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

Featured image courtesy of Rita Koch Brumley, a 3C thru Alex and Tobitha’s daughter Frances. Used with permission received 9 January 2021.

“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.

#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 on 16 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.

Tobitha

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.1 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 grave marker.

1860Cooleycensus
1860 U.S. Federal Census > MO > Lafayette > Lexington > HH#523-582

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.2

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.3 They lived in Parkersburg, Wood County, (West) Virginia, where Tobitha’s father John worked as a sawyer in 1853.4 They may have lived in Cedarville, Ohio, or made a stop there around 14 February 1855 before going on to Missouri.5 They did not remain in Missouri for long as they were back in Ohio in 1861 when Tobitha was born.

She remained the baby of the family until the end of the Civil War when her sister Sallie was born.6 Tobitha’s family lived in the Arbuckle District of Mason County, West Virginia, in 1868 when another brother Robert was born.7

1870cooleycensus
1870 U.S. Federal Census > OH > Meigs > Olive > HH#319-304

The family was enumerated in the 1870 census in the Portland P.O. in the Olive Township of Meigs County, Ohio.  Father John was working in a sawmill and feeding a family of six children that now included baby Ida.8

1880cooleycensus
1880 U.S. Federal Census > WV > Mason > Arbuckle > Sheet No. 210A > HH #

The 1870s were spent for the most part in Mason County, West Virginia, where Tobitha’s two youngest siblings, Minnie O. and Timothy were born.9,10 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.11

Tobitha marries a man twice her age

Tabitha Ann “Tobitha” COOLEY married Alexander CLONCH on 19 August 1880 in Gallipolis, Gallia County, Ohio.12 Alex was divorced from his first wife. He was the father of three 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 on 20 December 1881 in Arbuckle District, Mason County, West Virginia.13 He died before 1898.14
Ch 2: Lorena Ellen CLONCH (1883-1961) born on 10 March 1883 in Arbuckle District, Mason County, West Virginia15
Ch 3: Frances “Fanny” CLONCH (1885-1943) born on 30 April 1885 in Mason County, West Virginia16
Ch 4: Bertha CLONCH (1887-1898) born on 9 December 1887 in Arbuckle District, Mason County, West Virginia.17 She died before 1898.18
Ch 5: Rebecca Jane CLONCH (1888-1950) born on 6 January 1888 in Mason County, West Virginia19
Ch 6: Sarah Ann “Sallie” CLONCH (1890-1979) born on 20 June 1890 in Mason County, West Virginia20
Ch 7: Harrison S. CLONCH (1893-1970) born on 11 February 1893 in Beech Hill, Mason County, West Virginia21,22
Ch 8: ___ (unnamed) CLONCH (1894-1894) born on 6 October 189423 and died on 13 October 1894,24 both in Clay County, West Virginia
Ch 9: Ida Bell CLONCH (1896-1981) born on 5 March 1896 in Smithers Creek, Fayette County, West Virginia.25

She raised her family in three counties

As previously discussed in 52 Ancestors: #14 Alexander CLONCH Known as “The one who killed the beef at 200 paces,” 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 1900.26 They may have died between 1900 and 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 1908.27,28,29,30 When Alexander CLONCH died on 9 June 1910 at the age of 68 he left Tobitha with daughter Ida 14 and son Harrison 17.31

Tabitha Ann COOLEY with her youngest daughter Ida Bell CLONCH. Photo courtesy of James A. Smith (23 December 2000)

A Civil War Pension for the widow

Tobitha received Alex’s Civil War pension as a widow and for her daughter 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.

2014-04-09_185027
Tabitha Clonch’s Veterans Administration Pension Payment Card

On the Veterans Administration Pension Payment Card, Tobitha’s date of death is seen as 10 December 1913.32 This conflicts with the date seen on her grave marker: 16 December 1913. 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?

Grave Marker

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

James Grady Auxier (2C1R ) shared per email on 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.

Update: Heather Manley-Duncan (3C2R) shared a photo (with permission to use) of the marker with me on 31 May 2014. The date on the stone is December 16, 1913. Susan Jane Clonch Ryan took a photo of the marker on 5 May 2021 and gave permission to use it on 2 April 2022.

The grave marker of Alex Clonch and his wife Tobitha Cooley courtesy of Susan Jane Clonch Ryan (used with permission)

Many thanks to all of the CLONCH cousins who have shared their research, photos, and memories.

This Post Was Updated on 10 April 2022: Missing source citations were added, a new watermarked photo was added, and some corrections were made to the text and format.

© 2014-2022, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Clonch Family Cemetery, Mount Olive, Fayette County, West Virginia (photos of gravemarkers taken by Heather Manley-Duncan), gravemarker of Alex Clonch Mar 2, 1842 – June 3, 1910 and Tobitha Cooley His Wife Feb 11, 1861 – Dec. 16, 1913, photographed 31 May 2014. 
  2. 1860 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7667/), citing Eighth Census of the United States, 1860 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M653, 1,438 rolls; Roll: M653_628, Family History Library Film: 803628, Missouri, Lafayette County, Lexington P.O., page 60, sheet 274 (handwritten), lines 13-17, household 523-582, John Cooley (accessed 26 June 2013) 
  3. “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2016,”database with images, FamilySearch (citing digital images of originals housed at the county courthouses in Ohio), Meigs > Marriage records 1819-1852 vol 1 > image 270 of 277 > page 451 (stamped), 3rd entry, John Cooley and Sarah Ann Treadwell, 9 Sep 1851. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-91QD-F3?cc=1614804&wc=ZRM1-N38%3A121348301%2C121348302 : accessed 25 October 2011). 
  4. West Virginia Vital Research Records Project (database and images), West Virginia Division of Culture and History citing county records in county courthouses, West Virginia (A collaborative venture between the West Virginia State Archives and the Genealogical Society of Utah to place vital records online via the West Virginia Archives and History Web site accessible at https://archive.wvculture.org/vrr), West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 580538, image 7, Wood County Register of Births, page 8 (stamped) (double-page spread), line 100 (4th line) Calvin Cooley, 10 Oct 18, parents John and Sarah Cooley, father’s occupation: sawyer. (http://images.wvculture.org/580538/00007.jpg : accessed 9 July 2014). 
  5. “Ohio, County Death Records, 1840-2001,” database with images,  FamilySearch, Microfilm of original records in the vounty courthouses, Meigs > Death records, 1867-1897, vol 1 > image 297 of 373 > page 3 (stamped, double-page spread), line 170, Melissa F. Bird, 23 Mar 1898, died in Bashan, born in Cedarville, O., age at death 43 yrs 1 month 9 days, heart disease. “.” (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-695Q-M1C?cc=2128172&wc=7DZ2-GYK%3A1296112677%2C1296112678 : accessed 2 April 2022). 
  6. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Deaths, 1804-1999, FHL microfilm 1983475, image 1056, Certificate of Death 16029, Sallie Waugh, died 7 Dec 1939, born 25 Jun 1865. (http://images.wvculture.org/1983475/0001056.gif : accessed 16 January 2007). 
  7. Ibid., West Virginia Deaths, 1804-1999, FHL microfilm 567384, image 250, Mason County Register of Deaths, 1882, page 553-554 (stamped, double-page spread), line 5, Robert U.S.G. Cooley, 2 Nov 1882, age at death 14 yrs 8 months, born and died Arbuckle District. “.” (http://images.wvculture.org/567384/00250.jpg : accessed 25 May 2011). 
  8. 1870 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7163/), citing Ninth Census of the United States, 1870 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T132, 13 rolls; Roll: M593_1242, Ohio, Meigs County, Olive Township, page 42, sheet 121A (stamped), lines 26-33, household 319-304, John Cooley (accessed 26 June 2013). 
  9. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 1855007, image 542, Mason County Register of Births, page 531-532 (stamped, double-page spread), line 43, 3 May 1873, Minie O., Arbuckle District, parents John and Sarah Cooley. (http://images.wvculture.org/1855007/00542.jpg : accessed 2 April 2022). 
  10. Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 1855007, image 573, Mason County Register of Deaths, page 581-582 (stamped, double-page spread), line 27, 6 Jun 1876, Timothy, Hannan District, parents John and Sarah Ann Cooley. (http://images.wvculture.org/1855007/00573.jpg : accessed 2 April 2022). 
  11. 1880 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/6742/), citing Tenth Census of the United States, 1880 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T9, 1,454 rolls; Roll: 1408, West Virginia, Mason County, Arbuckle, enumeration district 91, sheet 210A (stamped), page 21, lines 1-10, household 200, John Cooley (accessed 26 June 2013). 
  12. Ohio, County Marriages 1789-2016, Marriage records (Gallia County, Ohio), 1803-1955 ; index, 1803-1950 > Marriages, v. 5 1878-1884 > image 132 of 352 > page 193 > no. 576 > Alexander Clonch and Tabitha Cooley, 19 August 1880. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9RMD-SV3N?cc=1614804&wc=M94Q-V7T%3A390869322 : accessed 18 December 2013). 
  13. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 1855008, image 449, West Virginia, Mason County, Register of Births 1881, line 7, 20 Dec 1881, Timothy Clonch, citing Arbuckle district, Mason County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/1855008/00449.jpg : accessed 1 February 2022). 
  14. Civil War pension file of Alexander Clonch, received 31 May 2014 per email from Heather Manley-Duncan. A questionnaire the pensioner replied to on 4 June 1898 includes the names of all living children at the time. Timothy was not mentioned, therefore this child likely died before 4 June 1898. 
  15. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 1855008, image 462, West Virginia, Mason County, Register of Births 1883, page 560-561 (stamped), line 10, 10 Mar 1883, Rena E. Clonch, citing Arbuckle district, Mason County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/1855008/00462.jpg : accessed 4 February 2022). 
  16. Alex Clonch’s CW pension file. A questionnaire the pensioner replied to on 4 June 1898 includes the names of all living children and their dates of birth including Frances born 30 Apr 1884. 
  17. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 1855008, image 496, West Virginia, Mason County, Register of Births 1887, page 676-675 (stamped), line 14, Bertha Clonch, 9 Dec 1887, citing Arbuckle District, Mason County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/1855008/00496.jpg : accessed 4 February 2022). 
  18. Alex Clonch’s CW pension file. A questionnaire the pensioner replied to on 4 June 1898 includes the names of all living children and their dates of birth. Bertha was not mentioned and therefore likely died before 4 June 1898. 
  19. Clonch Family Cemetery, Mount Olive, Fayette County, West Virginia (photos of gravemarkers taken by Heather Manley-Duncan), gravemarker of Rebecca Clonch Roop 6 January 1888-3 February 1950 photographed 31 May 2014. 
  20. “U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014” (index only), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/3693/), citing Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA. Original data Social Security Death Index, Master File. SS #233-96-8112 issued in West Virginia, Sallie Krise, born 20 Jun 1890, died Jan 1979, last residence Belva, Nicholas County, West Virginia 26656. 
  21. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 567453, image 225, West Virginia, Clay County Register of Births 1893, line 25, H. S. Clonch, 11 February 1893, citing Mason County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/567453/00225.jpg : accessed 5 February 2022). 
  22. Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 4017226, image 3078, 1940 Delayed Certificate of Birth 5793, Harrison Sanders Clonch, 11 February 1893, citing Mason County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/4017226/03078.jpg : accessed 9 March 2013). 
  23. Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 567453, image 236, West Virginia, Clay County Register of Births 1894, line 32, 6 Oct 1894, unnamed female child, citing Bell Creek, Clay County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/567453/00236.jpg : accessed 5 February 2022). 
  24. Ibid., West Virginia Deaths, 1804-1999, FHL microfilm 567453, image 242, West Virginia, Clay County Register of Death, line 13, unnamed female Clonch, 13 October 1894, citing Clay County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/567453/00242.jpg : accessed 5 February 2022). 
  25. Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 584762, image 37, West Virginia, Fayette County Register of Births, page 57-58 (stamped), line 63, 5 Mar 1896, Ida B. Clonch, citing Smithers Creek, Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/584762/00037.jpg : accessed 5 February 2022). 
  26. 1900 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7602/), citing Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T623, 1854 rolls, FHL microfilm 1241757, West Virginia, Fayette County, Falls District Belva Precinct, enumeration dIstrict 11, sheet 16B, lines 60-63, household 358-358, John Cowley (sic), (accessed 26 June 2013). 
  27. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 584765, image 373, West Virginia, Fayette County Register of Marriages 1897-1898, no page number (double-page spread), line 32, 3 Apr 1898, J. N. Smith and Lorena E. Clonch, citing Fayette County. (http://images.wvculture.org/584765/00373.jpg : accessed 1 April 2022). 
  28. Ibid., West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 584765, image 300, West Virginia, Fayette County Register of Marriages 1902-1903, no page number (double-page spread), line 4, G. W. Dunlap and Frances Clonch, 6 July 1902, citing Fayette County. (http://images.wvculture.org/584765/00300.jpg : accessed 1 April 2022). 
  29. Ibid., West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 58476, image 366, Fayette County, West Virginia, Register of Marriages, 1903, (double-page spread), line 5, 12 July 1903, Walter F. Roop, Rebecca J. Clonch, citing Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/584765/00366.jpg : accessed 2 February 2022). 
  30. Ibid., West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 584765, image 443, West Virginia, Fayette County Register of Marriages, page 87 (double-page spread), line 24, 5 April 1908, Harry Krise and Sarah A Clonch, citing DIxie, Fayette County. (http://images.wvculture.org/584765/00443.jpg : accessed 1 April 2022). 
  31. “United States Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards, 1907-1933,” index and images, FamilySearch, NARA, RG 15, M850, citing microfilm of original records of the Veterans Administration in The National Archives, Washington, District of Columbia., Roll 418, Film 1634453, DGS 4694973, Clinebell, William L. – Clore, Nancy J. > image 579-580 of 681, Alexander Clonch. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-17556-56413-13?cc=1832324&wc=M9WY-MC3:881461769 : accessed 13 Nov 2013). 
  32. Ibid., Roll 418, Film 1634453, DGS 4694973, Clinebell, William L. – Clore, Nancy J. > image 581-582 of 681, Tabitha Clonch. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939K-FWSS-FM?i=580&cc=1832324 : accessed 13 Nov 2013). 

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.

17 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! 🙂

    Like

  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.

        Rebecca

        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).

      Like

  4. This post gives such a great perspective on the lives of American families back in the mid to late 19th century. All that moving around! All the hard work. All those children… These US stories are so different from your Luxembourg stories in many ways (far less moving around), and yet there are also so many things that are universal (like all those children). And at least I can read the US documents! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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