Andrew & Jane (Patton) Blythe:
Great-Great-Great Grandparents of President Clinton


by R. Andrew Pierce


In December 1992 Nexus, the journal of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (Vol.IX, No.6), published "The Immediate Ancestry of President William Jefferson 'Bill' Clinton: An Ancestor Table for Six Generations." The authors were David Curtis Dearborn and "a team of NEHGS and other researchers" including myself. Since then much of the data on Clinton's ancestors has been published in Gary Boyd Roberts' Ancestors of American Presidents and in other forums, including the Internet. However, until now no new data has emerged on the President's earliest traceable patrilineal ancestors, Andrew J. Blythe and his wife Jane, of Mississippi. Andrew's Indian War pension file, obtained from the National Archives, has identified his date and place of marriage and his wife's maiden name, and provided useful clues for further research on both their families.

Most of what was known about Andrew and Jane came from the 1850 Federal census of Marshall County, Mississippi. Household #276 shows Thomas J. Blythe (the President's great-great-grandfather), age 21, born Alabama, wife Ester E. age 25, born Tennessee, and daughter Martha E., age 7 months, born Mississippi. Next door, household #277, was Andrew J. Blythe, age 49, born South Carolina, value of real estate $800; wife Jane, age 42, born Tennessee; and nine children aged 2 to 18, the eldest three born in Alabama and the rest born in Mississippi.

Andrew died by 1860, when the census of Tippah County, Mississippi shows Jane Blythe, 52, value of real estate $525(?), born Tennessee, living with her three youngest children. In 1870 she was in Township 4, Tippah Co., age 63, value of real estate $500, born Tennessee, living with a son and a daughter.

Index to Old Wars Pension files 1815-1926, transcribed by Virgil D. White [The National Historic Publishing Co., Waynesboro, Tennessee, 1987], shows that Andrew J. Blythe, a musician, served in Capt. Taylor's Alabama Volunteers in the Florida War in 1836, and his widow Jane applied for a pension 20 August 1881 (Old War WA-R21488 MS). The complete file was obtained from the National Archives, and yielded a great deal of information.

The first document in the file states that Andrew J. Blythe died at Marshall County, Mississippi on March 8, 1851. In June 1883 Jane Blythe of Bulah, Union County, Mississippi, made a power of attorney which was witnessed by N. J. and J. W. Blythe (her sons). On 23 August 1884 she signed articles of agreement which were witnessed by J. H. Riley and Moses Ayers. On 31 January 1882 she filed an affadavit that the record of her marriage to Andrew Blythe was destroyed by fire July 22, 1857 and that the officiating minister died in 1842.

In 1882 several men who had been friends or acquaintances of Andrew J. Blythe testified that he had contracted measles while a soldier in 1836, which had settled in his lungs and contributed to his disability and eventual death. These included Sam Johnson of Cornersville, Marshall Co. MS, who became acquainted with Blythe "about 3 or 4 years after the War of 1836" and "lived near him till his death in 1851"; Morris Huston of Beulah, Union Co. MS, who lived near Blythe "from his discharge to date of death" and London Burns and Sam Simpson of Holly Springs MS, who also knew Blythe "from discharge until death."

Ephraim L. Farr and John D. Baum stated that Blythe had died from pneumonia. An abstract from a muster roll says that Blythe enlisted in Capt. William S. Taylor's company, Col. Lindsay's regiment), February 27, 1836 and was discharged April 26, 1836, near Tampa.

On 29 November 1884 John Sturges, age 61, of Union Co. MS, stated that "while he was visiting David G. Kirkland in the camps in the state of Florida during the War of 1836, he made the acquaintance of Andrew J. Blythe who was confined with measles and nursed him during his sickness ... I will knew (Blythe) up to his death and know he was not able to perform manual labor caused from the effects of the measles, and he died near Holly Springs, Mississippi." In 1882 William Moore and Jack Powell stated that Blythe lived "about four miles east of Holly Springs" and that they had known him for at least 12 years prior to his death.

Also in 1882 Jane Blythe testified (witnessed by J. M. Riley, age 53 and Moses Ayers, age 47, both of Beulah) that "no public record" of Andrew's death was to be found; "Dr. Sam Correthers who waited on him in his last illness died in Holly Springs years ago, his record was destroyed during the war; no copy of the public or church record to be found of our marriage; no copy of the church record of the children baptism; no affidavit of physician or female attendance can be obtained deaths three first died on the gulf of Mexico dates cant be proved 2 in Memphis Ten date cant be proved."

On 8 April 1886 Jane Blythe of Union Co. MS, age 77, testified that "I never was acquainted with none of the officers of the command which my husband A. J. Blythe belonged, but few of the privates, to wit Tray (Week?), Jeptha Rice, James Pristredge, Albert Barton, Hardin Johnson. I am informed Tray Week and Rice are both dead, I left Alabama soon after the war I am informed that the aboved name [sic] men left soon after the war I cant find out whether they are yet living or dead. I dont see how I can make the proof required all that, I can say my husband was in perfect health when he enlisted and left home to go to Flordia [sic] war on 1836 and never had any health after he returned home till death."

On 15 December 1881 John (surname too faint to be read from photocopy) of Beulah, Union Co. MS and Charles Ayers of Rock Hill, Benton Co. MS, testified that Jane's maiden name had been Jane Patton, and that they were present at her marriage to A. J. Blythe in 1826, performed by John Vickerstaff at his residence in Fayette County, Alabama. Both were "well acquainted" with the couple, and Ayers had known Jane "both before and subsequent to her marriage."

However, Jane's own statement on 19 July 1881 says that her marriage was performed by Vickerstaff in Walker County, Alabama on April 14, 1826. Sadly, her claim for pension was rejected by the commissioners, for "lack of proof" of her statements as to her husband's health and other details. Nor is it revealed what instrument Andrew played as a musician with the army.

The early records of Walker County, Alabama were destroyed in courthouse fires in 1865 and 1877, and Fayette County also suffered a record loss in 1866; so the pension file remains the only proof of Andrew J. Blythe's marriage to Jane Patton in 1826. One of their grandsons, the President's great-grandfather, was named Henry Patton Foote Blythe (born 1851).

The 1830 census shows one Johnson Bickerstaff, not Vickerstaff, in Walker Co., Alabama. He was probably the man who performed the Blythe's wedding. We know that the Blythes were in Alabama in 1830 from their childrens' later census records; there are two possible Andrew Blythes in that census, one in Limestone County and one in Tuscaloosa County. However, the Limestone County man was still there in 1850 (with a family whose ages match those of the 1830 household). In 1830 the household of Andrew Blythe in Tuscaloosa County contained 2 males under 5, 1 male 20-30 and 1 female 20-30, which is a good match for the right one (and Tuscaloosa borders both Walker and Fayette counties). Next to Andrew was a John "Pattent" with 2 males under 5, 1 male 40-50, 1 female under 5, 3 females 5-10, 4 females 10-15 and 1 female 40-50.

We have Jane's statement that she moved from Alabama shortly after the 1836 war, and the 1850 census shows that she had a 16 year old child born in Alabama and a 14 year old born in Mississippi. The 1836 tax list for Itawamba County, Mississippi (just over the border from Alabama) shows Andy Blythe and Dorn, G.W., John & J.M. Patton. The 1840 Federal census of Itawamba Co. shows Andrew Blythe with 3 males under 5, 2 males 5-10, 1 male 10-15, 1 female under 5 and 1 female 30-40. This matches perfectly with the household of Andrew Blythe in Marshall Co. MS in 1850.

History of Walker County (Alabama) by John Martin Dombhart notes that Doran Patton entered government land in 1834, and George W. Patton entered government land in 1836. These were the same men who also appear on the Itawamba Co. MS tax list in 1836. A multi-generation genealogy was posted on in 2003 entitled "Lane, Lange, Patton, Smith and other ancestors." Based on research by several individuals including Sandra P. McDaniel and Chuck Gerdau, it traces the descendants of Robert Patton Sr., born 1748 in North Carolina or Virginia, died 1813 in Lincoln Co., Tennessee. His wife Jane is mentioned in his estate settlement, as are children Robert, Sarah, Betsey, Peggy, Dorn, John, Jane, Nancy, and Andrew Patton.

Dorn Patton's 1850 census record in Itawamba Co. MS says he was age 64, born NC. Old Tuskaloosa Land Office records & Military Warrants 1821-1855 (Marilyn D. Barefield, comp.) notes that Doron Patton received land in Fayette Co. AL in 1825; he appears there on the 1830 Federal census.

It is John Patton, born say 1780, that we now focus on. The web genealogy says he was born between 1776-86 (based on ages in census) and died on 5 March 1833 in Walker County, Alabama. He married Sarah Langston in February 1803 in Montgomery County, Kentucky by Rev. John Rice (there is also evidence that his parents and siblings were in Montgomery Co.). He appears on Montgomery Co. tax lists until 1808. From 28 Sept. 1814 to 1 Jan. 1815 he substituted for his brother Dorn in the War of 1812.

In Feb. 1815 and Oct. 1817 John Patton appeared in documents settling his father's will in Lincoln Co. Tennessee. Sandra P. McDaniel identifies him as the "John Pattent" who was found in Tuscaloosa Co. AL next to Andrew Blythe in 1830 (see above), and state that he died in Walker County, Alabama in 1833 (no source is given).

McDaniel also says that Dorn Patton served in the 1st Regiment (Wynne's), West Tennessee Militia "from at least 4 Jan 1814 until his brother John substituted for him on 28 Sep 1814. John was discharged 1 Jan 1815; 'Substitution information comes from claim for John Patton's bounty land by his widow, Sarah--supporting statement by Dorn Patton."

Joy Brown notes that John Patton's widow Sarah appears on the 1850 census for Itawamba Co. MS, and gives the following list of children for them: "Female Patton b. 1805; Margaret Patton b. 1807; Prudence Patton b. ca. 1810 in Tennessee; Elizabeth Patton b. ca. 1816; Margaret Patton b. 1818 in Alabama; Nancy Patton b. 14 Feb. 1820 in Tennessee; Mahuldah Patton b. 1824 in Tuscaloosa Co., Alabama; John Patton b. 10 Jul 1827 in Tuscaloosa Co., Alabama; Minerva Patton b. ca. 1828 in Tuscaloosa Co., Alabama; James Cane Patton b. 12 May 1830 in Tuscalooa Co., Alabama.

The source for this list of children is not given, but it may be assumed that the eldest "female born 1805" was inferred from an 1810 or 1820 census record. The fact that John and Sarah (Langston) Patton may have been in Tennessee when Jane Patton, the wife of Andrew J. Blythe, was born there about 1808; that John was probably the "John Pattent" next to the Blythes in 1830, and that he died in Walker Co. AL (the county where the Blythes married in 1826), are all signs that make John and Sarah good candidates for being Jane's parents. Searches of land and probate records in all the counties concerned might bear this out, and John Patton's military pension file might also be examined.

R. Andrew Pierce, a professional genealogist, is the author of The Stones Speak: Inscriptions from Mt. Calvary Cemetery in Boston, Massachusetts [NEHGS, 2000]; The Wampanoag Genealogical History of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts [Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc., 2003]; and a six part series on the ancestry of President John F. Kennedy in NEHGS' Nexus journal. He can be contacted at P.O. Box 6101, Boston MA 02114, email