John Douglass of Mississippi

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The most definitive research on John Douglas appears to have been conducted by Edgar Lamar Douglas as recorded in the book "The John Douglass Family of Mississippi," published 1962. Some researches have claimed that his work is based strongly on family tradition and contains many error. However, it provides the most complete picture of John's life. The following summary is primarily derived from this book--where evidence seems lacking for some events, they are appropriately indicated.
John Douglas was born in North Carolina, in or near Rowan County. John was apparently his parent's only child. Soon after his parents wedding, his father returned to Scotland or Ireland on business. While he was there he was taken ill suddenly and died, after which John was born. His mother died shortly after his birth, and he was reared by his grandparents.

Although John's parents are unknown, David Douglas is thought to be John's grandfather with relatively high confidence, based upon land transaction records.

On May 20, 1776, twelve year old John Douglas enlisted as a Drummer in the fight for America's freedom. The "Drummer boys" were usually young boys and held the rank of private, receiving the same pay as the other soldiers. (It is noted that there were four different John Douglases who enlisted in the Revolutionary War. In the book, Edgar Douglas outlines how he discerned the correct John Douglas enlistment).

John first served in Captain Samuel Reid's Company, 6th North Carolina Regiment and was later transferred to the 1st North Carolina Regiment and served with this unit until his discharge late in 1778. John's unit fought in the Battle of Guilford Court House.

In 1801, John Douglas sold his land in Lincoln Co., North Carolina (which was formerly part of Rowan County). From there, John made his way to Georgia and then to Mississippi. During this period John lost his first wife (name unknown). He later married Mrs. Nancy Walden Denman, a young widow, the daughter of William Walden.

On 28 April, 1802, John was issued a passport by the state of Georgia for travel through the Creek Nation, required to reach Mississippi. Traveling with John was a William "Walton", thought to be John's father in law William Walden. At this time there were only two routes into Mississippi. John chose the northern route which took them across northern Georgia and into South Tennessee. Upon arriving in Tennessee, the party was warned by friendly Indians that it was not safe to travel further west or south for the Creek Indians were at war. They remained in south Tennessee for thee years until the Indians were at peace. According to family tradition, this Tennessee location was on top of Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga, Tennessee.

In 1805 a treaty with the Choctaw Indians was signed and the United States purchased land in southern Mississippi. Upon resuming their migration from southern Tennessee, John and his partly supposedly were going to settle in Amite Co., Mississippi. It is alleged that upon the party arriving at Doak's Store on the Natchez Trace, a short distance from Jackson, MS, that the guide that was to take them to Amite County did not show up. Rather, a man from Lawrence County told them of the opportunities there, and the group made their way there instead of Amite County.

John and his group made their way to the Fair River, where the Natchez-Fort Stevens Road crossed. This area at the time (ca 1810) was in Marion County but soon became Lawrence County in 1814. (In 1870 it eventually became the eastern part of Lincoln County). Here John settled with his father-in-law William Walden. The cabin that they built in 1810 still stands. The original logs are boarded on the outside and ceiled inside. The land on which they settled was owned by Elijah Smith, who had three daughters eventually marrying three of John's sons.

In 1830 the Choctaw Indians signed the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, by which they sold to the United States the rest of their land in Mississippi. This opened up virgin land to white settlers and John and his sons moved to Yazoo County around this time, some 80 miles to the north of their original Mississippi home site in Lawrence County (or the eastern part of today's Lincoln County). The area of settlement in Yazoo County was between Benton and Vaughan, in the vicinity of Black Jack Baptist Church (which would only later be established until 1844). John's wife, Nancy, died in Yazoo County in August, 1836. (Extensive searching by Edgar Douglas has failed to find her burial spot). Although no land purchase records are known from Yazoo County, records of John and his sons selling land between 1835 and 1839 are found.

In October, 1836, three month's after Nancy's death, John and his son, Ransom, sold their holdings in Yazoo Co. They moved south to near the town of Allen, in Copiah County, Mississippi. There they bought 900 acres of land and settled. John's son, Elisha, being single also accompany them to Copiah County. John lived three years in Copiah County, dying on November 9, 1839. His sons buried him in the New Providence Baptist Church cemetery.
The 1896 book "Mississippi Baptist Preachers," by L. S. Foster also has a short summary of John Douglass. As part of a biography on Elisha Douglass, John's son, it states:
"John Douglass, father of Elisha Douglass, was a Carolinian by birth. He lived successively in North and South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Mississippi. With a colony of Georgians, he settled on Fair River, nine miles west of the present Monticello in Lawrence County, while Mississippi was still a territory, and was truly a pioneer in the wilderness."

• Based on the 1773 will of William Douglas of Rowan County, NC, it appears that David Douglas was John Douglas’s uncle and not his grandfather.

See also:
•  The Douglas family in Mississippi




Sources for this article include:

•  The John Douglass Family of Mississippi, by Edgar Lamar Douglas
•  Mississippi Baptist Preachers, by L. S. Foster

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