Youngest – Isabella Kellam Sears

Yesterday, I wrote about one of my ancestresses who was an oldest sibling, and today, I am writing about an ancestress who was the youngest sibling. Her name was Isabella, which I absolutely adore, and she was the youngest daughter of Joseph Kellam and his wife Lucy Shelton Kellam. Her father Joseph was born in Davidson County, Tennessee, and he was the third generation of Kellams living in the county. Her mother Lucy was the daughter of William and Eleanor (Greer) Shelton, also of Davidson County.

Joseph and Lucy married on 22 May 1839 in Davidson County, and they appeared together for the first time in the census in 1840. Lucy had three children from her previous marriage – Sarah Agnes, Lydia, and Hugh – living with them as well as her oldest child with Joseph, Eleanor. There were also 9 enslaved people living and working for the Kellams on their farm. Lucy gave birth to four more children in the 1840s: William Harris, Susan, Lucy, and my ancestress, Isabella. Isabella was born on 28 May 1849, and she first appeared in the census in 1850 with her parents, older siblings, and half sister Lydia. That year, Joseph’s real estate was only valued at $500, yet he still owned 13 enslaved people. When Isabella was 7 years old, her maternal grandmother, Eleanor Shelton, died, and she her siblings received legacies from her estate.

1860 Census

In the 1860 census, Isabella was 10 years old, living at home with her three unmarried siblings. Her father’s real estate was listed as $4,000, and his personal estate skyrocketed to 21,067, due to his ownership of 24 enslaved people. Isabella’s family was doing very well financially. Joseph owned 247 acres, 6 horses, 5 mules, 4 milk cows, 16 beef cows, 37 sheep, and 85 hogs, valued at $1367. The plantation produced 100 bushels of wheat, 1500 bushels of corn, 75 pounds of wool, 45 bushels of beans, 50 bushels of potatoes, 50 bushels of sweet potatoes, and 50 pounds of butter. Isabella probably had a fairly easy early life as a young girl. However, much of this changed after the Civil War. Isabella’s father, Joseph, died in the fall of 1865 after the end of the war. He might have died suddenly, as he did not leave a will. Isabella was 16 years old when he died, and life was probably quite a bit different.

In 1870, Isabella lived at home for part of the year before her marriage. The agricultural census shows some of the changes that occurred after the war and after her father’s death. Her mother, Lucy, now owned 144 acres, 103 less than in 1860. Of course, all the enslaved people were free, and there is no indication whether or not any of those people remained on the farm. As a widow, Lucy now only owned 1 horse, 3 mules, 2 milk cows, 2 beef cows, 14 sheep, and 8 pigs. 120 bushels of wheat, 36 bushels of rye, 700 bushels of corn, 30 bushels of oats, 100 pounds of potatoes, 30 pounds of wool, and 3 tons of hay.

By 1 June 1870, Isabella was no longer living with her mother, as on 30 May 1870, the 21 year old married Edward Green Sears, a 34 year old Civil War veteran. She moved in with him and his mother, Lucy Ann Sear, on her farm in Cheatham County. Edward’s father had died when he was young, so the newlyweds had that tragedy in common. Over the next 10 years, Isabella gave birth to five children: Nancy, Charles, Willie, Martha (my great great grandmother), and Edwin. They continued to live on the beautiful Sears farm near Pegram, Tennessee. The house, which burned many years ago, was an old one with a big porch and tall windows that could be thrown open in the summer to let the breeze in.

Over the years, some of her children married, and some didn’t, but my ancestress, Martha, and her family, though they lived in Nashville, visited Isabella and Edward often. I imagine that Isabella was close to her daughter Martha. Sadly, Edward died in 1922, and soon after, Isabella applied for a Confederate widow’s pension, which she received until her death in 1928. Isabella believed that it was important to have her affairs settled before her death, so she registered her will with Cheatham County on the 22 May 1923, a year after her husband’s death. In it, she revealed some interesting family information. She left to her four children equally 192 acres in Cheatham County that she called Joe Kellam’s place, of which was 1/3 of her father’s property that she inherited on his death, another 1/3 she inherited from her sister Lucy Kellam, and the other 1/3 land that she owned with Edward. This is one of the few places that names her father as Joseph Kellam. Anytime ancestors make references to their family members in public documents is wonderful!

Sadly, Isabella died on 16 March 1928 at the age of 78 years. She died in Cheatham County, probably at home, of appendicitis. Her daughter, Willie, was the informant on her death certificate. Willie accurately named Joseph Kellam and Lucy Shelton as Isabella’s parents, and provided her birth date and place. Isabella was buried the next day in the Sears family cemetery in Pegram, which my family still owns. The embalming and other funeral arrangements were taken care of by M.S. Combs, and company that my family has used since 1891. I don’t have any photographs of Isabella, nothing that belonged to her, but I feel like I know her just a little bit better after reviewing some records I haven’t looked at in a while!

Travel – Visiting Relatives

Newspapers are such wonderful resources, even more so when they have been digitized. They often contain important glimpses into ancestors’ lives that might not be available in any other resources. In the society sections of The Tennessean, a Nashville newspaper, my 2x great grandparents, Nathaniel L. Althauser and Martha (Sears) Althauser appear fairly regularly between the years of 1906 and 1919. The society columns reported when they were visiting relatives or when relatives were visiting them. I have very little information about the everyday lives of Nathaniel and Martha, so these little glimpses in the newspaper give me some insight into their personalities and relationships with their families.

Nathaniel and Martha traveled quite a bit in that 13 year period according to the newspaper, and they probably traveled more than even was reported. The majority of the traveling was between Martha and Nathaniel’s home in Nashville to Pegram Station and to Greenbrier. Martha Althauser was born Martha Sears to Edward Green Sears and Isabella (Kellam) in Pegram Station in 1879. The Sears owned a large farm in Pegram and a beautiful old home with large windows and a porch.

In 1903, Martha married Nathaniel Lyons Althauser in Nashville. Nathaniel was the oldest living son of William Althauser and Mary Frances (Swift) Althauser of Greenbrier, Tennessee. Nathaniel attended Vanderbilt University and by 1906 was the superintendent of the West Station Post Office in Nashville.

Both Nathaniel and Martha were close to their families, so while they lived in Nashville, they often traveled back to Pegram Station and Greenbrier to visit their parents. Sometimes Nathaniel and Martha went together, and sometimes Martha and their daughters Martha and Frances would travel without him. Nathaniel, Martha, and their daughters visited around birthdays and holidays. Other trips were just for pleasure and socializing. Some of these trips lasted just for a day, and sometimes for as long as a month. The Althausers also hosted their relatives at their home in Nashville.

The following excerpts are from the newspaper, giving some details about their travels:

21 April 1906 Miss Willie Sears and Edward Sears, of Pegram Station, are visiting their sister, Mrs. W. D. (N. L. misprint) Althauser on Alabama avenue.

11 May 1906 Mrs N. L. Althauser and little daughter, Martha, have returned from Greenbrier.

25 May 1906 Mrs. N. L. Althauser has returned from Pegram Station.

10 June 1906 Mrs. E. G. Sears, of Pegram Station, is visiting her daughter, Mrs. N. L. Althauser, on Alabama avenue.

13 June 1906 Mrs. E. G. Sears left Tuesday for her home at Pegram Station after a visit to her daughter, Mrs. N. L. Althauser.

1 March 1907 Mrs. N. L. Althauser and little daughter, Martha, are visiting relatves at Pegram Station.

6 March 1907 Mrs. N. L. Althauser and little daughter, Martha, have returned from a visit to Pegram Station.

20 March 1907 Miss Willie Sears has returned to Pegram Station, after visiting her sister, Mrs. N. L. Althauser.

1 May 1907 N. L. Althauser has returned from Sumner County. Edwin Sears, of Pegram Station, was the guest of his sister, Mrs. N. L. Althauser, last week.

24 May 1907 Mrs. Willie Sears is the guest of Mrs. N. L. Althauser.

13 October 1907 Mrs. E. G. Sears, of Pegram Station, is visiting her daughter, Mrs. N. L. Althauser.

23 October 1907 Miss Martha Althauser is visiting relatives at Pegram Station.

11 December 1907 Miss Willie Sears, who has been the guest of Mrs. N. L. Althauser, has returned to Pegram Station. Little Miss Martha Althauser accompanied her home for a visit.

29 December 1907 Mr. and Mrs. N. L. Althauser and little daughter, Martha, went to Greenbrier Saturday to visit relatives.

15 Jan 1908 Miss Lucille Lyles has returned to Pegram Station, after visiting her aunt, Mrs. N. L. Althauser.

29 March 1908 Miss Lucille Lyles has returned to Pegram Station after visiting her aunt, Mrs. N. L. Althauser, in Sylvan Park.

25 October 1908 Miss Martha Althauser has returned from Pegram Station.

16 December 1908 Mr. and Mrs. Althauser and Miss Martha Althauser have returned from a two-weeks’ visit to relatives at Pegram Station.

30 August 1912 Mrs. N. L. Althauser is visiting in Pegram Station.

28 December 1913 Mr. and Mrs. N. L. Althauser and children are spending the week-end at Pegram’s Station.

18 October 1914 Mr. and Mrs. N. L. Althauser and children are spending the week-end with relatives at Pegram’s Station.

29 November 1914 Mr. and Mrs. N. L. Althauser and children spent Thanksgiving with relatives at Pegram’s Station.

30 April 1916 Miss Willie Sears of Pegram is the guest of her sister, Mrs. N. L. Althauser.

21 May 1916 Mrs. N. L. Althauser and children are guests of Mrs. Sears at Pegram for a few days.

4 June 1916 Mrs. N. L. Althauser and children have returned from visiting Mrs. Althauser’s mother, Mrs. Sears.

18 June 1916 Miss Lucile Lyles of Pegram Station is visiting her aunt, Mrs. N. L. Althauser.

20 August 1916 Mrs. N. L. Althauser and Miss Frances and Martha Althauser have returned from Pegram Station where they spent a month with Mr. E. G. Sears.

3 September 1916 Mrs. N. L. Althauser and daughters, Frances and Martha, have gone to Greenbrier to visit relatives.

29 July 1917 Mr. and Mrs. N. L. Althauser and two daughters, Martha and Frances, have returned to Nashville, after spending two weeks with Mr. and Mrs. E. G. Sears.

5 January 1918 Mrs. N. L. Aulhouser and two daughters, Martha and Francis, of Nashville, are with Mr. and Mrs. E. G. Sears.

17 March 1918 Miss Francis Althauser of Nashville spent sunday with her grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. E. G. Sears.

30 June 1918 Mrs. N. L. Aulhouser and daughters, Martha and Frances, of Nashville, are the guests of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. E. G. Sears.

25 August 1918 Mr. and Mrs. N. L. Althauser and two little daughters of Nashville are the guests of Mr. and Mrs. E. G. Sears.

5 January 1919 Mrs. N. L. Althauser and two daughters, Martha and Francis, of Nashville, are with Mr. and Mrs. E. G. Sears.

After 1919, their travels were no longer recorded in the newspaper as the inclusion of small affairs like these were gradually replaced by more attention grabbing social events. Also, in 1922, Edward G. Sears died followed by Isabella Sears in 1928. By 1918, William Althauser had moved to Nashville to be closer to his children; he died in 1922. The Althausers still visited their Sears relatives in Pegram, especially as Martha inherited part of the farm, though perhaps not as frequently when her parents were alive. William Althauser was the only member of the Althauser family still living in Greenbrier by 1917, so when he moved to Nashville, there was no reason for them to visit that small town.

Very often with ancestors, I have found that I know a lot of details about major events in their lives, but much less about their everyday lives, personal habits, and relationships with each other. I still don’t know many personal details from these traveling habits, but they do seem to suggest that Nathaniel and Martha were close with their parents, and that they encouraged their children to be so as well.