“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 entry #41 in Amy Johnson Crow’s Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.
52 Ancestors: #41 Sally CRISP daughter of William and Lucy CRISP
For 175 years the names of the children of William and Lucy CRISP have remained hidden in the Chancery Records of Nelson County, Virginia.
“The Chancery Records Index (CRI) is a result of archival processing and indexing projects overseen by the Library of Virginia (LVA) and funded, in part, by the Virginia Circuit Court Records Preservation Program (CCRP). Each of Virginia’s circuit courts created chancery records that contain considerable historical and genealogical information. Because the records rely so heavily on testimony from witnesses, they offer a unique glimpse into the lives of Virginians from the early 18th century through the First World War.”
Virginia J. Murphy, who wrote The Purvis Family, by George! (Manchester, Tennessee : V.J. Murphy, 1990), sent some information she had on the CRISP family by email in July 2000. David Howard was included in the conversation. Virginia shared bits and pieces she had taken from Nelson County deed books. The three of us looked at marriages of CRISP individuals in Amherst and Nelson counties during the period between 1795 and 1820. In the end we had a list of six proven children and one possible child, my 4th great-grandmother Sally CRISP. There were a couple that we were not certain about and did not include on the list.
When I learned about the Chancery Records on Virginia Memory on the Library of Virginia’s site, I didn’t immediately check for records in Nelson County. This was mostly due to the fact that Sally CRISP married in Amherst County in 1803 and I never associated her closely with Nelson County, formed in 1807 from Amherst. Last May I finally searched and found case files dated between 1809-1851 that prove that William and Lucy CRISP were the parents of eleven children.
I’ve been in touch with David Howard and Robert N. Grant, a Wright researcher, about the discovery but have not been able to contact Virginia J. Murphy.
It took a lot of time to read through the records and find a document that actually lists 10 of the eleven children….
and then continues to list the names of the daughters’ husbands.
Peggy, the eleventh and youngest child, died before September 1815. She is documented in the 1814 case file as being underage and in the 1820 case file in a document dated September 1815 in which her mother Lucy was seen as “admr of Peggy dec’d.”
We’d gotten seven of them right! Mary (proven by consent), Lucy (proven by consent), Frances (proven by her widower Thomas & her sons John C. & Wm R. Alford’s attempt to get her part in Wm Crisp’s estate after the death of Lucy), William (proven by land deed), Peggy (proven by admr), John (proven by association*), and Sally (not proven, assumed).
* John CRISP married Milly ALFORD and Frances CRISP married Thomas ALFORD. Family tradition being that the CRISPs and the ALFORDs had been brothers and sisters.
The names found in the chancery records prove the parentage of ELEVEN children. The four other children who can now be included in the count are Stilly, Elizabeth, Catherine, and Simon. Better yet, the records tell the stories of the persons involved! I would love to be able to give all the details here but Sally is the one in the spotlight and the others will have to wait their turn. And I need some time to transcribe and arrange the ca. 250 images in chronological order. If you are curious, and can’t wait, go for it!
My 4th great-grandmother Sally CRISP was the daughter of William CRISP who died about October 1806 in Nelson County, Virginia, and his wife Lucy who died bef. 29 Jun 1818. It is difficult to write about Sally’s life without giving a short summary of her siblings, who must have influenced her life as she did theirs.
Although we now know that there were eleven children we can only calculate their order of birth. Four of Sally’s siblings married before her but I believe that she may have been the oldest as she was seen in the 1820 and 1830 census as being older than her husband Landon S. GOWING who was born about 1777.
- Sally CRISP born Cal 1770 in Virginia
- Sib 2: Mary “Polly” CRISP (1775-1830) born Cal 1775. Polly married Charles PURVIS (1763-1853) on 1 August 1795 in Amherst County, Virginia. She may have died before 1830 as Charles PURVIS is seen in the 1830 and 1840 census without an older woman in his household. Polly and Charles were the parents of eight children.
- Sib 3: Frances CRISP (1775-1836) born Cal 1775. Frances married Thomas ALFORD on 10 October 1795 in Amherst County, Virginia. She died 26 October 1836 in Bedford County, Tennessee. Frances and Thomas had two sons, William R. and John C. who are documented in the chancery records concerning the estate of Thomas’ father William ALFORD.
- Sib 4: John CRISP (1778- ) born Cal 1778. John married Milly ALFORD ( -1809) on 16 December 1799 in Amherst County, Virginia. John died before 1839 and his sons Anthony Jefferson and William Madison are mentioned in the 1839 case file.
- Sib 5: Lucy CRISP (1780-1839) born Cal 1780. Lucy CRISP married James WRIGHT (d. 1824) on 1 February 1800 in Amherst County, Virginia. She died before 1839 and her children George WRIGHT, Mahala COVENT, and ELizabeth SKIDMORE are mentioned in the 1839 case file.
- Sib 6: William CRISP born unknown. He was seen as the son of William and Lucy and died without issue before 1839 per case file of that year.
- Sib 7: Stilla B. “Stilly” CRISP (1784-1850) born Abt 1784. Stilly married Thomas MELTON ( -1829) on 1 November 1804 in Amherst County, Virginia. She died after October 1850. Per early census listings she may have had at least 8 children.
- Sib 8: Elizabeth “Betsy” CRISP (1786- ) born Bef 1786. Betsy married Thomas HARRISON on 10 April 1820 in Nelson County, Virginia. Betsy and Thomas both died before 1839 without issue.
- Sib 9: Catherine CRISP (1789- ) born Cal 1789. Catherine married Richard BRYANT on 11 November 1809 in Nelson County, Virginia. Catherine became the stepmother of 5 children and the mother of 4 children per the 1810-1830 census.
- Sib 10: Simon CRISP (1790-1850) born Abt 1790. Simon married Susan FLOYD (1805-1874) on 15 September 1828 in Nelson County, Virginia. He died bet. 1850-1860. His only child, a son William C. CRISP died in 1862 leaving no issue.
- Sib 11: Peggy CRISP born aft. 1790 and died before September 1815. She never married.
Sally CRISP married Landon S. GOWING on 17 January 1803 in Amherst County, Virginia. Nearly four years later, about October 1806, her father William CRISP died. Her mother Lucy is seen on the 1810 census with her unmarried children: Simon, Elizabeth and Peggy.
Sally’s husband Landon was not a head of household in 1810. Without the names of members of households on the pre-1850 census we can only speculate about where Landon and Sally may have been. What we do know is that Sally did not have any children born between 1803 and 1809. This has been determined by analyzing the 1820 census.
1820 U.S. Federal Census
Nelson County, Virginia
Landon S. Gowing
Enumeration Date: August 7, 1820
Free White Persons – Males – 26 thru 44: 1 (Landon)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 2 (Clementine and Martissa C.)
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 15: 1 (Emmeline)
Free White Persons – Females – 45 and over : 1 (Sally)
Number of Persons – Engaged in Agriculture: 1
Free White Persons – Under 16: 3
Free White Persons – Over 25: 2
Total Free White Persons: 5
Total All Persons – White, Slaves, Colored, Other: 5
Note: No sons listed. Sally and Landon were married 17 yrs at the time of census.
Did she miscarry, give birth to a stillborn child, or have babies who died young? It seems very strange that she didn’t have any children in the first 6-7 years of her marriage and then had three daughters spaced about two years apart.
- Emmeline born about 1810, died aft. 1880
- Martha C. “Martissa” born about 1812, died aft. 1880
- Clementine M. born about 1814, died aft. 1880
By the time her third daughter Clementine was born Sally was most likely close to 45 years old and coming to the end of her childbearing years. A few years later, before the end of June 1818, her mother Lucy died.
Towards the end of the 1820s Sally’s daughters were courting and marrying. Her oldest, Emmeline married William Dison LAWHORNE on 16 June 1828 and her youngest, Clementine married Seaton Y. DEMPSEY 3 January 1829. Both marriages took place in Amherst County, Virginia
In 1830 Landon, Sally, and their middle daughter Martissa were living in Amherst County near their daughter Clementine and her husband Seaton Y. DEMPSEY. Landon was in the 50 & under 60, Martissa in the 15 & under 20, and Sally was in the 60 & under 70 age group. As in 1820 the listing is consistent in showing that Sally was older than Landon.
From the chancery records I learned that Sally must have died between 1830 and 1838. Was she living when her middle child Martissa married Wyatt F. LILLY (1811-1880) on 29 May 1833 in Amherst County, Virginia? Or did Martissa care for her mother, being the last child to leave home, and married only after her mother died? Further study of the chancery records may help to narrow this range. Amherst chancery records, which are not online, may be hiding more information on her and her family.
© 2014 Cathy Meder-Dempsey