George Longmire, to us descendants of the hat thief, is the progenitor of what we call the “Southern Longmires”. I believe him to be the eldest son of William Longmire. Why is this many might ask. Because the hat thief’s father’s name was George. How simple can it be? To temper that assessment somewhat let’s look back at what our intrepid hat thief, William Longmire, would do when faced with assimilating into foreign environs after first having to shed the “felon” moniker from his persona. And so, before George first saw the light of day his name was probably already assigned due to the prevailing customs of the day when it came to naming children. And that custom was to name the first born male after the paternal grandfather, the second after the wife’s father, and the third usually after the father himself. And to top things off George died before his two brothers. See how easy that was? In all seriousness though the odds are that George was the oldest due to some other factors as well. He apparently married several years before his brothers as his first known child, William, was born ca 1762 whereas his brother’s first children were born 1765 and 1769, respectively. And his was the only other Longmire court case in King George County other than what his father was involved in – before all three brothers were later found in the Louisa/Goochland area in the later 1760’s. This same court case also helps us in another respect as will be seen.
With the above evidences given indicating that George was the eldest son of the hat thief the question remains as to when he was born. Well, I have an answer for that: 1738 or prior. How can I be so certain? The court case I referred to above, George Longmire Plt vs William Payne Dft, took place in March 1759. In order to have your name assigned to a case as plaintiff you had to be 21 years of age. By the way, George did win his case and received for it 435 lbs tobacco. And it just so happens that George’s lawyer in this case, Joseph Jones, was the uncle of President Monroe.
Before proceeding with George’s later movements west of King George County I will add in a couple of comments, again relating to his birth. As deductive (reductive?) logic helped in deriving a limitation on the latest year George was born so can the supposed year range of the birth of his first child be derived which can then be used to zero in on the timeframe of his marriage to Frances Garrett. In this particular case his son, William, was known to have fought (as a Dragoon) in the American Revolution, as a teen no less. Apparently brother John is credited with this same service and his birthdate is given in the Douglas Register as Nov 23, 1765. Suffice to say that the year range of service of both William and John is documented. It should also be noted that in Roger E. Barnes very well researched family history book “Those Who Came Before … “, of which a great deal of early documentation on the southern Longmires is compiled, the month and year given for William’s birth is Oct 1762 – apparently from a bible entry. This same source gives a marriage year as 1762 as well, which should perhaps be (late) 1761 or earlier, if William’s birthdate is to be accepted. Either way it can be deduced that relatively shortly after George won his court case in King George County he married Frances, who at that time most probably lived across the Rappahannock River in Caroline County with her father, John Garrett.
George’s whereabouts in the 1750’s and early 1760’s have not as of yet been brought to the light of day. Many researchers including Roger Barnes and myself, have, over the years been unsuccessful in locating he and his mother and brothers for that period. No mention of him is of record until the birth of his son, John, which was recorded in 1765 in Goochland County, Va. However, this researcher strongly suspects that George was in Caroline County at least from about 1760 or 1761, if not earlier, before he settled in Louisa and/or Goochland County. I believe it a strong likelihood that George worked for John or Robert Garrett in Port Royal and this subsequently was a factor in his marriage to Frances Garrett. I also believe that George, and perhaps his plight, after his father’s death, was probably known to the Garrett family network as many interrelated individuals had store accounts with Thomas Turner, thereby having direct contact with George’s father, William Longmire. It was but a 150 yard, easily navigable, ferry crossing directly to King George County from Port Royal, where Conway’s Warehouse was located nearby. And this where the Garretts had set up shop at their Ordinary in addition to their Tobacco Inspection duties. One other mitigating factor should not be overlooked when considering the possibility of George and family residing in Caroline County at this particular time: Despite the availability of local records in surrounding counties which would normally indicate the presence of Susanna Longmire and family, and curiously no Orphan Accounts for that matter which would be customary in the death of a father leaving children, the Longmire family was nowhere to be found. Yet again it must be pointed out here that Caroline County is a “burnt county” and many pre-Civil War records were destroyed or stolen. Perhaps it is a case where what we do not see is almost as good as what we can.
Next we find George Longmire in Louisa County, Virginia in March 1768 where he witnessed a deed for George Barclay. Interestingly, although George Longmire has not been found on any tax lists at this particular time a near neighbor of Mr Barclay was one William Garrett, a very well to do gentleman and large landowner. It is not clear the relation of this Wm Garrett to John or Robert Garrett though many publications state a relationship and we do know of persons of the same name who are proven relations to the Caroline County Garretts. More research on this must be done to see if perhaps there is a previously unknown tie here with the presence of George Longmire being so inconspicuous nearby. Needless to say, and profoundly more of interest to this researcher, is the fact that by 1770 George Longmire is listed on the Trinity Parish tithes of John Jouett. And by 1771 George is listed again, this time adjacent the name of Matthew Jouett, the celebrated American portrait artist. For all those Jefferson and Colonial American History buffs out there the name John “Jack” Jouett certainly does not go without notice as he is often referred to as “The Paul Revere of the South” for his exploits in saving the “rogue” Virginia legislators , including Thomas Jefferson, from certain death at the hands of General Tarleton. By 1772 George Longmire is no longer in Louisa County and is by this time on his way to, or already had arrived in, Ninety-Six District in South Carolina to join the Garret, Goode, and Ware families, amongst others.
To be continued.