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The McDowell Genealogy

Why John McDowell Is NOT a son of Anthony and Delilah McDowell

In our early research in the 1980's, the authors thought that John McDowell might be a son of Anthony McDowell and Delilah Rowell. A good deal of information has been found to help us better understand why he does not descend from Anthony McDowell. Regardless of this new information, it is still clear that John McDowell is a grandson of James McDowell (at least as of November 9, 2007). There are still some unanswered questions discussed below. There are two basic reasons that are independent in answering our question.

One needs to review a few basic facts. Remember that men paid a poll tax. Dates changed as to the ages of when men paid the tax, but the law changed as follows:

  • Before 1801 - men paid tax if they were over 21. There was no age limit.
  • In 1801, the age for paying poll tax was changed to age 21-50. After age 50, men did not pay a poll tax.
  • In 1817, the law was changed reducing the upper age so that the age range was 21-45.
  • Finally, in 1868, the age went back to 21-50.

John McDowell died on September 21, 1842 in Randolph County, NC. He had already paid his poll tax for 1845. Therefore, mathematically, he was not older than 45. If you subtract 45 from 1842, then the earliest that John McDowell would have been born is 1797. If he had been born in 1796, he would NOT have paid the poll tax in 1842. Now, we know that John and his relatives didn't know when he was born because his date of birth is not on his tombstone. Also, his date of marriage was listed as WB (Wedding Bond) 1818 on his tombstone and he was really married in 1819. Therefore, there is certainly some possibility that a year or two could have been off in determining when he reached (or would reach) age 45.

Also, in 1810, Delilah McDowell is listed in the census for Northampton County with two male children. One is born between 1800-1810 and the other 1786-1794. The younger child is William McDowell who was born in 1804 and eventually moved around 1828 to Macon, Georgia. The second/oldest child of Delilah does not fit the age range for John McDowell's birth. In fact, this may not be a child of Anthony and Delilah. In the 1850 census for Jackson County, Florida, Delilah Rowell McDowell Dupree (after Anthony's death in 1804, Delilah married James Dupree around 1811 in Northampton County) says that she is 65 years old. That means she was born in 1785. If she had a child in the 16-24 age range in 1810, she would have had this child when she was nine years old. Fifteen was the earliest legal marrying age. Surely Delilah may has mistated her age in 1850 by a few years, but it still seems more likely that she listed the age of the second child wrong in the 1810 census and gave too young of an age in 1850 for herself. With a little "cheating" on the numbers, Delilah could have been born in the early 1780's and could have had an older son who was born around 1795-96. Remember that in the St. George Parish records, Delilah was given support for herself and her children (not child).

The 1840 census of Randolph County lists John McDowell and shows his age as 40-50 and hence indicating that he was born somewhere between 1790 and 1800. Based on the tax age information in the paragraph above, then the projected age of John McDowell's birth is somewhere between 1797-1800.

The second major reason we know John McDowell is NOT a son of Anthony in Delilah is based on information in deeds. In 1816, George McDowell in Wake County sells to James Dupree the land that he has inherited from his mother Mary McDowell in Northampton County, NC who died intestate. The next year 1817, James Dupree sells the land to Anthony and Delilah's son William McDowell who was born in 1804 as noted above. George McDowell certainly had the right to sell what land he would have inherited and in doing so, none of his children would have any right to the inheritance of the 100 acres from his mother Mary. However, the older son of Delilah that she listed in the 1810 census would have had an equal inheritance to the land as did William McDowell. No other male McDowell was listed as an heir in the 1817 deed and finally in 1827 when the land is settled and divided, there are no other male McDowell heirs. The only logical conclusion is that the second male, older child born to Anthony and Delilah McDowell died before the deed in 1817 selling the land to William McDowell was written.

Therefore, there was only one male adult survivor of Anthony and Delilah McDowell and that would be William McDowell who did move to Macon County, Georgia and raised a large family and descendants there.