UPDATE – Brick Wall – Sarah H. Hill (1827-1908)

Last year, I wrote about my 3rd great grandmother, Sarah H. Hill, and used her as an example of a “brick wall” ancestor. Her name has stared at me from family tree charts and my Ancestry.com tree for a long time, frustrating me to no end that I had no idea where she came from. As with any project, certain family lines were prioritized over others, and I just wasn’t able to devote much time to researching Sarah beyond searching through wills and census records on Ancestry.com. I had a feeling that either the records that could shed some light on her background were no longer extant, or her history might be buried in some obscure court documents that I could only access at the county level. I put Sarah away and did not return to looking for her origins until yesterday afternoon when I just had a good feeling about her. And to my great astonishment…

I FOUND HER FAMILY!

I was so amazed and beyond excited to be reading Chancery Court minutes that so succinctly named her siblings, father, and three grandparents. I can’t take full credit of making the “discovery” by myself or make it sound as though I traveled to Tennessee and sat in the Marshall County archives pouring over dusty minute books. This time, Google is the real hero, that and my ability to type in “Sarah H. Hill Alvin Johnson” into the search engine.

I did just that, and would you believe it, the first hit was their names found in a book entitled Tennessee Tidbits 1778-1914 vol. 4 by Marjorie Hood Fischer. Part of the book had been scanned, but not its entirety. From what I could tell, the author took abstracts of interesting court minute entries from across the state and compiled them into several volumes. Really, it was just luck that Sarah was in the volume at all. What was even more astonishing is she isn’t found in the book once, but several times!

Sarah, her four siblings, her siblings’ husbands, and their trustee were complainants in a suit filed against their father’s estate in the 1840s. At first glance, I suspected that this Sarah was my Sarah, but what clinched it was the fact that her first husband, Alvin Johnson, is named in one of the suits.

Here are the familial relationships noted in the court minutes (these minutes spanned several years in the 1840s):

Elisha Bagley – Grandfather

Richard Bagley – Grandfather and father of Robert W. Hill

Lydia Hill – Grandmother (her name is mentioned although in the minutes her relationship to the 5 siblings is not specified)

Robert W. Hill – son of Richard Hill and father of 5 children

1. Mary Ann Eliza Hill   m. William Webster

2. Amanda Jane Hill       m. James Turner

3. Sarah Harriet Hill       m. Alvin Johnson

4. Martha W. Hill             m. Abner J. Cole

5. William Jasper Hill

Court Case – James C. Record et al. vs. Robert W. Hill

James C. Record as the Trustee for Mary Ann Webster wife of William Webster, Amanda Jane Turner wife of James Turner, Sarah Harriet Hill, Martha W. Hill, and William Jasper Hill, sued Robert W. Hill, the complainants’ father. The abstract doesn’t specify what the case is truly about. It is mentioned that their maternal grandfather, Elisha Bagley, put in trust to James C. Record for the 5 children four enslaved people – Milly and her children Patrick, Roseannah, and David Crockett – on 25 May 1835. The minutes also mention another enslaved person, Simon, who was left presumably to either Robert W. Hill or his 5 children in the will of Richard Hill.

It seems that this case concerns the 5 heirs of Robert W. Hill, Richard Hill, and Elisha Bagley receiving their inheritance. The interesting part is that their father, Robert, was alive at the time; they weren’t suing his estate.

No date is given for this suit, but based on the daughter’s marriages, it took place between 26 January 1840 and 20 November 1843.

Court Case – Lydia Hill vs. James C. Record, James Turner, et al.

A second court case – Lydia Hill vs. James C. Record, et al. – dated 13 March 1844 gave a little more insight into the family relationships. The abstract only records that it concerned the minority of Sarah Harriet and William Jasper and that no guardian had been appointed to them. As their father, Robert, was still alive, this was a guardian ad litem, an impartial person assigned to protect their interests during their inheritance dispute with their father and apparently Lydia Hill, who I could see was another relative (I didn’t know at the time that she was Robert’s mother). The court chose George Elliott to fill this role.

On 10 June 1845, the guardianship issue was again addressed in court. By this date, Sarah had married her first husband, Alvin Johnson, and so only her brother was still considered a minor. It was decided that the portions inherited by Sarah and Martha were to be settled on them without the control of their husbands, Alvin Johnson and Abner J. Cole, respectively.

On 10 March 1847, a petition was submitted by John R. Hill, stating that Robert W. Hill had five children, and they were the only people entitled to the land given to them in Richard Hill’s will.

Soon after, Mary Ann Webster, Sarah’s oldest sister, also submitted a petition to the court asking that her interest in her grandfather’s land be vested in the land of Sarah Haywood (probably another relative).

The abstracts leave a lot to be desired in terms of what exactly the cases were about and family dynamics. Not that I am complaining; I am VERY grateful for what I do have. It just leaves me anxious to know more!!

But Wait, There’s More!

Sarah appears again in Tennessee Tidbits! And what I read in the second entry explains one of the biggest questions I had about Sarah: if she was the same person who married Alvin Johnson and Nathan Calloway Davis, why was her name listed as Sarah H. Hill in both marriage records? I assumed she would be Sarah Johnson when she married Nathan. The reason: DIVORCE!

Of course divorce! That makes sense.

Sarah H. Johnson filed a bill for divorce on 22 August 1856 against her husband, Alvin A. Johnson. She stated that they were married in Marshall County, Tennessee (on 17 September 1844 when she was 17 years old). They separated four years prior to filing, so about 1852. She charged him with adultery with “sundry lewd women,” including someone whose last name was Delany. The court granted her divorce and restored her maiden name, Sarah H. Hill. This is why her named was “Sarah H. Hill” on the second marriage record to Nathan Davis.

Sarah also asked that the money held (probably in trust for her) by James B. Tally – the money given to her by her grandfather Elisha Bagley – be given to her.

I want to believe that she did receive her money and that she was finally free of a man who probably made her life very unhappy. The coward didn’t even bother to show up to court for the proceedings.

When she married Nathan Davis on 23 September 1858, she was a divorced woman using her maiden name once again.

Inheritance Issues

Of course once I found this information, I kept digging to see what else I could find. I was desperate to find more about Sarah’s siblings, parents, and grandparents. The court cases indicated that the wills of Richard Hill and Elisha Bagley existed in the 1840s, so I had some hope that I could find them now. Unfortunately, in that area of Tennessee, there were several courthouse fires that destroyed records. I was pleasantly surprised that both wills I was searching for do exists and were on Ancestry.com.

I won’t go into too much detail here (I may want to use these for future posts), but I do want to relate the bequests in them that are relevant to Robert W. Hill and his 5 children.

Will of Richard Hill

Richard Hill, father of Robert W. Hill and grandfather of Sarah Harriet Hill, wrote two wills, one on 7 February 1832 and the second on 30 May 1832. The later will was the one most likely used for the estate settlement, although I have not seen that either was recorded as probated. Both wills were entered in the Maury County will books.

It begins, In the name of God Amen I Richard Hill of Maury county and state of Tennessee being in a low state of health but of sound mind and memory do make and ordain this my last will and Testament…

And then proceeds with specific bequests. The ones of interest right now concern Richard Hill’s wife, Lydia, and Robert W. Hill and his children:

I give and bequeath to my wife Lydda two negroes named Sarah and Lizza I also lend to my wife Lydda the following that is Joanna Chainy Will Thomas Willis Aaron Isaac and Jacob for her own use and benefit during her natural life…

I also lend to my said wife Lydda all that part of my plantation in Maury County which lies south of Thomas Branch during her natural life…

I also lend to my said wife all my household and kitchen furniture beds bedsteads and bed furniture and all my plantation and farmin utensils in the same manner…

I give and bequeath to the children of my son Robert jointly one negroe man named Simon, and all my land that lies north of Thomas’ branch, and also at my said wifes death or marriage, all my land lying south of Thomas Branch, to them and their heirs forever.

Item my will is that all the personal property or estate that I have lent to my wife as above mentioned, be at her death be divided in the following manner, that is to say My son Roberts children one third…

These bequests show the players in the 1844 case of Lydia Hill vs. James C. Record et al. a little more clearly. Lydia was Richard’s wife and (verified in yet another court case) Robert W.’s mother. Lydia Hill was taking her grandchildren – including Sarah H. Hill – to court in the mid 1840s over some discrepancy over their inheritance of the slave, Simon. The later court cases over the land must have taken place after Lydia’s death as her grandchildren weren’t set to inherit any of that real property until then.

This will made me wonder why Robert was skipped over in favor of his five children. Perhaps Richard had already given his son property. Or, perhaps Richard and Robert were not on the best of terms by his death. I think the former is more likely. Another court case – Levi Cochran vs. Robert W. Hill – makes it clear that Robert was living with his parents at the time of his father’s death and even after to help his mother manage her business. But, I will need to look at the court minutes in full to have a better understanding of the circumstances.

It seems that by 1847 the five Hill heirs had probably received their interest in their grandfather’s land, which means their grandmother died around that time.

Elisha Bagley and a Deed of Trust

Elisha Bagley died on 21 May 1858 while living in Lincoln County, Tennessee at the age of 82. His first wife, Sarah Wilkins, died in 1830. He remarried 9 years later to a woman named Elizabeth Todd.

Elisha and Sarah’s daughter Elizabeth married Robert W. Hill around 1820, and their first daughter was born in 1824. Sadly, Elizabeth died on 19 May 1835 at the young age of 33, leaving behind five children. According to the Marshall County minute books, Elisha Bagley put into trust for his 5 Hill grandchildren the four enslave people – Milly, Patrick, Roseannah, and David Crockett – on 25 May 1835, just six days after his daughter’s death. He probably intended them to be Elizabeth’s share of his estate. Again, this is just a guess as I haven’t read the actual deed yet.

However, that doesn’t explain why the 5 Hill grandchildren would take their father, Robert W. Hill, to court, as he was not the trustee of Milly and her children. That was undertaken by James C. Record. This just shows that there is more to the story.

But what funds held by a James B. Talley was Sarah referring to in her divorce? I am just guessing here, but I believe the enslaved people must have been sold, and Sarah wanted her share of the profit given to her. The funds could not refer to anything in Elisha’s will as although he wrote it on 29 November 1855, he didn’t die until 1858 and Sarah’s divorce took place in 1856. James B. Talley was Sarah’s uncle, the husband of her mother’s sister, Bethenia Anne (Bagley) Talley. Why he had Sarah’s money, I have no idea. Again, more questions have come up that can’t be answered until I see all the records in full, not just abstracts.

Will of Elisha Bagley

When Sarah’s grandfather, Elisha Bagley, wrote his will in 1855, she was separated from Alvin Johnson but had not yet filed for divorce. She wouldn’t marry Nathan C. Davis until a few months after his death in 1858. So what did Elisha leave to Sarah and her siblings in his will?

Item Sixth – I will and bequeath to the heirs of the body of my deceased daughter Elizabeth C. Hill one fifth of my real & personal property.

However, some problem seems to have arisen during the settlement. The will was proved in court in 1859, but in 1871, the property is still being settled! James B. Talley was at some point appointed the administrator. Whatever dispute happened, a judgment was rendered in the Circuit Court in 1871. This seems to be the James B. Talley vs. W. F. Kirchival case. However, another case – Mary Webster et al. vs. James B. Talley – was filed in the Chancery Court in Lincoln County around the same time .

Mary Webster is, of course, Mary Ann (Hill) Webster, the oldest sister of Sarah Harriet Hill who was one of the prime movers in the cases brought against their father Robert W. Hill.

After judgments had been rendered, Mary Ann Webster, James and Amanda (Hill) Turner, and Nathan C. and Sarah (Hill) Davis finally received their portions of their grandfather’s estate.

Conclusion

Davis_Sarah_tombstone

In short, those abstracted court minutes in Tennessee Tidbits opened up several new branches of my family! I now have so many more questions about Sarah and her relations, and I am so excited to get my hands on the actual court minutes, deeds, and court cases.

Looking at these records reiterated to me just how difficult and sad life can really be. Sarah’s mother died when she was just eight years old, her father seems like he was a difficult man to live with, she married at a young age to a man who cheated on her, and her second husband died twenty years after they married. I hope that she found some happiness with Nathan C. Davis and with her own children.

She lived to be about 81 years and was buried next to her second

husband and some of her children on the Davis farm in Marshall County, Tennessee. I have no photos of her, but after these discoveries, I feel like I know her quite a bit better.

At Worship – Hebron Lutheran Church

I am going to cheat a little for this post and talk about one of my husband’s ancestors, Hans Michael Hold, Sr., and his involvement with the Hebron Lutheran Church. The Hebron Lutheran Church is located in Madison, Virginia, the original building built in 1740 is still standing, and the church itself is the oldest Lutheran church still in use in America.  hebronchurch

Hans Michael Hold is the 8th great grandfather of my husband, and I have just recently researched this line and am proud to say that I have complete documentation in place from my husband to Hans Michael. This is often hard to accomplish when living far from the states where the records exist, but I have managed it this time!

Hans Michael has a very compelling story, and we are fortunate that 1) the American records are readily available 2) the church records in Germany are in tact and 3) there is a whole society dedicated to the research and preservation of the settlement where Hans Michael lived after newly arriving from Germany.

Hans Michael was baptized on 30 Dec 1696 in Stetten am Heuchelberg in Baden, Germany, the youngest child of Martin Hold and his second wife, Anna Maria Brückmann. Martin Hold died in 1710, and 7 years later, his widow, her new husband, and son Hans Michael attempted to immigrate to Pennsylvania with other Germans with the same religious convictions. However, their ship captain sold the passengers on board as indentured servants to Alexander Spottswood (a governor of Virginia) to clear his debts. Not speaking any English, the Germans, including Hans Michael and his family, were trapped.

They served out their terms of seven years at the Germanna settlement in Virginia where Spottswood ran an iron works. An amazing part of this story is that the site has been preserved and can be visited! (Put that on my list of genealogy relate sites to visit.)

Understandably, after Hans Michael finished his servitude, he moved his family to the Robinson Valley in present day Madison, Virginia. While there, Hans Michael joined the other German families in a new Lutheran congregation called Hebron. The congregation needed funds to build a church large enough to house the 274 worshipers, so in 1734, Hans Michael and two other members, Reverend Johann Caspar Stoever and Michael Smith, traveled to London, Germany, and Holland, to raise the funds. They raised the money, but Hans Michael and Stoever had an argument during the trip and Stoever died on the return journey to Virginia.  The church was built in 1740 and originally measured 50 ft by 26 ft but several additions have been made to the structure over the years.

This beautiful church my husband’s ancestors helped build and where they worshiped is still an active place of worship. We are both hoping to visit the church and the area in the future. It’s always such a treat to be able to step into a place where ancestors lived and breathed; it somehow provides a special connection to them that isn’t attainable when looking at records. I think this is particularly true for this church and Hans Michael. His Lutheran faith was obviously so important to him and his family that he left Germany for it and later willing returned to Germany and London (where his future as an indentured servant was sealed) in order to provide a house for his religious community. A meaningful place to him will be a meaningful place to us.

 

DNA – Ancestry.com Successes and My Maternal Haplogroup

Well…it has been a LONG time since I last wrote a blog post for 52 Ancestors. This year, like every year I suppose, has been very hectic, and some unexpected medical problems dominated the second half of 2019. So, I will be playing catch up with these prompts for a while.

Today’s topic (or rather last April’s topic) is DNA. I will confess that while I have taken the Ancestry.com DNA test (and forced the rest of my family to do so as well) and the Nat Geo test to find out my maternal haplogroup, I have not really taken advantage of DNA as much as I should have. But, from what little I have done, I have found some “new” cousins, shared and received great information and photos, and have learned about my deep roots.

Ancestry.com Results

I originally tested with Ancestry.com back in 2014. There have been several updates since, so over the years I have gained, lost, and regained regions. As of 2020, My ethnicity regions are: Great Britain/Northwest Europe 85%, Ireland/Scotland 12%, and Germanic Europe 3%. No surprises here, in fact this is very expected. The majority of my tree is dominated by people of English descent, with plenty of Scots and Irish, and quite a few German lines as well. In fact, I did expect the German to be a larger part of my DNA results, but some of that is probably reflected in the Great Britain/Northwest Europe category.

Screen Shot 2020-01-04 at 7.03.37 PM

DNA Connections

Over the years, I have made some great connections through the DNA feature. I met one cousin who was able to supply me with a photograph of William Althauser, one of my very favorite ancestors, as well as a deposition in which he gave an account of his life for his naturalization application. I met another cousin who helped me find William’s mother’s family in Cincinnati. I also found a DNA connection to two of my friends at work, which was pretty incredible.

So far, I have not found any big surprises or crazy stories like some people have, but honestly, I am happy just to see that the records seem to match the science.

NAT GEO Results

After taking the Ancestry.com test, I read The Seven Daughters of Eve by Bryan Sykes, and that inspired me to take the Nat Geo DNA test so that I could find out my maternal haplogroup. I was so curious! Which of the seven daughters would I be descended from??

The answer: none of them. Instead, I am a part of the Ulrike group, which is a subgroup of Ursula, one of the seven daughters. So, it seems I am a descendant of Ursula, but when a mutation occurred, then Ulrike was produced. My haplogroup is U4c1a, so if anyone is a part of this group, let me know! U4 is relatively rare in modern populations and is most often found in Scandinavia and the Baltic states. I have not traced anyone on my mother’s direct line to either of these areas, so this line may have migrated to Scotland or Ireland with the Vikings, which is really fun to consider.

DNA results have been fun to see and learn about, but I really do need to take advantage of the resources I have to help my genealogical research. Hopefully I will have more time this year to devote to studying DNA!

 

Brick Wall – Sarah H. Hill (1827-1908)

Oh, so many brick walls, so few records. My battle with them makes genealogy both exciting yet frustrating. I have conquered several of my brick walls over the past few years. Sometimes once I smash through, the records are plentiful and I can keep researching. Others are met with another brick wall or two immediately after my success.

But, there are others, like Sarah H. Hill, who just refuse to yield their secrets, leaving me stuck (at least, at the moment). I know quite a bit about Sarah, but not enough to be able to place her in a family group with certainty.

Tombstone of Nathan and Sarah Davis

Sarah’s Background

Here is what I know about Sarah’s background, family, and origins:

  • Sarah was born in 1827. This date is on her tombstone.
  • Sarah was born in Tennessee. All of the census records agree on this point.
  • Sarah’s maiden name was Hill. The death certificates of her sons, Lyndol and Richard, and daughter, Addie, both give her name as Sarah Hill. This is also supported by her marriage record Nathan C. Davis. Her name is recorded as Sarah H. Hill.
  • Sarah was possibly married twice. There is a Sarah H. Hill who married Alvin A. Johnson on 17 September 1844 in Marshall County, Tennessee. Oddly, if this was indeed her first marriage, I would think that her name would be Sarah Johnson in her marriage record to Nathan, rather than Sarah Hill.
  • Both of Sarah’s parents were born in North Carolina. Unfortunately, many Hills in Marshall County were born in North Carolina, so this is helpful but it also doesn’t really narrow down anything.
  • In 1880, a Betsy Glenn is living with Nathan and Sarah. She is recorded as Nathan’s sister-in-law. None of Nathan’s siblings married a Glenn, and like Sarah, both of Betsy’s parents were born in North Carolina. It is possible that Betsy is Sarah’s sister.

Sarah Davis and family in the 1880 Census.

As you can see, there are many clues to her origins but so far, those clues haven’t produced information about her parents.

Wills in Marshall County, Tennessee

Unfortunately, few Hill family members left wills in Marshall County. The five wills written in 1909 and before were of particular interest to me – John Hill, Richard Hill, Emily Hill, A. W. Hill, and John F. Hill – but sadly, none of them contained any reference to my Sarah Hill or Sarah Davis.

I did, however, find who I believe are the parents of the Betsy Glenn living with Nathan and Sarah in 1880. In 1857, Samuel Glenn wrote his will, naming wife Frances Ann and daughters Elizabeth M. Glenn, Mary N. A. Glenn, and Susan S. A. Glenn. His son, Samuel A., and son in law David Nix, husband of Samuel’s daughter Frances, were named administrators.

Like the Besty Glenn living with Sarah and Nathan, she was born about 1819 or 1820 in Tennessee, she never married, and both parents were born in North Carolina. After looking at the evidence, Betsy Glenn and Elizabeth Glenn, daughter of Samuel, are definitely the same person. Going back to the 1880 census, it seems that the label of “sister-in-law” in relation to Nathan Davis is probably incorrect. Betsy Glenn was not Sarah H. Hill’s sister, and so far, I have not been able to find a connection between the Glenns and the Davis family. However, I have not yet had the chance to research deeds and court cases in Marshall or Lincoln Counties as of yet. These records often reveal familial relationships when wills are missing or vague.

Possible Hill Relatives

Children of Nathan Davis and Sarah Hill Davis

Often, when I do not know where to turn, I look at the names of a couple’s children for inspiration. Sarah and Nathan had six children: Richard E., Steel C., Albert E., Richard Lee, Addie E., and my ancestor, Newton Harrison. Of all of these names, Steel was the most unusual.

I began searching on Findagrave.com using the names Steel and Hill, and I found a family cemetery in Lewisburg in which was buried the family of Isaac H. Hill and Margaret (Steele) Hill. At first, I was very hopeful that this Isaac and Margaret Hill might be my Sarah’s parents.

 

 

 

  • My Sarah named one of her sons Steel, which was Margaret (Steele) Hill’s maiden name.
  • Isaac and Margaret Hill’s children were born in the 1820s and 1830s, making them the correct ages for Sarah’s siblings.
  • Their last name was Hill, and they lived close to the Davis farm.
  • Isaac Hill’s father’s name was Richard, and two of Sarah’s sons were named Richard.

Sadly, this hunch was also wrong. Isaac and Margaret did have a daughter named Sarah, and like mine, she was born in 1827. However, that Sarah Hill married Andrew Bryant, and their family is well-documented. I was so close!

Conclusions

So far, my investigation into Sarah H. Hill Davis has been fruitless. Every time I believe I have made progress, I find documents that prove just the opposite. I suppose that failure is also progress because failure helps to eliminate possible immediate family members. I still believe that even if Sarah doesn’t fit into the Isaac/Margaret Hill family as one of their children, she might be related to them in another way.

At this time, I am optimistic that records in Marshall County that I have not yet perused might provide some answers. I suppose I need to plan another genealogy trip!

 

In the Paper – Marine List of the Port of New York

When searching for immigrant ancestors who came through New York, I have found that checking The Evening Post for ships lists sometimes gives additional information about the ship, its progress, and its passengers. The marine lists in later papers tend to be more detailed, but that doesn’t mean earlier ones should be forgotten!

My 5th great grandparents, Martin Krieg and Barbara Mörch, left their home in Opfingen, Baden to begin a new life outside of Cincinnati, Ohio in 1837. Martin and Barbara sold their house, land, and moveable property to pay for the passage of themselves, 5 of their children – Barbara, Johann Georg, Salome, Johann, Johann Jakob – and their 2 grandchildren – Eva and Johann Martin. The family made the journey from Opfingen to the French port, Le Havre, where they boarded the ship Magestic in late June and early July.

Below is the Marine List printed in The Evening Post on 14 August 1837.

This small article reports what ships left and arrived from the Post of New York on that day. The ship that concerns my research is in the section “arrived since our last.” It reads:

Ship Majestic, Purrington, of Bath, from Havre, 2d July, in ballast to C & J Barstow. 33,000 francs to T & G Patton of Bath. Left, ships Equator, Bisson, of Boston, for New York in 5 days: Havre, McKown, for Baltimore or New York the 10th, and others before reported. 150 passengers.

This article tells us a few things. The Majestic carried 150 passengers, of which the Krieg group was a part. However, if you read the entire passenger manifest, there are actually 156 people recorded.

The ship was originally from Bath, England. As the ship was traveling “in ballast,” it likely means that the only passengers were on board and no cargo. Ballast, or heavy material like stones, brick, slate, or flagstones, was used to weigh the ship down and keep it balanced. So, when the ship Majestic reached its destination, it dropped the passengers in New York, and the ship’s master, Joseph H. Purrington, traded their weight and the ballast for actual cargo that would be then transported back across the Atlantic.

The article also gives the departure date – 2 July. It took about 6.5 weeks for the Majestic to reach New York. This is a very long time for a family to be stuck on board with 148 other passengers plus crew. Fortunately for the passengers on this ship, no deaths were reported and all of the Kriegs arrived in New York safely.

Below is another article that appeared in The Evening Post on 15 August. It gives some information about the prices of certain goods sold in Le Havre, including cotton, coffee from Havana, Indigo, and copper from Peru. Products like cotton could have been collected in New York to be sold in France on ships like the Majestic.

Before the passengers could disembark, the master of the ship, Purrington, had to record the name, age, gender, occupation, former place of residence, and destination of each passenger. Sometimes the master wrote down incorrect or vague information rather than obtaining details from the passengers that genealogists would deem very important. Everyone is listed as a laborer, from Baden, and going to Ohio. Here is a partial list showing the Krieg family:

Listed are: Martin and his wife Barbara, daughter Salome, Jean, Jean, Jean, Eva, Martin, and Barbara. Jean of course is the French version of Johann, the three boys being Johann Georg, Johann, and Johann Jakob. After disembarking, the family left New York and made their way to Cincinnati and Martin and Barbara’s oldest son, Martin, who was already living in the U.S.

Large Family – The Family of Thomas Bills and Mary Collins

As everyone can probably see, I have used the past few days to play “catch up” with my genealogy posts! This spring has been surprisingly busy for me, and yesterday was the first day that I took some time to work on a project. Two of my project stars, Thomas Bills and Mary Collins, will also be the stars of this post!

Looking at my family tree, my ancestors either had very large families (I will call 8 or more large), or they had very small families (1 or 2 children). Very few fall in the middle ground, which to me is quite fascinating. Thomas and Mary Bills fall in the large family category, being the parents of at least 11 children that lived to adulthood. This definitely qualifies as a large family!

Who Were Thomas and Mary?

As I said earlier, Thomas and Mary are two stars of my most recent research project, and I find them particularly interesting because Thomas Bills was a Quaker and Mary Collins was not. Thomas’s paternal family were originally from Monmouth, New Jersey. In the 1760s, the Bills moved to a Quaker community in Surry County, North Carolina, and they eventually made their way to Maury and Marshall Counties, Tennessee. Thomas’s maternal family were also Quakers for many generations, but they came to North Carolina from Virginia.

Mary Collins is a bit of a mystery for me. I know almost nothing about her background except that she was not a Quaker. I have seen potential parents on other researchers’ trees, but as I have not been able to research her myself, for now, I will just leave that part of her story out. She was born in North Carolina between 1794 and 1799 (her ages are not very consistent throughout the census records).

Thomas Bills and Mary Collins became acquainted with each other while living in Surry County, and their courtship and marriage caused some ripples through the Quaker community. The younger generation of Bills were marrying men and women outside of the faith, which resulted in their dismissal. Twelve Bills cousins were dismissed between 1794 and 1816, including Thomas.

Thomas married Mary Collins on 11 Feb 1813. His bondsman was his uncle, Gersham Bills, one of his father’s younger brothers.

Marriage Bond of Thomas Bills and Mary Collins

On 3 April 1813, Thomas was dismissed from the Deep Creek Quaker community:

Thomas Bills’s dismissal from the Quakers

Move to Tennessee

I wonder how Thomas’s parents and grandparents reacted to his marriage. Were they unhappy? Were they shocked? Were they mad? Whatever their feelings, the whole Bills clan packed up and moved to Tennessee in about 1816 or 1817. Even if his marriage was controversial, the extended family did not split up and no visible ruptures (at least, from what I can see) happened to the family.

About three years into their marriage, Mary gave birth to their first documented child: Jonathan D. Bills. Jonathan was the only child (whose name I have found) who was born in North Carolina. The next documented child, Lucinda, was born about 1817 in Tennessee. Below is the 1820 Census:

Thomas Bills is the male between 26 and 44, and Mary is one of the females between 16 and 25. One of the males under 10 is Jonathan D., and one of the females under 10 is Lucinda. So that leaves 3 people unaccounted for: 1 male under 10, 1 female under 10, and 1 female between 16 and 25. Who are these people?

This will require some more research, but the older female could be one of Thomas’s sisters or one of Mary’s sisters (if she had any). The other two children could be the other female’s children, or they could be two of Thomas and Mary’s children who were alive during 1820, but whose names I do not know. By 1830, the mystery daughter has disappeared. If they are Thomas and Mary’s children, that means Mary might have given birth to 13 children!

1830 Census

Ten years later, the family had grown larger:

Thomas is the male between 30 and 39, and Mary is the female between 30 and 39.  Jonathan D. is the male between 10 and 14, and Lucinda is the female between 10 and 14. That leaves 1 male between 10 and 14 whose name I do not know. He is likely the same child as the one in the 1820 census under the age of 10. The new children include: Daniel and Matthew (ages 5-9), Rachel and Annie (under 5), and William J. (under 5). This leaves 1 male between 5 and 9 who is another mystery. The count now is 14 children, 3 whose names I have not been able to determine.

1840 Census

After another 10 years, the household has grown once more. First, the easy ones to identify: Thomas is the male between 50 and 59 and Mary is the female between 40 and 49.

The oldest son, Jonathan D., is one of the males between 20 and 29. Again, the mystery other older son is recorded, also between 20 and 29. Daniel is one of the males between 15 and 19, and the other mystery son in the same age range is also recorded. Matthew is the male between 10 and 15, and William J. is the male between 5 and 9.

The daughters are a little easier to identify. The little girl alive in 1820 never makes another appearance, so I can assume that she died early. Lucinda and Rachel are the two daughters between 20 and 29, Annie Catherine is the daughter between 10 and 14, Mary and Sarah are the females between 5 and 9, and the youngest daughter, Alsey Mahaley, is the youngest child under 5.

1850 Census

And here is my large family in 1850. Immediately, I spot an issue with Mary’s age. It is listed as 35 which, of course, cannot be possible. This is just a census taker error. The newest addition is John C., born in about 1842.

Some Observations – Marital Status

After combing through theses census records, what I found most interesting was how old many of the children were to still be living at home, unmarried!

The oldest son, Jonathan D., married for the first time when he was 57 in 1873.

Sadly, I lose both Lucinda and Rachel after 1850, so either they married and I haven’t found records for them, or they both died before 1860.

Daniel W. never married, and lived with his mother, brother Jonathan, and Jonathan’s wife during his adult life.

Sarah also remained single and lived with her mother and unmarried siblings.

The other children were a bit more conventional; they married in their late teens and twenties, and had children. This large family expanded some in the third generation, but not as much as might be expected.

More Observations – Naming Patterns

The Bills family were very close, and this is possibly best demonstrated by their naming patterns. Here are four generations of the family:

Daniel Bills m. Deborah Denman, whose children were:

William, Gersham, Hannah, Elizabeth, Sarah, Isaac Newton, Rachel, Patience, Daniel, Jonathan D., John

William Bills m. Susannah Hutchins (daughter of John Hutchins and Alice Stanley), whose children were:

Gersham, Daniel Baxter, Jonathan D.,  John, Deborah, Thomas, Mary Jane, and Alcey

Thomas Bills m. Mary Collins, whose children were:

Jonathan D., Lucinda, Rachel, Daniel W., Matthew W., Annie Catherine, William J., Sarah H., Mary J., Alsey Mahaley, and John C.

Thomas and Mary’s children were clearly named after family members. Mary J. shares a name with her mother and paternal aunt, while William J. has the same name as his paternal grandfather. Jonathan D., Daniel, and John were all named for their paternal uncles, paternal great uncles, a great grandfather, and a great-great grandfather. Alsey was likely named for her paternal aunt and her paternal great grandmother, Alice, and Rachel for her paternal great aunt. (As you can see, everyone mentioned is named for their father’s side because I don’t have the maternal line to compare. Hopefully I will make the maternal connections in the near future!)

Conclusion

There are so many benefits that come from researching ancestors with large families and extended kin networks. Much of a direct ancestor’s motivations, personality, and life experiences are shaped by his or her family members. Thomas and Mary’s family are a good example of this and having 14 children certainly qualifies as large. I hope to add more information to their large family’s story soon!

 

 

 

Bachelor Uncle – “Best Blood of the Revolution”

Every chance I get to write about my Dixon and Cochran families, I do! As they were the focus of my master’s thesis, I am overwhelmed with interesting material about them. When I saw that the prompt for this week was “bachelor uncle,” I couldn’t think of a better example of an exciting than Robert Dixon.

Background

So how is uncle Robert Dixon related to me? Sankey Dixon is my 5th great grandfather on my paternal side, and Robert is his older brother, making him my 6th great uncle. Robert and Sankey were the sons of John Dixon and Arabella Murray, both of Scottish and Scots-Irish extraction. John Dixon was a successful farmer in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and Arabella was the sister of wealthy merchant Robert Murray and aunt of the grammarian Lindley Murray. John and Arabella were the parents of at least 9 children: Robert, Isabella, Richard, James, Sankey, Mary, Anna, John, and Arabella.

Silhouette of Robert Dixon

Rumblings of Revolution

Robert was about 25 years old when on 4 June 1774 the inhabitants of Hanover gathered together to discuss the current political climate. The meeting resulted in 5 resolves in response to the oppressive “recent action of the Parliament of Great Britain.” The final resolve was the establishment of a committee consisting of 9 men from Hanover “who shall act for us and in our behalf as emergencies may require.” Robert had the great distinction of being one of the men elected to this committee.

When the Revolutionary War began, at least 4 of the Dixon brothers enthusiastically enlisted to fight. Robert, Richard, and John joined Captain Matthew Smith’s company in June 1775, followed by Sankey who joined the Pennsylvania Line a year or two later. The Dixon boys were quite famous in Lancaster County for their eagerness to fight the British. A neighbor, Robert Strain, made a shot pouch for Richard with “Liberty or Death” inscribed on the front. The brothers’ passion and courage so impressed Strain that he recalled “the whole of the four brothers of the Dixon family were in the service until the war was ended, and were the truest kind of Whigs and Patriots.” Although four of the Dixon brothers were well known for their service, it was the oldest brother, Robert, who acquired early fame as the “first martyr of the Revolution” as result of his participation in the Quebec Campaign.

Quebec Campaign

I was very fortunate to find that a friend of Robert Dixon’s, John Joseph Henry, kept a journal during the Quebec Campaign and later published it with clarifying notes and remembrances. Robert features in two anecdotes: crossing the Dead River and his death in Quebec.

Crossing the Dead River

The Quebec Campaign was notably led by Benedict Arnold, and the march from Pennsylvania to Maine to Quebec was arduous. Desertion was common especially as the frequent river crossings in leaking boats spoiled food and ammunition. Robert and his companions reached the Dead River, a tributary of the Kennebec River in Maine, in October 1775. The soldiers climbed the hills next to the river while boatmen polled and rowed the boats against the current. The river was already fast, but when it rained heavily on 19 October, the waters rose dangerously, the land became boggy, and the water fetid. Below is John Joseph Henry’s account of the disaster that awaited him, Robert, and the other soldiers on 23 October when they crossed the Dead River: (Please excuse spelling; original spelling has been kept)

Oct. 23 – When morning came, the river presented a most frightful aspect: it had risen at least eight feet, and flowed with terrifying rapidity. None but the most strong and active boatmen entered the boats. The army marched on the south side of the river, making large circuits to avoid the overflowings of the intervale or bottoms lands. This was one of the most fatiguing marches….But having no path, and being necessiated to climb the steepest hills, and that without food, for we took none with us, thinking the boats would be near us all day….Alas! all the boats of the army were on the opposite side of the river….We sat down on the bank sorely pinched by hunger, looking wistfully towards our friends beyond the torrent, who were in possession of all the provisions, tents, and camp equipage, convinced that the most adventurous boatmen would not dare the passage for the sake of accommodating any of us. We were, however, mistaken. There were two men…who had skill and courage to dare it….

The river was about 150 or 200 yards in breadth, counting on the increase of water by the rains. The force of the central current naturally formed considerable eddies at each side of the river….Quick, almost in a moment, Simpson was with us. He called in his loud voice to Robert Dixon, James Old, (a messmate,) and myself to enter the boat. We entered immediately. He pushed off; attempting the start by favor of the higher eddy, which was the main thing, we failed. Returning, to the shore, we were assailed by a numerous band of soldiers, hungry and anxious to be with their companions. Simpson told them he could not carry more with safely, and would return for them. Henry M’Annely…jumped into the boat; he was followed by three or four older inconsiderate men. The countenance of Simpson changed; his soul and mine were intimate. “O God,” said he, “men we shall all die.” They would not recede. 

Again we approached the pitch; it was horrible. The batteaux (boat) swam deep, almost ungovernable by the paddle….Simpson, with his paddle, governed the stern. The worthy Tidd in the bow. Dixon and myself, our guns stuck in the railing of the batteau, but without paddles, sat in the stern next to Simpson. Mr. Old was in the bow near Tidd. Henry M’Annally was adjoining Mr. Old. The other men sat between the stern and bow. Simpson called to the men in the bow to lay hold of the birch bushes: the boat struck the shore forcibly; they caught hold…but…their holds slipped at the only spot where we could have been saved; for the boat had been judiciously and safely brought up. Letting go their holds, the bow came round to the stream, and the stern struck the shore.

Simpson, Dixon, and myself, now caught the bushes, but being by this time thrown into the current, the strength of the water made the withes as so many straws in our hands. The stern again swung round: the bow came again ashore. Mr. Old, Tidd, and M’Annaly, and the rest, sprung to the land to save their lives. Doing this at our cost, their heels forced the boat across the current. Though we attempted to steady it, the boat swagged. In a moment after, at thirty feet off shore, being broad side to the current, it turned, borne under, in spite of all our force, by the fury of the stream. The boat upsetting, an expression, as going into the water, fell from me, “Simpson, we are going to heaven.” My fall was head-foremost. Simpson came after me….The art of swimming, in which I thought myself an adept, was tried, but it was a topsy-turvey business….We should have there died, but for the assistance of Edward Cavanugh….

Lying on the earth perhaps twenty minutes, the water pouring from my mouth, a messenger from the camp came to rouse us. Roused, we went in. But all eyes looked out for Dixon, all hearts were wailing for his loss.It was known he could not swim, but none of us could recollect whether he had dropped into the water or had adhered to the boat. After a while we had the inexpressible pleasure of Dixon in our company. He had stuck to the side of the boat, which lodged on a vast pile of drift wood some miles below, and in this way he was saved.

Arriving at camp, our friends had a large fire prepared, particularly for our accommodation; heat, after such an occurrence, is most agreeable. My two friends in distress (Robert and Simpson), whose clothing was principally woolen, felt none of my private disaster.

Quite the story! Luckily, Robert survived the ordeal as well as his friends, despite the fact that he could not swim!

Robert’s Death

The Quebec Campaign in 1775 was particularly disastrous for the patriots, and the meddling of a French spy about a month before the Battle of Quebec cost Robert his life. Below is the account given by John Joseph Henry, Robert’s friend and comrade:

Nov. 16th – In the afternoon a distressing occurrence took place here, notwithstanding our vicinity to [the nunnery]. Towards the evening the guard was relieved. Lieutenant Simpson commanded it. This guard was composed of two-and-twenty fine fellows of our company. When the relief-guard came, a Frenchman, of a most villainous appearance, both as to person and visage, came to our Lieutenant with a written order from Colonel Arnold, commanding him to accompany the bearer, who would be our guide across the river St. Charles, to obtain some cattle feeding beyond it, on the account of government. The order, in the first instance, because of its preposterous, was doubted, but, upon a little reflection, obeyed.

Knowing the danger, our worthy Lieutenant also knew the best and only means of executing the enterprize. The call “come on, lads,” was uttered. We ran with speed from the guard-house some hundreds of yards over the plain to the moth of the St. Charles, where the ferry is. Near the ferry there was a large wind-mill, and near it stood a small house resembling a cooper’s shop. Two carts of a large size were passing the ferry heavily laden with the household-stuff, women, and children of the townsmen flying from the suburbs of St. Roque….The carts were already in a large scow or flat-bottomed boat, and the ferrymen, seeing us coming, were tugging hard at the ferry-rope to get off the boat, which was aground, before we should arrive. It was no small matter…to outdo people of our agility. Simpson, with his usual good humor, urged the race, from a hope that the garrison would not fire upon us when in the boat with their flying townsmen. The weight of our bodies and arms put the boat aground in good earnest. Simpson vociferously urging the men to free the boat, directed them to place their guns in my arms, standing on the bow. He ordered me to watch the flashes of cannon of the city, near palace gate.

Jumping into the water mid-deep, all but Serjeant Dixon and myself, they were pushing, pulling, and with handspikes attempting to float the scow. One of the carts stood between Dixon and myself – he was tugging at the ferry rope. Presently, “a shot,” was called; it went wide of the boat, its mark. The exertions of the party were redoubled. Keeping an eye upon the town, the sun about setting in a clear sky, the view was beautiful indeed, but somewhat terrific….Out boat lay like a rock in the water, and was a target at point blank shot about three-fourths of a mile from palace gate, which issues into Saint Roque….It was plainly observable that many persons were engaged in preparing the guns for another discharge. Our brave men were straining every nerve to obtain success. “A shot,” was all that could be said, when a thirty-six pound ball, touching the lower edge of the nob of the cart-wheel, descending a little, look the leg of my patriotic friend (Robert) below the knee, and carried away the bones of that part entirely. “Oh! Simpson,” he cried, “I am gone.” Simpson, whose heart was tender and kind, leaped into the boat: calling to the men, the person of Dixon was borne to the wind-mill. Now a roar of triumph was heard from the city, accompanied by some tolerably well directed shots. The unfortunate man was borne at a slow and solemn pace to the guardhouse – the enemy every now and then sending us his majesty’s compliments, in the shape of a 24 or 36 pound ball. When the procession came into a line with the town, the guard-house, and nunnery, the firing ceased. At the time we were most busily engaged with Dixon, at the wind-mill, the vile Frenchman, aghast and horror-stricken, fled from us to the city. If his desertion had been noticed in time, his fate had been sealed; but the rascal was unobserved till he had run several hundred yards along the beach of the bay of St. Charles. He turned out to be a spy, purposely sent by government to decoy and entrap us, and he succeeded but too easily with the vigilant Arnold.

Dixon was now carried on a litter to the house of an English gentleman, about a mile off. An amputation took place – a tetanus followed, which, about nine o’clock of the ensuing day, ended in the dissolution of this honorable citizen and soldier. There are many reasons for detailing this affair so minutely to you. Among these are, to impress upon your minds an idea of the manners and spirit of those times: our means and rude method or warfare; but more particularly for the purpose of introducing to your observation an anecdote of Dixon, which is characteristic of the ideas and feelings then entertained by the generality of his countrymen. Before we left our native homes, tea had, as it were, become an abomination even to the ladies. The taxation of it by the Parliament of England, with design to draw from us a trifling revenue, was made the pretence with the great body of the people, for our opposition to government. The true ground, however, with the politically wise, was that that law annihilated our rights as Englishmen….Hence it was, that no male or female, knowing their rights, if possessed of the least spark of patriotism, would deign to taste of that delightful beverage. The lady of the house, though not one who approved of our principles of action, was very attentive to our wounded companion; she presented him a bowl of tea: “No, madam,” said he, “it is the ruin of my country.”

Uttering this noble sentiment, (Nov. 17th), this invaluable citizen died, sincerely lamented by every one who had the opportunity of knowing his virtues. Dixon was a gentlemen of good property and education, though no more than the first sergeant of our company. His estate lay in West Hanover township, in the county of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He was an agriculturist, which, in the vagueness and and uncertainty of our language, is called “a farmer.” In fact he was a freeholder, the possessor of an excellent tract of land, accompanied by all those agreeables which render the cultivator of earth, in Pennsylvania, the most independent, and, with prudent economy, the most happy of human beings.

The following morning, Simpson was the first to give me an account of Dixon’s death, which affected us much. His corpse received the usual military honors. Duty compelled my absence elsewhere. The blood of Dixon was the first oblation made upon the altar of liberty at Quebec, and Merchant was the first prisoner. The latter (Merchant) was a brave and determined soldier, fitted for subordinate station; the former (Robert) was intuitively a captain. 

According to the tale told by one of the Dixons’ former tenants, William Darby, an express rider delivered a letter to his father, John, informing him of Robert’s death. John was inconsolable.

Thoughts

I know that I quoted quite a bit from each story, but I wanted to include as much as possible to provide some context to the anecdotes. The river crossing story sounded just terrifying; it just shows how dangerous being in the army in the 18th century truly was, even when they weren’t in battle. Traveling from place to place had its own problems, including food shortages, weather, and malfunctioning equipment. Fortunately, Robert survived the river crossing, though he would not live much longer.

Robert’s death is such a tragic story. Not only did the actions of a spy directly lead to his death, but he sustained a horrendous wound and suffered through an amputation and infection before he finally died. The fact that he received full military honors at his burial has been commented on by historians. Although he was a non commissioned officer, he was treated like one. Some speculate it was because of he wealth or standing in his community, or because he was the earliest casualty of the campaign.

For me, however, the most amazing part of these anecdotes is the inclusion of personal details about Robert. For one, he couldn’t swim! I thought this was incredible, as his father’s land bordered a river, at a place called Dixon’s Ford. But perhaps the river was not very deep and he had no need to learn to swim. If Robert couldn’t swim, then I assume his younger brother Sankey couldn’t swim either. Henry also included details about Robert’s background – from a wealthy family, well-educated, and an “agriculturalist.” These details are supported in other documents and other sources, but it is so amazing to read the words that a contemporary wrote about a close relative. I am sure he was quite a character, and his actions and character left such an impact on Sankey that he named one of his sons “Robert” in his brother’s honor.

 

At the Courthouse – Sheriff Mark Washington Wimpee

One of the best parts of genealogy (for me anyway) is traveling all over the U.S. and abroad to research in person! I also prefer to research locally rather than on the state level unless I have multiple counties to cover in a short trip, and in many cases, especially in the south, this means going through records at the local courthouse. While I could highlight interesting records I have found there, I instead want to highlight an ancestor who spent a lot of time at the courthouse as his position as the sheriff: Mark Washington Wimpee.

In a previous post, I introduced Mark Washington Wimpee as the father of my great great grandmother, Maud Melissa Wimpee. Mark was one of 16 children (yikes!) born to Mark Ragan and Mary Ann (Jester) Wimpee. Six of Mark’s siblings died young, and I do not know the names of any of them. His remaining siblings were: Melissa, Francis, Martha, Sarah, George, Benjamin, Cora, John, and Riley. Mark R. Wimpee was a carriage and wagon maker, and he and his large family moved around through the years, presumably as Mark R. looked for work. Around Mark W.’s birth in 1859, they were living in Polk County. In 1870, they were living in Warren County, Kentucky, and by 1880, they were living in Dirt Town, Chattooga County, Georgia. This is where he married Amanda Alice Scoggins on 13 March 1881.

Like his father, Mark W. moved his family around for better opportunities. He farmed in Chattooga County for a while, and in 1896 he purchased 160 acres near Huntsville, Alabama. By 1900, he had returned to Georgia, putting down roots in Trion where he worked as a blacksmith at the Trion Cotton Mill.

Sheriff of Chattooga County

The earliest evidence that I have found of Mark W. serving as the sheriff of Chattooga County is in a newspaper article concerning an accidental wound he sustained while sheriff. Soon after the incident, a rumor spread that the Deputy Sheriff J. W. Alexander, and one of Mark’s close friends, shot him, and to out an end of this rumor, D.S.  placed the following in the newspaper:

30 November 1913 in The Atlanta Constitution

After he placed his denial in the paper, Alexander was relieved of his position, and Sheriff Mark placed his version of the story in the paper, which was also supported by witnesses:

7 December 1913 in The Atlanta Constitution

This conflict seems to have driven the two men apart, and in January 1914, both men announced that they were running for Sheriff:

17 January 1914 in The Atlanta Constitution

Fortunately for Mark, he won re-election as Sheriff of Chattooga County, despite the problems between him and his former deputy and running mate.

Interesting Cases

Sheriff Mark was involved in some interesting cases during his tenure as sheriff. One concerned Frank Matthews, a Texas man who robbed the Lyerly Bank and whose trial was held at the Summerville County Courthouse. Sheriff Mark was in charge of moving Matthews from Fulton County to Chattooga County, but as can be read in the following article, somehow Matthews left the train when it pulled into Rome and Sheriff Mark failed to stop him. Matthews did arrive in Summerville for trial, but his “escape” became a point of contention during the 1914 sheriff race.

5 April 1914 in The Atlanta Constitution

Another notable case was the Floyd-Anderson murder, and the details can be found the in following article. It seems that Mrs. Floyd and Mrs. Anderson began the argument, and it ended with William Anderson fatally shooting Rob Floyd, which he claimed was self defense.

9 November 1914 in The Atlanta Constitution

Anderson turned himself in to Sheriff Mark, who promptly escorted him to jail. Luckily, Sheriff Mark did not lose this prisoner.

Retirement

The Anderson-Floyd case was likely the last major one of Sheriff Mark’s career. Just a few weeks later, Mark was forced to resign because he was suffering from some health problems. J. W. Anderson was likely thrilled, as he became sheriff upon Mark’s resignation.

13 December 1914 in The Atlanta Constitution

Post-Retirement

At the end of 1914, Mark was in ill health, but likely so was his wife, Amanda. She died in August of 1915 and was buried in Trion.

I have yet to locate Mark in the 1920 census, but by the late 1920s, he had remarried and was living in Mobile, Alabama. He died on 2 May 1932 in Mobile at the age of 72, leaving his second wife a middle-aged widow.

Although Mark only spent a few years as sheriff, they were quite eventful in and out of the courthouse.

Family Photo – 50th Wedding Anniversary Photograph

This wonderful photograph was taken in June 1948 to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of my great-great grandparents, Bailey Peyton and Clara Dona (Christian) Upton. They are seated in the middle of the photograph. The couple had married on 18 June 1898 in Overton County, Tennessee, and their union created the large, beautiful family you see in this photo!

Clara Dona was the tenth of eleven children born to Moses Elian Christian and Louisa Margaret Jane Hooten. She was the great granddaughter of educator, surveyor, and author Moses Fisk and the great-great granddaughter of Revolutionary War officer Gilbert Christian. She came from a well-known and well-educated family, which was in direct contrast with the family of her husband, Bailey Peyton Upton. Bailey was the son of Turner Mike Upton and Martha Daughtery. Martha’s parents had quite a scandalous past, and their story was highlighted in this post. Mike’s parents were Riley and Martha Upton, and evidence points to Riley being the illegitimate son of Turner Johnson, a close neighbor and friend.

My granddad once told me a story about Clara Dona and Bailey Peyton. According to him, Bailey Peyton either couldn’t read or write, or he couldn’t read or write very well, and Clara Dona said she wouldn’t marry him until he learned. She then taught him how to read and write (or at least improved his skills), and then they were married.

Below is the 1880 census record. Both Bailey Peyton’s parents could read and write, and he, his older sister Minnie, and his older brothers Montee and Dennis attended school within the year. The census taker recorded that Bailey Peyton, Dennis, and Minnie could not read or write, and Montee could not read, yet they all went to school! This evidence seems to prove granddad’s story correct: although Bailey Peyton attended school, he might have only gone some of the time and he was only partially literate.

Interestingly, the 1900 census shows Bailey Peyton and Clara Dona living in their own home soon after their marriage, and Clara is recorded as illiterate! This is an error of the census taker, as I have seen examples of her ability to read and write. However, all of Clara’s tutoring paid off, and Bailey was recorded as literate.

The Photograph

I do recognize quite a few people in this family photograph, but I will just point out a few. The photo features Clara Dona and Bailey Peyton, their children, their spouses, and their grandchildren. My grandfather is standing fourth from the left, between two of his cousins wearing white dresses. His parents, Audrey Vonda (Upton) Davis and Lyndol Davis are standing on the opposite side of the photograph. Vonda, Clara Dona and Bailey Peyton’s oldest daughter, is in a white dress, standing in the front row, fourth from the left. The lady just behind her turned her head and is laughing. Lyndol Davis is standing two over from Vonda, with a young boy in front of him.

It is a sweet photograph, and it really shows what a close-knit family they were. Clara Dona and Bailey Peyton celebrated their 60th anniversary ten years later, but she died the following year, and Bailey six years later. What a fortunate couple to live such long, happy lives together!