One record a distant cousin found shows an Emily Spiva was in Cass County in 1840. Guess that's where my James and Emily met. They were married in neighboring Fannin County on Sept. 4, 1844. To repeat, I find James, 30, later in the 1850 Navarro County census along with his wife Emily and their 5-year-old son William A., my great-grandfather.
It makes a lot of sense that James would name his first-born after his father, William, especially if he had just received word of his father's death. AND, I find an Andrew Spiva in the tax records of 1843 and 1846 for Lamar Country, right next to Fannin! That is Emily's father, who obviously was the middle namesake for my great-grandfather ... William Andrew Reagan.
Part of this story prior to the 1844 marriage is speculation, but since the William Henry Reagan's James branch is mostly unknown to researchers, my scenario makes as much sense as anything else. He left his parents behind, and moved to Texas with other relatives. And when his parents died at a relatively young age back in Missouri, the complete story of much of their family's history died with them ... especially James' line.
There is misinformation on the Internet about James C.'s place
of birth. It all originated with the 1870 Mortality Schedule of
Navarro County. He had been married to his second wife, Eliza
P. Cockrell for 10 years when he died. She probably gave the
coroner the information, remembering that James "came to
Texas from Missouri," and forgetting or never knowing that he
was born in Tennessee. If all the subsequent books and then web sites picked up the Missouri notation from the death notice, that's how that bad information spread. And ... it IS bad information since two separate federal Texas censuses show James C. was born in Tennessee.
Adding to the confusion is that there were three J. Black Reagans born fairly close to each other (John Black, 1814 stayed in Missouri, as did John Black, 1800, while Joseph Black,1809, moved to Cass County, Texas ... I suspect James C. traveled with the latter). Also, the John Black Reagan,1809 back in Missouri had a son James born in 1837.
Talk about confusion: brothers John (William Henry's father) and Ahimaaz Reagan married sisters ... John married Martha Black and Ahimas married Rebecca Black (who died in Cass County circa 1850). That was after some obvious marrying between the Reagan and Black surnames a generation before.
I'm afraid the roving nature of this branch of Reagans -- plus the lack of an 1840 federal census for Texas -- makes verifying the father of my James difficult. And as luck would have it, the Spivas and Cunards of that time are almost impossible to find in an attempt to scramble up the other branch.