Born in 1828 in what would become Mitchell County, Joseph Ellis was the son of William Ellis (ca 1797-1854) and Elizabeth Buchanan (ca 1800-ca 1880). In 1847 Joseph married 16-year old Catherine “Katie” Buchanan. Between 1849 and 1874 this prolific couple had 17 children.
Thirteen of Joe and Katie’s children grew to adulthood: William Jasper, Aaron Alexander, John Jones, Joseph Milton, Sidney Young, Harvey Eugene, Lewis Palmer, Altha, Reuben Edgar, Robert Newton, Samuel Isom, Burgess McDonald, and Moses Tarpley. Notice there was only one daughter, Altha Ellis Turbyfill, though 2 of the children who died young were girls.
None of Joe’s children had families so large – ranging instead from 1 to 9 – but his 62 grandchildren guaranteed there are many, many descendants of Joseph Ellis locally and across the US. He died in 1908, Katie died in 1909, and they are buried in McKinney Cove Baptist Church Cemetery.
There is a strong possibility that Uncle Joe’s beard is fake. Carrie Young McKinney, who grew up near Joe and Katie, long remembered his “chin wig.” Joseph may have agreed with those who believed the masculine beard was “the outward and visible sign of a true man.” There’s no questioning the virility of a man with so many offspring!