[Don’t miss the comment by Jonathan Byers at the end of this post. He clarifies the mystery!]
I married a Logan who’s family is originally from Rutherford County, NC. While researching her family, I came across a man named Logan M. Medford who lived in Logan’s Store, NC in Rutherford County. Most of the Medfords in Western North Carolina lived in either Haywood County or McDowell County. The Haywood County Medfords are usually the descendants of Jonas Medford and the McDowell County Medfords the descendants of Israel Medford (my 5th Great Grandfather). So seeing a Medford, during the 1800s, living in Rutherford County was rather peculiar. Seeing the name “Logan Medford” made me wonder if there was a connection between the two families. How bizarre would that be?
Logan wasn’t the only Medford in Rutherford County at the time. There was also a Thomas Naylor Medford living in Cool Springs, NC. Before living in Cool Springs, he spent some time living in Polkville in Cleveland County. I really wanted to know who the parents were of these two Medfords. They HAD to be the grandchildren of either Jonas or Israel. Jonas and Israel are assumed to be brothers as they are close in age and one of them takes the serious financial responsibility of signing the other’s marriage bond.
Logan and Thomas were born in 1859 and 1860 respectively, so I was hoping that they lived long enough to have their death certificates in the North Carolina Death Certificate database, which contains records from 1909 onward. I was in luck!
Logan Medford lived to be over 90 years old! He was born in McDowell County, NC on 15 Feb 1859, but the death certificate says 1849, which has to be an error according to many other records. His death certificate lists his wife as Celia Ann Mitchell, his father as Israel Medford and his mother as Adeline Medford. I have no doubt that Logan Medford is the son of Adeline Medford, but Adeline is the daughter of Israel. In order to save the deceased’s family potential embarrassment, I believe that the informant gave the name of Israel Medford as the father. Celia Ann Mitchell was 1st married about 1873 to John Godfrey. After he died in 1880, she married Logan almost a year later in 1881.
Thomas Naylor Medford was born 13 Mar 1860 and died 29 Mar 1940 in Rutherford Co, NC. His death certificate says that he is married to Florence Mode, but the father is listed as unknown and mother is listed as Cail Godfrey, an obvious reference to Celia Ann Godfrey. Why would the informant give the name of Thomas’ sister-in-law as his mother? More on this in a minute.
Before I move on, I should state why I started assuming that Logan and Thomas were brothers. They are both listed as living with each other in the same household with Adeline Medford in McDowell County during both the 1870 and 1880 census records. During the 1860 census, Logan is listed as living Adeline alone.
If we break down this timeline of events, we notice something very interesting:
- Logan is born 15 Feb 1859 [source: death certificate]
- Thomas is born 13 Mar 1860 [source: death certificate]
- 1860 Census collected 18 Jun 1860
If Thomas was born before the census worker came to the house, then why was he not listed on the census? Perhaps his death certificate is true. Perhaps he was the illegitimate son of Celia Ann Mitchell instead of Adeline Medford. We need to find Celia in the 1860 census and see if she is with a son named Thomas with her. I am unable to find either of them.
Celia’s death certificate (her husband Logan as informer), says that her age is 70, which would put her date of birth at 1853. If this is true, then there is no way she fathered Thomas at 7 years old. The 1880 census lists her at 35 years old, which would put her being born in 1845. Her giving birth to Thomas at 15, is much more believable. Her death certificate goes beyond saying that HER father is unknown, it says that she was illegitimate.
I am still not ruling out the possibility that Adeline Medford is the actual mother of Thomas. Perhaps the informant did not want the embarrassment of listing Adeline Medford as his mother as a dead giveaway that Thomas was born illegitimate.
There is also the marriage certificates of both Logan Medford and Thomas Medford. They both list their father’s as unknown. Thomas lists his mother as D. A. Medford (Adeline) and says that she is still living and living in Cleveland County, NC. Logan lists his mother as Adeline.
I am absolutely fascinated with Logan and Thomas. Their male descendants each have the Medford surname, but under different circumstances, their surnames would be entirely different. My hope is that we can one day convince one of these descendants to take a YDNA test. Based on the results of this test, we should be able to determine a surname that they match with. This may lead to clues to the real identity of their fathers.