The three widows

Last updated July 2011

One of the untold stories of the 19th century is that of the suffering of widows. The century began, in Northwest Georgia, in perilous times. Pioneer white families who descended on the Cherokee Nation faced many perils, and the men often did not survive them, leaving behind their widows to fend for themselves and raise their children. In our family tree, there are three in succession, the ancestors of Harriet Elizabeth “Lizzie” Bagwell, who married Elias Grady “Lissee” Carnes.

Lizzie’s mother was Harriet S.(Savannah?) Caroline Nowlin. Her father, Joel David Bagwell, died 26 August 1869 at the age of 38 in Rome, Georgia, leaving her mother to raise four children alone.

Harriet’s mother was Kissiah Hicks, whose husband Uriah Nowlin died between 1845 and 1850 in Floyd County, Georgia, leaving her to raise at least four children as well.

And, I believe, Kissiah Hicks Nowlin’s mother was Kissiah Hicks, who is a widow living alone in 1840 in Floyd County. Her husband is unknown. They had at least two children, but there is a great deal of uncertainty in this branch of the family tree.

I find it interesting, as well, that none of these three women ever married again.

Harriet S. C. Nowlin was born about 1842 in Georgia. According to her death certificate (Georgia Bureau of Vital Records no. 16513, accessible at Virtual Vault on the web), Harriet died of a “dilation of the heart” on 29 May 1920 in Adairsville, Georgia. She was “about 78" years old. Her death certificate lists her name as "H. S. C." Nowlin, and she is listed as Harriet and Caroline in the census records. The "S" probably does not stand for Susan or Susannah because Harriet had a sister with those names. Harriet married Joel David Bagwell on 10 May 1860 in Floyd County, and they had five known children:

1. Frances Bagwell, born 1861. I know nothing else about her.

2. Samuel David Bagwell, born 1862-63 according to the census records or 5 June 1860 according to one family record. Samuel died 1 February 1925 in Floyd County. He married  Catherine (Katie) Langley, born 7 July 1965 and died 31 March 1943. Their children were  Joseph Andrew. Susie, Hoyt, Leona, Frances E. (Effie), Carl B, Pearl, Caroline (Carrie), Florence, and John B. Katie was part Cherokee, a descendant of the Cherokee Chief Moy Toy (see below).

3. Elizabeth “Lizzie” Bagwell, born 1865. She married Elias G. Carnes. They were Gladys Hall’s ggreat-grandparents (Who the heck is Gladys Hall? See the Smith-Hall nexus).

4. Evaline Bagwell, born 1869. Evaline may never have married. She is living with her mother in 1920.

5. Joseph W. Bagwell, born 1870. I know nothing else about him.

During the Civil War, Joel Bagwell enlisted in Company H of the 8th Georgia Infantry, the “Floyd Infantry” (the same unit as the Carnes – See Our family in wartime) on 13 May 1861, but he fell ill soon after. He was discharged at Richmond, Virginia, 11 November 1861. The records state: "Has been sick with measles; suffered a severe cough and afterwards with rheumatism." His illnesses may have contributed to his early death.

Joel apparently was married twice: Georgia Marriages, 1699-1944 has a Joel Bagwell marrying Louisa Jane Shirley 12 May 1859 in Floyd County, almost a year to the day before a Joel Bagwell is said to have married Harriet Nowlin in the same records. Louisa Jane was born 1840 in South Carolina and is listed in the 1850 census for the Saluda Regiment, Abbeville District. The Saluda Regiment was in Edgefield County, which is south of Laurens.

However, in the 1860 census, Etowah District, Floyd County, Joel Bagwell, 29, is living next door to Mrs. Kagiah Nowlin, 40, and her children, including Caroline, 18. Kissiah has been married within the year, but has no husband and has retained her maiden name. In Joel's  household is a Bagwell, 21. The name looks like “Carrie.” But the person is designated male yet is also designated as a “domestic” or housekeeper.

This information is very confusing. There is no record of Kissiah Nowlin marrying in 1860 that I could find, but Joel and Harriet S. C. got married, as said, on 10 May 1860, before this census was taken on 21 July. So that would suggest that the Carrie in Joel's household is Harriet S. C., but why are they not listed as married within the year? And if Carrie is Harriet S. C., who is the 18-year-old Caroline in Kissiah's household. Incidentally, the Caroline in Kissiah's household is just the right age to be Harriet S. C., and Carrie's age is three years off.

Even more confusing, Kissiah's children in 1850 are Samuel 11, Daniel 9?, Hardy 6, and Susannah 4 -- note that H. S. C. is missing -- and in 1860 they are Samuel 20, Caroline 18, David 18, and Susan 14. Is David also Daniel? Did Hardy prove not so hardy and die young? And where is Harriet in 1850?

Ah, what is life without its mysteries, eh? And it is worth noting here that census records can be very unreliable. Their accuracy depends upon the intelligence and knowledge of the person giving the information, the intelligence and knowledge, not to mention quality of penmanship, of the person taking the information, and the intelligence and visual acuity of the person interpreting the information.

According to her death certificate (information provided by her son-in-law Elias G. Carnes," "H. S. C." Nowlin’s mother, “K. Hicks,” was born in North Carolina, but in the 1850 and 1860 Floyd County censuses, Kissiah Hicks Nowlin is said to have been born in Georgia, and in the 1880 Floyd County census, she is said to have been born in Georgia of parents born in Georgia (I could not find her in the 1870 census). Her father was "E. Knowling," place of birth unknown.

Kissiah Hicks Nowlin was born about 1818 and died before 1900, probably in Floyd County, where she lived from 1840 on. In the 1840 Floyd County census, Kissiah and her husband Uriah Nowlin, with one child, a boy under 5 (Samuel), are on the same page as Kissiah Hicks, 50-60, living alone, Lydia "Nowland" and H. W. Hick are next door neighbors and H. W. Hick lives one house away from the elder Kissiah. Between the families is a G. Ramey, but I have not been able to establish any connection between him and the others families. Lydia, 30-40, is Uriah's mother and has one son under 5 and two girls 5-9 in the household. The son is Presley, but I do not know the identity of the two girls.

In the 1870 Rome, Floyd County census, Caroline Bagwell, 26, is a widow with five children: Frances 9, David 8, Elizabeth 4, Evaline 3, and Josephus 3 mos. Her husband, Joel died in 1869. Elizabeth is Lizzie Bagwell, who married Elias G. Carnes.

In the 1880  census for the Etowah District, Floyd County, at dwelling 480 is Harriet Bagwell, single, head of household, 37, born in Georgia, with her parents born in Georgia. In the household are Samuel D. 17, Elizabeth 14, Evaline 13, and Joseph (Josephus) W., 10, along with her mother "Keziah" Nowlin, 61. Kissiah was born in Georgia of parents born in Georgia. The father of Harriet’s children (Joel), however, was born in South Carolina.

I could not find Harriet in the 1900 or 1910 censuses, but in 1920, on East Third Street, Ward 1, Floyd County, Georgia, is Caroline H. Bagwell, 78, living with her daughter Evea, 41. Harriet was born in Georgia of a father born in South Carolina and a mother born in North Carolina.

According to some websites, the elder Kissiah was the wife of Asa Hicks, and Henry W. Hick(s) was their son. But this Asa Hicks died in 1840 in West Alabama (Autaugaville), and was married to a woman named Isabella until his death.

I believe that the elder Kissiah is the mother of Kissiah Hicks Nowlin, and also H. W. Hick(s), but I do not know who her husband was. Henry W. Hicks died in 1860 as the result of a dynamite explosion in Coosa, Floyd County.

I think the elder Kissiah Hicks or her daughter or both came from North Carolina via Northeast Georgia. A Kessiah Hicks was one of the founding members of The Head of the Tennessee Baptist Church in Dillard, Rabun County, Georgia. According to the church minutes, some of the first members were from Macon County, North Carolina, which would seem to support information on her death certificate that Harriet Nowlin's mother was born in North Carolina. Rabun County and Macon County adjoin each other in extreme Northeast Georgia.

There is also an A. Hicks, 40-50, with a large family in the 1840 Floyd County census, but I do not know their relationship if any to the elder Kissiah.
Finally, on 18 August 1851, a Keziah Hicks bought 49.12 acres of land near Huntsville, Alabama. She paid cash (Alabama Land Records Document no. 11314). This could be the elder Kissiah Hicks, but she is not listed in any 1850 census records.

Kissiah Hicks and Uriah Nowlin had five known children:

Samuel N. Nowlin, born 1839-40. A Samuel J. Nowlin from Floyd County fought in the Civil War. He is listed in Kissiah Nowlin's household in 1850 as 11 and 1860 as 20. In the 1840 census, Kissiah and her husband Uriah have one child, a son under 5. I could find only one Samuel Nowlin in Georgia in the 1860 census (See “Our family in wartime”), and it was not uncommon for people to have three given names.

Daniel Nowlin, born 1841? Daniel only appears in one census, in 1850, and part of his age is overwritten. The original looks like 15, but the “1" is overwritten with what looks like a 9. In the 1860 census, there is a David, 18, in Kissiah's household, but he could be either Daniel, or Hardy (see below), or even someone else entirely.

3. Harriet Savannah? Caroline Nowlin, born 1842.

4. Hardy Nowlin, born 1844. Hardy is only listed in the 1850 census. It is possible Hardy is the David Nowlin, 18, in Kissiah's household in 1860, but he could be someone else entirely (it is rare, but I have found different names used for the same people in census records). David may also have fought in the Civil War (See “Our family in wartime”).

5. Susannah "Susan" Nowlin, born 1846. She is in the 1850 and 1860 censuses, but I know nothing else about her.

But what about Joel Bagwell?
The Bagwell clan, as it turns out, was very unimaginative when it came to given names. There are several men named William, James, John, Frederick, and David, among others, and several women named Elizabeth in the family tree, including three who may have married William Bagwells! Moreover, in the census records for South Carolina and Georgia, there are two widowed Elizabeth Bagwells who were born about 1800.

At the present time, I do not know for certain Joel Bagwell’s ancestry, but I believe he may have been the son of William Bagwell and Elizabeth Morrison. In the 1860 census, he is said to have been born in Georgia about 1841, but in the 1880 census, he is said to have been born in South Carolina. There is a Joel Bagwell, 20, living in Laurens County, South Carolina in 1850 with his mother, Elizabeth Bagwell, 55, and brothers named Marion 22, Lewis 18, George 16, and a sister, May A. Bagwell, 14. Elizabeth’s surname and identity are unknown, but it is possible she is Elizabeth Morrison.

Elizabeth Morrison was the wife of William Bagwell, born in 1797-98.
According to one Bagwell researcher, Elizabeth was the sister of Reuben Morrison. William Bagwell was either the eldest son of John and Frances Bagwell, or the youngest son of William Bagwell and a wife whose name is unknown. John and William are believed to be brothers, the children of Daniel Bagwell and Elizabeth, surname unknown, of Wake County, North Carolina.

William Bagwell was born about 1756, probably in Halifax County, North Carolina, and died about 1848 in Greenville, South Carolina. He is in the Wake County, North Carolina census of 1790 and 1800, is probably in Pendleton County, South Carolina in 1820, and is in Greenville County, South Carolina in the household of his son Jesse. He was a veteran of the Revolutionary War and served four terms of duty.

John “Jack” Bagwell was born about 1776 in North Carolina and died 22/23 July 1837-39 in Laurens, South Carolina. He married Frances Hulsey on 15 September 1795. She is thought to be the daughter of James and Ann Hulsey. John was a veteran of the War of 1812.

According to Bagwell researcher William F. Bagwell of Donalds, South Carolina, who died in 2006,  William Bagwell, born 1797-98, was the son of John and Frances Bagwell, married Elizabeth Morrison, and they "lived in Laurens or Greenville counties all their lives." William was a veteran of the War of 1812, enlisting on 16 January 1814. Either William or Elizabeth is listed in the 1830 and 1850 Laurens County censuses, and the 1840 Greenville census.

Elizabeth Morrison is not to be confused with Elizabeth Rowe or Roe, who married a William Bagwell. In the 1850 and 1860 Floyd County, Georgia censuses, there is an Elizabeth Bagwell, a widow, born in 1800 in South Carolina. She is Elizabeth Roe or Rowe, widow of William Bagwell. Among their children is a Joseph, born 1820, that some think may be nicknamed Joel.

In The Heritage of Floyd County, Georgia 1822-1999, Section 345, there is this statement: "Another [son of William Bagwell and Elizabeth Rowe was ]Joel (born 1820) -in Company "H", 8th Reg., Georgia Volunteer Infantry, Army of Northern Virginia, was wounded May 13, 1861. He became sick with 'measles, cough. and rheumatism.' He was given a disability discharge at Richmond, VA on 11 Nov 1861."

I question this information for two reasons:

One, a Joseph Bagwell married Harriett Surless on 10 March 1860 in Floyd County.

Two, it was a Joel and not a Joseph who enlisted in the 8th Georgia Infantry.

While nicknames were sometimes used on marriage certificates, they are very rare on Civil War enlistment documents. So why would Joseph use his given name when he got married, but enlist under a nickname?  For these reasons, I don't believe Joel and Joseph are the same person, and I think the information in the Heritage book is in error.
A note on Joel Bagwell's middle name.

Joel Bagwell’s middle name does not appear in any of the records, but one of my sources said that Harriet Elizabeth Carnes’s mother and father were known as “Dave” and Caroline Bagwell. This can only mean that Joel’s first or middle name is David.
The Native American connection

Joel and Caroline’s great-grandaughter, still living, said, when I mentioned the Bagwells, “Oh, they were all Indians.” Later, she added that they came from Cherokee territory, which included large portions of North Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Some Native Americans didn’t leave with the Trail of Tears, but remained and were called the Eastern Band. But there were Cherokees left behind as well outside of the mountains, especially Cherokee women who married white settlers.

Gladys Hall told me several times that somewhere in the family tree there was a Native American woman. There are a number of Hicks and Bagwells associated with the Cherokee or Choctaw tribes, including one of the principle chiefs. I also thought that Kissiah might be a corruption of a Cherokee name. But I could find no match in any of the Cherokee census records, or the U. S. records before 1850, and the name appears widely in the census records. However, there is one definite connection between our Bagwells and Native Americans and that is Catherine (Katie) Langley.
Joel and Harriet’s son Samuel David Bagwell married Katie Langley  on 5 June 1881.  Their children were Joseph Andrew. Susie, Hoyt or Hoydt, Leona, Frances E. (Effie), Carl B., Pearl, Caroline (Carrie), Florence, and John Berry.

Katie's mother, Sallie Hubbard, was said to be a full-blooded Cherokee, but she also had Cherokee ancestry on her father Samuel's side as well. I am currently researching the information I have to try to make sense of the records and will post it at a later date (July 12, 2011).
In the book, Cherokee by Blood. Records of Eastern Cherokee Ancestry in the US Court of Claims 1906-1910 compiled by Jerry W. Jordan, there is the following: "Claim 2631 Kate Bagwell and 8 children. Rome, Ga. Admitted. See claim 42493. Address shown as 101 8th Ave. Rome GA." The children names are Hoydt 18,  Francis E. 14, Carl 11, Pearl 11, Susie 10, Carrie 6, Florence 3, and John Berry.

One RootsWeb note says she is a half-breed, from the “Old Cherokee Nation."

The ancient Bagwells
According to family lore (RootsWeb), The Bagwells, of English descent, first appeared in the American colonies in Virginia as early as 1608, where two of them, Thomas and Henry, served in the House of Burgess for their respective areas. Later Bagwells were in North Carolina by the 1760s. Three or probably four Bagwell brothers from the Raleigh area served in the American Revolution and settled afterwards in upper South Carolina in the Donalds-Honea Path-Princeton areas. They were William (1757-1840s), Frederick (1759-1851), John (1762-1855), and probably James (ca.1764-aft 1810).
In Volume 1 of the The Complete Book of Immigrants, 1661-1699 by Peter Wilson Coldham there are the following Bagwells:
Francis, 8 July 1685, sentenced to be transported to the Americas for waging war against the King [see the Monmouth Rebellion below].
George, 20 February 1662, apprenticed 4 years to New England.
Jane, 30 October 1667, apprenticed to John Coleman of Virginia for 5  years.
John, 8 July, 1685,  sentenced to be transported to the Americas for waging war against the King
[see the Monmouth Rebellion below].
Peter, 26 September 1685, transported to Barbados for taking part in the Monmouth mutiny [sic].

[The Monmouth Rebellion was an attempt to overthrow KingJames II by James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth. Scott was defeated on 6 July 1685 and many of his followers were executed. Peter was among 800-850 were were sent to a penal colony in the West Indies, where they worked as cheap prison labor].
Thomas, 12 December 1695,  shipped by the Benjamin, bound from London to Virginia.
Also, in Volume II:
John, 31 August 1736, bond to Neal MacNeal to serve 4 years in Jamaica. John said to be of Parkgate, Cheshire; laborer, aged 20.
At least six of their sons or other related Bagwells of this same area were in the War of 1812: Berkley, Redman, Furney, Redmond, William and John. In the Civil War, 47 Bagwells from upper South Carolina, many from the Honea Path section, served in the Confederate Army. Many of these upper South Carolina Bagwells migrated Westward in the 1800s to Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

(Source:, and Wikipedia).

In the early Georgia census records, there are Bagwell families in Whitfield, Hall, Floyd, Gordon and Bartow Counties, all possibly related.
I did come across a couple of families named “Bogwills” in the Cass County census in 1850, but there is no Joel or Carrie listed. One family is headed by George and, you guessed it, Elizabeth, both 20, and they have a child named Evaline. Joel and Harriet named one of their daughters Evaline. The other family is William! and what looks like Savicy, with sons James! and John!, all of  which suggests that there is very possibly a connection. I could find no further record of them, however. They, like so many others, just seem to disappear into the fog of poor record keeping. Either that, or they may have moved to Mississippi or Texas.

On “The Head of the Tennessee Baptist Church”
Davie Williams,

Some of this information is from the Bagwell Family Tree on,, the Bagwell listserv on RootsWeb, Gladys Hall Smith, and her aunt, still living. Other sources were Theron Smith and William F. Bagwell.
Make a Free Website with Yola.