Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Abijah Rhea, Abijah Ray

My great grandfather's brother was Abijah Rhea. It is difficult finding information for him. He was born in 1836 in Hancock County, Tennessee. He was a Confederate soldier in the 29th Tennessee Infantry. On January 9, 1862, he was captured by the Union army at the Battle of Mill Springs in Kentucky.

This is where the water gets a little murky.

On the "Selected Records of the War Relating to Confederate Prisoners of War 1861-1865". he is listed as Abijah Ray. One has to guess that his name was listed phonetically and not as it was spelled at the time. It has the right infantry division and the right county. The time frame is correct.

However, if you search the records, there is another Abijah Ray. Without careful consideration, it is easy to confuse the two although they are related.

The Reverend Joseph Rhea was born in 1788, the son of John Elijah Rhea Sr. Joseph had a son named James Northcross Rhea born in 1816. His son is the "Other" Abijah born in 1864.

The Reverend Joseph Rhea had six siblings.

John Elijah Rhea Jr. born in 1803, married Lucy Jones and they had 11 children. My great grandfather, John Carter Rhea, was born in 1842. He married Martha Jane McCollum and they had nine children. My grandfather, William Ogden Rhea, was born in 1882. He married Mellie Farris and moved to Montana where my father was born.

The other sibling that figures into this is:

Martha Pricilla Rhea born in 1790 was also a sibling of the Reverend Joseph Rhea. She married John McCollom. They had a son in 1820 named James Northcross McColloam. The reason James Northcross McColloam figures into this mix is because he married Mary Polly Gray and they had three children. One of them, Martha Jane McCollum, married, John Carter Rhea. They were kissing cousins.

There is a pattern here. It is meant to confuse future family history researchers. Both of the siblings named their children with the same name, born 4 years apart. The McCollum's also spelled their name any way they wanted. So with two Abijah's, two James Northcross' and the McCollum's spelling, getting this right was an issue.

Thanks to Kaye for contacting me and the the rest of the Ray clan for inviting us in. With their help, I finally get all of this!


  1. Thanks for this great research, Ann! Even with your explanation, it's confusing enough that it makes me want to draw up an organization chart! It's left me wondering why both siblings would name their male children, as you say four years apart in age, James Northcross. There's got to be a good story there! If there is, I have no doubt that you'll find it, especially now that there's help available with our newly found cousins in TN who have such precious oral history of that side of our family. Again, thanks for your meticulous research! You've made the head-shaking "Wha?" into an "Oh, I see!"
    With appreciation, Cousin Patty

  2. Abijah Ray had four Sons, one of which ( the youngest) was named James Northcross Ray, Grandfather of Mike Ray and Kaye Lamon, two of your Tn Cuz's. The eldest of Abijah Ray's Sons was Hugh George Ray, my Grandfather. Thanks for the work yu all have done. Darrell Ray, Son of Robert Lee Ray, oldest Son of Hugh Ray.

  3. Ever heard that there was a James Northcross at the Battle of the Alamo? I can't believe anything but there is a connection there also. There is or was when I was last on FB about 10 years ago a Don Rhea in TX who had an invitational only website called Febra's Kids. I can't find it again. I do remember another relative named Donna Homer who I believe is in New Jersey. She had done a lot of research. Kaye