Gross Scruggs, A Vintage Vignette

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Gross Scruggs
A Vintage Vignette by John P. Rankin
December 24, 2008)

One may not expect much of a person named Gross Scruggs in Madison County’s history. However, one would be wrong about that. According to the book “Scruggs Genealogy” compiled and published in 1912 by Ethel Hastings Scruggs Dunklin of New York City, Gross knew how to make a grand entrance. In the words of Mrs. Dunklin, “he caused quite a sensation upon his arrival in Alabama, as he came in his coach-and-four, with out-riders.” The time was 1818, and Gross was coming from Virginia, where he was born in 1769. He was the third son of Thomas Scruggs, who took his family (including Gross) to Kentucky in 1793. Gross, however, left for Tennessee and then returned to Virginia before moving to a plantation in Madison County, Alabama. Thomas himself apparently returned to Virginia later, and Gross was executor of his father’s will in Virginia in 1805.

The ancestry of Gross Scruggs connects to Richard Scruggs of Bedfordshire, England. Richard came to America in 1655. His son Henry married Ann Grose (Gross) and had a son Thomas, whose son Thomas was Gross’ father. Gross had a sister Elizabeth who married into the Blackburn family of Virginia, some of whom later came to Madison County, Alabama. There is a tombstone in the Gray Cemetery for John W. Blackburn (1775 – 1854), one of the pioneers that settled in the area where the city of Madison is now located.

Gross married four times. His first wife was Nancy Logwood. They married in Bedford County, Virginia, in 1792. Nancy was born in 1773 in Virginia and died there on April 2, 1805. She was a daughter of Thomas Logwood and a granddaughter of Edmund Logwood. Edmund was born in 1690 in England and died in 1775 in Virginia. Some of his children married into the Dandridge and the Walker families of Virginia. Nancy Logwood was a first cousin of Mary Otey Leftwich, who married Pleasant Goggin, a brother of Pamelia Goggin. Two of Pamelia’s siblings married into the Tate family in Virginia. Pamelia married Samuel Clemens there, and they became grandparents of author Samuel Clemens, aka “Mark Twain”. The “Founder of Madison”, James Clemens of Huntsville, was a relative.

The Logwood family was further connected to the Tate family by the Limestone County marriage of John Tate to Mary Logwood as his second wife. This John Tate was a brother of Dr. Waddy Tate. John’s first wife was Sophia Harris, a daughter of Matthew Harris and Elizabeth Tate. Elizabeth’s brother Jesse Tate married Margaret Miller. Jesse and Margaret were the parents of Waddy Tate. Nancy Logwood and Gross Scruggs had seven children, including a daughter named Mary who married Waddy Tate in Madison County on May 2, 1823. Mary was born in 1803 and died in 1836 in Florence, Alabama. Waddy’s sister, Mary Tate, married Gross Scruggs as his second wife. This marriage made Gross Scruggs both a brother-in-law and a father-in-law of Waddy Tate. Mary Tate and Gross Scruggs were married in Virginia on October 17, 1805. They had ten children before Mary passed away on September 19, 1832.

Before his passing in Madison County in 1856, blind but of sound mind at age 87, Gross Scruggs married twice more. His third wife was a widow, Mrs. Mary Jones, whom he married in September of 1833. Mary Jones was the great great grandmother of John Rison Jones Jr., who posted data about her on internet genealogical sites in 2005. His data showed that she was Mary Saunders and that her first husband was Major William Jones (1779-1832). Major Jones was a son of William Richard Jones, who was killed at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse in 1781. This battle was mostly fought on land owned by one of my own ancestors, Robert Rankin (1759-1840), of Guilford County, North Carolina.

Gross Scruggs’ fourth wife was Edith, widow of Reuben Shotwell. They married in September of 1850. By these last two wives, Gross had no children, perhaps realizing that the seventeen children he already had were enough. Still, he apparently felt the need for a wife throughout his years.

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