One American Family
George M. / "Bettie" Pittard
Clifford C. / Lucile Carlisle
The French names Sar(r)at, Serre, Serret(t), and Serot are location surnames originally acquired from one having lived at places so named. The spelling Sarrat is mainly confined to central France and the spellings Serre, Serret(t), and Serot in the western part. The meaning is "sawtooth mountain," similar to the Sierra Nevada range.
The first United States Census taken in 1790 lists one or more of the spellings Sarrat(t), Serat(t), and Serrett in New York and North Carolina. We began spelling it S.A.R.R.E.T.T when our ancestors moved to Benton County Tennessee.
||Sarrett: One American Family
The material in Laura and Norman's book, Some SURRATT/SARRATT Families In The United States 1715 - 1980, has been compiled from searches of wills, land transactions, births, tax records, census, and pension applications.
They spent eight years studying and searching with help and enthusiastic support from other Sarratts before publishing their book but knew much more could be learned. Perhaps our branch of the tree will some day appear in a supplement when more questions have been answered.
For instance, during research leading up to the publication of their book, Laura and Norman were never able to substantiate a favorite tradition among many Sarratt families that traces our roots back to Duke of Mont Sarrette, a French nobleman. Several family historians tell of three Sarratt brothers (one even recounts the story of four brothers), but facts to back up such stories eluded Laura and Norman, though they twice crossed the country in their quest.
According to a 1950 article in a Beckley, West Virginia (Raleigh County) newspaper, Duke of Mont Sarrette "came to America on the same ship which brought Marquis Jean Paul Lafayette to this country. Both offered their services to General George Washington and fought through the American Revolution after which they returned to their native land."
"When the French Revolution broke out, the Duke of Mont Sarrette with his little son stole aboard a ship bound for America under the cover of darkness. The two were concealed by the ship's captain and transported..." to South Carolina in 1799. At the time of the Duke's flight, members of nobility were the favored target of rebel mobs with a guillotine.
"On his arrival in America the Duke became known as Elisha Sarrett and settled in North Carolina where he met and married Jane Jenkins -- another version of the same story contends the royal refugee settled in Virginia. To this marriage on 2 January 1806 was born a son, John T., who married Miss Nancy Combs.
Nevertheless, if the story of the Duke is true, he arrived many years after a apparent commoner named Joseph. Which tree did we grow from, Joseph or the Duke?
We may never know for sure but to date, we know we decended from George Montgomery Sarrett who was said to be from Tennessee. Both Joseph and the Duke have ties to Tennessee, however, geneological studies tend to lean in Joseph's favor since a direct descendant named George Sarrett was born about 1856 in Benton County TN. George Montgomery Sarrett's birth year of 1856 is carved on a granite tombstone in the Cassville Cemetery in Bartow County GA. Another point of proof is that researchers note the spelling of Sarratt became Sarrett in Benton County.
One popular tradition is that the family came from France where Laura and Norman spent a month in 1978 searching depositories such as the National Archives in Paris. Quizzed about spelling differences, three archivists told Laura and Norman they all felt "Surratt" was not typically French, though Sarrat, Seret, and the various derivations are. Their search also lead them to the Toulouse archives in the south of France where, they concluded, the area seemed indeed to be the heartland of the Sarratts. Although the material found was interesting, Laura and Norman could find no links to America.
The name Sarrat "belonged to the south and was the name attached to many hamlets. Serre, Serres, Sarre, Serret, Sarrat were names of numerous localities meaning "high-rising ground" or "high hill elongated, and were associated with the Spanish word Sierra ..." In the June 26, 1988 edition of The Atlanta Journal Constitution, a brief piece in a geneology article corroborates the name's origin as a descriptive term for the terrain. "The meaning is 'sawtooth mountain' similar to the Sierra Nevada range." People who lived in such areas eventually took it as a surname.
1. Joseph Sarrat (spelling in early records)
The first white men to begin the colonization of Maryland set foot on a Potomac River island they named St. Clement March 3,1634. Population growth was slow in the beginning but by 1688 Maryland's population numbered 25,000. Counties formed and were subdivided into "hundreds," an old term from Anglo Saxon England meaning a district of taxable units.
No records can be found of when Joseph Sarrat may have left Europe or when he stepped ashore in Maryland or if he perhaps came from another colony. One thing is certain; he is the first Sarratt in America with a clear, traceable record.
According to Laura and Norman, "The first evidence we have of Joseph is when Kathrine Sarrat, Samuel Weighel, and Evan Jones of Prince George's County put up a bond at court of 60 pounds sterling on 18 January 1715 in order to have Kathrine named administratix of the goods and chattels of Joseph Sarrat, deceased." The court ordered Kathrine, whom we assume was his wife, to produce an inventory "before the 16 th day of March in order to pay Joseph's debts and distribute his estate."
The inventory presented Feb 24, 1715 indicates Joseph was a farmer, though no land ownership records have been found. Among his effects were "517 pounds of tobacco, 3 barrels of 'Indian corne', a heifer, a calf, 1 old horse, and 1 mare and colt. In addition, some old 'puter', a chure, barrels, a grind stone, spinning wheel, working tools, household furniture among which was an old trunk, two chests, beds, a table and four chairs, and finally his wearing apparel." Kathrine, now the wife of William Lewis, went to court a second time on Oct 16, 1716 with additional inventory listing "a draft horse, a cart, a saddle, collar and harness, and one pair of old trucks." Court records show a final accounting of Joseph's estate took place May 3, 1717.
Joseph lived in the Mattapany Hundred district of Calvert County Maryland. In 1696 a new county, Prince George's, was formed which took in part of Calvert County including the Mattapany Hundred district. The Mattapany Hundred district was located in the southeastern part of the new county and was bordered on the east by the Patuxent River. Unfortunately, a courthouse fire in Calvert County distroyed early records and could explain why no records of property transactions for Joseph have been found. Therefore, we have no proof, but can speculate that Joseph probably acquired property in Calvert County Maryland prior to 1696.
In 1692 parishes were established when the Church of England was recognized as the official church of the colony by the Maryland General Assembly. Two parishes, St. Paul's and Piscataway which later became known as King George's Parish, became part of the new county of Prince George's.
St. Paul's parisheners built a chapel on three acres of land donated in 1704 by Capt. Richard Brightwell from his tract known as "Poplar Hill." Capt. Brightwell's Poplar Hill was located in the Mattapany Hundred near the same area which has been identified as where the Sarratt's lived.
Further, records show in carrying out the court's wishes to "pay Joseph's depts and distribute his estate," 414 pounds of tobacco was paid to Dr. Frederick Claudius -- did he attend Joseph during his final days?--, and of course the Clerk of the Court Joshua Cecell had to be paid. Both men served St. Paul's as parish officers.
The record of activities of Joseph's three offsprings around Prince George's County and the fact that Kathrine remarried within a year and a half of her first appearance in court leads researchers to speculate Joseph was still a fairly young man when he died. Researchers place the births of his children, Susanna, Samuel, and Joseph, between 1700 and when we first learn of Joseph in 1715.
2.2 Samuel Sarratt
Samuel, the second child of Joseph and Kathrine, was probably born around 1708. In those days vacant land could be claimed by applying for a "patent" from the government. In October of 1731, records show Samuel was granted a patent on 70 acres of land in Charles County Maryland adjacent to Prince George's County and a tract owned by his younger brother, Joseph. Samuel named his property "Bridgewater."
Records show "Samuel Sarrett of Prince George's County" sold Bridgewater in 1742 for 2,900 pounds of tobacco, though he was not paid until 1744. Since Bridgewater was located in Charles County, we can only guess Samuel must have lived on property originally owned by his father, Joseph, in one county and farmed or leased out land in the adjacent county.
Whatever meager existence Samuel and his brother could eek out for their families was apparently less than satisfying given the circumstances in Maryland at the time and later facts about the Sarratt brothers. Maryland's official currency and essentially its only crop was tobacco. Crop prices were controlled by merchants in London who would only take crops from the colonists on consignment. These same merchants also charged high prices for any supplies ordered. A glutted market fueled a vicious circle and produced only poor returns for small farmers like the Sarratts.
Confirming the number of children of Samuel and Ann is impossible without birth records, and it's not known if they had any daughters, but tax records prove they had several sons, Joseph, Allen, Samuel, Richard, and Thomas.
Researchers guess Samuel followed a well-traveled Indian trail called the Trading Path south through what is now Petersburg, VA. It's reasonable to assume Samuel and his young family did not strike out on such an uncertain journey into an largely unsettled land alone, but traveled in the company of friends. It was common practice for groups of people to move together and settle adjacent areas of land.
Along the banks of the South Hyco Creek and Double Creek, not far south of the Virginia border, Samuel settled in what would become Orange County, North Carolina prior to 1751. At the time only a few hundred settlers ventured into the region. "...by 1755 Anson, Orange, and Rowan counties together held 3,000 people. It wasn't until the end of the French and Indian War that emigration from Virginia increased and brought more settlers into North Carolina. Even then, Hillsborough, county seat for Orange County, was one of the larger towns in the Piedmont and it only boasted of 40 inhabitants in 1764." The family prospered in North Carolina, and to this day boasts the most Surratts of any state.
Samuel settled on 422 acres located on both sides of the South Hyco Creek. The original grant by Lord Granville can be seen at North Carolina's state archives in Raleigh. The grant lists Samuel's claim as "situated in the Parish of St. Matthew in the County of Orange" and is dated Nov 13, 1756. Yearly taxes amounted to 16 shillings and 11 pence. From a plat map attached to the grant, it's possible to locate Samuel's original property which today would be near the Caswell County line in Person County, off Route 1166.
The first "taxables" list for the newly formed Orange County in 1752 lists Samuel and two sons over 16, probably Joseph and Allen (taxables were "all males over 16, all male servants over 16, and all slaves, male and female, over 16).
Shortly after their arrival in North Carolina, Samuel served a time as Orange County constable since court records show he was replaced in 1755. No record has been found of his appointment to that job which carried a normal term of two years. He continued in community service as he, along with James Bowie, were qualified as under-sheriffs in 1757. Researchers note the Bowie family was prominent in Prince George's County Maryland, thus fueling speculation they may have made the journey to North Carolina with the Sarratts.
High taxation and claims of unfair collections and fraud by tax officials during this time may have prompted Samuel to move further south into Rowan County (now Davidson County) and near the Yadkin River. Historians record that Granville's agents taxed district landowners at twice the rate of those further south in the Royal Governor's district. Claims of inaccurate records and charges that collection officials made off with tax money may have persuaded Samuel to distance himself from the scene. Perhaps he relinquished his duties as a county official since they were viewed as being on the wrong side of issue. As a landowner, he was no doubt a victim of high taxation, and certainly sympathic to the plight of other landowners like himself.
Calling themselves Regulators, the burdened farmers rose up against Granville and banned together vowing not to pay taxes until a new system of fairer tax collection and accounting was established. Rather than fight the tax collectors, some families chose to leave and became the earliest settlers of the eastern part of the "Territory South of the River Ohio," later to be known as Tennessee.
Samuel didn't go that far. The next record of Samuel is in 1764 when he received partial bounty payment for delivering "4 catts," as recorded in the minutes of the Court of Pleas & Quarter Sessions of Rowan County, North Carolina. Apparently tax collections were also a problem in Rowan County since the court could only pay four-fifths of his entitled bounty of 10 shillings and 8 pence.
Documents exist to prove the move south took place no later than 1763 when Samuel would have been in his early to mid 50 's and his sons in their 20 's and 30 's. The Yadkin River where they settled was beautiful, full of rich farm land, and must have felt like home because Surratts still live there today.
In 1750, Squire Boone moved his family from Pennsylvania and settled in what was then Rowan County, North Carolina along the Yadkin River. The Boone's had a son, Daniel, age 16 at the time, whose later activities have been well documented.
3.1 Joseph Sarratt
Joseph is thought to be the oldest of Samuel's sons and was probably born in Maryland around 1732. Evidence exists to confirm that when the rest of the family moved to Rowan County in the 1760's, Joseph stayed behind on the South Hyco in Orange County. His name was among the signers of a petition which lead to the formation of Caswell County in 1777, and in 1791 the present day county of Person was formed where Samuel's original 422 acres is located today, near the Caswell County line.
In North Carolina during this time the work of our modern day Departments of Transportation rested on the shoulders of "any man between 16 and 60." In May of 1765 the first record of Joseph, obviously named for his grandfather who died in Maryland in 1715, was an Orange County court order to lay out a road from "Pinson's Path nigh Thomas Runnolds, from thence into Synnot's Road nigh the meeting house." Joseph would have some help since eight other men where given the same assignment. Later, in 1782, Joseph was ordered by the Caswell County court to oversee "the road from Capt. Lea's ford on South Hyco to the courthouse at Yanceyville."
Proof exists in the form of transaction vouchers at the State Archives in Raleigh, NC that Joseph and his teenaged son, John, sold supplies to the Army during the Revolutionary War. John also served in the militia during the war while his brother and Joseph's eldest son, Samuel, served with Sheppard's Regiment at Valley Forge (10 th North Carolina) in the Continental Army. Captured in 1780, probably in Charleston, SC, Samuel spent the remainder of the war as a prisoner.
In 1790, for his military service, the State of North Carolina awarded "for the Heirs of Samuel Serret" 640 acres. While the gratitude shown its fighting men seems very generous to us now, to Samuel it must have been less than impressive considering the location of his allotment. During the Revolution, North Carolina established the military reservation for its soldier in the Cumberland Valley near what is now Nashville, TN. Unfortunately, the Indians considered it theirs so anyone venturing in came under attack.
After years of trying to drive out the Indians, it was not until the presidency of Andrew Jackson in 1807 that real progress(?) began. The final results of his determination would later be called the Trail of Tears. Samuel apparently had no intentions of trying to settle in Indian territory, and relinquished all rights to his 640 acres to a Joseph Lewiss of Nashville, TN in 1796. He may have regreted it later, for sometime after 1800 Samuel moved his young family to Bedford County, Tennesee where records indicate his land allotment had actually been located.
While no record of Joseph's wife exists, his children, besides Samuel and John, include Elisha, Mary, Sabina, Anne, Unity, and Margaret. Apparently Joseph's wife preceded him in death since she was not mentioned in his will.
Mention does exists of a Serat Meeting House used occasionally by the Church Association. Originally an arm of the Flat River Church, Serat's Meeting House requested and was granted permission to be recognized as a distinct church in September of 1792. A Polley Serat was baptised at the Primitive Baptist Church in August 1789, and records show Sabina and Anne Serat joined the same church the next month. Since Sabina and Anne are named in Joseph's will as his daughters, it's reseasonable to assume the Serat Meeting House and the Primitive Baptist Church were one and the same, and was supported by members of the Sarratt family. Though we can draw no link to Joseph and Polley Serat who was baptised, she may have been his daughter Mary for which, researchers say, Polley is a common and recognized nickname.
Joseph applied for 306.5 acres Sep 10, 1778, and the State of North Carolina granted his request in 1779. From the description contained in the deed, the property was adjacent to his father Samuel's grant made almost 30 years earlier. No records were found indicating the sale of any of Samuel's original 422 acres.
Caswell County's earliest existing tax records for Joseph in 1784 lists 506 acres "on the Hyco." Three years later in April of 1787 he sold 150 acres to his son, John, for 20 pounds, and the following fall sold another 145 acres for 200 pounds. According to tax records, from 1793 until 1800, he paid taxes on 211 acres and two negroes.
Apparently Joseph died in the fall of 1801. His will indicates he had lived a comfortable and prosperous life for the record shows he had accumulated a large inventory of farming related tools, he had a team or horses as well as oxen, "13 hed Geise" and "24 head of hoggs." Household items included furniture, "puter" plates, "basons" and spoons, and five books though the titles are unknown. As researchers pointed out, apparently someone in Joseph's household could read.
The will stated that sons Samuel and John should each receive 10 shillings, Sabina received 40 shillings, Mary, five shillings, and 25 pounds "Virginia money" went to Anne. For Margaret,"12 pounds Virginia money to be equally divided among Margaret's surviving children," leading us to speculate she had already passed away. As a final statement in the will, Joseph wished the Negroes and all other possessions be sold and the proceeds divided equally among "all my surviving children." Joseph left his land to his youngest son, Elisha, who had farmed with him for many years. Interesting enough, Elisha sold 114 acres to a John Pittard in October of 1804.
4.2 John Sarratt
John was born in 1760 in what was then Caswell County, North Carolina, and was Joseph's second oldest son. During the Revolutionary War, John sold supplies to the Continental Army along with his father, and later volunteered in the North Carolina militia in 1780. The fact that his brother, Samuel, had already been taken prisoner may have inspire him to enlist, but it seems more likely he signed up along with many of his friends and neighbors when the call went out for volunteers to stop the progress of the approaching Major Ferguson. A thousand men answered the call.
But John, persuaded by his friends to join them under the command of Colonel Moore, missed the pivotal battle of King's Mountain where Major Ferguson was defeated and killed. Colonel Moore joined forces with General Butler at the" Island Fort on the Yadkin River" -- surely in the vicinity of where John's grandfather, Samuel, and all his uncles had moved some 15 years earlier -- and did not arrive at King's Mountain in time to take part in the action.
John and the rest of General Bulter's army marched south to Six Mile Creek where John became ill and was left behind. By the time he recovered, his tour of duty was over and he returned home. He volunteered the next spring after traveling "60 or 70 miles" to again join General Butler under the command of Capt. William Hardin. John was made a sargent "in Chatham County on Deep River near the junction of Deep and Haw Rivers." General Butler left Capt. Hardin's company behind to march to Ramsey's Mills where army stores were in jeopardy of an invasion by nearby Tories under the command of Colonel Fanning. When John's company arrived, they heard of the battle of Guilford which they had missed by just a few days. Capt. Hardin left the company because of sickness at home, and although he was never given a commission, the troups elected John Sarratt their Captain pro tem.
John volunteered again the next September and joined General Butler under the command of Colonel William Moore and Capt. John McMillan to fight the Tories and the British at Livingston's Bridge. Records show John lost his horse during the battle of Brown Marsh on Baldwin's Plantation.
John may have been moved to reenlist a final time because the Tories had just taken the nearby town of Hillsboro. Whatever the reason, the record indicates he volunteered for three tours of duty with the North Carolina militia, each lasting three months.
John Sarratt and Mary McMurry were married Mar 18 1783 by John Womack, Esq., Justice of the Peace. They set up housekeeping nearby and John must have farmed for a time with his father, since Joseph turned over the title of 150 acres to him in 1787 for a token payment of 20 pounds. It's likely he may have worked some for his father-in-law too since Samuel and Elizabeth Wilson McMurry were neighbors of the Sarratts.
John and Mary had 11 children and worked and lived where they themselves had grown up. We are direct descendants of their fourth child and second son, Wilson M., who was George Montgomery Sarrett's grandfather. Wilson was born in Person County, NC Oct 20, 1792 behind Elizabeth in 1784, Sally in 1786, and Joseph in 1789. Parthena was born about 1800. No birth records have been found for John and Mary's younger children, and two of their 11 offspring, Sally and John B., died young. In early 1802, Samuel McMurry died and left his daughter, Mary, "one Negro boy called Abe and a Negro girl named Rachel."
Perhaps prompted by the death of father, Joseph, a year earlier and his brother's move, John decided to follow Samuel and move to Tennessee along with a number of others from Person County. In preparation, he sold 102 acres for 61 pounds and 10 shillings in Virginia currency.
According to Smith County, Tennessee records, John witnessed wills for both Abraham Thompson and John Douglass in 1805. Obviously both men were long-time friends since they were all neighbors in Orange County, North Carolina and moved to Tennessee together. John appears on the rolls of Rutherford County between 1810 and 1813, subject to taxes on 100 acres of land and two polls, one white and one black. A poll was a male over the age of 16 eligible for service in the militia. John's eldest son Joseph would have qualified as the white poll, and the black poll may have been the slave boy named Abe who was willed to John's wife, Mary, by her father Samuel McMurry in 1802. The property mentioned was located below Spring Creek on Stony River's eastern branch.
When the War of 1812 broke out, John's sons, Joseph and Wilson, signed on with the 2nd Regiment of Cannon's Mounted Gunmen of West Tennessee. Their cousins, Samuel's sons Joseph and James from over in Bedford County, volunteered in the 1st Regiment of Metcalf's West Tennessee Militia. The ages of the four young Sarratt's were between 18 and 24, but another of Samuel's sons, Hiram, who was only 12 years old at the time, also volunteered for military service. Hiram spent a year and a half with U.S. Mounted Rangers under the command of Capt. Eli Hammond. After his last pay voucher for December 1813, Hiram's trail ends and, as yet, no records have been found of his later fate.
John moved to Davidson County and in 1817 bought 75 acres for $600 on Mill Creek's eastern fork and sold his 100 acres in Rutherford County. The transactions occurred within weeks of each other. On Feb 17 the Stony Creek property was sold to Rebecca Wynn for $400 "including the place where Rebecca Wynn now lives." A few weeks earlier he had registered the deed for the 75 acres on Jan 22. Two years later he sold his 75 acres for $752 and moved to Humphreys County. Later the area where the Sarratts lived was taken in when Benton County was formed. In Benton County, Tennessee records, the Sarratt spelling became Sarrett.
Recognized as one of the earliest settlers to the Beaverdam Creek area, Benton County genealogists honor John Sarrett today with his own web page.
John's son, Wilson, was born in 1792. He married Elizabeth and they had a son, Washington Lafayette, who was born in 1827, and a daughter, R.B.D., born in 1831.
Washington Lafayette married Susan Sarrett, six years his senior, on Apr 25, 1847. At the time of the1850 census, they have two sons, Henry, age 2, and James, 2 months. Records show he farmed land worth $400 and lived next to his uncle Joseph, age 61.
Apparently Susan died because by the time of the 1860 census, Washington is married to Louisa, age 28, and his family has grown to include George, age 6, and Jennetta, 3. Washington's wealth has grown also as his land is valued at $1,200 and the worth of his personal estate is placed at $258. Washington's younger sister, R.B.D., has not married and lives alone two houses down.
Sarrett headstone, located in Cassville Cemetery, Cassville, Bartow County GA, is inscribed George M. 1856 - 1923 and Bettie Pittard 1868 - 1950 on one side, and Mattie C. Sarrett 1891 - 1978 on the other.