Davidson County

Understanding Our Ancestors-Feelings Discovered Among Research

There are times when a family historian is unable to locate the paper trail and questions quickly come to mind. It would seem to many that a person without paper documents, marriage, children lived an uneventful life. The branch displaying their name seems bare since the link to other family members in a future sense doesn’t even exist. I have several ancestors in my personal family tree that fit this profile and I am sure we all have at least one person on our tree like this. Years ago, I began to look at these individuals with a new interest simply because I refused to settle for the little information I accumulated. I was missing something, a clue, a hint, anything that would direct me to the right path and possibly new discoveries.

One such ancestor for me personally is mentioned in the 1870 census record shown above. If you look at the 6th entry the name Julia appears at the age of 57. Julia Motsinger listed as a white female with no known occupation living with Elizabeth Motsinger in the Browntown Township of Davidson County, NC. This house was actually located on the property of Felix Motsinger and in the vicinity of the Shady Grove Post Office and Abbott’s Creek. Julie Ann, as she was known by family, is my 3rd great aunt and the oldest daughter of Felix and Christina Motsinger. She was born within the boundaries of Rowan County, North Carolina during the year of 1813. Siblings include 3 brothers and 5 sisters, a fairly large group. It’s interesting to note that half of these siblings would never marry and just as many would live a short life.

Julie Ann and her youngest brother, Joshua G Motsinger, were 24 years apart. For present day families, this would be a shocking age difference. During the early 19th century, this was common practice as many women bore children from late teens to mid forties There is a period of 8 years between the birth of Louisa in 1823 and the birth of Sarah in 1831 and yet another 8 year period between the birth of Mary in 1814 and the first Joshua in 1822. The gaps in birth dates belong to another article that I hope to share with you all in the near future. Getting back to the first Joshua, he died in 1824 just before his 2nd birthday. It was also common practice to name children after others who died before them. This was used to carry on that particular name in the family. Julie Ann was at the age of 9 at the birth and age 11 at his death. This first Joshua held the middle initial J. It could have stood for John, Jacob, Joseph and many others. The headstone verifies this and the birth/death dates for him. I can only imagine the feeling of loss during the death of Joshua J Motsinger and how it must have affected young Julie Ann.

The brother, Joshua G Motsinger born 1837, was the youngest child of Felix and Christina. It is possible that Felix and Christina had more children and they simply were not alive during the census years and it is also possible that Felix and Christina were apart during these years for various reasons. Nevertheless, the census records do confirm that 9 children were documented and other materials have proven their relationship to their parents such as wills, church records and more. The youngest brother, Joshua attended school and was able to read and write. He married in October of 1860 and brought his bride, Elizabeth Smith Motsinger, to live with his parents and sisters. Joshua worked in the Guilford mines during the Civil War and due to his duties, Elizabeth qualified for a Confederate widow’s pension during the year of 1901. Joshua died October of 1865 just a few days before the birth of his son, John. Elizabeth never remarried and remained with her husband’s family during the next twenty years. It’s at this point where Julie Ann is recognized in a much different way than years past with my research.

If you refer back to the first photo showing the 1870 census, it clearly shows a daughter by the name of Julia, age 7. This Julia is the second child of Joshua and Elizabeth born 1862. Julia Ann Motsinger grew up with her namesake and married Solomon Tesh in 1877. Just how close were these Julia/Julie Ann Motsingers? To further answer this question, the 1870 census reveals another fact. Elizabeth and her children were living separately from Felix and Christina but the elder Julie Ann was living with Elizabeth with no occupation. By 1880, relationships were introduced to the federal census records and Elizabeth is proclaimed as head of household with son, Felix, age 18, son John, age 14 and Julie Ann, age 67 and listed as sister. Julie Ann was indeed the sister-in-law of Elizabeth and it is very obvious now that she is a very important member of this little family.

Abbott’s Creek near opening of High Rock Lake

It was in the house near Abbott’s Creek where Elizabeth received the news about her oldest son’s death in 1881. An accident occurred in Salem resulting in the untimely death of 20 year old Felix. His grandfather and namesake died in 1872 and is buried at Bethany United Church of Christ in Davidson County. Young Felix must be buried at this cemetery as well, but no record has been located of his burial location. The years following were filled with plans and ideas of moving to Forsyth County, NC. By 1884, Julie Ann purchased or acquired from Joseph Yokley 145 acres just northeast of Kernersville. Young John Louis was not of age to obtain the property, but by 1886, a deed was located from Julie Ann Motsinger to John Louis Motsinger in the amount of $400.00 for the exact same 145 acres.

Julie Ann acquired the property in January of 1881, the same month and year that young Felix was killed in an accident. This leads me to think that plans were made for the family to move before young Felix died and upon his death and the age of John Louis, the plans moved forward with Julie Ann’s direction. This is not the first document that portrays my 3rd great aunt in family matters. Julie Ann was very much involved with the wills of her parents, the care and well-being of her remaining sisters and her devotion to both of her brother’s families. The last document I have for her on hand dates to 1895 and it is the will of her sister, Christina. From this point, Julie Ann does not appear on the 1900 census and it seems that her death occurred between 1895 and 1900.

There are several burial locations that are possible for Julie Ann Motsinger. One is Bethany United Church of Christ Cemetery located in Davidson County, NC. This is the cemetery where her parents, grandparents and majority of her siblings are buried. Another is Abbots Creek Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery where many of her relatives are buried such as first cousins, aunts and uncles. Another location would be Shady Grove Methodist Church located in the same area which Julie Ann lived most of her life. This cemetery is also where her oldest brother, Joseph and his family are buried. The final possible location is Piney Grove Methodist Church in Kernersville, Forsyth County, NC. If Julie Ann moved with Elizabeth and her son, John Louis, then this location would fit the puzzle nicely. Elizabeth and John Louis both are buried in this cemetery. The church was established during 1882 which fits perfectly with the timeframe of Elizabeth and her family’s move to Kernersville.

I will end this with just a few of my personal thoughts. I think after the death of Joshua G Motsinger in 1865, Julie Ann Mostinger, his older sister, stepped into the role of caring for the children and Elizabeth. I believe the bond was so great that Julie Ann moved into the little house on Felix and Christina’s property and aided the family through the years. I also believe that after the death of young Felix in 1881, Julie Ann stepped forward again and seized the opportunity of land in Kernersville and a new beginning. Once John Louis reached the legal age, he became owner of the property and I think Elizabeth with Julie Ann accompanied him to Kernersville. A woman who could neither read or write successfully, Julie Ann Motsinger gained respect and admiration from her family and friends. She was the last of her immediate family to die, all of her siblings were already dead and buried after 1895. Living nearly 90 years, even though she never married or had any children of her own, I think her love and devotion to her family speaks volumes. Sometimes, you only have to look within your own heart to understand the feelings of our ancestors from long ago.

Julie Ann’s namesake, niece Julia Ann Motsinger Tesh lived until 1938. She is the mother of 6 children, 3 boys and 3 girls. The Julia Ann name was not passed on to the next generation by her namesake nor by her nephew, John Louis Motsinger. Even though, Julie Ann Motsinger(1813-before 1900) has a small branch on my tree, it will always represent beauty, love and devotion that will forever stand the test of time.

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