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7 Ancestors Ago — Mean Johnny Bolt (52 Ancestors)

This post is a part of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge by Amy Johnson Crow at

Since today is Sunday, I decided to follow the Geneabloggers blogging prompt “Black Sheep Sunday” for this week’s ancestor.

Johnny Bolt is in my husband’s 5th great-grandfather via:

  • his son, William Anderson Bolt
  • his daughter, Lauretta Bolt
  • her daughter, Martha T. Worrell
  • her daughter, Mary Thomas
  • her daughter, Ruby Robertson

Disclaimer:  I haven’t proven much for myself yet.


  • Born Around 1778, perhaps in North Carolina
  • Death 1860-65 in the Poor House in Carroll County, Virginia., buried in an unmarked grave in “Carpenter Cemetery”
  • Married Rebecca Dillard in 1807

According to family stories and various things I’ve read around the internet, Johnny Bolt’s nickname, “Mean Johnny,” was well-earned.

While he did agree in March of 1821 to care for his mother-in-law, Rutha Goad Dillard, it was for a price[1].   Later, he and his wife, Rebecca, were at least separated, if not divorced.  Rebecca appears on the 1850 census with children Thomas and America[2].  I wonder if America is a daughter or granddaughter of Thomas.  She would have been 43 when America was born.  Not unheard of, for sure, but, well, it’s just a thought.

Tradition says that John was known as “Mean Johnny” Bolt, and the term may have been
appropriate. It was generally believed that Mean Johnny waylaid and killed William McPeak.

Letter to Betty Winn, from Mary Anne Sutphin, 9 January 1999: After the death of Tommy Bolt in the Civil War, John Bolt went to the poor house. Might have been his daughter-in-law  Julia and granddaughter Emeline, worked there. On his death bed he told his granddaughter he knew he was dying, so he wanted to confess to the murder of William “Billy” McPeak, and tell them where the body was so it could be taken home for burial. He instructed them to call the law after his death. They did so, and Billy McPeak was taken back to Buffalo Mountain for burial.[3]


  1. Articles of Agreement, Bolt, Dillard, McMillian, Cock, Branson, 1822 – Patrick Co. VA
  2. Bolt, Thomas, 1850 Census, Carroll County, Virginia
  3. Artlip, Elaine C.  John Bolt Family 


    Southwest Virginia., accessed 20 January 2014.

One Comment

  1. Summer Summer

    I thought you might find it interesting, even though this is an old post, that Mean John Bolt’s descendants married William McPeak’s descendants. They both are my direct line!

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