Birth to Grave: James Washington Long, son of John R Long.

Birth to Grave on one of John R Long’s son, James Washington Long:  B 9Nov1839 was Itawamba Co, MS.** POB as Itawamba was previously ‘presumed’ as we always thought John R was in Itawamba however, according to James’ own 1863 union reenlistment, it states he was born in Pickens Co, AL, therefore we believe John moves his family between the time James was b in Nov 1839 and the time the 1840 census was taken (which it’s not dated, so presumed likely around June/July).

Just realized, (after posting this) I now have a secondary issue: what does the W really stand for? I’d always thought it was Washington, and after writing this, I have NO reason to believe that’s the right middle name. None of the documents presented here say anything other than W, including his death certificate. But his Find a Grave page most certainly says “James William Long” and there’s no picture of his headstone (if there’s one) and therefore, where did they get his middle name? There’s always something in research, isn’t there? LOL Here’s the Find a Grave for him, as accessed today 2 May 2021. I also FINALLY just worked his kids. I knew it was going to be a J O B. He had 21 children, with 3 wives, but married 4 times, and lived in 3 states. OH BOY! That could be a post on it’s own, but why do everyone’s work for them, right? Have fun tracking it all down. (hint: I think several of them do pass away).

The reason for this birth to grave (BTG) was there’s a discrepancy on his DOB, 1839 v 1831.  While his DC “appears” to show 1839 (or 1831), his headstone most definitely shows 1831.  So, I did a quick analysis of his known census records to see if I could determine which might be correct.  Unlike the one I did on Thomas Riley Sartain, previous post, this one is much clearer as to when/where the discrepancy occurs, and likely why. 

Quick note: with exception of military record, all the census records are screenshots of snippets of the actual census cited, and all located on Original census records are property of

1840 Itawamba Co MS census James is the (1) <5 male under his father, John R. Long.  It’s unclear the date the census was taken, but they’re on page 17, and 2nd to last on the page, John R Long.

1850 Itawamba Co MS census Dist 7, page 81 line 34-42 (note the page # is per the bottom of Ancestry’s film number, so it might be off 1/2) James is now 11, keeping in mind the census was taken 6 Nov 1850, and his birthday is 9Nov. So someone just aged him a year 3 days early. 

I do know James’ has purchased some property in  Dec 1858, in Township 5, Range 12, which is just to northeast of Frankfort, which later becomes the Colbert County side of Frankfort.  I don’t have a map at hand of what cities are located in this Range 12. I do know later he and his father both are in T5//R13, which is Frankfort (Colbert Co).

1860 census Couisn Jim knows James W and his brother Silmon (or Marcena Silmon) went through the Civil War together (1861-5) together, and Silmon is on the 1860 (Western Division) Franklin Co AL census, with their father John, taken 1 June 1860 page 1, lines 12-15.  Another note, while the one below MS (Silmon) appears to be JAS J, aged 14, this would actually be their brother Joseph, whose 2 years younger than Silmon, while James is about 4 years older than Silmon and 6 than Joseph.  

While I still don’t know where James was in the 1860 census, this is John’s 1860, showing James isn’t listed (also, that his mother, Catharine, isn’t listed, and presumed as having died).

21Dec1863 the reenlistment of James into his Union unit, showing his age and place of birth.  Now, later, when he’s older and beginning to show medical issues with his memory (I’ll keep that side private), he claims twice he was born in Pickens Co MS (same county, but state goes to MS).  There’s no Pickens County MS. There’s a city named Pickens but it’s in Holmes County, which is far west MS.  So using the place he states when he’s 24 (and prior to injury to his head in the war) I’m firm it was Alabama.  Additionally, there’s some other research cousin Jim and I are working on related to this new knowledge, and other residents in the area, including another John R Long (who’s not our John R, as well as being much much too young to be ours) tied to our Y-DNA research. But that’s another post, and in its infancy of research. Suffice to say, there’s many reasons I have to say this appears to be a true and factual statement from James in 1863. The military papers I have are original copies from James F Long, and using them with permission. Thanks cousin Jim!

1870 Colbert Co Al, James is listed as age 30, which if using his last birthday, since the census was taken 12 July 1870, (1869-1839 = 30) is correct.  He is now living in Colbert County, which was created in 1867 (and permanently in 1870) of the northern half of Franklin County, where he is a neighbor of his father John just 3 houses down.  James is family 16 and John R is family 19.  Page 3: Lines 5-10 for James/family, Lines 20-25 for John R and his 2nd wife, Sarah, and 3 daughters, one step-son, Wm Gibson (although he’s listed as a Long).

1880, Weakley Co, TN p4 Lines 20-27   it appears Sarah, wife of James W, has passed on, per a descendant’s tree, 4Oct1878, Weakley Co, TN, James now appears with a new wife HT, age 18.  Note: His DOB is ‘abt 1841’ with his age 39, yet the census was taken June 1880, making him 41, ironically using the 39 as year of birth.  I think this one either someone told it wrong, or the census taker swapped the year and age.  (age is 41, not 1841, and his year of birth is 1839, not being 39).  

1890 There is no federal census for this year, as it was burned in Washington DC.

1900  Fulton Co, KY 3 July. page 24 Lines 85-92 Listed DOB Nov 1839, aged 60 born in Mississippi. Wife Demaratta Long. md 4 years, year of marriage 1896. 4 of the kids still at home born in TN, and the last, and her husband, born in KY.  

Also in Sep 1900, James is examined for his military pension, and the physician’s assessment discusses his childlike and earlier than normal aging and fragility. Keep this in mind going forward with his documentation from this point forward, which in

1910 Fulton Co, KY 9 May. page 18, Lines 7-12.  Whoop, New wife. Susan. Last daughter Lillie.  2 stepsons and a granddaughter.  His age is 75, they’ve been married 6 years (est 1904), all her 4 children are alive (appears 2 living there, Joseph & Grace).  But James is suddenly 75. (b 1835, which is 4 years before his last census, and most any others, so I think this one, the person who gave the info was wrong!) 

His death certificate: 10Mar1917, Fulton Co, KY.  Nov 9, 183_, aged 75 years 4 mos 1 day. 1916-75= 1841

1916-1839= 77. Note I used 1916, because that would have been his last actual birthday, since he dies in March.  This still isn’t right. But it’s only 2 years off 1839, compared to 1831.  Although, even Ancestry transcribes his age (where’s written in years, months, days) as 85. But if you zoom the document, it looks more like 75. But let’s use 1916-85 – 1831. Also, whomever is JA Long, is the informant, and may not be the best informant since they only know his father’s name, not his mother’s nor either’s places of birth.  (Just making an observation on that). This person is also giving the data from Tennessee.   If you go back to the 1910 census, he’s suddenly 75 (instead of 70) and I believe this person then thinks he’s closer to 85 by the time he dies. It’s unclear who ordered the headstone, but I suspect whomever read the death cert, did the same thing, drew the conclusion that the blob was a 1.  But the math used on his age, and the 75 years, due to the discrepancy of his age on the 1900-1910 censuses, doesn’t come to 1831 either.  It makes him actually DOB 1841. 

In summary:

  • 1840: age 1 (1839)
  • 1850: age 11 (1839, bc it was 3 days before his birthday)
  • 1858 age not listed but property purchase T5/R12 Franklin Co AL (becomes Colbert in 1870)
  • 1860: unknown – not sure where he was living yet (see 1858)
  • 1863 age 24 (1839) Military reenlistment (courtesy of private papers from James F Long)
  • 1870: aged 30, which supports 1839
  • 1880: says 1841, age 39.  (Personally lean 1839 as a mix up with his wife’s age)
  • 1890: no data.
  • 1900: Nov 1839. 100% on the money
  • 1910: 1835 (toss)
  • 1917: lean 1839 (but not 1831) using age 75, 4 mos, 1 day. (1917-75 = 1841)

Summary conclusion: James Washington Long, son of John R Long (of Itawamba, MS, Franklin and Colbert counties,, AL) was born in Pickens Co, AL 9Nov1839.

Feel free to reach out or comment below with questions, observations or documents/sources that may differ from mine. Jim and I are looking for factual documentation for our records of this descendant genealogy project.

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