Thomas Jefferson Short born on 27 September 1805, Tennessee and died in Greene County Illinois, 9 August 1876. This information can be found from his tombstone, Short Cemetery, Wrights, Greene County, Illinois. Follow along as I reveal my research and conclusion as I discover the parents of Thomas Jefferson Short.
- 1830, Greene County, Illinois- Thos G Short; age 20-29
- 1840, Greene County, Illinois (Mount Airy) – Thomas J Short; age 30-39
- 1850, Greene County, Illinois (Between Macoupin and Apple Creeks) – Thomas Short; age 45, born about 1805 in Tennessee
- 1860 Greene County, Illinois (Mount Airy) – Tho J Short; age 54, born abt 1806 in Tennessee
- 1870 Greene County, Illinois (Greenfield) – T J Short; age 64, born abt 1806 in Tennessee
- Catherine Overby, 22 November 1823, Maury County, Tennessee (6)
- Rebecca Whittle, 10 January 1851, Greene County, Illinois
Book compiled by the Greene County & Jersey County Historical Society named “History of Greene and Jersey Counties, Illinois…” published 1855; pages 885 and 1016 states the following of Thomas Jefferson Short: (information was given by Thomas’ son, William)
- “Settled in [Rubicon] township about the year 1834, although he came to the county in 1829, living about 5 years near Carrollton”
- “born in Tennessee Sept 27, 1805, his father being of German descent, his mother of Irish descent”
- Came from Summertown, Tennessee to Greene County Illinois in the fall of 1829 (page 1016)
- He had 16 children by his first wife & 2 by his second wife. At the time of his death, he had 72 grandchildren, and some great-grandchildren.
- He was a Democrat, served as county commissioner for 3 terms & was a justice of the peace.
- He and his wife were both members of the M.E. church
- At the time of his death, he owned 1100 acres of land
Greene County Courthouse (Illinois)
Four consecutive pages of land deeds, all filed on December 3, 1836. Listing transactions between Thomas, Joshua, William & James Short, along with Drewry/Drury Overby (brother to Thomas wife, Catherine, and James wife, Amy). Furthermore, there are also property deeds listed between Thomas J Short & William Short up to 1845.
Obviously, we have a family connection. However, even though William is old enough to be the father of Thomas, a document that I found in the Greene County Courthouse lists the children of William, and Thomas is not one of them.
In 1830 William is between 40-50 years old and has 9 children, no slaves. According to the ages of the children on the 1830 census, William would have at least 7 children on the 1820 census. Since we know Thomas came from Tennessee, I checked Tennessee census records.
Tennessee Census Records
In the 1820 census in Tennessee, William would be the head of household at this time. William Short of Sumner County, Tennessee is in the 26-44-year-old bracket and has 7 children. All of the children’s ages line up as far as the ages of the 1830 census as well.
Thomas would be in the 10-16 age bracket, but William has only 1 male child in 1820, listed in the under age 10 bracket. Elizabeth Short is on the line below William. Her household has 3 males: 1 under age 10, and 2 age 10-16, along with 1 female age 10-16. Elizabeth is age is 26-45.
Looking at the 1810 census. William is found living in Grainger County, Tennessee, again, right next door to Elizabeth. In addition, note that just a couple lines below this we see the name Thomas Henderson, and William Windham.
Interesting information found in Grainger County, Tennessee
In 1798 we have a William and James Short in the court records as having guardians assigned to them after the death of William & James’ father, also named James Short. James, bound to James Meriott to learn the business of house carpenter; William, bound to John Burton to learn the business of a tailor. (4) Later, William and John Burton end the agreement, and Thomas Henderson becomes the guardian of William. (3)
Two William Short(s) in Grainger County, Tennessee
William married Sarah Spralding in Grainger County in 1806. The marriage license was bonded by Thomas Henderson & William Windham, the license is also signed by William Short himself. (7) Some say William married Nancy Cassidy as his second wife in Grainger County in 1821, on this marriage record this William Short made his mark, indicating he cannot write his name.
The land deed records of Greene County Illinois all lists a Sarah or Sallie as William’s wife. If William were to remarry in Grainger in 1821, then move to Illinois in 1829, The land deeds would give the spouses name as Nancy. These marriages are not the same William, spouse names do not correlate, as well as William married to Sarah could write, whereas the William who married to Nancy could not.
In searching the probate records of Greene County, Illinois, I noticed that Thomas was the administrator of 2 other probates. One was Isaac Short, probate in 1838. The other was Joshua Mastin Short, probate 1841.
Isaac Short (1)
William, Charles, and Sally were the 3 infants of Isaac Short at the time of his death in 1838. To which John J Hardin was appointed a guardian. (Estate file box #68) Documents from the Greene County courthouse, circuit court boxes (box #27 file 5) revealed a document signed by B.J. Scott (another administrator of Isaac probate) naming William & Sarah as Isaac’s parents and included sisters names:
- Nancy “who has intermarried with a man unknown”
- Elizabeth Short who married John Bube
- Cynthia Short who married Joshua McDaniel and daughter
- Fanny Short.
Also states that the widow, Paulina (maiden name was Rook, as discovered in the Greene County marriage records) has remarried to Stephen Coonrod. (Document dated April 1841) Also note that in the land records, dated 18 Jan 1840, William deeds the property to “the heirs of Isaac Short”.
Williams other son, Charles
William had 1 other son, named Charles, born in Cumberland County, Tennessee in 1825. In the membership records of the Iowa GAR, it lists Charles’s parents as William Short and Sarah Sproddle. (8) William is still in Illinois in September 1845, when he sells his land to Thomas, and probably died before 1850, most likely in the vicinity of Grant County, Wisconsin.
In the 1850 census of Benton Wisconsin (Lafayette County, which is next to Grant County) Sarah, the wife of William is living with her son, Charles Martin Short, his wife Ann, and grandson Charles. The census shows Sarah’s age as 63 and born about 1787 in Tennessee. In 1860 she is still living with Charles and family, in Benton, Wisconsin.
Joshua Mastin Short
Joshua Mastin Short probate records from the Greene County Courthouse Dated 9 January 1947 (2) Whereupon Thomas J Short made an affidavit in which he states that about on the 3rd day of January AD 1847, Joshua M Short departed this life….Ordered that administration of said estate be granted to Thomas J Short
”Final report of administration dated September 1876 “amount held for distribution between 6 heirs children….Benjamin Short, George W Short, May Haggard, Nancy Jane Pinkerton, Catherine Crayne, Julian Crayne”
A note dated 5 Sept 1876 – “We the undersigned being the brothers and sisters Joshua M Short, deceased hereby acknowledge that our mother, Ann Hunter, decd…” [Anns maiden name was Chaney, she must have remarried] signed Nancy Jane Pinkerton, Catheren Crayne, Julie Ann Crayne.
Two promissory notes, one dated 30 August 1830 & signed by Joshua M Short, Thomas J Short & Drewry Overby. The other dated 9 November 1840 signed by Joshua M Short & William Short.
James Robert Short
The Blackhawk War pension records (#4923) he states: “I am a married man. My Wifes full name is Sarah J Short. Her maiden name was Sarah Jane Walton. We were married in Kaufman County, Texas December 27th, 1867… My former wifes maiden name was Amie Overby, She died June 1st, 1867. After our marriage, she was named Amie Short.“
He then goes on to list his children: John R Short b. 9 October 1834; Mary S Short b. 4 May 1841; Susan K Short b. 27 April 1843; James E Short b. 8 April 1847; Tennessee Short b. 27 October 1848; Nicholas M Short b. 12 January 1851; George W Short b. 7 May 1857; Jesse F.M. Short b. 29 November 1868; Robert J Short b. 28 May 1872. It also says James was a private, enlisted in 1832 in Carrollton, Illinois & was discharged later that year.
In the probate records of Thomas Jefferson Short, there was found a record of a debt between James R Short & Thomas that had been marked “good” in the records. In the estate box was found a letter from James, while living in Kansas, to Thomas dated 1867, asking Thomas if he would loan him $100.00. This was at the same time that Amy had died, and believe this was the reason for the loan.
A known “Short” DNA match to my father also tested his YDNA (we will call him Y1) Shows he is of Irish descent. Y1 is believed to be a descendant of the Isaac of Sumner County 1820 Census. This tester has also a rare positive finding of his YDNA that includes the Niall of the Nine Hostages Marker. Indicating that the Short surname is of Irish Descent. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niall_of_the_Nine_Hostages )
I had believed that the information in the Greene County book (Thomas’ father being German & mother was Irish) was an error, until…. I recently found a male “Short” direct descendant through Thomas’ son Henry and had his YDNA tested, (we will call him Y2). The results came back with a whole new direction of research.
The results show that Y2 is not a Short, he is a Counts. The interesting thing about this Y2 test is that one of his closest YDNA matches is also an autosomal match to my father. Who is a descendant of Thomas, through daughter Elizabeth) Since the MRCA for Y2 and my father is Thomas, the NPE would have taken place before Thomas.
Counts Surname YDNA
All the YDNA matches to Y2 are descendants of Nicholas Counts of Grainger County Tennessee. Since the Y1 match is believed to be the descendant of Isaac, (found in the 1820 Sumner County, Tennessee census) brother to William, this would indicate the NPE is Thomas’ parents.
Therefore, I believe Thomas is the son of Elizabeth Short, who was born a Short, and one of the sons of Nicholas Counts 1751-1838 Grainger County Tennessee. (This Count’s family is also of German descent, spelled Kuntze) That he had 2 brothers, Joshua Mastin Short, and James Robert Short.
The Closest YDNA match to Y2 was a descendent of John Counts, son of the mentioned Nicholas Counts. Paying attention to naming traditions, Thomas’ oldest 3 sons in order were James Alexander (most likely after his grandfather) Nicholas (after Catherines father) and John (perhaps after John Counts?)
Bean and Lane YDNA Projects
We have also received the YDNA results of a descendent of James Robert Short. (We will refer to him as Y3) His results came back with the closest Surname of Merchant (but only 1 with this Surname) The next closest matches were evenly divided between the surnames of Lane and Bean. Tidence Lane is also connected to the probate of James Alexander Short who died in Grainger County, TN in 1798 (father of William) (5)
“I’ve put you in group 5 of the Lane project, which is where the other Lanes that you match are listed. FYI – It looks as if those Lanes may actually be Been/Beene families. William Beene was one of the first men to settle in TN, and John Fuller Lane moved near him later. I suspect that one of John Fuller Lane’s daughters had children with one of William Beene’s sons and they kept the Lane name for the children. Just my opinion, not to be taken as proven.”
and…”The bean family group #B-01. in that bean group is Robert Lane who was born in Washington County TN, 1778, married Mary Chapman. Died barren county KY 1827. His Parents were David Layne and Sarah Merchant – one of Roberts sons was John, born 1802 Washington County, Tennessee.
“NOTE: The closest match to Y3 is a person with the last name Merchant. I am in the process of completing autosomal testing on Y2 and Y3. James Orr who was the admin for the estate of James Alexander Short had a “house of entertainment” The estate of James was in the hole by the time it was all said and done — Is it possible that one of the daughters of James Short worked in his house of entertainment to work off the debt he encountered from his estate?
I have not yet found any bastardy cases for anyone with the surname Short in this area or timeframe. James Orr may have paid this for his “workers” would this kept it out of the court records? So far I have searched Grainger County (There are 3 listed in the court records, but none of these Surnames are found.)
So now we have connected William to the Thomas Henderson of Grainger County, Tennessee. Thomas Henderson is also connected to the probate of James Short who died in Grainger County Tennessee. (See the below link to the Grainger county court records 1796 – 1813, pages 91-92, 39 and 35)
Therefore, we have connected William to James. Due to the fact that William & Elizabeth were neighbors for 2 consecutive census’ one could assume since Elizabeth had children, she would have been a sister-in-law in the least, except, there are no marriage records that can be found for Elizabeth. Coupled with the knowledge Thomas had of his parents ethnicity, Thomas knew who his father was, and it was not a Short.
Believing William would have felt some family role in helping to raise her children etc. explaining the close relationship. That Thomas’ mother, Elizabeth was the daughter of James Alexander Short who died in Grainger County in 1798.
- Greene County Historical & Genealogical Society; PO Box 137; Carrollton, Illinois 62016 – (217) 942-6013
- Greene County Illinois Courthouse; 520 N Main Street #2; Carrollton, Illinois 62616 – (217) 942-6731
(1) Greene County, Illinois: Probate index 1836-1848 v6 microfilm link: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939KTBLWWwc=SF29FMS%3A162587101%2C162593301&cc=1834344 (image 105)
(2) Greene County Probate Records 1845-1852 vD microfilm link: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939K-YMQ2-X?i=85&wc=SF2S-VZQ%3A162587101%2C162630601&cc=1834344 (image 86)
(3) Grainger County TN court minutes 1796-1813 microfilm link: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSHM-L9WG-9?i=5&cat=196033 (image 48 / page 85)
4) Grainger County TN court minutes 1796-1813 microfilm link: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSHM-L9WG-9?i=5&cat=196033 (image 86 / page 160)
(5) Grainger County TN court minutes 1796-1813 microfilm link: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSHM-L9WG-9?i=5&cat=196033 (images 91; 92)
(6) Tennessee marriage records 1780-2002, Marshall / Maury, 1808-1867 https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/1169/VRMUSATN1780_07062300072/2728436backurl (image 73)
(7) Tennessee marriage records 1780-2002, Grainger 1796-1809 loose records: www.ancestry.com/interactive/1169/VRMUSATN1780_04126000577/878678backurl (image 577-578)
(8) “Iowa, Grand Army of the Republic Membership Records, 1861https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C95N-F9PC-3?cc=235W3K%3A1583218002%2C1583218003 : 2 June 2016