52 Ancestors: #41 Sally CRISP – Parentage PROVEN!!

“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.

#41 Sally CRISP, daughter of William and Lucy CRISP

For 175 years the names of the children of William and Lucy CRISP remained hidden in the Chancery Records of Nelson County, Virginia.

chancery“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.”[^1]

Early Crisp Research

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. Virginia, David, and I looked at marriages of CRISP individuals in Amherst and Nelson counties from 1795 to 1820. We came up with a list of six proven children and one possible child, my 4th great-grandmother Sally CRISP, for William and Lucy CRISP. There were a couple we weren’t certain about and didn’t include on the list.

Fourteen years later…

When I learned about the Chancery Records on the Library of Virginia’s  Virginia Memory on the Library of Virginia’s site, I didn’t immediately check for records in Nelson County. 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 and 1851 that prove William and Lucy CRISP were the parents of eleven children.

eleventh
…the said James Wright is entitled to one eleventh part as a distributed of the estate of Wm Crisp Dec?d by an intermarriage with one of the daughters of the said Dec’d…

I got in touch with David Howard and Robert N. Grant, a Wright researcher, about the discovery but have not been able to make contact with Virginia J. Murphy.1

It took a lot of time to read through the records and find a document that actually lists 10 of the eleven children…2

10children
…the said William & Lucy Crisp dec’d had several children who are the persons entitled in revision to the aforesaid slave – to wit, John Crisp, Simon Crisp, William Crisp, Elizabeth Crisp, Mary Crisp, Sally Crisp, Frances Crisp, Lucy Crisp, Stella Crisp & Catherine Crisp

and then continues to list the names of the daughters’ husbands.3

crispmarriages
Charles Purvis md. Mary; Richard Bryant md. Catherine; Thomas Melton md. Stella; Land (sic) S. Going md. Sally; Thomas Harrison md. Elizabeth; Thomas Alford md. Frances; and James Wright md. Lucy

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” or administratrix of Peggy’s estate.4,5

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 is 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. The others will have to wait their turn. And I need some time to transcribe and arrange the circa 250 images in chronological order. If you are curious or can’t wait, go for it! Update (30 September 2022): There are also records in Lynchburg City this family.

Sally and her siblings

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 before 29 June 1818. It’s 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 it is now known that there were eleven children, we can only calculate their order of birth. Four of Sally’s siblings married before her. However, 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 on 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 the case file of that year.
◉ Sib 7: Stilla B. “Stilly” CRISP (1784-1850) born about 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 before 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) was born about 1790. Simon married Susan FLOYD (1805-1874) on 15 September 1828 in Nelson County, Virginia. He died between 1850 and 1860. His only child, a son William C. CRISP died in 1862 leaving no issue.
◉ Sib 11: Peggy CRISP was born after 1790 and died before September 1815. She was never married.

1829marriage
1829 Marriage Bond (photocopy courtesy of Geraldine Dempsey Workman)

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 who lived. This has been determined by analyzing the 1820 census.

1820censusgowing
1820 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Nelson [ancestry.com]
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 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 birth of her third daughter Clementine, 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. Her youngest, Clementine married Seaton Y. DEMPSEY on 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 age group, Martissa in the 15 & under 20, and Sally was in the 60 & under 70. As in 1820, the listing consistently shows 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’s chancery records, which are not online, may be hiding more information on her and her family.

This Post was Updated on 9 October 2022Missing source citations were added, images were scaled, and some corrections were made to the text and format.

© 20142022, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Chancery Records of Virginia, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia, Local Government Records Collection, Virginia Memory (https://www.lva.virginia.gov/chancery/), Nelson County (Va.) Chancery Causes 1808-1912, Thomas Hawkins vs. James Wright etc., 1809-010. (https://www.lva.virginia.gov/chancery/full_case_detail.asp?CFN=125-1809-010#img : accessed 30 September 2014). 
  2. Ibid., Nelson County (Va.) Chancery Causes 1808-1912, Rives & Murphy vs Thomas Harrison etc., 1839-006, image 3, left page. (http://www.lva.virginia.gov/chancery/case_detail.asp?CFN=125-1839-006 : accessed 19 May 2014). 
  3. Ibid., image 3, right page. 
  4. Ibid., Nelson County (Va.) Chancery Causes 1808-1912, Charles Purvis vs. Peggy Crisp etc., 1814-001. (http://www.lva.virginia.gov/chancery/case_detail.asp?CFN=125-1814-001: accessed 19 May 2014). 
  5. Ibid., Nelson County (Va.) Chancery Causes 1808-1912, Charles Purvis & WIFE vs. ADMX OF Peggy Crisp ETC, 1820-022. (https://www.lva.virginia.gov/chancery/full_case_detail.asp?CFN=125-1820-022#img: accessed 19 May 2014). 

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.

18 thoughts on “52 Ancestors: #41 Sally CRISP – Parentage PROVEN!!”

    1. Schalene they have been digitized. Under availability for Amherst: 11/18/2011- The index and digital images have been removed to facilitate editing and the indexing of additional records. The images and index will be reposted when they are available. Originals may be used in the Archives Research Room with the caveat that additional indexing and corrections are required.
      We need to be patient!

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    1. Thank you Amy. I’m sure I could have gotten more out of these batches on the CRISP family but time was short since I put off looking at them to keep up with my weekly posts. #41 (I have them scheduled to the end of the year but not written) came around faster than I thought. I continue to be so grateful to you for coming up with this challenge.

      Like

  1. Great story Cathy. I have known that chancery records exist, but until that seminar with Judy Russell, I had pretty much ignored them. So glad your brick wall came down. And what wonderful information you found 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Diane. As you may know not all counties are online – like the ones I am most interested in: Amherst, Montgomery, and Floyd (last is indexed but does not include images). I need to blog about the package I found that proved that my great-great-grandfather did NOT belong to a family group.

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