September-December 2003 Axsom Association of America Newsletter
The first child of Joseph & Nancy Axsom was born 200 years ago in 1804. Martin Axsom was the first born in the first generation of Axsoms that Joseph & Nancy started. Lewis & Clark started on their epic exploration of the northwestern extent of our country in the same year that Joseph & Nancy started raising the family that sired all of us Axsom descendents!
Both Meriweather Lewis & his patron, President Thomas Jefferson, were from Virginia-the state just north of North Carolina where Joseph & Nancy lived. The many presentations of the Lewis & Clark adventures that we see today in the celbratory spirit of their 200th anniversary provide clues to life in those early days of our country. The Corps of Discovery traveled mainly by boat which was sometimes powered by a sail but many times was propelled by "poling"-pushing the boat with poles powered by members of the Corps. They also traveled on horseback for a few weeks of their three-year adventure. No internal combustion engines, no steam power-just nature and muscle-moved them towards their goal. They traveled on rivers and through mountains. Our ancestor Joseph, born about 1778, was just about 4 years younger than Lewis who was born in Albemarle Co. VA on August 18 1774. Joseph was certainly as old as many of the members of Lewis & Clark's crew.
The tasks of getting food, shelter, & warmth were paramount in importance...we know from records that there was no retail store where Joseph traded-however he was not wealthy and so had to procure his food as inexpensively as he could-which meant hunting and farming. The hills of Surry Co. undoubtedly provided meat for their table as they raised young Martin-and Martin was certainly old enough to eat that meat...
The daily chore of chopping wood for the stove was upon Joseph...and their house...what was it like? We don't know anything about their house, except that it existed in the early 1800s and wasn't in town. Likely it was not on their own property when Martin was born. Their first recorded entry on the county tax list was not until several years later. They had no running water or electricity...all chores done by hand...washing clothes, pots and pans and diapers!
What do we know of Martin himself? A marriage bond was posted by Martin Axsom, groom, and Susannah Lundy, bride, in Surry County on 3 May 1826. In 1827 his name appeared in the Surry County tax list as having 20 acres on Dutchman's Creek. In 1829 the Surry County Tax List credited him with 100 acres on Pheasant Branch.
In 1830, the US Census showed Martin Axsom living in Surry County-no slaves in household. 1840 Census shows him in same county...one person in family involved in agriculture and one person involved in manufacturing and trade. Living in Marshes District on 11 October 1850, according to US Census, were Martin Axsom, a 45 year old farmer, his wife Susannah age 51 & daughter Elizabeth, 16.
1870 US Census: Martin Axsom 67 year old farmer, Susannah age 71 keeping house, and three of their grandchildren: Martin age 16 farm laborer, Nancy age 14 & James age 11 both listed as "at school."
If "Marshes District" is the same as Marsh Township, then Martin lived north of the Yadkin River. His mother Nancy also lived in the North Division of Marshes District in 1850. Unlike his two older brothers, Martin had a small family-4 children. His son, Israel lived in Surry County according to census records. Martin Axsom died 02 January 1873 (tombstone) nearly 69. Susannah died 10 April 1879 about 80. Both were buried in what we now call the Axsom Family Cemetery in Surry Co, NC.
Martins occupation was listed in census records as both farmer and wagon maker. From other records we know he was a Justice of the Peace. 1860 census lists Susannah as "tayloress".
Census records tell us that Martin (as well as most of Joseph & Nancy's children) was literate. When he died he owned a home tract of 200 acres, 8 town lots in Dobson, NC, and an additional 112 acres. While not wealthy, one gets the impression that he was fairly well to do for his time. At the time of his death he held several notes--money owed to him by various people.
Four children were raised in their home: Isaac Lundy (a stepson on Martin's), Isreal, Nancy, & Elizabeth. Israel died after two amputations from wounds received in the Civil War in 1862. Nancy had five children. Elizabeth had 6-one named Tennessee Margaret Lundy lived until 1947 & died in Surry County.
And so the first offspring of Joseph & Nancy lived until 1873 in and around Surry Co. He was born as Lewis & Clark were discovering what Indians lived in the west. He died after the conclusion of the Civil War when the west was being taken from the Indians by the US military and pioneers.