Descendants of Michael Propst of Cabarrus County, NC, in Alabama
The origin of the original Cabarrus County Propst is unknown, but Heinrich Propst first appears in that area in 1785 when he marries Catherine Abendschon whose Germanic background is traceable far back in time. But Heinrich has no recorded past. However he did marry Catherine and together, and with the help of her family, they built a home with a family of seven sons, all of whom reached manhood.
At the same time in the development of the North Carolina frontier, over in Lincoln County, another Heinrich Propst was doing the same thing, and laying the groundwork for much genealogical confusion in later years.
The third son of Heinrich and Catherine was Michael Propst, born 26 February 1792. On April 5, 1809, Michael married Elizabeth Faggart who had also been born in 1792. Both shared a Germanic first or second generation immigrant background and German Reform religious tradition, which includes the confusing naming customs of that era. Elizabeth was the daughter of Valentine and Elizabeth Schmidt Faggart.
Michael was able soon after his marriage to buy 50 acres of land which had belonged to his first cousin, John Abendschon, and again in 1822 he added another 50 acres to his holdings. As quickly as he acquired property, he begat children. Elizabeth and Michael had nine children in all. Two of them died in infancy, and their only daughter, Sarah, died soon after her marriage, probably in child birth. Six Propst brothers grew to manhood: Daniel Freeman (8 Feb 1813), Jacob Wilson (23 Jun 1815), John Michael (19 May 1817), Michael Valentine (18 Feb 1822), Henry Wiley (21 Aug 1827), and Jacob I. (26 Feb 1830). These same six brothers eventually moved to Alabama in mid-century.
No date for the death of Elizabeth Faggert Propst has been found, but she died before her husband’s death in 1843, and after her father’s death in 1829 as she was mentioned in his will. The death of Michael Propst, their father, had a profound effect on his sons. For some unknown reason all except the youngest, Jacob I., who was only 13, packed up and went to Alabama, probably in 1844. This is easily verified by noting that all children born in 1844 to these families were born in Alabama.
Daniel Freeman Propst, b 1813, married Annie Shelton in 1835, and with her moved to Alabama before 1844. They and their ten children lived out their lives in the far western part of Alabama near the Mississippi border around Pickens and Lamar Counties. Daniel and Annie’s first three children were born in Cabarrus County, but their fourth, daughter Jincy, was born in 1844 in Fayette County, AL.
Jacob Wilson Propst, b 1815, married Rebecca Shelton White, a widow, in 1839. She was the sister of Daniel’s wife, Annie. Their marriage record says they married in Lincoln County, NC. Wilson and Rebecca moved west with their siblings, arriving before the birth of their twins, who were third born, in 1845 in Pickens County. Rebecca died in 1853 and Wilson’s second wife Emeline Walton was from Cabarrus/Rowan area. Emeline and Wilson had one child, Martin Alexander Propst, b 1856 in Pickens County, after the death of his father in 1855. Martin Alexander Propst is the only one of the fifty-four grandchildren of Michael Propst known to have come back to Cabarrus County. In 1860 Martin Alexander Propst is listed in the Cabarrus County Federal Census with his mother and step-father John Plott.
John Michael Propst, b 1817, married Mariah Mabry in Cabarrus in 1841. It is not until their sixth child is born in Jacksonville, Calhoun County, Alabama in 1855, that there is a record of them in Alabama. However they probably moved to Alabama at the same time as the older brothers.
Michael Valentine Propst, b 1822, and Jane Smith White took out a marriage bond in Cabarrus in 1844. Their first child was born in 1846 in Pickens County. However, it was not until 18 Nov 1852 that the couple returned to Cabarrus to formalize their marriage. By that time their second child had been born. It may be that the baby of the family, Jacob I, who was by then 25, went back to Alabama with this family.
Henry Wiley Propst, b 1827, married Martha Sherrill who had been born in Cabarrus County, but was already in Alabama when they married in Calhoun County, in 1849. They were in Alabama for the birth of their first child in 1851, probably in Pickens County since that is where Wiley died in 1854.
Jacob I. Propst, b 1830, married Nancy Elizabeth Brotherton who was from Cabarrus County. No record has been found regarding their place of marriage or where their first two children were born. Josephine Eudora, their third child was born 1858 in Pickens County. When Jacob I’s father died in 1843, Jacob was 13 and had been placed under the guardianship of Soloman Faggart, probably a maternal uncle.
Alabama was part of the western frontier in the early 19th Century. Men like the sons of Michael Propst were eager to find cheap land to farm in order to provide for their large and growing families. They joined other families from Cabarrus who were heading west like the Sheltons with whom they intermarried.
Israel Pickens, for whom Pickens County was named, was born, 1780, in the Cabarrus part of Mecklenburg. He left North Carolina for Alabama in1817, becoming the third govenor of that state, and being recognized as a charismatic, benevolent leader. His success encouraged many North Carolinians to follow him. Maybe the Propsts were inspired by this man who was also a native of Cabarrus.
Three Propst brothers married into the family of Nelson and Fannie Sadler Shelton of Lincoln County, NC. Nelson was a prosperous land owner in Lincoln County and Georgia. When he died, the family sold their NC acreage and most of them moved to Alabama. Somehow, Annie Shelton, born 1816, and Daniel met and married in 1835. Her sister, Rebecca, b 1809, had married Archibald Cathey White, and was widowed after they had five children in 1836. She married Jacob Wilson Propst in 1839. Jane Smith White, b 1827, was the daughter of Rebecca Shelton and Archibald Cathey White, and she married Michael Valentine, her mother’s brother-in-law, in Cabarrus County in 1852. However their marriage bond had been made in 1844 and their first two children were born in Palmetto County Alabama before 1852. Evidently they had moved to Alabama after they took out a marriage bond, where they stayed until 1852 when they went back to Cabarrus County for the important occasion of their marriage. Perhaps at this time, Jacob I. joined his brother for his move to Alabama.
The history of this branch of the Heinrich Propst clan is intriguing and puzzling. How did the Cabarrus County Propsts meet and marry the Shelton women? It is particularly difficult to discover because of the extensive family of descendents of the Lincoln County Heinrich Propst with many of the same given names. How did the Cabarrus County men decide to move to Alabama and when? Once there did they maintain their family ties, or go separate way. Only Michael Valentine and his family moved farther west to Colorado becoming pioneers a second time, all the rest remained in Alabama for their life time.
Index of Names
Brotherton, Nancy Elizabeth
Pickens, Israel Govenor
Propst, Daniel Freeman
Jacob Wilson, Sr.
Jacob Wilson, Jr.
(Propes), John Michael
White, Archibald Cathey
As a postscript, I was interested in reading on page 96 of the Autumn 2010 edition of the Golden Nugget the blurb titled “Alabama Visitors” which referred to J. W. Propst and his wife visiting Martin Propst. Martin and “Jake” were half-brothers who had been separated for over 50 years since their father’s death. The J. W. refers to Jacob Wilson Propst, Jr., the last child of Rebecca and Jacob Wilson, Sr, and Martin is the only child of Emiline Walton and Jacob Wilson, Sr. The father died before Martin was born, and he and his mother stayed in Alabama long enough for him to remember walking with his mother from Alabama back to Cabarrus County, where Emiline wed her second husband, John Plott.
Jake’s mother died 6 days after his birth, and his father died only three years later. His father had married one year later to Emiline, who was obviously a Cabarrus County woman who went home as soon as her own son was old enough to walk. What happened to the children of Jacob, Sr. and Rebecca? Their oldest was only 16 and the baby, Jacob, was 3, when they were orphaned. And their step-mother, Emiline, went back to North Carolina after about eight years.
My direct Propst line does not descend through Michael Propst, but I became intrigued by the immigration of a whole family of brothers to Alabama as well as the intermarriage of the Propsts and Sheltons.
The information in this paper has been gathered from internet sites such as Rootsweb as well as NC and AL birth, marriage and census records that appear on line. I do not cite references, because I use a lot of resources and really don’t have the patience to record every reference. Anyone who wants to use my research as a reference point is welcome, and if errors are discovered, I would appreciate knowing.
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