There were two men named John Box, born in South Carolina in the latter 1700’s. It has been said that each married women named Martha. The wife of the older John Box (born before 1790) was said through oral history to be Martha Breeden, but no documentation has been found. That oral history has been traced to the genealogical research of Elsie Box, who was a gggranddaughter of Robert Box (1789-1858), brother of the older John Box. The wife of the younger John Box (born abt 1796) was Martha Simpson. There are sources available to prove her maiden name and ancestry.
These two men have been confused and sometimes rolled into one, because of oral tradition, incorrect county histories, online family trees and many other dubious family history publications over the past years. However, Box researchers have learned that there are at least three more important differences in the two John Box men and their families.
First, the John Boxes differed in age by at least 6 years. Second, the older John was father of two sons by 1820; the younger John had all daughters till 1847 when his only son was born. Third, the older John Box resided in Franklin (1820) and Hardeman (1830) counties TN; Tishomingo Co., MS (1840); and possibly Hot Springs Co., Arkansas (1850 mortality schedule). All the while, the younger John and his wife Martha Simpson Box lived in Perry Co., TN (1820); Dickson Co., TN (1830); and Tippah Co., MS (1840 and 1850). Before 1860 census time they were residents of Stewart Co., TN.
With these discovered differences, and more records now available we, a few Box family researchers, have made a successful attempt to separate these families. Defining them more clearly allows their descendants to claim and follow the correct John and Martha Box ancestral line. The following discourse will establish the records that define each family. Detailed sources are available to all interested.
The first, and older, John Box was born before 1790 and is a probable son of Robert and Jane Goodwin-Jones Box of Franklin Co., TN. Robert Box left his will in 1821 in Franklin Co., TN naming a son, John Box, along with Robert, George, James, Micajah, Goodwin, Neely, and daughters Sarah McDaniel, Mary Ivey, Ruth and Anne Box. This John Box appears to be the man indexed on Ancestry.com as "John Bax" in Franklin Co., TN 1820 census, age 26-45, wife same age, parents of two sons under 10, and 1 daughter age 10-16. Robert "Bax" Senr.age over 45 appears in this census, as do other Box surnamed families.
By 1830, this John has moved his family west to Hardeman Co., TN for new land, and is shown in that census with two sons and 6 daughters. This John Box family is living near Robert and Goodwin Box, known sons of Robert and Jane Box. This association helps establish this John Box as a most probable son of Robert and Jane Box of Franklin Co., TN.
A deed dated 1837 in Hardeman Co., TN shows that John Box sold 176 acres. The 1840 Tishomingo Co. MS census shows a John Box, age 50-60, and wife 40-50 with six females in their home, believed to be the John Box of Hardeman Co., TN. Their two sons listed in 1820 and 1830 are no longer in their household and were probably married.
One son is probably Jesse Box, claimed by many Box researchers as son of a John Box. Jesse has been attached to the wrong John Box in many family trees, but now is identified as son of the John Box of Hardeman Co. TN. Jesse was born by 1820 in TN, so could not be son of the younger John and Martha Simpson Box for they had no sons till 1847 when John W. Box was born in Tippah Co., MS.
The older John Box has not been located in the 1850 census in TN or MS, and he and his wife would have been ages 60-70 and 50-60 respectively. They are definitely NOT the John and Martha Box in Tippah Co., MS (with Catharine, Elizabeth, Amanda and John Box) as was previously thought, for that Martha is proven to be Martha Simpson. (See younger John Box discussion below).
A John Box born about 1787 in SC, shows up in Hot Springs Co., AR Mortality Schedule, age 63 at his death in Sept. 1849. He is the correct age to be this older John Box. However, his widow appears to be Sallie Box in the 1850 census of Clear Creek, Hot Springs, AR census--age 56, b.SC, with apparent daughter Margaret Box, age 16, b. TN. No other Box families resided in Hot Springs Co., AR in 1850, but several are living in bordering counties. There is no proof that this is the older John Box of this discussion, but age and birthplace strongly point to the possibility. So, we need descendants of the John Box who died in Hot Springs Co., AR to post further proof of identity.**
The younger John Box was born about 1796 in South Carolina, as his recorded age in 1850 was 54 years. He is established as a most probable son of Abraham and Catharine Lindley Box who settled in Hickman Co., TN about 1812. John was about age 16 at that time and was still at home. Three years later, about 1815, he married a neighbor girl, Martha Simpson. Martha is the daughter of Nathaniel Simpson, a neighbor of Abraham and Catharine Box. A deed naming heirs of Nathaniel Simpson in 1856 in Humphreys Co., TN names Martha Box and siblings, and shows that John and Martha Box sold some of her inherited land at that time.
The 1820 census of Perry Co., TN shows John Box age 18-26, wife 16-26, with 2 daughters under age 10, no sons. Both sets of parents, Abraham and Catharine Box and Nathaniel Simpson and wife, lived a few doors from one another in bordering Hickman Co., TN in 1820.
Records of the 1830 census of Dickson Co., TN show the family of John Box with four daughters, no sons. It is important to note the makeup of this John Box family as it proves that Jesse Box born about 1820 is NOT the son of John and Martha Simpson Box as some have proposed. Martha’s father Nathaniel Simpson is shown two names below her family in 1830. (Perry, Hickman, Dickson border one another and all border Humphreys Co., TN).
Tennessee Land Grant Index records show that Abraham Box and John Box received consecutively numbered grants in 1831 in Hickman Co. TN. A John Box received additional TN Land Grants in Dickson Co. TN in 1835, 1839, and in Humphrey Co. TN in 1857.
A John Box is listed on the Tax Rolls of Tippah Co. MS for the years 1837, 1840, 1841, 1844, and 1845. In 1842 Bureau of Land Management records show John Box purchased land in Tippah Co. MS adjacent to his brother Robert Box. The 1840 Tippah Co., MS census shows two men named John Box in the county. Deeds indicate that one is a son of Michael Box, and the other is most probably John and Martha Simpson Box with five daughters and no sons.
Ten years later the 1850 census of Tippah Co., MS shows John Box as age 54 b.SC; Martha age 53 b.TN; with four children--Catharine Box age 26 b. TN; Elizabeth 15 b. TN; Amanda 10 b. MS; and John Box age 4, b. MS. One daughter is apparently married or deceased.
Two Tippah county deeds dated 1851 show that John and Martha Box gave land to the Methodist Episcopal Church, and sold other acres in December of that year. Sometime after these land transactions, but before 1860, John and Martha Simpson Box moved back to the area of their youth. Their family is found in the 1860 census of Stewart Co., TN with the same four children as named in the 1850 census of Tippah Co., MS. (Stewart County, TN bordered Humphreys Co. at that time, not far from the area where both of their parents’ settled almost fifty years earlier).
Catharine Box, eldest known daughter of John and Martha Simpson Box is shown in the 1870 census as age 47 and single, living with her brother John Box age 23. John and Martha Simpson Box have not been located in the 1870 census and are assumed to have died before that year, both over age 70. I will be happy to share more information about their four known children.This was posted for Joyce D. Pruhs, Scotlassii@hotmail.com