52 Ancestors: #15 Tabitha Ann “Tobitha” COOLEY 1861-1913

52ancestors“The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.”

This is my 15th contribution to Amy Johnson Crow’s challenge 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

52 Ancestors: #15 Tabitha Ann “Tobitha” COOLEY 1861-1913

I used the information in my genealogy database to write this impromptu obituary in honor of my great-great-grandmother. I don’t have access to West Virginia newspapers for the time period and do not know if an obituary was printed for Tobitha.

Obituary of Tobitha Cooley Clonch

Tabitha Ann “Tobitha” Clonch, 52, passed away in December 1913 of unknown causes.

Tobitha was born in Ohio on 11 February 1861 to John Cooley and Sarah Ann Treadway.

She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband Alexander “Alex” Clonch; three children, Timothy, Bertha and an unnamed babe; stepdaughter Barbara Elizabeth “Lizzie” Gillispie; her siblings, Calvin Cooley, Melissa F. “Lucy” Bird, Harrison Cooley, Robert Ulysses S. Grant Cooley, Ida Cooley, Minnie O. Wilson and Timothy Cooley; grandchildren Bertha Almeda Smith, Lallie P. Dunlap, Georgie Dunlap, Arnold Dunlap, Arlena Dunlap, and Piercie Roop.

Survivors include her daughters and sons-in-law, Lorena Ellen and John Tomshack, Frances “Fanny” and George W. Dunlap, Rebecca Jane and Walter F. Roop, Sarah Ann “Sallie” and John H. “Harry” Krise, and Ida Bell and Lewis W. Holbert; her son Harrison Sanders Clonch; her stepdaughter and stepson-in-law Emma Sidosa “Emily” and William Alexander Clonch; her stepson and stepdaughter-in-law Joseph E. “Joe” and Jenny Clonch; her sister and brother-in-law, Sarah Ann “Sallie” and Joseph Riley Waugh; two sisters-in-law, Mary Cooley and Lilly E. Cooley; 16 grandchildren, Lorenzo Aber Smith, James Leonard Smith, Edward Moses Smith, Joseph Tomshack, Josephine Tomshack, Alex H. Tomshack, Virgie Dunlap, Earl Lawrence Dunlap, Lacy Shelton Roop, Myrtle Hazel Roop, James Henry Roop, Walter Gordon Roop, Edith Estelle “Edie” Roop, Reeva Estelle “Reeba” Krise, Harry B. Krise, and Alton Elmer Krise; 5 stepgrandchildren George William Clonch, Iva Mae Clonch, Edith Emmeline Clonch, Eber Joseph Clonch, and Alexander Michael “Alex” Clonch.

Funeral arrangements are unknown. Burial was in Clonch Family Cemetery in Mount Olive.

Tabitha Ann COOLEY with her youngest daughter Ida Bell CLONCH. Photo courtesy of James A. Smith (2000)

My great-great-grandmother Tabitha Ann “Tobitha” COOLEY was born on 11 February 1861 in Ohio, a week after the beginning of the Civil War. She was the 4th child of John COOLEY and Sarah Ann TREADWAY (TREADWELL). It is not known where in Ohio she was born. Her date of birth was taken from her gravemarker.

1860 U.S. Federal Census > MO > Lafayette > Lexington > HH#523-582; online https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu628unit#page/n282/mode/1up : accessed 6 April 2014

If her mother had a normal pregnancy, then Tobitha was conceived in Missouri! Sarah was about four months pregnant when Mr. Shields, Assistant Marshall, visited the COOLEY family in Lexington, Lafayette County, Missouri, on 8 September 1860. He found John, Sarah and their children, Calvin, Lucy F., and Harrison, living with seven other families in the boarding house of Frederick and Elizabeth King, immigrants from Germany.

The little family had been on the move from the time of John and Sarah’s marriage on 9 September 1851 in Meigs County, Ohio. They lived in Parkersburg, Wood County, (West) Virginia, where Tobitha’s father John worked as a sawyer in 1853. They may have lived in Cedarville, Ohio, or made a stop there in 1855 before going on to Missouri. They did not remain in Missouri for long as they were back in Ohio in 1861 when Tobitha was born.

1870 U.S. Federal Census > OH > Meigs > Olive > HH#319-304; online https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu1242unit#page/n243/mode/1up : accessed 6 Apr 2014

She remained the baby of the family until the end of the Civil War when her sister Sallie was born. Tobitha’s family lived in the Arbuckle District of Mason County, West Virginia, in 1868 when another  brother Robert was born.

The family was enumerated in the 1870 census in Portland Post Office in the Olive Township of Meigs County, Ohio.  Father John was working in a sawmill and feeding a family of six children which now included baby Ida.

1880 U.S. Federal Census > WV > Mason > Arbuckle > Sheet No. 210A > HH # ; https://archive.org/stream/populationsc18801408unit#page/n9/mode/1up : accessed 6 Apr 2014

The 1870’s were spent for the most part in Mason County, West Virginia, were Tobitha’s two youngest siblings, Minnie O. and Timothy were born. On the 1880 census, we see Tobitha as Ann T. She was the oldest of the children still at home as her older brother and sister had married. Tobitha, like her parents, could not read or write.

Tabitha Ann “Tobitha” COOLEY married Alexander CLONCH on 19 August 1880 in Gallipolis, Gallia County, Ohio. Alex was divorced from his first wife and the father of children (ages 4, 6 and 13) he had with another woman, his ex-wife’s sister. He was 19 years older than Tobitha — or twice her age! All of these things could have put quite a strain on the new relationship but Alex and Tobitha made things work. She helped raise Alex’s little ones and had 9 children with him during their 30 years of marriage:

Ch 1: Timothy CLONCH born 20 December 1881 Arbuckle District, Mason County, West Virginia [line 7]. He died before 1898.
Ch 2: Lorena Ellen CLONCH (1883-1961) born 10 March 1883 Arbuckle District, Mason County, West Virginia [line 10]
Ch 3: Frances “Fanny” CLONCH (1885-1943) born 30 April 1885 Mason County, West Virginia
Ch 4: Bertha CLONCH (1887-1898) born 9 December 1887 Arbuckle District, Mason County, West Virginia [line 14]. She died before 1898.
Ch 5: Rebecca Jane CLONCH (1888-1950) born 6 Jan 1888 Mason County, West Virginia
Ch 6: Sarah Ann “Sallie” CLONCH (1890-1979) born 20 Jun 1890 Mason County, West Virginia
Ch 7: Harrison S. CLONCH (1893-1970) born 11 February 1893 Beech Hill, Mason County, West Virginia [line 25] [delayed certificate of birth]
Ch 8: [–?–] CLONCH (1894-1894) born 6 Oct 1894 [line 32] died 13 October 1894 [line 13], both in Clay County, West Virginia
Ch 9: Ida Bell CLONCH (1896-1981) born 5 March 1896 Smithers Creek, Fayette County, West Virginia [line 63]

As previously discussed in Alex’s story, Tobitha’s young family lived in Mason County until about 1893 when they moved to Clay County and then to Fayette County about 1895-1896.

I believe that Tobitha’s parents John and Sarah COOLEY may have made the move from Mason County to Clay County and then Fayette County at the same time as Tobitha and Alex. John age 72 and Sarah age 71 were living in Belva, Falls District of Fayette County in 1900. They may have died between 1900-1910 or before 1920 if they were missed in the 1910 census. I doubt that they lived longer and no records have been found for their deaths in West Virginia.

Tobitha’s daughters Lorena, Fanny, Rebecca, and Sallie were married by 1908. When Alexander CLONCH died 9 June 1910 at the age of 68 he left Tobitha with daughter Ida 14 and son Harrison 17.

Tobitha received Alex’s Civil War pension as a widow and for Ida who was considered a minor until she turned 16. Harrison most likely lived at home with his mother and sister but we cannot be sure as they were not found in the 1910 census.

“United States Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards, 1907-1933,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-17556-56250-18?cc=1832324&wc=M9WY-MC3:881461769 : accessed 13 Nov 2013), Clinebell, William L. – Clore, Nancy J. > image 581 of 681.

On the Veterans Administration Pension Payment Card Tobitha’s date of death is seen as 10 December 1913. This conflicts with the date 16 December 1913 seen on her grave marker. Was the marker misread? Did the Veterans Administration employee make an error? When the bureau was notified on 19 March 1914, did they receive a death certificate?

Tobitha died three and a half years after Alex and six months before the beginning of World War I at the age of 52 years. She was buried beside her husband of 30 years in the Clonch Family Cemetery in Mount Olive, Fayette County, West Virginia. Their markers read:

Alex Clonch
March 2, 1842 – June 9, 1910

Tobitha Cooley Clonch
“His Wife”
February 11, 1861 – December 16, 1913

James Grady Auxier (2C1R ) shared per email 2 June 2000 the dates of birth and death he read off of the grave markers of Alexander and Tobitha Clonch in the Clonch Family Cemetery in Mount Olive. Kaci Foster (4C1R, 6C, 7C) read the cemetery on 17 March 2005 and shared the cemetery listing on Fayette County Footprints, a myfamily.com site administered by Betty LeMasters and Becky Shuff. The dates from both readings match. However, I would be very happy if someone would visit the cemetery and share photos of the markers with me.

© 2014, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Author: Cathy Meder-Dempsey

When I’m not doing genealogy and blogging, I spend time riding my racing bike with my husband through the wonderful Luxembourg countryside.

11 thoughts on “52 Ancestors: #15 Tabitha Ann “Tobitha” COOLEY 1861-1913”

  1. I found your impromptu obituary very interesting, a unique way to concisely introduce a person’s genealogy. Could make for an interesting, regular blog meme. Thanks for the idea! 🙂


  2. Cathy
    I am glad I found your website. I believe we are distance cousins. Thank you for continuing research on family history. Tobitha Cooley is my 2nd Great Grandmother. Thank you for showing Tobitha’s photo.

    Rebecca Dorsey

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Cathy

        Thank you for your response. That’s wonderful! Yes, Fleeta is my 2nd great grandmother. I am still working on Fleeta’s parents. Lawerence Washington and Triphenia Johnson. I will need to check with my uncles about Fleeta soon.


        Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Cathy, I apologize for not answering back too soon. I have been busy. I have a copy of marriage certificate which showed Fleeta Catherine Washington and William Robert Dunlap. Fleet’s parents were Lawrence Washington and Triphenia Johnson. I have been looking for Lawrence’s parents. I was told that all documents came from England. I haven’t checked those documents yet. William’s parents were Adam Dunlap and Prudence Degomo. Adam’s parents were Josiah Dunlap and Sarah Cox and more on the listing. I don’t know if you have all that information.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much, Rebecca. I did not have the parents of William Dorsey or his wife Fleeta. I had her listed with maiden name Cooper with a note that she may have been previously married to a Washington. I located the marriage record you mention and it lists the parents as you noted (only without Degomo as Prudence’s maiden name).


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