On this page: Introduction, Three Versions; The EDGAR Family by Thomas Delbert EDGAR, 1931 - .pdf and transcript
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[Sourced as The Edgar Family by Rev. Thomas D. EDGAR [S272]]
By Robert Merritte WEBB [1. Adam EDGAR (my 4g-grandfather); 2. James EDGAR; 3. Arthur S. EDGAR; 4. Perry Eugene
EDGAR; 5. Minnie Ellen EDGAR; 6. Jean Marie HIGH WEBB; 7. Robert Merritte WEBB; Ancestor Chart]
"The Edgar Family" 1931 [below] is an important, historical document written by the Rev. Thomas Delbert EDGAR
(1868-1932), "TDE." It includes significant, historical information about Adam EDGAR, his five (5) children, and their families.
Fortunately or unfortunately there are several transcriptions and versions of TDE's original 1931 Adam EDGAR genealogy -- to
the point it is tedious to determine which pages were TDE's research and which were additions by someone other than TDE.
We are attempting to sort and identify the versions. To date, there are three versions:
- "The EDGAR Family" genealogy in 1931 by Thomas Delbert EDGAR
- The 1932 Second Reunion booklet with the additional William Morrison EDGAR genealogy
- The 1956 TORRENS Version, pages 686 to 688+ of the "Family genealogies of Sparta, Illinois" compiled by Mrs. Frank S.
TORRENS and her daughter, Louise M. TORRENS and submitted to The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints.
TDE transmitted the original 1931 document from his home in western PENNSYLVANIA (Wilkinsburg, Pittsburgh County) in
August 1931 to EDGAR family members on the occasion of the upcoming “first annual” EDGAR family reunion to be held
Saturday, 29 August 1931 at the Union School in Perry County, ILLINOIS, about 25 miles east southeast of Sparta, Randolph
County, SOUTH CAROLINA early in the 19th century.
I have obtained photocopies the 1932 version of TDE's geneaoogy, with all of the information as originally researched, written,
and printed by TDE, and I have scanned, squared, cleaned and brightened them, and offer them below transcribed and in .pdf
I have also determined where three of TDE’s primary sources of information fit within the EDGAR family tree and thus how
likely they were to have been in good positions to “know.” They were as follows:
(1) One of TDE’s paternal aunts, Mary Jane EDGAR ARMOUR, b. 1829, who was one of William EDGAR’s
granddaughters, through his son, Alexander John EDGAR, [1. Adam EDGAR; 2. William EDGAR; 3. Alexander
John EDGAR; 4. Mary Jane EDGAR ARMOUR; Ancestor Chart] and
(2) TDE’s mother, Sarah Jane ALEXANDER EDGAR, b. abt. 1836, who was married to one of William EDGAR’s
grandsons, Dr. Robert Sinclair EDGAR, b. abt. 1834, whose father was Alexander John EDGAR, and
(3) one of TDE’s father’s first cousins, Mary EDGAR BURNS, b. 1833, who was one of William EDGAR’s
granddaughters, through his son, William EDGAR, Jr. [1. Adam EDGAR; 2. William EDGAR; 3. William EDGAR;
4. Mary EDGAR BURNS; Ancestor Chart].
Each of these sources was of an age, was in a place on the family tree, and lived in a geographical area, to have had first-
hand knowledge of William EDGAR’s reflections of his family members and their history to his children, in particular to two of
his sons, Alexander John EDGAR and William EDGAR, Jr.
In 1932, the original 1931 document was paginated, printed, copied and bound into a small booklet, and it was sold at the
“second annual” EDGAR family reunion, held in Wright’s Grove at Ava, Jackson Co, ILLINOIS, about twenty-five (25) miles
southeast of Sparta, Randolph County, ILLINOIS, on Labor Day, 05 September 1932. The price to purchase the booklet was
$0.12 each. It is probable the last three pages of this 1932 edition, pages 11 - 13, were not written by TDE but were
added by the person who produced and collected the fee for the 1932 booklet. Further discussion, pdf, and transcription.
In 1956 Mrs. Frank S. Torrens and her daughter, Louise M. Torrens submitted to The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day
Saints at www.TempleReady.org a text titled, "Family genealogies of Sparta, Illinois." Further discussion, pdf, and
TRANSCRIPT AND .pdf FORMAT (5.5MB)
THE EDGAR FAMILY 
By THOMAS DELBERT EDGAR
Wilkinsburg, Pittsburgh, Pa.
THE EDGAR FAMILY
By THOMAS DELBERT EDGAR [1. Adam EDGAR; 2. William EDGAR; 3. Alexander John EDGAR; 4. Robert Sinclair EDGAR;
5. Thomas Delbert EDGAR; Ancestor Chart]
Wilkinsburg, Pittsburgh, Pa.
It is a matter of regret that I cannot he present at the family reunion to he held at the Union School, Perry County, Illinois, on
August 29, 1931. My family, including my mother [Sarah Jane ALEXANDER EDGAR], now past ninety-four years of age,
shares in the regret.
However, we are with you in thought, and as evidence of it, I am sending a communication which may he of interest, either in
whole or in part, to some of you. What is said will probably not be new to the older generation, but will be new to the younger
My source material is of a three-fold nature. [edited into bullet format]
Some of it is from traditions handed down from generation to generation;
and some from the memory of Mrs. Mary Jane Armour (nee Edgar), late of Sparta, Illinois, whom I interviewed some ten
years ago [about 1921], and recorded what she gave; and also from recollection given by my mother [Sarah Jane
ALEXANDER EDGAR], who came into the Edgar family by marriage some sixty-six years ago [about 1865].
From what I can gather, our early forbears obeyed literally the Scriptural injunction to "increase and multiply and replenish the
earth.” They would have been a source of satisfaction to Theodore Roosevelt, had they lived in his day; for large families
seemed to be the rule, rather than the exception. Any brief history of the Edgars would read like.
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an extract from some of the genealogical tables of the Old Testament. It would be a series of “begats”, as for example, in my
own case, Adam begat William, and William begat Alexander John, and Alexander John begat Robert Sinclair, and Robert
Sinclair begat Thomas Delbert, and Thomas Delbert begat Thomas Delbert, Jr. And there it must rest, for the present, at least,
as I am not yet in the grandfather class.
Let me recall a bit of tradition as it has come to me from sources above noted. Traditions, not being matters of record, are
likely to be varied. So, if your traditions do not correspond with mine, I shall not be greatly surprised. And it is quite likely that
yours is as authentic as mine.
This in substance, has been handed down to me: About the middle of the Eighteenth Century -- probably between 1745 and
1755 -- Adam Edgar was born in Pennsylvania. It is not known whether his ancestors came directly from Scotland, or whether
they came by way of the North of Ireland. The place of Adam's birth is not known. It was thought that there were other children
in the family, but my informant had no trace of them.
Adam Edgar's father died while Adam was yet a boy, and his mother later married a man by the name of Simpson, of whom
nothing is known except that after the second marriage of his mother, home was not pleasant for young Adam. Following a
custom which was quite common in those early days, his mother bound him out to another man, which action he bitterly
resented, and it is supposed that he sought larger liberty by running away.
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The next that is known of him is that he was an honored and respected citizen of Chester District (now called County) in South
Carolina. When or where he had married is not known. Neither do we know the maiden name of our maternal forbear.
And here comes in another tradition which may or may not have a foundation in fact. I have no way of determining, and shall
not try to settle the matter. But if it is a fact, it is nothing of which any of us need be ashamed. Indeed, it might be an occasion
for us to point with pride, as an indication that we belong to the first American families. When recalling that one who was the
first lady of the land some ten years ago traces her origin back through the First Families of Virginia and to Pocahontas; and
that the one who is now the Vice President of the United States has in his veins the blood of the people who occupied this
country before Columbus discovered it, it may serve to fortify us against any inferiority complex, if it should be true that there is
a wee bit of Indian blood in our veins.
At all events, there is a tradition that the wife of Adam Edgar, who was a good and honorable woman in every respect, was
remotely descended from the Cherokee Indians.
Let me say that Mrs. Mary Edgar Burns, who lived in Sparta a good part of her life, told me that it was her father's
understanding that the tradition was true. When I relayed that impression to my aunt, Mrs. Mary Jane Armour, also of Sparta,
she replied with considerable heat: “I do not believe a word of it. ” Who am I, that I be the umpire?
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Leaving the traditions, which each one will evaluate for himself, we fortunately have some recorded history, which can be
gathered piece-meal, from printed records. Of course, the Edgar name appears only incidentally, for the records are not
primarily a history of the Edgar family, but a history of the Reformed Presbyterian Church (Covenanter) in South Carolina,
Tennessee and Illinois.
From these I glean the fact that in the summer of 1789, the Rev. James Reid came on a missionary tour to America, and
visited different societies in South Carolina, setting in order the affairs of the Church and dispensing the sacraments. At that
time he organized the group that lived in the neighborhood of Rocky Creek, Chester County, South Carolina, into a
ardent Covenanter, and doubtless continued in the eldership until his death, which occurred probably some ten years later. I
draw this conclusion from the fact that record is again made of the Rocky Creek meeting house, which was then known locally
as “Widow Edgar’s meeting house”, the date being January 28, 1801. Her husband must have been dead at least a few years
for the church to have become known by the name of the widow.
Among other things which happened at that time was the ordination and installation of Thomas Donnelly as pastor of that and
other churches in that general region, and also the election to the eldership of quite a number, among whom was William
Edgar, the eldest son of Adam Edgar, and the progenitor of the line from which we spring.
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In this connection it may be said that the convictions of Adam Edgar and his wife have been so stamped upon their posterity
that in each succeeding generation they have not lacked one or more descendants who have been elders in the Covenanter
Church. It is true that many of us have sought and found fellowship elsewhere, with many communions now represented
among the descendants; but that that Godly couple who established their home in the south-land more than a century and a
half ago, so impressed their religious convictions upon their children, is evidence that they had strength of character for which
all of the generations following may be grateful.
It seems that after the death of the parents, and partly because of slavery conditions, the children, with their families, migrated
to Tennessee, which, while a slave State, was not so dominantly so as was South Carolina. This was probably in the year
1808 or 1809. [According to birth and marriage records, this relocation was probably late 1804 or early 1805.]
settled in Hickman County at Duck River, a little southwest of Nashville.
William Edgar was probably of this group. For, in 1812, a commission was appointed to organize a congregation in Lincoln
County. And on that commission was Elder William Edgar, of Duck River. At the time of the organization of the congregation
one of the elders elected was Samuel Little, who had married Margaret. a daughter of Adam Edgar. This family of Littles later
came to Southern Illinois.
Some years later -- 1819, several of the families of both
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Tennessee communities migrated to Randolph County, Illinois, and were among the pioneers of that section of the country.
Among them were the families of William Edgar and Samuel Little. From Glasgow's History I quote concerning the formation of
a congregation at Eden, by the Rev. Samuel Wylie: “The first Covenanter congregation organized was in June, 1821, with
thirty-five members, and the promise of a salary of about two hundred dollars per year. The Elders were Samuel Little and
William Edgar, who had the year previously emigrated from Tennessee.”
Thus endeth the lesson, so far as printed records are concerned.
What has happened to the family in the last 110 years is a part of the history of Southern Illinois, and is probably as well known
to the older ones as to me.
Some five or six generations of Edgars have been identified with this part of the country. Some have made it their point of
departure, and have gone to the four points of the compass. A goodly number have gone to Kansas, and quite a sizable group
may he found at Olathe and Sterling, and some at Topeka. Some of us -- at least three families -- find ourselves in
Pennsylvania, which State Father Adam Edgar left somewhat unceremoniously a good many years ago.
Representatives of the family are to be found in almost all of the processions and lines of business, and have doubtless
achieved the average measure of success. However, I have not known of one of the name’s becoming a multi-millionaire.
That, though, is not the climax of distinction.
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THE FAMILY TREE
I shall now present what I have in the way of a family tree, though not carrying it to its outermost branches. I do not go far
beyond my own generation. I have been gone from the old Illinois home for a generation, and have little knowledge of the
younger groups. Each of you can locate yourself in the family tree. Brieﬂy, the genealogy is this:
[edited into bullet format]
 John had two sons,
 James [of this website] was the father of eight sons and one daughter. One son was named
Houston, Texas [DeWitt Co, TEXAS], many years ago.
and adjoining counties. There are the Littles, near Tilden; the Elders and Beavers, of Coulterville; and the Coulters
and Pipers, of Oakdale, and others.
This brings us to the eldest -- the one from whom the most of us descended.
 William, who was the eldest son, married Mary Morrison, and they moved to Randolph County, Illinois,
in the year 1819. To this union were born four sons and one daughter, their
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William married Sarah McWhinney;
Margaret married a Mr. Carswell;
Eliza J. married a Mr. Bridgewater.
William was the father of
Matthew was the father of
He later married Agnes Cathcart. Their children were:
 and they have three children;
 has two or three children.
 Elfie, now Mrs. Reid; and
 Josie, now Mrs. Foster.
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 They had several children.
 Lillian and other children were theirs.
 Alexander John was married twice.
First to Janet Campbell, and their children were
Later he married Jane Sinclair (sister to Adam Edgar’s wife, Margaret Sinclair). Their children were
The family home was a little northwest of Sparta, Illinois.
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Janet Campbell died of typhoid fever in young womanhood.
His second wife was Flora McKnight.
William Riley spent his life largely in Colorado.
I shall not attempt to designate further branches of the Edgar family. I know there are many more; and I trust that someone will
carry the matter farther than I have done. Two, and in some cases probably three, generations should be added. Perhaps no
one can do this perfectly. It could not be done in a limited time, and it would involve quite a little correspondence.
None of the foregoing is verbally inspired, and there are no doubt many errors, as memories are often at fault. Yet, in the
main, I believe it to be a fairly correct account.
With best wishes to all of you, and hoping that it may be my privilege to be present at some future reunion, I am glad to be one
THOMAS D. EDGAR.
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