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!

Naughty – Adultery and Scandal

I could place quite a few ancestors in the “naughty” category, but for this post I am going to highlight two of them who were particularly naughty: Cornelius Daugherty and his eventual wife, Mary Lynch.

I know very little about either Cornelius or Mary’s backgrounds. Cornelius was likely a part of the Daugherty family who migrated from Ireland to Augusta County, Virginia and eventually moved to Kentucky and Tennessee. He was born between 1790 and 1799 and died between the 1840 and 1850 census. I know nothing about Mary Lynch’s parentage. She was born about 1804 in either Virginia or Tennessee and died between the 1870 and 1880 census.

The first, and by far most interesting, record I have of Cornelius and Mary is a legislative petition submitted by Margaret S. Hamilton Daugherty, Cornelius’s first wife. Cornelius and Margaret were married before 1827, when she applied to the Tennessee legislature to obtain a divorce from Cornelius. In the petition, Margaret accused Cornelius not only of being a habitual drunk, but also of having an extramarital affair with a woman named Mary Lynch. Her petition contained the signatures of 13 men who supported her claims. Poor Margaret!

I am assuming that she obtained her divorce. As early marriage records of Overton County are missing due to a courthouse fire, I do not know if Cornelius and Mary made their relationship legal or not. In 1830 and 1840, Cornelius headed households where he was the male between 30 and 39 and 40 and 49 respectively, and Mary was the female between 20 and 29 and 30 and 39. The unnamed children in the household in 1830 and 1840 may have been Cornelius’s children from his marriage with Margaret (I don’t know if they had children or not), children that Cornelius and Mary had while Cornelius was still married to Margaret, and/or children Cornelius and Mary had after their marriage or in their ensuing relationship.

Mary Daugherty and her daughters in the 1850 census.

By the 1850 census, Cornelius had died possibly due to his hard living lifestyle, and Mary Lynch, listed as Mary Daugherty, aged 57, was living with five other girls. I assume they were all her daughters: Lucinda (24), Emily (16), Mary (13), Martha (13), and Vianah (10) Daugherty. I do know for a fact that both Mary and Martha were the daughters of Cornelius and Mary, and they parents are both named on each of the daughters’ death certificates. Emily and Vianah are also close in age to Mary and Martha, so I am assuming that their parents are also Cornelius and Mary. Lucinda, though 8 years older than Emily, also shared the last name Daugherty, and she was born in 1838, more than 10 years after the divorce petition of Margaret Daugherty. Lucinda, therefore, was likely not a child of Margaret’s. As the family used the surname Daugherty, I am assuming that after Cornelius’s divorce from Margaret, he and Mary Lynch were in fact legally married.

Mary Jane Daugherty Williams’s parents listed on her death certificate.

Sadly, I have not found out what happened to Cornelius’s daughters Emily or Vianah, but both Mary and Martha (my ancestor) married, had children, and lived long lives. Lucinda seemed to go the way of her mother. She also had an extramarital relationship in her early 20s which produced a son, John. The father is still unknown. In the 1870 census, she is recorded living with her mother, Mary, in Overton County. Mary disappears from records after this time.

I would say that Cornelius and Mary were definitely naughty considering the lives they led and they way they went about beginning their family!

On the Farm – George Christian

Today’s post is going to be fairly quick and simple, partly because I am trying to catch up and partly because life has been a bit crazy this week. So, this is a transcription of the 1850 Agricultural Census taken of the farm of George Christian of Overton County, Tennessee.

George Christian (1802-1892)

George Christian (1802-1892) was the oldest son of George and Elizabeth (McCormick) Christian. I wrote about George, Sr. in an earlier post. George Jr. was born in Knox County, Tennessee, and early in his life, migrated to Overton County. George married Celina Fisk, the daughter of Moses Fisk, a graduate of Dartmouth and a true Renaissance man. Moses gifted Celina land before her marriage, which was added to George’s upon their marriage. Here is a snapshot of life on George and Celina’s farm in 1850:

1850 Agricultural Census

Acreage and Values: 80 Improved Acres and 1400 Unimproved Acres. Cash Value of Farm: $1500 and Value of Farm Implements: $60.

Farm Animals: 4 Horses, 1 Ass, 5 Milch Cows, 4 Working Oxen, 8 Other Cattle, 7 Sheep, and 100 Swine. Value of Livestock: $400. Value of Animals Slaughtered: $40.

Produce: 50 Bushels of Wheat, 1000, Bushels of Indian Corn, 100 Bushels of Oats, 15 Pounds of Wool, 20 Bushels of Irish Potatoes, and 10 Bushels of Sweet Potatoes. 300 Pounds of Butter and 30 pounds of Beeswax and Honey. Value of Orchard Produce: $30 and Housemade Manufacturing Value: $40

People Living and Working on the Farm: George Christian (48 years), wife Celina (37), children Moses Elian (18 years), Moffit Alonzo (15 years), Perilla (11 years), Viola (8 years), Zeda Ann (6 years), Arkley Fisk (4 years), and George (1 year). George and Celina also owned two slaves, both boys, one 14 years old and the other 5 years old. This particular piece of information is hard to reconcile with what I know of the family. Celina’s father, who was from Massachusetts, was a staunch abolitionist, and he wrote very eloquently and passionately on the subject. But perhaps George did not agree with his father-in-law’s views.

George and Celina lived out their days on their farm. Celina died at the age of 70 in 1884, and George followed in 1892 when he was 90. Both were buried in a cemetery on their farmland. Their lives were literally tied to their land: their livelihood, their family, and their deaths

 

Family Legend – Rumors of Native American Ancestry

It seems that every family has a family legend about Native American ancestry, that some several times great grandmother was Cherokee. Well, my family is no exception. One side of my family has such a legend about my 5th great grandmother, Nancy Schultz Fisk (abt. 1790-1854). Very little reliable information is known about Nancy. According to the 1850 census, she was born about 1790 in Virginia, and her tombstone gives her surname as Schultz. She died in 1854 and was buried in the Fisk Cemetery. It is probably because her descendants know so little about her that there are so many stories about her origins.

Story 1: Nancy was the daughter of a Cherokee woman and a German trapper (hence the last name Schultz), and her future husband, Moses Fisk, saw her with her Cherokee grandmother one day. He fell in love with her, sent her back east to be educated, and when she returned, he married her.

Story 2: Nancy was the daughter of a Cherokee woman and a German trapper, and she was traveling with her brother when she met Moses Fisk. They asked for a drink of water, which he gave them, and he fell in love with her and married her.

Story 3: She was the daughter of German immigrants. Moses Fisk met her and sent her and her two sisters back east to be educated. When she returned, he married Nancy.

Sadly, none of these rumors have been substantiated. There is a possibility that she was part Cherokee, even more likely that she was of German extraction because of her last name. She and Moses lived in Overton County, Tennessee, whose courthouse burned during the Civil War, along with many of the records. So any information that could have shed some light on her background was likely destroyed.

There are a few things I do know about Nancy. She and Moses married around 1813, as their oldest daughter was born in 1814. She was also quite a bit younger than Moses, 30 years younger to be exact. He was 53 and she was 23, and he had a very strong personality, so it is not surprising that after their last child was born, they separated. They did not divorce, but she moved out of their house and into a smaller house next door. They lived that way until Moses died in 1840.

Moses Fisk house at the entrance of Standing Stone State Park

There is another indication that the Cherokee story might possibly be true. Moses was very interested in Native American artifacts and history, especially in Tennessee. He advocated for Native American rights and documented archeology sites in the Upper Cumberland. Moses was interested in history, but it makes me wonder if his interest in Native Americans stemmed from being married to a lady who might be part Cherokee, or if his interest in Native Americans influenced his choice of wife. Or maybe it is all unrelated, but I’d like to think there was some connection.

If a portrait was ever done of Nancy, it no longer exists. No description of her personality exists, and very few public records mention her name. As far as I know, our DNA does not substantiate that she was Native American, unless of course, that did not get passed down to us so it doesn’t appear in the test. I think she will always be somewhat of a mystery, and who knows, maybe some source will appear and it will give me all the answers I need!