The earliest documented information about our Underwood Family comes from the family bible of Jesse Underwood. This bible, dated 1849 is very fragile and worn and is in the safe keeping of a great granddaughter of Jess’s living in St. Louis, Missouri. This bible states that Jesse was born 13 July, 1804. Census and other records state that he was born in North Carolina.
Jesse married Mary Ledbetter on Christmas Day, 1822 according to his bible. Mary was born 23 July 1802. Most records state that Mary was born in North Carolina, but one records stated that she was born in South Carolina.
Jesse and Mary (Ledbetter) Underwood are listed in the 1830 Federal Census of Haywood County, North Carolina with their first 5 children. Only age brackets are listed in the early Federal Census records. Their first 8 children were born in Haywood County, North Carolina. They were: Francis Marion Born 1824, Elijah born 1825, Margaret born 1827, William R. born 1829 Gabriella born 1830, and Daniel born 1831 Sarah E. born 1833 and John A. born 1835. Civil War records state that Francis, Daniel and John were born in Haywood County, North Carolina.
Some time in 1836 Jesse and Mary removed to Roane County, Tennessee. All records indicate that they lived there about 12 years and the remainder of their 14 children was born there. They were: Mary C. born 1836, Nancy Ann born 1838g, Martha Jane born 1840, Walter J. born 1841 James N. born 1843 and Ruth Emily born 1846.
On the 4th Saturday in July, 1844 four members of the Baptist clergy met in Roane County, Tennessee and founded the Cedar Fork Baptist Church. After this first meeting, seven original members were “Accepted by Letter” and Jesse, Polly, (Mary) and their 2nd son Elijah were three of these original members to join the church. On the 4th Saturday in August, 1844 Francis M. William R. and Gabriella. Underwood joined the church. In December 1844 Jesse was ordained to be a Baptist Minister by this church and he received his “License to Preach”. Jesse served the church in several capacities for the next few years including the Pastor or Moderator as it was called back in those days. Three of the children got married while the family live in Roane County, Tennessee. They were; Margaret married Sampson Mayfield in 1844, Elijah married Nancy Childers in 1845 and Gabriella married William K. Smith in 1847.
In 1847 Reverend Jesse Underwood and Mary with their large family removed to Union County, Illinois and settled near what is now Mt. Glenn. (Earlier it was believed that they first settled on Bald Knob Mountain but land records indicate that they settled on Bald Knob some time about 1860 or later) it seems very likely that right after the family arrived in Union County, Illinois Reverend Jesse was instrumental in founding the Mt. Tabor Baptist Church that was located a few miles south of Alto Pass, Illinois and very close to Mt. Glenn. The earliest records from the American Baptist Historical Society in Rochester, New York state that Jesse was a delegate to the Baptist Association in 1848 and he was listed as Pastor of Mt. Tabor Baptist Church in 1850 and 1851. Jesse died 26 September 1851. Jesse’s son Elijah is listed as a delegate to the Association in 1852. Elijah was killed in a railroad accident at Memphis, Tennessee in 1853. Mt tabor Church was torn down sometime around 1900.
After Jesse died in 1851, Mary completed raising their large family, and she never married again. During the Civil War, 5 of the 6 living sons of Jesse and Mary fought in the conflict. Four brothers, Francis Marion, John Asbury, Daniel and James volunteered and fought for the Union Forces. One son, William R. went to Missouri and joined the Confederacy. The other son, Walter K. stayed home to run the farm and keep the family together. Walter used to haul water down to the Union Troops that were stationed nearby. In 1871 Walter lost his right hand by catching it in the machinery of a saw mill. Walter ma