Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Edmond

The Last Will and Testament of Elizabeth Clark of Mason County, Virginia – 1841

1841 Will of Elizabeth Clark of Mason County, Virginia

I Elizabeth Clark of the county of Mason & state of Virginia do hereby make my last will & testament.
I give and bequeath all my estate except Edmond who shall be free at my decease & a bond against Zachariah Garten of twenty five dollars with interest for three years to Frances C. Harrison.
The above named bond I bequeath to John Harrison husband of the said Frances C. Harrison of the county of Mason & state of Virginia. In witness whereof I hereby set my hand and seal this 30th day of Sept. 1841.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . her

. . . . . . . . . . .Elizabeth + Clark Seal
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . mark
Signed Sealed & publicly declared by Elizabeth Clark as & for her last will and testament in the presence & hearing of us, at her request & in her presence have subscribed our names as witnesses.
James Koontz
William Harrison
William Oldakers

At a Circuit Superior Court of Law & Chancery for Mason county held at the Courthouse thereof April 16, 1844.
The last will and testament of Elizabeth Clark deceased was proved by the oaths of James Koontz and William Harrison two of the subscribing

1841 Will of Elizabeth Clark of Mason County, Virginia

witnesses thereto and is ordered to be recorded.
And there being no executors named in said last will & testament, and the said testatrix having died more than three months ago, and no person applying for administration it is ordered that administration of the estate of said decedent with her will annexed in due form be committed to Peter H. Steenbergen sheriff of this county.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .A Copy Teste
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Georg W. Stribling clk

The Last Will and Testament of Elizabeth Clark was written in 1841 in Mason County1 during the time when the county was part of Virginia. Mason County borders on Ohio, a state which abolished slavery in its original constitution when it was formed in 1803.

Edmond who shall be free at my decease

I found it heartwarming that Elizabeth Clark did not give any further description of Edmond as was usual in records of the time. She wrote simply that he should be free after her demise.

No trace of Elizabeth Clark was found in the 1840 census. John Harrison was found in Mason County in 1840.2 Both he and his wife were 50 thru 59 years old. There was a young boy aged 10 thru 14 as well as four enslaved persons in the household: 2 males under 10, 1 male 24 thru 35, and 1 female 10 thru 23. There was also an older woman, age 70 thru 79 years. Could this have been Elizabeth Clark?

Also on the same census sheet are Thomas Garton mentioned in the will, as well as two of the three witnesses, William Harrison and William Oldakers.

Mrs. Clark died about the end of 1843 or the beginning of the year 1844. Was Edmond mentioned in her will still living? Did he have family living with a slaveholder in the area? What became of him when she died?

True's statementFollowing my three-part series on the slaves of my 5th great grandfather James Sims during Black History Month in February 2015 I made a commitment to write a post on a monthly basis until I’ve RELEASED all of the names of slaves owned by my ancestors or owned by persons I’ve researched who were relatives or neighbors of my ancestors.

These posts are part of the Slave Name Roll Project (About the Project) administered by Schalene Jennings Dagutis who also blogs at Tangled Roots and Trees.

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-HN9N-LP?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-1YB%3A179687901%2C179707301 : accessed 19 March 2019), Mason > Will book, v. 001 1834-1880 > image 36 of 206; citing Jackson County, County Clerk, West Virginia. 
  2. 1840 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Sixth Census of the United States, 1840 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M704, 580 rolls, FHL Film 0029689; NARA Roll M704_571, Virginia, Mason; image 44+41 of 69, Sheet 232A+B, Line 9, John Harrison. ‎(http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 March 2019). 

Gathering Records to Tell the Story – An Update

Less than two hours after I posted Gathering Records to Tell the Story in late February my fourth cousin Ralph L. Hayes sent emails with images of the Chancery records for the 1864 divorce of John William CLONCH and Sarah Jane FOSTER – records which are not online.

Cousin Bait!

I was surprised and happy to finally see the records he had discovered years ago when he searched through old dusty unindexed boxes at the courthouse in Point Pleasant, West Virginia.

In Gathering Records to Tell the Story, I shared the entry in the court records concerning the divorce of my 2nd great-grandfather Alexander CLONCH from his first wife Mary Ellen LEMASTER. I’d only recently found this record and could not wait to share with my cousins who descend from the CLONCH line.

By sharing what I’d found I may have been subconsciously baiting cousins. Don’t we do this all the time? Sharing bits and pieces in hopes of a relative coming forward with new information. I wasn’t expecting Ralph to message me via Facebook so soon after I’d published the post. We hadn’t done email in 15 years but have been keeping up with each other via Facebook for 10 years.

It’s a complicated story

John W. CLONCH married Sarah Jane FOSTER on 20 February 1862 in Gallia County, Ohio. Many residents of Mason County crossed the Ohio River and state line to marry in Gallia. If Sarah Jane carried her first child to full term, she may have been with child when they married. Their son William Alexander was born on 2 October 1862. A year and a half later, about April 1864, a daughter was born to John and Sarah. By this time the marriage was already in trouble and divorce was the next step for Sarah.

I found a couple of entries in the Chancery orders and in a fee book concerning the divorce in 1864 when I located my ancestor Alex’s 1880 divorce records. My mentioning the 1864 documents in Ralph’s possession were not yet online pushed him to get in touch and email them to me.

In the meantime…

I’ve been a bit slow working on the documents as other things have kept me busy during the past few weeks.

I watched several of the 2019 RootsTech live sessions and got caught up in the DNA whirlwind caused by Ancestry and MyHeritage’s new tools. I’ve used up all 24 of the colors offered for grouping matches in the New & Improved DNA Matches (Beta). I’ve played with MyTreeTags on the small tree linked to the test I manage on Ancestry and found they are an excellent new tool for tree management. ThruLines is still aggravating me. They have a known problem with step-parents being considered as the ancestor. MyHeritage’s Theory of Family Relativity did not take long to look at as only 29 matches were offered. Several were spot-on. Several were not. Their AutoClustering was a bit disappointing as I was already spoiled by Jonathan Brecher and his Shared Clustering tool.

Ralph said, “Go for it!” In the days to come, I’ll share the transcriptions of the records he sent from the chancery case Sarah Jane Clonch vs John W. Clonch.

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

ThruLines™ Introduced by Ancestry: TrueLines or TrueLies?

Last week was an exciting week for many genealogists who attended the RootsTech conference or, like me, who followed the live stream from home. My interest was focused on DNA related news. Ancestry added MyTreeTags™, New & Improved DNA Matches, and ThruLines™ to their site. The most talked about is ThruLines™ which is available to customers without an Ancestry subscription for a limited time.

I found a few things about ThruLines™ which were helpful but there was something which upset me so much that I stopped checking. I took a few days to calm down before I gave feedback to Ancestry on their new ThruLines™ tool. First the good and the bad, then my feedback.

TrueLines or TrueLies?

There are several reasons for my snarky title. I may know and you may know that ThruLines™ is not the same as true lines or true lies. But do all users, especially those who are very new to family history research, realize this new feature is like the Ancestry Hints and Shared Ancestors Hints? It isn’t a fast and easy fix. We still need to do research.

The Positive

ThruLines™ has helped me to find two cousins descended from my great-grandmother Laura Belle INGRAM’s half-sister Ocie Ola INGRAM. Ocie has been ignored by many in their trees. The marriage of her mother to my great-great-grandfather Irvin Lewis INGRAM took place in 1888 and no 1900 census listing has been found to show the family group. As far as we know, they had only this one daughter. The marriage ended in divorce in 1904. I have tried to follow Ocie’s children and grandchildren but I would probably not have found these DNA cousins without looking through thousands of matches. ThruLines™ pulled them right up and with the correct connection even though the matches did not have public trees back to the INGRAM common ancestor.

I’m now seeing 63 of my 64 maternal 5th great-grandparents in the ThruLines™. The missing ancestor, Gerard MALAMBRE, was found in other trees with a different surname spelling. It wasn’t a surprise to find all maternal ancestors except this one listed. Not many people who have worked on these lines have their trees on Ancestry. I have very few maternal matches, mostly 5c and 6C, from clusters of descendants of a few immigrant families in America.

The Negative

Ancestry’s New & Improved DNA Matches and ThruLines™ are ignoring my 2nd great-grandparents William A. W. DEMPSEY and Sarah Ann WOOD as the parents of my great-grandfather William Henderson DEMPSEY. In the case of this family line, ThruLines™ resembles quick & dirty tree work which shouldn’t be public or searchable unless it has been proven.

Don’t get me wrong. They haven’t changed my tree. People who are new to genealogy research and those who do not know how to use this tool will take this seriously. They will accept these errors without bothering to verify.

Screenshot of Common Ancestors of a match on AncestryDNA. According to Ancestry family trees, these are common ancestors.

The white boxes are actual entries in my tree while the dashed boxes are from information they have knitted in from other trees. The third cousin match has a private tree which likely includes William A. W. DEMPSEY as he is showing up on the match’s side. Why, if we both have this name in our trees, does the common ancestor show up as a Private person three generations further back? Why not William A. W. DEMPSEY?

ThruLines™ shows Emmanuel DEMPSEY of Logan County, West Virginia, as the father of my great-grandfather William Henderson DEMPSEY and this is reflected in the Common Ancestor match above.

I was hoping this new feature would help with my great-grandfather’s father William A. W. DEMPSEY’s brick wall. I was able to get the error above fixed. A person with a large tree likely accepted a Potential Father and Potential Mother and attached the wrong parents to my great-grandfather. The owner is not a direct descendant. The tree is so large I could not figure out how or if he is related.

I placed a comment on the tree with the wrong father for William Henderson DEMPSEY. The tree owner was quick to thank me for the help. He unlinked him and added the correct parents. There are still a few issues which I have further commented on. The owner appears to be willing to work on fixing his tree.

In ThruLines™ Emanuel DEMPSEY, his parents James DEMPSEY and Dorcas HAGER, his grandparents John DEMPSEY and Rachel SOLOMON, as well as the HAGER and VANNATER grandparents, have disappeared as potential ancestors. On a positive note, I was surprised to see this happen overnight.

I’m very disappointed I’m not seeing my 2nd great-grandparents William A. W. DEMPSEY and Sarah Ann WOOD as ancestors. There are hundreds of matches who descend from Sarah’s parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents (WOOD, McGRAW, HONAKER, HONEGGER, WISEMAN, and DAVIS) and they are not being found with the ThruLines™ tool. Matches I need to sift out of the rest to be able to find fourth cousins who descend from William’s unknown parents or more distant cousins who descend from his parents’ ancestors.

Screenshot of my public tree on Ancestry. These are ancestors who were in Circles.

This is not the only 2nd great-grandparent who is missing. My Gordon Washington ROOP was married twice and there are DNA matches coming from both wives. However, ThruLines™ is only recognizing his second wife, the step-mother of my great-grandfather Walter Farmer ROOP. This means I have the wrong potential 3rd, 4th, and 5th great-grandparents. Once again this is a branch of the family which has hundreds of matches, descendants of PETERS, LIVELY, CASH, PROFFITT, ROBERTSON, and COCKRAM. The branch and all other matches are missing. Yes, they are still there but difficult to ferret out.

Screenshot of my public tree on Ancestry. These are ancestors who were in Circles.

What I Am Doing to Make this a Good Experience

This could be a good feature when used correctly. When we find cousins who are DNA matches and fit into our tree we cannot accept the connection without following the records to prove the relationship. I’m worried about the people who accept shaky leaves, potential parents, and now a line back to a potential common ancestor using 2, 3, or 4 trees. I don’t want to throw away the good with the bad. I’ll take a close look at each ancestor and the matches they are supposedly coming from.

I’ve had a public tree with only ancestors linked to the DNA test I manage. I don’t have any other public tree on Ancestry. In the past days, I’ve added known and proven matches to fix some ancestors on the ThruLines.

It’s strange that the lines with the most descendants are not showing up correctly. I’m hoping this might turn out to be more positive – with people cleaning up their trees so that the correct connections get noticed.

My Feedback to Ancestry

  •  I’m finding ThruLines useful in that it pulls up distant matches which would not have been found due to the thousands of matches which are impossible to sift through.
  •  I would not say that it adds value to my Ancestry experience. It only reminds me of the many errors in trees. Mine is not perfect and the reason I  attached a public tree to DNA with only ancestors. In hopes this will help improve ThruLines, I have started to add the siblings of ancestors with DNA connections and the descendants who are DNA matches.
  • Since the public tree I’m using is based on well-researched work on my part, I hope it is being managed appropriately by Ancestry and not being used to suggest false potential ancestors as I am seeing up to 4 different trees are being used to show a line down from a potential to a match.
  • I DO NOT want a quick and easy way to add an ancestor or a match to my tree or anyone else’s tree. I believe people should take time to analyze and then add to the tree. Any trees with quick & dirty work should be made private and unsearchable.
  • I strongly disagree that having a common ancestor with a match is proof that the DNA is coming from this ancestor. The only way this can be proven is by using a chromosome browser for comparing with other matches with the common ancestor.
  • Although I am not overall happy with ThruLines at this early time, I strongly agree that we should check back often as more people take the test.

Final Thoughts

New & Improved DNA Matches gives us the ability to sort matches using colored groups. MyTreeTagsTM should help eliminate the need for strange ancestor names and keep our research and connections to new matches more organized. The lists of matches who descend from common ancestors seen in ThruLines™ will help both our research and proving of ancestors.

Will all the hoopla about these recent additions to the Ancestry experience distract us from the lack of a chromosome browser? Perhaps for a while but I’m still referring matches to my Dear Cousin post.

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Peter, Willis, Milly, Sukkey, and Hannah

As with so many of my families in West Virginia, the Clonch family of Mason County did not hold slaves. I’m always on the lookout for records with slave names in the location I’m researching and like to skim through the Wills Book to find other inhabitants of the county who may have been slaveholders. Although Mason County was formed in 1804 the will books begin only in 1833. The first record in Will Book 1 with names of enslaved persons is the will of Elizabeth Bryan.

Elizabeth Bryan wrote her last will and testament on 10 December 1829 and likely lived another four years as it was only proved on 6 March 1833 and 2 April 1833 and ordered to be recorded 2 April 1833.1 She mentions two sons, Robert and Charles, a grandson Robert, and a great-granddaughter Nancy Mason. More importantly, the names of five enslaved persons, Peter, Willis, Milly, Sukkey, and Hannah were given.

1829 Last Will and Testament of Elizabeth Bryan of Mason County, West Virginia

I Elizabeth Bryan of the county of Mason and State of Virginia do hereby make and declare this my last will and Testament hereby revoking and annulling all other wills by me made at any time heretofore.
First I give and bequeath to my son Robert Bryan my Negro Boy Peter and to my Grandson Robert Bryan (son of my said son Robert) my other Negro Boy Willis.
Second I give & bequeath to my Great Grand Daughter Nancy Mason my Negro woman Milly & my negro Girl Sukkey together with my wearing my wearing (sic) apparel of every Kind & It is my futher will that my friend & neighbour John Cantrell & his wife take my said Grand daughter & her negroes hereby bequeathed her and raise and educate her in such decent & industrous manner as may be fitting her circumstances & theirs and have the use of Said negroes for their trouble & expense until my said Great Granddaughter shall arrive at Lawfull age or marry at which time she is to receive said Milly & Suky & the increase of said Sukkey if any to do with them as she may think proper but should my said great Granddaughter die before arriving at Lawfull age or having issue then it is my will that Milly be free & that Sukky & her increase if any Revert to my son Robert Bryan or his proper heirs but should Milly before that time have issue it is my will that all such issue or increase belong to Mrs. Mary Cantrell or her proper heirs it is also my further will that should I die before two years from this time that the negro Milly hereby bequeathed to said Nancy Mason shall remain with my Son Robert for that period counting from this date & then go to John Cantrell as heretofore directed for the purposes aforesaid.
My Negro woman Hannah I leave to my son Charles.
In witness whereof I hereby set my hand and seal this tenth day of December 1829.
Signed Sealed & acknowledged…………….Elizabeth Bryan Searl
in presence of us
William (his mark) Rottenberry
Silas (his mark) Harris
John Cantrell

At A Court continued and held for Mason County March 6th 1833 A writing purporting to be the last will & testament of Elizabeth Bryan decd was this day presented in open Court and was proven in part by the oath of William Rottenberry one of the subscribing witnesses thereto and said over for further proof.
…………………A copy
……………………Teste
………………………Thos. Lewis Clk

And at another day To wit At a Court Continued and held for Mason County April 2nd 1833. A writing purporting to be the last will and testament of Elizabeth Bryan decd which was in part proved at the last March term of this court, was this day further proved by Silas Harris another subscribing witness thereto, which is ordered to be Recorded.
……………..A Copy
………………..Teste
…………………..Thos. Lewis Clk

Discrepancies and Questions

Sukkey was seen as Suky and Sukky in the will but in all cases, Elizabeth appears to refer to the same woman.

I question whether Nancy Mason was a great-granddaughter or more likely a granddaughter. No marriage was found for a Bryan bride to a Mason groom. Without more information on the Bryan family, it is difficult to determine the relationship between Nancy Mason and Elizabeth Bryan. Since Milly and Sukkey were to go with her to the neighbors after Elizabeth’s death, her relationship might be of importance to people seeking Milly and Sukkey.

Bryan in the Mason County Census

Preliminary research on the Bryan family in Mason County around 1830 did not turn up any helpful information. I located possible 1830 and 1820 census listings in which Elizabeth appears to be living in the household of Robert Bryan. In 1830 and 1820 there was a Charles Bryan in Mason County as well as a John Bryan and Andrew Bryan.

1830 U.S. Federal Census
Mason County, Virginia
Name: Robert Bryan
Free White Persons – Males – Under 5: 2
Free White Persons – Males – 5 thru 9: 1
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 14: 1
Free White Persons – Males – 40 thru 49: 1 (Robert)
Free White Persons – Females – 5 thru 9: 2
Free White Persons – Females – 30 thru 39: 1 (poss. wife of older male)
Free White Persons – Females – 70 thru 79: 1 (poss. Elizabeth)
Slaves – Males – 10 thru 23: 1 
Slaves – Females – Under 10: 1
Slaves – Females – 10 thru 23: 1 
Slaves – Females – 36 thru 54: 1
Slaves – Females – 55 thru 99: 1
Free White Persons – Under 20: 6
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 2
Total Free White Persons: 9
Total Slaves: 5
Total – All Persons (Free White, Slaves, Free Colored): 14

1820 United States Federal Census
Mason County, Virginia
Name: Robert Bryan
Enumeration Date: August 7, 1820
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 2
Free White Persons – Males – 26 thru 44: 1 (Robert)
Free White Persons – Females – 16 thru 25: 1 (poss. wife)
Free White Persons – Females – 45 and over: 1 (poss. Elizabeth)
Slaves – Males – Under 14: 3
Slaves – Males – 14 thru 25: 1
Slaves – Females – Under 14: 1
Slaves – Females – 26 thru 44: 1
Slaves – Females – 45 and over: 1
Number of Persons – Engaged in Agriculture: 4
Free White Persons – Under 16: 2
Free White Persons – Over 25: 2
Total Free White Persons: 5
Total Slaves: 7
Total All Persons – White, Slaves, Colored, Other: 12

In 1810 in Mason County, a James Bryan appears to be a likely match for the husband of Elizabeth Bryan. Two young men and a young woman are also in the household. The two young men are possible matches for Robert and Charles mentioned in the will.

1810 United States Federal Census
Mason County, Virginia
Name: James Bryan
Free White Persons – Males – 16 thru 25: 2 (Robert and Charles)
Free White Persons – Males – 45 and over: 1 (James)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 45 and over: 1 (Elizabeth)
Numbers of Slaves: 5
Number of Household Members Under 16: 1
Number of Household Members Over 25: 2
Number of Household Members: 10

Other Bryan Families in Mason

Another Bryan found in Mason in 1810 was Andrew, a name also seen in the census of 1820 and 1830. An 1809 record for the marriage of Andrew Bryan and Parthenea Meigs in Mason seems to fit. Later he was the only Bryan on the census of Mason County in 1840 (obviously widowed with children) and alone in the 1850 census.

Quick searches at Find A Grave picked up information stating Maj. Andrew Bryan was the brother of John Bryan.2 Andrew’s wife’s maiden name was Clendenin and she was apparently previously married to a Meigs.3

John Bryan died in Mason County before 1 September 1834; a will was found which mentions property including Negroes but does not include names.4

With these names as a reference, I located a family tree on Ancestry which shows James Bryan and Elizabeth Singletary were the parents of sons Robert, Charles, John, and Andrew as well as three daughters who do not have marriages listed. I did not do further research to prove the family relationships.

Robert5 and Charles6, who were not found in Mason in 1840, went west to Washington County, Missouri, in the 1830s according to the tree, i.e. after the death of Elizabeth. In 1850 a Robert Bryan is on the Slave Schedule in the county however there were two men of this name in the county at that time. I have not been able to determine if this person who had a female mulatto age 33, a male mulatto age 10, a male mulatto age 5, a female black age 2, and a male black age 4 is the Robert Bryan who was the son of Elizabeth Bryan seen in the featured will.

I hope my finding the sons of Elizabeth moving to Missouri may help anyone seeking Peter, Willis, Milly, Sukkey, and Hannah.

Slave Name Roll Project is 4 Years Old

It’s been four years since I wrote the original three posts in which I shared the names of enslaved persons of my SIMS family. I have not counted every single name but I estimate about 220 names have been released in the 49 posts I’ve written since 2015.

The purpose of these posts is to share the documents and release the names in hopes of helping a descendant’s search. Personally, I try to do a bit more research when time allows and include it in the post but this is not a criteria.

If your ancestors or their neighbors or anyone you encounter in your research had enslaved persons, please join me by contributing their names to the Slave Name Roll Project.

True's statementFollowing my three-part series on the slaves of my 5th great grandfather James Sims during Black History Month in February 2015 I made a commitment to write a post on a monthly basis until I’ve RELEASED all of the names of slaves owned by my ancestors or owned by persons I’ve researched who were relatives or neighbors of my ancestors.

These posts are part of the Slave Name Roll Project (About the Project) administered by Schalene Jennings Dagutis who also blogs at Tangled Roots and Trees.

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-HN9F-D8?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-1YL%3A179687901%2C179729801 : accessed 26 January 2019), Mason > Will book, v. 001A 1833-1875 > image 25 of 165; citing Mason County, County Clerk, West Virginia. 
  2. Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 23 February 2019), memorial page for Maj Andrew Bryan (1790–25 Jul 1851), Find A Grave Memorial no. 140252499, citing McCulloch Cemetery, Southside, Mason County, West Virginia, USA; Maintained by Katie Litchfield (contributor 47758703). 
  3. FAG, memorial page for Parthenia Clendenin Bryan (1779–9 Aug 1839), Find A Grave Memorial no. 140252263, citing McCulloch Cemetery, Southside, Mason County, West Virginia, USA; Maintained by Katie Litchfield (contributor 47758703). 
  4. “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-HN9F-9Z?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-1YL%3A179687901%2C179729801 : 22 June 2016), Mason > Will book, v. 001A 1833-1875 > image 26 of 165; citing Mason County, County Clerk, West Virginia. 
  5. FAG, memorial page for Robert Bryan, Sr (unknown–7 Dec 1871), Find A Grave Memorial no. 5262866, citing Bennett Bryan Cemetery, Cadet, Washington County, Missouri, USA; Maintained by Larry G. Flesher (contributor 43207742). 
  6. FAG, memorial page for Charles Bryan (16 Jul 1809–17 Oct 1897), Find A Grave Memorial no. 5262850, citing Bennett Bryan Cemetery, Cadet, Washington County, Missouri, USA; Maintained by Larry G. Flesher (contributor 43207742). 

Gathering Records to Tell the Story

The stories passed down by descendants who have researched the CLONCH family history are fantastic and a bit unbelievable. Ralph L. Hayes heard of the scandals which went on in the family and shared the stories in mailing lists and genealogy forums on the internet nearly two decades ago. Being a good researcher, Ralph went to the courthouse in Point Pleasant in Mason County, West Virginia, to ferret out the records to back up the family history. He found the divorce of his 3rd great-grandfather “only by going through some OLD dusty unindexed boxes in the courthouse.”

Seeking Documentation

I’ve wanted to find the documents Ralph discovered as the story of the CLONCH brothers is so difficult to believe. Since FamilySearch has added more collections from Mason County to their online records, I’ve been looking for this and that record to better tell the story.

Ralph L. Hayes is my fourth cousin. He descends from John William CLONCH (1840-1919) and Mary Ellen LEMASTER (1847-1921) while I descend from Alexander CLONCH (1842-1910) and Tabitha Ann COOLEY (1861-1913). John and Alex were the sons of our 3rd great-grandparents William CLONCH (1807-1863) and Mary E. “Polly” DOSS (c. 1816-c. 1892).

If you’ve been following recent posts about William CLONCH’s estate, you’ll have learned William and Mary were not married but had eight children, seven grew to adulthood and married, six had children. William kept the family together beyond the grave by leaving a will in which he stipulated the land the family lived on was to remain in the family. Did he know at the time of his death in 1863 that his two oldest sons would become part of an incredible story equal to a primetime soap opera?

I wrote A Little “Peyton Place” (Part I) and A Little “Peyton Place” (Part II) in December 2013 but the posts only recount what Ralph learned while researching and don’t include documentation.

Living overseas and nowhere near the American courthouses of the counties my ancestors lived in, I must rely on record collections found online. FamilySearch’s catalog is my go-to place whenever researching and gathering records to tell their stories.

Two Marriages

1862 marriage entry courtesy of FamilySearch

John W. CLONCH married Sarah Jane FOSTER on 20 February 1862 in Gallia County, Ohio, across the Ohio River from Mason County.1

1863 marriage entry courtesy of FamilySearch

Alexander CLONCH married Mary Ellen LEMASTER on 10 November 1863, also in Gallia County.2

Two Divorces

Neither of the marriages lasted. In the September Court of 1864 John and Sarah were divorced.3 The records of the circuit court in which Ralph found more details are not yet online but I found another mention a few pages further in the Chancery orders4 and in a fee book.5 [Click on over to the links in the citations below to learn why this divorce produced more records.]

Alexander and Mary Ellen never had children even though by 1880 they were legally married a little over seventeen years. To be more precise, they never had children with each other. Alex’s brother John and Mary Ellen had eight children between 1865-1880 and Alex had 3 children with Mary Ellen’s sister Rebecca from 1868-1876. Many online trees list Rebecca LEMASTER as Alex’s second wife. A marriage record was not found in West Virginia or Ohio. Is it possible they were married and the record has yet to be found?

I think not. Alexander was still married to Mary Ellen LEMASTER when her sister Rebecca gave him three children. Alex and Mary Ellen’s marriage was not dissolved until the March term on 1880, when the divorce was mentioned in the Chancery orders.6

1880 chancery order courtesy of FamilySearch

March term 1880

Alexander Clonch
     vs                                          In Chancery
Mary E. Clonch

This cause come on this day to be heard upon the bill, exhibits and depositions filed therewith and the process having been duly served upon the defendant and she still failing to appear answer or demur to plaintiffs bill and the cause set-for hearing and was argued by counsel on consideration of all which the court is of the opinion that the

1880 chancery order courtesy of FamilySearch

plaintiff is entitled to the relief prayed for in his said bill, it is therefore ordered, adjudged and decreed that the marriage heretofore solemnized between the plaintiff and defendant be dissolved and annulled and the plaintiff forever divorced from his said wife from the bonds of matrimony and that she be forever barred of dower in any lands the plaintiff had or now has or hereafter has and the plaintiff recover from the defendant his costs including a fee of ten dollars as prescribed by law in and about his suit in this behalf expended and that execution issue therefor & c.

Importance of the Records

Why was finding this record so important to me? Five months after the above divorce, on 19 August 1880, Alexander CLONCH married Tabitha Ann COOLEY, my great-great-grandmother. They were the parents of nine children, six of whom married and had children, including my great-grandmother Rebecca Jane CLONCH (1888-1950). Also with the above record I have proof for the part of the story which goes:

The marriage was dissolved, Mary did not appear and she does not get her dower and must pay costs.

One document at a time, the complete story may one day be told.

Genealogy Sketch

Name: Alexander CLONCH
Parents: William CLONCH and Mary E. “Polly” DOSS
Spouse: Tabitha Ann “Tobitha” COOLEY
Parents of Spouse: John COOLEY and Sarah Ann TREADWAY
Whereabouts: Mason and Fayette, West Virginia
Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey: 2nd great-grandfather

1. Alexander CLONCH
2. Rebecca Jane CLONCH
3. Myrtle Hazel ROOP
4. Fred Roosevelt DEMPSEY
5. Cathy Meder-Dempsey

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013” (index and images), FamilySearch (digital images of originals housed at the county courthouses in Ohio), Gallia > Marriage records 1862-1874 vol 3 > image 14 of 276. John W. Clonch and Jane Foster, 20 Feb 1862. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GRMD-SKRT?cc=1614804&wc=Q6SP-7R2%3A121350101%2C121498701 : accessed 18 Dec 2013). 
  2. Ibid., Gallia > Marriage records 1862-1874 vol 3 > image 19 of 276. Alexander Clonch and Mary Ellen Lemaster, 10 November 1863. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9RMD-SVR3?cc=1614804&wc=Q6SP-7R2%3A121350101%2C121498701 : accessed 19 February 2019). 
  3. “Mason County, West Virginia, Circuit Court, Chancery orders, 1831-1929” (database with images), <i>FamilySearch</i> (Microfilm of originals at the county courthouse, Point Pleasant, West Virginia.), Film 1861961, DGS 7615568, Chancery orders, Vols. 1-2 1843-1877 (1 from 469 & 4 to 401 – Back of v. 1 has separate pages of land records), image 286 of 949, Folio 386, September Term 1864. 1864 Divorce of John Clonch from Sarah Jane Foster.(https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89VP-7KDF?i=285&cat=660659 : accessed 6 January 2019). 
  4. Ibid., image 303 of 949, folio 421, March Term 1865. 1865 John W. Clonch ordered to surrender his child William A. Clonch to the mother Sarah A. Clonch.(https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89VP-7K6Z?i=302&cat=660659 : accessed 6 January 2019). 
  5. “Fee books, 1804-1881” (database with images), FamilySearch (Microfilm of originals at the West Virginia University Library, Morgantown.), Film 174649, DGS 7616441, Fee Book 1859-1867, 1859-1869 1860-1866 1862-1868, image 76 of 425, page 62, bottom of page. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9VR-Z4TY?i=75&cat=248082 : accessed 6 January 2019). 
  6. “Mason County, West Virginia, Circuit Court, Chancery orders, 1831-1929”, Film 1861962 Item 1, DGS 7615569, Chancery orders, Vols. 4 1877-1880, image 321 of 899, Folio 274 and 275, March Term 1880. 1880 Divorce of Alexander Clonch from Mary Ellen Lemaster. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99VP-2SNQ?i=320&cat=659762 : accessed 6 January 2019). 

I Found the Coolest Site to Use for Land Records in West Virginia

Since learning land records of Mason County, West Virginia, are online at FamilySearch for the years 1803-1901, I’ve been trying to find answers. I wanted to figure out how the land assumed to have been owned by my 3rd great-grandfather William CLONCH came to be owned by him and his heirs. I also wanted to know what became of it in 1892. I covered these questions in my posts:

Time to Move on to a New Research Task?

I thought I was at a good stopping point and was thinking about new research tasks when I published the last post. But comments made had me doing new online searches for taxes on land, etc. This led to my discovering a site which pointed me to almost the exact location of the land once owned by my CLONCH ancestors. Before I share the site, bear with me while I show you how I plotted the land.

Abstracting the Call Lines

This is part of the 1885 land deed which gives the description of the boundaries of the 148 acres tract my 2nd great-grandparents Alexander and Tobitha CLONCH conveyed to Mary E. DOSS and her DOSS children: John William, Alexander, Lavinia, Betsy Jane, Thomas E., Joel, and Charles H.

I used Jacob Boerema’s tool Transcript to transcribe all of the land deeds in my previous posts concerning the land of William CLONCH. Here is the transcription of the above snippet.

Beginning at a small white oak
corner to a survey of 91 acres (Clark’s) Thence
with Beal’s line S 5° E crossing Bryants
fork at 71 poles, 124 poles to an ash tree on
a south hill side, thence leaving Beal’s S 63°
E 120 poles to a stake in a run bottom dog-
wood and hickory pointers, thence N 34 1/2° E
crossing the right hand fork of Bryants run
at 6 poles and the left hand fork of the same
at 26 poles 116 poles in all to a small white oak
N 44° W 52 poles to a white oak then N 17° W 84
poles to a stone in Patterson’s line, thence with
his line, S 65° W 94 poles to a small white oak
corner to Clark’s 91 acres, thence with a line of
the same N 85° W 33 poles to the beginning con-
taining One hundred and forty eight acres

Converting Poles to Feet

I put the call lines into a table and converted the poles to feet using Convert Pole to Feet.
Call lines in the deed
S5E 124 poles
S63E 120 poles
N34.5E 116 poles
N44W 52 poles
N17W 84 poles
S65W 94 poles
N85W 33 poles
Call lines converted to feet
S5E 2046f
S63E 1980f
N34.5E 1914f
N44W 858f
N17W 1386f
S65W 1551f
N85W 544.5f

Plotting the Tact

I then went to Tract Plotter and inserted the call lines in feet. After checking the box Show Labels, I submitted the call lines and the following plat was generated. The blue notes were added using Evernote (which I like to use for this type of quick annotating).

The land was now plotted but where was it located? I knew it was somewhere along Crab Creek in Clendenin District of Mason County, West Virginia. Still, this is a large area and I wasn’t able to find other geographical locations (Bryant’s Run) to zoom in on a specific area.

West Virginia Property Viewer

This is where the cool site I found comes into play. The West Virginia Property Viewer is an interactive map to search and display property ownership and location information in West Virginia. You can zoom in on the map of the state by county or use the search feature to search in a county for an owner’s name, parcel number, or parcel address. A search for CLONCH brought up a few owners in Mason County including one very interesting parcel. A tract of one acre on Crab Creek used as a cemetery and exempt from tax. The owner or name of the piece of land is Clonch Cemetary.

The tiny purple square of land known as the Clonch Cemetary (sic).

The land surrounding the cemetery is owned by a Patterson, a great-grandson of Lavina Ann CLONCH and James William PATTERSON. It’s a parcel with 76.54 acres, a bit larger than the 42 acres deeded to the Pattersons in 1892 and less than the original 148 acres owned by the heirs of William CLONCH. The fact that this is the location of the Clonch Cemetery, also known as the Patterson Clonch Cemetery, makes me certain this is the land William CLONCH and Mary E. DOSS lived on over 150 years ago.

In the pop-up at the bottom of the map, information about the parcel is listed. An interesting feature is the parcel assessment report which can be accessed by clicking at the bottom of the pop-up. In the assessment, under General Information, the deed book and page number can be found. In the case of the Clonch Cemetary there is no deed listed. The Patterson land has a deed book and page number which could be consulted – if the records were online for the time period.

Other Uses for the Site

Very often in county genealogy groups on Facebook, I see people asking for the location of cemeteries. West Virginia Property Viewer would be the perfect place to look them up.

Nicholas County Public Records Search includes online versions of the deed books of the county. You can sign in as a guest to search the site. A piece of land can be followed from the present time owner to the first owner and vice versa. With the assessment report’s information on the deed book and page, the starting point is easy to find.

West Virginia Property Viewer was found on Map West Virginia where all of their maps are free for use by the public.

A quick online search turned up other county and state parcel or property viewers. Am I the only one who did not know about these sites?

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

My Ancestor Score as of Valentine’s Day 2019

It’s time for my Ancestor Score! Short and sweet.

This is my sixth year doing the Ancestor Score on Valentine’s Day.  I first learned this way of keeping tabs on the progress in my genealogy research from Barbara Schmidt in 2014.

I almost didn’t bother with doing this post as the numbers have barely changed.

My Ancestor Score

I didn’t add any new ancestors to my family tree since last Valentine’s Day. Those 3rd great-grandparents Mr. and Mrs. DEMPSEY are still missing. The man who made Levina DOSS my 5th great-grandmother is an absentee. Mr. and Mrs. COOLEY are also unaccounted for. Mr. TREADWAY who I’ve been including in the count has never been written about here since he has not been proven. Earlier this week a DNA match turned up and points to the possibility of his being the father of my Sarah Ann TREADWAY. If I get it sorted out this year I should be able to add several generations to the TREADWAY branch.

My Children’s Ancestor Score

My children’s ancestor score increased by only one – an 8th great-grandparent.

Stats for the previous four years are included in both tables above. The posts from previous years can be found here:

Have you done your Ancestor Score recently? I’d love to have a look. Please post your link in a comment below. Thank you and Happy Valentine’s Day.

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

William CLONCH’s Estate – and It Gets More Complicated

After finding the land records I transcribed in my previous posts: The Estate of William Clonch (1807-1863) of Mason County, West Virginia and The Estate of William Clonch (1807-1863) of Mason County, West Virginia – Part 2 I wanted to know when William CLONCH (1807-1863) bought the 148 acres tract and who the grantor had been.

Searching the Land Deed Index

In the land deed index for grantor and grantee, I could not find an entry for my 3rd great-grandfather William CLONCH even with different spellings of the name, i.e. CLAUNCH, CLOUNCH. Neither his father Dennis CLAUNCH nor his mother Nancy BEASLEY owned land per the deed books. Neither left a will conveying land to William and/or to of his siblings: Elizabeth, John, and Sarah.

► Was it possible William CLONCH did not legally own land when he made his last will and testament on 17 January 1863?1
► If he didn’t own land, how could he will his land to Mary DOSS and her DOSS children?
► How could his heirs later convey land as a group to three of the DOSS siblings, also known as CLONCH, in 1892 allowing it to remain in the family?

A Tract of Land Containing 148 Acres

Once I had the deeds concerning the heirs of William CLONCH transcribed and written up, I took a closer look at two deeds I found for my 2nd great-grandfather Alexander CLONCH, also known as Alexander DOSS. The first land deed was dated 27 June 1866, over three years after the death of William CLONCH. Alexander was the grantee of a tract of land containing 148 acres.2 In 1885 Alexander was the grantor and sold the same piece of land to Mary DOSS and all of her DOSS children named in the will of William CLONCH.3

William CLONCH lived with Mary DOSS from sometime before 1840 until his death in 1863. They were not married. Eight children were born between 1840 and 1855 during the years William and Mary were together. William left a last will and testament naming Mary DOSS and her seven living children as his heirs. These children later went by the CLONCH surname. DNA results show descendants of these children carry Clonch/Claunch and Doss DNA.

The 148 acres sold in 1885 had similar call lines as the three tracts of land which were sold in April 1892 by the heirs of William CLONCH.4 I had been able to plot two of the tracts but the third had a problem call and I could not plot it. I thought by plotting the three tracts I would be able to put the pieces together to form the original 148 acres.

Was it only a coincidence William’s and Alex’s lands contained the same amount of acreage?

The 1866 Land Deed

Reading and transcribing the land deeds of Alexander CLONCH brought to light some thought-provoking information. The grantor of the land sold in 1866 was a group of persons, children and their spouses of the deceased Richard GERNON, who were being represented by their attorney’s representatives through a power of attorney.

This deed made on the 27th day of June A.D. 1866 between John Jaques Richard Gernon and Claire Paule Anna Gernon his wife (born Davies) Joseph Edward Gernon and Catherine Tolsey Gernon his wife (born Toussat) Louis Loreal & Emilie Antoinette Loreal his wife late Reneufoe daughter of Jeane E. Reneufoe who was daughter of Richard Gernon deceased; Jean Louis Culon and Emilie Culon his wife late Gernon, daughter of the said Gernon (Richard) deceased by Edward Naret their attorney in fact who is substituted as such by Power of Attorney from John Keating & William V. Keating dated 27th April 1850 of the first part and Alexander Clonch of Mason County and State of West Virginia of the other part witnesseth: that in consideration of One hundred & eighty Eight dollars to him in hand paid the said Edward Naret attorney in fact as aforesaid doth grant unto the said Alexander Clonch The following tract of land Situate in the County of Mason and State of West Virginia being part of a large Survey Known as the Gernon Tract below the Great Kanawha bounded as follows: Beginning at a Small white oak corder to a Survey of 91 acres (Clarks) Thence with Beal’s line S 5° E crossing Bryants fork at 71 poles, 124 poles to an ash Tree on a South hill side. Thence leaving Beals S 63° E 120 poles to a Stake on a run bottom Dogwood and Hickory pointers. Thence N 34 1/2° E crossing the right hand fork of Bryans Run at 6 poles & the left hand fork of the same at 26 poles, 116 poles in all to a small white oak N 44° W 52 P to a white oak. Thence N 17° W 84 poles to a stone in Patterson’s line, Thence with his line S 65° W 94 poles to a small white oak corner to Clarks 91 acres. Thence with a line of the same N 85° W 33 poles to the beginning containing One hundred & forty eight acres be the same more or less. To have & to hold The Said Tract of land to him The said Alexander Clonch his heirs & assigns forever & The said Grantors by their attorney in fact as aforesaid do covenant with the said Alexander Clonch that they will warrant generally the land & premises hereby conveyed.
Witness the following Signature & Seals
……………………………………..John Jaques Richard Gernon seal
……………………………………..Claire Paule Anna Gernon seal
……………………………………..Joseph Edward Gernon seal
……………………………………..Catherine Tolsey Gernon seal
……………………………………..Louis Loreal seal
……………………………………..Emilie Antoinette Loreial seal
……………………………………..Jean Lewis Culon seal
……………………………………..Emilie Culon seal
……………………………………..by Edward Naret Their attorney in fact

The State of West (sic, Virginia missing)
Putnam County ss Before me Allen J. Holstein a Justice of the Peace in & for the said County of Putnam appraisal

the within named John Jaques Richard Gernon and Clair Paule Ann Gernon his wife Joseph Edward Gernon and Catherine Tolsey Gernon his wife, Amelie Antoinett Loreal & Louis Loreal her husband, Emilie Culon & Jean Louis Culon her husband by Edward Naret their within named Attorney in fact & acknowledged the signing and Sealing of the within conveyance to be their voluntary act & Deed.
In witness Whereof I have signed my name and affixed my seal this 27th day of June A. D. 1866.
……………………………………..A. J. Holstein J.P. seal

West Virginia Mason County Recorders Office December 3rd 1866 The annexed Deed with U.S. Internal Revenue Stamp thereon for fifty cents was this day exhibited in said office and together with the Certificate thereon admitted to Record.
………………………………….Teste
……………………………………..James H. Holloway
………………………………………………..Recorder

The Gernon Tract

As seen in the above deed, the land was part of a larger survey known as the Gernon Tract. I checked the index again to see if others had been granted land from this tract.

The first mention of the Gernon Tract was found in a deed dated 1821. The deed is a history lesson in itself. It mentions acts of Congress which allowed direct taxes to be collected from landowners.

On 9 January 1815 Congress passed “an act to provide additional revenues for defraying the expenses of government and maintaining the public credit, by laying a direct tax upon the United States, and to provide for assessing and collecting the same.”5 On 5 March 1816, this was repealed by Congress reverting back to an act passed in 1813.6 Both of these acts are mentioned in the 1821 deed.

Taxes were due on the Gernon Tract and the whereabouts of the owner were unknown. In fact, the tax collector did not mention the name of the owner, Richard GERNON, in the 1821 deed. Under an act of Congress to lay and collect a direct tax (July 14, 1798), before the collector could sell the land for non-payment of tax, he was required to advertise a copy of the list of lands and the statement of the amount due for the tax along with the notification to pay in sixty days. The tax due on the Gernon property was advertised in the Richmond Enquirer. John L. MERTENS of Hanover County paid the tax and acquired the three tracts of land containing 4,375 acres, 1,500 acres, and 200 acres for a total of 6,075 acres.7

In 1823 MERTENS sold the land back to the owner who had been delinquent on his tax payments, Richard GERNON, formerly a U.S. citizen living in Philadelphia, now residing in Paris, France. Was GERNON’s non-residence in America the reason he did not pay his taxes?

As later deeds were consulted, I learned the tract was being reduced by surveys as pieces were sold, apparently, to the persons who had been living on and working the land. The original tract situated (per 1834 deed) in Mason County originally containing twenty one thousand five hundred Acres, Patented to Richard Smyth assignee of Henry Banks the Sixth day of December one thousand Seven hundred and Ninety four & conveyed by the said Patentee to the above named Richard Gernon, by deed dated 29 August 1795 Recorded in the clerks office of the General Court of Virginia at Richmond 16 Novr. 1795. 

The land deeds for the Gernon Tract are a genealogical find for those interested in the family of Richard GERNON and his wife Antoinette GAUSE whose name was mentioned in the 1834 deed.8 I was intrigued when I found his wife’s maiden name was GAUSE as, after separating from William CLONCH, his ex-wife Ann Eliza HILL married a man named Andrew J. GAUSE, later seen as GAUZE. It was one of her GAUZE descendants’ fault I’ve been writing about the land deeds since my post, I No Longer Need that Lookup, Folks!

Following the Land Records

As I perused each of the land records for Gernon land being sold, I found the descriptions of the land changing as the land was being divided up into lots. New proprietors of the adjoining land were mentioned. Also, lots adjoining the land would be described as land on which certain persons lived – not land owned by that person. Later the individuals living on the land were found buying the lot. For example, in 1861 John SHELINE bought a tract of land comprising 442 acres which had been surveyed in 1856 by John J. POLSEY:

Beginning at a small ash corner made for Wm Clonch on Beale’s line; Thence with Beals line S 5° E 83 poles to two black oaks on the west side of the hill, Thence S 35 1/2° W 24 poles to a white oak, Thence with the Gratz line S 50° E crossing the Road fork of Horselick Branch at 214 poles, 272 poles in all to a Stake & pointer corner to the Madden Survey, Thence with a line of the same N 61° E 168 poles to a poplar, Thence leaving the Madden Tract N 28° W 420 poles to a Stake Corner to Patterson, Thence with his line S 65° W 53 poles to a Stone Corner to Clounch, Thence with the lines run for Clounch S 17° E 84 poles to a white oak S 44° E 52 poles to a white oak, S 34 1/2° W 116 poles to a Stake and run Bottom, Thence N 63° W 120 poles to the beginning, containing 442 acres more or less.9

It would appear that William CLONCH was living on land which had been surveyed for him as late as 1856. At the time of his death, he was likely expecting to buy the land but the deeds had not been drawn up and recorded.

The 1885 Land Deed

In 1885 Alexander Clonch and his wife Tobitha deeded land to his mother Mary DOSS and ALL of her DOSS children, including himself. There is no mention in the following deed that Alexander CLONCH is the same person as Alexander DOSS but the deeds discussed in the previous posts show the sons of William CLONCH went by CLONCH and DOSS.

In the margin:
Delivered to C. W. Messick May 2nd ’85

This Deed made this 9th day of April 1885 between Alexander Clonch and Tobitha Clonch his wife of the County of Mason and State of West Virginia of the first part and Mary Doss, John Wm Doss, Alexander Doss, Lavinia N. Doss, Betsy Jane Doss, Thomas E. Doss, Joel Doss, and Charles H. Doss, of the second part. Witnesseth: That the said parties of the first part for and in consideration of the sum of Two Hundred Dollars ($200.°°) the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged Do grant unto the parties of the second part, all that certain tract or parcel of land situate lying and being in the County of Mason and State of West Virginia and in the District of Clendenin bounded and described as follows, To wit: Beginning at a small white oak corner to a survey of 91 acres (Clark’s) Thence with Beal’s line S 5° E crossing Bryants fork at 71 poles, 124 poles to an ash tree on a south hill side, thence leaving Beal’s S 63° E 120 poles to a stake in a run bottom dogwood and hickory pointers, thence N 34 1/2° E crossing the right hand fork of Bryants run at 6 poles and the left hand fork of the same at 26 poles 116 poles in all to a small white oak N 44° W 52 poles to a white oak then N 17° W 84 poles to a stone in Patterson’s line, thence with his line, S 65° W 94 poles to a small white oak corner to Clark’s 91 acres, thence with a line of the same N 85° W 33 poles to the beginning containing One hundred and forty eight acres, be the same more or less, being the same tract or parcel of land conveyed to the said Alexander Clonch by John Jaques Richard Gernon, and others by deed dated the 27th day of June 1866, and duly of record in the Mason County Court Clerk’s Office in Deed Book No. 20 folio 256 & 7. To have and to hold to the said Mary Doss for and during her natural life and at her death to the said John W. Doss, Alexander Doss, Lavinia N. Doss, Betsy Jane Doss, Thomas E. Doss, Joel Doss and Charles H. Doss and their heirs

and assigns forever, and the said parties of the first part do hereby covenant with the parties of the second part, that they will warrant generally the property hereby conveyed.
Witness the following signatures and seals.
Test John R. Dabucy
……………………………………..Alexander Clonch Seal
……………………………………..Tobitha Clonch x her mark Seal

State of West Virginia Mason County. ss:
I D. S. Van Matre a Notary Public in and for the County and State aforesaid do certify that Alexander Clonch whose name is signed to the writing above bearing date of the 9th day of April 1885 had this day acknowledged the same before me in my said County. Given under my hand this 9th day of April 1885.
……………………………………..D. S. Van Matre
…………………………………………………..Notary Public

State of West Virginia, Mason County ss:
I John R. Dabucy a Justice of the Peace in and for the County and State aforesaid, do certify that Tobitha Clonch the wife of Alexander Clonch whose names are signed to the writing above bearing date on the 9th day of April 1885 personally appeared before me in the County aforesaid and being examined by me privily and apart from her husband and having the said writing fully explained to her she the said Tabitha Clonch acknowledged the said writing to be her act and declared that she had willingly executed the same and does not wish to retract it. Given under my hand this 13th day of April 1885.
……………………………………..John R. Dabucy J.P.

West Virginia, Mason County Court Clerk’s Office April 14th 1885. This Deed was this day presented in my office and thereupon, together with the certificates thereto annexed, is admitted to Record.
Teste:
……………………………………..J P R B Smith Clerk

What I Learned While Doing the Research

I think it’s possible my 3rd great-grandfather William CLONCH was living on the land for several decades before he died in 1863 and he intended to pass it on to his DOSS children and their mother Mary E. “Polly” DOSS. In 1860 when the census was enumerated his Value of Estate Owned was $444 for Value of Real Estate and $120 for Value of Personal Estate. Why would he have real estate valued when he did not legally own it? I am not aware of the practices of the time. Did William CLONCH have the land he was living on and working surveyed? And did he consider it his land after the survey? I checked the index to surveys and his name was not listed.

While searching the deeds index I found my great-great-grandfather Alexander CLONCH (1842-1910) obtained land in 1866 and sold the same in 1885. It was interesting to find Alex owned land in Mason County, West Virginia, from 1866 until 1885. The sale of the land fit into the time period when he was known to be moving to Fayette County as well as applying for his Civil War pension.

From the above, would you also say the land Alexander CLONCH bought in 1866 and sold to his mother and siblings in 1885 was the same piece of land William CLONCH lived on during his later years and willed to Mary DOSS and her children? Or do I have to do more work and plot all of the lots from the Gernon tract and fit the pieces of the land puzzle together to prove the three lots sold by the heirs in 1892 were the land Alexander bought in 1866 and sold in 1885?

Genealogy Sketch

Name: Alexander CLONCH
Parents: William CLONCH and Mary E. “Polly” DOSS
Spouse: Tabitha Ann “Tobitha” COOLEY
Parents of Spouse: John COOLEY and Sarah Ann TREADWAY
Whereabouts: Mason and Fayette, West Virginia
Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey: 2nd great-grandfather

1. Alexander CLONCH
2. Rebecca Jane CLONCH
3. Myrtle Hazel ROOP
4. Fred Roosevelt DEMPSEY
5. Cathy Meder-Dempsey

© 2019, 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), FHL Film #567420, Item 2; DGS 4715359; Mason Will book, v. 01A 1833-1875, image 104 of 165, page 166-167. Last will and testament of William Clonch. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-18256-40179-14?cc=1909099&wc=10916722 : accessed 12 January 2019). 
  2. “Mason County (West Virginia), County Clerk, Deed books, 1803-1901” (database with images), FamilySearch (Microfilm of original records at the Mason County Courthouse), Film 567257, DGS 8292937, Deed book, v. 20-21 1866-1868, image 163 of 694, folio 256+257. 1866 Land Deed Gernon to Clonch. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSRQ-DSRL-9?i=162&cat=76718 : accessed 12 January 2019). 
  3. Ibid., Film 567360, DGS 8292992, Deed book, v. 38-39 1883-1885, image 563 of 706, Folio 359 and 360. 1885 Land Sale Clonch to Doss. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSR7-CWGT-B?i=562&cat=76718 : accessed 4 February 2019). 
  4. See the previous post here
  5. The Library of Congress > Law Library > Research & Reports > Legal Reports > Statutes at Large > 13th Congress > pdf > page 164. ( http://loc.gov/law//help/statutes-at-large/13th-congress/c13.pdf : accessed  5 February 2019). 
  6. Ibid., 1th Congress > pdf > page 255. (https://www.loc.gov/law/help/statutes-at-large/14th-congress/c14.pdf : accessed 5 February 2019). 
  7. Mason County Deed Books. Film 567248, DGS 7896952, Deed book, v. D-E 1815-1823, image 469+470 of 568, Folio 362 thru 364. 1821 Land Deed between William D. Taylor and John L. Mertens.   (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CS4F-N9S7-4?i=468&cat=76718 : accessed 6 February 2019) 
  8.  Ibid., Film 567250, DGS 8292932, Deed book, v. H, 9 1830-1837, image 439 of 628, Folio 332 and 333. 1834 Land Deed Heirs of Gernon to Charles Beale. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSRQ-D9PK-F?i=438&cat=76718 : accessed 5 February 2019) 
  9. Ibid., Film 567255, DGS 8285409, Deed book, v. 16-17 1852-1863, images 592-593 of 725, folio 381-383. 1861 Land Deed Gernon et al to John Sheline. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CS51-236?i=591&cat=76718 : accessed 5 February 2019) 

The Estate of William Clonch (1807-1863) of Mason County, West Virginia – Part 2

Recap: William CLONCH married Ann Eliza HILL in 1832. She left him or they separated before 1840. She remarried in 1842 and was listed as the widow of Wm C CLAUNCH. William lived with Mary DOSS from about 1840 until his death in 1863. Eight children were born between 1840 and 1855 during the years William and Mary were together. William left a last will and testament naming Mary DOSS and her seven living children as his heirs. 

January the 17th 1863
This is my Last Will and testimony wherein I do wish to will my Land to Mary Doss and her Children John William Doss, Alexander Doss, Loving Ann Doss, Elizabeth Jane Doss, Thomas Eli Doss, Joel Doss and Charles Henry Doss and my wish is that the said Mary Doss and her said heirs shall hold the percession of said Land and to work it at their option untill the said Mary Dosses Death and then to be Equally Divided between said Children and that the said Land shall not be transfered out of the family if it is that the said transfer shall not stand …

In The Estate of William Clonch (1807-1863) of Mason County, West Virginia . Part 1, John W. CLONCH (commonly known as John W. DOSS) granted the land to James W. PATTERSON in 1865 for $75. In 1875 J. W. PATTERSON and his wife Lavina A. (Loving Ann DOSS mentioned in the will) sold the land back to John W. CLONCH DOSS for $85.


Four Land Deeds Involving the Heirs in Law of William CLONCH Deceased

As William had stipulated in his will, the land had remained in the family. Apparently Mary E. DOSS died before 26 October 1891 as her children began selling their parts of the land lying in the County of Mason in 1891 and 1892. In 1892 and 1893 Mr. Smith, the clerk for Mason County, West Virginia, was busy recording deeds for the estate.

John W. CLONCH to Charles H. CLONCH

John W. CLONCH and his wife Mary E. conveyed John’s 1/7th interest in his father’s estate to his youngest brother Charles H. CLONCH on 26 October 1891.1

At this time I need to point out that although Mary E. is seen here as his wife, they did not legally marry until 7 May 1895. Mary Ellen LEMASTER had lived with John since his divorce from his first wife in 1864. They could not marry as she was still married to John’s brother Alexander CLONCH. Alexander and Mary Ellen’s divorce was not pronounced until March 1880.

More important is the wording in this deed – his father’s estate. This is the first record I have seen which shows a father-child relationship between William and one of the DOSS children mentioned in his will.

Mason County, West Virginia Deed book, v. 51-52 1891-1892, page 166

In margin:
Delivered to J. M. Bugg Sept 8/92 (8 September 1892)

This deed made this 26th day of Oct. 1891 between John W. Clonch & Mary E. his wife of Cabell County, West Virginia parties of the first part, and Charles H. Clonch party of the second part.
Witnesseth That the said parties of the first part, for and in consideration of one hundred and fifty dollars in hand paid the receipt of which is hereby acknowledged doth grant unto the party of the second part all of there (sic) interest

Mason County, West Virginia Deed book, v. 51-52 1891-1892, page 167

in the undivided tract of land on the waters of Crab Creek in the County of Mason and known as the William Clonch land and bounded as follows with line of Andrew Roberts on the S0uth side to the land of Chas Beals with same to John Deems line to John Sheline’s line with his line to the place of beginning.
This deed is only intended to convey the one seventh of said tract being the interest of said John W. Clonch in his father’s estate.
And the said parties of the first part doth hereby covenant with the party of the second part, that they will warrant generally the property hereby conveyed.
Witness the following signatures and seals.
………………………………………John W. Clonch
………………………………………Mary E. Clonch

State of West Virginia
Cabell County ss:
I James H. Wright a Notary Public, in and for the County aforesaid, do certify, that John W. Clonch & Mary E. Clonch his wife whose names are signed to the foregoing writing, bearing date the 26th day of Oct. 1891, have this day acknowledged the same before me in my said County.
Given under my hand this 26th day of Oct. 1891.
………………………………………James W. Wright
………………………………………Notary Public

West Virginia, Mason County Court Clerk’s Office May 6, 1892
The foregoing deed was this day presented in said office and with the certificate thereon is admitted to record.
………………………………………Teste
………………………………………J.P.R.B.Smith Clerk


Heirs at Law of William CLONCH deceased to Charles CLONCH

Six months later, on 26 April 1892, Alexander Clonch and his wife Tobitha,  Thomas Clonch and his wife Missouri, Lovinia and her husband James W. PATTERSON, Joel CLONCH, and Betsy CLONCH were conveying about 73 acres, their part in the estate, to the same Charles CLONCH.2

Mason County, West Virginia Deed book v. 53 1892-1893, page 31

In the margin:
Delivered to John P. Austin Aug 25/93 (25 August 1893)

This deed made this 26th day of April 1892 between Alexander Clonch and Bertha his wife Thomas Clonch and Mousourie Clonch his wife Lovinia Patterson and James W. Patterson her husband Joel Clonch and Betsy Clonch, of the first part heirs at law of William Clonch deceased and and (sic) Charles Clonch party of the second part.
Witnesseth That for and in consideration of one hundred dollars and other valuable considerations the receipt of which is hereby acknowledged doth grant unt (sic, unto) party of the second part all of a certain tract or parcel of land situate on the waters of Crab Creek in the District of Clendenin County of Mason State of West Virginia bounded and described as follows To wit
Beginning at a white oak corner in original out line thence S 50° E 124 poles to a stake thence S 63° E 120 poles to a stake thence N 34 1/2° E 32 poles to a stake thence S 82° W 92 poles to a stake thence N 7° E 30 poles to a stake thence N 45° 30 W 101 poles to place of beginning estimated to contain seventy three acres more or less. To have and to hold to party of second part his heirs and asigns (sic) forever and the parties of the first part warrants generally the property hereby conveyed.
Witness the following signatures and seal
………………………………………Alexander Clonch
………………………………………Tobitha Clonch
………………………………………Thomas Clonch
………………………………………Mousourie Clonch
………………………………………Lavinna Patterson
………………………………………James W. Patterson
………………………………………Joel Clonch
………………………………………Betsey Clonch

State of West Virginia
County of Mason
To Wit
I John P. Austin a Notary of the said County do certify that Alexander Clonch and ___ Clonch his wife Thomas Clonch and Mousourie Clonch his wife Lovinia Patterson and James W. Patterson her husband Joel Clonch and Betsey Clonch whose names are signed to the writing hereto

Mason County, West Virginia Deed book v. 53 1892-1893, page 32

annexed bearing date the 26th day of April 1892 have this day acknowledged the same before me in my said county.
Given under my hand this 29th day of April 1892.
………………………………………John P. Austin Notary Public
………………………………………John R. Vest Jr. ” “

State of West Virginia
County of Mason
To wit
I John R. Vest Jr. a Notary P of the said County do certify that Alexander Clonch and Tobitha Clonch his wife whose names are signed to the writing hereunto annexed bearing date the 26th day of April 1892 have this day acknowledged the same before me in my said County.
Given under my hand this 17 day of May 1892.
………………………………………John R. Vest Jr.
………………………………………Notary Public

West Virginia, Mason County Court Clerks Office November 14, 1892.
The foregoing deed was this day presented in said office and with the certificate thereon is admitted to record
………………………………………Teste:
………………………………………J.P.R.B.Smith Clerk


Heirs at law of William CLONCH deceased to Joel CLONCH

On the same day John W. CLONCH and his wife, Alexander CLONCH and his wife, Thomas CLONCH and his wife, Charles CLONCH and his wife, Lovenia CLONCH and her husband J.W. PATTERSON, and Betsy CLONCH granted to their brother Joel CLONCH a tract of land estimated at about 22 acres.3

Mason County, West Virginia Deed book, v. 54-55 1893-1895, page 156

In margin:
Delivered to Joel Clonch Aug 22/94 (22 August 1894)

This deed made this 26th day of April 1892 between John W. Clonch and Mary E. Clonch his wife Alexander Clonch and Bitha Clonch his wife Thomas Clonch and Missouri Clonch his wife Charles Clonch and Nancy Clonch his wife Lovenia Patterson and James W. Patterson her husband and Betsy Clonch parties of the first part heirs at law of William Clonch deceased and Joel Clonch party of the second part Witnesseth that the said parties of the first for and in consideration of Fifty Dollars and other valuable consideration the receipt of which is hereby acknowledged doth grant unto the party of the second part all of a certain tract or parcel of land situate on the waters of Crab Creek in the District of Clendenin County of Mason and State of West Virginia Bounded and described as follows Beginning at a stake in original out line and corner to land of John Deem thence S 65° W 70 poles to a stake thence S 15° E 50 poles to a stake Thence N 67° E 70 poles to a stake Thence N 13° W 50 poles to place of beginning estimated to contain Twenty two acres more or less To have and to hold to party of second part his heirs and assigns forever and the parties of the first part warrants generally the property hereby conveyed Witness the followin (sic) signatures and seal.
………………………………………Alexander Clonch

Mason County, West Virginia Deed book, v. 54-55 1893-1895, page 157

………………………………………Tabitha Clonch
………………………………………Thomas Clonch
………………………………………Missourie Clonch
………………………………………Betsey Clonch
………………………………………Charles Clonch
………………………………………Nancy Clonch
………………………………………Lovinia Patterson
………………………………………James W. Patterson
………………………………………John W. Clonch
………………………………………Mary E. Clonch

State of West Virginia
County of Mason
To wit:
I John P. Austin a Notary of the said County of Mason do certify that Thomas Clonch and Missourie (sic) Clonch his wife and Charles Clonch and Nancy Clonch his wife Lovinia Patterson and James W. Patterson her husband and Betsy Clonch whose names are signed to the writing hereto annexed bearing date 26 day of April 1892 have this day acknowledged the same before me in my said County.
Given under my hand this 29th day of April 1892.
………………………………………John P. Austin Notary Public

State of West Virginia
Mason County
To wit
I Ashbell Hughes a Justice of the peace of the said County of Mason do certify that Alexander Clonch and Tabitha Clonch his wife whose names are signed to the writing hereto annexed bearing date 26th day of April 1892 have this day acknowledged the same before me in my said County.
Given under my hand this 16th day of February 1893.
………………………………………Ashbell Hughes J.P.

West Virginia, Mason County Court Clerks Office October 3rd 1893
The foregoing Deed was this day presented in said office and with the certificate thereon is admitted to Record.
………………………………………Teste:
………………………………………J.P.R.B.Smith Clerk


Heirs at law of William CLONCH deceased to Lovina PATTERSON

Then three days later on 29 April 1892, John W. CLONCH and his wife, Alexander CLONCH and his wife, Charles CLONCH and his wife, Thomas CLONCH and his wife, Joel CLONCH, and Betsy CLONCH  conveyed 42 acres to their sister Lavina PATTERSON.4

Mason County, West Virginia Deed book, v. 53 1892-1893, page 202

This deed made this 29 day of April 1892 between John W. Clonch and Mary E. Clonch his wife Alexander Clonch and Betha Clonch his wife Charles Clonch and Nancy Clonch his wife Thomas Clonch and Mousourie (sic, Missouri) Clonch his wife Joel Clonch and Betsey Clonch heirs at law of William Clonch deceased of the first part and Lovenia Patterson of the second part Witnesseth that the said parties of the first part for and in consideration of one hundred dollars and other valuable considerations the receipt of which is hereby acknowledged doth grant unto party of the second part all of a certain tract or parcel of land situate in the District of Clendenin County of Mason and State of West Virginia and on the waters of Crab Creek Bounded and described as follows Beginning at a stake in original line thence N 34°

Mason County, West Virginia Deed book, v. 53 1892-1893, page 203

E 30 poles to a stake thence N 44° W 82 poles to a stake thence N 17° W 34 poles to a stake thence S 67° W 90 poles to a stake thence S 45° 30 W 29 poles to a stake thence S 7 W 30 poles to a stake thence N 82° E 92 poles to place of beginning estimated to contain 42 acres more or less to have and to hold to party of second part her heirs and asigns (sic) forever and parties of first part warrants generally the property hereby conveyed Witness the following signatures and seals.
………………………………………John W. Clonch
………………………………………Mary E. Clonch
………………………………………Alexander Clonch
………………………………………Bitha Clonch
………………………………………Charles Clonch
………………………………………Nancy Clonch
………………………………………Joel Clonch
………………………………………Thomas Clonch
………………………………………Mousourie Clonch
………………………………………Betsey Clonch

State of West Virginia, County of Mason to wit
I John P. Austin a Notary of the said County of Mason do certify that Charles Clonch and Nancy Clonch his wife Thomas Clonch and Mousourie Clonch his wife and Joel Clonch and Betsy Clonch whose names are signed to the writing hereto

annexed bearing date 26 day of April 17892 have this day acknowledged the same before me in my said County. Given under my hand this 29 day of April 1892.
………………………………………John P. Austin Notary Public

State of West Virginia
Mason County
To Wit
I Ashbell Hughes a Justice of the peace of the said County of Mason do certify that Alexander Clonch and Betha Clonch his wife whose names are signed to the writing above bearing date the 26th day of April 1892 have this day acknowledged the same before me in my said County Given under my hand this 5th day of July 1892.
………………………………………Ashbell Hughes J. P.

West Virginia Mason County Court Clerk’s office January 30th 1893.
The foregoing Deed was

Mason County, West Virginia Deed book, v. 53 1892-1893, page 204

this day presented in said office and with the certificate thereon is admitted to Record.
………………………………………Teste
………………………………………J.P.R.B.Smith Clerk


What was going on?

We have here deeds mentioning 1/7th of a part (likely of the 73 acres), 73 acres, 22 acres, and 42 acres which add up to about 137 acres. In 1865 and 1875 (deeds seen in Part 1) the tract or parcel of land contained one hundred and forty-eight acres more or less.

It would seem that Charles was interested in keeping the tract of land with about 73 acres, Joel the 22 acres, and Lovina the 42 acres – all of this being part of the original tract of 148 acres. What of the 10 acres difference? Was it lost in the division of the three tracts?

I tried to plot the tracts of land with the calls mentioned in the deeds. Joel’s tract was 22 acres while Lovina’s calculated to 39 acres, close to the 42. There appears to be one or more problem calls in the 73 acres deed and I was not able to plot the tract using Tract Plotter. I was hoping by plotting the three tracts I would be able to put the pieces together to form the original 148 acres.

The index for the grantor is available up to 1935. Charles and his wife Nancy leased out the oil and gas rights on the 73 acres property in 1896. In 1918 they sold 73 and 1/2 acres in Clendenin district. This is likely the same piece of land but deeds are only available online up to 1901. Joel sold his 22 acres to Lovina’s son Thomas E. PATTERSON in 1894. The land which went to Lovina and her husband appears to have remained in the family well into the new century.

While searching for these deeds I also checked to see how William CLONCH came to be the owner of this 148 acres tract of land in Clendenin District of Mason County, West Virginia. No deed was found. This appears to be a task for another day.

Was William CLONCH the father of Mary E. DOSS’s children?

The purpose of following the land was to find any details in the deeds which would show Mary E. DOSS’s children’s father was William CLONCH. Three of the deeds show her children were heirs at law of William CLONCH deceased while only one mentions a parental relationship with this line: This deed is only intended to convey the one seventh of said tract being the interest of said John W. Clonch in his father’s estate.

DNA may hold the answer

I’ve been able to attribute segments from the DNA test I manage to William’s parents. There are at this time two descendants of his daughter from his marriage to Ann Eliza HILL matching the test. The only known MRCA is William CLONCH. Secondly, the DOSS line is one of those old Virginia families with many matches and I’ve been able to paint segments for Mary DOSS’ grandparents eliminating these from the segments which would be coming from CLONCH. At this time, I believe the DNA shows William and Mary were my Alexander’s parents – unless a match comes along and messes everything up.

Genealogy Sketch

Name: William CLONCH
Parents: Dennis CLONCH and Nancy BEASLEY
Spouse: Ann Eliza HILL, non-spouse *Mary E. “Polly” DOSS
Children: Mariah Jane, John W., Alexander, Lavinia Ann, Jeremiah, Elizabeth Jane, Joel, Thomas Eli, Charles Henry
Whereabouts: Mason County, West Virginia
Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey: 3rd great-grandfather

1. William CLONCH
2. Alexander CLONCH
3. Rebecca Jane CLONCH
4. Myrtle Hazel ROOP
5. Fred Roosevelt DEMPSEY
6. Cathy Meder-Dempsey

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. “Mason County (West Virginia), County Clerk, Deed books, 1803-1901” (database with images), FamilySearch (microfilm of original records at the Mason County Courthouse), Film 567367, DGS 8293094, Deed book, v. 51-52 1891-1892, image 484 of 706, pages 166-167. 1891 John W. Clonch (1/7 of William Clonch’s estate) to Charles H. Clonch.(https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSR7-Q94J-G?i=483&cat=76718 : accessed 23 January 2019). 
  2. Ibid., Film 567368, DGS 8293095, Deed book, v. 53 1892-1893, image 74+75 of 382, page 31+32. 1892 Heirs of William Clonch to Charles Clonch.(https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSR7-Z96Z-8?i=73&cat=76718 : accessed 12 January 2019). 
  3. Ibid., Film 567369, DGS 8293096, Deed book, v. 54-55 1893-1895, image 132 of 757, pages 156-157. 1892 Heirs of William Clonch to Joel Clonch. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSR7-H9NY-S?i=131&cat=76718 : accessed 24 January 2019). 
  4. Ibid., Film 567368, DGS 8293095, Deed book, v. 53 1892-1893, image 160+162 of 382, pages 202-204. 1892 Heirs of William Clonch to Lovinia Patterson. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSR7-Z9XS-2?i=159&cat=76718 : accessed 12 January 2019). 

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Leonisa, Leodina, Emily, Harriet, Anjaline, Margaret, and [illegible]

During the past three months, I broke my commitment of writing posts on a monthly basis releasing the names of enslaved persons. Actually, I didn’t blog at all from the end of October to the beginning of January. The Slave Name Roll Project is dear to my heart. I’ll continue to release the names of enslaved persons found in records while researching my own families.

In July 2018 I wrote about the last will and testament of Elizabeth Squires, releasing Sarah and Benjamin. In September 2018 I shared the last will and testament of Elizabeth’s youngest son Elijah Squires, releasing a man named Alfred. Elizabeth Squires had another son who also left a will in Braxton County, West Virginia.1

The Last Will and Testament of Asa Squires, written in 1854 and recorded in 1865

“West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-HYLL-K?cc=1909099&wc=Q8BW-MZJ%3A179688701%2C179750901 : 22 June 2016), Braxton > Will book, v. 003 1862-1879 > image 13 of 215; county courthouses, West Virginia.

I Asa Squires of the County of Braxton and State of Virginia Being of Sound mind and disposing memory for which I thank the Lord, and calling to mind the uncertainty of human life and being desirous to dispose of all such worldly estate as it hath pleased God to bless one with:
First: I devise to my beloved wife Sarah C. Squires all the personal property (Slaves only excepted) of my estate including horses, cattle and other stock on the premises together with all the household and kitchen furniture and farming utensils and library and whatever money, bonds and accounts may be due me at my decease after paying my funeral expenses and just debts for her my beloved Sarah C. Squires, to keep to give and dispose of amongst her children, as she may see fit proper to do or have done.
Secondly: I bequeath to my beloved wife Sarah C. Squires during her natural lifetime, All my home Sted place to wit: The 120 acres tract of land deeded to me by Uriah Byrne also the 22 acre tract patented to me the 12 Augt 1818 adjoining the Reeder tracts; also, the residue of the 222 acre of patent not deeded to Shadrack Chaney & wife, also, that portion of the 300 acre tract of patent, lying from the top of the ridge between the John Steel place and my home place, bordering on with the 222 acre tract before named, including them all as parcels above named, will as I suppose make 400 acres, more or less, to her during her natural lifetime, also, I bequeath to my beloved wife Sarah C. Squires, Those I warrant to wit: Leonisa, Emily, Harriet, Anjaline, [illegible], and Margaret during her natural lifetime to be taken care of by her on the place or hired out, as she may think best.
Thirdly: Immediately after the death of my beloved wife Sara C. Squires the land allotted to her as just above described ?? to for, my son Daniel S. Squires, his heirs and assigns, for his vigilant care and attention to his parents during their natural lifetime, and also to see that the three old colored women Leodina, Emily and Harriet are comfortably provided for after his parents death, their taxes paid, kept at home to enjoy their freedom as well as the laws of the State may permit them to do. Also that to remain with D.S.S. or some of the other heirs (my children, as they may choose

“West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-HYL5-D?cc=1909099&wc=Q8BW-MZJ%3A179688701%2C179750901 : 22 June 2016), Braxton > Will book, v. 003 1862-1879 > image 14 of 215; citing Jackson County, County Clerk, West Virginia.

or allot, as the other servants and in the same ways & on the same principles the other servants are.
And Fourthly: Having a wish for the welfare & happiness of the servants (all of them, and some of my heirs not wishing to have anything to do with them, ??? have or expect to have any claim on those of my heirs that do or may take care of them and further I entail those Servants to my children and to their bodily heirs not to be liable to be Sold for any debt of theirs ??? Execution or otherwise at any time from among the children & their bodily heirs, Also it is my wish that those of my children who do take care of them and raise them, that at some proper age, Say from 2 to 28 years old, with their consent, they be sent to Liberia Colonized & see appendage to this last will, Having disposed of what property it has pleased the Lord to bless me with in that way and named, that seems the best to me at this time.
I now appoint my beloved wife Sara C. Squires, together with my son Danl S. Squires my legal Executors to carry out and Settle this my last will and testament as above witness, expressed and directed fully confiding in their probity? & integrity would not wish them to be bound in any other security for the ?? performance of this my last will and testament.
And further I ask that if any one of the children or heirs should not be satisfied with these my views of bequest should attempt to alter the same by a law I wish they attempting to do so by actual suit shall be disinherited and their portion of my Estate & divided with the other heirs.
I now commend my Soul and body to God, the Giver and Governer of them, resting fully satisfied in the atonement and merits of Jesus Christ in a full and free salvation. Given under my hand and seal the 15th day of November in the year of our Lord 1854.
………………………………………Asa Squires (Seal)
Witness be this my last
will & testament
Allen S. Berry
Asa Squires Jr.
William H. Berry

“West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-HYL5-D?cc=1909099&wc=Q8BW-MZJ%3A179688701%2C179750901 : 22 June 2016), Braxton > Will book, v. 003 1862-1879 > image 14 of 215; citing Jackson County, County Clerk, West Virginia.

The within will and bequeath was acknowledged before the subscribing witnesses the 22nd April 1856

Braxton County to wit:
Recorders Office December 11th 1865
The last will and testament of Asa Squires deceased was this day presented to me as Recorder and proven by the oaths of Allen S. Berry and Asa Squires Jr. Subscribing witness thereto, and ordered to be recorded.
………………………………………Teste G. F. Taylor Recorder

Releasing the Names

In the above will we see: Leonisa, Emily, Harriet, Anjaline, [illegible], and Margaret as well as Leodina, Emily and Harriet. Are the women named Leonisa and Leodina actually the same person? Was the name written incorrectly the first or the second time? It would appear the names were listed from oldest to youngest. If the first three were the oldest, were they also the women referred to as the three old colored women?

There is one name which I found too illegible to read. It looks like Tom with a squiggle and then osi. Unless someone else can read this, this enslaved person’s name cannot be released.

The U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedule

Ancestry.com : accessed 27 Janaury 2019

Asa Squires was living at the time of the 1850 and the 1860 census. Slave Schedules are available for both of these census years. In the 1850 listing for Asa Squires there are two older women age 60 and 42.2

Ancestry.com : accessed 27 Janaury 2019

In the 1860 listing we see three older women age 65, 50, and 48.3 The three males below 10 years would not have been on the 1850. The ages of the remaining five females and one male don’t exactly match with those in 1850. Who gave the ages of the enslaved persons in 1850 and 1860? Could the three women aged 65, 50, and 48 be Leodina, Emily and Harriet?

Ancestry.com : accessed 27 Janaury 2019

In 1870 there was a mulatto woman named Harriet Squires living in Braxton County.4 She was 59 years old. Could she be one of the two women seen in 1860 as 50 and 48 years old? Having the same first name as the third named in the will, would she more likely be the 48 years old woman in 1860 and now 58, only a year off?

I have no proof Harriet Squires was one of women named in Asa Squires will. However, in HH#23-23, two households after Harriet’s, we find Asa’s son Daniel S. Squires with his family. There are no other black or mulatto families in the immediate area.

Does anyone recognize these ladies’ names? Can someone help decipher the name of the woman who is listed as [illegible] in the title of this post?

True's statementFollowing my three-part series on the slaves of my 5th great grandfather James Sims during Black History Month in February 2015 I made a commitment to write a post on a monthly basis until I’ve RELEASED all of the names of slaves owned by my ancestors or owned by persons I’ve researched who were relatives or neighbors of my ancestors.

These posts are part of the Slave Name Roll Project (About the Project) administered by Schalene Jennings Dagutis who also blogs at Tangled Roots and Trees.

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1.  “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch , originals in county courthouses, West Virginia. Braxton > Will book, v. 003 1862-1879 > image 13+14 of 215 > Last Will and Testament of Asa Squires.(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-HYLL-K?cc=1909099&wc=Q8BW-MZJ%3A179688701%2C179750901 : accessed 26 January 2019) 
  2. 1850 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules (part of United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Seventh Census of the United States, 1850) original records in  Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M432, 1,009 rolls. Virginia > Braxton > District 4 > image 1 of 2 > lines 11-18 > Asa Squires. (http://ancestry.com : accessed 27 January 2019). 
  3.   1860 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules (part of United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Seventh Census of the United States, 1860) original records in  Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration.  M653, 1,438 rolls. Virginia > Braxton > District not stated > image 2 of 2 > lines 13-21 > Asa Squires. (http://ancestry.com : accessed 27 January 2019). 
  4.  1870 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, 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_1685; History Library Film: 553184; West Virginia, Braxton, Clay, image 4 of 55, Page No. 4, Sheet No. 388B, line 11, HH #21-21, Harriet Squires household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 27 January 2018).