52 Ancestors: #17 Rachel HONAKER, wife of Elijah WOOD

“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 17th contribution to Amy Johnson Crow’s challenge 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

#17 Rachel HONAKER, wife of Elijah WOOD

My 3rd great-grandmother Rachel HONAKER, one of eight children of Frederick HONAKER and his second wife Rachel WISEMAN, was born about 1804 (1850 age 46, 1860 age 56) in Monroe County in Old Virginia, now West Virginia. Besides her two brothers and five sisters, she also had two half-brothers and two half-sisters.

The Honaker Family Association (HFA)

Before I get into how I know that my Rachel HONAKER was the daughter of Frederick and Rachel, I want to introduce you to the National Association of Hans Jacob Honaker Families, Inc.

The Honaker Family Association (HFA) was organized in 1989, in Pulaski, Virginia. In 1992 the Association was incorporated as a non-profit organization in the State of Virginia as the National Association of Hans Jacob Honaker Families, Inc. with its headquarters in Alexandria. In 1998 they published the book The Honaker Family in America, edited by Frieda Patrick Davison (Gateway Press, Inc., Baltimore, MD,  © 1998 by The National Association of Hans Jacob Honaker Families). As updates and corrections from descendants are sent to the HFA they produce supplements to the book updating the material. The HFA has sold all copies of the book and there are no plans to reprint or publish an updated version due to the cost.

Which Rachel was the daughter of Frederick HONAKER?

On 24 April 2014 Lyle LeMasters wrote me the following:

I had a time trying to convince the Honaker Family that [our] Rachel was from this line. Her half and full siblings sold their part of Frederick’s land and she was listed in the deed records right in the middle of the rest of their deeds. The Honaker association finally accepted her as the daughter of Frederick with the deed. It just goes to show not to stay focused on your specific ancestor but on the whole group of related or possible relations…..
[underlined for emphasis]

Lyle was able to clear up part of a mix-up concerning several ladies named Rachel HONAKER in 2001.  The HFA considered him the research authority on the WOOD line and wrote the following in their supplement:

“There is mass confusion among Rachels here. Researchers reported that this and two other Rachels married William Brown in Monroe Co., W.Va. The others were this Rachel’s niece, Rachel[3] (Frederick[1], Jacob[2]) and her cousin Rachel[2] (Jacob[1]). Present evidence is sufficient to determine that this Rachel married Elijah Wood. We are unable to determine now which of the other Rachels married William Brown. To further complicate things, Elijah Wood married, second, Rachel Louisa McGraw prior to the 1870 census.”
[Source: The Honaker Family in America, 5 October 2001 Supplement, Chapter 3 – Frederick Honaker]

Even this explanation is confusing as we see two men named Jacob. One of them was Frederick’s brother and the other was Frederick’s son. The brother Jacob left a will in Russell County, Virginia, naming his children [Christeny Jones, wife of John Jones, Nancy Smith, wife of John Smith, Mary Penson, wife of John Penson, Elizabeth May, wife of John May] but no daughter named Rachel, single or married to William Brown. I believe that the elder Jacob was confused with Frederick’s oldest son Jacob who had a daughter named Rachel. But we are interested in Frederick’s daughter Rachel who married Elijah WOOD.

Rachel, daughter of Frederick HONAKER

Rachel’s father Frederick HONAKER left a will naming all of his children, several being underage. He wrote the will in November 1824. The date is not legible and is either the 20th or the 30th. It was presented in December Court 1824 and proven in January Court 1825.1

Rachel married Elijah WOOD on 4 January 1825.2 The following month Elijah and Rachel WOOD sold her part of her father’s estate as seen in:3

Monroe County, (West) Virginia Deed References:
1825 Elijah & Rachel Wood to Andrew and George Beirne Deed Bk H pg 218
The description says land only.
Rachel Honaker Wood’s brother Jacob sells land in 1825 to Andrew and George Beirne in Deed Bk H pg 219 Int Frederick Honiker Land

This Indenture made this 21st day of February 1825 between Elijah Wood and
Rachel his wife late Rachel Honiker of the one part and Andrew & George
Beirne & Co of the other part the first named parties of the County of
Nicholas and latter of the County of Monroe each of the state of Virginia
Witnesseth that the said Elijah ?(middle initial can’t make it out) Wood and
Rachel his wife for and in consideration of the sum of one dollar in hand
paid by the said Andrew and George Beirne & Co on or before the delivering of
these presents the receipt of which is hereby acknowledged have granted
bargained and sold and by these presents do grant sell and convey unto the
said Andrew and George Beirne & Co their heirs and assigns forever all that
part or parcel of land lying and being in the said County of Monroe which was
devised to the said Rachel Wood formerly Honiker by the will of said
Frederick Honiker decd be the same more or less with such appurtenances as
may be thereunto belonging & at the same time subject to such restrictions as
are mentioned in the will aforesaid and the said Elijah Wood & Rachel his
wife for themselves and heirs do covenant with the said Andrew & George
Beirne & Co and their heirs the land with its appurtenances aforesaid from
themselves & their heirs & from all other person or persons whatever to the
said Andrew & George Beirne & Co & their heirs or assigns will warrant and
forever defend.

In witness whereof the said Elijah Wood & Rachel his wife have hereunto set
their hands and seals the day & year first written.
Elijah Wood seal
Rachel her x mark Wood

Monroe County Clerks Office 22nd Feb 1825
This deed of bargain and sale from Elijah Wood and Rachel his wife to Andrew
& George Beirne & Co was acknowledged before the Clerk and the same is
admitted to be recorded.
Teste Isaac Hutchinson C.M.C.

This proves that Rachel HONAKER who married Elijah WOOD was the daughter of Frederick HONAKER. I don’t have a copy of this deed which Lyle LeMasters found and transcribed helping him to have the mixup corrected in The Honaker Family in America. On my wishlist: copies of the entire batch of deeds that pertain to Frederick HONAKER’s estate.

Update (1 January 2020): The deed was located on FamilySearch. In the transcription above, Lyle couldn’t decipher what he thought might be a middle initial. I don’t believe the very light mark between Elijah WOOD’s first and last name was meant to be a middle initial. Further in the document, his name was written several times as Elijah WOOD without a space or initial.

Monroe County, Virginia, Deed Book H, page 218, 21 Feb 1825, deed of bargain and sale for land devised to Rachel Honaker in her father’s will, Frederick Wood and his wife Rachel formerly Honaker to Andrew and George Beirne.

Rachel’s life as a wife and mother

In twenty years, from 1825 to 1845, Rachel gave birth to eleven known children. By 1830 she had a son Allen Alexander and three daughters, Amanda Jane, Sarah Ann, and Mary Salinas. Two sons, James Simpson and Elijah Stuart, and three daughters, Turze Lucresia, Nancy E., and Rebecca Ann, brought the number of children up to nine in 1840. In the 1850 census, we see two more sons, William Frederick and Lewis L. All have been documented as seen in Elijah’s story.

According to the 1850 census, unlike her husband Elijah who would become Justice of the Peace from 1852 to 1858, Rachel could not read & write.4

Rachel was last seen in the 1860 census.5 She died sometime during the 1860s as Elijah is seen with his second wife Rachel Louisa McGRAW in the 1870 census.6 Unless the Elijah WOOD family kept a family bible that was passed on to an unknown descendant, we will probably never know exactly when Rachel died as many records during this era were lost due to the Civil War.

In my research, I’ve found 71 grandchildren, 276 great-grandchildren….and still counting.

Please don’t hesitate to submit corrections, additions, or comments. They are always welcome!

This Post Was Updated on 24 April 2022Missing source citations were added, the image of the transcribed deed was included, and some corrections were made to the text and format.

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


  1. “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch, digital images of originals housed at local county courthouse in West Virginia, Monroe > Will book, v. 002 1819-1829 > images 149-150 of 295 > page 255-257, Last Will and Testament of Frederick Honaker, presented and proven in court (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-HRS3-Z?cc=1909099&wc=M6DN-B38%3A179686801%2C179709801 : accessed 17 August 2014). 
  2. 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 Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 495643, image 130, West Virginia, Re-Index and Copy of Marriage Record No. 1–Nicholas County, line 6, 4 Jan 1925, Elijah Wood and Rachel Hannaker, married by Jno Campbell, citing Nicholas County. (http://images.wvculture.org/495643/00130.jpg : accessed 25 April 2013). 
  3. “Deed book, 1789-1901” and “Deed index, 1789-1969” (manuscript on film, browse-only images), FamilySearch citing microfilm of original records at the Monroe County courthouse, Union, filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1969; 34 microfilm reels; Film 589465, DGS 7895627, Deed book v. H-I 1823-1831, image 138 of 686, Deed Book H, page 218, 21 Feb 1825, deed of bargain and sale for land devised to Rachel Honaker in her father’s will, Frederick Wood and his wife Rachel formerly Honaker to Andrew and George Beirne.  (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CS4F-NXX2?i=137&cat=98998 : accessed 1 January 2020). 
  4. 1850 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/8054/), citing Seventh Census of the United States, 1850 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M432, 1009 rolls, Roll: 943, Virginia, Fayette County, District 14, sheet 337A (stamped), household 94-94, lines 19-27, Elijah Wood (accessed 3 April 2022). 
  5. 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_1344, FHL 805344, Virginia, Fayette County, District 2, page 11, sheet 321, household 76-69, lines 20-23, Elijah Wood (accessed 5 April 2022). 
  6. 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_1686; West Virginia, Fayette County, Mountain Cove, page 11, sheet 144A (stamped 144), household 74-74, lines 31-34, Elijah Wood (accessed 21 January 2022). 

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.

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