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Pioneers of Madison County: The Nathan L. Gornto Family

A close look at the 1850 Census shows four Gornto families living in Madison, Fl. The heads of these families were Nathan L. Gornto, David M. Gornto (first child of Nathan), Elijah D. Gornto (eighth child of Nathan) and James Barnett Gornto (tenth child of Nathan). There were no Gornto families listed in Madison on the 1840 Census but a study of the birth dates of those on the 1850 Census reveals that the families moved down during the early to mid-1840s. Nathan L. Gornto (1779-1861) Nathan L. Gornto was born in September 1779 in Onslow, N.C. He was one of a group of Onslow County people who moved to Bulloch Co., Ga. between 1800 and 1802. He was married in Bulloch Co. on October 16, 1802 to Easter (or Esther) Elizabeth Burnett, born 1781 in Onslow Co. She had moved with her widowed mother and brothers, John and Daniel, to Bulloch Co. shortly before 1802. Nathan and his family moved to Irwin Co. in early 1820. There he served as Tax Collector in 1825 and 1826, as Justice of the Peace from 1827-1831 and as Trustee of the Poor in 1827. They moved again in 1830 to Lowndes Co., where he served as Justice of the Peace, 1834-1845. Nathan served as a private under Capt. Robert D. Bradley in the 13th Regiment Florida Militia, December 28, 1837 to February 11, 1838, in the Seminole Indian Wars. His sons, Elijah D. and David were also privates in the same company. After the death of his daughter, Ellender, in 1847, Nathan and his wife moved to Madison, Fl. until 1858 when they moved back to Brooks, Ga. with their son, Joel. When Joel died in the small pox epidemic, Nathan went back to Florida to live with his son David. Nathan first appears on the Madison census in 1850 with his wife. He died October 22, 1861 in Madison and Easter died 1864 in Madison. They were both buried in the Fayetteville Cemetery, Dixie Co., Fl. Nathan and Easter were the parents of: 1. David, born September 25, 1804 in Bulloch, GA; died May 19, 1864 (some sources show his death date as May 8) in Lafayette, Fl. He came with his parents to Irwin Co. and was married there on November 20, 1827 to Eliza Ann Allen, daughter of James Allen, the first Sheriff of Irwin County. Eliza was born November 27, 1811 in N.C. and died December 1, 1871 in Dixie, Fl. David served with his father as a private in the 13 Regiment Florida militia during the Seminole Indian Wars. In 1841, David moved with his family to Madison, where he homesteaded lands and made his home. In 1867, he moved to the newly created Lafayette County, Fl. (in the portion that later became Dixie County). He and his wife are buried in the Fayetteville Cemetery, Dixie, Fl. 2. Joel Ashley, born November 7, 1806 in Bulloch, Ga.; died in October 22, 1860 in Brooks, Ga. On July 4, 1837 in Lowndes, Ga., he married Mary Joyce Blair, daughter of William Blair and Mary Joyce. She was born December 29, 1810 in Screven, Ga. and died March 10, 1889 in Brooks, Ga. They were both buried in the Mount Zion Campground in Brooks, Ga. Joel and Mary Joyce were the parents of: Nathan L., born 1838 in Brooks Co., Ga., who married Mary D. Strickland; Mary Miriam, born 1840 (it is believed that she married W. B. Davis); Sibbiah Easter, born 1843 married John Lee and later John Thomas Seay; William Blair, born 1845 who married Martha J. Taylor; Hannah Elizabeth, born 1847; Rhoda, born 1849; Martha born 1851 and Joel Ashley, born 1855 who married Camilla Hiers. 3. Hannah, born February 22, 1809 in Bulloch, Ga.; died 1846 in Dade City, Pasco, Fl. On November 8, 1838 in Lowndes (now Brooks), Ga., she and William C. McLeod were married. He was born December 15, 1811 in Bryan, Ga. and died December 5, 1886 in Hernando Co., Fl. They were the parents of Mary Jane McLeod Croft, William C. McLeod, and David McLeod. 4. Ellender, born April 11, 1811 in Bulloch, Ga.; died December 21, 1847 in Brooks Co., Ga. It appears that she never married. 5. Polly H., born February 18, 1813 in Bulloch Ga.; died May 11, 1822, Bulloch, Ga. 6. John J., born May 8, 1815 in Bulloch, Ga.; died about 1867 in Tampa, Fl., He married Jane Blair on December 7, 1835, daughter of William Blair and Mary Joyce. He later married Martha Jane Connell, daughter of James Isaac Connell, on April 19, 1846. 7. William, born 1816 in Bulloch, Ga.; died 1817 in Bulloch, Ga. 8. Elijah D., born September 3, 1817 in Bulloch, Ga.; died December 6, 1886 in Suwannee, Fl. On December 18, 1838, he married Susan Ann Allen, who was born about 1820 and died in 1913 in Suwannee, Fl. They are both buried in the Antioch Baptist Church Cemetery in Live Oak, Suwannee, Fl. 9. Elizabeth H., born August 25, 1821 in Irwin, Ga.; died 1862. She married Simeon Duggar Allen on March 30, 1843. He was born about 1820. 10. James Burnett, born May 17, 1824 in Irwin, Ga.; died 1901 in Brooks, Ga. He first married Margaret Ann Blanton on July 28, 1840 in Valdosta, Lowndes, Ga. She was born March 1, 1819 in Sampson, N.C. He later married Levicy Mehala Dean on February 10, 1849. David M. Gornto (1804-1864) David M. Gornto was the firstborn son of Nathan L. Gornto and Easter Burnett. He married Eliza Ann Allen, born about 1811 in North Carolina, on November 20, 1827 in Irwin, Ga. David and his family were shown living next door to Nathan and his family on the 1850 Census. David and Eliza were the parents of: 1. Hannah, born about 1830 in Lowndes, Ga.; died 1870 in Alachua, Fl. She married William P. Lightfoot on September 8, 1847 in Madison, Fl. 2. Nancy Elizabeth, born 1833 in Lowndes, Ga.; died 1916 in Madison, Fl. On January 8, 1851, she married Emanuel Waters, son of William Waters and Cecilia Brewton. He was born about 1829 in Tattnall, Ga. and died September 5, 1895 in Alachua, Fl. Emanuel was a Confederate soldier who enlisted May 15, 1862 at the Confederate Camp in Huston, Fl. He died because of an injury he received during the battle of The Wilderness in May 1864. Nancy is buried in the Fayetteville Cemetery, next to her family in Dixie, Fl. Emanuel was buried in Townsend Cemetery, Gilchrist, Fl. 2. John Jarrett, born about 1836 in Lowndes, Ga.; died January 1, 1892 in Perry, Fl. He first married W. B. Davis on April 4, 1861 and later married Sarah A. Tucker, daughter of Elijah and Margery Tucker. John Gornto and Sarah Tucker were parents of David Madison and John Mitchel Gornto. John enlisted in Company C, Florida 7th Infantry Regiment on April 25, 1862 at Gainesville, Fl. He received a disability discharge from Company C, 7th Infantry Regiment Florida on Aug. 9 1862. He served in Captain Stubbs Regiment of Munnerlyn's Battalion, from March 1864 till May 1865. He Died Jan. 1 1892 in Perry, Taylor, Florida. John was killed trying to settle an argument between two of the big cattlemen in Taylor County, Fl. 3. Mary M., born 1839 in Lowndes, Ga.; died 1865 in Lafayette, Fl. 4. Thomas J., born January 4, 1841 in Lowndes, Ga.; died December 31, 1909 in Lafayette, Fl. It appears he had three wives: Nancy A. Carter, Mary E. Gornto and Georgia A. Fuqua. Thomas served as a Private in Co. C, 4th Florida Infantry, CSA. He was buried in the Fayetteville Cemetery, Old Town, Dixie, Fl. 5. James Mills, born 1842 in Madison, Fl.; died Dec. 1863 in Rock Island, Ill. Private James Mills Gornto enlisted on April 23, 1862 in Camp Lee, Fl. He fought in the Battle of Missionary Ridge on November 25, 1863 where he was captured. He was sent to Rock Island Barracks Military Prison in Illinois. It is possible that he died from his wounds but there was also a smallpox epidemic at the prison. 6. Eliza Jane, born about 1847 in Madison, Fl. She married first George Washington McCollister on June 24, 1872 in Lafayette, Fl. She later married Washington McCollister on June 26, 1872. Eliza died 1877 in Lafayette, Fl 7. Joel Joseph, born 1848 in Madison, Fl.; died 1849 in Madison, Fl. 8. Francis Marion, born April 12, 1849 in Madison, Fl.; died 1959 in Suwannee, Fl.. He married Sallie C. Fry on June 21, 1873 in Suwannee, Fl.. He was buried in the Antioch Cemetery, Suwannee, Fl. 9. Sarah Ann, born 1852 in Madison, Fl.; died 1874 in Lafayette, Fl. 10. Anna Amanda, born 1853 in Madison, Fl.; died sometime between 1874 and 1880. 11. David Mitchell, born October 20, 1856 in Madison, Fl.; died January 27, 1907 in Madison, Fl. He married first Mary A. Delanye in 1882 and later married Movice A. Long on February 27, 1889 in Taylor, Fl.. David was buried in Rocky Sink. Elijah D. Gornto (1817-1886) There was another Gornto family shown in Madison on the 1850 U.S. Census. This was the family of Elijah D. Gornto. Elijah was born in September 1817 in Bulloch, Georgia, a son of Nathan L. Gornto and Easter Burnett. He married Susan Ann Allen on December 18, 1838 in Madison, Fl. They were the parents of: 1. James D., born 1841 in Lowndes, Ga.; died 1863 in Tn. 2. Mitchell C., born 1843 in Lowndes, Ga. He served as a private in the War Between the States in Co. C, 4th Florida Infantry. According to the war records, he enrolled on May 11, 1862 at the age of 19 years, in Jacksonville, Fl. He died January 2, 1863 of casualties of Preston’s Brigade in the battles in front of Murfreesboro, Tenn., December 31, 1862 to January 2, 1863. 3. William George Washington, born April 1846, in Lowndes, Ga.; died January 17, 1935 in Putnam, Fl. The 1860 U.S. Census shows him living with his parents and siblings in Madison, Fl. On July 5, 1863 in Madison, Fl., William married Vivenia Eugenia Patterson, daughter of John Patterson and Sarah Smith. The 1880 U.S. Census shows him and his wife living in Precinct 9, Suwannee, Fl. She was born October 1, 1847 and died June 13, 1929 in Grandin, Fl. He had served during the Civil War with the First Florida Light Artillery and was by 17 miles from General Lee’s headquarters when he surrendered. At the time of William’s death, he was the only surviving Confederate soldier of Putnam Co., Fl. For more than 50 years, he was a railroad man, retiring in 1910 to enter the grocery business. Both of them are buried in Paran Baptist Church Cemetery, Putnam, Fl., along with a lot of other family members. They were the parents of: Charles, born 1869; Arie, born about 1870 in Albany, Daugherty, Ga; Allie, born 1873; Frances, born February 14, 1874; Ida, born 1877; William Dowman, born October 2, 1879 in Columbia, Fl. and died August 15, 1967 in Grandin, Fl.; Drucilla, born August 17, 1880 in Wellborn, Fl. and died November 18, 1960. She married George Williamson; Molly Rebecca, born January 28, 1883 and died September 29, 1971; and Ada Summerfield, born June 21, 1888, Wellborn, Fl. and died 1980. She married Robert Brooks. 4. Francis Marion, born in April 1849 in Madison, Fl.; died about 1959 in Suwannee, Fl. On June 21, 1873 in Suwannee, Fl., Francis married Sallie C. Fry. He was buried in the Antioch Baptist Church Cemetery, Live Oak, Suwannee, Fl. 5. Mary J., born 1853 in Madison, Fl. (twin sister of Martha P.) 6. Martha P., born 1853 in Madison, Fl. (twin sister of Mary J.) 7. John Mills, born April 3, 1856 in Madison, Fl., married Ella Epperson. 8. Susan America, born about 1860 in Madison, Fl., married William Luther Whitfield, son of John Whitfield and Rebecca Williams, on January 30, 1883 in Suwannee, Fl. He was born June 7, 1857 in Thomas, Ga. and died December 19, 1911 in Suwannee, Fl. 9. Florida V., born about 1861 in Madison, Fl. 10. Elijah D., born about 1863 in Madison, Fl. James Burnett Gornto (1824-1901) The last Gornto family shown in Madison, Fl. on the 1850 U.S. Census was that of James Burnett Gornto. James was born May 17, 1824 in Irwin, Ga., another son of Nathan L. Gornto and Easter Burnett, and he died April 15, 1901 in Quitman, Brooks, Ga. By the time of the 1860 and 1870 Censuses for Madison, Florida, there was only one Gornto family that remained in Madison—that of Elijah D. Gornto and his wife, Susan. They moved to Suwannee Co., Fl. before 1880. Elijah died in 1886 and Susan lived until 1913. They were both living in Suwannee Co. at their death and were buried in the Antioch Baptist Church Cemetery in Live Oak, Suwannee, Fl. By the 1880 U.S. Census, there were no Gorntos remaining in Madison, Fl. This information was provided by the Madison Genealogy Society members. If you have any corrections or additions we would very much appreciate you sharing that information with us so that we can correct our data. 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