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My Wilbanks MysteryMy Wilbanks MysteryMy Wilbanks Mystery


I started researching my family history in 1992 but it was another couple of years before I discovered that I was a WILBANKS. My father died when I was young and I knew nothing of his lineage. Now that's the side I have the most documentation on. Still there is an unsolved mystery that has caused me to contact every Wilbanks I can find.

Sallie was my great great grandmother. She was probably born in Franklin County GA around 1827-1834 to Benjamin BURGESS, the son of Elias BURGESS of Franklin County. Her mother is not yet known. Although I find Benjamin on the 1850 census, he is not living in the family home. I have not located Sallie as a girl at all. I have not found a marriage record for Sallie either.

Sallie shows as Sarah WILBANKS on the 1870 census. She has 8 children living with her. Shortly after the 1870 census Sallie and her children moved to Macon County NC. They are shown there still for the 1880 census, now with still more children and even three grandchildren. Although there are plenty of kids, no Mr. Wilbanks is shown. That's the last I find anything on most of the children. The 1900 Macon County census shows Sallie living alone. She states that she is the mother of 13 children with 10 still living at that time. Sallie remains in Cartoogechaye township, Macon County, NC apparently alone, until her death on 5 August 1924. The newspaper death notice mentions no relatives. The gravesite at Mount Zion United Methodist Church was apparently unmarked. (The cemetery was inventoried by the WPA in the mid-1930's and she is not shown.)

The census provides nearly all I know about Sallie's children. Some cousins who knew Nannie personally say she never mentioned any family except a brother Cecil. I haven't found a Cecil yet either.

Here's the family as I've put it together so far:

    Sarah (Sallie) Burgess b.1827-1834 in Georgia m. J. E. Wilbanks ??
  • dau Susan b.1850-1852 GA (married a "Knight"; three sons born 1870-1880)
  • son James b.1854 GA
  • dau Sarah b.1857 GA
  • son Benjamin b.1859 GA
  • son William b.1863 GA
  • son Joseph b.1864 GA
  • dau Lela F. b.1867 GA (married John SEAY in Franklin NC)
  • dau Martha b.1869 GA (married Rufus BROWN and moved to Jackson and Oconee counties, GA)
  • dau J. C. b.1871 NC
  • dau Nannie b.11 Feb 1874 NC (married John SWANSON of Towns Co, GA)(my line)
  • son A. W. b.1876 NC

It appears that daughter Susan married around 1870-1871. That is about the same time the family moved from Georgia to North Carolina. One theory is that her husband was from NC, causing the entire clan to move North after Susan's marriage.

Another possibility is that Sallie's mother was Indian. Family legend claims this line is Cherokee. The locations certainly fit. Perhaps that is why the family disappears 1830-1870. That might explain the lack of public records as well.

UPDATE ! I have found Macon County NC land records showing that Mr. Wilbanks was known as "J. E. Wilbanks". He apparently died between 1893 - 1900. In 1893 he transferred some Cartoogechaye, NC land to others for use as a church and school. By the 1900 census his wife was a widow. Do you have any more info?


Created and Maintained by Barbara Caramba-Coker