Isaac Inman, A Vintage Vignette
A Vintage Vignette by John P. Rankin
August 31, 2009
Though I met some “in people” during my professional career, I never knew an Inman. Being now retired and exploring area pioneer history, I have finally encountered some Inmans. Of course, they died over a hundred years ago, but that doesn’t lessen my appreciation of who they were.
My contact with Inman pioneers came about as part of a four-year exploration of Redstone Arsenal cemeteries. One north of Martin Road, between Zierdt and Anderson Roads, was named Emeline Cemetery by the Army. However, nobody seemed to know why. I was told that an older name for it was Inman Cemetery. Again, nobody knew why. I researched both names, but only the Inman quest proved fruitful. According to Ancestry.com postings, the name Inman signified occupation as an innkeeper when surnames came into use in the British Isles. Indeed, the local Inman family history is traced back to the early 1600s in Yorkshire, England.
The 1840 Madison County census shows an entry for Isaac Inman, age 60-69. He was living beside many other known pioneers of what today is Redstone Arsenal’s northwest area, toward where Madison would be established in 1857. Next door to him was James Inman, age 20-29. Just three census pages away were listed adjacent households of Lazarus and Green L. Inman, also residing among known arsenal land pioneers. Lazarus was age 50-59, while Green was 20-29. Because several generations of Inman families in the southeastern United States used the names of Lazarus and Isaac (and David) among their branches, the records appear to have been somewhat confused among researchers. Most postings to Ancestry.com show that Isaac Inman of Madison County died in 1841, whereas his probate packet in the archives is dated as 1840.
The majority of Ancestry postings show that Isaac was married twice. He is stated as marrying Martha Frost in 1817 in Madison County and then marrying Martha Alexander in Morgan County in 1822. The dates are a problem, because Martha Alexander is shown in a dozen postings as born in 1817 and died in 1817. Doubting that Isaac married an infant who had been dead for five years, I suspect that perhaps Martha Alexander was born about the time of Isaac’s birth (1779 per the postings) and that she died in early 1817. Perhaps she was married to Isaac in 1802 or 1812 and the third digit was not clearly written. More probably, there were possibly two different Isaac Inmans in the area, since Morgan County didn’t exist in 1802 for a marriage to be recorded there.
It is known that from 1818 Isaac Inman owned the northwest quarter of section 26, township 4, range 2 west (160 acres). That land includes the location of the Emeline-Inman Cemetery, as the Army now calls it after accepting my 60-page report about it. Inman’s probate packet shows that Martha was his widow, but her maiden name is not given in the files. Martha received a widow’s dower of 60 acres when the estate was probated. However, the remaining acreage of the estate was sold in 1841. The family members even had to purchase personal property items that they wanted to keep. The surviving adult children of Isaac and Martha were Green Lazarus, James H., Lucinda (married John Fuller), and Sarah (married Jones Mitchell). Martha was the major purchaser of the personal property, while Green and a David Inman also got several items. Jones Mitchell was in the list of purchasers, along with Edward Frost (Martha’s father), William H. Robertson (Isaac’s estate administrator), M. A. Lewis, Harrison Owens, Samuel White, and N. Fletcher plus others known to be area residents of the time. Robertson purchased the land of the estate that was outside of Martha’s dower. He sold it in 1844 to Richard Holding.
The Inman families of Madison County married into the Camper (twice), Carnes, Chapman, Clark, Jenkins, Lacy, and White families. The descendants are noted in many records of the county, particularly in the town of Madison in later years. Martha Inman’s Frost family history is likewise significant and may hold the key to the Emeline name, as a later Vintage Vignette will explore.