Alexander M. Wynn, A Vintage Vignette

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Alexander M. Wynn
A Vintage Vignette by John P. Rankin
July 21, 2010

Because of my own Wynn ancestry, I notice the name and its variant spellings whenever encountered. Several years ago, while helping a friend with family research, I photographed selected tombstones in the cemetery of Cambridge Methodist Church in Limestone County on Cambridge Lane. Several pioneer family names associated with the town of Madison are found there, including a Thomas Bradford. Even Hezekiah Bradley Cartwright, son of John, attended that church in its formative years, along with members of the French, Isom, Parham, and Malone families. However, it was the unexpected notice of some box crypts for the Wynn family that really surprised me. The discovery led me to research local branches of Wynn families, and I put an article about John H. J. Wynn in the book “Heritage of Limestone County, Alabama” (1998) on page 475. Upon a recent revisit to the cemetery, I thoroughly cleaned the inscription on the crypt tablet and noticed that the inscribed name is actually John H. I. Wynn. The “J” was from interpretations of handwritten records and census entries. Checking Ancestry.com, it was learned that his full name was John Henry Irby Wynne, according to postings by Elizabeth Rickey, a descendant. The spelling on the tombstone has no “e” at the end, but that is a common variation.

John Wynn was born in Virginia in 1797. He married Frances Martha Brownlee and died in 1854, two years after Frances passed away. The posting by Rickey traces his lineage back eight generations to 1523. His 3rd great grandfather (Joshua Wynne, 1659-1715) is my 7th great grandfather, so I am in fact related. My own research, coupled with that of many others, has the lineage traced through the kings of Wales to Roman connections into Jewish lines all the way back to Adam and Eve, as published in the book previously mentioned plus several other works. Local pioneer John Wynn served as a State Representative from Limestone County, 1835-42. His family included at least eight children, and very likely several more who didn't live in the household when the 1850 census was taken. One of his sons, Alexander Montgomery Wynn (1823-1897), was listed as an unmarried teacher in that census. In 1857, Alexander married Martha Custis Ward, a daughter of Samuel Ward, in Madison County. Samuel Ward owned land which is now part of the northern portion Redstone Arsenal, and Ward Mountain (just south of the Space & Rocket Center) is named for him, as is a small family cemetery beside the golf course on the arsenal. Martha's brothers George and Fleming Ward became executors of Alexander Wynn's 1897 will, which was witnessed by W. R. Rison and Jackson Rand.

Alexander and Martha had a son named John Robert Wynn (1867-1896), who married Laura America Prudence Lanier. When John died in Huntsville in his thirtieth year of age, their daughter Helen was only four years old. Helen later married Joseph Oscar, a son of Jackson Rand. Probate of John Robert Wynn's estate involved Madison notables James Harvey Pride, Milton Harris Lanier, David N. Teague, John Ford Lanier, and Laura America Prudence (Ford) Lanier. Laura America Prudence Ford Lanier was the mother of Laura America Prudence Lanier Wynn (John's widow). She was also the mother of John Ford Lanier, Milton Harris Lanier, and several other children. Thereby, the Madison-area Laniers have a relationship to the Wynn family buried in Cambridge Methodist Church Cemetery of Limestone County. Censuses also list Alexander Wynn as a treasurer of Madison County and as a farmer. Alexander additionally caught my attention when I noticed in land deed indexes that he entered into transactions with many of the Madison-area pioneers. Among them were Joseph D. Williams (father of James E. Williams), James Humphrey, Wiley P. Drake, Susan Sneed, James Best, Richard E. Pettus, David Kennyon Wall, Seymour Doolittle, and Ferdinand M. Trotman. Ancestry.com postings show connections of Alexander Wynn to six U. S. Presidents and three “First Ladies” of the nation. Other famous relatives include Edgar Allan Poe, Geoffrey Chaucer, Booker T. Washington, Sam Walton, and the founders of the Winchester and the Browning weapon companies.

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