I’m going to make a slight detour from the direct male McGinnis surname line and try to tell the story of someone who was a McGinnis by choice and not by blood. Her story is not one of great accomplishments, unless you consider survival and overcoming hardships and abandonment a truly great accomplishment. According to her cemetery marker, Lucinda (Hyder) Padgett’s birth date was 12 November, 1835; a child of Letitia Hyder and Ephram Padgett. I have been unable to find a marriage document for Letitia and Ephram, and while it appears the two of them shared at least three children, the family appears to have been abandoned by Ephram soon after the last child’s birth. The 1840 census, which was the last one to not list each individual in the household by name, shows Letitia as the head of household with three children (one daughter, two sons) 5 years of age or younger. The how, when, or why of Ephram not being listed is not clear, but he is not with the family. The next documentation of the family that I have been able to find is in the Mountain Creek District of the 1850 Rutherford County census which shows the family living with Letitia’s father and mother, John and Martha Hyder. A telling part of this census listing is that everyone listed, including Letitia and Lucinda, are listed as Hyder’s; and almost all future documentation of these individuals (except for Lucinda) continue to list them as Hyder’s. This would indicate to me that either the union of Letitia and Ephram was never legalized in marriage, or that their separation was not on good terms; if the separation had been due to something like the death of Ephram, I believe they would have continued to carry his name. This 1850 census lists the family as: John 65 (a deaf-and-dumb shoemaker), Martha 55, Letitia 35, Susan 25, Drury 20, Lucinda 14, Alfred 13, Andrew 10, and Nancy 1-month old. Susan and Drury appear to be Letitia’s siblings; Lucinda, Alfred, and Andrew as her children, and while some researchers have assigned Nancy as being the child of Letitia, I have not seen supporting documents to confirm this.
We know that Lucinda was listed as the bride in a Cleveland County marriage license to James McGinnis in 1855, and she was named as Lucinda “Padgett”. We know that James, Lucinda, and family were still in Cleveland County at the time of the 1860 census. I’m not sure how they ended up in Cleveland County, but I assume their home was probably just over the Cleveland-Rutherford County line. By the time the marriage license between James and Mary Feagans appears in 1868, James and Lucinda have had six children; after that marriage, Lucinda is shown to have a son, William J., to be born in 1869, and another, John Henry, born in 1870, both of which list their father as James in later documents. A couple points here, since I have been unable to find a household of a James and Mary McGinnis in the 1870 census (or any other documented evidence), it is very possible that the marriage was for appearance only, and James continued to father children with Lucinda. There is also the possibility that the son William J. was actually the result of the James and Mary union, and Lucinda took the child to raise as her own. These speculations are only that, but something like that had to occur for John Henry to truly be the son of James. While these actions by James, if true, may appear to make him somewhat noble, we do know that he is not listed as the head-of-household in the 1870 census, and he appears to have completely abandoned the family by then.
From every indication, James had deserted Lucinda and the family by the time the 1870 census was done; Lucinda and all her children up through William J. can be found back in the Green Hill district of Rutherford County, living next door to her first cousin, Louisa Hyder. There is no doubt that this decade of the 1870’s found the family in very dire circumstances. Lucinda found herself without a husband to support her, and giving birth to her eighth child soon after the census was completed. When we find the family in the 1880 census, is when we really get a picture of how desperate Lucinda may have become. The 1880 census finds Lucinda and her family still in Green Hill, with Lucinda still listed as the head-of-household. Her son, Christopher Columbus, had married and left the family, but Lucinda had added two more children to her family; a daughter named Maggie (5 years old) and a son named Pinkney (1 year old). The census shows these two children as “MU”, meaning mulatto, and therefore as having been fathered by a black man. I have found that the man was most probably A. J. Hamilton, who is listed as father on the 1899 marriage license of W. P. (Pinkney) McGinnis. Both Pinkney and his bride, Lily Logan (age 18, daughter of Joe and Julia Logan) are listed as “colored”. Maggie McGinnis can be found in another Rutherford County marriage license in 1891, when she is only 16 years old and married a “colored” man named Belton Liles (age 20, son of James and Francis Bradley Liles); neither Maggie’s race nor her father’s name is listed. While I don’t know if the relationship between Lucinda and A.J. began as “true love”; if A.J. was the father of both Maggie and Pickney, then he and Lucinda were together for at least 5 years. I would imagine that A.J. had probably been a slave just a decade or so earlier, and was most likely in a dire situation similar to Lucinda. Their relationship may have began out of necessity and mutual survival, with A.J. needing a roof over his head, and Lucinda needing help supporting herself and her children. I don’t really know all the circumstances; it is hard to imagine what Lucinda had to go through, but it is evident that she was a “survivor”. I have found some evidence that A.J. Hamilton, along with Maggie and her husband (and possibly Pinkney and his bride, Lily) all moved to Tennessee.
After Pinkney’s marriage in 1899, the 1900 census finds Lucinda still living in Green Hill with only her daughter, Catherine Harriett “Hattie” McGinnis. This census has the following information: Lucinda McGinnis, 65, white female head-of-household, widow, born Sept. 1834, married for 49 years (this should have been 45), mother to 12 children – only 9 living; I haven’t been able to reconcile this since I have only documented 10 children; Catherine H. is listed as 39, white female daughter, single, born July 1860. Just three months after this 1900 census was taken, we find Lucinda marrying a J. D. (Jonathan Decatur) Ward; the wedding took place at Lucinda’s house in Green Hill and shows J.D. to be a 56 years old resident of South Carolina. The marriage license conveniently shows Lucinda to be 56 years old as well, but we know she would have been closer to 65 (that’s what she stated for the 1900 census taker); she unfortunately does not list the name of her father, but she does show her mother, Lettie Hyder, still living at the time in Rutherford County. The marriage lasted for almost exactly five years and ended with Lucinda’s death in 1905. She was buried in the Cool Springs Cemetery in Rutherford County with a headstone that identifies her as Lucinda Ward, born November 12, 1835 and with her death occurring on September 23, 1905. She shares her grave site with her son, John Henry McGinnis and his wife Janie F. (Turner) McGinnis.
It could be totally coincidental, but Cool Springs Cemetery contains many Padgett headstones and graves. Over the many years of my research, I have found several family histories and other indications that the children of Letitia Hyder were fathered by a “Padgett”, but none provided documented proof. It is clear that Lucinda used the surname “Padgett” on her marriage license with James, but there is no mention of the father by name. It was only recently that I found the death certificate of Lucinda’s younger brother, Andrew Hyder, where his father’s name is listed as “Ephram Padgett”; this is the only source documentation that I have found confirming a “Padgett” as their father.
Very few of our ancestral mothers leave much of a written history, but I was drawn to Lucinda’s story and felt she deserved to have it told. She was abandoned by her father, lived through the turmoil of the Civil War, endured a philandering husband who eventually abandoned her as well, found a way for her and her children to survive, and ultimately saw many of those children grow, marry, and give her many grandchildren; many of which carry on the McGinnis name (like me).