Dickens of Hurricane Creek
Including: Maggart, Sullivans Bend, Elmwood, Chestnut Mound, Smith County, TN

When I began this search for a documented tie between Joshua Sr. and Joshua Jr. I thought it would be simple to connect the two as father and son. 

On my first visit to theSmith County Library I mentioned to historian Carmack Key that I was having trouble finding proof of the father - son relationship. Mr Key remarked that sometimes the tax collector used the Jr - Sr designations to identify persons of the same name but that didn't necessarily mean they were father and son. So the only thing I had learned so far was that their relationship was uncertain. 

As time passed and I still hadn't found any documented evedence to prove the father- son relationship, I began to examine the evidence against such a relationship.

I looked closer at the census of 1850. This was the first census to list the names and ages of all the occupants of a household.  

Page 50.

In 1850, the elder Joshua and Manirva had no son named Joshua. But the brother of Joshua, John, Jr. and his wife Nancy did have a son named Joshua and he was the proper age to be Joshua, Jr.

Then I located the legal record of Joshua, Sr.'s estate settlement in 1904. The list of heirs confirmed the names of his children from the 1850 census: Joshua, Sr. had no child named Joshua, Jr.

As I continued my study, I found that when John, Jr. (brother of the elder Joshua) died, the court appointed the brother Joshua as grardian for John, Jr.'s two minor children. They were Joshua and William Jasper (this William Jasper was the uncle of my grandfather William Jasper). Now I knew.  Joshua, Jr. was a son of John, Jr. and Joshua, Sr. became the guardian of the younger Joshua.

The two Joshua's used the names Joshua Sr. and Joshua Jr. for the remainder of their lives. I found legal documents signed by Joshua, Sr. and his grave marker displays his name as Joshua, Sr. (A picture of his headstone is included in my section "Joshua Dickens Sr.) It's no wonder that I had trouble with these names. Often, nephews were named after their uncles and when doing research it's difficult to tell which is which.  

Then I noticed another problem. The 1850 census listed John, Jr. as 27 and Joshua, Sr. as 26. That created another puzzle because I knew they belonged in the same household: John, Sr.'s. But with only a one year difference in their reported ages they couldn't possibily fit into John, Sr.'s household in 1820 if the census ages were anywhere near correct.

At the time of the 1820 census John, Sr. had only one son living in his household 0 to 10 years of age. That son would have to be John, Jr. born in 1813 and 7 years old in 1820.

So what to do? Accept the census ages and forget it? Or try to figure out what was wrong and correct it? I decided to figure it out.