John Goodman of North Carolina and Tennessee

There has been much debate about the origins of this John Goodman.

Drury Goodman was born to a John Goodmanin 1807 in KY, and that family later removed to Lewis Co., Tennessee. My first guess was that this John Goodman b. abt 1780 or before, was probably the son of Drury Goodin / Goodman, an early East TN pioneer, and signer of the Watauga Petition of 1776. The older Drury Goodman, being of age in 1776, and therefore born before 1756, and may have been a brother of Ansel Goodman, and therefore also a brother of the John Goodman who died 1790 in Greene Co. This surmise was based on the names of the younger Drury Goodman’s 11 children with Martha Edwards, vis: Alsamina, Ansel F., Adeline Jane, Henry D., William E., Sarah E., Eunice C., John A., Drury D., Martha E., and Wilson. Ansel F. Goodman, son of Drury, subsequently married Mary E. Cox, and one of their children was Ansel W. Goodman. A Drury Goodman listed in 1850 in Wayne Co., KY, as aged 30, born in TN, and with a daughter named Lureana. It is these Ansel and Drury names, and the occurrence of the William and Henry names, that seemed to indicate the strong connection of this line to the William and Henry Goodmans of Duplin, Gates and other counties of NC, and previously of Surry, Hanover, Louisa and Isle of Wight, VA. However, as stated below, it has since been asserted that this John Goodman came from Germany, and was not related to my VA Goodmans, despite the naming similarities. This assertion is in quesiton.

I previously thought this John Goodman to be a son of Ansel Goodman of Bedford County, VA, due to names of some of his descendants. However, later research seems to indicate that the Ansel name in this line may have actually come from other NC families, most probably from Ansel Ferrell, born 14 Sept 1762 in Bute County, NC, adjacent to Granville County, NC, the home of many Goodman and Williams families. Ansel Ferrell was a Rev. War soldier, and married Charity Hammons in 1783 in Franklin Co., NC, which was formed from Bute Co. in 1779. Ansel Ferrell Goodman was one son of Drury Dobbins Goodman and his wife, Martha Ann Edwards. Martha Edwards father was William Edwards, who was born ca 1760 in NC and died ca 1840 in Cane Creek, Hickman Co., TN, and her mother was Eunice Ferrell, born ca 1765 in NC and died after 1840 in Massac Co., IL. Eunice Ferrell, mother of Martha Edwards, was a sister of Ansel Ferrell. (Refs: 1 and 2).

This John Goodman has also been purported to come from Germany to Philadelphia via London in 1805, according to some descendants. re: Source Article. Also: as posted by Curtis Graham on Wed, 18 Nov 1998 at Barren Co KY GenWeb, Surname: goodman:

“Searching for information on John Goodman who landed in Philadelphia, Pa. in 1805 and was shown to be in Barren County, Ky in the 1810 census. A son was born to John in 1807. This son was Drury Dobbins Goodman. He moved to Hickman County, TN. prior to 1830. If you can verify this and have further information on this family, would appreciate a reply. Thanks. Curtis Graham.”.

Re the statement above: “.. was shown to be in Barren County, Ky in the 1810 census.”. Let us explore this further. There were actually three John Goodmans recorded in the 1810 Barren County KY census records. Re, on my old website: Goodmans in Barren County KY 1810 Census. Fortunately for this researcher and others, this census was not alphabetized, as many were during this period. So, as in later census records, one can assume that the census was recorded in the order the families were encountered by the enumerator, and that adjacent and nearby families of the same surname were probably related in some way. Therefore, from these Barren County census records, we find:

  • The John Goodman on p. 25 (image 3 on was age 45+, as was his wife, and they had 5 sons, born ca 1785-1809, and 4 daughters, born ca 1785-1809, so he was too old and had too many children to be the John Goodman who came from Germany with only a wife in 1805. He is also adjacent to Anderson Goodman and George Goodman, believed to be sons of John Goodman and Jane/Jeanie Lowry, who married in Goochland VA 26 Mar 1781. The number and ages of their children also corresponds closely to what we know of the John Goodman / Jane Lowry family, later of Indiana.
  • The John Goodman on p. 29 (image 7 on seems to be about the right age, over 16 and under 25, with wife also over 16 and under 25. However, they have 4 male children under 10, plus one female child under 10, plus one female age 45+ living with them. It greatly stretches the imagination that their children could have been born between 1805, when they supposedly came to Philadelphia as a childless couple, and the 1810 census. In addition, they are adjacent to Hardin, Alexander and Abraham Goodman, and nearby, a few lines above that group, is an older man, William Goodman. This seems to be a large, extended Goodman family group, and the William Goodman nearby could be the same William Goodman who was bm at the marriage of John Goodman and Mary Robertson in Rutherford Co,., NC in 1802.
  • Hardin Goodman is later found in 1850 US census in IL, age 80, born VA (ca 1780), with son William Goodman nearby and born in TN, and some of William’s children born in KY. In 1820, Alexander Goodman, Jesse Goodman, John Goodman, Joseph C. Goodman, William Goodman (over 45 and age appropriate to be father of John and others nearby, except Jesse, who was also older than the rest), two younger William Goodmans, are all in close proximity to each other in Maury Co., TN, parent county of Hickman and Lewis County. The 1820 Maury Co., TN census also was not alphabetized, so the same conclusions can be drawn regarding relationships of adjacent family groups.
  • The third and last John Goodman in Barren County in 1810, on p. 46 (image 24 on is listed as John Goodman, Jr, age 26-45, with wife age 16-25 and only one son, under 10. Was this son Drury Dobbins Goodman, born ca 1807? If so, where is son Evan / Ivin Goodman, born ca 1803 in KY? And where is son Terrell Goodman, born ca 1804 in KY? This John Goodman, Jr., is most likely the son of John Jacob Goodman of NC, and later of Barren / Monroe Co., KY.

Therefore, the only possible match for John Goodman, father of Drury Dobbins Goodman, is the one on p. 29 of the Barren County census, and the other Goodmans surrounding him tend to indicate that this was a large and well established family in America before 1800, and not the family of a 1805 emigrant from Germany.

The newspaper article relied upon by some, (or is it an article from a Lewis County History book?), published in 1924, cites no authoritative sources for its assertions. Therefore, and lacking any other specific source citations from any other researchers, we must assume that those assertions derive purely from oral/traditional family history, and/or inaccurate and undocumented genealogy research done before 1924, before the US Census records of the middle to late 1800s were available to the public, and that therefore, the purported origins of this John Goodman as stated in the article cannot be substantiated.

See following for additional information.

US Census research using images available on, and research of other online resources that have recently become available, has confirmed that one John Goodman married a Mary Robertson in Rutherford County, North Carolina, on 9 Dec 1802. (Ref: “Marriages of Rutherford County, NC, 1779-1868”, Compiled by Brent H. Holcomb: Goodman, John and Mary Robertson, 9 Dec 1802; St. John Camp, William Goodman bm.) Does this prove that the John Goodman (with wife also named Robertson) of Hickman / Lewis County TN was the one who married Mary Robertson in NC? Not necessarily. However, US census records do show that at least one son, “Evan” or aka “Ivin” or “Asa Ivin”, was born in 1803 in NC, before the family removed to Kentucky and then to Maury/Hickman County Tennessee (from which Lewis County was formed in 1843), where they are well documented in US census and other records throughout the 1800s. “Even” or “Ivin” Goodman, age 57 (1803), and Robertson Goodman, age 50 (1810), are both in the 1860 census of Perry Co., TN, p.11 (adjacent to and SW of Lewis Co). In that census record, “Even” Goodman states he was born in NC, and Robertson Goodman states he was born in KY. Therefore, Even/Ivin Goodman, born 1803 in NC, could not have been the son of the John Goodman who came from Germany in 1805, as he was born in NC before that John Goodman ever arrived.

On the Goodman side, this John Goodman b ca 1780 could have been related to the Goodmans of Nansemond / Isle of Wight County VA and Gates/Dobbs County NC. A William Goodman was documented as BM at the 1802 wedding of John Goodman and Mary Robertson in Rutherford County, NC, which could indicate that John Goodman and William Goodman of Rutherford County NC may be descended from the William/Henry Goodman line of Gates/Dobbs Co., NC. Wilson Whitfield, a given name of one of the sons of Drury Dobbins Goodman, was listed as a slave owner in the 1782 Isle of Wight VA Slave Schedule.In addition, the Whitfields of Isle of Wight married into this Goodman family in the early 1700s. Re: Dave Whitfield’s GenForum post.

Excerpt from: Robertson Source

“William Robertson, Sr., b. abt 1650, Kindeace, County Ross, Scotland, d. 1708/09, James City County, Virginia. Immigrated from Scotland to Virginia abt 1705 and settled in James City County, Virginia that later fell into Surry County, Virginia, m. abt 1671, Mary Mackenzie, b. abt 1653, Scotland, d. 1710, James City County, Virginia. Children are: John, George, Thomas, Nathaniel Robertson, Sr., b. abt 1680, Kindeace, County Ross, Scotland, d. 1711, Surry County, Virginia, m. abt 1705, York County, Virginia, Mary Drewry, b. 14 Oct 1688, Charles Parrish, York County, Virginia, d. 1718, Surry County, Virginia, William, Jr., Mary, Catherine, Elspeth, Isabella, and Anne.

[Very Possibly, the father of the above William Robertson, Sr. is John Robertson, b. abt 1620, Scotland, m. abt 1646, Catherine Ross, b. abt 1635, Easterfeam, Scotland.]

Nathaniel Robertson, Sr., (abt 1680-1711) and Mary Drewry (1688-1718) had three Sons: Nathaniel, Jr. (RG: Father of Drewry/Drury Robertson Sr. of Brunswick / Lunenburg Co., VA), John, and Christopher Robertson, b. abt 1710, Surry County, Virginia, d. bef 1791, Warren County, North Carolina, m. (1) ?? Isham, and m. (2) Winnifred Gilliam, b abt 1733, New Kent, Virginia.”

A Drury Robertson was a Capt. under Col. James Sevier in 1788, as recorded in the E. TN. “State of Franklin” records. Most of Sevier’s officers were early settlers from VA and NC, residing in Washington and Greene Counties in E. TN at the time. A Maj. Drury Robertson was a prominent citizen (and slave owner) in Marlborough in the Cheraws Dist. in SC in 1790, and could possibly be the same person. See following.

Selected excerpts from “Carol Middleton’s Webpages Reconstructed by D La Pierre Ballard BalCro, 19-JAN-2007”, at: Source

On 5/5/1748:

William Malone of Bristol Parish, Prince George Co, for the love I have for my son-in-law Drury Robertson of St. Andrews Parish in Brunswick Co, deed 180 acres in St. Andrews Parish on the south side of the Meherrin River …” Later a deed gift of a slave girl named Phan was given for “love, good will and affection to my son-in-law Drury Robertson.”. (RG: The Meherrin River area in Brunswick County VA was later to become part of Lunenburg County.) “… Winifred Malone, born about 1729 in VA. By 1748, married Drury Robertson, son of Nathaniel and Elizabeth Robertson of Surry County, VA. Their children: Mary Robertson (b. ca 1747-49 VA; m. Matthew Turner, son of Matthew Turner, Sr.; received a deed gift from her Father), Nathaniel Booth Robertson (b. ca 1749-51; m. Elizabeth Merritt / Merriot; a Patriot, donated supplies to the Revolutionary cause; moved to Anson Co, NC referred to as Booth Robertson), Drury Robertson, Jr. (b. ca 1749-51; m. Mary Winfield; landowner in Mecklenburg Co, VA served in the Revolutionary War as a sergeant in the 9th VA Regiment of Foot; moved to Marlborough Co, SC after the War), Nancy “Nanny” (b. ca 1750-52; m. Charles Pistole), Sarah Robertson (b. ca 1751-53 VA; m. Henry Mitchell, son of Nathaniel and Elizabeth Mitchell; received a deed gift from her parents), William Robertson (b. 2/2/1754, Brunswick Co, VA; m. Rebecca House; served in the Continental Army and was at Valley Forge, serving under Col. Frederick Maclin; later lost an arm in a Franklin Co, NC battle; was in Brunswick / Mecklenburg Co, VA. by 1743; moved to Marlborough Co, SC where his brother Drury was living; owned a gristmill; m-2nd: Sarah Dallas Hickson, widow d. intestate, Fleming Co, KY on 4/9/1833), Lucy Robertson (b. ca 1754-56; m. John Turner; received a deed gift -to John- from her father), Mildred “Milly” Robertson (b. ca 1757-59 VA; m. Jeremiah Smith who received a deed gift from Drury Robertson), maybe Elizabeth. Winifred Malone died ca 1781-2 Brunswick Co, VA.”.

A Drury Goodan, also listed as Drury Goodin in some transcriptions, was a signor of the Watagua Petition.

Terrell Goodman, a known son of John Goodman and brother of Drury Dobbins Goodman, is listed in the 1850 US Census in Lewis Co., TN, District 7. He is 46, and says he was born in NC (1804). Wife Eliza (Ferrell) is 31, born in TN (1819). Their children are listed as: Terrell R., 11; Mary A., 8; Media A., 5; William A., 2; and Milly E., also 2, possibly twins. Terrell R. is listed as born in AL, and others in TN. The family eventually returned to Alabama, as in 1860, this family, plus John J., 3; and Thomas H., 1, but minus Media and Terrell R., is in District 2, Factory, Lauderdale County, AL.

From about 1780, Rutherford County NC was the home of Joel Terrell, Jr. (actually the 3rd of that same name), born 1762, son of Joel Terrell of Albemarle Co., VA and his wife (and Cousin) Anna Lewis of the prominent New Kent / Hanover County, VA Lewis family. Joel Terrell Sr died before 1780 in Albemarle, and Anna married 2nd to Stephen Willis, a widower, whose 1st wife was a sister of her 1st husband, Joel Terrell. Joel Terrell Jr., b 1762 in Albemarle County, VA, served in the Rev. War, primarily at Lynchburg, VA, but also saw action and was wounded at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. He married in 1800 to Martha Williams, daughter of John Williams, another Rev War soldier who resided at the time in Rutherford County, NC.

Cane Creek in Rutherford County NC is mentioned as the location of a skirmish between Col. Patrick Ferguson’s British forces and revolutionary forces under Col. Charles McDowell on Sept 12, 1780 As Ferguson was camped out in Rutherford at Gilbert Town on the way to King’s Mountain. It is not hard to envision Cane Creek in Lewis County TN being named for the creek of the same name in Rutherford County, NC.

In addition, it seems the Drury Dobbins name, given name of one of John Goodman‘s sons, may have also originated in Rutherford County, NC. (Ref: 3). The Rev. Drury Dobbins was born on 17 Apr 1776 in York District SC, son of William Dobbins, previously of Granville County, NC and later of Rutherford Co., NC. Descendants of William Dobbins (C.E. Dobbins version). William Dobbins was born 17 Feb 1739/40 in Granville NC, and died 23 Sept 1814 in Rutherford Co NC (S: Texas Daughters Revolutionary Ancestors). He married Susannah Collins before 1762 in Granville Co NC, daughter of William Collins. She was born 27 Feb 1737/38 in Granville Co NC, and died 1 May 1832 in Rutherford Co NC.

Rev. Drury Dobbins was ordained on 12 Mar 1803 in State Line Baptist Church, Cherokee Co SC. He appeared in the census in 1790 to 1840 in Rutherford Co NC. He died on 19 May 1847 in Rutherford County NC and was buried there in the Dobbins family cemetery above Ellenboro. He was a Baptist minister, farmer and shoemaker. He was a member of Sandy Run Baptist Church, Cleveland Co NC, and was on the rolls from 1804 through 1846. The Rev’d Drury Dobbins testified to Rev War service of James Harvey and William Hollen (Rutherford County NC P.& Q.S. Ct. September Term 1832). This person’s name, and his location in Rutherford Co., NC, also the marriage place of John Goodman and Mary Robertson, seems to confirm that the John Goodman who married Mary Robertson in 1802 in Rutherford Co., NC, was the father of Drury Dobbins Goodman, and that the John Goodman who arrived in Philadelphia in 1805 could NOT have been the same John Goodman.

The 1850 US Census, Lewis Co,., TN, shows Drury D. (Dobbins) Goodman, b. KY, and family, as shown in the outline descendant tree below. However, the 1880 US Census of Lewis Co TN includes several known sons of Drury Dobbins Goodman: Drury Dallas Goodman, Whitfield (Wilson Whitfield) Goodman and Ansel F. Goodman, all listed on the same census page, and who all consistently list their father (Drury Dobbins Goodman) as born in VA (not KY), which conflicts with earlier census records, as well as family tradition, and their mother as born in NC. Martha A. Goodman age 70, their mother and widow of Drury Dobbins Goodman, is living with the family of Whitfield Goodman in that census, listing her father and mother as both born in NC. (Cane Creek, Lewis Co. TN, 1880 Census, District 113).

And these records in Maury County, adjacent to and just east of Hickman: 1821, October 25, Maury Co., TN, Marriage bond by Terrel (sic. Terrell) Goodman (his mark) and Wilson Parks (his mark) for marriage of Wilson Parks to Manerva Goodman. Marriage performed by John Gilcrest, JP, same date. Terrell Goodman born 1804 and son of John Goodman would only have been 17 as of this date, and so probably would not qualify as bondsman. Manerva Goodman, not needing permission of her father, was probably 20 or older, and therefore born before 1801, and not likely a daughter of John Goodman and Mary Robertson. Therefore, this must have been an older Terrell Goodman, perhaps a brother of John Goodman. And: Marriage bond in Maury County TN, 9 July 1829, image on file. Indexed as Robinson Goodman, but bond document signed by “Roberson” Goodman and “Polly” Sutherland, bondsman William Goodman. There were several other Goodman marriages in Maury County between 1820 and 1830, and this further establishes, alng with the 1820 US Census record, that John Goodman‘s extended family was there during that time, and that there were many other related Goodman family members in that same area.

Yes, we do need more details and documentation on this family! However, the preponderance of evidence, especially ages and birth dates from the 1850 to 1890 census records, indicates that, despite the article(s) previously cited by other researchers:

  • That this John Goodman, late of Maury / Hickman / Lewis County TN, and father of several of the Goodmans of those counties, including Drury Dobbins Goodman was NOT the one who came from Germany in 1805, but that he was actually from North Carolina.
  • That he married Mary Robertson in Rutherford County NC in 1802, per Rutherford County NC official records, where son Asa/Ivin was born in 1803 and son Terrel was born in 1804. The birth places, ages and birth dates of these two sons, established by later US Census records in Lewis County, is the primary reason that the John Goodman who came from Germany to Philadelphia via London in 1805 could not have been the ancestor of this family.
  • That this Goodman family, along with several related Goodman families, removed from Rutherford County NC to Barren County Kentucky about 1804-5, where son Drury Dobbins Goodman was born in 1807, the family appears on the 1810 US census records, son Robertson Goodman was born in 1810, and son Jesse Goodman born in about 1812, ages and birth places per later Lewis County census records. Barren Co., KY was the home of several other NC and VA Goodman families in 1810.
  • That several of the extended Goodman families removed en-masse from Barren Co., KY and that they resided in Maury County TN for a time between 1814 and 1829, where they are found in a large extended family group in the 1820 census, just as they were in Barren County in 1810.
  • Given that their later records are found primarily in Lewis County, it seems this Goodman family resided in the parts of western Maury and eastern eastern Hickman which were to later form Lewis County, TN.

Mysteriously, as cited earlier, and I am not sure how this fits in: The 1880 US Census of Lewis Co TN includes several known sons of Drury Dobbins Goodman: Drury Dallas Goodman, Whitfield (Wilson Whitfield) Goodman and Ansel F. Goodman, all listed on the same census page, and who all consistently list their father, Drury Dobbins Goodman, as born in VA (not KY) and their mother born in NC. Martha A. Goodman age 70, their mother, is living with the Whitfield Goodman family in that census, listing her father and mother both born in NC. Re: Cane Creek, p. 14, Lewis Co. TN, 1880 Census, Enum. Dist 113. If VA was in fact the birthplace of Drury Dobbins Goodman, despite his earlier census statements that he was born in KY, then all of us may have been chasing our tails, and we may need to look for the John Goodman family in Virginia ca 1800-1810, not in Kentucky!


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