18 April 1876 - Dosia Portress sold to William B. Shands 9 acres of land
bounded by Uriah Bracey and others.
[Southampton Co. Deed Book 32, p. 480]
11 June 1891 - Adosia A. Portress b. 1850 (parents J. D. and P. Portress)
married William F. Davis born b. 1850 MA
[Virginia Select Marriages, 1785-1940 (ancestry.com
From: Barbara Neal
Sent: Saturday, January 28, 2017 7:38 PM
To: nancy netter ; Poythress Surname Mailing List
Subject: Re: [POYTHRESS] John D "Jack" Portress/Poythress (1814-1881) of
Southampton Co, VA
Thanks to Nancy regenerating a thread on John D 'Jack' Portress /
Poythress, I've transcribed 2 Southampton Co, VA Census records (1870 &
1880) that I've had for a while, but had never previously realized they
pertained to 'Jack' of the submarine story that Maynard posted in 2000.
Thanks to the Nov 1875 homicide story Nancy located, now knowing that Docia
daughter of John 'Jack' Portress / Poythress, these 2 Census records are
If anyone has located any 1840 Census records for John D 'Jack, I would
appreciate learning of it. And especially if anyone has located his 1850
Census record, which should include his first wife Amelia (Thanks, Vivian
for alerting us to their marriage in 1848), and might also include Docia,
I'd appreciate help finding that.
I would appreciate any correction of the middle initial of 1-year old Lewis
in the 1870 Census (who I figure is likely son of John 'Jack' & the
above-mentioned Mary, soon after their March 1869 marriage).
The 1870 head of household, below, is listed by the Census taker as Jno E.
Despite the "E" middle initial, this is logically the man we're calling
John D 'Jack' since the household also includes his 1869 wife, Mary A
(maiden name Brock; widowed from a Mr. Blythe) and includes his daughter
Docia (thanks to the 19 Nov 1875 Richmond Dispatch newspaper homicide story
in Netter's posting yesterday).
By the 1880 Census, we presume 'Jack' is in prison, since he was convicted
of second-degree murder for the above-mentioned Nov 1875 homicide (we
learned of his conviction in the "submarine" story that Maynard initially
posted in 2000, which was also included in Netter's posting yesterday).
We find his daughter Docia (spelled Dosia Portrice by this Census taker) at
30, shown as single, in the County Poorhouse. With her there, is 4-year old
Robt Portrice. For Robert to be age 4 by the Census effective date of 1
June of 1880, he would have been born between 2 June 1875 and May 31 of
1876. Thus Robert could well have been fathered by 'Jack' before he was
imprisoned, and perhaps even before the Nov 1875 homicide.
Jack's 1869 wife, Mary A, is not in the County Poorhouse in 1880 with
Dorcia and Robert, so perhaps Mary died, or is elsewhere, perhaps with
young Lewis. My search today of 1880 Census records failed to locate Mary
or Lewis in Southampton Co, VA.
TRANSCRIPTIONS FROM IMAGES:
1870 Census of Franklin Depot Township, Southampton Co, VA, at Post Office
Jerusalem, VA, p.28, Dwelling 238, Family 238, enumerated as of 1 June on
11 Sept 1870:
- Portress, Jno E 55, M, W, Farm Laborer, b.VA, Cannot read or write
- [Portress], Mary A, 50, F, W, Keep House, b.VA, Cannot read or write
- [Portress], Docia, 20, F, W, No occupation, b.VA, Cannot read or write
- [Portress], Lewis L, 1, M, W, At Home, b.VA, Cannot read or write
1880 Census of Jerusalem District, Southampton Co, VA, page 48, Enumeration
District 104, Dwelling 462, "Family" 462, listed as being the County
Poorhouse on lines 42-50 (with each name listed as "Pauper" in the column
for occupation) enumerated as of 1 June on 24 June 1880.
Lines 49 and 50 list:
- Portrice, Dosia - W, F, 30, single, Pauper, born Virginia, both parents
- Portrice, Robt - W, M, 4, Pauper, born Virginia, both parents born
BarbaraOn Fri, Jan 27, 2017 at 10:36 AM, nancy netter <njnetter(a)yahoo.com> wrote:
I am regenerating a thread on John D Portress/Poythress of
VA. the following was from a posting in 2000. Following the 2000 posting
a transcription of the murder charges him and his daughter Docia.
There are court records for the charges in the Southampton Co. VA Project.
I will add those to this posting as I get them in order along with the
Date: Sat, 22 Jul 2000 01:33:28 EDT
I had heard this story in bits and pieces and never known its source until
The following information is from the book "Southampton County,
Virginia" by Thomas C. Parramore, pages 169 and 170:
"Somehow, even in the depths of war, there were moments of relief. An
episode that brought smiles for a long time afterward was the launching
of Jack Poythress's submarine in the Blackwater in April 1863. The
inventor was a three-and-a-half-foot midget who could drink a glass of
whiskey without the use of his hands - while standing on his head.
Jack's seventy pounds were all but camouflaged behind a ten-inch growth
of black whiskers, and nobody took his submarine project seriously until
he actually brought the thing down to the river a little below the
railroad bridge and announced that it was about to make its first
cruise. Onlookers found that Jack had fashioned for the defeat of the
Union navy an 'infernal machine' from a smokestack stoppered at both
ends with pine blocks and outfitted with a canvas hose for underwater
breathing. The Mushrat, as Poythress christened his vessel, was to be
driven by means of a hand crank that turned a stern propeller. Unhappily
for naval science, the Mushrat capsided upon launching and almost
drowned its inventor. The craft lay for some time thereafter half
submerged and was finally carried off by a freshet to its final resting
place at George's Bend, five miles downstream. Jack's own end was sadder
still: he was convicted for second-degree murder in 1875 and spent his
final years in prison."
Homicide in Southampton County
An Angry Woman Takes The Law Into Her Owe Hands And Kill A Companion-The
Causeof the Difficulty-Death From An Overdose Of Camphor
Franklin, Va., November 18.-Polly Joyner was shot and Killed by Docia
to-day. Both are white. Docia Portress and Jack Portress (her father) are
Franklin, Va., November 18,-
Magistrate Holland held an
inquest over the remains of the woman Joyner this morning. The following
substantially Jack Portress’s testimony: “I was in bed this morning, and
Joyner came to the door, knocked, and said: “I have come to see about my
you stole. I am going to take the law into my own hands. I have plenty to
me with guns and pistols.” She then came in and struck my daughter Docia
several times with a stick, and finally picked up my gun from the corner
room. Docia got hold of the breech and Polly told of the muzzle. I jumped
and tried to take the stick which she had
away from Polly and while doing so
the gun went off, and Polly fell, saying to Docia, “You have killed me.”
replied, “No, you did it yourself.” The entire load of buckshot entered
the left of the navel, lodging in the back just under the skin, producing
almost instantly. The body lay in the door with the feet on the ground,
Portress and daughter are low, disreputable people, and have
been in several scrapes before. The woman Joyner has always been
inoffensive. The verdict of the coroner’s jury is that Polly Joyner was
by a gun in the hands of Docia Portress. Jack Portress and his daughter
attempt to escape.
Mrs. Albert Blythe, who lived near this place, took an
overdose of camphor this morning, and died in a few hours.
The daily dispatch Richmond Va 19 Nov 1875 Chronicling America Historic
American Newspapers Lib of Congress, transcribed by NJ
Netter 01 Jan 2017
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