray
13. Levi Isbell born 17 JUL 1843 (tombstone says 17 July 1847)
Some internet genealogies confuse this James R. Isbell with his cousin Dr. James R. Isbell (c1761-1840) from Greene County, Tennessee, father of William M. Isbell (15 Jun 1816-2 Dec 1877) and James H. Isbell who were at the Battle of San Jacinto, Texas. Some family trees show Zachariah Isbell Jr. as the probable father of Dr. James R. Isbell, although Zachariah Jr.’s brother William most likely was his father, or another brother, Jason.
JAMES R. ISBELL’S WIFE:
Daughter of John Birdwell & Mary Allen.
Granddaughter of George Birdwell, as shown by First Families of Tennessee (East Tennessee Historical Society), #10.880 and #10.881.
One of Elizabeth Isbell’s sons and three grandsons were named Birdwell.
Elizabeth Birdwell was born in Tennessee Dec. 31, 1797 or Jan. 1, 1800 (1850-70 censuses prove Tennessee was birth place).
Tombstone and 1850 census give 1800 date while the James Isbell Bible and 1860-70 censuses give the 1797 date.
In 1813, Elizabeth Birdwell married James Isbell in Madison County, Alabama, three years before her younger sister Sarah Birdwell (born 1799) married James Isbell, indicating that the 1797 date in the Bible is the most likely correct date.
John Birdwell and family moved to Madison County in 1805 FROM TENNESSEE (see historic marker, Old Bethel Church, Marshall Co., AL).
The 1809 census shows he had 6 daughters.
Elizabeth fits as one of these. The other five known daughters born before 1809 were Mary/Polly, Nancy, Sarah, Susan, and Jane.
In 1812, John Birdwell’s brother Moses Birdwell moved FROM GEORGIA to Madison County and was the only other Birdwell family in the county in 1813. Moses lived in Georgia 1791-1812; all his children were born in Georgia and Alabama.
Moses and 2nd wife Hannah Falkindon had a daughter Elizabeth born 1822 in Limestone Co., AL.
In 1818, Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell’s husband James Isbell sold land in Limestone Co., AL. to her uncle Moses Birdwell.
John Birdwell and his brother Moses were the only two Birdwell families in Madison County, Alabama, in 1813, when Elizabeth Birdwell married James Isbell there, and both Birdwell brothers were sons of George Birdwell.
Jan. 4, 1956 letter from Maud McLure Kelly to Ethlyn Rainey quoting Rainey’s previous letter (Dec 1955) in turn quoting MM Kelly’s earlier letter (probably Nov-Dec 1955) stating “Elizabeth Birdwell who married James Isbell (was) the daughter of John Birdwell and sister of Sarah H. Birdwell Isbell.”
Maud McLure Kelly, Acquisitions Agent and Asst. Dir. of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, was the first woman lawyer in Alabama and first woman lawyer qualified to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court. (Isbell and Birdwell vertical files, microfilm, Alabama State Archives.)
Letter from Ethlyn Isbell Rainey dated Sept. 12, 1978, p. 7, again stated that Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell was the daughter of John Birdwell and sister of her great-grandmother Sarah Birdwell Isbell.
Ethlyn Rainey was a member of the Heroes of Kings Mountain Chapter DAR, along with two sisters, one of whom (Mrs. Dorsett Davis) was also Regent.
In 1954 Ethlyn Rainey was the GOP nominee for State Treasurer of Alabama.
Ethlyn’s grandfather Elijah Miller Isbell was a double first cousin of the children of Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell and, as the administrator of the estate of his uncle Zachariah Isbell, he documented all known children of James and Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell on his list of heirs. Ethlyn Rainey grew up in the home with Elijah Miller Isbell’s widow, her grandmother, and was well educated in the Isbell-Birdwell family histories so she was well qualified to state the family relationships correctly. She wrote of two family legends:
(1) that the two Isbell brothers worked for John Birdwell and married his two daughters; and
(2) that John Birdwell gave slaves to his children before moving to Texas, that Levi and Sarah Birdwell Isbell refused theirs but that James and Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell accepted theirs (also reiterated by Ethlyn’s sister Cora Walker, D.A.R. member, in Heritage of Marshall Co., AL. (2000), p.199; also, Families and History of Sullivan County, Tennessee [Vol. 1 1779-1992; Vol. 2. 1779-2006] (Holston Territory Genealogical Society, 1992), p. 349; and Isbell Country by Odessa Morrow Isbell, pp. 19, 20, 229; The Mitchells of Linn Flat by Gwenneth Mitchell).
The 1830 census shows James and Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell owned 2 female slaves, and the 1840 census shows 1 female slave (probably the younger of the two in 1830). These were probably housekeepers for Elizabeth.
Another great-granddaughter of Levi Isbell and Sarah Birdwell who wrote of Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell and Sarah Birdwell Isbell being sisters was Cora Helen Isbell Walker, Ph.D. (Library Sciences), member of the Heroes of Kings Mountain Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, Guntersville, Alabama, NSDAR #754316. Cora H. Walker wrote the following, published in Heritage of Marshall Co., AL. (2000), p.199:
“John Birdwell … organized Birdwell Spring(s) Baptist Church near Moulton, AL… two Isbell brothers, James and Levi, who came from Tennessee to Madison County, they worked for Mr. B. Both brothers married Birdwell sisters. James married Elizabeth and Levi married Sarah (Sallie). When Mr. B. and family left Madison Co. for Rusk Co. Texas, he offered Elizabeth and James and Levi and Sallie slaves — James and Elizabeth accepted, but Levi refused as he did not believe in slavery, he and Sallie were given money instead.” Written by Cora H. Isbell Walker, Ph.D.
Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell Conway Chronlogy Continued:
1846: John W. Isbell, Admn. of estate of James Isbell, paid rent for (widow) Mrs. Elizabeth Isbell for the year 1845.
1847-9 Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell married John Conaway.
1850 Jackson Co., AL Census:
John Conaway 60 VA
Elizabeth Conaway 50 TN (nee Birdwell)
Zachariah Conaway (Isbell) 16
Elizabeth Conaway (Isbell) 12
Lucinda Conaway (Isbell) 10
Levi Conaway (Isbell) 7
She was widowed in 1853.
By 1860 she was living with Elijah Murray family, uncle of her two sons-in-law Murray.
1860 census: Jackson Co., AL
E.A. Murray 23 (Elijah A.)
N.J. Murray 19 (Nancy J.)
M.A. Murray 1
Elizabeth Conaway 63 TN (nee Birdwell)
Levi Conaway (Isbell) 17
1860: The land staked in 1823 by James Isbell was patented in the name E. Conaway.
1858: The land patent (I.D.#6998)staled by James R. Isbell in 1823 was recorded in the name James R. Isbell, 14 after his death, and acquired by his estate. The estate of James R. Isbell was entered in the Probate Court of Jackson County and the estate settlement lists all his heirs.
The second tract (patent #6944), 1 mile east, and also adjoining Sarah Birdwell (Mrs. Levi) Isbell, was recorded 1860 in the name Elizabeth Conaway, who was the widow of James Isbell.
By 1870 Elizabeth was living with her daughter Lucinda Isbell Murray, widow of Elijah Murray’s nephew.
1870 Jackson Co, AL
Lusinda Murry 30 (nee Isbell)
Mary E Murry 10
Marian M. Murry 7 male
Elizabett Coneway 74 TN (nee Birdwell)
In 1872 she was believed to be living with her youngest son James Hugh Isbell in Colbert County where she died.
Lucinda Isbell Murray’s death certificate lists parents Jim & Elizabeth Isbell.
Her brother Levy (sic) Isbel’s death certificate lists father James Isbel.
James Hugh Isbell married Clarissa Elizabeth Crittenden, the daughter of his first cousin Martha Birdwell Crittenden of Crittenden’s Crossroads. Martha’s father John A Birdwell was a brother of Elizabeth Isbell Birdwell.
Mary Ann Isbell Talkington (1816 – 1889)*
William Birdwell Isbell (1818 – 1857)*
Susan Anna Isbell Murray (1826 – 1892)*
Benjamin Isbell (1832 – 1906)*
James Hugh Isbell (1833 – 1902)*
Zachariah Isbell (1835 – 1863)*
Elizabeth Catherine Isbell Peters (1838 – 1865)*
Lucinda Isbell Murray (1841 – 1910)*
David Levi Isbell (1842 – 1918)*
David Levi Isbell (1842 – 1918)*
John William Isbell (1789 – 1873)
James R. Isbell (1791 – 1844)
Levi Isbell (1797 – 1876)
Miller Isbell (1800 – 1859)
Elizabeth Isbell Summers (1804 – 1872)
Hannah Isbell Mershon (1805 – 1892)
Jemima Isbell Summers (1807 – 1842)
Nancy Margaret Isbell Baker (1814 – 1846)
Zachariah Isbell (1814 – 1890)*
Rebecca Isbell Bruton (1816 – ____)
shows descendants of Levi Isbell at the 1930 family reunion at the Isbell home on Main Street, Albertville, Alabama. The home was later demolished but stood on the court house square across the street from the court house. Levi Isbell was the brother of our James Isbell. Levi Isbell married Sarah “Sallie” Birdwell and James Isbell married her sister Elizabeth Birdwell. James and Elizabeth Isbell are my third great-grandparents on my Murray line. The Murrays who married Isbells moved from around Paint Rock and Larkinsville in Jackson County, Alabama sometime between 1865-1870 to Colbert County, then Franklin County, Alabama.