Martha Ashley & Aaron Tison by Kay Bachmann

Martha Ashley & Aaron Tison
d/o Nathaniel Ashley & Jane Williams

by Kay Bachmann





Much confusing and irreconcilable information has been written about the Ashley family that was prominent in Camden County, Georgia starting about 1787.  My purpose here is to share information, most of which I believe to be unquestionably correct, about one member of that family, Martha Ashley, born circa 1775, to Nathaniel Ashley and Jane Williams.  I hope readers will provide additional, documented information, including any contrary to that I have provided here.

Martha Ashley, married Aaron Tison, probably in Beaufort County, South Carolina about 1789, as Aaron’s household in 1790 census included only 1 male over 16 and 1 female.  Their first known child was born in April, 1791.  Martha’s mother, Jane/Jean Ashley, and hers brother William and Lodowick Ashley were heads of separate households in the Beaufort County, South Carolina census of 1790.

Nathaniel Ashley, a loyalist during the Revolutionary War, his wife and 7 children were living in East Florida when, in 1783, the British were forced to cede it back to Spain.  By 1787, the Ashleys had moved to Camden County, where Nathaniel, William, and Lodowick were among the founders of the town of St. Mary’s in November of that year.  On 28 April 1788, the Camden Grand Jury indicted Nathaniel for the murder of Henry O’Neil, an agent of the Spanish government of East Florida.  This perhaps explains why the family was in Beaufort County, South Carolina in 1790.  The Ashley men were not listed as electors for the Camden County Election in December 1788, thus suggesting they left there before then. The Ashleys do NOT appear in the 1801 census for Beaufort County, having by 1795 returned to the Camden County/East Florida area.

While other scenarios are possible, it seems likely that Martha met and married Aaron while the Ashley family was temporarily in Beaufort County.

There were Tisons in Beaufort County before the Ashleys arrived.  According to “A History of Beaufort County” they were part of a large migration there from North Carolina shortly after 1765.  John Tison was said to be a brother-in-law of William Stafford from New Hanover Township, North Carolina who led the migration (A History of Beaufort County, SC, Volume 1, 1514 to 1861, by Lawrence S. Rowland, Alexander Moore, and George C. Rogers, Jr., p. 298).  Whether Aaron was related to this Tison family, or merely happened to be in the same location, I cannot determine.  John Tison Sr. and John Tison, Jr. were in the 1800 census for Beaufort County, as was Aaron, but they were not found in the 1790 census.  A Job Tison, however, was in the 1790 census but was not found in the 1800 census.

[NOTE:  Job Tison, who died in Glynn County in 1824, had a son named Aaron born per online sources in 1803.  Sources, including a family bible, put Job’s birth year as 1770, putting him in an age range to have been a brother to Aaron, Martha’s husband.]

Aaron Tison was a Baptist minister and according the a history about South Carolina Baptists, he served a number of churches in the state and had land on Cedar Branch in Prince William’s Parish, Beaufort County, that other records show he was granted in 1797 (Plat, South Carolina Archives, image available of line).  “He died March 8, 1805, scarcely passed the meridian of life, leaving a widow and five children.” (South Carolina Baptist, 1670 to 1805, p. 46. )

Martha and their children moved to Camden County before 1809, when she appeared in the county tax digest for that year.  Because the children were minors when Aaron died his estate had to remain open until all of the children reached 21, married, or died.  Martha qualified as the administrator of his estate and in 1825 she filed an administrative return in Camden County accounting for the property and expenses of the estate, starting with those of Aaron’s last illness in South Carolina, and including the annual expense of the 5 children from the date of his death (or, the opening of his estate in South Carolina), until each was emancipated by age or marriage.

These are the names of their daughters, (all alive in 1825), and the dates of their birth, implied from when support from the estate was ended followed by the little information I have as to each:

Penelope Tison, b. 2 April 1791.  Penelope died after 1851, and as of the 1850 census, was unmarried.  She adopted her nephew, Charles Fitzwilliam Blake.

Jane Williams Tison, b. 11 July 1796.  Jane married first, as his second wife, Joseph Thomas, by whom she had a daughter, Martha Elizabeth.  She married second, as his second wife, Jason Brinson, whose first wife was her cousin, Elizabeth AshleyMartha Elizabeth Thomas married Dr. James Hamilton Hill (Hill family information is available on line).

Martha Tison, was about 21 years old at the time she married on 12 November 1819.  I have not found the name of her husband, or any further records for her.

Elizabeth Tison b. 2 March 1801.  No further records found.

Sarah Ann Tison married 26 August 1822, at 19 years of age.  She married Calvin Blake.  They were the parents of Charles Fitzwilliam Blake, Penelope Tison Blake, Edwin L.T. Blake, and possibly other children.  In 1843 Penelope Tison Blake married Andrew Jackson Philips in Marion County, Florida, with issue.

[Names of daughters derived and birth dates extrapolated from microfilm copies of Camden County Annual Returns and Accounts for Estates, Georgia Archives, Drawer 71, Box 23.]

I was able to find Martha Ashley Tison for certain in the 1830 Census of Camden County.  In addition to Martha, there were two adult females, and a young girl in the household, plus 10 slaves.  Daughter Jane (Tison) Thomas, by then a widow, was in her own household with her young daughter.  Sarah Ann (Tison) Blake lived with her husband and family.  That left Penelope as the likely female age 30-39, and either Martha or Elizabeth as the female 20-29.  Presumably, the young girl was a daughter of one of them.

In 1840, two females matching Martha and Penelope were living in Penelope Tison’s household (spelled “Tyson” in the census), in Newnansville, Alachua County, Florida Territory.  The household consisted of a female 40-49, a female 70-79, plus eleven slaves, only 3 of an age to engage in agriculture.  Living nearby was Louisa Tyson, the widow of a different Aaron Tison, probably the son of Job, discussed above.  I did not find an obvious family connection for Martha in this County.  Perhaps either Martha or Elizabeth was living there with an unknown husband.

In the 1850 census, Penelope Tison was living in Thomas County, Georgia, which was also the home of her sister Jane W. (Tison) Thomas Brinson.  In Penelope's household was her nephew, Charles Fitzwilliam Blake, age 17, and 21 slaves.

The following appeared in The Florida News (available on line) in regards to Martha (Ashley) Tison's death:

"Martha Tison, Executors Notice:  Six weeks after date, I will apply to the Judge of Probate of Duval County, Fl., to be discharged from Executatorship of the Last Will and Testament of Martha Tison, dec., Penelope Tison, Executrix, Feb. 13, 1851.”

Thus, Martha either died in Duval County, or had land there, which would have required an ancillary administration, regardless of the place of her death, to transfer the land in accordance with her will. The only connection I see for Martha and Duval County in 1850 is that her granddaughter, Penelope Tison (Blake) Philips (daughter of Sarah Ann Tison and Calvin Blake, and wife of Andrew Jackson Philips) lived there.  Unfortunately, it appears that wills of that era were not recorded in Duval County, thus leaving us in the dark as to beneficiaries of her estate.

I hope something here will advance the research interests of others and I welcome source-supported additions and correction.





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