The Great "Osborn" Controversy


The Great "Osborn(e)" Controversy

Revised Apr 2011 based on data found more recently (2005-2010)

This article was researched and documented in accordance
with the elements of the "Genealogical Proof Standard" [GPS]
developed by the Board for Certification of Genealogists.

Diane Carrington Bradford, a documented descendant of Major General Allen Daniel of Madison County, Georgia, and Webmaster of Leaves From Our Tree, decided in March 2004 to find the answers to the many questions raised by all the myths and legends about the DANIEL families in Elbert and Madison counties in Georgia. After enlisting the able assistance of Garland Payne Daniel ( Webmaster of The Daniel Families of America, Southern States, and some other family researchers, we began in-depth research and discussion to verify or disprove the previously published data/legends, with the result being that we debunked the legends to our satisfaction. Diane and Payne then co-authored an article, which we nicknamed The Great "Osborn(e)" Controversy, and posted it to this Web site in 2005.

When we first wrote that article, we based our conclusions on documentation that was available to us at that time. Since then, the DANIEL Y-DNA Surname Project has identified a group of ten (10) male descendants whose Y-DNA test results produced a statistically significant group match (see the Daniel Y-DNA Project Web site for more information.) Those results linked the descendants of Gen. Allen DANIEL and Capt. John DANIEL not only to each other, but also to a documented descendant of Woodson DANIEL of Wake County, North Carolina (md. Nancy Gouge). Woodson, along with a David DANIEL and a William DANIEL were strongly inferred by court records to be descendants of Capt. James DANIEL of Goochland, Virginia (md. Elizabeth WOODSON), and possibly (but not yet documented) as far back as Roger DANIELL of Warwick County, Virginia. Also, additional research in Wake and Granville counties in North Carolina, as well as in Wilkes, Elbert and Madison counties in Georgia brought to light many additional records, some of which document and/or support relationships back to Capt. James and Elizabeth (Woodson) DANIEL; some of which support part of the conclusions we drew in our 2005 report; and some of which blow holes all through other conclusions. In those cases, we have most humbly eaten our rather large portions of "crow" The "good news" is that we can now answer many of the questions that have plagued DANIEL family researchers for decades, and we can put to rest many of the "myths" that have posed as "family facts" for those same many decades.

The complete background of the various DANIEL family puzzles, myths, legends and brick walls was presented on the DANIEL Families Table of Contents page.This article pertains only to the myths listed below.

The Myths and Legends

DAR applications #42794, #92632, #154345, dated 1910-1920, submitted by three different descendants of Gen. Allen DANIEL, and all were based on incorrect interpretation of documents available at that time, family legends, and probably some "creative writing" by one or more of those applicants. The three books listed below all drew heavily from the information in these disapproved DAR applications.

As mentioned in our 2005 article, the "controversy," raged for years among serious researchers of the DANIEL families who settled in the parts of original Wilkes County, Georgia that became Elbert County in 1790 and Madison County in 1811. The first book to mention the DANIELs was The Official History of Elbert County 1790-1935, originally published in 1940 by John H. McIntosh. On page 100-101 he stated:

"Allen Daniel [Gen.]...was born in Virginia in 1772.... The father of Allen Daniel was also named Allen. He was born in Virginia in 1738, and died in 1814. During the American Revolution he was Captain in the 8th Virginia Line Regiment."

"There has been much confusion regarding Allen Daniel for the reason that his uncle, John O. Daniel, brother of Capt. Allen Daniel, was the father of a son who also bore the name of Allen. This Allen was the father of a son named Allen. Since all of them resided in Elbert County, and Allen, son of John, was near the same age as Allen, son of the alleged Capt. Allen, it can readily be understood why confusion has so often arisen. [Note: Allen, son of John, was born in 1810, while Allen, son of Allen, was born in 1772, a 38 year difference in ages, so they were hardly contemporaries.]

"John O. Daniel served in the Revolution with distinction and came to Elbert County in 1785 with General George Mathews."

The second book was William C. Stewart's Gone to Georgia, published in 1965 by the National Genealogical Society. On page 273 Stewart wrote:

"...Allen Daniel, Sr., a Revolutionary soldier, was born 1738 in Virginia, and died in Madison County, 1814, having previously lived in Elbert County. He married Mary Allen and had children Elizabeth (married Aaron Johnson), Allen, Jr. (born in Virginia in 1772, married Mary, daughter of Russell Jones, served in the War of 1812, died 1836), James (married Elizabeth, daughter of James Jones, and second Delilah Eunice Wilson) and Charity (married Elisha Johnson). Allen appears in the Wilkes County records as early as 1788.  In 1789 William Allen bought land on Beaverdam Creek from William and Nancy Daniel, with Allen Daniel as a witness...."

The third book, published in 1967, Our Family, The Daniels, written by Clifford Daniel Smith and Fern Gholson Daniel, stated :

"...came to Elbert County., Ga. from Prince Georges County, Virginia, in 1785, with his two brothers, John O. Daniel, Jr., and David Daniel. The two latter settled in Moss District, Elbert County, near Carpenter Mill. Capt. Allen Daniel settled in that part of Elbert County now known as Madison County."

An earlier publication, Historical Collections of Georgia, written by Rev. George White, M.A., originally published in 1854, mentioned John DANIEL of Elbert County only for his longevity (he lived to be 80), and for Madison County mentioned only "General" Allen DANIEL. Rev. White personally did the research for this book on location, talking with living children and grandchildren of the early settlers of these counties, yet he mentioned little to nothing about Capt. John DANIEL or the alleged Capt. Allen DANIEL, two men who were reputed to be very prominent citizens during their lifetimes, and nothing about any relationship between these men.

Another early author, Rev. Groves H. Cartledge (1820-1899), in his Historical Sketches, wrote historical and biographical sketches of people in the frontier area of northeast Georgia and lived in Madison County, Georgia for most of his life. He, too, personally knew, associated with and/or served as pastor to the children and grandchildren of the earliest settlers of the Elbert/Madison counties area of Georgia. In one sketch originally written about 1885 and republished in 1960, Rev. Cartledge wrote:

"...In 1786, George Elliott, Sr., and his five sons...made the first settlement between the North and South forks of the Broad River [in present-day Madison County, GA]. In 1787 and 1788, many others followed....

"About the same time Gen. Allen Daniel from Va,...and others settled on the Scullshoal and Bluestone creeks...."

There were major discrepancies between the various published works and no source citations were included in any of them. Yet for over 100 years, no one questioned any of the information or attempted to verify or disprove any data published therein. Well, we went looking for answers, and here is what we found.

The Documented Facts

1.  The legend that three alleged brothers "came to Georgia about 1785," or that "John O. Daniel ...      came to Elbert County in 1785 with General George Mathews."—

The existence of a "Capt. Allen DANIEL," born cir. 1738 in Virginia, who commanded the 8th Virginia Line Regiment in the Revolutionary War was refuted by an in-depth review and re-evaluation of records. [Read the article "Capt. Allen Daniel: Patriot? — or Nonexistent?" for the full assessment.]

Capt. John DANIEL did, indeed, settle in the area once known as the Moss District of Elbert County, an area that remained in Elbert after Madison was created. He served in the North Carolina Militia during the Revolutionary War, and he stated on his military pension application that he was born in Wake County, North Carolina 23 May 1762. He and his wife and their first four children did NOT arrive in Georgia until about 1799-1800, and that is documented by the fact that on the 1850 and 1860 Elbert County or Gwinnett County census reports, their four oldest children (James Jenkins, born 1792, Nancy, born 1794, Martha Jenkins "Patsy", born before Nov 1796, ALL stated that they were born in NORTH CAROLINA; and David, born 1799, stated he was born in SOUTH CAROLINA. . Their fifth child, Elizabeth Ann, born 1803, was the first one to state she was born in Georgia.

In addition, in 1796 in Granville County, North Carolina, Capt. John executed and had recorded a "Deed of Gift" wherein he gave "to his son, James Jenkins DANIEL, and his two daughters Nancey DANIEL and Patsey Jenkins DANIEL, and to any future increase of his wife, Elizabeth DANIEL, for love and affection, 5 shillings, four Negro slaves Hagar, Daniel, Creacey & David." [Source: "Granville County [North Carolina] Deed Books," LDS film # 306130, NC Granville Deed Books [microfilmed originals], Deed Book P, page 351.] Extant primary data did NOT support the 1785 arrival date asserted in Our Family, The Daniels, or a 1785 arrival with General George Mathews (who, incidentally, was from Augusta County, Virginia) as asserted in McIntosh's The Official History of Elbert County 1790-1935.

So the combination of court records and pertinent census data very effectively debunk the 1785 arrival date for either the spurious Capt. Allen DANIEL in Madison County or Capt. John DANIEL in Elbert County. (See the articles "John Daniel: Captain of the Guard," and "Capt. John Daniel & Family: Pioneer Settlers," for the full story of Capt. John and his family.)  

2.  The legend that Capt. Allen Daniel, Capt. John Daniel and an unidentified David Daniel were      brothers—

Some researchers state that Capt. John DANIEL (md. Margaret Means) and David DANIEL (md. Margaret Lynch) settled in the Moss District of Elbert County. Some researchers also state that David DANIEL died by 1818 in Elbert County, while others say he died in North Carolina, and still others say he went to Mississippi. There was a David DANIEL mentioned briefly in some very early land records in the general area of Wilkes>Elbert>Madison County and Wilkes>Elbert County, but he disappeared from the records before the 1820 census (the first one available for Georgia), and no other documentation was ever found to support the presence of this alleged "brother" in Georgia. The David DANIEL who married Margaret Lynch was enumerated on the 1790 Wake County, North Carolina census report, as well as on the 1800 Rowan County census, in both cases living near his parents or siblings. The David DANIEL listed on the 1830 Elbert County census report was the son of Capt. John DANIEL. There was no David DANIEL who died cir 1818 buried in Elbert County, at least not in a known or marked grave.

If there was a David DANIEL who arrived in Elbert County with Capt. John DANIEL and his family, it's possible that he was a cousin or uncle of Capt. John. Woodson DANIEL of Wake County, North Carolina, did have a documented son named "David," born before 1755 (who md. Margaret Lynch), as well as a probable brother named "David." Note, however, that there was no known relationship between Woodson DANIEL of Wake County, North Carolina and the alleged Capt. Allen DANIEL of Virginia or Madison County, Georgia. However, if either David DANIEL had been a "brother" of a Capt. Allen DANIEL, there would have been a large age difference between them, and no supporting documentation was ever found.

Now, consider the 24-year age difference between the other two alleged brothers, not impossible, but in this instance highly suspect. Also consider the fact that the spurious Capt. Allen DANIEL was supposedly born in Virginia and Capt. John DANIEL in North Carolina, as documented by his Revolutionary War pension application. If they were "brothers," how were they born in different states when their supposed father, John O. DANIEL, Sr., was said to have lived and died in Virginia?

Most importantly, NO extant primary documentation supporting the existence of and/or a relationship between these men was ever found. Nor has any primary documentation surfaced supporting the existence of a "John Osborn(e) DANIEL, Sr.," in either Virginia or North Carolina during the right time frame to have been the father of the three alleged "brothers. The overly wide age span between the three men, the different geographic locations, plus the very telling lack of supporting documentation sufficiently debunk the "brothers" legend.

3.  The middle name of "Osborn(e)" for Capt. John Daniel—

While many of John DANIEL's descendants claim that his full name was John Osborn (or Osborne) DANIEL, there were NO extant court or military documents showing a middle name of "Osborn(e)," or any other middle name, for that matter, that we or any other researcher found. It is also very telling that the various versions of the myths/legends could not agree on the spelling—"Osborn" or "Osborne." No family researcher who posted data on Capt. John "Osborn(e)" DANIEL on the Internet also posted any documentation, primary or secondary, supporting that middle name—no vital records, no family Bible record for Capt. John DANIEL, no land deeds, nothing. Even McIntosh in his 1940 book listed him as "John O. Daniel, but did not cite any sources for that name. What we found was that his 1833 pension application was personally signed "John Daniel." In various land deeds and other court documents in North Carolina and Georgia he was listed or signed as "John Daniel." On all census reports he was listed only as "John" Daniel.

The "John O. DANIEL" or "John Osborn(e) DANIEL" name apparently came from the poorly researched and documented DAR applications listed above. Later researchers relied on those applications and produced unverified genealogy reports in books and now on the Internet that have been copied and repeated ad nauseam, but those are NOT acceptable data sources. For that reason Diane and Payne have removed the "Osborn(e)" name from their respective Web sites until such time as someone can provide PRIMARY documentation of that name (not family legend, or "it's always been used in the family...").

The Conclusions

So, while Capt. John DANIEL might have had a cousin or uncle named "David", who might have been in Elbert County in its earliest days, that is now only speculation. After all the research and verification, and a considerable amount of discussion between your writers and other members of the Wake-Elbert-Madison Research Group (WEMRG), we,Diane and Payne, submit our considered opinion that:

1. None of the men at the focus of this research project arrived in the Wilkes-Elbert-Madison area in 1785, and there is nothing extant to support the presence of a David DANIEL in the area under review. Neither was there any documentation supporting the existence of a "John Osborn(e) DANIEL, Sr.," in the right place at the right time who could have fathered the three men at the focus of this report

2. The two men, Capt. John DANIEL of Wake/Elbert and the alleged Capt. Allen DANIEL of Virginia/Madison County were NOT brothers. HOWEVER, DNA test results for the ten (10) descendants showed a statistically significant relationship. Therefore, Capt. John DANIEL and General Allen DANIEL WERE related, but they were most probably first cousins, not brothers.

3. The middle name of "Osborn(e)" for Capt. John DANIEL was a mistaken assumption on the part of a very early, unknown researcher, which has been perpetuated by family legend and repetition by other researchers.

We hope this explanation helps the reader understand how and why we have come to these conclusions. We remain willing to reconsider our position if and when someone can provide unassailable PRIMARY documentation of a middle name—any middle name—for Capt. John DANIEL of Wake/Elbert.

Diane Carrington Bradford


G. Payne Daniel

8 April 2011

William Daniel and Family, Pioneer Settlers, Land Wheeler-Dealer

"Capt. Allen Daniel," Patriot? — or Nonexistent?

Descendants of Capt. John DANIEL on WorldConnect

Daniel Y-DNA Project Web site

For more information, send e-mail to:

Home | Madison County Table of Contents
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